OCTOBER 26, 1955 WEDNESDAY
Elvis Presley performed as part of "Prichard-Chickasaw Day" at the
Greater Gulf Fair on Blakeley Island near Prichard, the northern suburb of Mobile, Alabama. The show was sponsored by the Prichard Chamber of Commerce and held at the Greater Gulf States Fair. Appearing with Elvis Presley were local entertainers Jack Cardwell
of WAIP radio, the Andrews Brothers, Little Jackie Hill, Luke McDaniels, and Bill Lewis.
The fair itself was sponsored by the Mobile Jaycees. Admission to the fair was
50-cents for patrons over twelve and a quarter for those younger. Service men in uniform were 35-cents.
Elvis Presley agreed to play a freebie, a short program during
assembly period at Vigor High School . He was on stage whipping it up, and the teenagers were eating it up, but Elvis got carried away and began telling risque stories. And at that point where he said something like he would "never get married, milk is cheaper
at the dairy", the school principal walked up, took the microphone away from Elvis, said, "Thank you, Mister Presley", and motioned for Elvis to exit, stage left, which he did.
(October 29, 1955) states "Elvis Presley plays the fair at Prichard, Alabama, October 26-28...". This would certainly seem to indicate that he performed in Prichard for two additional days. However, the article in the Mobile Register (October 21, 1955) for
this appearance is very specific when it states, "a special show featuring Presley will have a one day stand - Wednesday". Elvis' whereabouts for the next two days is not known.
Cawthon was the president of the Prichard Jaycees and says, ''The Mobile Junior Chamber of Commerce were to be in charge of the entertainment of the fair for a three matinée and night show that day. The day would be called Prichard-Chickasaw day. They
would have a hamburger stand, and we could make the money for the club. A member of our club was Jack Cardwell, a local hillbilly country singer and personality. I had asked Jack if he would suggest the entertainment for that day. About two days later he come
by my office and said he had just the man. He has a couple of records that are doing great on the charts. He is going to make it big in show business'. I said, 'Who is this party'? He said, 'Elvis Presley'. I said, 'Who the hell is that'? He said, 'Believe
me, he is good, and it won't cost the club more than 250 dollars'! My wife's first cousin ran the record department of the largest music store on Dolphins Street in downtown Mobile. I called her, and she assured me that we really couldn't make a mistake because
he was coming on strong into the recording field. The club agreed, and I committed us to the contract. Cardwell contracted Elvis for several days of appearances''.
the day of his appearance at the fair, I met him and the others. We had a conversation when we sat in the Cadillac before show time. I was the MC of the shows. He indicated that he would like for us to sign him for the following year's fair. George McNally
of the Mobile Jaycees and I decided that was a little premature. I was not overly impressed by the performance, but they were good, and the crowd liked them. And I recall, it was a little embarrassing. Scotty announced that they would sell 8 x 10 glossy pictures
from the corner of the stage for 25 cents at the end of the show. I didn't expect much of a response, but they had a line a block long at each show, and he autographed them. All we had were bleachers. It was free. We had a trampoline act that preceded him.
A 20 by 25 foot long platform, that was the stage. It was raised off the ground, maybe 36 inches. It had a set of steps going up the backside of it. We had no dressing rooms. He drove that Cadillac to the corner of that stage. The trampoline act had a big
trampoline net, we would turn up on its side towards the back of the stage about 6 feet from the rear of the stage, and we hung a mirror on it. When we were ready to go on stage to hide from the public, we would go up on the stage behind the trampoline net.
I stood behind Presley when he was combing his hair. He had long hair, it was greasy, and I thought this is really a raw bone country boy, just trying to make it''.
for Lillian Smith Snow, seeing Elvis was unplanned, ''I was in the fifth grade. two of my friends and I decided to go to the Fair. We stopped for just a few minutes to watch this person sing. He was dressed horribly, and evidently his pants were too short,
because you could see his white socks, and he was doing all these gyrations. We all said, 'Oh, he's awful', and turned and walked away. Thought he certainly would never make it''.
to Pat Eddington, ''No more than 15 minutes ahead of time, he drove up, in his pink Cadillac. He had the members of the band with him, and their instruments were in the trunk of the car. We stood out there, and told him where to park. He stepped out to meet
Delance and me and introduced himself. They opened the trunk, and each of them got their instruments out. We had a mike all set up, and he went and tested it, and in just a few minutes the students came in''.
We had a pretty full house. We only charged the students a dime. He was to get a nickel, and the newspaper got a nickel. We told all the kids that we were going to have some guy with a guitar who was going to come sing and entertain
them. So everybody turned out, for a dime, most of the kids had a dime. Sometimes we charged a quarter, but this was an unknown entity, so we charged a dime. I did not introduce him. I believe if the principal didn't, then Delance Durror did. I had a friend
save me a seat at the aisle, right in the middle, so after I left backstage, I walked out and took my seat. Well, we were very conservative, very good kids. We all went to church, and Sunday school, and choir in the afternoon, prayer meetings on Wednesday
and Saturday nights''.
''Elvis got up and then started doing this shaking. I had never seen a body move like that, neither had anybody else. I thought, 'I'm going to
just die'. And I sat there, and said, 'Oh no, please don't let this happen to me. Oh, God, I can't believe it'''.
Fellow student Joy Turner says, ''When Elvis stepped
out on stage and started his music and moves, my heart just about stopped. He had on a light lavender suit, and I thought 'WOW', lavender! Is that too cool? He was good, gorgeous, exciting, and of course, the auditorium full od teenagers responded to his performance
with full gusto''!
Elvis had started with ''That's All Right'', ''Blue Moon Of Kentucky'', and then ''Milkcow Blues Boogie''. Eddington says, ''And then he told a joke.
It was very tame. It was something about a cow and an udder. At that point the principal, Mr. Laird, walked onto the stage, I never met a more straight-laced person in my whole life. He walked on to the stage and quietly said the show was over and asked Elvis
Beverly Strickland was a teacher at Vigor and attended the show not out of preference, ''Elvis already had a questionable reputation at that time. At least,
his kind of music did. I was a little hesitant to tell my husband and my parents that I had seen the show. I had no choice because teachers had to go to programs. I was not surprised that Mr. Laird stopped it, because in addition to the new kind of music,
it was loud, loud, loud. Also, from where I sat, Elvis' trousers (not jeans) were leaving little to the imagination when he danced. It was also a new kind of dance, to me at least. Some of the lyrics were statements too bold for the early fifties in the south''.
Joy Turner says, ''When we went back to out classroom, Principal Laird came on the P.A. system and apologized for having an act such as this at our school. I don't remember all of his wording,
but what he had to say was not very kind or nice. I thought the interesting thing about his was several people were in the dressing room with Elvis after the performance, and Elvis heard what the principal had to say over the P.A. system. The ones that were
with him said Elvis cried. Needless to say, when word got out that Elvis cried at our school for being treated so poorly (the students, especially the girls, had immediately fallen in love with him), did not sit well with some of the schoolmates. The next
morning upon arriving at school, every place imaginable, windows, doors, mirrors, lockers, etc., was plastered with ''Elvis'' and ''Elvis, we love you''!
says, ''Elvis left immediately without taking his cut of the 10 cents, and got in his car and drove away. He didn't even complain. I ran for the little girls' room and hid. I think I skipped my next class because I thought they'd come after me, thinking, I
will never graduate. I stayed out of Mr. Laird's way for months after that, but fortunately I wasn't kicked out of school''.
Barbara Dreading had graduated from Vigor
High School in 1954. She says, ''I still had a lot of friends in the '55 class. So they called me when they got out of school and said, 'Barbara, you need to go to the fair tonight and see this fellow named Elvis. He was at the school today doing his singing,
and Mr. Laird closed curtain on him'. And I said, 'Why'? They said it was because he got to shaking, and Mr. Laird just told him don't come back to Vigor High School again. And they said, 'He's wonderful, you'll love him'. I had a car at that time, I gathered
up a bunch of my girlfriends, we went over to Blakely Island, over to the fair. They had this little stage, and he came in his pink Cadillac and took a ride up by the side of that stage. When he started doing his show, I'm only 5 feet tall, so I wanted to
get a better look, 'cause I couldn't see, we were all standing, no place to sit. So I kind of eased down the side, and I came to where his car was. So I motioned at his fender, and Elvis gave me a 'thumbs up'. I jumped up on the fender, and I sat there and
watched him doing the show. I didn't get to talk to him after the show, because other people started to crowd him. A good crowd, mostly young people, and I think most of them had come from school because of what happened there''.
T.W. Jockisch, twelve years old that time says, ''Elvis sang several songs, one of them being ''This Ole House''. The crowd wend wild. He played his guitar so hard and fast that he broke one of the strings. While
he was playing, he would run his fingers down the broken string and give the audience that cross-eyed look. We were standing up against the stage, and Elvis leaned over the side of the stage and handed me the guitar string and said, 'Keep this son, I'm gonna
be famous one day'. While he was singing a very fast song, he was shaking and moving so fast that several coins fell out of his pocket. After he finished the song, he told the audience to please wait just a minute. He couldn't afford to lose that change''.
According to Johnny Vines, ''We bumped into Elvis, Scotty, and Bill at the Greater Gulf State Fair, October 26, 1955 at his 7:30 p.m. performances. My wife and I were just married, June
4, 1955, in Richmond, Virginia, and shortly after moved to Prichard, Alabama. Sometime at the performance, either at intermission, or possible after the performance, we rode the bumper cars nearby, along with Elvis, Scotty, and Bill, and just had a grand time,
they were so much fun. They were just kids as we were''.