Funny Stories About the Cowboy

This picture is from the collection of Angelica Paez.  She bought this picture from a person in Houston.  Now Angelica is the owner. Angelica is an artist herself and does not mind her picture being posted.  It is registered, however.

This is the picture of the big cowboy and the curio shop in early 1963.  It was just at the time my Dad sold his business. The picture brings back many memories of funny stories about

Francis. the mule and the big 47-foot cowboy.

the big 47-foot cowboy

Let me introduce myself.  I am Judy Kingsberry and my Dad is the one who built the 47-foot cowboy including everything else in this picture. Dad built and owned the tourist business.  His name was William Harry Wheeler.  My Mom’s first name was Gayneyl.

Dad knew denim 501 Levi® jeans were in fashion and that the denim western shirt was popular among cowboys.  There were cowboys in the Panhandle of Texas where the cowboy was located who wore jeans.   We were just 15 miles from Amarillo, Texas.   The little town at that time was named Canyon.

We were just 15 miles from Amarillo, Texas.   The little town at that time was named Canyon.

I am thankful to Levi Strauss manufacturing company for providing the jeans and a tent and awning company responsible for the shirt.

Levi Strauss sewing manufacturing company in Amarillo made the 501 Levi® denim jeans for tall and big men.

The tent and awning company (I do not know their name) made the shirt and the local ladies, all volunteers, cut the pattern out and did the sewing for dad to put on the cowboy as a shirt.

One funny Story–The Making of the Western Shirt!

The tent and awning company provided the material.   I believe it was the same as an awning, but their shop was not big enough to accommodate the cowboy’s large size.

What was the size of that shirt?   Will you guess?    Please, put the size you guessed in the comment box.

can you guess question mark

Then, they were able to get a group of volunteers to cut and sew in a gym.   They ended up being older ladies who knew each other.

Like I mentioned before, the material to be cut and sewed was in a high school gym.   They told Mr. Wheeler that they were careful to not make the shirt too big!!   They basically used needles, thread, and scissors to sew the shirt by hand.

When you use your imagination, you can see these older ladies putting the denim fabric down in this huge gymnasium all away around, cutting, sewing by hand and using pins to keep the material in place.

Get a group of women together and watch out, their conversation is registered in so many decibels for the whole group to hear!   Now that would be some loud talk.  Do you hear the slight echo?

I imagine sometimes they did a one on one conversation.   What did they talk about?   Can you guess?   I do not know how long it took these ladies, but I do know they were determined to do it right and to please Mr. Wheeler who was a genius to have built everything including the big cowboy.

I do not know how long it took these ladies, but I do know they were determined to do it right and to please Mr. Wheeler who was a “genius” to have built everything by himself including the big cowboy.

When they presented the shirt to dad, they did not stay to see if it fitted.  After all, it was cut out at a gym.   How much bigger and where can you sew a shirt by hand?

Well, dad used several cranes to lift up the shirt in the best way to position it to the cowboy and then making it possible to sew them on the cowboy.

clip art of a crane

And like I said, it was way too small.   Now he could have contacted the ladies to add so and so to be able to fit, but he was too kind. It was not an impossible task to perform.   He had done the same thing with the big cowboy’s jeans.   As you can see in this picture, it took a lot of adjusting.   But the jeans were not too short and they were wide enough.   The shirt was a shirt of a different color.

That is dad down at the foot moving the jeans to see about the fit.

The cowboy's tall big jeans

When dad discovered that the shirt was too small, he added the extra piece himself rather than tell these ladies about the shirt not being big enough to put around the body of the cowboy.

That was the kindness of my dad.   He was amused too as he related the story.   I guess these ladies could Not Believe the cowboy was so Big!!   But he was a kind man and he never told them.

Now for some more of the background about my dad’s project; the 47-foot cowboy that had the 501 Levi® original fit and tall & big original fit jeans for men.. Stay tuned for some funny stories.

Angelica Paez, the owner of the picture of the big cowboy, I am happy to share here.   You can still see my dad’s ladder on top of the curio shop porch.   A little boy is standing on the left foot while a woman is taking a picture.

The 47-foot cowboy

Angelica knows my dad built everything in the picture.   You can find her on Google. She has been an artist for over 20 years. I will have her work listed on the homepage.

She is the owner of this picture although she knows it is my dad’s cowboy and his business he built also by hand.   You can find her on Google.   She has been an artist for over 20 years. I will have her work listed on the homepage.

You can find her on Google.   Some of her artwork is done by using surreal collages and is called Scrapatorium.  This one is named  Free Spirit.

Now to another funny story; the Frame.

Dad began the construction of the cowboy strictly from scratch by pulling this heavy wire apart from these slabs which he eventually wired together.   This was done in the back of the curio shop and in front of the motel.

Later he had to move the cowboy parts of the frame in front of the curio shop to piece together because he knew he would have to have cranes to lift the cowboy up in position.

When my dad started twisting and bending the wires to put the parts together, many tourists did not realize he was building a 47- foot cowboy.

No one had done such a thing; it had never crossed their mind and some of the comments they made were amusing and the way dad handled their comments was even funnier in my opinion.

Let me give you an example.
One day, a tourist stopped by the curio shop, named, by the way, the Corral Curio Shop, at the time dad was forming the hand of the cowboy.   This meant he was in about the center of the cowboy.

Now, this was a common question,  “What are you building, an airplane?”   They could have asked other question about the mystery of the figure on the ground, but it seemed like everyone who asked what my dad was making, they usually thought he was building an airplane.

Dad was patient with them.   Sometimes, he would just answer but that brought on more questions or comments.   Usually, he would say or tell them to come over about the middle of the ‘airplane’ and he would show them what he was building.

He took them close to the middle of the cowboy.   Then he asked,  “Do you see the cowboy hat?” as he pointed west.   “Yeh, I see a hat.” the tourist would respond.

Dad would turn and point to the opposite direction.   He would ask the tourist,  “Over there to the east, do you see boots?”    The tourists are surprised usually and told dad what he was building even though dad knew what he was building already!!    “Why, you’re building a cowboy!”      “That’s right, ” dad answered, “I’m building a cowboy.”    

Dad knew the next question that was invariably asked.   “How big is it going to be?”  Dad would say, “About 50 feet.”   If he had said 47 feet, they could not have visualized the size as easily as 50 feet.   This led to other questions.

This is a special notation. The cowboy had a reputation for being 47-feet, but he would talk to the family at home about the 49- foot cowboy.   In actuality, the cowboy was 49 feet, but among the general public, the cowboy was 47 feet.   The big sign beside the cowboy advertised that the cowboy was 47-feet.

Here are some more questions tourist made about the cowboy.

One. “What are you going to do with him?”

Two. “Where are you going to put him?”

Three. “Where did you learn how to do that?”

Four. “Aren’t you afraid it will fall down?”

Five. “Why did you build a tall cowboy like that?”

Six. “What is he going to look like after you finish?”

Seven. “Did you have a model to shape this here cowboy?”

Eight. “When will it be finished?”

What question would you have asked?    4 way discussion and feedback



Now with the question such as these, dad would keep on working while he answered.   When they started to give him advice, he would invite them into the curio shop.

The tourist took their pictures and touched the cowboy or his jeans if they could reach them.   Then they would go in the curio shop to buy their souvenirs.   In the summer, we would have tourist visiting the cowboy and the curio shop continuously all day long from all over the United States.   If I were alone, I would have to call home for more help.

Our Home was behind the motel.   The large one was the family home and the smaller one was for my grandmom.   Her name was Bessie, but I called her, “Maw”.   I loved her very much.

The largest selling item was the Texas shaped ashtray.   They had their choice of buying   gags;   expensive turquoise and cheap imitation turquoise jewelry;   moccasins;   cowboy hats;   regular size polished horns; steer horns;   leather goods like wallets and belts and purses;   scarves and neckties;   ashtrays, plates, and other paraphernalia;   large cut glass items;   Squaw dresses;   postcards and many other items.

What would you have bought if you were traveling as a tourist through Texas?

There was no need for the big cowboy to say anything.   When no one was looking, he would take a drag of his cigarette.

I have strange funny stories too.   They are short and sweet.

Now many tourists stopped at the curio shop?   There were signs on the highway that aroused their interest and were fun to find because they were anticipatory signs.

What I found strange, (I learned about this later) but sadly, local people and some tourist would pass all this and just continue on driving.   Now it is too late to see the original 1960’s tourist’s stop.

I called them the drive-by sign lookers.   These are the drivers with time on their hands, but they never stopped to take pictures and/or to come into the curio shop.

That even goes with the kids at school or the ones in my Sunday school class in all the nine years I lived there in that small provincial town.   It is not as provincial now as it was then.  I am not critical of the situation but I am stating facts as I see them.

Now, for the most part, the local people of the small city is proud and love their icon, the big 47-foot cowboy, named Tex Randall.   There are some good people in this small city.

My family would shake our heads because we felt sorry for them; they did not know what a curio shop was.   I think they thought the cowboy would step on them or their cars.

I do not know the reason people driving by did not stop to look closely at the cowboy or to look inside the curio shop, but now I wonder if they are sorry they did not see up close the unique and famous cowboy and curio shop and everything else that is no longer there.   I am talking about the local people too.

And I mean they drove by for many years, not just once.   But mainly the cowboy was a sign for them.   They would say such statement as this;  “Every time I saw that cowboy, I knew I was close to home. or to Amarillo; or to another highway; or to la di la land.”

I am sure some of them regret they did not stop because the curio shop was closed and later was torn down to make room for a park.   The big cowboy is now painted.

They have a nice Mexican food restaurant and have really beautiful paintings on their walls–makes it worth going there to eat.   Tell them Judy says “hello”.   They were so kind to prepare a meal and then paid for the meal themselves!!

Here is an observation that I came across concerning the clothes of the cowboy.   Ignorance and neglect caused the clothes on the cowboy to be lost or just ripped off.    The weather was blamed for the loss of the cowboy’s clothes, but that is not entirely true.   Dad knew about the weather and the clothes were here to stay as planned by my dad and Levi Strauss manufacturing company.   I must say this is my opinion based pm sound judgment with knowledge of the creative genius of my artist father, William Harry Wheeler.


Levi Strauss & Co. was so happy they had provided the jeans for the cowboy that they made a 2015 unzipped blog written by Tracey Pollick the Historian for the LS&Co telling about the 1960 cowboy and about my dad.   We are talking about an international company today and I think everyone there would have stopped to take pictures and would have come in the Corral Curio Shop to buy some souvenirs before heading back to San Francisco.   I recommend you read all the unzipped blogs on Levi Strauss & Co with Tracey Panek, the historian.

Again, I would love to hear from each one who visits my website.   However, I know there are many articles you could make your comments.   So I will be happy if you will write a comment on just a few of your favorite posts and articles as seen on  feedback on comments

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Please visit the ‘501® Jeans’ page for pictures and information about the 501 Levi®  original fit and tall & big original fit jeans for men.   The accessories offer and talk about other products you will love to read about and perhaps want and will press a link to purchase something.   I earn a small commission from   As of September 26, 2017, I have not finished my website.   Please keep that in mind when you look at my website.

Either way. my goal is to entertain and I am hoping sincerely that you were entertained with the posts and pages on my website.    Search on Google for ‘find me jeans’ or later I hope you will be able to search for ‘501 Levi® original fit and tall & big original fit jeans for men’.

This is an unzipped blog about the big cowboy from Levi Strauss & Co.   I helped Tracy with information and the rare pictures.   She is the historian for LS&Co and is a busy person who travels for artifacts and lectures and gives information to groups.    There is also an unzipped blog about Tracey Panek.

Thank you,

Judy Kingsberry, owner of the website, 501 Levi® original fit and tall & big original fit jeans for men.   I would love to hear from you and will answer you quickly in a timely manner.

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