The Day Elvis Came to Amarillo

Dory Funk Sr. Owner of Gem Lake Swimming Pool
 
 

Caught With His Pants Down

I could hear the cursing and screaming as I approached the office door. "God Damn you, you son of a bitch (Smack!!!) I could hear the pop of an open handed slap against flesh and I knew what was going on inside. I opened the door to the office and their was blood splattered all over the place. "God Damn you, I better not ever catch you here or I will beat the living shit out of you." (Smack!!) I saw the slap land on the face of the man but I couldn't tell what he looked like because his face was a mass of blood. He took another back hand from my father. Dad turned to me with a wild look in his eyes, "Dunk, Go tell your mother to call the police, this ass hole is going to jail. I could hear the man say, "Please Dory, Don't hit me again." (Smack) another back hand landed flush to the face of the man and blood splattered everywhere.

***

The office I am referring to was in the back of the basket room at the popular Gem Lake Swimming Pool in Amarillo, Texas. My job was head life guard working for my father Dory Funk Sr. and Les Kilgore, owners of Gem Lake Swimming Pool. That morning, I was working the tall lifeguard stand in the center of the 150 foot long public swimming pool. The Juke box in the concession stand was blaring out the hits of the Elvis Presley,  Teddy Bear, Jail House Rock, and All Shook up. Elvis was hot in Amarillo, having made an appearance earlier in the year at the old City Auditorium.  Gem Lake was a fun place to work. Frequent visitors to the swimming pool were professional wrestlers, Tokyo Joe, Bob Geigel, Young Mark Lewin, Eddie Graham, (aka Rip Rogers) Art Nelson, and Iron Mike Dibiase.  Famous Amarillo athletes Ronnie Munn, (AAU Trampoline) Don Broom, (Football) Lannie McCrary, (Basketball) Malanie McKaffee, (Diving) James Kyle, (Basketball Referee) also made Gem Lake Swimming Pool their summer recreation home.

Elvis came to Amarillo in 1957

I was watching from the lifeguard stand as a diver stood on the threshold of the three meter diving board. He he was prepared to dive off but just before he took his final steps, he checked each direction to see if the girls were watching him. In the pool a married man was necking with a young chick. I blew my whistle and said, "No more of that or you will have to leave." Kids were doing the, "fast walk," as they passed the lifeguard stand knowing that running would get them in trouble and possibly thrown out of the pool. On the far side was a weight training area where just yesterday, I watched as the "Fat Lady" spent a long time contemplated lifting the bar bell. Finally she gave it her all and raised the bar to her neck, then fell backwards, pinning herself to the mat. I was across there in seconds to help lift the weights off of her. There was always excitement at Gem Lake Swimming Pool. It was a hot summer day and there were at least three hundred people in the pool.

I could see the commotion up front and asked my co-worker, Leonard Miller (Canyon High Football) to take my place on the lifeguard stand. I went first to the concession stand where my mother, Dorothy Funk, was working the cash register. I asked, What is going on? She answered, "Dunk, Your father caught this guy out in the parking lot exposing himself to little children -----. I knew dad would have gone off the wall.

Some people had come in from the parking lot and told dad what was going on. In a flash he was out there and the man was, "caught with his pants down." Dad  jerked him out of the car and physically dragged him into the concession area. Mother began screaming, "Dory, Don't beat him up here, you will get blood all over the food counter and cash register. The last she had seen, Dory was dragging him back into the private office.

***

Obeying my father's orders, I hurried back to the concession and told mother to call the police, quick. The Amarillo Police were there in minutes and took a battered and beaten sex offender into custody.

The case went before Potter County Judge Cliff Roberts. There were witnesses from the parking lot at Gem Lake Swimming Pool to back up my father's story. Judge Roberts found the "Masher Guilty of exposing himself to under aged kids and sentenced him to two weeks in the Potter County Jail house and one year's probation. With the verdict, he brought case to a close with the bang of the gavel, then looked at Dory Funk Sr. and said, "Mr. Funk, I am also going to fine you twenty five dollars for using excessive force to apprehend a criminal.

In those days, my father had his own Sunday talk show on KVII Channel 7 television. He told the story as it happened, Then told of Judge Roberts decision. Many offers came from local viewers offering to pay his fine.

Incidentally, we never had another problem with the man, "Caught With His Pants Down."

Gunslinger

E-mail Dory Funk Jr.

Return to Dory's Home Page