Dr. John Mchugh might not have been a true-blue Elvis fan, but the man touched him in some unlikely ways nonetheless.
In August of 1977 my mother and I went to Columbus, Georgia to get me a stereo system. I had labored all summer both from the standpoint of working at a NAPA auto parts store and studying my options for the right system in a Service Merchandise Catalogue. A Pioneer receiver with the lowest watts (that was the cheapest) a turntable and two speakers completed the “component system” that was the in thing at the time. Prior to this I had never had a stereo system of my own and never on that was stereo (different tracks on different speakers—this is important—I listened to Hey Bulldog of the Beatles for years without knowing that there were words before the chorus—I shocked me when I found out—I loved the song without the stuff that was missing. Anyway, we were going to get my component system because I was starting medical school that fall in Augusta, Georgia at The Medical College of Georgia. I bought three albums: Celebrate Me Home by Kenny Loggins, Late for the Sky by Jackson Browne and Billy Joel’s Just the Way You Are. We got all the stuff and headed back to LaGrange in my non air conditioned Toyota Corolla.
So my mother and I are on our way back to Lagrange and in front of Green Island Country Club (Where I used to swim in tournaments and was there as an 8 year old on a day of an eclipse of the sun. I remember people having made boxes with a tiny hole for the sun to shine through to show on aluminium foil to see the eclipse without having to look into the sun) and then something came over the radio.
“Elvis Presley has died.”
Well, I have never been a big Elvis fan, I loved the Beatles but despite that I recognized that an icon had passed and that this was a milestone. I never really thought about Elvis much but the announcement struck me as big. I was in the third grade in the bathroom of Clubview Elementary in Columbus, Georgia when over the intercom the principal announced that JFK had been shot, and of course my mother knew all the details of where she was for Pearl Harbor and December 7th. I have since read several books on Elvis and my son Sam and I explored Memphis, Sun Studio and Graceland. We even went to Studio B in Nashville to see where he did the majority of his recordings.
Having been a community urologist in a small Northeast Georgia town, focusing on prostate cancer, and also seeing a hundred or so folks a week provides for a lot of interesting interchanges with patients with all sorts of background, jobs, life expriences, and interests. This week in my Ambulatory surgery center I operated on a lady and in the recovery room she and her husband just happen to mention that they loved Elvis and that they had tickets to see him in Atlanta the weekend he died.
“Dr. McHugh, have you ever been to Graceland?”
I said, “Well as a matter of fact I have a picture I want to show you.”
Picture courtesy of the author. This post originally published on The Prostate Decision.
Here’s Paul Simon singing Graceland in Central Park: