Wednesday, January 8, 2014

Elvis is 79

                                                    Elvis Is Alive

             Elvis may have left the building but he is still alive in our minds and heart. January 8TH would have been Elvis' 79th birthday.. So why am I writing about Elvis on this site; after all Elvis didn't live long enough to retire, was not from Texas, and was not a professional teacher.All true but I think most of us who are currently retired   teachers do have vivid memories of Elvis from our youth so I'll share my memories and hope you'll share your memories or thoughts.

                                                       Elvis and we Who Were Once Young

              Elvis was born in Tupelo Mississippi in 1935. After public schooling and a brief stint as truck driver Elvis began singing at various places near his native Mississippi. The first time I heard of Elvis was when I was about 14 and an uncle of mine who was stationed in the air force in Louisiana came to visit us and said he had seen this young singer on a local country and western show in Louisiana. "Mark my words this Elvis Presley is going to be a big star.". I can't remember if I marked his words but I have obviously remembered them. Elvis first hit public fame when he checked into Heartbreak Hotel, warned us not to "Step On His Blue Suede Shoes"   and scolded us for being "Nothing But a Hound Dog"

              These hits led to Elvis being featured  on the biggest variety show of the time the Ed Sullivan Show and the second biggest show The Steve Allen Show. Elvis reputation was made when NBC  ordered the cameras to not show Elvis from the waist down because Elvis made some moves while singing that were quite suggestive for the 1950's. Elvis may not have given birth to Rock and Roll but he soon became it's king. This of course insured his popularity with all of us who were then in our teens and were looking for a rebel with a cause. The fact our parents disapproved of him was of course even more in his favor. I've always thought Elvis came along at just the right time . After all there were 74 million Baby Boomers ( born between 1946-64) and they had money to spend because the USA  was the richest country in history in 1954 and teenagers, a new concept in the 50's, had disposable income which they spent mostly on records. Yes, there was once a thing called records. I myself talked my parents into buying me a guitar, which I'm sure they couldn't afford. Other than my striking resemblance to Elvis it soon became evident that my guitar playing left much to be desired . OK OK  so I don't have a striking resemblance to Elvis either.            Elvis went on to make one hit song after another in the 1950's . My personal favorite was  I Can't Help Falling In Love with you". All of this ,of course,  further consolidated Elvis as  the King of rock and roll.

                                                              Elvis Went to Germany and the British invaded.

    In 1958 Elvis was drafted into the army and served two years in Germany. In my mind this has always stood out more than any other fact about Elvis character because he could have found a way to avoid service but chose to interrupt his career and served honorably for two years Elvis met a the young daughter of his commanding officer there, a stunning fifteen year old named Priscilla who would become his wife and a star in her own right. Elvis left Germany in 1960 and I joined the army arrived in Germany myself in 1962. I always joked that the army sent me there because they didn't want the German  Frauleins to be to disappointed over Elvis leaving. The Frauleins did not seem to impressed by my arrival but I know many never forgot Elvis.

        Elvis career took a downturn after he returned to the states at least partly because the new trend from Britain of bands like the Beatles and the Rolling Stones had come to dominate rock. The King was not yet dead but he would never again sit on the throne of rock a she had in the 50's . Elvis also had a movie career in the 60's( I always thought his movies were terrible) and then recreated his career as a Las Vegas entertainer. Elvis personal life went downhill though in the 1970's with his divorce from Priscilla and his descent into drugs and over indulging his appreciation of fried chicken and mashed potatoes. Elvis died in 1977


My own personal thoughts are that Elvis is one of the more important entertainers of the Twentieth century given his role in the birth of Rock and Roll . I also think he had one of the great voices and could sing in many genres including not just rock but country and gospel. I could go on but this is after all a  blog and not an essay. Besides it's your turn.

                                                     Your Turn

 OK enough of my musings. Time for your thoughts.

              WHAT are your memories of Elvis

              What were your favorite songs

                If you're one of the young readers( below 60 is now young to me) what are your thoughts

                 Any other thoughts you might have

                  Just scroll down to the bottom of this page , click on comments and write away.

                   Thanks for reading       



bettyb said...

My sister and I loved Elvis Presley. Our parents took us to see his movies, and we couldn't get enough. We even made our own paper doll Elvis out of mamilla paper. Since we are both now retired Texas teachers, there must be a correction to Elvis and teaching.

Scott McCasland said...

To me the Elvis I admired most was the one who reinvented himself in the late '60s and '70s. His classic "In the Ghetto" still moves me. My discovery of his love for gospel was something that impacted me long after his death. Elvis was truly an amazing performer.

Scott McCasland said...

I learned to appreciate Elvis only as he matured in the late '60s and '70s. His rendition of "In the Ghetto" still moves me. I did not discover his passion for gospel until long after his death. The world lost an amazing talent.

Scott McCasland said...

I learned to appreciate Elvis only as he matured in the late '60s and '70s. His rendition of "In the Ghetto" still moves me. I did not discover his passion for gospel until long after his death. The world lost an amazing talent.

Scott McCasland said...

I learned to appreciate Elvis only as he matured in the late '60s and '70s. His rendition of "In the Ghetto" still moves me. I did not discover his passion for gospel until long after his death. The world lost an amazing talent.

Scott McCasland said...

I learned to appreciate Elvis only as he matured in the late '60s and '70s. His rendition of "In the Ghetto" still moves me. I did not discover his passion for gospel until long after his death. The world lost an amazing talent.

Anonymous said...

I was in The United States Marine Corps in 1955-56 and serving in Japan when I first hard Elvis on our radio in the barracks. There were twelve of us and we went bonkers. I was just a few months older than Elvis and quite shy and introverted back then. However, once back in the states, the rage was all Elvis and I joined the choir. I caught him in black and white on TV and suddenly, I WAS FREE, FREE FROM BEING SHY AND AN INTROVERT. I quickly became a rock dancer and dated girls I never thought I could. Since then to this very day I have been an Elvis Fanatic. I have nearly every song and record he ever performed, I have the 68 Black Leather Concert and much more. As a matter of fact, Thomas Jefferson and Elvis are two of my main hero folks.
Want more: Elvis, Jefferson, Carl Sagan, and Charles Darwin turned me loose. I am going on 80 but still Elvis crazy.

What Elvis Inspired m to do:
Thomas W. McKay
Born October 2nd 1934
Balmorhea, Texas

Education And Honors

Graduated from Mar Vista High School, Imperial Beach, California, 1952.
Voted ‘Mr. Legs’ of Mar Vista High School in 1951.

1952-3 Worked for Ma Bell in El Paso and was the 2nd leading hitter on the company softball team.

Served my country as a United States Marine 1954-1956. After Boot Camp in San Diego and Combat Training at Camp Pendleton, I was selected for Telephone School and gained MOS’s 2636 and 2771. After schooling, I went to Japan and then to Korea to pick up Korean War materials. Back to Japan and Camp McGill where I Played Basketball for my Unit and was selected to the Division All Star Team. Took some Combat Judo classes.
Completed required after service duty for four more years.

1959 Graduated From Aetna Estate Control Plan School, Hartford, Connecticut.

1966-68 Served as Co-Director and Director of El Paso Golden Gloves with Vic Villarreal and Joe Bohling.

Helped form SWIABA Boxing Team in 1967 and was Co-Head Coach with Sammy Burke of Las Cruces, New Mexico. The Team captured fifth place in San Diego, California at the AAU Nationals and had one National Champion, Earl Large at 119 pounds and semi-finalist, Mike Ortiz, 132.

El Paso Police Department Traffic Investigator, 1960-1970. Ricky Romero and I were the first El Paso Policemen to receive the Advanced Law Enforcement Certification from the state of Texas.

Took extensive course work from Purdue University in Entomology 1967-70. I then opened my own company, Able Pest Control.

Head coach of both Assumption (1968) and Marion Manor (1971) Schools. Won track, basketball and football titles.

Part-time Customs Inspector, International Bridges, 1970s.

Sergeant in Charge of Criminal Investigations and Acting Chief of Police for UTEP, 1971-72.

Graduated with a liberal arts degree from UTEP in 1971 with honors.
Was also honored as a “Top-Ten Senior” for the UTEP class of 1971.
To be continued

Anonymous said...

Thomas W. McKay My Elvis Experience Continued:

Served as science teacher, athletic trainer and coach for Austin High School, 1972-1974.

Earned my Master’s Degree from UTEP in 1975 with a 4.0 GPA.
I was offered a full scholarship in 1975 to Rutgers University for my Ph.D. Tough love.

Co-Promoted El Paso’s first ever full contact karate show with Robert Nava in 1975 at the El Paso Coliseum. Randall ‘Tex’ Cobb and David ‘Chunky’ Bear Ochoa’ were the Main Event. Randy moved in with me at 6333 Weiland Way and I prepped him for his pro career in Philadelphia.

Taught Law Enforcement Classes for two years at Ft. Bliss, Texas for Rifted Vietnam Veterans. I also built a PPC shooting range. Over 80% of my students obtained law enforcement jobs.

Founder and first president of The El Paso Boxing/Karate Hall of Fame, a 501 C3 charitable organization in 1993-2014.

Science teacher at Austin High School for twenty-four years (1972-1996). Department Head 1995-6.

Ft. Bliss Boxing Coach 1980’s. Won two Open Class Golden Gloves Team Championships.

Owner/Coach Eastside Boxing Club. Teamed with Rocky Galarza for six Golden Gloves titles.

Science Teacher and Boxing Coach for Raymond Telles Academy, 1996-2000. Teacher of the year in 1998. My program was selected as the 1st ever Boxing Christmas Program. It also received special notice from the state. My program was the only Boxing/Science Program in the State of Texas.

1990’s Performed as the preacher, Jeremiah Brown, in the El Paso Playhouse production of “Inherit The Wind.” I was given excellent reviews.

Named the man who has lived the most dangerous life by The El Paso times, 1996.

Referee, official, coach, sportswriter at local, state and national level for over forty years.

Voted coach of the year in boxing four times. Inducted into The El Paso Boxing/Karate Hall of Fame in 1997.

I was the first trainer of undefeated heavyweight, David Rodriguez. I spent over 10 years with him and a few months in the early 2000’s.

Assistant Coach under Rocky Galarza for the training of Cliff’ Magic’ Thomas (1980’s to 2000).Main Boxing Coach for Cliff Thomas in 2000 for his 7th World Title. Cliff won seven Kickboxing World Championships in five different weight divisions.

2001-2 I wrote the book “Magic! Magic! Magic!” which is about Cliff’s life and fighting history.

Boxing coach for aerobic boxing workouts, Powerhouse Gym of El Paso, 2000-2002.

Boxing coach for El Paso Jiu Jitsu 2005 to 2009.

2010 Author of boxing anthology booklets to raise money for equipment and trips.

1960’s to 2011, Author of many Golden Gloves Programs.

1993 -2013 Main writer for El Paso Boxing/Martial Arts Hall of Fame annual booklets.

Guest on both local radio and television shows and other boxing venues.

Guest speaker and master of ceremonies for schools and public events, including prostate cancer.

2002-2013 Science Guy for

2009-2013 Writer for Convictedartist.Com Boxing/Martial Arts/Art/Sports Cars

2010 Jake Martinez & I received the 1st ever El Paso Golden Gloves ‘Lifetime Achievement Awards.’

2012 I brought back the El Paso Boxing/Martial Arts Hall of Fames Awards Banquet after a few years of absence and served as its President. 7-TimeWorld Kickboxing Champion, Cliff ’Magic’ Thomas was our guest speaker. I wrote a 90 page booklet for the event.

2013 Served as Executive Director of the 20th Anniversary of The El Paso Boxing/Martial Arts Hall of Fames. Our Guest Speakers were Hollywood’s Ernie Reyes Jr. and 1972 Olympic Medalist, Jesse Valdez. Other special guests were World Champions Ishmael Robles, George Chung, Troy Dorsey and Jennifer Han. Jerry Martinez, Chief of New Mexico Boxing, presented me with a sculpture he created. As always, we gave a significant amount of proceeds to The Candlelighters, a support organization for children with cancer.

2013. I am a 17 year aggressive cancer survivor. Thanks to Compassionate Oncology of Los Angeles.

That's All Right Mama,
Just Don't Be Cruel
Cause Your My Happiness

Have a Happy

Tom McKay

Anonymous said...

Elvis made this old near 80 near old go from an introvert to a blazing and loving extrovert. All Hail the King

Thomas W. McKay
Retired Science Teacher
El Paso, Texas

rich said...


Thanks for visiting my blog. The first Elvis movie I remember attending was with a group of my fellow high school seniors. The movie was "Love Me Tender" and the year was 1961.

rich said...


Thanks for visiting my blog I had almost forgotten " In The Ghetto". Elvis gospel may have been his best, at least in my opinion.

rich said...


Thanks for visiting my blog and I hope you'll visit again. You have quite an interesting career. Didn't Tex Cobb once fight Ali? Or maybe one of the other big name heavyweights?

Lulu said...

Elvis Presley was born on MY SON'S BIRTHDAY: Jan 8, 1982. My son could always do a mean Elvis impression. We used to joke that he was a reincarnation of Elvis himself.

My favorite movie was Stay Away Joe. I loved that movie because it was close to my story. "Let's build that outhouse before my future in-laws come to visit." Elvis forever!

Anonymous said...

Rich, He fought Larry Holmes over 15 rounds for the WBC Heavyweight Crown. It was such a bloody mess (for Randy) that it caused Howard Cosell to retire. Okay with me on that for sure. Howard was a 1st class ass. Randy made some 34 movies and is now retired in Utah.
Have a Happy
Tom McKay
El Paso, Texas

Anonymous said...

Rich, you are welcome. Randy fought Larry Holmes over 15 rounds for the Heavyweight Crown. Randy was slow and though strong and tough took a 15 round pounding. Holmes was at his peak and thrashed Randy badly. Howard Cosell quit his ring announcing then and there. That was fine with me because he was a 1st class ass. Have a happy
Tom McKay
El Paso, Texas