Banker’s dad was Elvis’ barber
Elvis Presley left the building 40 years ago Wednesday but Brookhaven fans are still singing the King’s praises.
Fans like Shannon Aker, president of Bank of Brookhaven, who grew up two blocks behind Graceland in Memphis, Tennessee, still remember Presley.
After Presley’s mother, Gladys, died in 1958, his father remarried a friend of Aker’s mother.
Aker’s dad owned a barbershop in Memphis and one of Elvis’ stepbrothers, Rick Stanley, worked for him. He’d babysit Aker occasionally.
“He would take me to Graceland on occasion,” Aker said. “We’d go into the kitchen and have a peanut butter sandwich. One time I was there and Elvis came downstairs and patted me on the head and said ‘Hello, buddy.’
George Aker cut Elvis’ famous locks several times. The younger Aker treasures a framed Memphis newspaper clipping that shows his father cutting the singer’s hair in a publicity stunt when Elvis joined the Army.
“My dad had gotten to know Elvis a little bit by cutting his hair. He came to our house one time and brought me a teddy bear,” said Aker. “We would see Elvis and his friends playing tag football on weekends. It wasn’t a big deal seeing him because we saw him all of the time.”
They also saw his family.
“Every Wednesday, my dad would take us to eat at Piccadilly for supper. Elvis’ wife, Priscilla, and his father and stepmother would come in and eat right beside us,” he said.
Aker said Elvis was a generous person and was always helping people out and giving them money. He said Elvis even bought a girl they knew a car because she looked like his daughter, Lisa Marie.
“I didn’t realize how big of a deal he was until later in life,” said Aker. “I was at high school football practice and someone came up to me and told me he died. I just couldn’t believe it. I actually have a friend that snuck into Graceland and saw his body.”
Other locals have their own memories of the King.
“I bought a special edition magazine the year he died,” Joy Wesbrooks, of Wesson. “I paid $2 for it and it has a lot of stories in it that have never been told.”
One of Wesbrooks’ favorite memories was seeing Elvis at a parade in Jackson in 1956.
“Me and some friends left Wesson at 4 a.m. to get there early enough to have a good spot. The parade was at 9 a.m., we were so excited,” she said.
Elvis was riding in a pink Cadillac that cruised close by them, she said.
Forty years after his death and Wesbrooks still gushes about him.
“He had such a vibrant voice and a charisma that you couldn’t resist,” she said. “He had a God-given talent. Nobody can compare to him. I’ve visited his birthplace in Tupelo and Graceland several times. When you tour Graceland, it’s like taking a step back in time and reliving all of those wonderful memories.”
Some posted their thoughts about Elvis on the “Memories of Ole Brook” Facebook page.
JoAnna Sproles said her Aunt Dottie in Metairie, Louisiana, has an Elvis autograph, but also an unusual keepsake — a clipping of the King’s dark locks that fell during a haircut.
“She got the hair from it hitting a floor while talking to him in Memphis,” she wrote.
Don Wallace sat in the 33rd row to hear Elvis sing in Jackson.
“Just remember his great voice and what a great entertainer,” he wrote. “Remember women trying to give him rings when he sang ‘Wear My Ring Around Your Neck.’ Don’t know if they were real or not, but many looked like real diamond rings through binoculars.”
Cathy Hall also saw him in Jackson.
“I think it was 1977,” she said. “I was sitting so far back though, but that voice was so awesome. Mike, my brother, had got us tickets. One of the best memories in my life.”
Brookhaven Alderwoman-at-Large Karen Sullivan saw him in concert in Huntsville, Ala.
“I remember exactly where I was when I heard of his death,” she wrote.
Aug. 16, 1977, is a day that many won’t ever forget.
“I remember exactly where I was when I heard over the radio that he had died,” said Tammie Brewer.
Lynn Campbell saw him once in concert at the Mississippi Coliseum. As a court reporter, she was traveling with an administrative judge when she learned of Elvis’ death.
“We were traveling along Hwy. 90 right after lunch when it was announced on the radio that Elvis had passed at Graceland. We both were so shocked and in disbelief, really. It was a moment frozen in time for me,” she said.