Sure, the Midwest boasts more than 30% of America's cropland, lakes and rivers galore, lots of cheese, and another Men's Final Four basketball title, but until now, it has been void of one very important thing--"Elvis at 21, Photographs by Alfred Wertheimer."
Elvis, in all his black-and-white, twenty-one-year-old glory, will make his first appearance in the Midwest (at least in this century) at the Dwight D. Eisenhower Presidential Library and Museum on April 7.
If you're not already a fan of the national traveling exhibition, it covers just one pivotal year in Elvis' life, the year 1956, right smack-dab in the middle of a decade that introduced social and political unrest into an otherwise complacent country.
Perhaps at the opposite ends of social spectrum were Elvis and Dwight D. Eisenhower, one a symbol of radicalism and the other of the establishment. How did the president feel about Elvis? According to the Eisenhower National Historic Site in Pennsylvania" . . . the First Lady was very tolerant of Elvis, his pelvis, and rock n' roll. The President, however, approved of neither. In fact, he refused to let his grandkids play Elvis records within range of his hearing. According to his grandson David, the President was shocked to discover that his two favorite songs, O Sol Mio and Army Blue, had been redone by Elvis and renamed It's Now or Never and Love Me Tender."
Eisenhower evidently warmed to Elvis after the singer was drafted into the Army without complaining or pleading for special accomodations, but the two never met in real life.
Elvis was introduced to Eisenhower's vice president, Richard Nixon, but years later when Nixon was actually in the White House. Photographed together in December 1970, Nixon and Presley made for an odd pairing; nonetheless, a mutual respect existed between the parties. Nixon later wrote: "It was a pleasure to meet with you in my office recently, and I want you to know once again how much I appreciate your thoughtfulness . . ."
For more about Elvis and the year 1956, visit the traveling exhibition, now in Abilene, Kansas!