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By Nicole Loraux

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At the top, the flat farmland stretched out forever. A GROWING PASSION FO R MUSIC 27 But the highlight of the fair for many people was the talent contest, and anyone with even the slightest bit of ability participated, from juggling to singing to playing the spoons. By the time Elvis was 10, his voice was developing into a thing of crystal beauty, and when the fair came to town that year, everybody in the family thought it would be a wonderful idea for Elvis to enter the talent contest. Everybody but Elvis.

He still couldn’t hold a job for any consistent length of time, still suffered from his chronic bad back, and still did just enough to get by and little more. On New Year’s Eve in 1940, the people in northeast Mississippi prayed for the next 10 years to be better than the previous 10. As Tupelo rang in A SHO RT-LIVED HONEYMOON 19 1941, Ben and Agnes hosted a party and invited the other Greenwoods, along with Vernon and his family. Ben’s nephew Earl remembers the house was filled with the aroma of baking “that gave us a very safe, secure feeling.

The faces changed on a regular basis, but not his dating routine. Elvis would take the girl to a movie, stop at the local diner afterward for a cheeseburger, and then take her home. He seldom saw the same girl more than once or twice. But with each date, he built up a little more confidence, and he kept on asking, hoping to find the girl he’d want to call his own. Elvis lustily eyed the rich, cultured girls with their perfumed skin and comfortable lifestyles. Some would look back, snared by Elvis’s brooding looks.

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