Private Presley - US 53 310 761

Chicago Tribune, 01 May 1960.

Good Soldier Proves It the Hard Way.

'The Best Thing That Has Happened to the Draft in Five Years,' Says General Hershey of His Newest Man.

During his early days at Fort Hood. Presley spent his leisure hours with Anita Wood. Who wouldn't?

Fort Hood ─ it was met by another two or three hundred people, who had been waiting for hours. But Captain Dowling was armored with three magical words: "We made it!" Target practice with Pvt. Elvis Presley as the target began basic training for US53310761. "Miss your teddy bears, Elvis? " and comparable jeers were about as common as mess hall meatballs. Despite these man-made obstacles. Private Presley quickly proved himself a capable, well liked, and conscientious trainee. It became necessary to limit his KP duties to those of an "inside man." A perfumed crowd of girls had collected on the one occasion when the head cook sent him outside to scrub garbage cans. Before even a slight case of dishpan hands could set in, however, he was retired from KP and awarded his first military honor the title of acting assistant squad leader. The army struggled valiantly with the fiction of treating him "like everyone else." When the press reported that an extra postal clerk was staggering beneath three mailbags of letters that came each day for US53310761, a Fort Hood spokesman replied with appropriate imagery: "The army is leaning over backward to afford Private Presley the same treatment as the others."

Ray Barracks, Germany 1958.
Fort Hood, Texas. 1958.

Selective Service Director Gen. Lewis B. Hershey was quoted by a fan magazine as saying: " Presley is the best thing that has happened to the draft in five years!" In fact, Elvis had attained more "respectability" in his few weeks as just another private than he had in many months atop the celebrity heap. On a peak "sightseeing" day, as many as 800 pilgrims would drive thru Fort Hood slowly, hoping to view him in action. When fan magazines began hawking "think" pieces by authors ranging from a retired army officer to a professional fortune teller predicting Elvis' next -assignment, the army issued an official forecast that confirmed the obvious two weeks' leave. Then he would report back for 14 more weeks. In late September, 1958, he would be shipped to Germany. Germany was alerted! The weary graduate of basic training hankers for a girl, the taste of home cooking, and a few old friends. For Elvis Presley, the girl was waiting in a convertible when he embarked on his two weeks' furlough in late May.

Twenty year old Anita Wood, a blonde Hollywood starlet, met him at 6 a.m., just outside Fort Hood. At the end of the drive home, Elvis was met by more girls a cordon of bobby-soxers who surrounded his mansion in Memphis. His mother had stocked up on Elvis' favorite foods pork chops, apple pie, beans, and potatoes. When Elvis reported back to Fort Hood, he was suffering from a hangover that no sick call could cure. He had drunk deeply of civilian pleasures. He learned that a soldier can usually obtain permission to sleep off-post if he has dependents living nearby. Within a week the elder Presleys were en route to Texas. Elvis rented a house in nearby Killeen, and a cortege of cars paid homage to this new landmark.

Killeen, TX, 605 Oak Hill Drive, Thursday, 18th September 1958 with Eddie Fadal and Red West
September 18, 1958. Pvt. Elvis Presley, accompanied by his girlfriend Anita Wood, prepared to drive from his home in Killeen, Texas to join his Army outfit at Ft. Hood, Texas late Thursday night.

605 Oak Hill drive. Killeen, Texas. July, 1958.

 

Elvis meets young reporter, Rocky Frisco aka Rocky Curtiss, from KOME radio station back in Tulsa, Oklahoma. This came out a 3-way story. The meeting with Rocky, the photo which is used for an oil painting and the Schwinn racer. Enjoy reading.

Elvis rented this house in Killeen, Tx., in 1958 while in the Army and stationed at Ft. Hood. According to the Archives deptartment at Graceland "The entourage" of Gladys Presley, Vernon Presley, Minnie Mae Presley, Elvis and Lamar Fike soon out-grew the 3 bedroom Stylemaster Mobile Home Elvis was using.

Elvis rented the house from, then, Judge Chester Crawford at $1,500 a month, at that time it was a lot for housing there but then that neighborhood was also the nicest in town.

Both Elvis and Lamar Fike had said that the house was rented from the mayor but a neighbor said that the house belonged to Chester and Edit Crawford who likely stayed at their lake house on Lake Belton while Elvis resided there.

The meeting with, not yet, legendary Rocky Frisco.

By Gianmarc Manzione

Gianmarc:

Would you mind recounting for us the “infamous bike-ride to Texas” and your “interview with Elvis” in 1958, when you were known as “Rocky Curtiss”?

Rocky:

Actually “Rocky Curtiss.” I took that last name from the Curtiss Wright Aircraft Company, where my father was once a test pilot. I was working for radio station KOME in 1958 (Kovering Oklahoma’s Magic Empire) when the station manager and I concocted the publicity stunt. I pedalled a Schwinn bike from Tulsa to Killeen, Texas, to do the interview.

It took me seven days of cloudless skies and Summer heat to get there. We didn’t know beans about sunscreen or skin cancer back then. I was burned really badly. Some of the scars didn’t fade for years.

Elvis was charming and friendly. He had hired a photographer to come from Temple to shoot pictures of us together, one of the most thoughtful gestures I ever experienced. In the days before the interview, I spent some afternoons with Gladys, eating cookies and listening to stories about Elvis when he was a baby. She was a wonderful woman and a great mother.

Gladys died about three months later and I have always thought that was when Elvis lost his life’s anchor. She didn’t care about the money or the fame, she just wanted her boy to be happy and stay right with God.

From this string of pictures we learn where this beautiful blondish Elvis photo is taken before it was immortalized on canvas and hanging at the lower stairs in Graceland! Kinda odd fact: As shown on the original picture and on the canvas painting Elvis' holding, partially, the bicycle fender from Rocky's Schwinn racer.

Elvis had a similar racer as gifted on the set of "Loving You," "The Hound Dog bike," and used while filming "King Creole," too.

Rocky Curtiss at Oak Hill Drive, Killeen, Tx.
Schwinn racer Hound Dog bicycle - Paramount movie lot.

While Elvis continued to establish himself as a solid citizen of the Fort Hood community, a cloud of personal tragedy began to form above him. His mother was feeling worse and worse. Her ailment was diagnosed as acute hepatitis and she was placed in Memphis' Methodist hospital. After a few days, the doctors requested that Elvis be granted an emergency leave. Elvis arrived on Tuesday morning, Aug. 12. At 3 a.m. on Thursday, Mrs. Presley suffered a heart attack and died. She was 46. On Friday afternoon, about 3,000 mourners stood somberly in the open air as 400 invited guests crowded into the funeral home. Anita Wood sobbed intermittently while a quartet sang Mrs. Presley's favorite song, "Precious Memories." Sixty-five policemen escorted the funeral procession to the cemetery, where Elvis approached hysteria. "She was the sunshine of our home," Elvis moaned as reporters scribbled. As four friends half lifted, half dragged him into a limousine, Elvis was still talking unwittingly for publication: "Everything I have is gone. . . ." A touring orgy of grief followed Pvt. Elvis Presley south. Girls who had visited Memphis for the funeral proceeded solemnly to Fort Hood, where they said their good-byes to Elvis for the duration. He would soon be leaving for Europe.

Elvis and his fater, Vernon, at the Methodist Hospital in Memphis, Tennessee to be with his mother. This picture is from August 13th, 1958 and Glady's would die the next day. Courtesy Erik Lorentzen.
Funeral at Forrest Hill. Graveside of Gladys Presley, August 14, 1958.

Six Friends and Relatives of Singer Elvis Presley were obviously unhappy as he boarded a bus in Memphis for Ft. Chaffee, Ark., and two years of army life. Left to right are Mrs. Bonny Underwood; Mrs. Judy Spreckels, a former secretary; Miss Anita Wood; Miss Patsy Presley, a cousin; Mrs. Travis Presley, an aunt; and Miss Janet Hall. Elvis gave Miss Wood a new automobile before leaving.

Ft. Chaffee. Left to right are Mrs. Bonny Underwood; Mrs. Judy Spreckels, a former secretary; Miss Anita Wood; Miss Patsy Presley, a cousin; Mrs. Travis Presley, an aunt; and Miss Janet Hall.
March 24, 1958. Presley sworn into the army.

While Women Wept, Elvis Went through the induction process. Above right, the singer Presley hold up his hand, to be sworn into army service.

 

Elvis Begins Army Service To Cheers of Civilian Fans

 

Ft. Chaffee, Ark. ─ (AP) Singer Elvis Presley, idol of America's rock 'n roll fans, arrived at Ft. Chaffee late last night and began his army service to the cheers of about 100 civilian fans. Presley and 21 other recruits rolled into camp from Memphis aboard a chartered bus shortly before midnight. Also on hand to greet the new private were about 40 newsmen and photographers. Presley's schedule today calls for five hours of aptitude tests, a classification interview and several lectures. He will make the rounds wearing the sports jacket and slacks he wore to camp. Uniforms won't be issued to him until tomorrow.

$7 Salary Advance

 

The 23-year-old singer, whose gross income last year was almost a million dollars, will get the $7 salary advance provided to tide over recruits until payday. Teenage girls among the crowd which greeted Presley screamed a welcome. He was unruffled by the reception. The celebrated draftee, who had charge of his contingent, when immediately into a reception room where a sergeant called the roll above a din of newsmen. Presley willingly posed for pictures in the reception room, but he declined to give autographs while he was in ranks. Most of the autograph seekers were children from homes on the post. The recruits, were taken to a supply building where blankets, sheets and pillows were issued. Then Cpt. John D. Smith of North Little Rock steered them to a nearby barracks.

Make Up Bed

 

Photographers and reporters followed Presley into the barracks. Smith showed the newcomers how to make up a bed GI-style. As Presley worked on his bed, someone asked if he ever made one before. He smilingly said he had not. About an hour after the arrival, Presley and his comrades turned in. Presley was sworn in at Memphis Monday morning. After three days of processing here the army will decide where he will take his 8-week basic training.

March 25, 1958. Arrival by bus at Fort Chaffee.
Fort Chaffee, Arkansas March 25, 1958.

The Akron Beacon Journal (Akron, Ohio) 02 Mar 1960, Wednesday.

 

‘Protects Him From Fans’ 

 

​Elvis Leaves Europe ‘Under Armed Guard’

 

​FRANKFURT, Germany (UPI) ─ Sgt. Elvis Presley went marching home today with barbed wire, military police, German police, and two squads of public relation specialists to protect him from the fans who wanted to stay. The rock 'n roll singer boarded a military air transport service plane at 11:30 a.m. for a flight to McGuire Air Force Base, NY. and the end of his two-year stint as the Army's most un-ordinary "ordinary soldier."

Frankfurt March 3, 1960: Sgt. Elvis Presley — leaves Rhein Main airport bound for USA
Frankfurt, West Germany, March, 1960: Sgt. Elvis Presley — leaves Rhein Main airport bound for USA

ARMY officials stuck to their announced policy of treating Presley as just another ordinary GI. They assigned him a seat in the military airliner along with 78 other soldiers bound home for discharge. But doubtless none of Elvis' buddies had a civilian airliner following, with a personal cargo of two dozen suitcases, his father, a business manager, a female secretary, 2,000 phonograph records, and several pairs of blue suede shoes. As zero hour approached for the momentous parting, 3rd Armored Division officers checked over battle plans for the spit and polish maneuver dubbed "Operation Elvis" to see that nothing went wrong.

 

BARBED wire in place . . . jeep-loads of military police, with side-arms, ready to go over the top . . . German police briefed . . . two squads of public relations men, handouts poised, at the ready . . . The purpose of all this was to get Elvis safely to the plane before he got ambushed by screaming teen-aged German, fans. His arrival by ship 18 months ago sparked a riot that public relations officers still shudder over. Elvis wasn't scheduled time to kiss the girls goodbye. At her home here, where she lives with her Air Force officer father, Priscilla Beaulieu, 16 ("but mature for her age," according to Elvis) sighed and said Elvis was right when he said she was not THE girl. "He called me Priscilla," she said. "I called him El. I fed him his favorites ─ peas, potatoes and bacon. We kissed. But he didn't propose.

Priscilla Beaulieu, the stepdaughter of an Air Force officer stationed at Wiesbaden.
Fourteen-year-old Priscilla Beaulieu is led away by a military policeman whilst trying to say goodbye to her friend Elvis Presley at Frankfurt Airport, 2nd March 1960.

PRESLEY'S commanding officer, Lt. Richard L. Coffmann of Nevada, mo., said "Presley is a good soldier ─ he'd be welcome in my unit any time." Elvis, scheduled to be discharged at Ft. Dix, N. J., before the weekend, served 18 months In the third armored division as a jeep driver. But the London Daily Sketch took poetic license and published a "soldier's farewell to his tank" in honor of Presley's passing from Europe. The ode to Elvis in part: "They made me a sergeant and the general swore "I was the coolest in the whole cold war! "I got citations and a fancy scroll "For teaching tanks to do a rock n' roll."

 

AWAIT ELVIS ─ Anita Wood, who kissed Elvis Presley goodbye when he went into the Army two years ago, says she's looking forward to Elvis' return. Anita is now a disk jockey for a Memphis, Tenn., radio station.

What has Anita to say about Elvis?

 

Jan. 04, 2013 ─ The Commercial Appeal

 

With her blonde hair and big smile, Anita Wood reminded some in Elvis Presley's inner circle of Marilyn Monroe. They thought she was destined to be Mrs. Elvis Presley. Wood, who dated Elvis from 1957 to 1962, knew he dated other women. He told her that his manager, Colonel Tom Parker, just didn't want his fans to associate him with only one woman.

 

"You're my No. 1 girl," he assured her. In a letter from Germany during his Army tour, he told her, "Remember there is a lonely little boy 5,000 miles away that is counting the hours till he returns to your arms." He signed the letter, "Yours alone darling, Elvis Presley," then added a postscript: "No one reads this OK!"

 

Wood slowly realized she was one of many love stories in Elvis' life. Now 74. Elvis Insiders Reception and Graceland Tour, an event scheduled for Elvis Birthday Week. Wood will be joined by another former Elvis girlfriend, Elisabeth Stefaniak, who worked as a secretary answering German fan mail for Elvis during his Army tour. She was among the women Elvis dated in Germany while assuring Wood of his undying long-distance love.

 

Stefaniak, a Graceland guest in the past, said she learned during her three-week affair with Elvis that she was one of several girlfriends and "just sort of accepted it." It was when Elvis met Priscilla Beaulieu, the 14-year-old daughter of an Air Force officer, that Stefaniak gave up on him. "I think he just flipped (for Priscilla) right there," she said.

Stefaniak began dating one of Elvis' Army buddies, Rex Mansfield, whom she eventually married. Mansfield said Elvis was "google-eyed over Priscilla. He'd say, 'I can raise her up the way I want to."

Elisabeth Stefianak-Mansfield and Elvis relaxing at his rented house at Goethestraße 14 in Bad Nauheim.
Priscilla posing for photo and pretending writing a letter to Elvis. 1960.

Wood had her suspicions about the philandering Elvis, but, "He was really good at making you believe you were the only one."

 

She and Elvis? Wood, a singer who won the 1954 Youth Talent Contest at the Mid-South Fair, was first runner-up in the Miss Tennessee pageant in 1956 and won the swimsuit competition. She became a disc jockey in Jackson, Tenn., then co-host with Wink Martindale of television's "Top 10 Dance Party." It was there Elvis saw her and had one of his Memphis Mafia members call to ask for a date.

 

Wood said she already had a date that night and declined. She was surprised when he called the next week and asked her out again. Elvis and several Memphis Mafia members arrived in a black Cadillac limousine. After a stop at Krystal, where they bought dozens of burgers, they drove around town before heading for Graceland, where she met Elvis' parents. But the memorable part of the night was Elvis: "He was the best looking man I have ever seen before or after. He was a perfect specimen. Then his personality was down to Earth. We hit it right off. We had a lot in common. He sang me some songs."

 

Memphis Mafia member and actor Red West, who had seen dozens of girlfriends come and go, said Elvis and his entourage all were looking "for that certain one" during that time. "I thought she (Wood) would eventually become Mrs. Elvis Presley, but Germany changed all of that." Even when Elvis married Priscilla, he said, "I knew it wouldn't last forever. There was just too much being apart and too much going on and too much of everything."

 

Jerry Schilling, another in Elvis' entourage, said he thought Wood looked like Marilyn Monroe, but he did not get to know her very well because, "I was always afraid to talk to Elvis' girlfriends."

 

Wood said that was because Elvis "had a temper and was very jealous." When actor Nick Adams visited Elvis in Memphis, Wood said Elvis got mad at her and Adams when she talked to his guest. Wood, who eventually spent most of her time at Graceland, said she slept with Elvis in the same bed, but did not have sex with him. "He wanted to save that for marriage, and I did, too."

 

In his home in California, she once found a personal letter to Elvis from Priscilla and realized Priscilla was more than a fan. She had heard of Priscilla through newspapers and magazines that speculated on the relationship. When Elvis learned she had read the letter, she said, "Boy, did he get mad. He threw me up against the closet door. He said, 'Why did you read that letter? She is just a 14-year-old girl."

 

Finally, Wood said she came down the back stairs at Graceland one night and overheard Elvis and his father, Vernon, talking about her and Priscilla. "Elvis said, 'I'm having a terrible time making up my mind between the two of them.' I came on down the stairs and said, 'I'm going to make that easy for you. I'm leaving."

 

Later, as she learned more about Elvis' dalliances, she thought, "Well, he was just a jerk." With time she softened her attitude. In 1964, she married NFL player Johnny Brewer, who played for the Cleveland Browns and the New Orleans Saints before dying of Lou Gehrig's disease two years ago. They had been married for 47 years and had three children. "Now I think of Elvis as my first love. Johnny was my true love, but Elvis was my first love."

 

Anita had contact with Elvis a few times after the 1962 parting, such as at the Hilton in Las Vegas, circa 1970. I went to Las Vegas with a girlfriend once and I ran into Joe Esposito, George Klein and Lamar who said, "Elvis is performing tonight. If you'll come I'll save you a seat up front." So I talked to Johnny about it, who had been the night before, and he had no problem with me seeing the show. So, I had a seat right there next to the stage, and when Elvis walked on he looked wonderful. He saw me there and a lot of the songs he sung straight to me. When the show was over, Charlie Hodge came over and told me that Elvis would like to see me backstage. I went and saw him and we hugged for a long time before he said, "'Little,' I wonder if we made a mistake," and I said, "No Elvis, we didn't, you wouldn't have Lisa and I wouldn't have my children and my husband." This was the last time I saw him, but I talked to him sometime later when my father died, like I told you before. I wanted to tell him that I knew what he felt when his mother died, but his voice sounded so slow and deep at that time.

At Memphis Union Station, August 27, 1957

KJ Consulting

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