The summer of Elvis' freshman year of high school, his dad Vernon bought him a push lawn mower. With the mower and a couple of sickles, Elvis and his three buddies - Buzzy Forbes, Farley Guy and Paul Dougher - started a lawn business. They charged $4.00 per yard. This was the beginning of the working life a young man who would very soon become a millionaire.
Elvis received his Social Security card # 409-52-2202 in September 1950. That all he went to work as an usher at Loew's State Theater on Main Street in Memphis.
Starting in June 1951, Elvis held a summer job at Precision Tool. He worked three months operating a spindle drill press at this plant, which manufactured rocket shells for the military. He made $27.00 a week. That same year he took his driver's license test using his uncle Travis Smith's 1940 Buick.
In April 1952 Elvis returned to Loew's State Theater as an usher, only to to be fired five weeks later for an altercation with a fellow usher. Some say it was started by the other usher, prompted by his jealousy over a female employee's apparent fondness for Elvis. Soon after, in June, Vernon Presley bought a 1941 Lincoln, which became regarded as Elvis' car. It is said he spent more time pushing it than driving it.
In August 1952 Elvis applied at the Upholsterers Specialties Company. On the application he gave his date of birth as January 8, 1934, adding a year to his stated age in order to qualify as old enough to work there. He worked there one month, earning $109.00.
In September 1952 Elvis worked for MARL Metal Products, a furniture manufacturer. He worked the 3:00 PM - 11:00 PM shift as an assembler. His mother Gladys made him quit this job because he kept falling asleep in school.
On March 26, 1953 Elvis visited the Tennessee State Employment Security Office. On his application he wrote under "leisure time activities": "Sings, playing ball, working on car, going to movies." The interviewer noted: "rather flashily dressed 'playboy' type". On April 6, 1953 he visited the employment office again and updated his application for work saying he wanted to operate "big lathes".
On another visit to the employment office on July 1, 1953, Elvis reported he needed to "work off financial obligations and that he owns his own automobile". This time he was sent to the M. B. Parker Company for a temporary job as an assembler. He worked there until the job ran out at the end of the month, making 90-cents an hour or $36.00 a week.
Returning to the employment office in August 1953, he indicated he wanted a job in which he could "keep clean". He was sent to several places for interviews, including a Sears & Roebuck store and a Kroger grocery store. He was not hired from any of these interviews.
On September 21, 1953 Elvis returned to Precision Tool company, operating a drill press for $1.55 a hour. He continued to work there until March 19, 1954.
Elvis filed his first income tax return on March 6, 1954, listing himself as "semi-skilled labor" and having earned at total of $129.74 at M.B. Parker and $786.59 at Precision Tool for a total of $916.33.
On April 20, 1954 Elvis began working at Crown Electric for $1.00 an hour. He delivered supplies to the job sites and hoped to train to be an electrician. He stayed at Crown until mid-October 1954 after having recorded his first record at Sun Studio and officially become a self-employed entertainer.
In 1955, he reported on his income tax return a total of $25,240.15 in earnings. This figure would jump the following year to $282,349.66. By 1958 he had earned over a million dollars in one year. In a short time he had come a long way from his days behind a push mower.