by Ed Grisamore, The Telegraph
August 15, 2014
GRAY, Ga. (AP) - Elaine Greene visits the E.R. several times a day.
It is the first door on the left as you walk down her hallway. In the house on a hill overlooking Gray Highway, Elvis is always in the building.
The E.R. is the Elvis Room, where a king can live forever. The decor is All Things Presley. Elvis leaps across the floor, up the walls and over the top.
Elaine Greene is no ordinary Elvis fan. She is an Elvis fan with capital letters and exclamation points. Passionate is a keyword in her thesaurus. Even the diehards don't all have a room fit for a king.
Whatever you do, don't step on her Greene-suede shoes.
There are moments forever frozen in our memories. For Elaine, one of them is Aug. 16, 1977. The baby sitter called. Had she heard the news?
Elvis is dead.
In the Elvis Room, she has been keeping him on life support.
Elaine has hundreds of Elvis books, post cards, soda bottles, 29-cent stamps, posters, pillows, coffee mugs, a blanket and a Monopoly board game.
On one side of the room is a bust of Elvis. It was left on her doorstep one night by a friend. Across the room is an Elvis slot machine. Drop in a coin and, if three Elvis heads pop up, it starts playing an Elvis song.
Among her favorite items is a red cap covered with 53 Elvis pins.
"It weighs a ton on my head," she said. "I can only wear it for 15 minutes."
She has a school desk from Humes High School in Memphis, where Presley graduated in 1953. She and her friend, Beth Davidson, an Elvis fan on equal footing, talked the janitor into letting them have three. (To show their appreciation, they made a donation to the library.)
There is no proof Elvis actually sat in any of the desks. His initials aren't carved in the wood grain. But at least the desk was in the company of a king. And that is enough.
Elaine taught school for 32 years. At Tattnall Square Academy, she was a seventh-grade English teacher. She included "Elvis" on the syllabus as a teaching tool. She once gave her students Reese's Cups (with Elvis on the wrapper) on the first day of school.
In her classroom at Tattnall, she kept an Elvis cut-out, album covers, a jigsaw puzzle and Christmas ornaments. When she retired in 2009, her husband, Wayne, helped move her Elvis collection to a spare bedroom. He has become a permanent house guest.
Elvis has run a thread through her life. Her crush began when she was 9 years old. She sat in front of a black-and-white TV and watched Presley on "The Ed Sullivan Show." Known as "Elvis the Pelvis" for his hip gyrations, the TV cameras showed him only from the waist up.
In high school, she accepted Elvis records instead of baby-sitting money. She saw Elvis three times in concert -- twice in Macon and once in Atlanta. She kept the ticket stubs. (One cost $7.50.)
"Can't Help Falling in Love" was sung at her wedding at Hillsboro Baptist Church in 1970. She has requested that two songs from an Elvis gospel tape -- "Take My Hand Precious Lord" and "Just a Closer Walk With Thee" -- be played at her funeral.
Elaine regrets not being in Memphis for "Elvis Week," which runs through Sunday. She and Beth Davidson have been attending since 1997, missing only four times in 17 years. "It's like going to a big family reunion," Elaine said.
They have made many trips to Graceland, the second-most visited home in America (next to the White House).
"You just feel the presence of Elvis there, and tell yourself that this is where he was," she said.
She and Beth have broken bread at Marlowe's Ribs, where Elvis fans from all over the world gather to swap stories. They once came home with Elvis tattoos, not letting on to family members that the tattoos were temporary.
Two years ago, they got to see Priscilla Presley. They once "stalked" Lisa Marie, when she was dating Nicolas Cage. A security guard let them watch Presley's daughter as she exited the theater after the first "Elvis Virtual Concert" at Mud Island.
They met Jerry Schilling, who was one of Elvis' bodyguards. He shared great stories and still lives in the house Presley gave him. They once invited an Italian man, dressed in a royal blue jump suit, to join them for pizza. He had earned a trip to "Elvis Week" by being named the Italian Elvis Entertainment Artist. He didn't speak a word of English but knew the words to every Elvis song. They later saw him weeping in the Meditation Garden at Graceland.
They introduced themselves to Sandi Miller, the "girl at the gate," who was part of the Presley entourage and had more than 30 scrapbooks of photographs.
"Sandi Miller's last conversation with Elvis was right before he died," said Elaine. "He asked her to come to Palm Springs for the weekend. She could not, and he said 'Maybe next time.' There never was a next time."
Even when Elaine is not at Elvis Week, the king is never far away. He is in the E.R. She goes there to write, listen to Elvis music or watch an Elvis movie.
When she sees one of her former students, she is reminded of those lasting impressions.
"Mrs. Greene," they will tell her, "every time I hear an Elvis song, I think of you."