WILKES-BARRE — Susan Taluba lives, sleeps and breathes Elvis Presley.
Taluba has filled her apartment at Valley View Terrace with memorabilia of her idol. This is where she copes with challenges every day, but never let’s anything get her, well, all shook up.
Taluba, 62, has an intellectual disability and is a participant in NEPA Inclusive, a group of dedicated people who believe those with disabilities should be able to live, work and recreate in their communities.
Taluba sleeps in Elvis pajamas. When she wakes up each morning, she says “good morning” to a metal likeness of Elvis that hangs on her bedroom wall. She drinks her coffee from an Elvis mug, checks her Elvis calendar and listens to Elvis music.
She then checks the time on two Elvis clocks and decides which Elvis movie to watch as she admires her Elvis figurines, photos, paintings, pillows and other items.
“I just love all of his singing, his concerts and his movies,” Taluba said. “I listen to his music every day and I watch his movies every day.”
Taluba became an Elvis fan while growing up in Corning, New York and started collecting Elvis “stuff” when she was 8 years old.
In 2006, friends took her to Graceland, Elvis’ home, in Memphis, Tennessee where she visited his gravesite.
“It was so nice,” she said. “I liked everything there.”
Taluba’s favorite Elvis song is “Viva Las Vegas” and her favorite movie is “Jailhouse Rock.”
Betty Minucci works for NEPA Inclusive; Taluba is one of her clients. Minucci takes Taluba to the supermarket, out for dinner and to the movies. They also often seek new Elvis items for Taluba’s collection.
“I’d like to get an Elvis watch,” Taluba said.
Last Sunday, Minucci took Taluba to Boscov’s to see Elvis Presley Jr., the man who claims to be the biological son of “The King.”
“He was so good,” Taluba said. “He’s a good singer.”
Taluba went to see Elvis Jr. again Thursday night and plans to attend his 2 p.m. performance on Saturday.
Elvis Jr. gave Taluba an autographed scarf and he signed a few pictures for her.
“Susan is a wonderful person,” he said. “It’s always great to meet such dedicated Elvis fans.”
Decked out in an Elvis shirt, shoes, socks and earrings as she talked about her idol, Taluba showed off her refrigerator is covered with Elvis magnets and she has an Elvis coin collection.
“I like him so much,” she said. “I sing along with him when I listen to his music.”
For Taluba, Elvis is a big part of her life. She does volunteer work in her building, helps other tenants with laundry and housework and she is learning to cook.
“I made Sloppy Joes with baked beans,” she said. “And I made brownies.”
Taluba has a cat — named Cheyenne, not Elvis.
Asked if she has a favorite Elvis item, she said, “I love all of them.”
Reach Bill O’Boyle at 570-991-6118 or on Twitter @TLBillOBoyle.