Vancouver Island Elvis fan shares stories, photos of her many encounters with Presley
DUNCAN -- Barb will never forget the day she was visiting her parents’ friends and heard the most wonderful sounds coming from the other room.
“I ran in and said, ‘Who’s singing?!’” Barb recalls asking her son. “He said, ‘That’s Elvis Presley.’ And I said, ‘That’s a funny name. But I like it!’”
Hearing Elvis sing from a speaker was one thing, but when Barb realized she could see this Presley fellow perform on the big screen at the old Capitol Theatre in downtown Victoria, she bought a ticket to Love Me Tender’s first matinee, and was amazed.
“The girls were actually in the aisles, on their knees, screaming their heads off,” Barb laughs. “I had never seen anything like it!”
It was such a spectacle and Elvis was so captivating that eight-year-old Barb stayed for three screenings in a row.
“I never got home until after 7 p.m. and my mom and dad were like, ‘Where were you?!’” Barb laughs. “And I said, ‘Well I saw Elvis and I like him!’”
Barb’s fandom only increased as a teenager.
She shows me photographs of her at 16, driving a car with pictures of Elvis stuck to the dash. Barb also has photos from when she was 19 and travelled to Los Angeles to visit Presley’s house.
“We went under a fence, down a ravine, and then up the ravine. We could see him singing,” Barb recalls. “Then the bodyguards came out with shotguns! Then, ‘Oh! It’s only the fans.’ They weren’t mad at us. And then Elvis waved, ‘Goodnight girls!’”
Barb says Elvis was filming the movie Clambake then, and she ended up meeting him a few times. She has many close-up pictures of Presley smiling from the rolled-down window of his car.
Barb says she’s grateful he posed for so many pictures, but they don’t capture how warm and charming he was in person, or how charismatic and dynamic he was on stage.
“Magical! Splendid! Fabulous!” she exclaims, trying to describe him.
Barb also has pictures and footage from the 30 times she saw Elvis in concert, including the time she was in the front row and he took off his blue silk scarf and tossed it at her.
“It landed right in my lap!” Barb laughs, before leaning far back in her chair to show me what happened next. “Everybody around me was right on top of me, trying to get it.”
Barb was so excited to keep it, it took her a moment to realize what she’d lost in the process.
“I felt this breeze on my head! My wig!” Barb laughs. “We didn’t find the wig until after the show. It was two rows back!”
Barb still has that blue silk scarf along with countless other pieces of rare memorabilia. Although its wonderful to be surrounded by hundreds of Elvis books, thousands of his recordings, and her countless, priceless pictures, Barb says the best thing is sharing it all with her fellow fans.
“I’ve made lifelong friends. Like 40-year friends!” Barb smiles. “[Because of Elvis] I have something to look forward to every day!”