On the 50th anniversary of Elvis Presley’s haircut during his induction into the Army at Fort Chaffee, five black and white images of the original event have surfaced. The photos, which likely ran in the Southwest American newspaper, were discovered by Rick Altes, a photographer from Greenwood, about three years ago during an estate sale, he said. Altes, 55, spoke to a group of more 30 people who gathered Tuesday where Presley lost his dyed-black locks in building 803 at now-Chaffee Crossing.
Altes said he has always been interested in history, music and photography and when he found the photos in a file cabinet he bought from a living estate auction he “was very aware that I really found something important.”
After doing some research, Altes learned that the photos were more than likely taken by a photographer at the Southwest American. He said a Times Record representative told him that back then negatives were thrown away and prints were filed. Eventually, the prints would end up in the trash, too, so someone apparently dug them out of the trash, he said.
The Fort Smith Convention and Visitors Bureau received the images from Altes as a donation and the Visitors Bureau will display the photos until there is an Elvis barbershop museum.
Fort Smith Mayor Ray Baker referred to the work of Fort Smith elementary teacher Jan Honeycutt, who along with her students, began raising funds in 1996 to save the building from demolition.
“Thank you, Elvis, and thank you to what you will mean to the economy of this community,” Baker said as he showered a cardboard cutout of Presley in an Army uniform with 50 red rose petals.
Honeycutt hopes that eventually the building will be turned into a museum.
One of the photos Altes donated shows barber James B. Peterson with Presley during the haircut. Peterson’s widow, Edith Peterson, 86, of Muldrow, who attended the ceremony Tuesday, has the clippers, comb and scissors used during the 1958 event. She said she missed seeing Presley that night because she was attending beauty college and was not allowed to miss a class.
Barber Fred Kinslow of Greenwood, who worked with Peterson, said he tried to catch a glimpse of Presley when he arrived at the barbershop that day. However, the barbershop owner, H.L. Sallee, told him that Peterson was going to cut Presley’s hair.
“It was a thrill to me thinking that I might get to cut his hair,” Kinslow said. “The cameras were on him all the time he was here.”
Kinslow said Peterson later told him that Presley was “an outgoing young fellow who was just as friendly for a man at his place in popularity.”
One of the chairs removed from the barbershop belongs to Kinslow’s family. He can’t say for certain whether the chair is one that Presley sat in to get his hair cut. Kinslow’s son, who owns it now, told him, “Dad, that’s close enough.”
Source: Google / Updated: Mar 26, 2008