Behind her wide spectacles, Pat Geiger is 68 years old, dignified, graying, a bit on the plump side. The grandmother of seven, she is not what would traditionally be called Elvis Presley’s kind of girl. But he needs her now.
Geiger, a Virginian by birth who lives in North Springfield, Vt., has written to the Postmaster Citizen’s Stamp Advisory Committee at least 60 times urging that Elvis’ image appear on a U.S. stamp. She has also tapped into some 300 Elvis fan clubs worldwide and estimates that the stamp committee has been deluged with 50,000 signatures petitioning for Presley postage.
Geiger’s campaign met a setback last week, when the post office announced there would be no Elvis postage in 1989, but that wasn’t a total veto. Postmaster General Anthony Frank has said a Presley stamp “sounds like a good idea.” And there’s precedent for using a singer’s image to carry the mail: An Enrico Caruso commemorative was issued in 1987.
The campaign also has a stamp of approval from, among others, Linda Thompson Jenner, Elvis’ ex-sweetie. “I found him worthy enough to be with for five years of my life,” says Jenner. “I’d like to look at his face while I’m mailing my letters.” Jerry Schilling, creative affairs director for the Presley estate, says he would “not give [the Postal Service] a lot of problems if they want to do something to honor forever this man in a dignified way. I’m not going to say, ‘I think you have too much blue here.’ ” Even singer Robert Goulet, whose image on TV once so infuriated Elvis that he shot out the set, thinks the King deserves to become a first-class male. “I sincerely hope he gets the stamp,” says Goulet. “In his later years, he wasn’t quite himself, but Elvis was very nice to me.”
A sticking point, says Postmaster General Frank, would be deciding which Elvis the stamp should show. One faction, he says, wants to see the sausage-bodied crooner of the later years, bloated from drugs and overeating. Another group longs for the sleek ’50s rockabilly. There are also those who want to cancel the whole idea. One large group opposes honoring Elvis because his pill popping runs counter to the crusade against drug abuse. “He’s not the only person who took pills and put on weight,” Geiger defends. “He was a very generous man, and all of his fan clubs actively support charities in his memory.” Others—call them diehards—say it would be inappropriate to commemorate Presley because he isn’t really dead.
Why does Geiger press on? “I’ve asked myself that very question,” she says. “I guess it all began in 1968, when Elvis did his ‘comeback’ television special. I’d always been a fan, but nothing out of the ordinary. I sat in my living room and said to myself, ‘No one is that good-looking.’ But he was that good-looking! Being 16 years older than he was, I kept my feelings to myself. I told only one person at work that Elvis could put his shoes under my bed anytime.”
She has gone on to amass Elvisiana. She owns photos, paintings and albums. She has a strand of hair she thinks was his(from a Memphis barbershop) and a swatch from a sheet Presley supposedly slept on in Huntsville, Ala. But Geiger fumes at women who strike lewd poses beside his statue at Graceland, and don’t get her started on Graceland itself: “I don’t go for the busts, music boxes, ashtrays and those horrible-looking slippers with Elvis heads on them they sell now.”
As for the Elvis-is-alive crowd, “I have my Elvis memorabilia and my strand of hair, but I am not among those who believe he is still alive,” Geiger says. She adds mischievously, “If I get this stamp for him and he turns out to be alive, I’ll kill him.”