By Gaylene Moos Pope
Above, Elvis Presley with four “Bobs” – DJs from KNEW 790AM in 1957.
Yes, I was at the Elvis Presley concert on August 30, 1957. In fact, my father was in charge of the transportation for the Presley troupe during his visit to Spokane.
Howard W. Moos was the Cadillac manager for Utter Motor Company, and head of the Lilac Festival Greeting Committee. My sister and I were both students at Wilson Grade School and Lewis and Clark High School respectively – just learning to dance, and of course, “Heartbreak Hotel” and “Don’t Be Cruel” were on the radio and television constantly.
I had just turned fifteen two weeks before, and my sister, Parmalee, was three years younger. The night before the concert, my father had walked into the kitchen to talk to my mother, and my sister and I were most likely setting the table preparing for dinner. Dad knew we were in earshot of their conversation so he made the comment, “I doubt that the girls would be interested in going along with me to pick up Elvis at the train.”
The two of us looked at each other in disbelief and yelled out, “What did you just say?!”
Mom and Dad both looked at us, smiling, and Dad then went into the details of what his responsibilities would be while Elvis was in town. Parmalee and I immediately went into our bedrooms to pick out what we would wear (presentation, you know), and made sure we had our autograph books with us. We had a hurried dinner, and the adventure began.
Int’l Award-winning Elvis Tribute Artist, Ben Klein, visits Spokane on March 14 to perform at Nostalgia’s “Wednesday Lunch Live!” at the Spokane Valley Event Center. Find more details, and get tickets, here.
There were several Cadillacs involved – enough for Elvis’s entire group. Dad, my sister, and I were in the lead car as we approached the beautiful big (now sadly non-existent) train terminal. Fans were already on-site waiting for the train to appear – screaming, hollering, yelling. All the excitement you equate with an event like this. My sister and I stayed close to our father and the Cadillacs knowing our location was the eventual destination for Elvis – we were on a sidestreet. When he finally appeared, we were just as much in awe as everyone else.
Both Parmalee and I had our autograph books and pens in hand. Our mouths must have been wide open – in shock – as we saw him approaching us. I thought, “Oh my gosh, he’s really coming right over to us!”
My heart was pounding. I just kept looking at him. His hair was dark black, shiny clean – not greasy. His complexion was beautiful. And what a nice young man – a real gentleman! We both froze, like statues. I finally mustered up the ability to ask for his autograph at which time he smiled at me, leaned over and kissed me on the cheek, took hold of my hand and nicely said, “I already signed your book, dahlin’.”
Embarrassed, I looked down at my book, and sure enough, there was his autograph. He had actually taken the book out of my hand, signed it, and slipped it back into my hand without my realizing it.
I was still so in shock – why couldn’t I have looked cool and in control? Then I looked over at my sister. Her book was signed, too.
Now the loading of cars began. Parmalee and I quickly followed Dad over to the car we had ridden down to the train station in, only to be kindly, but firmly, held back. We were told we would be riding in the second car while only Dad, Elvis, and his manager, Colonel Tom Parker, would travel in the front car. I still remember Dad looking at both Parmalee and me, smiling, knowing we really wanted to be in the back seat of his car, and then watching Dad open up his car door on the driver’s side. As he entered to sit down, Elvis was scooting across into the middle of the front seat, reaching out to shake hands with my father, saying, “Hello, I’m Elvis Presley.”
My Dad responded, “Hello Elvis, I’m Howard Moos.” The vision of those Cadillacs, all the people – it was amazing – and then we departed off to the hotel.
I keep reminding myself that we were young, definitely thrilled and excited to be part of this rare opportunity, but I must admit I cannot remember which hotel we took Elvis to.
The evening of the concert we did not go with Dad. He was off earlier to pick up Elvis and troupe and get them situated at Memorial Stadium (now Joe Albi). Parmalee and I were driven there with a friend and daughter who also had tickets to the concert.
The Concert was amazing! Our father looked so handsome as he drove Elvis down the ramp in the Cadillac to deliver him to the stage. It was a beautiful summer evening, with thousands in attendance – as you would imagine – and the wonderful music! Certainly, it was an evening to remember.
When it was time to bid farewell, we took Elvis back to the train station, and again we rode in car #2. Once again, my sister and I were in a fairly protected area, but in full view of the many Spokane fans. I can still see the train as it started to move, and Elvis was standing on the steps of his train car holding onto the side rails, smiling and waving, and all of a sudden a female fan ran up to him, leaped and grabbed on to his neck. The train was moving, and she wouldn’t let go. The police were trying to grab her as the train began moving faster, and the girl’s boyfriend was running alongside, grabbing her, and Elvis looked a bit concerned. Finally, she let go.
The concert, the entire adventure, has always remained a wonderful, special memory for both my sister and me. We have his autograph, but in all the excitement, we had forgotten our camera. So no photograph. But you know, fifty years later, it seems as though it happened yesterday.
Above, audio from the ol’ Nostalgia Radio Hour, featuring Bubble Head Bob Hough (pictured at left in the photo at the top of this page), a long-time radio DJ in Spokane, and one of the four Bobs at KNEW in the 1950s. Bob also met Elvis back in 1957 in Spokane! Listen in, as he reminisces about the concert at Memorial Stadium.