Elvis Presley and Me
Elvis has a personal nickname for me—“Sugar.” Of course, when there are strangers around. he always calls me “Mrs. Spreckels.” He’s ever so proper.
It’s hard to say what someone else is really like, so I can only say what Elvis is like to me. Elvis and I are friends; we are good friends. We have fun when we’re together and we understand each other. even though our backgrounds are as different as those of any two young people in the United States today could be.
When people ask Elvis about me. he says, “She’s my number one fan. She’s just like a sister to me.” And that’s how it is. I don’t have a brother, and Elvis is an only child. If I did have a brother, I’d want him to be just like Elvis: handsome, talented, well-mannered and fun.
Not the least bit conceited.
I’ve followed Elvis’ career when almost no one else had ever heard of him. The moment we met, it seemed like we had always known each other. Elvis Just shook hands and said, “Hi. Pleased to meet you, ma’am. This here’s my Cousin Gene.”
Can EI do without love?
Once when we were sitting around with a group at a dinner party, he seemed lost in thought, so I said to him, “Elvis, are you going to the movies this afternoon?” He looked up quickly and asked. “What’s the matter?” “Nothing,” I said. “There must be something,” he replied, “you called me ‘Elvis.’ ” My nickname for him is “EI,” and that’s what I usually call him. I assured him that I only called him “Elvis” to attract his attention away from his day dreaming. But I could tell that he was hurt. He wants everyone, young and old. to like him. He is extremely sensitive.
He’s nervous when he comes off the stage, more nervous than when he goes on—because he wants so much for people to like him! If they don’t absolutely tear down the house he feels like maybe he wasn’t a success. That’s why it was a difficult time for Elvis, his first days in Las Vegas. Minors are not allowed in the night clubs, naturally, only at the earlier shows. And Elvis had never worked before an entirely adult audience.
It was such a new experience working for people who only clapped enthusiastically instead of yelling and shouting. He kept repeating after he came off stage, “I don’t think they like me, I just don’t think they like me.” I’d tell him it wasn’t true. That adults don’t show their appreciation in the same way that teenagers do. “They applaud the way adults do, instead of jumping. They called out numbers they wanted, and they came back night after night to see you—so they must like you—and not a ’teenager among them! And they ask for autographs for their children, and lots of people tell you they are from your home state. They like you, Elvis, they like you!” And he’d say, “I guess you’re right, but you just don’t know how it is when you hear those kids scream. Then I just know that they like me! It makes me feel so good!” “El, you might not always be playing for ’teenagers,” I answered, “so you must learn how to perform for every type of audience, and do your best every time you’re on.” I don’t want to give the idea in any of this that I was giving him advice he couldn’t get anywhere else. It’s just that we were friends . . . are friends . . . and I’m familiar to an extent with show business.
Every afternoon during his stay in Las Vegas he’d say to me, “Are you going to be at ringside tonight?” And I’d say, “Sure.” And he’d answer, “Well, you be sure because it makes me feel good when I see you sitting down there.”
I said, “Elvis, you know I’ll always be there, because I’m your Number One Fan.”
But it wasn’t until we’d been in Vegas nearly a week that he said, “You know, I guess they do like me, but it still bothers me that they don’t show it so much.” Every afternoon he’d still say, “Be sure you sit down there so I can see you.”
Is El car crazy?
When people make cutting remarks about his having so many cars, it’s because they don’t understand. One of his cars is used by the boys in the group strictly for business, to travel to the show dates around the country. He has a pink and black sedan for family use. He recently bought an ivory Eldorado convertible. And a Lincoln Continental. Cars are his hobby and he’s a careful driver. You’re never nervous driving with him.
The only time Elvis ever drove fast that I know of was when four of us took a ride in the desert one day. We drove down ‘the highway, with Elvis at the wheel. Then Elvis saw a side road, turned on it, and suddenly it was as if we were in another world. There wasn’t a living thing as far as the eye could see . . . no houses, no people, nothing but our car racing towards the mountains into the sunset. The four of us were alone, suspended in space. After awhile he began going faster. We all had safety belts on and no one thought about anything. Elvis didn’t realize it, but he began to push the car faster and faster until we were really sailing. I looked at the people in the back and they seemed a hit disturbed, but no one said anything. I wasn’t afraid. Elvis kept right on increasing speed until it seemed that we hardly touched the road. Then, after several miles, we saw a little group of houses ahead. Elvis slowed down. He stopped, looked at the houses, and said he wondered who lived there. “We don’t have time to find out,” someone replied, and so he turned around and we drove back at a leisurely pace, breathing in the desert air. It was a beautiful day.
As we approached the town of Las Vegas our way was blocked by a long freight train and we began to kid about whether or not it would pass in time for Elvis to get to the show. I don’t think any of us will ever forget that day. I can’t explain it, but this day seems like a dream that keeps beating itself. It is something the four I us will never forget, the time when we are young, happy, unafraid, racing to meet sunset.
What makes El happy?
El remembers what it was like not being to have what he wanted. Sometimes think he’s too generous. He doesn’t really the value of money because it’s so new him.
At an amusement park where we often, Elvis and some of his friends would ride in the bumper cars. And when he empty cars he’d look out and see the of kids who couldn’t afford every ride. He’d say to the man, “Let ’em” He’d pay for all the tickets—not to big man, but because that’s the way his. He’d make friends of the kids and form teams, crashing into each other he’d yell, “Hold it, man, here I come!” He’d smack into somebody. I’d be and blue. It’s a rough sport riding bump cars, and Elvis-likes it. He says, a game where everybody can think won.”
Then Elvis is at an amusement park he’s any twenty-one-year-old fellow who how to have fun. In the rifle range loves contests. He’s a very good shot. I lose for a girl I’m better than average because I’ve done a lot of shooting, which was why he liked to shoot with me. He also liked the machines that light up when you hit a target. On one machine, the best score was 40,000. He started with 10,000 and he kept-at it until he hit forty and all the lights lit up. He spent dozens of nickels getting there!
Some afternoons we’d go to the movies instead of riding the bump cars and shooting. We saw all the different movies, Not just westerns. After the movies we’d be hurrying back so Elvis could get ready for his evening performance. If the movie had one of our favorites, like Rod Steiger, we’d talk a long time about it.
How does El treat his parents?
Somebody said once in my hearing that El was a mama’s boy. Well that just isn’t true. El is devoted to his parents and I think it is a most admirable quality. He speaks to his parents almost every day by long distance. He tells them what’s going on. There’s nothing sickly sweet about his parents. He loves them, is proud of them and they’re proud of him. And that’s the way it should be.
He’s done a lot for them, too. Bought them a beautiful home, a swimming pool, sees that they have everything. He feels they have sacrificed a lot to give him opportunities. And I think that any mother could only be proud to have a son like that. Because his love for his parents is sincere and real and not put on, he doesn’t rebel against parental authority. He understands his parents and they understand him.
Uninformed people say El is setting a bad example for the youth of America. I feel just the opposite. I think he sets a fine example.
I think people would be better off if they had sons and daughters as fine as El who didn’t drink. or smoke and who get fun out of the simple pleasures.
I’ve been to many of his shows and all that Elvis’ singing has ever evoked is laughter and happiness. The screaming and jumping up and down, that’s normal.
I’ve been to Memphis and Tupelo, Mississippi, and the people he grew up with, those from his home town, all spoke well of him.
He lives in a nice neighborhood in Memphis, near a golf course; his home is set back on a wide lawn; there’s a puppy on the front lawn.
It’s not a pretentious home, just attractive and comfortable.
Is El vulgar?
El’s singing style is not an act with him. He feels the way he sings and sings the way he feels, and he’s very hurt if anyone says he’s vulgar.
He doesn’t feel that he is and he’s asked me, “Do you think I’m vulgar? Do you think what I do is bad?”
I told him I don’t think so.
I’ve seen him when there was no audience to perform for, just a group of us, and we all wiggled and jumped around and gyrated because it’s that kind of music and it makes you feel good.
I’ve seen El in some shows where his movements could be interpreted as exaggerated, but I’ve never heard any teenager or any person in the audience say anything pertaining to the idea that the movements might be suggestive.
It surprised me so much to read that some people thought he was vulgar.
When people talk to me I ask if they have ever seen him perform.
Most of them admit that their opinions were formed from what they read.
The people who see him with thoughts in their own minds that don’t coincide with the thoughts of the ’teenagers might think he’s vulgar, but the ’teenagers have no such thought.
They are not looking for any of the immoral things.
All you have to do is watch the kids—they are happy, smiling, just having a good time and feeling the rhythm of his song. And what kid doesn’t jump up and down?
They wouldn’t be normal teenagers if they didn’t, just as Elvis wouldn’t be their kind of singer if he didn’t rock ’n’ roll his songs.
Is El mad for clothes?
Part of my duties was to see that Elvis appeared on time for the dinner show a eight and the late show at twelve. Just before the dinner show I’d drive up to the bungalow where Elvis and Cousin Gene were staying, and I’d hear the phonograph blaring. I’d give a toot and call out, “Come on, El, you’re gonna be late!” He’d come around the corner all dressed up and says “How do I look?” I’d say, “Fine, but do you think green socks go with a purple coat?” And I’d add, “Come on, El, just for me, some other socks.”
“Aw, okay,” he’d grumble as he wen back to change.
Then he’d ask me in and he’d comb his hair.
He combs his hair a lot, not because he’s conceited, but because he has a lot of hair and he likes it to look neat when he starts his performance at least.
One day he said to me, “Do you think I’m good looking?”
I walked around him and looked and said, “Wellllll, yes, maybe.” He laughed, and I told him to hurry up.
People ask why he wears such a large coat and trousers.
The answer to that is quite simple: he needs the room to move around in when he’s playing the guitar and getting the rhythm of his songs!
JUDY TELLS MORE ABOUT ELVIS NEXT MONTH. DON’T MISS PART II.
—BY JUDY SPRECKELS
It is a quote. MODERN SCREEN MAGAZINE FEBRUARY 1957