by Homer Peters
Marian Weisbarth is 14 and brunette and dreamy-eyed and 140 pounds and she likes records and frosted and she lives in a nice home with mom and pop in suburban East Meadow, Long Island.
These statistics are provided at the outset because Marian is being considered here as Case No. 31,796,542 under the general heading: “Why Do Teen-Agers Do What They Do?” Specifically, Marian comes under the category: “Why Do Teen-Age Girls Go Nuts Over Elvis Presley?”
Elvis, as you may or may not have noticed, is a rock’n’roll singer from Memphis, Tenn., notable for torso gyrations that have won him the nickname of The Pelvis, for short. His effect on the sensitive adolescent pulse—as measured by record sales, TV rating and other indices — has been stimulating in the extreme.
The nice home of the David Weisbarths needed no proof of the Pelvis craze. Marian, said her mother, “played those records day and night. It was like a frenzy with her.” Somehow mom and pop failed to appreciate The Pelvis the way their plump little daughter did. To them, the day-in, day-out voice became worse than the Japanese water-drip. They pleaded in vain with her to turn it off, at least once in a while. When they started gnawing their knuckles, they took Marian’s record player and records away from her and locked them up. But this did not bring peace. Marian rebelled and, the mother said, “We quarreled all the time.”
Then Marian vanished overnight and became the object of a 13-state missing persons alarm. The frantic Weisbarths got a telegram from her saying she was “all right and looking for a job.” And where was it dispatched from? Why The Pelvis’ little ol’ home town of Memphis in little ol’ Tennessee, of course.
Her father called a New York newspaperman who called the Memphis Commercial Appeal. The paper sent a reporter and fotog looking for Marian. They found her name on the register of the first hotel they tried, the Tennessee.
They went upstairs and discovered Marian, in pajamas and a housecoat, sitting in the bed reading her Elvis Presley scrapbook. She was looking pretty lonely. No records and no Elvis, only the scrapbook. In hopes of being near him she had come down on bus on $52 she had saved from baby-sitting earnings. But The Pelvis had left Memphis for Miami on a personal appearance tour. She had written to ask him for his autograph and hadn’t even gotten that.
While pop caught a plan for Memphis to bring her home, Marian talked to reporters who asked her how come Elvis sent her clear to Memphis. She was variously quoted as follows:
Ardently: “I love him. I’ve been sent on him since is first record. Maybe I could get a job with him. I might become his secretary or something. But this is just a dream.”
Dreamily: “I just came down with a far-fetched dream that I could see him. He’s cute.”
Spiritedly: “I didn’t run away just to see Elvis or get a job with him. I wanted to prove something to them (her parents) sort of that I’m a person, too, and have a right to my own tastes.”
Poignantly: “I used to play my records all the time. I’d listen to them at night to put me asleep and I’d listen to them in the morning to wake me up.”
Mercilessly: “My mother and father were always telling me to turn them off or turn them down. When we’d go out in the car and I asked my father to turn on the radio, he’d say, ‘Okay, as long as it’s music and not Elvis Presley. So we’d turn on the radio and Elvis would be on. Then he’d turn to another station and Elvis would be on that one. So I’d say, ‘See, he’s all over.’ My father would get madder and turn the radio off.”
Critically: “Ever since his first record, ‘Trying to Get You,’ I’ve been sent on him. But the thing that did it, I think, was ‘Heartbreak Hotel.’ Since then I’ve collected all the clippings I could get about him. Oh, he’s so soft-spoken and nice-mannered. I think he’s just sensational. But I think he be even more popular if he cut his sideburns just a little more.”
Marian’s father told her on the phone that they’d do a little sight-seeing on the way home after he picked her up, and she took this as a sign of repentance. “They can’t be too mad at me. It looks as though we’re going to get along better.”
They did a little sightseeing — a very little. Marian came straight to LaGuardia Field with her father and an attorney, Rudolph J. Glantz, who said he was a personal friend of the family. A large number of press had gathered to meet Democratic Presidential favorite Adlai Stevenson and Marian, running into them, did not appear surprised to see such a turnout.
“The child realized the error of her ways,” stated Glantz. “We don’t want to play up this thing and give her a swelled head so that she might be tempted to do it again.”
Marian, who was wearing a pink blouse, pink flowered-patterned skirt and pink shoes, was asked if she intended to write to Elvis. Glantz answered: “No, she doesn’t.”
But Marian said, “Yes, I do.”
It sounded like the same old record.
Of course, Marian Weisbarth was far from the only teenage girl who made the journey to Memphis alone in 1956 with hopes of seeing Elvis Presley. The following passage appeared in the Memphis Press –Scimitar in late November that year.
“Hardly a week passes without at least one 15-year-old girl running away from home and coming to Memphis in an effort to see Elvis Presley.
“One by one they have been picked up by police, sent to Juvenile Court and held until their parents come for them.”
“They do not get to see Elvis.
“Elvis does not want you to run away from home, young ladies, in an effort to see him. Elvis’ mother has taken the position that no run-away can see her famous son. She has so stated in letters to would-be run-aways. They must come to Memphis with their parents’ consent, she says. Even then they cannot be assured of seeing Elvis. He has many engagements to fill and has his own life to live."
“I love him. I’ve been sent on him since is first record. Maybe I could get a job with him. I might become his secretary or something. I just came down with a far-fetched dream that I could see him. He’s cute.”