The Bright Lights of Muleshoe

The Bright Lights of Muleshoe

by Alice Liles


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Product Details

ISBN-13: 9781546252887
Publisher: AuthorHouse
Publication date: 08/30/2018
Pages: 218
Sales rank: 568,121
Product dimensions: 8.50(w) x 11.00(h) x 0.59(d)

About the Author

Thirty-eight years in Muleshoe, Texas, has gifted me with a wealth of stories about the people, places, and history of our little town in the Blackwater Valley. But as time goes by, these priceless stories and town history are often lost forever as the people who know the details die and take their history to the grave with them. The Bright Lights of Muleshoe is a repository of West Texas lore set in a place with a name as unique as its peopleMuleshoe. From a great newspaper sting to the travels of a fiberglass mule, this book tells the rich history of small-town life. But you dont have to be from Muleshoe to enjoy these stories because the common denominator in each and every one is the human experience.

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HISTORY — and a Few Stories to Go with It


Posted November 1, 2011

Back in the late '70s, a trip to visit Bill's Aunt Ruth and Uncle Leroy Berggren at their farm between Farwell and Bovina took us through Muleshoe and by the Mule Memorial. We piled out of the car and took your typical tourist picture with the mule. Who knew that in 1980 we would move to Muleshoe and drive by that mule every day, sometimes more than once!

So, I wanted to know Ol' Pete's story, which started, interestingly enough, not in Muleshoe, but in Fort Worth, Texas. Time has passed, and most of the principal players are gone, but this is what I can piece together. It seems writer and historian V.H. Torrance from Austin, upon visiting the Fort Worth Fat Stock Show, lamented the absence of mules at the event and the mule's demise from the American scene and wrote about it in the Fort Worth Star-Telegram. Dr. J.B. Barnett from Marlin, after reading the story, saw the need for a memorial to the hard-working mule and sent a contribution along with a suggestion that a mule memorial be erected at the Will Rogers Coliseum in Fort Worth. Then, George Dolan, a columnist for the Fort Worth newspaper, wrote about receiving the contribution and suggestion, which was then read by Gil Lamb and Carroll Pouncey, Pouncey being the Muleshoe Chamber of Commerce manager at the time. Lamb and Pouncey wrote to Barnett and Dolan arguing why a mule memorial should be in Muleshoe instead of Fort Worth. I think it was about this time that Mrs. Middlebrook's fourth grade class at DeShazo Elementary gathered donations, and student Cindy Smith sent the money and yet more arguments to Mr. Dolan for why the memorial should be in Muleshoe.

At this point, Dr. Barnett traveled to Muleshoe and enjoyed the red-carpet treatment as Gil Lamb presented him with myriad reasons why the memorial should come to Muleshoe. Dr. Barnett was introduced to Gil Lamb's Muletrain on KMUL, shown Lamb's mule collection, told about the Muleshoe Ranch and that Highway 84 ran right through town, and all travelers would be exposed to the mule. The fact that the city was named Muleshoe, the school's athletic teams were named after mules, and the high school yearbook was called The Muletrain all factored in as reasons the mule memorial should be here instead of Fort Worth. Convinced, Dr. Barnett helped organize the National Mule Memorial Association. To get the word out about the desire to honor the mule for its many contributions to the development of early America and its role in our early war efforts, Gil Lamb also wrote a story carried by the AP wire service, which gave it international exposure, even being carried in the Stars and Stripes newspaper read by our soldiers overseas. Many soldiers even sent in donations themselves.

When the West Texas dust cleared, over seven hundred donations had come in from all over the world, but ironically, not many from Muleshoe. Most of the donations were small, something like five dollars, which also earned the contributor a membership card in the National Mule Memorial Association. I didn't discover what the final total came to, but I know it wasn't enough for a bronze statue, which was what the association first desired. A bronze statue was cost-prohibitive, so things were stalled briefly until someone from the Fiberglass Menagerie company from California came through town and convinced the association that fiberglass, which was fairly new at the time, having been developed during World War II to replace molded plywood used in airplane radar domes, was indeed durable and strong enough to be suitable material for making the mule. He showed examples of their work, and it was decided that fiberglass would work.

An actual Muleshoe mule named Old Pete owned by Dave Andrews was photographed to be used as the model, and sculptor Kevin Wolf from Aurora, Colorado, set to work on the statue. When he was finished, Bill Jim St. Clair flew out to California to approve the completed design, and he also donated a large building block that came from the St. Clair Department store for the statue to stand upon. The memorial was placed near the Santa Fe Depot in the depot's original location at the corner of American Boulevard and Main Street. Cecil Davis saw to it that the memorial had a historical marker.

The dedication was set for July 3, 1965, because the Fourth was on a Sunday that year, and back then the Sabbath was still held sacred, and no major events were scheduled on a Sunday. Two days of activities were planned for that time, leading up to the dedication of the memorial on the third. Around ten thousand people were on hand for the gala affair, including then Texas Attorney General Waggoner Carr. Dr. Barnett, without whom the memorial might not have ever existed, regrettably had died earlier and did not get to see the memorial become a reality.

Ol' Pete stood at his original location for many years sort of by himself, and then he became a part of the structure where he now stands. Here's how it went, I think. The land for the mule memorial had been deeded to the city by the Santa Fe Railroad Company. The depot that stood nearby had been closed in the '70s, and Santa Fe wanted to give away the depot and move it in the '80s, which led to the building of a new chamber of commerce office and visitors center in that location in 1999. Ol' Pete was going to have to be relocated for all that to happen, and because he was a state-certified memorial with a marker, permission had to be gained from the Texas Historical Commission. They finally agreed when it was determined that it would involve a move of only a few feet. The stone from St. Clair's was replaced, and Ol' Pete and his historical marker were moved to what is now his permanent location on the deck of the Hugh Young Visitors Center and Chamber of Commerce office, which was dedicated on July 4, 2000.

In the Denver airport, the Mule Memorial is shown on this large map of the United States that highlights places of interest in all the states. Note that this is an early photograph of Pete in his original location.

My kids would always scoff at people who stopped to take a picture with the mule. I told them not to laugh too loud, as somewhere tucked away I had that same picture of them with the mule. Ol' Pete is a constant ambassador for the town and serves us well. He has been pictured and written about in several magazines, including recently in Texas Highways. In fact, he has even traveled out of state on occasion, and I will tell you about that in next week's edition, as well as one incident that is legend in Muleshoe.

More information and photographs of the Mule Memorial Dedication can be found in Tales and Trails of Bailey County, the first 70 years. Taylor Publishing Company, Dallas, TX, 1988.


Posted November 9, 2011

While Ol' Pete spends most of his time taking pictures with people traveling through Muleshoe, he did have the opportunity to visit our nation's capital in 2001 for President George Bush's inauguration. It all started with Larry and Rick Meyers, sons of Jinx and Rowena Meyers, who grew up in Muleshoe but moved to Washington, DC, where they established a consulting/lobbying firm. Brother Cliff, who moved to Lubbock, was also in on the deal. They all three may have moved, but they never forgot their Muleshoe roots, and together with other transplanted Texans who moved to the DC area, they formed a group known as the Texas State Society. The Texas State Society planned a bipartisan Texas-themed black-tie ball for the night of the inauguration festivities and came up with the grand idea that Ol' Pete should be there as well. It took a little sweet-talking and maneuvering, but they gained permission from City Hall and the Texas Historical Commission to remove him from his permanent home and let him be an honored guest at the ball. After more phone calls and cajoling, it was agreed that Pete could hitch a ride to and from the party with other memorabilia that Texas Tech University would be sending to the inauguration.

Needless to say, Pete wouldn't be the only one from Muleshoe to make the trek to the Capitol. Along with the three Meyers brothers, Muleshoe was represented by Muleshoe Mayor Victor Leal and his wife, Debbie; Chuck Smith; David and Diane Smith; Vicki Jinks; Bruce and Cindy Purdy; Charles and Jerie Nell Flowers; Mike and Cris Cleavinger; Pat Young, her daughter Tisha (Boehning), and son and daughter-in-law, Tadd and Annie Young. They all had invitations, like the one below, to the ball and had to be checked out by the Secret Service before being approved to attend. Nothing was said about checking out Ol' Pete's credentials ...

Rick Meyers cohosting President and Mrs. Bush, Vice President Dick and Lynne Cheney, Governor Rick Perry, and Kay Bailey Hutchison at the Black Tie and Boots Ball.

The 2001 Black Tie and Boots Presidential Inauguration Ball was the brainchild of the Texas State Society; the Muleshoe Martini and Cigar Bar at this ball was the creation of Rick and Larry Meyers. And this is where Ol' Pete was to hold court, except they couldn't get him into the Marriott Wardman Park Hotel to do so! With a little manual labor and deconstruction of an entry door into the hotel's kitchen, Pete finally made his entrance to the delight of the partygoers. President Bush did, in fact, visit the bar, along with Laura Bush, Vice President and Mrs. Cheney, Kay Bailey Hutchison, and Governor Perry. And as the night wore on and the martini bar lived up to its name, things got pretty lively. I'm sure Pete was the silent witness to many events and stories that are probably best left untold, but an exhibition of mule riding (think Debra Winger on the mechanical bull in Urban Cowboy) was one display that probably everyone else saw, too.

This ticket to the Inaugural Parade allowed the Muleshoe group to be seated on a reviewing stand where they had a good seat for watching the parade.

As the party wound down, it was time to get Pete to his assigned spot for the parade to come, so Clifton Meyers, Victor Leal, Mike Cleavinger, Chuck Smith, Bruce Purdy, and Charles Flowers gathered him up, loaded him in the back of a pickup, and jumped in the back with him. Then, off they went in the freezing rain to find the float on which he would ride for the parade. As they were racing from red light to red light, holding on dearly to the mule lest he get banged up before they could get him home safely to Muleshoe, Victor Leal fondly remembers looking up and seeing, in the distance, the Washington Monument between Pete's ears. How neat is that?

But get him there they did, and he proceeded to travel the parade route on a float, thanks to the Texas State Society, with a longhorn steer, bluebonnets, and other things Texan, along with Rick Meyers, Cliff Meyers, Ben Crenshaw, Miss Texas, Tara Watson, Mayor Leal, and others I am probably leaving out by accident. And the rest, as they say, is history.

Rick Meyers and Victor Leal with the float. (I don't think the Road Work Ahead sign is part of the float!)

Pete made it home no worse for wear, but much more worldly, and back to the safety of his perch on American Boulevard, where he still stands to greet visitors and serves in honor of mules and their contributions to society.

Thanks to Clifton Meyers, Rowena Meyers, Chuck Smith, Victor Leal, Magann Rennels, Cliff Black, Juana Shelburne, Jerie Flowers, and Pat Young for their help on this and the Mule Memorial story.


Posted November 29, 2011

Another legend that circulates about Ol' Pete is that he spent some time on top of Muleshoe High School. One source said it was a group of boys from Springlake-Earth who were responsible, and that may be right, but I couldn't find another person to corroborate that story.

Then I finally realized I was looking in all the wrong places. I sent Bill to coffee with instructions to inquire of the old guys he gossips with — yes, men do gossip; they just call it going to coffee — if they knew anything about it. After all, most of them grew up in Muleshoe, have been here for the duration, might even be the ones responsible for Ol' Pete's relocation ...

Well, that wasn't the case, but in a heartbeat and after a chuckle, the lead miscreant was revealed, and I knew exactly who could give me the goods. So, once again, names will not be used to protect the guilty, an exercise in futility, but that was the deal. Here's what I found out.

This time, the adventure took place in the early '70s with a slightly younger group of boys. It was a time of low school spirit, an unsuccessful football team, too many boys not in athletics with too much time on their hands, and a bootlegger on every corner to oil the wheels of the boys' bad decisions. This was also back in the days when kids weren't given fancy new dependable vehicles that made it easy to cruise over to Clovis when the mood struck, so the boys came up with their own entertainment, which usually involved dragging Main at home.

Other entertainment they thought up was a bit more involved and required some problem-solving skills. They located the two sensors that turned the street lights on and off and figured out that if they shined a spotlight on the sensors, the lights would go off just long enough for them to use their handy 9/16 wrench to loosen the bolts anchoring the mule to his stand, one per hoof. Then they would whisk Ol' Pete into the back of a pickup so he could carouse with them. Pete graced the yards of teachers' homes, and yes, the top of the school library, and covered lots of miles in various pickups while the boys made every stoplight — the town had about six then — participating in Chinese fire drills along the way, depositing many a beer bottle on the top of St. Clair's Department Store, and in general aggravating adults but somehow not getting caught or stopped.

But it was the beer bottles they threw up on the St. Clair building's flat roof that was their final undoing, not hauling Pete around. Someone had to go up on the roof to fix something, discovered an alarmingly huge number of empties, and it was decided that things had gone on long enough. The late H.D. Hunter, then pastor of the Assembly of God Church, who happened to be on pretty good terms with the kids, decided it was time to have a visit with them. A meeting was arranged, and they all sat down for a friendly yet stern talk about their behavior. Reverend Hunter explained the embarrassment they were causing their parents, some of the consequences they might ultimately suffer for their misdeeds, the real dangers and accidents they had luckily avoided but could still encounter, and the fact that so far, the mule had gone through all this unscathed, but it would take only one injury to the mule or themselves, and things would no longer be just for fun. The boys respected Mr. Hunter, loved their parents, and in the end didn't want to hurt any of them, so they decided perhaps the time had come to find something less offensive to do. So, they stopped.


Excerpted from "The Bright Lights of Muleshoe"
by .
Copyright © 2018 Alice Liles.
Excerpted by permission of AuthorHouse.
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
Excerpts are provided by Dial-A-Book Inc. solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.

Table of Contents

Preface, v,
Foreword, vii,
The Bright Lights Of Muleshoe, viii,
HISTORY — and a Few Stories to Go with It, 1,
Ol' Pete, the Mule Memorial, 2,
Travels with Ol' Pete, 7,
One More Mule Memory, 11,
Tales and Trails of Bailey County ... the First 70 Years, 13,
Muleshoe Heritage Center, 17,
Muleshoe Heritage Center-There's More, 25,
Meet Me at the Yellow Jacket, 32,
More History Comes to the Janes Ranch House, 39,
Quanah Parker Shot an Arrow into the Air, 43,
The Heritage Thrift Shop, 46,
The Oldest Wildlife Refuge in Texas, 51,
Golf, Anyone?, 57,
FORTUNE AND GLORY — People and Places of Interest and Why They Are Famous, 63,
Need an Answer? Ask Magann, 64,
Olabelle and the Muleshoe Public Library, 69,
Jesse Leal 1930&ndsah;2009, 74,
Coach Washington 1925&ndsah;2010, 76,
Ronnie Jones 1941&ndsah;2014, 79,
Nelda Merriott 1934&ndsah;2016, 81,
Dr. Jerry Gleason, DVM, 87,
The Gunsmith, 93,
Welcome to the Dari Delite, Home of the Hershey Burger, 102,
The Art Loft, 105,
Muleshoe Animal Clinic, 109,
Muleshoe Livestock Auction, 116,
Barrett Produce, 127,
The Wizard of One Act and Other UIL Events, 134,
You Might Live in a Small West Texas Town ..., 138,
High-Rise Condo or Grain Elevator?, 140,
What's Your Given Name?, 142,
How 'Bout That Haboob!, 144,
My Version of the Emerald City, 147,
West Texas Skies, 151,
FOOTBALL — Yes, We're in Texas, Remember?, 155,
Where Does Your Team Play?, 156,
The Christening of the New and Improved Benny Douglass Stadium, 157,
Hellen's Mule, 161,
The Perfect Season, 164,
Football Season is Also Pregame Meal Season, 169,
The Water Tower Story, 173,
The Bonfire from Our Backyard, 174,
TALES FROM SCHOOL — Muleshoe High School, That Is, 179,
The Vocabulary Story, 180,
The Vitamind, 181,
Sophie the Sofa Cat — a Story about a Cat and Muleshoe High School, 182,
Tales from School, 186,
Tales from School — the Wild Thing Revisited, 188,
More Tales from School, 189,
Oh, the Fun We Had! More Tales from School, 192,
An R-Rated Tale from School — or Maybe PG-13 in Today's World, 194,
R-Rated Tales from School Continued, 195,
Elizabeth Watson and The Get My S*** Together Story, 196,
Acknowledgements, 199,
Index, 201,
About the Author, 209,

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