The Day Elvis Died…

Elvis Presley Jailhouse Rock I have seen several people my age and older reminiscing about what they were doing on the day that Elvis died. If you were alive then, and you were at an age where you knew who Elvis was, it’s one of those days you don’t forget, like the Challenger blowing up, or September 11, 2001.

On August 16, 1977, I was nine and I had a couple of cousins over at my house for a birthday celebration. It was summer, and school didn’t start then as early as it does not, so we were home. My cousins Angela and Andrea only lived about twenty minutes away, and they would often come to my house since I lived with our grandmother.

They came over on the 15th and were staying until the next night. We had all day on the 16th to play. Sometime that afternoon, the news outlets took over all the television channels – I think we had three or four then – and wouldn’t stop talking about Elvis being found dead.

Were you old enough to remember, or even care? That was all that was on television that afternoon. Nothing fun. I think there used to be cartoons late afternoon and I remember being upset that they didn’t come on. I know I wouldn’t have cared about missing a soap opera, which was the other thing on television during the day.

I was thinking about that today when a friend posted about Elvis on Facebook, and I remembered that Lee and Elizabeth have a short conversation about Elvis in the book Under His Protection. They are dancing at a fundraiser for her campaign for attorney general.

After she (Elizabeth) had caught up with everyone she knew, Lee pulled her onto the dance floor as the band played “Love Me Tender.”

“I didn’t know it was Elvis night,” Lee said with a grin. He held her close and managed the turns on the crowded floor easily. She loved the way that he held her and she thrilled to his power as he spun her in his arms. “Nothing like the King to get a girl close,” he said, leaning closer so that his breath tickled her neck.

“Here’s something you didn’t know. I was raised on Elvis. In fact, I was born the week that he died. My mother bawled all week. My father swore that his death sent her into early labor. In fact, for years after he died, she claimed he was still alive somewhere in Michigan.”

“She and half of the Southern women her age.” He chuckled and spun her again. When the dance ended, Lee gestured toward a couple by the door. “There’s my brother. Come meet Fox and Laura.”

Do you remember the day Elvis died? Where were you? Did it mark a big turning point for you? I would love to hear from you in the comments. Back then, did you believe Elvis faked his death?

 Read more about Lee and Elizabeth in Under His Protection, which can be found in the Kindle Unlimited Program at Amazon.

 

Remembering the Challenger – 30 Years Later

As I drove to work this morning, the incessantly chatty people on the morning radio station asked what happened 30 years ago. “We’ll be back in a minute to tell you,” they said.

I didn’t need them to tell me. I knew. Thirty years ago I was a senior in high school — no, you don’t need to do the math — and we were actually out of school because there was ice on the ground. It had all melted by mid-morning, and I drove to the shoe store to look for shoes. Why I needed shoes in January in 1986, I don’t know, but it is a very clear memory. On the way home, I heard on the radio about the explosion, and there was nothing on television the rest of the day except accounts of the disaster.

Yes, there was cable, but we lived out in the middle of nowhere, and we only had antenna television. My grandparents would have been horrified to pay a monthly bill for television. It comes through the air! It’s free! Why on earth would you pay? Now thirty years later people are trending backwards and cutting the cable again as they choose adhoc television services. (We still give the cable company a big chunk of change primarily for live sports.)

But I digress. Thirty years ago I was buying shoes and the world changed on a dime. We were promised that regular citizens would go into space. Christa McAuliffe, a high school teacher, died that morning, along with seven astronauts.

If you were of age then, you still remember. The New York Times has a great article today, and here is a quote from the husband she left behind:

“The passage of 30 years since the Challenger accident is not of great personal significance to our family,” Mr. McAuliffe said in a statement to The Associated Press. “For us, Challenger will always be an event that occurred just recently. Our thoughts and memories of Christa will always be fresh and comforting.” Her is a link to the article: New York Times – Remembering the Challenger

Now, the space program barely gets a mention in the media. When Howard Wolowitz on the Big Bang Theory went into space he had to go to the space station via a Russian Rocket. SpaceX deploys satellites now, and NASA has not come up with an alternative to the shuttle program. Does it feel like we are regressing? People apply to go to the first Mars colony, but allegedly we can’t even get back to the moon now. See this article on whether we can get back. Can we go to the moon?

A little bit of all of us changed that day, and I’m not sure we will ever have the optimism about space that we once had. I’m starting to write in the science fiction romance genre, and I’ve been reading more about space travel. In my imaginary world, space travel is routine, but I’m not sure we will reach routine space travel in my lifetime. Thirty years ago I would have said we would.

Where were you when the Challenger went down? I’d love to hear your stories.