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July 20, 2016  -  By C. Richard Cotton for the Lee County Courier  /  Elvis Express Radio
It was 60 years ago that Barbara Martin Mallory, two of her cousins and two friends formed The Elvis Presley Sweethearts of Northeast Mississippi fan club. At its heyday during the
next couple years of its existence, it counted 25-30 members.

“We grew up, married and scattered,” Mallory said of the club’s end. But her love of Elvis remained.

In fact, she has the original scrapbook she made back in the mid-1950s when she was a teenager; it even contains a letter supposedly written to her by Elvis himself, though
Mallory has doubts that it actually was. She is holding the scrapbook in a 60-year-old picture of the quintet of Elvis Sweethearts. Behind them, the walls of the room were plastered
with pictures of the singer.

Today, that first scrapbook has been joined by several others that contain news stories, pictures and other memorabilia of Elvis. Some of the pictures are of Mallory and her late
husband at Elvis-related events.

“I took him to a 1974 concert a week before we married,” she said. “I had decided it would be better to let him know I am an Elvis fan.”

Mallory saw Elvis live in concert at the Tupelo Fairgrounds in 1955 when he was billed second to headliner Webb Pierce – she still has her ticket stub, dutifully stashed in the
scrapbook. She saw him in his famous “homecoming” performance at the fairgrounds in 1956 and again there in 1957. She was in Tuscaloosa for his 1971 concert, in Memphis in
1974 and for the last time “in his casket in 1977.”

She was “sitting on a teller stool” at the Harrisburg branch of what was then called the Bank of Mississippi when she got the news of Elvis’ death: “I got off the next day and went to
Memphis,” she said.

Mallory, her husband and her cousin were some of the lucky ones who got through the gates of Graceland to view Elvis’ body.

“It doesn’t seem real or like it’s been 40 years,” Mallory said.

Fast forward 30 years to 2006, the 50th anniversary of Elvis’ homecoming concert. Mallory was asked to become involved in the reactivation of the Tupelo Elvis Presley Fan Club.
In January of that year, 412 people signed up – at $5 each – for the club. The following June, a concert reenactment of that momentous 50-year-old event was held.

Today, the Elvis Fan Club is enjoying great success; Mallory said as many as 60-70 attend the monthly meetings held at Shelton Hall of St. James Catholic Church at 1911 North
Gloster St. They meet on the second Tuesday of each month at 6 p.m. Doors open at 5:30 p.m.

“We always have food and some type of entertainment,” said Mallory, who serves as president emeritus and membership chairman of the group. She also manages the sales of
the personalized bricks installed at Fairpark.

When Mallory was asked to get involved with the fan club a decade ago, she said the only way she would was if it was a service organization rather than a social club. In that vein,
the fan club has been tremendously successful.

“We donated nearly $50,000 last year, mainly from the sale of Elvis Presley car tags,” said Mallory, who has the very first of the tags – with the number 1 – on her vehicle.

Among the recipients each year are three students who receive college scholarships totaling $10,000, the Tupelo Aquatic Center ($l3,000), Regional Rehabilitation Center
($10,000), the Elvis Presley Birthplace ($5,000) and some other chosen events.

Come August 6, the club is holding one of its larger fundraisers. Dance the Night Away with Ace Cannon happens at 6:30 p.m. at Shelton Hall. Also on the bill with the legendary
saxophonist is Legends of the Blues, which Mallory said is a high-energy band that plays music of the ‘50s, ‘60s and ‘70s. There will be a snack bar catered by Mugshots Grill &
Bar. Tickets are $25 for the event.