Inspired by teachers, Havelock native Gary Shelton found his passion and a career

Published: Tuesday, August 6, 2013 at 09:16 PM.

"It was behind what was then called Vernon’s Texaco. Other people know it as Gray’s Texaco," Shelton said. "My father was a machinist on base. My mother (Shirley Shelton) also worked on base and in the evening she made wedding cakes. She taught the Dale Carnegie Course in public speaking and she chaperoned beauty queens. She used to work with Miss America pageants a lot."

Shelton found that the key to his future was stored on the shelves of the school library.

"Mrs. Green got me into the library and she found out I loved history and she got me to read all the biographies," he said. "There was a good little library at what is now Arthur Edwards for kids. But Havelock’s library back then, the children’s library was one bookcase, 3-foot tall, three shelves, 4-foot wide. I went through every one of those books one summer. If it hadn’t been for the ladies lending books to me growing up, I don’t know what I would have done."

One of those books started Shelton’s career.

"There was a biography of a man named Erik Weisz, who was Harry Houdini," Shelton said. "But I had no idea who he was. Most people don’t know his real name, and I read that book there. Then later on when I went to high school, my mother spent the last three dollars out of her purse and bought a book by Melbourne Christopher called ‘Houdini: The Untold Story.’"

About that time, actor Paul Michael Glaser did the Houdini Indian Needle Trick in a movie.

"Well, all my friends were talking about it at lunch, and I remembered in that book that it taught how to do it and I said ‘Well I can do that,’" Shelton recalled. "Well the next day they brought them and between needles thread and chocolate milk I performed it at the high school."

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