How 'bout A Date?: Encounters with the young Elvis
Linda Ann McConnell
“How ‘Bout a Date?” is a true story of Caroline Cahoon-Hauser encounters with the twenty-year-old Elvis Presley, whom she met at a local concert at the Sheffield, Community Centre in Alabama only months before his rise to national fame. The future King was still the Hillbilly Cat; part of Sam Phillips’ stable of young artists on Sun Records. Elvis Presley and Johnny Cash were both part of a package tour headlined by country star Webb Pierce. As Elvis was catapulted into one of the best years of his life we meet the young southern boy who serenades a beautiful young girl in the audience and shyly writes to her “How ‘bout a date?
Background to the interview
One day I was talking to my friend Care (Caroline which Elvis pronounced Care-line) about her new book “How ‘Bout a Date?” I knew that she had written her memoir to preserve those special moments in time, but as we reminisced, and as I asked questions Care closed her eyes, going back 58 years in time to 1955... As she collected her memories, words came forth and in the process we captured something special – thoughts that were not included in the manuscript. The answers paint an authentic portrait of the young Elvis Presley on the brink of stardom. A story that shines a light on an innocent, sexy, romantic Elvis of the 1950s – just looking at the stars...
L.A.: From a backdrop of a small southern town in America, the scene is set as seventeen-year-old high school student Caroline’s story begins on the night of August 2, 1955...
Caroline: Elvis "strode" on stage.... he grabbed the microphone by its slender neck, smiled, with his lip slightly curled and began to sing.... the audience exploded! I was sitting in the second row in the auditorium. The spotlight came down, he looked at me and began to sing to me. I was very flattered and embarrassed It was an outrageous onstage flirtation.
L.A.: What happened after the show?
Caroline: He was standing signing autographs. I didn’t walk over; I was too shy. He saw me and asked, “Hey you back there, don’t you want my autograph?” I said well yes, but only if he wrote something special. He grinned that special grin, asked my name and wrote words on the scrap of paper from an autograph book. It read: ‘How Bout’ a Date? huh? Answer Yes or No? Elvis Presley.’
L.A. I love that he was so modest, didn’t just assume, tell me ‘bout the Date.’
Caroline: We headed out in Elvis’ pink Cadillac Fleetwood Series Sixty only to find ourselves leading a spontaneous parade of vehicles following us through the small town streets. He was singing and looking in the mirror... while joking and drumming on the steering wheel of the car. After stopping at a roadside diner for soda pop and burnt bacon sandwiches, Elvis drove me home, he parked under the streetlight, we didn’t get out the car straight away...
L.A.: I imagine he was sweet, a gentleman?
Caroline: Oh, yes very sweet. He was definitely a gentleman. He was always smiling and joking around, loved to make a good time, keep it happy, until we got serious, and then he got serious... I liked that, know when to quit. He looked pensive...
L.A.: Pensive led too...
Caroline: Kisses... then he stared into my eyes...
L.A.: When you looked into his eyes were they bluey/green?
Caroline: His eyes were icy blue, light... Elvis Presley kissed the best, he kissed in a passionate, sweet way. He was hypnotic, touching, feeling... He was persistent but not demanding. I could barely control myself, he was respectful, compliant to my wishes as I was a good Baptist girl.
L.A.:What happened when you finally came to your senses?
Caroline: I forced myself out of the car, we sat down on my porch steps holding hands on this hot August night, looking up at the stars. We both looked up at the same moment and commented about how close and beautiful the stars looked in the clear Alabama sky. Elvis said, “Star light, star bright, first star I see tonight, to have the wish, I wish tonight, you gotta make a wish...” (It’s a Southern "thing" we always said when we saw the first star of the evening.) We made wishes... and sealed them with a kiss, I made my wish, he said he did, but wouldn't tell, as the custom goes you can’t tell your wish or else it won’t come true. It was a sweet moment.
As we looked up at the stars, I sang a few bars from one of my favourite songs, “Stars Fell On Alabama”. He looked at me and smiled and said, “Keep singin’,” but of course I was shy and didn’t sing the whole song. He said he liked me a whole bunch and would think of ways to get back to this one-horse town! He gave me his address and phone number, and made me promise to call his Mama.
L.A.: How did Elvis make you feel?
Caroline: Happy, excited, pretty, involved, special. He made me feel beautiful and appealing both physically and emotionally. He had perfect timing with his comedic type humour. He was very funny; he was quick with a come-back. He surprised you! I just had a couple of dates and long conversations. We were getting to know each other and were obviously attracted to each other, but we weren’t "in love", infatuated would be a better word. I think we found each other interesting and attractive.
L.A.: Elvis arranged another date the day before the show at Sheffield community centre on 15 November 1955.
Caroline: The phone rang, and then I heard a beautiful voice say, “Hey, there, beautiful, what have you been doing? Are you behavin’ yourself? have you missed me? Did you think you had seen the last of me? I met Elvis before the show and he gave me the ticket. During a break between sets, we sat together in the passageway, with only the stage lights illuminating; I could see he had broken guitar strings. He replaced the strings, then took the two old strings, wound round together and handed them to me. “Here you are, sweet Caroline, keep these strings to my heart.” After the show we were sitting in his mother’s pink Cadillac (that he said he borrowed from her) waiting for Hank Thompson. We began an ongoing discussion about life, love, fame, and destiny...
L.A.: Can you remember Elvis’ words about life and love?
Caroline: We talked about choices: how seemingly insignificant ones can make huge differences in the course of our lives. We talked about dating and falling in love. He said he was attracted to girls who were not "forward" that he liked sweet and reserved types. He liked to make the first move (a very southern boy tendency). He definitely had a religious based morality. He felt that doubts and fears come from not believing in yourself.
L.A.: Can you remember Elvis’ words about fame, and destiny?
Caroline: He seemed to like to delve into possibilities, coincidences and fate, whys and wherefores. He thought he was a fluke of nature, that he happened to be born at the right time and had used his God given talent in the right moment at the right time. He thought the world of pop music just happened to be ready for someone like him. He placed great emphasis on timing. From all that we talked about during those times alone, he believed in what his mother had taught him; he was special, and he had confidence in her beliefs. I think his mother was one of the reasons behind his rapid rise to fame.
L.A.: I can hear “That All Right...”in the ether...
Caroline: When he drove me home he turned on the radio, searching the dial for a moment, he found himself singing, “That All Right” and he began to harmonize with his own voice. That night we talked on the steps of my porch for a while until my father subtly made it known that it was time for me to go inside. We walked to Elvis’ car holding hands, he stopped hugged me and gave me his last kiss. As he got into his pretty pink car he said, “See ya soon honey, wish me luck out there in the jungle.” As he drove away I knew he was going somewhere to places I could never follow.
L.A.: Unknown to Caroline at the time, Elvis had just come to a historic crossroads in his life.
Caroline: A series of events were taking place behind-the-scenes that would impact his career, his life and the fate of both of us. Elvis was becoming the ‘King of Rock and Roll’ a film star, a soldier, world fame beckoned... And I could never be a part of but, even today, 58 years later I have to pinch myself sometimes when I think about knowing him and actually being with him alone just the two of us, I feel very lucky to have such sweet memories.
L.A.: Through the years from what you read and saw did you recognise the same tender, romantic man in the 1970s?
Caroline: Yes, I did... he was the same, but better... I think his voice was more powerful, layered, mellow, more beautiful than ever. I saw him mature and thoughtful and still vulnerable and yes, tender. I don't know about romantically because I no longer had any contact to see how he behaved but I am quite sure he stayed the same.
L.A.: Did you feel special your whole life because Elvis Presley noticed you in the crowd?
Caroline: Yes, I do feel special even now that he picked me, but did it change my life, not really. It gave me confidence and made me realise that I might be special and out of the ordinary back then. Now, I am just the accumulation of my experiences in life that has contributed to who I am.
L.A.: What did you learn from Elvis Presley?
Caroline: Elvis taught me that to be humble and respect others. He told me "believe in yourself." I think he had great appeal to both male and female. Maybe it was because he was down to earth, kind, and most of all humble with a great wit. He could laugh at himself. In spite of his good looks and exceptional voice he never acted proud or conceited. He had a self depreciating manner. He was relatable, making you love him with his kind and considerate nature.
L.A.: What do you think Elvis Presley teaches children/us today?
Caroline: He could teach children to believe in themselves, that anything is possible if there is passion for what they love to do. Don’t give up. To look after your talent, good health, be honest, compassionate, loving and caring and always have respect for others.
L.A.: In later years I wondered – did Elvis still make wishes and still spend time just looking at the stars?
Comment on this interview
How 'Bout A Date?: Encounters with the Young Elvis
Publisher: CreateSpace (December 9, 2011)
Paperback: 118 pages
Kindle: CreateSpace (January 27, 2012) $ 3.13
Purchase How 'Bout A Date? from Amazon.com:
Author’s web site:
© Linda Ann McConnell for L.A.M. Productions.
Copyright the Elvis Information Network.
Elvis Presley, Elvis and Graceland are trademarks of Elvis Presley Enterprises.
The Elvis Information Network has been running since 1986 and is an EPE officially recognised Elvis fan club.