THE LITERARY MEERKAT: Howard Denson

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Posted 2/27/22

 

ELVISIAN FANS AND CRITICS LOOK BACK

AT KING OF ROCK IN PAPERBACK,

'ALAS, POOR ELVIS, I KNEW HIM, BUBBA' 

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On the 45th anniversary of the death of Elvis Presley, fans and critics from Hawaii to Canada to Florida have paid their respects (and disdain at times) of the King of Rock 'n' Roll.

The book is ALAS, POOR ELVIS, I KNEW HIM, BUBBA: On the 45th anniversary of The Death of The King (paperback) by Howard Denson (Amazon KDP, $8). 

ALAS, POOR ELVIS, I KNEW HIM, BUBBA (nonfiction, 50,000 words) examines the impact of Elvis Presley on the culture of America and the rest of the world. Its editor/commentator is Howard Denson, one of the leaders of the long defunct Florida First Coast Writers’ Festival, which sponsored a whimsical contest similar to the Best of Bad Hemingway and the Bulwer-Lytton Fiction Contests.

To order a copy, go to https://www.amazon.com/Alas-Poor-Elvis-Knew-Bubba/dp/1979595054/

Elvisians invariably wrote about themselves as they recalled their encounters with Elvis in concerts or performances. Often female Elvisians recalled when they or their daughters first encountered the animal energy of Elvis as part of a girl's awakening sexual awareness.

The submissions range from adoring to cynical, from complimentary to judgmental.

The submissions came from all over North America.

Elvisians included are listed in alphabetical order:

Clo Amaral (Miami), “Elvis Too”

Grant A. Balfour (Lantana), “To Walk Among His Subjects, Incognito” and “A Wheel of Fire”

Thelma Mohr Bening, then aged 84 (Sarasota), “Kisses and Autographs for a Teen”

Kathryn Beyerle (Jacksonville), “Elvis: Drafted with a tip of the quill to WCW” and “Our Man in Vegas”

Robert Borden (Jemez Springs, New Mexico), “The Monarch and the King”

Adela Anne Bradlee (Jacksonville), “The Mythological King”

Liz Brown (Jacksonville), “Elvis’ Ghost”

G. C. Burner (Jacksonville), “The Puzzle of Graceland Manor”

Carol McCall, “A Vote for the Young, Early Elvis”

Patricia Channing (Lincoln, Nebraska), “Elvis Played”

Shawn Harris Chillag (South Charleston, West Virginia), “On Cuisine”

Ruth Coe Chambers (Jacksonville), “Through the Years With Elvis”

Pamela Boyette Claxton (Jacksonville), “Mantric Meditation of the Essential Elvisian Being” and “Minimalism on Proper Behavior”

Rikki Clark (Tallahassee), “Company”

B. Powell Clark (Empire, Alabama), “, “Marty Sang for Me”

Ron Coleman (Neptune Beach), “Elvira”

Sylvia Corley (Jacksonville), “When the World was Small and Sweet”

Norma Cucci, “From 1957 to 1977”

Chris Daly (Seal Beach, California), “The Beauty of Elvis”

Helen E. Dalton (Honolulu, Hawaii), “Aloha No. 1” and “Aloha No. 2

Mary Ann Davis (Jacksonville), “Unique”

Peter Danakas (Winnipeg, Manitoba, Canada), “The Colonel in His Labyrinth”

John DeCleux (Winona, Missouri), “1954”

Lily Demieville (Wichita, Kansas), “The Elvis Legend”

Marily Dorf (Lincoln, Nebraska), “Elvis Reaches”

Wayne H. Estvold (Beaverton, Oregon), “Guitars, Not Harps” and “Haiku on a Theme”

Annie Sue Gill (Rome, Georgia), “Her Finger on Radio History”

George Gilpatrick (Orange Park), “Official Message: All Hands See And Obey”

Gypsy Harris (Jacksonville), “On Stamps”

Mary Ellen Hardin (Colorado Springs, Colorado), “Ode to Elvisology”

George W. Jackson (Mineral City, Ohio), “Hurt, Anger, and Betrayal”

Anna Jamrog (Waverly, Nebraska), “Le Roi Est Mort, Viva Le Roi”

Jeff Poniewaz (Milwaukee, Wisconsin), “You Can Keep Your Old Young Elvis, Give Me My Earth Love Stamp”

T. R. Johnson (New Orleans), “Stamping Out Elvis”

J. B. Kaiser (Moosejaw, Saskatchewan, Canada), “Black Velvet Sky” and “Judgment Day”

Wyveta J. Kirk (Wilmington, Delaware), “Elvis Asked Me Out . . . Almost”

George A. Knox (Riverside, Calif.), “Stamps for Sale”

Susan Minotti Ladue (Jacksonville), “Long Lives the King”

Charlotte Mannion (Miami), “The Secret of Elvis”

Stephen Mackin (San Francisco), “Elvis at Solstice,” “Elvis Dionysius,” and “Dylan Said That Someday Elvis Will Be a Religion”

Tammany K. Mixon (Tampa), “Rhonda?”

Charlotte Morgan (Goshen, Virginia), “E&J”

Phoebe Newman (Los Alamos, New Mexico), “Sighting #67, Opelika, Ala.”

Minh Lien Nguyen (Jacksonville), “Who Killed Elvis”

Trudy Ann Plotz (St. Petersburg), “Unmasked”

Gordon Polatnick (Sausalito, California), “Elvis in Anagramsville*”

Linda Faye Pugh (Lutz), “New Hope in Heartbreak Hotel”

Lynne Raiser (Atlantic Beach), “At the Ballpark 1955”

James Richie (Holiday), “Who was That Girl?”

Robin Sterns, “A Spot of Fame

Timothy W. Thornton (Jacksonville), “Sightings” and “The King of Rock ’n’ Roll

Sandy Tucker (Stuart), “An Old Refrain”

Vicky Welfare (Edmonds, Washington), “Graceland under Pressure”

Joel L. Young (Middleburg), “The Story of a Disaffected Youth” and “Elvis and the Death of Antagonism”

Harriet Young (Ponte Vedra Beach), “The Awakening”

 

 The collection also includes the insights of the late Steve Allen, who featured Elvis on his comedy-variety show. Did the "hound dog" section humiliate Elvis? ALAS, POOR ELVIS, I KNEW HIM, BUBBA gives a different perspective.

 

 

 

 

Posted 8/13/19 

WALKER COUNTY TEACHER’S NOVEL

PUBLISHED 41 YEARS AFTER HER DEATH

During the 1950s, Union Chapel elementary school teacher, Hazel Reid, taught first-graders during the day and worked on a novel during her off hours. She sent her manuscript of As the Apple Tree Stands, to an editor or agent, but the work wound up gathering dust for years.

When Miss Reid died of a heart attack in 1978 at the age of 62, she had willed her possessions to Susie Weinstein, and the manuscript wound up stored in the attic. Due to a disability, Miss Weinstein was not able to get up there, but she gave permission to a friend, the late David Denson, to retrieve the manuscript in order that it could be examined by his writer-teacher brother Howard III.

Miss Weinstein joked, “Do something meaningful with it.”

“Hazel was a grown-up when I was a child,” Denson said, “so I never sat down and learned the details of her personal life. I expected that As the Apple Tree Stands would revolve around Walker County. I eventually learned that she was born in Dora in 1915, but her parents moved to the Mississippi Delta in the Twenties. Her father was a mine operator or merchant bookkeeper at other times. As an adult, Hazel was frequently going off to visit friends from the Delta and socializing with them when they were in Jasper.”

The novel opens in 1934 in the Delta, not long after the ratification of the 21st Amendment ended Prohibition nationwide. In the story, a moody veteran of the Great War, Duke LeBlanc, has a poor reputation since he consorts with riverboat gamblers and bootleggers during the Great Depression. He makes loans to desperate landowners who hope for any way out of their financial difficulty. A foreclosure leads him to owning a plantation, LeBlanc’s Grove, even if respectability eludes him.

He decides not to foreclose on one particular plantation once he spots Annette, the beautiful young daughter of its owner, Paul Maison. She finds the older man fascinating. He worries about the age difference and any disgrace that his reputation might bring upon her.

A parallel story line involves another land owner, Gig Porter, a dilettante who wines, dines, parties, and paints. He enters an on-again, off-again relationship when he is smitten by a young teacher, Zerle Wingo, who has many demons in her life.

In those days, people didn’t have microwaves and cell phones. Their entertainment came from the radio or local variety theater. The traveled on trains on long trips and, at home, kept a watchful eye on the river.

The type on Miss Reid’s manuscript had faded with time and would not have produced decent copies that could be edited if scanned. Before starting any typing and editing, Denson checked with a copyright attorney to determine his legal rights or limitations. As he wrote in the Afterword, the attorney said he has “non-exclusive rights” to publish the work. He said that means that a relative could gain access to the manuscript, retype, and edit the work and put out a different edition. He plans to give the original manuscript to the Jasper library.

Denson, 78, said, if friends have more information or photographs of her Miss Reid, he can update the e-book easily enough and perhaps a second edition of the novel. He may be reached at hd3nson@hotmail.com. Denson gives thanks to two former students of Miss Reid: Cherrie Akins Lockhart (also secretary to the superintendent) and Jerryl Hyche.

Walker County Superintendent Jason Adkins gave a green light to efforts to discover more about the long ago Union Chapel teacher. Laurie Elliott of the textbook department was energetic in researching census records. Miss Reid’s former principal, Gwin Wells, said, “Hazel Reid was one of my favorite teachers.”

After getting through college working for newspapers, Denson worked for The Birmingham News as a self-described “flunky journalist” before going to graduate school and then teaching English and humanities for 38.5 years at what is now Florida State College at Jacksonville. An independent author, he has about 15 books available on Amazon.Com. They range from novels to humor to nonfiction.

Copies of Miss Reid’s book may be purchased at the websites of Amazon.Com or Barnes & Noble’s (barnesandnoble.com). It is available as a paperback or e-book.