Your Elvis Memories, Comments and Stories
Bill Urban wrote us a long note about Elvis that we thought you would find interesting:
I'm just happy to share and kind of pleased that I had/have a connection, however peripheral, with the King. The three times I came close, (but not close enough) was his one and only appearance in Topeka, Kansas on May 21, 1956.....(wish I had been old enough) He played in Wichita, Kansas on Friday May 18th, 1956, then Omaha, Nebraska on Saturday, May 19th. Then Lincoln, Nebraska Sunday, May 20th. Finally Topeka on May 21st. (I may have the two Nebraska cities out of order).
I missed him again when he was filming "Charro" in Arizona (1969) and a third time when I was in the Navy and he performed in Norfolk, Virginia (this was during the 1970's when he was on his "comeback" trail) just before my ship pulled back into port. I found out Elvis had done a concert in Norfolk when I was out to sea and I was mad at having narrowly missed him yet a third time.
The second time I was driving through Arizona with an Army buddy and I almost got in Elvis last, or third from last movie, "Charro" as an extra at $2 an hour. But the film had been already been completed and Elvis had returned to Hollywood (My newspaper was outdated and I didn't look at the date when I saw the advert in the Help Wanted column) .
In Topeka, 14 girls fainted. One went berserk and smacked an usher. All the Topeka Police had their day's off cancelled out of fear of a riot. The Cops weren't happy, but the girls were. Headlines next day in the Topeka Capital-Journal were "Elvis Rocks Topekans". My dad was mad because of all the money Elvis made, (at that point approx $17,500 dollars a week) and my dad was slugging it out at the Santa Fe for $400 a month with a wife and 2, soon to be 3, kids to support.
I remember the preacher's blasting Elvis at the Church service the following Sunday. Calling him a "Pied Piper" leading the girls astray. Funnier than hell, especially since Elvis Mother was VERY strict when it came to religion and Church on Sunday. I think Elvis was enjoying the ride more than the money that was piling up. He was young, had unlimited opportunities for sex and he was having fun.
The one that would really be good on your show was my old Sarge. Staff Sergeant Mark Gallagher, who I was stationed with, in Germany. Man, HE had some stories! I collected movie star magazines when I was a teenager in England with articles about Elvis, Ricky Nelson, Little Richard, etc. One of the stories old Sarge told me, which I never read in a Movie Star magazine by the way, involved some kid from Texas, whose Mother needed an operation or she would die. Problem was the operation would cost $10,000 and this kid didn't have it. Family had no insurance. Typical American scenario. (In England we had socialized medicine, of which I firmly believe in). Elvis heard about it. (Keep in mind Elvis was stationed in Texas when HIS Mother was dying) went to the Battalion Commander and said he'd pay both for the operation AND the kid's fare to the US, if the Army would grant him emergency leave.
The Colonel told Elvis, (Battalion Commander, not Col Parker) that it wasn't Elvis's problem and not to concern himself. To which Elvis told the Colonel , what was the point of having all the money he had, if he couldn't do some good with it. The Battalion Commander saw the light. The Army granted this kid immediate emergency leave and he flew home (courtesy of Elvis) and his Mother had the operation, (also courtesy of Elvis), which undoubtedly, gave her a few more years of life. This is where the real Elvis shines through.......