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CONCERT DATE: August 6 1956. Lakeland, FL.

The Cool Cat In A Cadillac
Elvis Presley Waited For a Long Time To Get His First Emblem Of Success
by Elvalee Donaldson
Lakeland Ledger
July 31, 1956

The coolest cats drive Cadillacs-or at least the craze seems to be headed that way with Elvis Presley, giant of rock n roll, leading the parade with his collection.

Presley, who will be in Lakeland Monday with his sensational mixture of sex and rhythm, owns four Cadillac's, a three-wheeled Messerschmidt sports car and a motorcycle. He says simply, "You might say cars are my hobby".

At 21, that's a fancy collection for any hobby man's books.

Elvis and his mother both learned to drive at the same time, when he was only 9 years old. At first he drove around the yard of their Tupelo, Miss. Home and then he and mother ventured out on back roads.

Stopped in Time

Mrs. Presley remembers only one tense moment from her son's driving. "We were parked facing a store and Elvis mistook forward for reverse and dropped the clutch. The car shot right up onto the curb and I thought we were going on through the store window, but Elvis kept his head and stopped it. He insisted on backing it into the street, too."

When he was almost 17 he applied for his driver's license and had no trouble passing the test. After that he wanted to drive all the time. His father recalls once that he used his last 15 cents to put more gas in the family's '43 Lincoln.

On his first date, when he was 14 year old; Elvis and Bonnie Jean walked over to her house for dinner and then to the movies.

Now, his dates have their choices of four Cadillac's-a canary yellow convertible, a pink Fleetwood sedan, a blue limousine and a light purple Eldorado.

Lost By A Sideburn

Although he didn't win first place he participated in the Road-E-O sponsored b the Junior Chamber of Commerce when he was a senior in high school. He had his picture in the paper changing a tire. The school principal reported at the assembly that Elvis "lost by a sideburn."

He bought his first Cadillac after his first record became a hit. His former manager reported that the first night Elvis had the car he "was so happy he sat up all night at a hotel room window, just looking at it."

That same car brought him nearer tragedy than he's ever been. He and a girlfriend were headed for Texarkana, where Elvis was scheduled for a show. The car caught fire, apparently from a dragging hand brake.

Car Is Destroyed

Elvis paid no attention when a truck driver pointed and honked but when another car overtook him the occupants were able to shout and point until he noticed the rear of the car burning. Elvis was finally pulled away from the fire. The car, his first, was destroyed.

For his parents, Elvis bought a $40,000 ranch home in the best section of Memphis and had a swimming pool built in the back yard. The sage green house is trimmed with white and has three bedrooms, a game room, a sitting room, dining room and living room.

The furnishings are a combination of modern and traditional.

"Elvis is always buying something for the house when he's out on one of his trips. His latest is lamps. He's bought me so many lamps that I have to put some of them away and take turns using them. If ever there was a boy who cares about his home, it's Elvis," said his mother.

Right now, although Elvis likes girls, his main loves are cars and his parents. He does okay by both.

Note: Tomorrow Miss Donaldson will tell LEDGER readers another chapter in the rise of America's 21 year-old top rock n roll singing star.

Elvis Presley, rock n roll great, will be in Lakeland Aug. 6 and will give three personal appearances at the Polk Theater. The shows are scheduled for 3:30, 7 and 9 p.m.

Advance tickets sales will begin this Saturday at the theater box office. The tickets will sell for $1.25 until the day of the performance, when they will be $1.50. No standing room will be sold.

Tickets will be for specific performances and the house will be cleared after each show.

Arrangements for Presley's Lakeland visit were made by Ed Smith, city manager for Florida State Theaters.

Courtesy of Kurt Hinkle