By Don McAlavy: CNJ columnist
Burl “Booger” Mullins, father of Mennell Mullins of Clovis, was a trainer of horses. He taught them to do tricks that included jumping over cars.
Back around 1934, Booger appeared as an American Indian on his horse in Tucumcari, and was photographed by Gene Autry’s film crew, as an “End of the Trail” photo.
“End of the Trail” depicted, in a sense, the last of the noble American Indians.
Later, the photo was enlarged and made into a painting. The painting hung in the Cowboy Hall of Fame in Oklahoma City until Autry built a museum in California and then it was placed there.
Booger lived in Quay County when the famous photo was taken.
Most of this story was told to me by Betty Mullins of Clovis, Mennell’s widow.
Booger appeared in many rodeos with his horse “Dimples,” a trick horse. At one rodeo in Clovis — around 1946 — professional horse jumpers entertained the crowd between rodeo acts. The horsemen jumped their horses over the hood of a 1940 “wood” station wagon.
Booger, on his horse Dimples, did it too, without any adieu, apparently just to show the professionals up.
It made the professional horse jumpers mad and they called the police. Booger was arrested and charged with disturbing the peace.
Some of the rodeo people managed to bail Booger out of jail, apparently after the professional jumpers left town. What embarrassed the professional horse jumpers the most was all the applause Booger received from the huge crowd.
Booger had an illness — some called it St. Vitus Dance — and he could hardly walk straight. It caused rapid and jerking movements that he could not control.
But Booger had a host of friends, including the late Bill Bomar, “Limey” Thomas, Carl Williams, Joe Bailey, and countless others, who cared for him.
Booger died at age 70 in June 1976. He was born June 12, 1906, in Chickasha, Okla., and moved to the Quay Valley in 1912. He had resided in this area ever since.
He was buried in the West Seventh Street cemetery in Clovis. Pallbearers were Fred Daugherty, Tommy Klebold, John Liston, Paul Rodman and Glen Westbrook. The Rev. Don Murphy of the Methodist Church in Clayton came to Clovis to officiate at Booger’s burial.
When Dimples died, he was buried somewhere near Clovis. The services were attended by pallbearers and Carl Shores, a cowboy preacher. Many years later the site of the burial was lost to all except one man. He was old and was to direct Mennell Mullins to the grave, but he died before he could do it. Seems no one today knows where Dimples was buried.
If any of Booger’s friends are still around, Betty Mullins and I would like to know the whereabouts of Dimples’ burial site. It has to be on some friend’s property, and was surely marked with a stone or maybe a fence around it.
You’ve got to remember that cowboys, cowhands, ranchers, rodeo performers and the like are sacred folks in the West, especially in eastern New Mexico and the Texas Panhandle. These cowboys hankered to be a bit mischievous at times, but it was really all in good fun. Booger Mullins was one of those.
Cowboys and cowgirls are always exciting to be around, especially in an arena where they have many, many fans.