I was in my white, Tony Soprano bathrobe wearing my Seabiscuit cap at the crack of noon, having my coffee, and thinking what I was going to write about next when my doorbell rang. Sometimes I won’t answer but this time I did. I saw a man in a suit and a good looking younger woman next to him through the peephole. If anything gets my blood circulating, it is a woman through a peephole.
“Good afternoon;” he says.
“Is El Brookman home?”
This took me back. This would be like asking Samuel Clemens if Mark Twain was home. I use my father’s first name when I write and only my closest friends call me “El” on occasion.
“What is this about?” I said taking a sip from my coffee mug.
They introduce themselves and I am not going to reveal their names, so we can refer to them as Dick and Mona. Dick starts to explain they are from the Citrus County Chamber of Commerce and would like to talk about some stories they were emailed from some locals. Seems I’m starting to get a small following here. My address was obtained through the office in Pine Ridge, and I was easy to find since I mentioned in my stories I was residing here.
My home décor is a cross between “Early Divorce” and “Contemporary Fast Escape.” I do have a couch. It is a big house, and I live here with a pet ferret named Badness, who has her own room and a large pool to swim in.
“Have a seat, I’m gonna change and be right back.”
When I return, Mona is smiling at me, crossing and uncrossing her nice pair of legs.
“OK Dick, what’s this about?”
“It seems you are coming to the attention of individuals here as an offbeat talented writer with a unique style that Citrus County needs to promote itself. We are trying to reach a different audience and think you can help us. We can get anyone to write a tourist brochure, but we would like you to write about an event that happened in Inverness.”
As if on cue, Mona’s legs crossed and uncrossed when I ask; “And what event is that?”
“The day Elvis came to town. When in 1961 he came here and this is the place where they filmed the movie, “Follow That Dream.” Many locals were used as extras in the movie.”
My jaw hung open like Mona’s legs. Do these people know I’m just a hack writer trying to follow his own dreams?
No way do these people know me. The idol worship of Elvis has always been funny to me. I was there in comedy folklore history, when my house band (The Original Fetish) at the first comedy club in Washington D.C. that I created, took to the stage the day after Elvis died, and to the shock and horror of half the crowd that began walking out in disgust, and to the hilarity of me and the other half of the crowd watching as they sang a song they just wrote called; “I’m Glad That Elvis Is Dead.”
Now that was an event!
One thing I remember most about Elvis was a beach scene in one of his movies when he was dressed in white pants, white socks, and black shoes, singing and dancing to a song called; “Do The Clam.” Elvis sang to people to do the clam….oh do the clam…..dig right in and do the clam…..hug and squeeze, honey please, dig right in and do the clam.
Oh honey please don’t tell me this clam song comes from that movie?
Mona saw my mind was racing and she crossed and uncrossed her legs again so I would stay focused.
Dick pulls out brochures and press releases and old articles. Follow That Dream is a 1962 movie based on the 1959 novel “Pioneer, Go Home.” The title Follow That Dream was chosen, allegedly, because the songwriters could not find a rhyme for “pioneer.”
Shows the lack of brain power of these songwriters. “In your rear” is the first rhyme that comes to mind, but Elvis’s colon had not reached forty pounds until 15 years later, so the songwriters get a pass.
It is about a vagabond family composed of Pop Kwimper, his son Toby played by Elvis and various “adopted” children, including nineteen-year-old Holly Jones, traveling in Florida when Pop drives onto an as-yet-unopened section of highway. When the car runs out of gas, Holly persuades Toby to persuade Pops to take up residence on the land next to the road. A chance encounter with an avid fisherman gives Holly an idea. They build a thriving business catering to sports fishermen.
Trouble soon follows. Toby rejects the advances of amorous social worker Alisha Claypoole, who goes to court to have the children taken away in revenge. Also, her government official boyfriend considers the squatters’ home to be an eyesore and wants to evict them. Finally, since the area is outside the jurisdiction of any law enforcement, two gamblers soon set up a casino in a trailer, and Toby has to deal with their armed thugs. In the end, Toby’s earthy wits win over the judge and the family returns to its new land and home. Holly also gets Toby to recognize that she is a grown woman.
Filming began July 6, 1961 in the summer heat of Florida. It was filmed in Citrus, Marion, and Levy Counties, specifically Inverness, Ocala, Inglis and Yankeetown. The courtroom scene took place in the 1912 Citrus County Old Courthouse in Inverness in which has been restored and is listed in the National Register of Historic Places. Part of the courtroom restoration can be directly attributed to the film in that it was the only record of the original courtroom configuration. Yankeetown memorializes his stay in the form of their major highway, “Follow That Dream Parkway.” The parkway was named because of the efforts of four Elvis fans. After months of meetings, the parkway had a grand opening under its new name, Follow That Dream Parkway, on July 27, 1996. The dedication and celebration was held in Inglis Florida. The bank scene was filmed in Ocala, Florida at a bank on Silver Springs Boulevard.
During filming, Elvis met Tom Petty who was only 11 years old at the time. Petty’s uncle was involved in the production of the movie. Petty swapped his slingshot for a friend’s collection of Elvis records. Personally, I would rather do a story on Tom Petty and think a highway should be named after him.
Where is the info on his drugs in a black bag that he had an assistant carry for him called, “The Elvis KIT?” I can hear Elvis now sitting in a Tiki Bar in Crystal River asking for his “kit.” These people are serious and Mona has yet to speak. Dick asks if I would look up on YouTube the re-enactment from 2011 the town did on the day Elvis came.
My hands were shaking as I opened my computer. I watched in horror at the most uninteresting group of people performing this re-enactment play like a battle from the Civil War but the only bloodshed is coming out of my eyes. This is like a re-enactment of the Stations of The Cross at Easter in the Catholic Church with only the viewer being crucified. The first station, Elvis is coming to Citrus County. Second station, hang me on the cross now! Third station is listening to Elvis singing “Follow That Dream” from your lofty perch on the cross and wishing they pounded a nail between your eyes.
After three years since this video was posted on YouTube, it only has 19 views. Do you know you could put a video of water boiling and get over a hundred views in a week on YouTube?
Why did I let them in my house? Maybe if I let the ferret out of her room they will leave.
I looked at them in silence which seemed like an eternity, wondering how a small time hack writer of a blog is getting into these situations in Crystal River and throughout these small towns of Citrus County, Florida? From being pulled over by a dwarf policeman who was the baby Jesus in their Christmas Parade, to The Possum Lady, fat German tourist in speedos swimming with Manatees, girls with their entire life story tattooed on one leg, and now Elvis worshippers from Inverness and the Chamber of Commerce who do re-enactments of when Elvis came to town like Gettysburg re-enacting their historical battles.
Just as I am about to say “no,” and let Badness out of her room, Dick says; “We will pay you $250 just to write a story anyway you want and just put it on your blog.”
My legs opened wide. You just have to follow that dream. Now I’m a paid hack. When they left I put on my black shoes beneath my white pants, started singing and dancing with Badness to the song Do The Clam, which never came from that movie. Viva Citrus County.