Celebrating 55 years of Elvis’ ‘Hair today, gone tomorrow’

by The City Wire staff ([email protected]) 252 views 

Elvis Presley spent three days at Fort Chaffee in March 1958 after being inducted into the Army. It was there that Jimmy B. Peterson gave Elvis the famous haircut.

This year marks the 55th year anniversary of Elvis' arrival at Fort Chaffee. The 5th Annual Elvis Haircut Day was celebrated at the Fort Chaffee Barbershop Museum. A crowd began to gather around noon to get a haircut. Jimmy Don Peterson, son of Jimmy B. Peterson, along with four other barbers began giving haircuts around 1 p.m. with 40 people receiving a cut, which was more than previous years.

Some of the festivities included Elvis Tribute Artists performing, a Hoola-hoop contest, poodle skirt contest, and Elvis look-a-like contest. Because of the inclement weather, some activities had to be canceled. Also participating in the event was The Vietnam Veterans Museum, Cre8ive Arts Network, and The Enchanted Doll Museum, which are all located within the Chaffee Crossing Historic District.

The barrack that Elvis was once housed in was also open for tours. Hopes are that there will be enough money raised so the building can be renovated in the near future.  The museum was also open for the crowd to look at pictures and other artifacts from Fort Chaffee. According to the sign in book, more than 300 people came through the museum.

Reena Ramirez from Huntsville, Ark., decided she was going to get a trim in the same seat that Elvis got his hair cut in.

"It's an amazing historical time in Elvis' life and it's just awesome,” she said.

She belongs to a group called Elvis Explorers. Their motto is "We go where he's gone."  They have gone everywhere and anywhere Elvis has ever been. If it is documented he has been somewhere, they try and find it. Ramirez came with her friends Rhonda Johnson, president of the club, and Lisa McAninch, vice-president.

Jack Cleavenger, the photographer who captured the infamous hair cut, showed up for a short time at the event.

"I was one of three photographers that day. There was one from Little Rock, one that traveled with Elvis, and me. I was just the lucky one that got the assignment from the paper,” he said.

When asked about whether he realized how famous his photograph would become he replied, "Elvis wasn't really that famous yet when he came to Chaffee.  His career really took off upon his return from Germany."

He has come to realize that his famous photo and quote can be seen worldwide. His famous line "Hair today and gone tomorrow" was used as a caption for the picture. The quote came from him asking Elvis to blow some of his cut hair out of his hand while Cleavenger took the picture.

The highlight of the events was the "Elvis Returns to the Fort" which was held at the ABF Performing Arts Center. Professional Elvis Tribute Artist Justin Edwards and his band performed before a large crowd. A unique opening tied the concert into Elvis' visit to Fort Chaffee in 1958. The opening was Elvis being interviewed by Daren Bobb and Jack Cleavenger capturing the picture with the original camera he used in 1958.

All proceeds from this fundraiser event will benefit the Chaffee Crossing Historic Preservation Organization to restore a WWII era barracks for a future museum.