Monday, November 28, 2011

One More Mule Memory

The other legend that circulates about  Ol’ Pete is that he spent some time up 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 the 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, had 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 new fancy dependable vehicles that made it easy to cruise over to Clovis on the spur of the moment when the mood struck, so the boys came up with their own entertainment, which usually involved dragging Main at home. And other little touches…

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  him 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 stop light-the town had about six then-participating in Chinese fire drills along the way, deposited many a beer bottle on the top of St. Clair’s Department Store, and in general aggravated many adults but somehow not getting caught or stopped.

But it was the beer bottles they threw up on St. Clair’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 up there, 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. Mr. Hunter explained to them the embarrassment they were causing their parents, some of the consequences they might ultimately suffer from 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 else less offensive to do.  So they stopped. And if truth be told, after the talk, some of the fun had probably gone out of stealing Ol’ Pete anyway.

And that was the end of Ol’ Pete’s running around.  At least until he had the chance to visit Washington, D.C. legally and all. If there are more adventures to be told, it will be up to someone else to tell those tales. I’m all out, and Pete seems perfectly happy with his more sedate life.

So if you don’t have a picture of yourself with Ol’ Pete, next time you are in his neighborhood, take one, like Bob and Virginia Yatzeck from Springfield, Virginia, did-


-or like  Kaley (Mrs. T.J.) Hutto of  Lubbock (on Ol’ Pete), Debbi Hutto of Muleshoe and Canyon,  Kaley’s mom Connie Wedemeier, and Kaley’s sisters Whitney and Lindsey Wedemeier, all from Iowa.


You see, Pete’s a pretty famous guy,  whose fame continues to spread far and wide. And all his adventures are true!

Friday, November 25, 2011

Mules 33- Merkel 27

The Mules beat the Merkel Badgers 33-27 tonight at People's Bank Stadium in Frenship on a breezy, damp, cold night. Apparently not too cold, however, as Mule fans were everywhere.We had a good crowd, but then, we only had to drive an hour to the game; Merkel fans had to commit to about three hours, but they had a good crowd, too.

The Mules jumped out ahead 7-0  first quarter on a Saul Elizalde touchdown, but Merkel bounced back second quarter and took the lead 7-14. I will have to admit I dropped the ball-no pun intended!- on my notetaking for a bit right here (long  story, don't ask), so you will have to rely on the newspaper stats to fill in the blanks, but I can tell you that the score is tied in the third quarter 21-21, Merkel gets three penalties right in a row, and we start the fourth quarter with the ball, but can't move it, and Merkel makes the touchdown but fail on their two-point conversion attempt. So now the score is 21-27 with 9:22 on the clock. We retaliate with an Elizalde run and a Jr. Baca touchdown, but then we miss the extra point, so it is tied up again, this time 27-27. The ball changes hands two more times, and Beau Avila and Elizalde set up a 61-yard touchdown with 3:12 on the clock, but Juan Guerrero misses the PAT and the score is 33-27. Merkel can't move the ball and we get it back, thanks to a Ray Martinez interception. We are able to keep the ball for the remaining 1:17, and the game is over. Final score- Mules 33, Merkel 27.

Merkel had a strong running game, not so good with the passing game: Muleshoe's offense was a little out of sync at first,  but the Mules were able to take advantage of Merkel's mistakes, and the rest, as the cliche goes, is history.

The Mules will meet Eastland next Friday, but time and location have not been announced yet. So check the newspapers, Gil Lamb, or the Muleshoe Sports, fill up the gas tank, wash your black sweatshirt, and get ready for the road trip.

Mule Mania is still kickin'!

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Thanksgiving is the Forgotten Holiday

I like Thanksgiving. I like the fact that it is a distinctly American holiday.  I like the turkey and dressing and all the side dishes. I like the family sounds and the football sounds. I like the crispness of the weather. I like giving thanks and counting my blessings.

But Thanksgiving gets lost in the retail frenzy to sell stuff. Halloween seems to have gotten bigger lately and starting sooner. People are decorating outside more and costumes seem more important than ever.

Then the minute after October 31st, Halloween, Fall, and Thanksgiving go on the sale rack to make room for Christmas. The Day of Thanks is overshadowed by the overhyped Black Friday sales. And what an unpleasant name for it; I know why they call it that, but it sounds like Depression Day or something, which to me it is. Mobs of people with mostly unhappy looks on their faces fighting the crowds for superfluous stuff  all  in the name of saving a buck.

I do appreciate the fact that merchants need business to stay in business, but the commercialization of Christmas  has really gotten out of hand and overshadows the reason we celebrate Christmas in the first place.  But then you know that. Starting Christmas in November, and really, even before that, pretty much devalues what Christmas should be about, the birth of Christ,  and takes away much of the significance of Thanksgiving, other than it is just another big meal to get out of the way before we go shopping.

So this year try something different. Look forward to the Thanksgiving meal. Invite someone to share your table who, for whatever reason, might be alone on that day. Turn off the TV during the meal, put away the cell phones,  and enjoy the people who are sharing in your bounty. Do something cheesy, like actually taking turns naming what you have to be thankful for. And we do all have things to be thankful for, no matter what trials and tribulations we might have endured during the past year. We are truly blessed, be it by something practical  that we probably take for granted, like  a working water heater, or something as grand and irreplaceable as our health. But then, we tend to take that for granted, too, until we lose it.  But that is the whole point-we have so much to be thankful for, we tend to forget what we have been blessed with.

Which leads us back to Christmas, which, now that we have appropriately celebrated Thanksgiving, will come in all due course with its proper  emphasis.

Happy Thanksgiving.


Saturday, November 19, 2011

Mules 43-Godley 27

The Mules won the Area Champions football trophy last night, beating Godley 43-27 in the Mustang Bowl at Sweetwater. It was quite a game. I took loads of notes; Bill said too many notes. Let me see how much of it I wind up overloading you with.

To start with, there were definitely more Mule fans there than Wildcat fans, but at least their band was there on time to play their school song, and later, as the home team, The Star-Spangled Banner. The field is down below ground level, hence the name Mustang Bowl, so the wind, which was blowing quite well and continued all night, was at least not quite as cold as it could have been since it was not blowing up on your legs through the seats.

But on to the game. We received first and marched down the field before quarterback Beau Avila was sacked and then threw an interception. So Godley drives down and Saul Elizalde intercepts one himself , which eventually leads to a touchdown and extra point, the score now 7-0 and the clock stands at 4:16, first quarter. With 2:49 left in the quarter, Godley slips by for their own touchdown and point after, tying the score at 7-7. which is how the quarter ends. But at least by now the band has arrived, and there is a little more noise from our stands.

Godley starts off with a bang, or I should say touchdown, a mere 43 seconds into the second quarter, and the score is 7-14. But we drive back down and Isaac Baca runs in for another score, so now it is 14-14. On Godley’s next possession they just nearly score, and Coach Wood calls time out to chew on a few Mule butts, to no avail, apparently, because Godley then goes on to score, which is called back on a face mask penalty. We then answer with a face mask penalty of our own, and they are just about to score again when, luckily for us, they drop the ball and we recover on the 5-yard line. But then we don’t take advantage of the gift, can’t score, and have to punt. Low and behold, Godley fumbles again, we get it and this time Ryan Deleon catches a long pass and scores, Elizalde kicks and the score is now 21-14. Godley gives the Mules yet another fumble after the kick-off and once again we can’t use it to score, but at least that keeps Godley from scoring. Another Muleshoe interception, another Godley fumble and with 2 seconds on the clock, Elizalde barely misses a field goal and it is half-time.

Third quarter and  Godley eats up 5 minutes and 56 seconds before finally making the touchdown but missing the point after, and the score is 21-20. It’s at this point that things get a little scary. We punt, recover another fumble, get a penalty and even get it to the 5-yard line and can’t score. And the score is 21-20, remember. ..

So the fourth quarter starts with the football gods on our side-we catch them in the end zone for a safety, and we follow up with a touchdown, so now the score is 30-20. Godley follows with a touchdown, making the score 30-27 with 8:32 on the clock, so it’s a little dicey again! And I may be the only person who saw it this way, but at this point the Godley band fired up a very fast version of that Hey! Go (fill in your mascot)! song and I swear it threw the tempo off on the playing field as well. Everything felt rushed. I felt rushed and wondered what it would do the team. Well, a personal foul was called, we got a first down out of the deal,  and made a touchdown, so I guess it worked out okay. The score is 37-27 with 3:57 left. Elizalde kicks the ball out of bounds twice, so they send in Joe Guerrero and he kicks out of bounds! But we go on to intercept another pass and score with it this time and planned to kick the extra point, but a bad snap caused a change of plans and Avila couldn’t quite turn it into a two-point conversion, so the score is now 43-27 with 2:03 left in the game. Guerrero kicks another one out of bounds, and at this point the game is over. The last minute, thirty-nine on the clock is allowed to run out, and the celebrating began.

Now here’s where things get fuzzy. We leave the game with the understanding that the Mules will play Merkel at Frenship next Friday. This morning the TV says Childress won, UIL says Merkel won  but shows a different score than  the newspaper. So since UIL should be the final authority, I am going to say that the Mules will play Merkel on Friday at a location to be announced!

Way to be, Mules! Great game.

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

The Mule of Many Colors

Long before Ol’ Pete took his trip to Washington, D.C., he had a few other adventures that were fodder for the  stories we heard  when we first moved here. Naturally, the history of Ol’ Pete wouldn’t be complete without documentation of those misadventures, so let me tell you what I found out about the time Pete was painted lime green with pink polka dots.

I tracked down the ring leader of this infamous escapade  and had to promise to use no names, to protect the guilty, even though I’ll bet half the town could name names if you asked them. Sometime in the late 60s, which would have been just a few short years after Pete came to Muleshoe as the Mule Memorial, this  group of high school seniors who stayed in trouble together came up with a plan to give him this  interesting look. They drew straws, and my source drew the short straw, which meant that he had to paint the mule. The others were the look-outs who were to watch for police and others and honk their horn when someone approached so the painter could hide behind the nearby railroad cars. This was before the Chamber of Commerce and Visitors Center was built, remember, and most of the time railroad cars would be conveniently parked in the vicinity  to hide behind.

The mule decorating was completed without a hitch and all went well, until the next day when the brouhaha hit the fan and the town was aghast and dismayed  that someone had defiled their new national monument. After all, a lot of people went to a lot of trouble to get that mule in Muleshoe, he was still shiny and new,  and now someone had sullied the results of all that hard work.

And the perpetrators might have gotten away with it, except that the next day  the painter of the mule was summoned to pick up his mother at the beauty shop, and his fingernails outlined in lime green paint were his undoing. His mother, observant as most mothers are,  noticed them right off, was horrified at her discovery, and sent her wayward son back to the car immediately. He didn’t say so, but I suspect there was hell to pay when he got home.

But who knew? Being pretty typical teenagers, I’m sure it seemed like a good idea at the time. And they did at least have the forethought to use water-based paint, so Ol’ Pete’s appropriate mule brown finish was restored without a hitch when city workers were dispatched to make things right again.

My informant told me with a chuckle that they had no idea their paint job would upset so many people so much. And of course, they never gave a thought to the fact they would be defacing public property that also happened to be a national monument. They really could have gotten into a boatload of trouble. But the world was a different place back then. I guess by the time things settled down and the mule was back to his original finish, everyone was  just glad everything was back to normal, no lasting harm had been done,  and the story became a part of Muleshoe folklore.

At least now I have saved it for future generations to be able to read about, much to the chagrin of those who were involved, I guess! And if I was really good with Photo Shop, which I am not, I could have tried to recreate that lovely paint job for you, which I won’t. So let your imagination run wild and conjure up your own vision of Ol” Pete as a green and pink Appaloosa. Have fun!

In all my digging for this story, I also unearthed information about the other  Ol’ Pete adventure we heard about when we moved here. Tune in next week for one last mule story.

Friday, November 11, 2011

The Mules Will Play Godley

The playoff season has begun. Godley beat Bangs tonight 56-7, which means the Mules will meet Godley Friday night, November 18th, in Sweetwater at 7:30.

This is a pretty short blog since we didn’t go to this game,  and I have no first-hand observations to share with you, but I did promise playoff information, so here it is. Short and sweet.

Mule Mania is on the march. Go Mules!

Tuesday, November 8, 2011

Travels with Ol’ Pete

Old_Pete_in_Washington_2001Photo courtesy of Clifton Meyers.

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 Capitol 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, D.C., 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 D.C. area and formed a group known as the Texas State Society, planned a bi-partisan 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 Tadd and Annie Young.  They all had invitations to the ball and had to be checked out by the Secret Service before being approved to attend the ball. Nothing was said about checking out Ol’ Pete’s credentials…

IMG_6147Invitation to the Black Tie and  Boots Presidential Inauguration Ball 2001

Rick Meyers Co-Host of the 2001 Black Tie & Boots Inaugural BallRick Meyers co-hosting President and Mrs. Bush, Vice President Dick and Lynne Cheney, Governor Rick Perry, and Kay Bailey Hutchison at the Black Tie and Boots Ball. Photo  courtesy of Clifton Meyers.

The Black Tie and Boots Presidential Inauguration Ball 2001 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 party-goers. President Bush did, in fact, visit the bar, along with Laura Bush,  Vice President and Mrs.  Cheney, Kay Bailey Hutchinson,  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.

IMG_6145This 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.

Rick Meyers_Victor Leal_Old Pete_on the Texas Float Bush Inaugural ParadeRick Meyers and Victor Leal with the float. Photo  courtesy of  Clifton Meyers. (I don’t think the Road Work Ahead sign is part of the float!)

As the party wound down, it was time to get Pete to his assigned spot for the parade, so Victor Leal, Mike Cleavinger, Chuck Smith, Bruce Purdy, and Charles Flowers gathered him up, loaded him in the back of a pick—up, jumped in the back with him, and 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 remembers fondly looking up and seeing, in the distance,  the Washington Monument between Pete’s ears. How neat is that!


But get him there they do, and he proceeds 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- Sara Watson,  Mayor Leal, and others I am probably leaving out by accident.

And the rest, as they say, is history. 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.

Next week: the mule of many colors.


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

Friday, November 4, 2011

Mules 45-Childress 15

Tonight was Senior Night for the Mules, and their going-away present was the district trophy, presented to them by Supt. Gene Sheets after the game. They were already district champs;  the win tonight merely the icing on the cake.

The game started out with a bang in our favor with a 65-yard return by Saul Elizalde and three plays later QB Caleb Wood passes back to him for a touchdown. With 10:42 on the clock the score is already Muleshoe 7, Childress 0.  After Childress can’t make their first down, Wood’s first pass on the next possession ends up being intercepted, but we get it right back after Childress tries and fails on a faked punt. Isaac Baca then makes one of his signature runs, barreling through the line and carrying all his tacklers with him, setting up the touchdown run by Wood. So now the score is 14-0. Once again Childress can’t make a first down and punts, only to have Ryan Deleon bumble the catch, which puts the next play on the 3-yard line, way too close to the Mules’  end zone, as it turns out, because Wood then falls there,  which of course, gives Childress a safety. The score is now 14-2. Childress manages to almost make a TD, but Adelido Godinez ruins the play for them and the first quarter is over.

The second quarter starts with the Mules not making a first down and having to punt, but then holding Childress and making them punt, and the Mules block it and get to go on to score again pretty quickly. Godinez takes it in and Elizalde kicks the PAT, making the score 21-2. After Childress makes one first down they still have to give up the ball again, and Ryan Deleon makes an 80-yard run and Elizalde kicks again to make the score 28-2. Childress has to give up the ball again, not making a first down, and we try a little reverse hand-off after catching the punt and bauble it. The Mules  make up for it on the next play making our own first down, but alas, can’t turn it into a TD, and the half ends with the score 28-2.

Childress receives to begin the third quarter and gives a determined effort when they make their 4th down and 1/2 yard to go, but then give up the ball on the next series when it is 4th and 13 to go and have to punt. This next series gives the Mules a little trouble, but at least it does use up some of the clock, and considering it is getting a bit cold by now, suited me just fine. After that when Childress gets the ball back, they actually get three first downs in a row and turn it into a TD but miss the point-after, so the score is 28-8, which gives the game a slightly different flavor, especially since the Mules now seem a little flat. However, on the next series Wood fires them up a bit with a nice 60-yard run for a touchdown, which is, sadly, called back for a holding penalty against the Mules.

So the fourth quarter starts with the same score, 28-8, and we can’t get anything going. But Childress does, and they manage to score and make the extra point, and the score is now 28-15. It could be a totally different ball game now. So Isaac Baca does another one of his carry-everyone-with-him plays and gets things going again by setting things up for Ray Martinez to score, but that one, too, is called back for Mules holding. They don’t let that stop them, however, and a few plays later Isaac Baca does score, the PAT is good, and it is now 35-15. That feels a little better. Childress can’t do anything with their next possession, and Elizalde and Juan Guerrero  turn our next series into another touchdown and point-after,   and the score is 42-15. Childress has one more possession and we get the ball  with 1:53 on the clock. By the time the clock is down to 45 seconds, it is allowed to run out, and the game is over. Score: 42-15, Muleshoe once again victorious.

Muleshoe gets a bye  and will play the winner of the Godley-Clyde game next Friday. I was told the decision has already been made to play the game in Sweetwater, so now it is scouting time for the coaches  and recuperation and rest  time for the team until they find out who their opponent will be. 

Check in next Friday, and I should be able to give you more details on the playoff game. In the meantime, congratulations to the Mules for another fun regular season, and good luck in the playoffs.

Mule Mania strikes again!

Tuesday, November 1, 2011

Ol’ Pete, the Mule Memorial



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 Ft. 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 Ft. 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 Ft. 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 Ft. Worth. Then George Dolan,  a columnist for the  Ft. Worth newspaper, wrote about receiving the contribution and suggestion, which was then read by Gil Lamb and Carroll Pouncey, who was 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 Ft. Worth.  I think it was about this time that Mrs. Middlebrook’s 4th 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 Mule Train on KMUL, shown Lamb’s mule collection, told about the Muleshoe Ranch, and the fact that highway 84 ran right through town and all travelers would be exposed to the mule. 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 700 donations had come in from all over the world, but ironically, not many from Muleshoe. Most of the donations were small, something like $5, 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 WWII 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 Anders 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, Jim St. Clair flew out to California to approve the completed design and 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 the memorial had an historical marker.


The dedication was set for July 3rd, 1965, as the 4th 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 3rd.  Around 10,000 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 Santa Fe Railroad; the Depot that stood nearby had been closed in the 70s; Santa Fe wanted to give away and move the depot building 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 his 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.

IMG_0902In 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.