My Grandfather was Elvis

Photo from Wikimedia Commons

I graduated high school at the age of 17 years old. Almost a year early, thanks to a summer spent in history class. Yeah I was that kid. Most kids avoided summer school like the plague.

Not me. I went to summer school by choice. I just wanted to graduate early and be done with school. Weekdays after summer school I worked for a local daycare center. And I loved it so much, I decided I wanted to go to college. I wanted to be an early childhood education teacher and eventually run my own preschool center.

To get my degree, I wanted to attend the local community college. It was only 30 minutes away. I could live at home. But my parents, especially my dad who I lived with full-time, wouldn’t hear of it.

Back then community college was perceived as being for kids who couldn’t make the grades to get into university. So they decided I would go away to a four-year college. There was no changing their minds. It wasn’t up for discussion. They were paying for it. If I wanted to go to college, I had to go away from home.

That’s how life was back then. “As long as I’m footing the bill” was akin to “as long as you live under my roof.” Kids did as they were told.

On the bright side, my maternal grandfather was Elvis. Yep, Elvis. He wasn’t a vain man at all. But he loved to remind me that his name was Elvis. Not THE Elvis of course, but he liked to imply he was. He often tried to sing Elvis songs but although it was fun to watch, his singing voice didn’t help his case.

Grampa Elvis smoked a pipe and was fond of using made up words as if they were common knowledge. I think I was 10 before I realized that belly buttons weren’t really called “pimpackers”. He’d ask me to bring him that “zipitmydoodle” off the table and then act offended when I didn’t know what he was talking about.

Here’s Grampa Elvis with 3 of his granddaughters, that’s me with the pigtails

Photo courtesy of Aunt Dee

Grampa Elvis was the first person I told when I didn’t want to go away to college. He told me that I could handle it because I “was his number 1 granddaughter”, something he called me often because I was the first born grandchild. He also said if I needed him all I had to do was call and he’d be there in a “hickomosquat”. I had no idea how long that was, but it made me laugh.

When I went away to college, he and Gram would send postcards and letters regularly. I loved getting those letters from home. They would tell me about a weekend trip they’d taken. They went to Hershey, PA and they went to see the Indian mounds. Sometimes they each wrote separate letters so I would get two in one week.

Grandpa would always sign his postcards “Elvis” in large loopy writing.

When I asked him once why he didn’t just sign it Grampa, he said “hey, I want you to be able to show your friends your postcards from Elvis”.

Grandpa Elvis died of cancer a year or so after my second child was born. It was a huge loss for me. But I believe he’s up there with the real Elvis. And if I know Grampa, the first thing he did was challenge Elvis to a sing-off!

As soon as he figures out how to send it, I know I’ll get another postcard telling me all about it.