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|THE 1935 BIRTH BY FIRST COUSIN
January 07, 2016 Examiner / Elvis Express Radio
Eighty-one years ago this week Vernon and Gladys Presley of Tupelo, Mississippi were preparing for the birth of twins. The previous summer, on June 10, 1934, Gladys and
Vernon were at church when she felt “enough kicks to suspect she was having twins,” her nephew, Harold Loyd revealed in 1977. “As soon as she knew she was pregnant Uncle
Vernon, Vernon, and their father Jessie started building that house next door to Jesse.”
The recorded voice of Elvis Presley is the most heard and the photographed image is the most seen in history.
January 8, 2016 marks the 81st birthday of Loyd’s first cousin Elvis Presley. Millions of fans across the globe will celebrate in some fashion to remember the King of Rock n’ Roll. To
many, the life of Elvis Presley is more than a nostalgic memory in the minds of his family, friends and dedicated fans. To some of the most devoted, it continues to be a fascination,
pastime, or even a way of life. For years after Presley’s death, surviving relatives would speak of him as if he were sometimes still alive.
“Elvis is good to his family and he is good to his fans,” Harold Loyd told this writer in 1992, some fifteen years after his cousin died on August 16, 1977. “He would love knowing that
fans still come to Graceland. He loves his fans.”
In May 1976, this reporter first met Loyd at the famous musical gates at the entrance of Presley’s home, Graceland, in Memphis, Tennessee. Besides being a loyal cousin to the
King of Rock and Roll, Loyd was obviously a dedicated ambassador to the fans who came daily to visit where he worked as a security guard.
Loyd was generous with information and praise for Presley as he agreed to sit down at the Graceland gate guard shack for conversation and interviews each evening for a few
days. Loyd explained that his mother, Rhetha, and Elvis’s mother, Gladys were sisters from a family of eight siblings.
During the interview, Loyd remained protective of Presley and would skirt around his answers to any questions that might place his cousin in a bad light. In 1992, he elaborated on
questions and new stories since our 1976 conversations. According to Loyd, the names picked out for Gladys’s babies, if they were boys would be named after family and friends.
“Vernon’s middle name was Elvis and one of their goof friends, a neighbor who lead the church singing each Sunday was Aaron Kennedy,” Loyd offered. “Vernon’s father was
Jessie and I guess that is why they called the little one (who was stillborn) Jesse Garon.”
Dr. William Robert Hunt was paid $15 for delivering the babies at the Presley home. Vernon depended on welfare, with the help of neighbors, church friends and family to help pay
the doctor and provide diapers, supplies and provisions that day.
“I don’t really remember Elvis being born because I was too young,” said Loyd. “But I do remember playing with him with he was just a little one. I can’t really remember a time when
he wasn’t around.”
“Not many people know this, but Aunt Gladys was a singer too,” Loyd smiled. “She was always doing odd jobs, being a maid and looking after children, so she could buy material to
sew clothes for her brothers and sisters. She was always taking care of everybody. She sewed nightgowns for her mother who had to stay in bed all the time with TB.”
“But her favorite thing was just to sing and dance,” Loyd added. “Grandpa would let Aunt Gladys and my mother go to the dance hall there in Tupelo and everybody tells me could
do every dance there was at the time: the Charleston, Lindy Hop, Jitterbug. And her voice was just amazing. She would sing all the time. That is some of my best memories,
listening to Aunt Gladys sing and sometime Elvis and I would sing with her. It’s no wonder he was the best ever singer.”
“When Elvis was in about the first or second grade--it was during World War II-- Gladys was pregnant again,” Lloyd said. “Vernon had to go away for work with the WPA and one
day Gladys had to go to the hospital. She miscarried that baby. That was two she lost because she lost Jesse Garon (Elvis’s twin brother, who died during birth on January 8,
1935). We were all real worried about her because she almost died when Elvis was born and they had to take them to the hospital then, too.”
“We always said that was why she was so protective of Elvis,” Loyd stated. “When those two were together they were so close, they would pet each other and talk a different
language that hardly any of us could understand. They were just remarkable in how much they loved and cared for each other. It was about the saddest day when Aunt Gladys
died. I rushed as fast as I could to Memphis (from Mississippi) to get to Elvis that day.”
When Loyd’s mother, Rhetha was burned to death in a coal fire explosion, Gladys brought Harold in to their home. “When my mother died, Aunt Gladys became even more
attached to me,” Loyd said. “I think it is because I represented and reminded her of the love of her sister.”
“She always told me I was her favorite,” Loyd laughed. “And Elvis told me the same and I had no reason not to believe them.”