Sisters Kathy Bledsoe, left, and Cindie Bledsoe, right, both of Roseville, were among the Elvis Presley fans who attended the Recreation Authority of Roseville and Eastpointe Summer Day Camp Aug. 8.

Sisters Kathy Bledsoe, left, and Cindie Bledsoe, right, both of Roseville, were among the Elvis Presley fans who attended the Recreation Authority of Roseville and Eastpointe Summer Day Camp Aug. 8.

Photo by Patricia O’Blenes

Fans still love Elvis tender

By: Maria Allard | Roseville-Eastpointe Eastsider | Published August 21, 2023

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ROSEVILLE/EASTPOINTE — As Elvis Presley fans gathered Aug. 16 in Memphis to honor the King of Rock ‘n’ Roll on the 46th anniversary of his death, a group of local residents also recently remembered him.

On Aug. 8, about 30 senior citizens gathered at the Recreational Authority of Roseville and Eastpointe’s Senior Center to participate in an Elvis Presley-themed summer day camp from 9 a.m. to 2 p.m.

After the group of mostly women and a few men bonded over breakfast, the aura of Presley took over. The event gave attendees a chance to remember the music idol known for his swiveling hips, pompadour hairstyle and distinctive voice that belted out many hits, including “Suspicious Minds” and “Heartbreak Hotel.” Presley died Aug. 16, 1977, at age 42.

There was time to take photos with a cardboard cutout of the “Hound Dog” in his famous gold lamé suit. The seniors also wore backstage passes, received sunglasses reminiscent of the “Big Hunk O’ Love” and made night lights featuring the Mississippi native’s silhouette.

The senior center held three summer camps in 2023. In June, it was a  picnic theme, and in July, the camp was dedicated to all things beachy. This month, it was all about the King. Mary Grant, senior center director, began holding the summer camps three years ago.

“We thought Elvis would appeal to the seniors,” said Grant, who along with staff members Kim Steele and Al Keown got into the groove of the day by wearing Presley T-shirts.

As music from Presley played overhead, there was trivia, and the seniors were “All Shook Up” winning prizes playing bingo. However, instead of yelling “bingo” when they won a round, they blurted out “Elvis.”

The tables were decorated with Presley albums, and photos of the superstar adorned the windows. Grant found everything at the local record shop Blast In the Past. Paying homage to the singer’s Southern roots, the attendees enjoyed lunch from Lazybones Smokehouse in Roseville.

“I grew up with Elvis. My mother had to have Elvis on all the time. She even called him ‘Elvis the Pelvis,’” said Linda Tomasin, 71, of Roseville. “You had to admit he was kind of a little hunk.”

“Jailhouse Rock” is Tomasin’s favorite Presley song.

“That’s got a good beat,” she said. “All of his songs are good.”

Tomasin still remembers the day the music icon died.

“That was so traumatic,” she said.

Over at another table, 72-year-old Charlotte Brown talked about her memories of Presley.

“I loved Elvis. I grew up on Elvis, the movies, his white bell-bottom outfit and his gospel,” Brown said. “He was a good person.”

For Brown, the music man gave her an outlet.

“I grew up in the Jeffries Projects (in Detroit). It was kind of rough over there,” she said. “There was a lot of violence and other things. Elvis, that was my escape. I still listen to him and feel his spirit.”

Sisters Kathy Bledsoe, 67, and Cindie Bledsoe, 66, dressed in style by wearing their Presley T-shirts to the summer camp.

“We really love Elvis, the songs, the dancing, the movies throughout our childhood,” Cindie Bledsoe said. “There was a frenzy about him. He was so charismatic. He was really attractive. He was the modern thing.”

“He had so many hit songs. …‘Jailhouse Rock,’” Kathy Bledsoe said. “I love his movies, too.”

Cindie Bledsoe recalled a friend’s wedding, which had an Elvis Presley impersonator as the entertainment.

“Everyone knew the songs,” she said. “It didn’t matter the age difference.”

Sitting next to the Bledsoes was Nancy Collins, of Roseville, who donned an Elvis Presley Fan Club button for the occasion.

“It is from the original fan club. An old flame gave it to me,” Collins said. “He would always send away for things. He knew how much I loved Elvis, his look and his singing.”

Collins is such a fan of Presely that she and several family members drove to Las Vegas to see him in concert at the MGM Grand.

“There were five of us,” she said. “I have never been so cramped up in a car.”

But it was worth it.

“We sat about three rows back. An excellent show,” Collins said. “I have never seen a more beautiful man in my life.”

Collins’ appreciation for Presley was passed down to one of her daughters, who every year puts up a 7-foot-tall, blue Christmas tree dedicated to the rock ‘n’ roll legend.

During the morning, Harrison Township resident Johnny Lang stopped by to talk about his friendship with Presley. The two served in the U.S. Army together from 1958 to 1960 in Germany.

Lang, 87, wrote a book about his army buddy called “My Army Days with Elvis: Friendship, Football, & Follies.” Released in January 2023, the book is available on