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As Told By..... MYRNA SMITH

If Elvis was in Las Vegas when he wasn't performing, he would go down and gamble in the casino. Nobody would bother him. But if he was working Vegas, it was a different story. The hotel would be flooded with Elvis fans. I remember one day during one of his engagements, he came down out of his suite on the elevator, alone. All of a sudden I see just hordes of people running toward the elevator. I had no idea what was going on, but it turned out Elvis had walked out of the hotel, gotten into a cab, and gone down to the gun shop to buy some guns. It was always like that if he tried to venture out while he was working. When he wasn't working there, somehow he kind of blended in.

When Elvis celebrated his 39th birthday on January 8, 1974, the entire town of Memphis got in on the festivities and set up a parade for their most popular resident. Hundreds of people paraded down Elvis Presley Boulevard, led by the Mayors of both Memphis and Tupelo, Mississippi. The L.C. Humes High School band supplied the parade music. As they neared Graceland, the band slid into a jazzy rendition of "Happy Birthday". Elvis heard the music and excitement coming from the street and ran out of his house. He was then treated to the sight of the parade and the musical salute by the band. Both Mayors walked up to the gates and yelled out their best wishes to the King. Elvis could not believe that the Mayors would actually get involved in something so trivial as a parade for his birthday. He could not see what the big deal was and could not understand why they would go to so much trouble for him.


A radio station in Jacksonville, Florida set up a contest to promote Elvis' April 25, 1975 show at the Veterans Memorial Coliseum. The disc jockey had ten pairs of tickets for the show and wanted to give them away via a radio contest. If a caller could correctly answer questions about Elvis and his career, they would win the tickets. The response to the contest was so great that the central telephone system was knocked out. Phones went dead for miles around. The station had to cancel the telephone contest and ended up giving the tickets to listeners who visited them at the station. The only prerequisite to winning a pair of tickets was that whoever came in had to be wearing blue suede shoes or had to have a hound dog.


In the 1970's, Elvis frequented the Four Flames restaurant, located just 15 minutes away from Graceland. Elvis usually went there more to relax and enjoy the atmosphere than to eat. While slowly sipping a vanilla malted shake or a soda, Elvis would watch the people enjoying themselves. Once in a while he actually ordered dinner and ate it over the course of a couple hours. No matter what Elvis ordered, the owner of the restaurant would not let him pay his tab. Sometimes Elvis and the owner got into little spats over paying, but in the end, Elvis always lost. He was never allowed to pay his tab. To compensate, he left the waitress a $100 tip.

In 1939, when Elvis was four years old, he received a spanking from his father and decided to run away from home. He packed himself a couple of sandwiches and slipped out the door right after his parents went to bed. Elvis was lonely, cold, and scared, but as he was intent on teaching his parents a lesson, he kept moving down the darkened road. Fifteen minutes later, he heard a car approaching. He moved closer to the side of the road, hoping he wouldn't be seen. When the truck began to stop alongside him, the sound of the brakes was familiar. It was his fathers truck. Elvis ate one of his sandwiches during the short drive home. Gladys was waiting for them outside, ringing her apron with nervous hands. She thanked God that her son was safely back in her arms and led Elvis inside. He received another spanking from his father, but, ths time, instead of running away, Elvis hugged and kissed his parents.

Elvis committed his first sin when he was just four or five years old. He stole two empty cola bottles from a neighbor's porch. When his mother questioned him about the bottles, he admitted that he had taken them from the Harris' porch without permission. Gladys took him by the hand and dragged him back to the Harris' house. Although Elvis was embarrassed at having to return the bottles, he was even more upset when Gladys annonced that he was to confess his sin at church the following Sunday. She wanted to teach him a lesson about stealing that he would never forget. When Sunday came, Elvis pretended he was sick. His condition was instantly cured, however, when Vernon showed him a strap. When the awful moment came, Gladys pushed Elvis up to the front of the Church and ordered him to confess in front of the entire Assembly of God congregation. With tears brimming from his blue eyes and his head hanging low, Elvis whispered his wrong doing and then run out of the Church, crying. He never again took anything without permission. It was one lesson he learned the hard way.