I grew up in Memphis. Born in 1943 put me in junior high school ’57-’59 right when Elvis, Cash, Jerry Lee, Orbison and many others were exploding before my eyes in my hometown. It was surreal. These guys and others from that era were my heroes, larger than life, and as big as movie stars on the big silver screen. To me, they were legends who were untouchable and yet, only a couple years before, they were young guys chasing their dreams thru the back streets of Memphis and in the blues clubs of Mississippi, wide eyed and absorbing every note that came out of the thriving music scene in and around Memphis at the time.
I was manager of both the football and basketball teams and after practice, I was most often the only one standing at the bus stop across from my school. Often, Elvis would drive by in his ’57 lavender Continental Mark IV on his way to Graceland which was about ten miles down the road from my school.
I’d always wave to him, and he’s always wave back. After awhile, sometimes he’d wave first. Always thrilled and excited, I began to feel like I had a friend in Elvis…sort of like having a friend in Jesus.
Years later between college years, I worked for a fund raising organization called Shelby United Neighbors which raised money for a variety of charity organization thru contributions from Memphis businesses. Elvis contributed fifty grand each year, and one year my executive director and I went to Graceland to pick up the check. We were met at the door by Elvis’ father, Vernon, who took us into the living room where Elvis was standing. My knees were shaking and my mouth was totally dry. Everyone was introduced and after a bit of small talk, Elvis handed the $50,000.00 check to my executive director who said to Elvis “Give the check to Bob.” The King Of Rock And Roll turned to me to hand me the check and I said in a shaky voice, “Elvis, there’s something I’d rather have right now than that fifty thousand dollar check.” He said “Well son, what would that be?.” I told him I needed to use his restroom. He smiled and pointed to a door across the room. To get to there, I had to walk on white shag carpet that came up to my ankles.
After completing my mission, I walked back to join the guys passing the kitchen and said hello to Pricilla who was standing at the stove cooking. The King handed me the check after which we exchanged thank you’s, left the house and drove the car out to the gates of Graceland slowly leaving behind an experience that felt like a dream to me.
I still get spellbound when I look back on it. Just think…me at about age 18 meeting the most famous person in the world. And now, after telling you this story, I’ll be the only person who’ll ever tell you “I relieved myself in the Elvis’ toilet.”
I’m Bob Cheevers, and I approve this message.