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Meeting Chet Atkins was one of the great events of my life. In 1959 I was a Texas State Game Warden who had begun trying to learn to pick the guitar something like Chet. Ha ha. I could have learned brain surgery easier. I just knew that Chet's music was the greatest sound I'd ever heard, and I had to try. I decided to meet Chet. I began calling RCA studio in Nashville, and three days later I finally got to speak with the man himself. I told him how I felt about his music, and that I wanted to meet him in person. "I'll come to Nashville, Chet, if I can meet with you. If I can't meet you, I'm not comin'." He asked when I planned to be there, and when I told him, he said, "As far as I know, I'll be here at that time. Just come to RCA and ask for me." My wife and I hit the road for Nashville, and when we arrived at the studio, it was on a Friday. I deposited Marjorie at a nearby hotel and went right to the studio and asked the receptionist for Chet. She advised that he was recording and would be out shortly. I took a seat and waited, noting a celebrity or two entering or leaving the place. About ten minutes later Chet came walking up to me and stuck his hand out and said, "Hi, I'm Chet." Lord have mercy! It was CHET ATKINS! "I know," I said. We made some small talk about how my trip was going, and one thing or another. He looked at his watch, and I thought he was going to have to break it off and leave. He asked where my wife was and I told him she was at the hotel. He said ,"They serve some good food over there. Let's go have lunch and we can talk there."

Marjorie came down to meet us in the restaurant, and we three sat down and ordered food. Marge was as much a Chet fan as I was, and we two were in a picker's heaven. We talked with this beautiful man easily. Chet made it easy, and treated us almost like family. You couldn't help but fall in love with the guy, he was so kind and gentlemanly. Eventually, we finished our meal, and again, I thought our meeting must end. I wanted to buy Chet's meal, but he wouldn't have it that way. He treated us! He said he had to get back to the studio, and asked me if we had plans for that night. I said no, we had come mainly to meet him. He suggested we meet him at WSM radio studio, and he'd take us to the Friday Night Frolics if we wanted to go. Did I want my next breath? We met him and he introduced us to so many celebrities I can't even remember who most of them were. The music was all terrific, and I met Hank Garland, and heard his artistry.

When this entertainment was finished I felt like God was blessing us to the hilt. In parting for the night, Chet asked me if we had planned to see the Opry the next night. I said we had not planned on it, therefore had no tickets. He grinned and said, "I want you and Marjorie to meet me tomorrow night at the stage entrance to the auditorium, and I'll take you in with me. We did, and he did! Again, he introduced us to everyone we hadn't met the night before, and some we had. Marty Robbins, StringBean, Archie Campbell, and many other great Opry performers. We stayed backstage with Chet and chatted with many performers for awhile. Chet disappeared for a moment, and I finally spotted him sitting in one of the soundproof practice rooms, motioning for me to come in. I went in and listened as he warmed up for his performance. He played music I'd heard on record, and I was like someone who had been given a drug.

The Opry went on and I heard none of it, not as long as I was with Chet. If someone had tried to hurt that man, I'd have killed him, I think. Chet has that effect of most of us I guess, and you can't keep from loving him. Margie took some pictures of Chet and me standing side by side. Then he stepped closer and put his arm around me and she got that photo too. He couldn't have meant more to me at that moment if he'd been a brother.

Well, that's the way the first meeting went. We've met several times since then, in different parts of the country, and he always treated us beautifully, like family, I guess. Some years back I lost track of him, and I've tried many ways to reach him, but no success. Chet has had bad times with cancer, I've lost Marjorie to breast cancer, I've had prostate cancer myself, and dadburnit, I want to see Chet one more time before either of us have to vacate the premises! That's my story. A huge event in my life of 71 years. The most important event was becoming a Christian. I hope you or whoever reads this finds it interesting. Chet has always been a great blessing for me.

- Travis Hobbs

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