Shirley Mixon Crawford’s childhood memory depicted on city mural
“Well, you left me and you went away, you said that you’d be back in just a day.”
Sound familiar? It’s a line from Ernest Tubb’s “Walking the Floor Over You,” a song that was very much a part of little Shirley Mixon’s life.
When she was only three years old, Shirley’s parents owned the Depot Café across the street from the train depot. When the train came in, she would stand on the corner and salute the soldiers as they deboarded the train. “That was just my fun thing to do. I didn’t have anything else to do. I just played with anybody that came up and down the street.”
Then, the train engineer and brakeman would come over to the café. “They would always swing me around and play with me every day. They became my good friends. They would come in and eat and when they got through, they would give me a penny, stand me up on the counter and ask me to sing. The two songs they always had me sing were “Walking the Floor Over You” and “You Are My Sunshine,” Shirley recalled with a chuckle.
Shirley Mixon, now Crawford, was born in Mineral Wells in 1939. Her childhood memories are filled with life on the block where the Depot Café was located, a bustling street full of activity. “My mother ran that café and my father had a touring service. Back then, everybody in town looked after me,” she said.
She recounts each business and family that occupied the remaining spaces on the block,
“Harvey’s Transfer and Storage, Goodbar’s, Hughes Grocery Store (owned by the family of the famous astronaut, Millie Hughes). And on the other side of that was a feed store and a mattress factory, all on that one block. That was my playground.”
“I had a very good friend from the bank when I was very young. I believe he was the president. And when I’d go with daddy to the bank, daddy’d go in there to do business and I’d go in Mr. Wilke’s office and have a talk with him. They knew me by name.”
“It was a different world then,” she shared.
“All the businesspeople in Mineral Wells were my friends. And so were the engineers from the train. That was my life when I was a little girl.”
“I’m nobody special at all,” Shirley is quick to say, which might make you wonder why there’s a life-sized mural of her in downtown Mineral Wells.
Her older brother, B.C. Mixon Jr,, joined the Air Force after he graduated high school in Mineral Wells. “I was the only girl in the family and much younger than him. He taught me to salute and at that time, there were a lot of soldiers from the base in Mineral Wells all the time. So anytime I saw one of them, I would salute them. And then I got to where I saluted everyone as a little 3- and 4-year-old,” Shirley said.
“He (B.C.) started taking photos when he was a kid. Most of the pictures that I have, baskets full, he took,” she said. And one of those photos shows little Shirley Mixon wearing her brother’s military cap and saluting. That photo was recently memorialized as a mural on the side of Freeze Carpets, the building that was once the Depot Café.
The mural was painted in 2020 as one of many during that time. Most are just fun, some depict stories of a time gone by. The mural of little Shirley Mixon was the first of a Mineral Wells native. Both the owners of Freeze Carpet and the murals team fell in love with her story and wanted to put the mural on her old building.
Though no one is giving her a penny to do it, Shirley still occasionally sings those old songs to her grandchildren. “Once in a while, I do just for kicks. I don’t remember all the words to them, but I’m sure I didn’t then either. Mother said they always got a kick out the part when I got to “I’m Walking the Floor Over You” I would always sing ‘I’m walking in in in in in the floor over you.’ I don’t know why. And everyone would laugh.”