100 - Hardy P. Mayo - Bazette, TX
Posted by: Groundspeak Premium Member QuarrellaDeVil
N 32° 11.851 W 096° 15.962
14S E 757724 N 3565607
Quick Description: Hardy P. Mayo, a Kerens, TX resident who was one of the models for the State Fair of Texas's "Big Tex", is buried in historic Prairie Point Cemetery, Bazette, TX. He lived to be a centenarian, passing away in 2006.
Location: Texas, United States
Date Posted: 1/4/2019 7:41:52 AM
Waymark Code: WMZTMJ
Published By: Groundspeak Premium Member elyob
Views: 0

Long Description:
Mr. Mayo is buried with his wife, Hazel, and they share a modern, gray granite headstone. The family name, "Mayo", is at the top, flanked by flowers, and their respective boxes read:

Hardy P.
Sept. 25, 1905
Mar. 19, 2006

Hazel M. Lee
Mar. 23, 1913
July 31, 1994


Big Tex's original incarnation was as a tall Santa Claus, the brainchild of Howell Brister, manager of Kerens's chamber of commerce. The idea was to use "The World's Biggest Santa" to promote holiday sales, and everybody pitched in. Mr. Mayo and another Kerens resident, Ottis Spurlock, noted for their burly physiques and tough-looking faces, were used as models. Santa was unveiled in 1949 and stood 49' tall, constructed from iron-pipe drill casing and papier-mâché with seven foot lengths of unraveled rope (done by the locals) for a beard. He was placed at the foot of Colket Street, where he stood for two years. Unfortunately, excitement had waned by 1951, and Santa was sold to the Texas State Fair.

Santa underwent a redesign, and the result was Big Tex, whose face was based on neither Spurlock or Mayo. Standing 52' tall, he was unveiled in 1952, with some minor changes being made after the fair, and giving him the ability to speak. In the 50s, Big Tex did a bit of traveling for various events, and by the end of the decade, he had some new clothes and new fiberglass skin. His original head was replaced and later auctioned off, and its owner occasionally brings it out for display during the Christmas holidays.

In 1981, Big Tex returned to Kerens for the city's centennial, and went on the road again for a few events. By the mid-1990s, he'd been beefed up with a new skeleton, allowing him to wave, and later changes made it possible for him to turn his head. Big Tex turned fifty in 2002, celebrating with a giant birthday cake, receiving an AARP card, and getting a touch-up with a bit of gray hair and some wrinkles.

In the final weekend of the State Fair in 2012, Big Tex burned due to an electrical problem in one of his boots. Oddly, he had just turned sixty. Big Tex 2.0 was put together for 2013 and beyond, but that's another story.

If there are photos of Mr. Mayo or Mr. Spurlock available online, they are virtually impossible to find, as it would be interesting to compare them with the Big Tex that stood until 2012. You'll find both Mr. Spurlock and Mr. Brister down the road in the Kerens Cemetery.

Location of Headstone: Prairie Point Cemetery

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