Recently Gene Deason, our editor, wrote a column about Elvis. This triggered my memory to the night Elvis came to Brownwood, appearing in the old Memorial Hall, best I remember. I still remember the stage in the Memorial Hall being slanted toward the front. It was a nightmare for bands.
I once played in a band there, fronting for the “Sons of The Pioneers” who were appearing there. My steel guitar was on legs and it kept sliding away from me. The drummer had the worst time. A few good licks and his drums slid past the fiddle player on their way to the footlights.
I don’t know who designed the stage but I suspect it was the same fellow who designed the Henry J. automobile. I think it was sold mail order by Sears or Wards and disappeared faster than fried chicken on a preacher’s plate.
I don’t know if Elvis encountered any trouble with the stage or not. His trouble started after the concert when he went to Chisholm’s Chicken Hut to eat. He took his coat off and hung it on a coat rack.
It didn’t hang there long. A group of high school boys thought it would be great to take the coat as a souvenir, and they did. I was a member of the Brownwood Police Department at the time and we always got our man, woman or boy, as the case might be.
I’m aware of who actually took the coat off the rack but as a fellow used to say that we often placed in jail, “The stature of imitations” has run out and I won’t tell.
For those of you who don’t know, the Chicken Hut was on the right side of East Commerce going east, not far from the traffic circle. Our traffic circle was famous for having a big fountain in the middle of it. I still remember too, the night a woman shucked all her clothes and was cooling off in the middle of it.
Due to the subsequent traffic jam caused by drivers continually driving around the circle to get a look at this unusual sight, we had to get her out in the interest of safety. She had a dog with her and we were forced to put both her and the dog in jail. She was, to use a modern expression, “Thoroughly hammered.” Elvis, as far as I know, missed this show while looking for his coat. Anyway, maybe it happened on a different night.
Our efficient police department quickly rounded up the usual suspects and got the coat back and took it to the police station where Elvis came to get it. At that time, he had not yet attained the fame and fortune he would later have heaped upon him. He was glad to get his coat back. He needed it. No charges were ever filed. After all, it was just a boyhood prank.
I remember him as being a very nice and polite young man who said ‘Yes Sir” and “No Sir.” In his later years, he couldn’t handle his fame and fortune.
One only has to read the papers or watch TV to know what is happening to our current crop of celebrities. They seem to spend as much time in jail as they do performing.
The old Chicken Hut restaurant has been gone now longer than Elvis, the traffic circle is gone, along with the fountain but I still remember it all and the lady who took a bath in it.
I sure won’t forget that.
Harry Marlin’s column is featured every Tuesday on the Brownwood Bulletin’s Viewpoint page. E-mail him at pilgrimB17@verizon.net.