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Elvis enthusiast fills home with Presley collection

| Friday, May 4, 2012, 1:01 a.m.

BLAIRSVILLE--Marge Patz doesn't consider herself an Elvis Presley disciple.

"I wouldn't say I was a fanatic," Patz humbly stated. "I just like Elvis."

But saying that she simply likes the late"King of Rock 'n Roll," who would have turned 72 on Monday, is an understatement.

As the anniversary of the King's birthday approaches, Patz likely will bake a cake to honor the legendary rocker. She'll do so in the Blairsville homeshe shares with her husband, Tom, and an ever-growing array of Elvis memorabilia, ranging from figurines to trading cards.

Among the collection's items are coffee mugs, drink stirrers, soap, stamps, salt and pepper shakers, a napkin holder, coins, collectible spoons, puzzles, even a bingo blotter bearing Elvis' image.

"He's everywhere," Marge Patz acknowledged.

And he truly is. He sits at the front entrance in the form of a doorstop. Match books with his image sit in the curio cabinet among numerous figurines of the sideburned one.

Figurines also have a prominent place in the couple's bedroom, sitting alongside three dolls decked out in Elvis' most famous costumes.

A snow globe featuring the famed crooner, when shook, swirls about not snow, but musical notes.

"Your writing instrument has to be Elvis, too," Marge Patz said, holding up a pen decorated with Elvis's features.

Also among Patz's collection is a Pepsi bottle celebrating the singer's designation as Artist of the Century in 2000, at the turn of the millennium.

A Franklin Mint print, complete with a gold medallion marking its authenticity, has a spot of honor in the couple's sitting room.

The family's Christmas tree provides yet another opportunity for Marge to display her enthusiasm for all things Elvis.

Among her ornaments are a large blown glass likeness of the late singer and several miniature jukeboxes that play his tunes.

Two of Patz's favorite belongings are a pair of picture discs--LP records with Elvis' likeness on their front.

Patz especially likes an animatronic teddy bear dressed in the black leather outfit Elvis wore for his 1968 comeback TV special. When turned on, the stuffed figure comes to life, rocking its hips in true Elvis style while crooning the singer's hit, "Your Teddy Bear."

Elvis even has a presence in the Patz kitchen.

An Elvis-themed perpetual calendar given as a gift hangs on the wall, with interchangeable plates for each month. Magnets stuck on the refrigerator, notepaper sitting on the counter and a set of dish towels all bear Elvis' likeness.

Patz's most prized pieces hang in the laundry room. "This is where I spend most of my time," she laughed, "so all of the good pictures are in here."

The pictures include a black and white portrait that has become one of her favorites.

"Now if I could just teach him how to iron, I'd be set!" she joked.

In the couple's computer room, a life-sized Elvis cutout stands in the corner. It was a gift from her sister, who placed the figure next to the guest book at Marge and Tom's wedding.

Marge Patz's aunt created a needlepoint wall hanging, another favorite because of the sentiment behind it.

One of Patz's most unusual items is a whiskey decanter in the form of Elvis.

"Usually, if I see something I want, I just get it," she said of how she acquired such a collection.

She knows her Elvis history, too. She has read a number of biographies of the singer.

"If it has Elvis' name on it, whether it's a book or a record, I probably have it," she said.

She has even become a bit of an Elvis impersonator, in a way. She dresses as Elvis most every Halloween.

"I wore it to work the first year I bought it," she said. "No one knew who I was. My boss didn't even know me. But every time I left the department that day, he yelled, "Elvis has just left the department!'"

Lined up along the walls of the sitting and living rooms are Patz's collection of over 60 plates bearing every combination of Elvis's image--from young to old--a collection she began in the 1970s.

All but two of the plates are from the collectibles company The Bradford Exchange.

Patz explained the company usually sold plates in sets of four, six or eight.

"But after Elvis died, they went up to 16" in a set, she said.

One pair of plates was purchased from that Elvis mecca, Graceland.

The Patzes have only made the journey to Elvis's home once, in the early 1990s.

They were on their way to Blairsville from Boston for a family reunion, and decided to take the long way--through Memphis, Tenn.

They spent a few days there, exploring Elvis' hometown.

"It was amazing," Marge Patz said. "All of the hotels play Elvis songs in the elevators."

The wall that surrounds Graceland has become almost as well-known as the grounds themselves.

"People write their names on the wall," Patz explained. "I wasn't going to write our names, but the security guard at the gate came up to us with a pen and said 'Here, use this, it will stay on better.' I said, 'You mean you don't mind?' He said, 'Look, we couldn't stop these people if we tried.' He said there is somebody always at his grave site," where an eternal flame is lit.

"When we were in Memphis, I had to stop by the wall every night so she could say good night," Tom Patz said.

The couple had the opportunity to visit the grave of Elvis, which was moved to the Graceland grounds after an attempted theft of the body.

Marge Patz never had an opportunity to see her favorite singer perform in person, although she did have tickets to see him once in Connecticut, in September 1977.

"The one and only time I got tickets to see him, he died," Patz said. "My brother-in-law was taking me. And he kept the tickets."

Patz, who grew up in Boston, has been a fan of Elvis Presley for as long as she can remember.

One of her very first memories, she said, was of an amusement ride at a park as a toddler.

"I refused to go on the merry-go-round unless they played an Elvis song," she recalled. "'Hound Dog' came on and I went on. Even when I was in grammar school, my books were wrapped with Elvis. So I always liked him."

Though she has been a fan of Elvis since she was a young girl, Patz can't quite put a finger on what it is about the icon that she admires so much.

"I don't know," she answered. "He was always so polite. And I definitely like the music. I don't think there is anything he did that I don't have."

She's particularly partial to his tune, "Loving You." One of her favorite songs, though, is one that is little known to the general public, "Edge of Reality."

"No one's ever heard of it, hardly," she said, noting it was the song on the flip side of the 45 rpm single "If I Can Dream."

"I had a very hard time getting it," she added.

Though she's a big fan of his music, there is one thing about Elvis that doesn't appeal to Patz.

"What I don't like are his movies," she acknowledged, but she does prefer "Love Me Tender" above all of his other big screen appearances.

Patz is more partial to the "young Elvis" as opposed to the image of him in his older--and heavier--years.

When the United States Postal Service offered fans the chance to vote on which image of Elvis would be placed on a commemorative stamp, Patz put in her vote for the younger portrait.

Several of Patz's articles have been given to her by friends or family members who know of her love for the iconic singer. Her artistic niece has even made her a number of ceramic busts and wall hangings, one of which is displayed in her living room.

A friend stitched an Elvis tablecloth for her, with records scattered over the white background.

Patz also has compiled a thick album filled to the brim with 660 Elvis collector's cards released by The River Group. "It took forever to collect them all," Patz said, explaining that they were released in packs, similar to baseball cards.

The cards are broken down into classifications of Elvis' life: the Early Days, Movies, Television Shows, Graceland, Las Vegas, Personal Life.

Like many Elvis fans, Patz remembers exactly where she was on Aug. 16, 1977, the day Elvis Presley died of a suspected drug overdose, at the age of 42.

Patz was at work when his death hit the national media.

"My boss called me into his office to tell me," she said. "He actually asked me if I wanted to go home."

She was admittedly upset by the news, but she wasn't distraught. Regardless, her family and friends expressed their concern in the form of phone calls.

"I must have gotten 44 phone calls that day, asking 'Did you hear?' and 'Are you OK?'" she said. "One of my cousins came down to my house to make sure I was OK."

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