Tag Archives: high school

Memories of Elvis — by his High School Classmates, Part 3

This is the third installment of Elvis memories by his classmates at Humes High School in Memphis,  excerpted from the excellent website www.humeshighclassof53.com, which was created in 2003 as his graduating class approached its 50th reunion.  Many members of the class of ’53 contributed their memories and thirty-six of these contained mention of Elvis.  I hope you will find them fascinating.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 philarnold@charter.net and your photo will be removed.

 

Humes High ROTC Photo

 

 

Mary Ann Props

“Elvis Presley was in Miss Scriverner’s home room with me.  She was always bragging about how he would make it big one day.  When he won the talent show singing “Old Shep”, she went on and on about it for days.  Little did we know that what she predicted for Elvis would come true in such a huge way.”

 

 

Ed Leek

“I gave Elvis $4.00 to make his first dub [acetate] at Sam Phillips’ Sun Records.  It took him two months to get up the courage to do it.  My idea was to make the record and knock on radio station doors to get it played, and hopefully find him a singing job.

“Elvis was very unsure of himself in the early days of his career.  He would call me to ’round up’ the bunch (about 16 total) to come to where ever he was to perform.  He was afraid there wouldn’t be anyone there if we didn’t come.

“I had a good time travelling, double dating, etc. with him until he went into the Army.  He is still the only singer I listen to. I own the original dub [of “My Happiness” and “That’s When Your Heartaches Begin”] along with the music rights to it. I have allowed RCA and Disney to publish the music mainly so the fans can hear the two songs, which I felt, were very good. The record has all the elements that later developed into his personal style.  I also still have the first commercial disc out Of the labeling machine, which Elvis signed for me after I pulled it out of the collection box.”

 

 

Mattie Rainey

“I never dated Elvis, but we were good friends.   I helped him pass a couple of subjects.  He came to my house once with some of my other friends and wound up being the life of the party.  When I was riding the bus to school every morning, I would usually see Elvis sitting  at the corner of Alabama and Poplar, listening to a black man in a chair playing a guitar.  He wanted to play and sing like that man. He was a country boy with big dreams.  After he became famous he did something to thank every person who ever helped him in any way.”

 

 

Entrance to Humes High School

 

 

Rose Howell

“After church on Sunday night, my friends and I liked to go to Leonard’s Barbeque on Bellevue and then to East Trigg Baptist Church to listen to the spirituals.  The church had a special section for white visitors.  Elvis Presley was often there and occasionally sang with the choir.  Other Elvis stories:  He was in the study hall where I called the roll.  As soon as I called his name he would get up and leave.  Then I would go downstairs to cashier in the lunch room.  He was usually my first customer and always bought the same thing – two ice cream sandwiches.

‘One night he showed up at a school event wearing black clothes and pink socks.  Miss Richmond didn’t recognize him and asked me who that rogue was.  Later she liked to brag that she always knew that Elvis would make it big.”

 

 

Billy Walker

“We were both Mississippi boys who had come to the big city.  We understood each other.  We had shop together in the 10th grade.  When we weren’t working on our project, we spent our time in the bathroom pitching pennies.  Elvis got so mad one day that he punched the shop wall and almost broke his hand.  I never saw him do that again.”

 

 

Mary Sanders

“Elvis was in my 12th grade homeroom with Mrs. Scrivener.  She was not particular about whether we sat, stood or wandered around as long as we showed up for roll call.  Elvis would lean on a desk and just pass the time of day with everyone.  We all knew that he was different, very, very, different.  But, we all had the same goal of graduating and getting out in the real world.  We later found out just how different he was.”

 

 

Bob Haley

“My favorite high school memory of Elvis came when I was playing in the senior band.  The band put on a minstrel show and I was one of the end men cracking jokes and doing skits.  My name was at the top of the program in capital letters.  Elvis was half-way down listed in smaller letters as “Elvis Prestly, Guitarist”.  They misspelled his name.   I guess that is my big claim to fame, that I once had top billing over Elvis.”

 

 

Minstrel Show Program (Elvis’ Song was ‘Til I Waltz Again With You)

 

 

Peggy Fiance

“I took my younger sister and 2 brothers downtown to either the Loew’s Palace or Loew’s State one time early in Elvis’ career.  Elvis came to see the movie.  He sneaked in one of the exit doors with a bunch of guys after the movie started so he wouldn’t be mobbed by fans.  When they were finding seats, my little sister looked up, recognized him and yelled, “It’s Elvis!”  No movie that day for Elvis or his friends.  They left quickly.”

 

 

Billie Ann Banks

“I thought of when the English class read Macbeth.  Miss Jennie Allensworth assigned the part of Macbeth to Elvis Presley, who promptly said, “Aw, Miss Jenny, you know I can’t read.”  Of course you know who was assigned Lady MacBeth, not only was I embarrassed about the part, but the words I had to read.  Nevertheless we both survived it.  Apparently Elvis was much better in his role than I was.

“There was another memory about Elvis about ten years after graduation.  I had taken a group of junior cheerleaders, which included my sister Donna, to Graceland.  Elvis came out on the porch and greeted us and the cheerleaders did their “Elvis shake” (the old Humes High shake) for him.  I had my annual with me and he asked to borrow it for a while and when he returned it, he had written “To Billie Ann, Many Thanks, from Elvis Presley.”  When asked, I never tell what he was thanking me for.  I just smile coyly.”

 

 

Larry Curle

(Written in memoriam by George Blanchet, Humes High Class of 1954)

“During his senior year, Larry and I had Miss Moss’ 5th period American Problems class together with Elvis Presley.  One day Miss Moss got so fed up with Larry and me she told us to take the rest of the day off and go to the athletic room.  She allowed Elvis to tag along.  The three of us went riding in Larry’s red 1940 Studebaker that didn’t have a reverse gear.  During our ride around town, we went somewhere to get Elvis’ guitar; he sat in the backseat playing and singing.  Larry and I were both impressed with his songs, although I was more impressed, I think.  Larry wa also a talented singer.  We talked about the upcoming talent show where Larry and I were appearing with several boys doing gymnastic things. Elvis said, ‘I’ll warm them up for you.’  When the night came, he did warm them up!  After a couple of scheduled songs, the audience response demanded he sit on the apron and sing a few more.  The show really finished when Elvis did, but we went on and performed our act without much distinction.”

 

 

Norma Garner

“I remember Elvis as a polite guy.  He would speak each time we would pass in the hall.  I can still see him dressed in a pink shirt trimmed in black and black pants with a pink stripe down the side along with his famous sideburns, that strand of hair in the middle of his forehead and ducktails in the back.  THAT WAS ELVIS!”

 

Rachael Maddox

“Glee Club was a favorite class because I truly enjoyed singing.  In April 1954 I sang ‘Because of You’ at the annual talent show.  I heard Elvis play his guitar and sing and was surprised by how much talent he had.  I think his performance was the reason I asked him to sign my yearbook.”

 

©  2012    Philip R Arnold, Original Elvis Blogmeister    All Rights Reserved    www.ElvisBlog.net

 

 

Elvis, Elvis Presley, and Graceland are registered trademarks of Elvis Presley Enterprises, Inc.

 

Memories of Elvis — By His High School Classmates, Part 2

This is the second installment of Elvis memories by his classmates at Humes High School in Memphis.  As I stated last week, these quotes were excerpted from the excellent website www.humeshighclassof53.com, which was created in 2003 as Elvis’ graduating class approached its 50th reunion.  Many members of the class of ’53 contributed their memories and thirty-six of these contained mention of Elvis.  I found them fascinating to read, and hope you will too.

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 philarnold@charter.net and your photo will be removed.

 

Class of ’53 Reunion Cake Decorated in Memory of Elvis

 

 

Lillian Jenne

“When Elvis first started to Humes, he was really poor.  The office sent a letter home about a classmate who couldn’t come to school when the weather was bad because he had holes in his shoes, had no warm coat and needed a haircut.  It didn’t name him, but we all knew who it was.  My mom gave me a whole dollar (WOW!) and a jacket she had bought for my brother Bill.  I was so proud to take the jacket and the money to the office.”

Marilyn Wade

“I don’t have too many memories of Elvis, but I do have his signature in my yearbook.  I remember him at the Annual Minstrel Show.   I invited my boyfriend, Jim Simpson, who was pretty bored until Elvis walked out on the stage with a chair in one hand and his guitar in the other; then he got interested.  Elvis put his foot on the chair and started playing.  The PA system was poor and we couldn’t hear his voice very clearly, but we were impressed.  Jim likes to claim that he made some comment like, “That boy will go far.   “My sister once double-dated with Elvis and his girlfriend. They went to the Fairgrounds to ride the roller coaster. Elvis borrowed 25 cents from my sister for one of the rides.  After he became famous we used to tease her about writing him and asking for interest on her loan”

 

Larry Holmes

“At school I didn’t have much contact with Elvis, mainly passing in the hall.  He lived upstairs at Lauderdale Courts and I visited a family downstairs in the same building frequently.  I remember him in the talent shows.  The most vivid experience I remember was at an English class party.  Elvis sang and the first time he twitched and moved, the bunch broke out laughing.  We had never seen it before and did not expect it.”

Carolyn Woodward

 “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.”

Elvis’ Diploma from Humes High School

 

 

Fannie Mae Crowder

“I would go with Carolyn and Rosemary to a dance club in East Memphis.  Carolyn was an excellent dancer.  The person who taught Carolyn to dance was Elvis Presley.  I think he had a crush on her for a while.  He would find us in the hall and at lunch and various other places.  He always wanted to talk to Carolyn, so I made myself scarce.   Sometimes I had to walk to my sister’s apartment when my mother had to work late.  Elvis and I would walk along together since he lived close by.  We were both fairly quiet and did not say much.   I found Elvis to be a nice boy who was a little shy.”

 

Robert Wayne Millican

“I knew Elvis about as well as anyone in the class, having met him in 1948 when he moved to Memphis from Tupelo, Mississippi.  His family settled in the Lauderdale Courts area and he enrolled at Humes.  Later we attended church together at the First Assembly of God Church on McLemore Ave.

 “In the eleventh grade Elvis and I were in Miss Thompson’s Civics class.  He was a class clown and in the middle of our mid-term exams with everyone concentrating on the test, he called from the back of the room in a loud voice “Miss Thompson, Miss Thompson,”  “What Elvis?” she answered.  Then he asked “Why did the chicken cross the road?”  The whole class broke up laughing except, of course, Miss Thompson.  She quickly replied “See me after class, Elvis!”

Jean Johnson

“Elvis dated my cousin, Jonell Johnson, a few times while they were both at Humes.  (She was younger than he).  Once when he went over to her house, they used her dad’s car for a date.  When they got home, her dad checked the mileage and they were both in hot water for a while.  Elvis brought my brother home on his motorcycle once.  He was really a thoughtful guy.”

 

Lena Langley

“I had study hall with Elvis and a couple of his friends.  He was very shy.  We had English together in our senior year.  I remember we acted out a Shakespearean play “Julius Caesar”, I think.  Elvis was assigned the biggest part because of his deep, rich voice.”

 

Elvis at a Diner After School

 

 

George Grimes

“I am an eye witness to the fact that Elvis would make those moves (that only he could make) when he was walking down the halls of dear old Humes.  He complimented me on a solo I sang for the Honor Society.  We were in a talent show together and I liked to brag that I shared the same stage with him and didn’t have to pay to see him perform.  Billy Wooley, Dwight Malone, Sydney McKinney and I were a quartet. Everyone in the talent show got to make a trip to the University of Mississippi. I saw a bunch of students hassling Elvis about his hair and odd clothes and I didn’t take up for him. I always felt guilty about that. I wonder if those kids remembered that incident after Elvis became the most famous entertainer of our time. He was and is unique.”

 

Juanita Richardson

 “Since Elvis lived nearby, I did see him quite a bit, but we weren’t close friends.  We were in the same homeroom and had a class together in the 12th grade.  I remember one funny story.  We were invited to a wiener roast at Mattie’s house. I rode with Elvis and his friends because they didn’t know where she lived.  When we arrived, Mattie’s dad was “supervising” the festivities.  When Elvis  got out of the car and started, well, being his usual nutty self by taking off a silly floppy hat and slapping it against his leg and dancing around to the music, Mattie‘s dad was not terribly amused.  He was sure that Elvis was drunk.  We convinced “Dad” that Elvis wasn’t under the influence; he was just “normally” that way!

“After Elvis became well known, I saw him in Lowenstein’s Department Store.  I didn’t want to bother him (I figured that enough people were doing that already) so I walked on by. Then I heard him say “What! Aren’t you speaking these days?”  I turned and said “Sure- I just figured you wouldn’t want to be spoken to!”  He laughed and said “My friends will ALWAYS be my friends.”  We had a nice chat, right there in the middle of the store.  It was nice to catch up.”

 

Carolyn Jones

“I never thought much about Elvis.  He was just a classmate I didn’t know very well.  But now the attention I get when people discover that I went to school with “Elvis” is fantastic!  It is instant celebrity status.”

 

 

Vernon Graham

“One year, I think it was the 10th grade, he sat in front of me in the big study hall.  His hair was extra long.  We were talking and I asked him why he didn’t get a haircut.  He said he had nothing to get one with.  I walked around with the cigar box that pencils were stored in and collected enough for him to go to the barber shop.   The next day when he sat down in front of me, I asked him why he didn’t get his haircut with the money.  He said he did.  He only had it trimmed. That was Elvis!”

 

©  2012    Philip R Arnold, Original Elvis Blogmeister    All Rights Reserved    www.ElvisBlog.net

 

Elvis, Elvis Presley, and Graceland are registered trademarks of Elvis Presley Enterprises, Inc.

Memories of Elvis — By His High School Classmates, Part 1

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.

Humes High School

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 philarnold@charter.net and your photo will be removed.

 

Virginia Eddleman

Virginia Eddleman

“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.”

 

Bobbie Horne

“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.”

 

Donald Morris

“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.”

Montage for 50th Reunion

 

Betty Jean Moore

“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.”

 

George Carros

“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.”

 

Carolyn Woodward

“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.”

 

George Blancett (No Photo)

“Larry Curle and I had Miss Moss’ 5th period American Problems class together with Elvis Presley.  One day Miss Moss got so fed up with Larry and me she told us to take the rest of the day off and go to the athletic room.  She allowed Elvis to tag along.  The three of us went riding in Larry’s red 1940 Studebaker that didn’t have a reverse gear.  During our ride around town, we went somewhere to get Elvis’ guitar; he sat in the backseat playing and singing.  Larry and I were both impressed with his songs.  We talked about the upcoming talent show where Larry and I were appearing with several boys doing gymnastic things.  Elvis said, “I’ll warm them up for you.”   When that night came, he did warm them up!  After a couple of his scheduled songs, the audience response demanded he sit on the apron and sing a few more.  The show really finished when Elvis did, but we went on and performed our act without much distinction.”

 

Betty Diepholz

“I was President of the History Club in Miss Scrivener’s 12th grade class.  She assigned me the task of getting Elvis to sing at our class party at Overton Park. He did and we all enjoyed the party and the singing.  A few of us, including Elvis, climbed into L.D. Ledbetter’s car and went downtown to enjoy the Cotton Carnival.  We rode the rides and hung out on the steps of the downtown library to listen to Elvis sing again.  This attracted a crowd – the police came along and dispersed the crowd and we went home.  Later, when we were signing yearbooks, we laughed about that night.  Elvis wrote in my book ‘Remember Me – Elvis’.”

 

Ed (Rob) Robinson

“I have in my office right now a magazine rack that Elvis and I made together in woodshop.”

Auditorium at Humes High School

 

Carole Kimbrell

“Virginia Eddleman’s family had beautiful voices and sang gospel music. She took me to hear them once when Elvis was singing on the same program. Soon after that my sister June and I ran into Elvis at the Suzore #1. He sat down beside me and after a while I felt his arm slide across my shoulder. I was so scared that we moved to another row. One night he was singing at the Humes Talent Show. My friend Rose left me to watch the white elephant booth while she went up and checked out the talent.  Elvis sang while I was taking care of the booth so I never did hear him sing at Humes.”

 

Dwight Malone

“Elvis was different.  Most boys had crew cuts and wore tee shirts and blue jeans.  Elvis would appear at school in a pink jacket and yellow pants and a duck tail haircut.  He was quiet, very courteous and largely stayed to himself.  I did play touch football with him on the triangle at Lauderdale Courts.  He was not fast, but he had very quick movements.  He had those swivel hips even then.  When he caught the ball, he was difficult to tag.  He could swivel out of reach in a moment.  To tag him, a player had to grab him and hold on until he could apply the tag.

Elvis and Warren Gregory were close friends.  During the summer months Elvis and Warren would sit on the street curb, strumming their guitars and singing country songs.  Frankly, in their early attempts, they were not that good.  It was at the Humes Talent Show in April, 1953 that I realized that Elvis could really sing.  There were no swivel hips.  His props were a chair, a guitar and a loud costume.  He put one foot on the chair, strummed the guitar and sang his heart out.  To me, that was when rock and roll was born.  The ovation was thunderous and long.”

 

Georgia Avgeris

“Elvis Presley was our neighbor in Lauderdale Courts for many years.  He really liked my mother’s homemade hot Greek bread, and ate more of it than I did.  Mama liked him, but did not understand the way he dressed.  Elvis worked at Loew’s State and I worked at the Malco, so we exchanged free tickets.  We had a lot of fun with that.  He made sure I got the best seat available.  We had several classes together and in our senior year, we were in the same homeroom.  He sat behind me and threw gum wrappers at me to get my attention.”

 

©  2012    Philip R Arnold, Original Elvis Blogmeister    All Rights Reserved    www.ElvisBlog.net

Elvis, Elvis Presley, and Graceland are registered trademarks of Elvis Presley Enterprises, Inc.