History of Madisonville Sidewalk Cattlemen's Association from a 1966 Madisonville Meteor
The Madisonville Sidewalk Cattlemen's Association is perhaps the only incorporated organization in the whole of North and South America dedicated to tongue-in-cheek "kidding."
Officially organized on March 25, 1941, with the avowed purpose of regulating the wearing of cowboy boots, the association grew out of remarks made by the then Madisonville Meteor editor, Henry Fox, in his page-one column poking fun at people wearing cowboy boots around town without any need whatever for them, since most of the boot-wearers didn't even keep a milch cow. Dr. J. B. Heath was elected president and Fox was made secretary-treasurer of the Madisonville Sidewalk Cattlemen's Association.
First to feel Editor Fox's barbed wit were two young Madisonville lawyers, Ebb Berry Jr. and George Brownlee, whom he called "sidewalk cattlemen."
Rules for wearing cowboy boots, and penalties to be assessed for infractions of those rules, were first published in The Meteor on March 6, 1941. A paper salesman from Waco, Ralph Ritcheson, called on Editor Fox a few days later and was wearing cowboy boots. He was unable to prove ownership of any cattle, so was escorted to a drug store and forced to buy drinks for everyone in "yelling distance" and his boots were poured full of ice water - from which stems the present custom of ducking violators of the boot-wearing regulations in either of the two horsetroughs on the courthouse lawn - which are kept filled and ready at all times.
Press wire services picked up stories about the zaney doings at Madisonville and newspapers all over the country ran them. One 10-year-old girl, Audrey Mangan, of Cambridge, Mass., wrote to Dr. Heath asking where she could get some cowboy boots - that they were not available at Cambridge.
The Sidewalk Cattlemen decided to invite Little Audrey to come to Madisonville as special guest for their first barbecue - which was held in April of 1941 on Dusty Rhodes' ranch about seven miles south of town. Miss Mangan was provided an airplane ticket and flew the 1700 miles to Texas and was met by a delegation from Madisonville at Love Field, Dallas. She was taken to Dallas stores and outfitted completely in cowgirl costume, including a pair of beautifully decorated cowboy boots. Again the press wire services made much of the stunt and Madisonville was "on the map."
During the years covered by World War II, the Springtime barbecues were held at the Rhodes ranch and took on the nature of a reunion. Fun for the occasions was home-grown and usually impromptu. For example there was the goat-roping contest one year between Bankers J. O. Thompson and Datus Sharp. The horse provided for Sharp had on a hackamore instead of a bridle and old-timers say that the goat went one way and Sharp the other!
After the war, though, the Cattlemen decided to conduct a letter-writing contest to find the Ex-GI who hated Texas the most after having been stationed or trained in any of the state's many army camps. That was back in 1948 and Ray Halloran of Cincinnati, Ohio, won the contest, was brought to Texas, entertained at Madisonville, escorted on a far-flung tour of Texas - and he left for home vowing he'd return and make his home in the Lone Star State.
Each year since then, the Sidewalk Cattlemen have conducted a contest, some unique and some just plain wacky - but all a lot of fun for a lot of people, especially the ones fortunate enough to be declared winners and be flown to Texas to either Dallas, Fort Worth or Houston; where each has been met by delegations from Madisonville, presented full costumes of western regalia including cowboy boots, and brought to Madisonville to be honor guest at dances, suppers, the barbecue, and the rodeo, and whirlwind tours of Texas by automobile and airplane.
Governors of Texas, "Miss America," several "Miss Texas" and a great many other persons of importance and prominence have visited Madisonville and shared honors with several of the contest winners. Without doubt, the most "high brass" at any one time ever to be the annual barbecue guests came in 1953 when sixteen of the wealthiest and most influential men in cattle, government, and business of El Salvador and Venezuela, S. A. came here at the invitation of the Madisonville Sidewalk Cattlemen's Association.
Other MSCA contests and their winners since Ray Halloran was "converted" follow:
1949 - that was the winter long-to-be-remembered for its bitter cold and springtime blizzards. The Sidewalk Cattlemen decided to find the "Most Weatherbeaten Cowboy." Winner was Jack Lael of Northport, Washington.
Because Jack was a single man, the Cattlemen decided that they'd fly Miss America of that year, Miss BeBe Shopp of Minneapolis, Minnesota, down here for him to squire to the dance and other scenes of festivity.
Mrs. Flo Pierce, a comely widow of LaCrosse, Kansas, won the 1950 contest as "The World's Happiest Taxpayer."
"Why I Think Texans Are Liars" was the contest theme for the barbecue and reunion time in 1951. The best letter on that subject was written by Miss Evalene Dampier of Tunas, Missouri.
1952 - and the contest theme "Why I Would Like To Live In Texas" was suggested by a soldier, Sgt. Charles Rogers, stationed in Shreveport, La. - but it was won by a sailor stationed in San Diego, California, Walter N. Breeland, hometown: Biloxi, Mississippi. He meant it too! Walter is now married and living in Houston, Texas.
1953 - An invitation to Cattle Raisers Associations in Venezuela and El Salvador to send delegates to see "how ranching is done in Texas" was accepted by six ranches from Venezuela and 10 ranchers from El Salvador.
1954 - Celebration of Madison County Centennial with program dedicated to the homecoming of hundreds of former residents of Madisonville and Madison County.
1955 - Because Rodney Chambless, president of MSCA, had been the youngest sheriff in Texas some years before when he served Madison County in that capacity, the Cattlemen decided to to find both the youngest and oldest sheriffs then in office in Texas counties. Dan Saunders, 29, of Stanton and 70-year-old A. S. Fletcher of Hempstead, were the winners over dozens of entries in each division.
1956 - Janice Frank, 13-year-old girl from West Palm Beach, Florida, won the contest with her letter on "How Texas Can Better Its Relations With the Other 47 Less Fortunate States." Among other things, Janice said: "Texans don't brag! They just tell facts!"
1957 - The search was on to find "The Most Drouth-Stricken Rancher in North and South America." The winner must be a man who has stayed with his land and what cattle he could keep during the seven years of little or no rain. The man with oil wells on his ranch, or who took a job in town, was not eligible. Neither was the man whose wife taught school. What the Sidewalk Cattlemen wanted was the rancher who had gone the longest with the least amount of rain. And, when they finally located him, the Sidewalk Cattlemen found that the "Driest Rancher in the United States, Canada or Mexico" was Buck Jackson of Pecos, Texas. It had been a dry year for Jackson. No rain on his 60-section ranch in the past year. His last "good" rain was in 1951 - then it just got drier and drier in Reeves County, where normal rainfall is 14.29 inches a year.
1958 - A TV program receptionist, who said she would like to come to Texas "where I've heard that the coyotes howl and the cowboys prowl" won the MSCA letter-writing contest on the subject "Texas or the Moon? Why I Would Rather Go to Texas." She was met at the airport in Houston by a delegation from Madisonville at 6:30 a.m., entertained with a breakfast at the Lamar Hotel there and then escorted to Madisonville. At the breakfast, Miss (Doris) Hibbard was measured for a pair of boots which were handmade for her by two bootmakers working in a trailer en route to Madisonville. The beautiful silver leather boots were ready for her to step into when she arrived at the Madison County courthouse square.
1959 - Declaring that she wanted to come to Texas to see for herself what "all the Alaska-residing Texans are bragging about," a bear-shooting lover of the great outdoors, Miss Jeannie Miller, won the 1959 MSCA contest, which was for the people of the new 49th state only. Theme of the letter-writing contest was "Why I Am Living in Alaska." Miss Miller was flown from her hometown, Anchorage, Alaska, to Houston where she was met, outfitted in lovely cowgirl costume including boots, and brought to Madisonville as honor guest.
1960 - Election of a "Trail Ride Queen" was highlight of the year's MSCA celebration. A beautifully hand-tooled, hand-made saddle was presented the winner, Miss Carroll Moore, a Houston beauty, employed as a records clerk for the Houston Police Department.
1961 - A petite Scottish lass, Miss Irene Cordiner, Glasgow, Scotland, got a warm welcome at International Airport, Houston, when she came to America at the invitation of Madisonville Sidewalk Cattlemen. After being entertained royally here for three days and nights of the annual celebration, Miss Cordiner decided to stay in the United States. She went to Houston, got a job as a secretary, later married and now lives in Portland, Texas and is the mother of one daughter.
1962 - Narcissus Queen Stephanie Loo, beauteous Hawaiian, came to Texas to be honor guest of the Madisonville Sidewalk Cattlemen in (can't read the next line) fiftieth state in the Union. She, too, has become a Texas and lives in Dallas with her husband, Douglas Ratcliff, and their small daughter.
1963 - A lovely television and recording star, Anita Bryant, was guest of honor at MSCA functions. She was met by a delegation of Sidewalk Cattlemen and their wives at Houston. After being outfitted in western dress and boots, Miss Bryant was given a stagecoach ride out Main Street to the Shamrock-Hilton where she was starring in the stage show.
1964 - Fred Wulff, president of Texas and Southwestern Cattle Raisers Association, was the honor guest because of his leadership and personal work on the important beef problem. Wulff was called "the Southwesterner who has done the most" in the cattlemen's efforts to bring about legislation to curb importation of foreign beef in competition with U.S. cattle raisers. He is an attorney as well (as) being a rancher at Brady.
1965 - Last year's honor guest was Johnny Watkins, star of his weekday noontime farm show, "Ten Acres," on KWTX-TV in Waco and KBTX-TV in Bryan.
Men who have served as president of the Madisonville Sidewalk Cattlemen's Association since it was organized are Dr. Jesse B. Heath, 1941 and 1942, and again after the war, from 1946 through 1950. During World War II years , Charlie N. Heath was president in 1943, 1944 and 1945. William M. Forrest Jr. was the 1951 and 1952 president; Rayford L. Hardy, 1953 and 1954; Rodney F. Chambless, 1955 and 1956; Gus Morgan, 1957; G. C. Shaffer, 1958; E. B. (Bill) Andrews, 1959; Fred Evans Jr., 1960; Raystell McVey, 1961 and 1962; J. T. Closs, 1963 and 1964; David L. Callaham, 1965 and this year of 1966.
Since that time, W.G. (Bill) Wilson Sr., Jimmy Farris, Bruce Foster, W.G. (Billy) Wilson Jr., W.B. Crossley, R.F. (Buddy) Chambless Jr., Kent Shaffer, W. R. (Bill) Forrest, Roger Knight Jr., Carey Herring, Jack Fisher, Don F. Dean, Gayland Matejka, Steve Andrews, Dickie Westmoreland, Craig Stover, Cecil N. Neely, Don L. Shiver, David Hammit, Kevin R. Knight, Mike Farris, John R. Bankhead, Paul Bailey, Dave Ward, Tommy Minze and Ralph Cole, D.D.S. have served as MSCA presidents. The current president is Jay Hardy.