Back In My Day…

A Note from Wolf…..

This is TradeBait’s first authored post – upgraded (at my insistence) from a comment he made on today’s open thread. I look forward to many more!

Time for a TB story as eyes roll. It’s OK, it’s your day off. Wolf said he looked forward to these in his other recent thread. The Elvis movie is currently the talk.


My direct connection to The King was from afar. Living in the Delta for a dozen years, he was an icon of course. In his later, jelly donut, porker years I saw him at a Showcase of the Stars charity concert in Memphis at the Orpheum. Thought he was going to split his sequined pants, but I digress. FWIW, Graceland makes for a good day spent if you liked him.

For a number of years I passed by a place on a state highway at the border of Arkansas and Missouri in the bootheel several times per week. After arriving there in the 70’s, I learned from the locals that during the late 40’s into the 60’s there was place at the state line called The Rat Ranch. It was still standing, but the only business still operating was a liquor store when I lived there. Apparently, things happened there every weekend for decades – partying, music shows, gambling (Illegal – including slots) and such. Use your imagination and you will probably be correct since there was also a rent by the hour fleabag motel there. The authorities looked the other way because they were on the take. One such sheriff during the period was even later convicted for his involvement by a future GOP Senator who was AG at the time. Said sheriff had an ownership interest it appeared, so he he could not claim he did not know. He was convicted of lesser charges. He appealed and through Governor’s office pressure on the state supreme Court he saw his conviction was overturned. Said sheriff later was overwhelmingly voted back into office and ran an illegal bookie operation in his well known (regionally) restaurant’s office. There are even connections with people who were reportedly involved in the planning of the MLK JR. assassination – which would not surprise me at all.

Said sheriff was a connected, Dem criminal. The neighboring Missouri county sheriff was a white hat at war with the criminal before his conviction. Originally from Texas, he ran a cleaner ship and would put you down if you did the things in his county that the criminal pushed in his. Unfortunately he died of natural causes in his mid-80’s in the mid 60’s.

I lived there – both counties at different times of course. I knew the criminal sheriff (long since deceased) and the bookie, even though I do not gamble. Past associations being what they are and all.

So what does all that have to do with The King? The King performed at the Rat Ranch on weekends in his younger days before “making it”. The locals told the story that he was a truck driver running a route from MS up and down the highway through the area into St. Louis. After his deliveries he stopped there on weekends to perform. The patrons of the Rat Ranch were all skin colors, but mostly AA locals. Do you now better understand the soul in his music and support from the AA community? He honed his craft there and at other places around the Delta until his “discovery”, Sun Studio and the rest.

But wait, there’s MOAR! Some dozen years later after I left the Delta and long after The King had died, I had the occasion to meet and get to know more deeply one of his former back-up singers and long term friends. This fellow had known The King as a young teenager who would attend his concerts. It was the great bass, JD Sumner of the Blackwood Brothers and later, JD Sumner & the Stamps fame among other groups. Elvis and JD were tight, so much so JD said Elvis was who got him through his own battles with the bottle, while he would be there for Elvis in his many personal struggles. For what it’s worth, these discussions with JD were just the two of us many occasions because he had moved to east TN in the years before he died. The place where he lived was owned by a friend and business associate. We had deep discussions about our faith (which was shared) and he would discuss The King often. He said a lot of what was reported about Elvis was bunk, but kept the interest levels up. JD said that personally he had left organized religion, that he felt closest to the Lord with his music and involvement with the Gaither Homecomings. Quite a remarkable man with much Americana in him to tell. I loved those hours with him.

I can still see JD tooling around the resort in which he lived and crossing the busy tourist covered highway in an imitation Rolls Royce golf cart our friend had bought him to use around town. Law enforcement had been instructed to just let him go where he wanted as long as he did not cause an accident. One final thought, most who heard JD were very aware of just how low his voice would go. During the primary years of his career, he was thought to be the lowest pitched bass in southern gospel music. Besides having this gift from God, he attributed being able to retain it to being a smoker. Which was probably related to his cause of death just a few days short of his 74th birthday from cardiac arrest since he had also dealt with lung issues.

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Barb Meier

Thank you for sharing this story about JD and his relationship with Elvis. I searched and found a recording of them singing together. JD’s singing voice was amazingly low. wow…


Wow, if Yours Truly is hearing correctly, it appears that JD Sumner was hitting notes like the G and F below Low C (C2).


Tradebait, that’s quite a tale, enjoyed reading very much. Keep ’em comin’.


Thank you again for a wonderful story!


Speaking of Elvis, the new remastered and expanded Elvis: Aloha From Hawaii Deluxe Edition FTD 3 CD Set is available direct from Graceland:

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4th of July sale, use code 15JULY4 to get 15% off your entire order 😁

Last edited 1 year ago by scott467

You’re very welcome, and thanks for the article, nice job! 👍

Wolf Moon | Threat to Demonocracy

Excellent job, TradeBait! I added some categories and keywords and a brief intro – and sized that emoji back to something reasonable – at least on my screen!  😉 

This is awesome. Elvis scholars and music nerds will be able to reference it now!

Thank you!

“o7” (*salutes*)

Wolf Moon | Threat to Demonocracy

Emojis will size weirdly when copying from comments to posts, and the image will go into its own block. Just resize the image manually by its corners, and it will look like a regular emoji.


TB thank you for sharing your experience in your story. I am looking forward to more  😅 


Nice post!!!


Fascinating read. Thank you!

“Elvis, Aloha from Hawaii”, is enjoyable to watch and listen in on. Great music and entertaining!


Great story!


Nice story. Thank you for sharing!


Great story, thanks!

bflyjesusgrl 🍊 😎NUCLEAR MAGA😎

I’ve had a vivid image in my mind forever. Me and my Mom in the seats of an audience, 20 rows back, center right. Stage all lit up, man in white, singing and dancing around. She’s standing up screaming, clapping with the rest of the crowd, while I, a little fart, am down below, restless in the chair, playing with toys. I’ve always believed she took me to an Elvis concert back in the day, probably at the old Houston Coliseum. I went to many concerts there as a teenager, so I recognize it as the most likely venue. Saw Ted Nugent and others there. She had a bunch of Elvis albums, liked to go to concerts. I saw Elvis in concert, That’s my story and I’m sticking to it. 😜
Good job TB!!👏👏

Last edited 1 year ago by bflyjesusgrl 🍊 😎MEGA MAGA GAME ON😎

Cool story! Thanks for sharing your memories!


Great story Tradebait2. Thank you so much.