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That's all right, Mama

Marguerite Brown is still all shook up by the King

Derek Neary
Northern News Services

Fort Simpson (Aug 23/02) - The King of Rock and Roll passed away 25 years ago Aug. 16, and Marguerite Brown was thinking of Elvis Aaron Presley on that day.

Of course, that wasn't unusual. Brown, known to nearly everyone in Fort Simpson as "Big Mama," thinks of Elvis every day. It would be impossible for her not to, as her room is a virtual Elvis shrine.

Even when her phone rings, there's Elvis, immortalized in plastic, singing Jailhouse Rock until she picks up the receiver.

Her memorabilia, which is scattered over three locations, includes all his albums, 8-tracks, tape cassettes and CDs. She has his movies on video and plans to order them on DVD.

Then there's the sheets and pillowcase, pictures, collector plates, doll, Christmas ornaments, mirror, stamps, key chains, calendars and clocks, all adorned with Elvis' image.

"I've ordered more shelves ... one of these days I'm going to have to build a place to put all that in," she said of her memorabilia. "Just about everything that comes out, I get."

Big Mama, a cook at the Nahanni Inn for the past 11 years, wears an Elvis wrist watch and has an Elvis guitar pendant on the chain around her neck.

Her fascination with the King started when she was a young girl growing up in Trinity Bonavista Bay, Nfld. She saw his black-and-white, western movie "Flaming Star" and she was hooked.

"I think it was a little bit of everything," she said of his appeal.

She was so taken with Elvis that, at age 12, she insisted her newborn brother be named in his honour. She got her way.

Although she was happy not to be among the throngs holding a candlelight vigil and filing through Elvis's Graceland home in Memphis last week, she did make the pilgrimage in March, 2000.

"I always wanted to do that. I had it in my mind for 30 years," she said.

She's sure he has passed on, too. Big Mama won't have any part of the conspiracy theories that Elvis is out there somewhere.

"That's like believing in UFOs," she laughed.