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From Tupelo to Memphis

by Nad telbin
(Saltillo, MS)

Elvis lived a few miles down the road from us. We lived in Saltillo, just off Old Saltillo Road, the same road where Vernon built their "shotgun" house in East Tupelo. There was a community center built next to the house, funded by Elvis with money that Elvis gave to Tupelo. The city fathers are said to have squandered most of the money and that this was a bone of contention with Elvis, but that's another story. Life was filled with Elvis stories. One that I heard from one of his former schoolmates in Tupelo the summer just before Elvis died still haunts me.

John Edward Seals was the man's name. He owned an amusement company in Tupelo and supplied the juke box and pin ball machines for my pool hall in Saltillo. He was quite a charasmatic character and musician himself. Here's the story he shared with me that hot sticky Mississippi summer day:

John Edward had gone to Memphis the day before on business. He pulled up to a red light beside a black stretched Cadillac in downtown Memphis and looked over at the car next to him. There sat Elvis, staring at him. He hollers over to Elvis, "Do you remember me?".

He said Elvis, with the sullen look he's famous for, nodded his head affirmatively, slowly raised his hand with the middle finger prominently displayed while continuing that sullen stare and never spoke a word. He then told his driver to go, ran the red light and disappeared into traffic. John Edward looked sad and distant as he was telling the story that had happened just the day before.

John Edward continued, saying he didn't blame Elvis one bit. He said he and his buddies made Elvis as miserable as they could at Milam public school in Tupelo. He said that Elvis and his one friend, I believe who's last name was Hutcheson or Hutchinson,would go to the bicycle shed and sing and play guitar at recess. John Edward would harrass and bully Elvis until Elvis would start to defend himself. Then John Edward would whip Elvis. John Edward said he "got up every morning just to whip Elvis' butt.". He had a sad look on his face as he told the story and I know he was remorseful for treating Elvis the way he did.

John Edward died in his trademark Lincoln just off Hwy 78, on a trip to or from Memphis a few years after telling me this story. He died under mysterious conditions.

Nad Telbin

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