“Big E” And Touch Football
The so-called “Dog Days” of August are nearing their end as September looms. Many area kids are already back in school, believe it or not, and glorious football is on the horizon. It seems that children now go back to school earlier than ever. There would have been a minor revolt back in the day if we had to return to the hallowed halls of learning in mid-August.
I can still feel the “butterflies” swirling in my gut as we watched the Jerry Lewis Labor Day Telethon, knowing that the following day we would be putting long pants on and climbing aboard the school bus. Looking back, though, it turns out our parents were right: those were the best days of our lives.
On to today’s topic: This week (August 16th to be exact) is the 40th anniversary of the death of the “King of Rock n Roll,” Elvis Presley. I tie this in to sports, because I can remember exactly what I was doing when I heard the news on August 16th, 1977. I was playing touch football in my front yard with a few neighborhood kids. Those were the Dark Ages before internet or social media, so I’m not really sure who “broke” the news to us. I do remember that being teenagers with other things on our minds, we kind of brushed it off and went back to our game.
We really didn’t have a sense then of how influential Elvis was. By 1977 he had become a cartoon character, wearing outlandish jumpsuits to hide his almost 300-pound frame, and sporting long thick sideburns and over-the-top sunglasses. Even after they had broken up, the Beatles were more relevant than “The King.”
But the Beatles were an import from across the pond. Elvis was ours, a true American original, who rose from humble beginnings to become a pop-culture icon. He took his R&B and Gospel influences and blended them together to create a kind of music that in the late 50’s parents feared, and kids couldn’t get enough of. Then came a stint in the Army that coincided with the British Invasion, and Elvis all of a sudden was un-cool, until his 1968 Comeback Special. America saw a re-invented Elvis, clad in black leather, snarling, and belting out his hits, as cool as ever.
The King would eventually succumb to too much fame, and prescription drugs, slurring his words on-stage, forgetting the lyrics to his songs, and becoming a parody of himself. Still, I came to understand in the days (and years) that followed that hot August afternoon in 1977, the impact Elvis Presley had on his countless fans.
Wherever you are Big E, we’re drawing up a play in the dirt just for you…
Until next time…Thank you…Thank you very much. GO HORNETS!