Humes High, Class of 1953 : Comments from Elvis' classmates
L. C. Humes High School, better known as simply Humes High School, was a high school located in Memphis, Tennessee. It was open from the 1930s through 1967 as a high school and is most remembered as Elvis Presley's high school. Elvis graduated from Humes on June 3, 1953. Now Humes Middle School, the building at 659 North Manassas Avenue is listed on the National Register of Historic Places due to its connection to Elvis.
During his junior year Elvis began to focus on his appearance. He let his hair and sideburns grow longer, and dressed in wild, flashy clothes that made him stand out, especially in the conservative, conformist Deep South of the 1950s. 'He would wear dress pants to school every day - everybody else wore jeans, but he wore dress pants. And he would wear a coat and fashion a scarf like an ascot tie, as if he were a movie star. Of course he got a lot of flak for this, because he stood out like a sore thumb. People thought, 'That's really weird'. It was like he was already portraying something that he wanted to be'.
Ed Leek : I gave Elvis $4.00 to make his first Dub at Sam Phillip's Sun Records. It took him two months to get up the courage to do it. My idea was to make the record and knock on radio station doors to get it played and hopefully find him a singing job. Elvis was very unsure of himself in the early days of his career. I had a good time traveling, double dating, etc. with him until he went into the Army. He would call me to 'round up' the bunch (about 16 total) to come to where ever he was to perform. He was afraid there wouldn't be anyone there if we didn't come. He is still the only singer I listen to. I own the original Dub along with the music rights to it. I have allowed RCA and Disney to publish the music mainly so the fans can hear the two songs, which I felt, were very good. The record has all the elements that later developed into his personal style. I also still have the first commercial disk out of the labeling machine at Plastic Products on Chelsea Ave. ('That‘s All Right' and 'Blue Moon'), which Elvis signed for me after I pulled it out of the collection box.
Betty Diepholz-Loveless : I was President of the History Club in Miss Scrivener's 12th grade class. She assigned me the task of getting Elvis to sing at our class party at Overton Park. He did and we all enjoyed the party and the singing. A few of us, including Elvis, climbed into L.D. Ledbetter's car and went downtown to enjoy the Cotton Carnival. We rode the rides and hung out on the steps of the downtown library to listen to Elvis sing again. This attracted a crowd - the police came along and dispersed the crowd and we went home. Later, when we were signing yearbooks, we laughed about that night. Elvis wrote in my book 'Remember Me - Elvis'. Ironic that we all remember Elvis.
William Larry Curle : During his senior year Larry and I had Miss Moss' 5th period American Problems class together with Elvis Presley. One day Miss Moss got so fed up with Larry and me she told us to take the rest of the day off and go to the athletic room. She allowed Elvis to tag along.
The three of us went riding in Larry's red 1940 Studebaker that didn't have a reverse gear. During our ride around town, we went somewhere to get Elvis' guitar; he sat in the backseat playing and singing. Larry and I were both impressed with his songs, although I was more impressed, I think. Larry was also a talented singer. We talked about the upcoming talent show where Larry and I were appearing with several boys doing gymnastic things. Elvis said, 'I'll warm them up for you'.
When that night came, he did warm them up! After a couple of his scheduled songs, the audience response demanded he sit on the apron and sing a few more. The show really finished when Elvis did, but we went on and performed our act without much distinction.
Dwight Malone : Elvis was different. Most boys had crew cuts and wore tee shirts and blue jeans. Elvis would appear at school in a pink jacket and yellow pants and a duck tail haircut. He was quiet, very courteous and largely stayed to himself. I did play touch football with him on the triangle at Lauderdale Courts. He was not fast, but he had very quick movements. He had those swivel hips even then.
When he caught the ball, he was difficult to tag. He could swivel out of reach in a moment. To tag him, a player had to grab him and hold on until he could apply the tag.
Elvis and Warren Gregory were close friends. Warren was musically gifted. He could play a piano beautifully, the guitar, the trumpet and any other available instrument. He never took a lesson. He could play any tune he heard and improvise the melody. During the summer months Elvis and Warren would sit on the street curb, strumming their guitars and singing country songs. Frankly, in their early attempts, they were not that good. I think they had a few shoes thrown at them by the neighbors.
It was at the Humes Talent Show in April, 1953 that I realized that Elvis could really sing. I remember our barbershop quartet singing. I remember Gloria Trout, a gorgeous little blond dancer who was also a cheerleader. But mostly, I remember Elvis. There were no swivel hips. His props were a chair, a guitar and a loud costume. He put one foot on the chair, strummed the guitar and sang his heart out. To me, that was when rock and roll was born. The ovation was thunderous and long.
Rachael Maddox Van Waggoner : Glee Club was a favorite class because I truly enjoyed singing. In April, 1953, I sang 'Because of You' at the annual talent show. I heard Elvis play his guitar and sing and was surprised by how much talent he had. I think his performance was the reason I asked him to sign my yearbook.
Betty Jean Moore-Munson : Whenever Elvis Presley walked by we would look at each other and laugh and giggle. (We both had a crush on him.) One day he walked up to Dorothy and asked her why we laughed when he walked by. She was so dumbfounded that she blurted out 'It's because we think you are so good-looking'. I guess he was surprised also; he just broke into a grin and walked away.
I was just sitting there with the reddest face that a girl could ever have. Whenever I'm embarrassed, I blush so badly that I feel as though my face will ignite. My face didn't ignite but from then on whenever I would see Elvis coming down the hall, I would stick my face into a book and not look up.
Elvis and I were in Miss Alexander's homeroom in the 11th grade. She taught music, so the classroom was a music room. She divided our class into an 'L' shape with boys on one side and girls on the other side. Elvis sat in the front row next to a guy sporting a Mohawk haircut. I sat in the second row of girls so I could see him very well and I often stared at him because there was something about him that I really liked. He didn't dress or act like the rest of the boys. He always had a lock of hair hanging to the side of his face.
He had a serious expression most of the time during the beginning of the school year. But, later in the year, he surprised us by playing his guitar before school several mornings. He didn't sing; he just played. He was accompanied on the grand piano by another student, Warren Gregory. We really enjoyed the impromptu jam sessions, but we kept our eyes peeled for Miss Alexander because we weren't real sure how she would react to our choice of music. We never found out because she never showed up while they were playing.
Elvis was very polite and respectful to all the teachers. He always addressed them as 'Ma'am' and 'Sir'. He seemed very shy and I identified with him since I was shy, too. It was a very special year for me.
I remember him driving a maroon convertible; I believe it was a Lincoln. Sometimes he wore dark colored pants with a stripe down the sides. I found out later that they were part of his movie usher uniform.
Rose Howell Klimek : After church on Sunday night, my friends and I liked to go to Leonard's Barbeque on Bellevue and then to East Trigg Baptist Church to listen to the spirituals. The church had a special section for white visitors. Elvis was often there and occasionally sang with the choir. I loved to watch the people who got the spirit dance and roll in the aisles. I guess that's where the term 'holy rollers' came from.