In 1956, Elvis Presley was the biggest thing in music. Young girls screamed and swooned over his fabulous singing and his sexy dancing. He was so exciting that when he appeared on television the first time, the camera men were instructed to focus on him only from the waist up.
In 1956, at the age of 13, I went on a road trip with my parents from Chicago to Memphis to visit family friends, and I was allowed to take a girl friend with us. It was a long way to drive, so we needed some entertainment. I had been give an amazing gift of a portable, battery operated, record player. This big box could sit in your lap in the car, and if you held it steady, it would play 45 rpm records. It had a huge battery, so we could play records over, and over, and over again. My favorite records were those by Elvis Presley, and I had the latest, including “Hound Dog” and “Don’t Be Cruel,” which I played often. My parents were patient with the noise from the back seat of our Chevy over hundreds of miles, but my father did complain about hearing the same songs repeatedly.
Elvis Presley grew up poor. The family moved a few times, but hadn’t had decent house to live in, a good car, or the lifestyle of even the ordinary people in Memphis. When Elvis began to earn some money, one of the first things he did was take care of his parents. He bought them a nice house and a big pink Cadillac.
The man we were visiting in Memphis took us grocery shopping one afternoon, and as we arrived, he noticed a big, pink Cadillac in the parking lot. “Oh, that’s the Presleys,” he said. “Would you like to meet them?” Before I could take a deep breath to gasp, a couple came out of the store and started to put their shopping in the trunk of the pink car. We walked over, and were introduced to the actual parents who had actually raised this actual star!
I don’t remember much, but I did get an autograph, which one of them signed “Mr. & Mrs. Presley,” on a scrap of paper. No one else in the area was paying any attention, so they were probably not yet jaded by out of town tourists treating them like celebrities. My father rather embarrassed me by saying, “I have been listening to your son sing ‘Hound Dog’ all the way from Chicago!”
Mr. & Mrs. Presley smiled and seemed pleased to hear that. They shook hands all around, and his mother told my parents, “He’s a good boy. He’s good to his Mama. He bought us this car.” My friend and I stood in awe as these lovely people just got in their Cadillac and drove away, as though they were just normal parents.
We later drove to the nearby house where the Presleys were living. I posed as dramatically as might be expected of a 13 year old in front of the actual house where Elvis Presley lived. I picked up some gravel from the driveway as a souvenir, probably gravel that Elvis himself had actually stepped on!
On the way home, my father was much more willing to listen to the songs of this nice boy Elvis Presley. My father even made an occasional request to hear Elvis sing “Love Me Tender,” and commented on how talented he was. After all, he was just a good boy who was so nice to his mother.
Source: Personal Experience.