Tumbleweed Smith
Tumbleweed Smith

There’s a guy who rides a horse around the Fort Worth Stockyards who looks, talks and acts like John Wayne. He also takes part in a staged gunfight by the Legends of Texas group. His name is Jack Edmondson and he is more than a cowboy. He is a scholarly historian who has portrayed Travis, Bowie, Sam Houston and other state historical figures at The San Jacinto Battlefield, Washington On The Brazos State Historical Site, The Alamo and other places. He has written perhaps the most definitive book about The Alamo titled THE ALAMO STORY. He has also written the text for a photographic book about the stockyards simply titled THE FORT WORTH STOCKYARDS.


One story Jack wrote about is when President Jimmy Carter went to the Stockyards in 1980 when Billy Bob’s nightclub was under construction.

Congressman Jim Wright had arranged for President Carter to tour Texas with stops in Houston, Brownsville, San Antonio and Abilene before arriving in Fort Worth. Billy Bob Barnett arranged for Moe Bandy and Jerry Max Lane to provide entertainment.

Along with Jim Wright, others on the president’s plane were State Senator Peyton McKnight, US Congressman Henry B Gonzales, Lieutenant Governor Bill Hobby and US Senator Lloyd Bentsen.

The morning of Saturday November 1, 1980, a group of Secret Service men, stockyards leaders and others were in the White Elephant Saloon when the establishment’s pay phone rang. It was Air Force One wanting to know if Moe Bandy and Jerry Max Lane could play HAIL TO THE CHIEF. Billy Bob conveyed the question to the entertainers. No, they did not. Barnett sent their response to Air Force One. The person on the plane said, “We’ll get back to you.”

They called back a short time later. Did the musicians know the song AMERICA? Billy Bob got a negative response from the musicians and sent it to Air Force One. They went through three or four more songs and the musicians didn’t know those either. “We’ll get back to you,” came the response from Air Force One. Soon the phone rang again. “What song do the musicians know that is upbeat?” When Billy Bob asked the two musicians they quickly replied, BIG BALLS IN COWTOWN. “We’ll call you back,”said the voice from Air Force one. They called back and said, ”You can play BIG BALLS IN COWTOWN but you can’t sing it.”

The president’s plane landed at Meacham Field and he rode in a motorcade to the Stockyards to deliver a speech on the steps of the Exchange Building. Some 30,000 people were there to greet him. He was presented a Stetson hat. So were all the members of his entourage. As instructed, the band played an instrumental version of BIG BALLS IN COWTOWN. But as the President approached the microphone the band defiantly started singing the lyrics.

Hoyle Nix of Big Spring, who wrote the song long ago, would have been thrilled.