Elvis at Booth’s Corner Cafe
by Sandra Wladrop Doolittle
Here I am a widow, mother and a grandmother and I still get a thrill when I hear certain songs by Elvis Presley. Was the man handsome? Not really. Did he have class ? No. Would you want to make out with him at the Rexview or Edgewood Drive In. No, not really. Did he live the kind of life I would want to be a part of? No way! Then what is it that made Elvis the “King”?
Another question, did my heart jump a beat then and now every time Elvis sings a song? Oh yes. Did the the tender way he looked at an actress in a movie make me want to be that girl and be treated with love and respect that only Elvis could show? You bet it did.
Elvis, to a female teenager of the late nineteen fifties, was rolled up into one person who was love, respect, tenderness, clean cut , a christian, loved his parents.
This was what most teenager girls of the nineteen fifties dreamed of. This love and respect of this man called Elvis, along with his acting and singing made him the” The King of Rock and Roll.”
Elvis was a Prince on a white horse, that soon became the King, that came charging into our lives making all the boys in shop, band and even the boys who played football, base ball, track and basket ball placing them on another planet.
Elvis at Booth’s Corner Cafe
How could Jordan High School girls think of Butch McVey, John McGlaun, Jim Hunter, Bobby Shehean, Hilary Taylor, Joe Bowers, Arthur Knight, Wayne Green, Donnie Hitchcock, Joseph (Joe) Forsyke, Fred Dean, James Watson, Roger Dansby, Cliff Livingston, Billy Fuller , Jimmy Huffman and oh yeah. Jim Weatherington who joined us for awhile from another school. If you want to know what Jim looked like in High School just look at JIMBO, his son. (Lets not leave out those Phenix City boys to mention a few. My soul mate from 1960 until 2000, Carlton H. Doolittle, Then there was along with my Carlton, H. T. Oliver and Jerry Pope from Central High in Phenix City Alabama. Also, Jack and Bill Wilson and Norman Ingram from Columbus and Johnny Manning and Raymond Griggs from Baker.) These fellows were never a threat to Elvis. Even those most of these fellows ended up with the Jordan High girls. But if Elvis had been foot loose and fancy free and available , all the Jordan High girls might would have to made a choice between Elvis and the Jordan, Central and Columbus High boys. Oh yeah, I keep forgetting the (army brats) from Baker High School. That’s okay we were called the Lint Heads for the Mills in Bibb and Jordan City. I lived in the Jordan ? Johnson area and my dad worked for Southern Bell Telephone T & T Company and I was still a Lint Head, Central High were the River Rats and well Columbus High, better not say what they were called. I’ll give you a hint B*** J***.
Back to the “King” and how he came into our lives appealing to every teenage female thru out the county , north, south, east and west who joined together and fell in love with this man Elvis who was called “The King”. But why? Elvis certainly wasn’t my type. He wasn’t someone I would take or even been allowed to take home to my parents. But yet, when he sang a song, when he talked to a girl he was gentle , kind and loving.
In the late 1950s we called anyone that looked like Elvis , if they smoked, if they drank, if they made out and went close or all the way, we called them “Cheap and common. ” To this day my children Jan, Norma Kay and Wally still hate to hear me say “Cheap and Common”. Also another saying they hated was, ” That has to be a sin in the sight of God.” Not to mention no matter what race or the color of your skin if you didn’t act proper , “You were white trash.” this covered everyone.
Whatever Elvis had going for him cheap and common, white trash it worked for him and no one has ever been able to duplicate him. He was one of a kind. He was able to feel everyone’s needs in different ways. If you liked his black hair and it really did look like it had lard on it or if you like his slender hips that never stop moving or his broad shoulders or just his gentle way of speaking and making every female he met feel like she was the apple in his eye and he was in love with her and only her.
In the movies I would dream he was talking and singing to me as all female teenagers felt. Elvis could be what you wanted him to be. Many female teenagers could fine what she was looking for that made him special to her. Even though he was talking to many thousands of girls at one time , it was like he was separating each one and singing to her.
I love Elvis for all the joy he brought into this world. He was easy to love with his gentle southern ways. He was to be admired the way he loved his mother and also the the love and respect the way he had for his Dad. Elvis, Elvis treated strangers with the love and tenderness he gave to his parents. It was Elvis’s nature to reach out and help those who down on their luck. He often remember how poor his parents were and he tried to make up for all the years they did without. As with his parents.
Reading the newspapers, watching television, reading the Movie books made me close to Elvis with the and respect for everyone he met. Though he shook his hips and raised and curled that sexie lip and the girls would scream and yell to reach out and touch him. No matter if he threw a scarf or threw a kiss the girls would swoon and fall to the floor. If they could bottle and sell what ever it was that Elvis had , I am sure the divorce records wouldn’t be as high as they are today. Elvis knew how to make a girl feel special and not even touch her.
Even though my parents would have never let me date Elvis, I can see him able to wrap my parents around his little finger with the Southern respect his parents had taught him .With his raising he would have been able to call on me . However , the front porch would have been as far as they would have let me go with him. As much as I loved Elvis’s singing, I was never ,( can say this now , but not back then) sexually attracted to him. To me, God Bless his heart, Elvis, was just to “Cheap and Common…
What attracted me to Elvis was his southern gentle ways of making one feel special and if you were with him you knew he made you feel like a special person. ( Now I did have thoughts about Tom Brokaw who brought us our World News every night…that’s another story. I really did have a crush on him. Even older, with gray hair and retired Tom still has it.) Was I sexually attracted to him…..awwww man, back then I didn’t even know what sexually attracted meant. I was married a week before I found out what sexually attracted meant. Now , if that isn’t a Sandra Dee comment, I don’t know what would be.
If only Elvis could have taken another path in his life I believe he would have lived longer and still be the “King”. Elvis from what I’ve read was raised by Christian parents and was taught to respect and loved and be gentle. By his parents raising him up the way they did allowed Elvis not only be able to reach the female teenagers with his sexy movement but with his gentle personality and warm way of reaching the older but young in heart and even the older Christians who could see his closeness to the Heavenly Father.
Elvis appealed to men , women, teenagers with his ability to change into what the person he was with wanted him to be. From his songs, movies and personal appearances , no one had any reason to speak ill of him. Elvis was generous with his love, time and money. Some of the stories how he bought for others shows he had a big heart.
Elvis had his own thoughts of marriage . raising his daughter that did and didn’t agree with his followers, but by then he had captured the hearts of America and he was accepted by all. If Elvis had lived , he would be in awe of how he led his life back then is accepted nowadays.
We all have to give Elvis praise for having his talent and the way he used it. I loved many of Elvis’s songs he recorded. I wasn’t that much a lover of his movies. I did enjoy several of his movies and I watched most of them at least one time. But , the most of it , I loved his singing and his personal comments when he was on radio and television. Elvis to me was never and actor and acted a part, he was always Elvis in every part he played. This is my opinion watching Elvis in movies.
I was able to see Elvis many years ago. My husband before he became an invalid ,call me and said, ” I have you a present for you that you never thought you would receive from me or anyone.” I thought hmmm, no way I could guess, then when he said tonight we are going to Auburn to see Elvis. Need I go into details how excited I was? After seeing Elvis in person, I am and always be convinced that Elvis was one of the greatest singers of my life time.
We did see Elvis that night in his white jump suit and for over an hour Elvis preformed just for me. Tears ran down my face and this was years after he became well known. This was probably in the early 1970s. When Elvis, sang,” Are You Lonesome Tonight”….I remember thinking, no Elvis , “Not Tonight”. The one and only night of my life….You are here.
I also remember wondering where Janice Wiggins Wyrosdick, Gere Jones Taylor, Jeanne Franklin Dudeck, Elizabeth Kinser, Jeanette and Juette Johnson (the twins), , Pat Sanders, Nancy McLaughlin, Diane Walls, Reba Bennefield, were tonight while I was with Elvis. Some of these girls and I have bopped the night away in our Baby Doll PJ’s to the songs of Elvis.
I am a better person because of knowing of a person like Elvis Presley , reading about his kind and gentle love. I am sorry the path he took led to ending his life at an early stage and leaving a void in people’s heart that only he could feel. I am not painting Elvis as a Saint the worldly part took over, but he did have the makings of a kind, gentle , unselfish, christian man that somewhere in life was side tracked by Satan and robbed us of a great person who could have spent more time with us with his talents which also included wonderful Christian Albums that only he could sing and Praise the Holy Three. What I’ve read about Elvis, Satan no matter how he tempted Elvis could never take his eyes off the Holy Three.I have always felt in my spirit there was more good in Elvis than bad.
Booth’s Drug Store in Phenix City was made over into a cafe. It’s open for breakfast and lunch. When you walk in it takes you back in time to the early 1950s. I’m posting a few pictures so you can see what the inside looks like now. This was once a well know Drug Store run by the Booths family. There are memories for all the families who had their prescriptions filled there. There are even old prescriptions tacked on the wall that were filled thru the years. The Cafe is bright, cheerful and colorful . There are old paintings and pictures that we all remember. It would be well worth the trip to cross the river and visit and spend a little time in the past .
The owner is a yankee so he can’t answer your questions, but Barbara , one of the ladies who works there and serves us, knows the town like the back of her hand. The smile you see on Barbara’s face in one of the pictures is all you will ever see. She is the most pleasant person you will ever want to meet. My daughter Jan and I ride over to Phenix City every now and then to visit Barbara and just revisit the 1950s with Elvis and his records and pictures. If you haven’t been there , “It’s a Must”. The little Corner Cafe thaty used to be Booth’s Drug Store takes you back in time with all the posters, announcements, pictures of old cars and record collections of the 1950s and old collections of house hold items we have used in our life time that will bring back memories. Barbara was telling us about how they open the Cafe the night Billy Joe Rawles. ( Song – – Secret Agent Man) and B. J. Thomas (Raindrops Keep Falling On My Head.) were in town entertaining in Phenix City, Alabama.
Last year my friend and co worker, Ron Rolins and I were able to visit Elvis’s home where he was born. Elvis did come from a very humble back ground. I’ve seen shot gun houses , but this little shot gun house built by Elvis’s dad ) before 1935) could have sat inside a shot gun house. The tiny little house was painted and was very neat. The grounds were well kept. But if you had taken the paint off the house and seen his home when others houses were built around it you would have seen the humble way Elvis lived.
Last year Ron was able to track down my great, great grand papa 1794-1854 who once lived in Harris County, Georgia, he was a minister at Bethel Baptist Church on Flat Rock Road now in Midland /Columbus from 1827-1840 he then moved to De Soto/Tate counties, Mississippi. I had research Green Berry Waldrop for over ten years ,I was at a Brick wall and in a short time Ron found him and tons of information. He asked, you want to go find Green Berry’s grave in Mississippi, I said, in a New York Minute….Yeah…while in Tupelo, Mississippi , Ron asked, you want to go see where Elvis lived, I said quitely, YEAH!
If you see a picture of Elvis or a hear a song , remember that this was a man of all Seasons, Male and Female, Young and Old , Rich or Poor, Healthy or Sick , Saint or Sinner, Country or Rock and Roll. GOD BLESS ELVIS AS HE SLEEPS UNTIL JUDGMENT DAY UNTIL JESUS COMES TO TAKE HIM HOME. GOD BLESS ELVIS AND MAY ROCK AND ROLL LAST FOREVER. IF GOD THE HEAVENLY FATHER LIKE MUSIC, THERE WILL BE ROCK AND ROLL IN HEAVEN. GOOD NIGHT ELVIS, SLEEP TIGHT.
Thanks for allowing me to share my memories with you all.
To all my JVHS classmates, “May Jordan’s Glory Never lessen and her Courage never fail.”