Fast forward: 2013. Tootling down the four-lane, we notice this tall, really tall totem on the banks of the mighty Columbia River. Three or four u-turns later and there it looms above us, all 140 feet, tallest totem
on record. Though carved in 1960 to be erected at the Seattle World's Fair, alas, finished not in time. For 12 long years it languished in a forgotten wood yard on the cold, cold ground. Good folks discovering Totem's
sad fate, raised funds to raise it where it stands today centerpiece of Kalama Port Authoity's lovely riverside park. What's this got to do with
Elvis? Patience, I'm getting there.
Hmmmm. Maybe we can find more totem lore in
town. (Actually, it's a village, but folks west of the Mississippi just don't use this word. Villages are in England.) Kalama, WA, across the four-lane from Totem, proves to be delightfulf, tidy and well-kept. At the
friendly Chamber of Commerce they know nothing about the totem, direct us to the friendly librtarian who also knows nothing. (Bad blood between town and port authority?) Elvis, Elvis? Keep reading.
Before leaving the libary, I ask about the plaque out front dedicated to John (I think) Kalama. Now some
folks swear that Kalama is a coastal Native American tribe. Not so. This Kalama man, an Hawaiian, set foot in 1830 on US soil.
The guy was a
cooper, slapped together barrels; filled them with salman as fast as he could build them. Shipped them back to Hawaii. Seeems a little strange. Hawaii's got lots of fish, you know, but that's the story. You're phishing with Elvis! It's coming, it's coming.
Lunch time. We pass a couple of nice looking resaurants in favor of the TLC Laundry and Deli. Four round-window washers hum away. The room is filled with plants,
book cases, cutesy crafts, sunny windows. Totally charming. Two easy chairs if you care to wait. Not necessry to guard your your washing, though, laundry theft being rare in these parts. A drop-dead gorgeous woman tends the corner deli in the rear. She also folds, irons, tends and mends the laundry as needed. Fish
stew is world class.
Leaving town, we pass a motel claiming "Elvis Slept Here 1962" In 1962, Elvis made two movies, one of which, Girls, Girls, Girls, was nominated for a Golden Globe.
Competition was tough that year, The Music Man won. Anyhow, the story line of Girls was an Hawaiian fisherman dreaming of a bigger boat, a better life, and I suppose, girls. Possibly water scenes were shot on the Columbia at Kalama?
I'm just kicking my self for not stopping to ask.
Was there a room carefully peserved just as he left it? Rumpled sheets, towels draped in the bath, a bar of half-used soap, an emply
shaving cream can? Maybe a dirty ashtray with cigaret butts having touched his pouty lips? A golden plaque marking the room number? I just don't know, but I'll find out next year.