August 12, 2004
Tifton-- A king died almost 27 years ago, but not in the minds of many people. The anniversary of Elvis Presley's death comes on Monday, August 16, and people will remember him in different ways.
Memories, regardless of their type, can make impressions that can last a lifetime. "This is the one my grandmother gave me," says Jean Dillard and she holds a 33 1/3 rpm album of Elvis Presley Christmas songs. She was eight years-old when she met a would-be king through music, and she became a loyal fan.
"I saw him five times, five times. And, every time it was just wonderful," remembers Jean.
It was a wonderful time in her life, with rock 'n roll music serenading her along the way. "The 50s were my favorite time of my life. It had good, good music," remembers Jean, about memories that remain close to her heart decades later. "He's just a teenage idol and I still like him. I listen to him everyday," says Jean as her computer plays Elvis' music so softly that you don't notice it at first.
Music triggers memories. "Oh, you remember when everybody would dance at the recreation department," says Jean as Elvis starts singing, "I can't help falling in love with you," her favorite song.
Jean listened to many singers in the 50s, "Ricky Nelson came along. Pat Boone, all those in my era, Elvis was still the main one," says Jean. The king wouldn't get dethroned. "I don't like to hear anything derogatory about him or anything like that," says Jean, preferring the sweet memories. "Still has chocolate candy in it," says Jean as she holds a heart-shaped tin with Elvis' picture on the front, with candy inside.
Tragedy hit Jean's life when her house burned in 1983, and all of her Elvis memorabilia went up in smoke. She didn't do without for long. Friends helped the primary school secretary rebuild her collection.
Her computer monitor holds replicas of Elvis' drivers licenses. "I've got more at home. That's not all of them," says Jean. People gave her Elvis dolls, calendars, pictures, CDs, T-shirts, ear rings and a pin. Elvis memorabilia almost surrounds her at work.
Even with all those items, she still wants an Elvis purse. "I'm a loyal Elvis fan," says Jean with a smile, but her husband isn't. "My husband doesn't like Elvis," says Jean. She didn't like hearing of his death. Her mother broke the news to her about Elvis' death. "I cried and cried when he died," remembers Jean who found that when memories are the right kind, they can rock 'n roll forever.
For Monday's anniversary, Jean Dillard plans to watch tributes to the King, and dreams of when she will go to Graceland to celebrate Elvis' birthday and the anniversary of his death, instead of having to work.
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