A Letter Written October 2, 1979
On the Tupelo Hardware Company letterheadGOOD MORNING -
My name is Forrest L. Bobo from Tupelo, Mississippi. I an 78 years young today, but I can well remember the afternoon when Elvis Presley and his mother came into Tupelo Hardware, where I worked for twenty years. He wanted a 22 cal. rifle and his mother wanted him to buy a guitar. I showed him the rifle first and then I got the guitar for him to look at. I put a wood box behind the showcase and let him play with the guitar for some time. Then he said that he did not have that much money, which was only $7.75 plus 2% sales tax. His mother told him that if he would buy the guitar instead of the rifle, she would pay the difference for him. The papers have said that the guitar cost $12.50 but at that time you could have bought a real nice one that amount. The small amount of money that he had to spend had been earned by running errands and doing small jobs for people.
I am proud to have a little part in Elvis' life. I had supper with Elvis the night he left for his first audition. We all wished him a great success, and he sure made a great life for himself and the rest of the world.
Thank you for your time.
Forrest L. Bobo
by Troy Moon
No one could have imagined that a $7.75 guitar would stir up a racket that would last for decades. But since 11-year-old Elvis Presley received that first guitar for Christmas in 1946 and the world would never be the same again.
Now that precious rock 'n' roll artifact is owned by a Pensacola man shared it today with the History Channel's "Lost & Found" program, which is in town to film the banged-up guitar and it's story
Pensacola author Bill Williams, 63, owns the guitar and removed it from the safety deposit box to be filmed. The shoot took place in the Downtown Historic District. "This is Elvis' first guitar," said Jonathan Felt, producer of "Lost & Found," a program that has featured other precious finds, such as George Washington's false teeth the real "African Queen" and Elvis' famed purple Cadillac. "So when you think that the first rock 'n' roll movement began with this, well, it's an enormous find."
The Pensacola artifact is a tan guitar, now missing a pick guard and a couple strings. "It's been banged up a little," Williams said. "But Elvis was not a guitar player, he was a banger."
And, supposedly, he wasn't very interested in the guitar when he received it more than 50 years ago. According to legend, the future King of Rock 'n' Roll wanted either a bicycle or rifle for Christmas and threw a fuss at the Tupelo Hardware Co. when his mother Gladys purchased the guitar instead.
Elvis later gave the guitar to a high school pal, Red West, who gave the guitar to Williams' brother, Ronnie, in 1956, a year before Presley would become a superstar. Bill Williams has documentation from West stating that the guitar is the one Elvis gave to him.
"This is interesting because everyone thought it had disappeared for years," Felts said. "No one would expect it to be uncovered in Pensacola."
Williams tried to sell the guitar in recent years, but a couple of years ago Graceland, Elvis' estate,
turned down an offer to buy the guitar for at least $1 million. Now, all sales plans are
on hold, though Williams does say he has plans for the guitar. But he's not saying
what. "That's a secret," he said. But after this history program, we're getting ready to do
Vernon had one brother and three sisters. Gladys came from a family of nine children. She had five sisters and three brothers. Vernon was a handsome, blond 17-year-old farm worker and Gladys was a 20-year-old, dark-eyed, dark-haired beauty who worked as a seamstress for the Tupelo Garment Company.
In late 1933, the handsome couple decided to marry on Verona. Mississippi, just a few miles south of their parents' homes in East Tupelo. They had financial difficulty and had to live with their in-laws, first with the Smiths, then with the Presleys.
Their work days started at 6 am and lasted 12 hours. Their combined earnings for e the week were $26.
In early 1934, Gladys became pregnant and the Presleys decided it was time for them to own a home.