Early Elvis Presley in Texas – a self-guided tour


Every Texas road traces history.

Elvis signs autographs for fans in Dallas, Texas, 1955 - photo from Stanley Oberst's collection

Some routes and sites are better known than others — few really know about Elvis Presley’s tours in Texas. Stanley Oberst knows, and he has shared it in a book. The Dallas Morning News featured a story on Oberst, listing some of the main sites one could visit to see where Elvis and Texas met. (Photo of Elvis signing autographs in Dallas, 1955, from Stanley Oberst’s collection)

You drive about 20 miles north of Tyler, along gently rolling U.S. Highway 271. A few hundred yards over the Gladewater town line, past a liquor store and a fireworks stand, you come to a rock-strewn patch rimmed by pine trees.

And that’s where you’ll find it: the spot where the Mint Club once stood, where a raw-boned 19-year-old rocker named Elvis Presley played in what many argue was his first concert in Texas.

It’s a far cry from Graceland. But for Stanley Oberst, a retired Plano teacher headed to Memphis for today’s 30th anniversary of Elvis’ death, this is sacred ground. Here, Elvis began his yearlong tour of Texas in late 1954, honing his chops and whipping up a whirlwind that would thrust him to stardom.

Stanley, 60, a lifelong fan, would like to see Elvis’ tour in Texas memorialized – perhaps as the “Hound Dog Highway” or “Pink Cadillac Trail,” after the custom-painted car that transported him around Texas. It must have looked like a spaceship speeding past farmers on tractors before landing in Gladewater.

For now, Stanley has written a book, Elvis Presley: Rockin’ Across Texas. And as he drives to Memphis to sign copies, he winds through East Texas, pausing at places where Elvis left his mark.

Oberst’s tour, on his way to Memphis and the anniversary commemoration of Elvis’ death, includes several stops.

See the 3-minute video: Elvis author Stanley Oberst on a nostalgic East Texas road trip. (Dallas Morning News Video: Randy Eli Grothe/Editing: David Leeson II)

Don’t confuse this book with the CD set “Rockin’ Across Texas,” which covers a 1970s-era tour.

______________________________

Stanley Oberst’s Elvis Tour of Texas, The Pink Cadillac Tour along Hound Dog Highway: Stops listed below the fold.

Waco, Texas, the Health Camp Diner. 2601 Circle Rd, Waco, TX 76701 · 254-752-2081 (also listed as one of Waco’s 10 Best)

Health Camp Diner, Waco, Texas - Elvis tour (photo from TexasBurgerGuy.com)

After Elvis’ induction into the Army, he was based at Fort Hood for part of 1958. His friend, Eddie Fadal, a former KRLD DJ, lived in Waco, and Elvis spent free time with the Fadal family. He often came to the Health Camp, which opened in 1949.

Tyler, Texas, the Mayfair Building. At the East Texas State Fair Grounds.

Water spot stains on the ceiling confirm some photos of Elvis’s performances in the Mayfair Building. The fairgrounds is probably most famous today for the annual Tyler Rose Festival.

Gladewater, Texas, the Mint Club. No longer standing

. . . 20 miles north of Tyler, along gently rolling U.S. Highway 271. A few hundred yards over the Gladewater town line, past a liquor store and a fireworks stand, you come to a rock-strewn patch rimmed by pine trees.

And that’s where you’ll find it: the spot where the Mint Club once stood, where a raw-boned 19-year-old rocker named Elvis Presley played in what many argue was his first concert in Texas.

Hawkins, Texas, Jewel’s Cafe (formerly Petty Cafe) Highway 80 at Route 14.

Sign alleged to be from Petty's Cafe, Hawkins, Texas - Photo Bygone Byways

Sign alleged to be from Petty’s Cafe, Hawkins, Texas – Photo Bygone Byways

Stanley spends the rest of the day driving to other Elvis haunts. He eats lunch at the Jewel Cafe on Highway 80 in Hawkins, formerly Petty Cafe, where Elvis sometimes ate. He stops by the old high school gym in Hawkins, where Elvis shot hoops before his concert. (Sign at right from old Petty Cafe?  See comments for more details.)

Other stops: Longview, Tyler, New Boston


More:

About these ads

7 Responses to Early Elvis Presley in Texas – a self-guided tour

  1. D.C. Havens says:

    Now another comment three years from my last one……Jewel’s Cafe is now Richie’s……….food is great!

    Like

  2. [...] I’d read about the burger emporium favored by none other than Elvis Presley, Health Camp. Even after the lunch rush cars and pickups crowd the [...]

    Like

  3. D.C. Havens says:

    Just found this website and read the article on Elvis tour of East Texas. Just to make a correction on a comment on Petty’s cafe. Jewel’s covered patio area is where the old Petty’s used to be.

    The recreation building where Elvis performed at the Humble Camp is now ,or was a few years ago, the fellowship hall at Liberty Baptist Church just a short distance from the Exxon plant , formerly the Humble camp.

    Like

  4. texasag90 says:

    Great post. I actually saw Elvis live at the Houston Live Stock Show and Rodeo when I was a kid (in the early seventies).

    Mark

    http://www.historyofelvis.com

    Like

  5. As Elvis fans, I thought you might be interested in this. I am Steve Carlson, the author of a new book I think you’ll enjoy. It’s entitled ALMOST GRACELAND. When I first heard that Elvis was born a twin but that poor Jesse Garon was still born, I couldn’t help but wonder… what if he’d lived? How would Elvis’ life have been different? Would we have had the Presley Brothers like the Everly Brothers? Or, what if they didn’t know about each other? What if they found out in the later part of Elvis’ life? How would Elvis feel about that? What would he think? What would the press think… the fans?
    It’s a fun ‘what if?’ look into one of the most interesting lives ever. I’m very pleased with how the book came out and am sure you and your friends will enjoy it, too.
    Below, you will find the ‘flyer’ link that will tell you more about the book. The other link is to my web site that will tell you more about me as well as my books. I wish you all the best and… please enjoy!

    Steve Carlson

    http://www.stevecarlson.tv/flyer/

    http://www.stevecarlson.tv/

    Like

  6. Ed Darrell says:

    Thanks for details. The site I got the photo from (which you can get to by clicking on the image) said it was the old Petty’s Cafe, but I wondered why the name change.

    Good details. What else do you know about any of the other sites?

    Like

  7. Dixon Cartwright says:

    Hi. A quick comment on your “City Cafe” photo, which you speculate may be a sign from Petty’s Cafe. This is not correct. For years there were two cafes in Hawkins side by side: Petty’s Cafe and City Cafe. Petty’s (which began in 1945) sat immediately to the west of City Cafe. At some point, City Cafe went out of business but the sign remained (and remains to this day). A few years ago Petty’s moved from its original location one door to the east and then occupied the old site of the City Cafe. Within the last couple of years (I write this in 2007), the owners of Petty’s (which by then also operated a Petty’s in Lindale, Texas, 15-20 miles away) sold the Petty’s business to new owners and did not allow them to continue using the name. Therefore the new owners named it Jewel’s Cafe. The City Cafe sign, last time I noticed, still stands over the Jewel’s location. The original Petty’s location is now part of Jewel’s parking lot. The present Jewel’s location is the old City Cafe location. Hope this brief history isn’t too confusing. I’ve frequented Petty’s, City Cafe and now Jewel’s since I moved to Texas, in 1966.

    Like

Play nice in the Bathtub -- splash no soap in anyone's eyes.

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 2,333 other followers

%d bloggers like this: