found in the internet - The King and I (army mate patrick griffin remembers)
The King and I
BY JOSH MCAULIFFE AND KRISTIN WINTERMANTEL DURKIN
STAFF WRITERS / 11/04/2007
City resident Patrick Griffin reflects on Army days spent with Elvis Presley
As one would expect from an ex-bartender, Patrick Griffin has a gift for the well-told anecdote.
This one’s a particularly good story.
One night back in his Army days, Mr. Griffin and his unit were waiting on a truck to take them to another base for training. As Mr. Griffin and the other troops lined up to get in the vehicle, the unit’s first sergeant told him to go to the front.
Once inside, he noticed a familiar face at the wheel.
“And he talked — he was from the South,” Mr. Griffin recalled.
Moments later, Mr. Griffin was all but convinced he knew the driver’s identity.
“I said, ‘Are you Elvis?’ and he said. ‘Elvis who?’”
Presley, of course.
And so marked the beginning of Mr. Griffin’s brief but fruitful friendship with the King of Rock ’n’ Roll. Nearly a half century has since passed, but Mr. Griffin still has numerous recollections of his times with the Army-era Elvis Presley, who died 30 years ago this past August.
“A man’s man,” said Mr. Griffin, a resident of downtown Scranton’s Mulberry Tower, of his famous friend. “I can still see him now. He’s there.”
“There” would be Germany, where both men, then in their early 20s, were stationed as GIs from 1958 to 1960.
(mr. griffin can be seen in the background, left to elvis)
Served in Germany
Mr. Griffin was stationed with the 3rd Infantry Division at Schweinfurt, where his duties included guarding the base’s atomic cannon.
Mr. Presley was based near Frankfurt with the 3rd Armored Division, having opted to serve his tour as a regular soldier instead of in the Army’s Special Services division, where he would have spent his days entertaining troops. During his two years as a truck driver, he rose from private to sergeant. By most accounts, he was a model soldier.
Mr. Griffin, a private, got along well with his first sergeant, and on that fateful day, the two men had been talking about Mr. Presley. When the sergeant learned Mr. Presley would be the driver that day, he told Mr. Griffin, a native of the South Bronx, to sit in the cab.
The two hit it off quickly, spending the bulk of the two-hour trip ragging on each other’s accent.
“He really had a good sense of humor,” said Mr. Griffin, whom Mr. Presley referred to as “Paddy Boy.” “He would laugh at anything I said, and I would laugh at anything he said.”
Two weeks later, Mr. Presley was back to give the unit a return lift. Mr. Griffin sat up front. “We got there, and he let me out. They (the trucks) came back two or three weeks later (for the return trip) and the first sergeant made sure I sat with Elvis again.
“We made quite a friendship,” Mr. Griffin said. “Quite a few times, we’d go for training and he drove us there. I was always (seated) with him. A few times, my first sergeant arranged for me to have a pass to go into town, and his sergeant did the same.”
When Mr. Presley would drive Mr. Griffin and his unit to their training, “He used to aim for potholes,” Mr. Griffin recalled. “He’d have them screaming in the back, and him and I bustin’ out laughing in the front — Every moment I was with him, there was laughter.”
A couple of times, Mr. Griffin traveled to Frankfurt on a three-day pass. He got to know a woman there, and once arranged for a double date with Mr. Presley.
Another time there, Mr. Presley accompanied Mr. Griffin to Mass even though Mr. Presley wasn’t Catholic. At one point in the service, Mr. Griffin stopped an usher and asked if Mr. Presley could sing a hymn. Minutes later, Mr. Presley was up at the pulpit, belting out a soulful gospel number from his youth.
“When I turned around and looked at the people, tears were coming out of their eyes,” Mr. Griffin said of people’s reaction to Mr. Presley’s impromptu performance. “There wasn’t a dry eye in that church.”
Then, one St. Patrick’s Day, Mr. Griffin’s sergeant arranged for him to have a daylong pass to go into Schweinfurt. Not long after arriving at a downtown bar, Mr. Presley and some of his buddies walked in.
Noticing Mr. Griffin, Mr. Presley yelled, “Hey, Paddy Boy!”
“He said, ‘You’re Irish right? We gotta celebrate – today’s your day,’” Mr. Griffin recalled.
As a celebration of his friend’s roots, Mr. Presley did a rendition of the traditional Irish favorite “Danny Boy” right there in the bar. According to Mr. Griffin, Mr. Presley had studied the song for a few days in order to get it right.
Mr. Presley enjoyed Schweinfurt so much he ended up spending subsequent leave time there, and one night he and Mr. Griffin went to a popular dance hall.
“We had ourselves an extremely good time. We could dance with anybody,” Mr. Griffin said.
The place was apparently off limits to American soldiers, so Mr. Griffin and Mr. Presley were forced to hide in the bathroom when some MPs arrived. Another time, they got into a fight with some Germans who were making fun of them because they had put their hands over their hearts during the playing of “Taps.”
“We did what we were supposed to do,” Mr. Griffin said.
Mr. Griffin attributes a good part of his bond with Mr. Presley to the fact that they had both lost parents — in Mr. Griffin’s case, it was his father, and for Mr. Presley, his beloved mother, Gladys, who died while the singer was in basic training at Fort Hood, Texas.
“We had too much in common, that’s how we clicked so well. He talked freely to me,” Mr. Griffin said. “He opened up so easily, because I’m a stranger, and I’m a bartender, and a bartender doesn’t tell anyone anything.”
During their many conversations, Mr. Presley spoke often of his mother and briefly about his stillborn twin brother, Jessie, but no other relatives, including future wife, Priscilla, whom the Mr. Presley met while in Germany.
“Whether he just didn’t want to talk about it, or he figured it was none of my business, I don’t know,” Mr. Griffin said.
They did talk about Mr. Presley’s mistrust of those in the music business, including the members of his inner circle. “He said, ‘Pat, I don’t trust anybody around me. I wish I could hang out with the kids I grew up with.’ He worried about people around him betraying him,” Mr. Griffin said.
Following their discharge, the two men went their separate ways, Mr. Presley back to his music and movie career, Mr. Griffin back to New York to tend bar and oversee security at three high-rise buildings in Manhattan. Though he kept up with his friend’s exploits, Mr. Griffin never spoke to Mr. Presley again. He wrote to Mr. Presley once, but never received a reply.
Mr. Griffin moved to Honesdale about a decade ago along with his daughter, Janice Compton, and her six children. For the past few years, he’s been living at Mulberry Towers.
Mr. Griffin once had several pictures of himself with Mr. Presley, but an old girlfriend made off with them. The only one that remains in his possession is of him standing in back of Mr. Presley and another soldier.
In any case, he’s got more than enough memories to get by.
“If I knew then what I know now, wow, unbelievable,” Mr. Griffin said, reflecting on his friendship with The King.
“Elvis was just one of a kind,” he said. “If Jesus does come down, he’ll have Elvis with him, and he’ll say the famous statement, ‘The King and I.’”
Contact the writer: email@example.com
Meet Patrick Griffin
At home: Resides at Mulberry Tower in downtown Scranton
Family: He has a daughter, Janice Compton, Honesdale, and six grandchildren.
Occupation: Now retired, he worked for many years as a bartender in New York City, and also oversaw security at three high-rise buildings in Manhattan.
Famous Friend: Elvis Presley, whom he met during his time serving with the Army in Germany.
ŠThe Times-Tribune 2007
source: the times tribune