23 March 2009
Coley's Truck Stop - Dermott, Arkansas
This may seem odd, but I’ve never taken a real spring break. I've never been to Cancun or Panama City Beach (though I'd like to one day!!). My family and I go to small towns, battlefields, state and national parks, and out-of-the-way museums. This spring break, we spent 4 days going to some of the places we’ve always wanted to go. One of the places we've all wanted to track down for a while was Coley's Truck Stop in Dermott, Arkansas. Here's why...
In 1955, my grandfather, Kenneth McKee (I called him Gengan), was an Arkansas State Trooper stationed in Dumas. A local man named O.T. Coley and his wife ran a truck stop and restaurant in Dermott called the Twin City Diner. It was a place to sit, visit, and drink coffee with local people, which is something my grandfather did very well. He was 27 years old when he made the acquaintance of three young men on a journey to make their marks on the world. They were on their way to be on the Louisiana Hayride, a radio show based out of Shreveport, Louisiana. My grandfather visited with them on a fairly regular basis, and on this particular day, a picture was taken of them drinking coffee. My grandfather, dressed in his state trooper uniform, had his picture made with Bill Black, Scotty Moore, and Elvis Presley, who was holding my grandfather’s revolver. Gengan was always very proud of this picture, and he could say that he knew Elvis and the Blue Moon Boys before they were really famous. We‘ve had the picture hanging in our house for years. I asked about it when I was a little girl, and he said, “Yes, Elvis did have blue suede shoes on.”
My parents and I have always wanted to see the old truck stop where my grandfather befriended Elvis Presley, so on Friday, March 20, we did just that! The only remains of the old truck stop and restaurant on U.S. Highway 65 are the bases of the old gas pumps and the metals poles of what may have been the entrance to the diner. Another building has been built around it, but no businesses are there now. If anyone has any pictures of the old Coley’s Truck Stop (or Twin City Diner), I would love to see them!
Thank you, Dermott, for giving me a little piece of my Gengan's history!