August 16th, 1977:
I was 12 years old. My 13th birthday was less than 2 months away, and that afternoon, my Mom was driving us to the Nassau Collisseum. We were on our way to get tickets to a concert that would happen ON my birthday – Elvis Presley was coming to Long Island! Yes, at age 12, I was a huge Elvis fan. I loved his music and I loved his movies. We were about halfway there, when we turned the radio on. Coincidentally, Don’t Be Cruel was playing. Mom said that HAD to be a good sign that we’d get good tickets.
Within minutes, we found out WHY it was playing, when the DJ announced that Elvis had died. I stated crying on the spot. My mom pulled over so that she could calm me down. After about 10 minutes, we started driving again. Instead of continuing to the Collisseum, Mom drove us to a department store, and bought me a couple of albums and a poster, to try to help me. The albums were G.I. Blues, Elvis’ Golden Records and Frankie & Johnny.
So, after returning home, listening to my music, singing along through the tears I finally calmed down. Cue my Dad – God rest him – Comes in from work, and says, “Hey! Guess who died today?” He then pretended to strike a guitar and ‘sang’, “You ain’t nothin’ but a hound dog!” I immediately ran upstairs crying hysterically once more. I could hear my Mom yell at my Dad though, about how long it took to calm me down. After eating a burger and fries for dinner (Mom’s basic meal for me when I was too upset or sick in my room to eat downstairs), Dad came in and apologized, saying he was only trying to make it light and thought I’d laugh at him trying to imitate Elvis. Dad would never be accused of having good delivery, let me tell you.
I must have saved every Newsday article that appeared for the next week, and got any pictures from magazines I could. By September, I had a scrapbook full. I wonder where that went?
Weeks later, on my birthday, October 3, 1977, CBS aired a previously un-aired Elvis concert, prefaced by a title card stating that he would’ve had a concert that night at the Nassau Collisseum. My family gave me a few more Elvis albums, amongst other goodies, now lost to memory.
Not to worry, though. My melancholy would soon end, as within a few weeks, at Thanksgiving of that year, I was taken to a whole new level of imagination by a TV special on NBC, about a little fellow who found a magic ring on a quest to regain some Dwarves’ treasure from a dragon. But that’s another tale…