Elvis swaps mansion for Army living (1958)
From The Deseret News (Salt Lake City, Utah) March 24, 1958
Elvis Presley swapped his plush $100,000 mansion for an Army barracks Monday after he breezed through a physical examination and was officially inducted into the Army.
The 23-year-old former truck driver, weighing in at 185 pounds and measuring 5 feet 11 inches tall, leaves behind a career that he began as a truck driver and rolled into a million dollar business singing rock ‘n’ roll.
Presley was assigned Army serial number US53310761. Elvis’ mother and father were permitted inside the examining station and posed with their son for pictures. It took less than three hours for the singer to be officially inducted into the Army at $78 a month.
The former truck driver who skyrocketed into an orbit of adoration by the younger generation admitted he was nervous.
Ironically, when the time came for the teenage rock ‘n’ roll idol to go to his draft board for induction, the loyal fans were absent. At the gates to the Presley’s $100,000 mansion and at the local draft board, only officials and a dozen newsmen were on hand to witness the passing of Presley from civillian to military life.
Presley answered the roll call at his downtown Main and Beale draft board. He drove there behind the wheel of a big black Cadillac, accompanied by his mother and a friend.
Presley wore black boots, black trousers, a grey jacket, blue shirt.
Dig this, girls – Army’s sending Elvis to Texas
San Antonio Express (San Antonio, Texas) – Thursday, March 27, 1958
Pvt. Elvis Presley, who has “always liked Texas,” will go to Ft. Hood there Friday with 18 other recruits, the Army announced Wednesday.
The rock ‘n’ roll king will be sent to the 2nd Armored Division for eight weeks of basic combat training, Brig. Gen. Ralph Mace, commander of this camp told newsmen.
“The decision was made in Washington this morning,” Mace said.
The 23-year-old singer took the news placidly. With the courtesy and nonchalance he has maintained for three days in the glare of publicity, Elvis told newsmen: “I’ve been anywhere in Texas you can name… I’d like do whatever they (the Army) thinks I’m best suited for.”
ALSO SEE: How Bill Haley & His Comets rocked around the clock when rock ‘n’ roll was brand new
Initiation into the Army is just about over for Elvis. He put on an Army uniform and received his inoculations Wednesday.
Gen. Mace watched Elvis try on some Army clothing this morning. Presley said “sir” to the private first class corporal and sergeant who issued the clothing.
Mace told reporters earlier that “certainly Elvis has conducted himself in a fine manner… and has indicated he should make a tremendous operation out of his career in the Army.”
Elvis’ Army future after basic training is anybody’s guess, the general said.
Presley, whose 1957 income was nearly one million dollars, now makes $78 a month.
Photos from Elvis’ first day in the Army
Elvis’ last words to you before going overseas
“In a few weeks, I’ll be going away . . .”
As he spoke to the crowd of about seventy-five faithful fans who had waited for hours outside his Whitehaven mansion for a glimpse of him, Elvis Presley’s voice trailed off in a note of wistful sadness.
Teenagers clambered around his tomato-red Lincoln Continental, holding out photos, scraps of paper, sketches of him for his autograph.
Silently, he signed them. The fans, too, were strangely quiet now. It was as if they, as well as Elvis, sensed that this was their last meeting for a long, long time . . . “How’s the Army treatin’ you, Elvis?” a boy called loudly, in a boisterous attempt to break up the gloom.
“No complaints,” Elvis reported with a grin. “Have tank, will travel!”
He started the motor. “Gotta go now,” he said, reluctantly. “Good-bye… Goodbye, all…” Slowly, he drove through the gates. Then, abruptly, he stopped and turned for a last, long look at the faces behind him.
“Thanks,” he called. “Thanks for everything. And please… don’t forget me while I’m gone.” With a final wave of farewell, he drove on. “Goodbye, Elvis, goodbye…”
The shouts echoed through the quiet of the warm southern afternoon. And long after he no longer heard them, they echoed in Elvis Presley’s heart.
Elvis Presley joins the Army: More photos