The Eastern New Mexico News - Serving Clovis, Portales and the Surrounding Communities

By Betty Williamson
A bit of good news 

Hope Tex stands tall for generations

 


I didn’t know until last month that the figure we always called “the tall Texan” actually had a name.

It turns out that West Texas’ tallest cowboy, the 47-footer who towers over Canyon on the south side of U.S. 60, is named Tex Randall.

On June 24, Tex (who is even older than me) was rewarded with a brand spanking new “Official Texas Historical Marker.”

Tex was still young and fresh back when I first met him, clad in real denim jeans and offering travelers a friendly welcome to his home town, the seat of Randall County.

There was a restaurant near his left boot where we stopped a few times, most memorably when I was in junior high and had — earlier that tragic day — stumbled over the word “melancholia” to finish a dismal 12th place in the regional spelling bee in Amarillo.

Wallowing in my own melancholia, I vividly remember sitting in Tex’s shadow and wondering how likely it was that the 11 spellers who outlasted me would be struck with paralyzing laryngitis and I would be summoned from the ashes to represent my region in Washington, D.C., at the National Spelling Bee that May.

Poor Tex got to experience a good bit of melancholia himself in the decades that followed. While the local high school shop teacher who built him — the late William “Harry” Wheeler — managed a design that miraculously kept Tex standing all these years in the relentless West Texas winds, time and weather were not his friends.

According to the website Roadside America (which appropriately bills itself as the “Guide to Uniquely Odd American Attractions”), Tex even suffered a semi-truck collision to one of his “size 75” boots, and had the cigarette shot from his hand. (When he was conceived in 1959, all of the cool cowboys still smoked.)

Happily, the last time I drove by Tex back in November, he was looking almost like the dapper buckaroo of my youth, thanks to an ambitious refurbishment by Canyon’s Main Street program.

After 57 years, Tex finally has his own spread, too: a small park designated for him to permanently rest his gargantuan boots.

May the wind be always at your back, ol’ Tex, but not too hard. I want you to be standing tall for generations to come.

Betty Williamson’s goal is to become a uniquely odd American attraction. You may reach her at:

pepnm@hotmail.com

 

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