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CONCERT DATE: September 3 1976 (8:30 pm). St Petersburg FL.

Oh Elvis, Our Youth Is Gone And We Went Our Separate Ways
by Judy Sedgeman
St. Petersburg Press

I have seen the Pelvis, and, alas, it is pudgy. Twenty years ago, I'll never forget it, I sat before our 19-inch Zenith black-and-white television set at 8PM on a Sunday night, breathless. I was wearing a green and white striped skirt with four stiff petticoats under it, a white elastic cinch belt that gave me a stomachache every day, a white cotton peasant shirt that you could pull down over one shoulder if you were willing to risk chest pains from a strapless bra, and a corkscrew ponytail, tied high with a green ribbon. That was the cool thing to wear. And it seemed just right to witness a new sensation, Elvis.

Ed Sullivan, his taut features struggling with the formation of every word, announced Elvis Presley. A collective audience of pubescent females gasped and swooned. A skinny young man, unkempt, thick dark hair brushed back, with one lock falling over his forehead, swaggered on stage. He began to sing, and his hips began to move behind his big guitar, and the television screen went dark for an instant, and then all you could see was his face. "Disgusting," my mother pronounced. A collective audience of pubescent females groaned in despair. They had wanted to see the Pelvis. It wasn't something you saw much of in the 50s.

Friday night, I sat in Bayfront Center along with thousands of other people. I'll never forget it either. I was wearing my pre-washed blue jeans, a tee shirt and a blow-dry hairstyle. Utter comfort. It apparently wasn't the cool thing to wear to witness an old sensation. The place was filled with 30-and 40-ish women in evening gowns and teased up, curled up, sprayed up hair. It was like walking into a time machine and finding yourself at a hairdresser's convention in 1959.

For an hour, everyone was restless as the Elvis warm-up proceeded. Even the Sweet Inspirations, with their hot-rock and earsplitting, mind-bending sounds, didn't fire up the fans. (It did, however, explain to some of us why persons 10 years younger than we are expected to go deaf any time now.) Then there was intermission, while hawkers hawked outrageously-priced programs, Elvis-pins, Elvis banners, and binoculars. "Try 'em out, don't be shy, get a good look at Elvis!"

At last, with a fanfare reminiscent of the introductory scene to a Roman orgy, with booms and drum rolls and heavy music befitting the entrance of The King, with a play of colored lights and a roar from the audience, a stoop-shouldered, heavy-set guy heaved himself up on the stage. It was Elvis. The voice was the same, anyway. he's got a beautiful voice. Deep, throaty, sexy, strong, just like it always was. But, just like always, it's not enough for the fans. They wanted to see The Pelvis.

And they saw it. But, see, when a heavyset, middle-age man tries to get some moves going, it just looks funny. Funny and a little pathetic. But the screaming teenagers who flocked to the front of the arena and crowded around the stage didn't seem to care about that. Arms upraised, they moaned, they cried, they begged for a touch, a look, anything. They got scarves. It started when Elvis ripped the scarf from his neck (revealing a whole new set of chins) and tossed it casually over the crowd.

"Then a man emerged from the band and began handing Elvis scarves, and as he sang, he would wipe his brow, pull the scarf away, and fling it to the crowd. Like sharks in a feeding frenzy, they lunged for those scarves, ripping at them, at each other, to grab a piece of nylon with Elvis' sweat on it. "Disgusting," I muttered. And then smiled to hear my mother echoed in myself.

I wished he hadn't done that. Why couldn't he just sing? He would get so distracted with the scarf-throwing and the squealing from the freaked-out females around him that he would forget the words, skip parts of songs, lose it altogether. At one point, as they threw flowers at him, threw even articles of their own clothing at him, he said "What's the matter with you? Do you think I'm the Pope or something, going to bless you?" That's right, I thought, you tell them. Make them sit down. But a moment later, he was crouched by the edge of the stage as eager young hands pawed at his legs, his knees, his thighs. "Disgusting," I thought. "I would just die of shame if my daughter did that," I thought. And then, I figured it out. We grew up. He didn't.

Courtesy of Scott Hayward