Above, Diane Harris holds the photo of Elvis Presley that she took in 1969.
Posted: Thursday, January 30, 2014 6:00 am
By Ginger Grantham
In 1969 Diane Harris of Moulton was on a mission. She wanted to take a picture of Elvis Presley. She was 19 then and a big Elvis fan. As a matter of fact, she is still a fan.
“I had visited Graceland with my father once and with my brother. But Elvis was not at home,” she said.
On both her visits, she talked to Vester Presley, who was Elvis’ uncle. She asked him when would be the best time to catch his nephew at home.
“He was real nice. He said Elvis was usually home at Graceland during Christmas,” Harris said.
When Christmas rolled around, Harris was determined to visit Graceland. Harris and cousin Nancy Letson talked someone into letting them borrow a car and they headed for Memphis.
They were going on faith and depending on Vester Presley’s information to be correct. It was a long trip for the two girls. The gamble paid off. Elvis was at Graceland.
“I took a lot pictures and I ran out of flash bulbs. We started across the road to a drugstore to get flash bulbs when we saw a black Cadillac coming down the drive.”
Harris knew it was late in the day and she needed the flash bulbs but she knew that she would miss her chance to see her idol in person if she went into the drugstore.
The two girls raced back to the gate just as the Cadillac stopped. She could not believe Elvis was driving. He stopped and rolled down the window.
“I took the photo without a flash bulb. I knew it was going to be dark but I hoped turned out,” Harris said.
She got an even bigger thrill than just a photo.
“We were standing there and he pointed at me and motioned for be to come closer to the car,” Harris said. “He asked if I wanted a kiss and I kissed him.”
Harris said in the excitement she did not think to ask anyone to take her picture when she kissed Elvis.
“All I have for proof is that Nancy witnessed it,” she said. “Nancy did not kiss him. She was too shy.”
In 1969, some visitors at Graceland’s gate got gift.
“Vester gave away transistor radios. The radio was in a case. We both got one.”
Both women still have the radios.
“Nancy even kept the box. I don’t have the box but I do have Vester’s autograph.”
Harris said they talked to Elvis for several minutes. She thinks he would have talked to her and Nancy longer if another girl from New York hadn’t been acting like a crazed fan.
Harris has photos of Graceland with the yard decorated for Christmas and Vester Presley in a uniform at the gate but the one photo she really wanted she didn’t get.
“It was too dark,” she said. “I kept the negative because if you hold it up to a bright light, you can see Elvis. He is in the driver’s seat and Chalie Hodge from Decatur was sitting on the passenger side. You can see him a little.”
Even though the first print of the negative was almost all black, Harris hung on to the original negative. She tried to have it printed again a few years later hoping improvements in photography would help bring out the images. But nothing worked.
Harris has one son, Brian Sparks, who lives in Hoover. A while back, she told him she wished there was some way to print the negative.
Sparks got the negative to see if there was anything he could do. He ended up sending the negative to a company in Atlanta. That company managed to get the image to come up and blew it up. Elvis’s face shows up. He is leaning his head out of the driver’s door.
“He had the photo framed and gave it to me for Christmas,” Harris said. “You can see Elvis. You really can.”