Very interesting read :
This happened before I was ever born in Sweetwater Texas ! Lol
Elvis ? lol he must have just been starting out to plY T the high school auditorium in Sweetwater . We did not move there till I was in 4 th grade .
Clifton Williams - PS - Here's a STORY ABOUT ONE of the TWO NIGHTS ELVIS PLAYED in SWEEETWATER. TEXAS:
--"The NIGHT(S) ELVIS PRESELY CAME to SWEETWATER, TEXAS in 1955"
By DON ALY
-"ELVIS and HIS BLUE SUEDE SHOES"
Before Elvis Presley came to Sweetwater, Texas, in the late 1950s, the biggest attraction to play that little town was the U.S. Marine Corp. Band.
I remember walking from the town square to the high school auditorium where the 'young rock and roll sensation' was scheduled to perform. Outside, long lines of junior high and high school age girls were screaming and jumping up and down in anticipation of the spectacle they were about to behold. Believe me, none of them - nor had I - ever seen anything the likes of Elvis Presley before.
What you have to understand is that things weren't really rockin' and rollin' too frantically in Texas back in those days. Pat Boone was enjoying some success with ballads on the radio, and Fats Domino was just beginning to attract a crossover audience. That was really about it, as far as the Texas pop music scene was concerned.
Kids in Texas were singing and listening to country music, (or 'hillbilly music') or maybe digging the blues or gospel music inspired by groups that frequented church revivals, like the Stamps-Baxter Quartet (who, ironically, would later sing backup for Elvis).
When Elvis made his appearance on the Sweetwater auditorium stage, pandemonium broke loose, before he even sang a chord. He strummed his guitar once or twice, the drummer did a roll, Elvis sorta swiveled his hips, and the girls went crazy. I knew then this would be a night nobody would ever forget.
Some of us had heard about Elvis, but we'd never seen him in person. He was sorta skinny, then, and didn't wear those gold 'jump suits' he later made famous. He came out on stage in a pair of black jeans, wearing a long sleeved shirt with a handkerchief, or bandana, tied around his neck.
'How you-all doin'?' he asked, in his charming Memphis drawl. 'I'm glad to be down here in Texas with you-all. I've never seen so many pretty girls in one place before.' When he said that, the girls went nuts, screaming and yelling. Several ran from their seats to the stage to get a closer look at this guy, and had to be restrained by policemen.
Elvis almost didn't sing. He started to walk off stage, like he was frightened, and somebody backstage motioned for him to go back to the microphone. 'Hi,' he said. 'My name is Elvis Presley. I'm real glad to be here in your town. I'm gonna sing you some songs. I hope you like 'em as much as I do.' Then he hit a lick on his guitar and the rest was history.
I honestly don't think many people that night heard a single song. Elvis was moving around like he had ants in his pants and the crowd was screaming so loud, it was deafening. I had to leave the auditorium, it was so loud. (Of course, I was a jazz music lover, not a rock and roll fanatic turned on by some dude swiveling his hips and warning everybody 'Don't Step on My Blue Suede Shoes').
Police had to finally stop the show because the kids were worked up in such a frenzy. Elvis stopped singing when several young girls broke through the barricade and ran toward him on the stage. Cops formed a protective circle around him and managed to get him safely back to his dressing room area.
When I knocked on his door, he wouldn't let me in until I convinced him I was with the press and not one of zany fans out there in the audience. The first thing he did after he shook my hand was ask me if there was a back door we could use later to make our exit without being seen. I told him there was, and he said, 'Thank you sir, thank you very much.'
Then, he asked me if I had a car. He said he figured I did, because I had to get back to my paper and write my story. He wanted to know if I could take him someplace kinda out of the way where he could get a hamburger and a chocolate milk shake. I thought that was sorta funny, but told him 'Sure, I know of a place, out on the old Dallas highway.'
Elvis wanted to know if they had a juke box and did they play any of his records. I told him I didn't know if they played his records or not, but they had speakers on the parking lot near the cars, and he said, 'That's great, sir, maybe we can play my record while we drink our shakes. You think maybe we could do that, sir?'
I told him we'd see. Frankly, I was worried about getting out of that place without being mobbed by the frenzied crowd. And, my fears, as it turned out, were justified. I came out of the dressing room first, before Elvis and the police guys and was amazed at what happened.
Kids in the crowd ran up to me and started tearing the sleeves off my coat, because I had been in the little dressing room with Elvis. They tore my shirt and even took one of my shoes. Some of the kids handed me programs and pleaded with me to take them inside for Elvis to autograph.
I had never seen such a scene in public before in my life, and would never again, until the day I saw the Beatles in Dallas.
I left the performance area and went back to my 'rooming house' to change clothes. When I came back, the screaming crowd had pretty much blocked the front entrance area of the auditorium. I went around back where I found Elvis hiding like a thief in the shadows behind a trash dumpster. We quickly made our escape and headed for the old Dallas highway.
When we arrived at Starr's Drive-In, the usual number of cars were parked outside, with pretty young carhops carrying trays of food and beverages to the restaurant's customers - mostly high school football players and their dates. As soon as I pulled in to a vacant area, Elvis motioned for me to follow him inside.
I figured he was looking for the rest room, but he went, instead, over to the cashier and asked for $10 worth of nickels. After she looked at him sorta funny, he walked over to the juke box and begin putting the coins in the slot. Then he punched up 'That's All Right Mama' and 'Blue Moon of Kentucky' and we headed back to the parking area.
Elvis went around to the cars outside and waved at everybody, politely, while his record was blaring away on the speakers, knocking on the windows, sometimes disturbing couples kissing in the backseat. 'Hi,' he said, matter-of-factly, 'How you-all doin?' My name is Elvis. Elvis Presley. That's my song there a-playing on the jukebox. I hope you like it. I'm gonna be a big star some day. Thank you very much.' And then he went back inside and put more money in the jukebox. aline styled items to wear of the wedding
By the time the waitress brought us our burgers, fries and chocolate shakes, the joint was really jumpin'. 'Who the heck was that guy?' I heard one fellow ask. 'I dunno,' his female companion replied, 'Elvis something or another.' The big guy with the crew cut wasn't too impressed. 'Elvis, huh' he muttered, 'That's a dumb name.'
Another guy added his two cents worth. 'Yeah,' he said, 'Elvis PRETZEL'. Can you believe it. That turkey will never make it with a name like that. He better change his name.'
Elvis eventually ran out of change and the kids in the cars grew tired of listening to his music and watching him bop around from one car window to another. One by one the cars began leaving the drive-in.
Finally, we were the only patrons there.
They closed down the drive-in for the night and Elvis and I finished our shakes and headed for the little motel on the highway where his band was staying. He thanked me for my hospitality and jokingly said, 'Write somethin' good about me, now, you hear' Tell 'em I was sexy.' I never saw Elvis in person again, but he did, indeed, become a legend.
The next day in Sweetwater, the whole town was buzzing about the show at the high school auditorium. The local radio station found out Elvis had been at Starr's Drive-In and set up a promotion with a record store. Patrons buying Elvis records got a free hamburger with 'pretzels' at Starr's Drive-in. Signs at Starr's read: Get your FREE Pretzelburger with an Elvis Pretzel record.
The radio jocks even called him Elvis Pretzel when they played his record.
Years later when Elvis died, I went back to Sweetwater to see if I could find anybody who remembered the day when Elvis came to town. Starr's drive-in was still there on the old Dallas highway, although it had seen better days.
I went over to an old pickup truck and asked the fellow in the straw hat eating a hamburger if he remembered the day when Elvis came to town. He stopped eating his burger momentarily, took off his hat and scratched his head. 'Let's see,' he said, 'Yeah, seems like I do remember some guy named Elton somethin' or 'nother making a big stink here one night,' he said. 'Elvis,' I corrected him. I was about to say his last name when the man interrupted me.
'Yeah, Elvis, that was his name,' he said. 'Presley,' I said. Elvis Presley.' The old codger looked at me out of the corner of his eye. 'Well,' he said, like he had just lost his last dollar in a poker game, 'he must've changed his name. Yeah, that's what he done. He became a big ol' star and he went and changed his name to Presley. But as far as I'm concerned, he'll always be Elvis Pretzel.'
Well, that's show biz, baby
***NOTE: Be sure to READ these also:
ADDITIONAL ARTICLE by Travis L Monday - Published Author of many Sweetwater/Nolan County Historical Books.
-DIRECT LINK to ELVIS STORY:
-DIRECT LINK to SWEETWATER MUNICIPAL AUDITORIUM HISTORY: