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In person… the last good-bye
(condensed version of last chapter in "We Remember, Elvis" - revised 2005 edition)

In1976 a friend of ours had a son who was taking classes in Media Production and Film Making at a college in Northern California. He wanted to do something “that would knock the socks off” his fellow students and the teachers so he asked another friend if he would be willing to “answer a few questions” in an interview setting. That other friend was Elvis Presley and he said he’d “think about it”. He did, and said he would be willing to do that if he could pick the person doing the interviewing and that it had to be when he had the time and he would have exclusive rights to anything that might come of it, including what (would not and would be) used in the actual finished piece. That said, Elvis asked me to be the interviewer and to choose the questions; he agreed to answer those he felt comfortable with and so we spent several hours during late1976 and into 1977 talking on the phone and in person, taping, cutting and taping again, until it was finished and given Elvis’ “blessing” before being handed over to the young film mogul, who has since gone on to actually working on MTV productions. He gave Elvis the only copy of his college project and I have control of the original interview tapes.

I’ve never talked with anyone about the one in person meeting, he asked me to keep it between us. But it was too painful later and I just wanted to stop the terrible hurt after 8/16/77. I said I’d never cry over him again. I guess I lied to myself, because redoing this book has brought it all back, and it still hurts. I would not trade one minute of the time I spent listening to, talking with, going to see or the time waiting in line and on the pavement for all the fame and fortune in this world. I think I understand what he meant when he said, “They could put me in a box for 23 hours, let me out on the 24th to do the show, and it’d be worth it.” In my case, he is worth it.

He said it had been “a while” and eight years was a long time. When the door opened and I came into the foyer he stood just inside what must have been his friend’s office library though it had a round table, no desk, shelves to the ceiling, full of law books, two comfortable leather chairs and an eight-foot wide fireplace. As huge as that was, the persona of Elvis was far greater, and I was more nervous than he, I think. He grinned, shook his head and held out his arms, saying, “Come ‘ere darlin’.”

He was dressed completely in black, though the jacket and pants had red overstitching on the seams and he wore a long gold chain with what looked to be a red coral inlaid medallion and another that was the choker type braided cord necklace and medallion he had worn in almost every concert photo I’d seen for the past year 1976-77, the one he said he had received from Lisa. He was pale, looked tired and though he was wearing glasses with a smoke tint, his eyes were dancing as he held me by the shoulders and said, “You still don’t mind bein’ alone with me?” before pulling me against him in a long hug. He kissed my cheek, nuzzled my hair and softly said, “Ummmm still smell good baby, been a long time, a while.” referring to my having always used White Shoulders perfume that I learned, after 8/16/77 had been one of his favorites. He took my arm and said we’d sit at the table that held a tray with a coffee pot, some cups and a plate of cookies. He asked if I wanted something else, water or soft drink and did I need to plug in a cord for the machine I brought with me-it was full of new batteries, new tape and a good microphone I purchased just to record him.

He appeared to be calm, though his hand trembled slightly as he picked up the coffee cup, he kept them clasped together on the table when he wasn’t fidgeting with his hair, shirt collar, playing with a little cigar that went unlit until he was leaving, or gesturing as he spoke. He kept glancing outside, where two of his boys whom I did not recognize were standing by the car he arrived in, I guess. From what I could see of them, they looked as though they got their clothing from the “God Father” wardrobe room. He had come incognito he explained, he didn’t want the press or any body else to know he was in town. And said he was going to see a specialist in Los Angeles, but that it wasn’t “nothin’ to worry over” and that he had another appointment in a about an hour or so, so he had some time to talk. “Jus’ ask me any thin’ you want honey, I’m… available…ya know.” He said, looking at me from under lowered eyelashes, before letting that strictly Elvis naughty boy grin show. He asked about Jim and “little Julie” and that done, I said we’d better get busy or the time would fly out the window. He nodded, pushed his chair back a little and said, “Let’s do it…I don’ want to be late…’n traffic an all…”

As different subjects, some personal came up, he fidgeted, bit his lip, averted his eyes, then gave straight, honest answers while looking right at me. I watched him closely, trying to keep things light and letting him off the hook if something bothered him and he didn’t want to say no, but it was going to be hard for him to continue. Elvis had always, since I had first met him, been very revealing, by his actions, attitude and little subtle body movements though I don’t think he realized at all how much those things gave him away. Had he been aware, he would have altered his behavior and that would have taken away a great deal of what he was all about. He wouldn’t have been Elvis. That innocent naturalness also made him a great actor.

He told some funny things, forgot to use “proper” English and let the real man/boy show; I don’t think he ever changed…he was 41 years old and that little boy was still there. I could have cried over some of that conversation; I struggled not to crack up laughing at others so he could just say whatever he wanted and the time flew right out the window before we knew it. He said as I was about to leave, “I’m so glad you came…thank you”; his eyes welled up in tears, he hugged me close a second time and I could feel him trembling because he didn’t want to cry. He released me, stood close and I couldn’t look at him for fear I would cry. He leaned down, nuzzled my hair again and whispered “Its okay, don’ worry ‘bout me” in my ear before saying he had to go. The last thing he said was “See ya there,” meaning in Vegas. I had never felt such an overwhelming sadness as I drove away; I knew I’d never see him alone again. Months earlier when we had gone to see Elvis-On Tour I could barely see the screen for the tears that wouldn’t stop-and didn’t know why, though deep down I felt that he was dying. I guess that he was…but didn’t want to hurt any one, so he kept it to himself. After all, he was a male…”born to take care of business,” and he did; his way.

I think he asked me to meet him so he could say good-bye; he had shared some of his deepest secrets and fears as well as triumphs and joys over those many years, and all because he wanted to talk to someone “outside” his world. He said I helped keep his feet on the ground and his head out of the sand. All I know is he made our world so much brighter and he didn’t have to do any of it. But he did.

I promised him I would not sell, make public, nor give any one the recordings we made, he and I, over those few weeks by phone and in person. I intend to keep my promise to him, some of those conversations will never even be in print, but the parts so uniquely him will always “be available” in print for the next generation of his “beloved” fans who want to get a glimpse of the “real” Elvis. I think he would like that.

Wanda June Hill

Up ] How Wanda Met Elvis ] Why Me? ] The Elvis in My Life ] [ The Last Goodbye ] Poem - 1977 ] Birthday Letter ] Elvis Letter - 1977 ] JoAnna's Story ]


The book We Remember, Elvis by Wanda June Hill
(2nd Edition includes additional transcribed sections of the "Interview Tapes")
We Remember, Elvis - Book Reviews

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