Ann Downey
Ann Dowey is a life-long Irish Elvis fan who met the king several times and talks about her experience being face to face with Elvis on numerous occasions.

As a life-long Elvis fan, I’ve traveled to Graceland several times. However, I’ll always remember my fabulous, special memories of the very first time I visited as a 20-year-old girl with my mother who treated me to the trip.

We came to visit in late September of 1968 and you can just imagine my elation after having spent time inside the gates with Vester, plus knowing that Elvis was at home for the week due to a cold. As I watched Elvis come down in his car, he rolled down the window and our group went over to speak to him. Amazingly we were the only ones there.

My mother told him that we were from Ireland and that I was a huge fan. I was speechless at this point due to sheer awe and how stunningly handsome he was in person. To add to the excitement of the moment, after trying to get some close ups of Elvis, I practically stuck the camera in his face and he cracked up laughing! He spoke to us for a while, signed autographs and then he was off.

We were invited to go along to the Memphian Theater for the week. Elvis rang down to the hut to tell Vester to have Charlie Hodge transport us back and forth from our hotel to the theater, so he would know we were safe.

It was the most exciting experience to be in the cinema with Elvis, Priscilla and the boys each night. He sat about eight rows ahead of us and one night I was sitting next to Patsy Presley showing her some of the pictures I had taken of Elvis in the previous days.  He was always very animated throughout the movies and loved Clint Eastwood.

In 1973, at one of the Vegas shows, my friend managed to climb onto the stage and gave Elvis a plaque that we had had made for him. It was made of Connemara Marble with a silver heart in the middle, it was inscribed with Elvis's name at the top with "We will hold you in our hearts forever" and Ireland on the bottom. He had it brought back to Graceland with him and later hung it in the Trophy Room.

In 1976, it was my great pleasure to give Elvis an Irish police badge. Sometime later I received a letter from him written on a bicentennial card, thanking me for the badge and wishing me a wonderful year ahead. It’s one of my most prized possessions. Here is the inscription:
March 25th 1977,

Dear Ann,

Thank you for the thoughts & interest & caring for me. I hope you all have a wonderful year ahead. Thanks for the TCB club & everything.

Sincerely, Elvis Presley.

PS: Thank you for the badge also, Elvis.

It was August 1974, during Elvis' summer season in Las Vegas. I had seen 13 shows that year. The season was finishing on Sept 2nd closing night. Later that night we were sitting in the "Elvis circle" which was a half circle sofa facing the elevators & stairs in the Hilton lobby, talking to all the fans after hearing a rumor that Elvis was going somewhere after the show.

It was getting late and we were talking about going home when we decided to take a walk outside the main door. Having seen "Elvis on Tour" numerous times we recognized the chauffeur and Elvis' car so we knew something was going down.

A little while later Elvis walked out with Sheila while enjoying an ice pop. He posed for the fans and spoke to us for a little while, showed off his rings and told us all about them. He got into the car and stood up through the sunroof, talking for a good 5 minutes. He dropped the stick from the ice pop which my friend Dee picked up.

There were only about 30 people hanging around which meant that the atmosphere was relaxed and everyone got to have a few words with Elvis. Elvis kindly decided to take off his glasses so photographers could get some better shots of him. He was wearing his 8th degree black belt that night after having received it recently. He was obviously very proud of it and spoke about it frequently on stage.

To my surprise, in about 2004, I discovered that I had been captured in a photo from that night and it was on the back cover of the FTD CD "It’s Midnight." It looks like I’m standing right beside Elvis, while he’s standing up in his car. It was a lovely surprise to see that I had another picture with Elvis after all these years that I hadn’t known about.

Another box set released about a decade ago features that same night. The front cover was a beautiful picture of Elvis wearing his black jacket, with the karate belt, eating his ice pop and on the back is a picture of Elvis with Sheila Ryan leaving the venue after the Tom Jones show.

We were so lucky to basically have the same thing happen to us the next night. We thought Elvis might be coming out again so we were in the right spot and actually got to touch his hand as he passed us. I didn’t want to stick the camera in his face again after having done it in '68 and have the flash go off in his face, so I took a full length picture of his back instead. He was talking to us about Ireland and thanked us for coming to see him.

He was wearing a beautiful white two piece outfit which he had worn on stage that season. He looked SO unbelievably handsome! Again he spent time speaking to us from the car, talking to us about the shows and showing off his rings. Once again when he was leaving he said "Bye, bye, see y'all later!" This made us all smile.

I have many other wonderful memories of meeting Elvis over the years and I’ve had the pleasure of attending 37 shows in Las Vegas, plus I was lucky enough to receive a scarf from him. These were truly experiences of a lifetime and something never to be forgotten.

Long live the King!