Skip to comments.Lajitas (TX) takes wounding of its mayor seriously - (Mayor castrated in attack)
Posted on 08/06/2002 5:08:04 AM PDT by Damocles
Lajitas takes wounding of its mayor -- a goat -- seriously By Jim Yardley
THE NEW YORK TIMES
Monday, August 5, 2002
LAJITAS -- This isolated place along the Rio Grande in West Texas is called the end of the road, but it might as well be the end of the world. The closest commercial airport is five hours away. Cell phones do not work. There is no municipal government, and the elected mayor has no powers or duties, which is fortunate, because the mayor is a goat.
Not a goat in figurative terms but a real goat, Clay Henry III. He is admittedly a symbolic figure, a mascot of sorts, a publicity tool. He does not involve himself with zoning or ribbon cuttings. He is not a strategic planner.
His claim to fame is that he drinks beer.
Yet anyone who doubts his standing in Brewster County need only come to the county courthouse in Alpine this month, when a defendant is scheduled to be tried on state felony charges for grievously wounding Clay Henry in a knife attack. Clay Henry has healed, but the sheriff has preserved a piece of the goat's anatomy as evidence. To put it indelicately, Clay Henry was castrated.
"It's serious business to anybody," said the Brewster County sheriff, Ronny Dodson, noting that the defendant could face jail time. "Clay Henry is one of the icons in our community." Of the accused, the sheriff added, "He thought it was a joke." In the southern part of the county, the sheriff said, people do not think it was that funny.
No, they do not. Clay Henry is a celebrity in Brewster County, a place where about 10,000 people live in an area larger than Connecticut. The breathtaking landscape has been discovered in recent years by artists, yuppies and others looking for a great escape. But the region still feels enough like the Old West that the defendant, Jim Bob Hargrove of Val Verde County, should consider himself fortunate that modern jurisprudence prevails.
"They wanted to lynch the guy," said Roger Gibson, who owned Clay Henry's predecessor, Clay Henry Jr. "Clay Henry is an institution in West Texas."
Clay Henry I, the most famous of the Clay Henry mayors, belonged to the Lajitas Trading Post and earned a reputation in the 1970s for having a thirst for beer.
"The goat would walk around by the pool table, and he would take a beer off the table if you didn't give him one," Dodson recalled. "Even when I was a kid down on the river, we'd give beer to the goat."
Clay Henry's popularity and common appeal made him a natural for politics. His first race came in the 1980s, by which time Lajitas was less a town than a resort owned by a prominent Houston businessman, Walter Mischer. Late one night, Mischer and a group of his Houston friends jokingly elected one of their own, a wealthy developer, as mayor of Lajitas, a gesture that offended at least one of the locals.
"I decided that if somebody from Houston can be mayor of Lajitas, then why not my goat?" said Bill Ivey, who then owned the trading post as well as Clay Henry.
The contest of goat versus developer became an irresistible spectacle for the media. Ivey said more than 1,200 "votes" arrived from around the world for Clay Henry. (The election had no apparent precincts or boundaries.)
When the final votes were counted, the Houston crowd, apparently annoyed, placed a Houston phone book on the table as a bloc vote and declared victory. The Supreme Court was not consulted, and in a quieter election a few years later, Clay Henry won handily.
His responsibilities consisted of being available for tourists who wanted a peek at the beer-drinking goat. But he did apparently affix his hoof print to at least one piece of legislation introduced at the Capitol. Ivey said the goat appeared in movies, drank beers with country music stars such as Willie Nelson and held office until the early 1990s. Then at age 23, he died after fighting with a younger goat over the affections of a nanny. Today, Ivey has him stuffed, a beer bottle wedged in his open mouth.
Clay Henry's son, Clay Jr., had a shorter tenure and left office in 1998. For a while, the trading post was without a goat and the town was without a mayor, until tourists visiting the resort demanded a successor. Clay Henry III officially became mayor in 2000, winning an election against a field that included a wooden Indian and a dog named Clyde.
His blood connection to his predecessors is dubious, but Clay Henry III shares their taste for beer. He lives in a fancy pen beside the trading post and paces back and forth, excitedly, when a person approaches with a cold one. (A sign in the trading post says the mayor prefers the Lone Star brand.)
It was Clay Henry's thirst that prompted his attack, according to the sheriff. On a Sunday in November, the new owner of the resort, Steve Smith, wanted to show a few visitors how Clay Henry drinks beer.
Blue laws prevented him from buying one at the trading post, so Smith asked two men sitting nearby for a bottle. They obliged, but the sheriff said one of the men was offended that Smith had given a perfectly good beer to a goat.
Later that day, witnesses overheard Hargrove boasting that he planned to go back and castrate Clay Henry. The sheriff said Clay Henry was found in a pool of blood the next morning. Housekeepers cleaning the condominium where Hargrove had stayed found something in the refrigerator. Dodson says it was Clay Henry's testicle. Hargrove could not be reached for comment.
For now, Clay Henry does not seem very vengeful. He is back in his pen, happily drinking beers when they come his way.
I love Texas humor!
I'll second that. Everyone stay where you are. Stay out of West Texas it's toooooooo dangerous for tenderfeet.
C'mon, help me out here. EVERYTHING West of Austin is uninhabitable to humans.
Great place, straight out of a John Wayne movie, although I understand that it has really grown since I was last there in the 1980's.
Clay Henry took the assault hard.
I know they like the warmth of the asphalt after a rain, the roads will be covered with them. I also remember my granddad talking about shaking tarantulas off his pants leg as he hoed his cotton rows, but that was in north Texas.
Guess you've never seen Palo Duro Canyon in the morning or antelope off the caprock. Marble Falls is a pretty neat place too. The sand dunes around Monahans was great place to go sand boarding as a kid I remember. And there is just something about the Big Country around Abilene, it just sort of draws you into it. You can stand on a slight rise and see nothing but miles of Texas, (the real Texas).
Sorry. Just wanted to show how desolate it is. Not a McDonalds for miles. Wouldn't want anyone to think it's a neat place, with all it's open sky, clean air and soul stirring spaciousness.
Being in Houston, I'd rather have the goat than our current mayor. The goat couldn't do any worse.
West Texas is a sunrise in the Palo Duro Canyon, a Sunday at Lake Meredith and a sunset in the Chisos Mountains of Big Bend National Park.
Its St. Patricks Day in Shamrock, the Fourth of July at the Texas Cowboy Reunion in Stamford and Christmas stranded in a Panhandle snowstorm.
Its a monument to a mule at Muleshoe, a jack rabbit statue at Odessa and an 11-foot tall roadrunner named Paisano Pete at Fort Stockton.
West Texas is oil boom and oil bust and thousands of oil pumps nodding like metal insects in a prarie ritual.
Its an Amarillo blizzard, a Sanderson flood, a Wichita Falls tornado, a South Plains duster, a High Plains hail storm and everywhere a target for killer heat waves and dry spells.
Its an aversion to governmental handouts and cold shoulder to government interference.
West Texas is a beer bust on the Concho River and a drug bust on the Rio Grande. Its Longhorns and longnecks, Friday night football and Saturday night fever.
Its Ace Reids cowboy cartoons and Stanley Marshs buried Cadillacs and an abandoned shell of a drive-in theater whose crumbling marquee once read: Gone With the Wind.
Its the tree at Notrees and the impact of Impact, the tiny shadow town that brought liquor to Abilene, a city of churches and church schools, the buckle on the Bible Belt.
Germans always freak out when they see wide open space for the first time. He would have said the same thing had he gone to Afghanistan instead.
Only difference is they don't have this in Afghanistan.
"...a chili cookoff in Terlingua and a Lamblast in San Angelo.
Its chicken fried steak in Quanah, calf fries in Big Spring, Tex-Mex in Midland and barbecue from Dalhart to Del Rio and El Paso to Fort Worth.
And then theres steak.
Joe Allens in Abilene and the 50 Yard Line in Lubbock do with the ribeye what Picasso did with the paintbrush.
In Amarillo, the Big Texan offers a 72-ounce sirloin free to anyone who eats the monster before it eats him. An oilfield roughneck did it once, and we miss him.
In San Angelo, theres a restored bawdy house called Miss Hatties, but the river citys greater claim to fame is its steakhouses, surely the most and best of any town its size. Zentners Daughter didnt invent the garlic-flavored KC sirloin but she perfected it."
That is a great article......would you send the rest of it to me?
I don't think we have to worry. There aren't that many of us hearty souls out there that would appreciate it's beauty.
Ok, now you've done it!! Don't blame me when those places you mention are crawling with New Yorkers whining about there not being a decent deli for 1000 miles. Do me a favor and don't go and tell them about the Hill Country, bluebonnets, the Guadalupe and Perdenales, the Frio, and all the other places that have too many visitors for my liking already. (If you haven't figured it out already, I LOVE Texas and all its landscapes)
For all you other displaced Texans out there, if you don't already you need to subscribe to TX highways. At $17 per year, its a monthly dose of Texana that helps you get by.
Never happen. That's why they're in New York and we're in Texas. Hard to have appreciation for it when you're standing there in the 110 degree heat and the sand is blasting your face. About one day's worth is enough to turn 'em around. General Sherman once said, "If I owned hell and Texas, I would rent out Texas and live in hell." Good, one less tourist.
Stay Safe & Regards from the Panhandle !
As my Daddy used to say, ...... The Panhandle of Texas is so flat you can stand on a five gallon bucket with a pair of binoculars and see the back of your own head.........
Stay Safe !
Actually for anyone other than Texans, the whole state is uninhabitable.
Everything here either bites, stings or cuts.....and that includes people.
It's an absolute horrible place to live unless you like to smell horse sweat, cowshit, cactus blooms and caliche dust; or hear ten trillion locusts, and nothing else, on a hot afternoon; or see sunsets that will make you miss the evening news on TV.
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