Elvis Slept Here

Hello from the History Department – And long live the King! Elvis Presley, that is.

Caddie (Johnson) Barnes was 14 years old when Elvis himself spent less than 24 hours in Kalama, WA, an event that is still discussed with fervor and excitement today.

“Oh, he was just sooooo handsome!” Caddie recalls. Hard to dispute that fact – it was Elvis’s heyday, with the hair and the cheekbones and oh, she could go on and on.

It was the evening of September 4, 1962. Teenage Caddie was at home with her mom when the telephone rang. It was her girlfriend, yelling that she’d heard on the radio that Elvis was staying at what is today known as the Kalama River Inn, just blocks away. “You better get down there,” her girlfriend said, “they say he’s getting ready to leave!”

According to historylink.org:

The star and his nine-man entourage — who had left Los Angeles in a two-vehicle convoy early on the 3rd — tried to avoid unwanted attention by driving 30 miles past Portland, and pulled off Highway 99 (I-5 had yet to be completed) to spend most of the daylight hours of the September 4, 1962, sleeping in rooms (No. 219 and 220) at the obscure Columbia Inn Motel in the tiny backwater berg of Kalama, Washington.

Despite Presley’s desire to remain incognito, the all-knowing teenage grapevine was soon thrumming with rumors of his whereabouts, and before long hundreds of young fans from little towns up and down the highway had gathered in the motel parking lot. By all accounts Presley was quite gracious to his fans, and after eating breakfast late in the day, he stepped outside around 6:30 p.m. to greet them and sign autographs. Later that evening Presley and his posse got ready to head back on the highway to begin their 137-mile journey northward to Seattle.

And that’s exactly when Caddie got her girlfriend’s frantic phone call – this was before social media, of course; news traveled much slower then.

Caddie, it should be noted, was deathly afraid of the dark. Her girlfriend’s parents wouldn’t let their teenager leave the house, so Caddie was on her own. But that night, she says, nothing could have stopped her from flying out the door of her house and sprinting through the darkness the three blocks down the hill to the highway motel.

When asked how many fans were gathered at that hour, Caddie estimated it was only about 25 who were left – the rest had already gone home, shortly after Elvis had arrived hours earlier and retreated into his room.

“Everyone was standing in the parking lot,” she remembers, “and suddenly he walks out [see left]. We were in awe. There was security everywhere. And he just heads out to this big motorhome. I seen him get in, so I walked around the other side – I was the only one who did that!”

Elvis was in the driver’s seat of his newly purchased Dodge House Car, apparently planning to drive the bus himself the two hours up the highway to Seattle. When he saw the teenager at the side, he rolled down his window.

“How ya doin’?” he asked her.
“Will you sign my hands?” she responded.
“Sure will!”

He produced a pen and signed “Elvis Presley” on the back of both Caddie’s hands. They chatted a little bit before he said to her, “You be a nice little girl, now.” And then he and his entourage (a.k.a. the Memphis Mafia) rolled away, headed to Seattle to film MGM’s Take Me to the Fair (soon renamed It Happened at the World’s Fair) on the busy grounds of the exposition.

Caddie returned home up the hill in a starstruck daze. She then carefully wrapped both her autographed hands in Saran Wrap and refused to wash them for “days and days,” she recalls with a laugh. “He was just extremely nice and sweet.” One reporter on the Seattle film set recounted that after interviewing the star, Elvis said, “‘Nice to have met you, sir.’ In the writer’s column the next day, the journalist wrote, “That ‘Sir’ did it; I felt like a million years old. And now that I’ve met Elvis, I’ll have to listen to some of his records and find out what the hero worship is all about.”

Not everyone felt the same way, appartently. Caddie’s mom owned the beauty shop in Kalama and did everyone’s hair and heard everyone’s stories. And, according to motel staff, Elvis’s room was a shocking mess upon check-out: “There was make-up everywhere. Food and dirty dishes everywhere. Just a mess.”


  1. Sharon Komforty on February 16, 2018 at 11:08 am

    What a great story! Caddie sure was lucky to have met Elvis Presley! He was such a wonderful person with a beautiful voice. He will always be remembered!!!

  2. Kathy on February 12, 2019 at 1:38 pm

    Thank you for that wonderful story about Elvis, I lived in Minnesota in 1976 and went to his concert I was 16 and when the music started for Elvis to come out to the stage I jumped over the railing and grabbed Elvis and gave him a kiss right on his mouth…. it was absolutely WONDERFUL. Elvis smelt like brut, and was so beautiful, elvis’ hair was so soft. It is a memory I will cherish for the rest of my

    • Kerry on February 12, 2019 at 1:45 pm

      Kathy, that is a fantastic story! Love it. Would you mind if we used it on our McMenamins History Facebook page? You can email me at: kerryc@mcmenamins.com


  3. rob on October 26, 2021 at 10:07 pm

    Elvis Sang my way he said he gonna sing from lyrics .He was telling the audience/fans something?(Sinatra sang myway to tell audience- fans?Sinatra tell all books out by kitty Kelly?Marilyn cal-neva end july died aug5)Red West Record Elvis without his knowledge on phone/date correct?Mentioned write book Elvis said do what got to do/Elvis said talk about wedding it was fast?Red said He Enjoy Elvis early years-with fun Things they did & party&girls?Red west said we had some funny things happen when we were together dating, we met two girls. Red lived hurt village at the timewith just mother (lois west) and myself(not bro harold west) ,my mother had this singlebed,and bad back to go with it.She had this big piece plywood that she put between the mattresses which made the bed extremely heavy. Anyway, My room was across the way, ihad a real nice bed, So Elvis and I brought our dates over this where we could get away fromeverybody. He (Elvis) went to my mother’s room, and I went to my room, anyway,afterawhileI heard this crash, I thought the house was coming down.and me & lady I was with went
    running over thre, Semi-dressed there he with the date on the floor, the bed had broken theplywood split,they are dye laughing. buck -naked. Red ask are you all right. Elvis yeah, but your mom’s bed is not worth a shit. Funny Stories that went on in those early days.( hurtvillage housing project across auction ave /pyramid -near St jude hosp) So can spa guy find hurt housing place exact spot this happened during 1950s? Elvis mom gladys /father vernonpresley. Red west mom lois father Newton T west) Red west help Elvis when 3 boys held Elvis bathroom going to cut off all his hair (crewcut) at Humes High School. but 1958 right after Gladys pass away, Elvis got army hair cut (crew cut) he didn’t seem upset about hair cut? Elvis
    in army bought heater for jeep / sgt &him roll out of jeep cause heater blue smoke and heater wasn’t installed properly. They claim Military got Elvis start on Drugs but Gladys take diet pills lose weight ?(Lamar said do you think Elvis got into her stach&said all memphis Mafia used stuff so did Marty,Joe,even Sonny West,use it to keep up with Elvis?didn’t Elvis wife admit take drugs too?)Ann Margaret said Elvis her special intimate relationship but it secret/private but she admit her /husb drank alcohol?

Leave a Reply Cancel Reply