We all know that Elvis has left the proverbial building.
But as I learned several days ago, Elvis also left a footprint here in Huntington Beach.
I've been doing research for a book on Orange County's rock 'n' roll history. As some of you might remember, Elvis Presley performed at the Anaheim Convention Center in 1973 and '76.
But those are not the only times that Presley visited our area.
The story begins in the late 1960s, when a Hawaiian-born martial arts instructor, Mike Stone, met Elvis and his wife, Priscilla, at a karate competition.
Stone, who would eventually relocate to Huntington Beach, ran into the couple again in 1972 at one of Presley's Las Vegas performances. Soon, at her husband's suggestion, Priscilla began learning martial arts from Stone.
By this time, Stone had opened a school in Westminster, and Priscilla would drive down from her Los Angeles home. Eventually, she gave up commuting and began training with Chuck Norris in Los Angeles.
But she also began a romantic relationship with Stone.
This love affair would eventually be the undoing of her marriage. In 1975, the couple split, and Priscilla had one of her horses, Domino — a gift from Elvis — shipped from Graceland to Huntington Beach, where it lived at the Reynolds Boarding Stables, owned and operated by Betty and Rex Reynolds.
Their son, Cody Reynolds, told me from his San Francisco home that he had fond memories of Priscilla and her young daughter, Lisa Marie.
"It was a beautiful time in Huntington Beach," he said. "Very laid-back and peaceful. We always enjoyed when Priscilla would come down to ride her horse. She was very beautiful, and we enjoyed her company. Nobody ever called her Priscilla, though. To everyone at the stables she was known as "Beau."
Perhaps the nickname was derived from her maiden name, Beaulieu.
"Lisa Marie was pretty young then, and rather than ride horses, she would spend time in the playground that we had at the stables." (Located today on Goldenwest near Central Library.)
So we have established that Priscilla Presley, her daughter and her horse used to spend time in Huntington Beach.
But what about the king?
In the early 1970s, Elvis had also started taking martial arts lessons from Stone — who had become a 10th-degree black belt. However, Elvis was too big a celebrity to take classes at Stone's Westminster studio. The singer would visit the trainer at his home in a housing tract on Edwards Avenue between Warner and Heil avenues.
Jay Meyers, who lived around the corner, remembers seeing Elvis in the neighborhood.
"I was in my early teens, and as kids we would see the limo pull into the tract," he said. "We'd be riding our bikes and recognized the limo after a few times, and he would roll down the window and wave to us. It made us feel on top of the world that Elvis waved at us."
Working on this book has already helped me learn some truly interesting things about music in Orange County.
Did you know that the garage band classic "Louie, Louie" was actually written in Anaheim?
Or that Led Zeppelin once played at UC Irvine?
Compelling stories to be sure. But for me right now, the fact that Elvis would wave at neighborhood kids in Huntington Beach in the early 1970s on his way to a private karate lesson may be the best one yet.
Viva, Surf City.
Student writing contest
It's time for the annual In the Pipeline essay-writing competition. This is the last call for any high school student in Huntington Beach, Fountain Valley or Seal Beach to tell me about a special person, place or piece of history in your community.
I'm looking for things or people I might not be able to find on my own. Submit 500 words or less — and photos if you like. I've extended the deadline. Entries are now due April 11. The winner will get to cut the ribbon at the spectacular Taste of Huntington Beach on April 27, as well as attend the food festival with family. Send entries to firstname.lastname@example.org.
CHRIS EPTING is the author of 19 books, including the new "Baseball in Orange County," from Arcadia Publishing. You can chat with him on Twitter @chrisepting or follow his column athttp://www.facebook.com/hbindependent.