It may be just a 21-inch vinyl doll, still attached by plastic cording to his box, but for Marilyn Hill Jones, Marion County Lake, her “Burning Love” Elvis Presley memento brings back thoughts of good times and great music.
“His music was just the best ever. I loved him,” she said. “All the girls loved him, and all the boys wanted to look like him.”
Jones plans to join others at the Marion Senior Center on Friday for a commemorative celebration of Elvis Presley’s birthday.
“I’ll even bring my Elvis doll,” she said. “I might even take him out of the box this time.”
Elvis Presley, considered the King of Rock ‘n’ Roll by fans worldwide, would have been 77 years old on Friday, if he were still alive. His music inspired generations and lives on in modern times, as fans celebrate his birthday and radio stations play his music this week.
“My favorite song was ‘Love Me Tender,’” Jones said. “I danced to that with my high school boyfriend who became my husband.”
Jones’ first husband, Larry Hill, purchased the collectible Elvis Presley doll for her in 1985, paying $79.99. Made in the United States by Toys for Roy, it was produced by World Doll and endorsed by Graceland.
“I looked online and it now sells for $179, but I’ll never sell it,” Jones said. “Looking at Elvis reminds me of the good old days and how we loved that music.”
Jones, who grew up in Wichita in the 1950’s, said that until Elvis Presley came along, her life was very prim and proper.
“Elvis came along, and it was like a breath of fresh air,” she said. “Not only could he really sing, but he moved his hips, he played that guitar, and his look — it could just melt you.”
Jones said most parents did not like their children listening to Elvis Presley music, including her father. However, her mother liked him and actually listened to rock `n` roll music with her.
“We made cassette recordings of him on television,” Jones said. “We didn’t have any other way to do it back then, but I had all his songs on cassettes, and then the ’45 records came out, and I got several of those too.”
Jones never got to see Elvis perform in person, but in 1958 she saw “Jail House Rock,” a movie featuring the rock ‘n’ roll star, in Wichita.
“My dad would never have let me go on a date at that time, but several other family members were going, and I was able to go with them,” she said.
The movie was a highlight for Jones, but she said she much preferred Elvis the singer, as opposed to Elvis the movie star.
“I never liked him in movies,” she said. “He just didn’t act like himself, like I thought he should act. I loved him on stage though, and I could listen to his music forever.”
Jones moved to Marion in 1986, and later married Henry Jones, who also shared her love of Elvis Presley.
“He had pictures of how he used to have his hair in ducktails like Elvis,” she said. “Oh he looked so good like that.”
She said Elvis influenced so many of her generation to look outside societal walls and to feel good about themselves.
“Even today, I still find myself turning my collar up whenever I wear a shirt with one,” she said. “Instantly I feel different, better.”
Jones said the day Elvis Presley died in 1977 she cried and cried for hours.
“I just sat and stared at the television set in disbelief,” she said. “But eventually, reality set in and I had to get on with it.”
Though he has reportedly been dead for 35 years, Jones said Elvis Presley still inspires others with his music.
“Just the other day my granddaughter, Ashley Coleman, texted me and said, ‘Grandma, I am thinking of you. I have been listening to Elvis Presley all day on the radio and I really like his music,’” Jones said. “So many of his songs are timeless, I still enjoy listening to them today.”