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Road Trip To Texas 2017 Part 3 by Francesc Lopez


On July 6, our objectives were Gilmer, Gladewater and Mt Pleasant. We decided to leave Gladewater for later and tackle the other two cities.

Gilmer, TX.

Elvis appeared for the first time in Gilmer thanks to Tom Perryman. Tom, a DJ from Gladewater, had already given Elvis some gigs in Hawkins and Gladewater in November and December of 1954. The Gilmer concert took place at the Upshur Rural Electric Cooperative Corporation building on January 26, 1955. From outside, this looks like the last place musicians and entertainers would have performed, it looks like a bank. After a couple of photos of the outside, we ventured inside the building to ask if it would be possible to see the stage.

After a few minutes wait in the lobby, a kind URECC representative came out to give us a private tour of the auditorium. She explained that the company had always provided a space for social gatherings in Gilmer. The stage and floor have not been changed; only the ceiling and walls have been remodeled. The place was in extraordinary condition, and appeared completely new.

After the concert, Elvis crouched at one of the corners of the stage to sign autographs. He can be seen below, at a spot that can still be easily identified today.

A few months later, Elvis came back to Gilmer to perform at the Junior High School Gym, at an event sponsored by the Lions Club. A few days after the concert, The Gilmer Mirror that the concert was attended by approximately 1,000 people. The Lions Club announced that this project made more money than any other project.

While the Gymnasium is not abandoned, the outside looks a bit unattended. It was locked, but fortunately the side windows were open, and we took a few photos of the stage and the bleachers. The inside of the auditorium was in better condition than expected.

Mt. Pleasant, TX.

Elvis played in Mt. Pleasant on December 3, 1954. Mt Pleasant was a very interesting visit, even if we didn't find much information about the concert. We started by researching the records of the Mt Pleasant Tribune. There was no mention of this concert at all in the newspaper archives, but we expected that. The concert date does not come from a media source, but rather from an Elvis fan's personal diary! Nancy Holcomb friend attended the event and recounts ther Elvis story in Ernst Jorgensen's book: "A Boy from Tupelo."

The next goal was to find where Elvis performed. According to recollections from fans, Elvis performed at the American Legion Hall. The first hints we found led us to the Courthouse but Elvis didn't play there. However, we found a gentleman there that was very interested in helping us. He tried to contact the person in charge of the American Legion, but that person was not available. Being unsuccessful at that, he walked across the street to talk with someone he thought knew about Elvis' performance, and returned to say that his source suggested we go and talk with Mr. Hudson Old, the publisher of the East Texas Journal.

We found Mr. Old's office nearby, and had an interesting and very cordial conversation with him. He indicated to us where the American Legion was located before it was demolished. Now it is just a parking lot. Mr. Old also mentioned that years ago he had various communications with a Danish Elvis researcher. Obviously Ernst's name was brought into the conversation, as well as his fantastic book: "A Boy From Tupelo."