Thomas McKenzie
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Can Tex Randall Be Saved?

I grew up in the country outside of Amarillo, Texas. My family shopped in south Amarillo, and my mom worked there, but other important aspects of our lives happened in nearby Canyon. Our church was in Canyon, my Boy Scout troop was there, and I was employed by the Canyon News during my high school years. I attended both Canyon Junior High and Canyon High, and graduated way back in 1989.

If you were to drive by Canyon, you would likely see the great 47-foot statue known as Tex Randall. Tex is an enormous, oddly leaning cowboy. I used to drive past him on the way to school, and my family often had Sunday lunch in a restaurant next door to him.

Apparently, someone is thinking of tearing him down. Some developer would like to buy the vacant building he towers over, but this person wants to bring Tex down.

That would be a shame. In the Texas Panhandle, there isn't much that distinguishes one place from another. Big skies, flat earth, cows, wheat, wind, Wal-Mart--all of it bleeds together. In that kind of landscape it is uncomfortably easy to lose your sanity. In order to stay sane, sometimes you have to bend reality a bit. A little bit of controlled insanity is a whole lot better than a big dose of the real deal.

So, in West Texas, certain special people arise from time to time who recast reality for the rest of us. These special people emerge with big dreams and an off-beat sense of humor. Some bury Cadillacs, some build monuments to the helium molecule, some make floating mesas, some start artist colonies. And some build giant cowboys.

This giant cowboy makes Canyon just a bit different from everywhere else. Of course, I would argue that other things distinguish Canyon from other small towns in the area--the university, the museum, the somewhat more "cultured" culture--but this is the one thing that passers-by would notice.

When I was little, we would drive into Canyon on Sunday nights. This was before we went to church there, so we weren't in town often. We would go there to visit my grandparents. I remember looking for that Big Cowboy, knowing that grandmother's house was only a minute away. I remember being comforted by his happy presence.

I hope the community finds a way to save Tex Randall. I think Canyon will lose more than it realizes if they don't. I fear that my old hometown will begin to look just a little more like everywhere else. And looking like Everywhere is just one step closer to actually being Nowhere.



Below, you can read the AP story about Tex. For a longer, and much better, story follow this link to my former employer, the Canyon News.

CANYON, Texas — A towering but tattered cowboy landmark in the Texas Panhandle could be forced to mosey along.

The 47-foot-tall Tex Randall statue in Canyon might lose its home.

KVII-TV reports a potential out-of-state buyer wants the property when the four-ton artwork stands -- but not Tex Randall.

Tex Randall was erected in 1959 to promote a Western store. It features a broadly smiling, cowboy hat-wearing fellow with one arm on his leg and the other on his hip.

The owner and the Canyon Chamber of Commerce are hoping some nonprofit organization will save Tex Randall.

Canyon Chamber of Commerce executive director Cheryl Malcolm says it's so sad to lose something "that is so historically connected to our city."

Below is a picture of Tex back in his glory days.