The Spirit of Elvis lives on!

Those of us that were living and witness to the day Elvis Presley died are fading into the past also.  Here is a description of that day from myself as a truck driver.  This day was just a normal day for most all of us as we went along our daily jobs.  Jimmy Carter was President and Elvis was doing tours almost every month.   He was the King of Rock and Roll so it was a surprise when Memphis Fire Department got an emergency call from Elvis Presley's home.   I wonder, if you can feel the impact of this day and how people world wide were stunned, with sadness, shock and disbelief.   I was trucking north on Route 51 in Central Illinois and it was late in the afternoon when I stopped for something to eat.

During my years trucking I kept a ledger and this is from that day I jotted down my notes about what happened that day. I published this story on my web site during the late 90's however never got much traffic on it. I almost took it off because lack of interest.

Another interesting item about Elvis and rock and roll was in Peoria, Illinois, the year 1959, a disc jockey disobeyed an order to quit playing rock and roll. The Mayor of the city said it was corrupting young people.

Mayor got injuction to shut the station down. The disc jockey locked himself and others in the station and on emeregency power kept the station playing music by Elvis Presley and others.

It was a dramatic time in history for rock and roll and muscians such as Elvis. You can view some of this drama on the program, "Quatum Leamp." The day was September 9, 1959. I remember the time well because my home was only ten miles from the station and teens from all over were rushing to Peoria to support the radio station and disc jockey.

Click here to read about this drama in, "Good Morning Peoria!"

Radio station did win out and they continued to play Elvis Prelsey music and other muscians.


The Day Elvis Presley Died


I witnessed the day Elvis died.

I was 46 years old then!


This is what happened;


It was 37 years ago Elvis Presley died on August 16, 1977


It was a bright sunny afternoon when I pulled into a little Truck Stop in central Illinois on a Tuesday afternoon August 16, 1977 and it was dinner time for me!   I parked in the gravel parking lot and entered the Truck Stop approaching the counter I slid upon one of the swivel stools.

I ordered a cheeseburger and some fries from the waitress.  She poured me some coffee and as there was not any one else at the counter or matter of fact only one other person in the place besides me.  It wasn't a popular Truck Stop but used widely by the local folk.  The waitress was friendly and quite young with a pleasing voice she gave my order to the cook through the kitchen window.

She came back to me and made conversation like where you going?   Where you from?   Common questions which makes for conversation.  There was a radio turned on to a local station playing rock and roll music which made up the background for the friendly environment.

The music on the radio was interrupted by the DJ as he was attempting to read a news bulletin.   His voice was uncertain as he tried to make his voice steady and professional as he read the important news bulletin.

"I want to interrupt this program to bring you an important news bulletin."

"THE KING IS DEAD!   ElVIS PRESLEY,  DIED TODAY AT HIS HOME IN MEMPHIS, TENNESSEE."

(then silence from the DJ as he struggled with the news!   He then read it again.)

"ElVIS PRESLEY,  (pause)  THE KING OF ROCK AND ROLL  ---  DIED TODAY  ---  AT HIS HOME IN MEMPHIS, TENNESSEE!"

The young waitress quickly turned to me and ask if I heard the radio bulletin?

I told her,

"I heard it!"---"Elvis Presley died!"

She was struck by the news not knowing exactly what to do--she turned quickly to the telephone mounted on the back wall behind the counter, anxiously dialing some one--frantically asking them if they were listening to the radio?

She was talking very fast and excited and I could tell she was shook up with the news of Elvis.   She came back to me and began to ask what else the news had stated.  She said she just couldn't believe that Elvis was dead.   She kept holding her face in her hands covering her mouth.

"My gosh that is terrible!"   "I can't believe it!"

I got my meal and by this time the cook came out to listen to the news about Elvis and they both shared their dismay about the King of Rock and Roll.  I was taken by the emotional outburst these folk had toward this news of Elvis Presley.

It wasn't very long another young lady entered the Truck Stop running and hollering at the waitress as they held on to each other,  each asking if the other heard from their friends about the news.

Before I finished my cheeseburger and fries there was a crowd of people, mostly girls and young ladies however the boys who came with the girls were quiet and trying to be polite and helpful also.  The place was a regular wake.    It was like they all lost a close friend as they comforted each other with the news and asking each other, what would happen now?

They were crying, calling on the telephone, talking about Elvis like he was family and they were oblivious to anything else or anyone in the Truck Stop.   I paid for my meal and left to go back to trucking.  The small crowd of mourners steadily was growing as cars pulled up to the Truck Stop.

It was a sad, sad day at this little Truck Stop located in the midst of Illinois corn fields on route 51 near Wenona, Illinois for fans of Elvis Presley, King of Rock and Roll.   Their idol was dead and they were waiting to hear more as they all gathered there.  I pulled out onto the highway and rolled on north leaving this sad scene at the truck stop.

End...

(When this site first began I (webmaster) was going to delete it as not many visitors came here.  It is left here for the few fans who do come.) (The programing is out dated HTML script and I am not smart enough to update it.)
Will you sign the guest book,  let me know if it should continue?
The spirit of Elvis still lives on!

Go to the Elvis Directory


Go To the Elvis Directory

This site presented the Elvis Award.
This site is a dead link.

This site is a dead link.
Click on award to view web site of Elvis later years.

Send mail to:

Dick Lower--webmaster

dlower319@gmail.com 

Even today,  August 14, 2013 my memory relives this day,  the feeling the turmoil and confusion that all people felt the day Elvis Presley died.   It was just not the Elvis fans whom were stunned but everyday people were surprised and saddened by his sudden death.   I remember Elvis from his beginning to the end and now at the age of 82 years old it was my privilege to experience his music and talents.

Still in this year of 2013 when I travel on I-39 Interstate which runs along the side of the old state route 51 near Wenona,  Illinois,  my eyes search for that little truck stop.   To me it is like a shrine endowed with the tears and sadness of that day.    I hope they never tear it down even if it is just a shell of a building.

I recall when he first started out his extra long hair,  which was not the par for the time, so us guys thought him some what as frail and odd sort of guy.   However Elvis got in a fight one day at a gas station while gassing up his pick-up truck.  Some body railed on him about his looks--Elvis jacked the guys jaw, quickly putting the jerk in his place.   However the cops were called and a small article in the newspapers explained Elvis Presley the new singing star had gotten in trouble fighting.

After that incident Elvis proved he was not a sissy and was respected by most every young guy his age.  Strange as this incident brought Elvis respect from the younger generation yet he was destined to become the idol of all ages,  young and old,  even world wide.

I feel we will never see any one graced with greatness as Elvis Presley presented us in his life time.

Dick Lower, truck driver, Pekin, Illinois August 2013

Here are some interesting updates received concerning the truck stop.

UPDATE---Entry-November 2006

November 2006. I received an e-mail concerning the truck stop that I was at the day Elvis died.  It was most interesting because the mail came from some one who remembers the truck stop I wrote about.  I am placing the e-mail in mention below for your viewing.  It only makes that sad day more real now hearing from someone who remembers.

QUOTE:FROM E-MAIL IN NOVEMBER

The letter states;

"QUOTE"

"The truck stop you were in that day was owned by my grandparents and there is a good chance the waitress may have been my mother.  I was only six years old at the time and do not remember Elvis' death but thought this was an interesting find so close to home about a place I have so many memories of from when I was young."

signed; David Jones "UNQUOTE"

I wrote back thanking him for his letter.  I was glad he found the page concerning Elvis and the truck stop he remembers so well.  In this next letter he describes the truck stop bit more and explains he himself is now a truck driver.

The letter states;

"QUOTE":FROM SECOND E-MAIL.

This letter states; "Hello again,

I spoke to my mom, she was not working that day but she remembers it well.   I do not know if I have any pictures I will check and see.   Nass truck lines was also owned by my grandparents.  (a small trucking company located at the truck stop)   They retired in 1991 and closed the business and sold the property to the cookie factory next door.   The truck stop building is still there but all the pumps are gone.   Someone uses it for storage.    Its amazing how many people traveled that old road and remembers that old truck stop.    I drive a truck now and there are not many family truck stops left.   If I find any old pictures I will forward them to you."

"David Jones"
UNQUOTE:

UPDATE---Entry-January 8, 2008

e-mail from another person about this day.

"QUOTE" "I wasn't in the truck stop that day,  but I know the truck stop well.   At that time it was owned by Eugene and Violet Nass,  David Jones grandparents.     I drove for (Ding) Nass, and worked in the shop for many years.   Not many of the old timers around.
Enjoyed your story."

"Bill Fredericks"

"UNQUOTE"

______________________________________________________________________

There has been:
Counter
visitors here.

Return to front page click truck


Page updated August 14, 2013

site stats