Originally created 08/16/97

Hearld takes a youngster to see Presley

This article originally ran Thursday, June 28, 1956

Louise Cowart came close to being the happiest girl in Augusta Wednesday night.

The dark-haired 12-year-old who suddenly became a modern Cinderella was one of the limited few who made personal contact with Elvis Presley, the uninhibited hill-billy, during his latest whirlwind visit here.

Accompanied by her best friend, Melvis Broadwater, 15, Louise battled her way through the perspiring throng that jammed Bell Auditorium during the Presley show and was eventually ushered into the presence of the Great Man himself.

She was momentarily stunned when she came upon the idol of the teen-agers standing nonchalantly outside his dressing room, attired in what might be described as extremely casual sports clothes.

Poses with Louise

Louise's Cinderella status was hastily sketched for Presley. He immediately went to her, jamming his nose against hers for the benefit of photographers, then posed with his arm around her -- a gesture he obviously well knew was just a little short conferring on the little lady the Congressional Medal of Honor.

There was a momentary scramble for "something to write on," then the additional honor of an autograph which he signed with a flourish. Louise, her face flushed with delight, yielded the limelight to Melvis who confronted Presley with the information that they "almost had the same first names" and actually shared the same birthday. He reacted properly, signed his name again and obligingly posed for more pictures.

To Louise Cowart the incident climaxed a two-day crisis in her life. She has told the Herald she "never got to see anybody famous" and the paper resolved to correct that. Merchants who learned of the situation offered to "do the thing up browncq."

Louise was given a complete new outfit by Sears Roebuck and Co., her hair nails got a going over from Evelyn Francis, she was presented with an new watch by Busch's Jewelers and rode to the auditorium in Herbert Elliott's air-conditioned Cadillac, sporting a handsome corsage of red roses from the Idle Hour Florists.

At the auditorium police had cleared a special parking place for the car and a three-seat section in the front row had been removed pending her arrival. It was then replaced and Louise, Melvis and Elliott's driver, Jimmy England, took their seats.

Both Louise and Melvis participated in the mass hysteria touched off by Presley's stage appearance. The screams and squeals of the audience drowned out the powerful public address system again and again as the 21-year-old ex-truck driver went through the routine of rock and roll songs which have marked him as America's newest and most inexplicable phenomenon.

Crowd topped 6,000

Bell Auditorium and its Music Hall were never in greater need of air conditioning as a crowd in excess of 6,000 paced every foot of listening and watching space. There was some dissension as an extra premium was put on downstairs seats, but as the show got under way, the ticket-taking system broke down completely and a score or more ecstatic teen-agers got through the doors without the formality of paying their way.

Presley's showmanship is evident even off-stage. He derogates his talent, freely admitting he is totally untrained, but his personal magnetism is undeniable and the support given him by an excellent three-piece combination during his quixotic routine is slick and professional.

After it was all over and Louise and Melvis were purring home in the Elliott Cadillac, there was a summing up of reaction.

Melvis probably expressed it most succinctly: "The show was great. But Elvis, personally -- well, I don't know. Couldn't he be a little neater."


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