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When New Boston resident Gene Wilson started high school, he had no idea he would be meeting someone who would soon become one of the
world's most celebrated pop culture icons.

When New Boston resident Gene Wilson started high school, he had no idea he would be meeting someone who would soon become one of the world's most celebrated pop
culture icons.

"It was June in 1955. I was at a drive-in cafe in New Boston and this singer along with his three side men were sitting with some girls at two tables that have been put together,"
Wilson said. "They had just finished having lettuce, tomato and bacon sandwiches, along with tea and Coke. He picked up the tab for all of them, handed the waitress a $10 tip and
he eventually walked on over to me, put his hand out and said 'Hi, I'm Elvis Presley.'"

That chance meeting, along with Wilson's love of rockabilly music and continued interest in Presley's subsequent stellar career, prompted Wilson to write a 155-page book about
the King of Rock, titled "Elvis Aaron Presley — The People's Star."

"When you think of the conditions he grew up in, as well as how he interacted with fans and never wanted to be alone, he really did belong to all the people and he became their
star," said Wilson, who spent about five months writing the book before getting it published in August of last year. "I Found Elvis to be generous, polite and charming. It seemed like
he could walk in a room that had every kind of person in there and the room would just light up."

Wilson said his reason for writing the book grew out of a need to not only show what unique connection Presley seemed have with people through his stage performance persona,
but also to counter some negative myths about Presley as well as shine some light on some unknown areas.

Wilson, who lives in Dallas, plans to be at the New Boston Public Library from about 10 a.m. to noon Saturday to sell autographed copies of his book. He attributed much of
Presley's appeal not only his stage and song performances, but also to the influence of his years growing up poor in Mississippi.

"He always seemed very polite to people — even to people who were not at all very much older then he was," Wilson said.

Prior to meeting Presley, Wilson said he had actually received somewhat of an early introduction to the dynamic stage performer by listening to a Texarkana radio personality
during that time named Jim LeFan, starting in about late 1954 to early 1955.

"I would listen to Jim's hour-long program that often featured talk about Presley even before I met him," Wilson said. "Back during that time, I really loved the rockabilly music that
was new and starting to come out."

Not long after hearing some of of Presley's early songs recorded on the Sun Records label, in addition to listening to LeFan's talk-show programs about this new rising young
recording artist, Wilson got to see Presley perform twice in New Boston — the first time in February 1955 when Presley and his small band performed in the New Boston High
School gym and later in June 1955 when Presley performed at the school's football stadium.

"At that time, he drew about 100 kids to the gym and later on he performed in front of about 400 at the stadium. And back then, it only cost one dollar to see him," Wilson said. "At
the time, Elvis had longer hair then the rest of us because at that time all high school guys had these short-cropped, flat-top haircuts or burr cuts."

Wilson would go on to see Elvis perform several times at the Texarkana, Arkansas, Municipal Auditorium. He remained an Elvis fan, going to see Presley's concerts during the
1970s whenever and wherever he could, including in Las Vegas, Dallas and Miami. He saw Elvis for the last time performing at the Dallas Municipal Auditorium on Dec. 27, 1976.
As for Wilson himself, his career path took him on to becoming an award-winning sportswriter for the Dallas Morning New, as well as spending nine years working for Fairchild
Publications in the that firm's Dallas offices. He would also go on to start his own public relations-sports marketing company, which he operated for 30 years.
Wilson was working for Fairchild Publications in 1977 when he received word that Elvis died.

"I got a call at the office and I was so devastated I almost collapsed," he said. "It was almost like loosing a family member. I cried and weeks later I still couldn't believe it."
But for Wilson, getting to meet Presley at the genesis of the singers's career will be something he will never forget.

"For the reach he had in stardom, he really was and still is the people's star," he said

Originating Source - Texarkana Gazette

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