White Shag Carpet

Back in 1977 when I was about 6 years old and living in a mobile home parked on an acre of rural land near Webb, Alabama, I spent a lot of time standing on a straight back chair in my small white-shag-carpeted bedroom. I did two things while on the chair and both involved records I was playing on my record player. When on my chair (a.k.a. “stage”) I would either practice Spanish using my grandma’s Spanish language records (I loved how the guy at the start of the record would announce in a deep, rich, heavily-Spanish-accented voice “Spanish in rrrrrecord time!”), or I would pretend I was Elvis. My grandma had every Elvis album ever produced and had drawers full of RCA 45’s and quite a few yellow-labeled Sun 45’s, but my favorite album to “perform” was Elvis On Stage. (“ON STAGE” was in Las Vegas lights across the album cover with a photo of a mature Elvis earnestly singing, and my small mind was wowed).

During this time I had a babysitter named Ena. Ena was kind of a hippie and gave me a real mood ring and my first book of poetry. Most notably for me at that age, she helped me dig exciting although non-functional rabbit traps out along the back edge of the yard. I think the holes were probably only a foot deep, and we would cover them with some sticks and grass to fake out the rabbits.  I was so sure I was going to catch a bunny.  Every day…several times a day…Ena would walk with me to check the always-empty traps. She was the coolest, even if her traps were bogus. One day Ena and I were watching tv, and the news broke in that Elvis had died. I remember this being such a shock for me, and I’m sure my Elvis-time on the chair increased for a while after that, as some sort of 6 year old’s tribute.

I catch a lot of flak around my house during the holidays for playing my Elvis Christmas record (which used to be a record, then a tape, then a cd and now an mp3), but it’s just not Christmas until I hear that mellow voice singing “got no sleigh with reindeer…no sack on my back…you gonna see me comin’…in a big black Cadillac”. So a couple of weeks ago I made it to the gates of Graceland at 10pm on a Monday night. I took a couple of pics of the gate and looked at the house for a few minutes and thought back to my Elvis impersonations and living in trailers in rural Alabama and Ena and all the rabbits we never caught. Just like that famous hound dog.

The pics at top are a scan of one of my grandma’s Elvis Sun label records and some photos my grandma took of him at a concert (1956).

Originally web-posted 02-25-10