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Column

Where’s Elvis? Drifting down the Mississippi

Impersonator makes Celebration Belle cruise quite special

HE’S ALIVE! Actually, according to him, he’s come back for another run. Elvis was on the stage of the Celebration Belle as it recently cruised down the Mississippi River.

The difference was, in the midst of his gyrating, all action suddenly stopped, and it took two men to get his hip back in place.

Age has taken its toll! After all, the “King of Rock ‘n’ Roll” would be the ripe old age of 84 this year. It was impressive he didn’t need a walker or cane like some of his Belle audience.

Elvis became an overnight sensation in the mid-1950s. Popular doesn’t sufficiently describe the impact he had on the general public. He turned the music world upside down and inside out. Most of my parents’ generation objected to his blatant gyrations, and considered him an evil influence on the youths of the day.

Our family enjoyed watching the popular Ed Sullivan Show on television, where Elvis made his famous public debut that shot him into stardom. Personally, I cannot claim for sure that I saw that particular performance, but we missed watching very few of Ed’s shows. I was not a member of the “screaming” female audience who worshiped the “King.”

The first movie he made was shown at the Orpheum Theater in Galesburg, and my circle of friends made sure all five of us were there. It was when Elvis appeared on the screen I realized how ridiculous all this adoration was. The entire audience missed the movie and what was said due to the ear-piercing, nerve-wracking screams that filled the theater every time Elvis appeared on the screen.

It was most aggravating to me. If you happened to be one of those teens, I’m still not too happy with you. Having viewed the original movie, I go down in history as having viewed another first of USA history, but today am contemplating renting the movie so I can hear it.

On our Belle cruise, we were taken back through the 1950s, complete with Jane’s poodle skirt, and enjoyed a list of “oldies” performed by Jane and Ray Kumor. There was no screaming as this Elvis (alias Ray) appeared on stage. Keep in mind, the women on this cruise were the same screaming teens of the late ‘50s, maybe not at the Orpheum, but more than likely they helped spoil the King’s movie in some other theater. I’m thinking they permanently ruined their voices so in their old age are forced into quiet admiration.

As Elvis’ impersonator, Ray did sing some romantic songs that touched my heart and brought back fond memories. Elvis had a voice that cannot be duplicated and never will be to perfection. And while the reincarnated version of Elvis was quite good and entertaining, he did come up a bit short of living up to the image we senior citizens have stored in our memory banks. (Sorry, Ray!)

Elvis was merely a small portion of the show aboard the Belle, which was especially designed for a floor full of seniors. Jane came out glowing and having fun performing and singing songs that took us back to our younger years. Interaction with the audience enhanced the whole program.

Throughout, we were invited to sing along. We seniors joined in singing with gusto and total word recall of entire songs. I was amazed as I realized this is the same group of people who grope for a name, place or word in order to complete a sentence.

Ray closed the program with the veterans holding a flag while patriotic songs were sung by all. The last song was “God Bless the USA,” which is my favorite. In my opinion, it should be adopted as our national anthem.

A portion of our cruise was spent atop the boat in beautiful, sunny, breezy weather. Perfect!

The dinner was good, and the show was great, resulting in a wonderful, fun-filled trip. Husband Jerry was most impressed with the smoothness of the whole ride, including the launching and docking. I believe most members of our “55 & Rising” church group who attended, would highly recommend a dinner cruise on the Celebration Belle.

May you, too, have smooth sailing — and don’t forget to F-R-O-G.

Note to readers: Earlene Campbell lives by the FROG motto — Fully Rely On God. She lives in Princeton and can be reached at earlenecampbell@rocketmail.com.

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