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Paying homage to 'The King'

After 60 years of Elvis fandom, county resident still collecting

Staff writer

Elvis’ appearance on the Ed Sullivan Show in 1956, as with many young women at the time, marked the start of Eileen Sieger’s fandom.

What set the Marion County resident’s experience apart was that her passion remained strong all these years.

“It started a total infatuation,” she said. “At that time, I started a collection. Some of it I still have and some has been weeded out through the years.”

When she started as a fan in high school, it was difficult to find items for her collection, Sieger said.

“In those first years, there were not as many things available,” she said. “The memorabilia hadn’t gone on the market.”

Much of her early collection was pictures and interviews from magazines, as well as the occasional record.

One of Sieger’s main resources for finding memorabilia is the St. Luke Hospital Auxiliary Shoppe in Marion.

“They all know I’m such a fan, so when things come in they set them in the back for me to have first choice,” she said.

One of her most notable items is the Elvis Christmas album. During her time helping at the shop, Sieger decided to search the price of her album online, and was surprised to see it listed for $199.

“I’ll have to search some of my other things now and see how collectible they really are,” she said.

Now that Sieger has had years to build the collection, it has grown in size several times over, and every January she dedicates an entire room for her Elvis display.

She did several Elvis impersonations during her time at Marion High School, which was not without its challenges, Sieger said.

“I don’t know what I did with my hair,” she said. “I had naturally red hair at the time and somebody said, ‘you do a good job, but you look more like Lucille Ball.’”

She saw The King perform on the Wichita State campus in 1972 and ended up in the third row.

The highlight of the experience came when Elvis threw his scarves into the crowd, Sieger said.

“One came right by me,” she said. “If I’d been a little more aggressive with the lady who caught it, I might have gotten his scarf.”

Given the magnitude of Presley’s persona, it made even more impact when he reached his decline, and ultimately died in the late ’70s, Sieger said.

“There was a magnetism about him that was just incomparable,” she said. “It was very sad, but someone living in that limelight, how could they have lived any life of normalcy?”

Though she has no plans of selling her memorabilia, Sieger makes less frequent additions than when she was younger.

“I don’t plan on filling up with everything I find,” she said. “I’m at a state in life where I need to be not continuing to add to my collection.”

Last modified Jan. 31, 2019

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