Kentucky nun a devoted Elvis collector
She’s been an Ursuline for more than 50 years and an educator for 46. In May, she retired from St. Paul Catholic School in Leitchfield and a month later celebrated her golden jubilee with family and friends.
In addition to teaching, Sister Anne Michelle has an avocation that sets her apart from other sisters in her order.
For more than 50 years, Sister Anne Michelle has been collecting Elvis Presley memorabilia that she has displayed in her classroom and at her home next door to St. Paul’s.
“If my students weren’t Elvis fans when they came in, they were when they left,” Sister Anne Michelle said in her classroom at St. Paul’s. She’s officially retired, but still teaches “a little.”
The door to her classroom is decorated with miniature Elvis cutouts. One of her favorites is “Elvis in his gold lamé suit.”
She has taken most of her Elvis collection home but has left some behind for her part-time teaching.
An Elvis curtain hangs on a storage cabinet and pillows with The King’s image provide back support in a recliner in the front of her room.
“When I want to check the temperature, I look at my Elvis thermometer,” Sister Anne Michelle said.
Sister Anne Michelle is a soft-spoken woman. She said people are sometimes surprised that she is such a devoted collector of Elvis memorabilia.
Over the years, she has accumulated hundreds of items celebrating the King of Rock ’n’ Roll. Many of them were given to her by friends, family and students.
“The students call my house the Elvis Museum,” she said.
It all began, she said, when she was a sophomore in high school and heard one of Elvis’s records on the radio. From that day on, she said she scoured the daily paper and magazines for anything written about Elvis and started a scrapbook.
When she entered the convent, she gathered up her scrapbooks, Love Me Tender pink lipstick and a bracelet with Elvis’ blue suede shoes and put them in a box. She tucked it under her bed at her parents’ home.
“That was the only lipstick I’ve ever had,” said Sister Anne Michelle, who still wears the traditional dress and veil of her order.
She no longer has the lipstick, and the only things left from her original collection are two pages of her scrapbook. Her brother had moved her box to a storage shed and when a storm ripped the roof from the building, she lost everything but a couple of pages of girlhood memories.
Every room in her home has Elvis stuff. Large portraits of The King hang in her utility room.
Sister Anne Michelle does not smoke, drink or gamble, but she has several bottles of wine, packs of cigarettes, a lighter, poker chips and bingo daubers with various images of Elvis on them.
Almost every item has an interesting story. Two years ago, she and several family members visited the Holy Land. When their tour guide found out about her Elvis hobby, he took them to a restaurant in Abu Ghosh near Jerusalem.
The diner is dedicated to Elvis and boasts a huge golden statue of her star at its entrance. She came away with the cigarettes that she thought were candy, and two mugs and menus that she had laminated. She also has sugar packets from the restaurant that have Elvis’s image on them.
“When I got home, I discovered the cigarettes were real,” Sister Michelle said. They are safe from use, tucked into an Elvis cup among shot glasses on a shelf in her kitchen. She will add anything Elvis to her collection.
A bookcase in her living room has a sink stopper, singing stuffed bears, books about Elvis, a license plate, clocks, salt and pepper shakers, an emery board, a toothbrush, Burning Love Hot Sauce and a sample vial of Elvis’s favorite cologne, Lenel.
Sister’s interior decorating is all about the man from Tupelo who changed the music world forever.
One of her most unique items was given to her by a friend who is a truck driver, which was Elvis’s first job’s after graduating from Humes High School in Memphis.
The gift is a telephone that has Elvis dressed in black leather gyrating on top of the phone singing Hound Dog whenever it rings.
“He called his wife from Texas, and asked ‘Should I get that for Sister?’ and she said yes,” Sister Anne Michelle said.
Elvis is even in the bathroom. The shower curtain is Jailhouse Rock Elvis in his striped shirt.
Her bedspread, pillows, pajamas and robe have an Elvis motif. She has a extensive T-shirt collection and Elvis purses, overnight bags and totes.
Elvis’s last movie, Change of Habit, was released in 1969. It is about a nun named Sister Michelle, who Elvis’s character falls in love with. But the nun, played by Mary Tyler Moore, chooses her vocation over Elvis.
Asked what she would have done if she had been that Sister Michelle, she replied, “I would have done the same.”
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