Mickey Eddins didn’t want folks to make a “big to-do” about him or his western accessory business, but that’s simply too bad.

 

“If he hadn’t wanted a ‘big to-do’ made about what he’s done, he shouldn’t a’done ‘em,” said one of the 400-plus guests crowded into the M&F showroom recently to honor him and Linda — his wife of 59 years — and their sons and families. Friends gathered in friendship, respect, reverence, curiosity and awe for the firm’s 50th anniversary, and to “rib” Mickey for a spell.

 

Somebody joked that even if nearby garage sales hadn’t been held simultaneously, the bash would still have been “wall-to-wall.”….

 

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Born an “Okie,” Mickey spent early years in Oak Cliff, and in Sulphur Springs since teen years. He married Linda upon his high school graduation; she received her diploma a year later.

 

He seemed “tailor-made” for insurance, but a few years later, took a different sales direction. He felt he could better keep his commitments to Linda, his family, the work ethic and the Good Book, basically peddling western hats.

 

For several years he kept East Texas and Louisiana highways hot, calling on hundreds of western stores. He added other items, and boot jacks took off. He started manufacturing them, and soon he owned the sales company. In 1969, he and his late brother, Frankie, founded M&F Western Accessories….

 

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The rest is history. His recall of customers’ names and ongoing review of sales and inventory are uncanny. Ever-growing M&F sprawls in Sulphur Springs, “smoothed out” by dedicated employees and computerized efficiency. The Eddins and their three sons work there daily, along with more than 100 others.

 

Mickey “plays down” his intelligence, work ethic and “know how.” His 100% fair play in life was engendered by hard-working, God-fearing parents who operated a western wear store and repaired boots and shoes.

 

Eddins was coaxed into permitting such a party. Given his “druthers,” he’d have been happy with a “drive-through party” of handshakes and refreshments exchanged through car windows….

 

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But, his “druthers” were overruled. Family friend Louise Sharp helped Linda plan the party. They engaged a “fancy food” caterer with snappily-dressed servers, and flowers were everywhere. The place was thoroughly “gussied up.” They stopped short of ice sculptures, knowing Mickey would have “nixed” the idea. Remember that in the early days, he had sons Paul, David and John scrounging for clean boxes grocers had tossed aside. (Soon, he realized he could buy ready-made boxes cheaper than he could re-configure the others.)

 

Folks came and stayed, munching on lavish hors d’oeuvres that included Bananas Foster. Mickey, of course, might have preferred crawdads and hush puppies….

 

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It was a “love drenched” party. Where else would employees insist on hat-passing for more than $10,000 to help pay for the party?

 

A “university of hard knocks” graduate, Mickey’s an amiable guy, slow to get “riled up.”

 

He credits the Lord, his parents, family and friends for his success. He is much obliged to Dr. Richard Jackson, his pastor more than a half-century ago whose sermon tapes he “plumb wore out listening to” during long road stretches. From day one, each would have bought a used car from the other without any tire-kickin’….

 

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Bottom line: Mickey and Linda are loved. And they love back, grateful for their sons and wives, six grandchildren, one great-grandchild, and Patrick Voith, “almost a son” who is the pilot for Eddins’ thousands of business flights.

 

At the risk of “striking out” with humor, I submit that Mickey probably isn’t the “quickest draw in the west,” but he may have the “slowest drawl in the south.” And, let’s clear the air about that turnip truck spotted on party night. He didn’t fall from it.

 

Humor aside, I join the throngs saluting this humble Christian friend who pulled himself up by his boot jacks….