New York Daily Mirror, September, 1956

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New York Daily Mirror, September, 1956

Post by latebloomer »

The fool, do you by any chance have a copy of Sidney Fields' five-part article in the New York Daily Mirror, 237-27 September 1956? It was his take on Elvs, and included notes from his interview with Gladys and Vernon Presley at Audubon Drive. I've run across many discussions about it, and some quotes from it, but not the entire article.

Can you--or anyone else--help?

Thanks for all the great articles. You're awfuly nice to share with all of us so much of what must be a fantastic private collection!
latebloomer

Elvis Presley was an explorer of vast new landscapes of dream and illusion. He was a man who refused to be told that the best of his dreams would not come true, who refused to be defined by anyone else's perceptions. This is the goal of democracy, the journey on which every American hero sets out. That Elvis made so much of the journey on his own is reason enough to remember him with the honor and love we reserve for the bravest among us. Such men made the only maps we can trust.
--- Dave Marsh in Elvis.
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Re: New York Daily Mirror, September, 1956

Post by drjohncarpenter »

latebloomer on Sun Oct 08, 2017 12:44 am wrote:The fool, do you by any chance have a copy of Sidney Fields' five-part article in the New York Daily Mirror, 23-27 September 1956? It was his take on Elvs, and included notes from his interview with Gladys and Vernon Presley at Audubon Drive. I've run across many discussions about it, and some quotes from it, but not the entire article.

Can you--or anyone else--help?

Thanks for all the great articles. You're awfuly nice to share with all of us so much of what must be a fantastic private collection!
Sure, I can help.

I've never seen page scans of the original 1956 articles by Sidney Fields that ran in the New York Daily Mirror from 9-23 (Sun) to 9-27 (Thu). But ... they were syndicated. Read on.

First off, it is important to note that a delightful summary of the first three reports first appeared on historian Alan Hanson's superb blog back in January 2009. Sadly, at least one unscrupulous site stole Alan's entire summary verbatim, without ANY credit. It is a common act of thievery by these people, and just inexcusable. Other sites have also copied his work verbatim as well. Very, very uncool.

Below is Alan's original blog, and below that is the first article by Sidney Fields, from another paper via syndication.

Enjoy!


In 1956 Vernon and Gladys
Talked About Raising Young Elvis


Young Elvis Presley had become a phenomenon, and in the fall of 1956, the New York Daily Mirror decided it was time to give him a serious look. And so in early September, columnist Sidney Fields headed down to Memphis to gather material for a series of articles in the Mirror. He didn’t get a chance to talk with Elvis, who was in Hollywood shooting Love Me Tender at the time, but Fields was able to get an extensive interview with Elvis’s parents, who invited him into the Presley home. That interview with Gladys and Vernon Presley was the basis for a five-part expose entitled “The Real Story of Elvis Presley,” which ran in the Daily Mirror from September 23-27, 1956. What follows is a brief summary of the series’ first three parts, in which the Presleys revealed much about how they raised their son.

----------

Sidney Fields had gone to Memphis hoping to discover “WHAT is Elvis Presley?” Visiting his parents seemed like a logical first step in looking for the answer. On first meeting Vernon and Gladys Presley, he was impressed with their closeness and honesty. “They do have a deep bond between them,” he observed, “which is nice to watch, and they express it in a quiet kindness.” He described Gladys as “39, plump, placid, and pious” and Vernon as “40, a gentle, graying, handsome man, as tall as his son.”

Mrs. Presley showed Fields their son’s room, the predominant feature of which was stuffed animals—teddy bears, pandas, elephants, monkeys, dogs—everywhere. “I took him to carnivals when he was a kid,” explained Vernon, “and taught him how to pitch baseballs at wooden bottles and win stuffed animals. He still does it. Last week he won a toy dump truck. It’s in the living room.”

They sat down to talk in the living room, which Fields described as “mixed modern and traditional with a touch of gaudiness.” Gladys pointed out that “Elvis picked out everything with me to furnish the house, and he’s always sending new things home. He sent so many lamps home I had to store most of them away.”

• Young Elvis always kept in touch with parents

Whether their son was in Hollywood or on the road, he always keeps in touch with them, said Mrs. Presley. “He phones us every other night, no matter where he is. ‘How’s my babies?’ he asks us. We’ve always been very close. Why, to this day he gets frightened when his father dives into the pool for fear he won’t come up. He was always that way about us.”

Gladys recalled another incident that demonstrated young Elvis’s concern for his father. When Elvis was 5, his father and some other men were helping a neighbor put out a fire inside his house. Elvis screamed when he saw his father and the other men run inside the house to save some of the family’s belongings. “He was afraid his father wouldn’t ever come out,” said Gladys. “I just told him, ‘Daddy will be all right, now. You stop that, hear!’ And he did.”

Fields asked about their own upbringing and how that shaped their goals for their only son. Gladys, one of eight children, explained, “We didn’t get to go to school. Vernon didn’t graduate either. We can only read and write enough to get by. That’s why I always wanted my son to have an education.”

“We were poor,” Vernon added. “When I was sick my wife walked to work many times because she had no carfare. And many times we hardly had any lunch money to give Elvis. But we did eat and had clothes and a roof over our heads. Maybe we got them all on credit, but we had them. We never had much until three years ago, but Elvis never wanted for anything even when we were troubled. And we always taught him right from wrong as far as we knew, though we didn’t have hardly any education.”

Mrs. Presley was pleased with how they taught their son. “He was raised well,” she said. “He never lies. He doesn’t swear. I never heard him call anyone anything except ‘Mister’ and ‘Sir.’ And we taught him if he can’t help a man out of a ditch the least he can do is say a prayer for him, and the Lord will never let him fall.”

• Young Elvis was disciplined when needed

His mother spanked the young Elvis when needed, and his father remembers hitting his son just once. “He was 5 then,” Gladys explained. “He took two empty Coke bottles from a neighbor’s porch. He told me the neighbor let him take ’em, but that was stealin’ and he had to be corrected. I got Vernon to take the switch to him and give him one or two licks.” Vernon added with a wince, “It hurt me more’n it did him.”

His parents recalled that when Elvis started at L.C. Humes High School at age 13, he didn’t go in the first day because he was so scared. He was afraid the other kids would laugh at him. He had a desperate need to be liked. “And when he isn’t, he worries about it,” said his father.

The Presleys admitted they were always protective of their only son. As an example, Vernon explained how they tried to stop Elvis from playing football after he fell in love with the game at age 15. “After school the white boys would team up against the colored boys,” he recalled. “They’d come home with their clothes torn and their hides, too. Elvis being all we had, we didn’t want him to get hurt. But he wouldn’t stop. Gladys was workin’ in the hospital then and one day a boy was brought in from a football game, and he died of a blood clot. That scared both of us and we made Elvis quit.” Mrs. Presley added, “Know what he told me? He said: ‘I’ll stop because I don’t want to worry you.’”

• All of young Elvis’s girls were nice

Of course, Elvis had discovered girls about that time too. In fact, the first time young Elvis could remember really being out of his mother’s sight was when he started dating at age 16. “He didn’t have real dates till then,” said his father, “but he had girl friends since he was 11. Once, when he was 16, I seen him sittin’ real close to a little girl and I spoke to him about what he should know. He listened. He always does. We’ve been lucky. All the girls he’s known have been nice kids.”

Fields asked how they felt about the charges that Elvis’s obscene stage movements were debasing the morals of America’s youth. “Those things hurt,” admitted Mrs. Presley. “He’s never sassed us, and he’s never been uppity. Big people are still the same as little people to him, and he’s considerate of both the same way. We’re country folk. He’s a country boy, and always will be. How can any boy brought up like mine be indecent or vulgar? Especially when he’s so good to us and his friends. Why, he always wants to do what’s right.”

Elvis’s father denied other rumors that his son drinks and takes dope. “He never touch a drop of liquor in his life, and he wouldn’t know dope if he saw it.”

“He’s a sympathetic boy, and tender-hearted,” Vernon continued. “It hurts him when someone thinks bad of him. Maybe this will tell you what he’s like. He was usherin’ at the movies this time, and on his night off he was downtown with his friends and he sees this Salvation Army lady takin’ up the Christmas collection. But the box was empty. Elvis put his last $5 bill in it, and started drummin’ up a noise to get that box filled. It was filled.”

• To parents, young Elvis’s temper was his only fault

Does Elvis have any faults his parents can see? A bit of a temper, said his mother. “To be plain with you, he’s the easiest goin’ guy you ever saw until he gets pushed or shoved. Then he gets mad, and he’s a little too high tempered. But lots of people are.”

The family always talked things out. “We’ve always been able to calm him, to talk to him about everything,” said Vernon. “Except maybe his dates, and then we could talk to him if they were the wrong girls and he’d listen. He’ll say something about a car he’d like to buy and I’ll say, I wouldn’t son, and he’ll listen. Even now he obeys.”

And the Presleys see nothing wrong with their son’s “twitching and twisting” on stage. “Even when he was a tiny kid and we sang at church and camp meetin’s, Elvis moved around and acted out his songs,” Mrs. Presley said. “He’s always had a lot of energy and he’s big now and gets rid of it in his music. When he sings he’s bein’ himself and that’s not bad or wrong.”

Vernon recalled more about young Elvis’s singing. “At 9 he was picked to sing alone in church,” he said. “At home we sang as a trio, when Gladys wasn’t playin’ the harmonica. Elvis always had a natural talent. He can’t read a note even now. But you don’t have to teach a fish to swim.”

• Young Elvis: “I can sing better than that”

And Gladys remembered a time when she took her son to the fair in Tupelo. After listening to a guitarist sing a song, Elvis told his mother, “I can sing better than that.” According to Vernon, “he just walked right up on that platform, his legs shakin’ a little, and sang that song without any accompaniment.” “With a real powerful voice,” added Gladys, “and he did sing it better than that guitarist.”

The Presleys recollect that from early on young Elvis dreamed of what he would do for his parents someday. “When he was hardly four,” his mother recalled, “he’d tell me: ‘Don’t worry, baby. When I’m grown up I’ll buy you a big home and two cars. One for you and Daddy and one for me.’ All his life he’d say out loud what he was going to do for us, and he’d say it in front of other people. And you know, I believed him.”

While in high school, Elvis took jobs in the afternoon to help his parents make ends meet. “And even when he was in school he’d go around and pay the grocery bill, $25, $30,” said Mrs. Presley. “We didn’t ask him to. He’d just do it himself.” Once Elvis got his father to buy him a lawn mower and used it to make himself $8 a week. “But he stopped when the girls watched him,” remembered Vernon.

• Elvis: "You’ve taken care of me … Now it’s my turn"

“And when he got 19 and started making money,” Gladys said, “he told us: ‘You’ve taken care of me for 19 years. Now it’s my turn.”

Even with their son about to turn 22, the Presleys expected their close family ties would last forever. “This is Elvis’s home,” declared his father. “He’s never had no other home except with us.”

“And even when he gets married,” said his mother, “part of him will always be here.”

When Sidney Fields left Memphis and returned to the big city up north, he took with him a good feeling about Elvis Presley’s parents. “I like these people,” he wrote in one of his Daily Mirror articles a few weeks later. “They’re simple, neighborly, unaffected by the fame and fortune of their son, or the furor he has created.” — Alan Hanson | © January 2009

Young Elvis … Presley's Parents Tell How They Raised Him
http://www.elvis-history-blog.com/young-elvis.html


And here is the first column complete, syndicated to a Canadian newspaper:

The Real Story Of Elvis Presley
He's So Good And Kind, Say His Doting Parents

Chapter 1
By SIDNEY FIELDS

"How can any boy brought up like mine be indecent or vulgar?" Elvis Presley's mother asked. "Especially when he's so good to us and his friends. Why, he always wants to do what's right."

I was visiting the mother and father of Elvis Presley in the nine-room ranch house he bought for them in one of the most exclusive sections of Memphis. Tenn. My purpose was to discover, if possible, WHAT is Elvis Presley. The logical starting point was his parents and his home. Mrs. Gladys Presley, whose middle name, curiously enough, is Love, is 39, plump, placid, and pious. She still somewhat bewildered, but happily bewildered, by the amazing success of her son, and hurt by the heated criticism leveled at him. Her husband, Vernon Elvis Presley, is 40, a gentle, graying, handsome man, as good looking as his son.

Gladys was 16, Vernon, 17, when they were married. "We've been married 23 years," Vernon Presley said, "we've never been apart except during the war when I worked away from home for two week stretches." They do have a deep bond between them, which is nice to watch, and they express it in a quiet kindness. Their maid. Alberta, who is unawed by the Presley furor, is the first they've ever had. When they learned that Alberta had to walk a mile from the last bus stop closest to their home, they bought her a 1953 Pontiac.

FROM TIME TO TIME the curious, adults as well as teen-agers, gather outside the Presley gates. If there are only two or three, Mrs. Presley invites them in and shows them through the house. Recently she opened her doors to two young women from Indianapolis (not teen-agers) and one produced a bottle and asked if she might fill it with water from Elvis' swimming pool. Both were crushed when they heard the pool was empty. But Mrs. Presley elated them again by allowing them to fill the bottle with water from the wash basin in Elvis' own bathroom.

"All of them want to see Elvis' room first." Mrs. Presley said. "And they're always so hushed when they see it." Then she asked, almost shyly: "Do you want to see it?" It's furnished in light-colored modern: Twin beds, an easy chair, radio and record player, record cabinets, bright beige curtains, a few pictures, of Elvis and Elvis' girl friends, and a walk-in closet with at least four-dozen suits and sport coats. Everywhere in the room were stuffed animals. Elvis has a passion for them, and dozens of them are all over the house: teddy bears, pandas, elephants, monkeys and dogs. Perhaps it's a manifestation of a young man who does not want to stop being a child.

"I TOOK HIM to carnivals when he was a kid." Mr. Presley said, "and taught him how to pitch baseballs at wooden bottles and win stuffed animals. He still does it. Last week he won a toy dump truck. It's in the living room." The living room with its sloped ceiling, exposed beams and wood walls, is mixed modern and traditional with a touch of gaudiness. Besides the stuffed animals, it has a small organ which Elvis plays by ear, five pictures of Elvis, including a painted portrait, two framed disk jockey awards and a framed gold record far the million-disk sale of "Heartbreak Hotel." On a table is a Bible Elvis won when he was It by singing in the First Assembly of God Church. "Elvis picked out everything with me to furnish the house," Mrs. Presley said proudly, "and he's always sending new things home. He sent so many lamps home I had to store most of them away."

ELVIS SPENT enough for the house, and probably another when he added such things as a 25-by 48-foot swimming pool, a two-car garage besides the two-car carport already there, and an iron fence all around the place, dotted with musical notes. "We've only been here eight months." said Mr. Presley, "and when Elvis called last night he told me he's thinking of a big farm, a farm." "He phones us every other night, no matter where he is," said Mrs. Presley. "'How's my babies?' he asks us. "We've always been very close. Why, to this day he gets frightened terribly when his father dives into the pool for fear he won't come up. He was always that way about us."

ELVIS ARON PRESLEY is their only child. He did have a twin brother, Jesse Garon, who died at birth. "That's why Elvis is so dear and special to us," Mrs. Presley said. Both parents come from Tupelo, Miss., and Elvis was born there too. Mrs. Presley was one of eight children and her father died when she was 12. She and her brother and sisters chopped corn and cotton until she met and married Vernon, who was a carpenter by trade. “We didn’t get to go to school," she said. Vernon didn’t graduate either. We can only read and write enough to get by. That’s why I always wanted my son to have an education."

The height of learning for them was a high school diploma, and they saw to it that Elvis got one. When Mr. Presley couldn't find work as a carpenter he drove a truck and labored in a paint factory. Mrs. Presley worked in factories, tended a coffee urn in a cafeteria, and was a nurse's aide. She never earned more than $25 a week. Her husband never more than $54. "We were poor,” Vernon added. “When I was sick my wife walked to work many times because she had no carfare. And many times we hardly had any lunch money to give Elvis. But we did eat and had clothes and a roof over our heads. Maybe we got them all on credit, but we had them. We never had much until three years ago, but Elvis never wanted for anything even when we were troubled. And we always taught him right from wrong as far as we knew, though we didn’t have hardly any education.”

THAT WAS ONLY three short years ago, and it was then that Elvis cut his first record, "That's All Right, Mama," stopped driving a truck, and began earning wealth, and fame. "He thought I should retire," Mr. Presley said, "and I agreed." His sole job now is handling his son's personal affairs in Memphis: The house, money, insurance, the Cadillac and Continental Elvis leaves at home. Mr. Presley sends the letters Elvis receives weekly only at home to a central office in Hollywood. A secretary in the house in Memphis tries to cope with the 500 letters a week that are addressed directly to the parents, from gushing well wishers, picture-hunters, or foggy promoters.

A GOOD SPRINKLING comes from indignant parents who are certain Elvis Presley is raising juvenile delinquency in America to new and horrifying heights. One of them compared his wiggling and warbling to a milk shake machine and a strip teaser going crazy at the same time. Elvis will earn well over a million this year, while parents, teachers, civic leaders and clergymen argue whether he's debasing or uplifting the morals of America's youth. “Those things hurt,” Mrs. Presley said. The mildest charge hurled against him is that he is obscene. Many, in the heat of anger, are sure he drinks and take's dope. Neither is true. "He never touched a drop of liquor in his life," his father said, "and he wouldn't know dope if he saw it."

(NEXT: THE BEGINNINGS OF ELVIS PRESLEY)

Winnipeg Free Press - Friday, November 23, 1956
http://newspaperarchive.com/ca/manitoba/winnipeg/winnipeg-free-press/1956/11-23/page-12
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Re: New York Daily Mirror, September, 1956

Post by drjohncarpenter »

Here is the second part, from syndication:
The Real Story Of Elvis Presley
Even When A Tiny Boy Elvis Acted Out Songs

Chapter 2
BY SIDNEY FIELDS

There is an astonishing contrast between his poor and often lonely beginnings and the frenzied hip swinging and singing which brought sudden, undreamed of wealth and hotly disputed fame to 21-year-old Elvis Aron Presley.

No evaluation of this controversial phenomenon can be separated from his parents and how they see him. So I went down to visit them in the roomy ranch house their son bought in one of the most fashionable sections of Memphis. Tenn. Gladys Love Presley, 39, and her husband, Vernon Elvis Presley, 40, are handsome, kindly, unpretentious and devout people who see nothing wrong in their son's twitching and twisting.

“Even when he was a tiny kid and we sang at church and camp meetin’s, Elvis moved around and acted out his songs,” Mrs. Presley said. “He’s always had a lot of energy, and he’s big now and gets rid of it in his music. When he sings he’s bein’ himself and that’s not bad or wrong.”

LIKE ANY parents, they gave their son all the love and affection they had, and it was much. Unlike many parents, they over-protected him: perhaps because Jesse Garon, Elvis' twin brother, died at birth. "Elvis is all we live for," his father said. When Mrs. Presley was working as a nurse's aide almost all the S23 she earned weekly went to Elvis so he could have the same kind of toys and clothes and attend the same school parties as the other kids.

When he was 15 and fell in love with football, his parents thought it was too dangerous and tried to stop him. "After school the white boys would team up against the colored boys," Presley recalled, "and they'd come home with their clothes torn and their hides, too. Elvis being all we had, we didn't want him to get hurt. But he wouldn't stop. Gladys was workin' in the hospital then and one day a boy was brought in from a football game, and he died of a blood clot. That scared both of us and we made Elvis quit." "Know what he told me?" Mrs. Presley asked. "He said: 'I'll stop because I don't want to worry you.'"

AND I REMEMBERED when I first interviewed Elvis in New York he admitted: "I was never out of my mother's sight until I was 16. All the kids would go swimming in the creek and my mother wouldn't let me go. And I never really dated until I was 16." "He didn't have real dates till then, but he had girl friends since he was 11," Vernon Presley said. "Once, when he was 16, I seen him sittin' real clsoe to a little girl and I spoke to him about what he should know. He listened. He always does. We've been lucky. All the girls he's known have been nice kids."

Father and son went to carnivals together, and played baseball though Elvis wasn't much interested in the game. He preferred skill pool and as soon as Elvis began making some money he bought a skill pool table and outfitted a skill pool room in their home. During Elvis' childhood the Presleys struggled hard to earn their rent, both working in factories and Mr. Presley driving a truck. Once they lived in a housing project with a income limit, but had to leave when all three worked and exceeded the limit. They rented a home until Elvis spent $40,000 for their new house. "That's why all this seems like a dream," said Mrs. Presley. "To go out and spend a little and not be so savin' and tight."

"WE NEVER HAD much until three years ago," her husband added, "but Elvis never wanted for anything even when we were troubled. And we always taught him right from wrong as far as we knew, though we didn't have hardly any education." "He was raised well," Presley said. "He never lies. He doesn't swear. I never heard him call anyone except 'Mister' and 'Sir.' And we taught him if he can't help a man out of a ditch the least he can do is say a prayer for him, and the Lord will never let him fall."

Elvis was a gregarious child at times, and his father often waded through a sea of kids when he came home from work. At other times, Elvis preferred his own brooding company. To this day he can be alone in a crowd. His parents never petted him or gave him his way, and his mother never hesitated to spank him when necessary. His father only hit him once. "He was 5 then," Mrs. Presley said, "and he took two empty Coke bottles from a neighbor's porch. He told me the neighbor let him take 'em, but that was stealin' and he had to be corrected. I got Vernon to take the switch to him and give him one or two licks." "It hurt me more'n it did him," his father said with a wince.

IT WAS A CLOSE, happy home, with laughter in it, always with singing. When Elvis was 3 his parents would carry him to church (First Assembly of God) and he would run down the aisle, stand in front of the choir and sing with them. "At 9 he was picked to sing alone in church," said Presley, "and at home we sang as a trio, when Gladys wasn't playin' the harmonica. Elvis always had a natural talent. He can't read a note even now. But you don't have to teach a fish to swim." In the fifth grade the teacher asked one child to say a prayer. When the child wouldn't, Elvis volunteered and amazed the teacher by singing a hymn afterwards: it was a family custom. From then on Elvis said the class prayer and sang the hymn.

At 12 he wanted a bicycle, but his mother wasn't working and the bicycle cost too much. She got him a $13 guitar instead, and the following Christmas got him the bike. At a fair in their native Tupelo, Elvis heard a guitarist sing a song, nudged his parents and said: "I can sing better than that." "And he just walked right up on that platform, his legs shakin' a little, and sang that song without any accompaniment," his father said, all aglow. "With a real powerful voice," Mrs. Presley said, "and he did sing it better than that guitarist."

The Presleys moved to Memphis when Elvis was 13 and the boy was sent to L C Humes High School and was so scared, the first day he didn't go in. He made it the next day, and thereafter was always fearful of being laughed at. He had a desperate need to be liked. “And when he isn’t, he worries about it,” said Mr. Presley. "When they picked him to sing an encore for the senior variety show," his mother said, "he asked the teacher: 'Do they really like me that much?'"

His teachers report he was a good student, rather quiet, but did well in most of his grades, and managed to get by in the others. "There were times when we never had more'n 25 cents to give him for lunch," his father said. "But he never fussed about it. And he got me to buy a lawn mower after a while and made himself $8 a week, but he stopped when the girls watched him."

WHILE IN HIGH SCHOOL, Elvis ushered at a movie house and later worked midnight hour shift at a tool company making artillery shells. But they found out he was under 18 and laid him off. After he graduated he went back to work for them. "He was always tryin' to help," Mr. Presley said. "Way back when he was a kid he was always tellin' us what he's going to do for us " "And when he got 19 and started making money," Mrs. Presley said, "he told us, 'You've taken care of me for 19 years. Now it's my turn.'"

(NEXT: THE DESIRES AND DREAMS OF ELVIS PRESLEY)

Winnipeg Free Press - Saturday, November 24, 1956
https://newspaperarchive.com/winnipeg-free-press-nov-24-1956-p-6/
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Re: New York Daily Mirror, September, 1956

Post by jurasic1968 »

Thanks a lot, Doc. Great. "Young Elvis's temper was his only fault". Later on his life this temper became more and more erratic.

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Re: New York Daily Mirror, September, 1956

Post by Hard Rocker »

Interesting stuff.
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Re: New York Daily Mirror, September, 1956

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latebloomer on Sun Oct 08, 2017 10:44 am wrote:The fool, do you by any chance have a copy of Sidney Fields' five-part article in the New York Daily Mirror, 237-27 September 1956?
No, I don´t have those. But Doc came up with something really interesting. It would be great to see all five parts of the article.
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Re: New York Daily Mirror, September, 1956

Post by drjohncarpenter »

Here is the third part, from syndication:
The Real Story Of Elvis Presley
'He's All Right' Declare Home Town Folks

Chapter 3
BY SIDNEY FIELDS

ASK the man or woman on the street in Memphis, Tenn.: "What do you think of Elvis and they say: "Any boy who's as good to his folks as Elvis is has got to be all right."

I put the question to a dozen people, including the cab driver, on my way to the home of Elvis Presley's parents in an exclusive area of Memphis. and they all had variations of that same answer.

I HAD COME TO Memphis to talk to his mother and father and try to find out WHAT is "Elvis Presley," and they had invited me to dinner one evening. They apologized for not serving it in the dining room of their ample nine room ranch house. It was littered with mail sent to the parents from all over America; which a full-time secretary is kept busy answering. Besides, they felt more at home in the dining area of their spotless kitchen.

After they said a prayer, Alberta, their colored maid, the first help they've ever had, served fried chicken, chicken gravy, huge slices of cucumbers and tomatoes, hot rolls, and later milk, pie, fruit and coffee. It was all delicious. We ate the chicken with our fingers, and Gladys Love Presley and Vernon Elvis Presley, unfettered and warm, talked of their famous, hard laboring and often sorely belabored son, away in Hollywood making his his first movie, "Love Me Tender," for a reported $15,000 fee.

"HE MANAGES to call us every other night no matter where he's been," said Mr. Presley, who, three years ago, earned S54 a week in a paint factory and is now employed' by Elvis to handle Elvis' personal affairs. "He's been away a month now," sighed his mother, a portly, handsome woman. "That's the longest he's ever been away from us. He always gets home every two or three weeks. But he's due in Tupelo. Miss., at a fair on Sept. 26 and we'll see him before he goes back to finish his movie."

She put more chicken on my plate and Mrs. Presley chuckled. "When Elvis was nine he won fifth prize in a singin' contest at that same fair. A war stamp. The man who gave him the prize had a rough time gettin' him back this time for and a percentage of the gate."

AND THEY remembered their son's dreams for them. He started dreaming out loud quite early. Mrs. Presley dug back for her earliest recollection: "When he was hardly four he'd tell me: 'Don't worry, baby, when I'm grown up I'll buy you a big home and two cars. One for you and Daddy, and one for me.' All his life he'd say out loud what he was going to do for us, and he'd say it in front of other people. And you know. I believed him."

She passed the rolls and the cucumbers and the tomatoes and Mr. Presley offered me more chicken, and they both called up the memory of seven-year-old Elvis, sitting on the stoop of their house in their native Tupelo, watching the cars drive by and telling all those friends who would listen: "Some day I'm goin' to have two Cadillacs sittin' in my driveway."

HE HAS a Cadillac and Continental sitting in the driveway in Memphis for his parents and two other Cadillacs travel with him: one for his trio and one for himself. Over milk and fruit and pie and coffee they recalled his childhood feelings about them. Elvis was 5 when his father and a number of other men were helping put out a fire in a neighbor's house. Elvis screamed in fear when he saw his father join the men running into the house to salvage some of the neighbor's belongings.

"He was afraid his father wouldn't ever come out," Mrs. Presley said. "I just told him, 'Daddy will be all right, now, you stop that. And he did." Elvis was always afraid to see me dive into the water for fear I wouldn't ever come up," his father, Vernon Presley, said. "Thats why I think he never did learn to swim well. But he's a good water skier. Faster he goes, the better he likes it."

WHEN THEY WERE first married they struggled bitterly to keep their home together and give him everything the other boys had. "We always talked to him about getting an education," his mother said, "so it wouldn't be so hard for him as it was for us. He never did quit high school." Elvis' childhood recollections of his parents and his own drive made him look for full-time work while still in high school, and his pay went into the family kitty. He ushered in a movie house, made shells in a factory, was a shipping clerk for a furniture company, and when he was graduated drove a truck for an electrical equipment firm.

"AND HE STUDIED electricity at night school while working on the truck," Mr. Presley said. "He delivered the stuff and worked with the men on houses going up so's he could learn the trade." "And even when he was in school," Mrs. Presley said, he'd go around and pay the grocery bill, $30. We didn't ask him to. He'd just do it himself."

I searched their faces, and across my mind flashed the picture of their 21-year-old son six feet tall, 185 pounds, with the long side-burns and pegged pants, with the passion for clothes and Cadillacs, who sends millions of teen-agers into frenzied adoration and is damned with equal fervor by other millions. What words would these people, who readily admit they can barely read or write, what words could they find to "characterize" him?

"He’s a sympathetic boy, and tender-hearted," his father said. "It hurts him when someone thinks bad of him." He paused and added: "Maybe this will tell you what he’s like. He was usherin’ at the movies this time, and on his night off he was downtown with his friends and he sees this Salvation Army lady takin’ up the Christmas collection. But the box was empty. Elvis put his last $5 bill in it, and started drummin’ up a noise to get that box filled. It was filled."

"HE DOESN'T drink or swear," his mother said, pouring more coffee. "He's never sassed us, and he's never been uppity. Big people are still the same as little people to him and he's considerate of both the same way. We're country folk. He's a country boy, and always will be." Eagerly they went on to praise his abiding loyalty: He still buys his clothes in the same shop he patronized when he was driving a truck. "Know what that means to the shop?" Presley demanded. "He's just had to push his walls out and double his store."

The bass fiddler, Bill Black and guitarist Scotty Moore, who played the music when Elvis made his first record in 1953, are still with him. One of his earliest dates in Memphis was a girl named Barbara Hearn. She's still his date when he gets home. "No, he's not serious with Barbara," Mr. Presley said. "They're good friends and she's a nice kid. But Elvis has other dates, too."

HAS ELVIS any faults his parents can see? "To be plain with you, he's the easiest goin' guy you ever saw until he gets pushed or his mother said. "Then he gets mad, and he's a little too high tempered. But lots of people are." "We've always been able to calm him, to talk to him about his father said. "Except maybe his dates, and then we could talk to him if they were "the wrong girls," and he'd listen. He'll say something about a car he'd like to buy and I'll say, I wouldn't son, and he'll listen. Even now he obeys."

We left the table and walked through the rumpus room into the living room. Both parents looked around with a quiet happiness. "This is Elvis' home," Mr. Presley said. "He's never had no other home except with us." "And even when he gets married," his mother said, "part of him will always be here."

(NEXT: HOW SUCCESS CAME TO ELVIS)

Winnipeg Free Press - Monday, November 26, 1956
https://newspaperarchive.com/winnipeg-free-press-nov-26-1956-p-5/
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Re: New York Daily Mirror, September, 1956

Post by Hard Rocker »

Good work Johnboy.
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Re: New York Daily Mirror, September, 1956

Post by drjohncarpenter »

Here is the fourth part, from syndication:
The Real Story Of Elvis Presley
Shy Boy Cuts First Disc And Is On Way To Fame

Chapter 4
BY SIDNEY FIELDS

When his horizon was limited to an ushering job at a local movie house in Memphis, Tenn., or driving a truck, Elvis Presley liked singing when someone else sang.

"Back in those days he had to be coaxed to sing," said his mother, Gladys Love Presley, during my visit to her fashionable home in Memphis. "Elvis was afraid to sing for fear of being laughed at. He never thought he was good." Many people still think he isn't and never will be; many more are convinced his wild and uninhibited wiggling is a menace to the morals of the nation's youth. But youth follows his singing, his habits of dress and speech, with a passionate adoration never given any singer before. His success has still to be measured. All we know now is that it hasn't reached its peak.

VERNON ELVIS Presley, his father, recalls the sleepless nights of his son when he was 18: "Lying there, wondering where he was going. He knesw he wasn't going to drive a truck all his life. There was always a lot of drive in him." I like these people. They're simple, neighborly, unaffected by the fame and fortune of their son, or the furor he has created. As they tell it, Elvis learned a few chords on the cheap guitar they bought him when he was 12, then threw it aside. During his brooding, when he reached 18, he picked it up again, and one day found a recording studio in the phone book and called it. "He asked how much it would cost to make a record," his mother said. "The man there, Sam Phillips, told him it would cost three dollars for one side and four dollars for two, and Elvis wanted to know if anyone would be in the studio when he made the record. If there was, he wouldn't have gone."

PHILLIPS, WHO ran The Sun Record company, cut Elvis a private disk. He marked "good ballad" on an index card, filed it away, and told the boy he had an unusual voice and might some day cut a commercial record with him. "Elvis thought Sam was pulling his leg," his father said. "And it took more'n year before Phillips called him. He had'a guitar player, Scotty Moore, and a bass fiddler, Bill Black, there and they kept rehearsin' day after day, but couldn't get a song. Once, while they stopped for coffee one night, Elvis began strummin' and hummin' 'That's All Right' and Bill and Scotty who liked the song, began to hit it up and Phillips got very excited and made a record of it." Phillips brought the record to a local disk jockey on Station WHBQ, who promised to play it. After some urging he fixed a night for its debut, and Elvis was so apprehensive he tuned the radio at home to the station, "then ran off to a movie."

"HE WAS TOO nervous to listen to it," said his mother. "But an hour" after it was played, the station "phoned us and asked for Elvis. Every- body was callin' the station askin' who is Elvis Presley? His father and I went to the movie to find him, and when he saw us he turned pale white, but I told him it was all fine." Phillips made at least a dozen other songs with Elvis, which got him his first real professional appearance in July, 1954, at Overton Park in Memphis, where Elvis shared billing with five other performers and faced a crowd of 2,000. A man named Bob Neal sensed his appeal at Overton and became his manager. Neal got him on the Grand Ole Opry and Louisiana Hayride shows, and into any night clubs that would take him. A year later, Tom Parker, a very shrewd man who knew what to do with that appeal, became Elvis' manager when the boy was earning raves on the road.

WHILE DRIVING around Nashville, Steve Sholes, then head of RCA-Victor's Country and Western Music, heard Elvis on his car radio and promptly went after him. Col. Parker got Sholes and Victor to agree to a five percent royalty instead of the three given all top singers, and Victor had to pay Phillips and Sun for his contract, which included the dozen songs Elvis had recorded. Victor also gave Elvis spending money, which he used to buy his first Cadillac. Within a year Elvis had made six major TV appearances, with the Dorsey Brothers, Jackie Gleason, Milton Berle and Steve Allen, and refused a offer for 13 weeks with Berle. Ed Sullivan, who said he wouldn't have Presley at any price, reversed himself and gave him $50,000 for three appearances.

"And you know," his father said, "back in March, 1955, Elvis first went to New York and got an audition with Arthur Godfrey's Talent Scouts. They listened to him and told him he'd hear from them, but he never did." "He's grown better all the while," Mrs. Presley said. "Everything he undertakes he keeps at it. Sometimes that frightens me 'cause he burns himself up." "But that's the way he is," his father added. "When he was usherin' he was all set to be head usher, he was so good at it. But some other boy told the manager the ushers were sittin' in the balcony, and Elvis got mad at the boy for tellin' tales and hit him. The manager fired the whole bunch of 'em."

IN AMERICA, where sudden and enormous success is not uncommon, Elvis Presley's rise to gold and glory is incredible. He will be 22 next January 8, and this year his income will be well over $1,000,000. Less than five years ago, his parents hardly had enough lunch money for him. Now a personal appearance brings him $2,500 per show and up, plus a percentage of the gate. More than a million of his records will be sold before the first year of his contract is up with RCA. Elvis Presley Enterprises is turning out by the thousands T-shirts, hats, trinkets, and costume jewelry all bearing his name, and a variety of gyrating poses. His father proudly showed me samples, and his mother was wearing one of the lockets with his picture on it.

Movie producer Hal Wallis signed Elvis as the fury started for a sizeable percentage of each picture which he will not reveal, but it can be gauged by what he is earning with 20th Century Fox. For "Love Me Tender," Elvis' first movie, he receives $100,000 and an option for more with 20th Century if he condescends to do so. He will be paid $150,000 for the second and $200,000 for the third. "When Elvis phones us he tells us about the story," his father said. "He does some plowin' in it with mules. He never saw a plow in his life before that. But he says he is enjoying it."

AFTER HE SANG the title song of the movie only once on a TV show, RCA Victor received advance orders of close to a million copies. For his parents the only shadows are Elvis' 1A draft status and his long absences. "Of course we worry about the draft," his mother said. "But thousands of other sons go, and Elvis will when he's called. That's the right thing to do." "The only thing is bein' away from home," his father said. "I hope he'll like the Army. But he always fits into things."

There's another distressing note for them: Since Elvis started the frenzy of success, he hasn't been to church once. "But prayin' is a matter of habit with him," Mrs. Presley said. "He prays every night before he goes to sleep, and I know he feels real guilty if he doesn't."

(NEXT: THE PENALTIES OF ELVIS PRESLEY'S SUCCESS)

Winnipeg Free Press - Tuesday, November 27, 1956
https://newspaperarchive.com/winnipeg-free-press-nov-27-1956-p-2/
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Re: New York Daily Mirror, September, 1956

Post by drjohncarpenter »

Here is the fifth and final part, from syndication:
The Real Story Of Elvis Presley
Mother And Dad Worry About Price Of Success

Chapter 5
BY SIDNEY FIELDS

There's always a price tag on success. Elvis Aron Presley has to pay it. What's more his parents have to pay part of the price too.

They're still wondering at the newfound wealth, the expensive nine-room house Elvis bought for them in Memphis, Tenn., the Cadillac and Continental in the driveway. "Elvis lays it to no one but the Lord," she said. "More than once he's told me: 'Hasn't the Lord blessed us, mama?"

They worry about the frenzy of their only child in his new life, his health, his driving, the mobs that besiege him, his future, and about the violent criticism hurled at him. "He's always knockin' himself out," his father said, "and we've begged him not to, time and time again. But there's a lot of power and drive in him."

Gladys Presley saw a mob of girls almost tear the clothes off her son after a performance in Jacksonville, Fla. Six months later she was supposed to go back to Jacksonville to see him again.

"Vernon and I were both scared," she admitted, "but Elvis he told me, 'Mother, if you're nervous you better not come because they're going to do that again and again I hope.' After the show I phoned him and asked if he was still livin'. I can't say I hate it, even though it frightens me. He means they love him."

WHEN ELVIS was hardly known, and touring Texas and Mexico in 1954, his Lincoln was completely wrecked in one accident. With the insurance money he bought a Cadillac, and on a trip to Texarkana for a performance it burned from bumper to bumper.

"He had to continue his tour," his father recalled with a shudder, "so I rushed down in our Ford car and gave it to him, and came back home by bus." Shortly afterwards, coming from New Orleans to Texarkana, a truck hit his new car, and when his manager phoned the Presleys and asked if they'd heard from their son, they both went to pieces.

"That was nine at night," Vernon Presley said, "and we were sick with worry. Elvis phoned us as soon as he could, at one in the morning. The car was a total wreck, but he was all right except for his knee. It smashed against the dashboard."

BOTH BELIEVE firmly that if success had to come to any of the Presleys it was inevitable that Elvis should achieve it. "Because he earns it and deserves his success," mother said with evident pride. "He's got nothing to be ashamed of."

Winnipeg Free Press - Wednesday, November 28, 1956
https://newspaperarchive.com/winnipeg-free-press-nov-28-1956-p-28/

Hope my digging out this series was something everyone here enjoyed. There are some interesting pieces of the puzzle from the reporting done by Sidney Fields, which I will summarize next.


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Re: New York Daily Mirror, September, 1956

Post by drjohncarpenter »

New pieces of information this 1956 Elvis profile conveys to us:

- Sidney Fields previously interviewed Elvis in New York, likely January-February or June-July.

- The fifth prize won at the 10-03-1945 Mississippi-Alabama Fair and Dairy Show talent contest was a war savings certificate stamp.

- Fields conducted the interview with Gladys and Vernon around 9-15-1956 (Sat).

- It may be the first published mention of Elvis going to New York in March 1955 to try out for Arthur Godfrey's talent show.

- Elvis called Sun Studios before going in to record his first acetate, to be sure no one else would be in the studio when he sang.

- The infamous riot at Wolfson Park in Jacksonville happened at the 7-29-1955 show ... his next Wolfson Park booking fell on 2-23-1956, which is just a bit more than "six months later," as his mom recalled.


Interesting what you can find out about Elvis sixty years later. ;-)
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Re: New York Daily Mirror, September, 1956

Post by latebloomer »

Thank you, Doc. At last! That's something I've wanted to read for a long, long time.

I know the site to which you refer, and I, too, resent their blatant and unrestrained plagerism--for that's what it is, plain and simple. I have a heck of a time trying to find credit for the things I have (never mind trying to date them correctly), but I AM trying, and won't release the site I'm building until I've done all I can to find credit for original photographers/writers, and, if possible, for whoever currently holds copyright-type rights, AND permission to include those woeks. It's uphill all the way, but is a sort of debt of honor to Elvis himself, who was so used by so many, and to all those whose professional work or devoted affection created the bounty we now enjoy of photos and stories of our guy being--Elvis.

To everyone who posts here including credits and dates, my heartfelt grtitude. Take a bow, please.
latebloomer

Elvis Presley was an explorer of vast new landscapes of dream and illusion. He was a man who refused to be told that the best of his dreams would not come true, who refused to be defined by anyone else's perceptions. This is the goal of democracy, the journey on which every American hero sets out. That Elvis made so much of the journey on his own is reason enough to remember him with the honor and love we reserve for the bravest among us. Such men made the only maps we can trust.
--- Dave Marsh in Elvis.
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Re: New York Daily Mirror, September, 1956

Post by drjohncarpenter »

latebloomer on Tue Oct 10, 2017 2:42 am wrote:Thank you, Doc. At last! That's something I've wanted to read for a long, long time.

I know the site to which you refer, and I, too, resent their blatant and unrestrained plagerism--for that's what it is, plain and simple. I have a heck of a time trying to find credit for the things I have (never mind trying to date them correctly), but I AM trying, and won't release the site I'm building until I've done all I can to find credit for original photographers/writers, and, if possible, for whoever currently holds copyright-type rights, AND permission to include those woeks. It's uphill all the way, but is a sort of debt of honor to Elvis himself, who was so used by so many, and to all those whose professional work or devoted affection created the bounty we now enjoy of photos and stories of our guy being--Elvis.

To everyone who posts here including credits and dates, my heartfelt grtitude. Take a bow, please.
Thanks. Keep us posted on your project.
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Dr. John Carpenter, M.D.
Stop, look and listen, baby <<--->> that's my philosophy!