THE DAY THEY MET ELVIS
Readers fill in details about newly discovered photos of Elvis in Detroit
By Susan Whitall / Detroit News Music Writer
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Elvis Presley meets with five winners of an essay contest on May 25, 1956. Identified so far: Judy
Fesenmyer (now Judy Hayes), then 16, of Denby High is second from left. Directly to the right of Elvis is
Diana DiGregorio, also 16, a student at St. David’s.
Elvis Presley kissed Judy Hayes at the Fox Theatre in 1956, and for years, it's been both a point of pride and the cause of much teasing from her six children.
"I should have gone for it; I could have been Priscilla," she kids of Elvis' future wife.

Hayes, of Yale, Mich., now 71, was Judy Fesenmyer then, 16 and a sophomore at Detroit's Denby High School when she won an essay contest sponsored by
the Detroit Times, which shut down in 1960. The prize: meeting Elvis backstage at the Fox, during his first appearance in Detroit.

She remembers being amazed that her essay was chosen. "I think they probably just picked five winners out of a hat," she says.

On Tuesday, The News ran several never-seen photos of Elvis in Detroit, including one of the five teen contest winners seated around a table with Elvis. We
asked readers for help in identifying anybody in the photos.

The pictures of Elvis relaxing and performing in Detroit were unearthed by author Michael Rose, who is writing a book, "Spring of '56," about Elvis' breakout
year, when he signed to RCA and exploded in the culture. Reviews of his May 25, 1956, show confirm that the Detroit press dismissed Elvis as a freak show,
a hip-swiveling ex-truck driver. The word "hillbilly" was used to describe him in most reports, with no shame.

Two of Judy Hayes' six children, Scott and Pat, recognized their mom in the photo of the teen winners.

Hayes' memories of that meeting with the King are understandably vivid. She recalls being escorted backstage before the 4 p.m. show — Elvis also
performed at 7 p.m. and 9:45 p.m., all seats $1.50 — to a room in the backstage basement. There the teenager was kissed twice by her idol, once on the
forehead and once on the cheek.

Because Hayes' son Scott plays guitar and has a full head of hair, he's always teased that Elvis was his father, that he was born nine months after the photo
of his mother and Elvis (Scott was actually born in 1964).

At the backstage Pepsi party, Hayes thought Elvis was "uppity," but quickly realized he was bashful. "They had a piano in the basement of the Fox, and he
played the piano a little bit," she says. "He talked to us … we were so excited. In one photo, he's got his arm around me." That photo was taken to school,
oohed and ahhed over. Much-fingered and tattered, it's in her home safe.

At one point Elvis was waving his arm around with a Pepsi in his hand, spraying some pop accidentally on his hair. Hayes also remembers that as handsome
as he was, she wasn't so sure about Elvis' color choices.

"We were brought up to be color-coordinated back then," Hayes says. "He either had on black pants and brown shoes or brown pants and black shoes, plus
a red shirt and a green jacket. I thought, 'OK … this is what everybody is going crazy about?'" Aida Carlesimo called in to identify her cousin Diana
DiGregorio, who is sitting directly to Elvis' right in the photo of the contest winners. DiGregario has passed on, but Carlesimo, who was three years older (at
19) and had taken Diana to the Fox that day, remembers well how her cousin got to meet Elvis. "She was excited," Carlesimo recalled. "I remember she had
pictures of him all over her ceiling and in the bathroom."

Reader Marshall Saltzman e-mailed in to say he thought that the boy sitting immediately to Elvis' right might be his friend Bob Schneider, but he can't be
entirely sure without seeing the photo blown up. Schneider, Saltzman says, was a student at Mumford High and won tickets to see Elvis. He died in a car
crash a few years later, Saltzman says.

Several News readers phoned or e-mailed in attempting to identify the downtown arcade where Elvis was shown shooting a toy gun. Several thought it might
be the Penny Arcade, but reader Douglas Denhardt believes it was an arcade located in the lower level of the Fox.

Denhardt admits he played hooky from school one day to go to the Fox to see "The True Story of Jesse James" starring Robert Wagner in 1957. "My brother-
in-law took me to see the movie, and I remember all these arcades and games down by the men's room," Denhardt says.

This is a follow-up to the first article, "Unseen Elvis" which you can also read here on E.E.R -
Unseen Elvis