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Elvis 100% Meets With Elvis Presley Enterprises, Inc.
Célia Carvalho, August 2002

Patsy Andersen and I, at EPE's offices

There are memories that stay with us forever after we visit Elvisland. I’ll never forget what happened shortly after Olga Susana and I sat on the plane that would take us to Newark. They have briefly turned the radio on and who was singing? Elvis. But it was the song that was interesting: Good Luck Charm. I could only intepret that as a good omen. When we got to Newark and were getting ready to catch the plane that would take us to Memphis, the radio was also turned on for brief seconds. And who was singing? Elvis. But the weird thing is that it wasGood Luck Charm again! I looked at Olga and felt all the hairs in my arms raising up: it couldn’t be just a coincidence. We were well protected during our flights, since Elvis was watching over us.

And, in fact, lots of good things happened during this trip. Even the thing that didn’t turn out that good – the weather – seemed to have somewhat turned into a blessing. The showers lowered the temperature and also showed the world that it takes more than a few storms and heavy rains to make Elvis fans abandon their post!

One of the things that I consider most important during our visit to Memphis was a meeting that took place with Elvis Presley Enterprises, Inc., the entity that officialized us and that manages all the Elvis estate. We had requested for a meeting to the assistant of the Marketing & Public Relations Department, Jen Malek, to deal with some matters that are of interest to Elvis 100% and, mainly, of interest to Elvis and his fans. It was an honour when we received a positive answer from the Manager herself, Patsy Andersen, to schedule a meeting with us for August 15th, around 11.00 a.m., at EPE’s offices. We had been witnessing throughout the whole week how busy everybody were and we were even more grateful for the consideration.

When we arrived at EPE’s offices (the back of the offices connect with Graceland’s grounds), the receptionist was just receiving a phone call from Patsy, saying that she would arrive a little late for our meeting. Patsy is a beautiful lady, a super Elvis fan, who started working at EPE, in the office. After that she was a tour guide in Graceland and returned to the offices again, when she got pregnant. Today she is one of the fundamental pieces inside the company and, personally speaking, one of the nicest. She welcomed us very warmly, especially Olga. It was funny to find out that Patsy knows a bit of Portuguese, since her son lived in Brazil for a couple of years and speaks our language! And don’t tell me this is a big a world.

I always thought that Patsy was going to be with us for just a few minutes, since I knew just how tired and busy she was. On that precise day she would have to deal with lots of the media representatives and take care of the last – and unpredictable – preparatives for the Candlelight Vigil. But no. She didn’t seem to be in a hurry at all. And even after having discussed the matters that had taken us there, she made a point of sharing with me (I say “me” because Olga doesn’t understand English!) all the ideas and projects she has for future meetings with the Fan Clubs’ Presidents. I thought it was very sweet of her and I thanked her trust. After having talked about our Fan Club and of showing her some of our magazines – which she loved, saying that they were excellent work (she especially enjoyed the portraits that have been given to us) – there was still time to share some more personal moments. I asked her if she had met Elvis. She said she saw him a few times and that she could have been introduced one day, but as he was at the Meditation Garden at the time, she just didn’t want to disturb him. This is the sort of attitude by someone who is a true admirer – she respected the idol and also the man behind the image. Meanwhile, Elvis would die shortly after that. I asked about the health of some elements of Elvis’ group, like Estelle Brown, of The Sweet Inspirations, and Charlie Hodge. She replied by saying that they were recovering just fine. Patsy knows all the people who met Elvis, inclusively the closest family members. She says that they’re like her own family members now.

Portrait we offered EPE

One of the goals that led us to have this meeting was also to present EPE with a small memento from us, for all the support they have given us. We don’t inform our members of all that’s going on, but we keep in constant contact and, you can believe this, they have never failed to give us an answer, every time we needed them. Therefore, we offered them a plaque on a portrait, as a form of gratitude. It contains the logotype of our Fan Club, as well as a message and our address. Patsy was visibly delighted with the offer. “We don’t have anything as pretty as this around here!” she said, “I’m going to ask someone to hang this on the wall immediately!” So, whoever goes by EPE’s offices now, will see a bit of our Fan Club over there…! Of course I had to capture this moment in a photograph, which Olga promptly took.

Before we went away – and I must say I was the one who took the first step to end the meeting, since Patsy never pressured us – we brought a full bag with brochures of the week’s activities in Memphis. We sent a copy to all our members in September. I had something I wanted to ask from Patsy. I told her that if it wouldn’t be possible, I wouldn’t be upset about it and she shouldn’t feel bad to say no if needed. I asked her if it would be possible to let Olga go through in front of all the crowds that would be present at the Musical Gates for the Candlelight Vigil. This wasn’t for me. I had already stayed in line for 5 hours in 1997 and it had been so hard… I didn’t think Olga would be able to make it, due to her disability. Patsy looked at her, smiled and then told me, “Of course I will let her in, Celia. Two days ago, when Elvis’ friends were returning home after the Fan Clubs’ Presidents meeting at Libertyland (I’ll explain about this event in a future article), Dick Grob (*) was getting inside his car and told me, ‘Patsy, can I go and pay my respects to my friend tomorrow?’ He also wanted to go in front of the crowds. I told him I would and he had tears running down his cheeks.” We remained silent for a few seconds. I said, “Yeah, I suppose that if it’s important to us, it should be much more important to them.” Patsy nodded. “Yes, they knew him. They’re his family.” Patsy told us to meet her, that she was going to let us through, shortly after the family members having had their private moments with Elvis. Before I said Patsy goodbye, I told her I was really sorry for the loss of her mother, who had recently died. Her eyes got moisty and she thanked me. We hugged goodbye (people from the South are very warm, there is always hugs and kisses for everybody – it doesn’t surprise me one bit Elvis was the way he was…) and, true to her word, at 11.00 p.m. Olga and I were on the driveway, going up to the Meditation Garden with our candles in our hands. 

When we got to the Musical Gates, we told one of the security guards that Patsy had told us to meet her there. We couldn’t have known at the time, but Priscilla, Lisa Marie and her husband, Nicolas Cage, were up at the Mansion, in Elvis’ bedroom (that overlooks the Garden), watching the crowds just going by in silence in front of Elvis’ gravesite. Patsy was at the mansion when the security guard contacted her. And she came all the way down to meet us, under all that rain, to the Musical Gates. She led us inside the mansion’s grounds, tapping our backs for comfort once again. I know that, for Olga, it was an unforgettable moment. Olga returned her gesture, and said, in Portuguese, “Obrigada, obrigada…” (Thank you, thank you). To which Patsy replied, in our language, “Obrigada, também.” (Thank you, too). 

There was another thing that I shall remember forever, in Patsy’s own words. I was apprehensive about the rain and she should be too, because it could spoil the cerimony. But she said, “I’ll never cease to be amazed with all the people that come here, year after year, from all corners of the world, to pay tribute to Elvis. Every year I sit up on that hill, under that tree, just watching them go by. And it always touches me…” 

She must have felt even more emotional this year. Even the skies wept for the 25 years since Elvis’ left. I shall never forget… 

(*) Dick Grob was a cop responsible for Elvis’ security issues during the 70’s and he also acted as his private detective sometimes.

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