This is the time of the year when seniors are graduating from high school all over the country. Fifty-nine years ago, Elvis graduated from Humes High School in Memphis.
When the Humes High class of ’53 approached their 50th reunion in 2003, a few of alumni created a website called www.humeshighclassof53.com. Classmates were contacted and encouraged to send in memories of their high school years, and these were posted on the site.
About half of these memories included some mention of Elvis, from one sentence to several paragraphs. These stories revealed new information about what Elvis was like as a teenager. I found them fascinating to read, and so will you. Here is Part 1 of Elvis memories by his high school classmates.
Please note, if you are a classmate of Elvis’ and do not want your Humes High yearbook photo published with this article, please e-mail me at email@example.com and your photo will be removed.
“I had study hall with Elvis Presley (the flirt). He would blow kisses across the room at me. Once I thumbed my nose at him and said some smart remark back. Everyone knows how Elvis loved “GOSPEL MUSIC.” At Ellis Auditorium, the Statesmen Quartet felt sorry for him because he couldn’t afford a ticket and let him in the back door. My brother Jerry, my sister Darlene and I were called “The Eddleman Trio.” We started singing acappella at ages 7, 8 and 11. After Elvis became famous, it occurred to me that “we” were singing on the stage while Elvis was sneaking in the back door. He later sang on the same stage at benefit concerts.”
“Elvis Presley and I were good friends and he liked to come over to my house because my mother would make him toasted cheese sandwiches and his beloved peanut butter and banana sandwiches.
After graduation, when Elvis was beginning to make a name for himself as a singer, I received a phone call from Miss Ginny Allensworth asking me to come over to Humes and help Elvis with his English because he had been invited to sing on the Ed Sullivan Show. I laughed and said, “Miss Ginny, Elvis wouldn’t listen to me when we were in school and I doubt if he would listen to me now.” I did meet Elvis at Humes and he agreed to let me coach him. After talking for a while, he said, “Well, if you are so intent on helping me, why don’t you come to New York, too, to be sure I do it right.” I ended up backstage at the Ed Sullivan Show and got to see Elvis perform.”
“Elvis and I weren’t buddies outside school hours, but we did have a few good moments at school. In Miss Allensworth’s 12th grade English class we had assigned roles in one of the ever popular Shakespearean plays. Elvis, who sat behind me, and I, when our speaking parts came up, would pour it on with exaggerated southern accents. Miss Allensworth warned us once, but being the showmen we were, we couldn’t resist doing it again. She sent us out into the HALL for the rest of the period. Being sent in the HALL during class without an excuse was like being sent to purgatory – and if Mr. Brindley happened by – well watch out. Fortunately, it was close to the end of the period and we escaped unscathed. This was probably an early example of Elvis at his showmanship best.”
“My cousin, Dorothy Jackson, and I were monitors stationed outside the entrance to the library to make sure that students checked out their books properly and to maintain order in the hall between classes. Whenever Elvis Presley walked by we would look at each other and laugh and giggle. (We both had a crush on him.)
One day he walked up to Dorothy and asked her why we laughed when he walked by. She was so dumbfounded that she blurted out “It’s because we think you are so good-looking.” I guess he was surprised also; he just broke into a grin and walked away. I was just sitting there with the reddest face that a girl could ever have. From then on whenever I would see Elvis coming down the hall, I would stick my face into a book and not look up.
Elvis and I were in Miss Alexander’s homeroom in the 11th grade. She taught music, so the classroom was a music room. She divided our class into an “L” shape with boys on one side and girls on the other side. Elvis sat in the front row next to a guy sporting a Mohawk haircut. I sat in the second row of girls so I could see him very well and I often stared at him because there was something about him that I really liked. He didn’t dress or act like the rest of the boys. He always had a lock of hair hanging to the side of his face.
He had a serious expression most of the time during the beginning of the school year. But, later in the year, he surprised us by playing his guitar before school several mornings. He didn’t sing; he just played. We really enjoyed the impromptu jam sessions. Elvis was very polite and respectful to all the teachers. He always addressed them as “Maam” and “Sir”. He seemed very shy and I identified with him since I was shy, too.
I remember him driving a maroon convertible; I believe it was a Lincoln. Sometimes he wore dark colored pants with a stripe down the sides. I found out later that they were part of his movie usher uniform.”
“I met Elvis at Humes but I knew him better at the cafe. He was a very polite young man who neither looked nor acted like the rest of the guys. He would come into the cafe with a bunch of young girls from Lauderdale Courts and play the juke box, eat chips and drink cokes. His hair hung down in his face and he was often dressed in very bright colored pants. The girls liked him even then. He always called me “Champ”. The last time I saw him was right after his mother died. We ran into each other on Beale Street. We had a nice chat, shook hands and he said “Bye, Champ” and got into his waiting limo.”
“I was in Miss Mildred Scrivener’s 12th grade home room with Elvis. He never had any school supplies. He borrowed paper from someone every day. He looked so different from the other boys who had crew cuts and blue jeans. He wore black pants and his hair always hung down in his face. He was always very polite.”