by Cori Hilsgen
“Elvis” made an appearance at the annual summer picnic June 1 at Arlington Place assisted-living community in St. Joseph.
Elvis circled the room and serenaded residents and guests as he draped scarves around women’s necks and even gave out a few coveted kisses.
He sang Love me Tender to Clara Stueve, Helen Parich and Lenora Hilsgen and Young and Beautiful to Martha Kierzek.
He continued to serenade residents Irene Haus and Luvern “Notchie” Kirscht.
“We have to talk later,” Kirscht whispered.
“Your room or mine?” crooned Elvis.
Elvis kept on performing even as the temperature started to rise and Ken Krona, the maintenance man, turned the thermostat down.
“It’s getting hot in here,” Elvis said.
Elvis held the hand of Audrey Schroeder, Hilsgen’s daughter, as he sang Hold My Hand and gave a stuffed teddy bear to Hilsgen’s 8-year-old granddaughter, Amber Hilsgen, as he sang Teddy Bear.
He continued to sing Can’t Help Falling in Love With You to resident Mary Pfeffer and Karen Hennessy, housing manager.
Elvis had Hennessy and Krona participate in All Shook Up by asking them to do a little bit of shaking while he sang.
He sang The Wonder of You to his wife, Sharon. Elvis and Sharon have been married for 42 years.
Arlington’s 20 residents and about 50 other friends and family listened and laughed as Elvis performed many other songs, including Don’t be Cruel, Loving You, Blue Suede Shoes, Am I Ready, You Don’t Know Me, Just Pretend and many others.
He also sang a set of gospel music, including How Great Thou Art, Peace in the Valley, If We Never Meet this Side of Heaven and others.
Elvis ended the performance with a song his brother, Jerry, wrote called I Miss Elvis Presley.
Hennessy, who has been the housing manager since December 2012, said the theme for this year’s annual picnic was “Elvis Lives.”
“I think everyone had a great time,” she said.
Prior to Elvis’s performance, residents and guests had enjoyed picnic food consisting of barbecues, hot dogs, potato salad, watermelon and other items. They were treated to ice-cream cones after the Elvis performance.
Members of the St. Cloud Antique Auto Club, nicknamed “The Pantowners,” displayed some classic cars of the 1960s in the Arlington Place parking lot.
Cars on display included a 1960 Ford Thunderbird and a 1960 Chrysler Saratoga, both owned by Randy and Karen Marchand, a 1970 Chevy Impala owned by Larry Hennessy, a 1961 Pontiac Bonneville owned by Larry Engel and a 1963 Chevy Impala owned by Jim Zwilling.
Residents and guests voted on their favorite cars. The first- place winner was the 1960 Thunderbird; the second- place winner was the 1961 Pontiac Bonneville. Owners of the cars received trophies from Hennessy.
Elvis performer Jim Schmidt is a 66-year-old St. Cloud Tech High School graduate who has been performing since 1995. Schmidt’s wife accompanies him when he performs.
Schmidt said he enjoys performing. He said his mother recently died, and he and his 90-year-old father just rode his father’s two motorcycles to California. Schmidt said at times he had a hard time keeping up with his father. He hopes to remain as active as his father as he ages.
Clara Stueve and Helen Parich, both 100, are the two oldest residents at Arlington. Irene Haus, 54, is the youngest resident.
Haus said it took her a little while to get used to living at Arlington, but she likes it there now.
Long-time St. Joseph resident Bert Zimmer just recently moved to Arlington. He said he likes his new home. He eats his meals with his first cousin, Hilsgen. They are both 94.
Arlington Place, located at 16th Avenue SE in St. Joseph, opened in 1999 and offers a one-level living option for individuals.