It was the summer of 1961 when Elvis and his crew rolled into Central Florida to film his ninth movie, "Follow That Dream." The film was shot in Ocala, at the old Ocala Bank and Trust building, along with other Central Florida locations including Crystal River, Yankeetown, Inverness . . . and Elvis made his way to the theme park Silver Springs.
My dad was a truck driver who delivered gas to various locations all over Florida. Silver Springs was one of his routine stops. He made his delivery and headed over to find the manager to sign the delivery papers. The manager was talking to a handsome young man. The manager waved my dad over to join them and asked my dad if he knew who the young man was. My dad replied "he looks very familiar, but I don't know who he is." So the manager introduced him to my dad ". . . this is Elvis Presley." Elvis put his hand out to shake my dad's hand and my dad told him "my wife has to be one of your biggest fans and will never let me wash this hand again!" Elvis invited my dad to visit the movie set with my mom at the bank in Ocala the next morning so she could possibly meet him before filming began or between takes.
Dad couldn't wait to tell my mom the news. At first she didn't believe him, but as reality hit her, she squealed with excitement at the opportunity to meet Elvis in person. They headed for Ocala in the middle of the night to make sure to get there before filming started, arriving before the sun came up and found that filming had already started. They waited all day long into the early evening in hopes to just get a glimpse of him. Unfortunately, the place was jam packed with others with the same thought and they didn't even get to catch that glimpse of him when he came out once to wave to the crowd waiting for him. Although she was disappointed, she was so happy to have touched his beautiful pink Cadillac.
After filming had completed and Elvis was long gone to his next adventure, my dad found out that they left the set of the house on the beach intact. Of course my mom wanted to check it out and possibly walk in the footprints left in the sand by Elvis. Surprisingly, word had not gotten out and we just about had the whole place to ourselves.
We spent what seemed like all day long exploring the house, sitting on the porch that Elvis sat on. What an awesome day it was! We couldn't wait for the movie to be released so we could see that beach house and it's surroundings that we had explored on the big screen. My thoughts go back to that time when I see the movie on television and the fond memories of that day come flooding back and puts a smile on my face.
Although I was a young girl at the time, I remember the summer when Elvis came to film a movie in Florida as if it was yesterday!
Actually, Elvis left a mark on that area of Florida even in present times. Click here to go to an article from Ocala.com that goes back to that time and memories of those who were touched by Elvis.
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