My First Big Interview Was With Elvis Presley

In the early spring of 1976, my Southwest Texas State University (now Texas State) journalism professor Jeff Henderson, asked his class on the second floor of Old Main to write down the names of two people we would like to interview if we could. 

When he called on me to reveal my answers, embarrassingly, I said “Elvis Presley and Clint Eastwood.”

Spontaneously, my classmates laughed. Their answers were reasonable…and safe: the police chief, fire marshal, county commissioner, etc. But Jeff held his hand up and looked me seriously straight in the eyes and asked, “Why don’t you?”

WHY DON’T YOU?

“Look, Jack. You just came back from winning Investigative Reporter of the Year Award out of every university in the Rocky Mountain Collegiate Association,” he smirked, then grinned. “So, my question to you is—why don’t you?”

I thought of scores of reasons why I couldn’t. Jeff’s question would have profound impact the rest of my life. So, why don’t I? Within eight months, I interviewed both Presley and Eastwood.

I traveled to Memphis during Spring Break with one mission in mind: To do the impossible by interviewing Elvis.

Just a few days after my arrival, staying at a nearby (from Graceland) Howard Johnson’s, I was called in by a local radio station to be interviewed myself because there was much buzz (was that even a word, other than the sound a bee makes, in ’76?) about Elvis.

It was recently announced he’d be performing in his hometown later that summer. Months away and thousands of fans had been camped out for two days in line to buy tickets.

The day before, I drove by the Mid-South Colosseum and was astonished. People were in tents, sleeping bags, lawn chairs and on blankets waiting. Although it was hot and humid, they were happy.

Through the years I’ve found dedicated Elvis fans to be among the happiest people on the planet. Their camaraderie expands beyond man-made limiting boundaries such as race, politics, religion and sex. Generally, they’re united.

Two nights before, I gained quick notoriety among Memphis fans for gaining the “impossible dream.” I scored an interview with Elvis Presley!

As a young journalism student from then Southwest Texas State, I did my homework. The stars were aligned:

🔹Local fans were not swarming around Graceland,

🔹It was a time sandwiched between Elvis’ mother Gladys’ birthday week (reasoned he may leave to visit her gravesite) and Mother’s Day. Yes, it was a long shot, but I was giving it all I could.

🔹With donuts, coffee and burgers from the Hickory Log cafe, I befriended Elvis’ cousin Harold Loyd and other Graceland gate security guards at night…and Uncle Vester Presley, Charlie Hodge and others during the day in between naps (Elvis was a night owl, so I had to be).

Harold Loyd

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🔹The big card up my sleeve was the ace in the hole: I was President of the Texas Chapter of the official Elvis Presley Graceland Fan Club.

Invited to the radio station because of the spike in interest of the upcoming concerts and me landing the interview, the DJ began asking questions in rapid fire.

I answered them as fast as he spit them out, but when he paused for a commercial break, I defaulted to my normal mode of operation–to engage in conversation rather than his Q&A approach.

Elvis’ Bicentennial Harley.

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He started taking live listener calls. It was compelling enough that he kept me on air for over an hour.

I was psyched, of course, but somehow all this excitement calmed my youthful ego. I was very thankful for meeting Elvis, but especially grateful for his kindness. When you hear or read how nice he was to fans, believe me, it was very genuine kindness.

Shaking the hand of the man my parents, my sister Bobbi and I would see on the giant screens of the Trail or Mission Drive-In theaters, watch on TV, or read about in magazines and newspapers, was a surreal and humbling experience.

Meeting Elvis taught me much, including the value of doing homework, being prepared, investigation and a more engaging approach to interviewing.

Most of all, it taught me to never let self-imposed obstacles get in the way of my dreams.

Photos of Dodie and me taken at Graceland, SUN Studio, on June 24, 25 2020.

The following August, I was able to meet Elvis briefly backstage at Hemisfair Arena in San Antonio to present him some official honorary documents from the City, Bexar County and a Texas-shaped award from fans across the state.

Two of my favorite journalism classmates under Jeff Henderson, Janis Johnson and Vicky Highsaw, joined me on the front row center section for the Elvis concert.

Photos taken from front row, center at Elvis Presley’s August 18, 1976 concert.

Thanks for supporting independent true journalism with a small tip. Dodie & Jack

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History, Texas, Pioneers, Genealogy

From award-winning Texas author Cynthia Leal Massey.

Tips and Secrets for Better Internet in Rural Areas: RVers, Campers and Country Living

It’s no secret Bidenflation has forced millions to seek out ways to reduce food, travel and living expenses.

In 2020, we moved to a rural area in the Texas Hill Country away from congestion, traffic and rising crime. We have no regrets about living a far less expensive and peaceful life. It allows us to work and write from home or on occasional road trips.

Due to the high cost of just about everything, including rentals and housing, more Americans are:

🔹Living in RVs and Campers.

🔹Using tents instead of hotel rooms.

🔹Taking “staycations” and limiting travel closer to home.

🔹Working remotely on the internet from home instead of commuting to and from a work location.

🔹Becoming Digital Nomads, wandering the country taking miscellaneous work and temporary employment.

We loved Guadalupe River State Park in April 2022

In 2022, the United States should break records with over 305 million internet users within its borders, which accounts for this rise in numbers of digital nomads and remote workers all over the country. 

Unfortunately, as practical as this may sound, these remote workers and  digital nomads, along with over 25 million Americans, continue to struggle with slow internet speeds and lack access to high-speed internet facilities due to the rural locations they may find themselves in.

Slow internet speeds can affect work deliverables, hamper productivity, and even jeopardize employability, especially if the job requires high internet speeds for effectiveness. 

These tips may improve your internet connection if you are living in a rural area, are on the road, or just camping out.

Tips for Rural Residents 

Turn off your router for some time. Giving your router a break can help refresh your internet connection and improve your speed issues. Doing this daily stimulates your internet connection, especially when experiencing a lag.  This fix won’t take your speeds to NASA levels, but it should help.

What’s your Data Capacity? A data cap may be responsible for slowing your home speeds. Your ISP allocates the amount of data you can use every month. Once exceeded, your internet speed drops drastically. The cap limit is outlined in your bill.

Move your Router. Where is your router positioned? That may be why your internet speed sucks.  Moving the position of your router to a higher point or more central location in your home will ensure the Wifi signal from your router reaches every corner of your building. With most wireless modems, the closer you are, the higher your internet speed.

Get Wired. Ditch wireless connections and get wired to eliminate any lags in speed you may be experiencing. Many people don’t know this, but cabled connections like Ethernet are safer, more reliable, and faster than most wireless connections.

Ads are a Drag. Literally. Every time you are online, you see ads. It’s everywhere, on every website; you can’t escape it. Or can you? Ads slow down your internet speeds, especially those heavy, annoying auto-play videos. You can fix this by installing an ad blocker in your browsers.

Scan regularly for Viruses and Malware. Viruses and malware may also be responsible for your crawling internet speeds. Install software that scan your device and connections for viruses and malware, set it up to scan regularly, and you should be fine.

Tips for Campers

Stay centered. Or as close to the center of the camp as you possibly can. The range for RV parks and Campground Wifi signals, thanks to FCC regulations, is limited to just under 300 feet. The closer you are to the camp router, which is often set up in the center of the camp, the better your internet connection.

The less green, the better. Dense trees, foliage, and even high walls can reduce your internet connection quality. For the signal to get to you uninterrupted, you must ensure you are not being obstructed by greenery or other natural or artificial fixtures. Set up your camp in an open space to improve your connection quality.

Upgrade your receiver. A Wi-Fi reception booster or antenna can improve your internet connection and reduce lags. Both instruments can receive and upgrade your internet signals on all your devices. They are easy to install and set up, and you should get sorted out quickly.

Look before you Camp. Different RV parks and Camps use different ISPs for internet access. Do some research before you camp in that park or hotspot. Check reviews for internet speeds and plan accordingly.

Tips for RVers 

Choose your equipment carefully. The right equipment can mean the difference between consistent high internet speeds and slower speeds. Pick the right cellular equipment for your needs, the more powerful your router, the more powerful your internet connection will be.

X marks the Spot. Using a coverage map will help you navigate areas with spotty coverage and keep you informed about signal strength so you are never caught in the lurch.  These maps are not always accurate but are still great tools for planning your travels.

Avoid Congestions. Areas with many internet users can experience low internet speeds due to heavy data traffic. Congested areas like festivals, concerts, and even football games have tended to experience an overload on the internet infrastructure, resulting in slow connection speeds.

Less is good: The fewer devices connected to your network, the better. Make sure your devices are connected to the devices you are using at the moment. It is easy to lose track of background devices, leading to an increased lag in your internet speed as they update regularly.

Definitely not us. LOL.

Thanks for supporting independent true journalism with a small tip. Dodie & Jack

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History, Texas, Pioneers, Genealogy

From award-winning Texas author Cynthia Leal Massey.

Lessons From Noah’s Ark We All Need Right Now

During the height of the pandemic in 2020, we went on a 32-day roadtrip. We refused to lockdown.

Jack & Dodie Dennis at Ark Encounter

One of the most fascinating days was spent at the Ark Encounter in Williamstown, Kentucky. It is a type of historical and biblical theme park centered around a life-sized reconstruction of the massive ship, built at God’s command, that saved Noah, his family, and representatives of every kind of land-dependent, air-breathing animal from a global flood.

“The ark was 510 feet long, 85 feet wide, and 51 feet high and it housed the several thousand animals God brought to Noah,” their literature reads. “The global flood lasted about one year. The ark came to rest on the “mountains of Ararat” (Genesis 8:4), and Noah’s family, with all the animals that were saved from the flood, eventually spread throughout the world.”

Now the earth was corrupt in God’s sight, and the earth was filled with violence. And God saw the earth, and behold, it was corrupt, for all flesh had corrupted their way on the earth. And God said to Noah, “I have determined to make an end of all flesh, for the earth is filled with violence through them. Behold, I will destroy them with the earth.”

Genesis 6:11-13

Years ago, I came across this poster in one of my son’s Sunday School classrooms and always thought the lessons applied to adults as well as children. This wisdom is worth applying and sharing.

1. Don’t miss the boat

Ask for guidance from the Almighty, He will help you get through whatever obstacles you are facing right now.

Matthew 11:28 (NIV) “Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest.”

2. Remember that we are all in the same boat

As the old saying goes “No Man is an Island” just means were are connected with each other. Some people will leave a huge amount of memories, and others will cause us pain, both though will contribute to our learnings for us to become a better person. Every time you meet new people, it will become part of you forever because it can leave good or bad memories that will stay on your mind for the longest time.

Ephesians 1:3. “Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us in the heavenly realms with every spiritual blessing in Christ.”

3. Plan ahead. It wasn’t raining when Noah built the Ark

Ephesians 5:16 (KJV) “Make the most of your opportunities because these are evil days.”

Lay down plans about your future regarding what you want to become in life. Make room for errors. Do not just rely simply on Plan A. Make some sort of Plan B and Plan C to deal with setbacks.

Ark Encounter (Jack Dennis)

4. Stay fit. When you’re really old, someone may ask you to do something really big

1 Corinthians 9:26-27

26 “I therefore so run, not as uncertainly; so fight I, not as one that beateth the air:

27 But I keep under my body, and bring it into subjection: lest that by any means, when I have preached to others, I myself should be a castaway.”

Work to remain healthy physically and mentally. You might need to be part of something amazingly big that is life-changing at least for the people around you.

Stay fit so that you may be able to live a longer life to see your children and grandchildren fulfill their dreams and become successful in life. Many grandparents are not able to see because they lead an unhealthy life and leave this world too soon.

5. Don’t listen to the critics; just get on with the job that needs to be done

1 Corinthians 15:58 “Therefore, my dear brothers and sisters, stand firm. Let nothing move you. Always give yourselves fully to the work of the Lord, because you know that your labor in the Lord is not in vain.”

Be reminded not to listen to skeptics when you experience setbacks from time to time. Focus on what you want to achieve in life. Years after, the words that critics have said against you won’t even matter anymore.

6. Build your future on high ground

1 Corinthians 3: 10-11 10 “By the grace God has given me, I laid a foundation as a wise builder, and someone else is building on it. But each one should build with care.” 11 “For no one can lay any foundation other than the one already laid, which is Jesus Christ.”

Make your future to be foolproof. Abraham Lincoln once said, “The best way to predict the future is to create it.”

7. For Safety Sake, Travel in Pairs

Romans 8:35-37. “Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? Shall trouble or hardship or persecution or famine or nakedness or danger or sword?”

Ark Encounter (Jack Dennis)

8. Speed Isn’t Always An Advantage. The Snails were on board with the Cheetahs

James 1:19 “My dear brothers and sisters, take note of this: Everyone should be quick to listen, slow to speak and slow to become angry.”

Who remembers the race between the turtle and the hare? Consistency is more important than speed—or at least have both speed and consistency work together.

9. When You’re Stressed, Float a While

James 1:2-3 “Consider it pure joy, my brothers and sisters,whenever you face trials of many kinds, because you know that the testing of your faith produces perseverance.”

Having trouble dealing with your personal issues? Take a deep breath, and relax. Learn to unwind for a while to cool down. Afterward, go back to the drawing board and deal with the issue again. A rested mind is more creative than a weary one.

10. Remember, the Ark was built by amateurs; the Titanic by professionals

1 Corinthians 1:20 “Where is the wise? where is the scribe? where is the disputer of this world? hath not God made foolish the wisdom of this world?”

Be humble. It doesn’t matter how mighty you perceive yourself to be, know when to tame your ego. Sometimes a low profile is best as situations may backfire on your part.

11. No matter the storm, when you are with God, there’s always a rainbow waiting

Philippians 4:13 “I can do all things through Christ which strengtheneth me.”

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From award-winning Texas author Cynthia Leal Massey.
Ark Encounter

CleverJourneys 2nd Anniversary: Thanks to Our Readers

Loralyn “Dodie” and Jack Dennis wish to thank all of our faithful readers for your support. On the eve of our second anniversary for our CleverJourneys blog, we reached 1,110,011 unique viewers. Our best yet.

We began on May 1, 2020. Although I previously wrote articles for Examiner, AXS Entertainment, The Rowdy and my own News Legit, CleverJourneys is my dream come true (well, one of many thanks to God).

This is not too bad for two young seniors that have known each other since our first year of school way back when. To celebrate, we hope you enjoy these:

Here are some our regular features in leadership popularity order.

JackNotes: Summaries of books, classes, conferences, speeches and knowledge of over 40 years.

Another of our most popular articles series are JackNotes, executive summaries of books, articles, speeches and other useful information that may save you the expense and trouble of reading the entire publication….or it may spur you on to seek more information from the original source.

TRUE CRIME STORIES

Another feature, Accounts of the Old West is a tribute to Jack’s great, great uncle Charlie Bassett, the first marshall of Dodge City, Kansas…and James Allison Morgan–a cattle driver and cowboy, Jack’s great grandfather. (You thought TV’s ‘Marshal Matt Dillon’ was the first didn’t you?) We feature tales and history of the Old West.

EXPLORE FURTHER
Travel, Road Trips, Destinations, Tips
Food, recipes, restaurants, cooking

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From award-winning Texas author Cynthia Leal Massey.

Notes and Messages From Our Readers

We appreciate the numerous responses we field from Clever Journeys readers around the world.

Through Gab, Gettr, Twitter, Pinterest and other social media (currently censored by Facebook), we strive to provide common sense, truth, simplicity, help, encouragement and good values. Because of the volume of emails, messages and correspondence we receive, we regret we are not able to reply to everyone. Here are some of our more recent feedback:

On Our Watch

I’m not politically correct and don’t care to be. I’m not perfect and unable to walk on water.

We let this happen on our watch! Lord forgive our slumber. We are awake now. We get it. Show us how. We return to you. We want to be right again.”

Cell Phone Tracking

Honoring Our Police

Fearing Facebook

Arizona Election Fraud

Dancing Monkey Biden

Disney Groomers

RINO Ridding?

Address Voter Fraud

Coomering

Clever vs. Cleaver

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From award-winning Texas author Cynthia Leal Massey.