Interesting read, thanks Presley31
When “the King” arrived at Fort Chaffee to begin basic training in 1958, U. S. Army liaison Arlie Metheny welcomed him.
Metheny, a military public information officer early in his career and later an educator, died Monday from complications of a stroke at Salem Place Nursing And Rehabilitation Center in Conway.
He was 90.
Around 100 people awaited Elvis Presley’s late arrival to the Army training grounds outside Fort Smith on March 24, 1958.
The solidly built 5-foot-6 Metheny, assigned to be Presley’s buffer from the media, immediately filled that role amidst the popping flashbulbs and photographers’ shouts.
Metheny wrote in an autobiography: “As the group stood to go to their barracks a photographer yelled to Elvis to salute. There was panic in his eyes, he looked around and I caught his eye and shook my head no so he declined.” The photographers flooded Presley with attention during his three days at the camp. Metheny wrote one particularly pesky freelancer snapped shots of Presley in his underwear and, during lunch, was “shooting every time [Presley ] opened his mouth. After a few minutes I suggested they let him eat and everyone but the freelancer backed off. I had the [military police ] escort him out of the mess hall.” Metheny kept a close watch on Presley. One of his seven sons, Gary Metheny remembered his father “nearly passing out when he came home.” Once there, he’d field three hours’ worth of calls from the national media, allowing him only three hours of sleep a night.
The night that Presley left, Metheny suffered severe exhaustion, was taken to the hospital and given five days of leave.
Still, the whirlwind of activity was an experience that Metheny treasured.
“He liked meeting new people and moving around,” Gary Metheny said. “He had no problem just getting up and going — he could do it in a minute.” Born Jan. 8, 1918, in Silverdale, Mo., Metheny, the eldest of seven children, boarded a freight train in 1938, left his cotton-farm home and spent a year picking apples, strawberries and cotton in Michigan, Texas, Illinois and Arkansas. He joined the Marines and married Willie Stroble in 1941. A couple of years after serving in World War II, Metheny transferred to the Army and was commissioned as a first lieutenant. While in the Army, he was stationed in Japan for nearly eight years until 1956. Metheny then moved to Fort Smith, where he stayed after retiring from the military in 1959, the year after his 12-year old son, Donald, was hit and killed by a car while delivering newspapers.
In the mid-1960 s, Metheny graduated with a master’s and Ph. D. in education from the University of Arkansas at Fayetteville. “He was a strong disciplinarian,” said Virginia McCaghren, a teacher whom Metheny hired in 1968 when he was superintendent of the Mayflower School District.
His wife died of cancer in 1986 and a month afterward he moved to be with family in Conway.
On its downtown streets, wearing a tan apron bulging with newspapers, Metheny delivered the Log Cabin Democrat to businesses.
McCaghren said: “Instead of dropping it at the door, he liked to hand it to the person.”