Have you ever been so tired from talking at work that your face starts to hurt? But you keep going because you still have another hour and a half left. Your head hurts. Your neck hurts. You feel like you have heard yourself say the same thing way too many times?
I volunteer at the Superstition Mtn. Museum. A big part of my role at the museum is helping our guests understand the history behind the Apacheland Movie Ranch memorabilia we have. Apacheland filmed movies, TV shows and commercials from 1960 until it burned down on Valentines Day 2004. The only structures unharmed were the barn and the chapel and they were moved to the museum grounds.
I work in the barn in the General Store on Saturdays and for the last year I have watched the western movie “Charro!” as I sell ice cream and trinkets. Elvis made “Charro!” at Apacheland in 1969. He plays a gritty cowboy. There is no singing in the movie. Elvis does sing the opening song but you don’t see him. It’s a fun movie. I watch it roughly 2.5 times a shift. I have the t-shirt for it. I am in a unique club of people who have it memorized. So far, I am the only member I know of but I’m sure there are more of us out there.
This weekend we had a big event at the museum. Amazing artists came for three days to showcase their work.
The museum also has a lecture series on Thursdays while the weather is fabulous. You get to learn all kinds of cool stuff for free. Hundreds of people show up to these lectures.
I am told this past Thursday they talked about Dia de los Muertos/ Day of the Dead and asked the artists if they wanted to put up a display/altar for this weekend. They did. It is fabulous. It is in the Elvis chapel.
(Side note for any out there not familiar..Dia is celebrated Oct 31, Nov 1 and 2 and this is March 10,11 and 12.)
I said yes to volunteering an extra day, going in on Friday and Saturday. I was told I would be a “wrapper” (…of course I rapped…badly…at my crispy but adorable boss. Apparently, that is the standard response and his blank face at me made me enjoy my stupidity even more.)
I get over to the barn and start sweating profusely when I really realize what they are actually asking me to do. Oh, that hand painted one of a kind pottery people are paying lots of money for? Yeah Stace, wrap it up and bag it while they go pay and make sure you give them the right bags when they come back. Don’t drop, chip, bump…breathe…..!!!!!
The wrapping station is in the barn in an old movie prop Saloon area that is too small for me and the elderly volunteer couple I am assigned with. (actual space…yes we moved the props, no those are not the other volunteers)
The barn is filled with artists showing original works, some worth thousands.
My boss comes back about five minutes later…I am needed elsewhere.
Halleluiah thank you baby Jesus! I can’t get out of there fast enough.
“Where am I going?” I ask but honestly don’t care.
As I am being escorted over to the Elvis chapel I am given the edited, ridiculously shortened, a third of a readers digest version of why. The Dia display combined with the Elvis chapel is making some of our guests brains explode (not exactly my bosses wording but…)
I had no idea what this weeks lecture was about. Bad volunteer me I didn’t go. Spank me. All I knew was we had three days of artists coming and it gets busy.
I am also “half Italian and half some form of English Irish mutt mix” is what my dad used to say, who knows. But I’m not Mexican, so no, I can’t give you a museum level run down on Dia de los Muertos on less than a two minute notice with no prep. Sugar skulls are cool. Dia isn’t in March. It’s a celebration. That’s the extent of my Dia knowledge.
But I sure as hell can tell you about Elvis in Charro! and my boss knew it. Plus, he knows my sense of humor and how shy I am….
Throw Stace into the Dia de Elvis Chapel for two days and see what happens.
Instantly its go time.
About two hours in there’s a lull in traffic and I’m alone. A banana falls from the top of the altar sending fruit and candles tumbling onto the floor. My completely inappropriate response to this is to quietly whisper/yell “fuuuuucccckk!!!!”as I am diving to the floor for the fruit and candles.
I have no clue how to put it back and now of course people are coming in. I hastily put the fruit and candle over to the side, positive both my dead grandma and mother just knocked me upside the head from the grave for messing up an altar and cussing at it.
The “Elvis Chapel” is only in the background of the Elvis movie and the top gets blown up. They did not film inside of it for Charro! but I am told Elvis did go inside during breaks.
Combining Elvis with the fact that this chapel didn’t burn down when practically everything else at Apacheland did, well, you will never convince a die-hard Elvis fan that THAT chapel isn’t special. Add hundreds if not thousands of weddings performed to date in the chapel. It’s a special building.
The outside of the chapel photographs beautifully with the Superstition behind it. The chapel is famous in it’s own right but most of our guests have the facts all wrong. Two days of “ no, Elvis didn’t get married here….”, “no…this is not Apacheland this is the museum….” “…you’re right, today isn’t Dia de los Muertos….”
My face hurts.