March 20, 2013 Edition

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Recalls visits with Presley

Thelma Kisling
Guest Writer

Buddy Kisling, formerly of Lawrence County, worked at Savings Service Station in the 1950s and early 1960s. The station was open 24 hours a day and Buddy usually worked the night shift.

Teens would often stop and buy a quarter's worth of gas, which at that time was about a gallon, and a large percentage of the clientele would pull up to the pump and say give me a dollar's worth of regular. Of course there were those who wanted a fill-up. Regardless of the amount of the sale, their gas was put in their tank by the attendant. Each was entitled to a windshield washing and oil check, air for their tires was free and so was the direction information.

Kids dragging Main would sometimes stop and ask for directions to Walnut Ridge, come back by and stop and ask directions to Hoxie. They were creating their own entertainment.

Joe Minor's garage was next door to the station if anyone was having car trouble. If it were going to take a while to get their car fixed, they would always step into Mrs. Combs' combination grocery and cafe for a bite to eat.

Even with gas at 29 9/10 and living only a half mile from the station, Buddy remembers running out of gas going to work or home and buying gas on credit until payday.

Back then there were two 12-hour shifts at the station. When Buddy worked the night shift he often took his guitar with him to keep him company and help stay awake on those long nights when business was slow.

He remembers one Saturday night a musical band stopped for gas, one of the guys spotted Buddy's guitar, came inside, picked it up and started playing. As it turned out this guy was Elvis Presley. The band had been playing at Newport and were on their way back to Memphis.

Savings Oil was probably the only station open that late at night. Presley stopped a few times after that and would sometimes bring his own guitar in and stay and play awhile. Of course he was just a small-time musician at that time and not yet the superstar he later became.

One day several years later, Kisling's brother-in-law, JR Rogers, after learning the story, asked about it. However, the guitar had already been sold or traded to someone in the area.

Buddy retired from City Water and Light in Jonesboro after 31 years and now resides with his wife of 55 years, Thelma Kisling, in Jonesboro and Bonita Springs, Fla.

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