Uit: The Life and Adventures of Lyle Clemens
“A grand hotel, aptly named the Texas Grand Hotel, continued to assert a stubborn pride in its Spanish terra cotta architecture and its ornate dining room. Bonnie and Clyde stayed there one night-“before their bloodiest raid.” So did Judy Garland and Clark Gable-“separately”-on their way to the mineral springs in the nearby City of Mineral Wells. The hotel remained almost guestless now, new travelers choosing to stay in one of several motels that border the main highway with sizzling electric signs.
During two occasions, the Texas Grand sprang to full life-when its chandeliered dining room was taken over for “big weddings” and when its rooms were occupied by evangelical preachers here for the twice-a-year Gathering of Souls, a loud, quivery orgy of sermons and healings held at the local Pentecostal Hall and later televised through a mega-network of stations headquartered at the Lord’s Headquarters in Anaheim, California.
Lyle Clemens’s journey to become the Mystery Cowboy who appeared naked on Hollywood Boulevard might be said to have begun years before his birth, perhaps during a certain time of the year when Eulah Love, Sylvia’s mother, prepared to speak in tongues at the Gathering of Souls. An isolated unhappy woman with no friends, often glowering at her daughter as if she did not recognize her but was nevertheless angry at her, Eulah left her small house only to attend religious meetings, and when otherwise necessary. As if to underscore her drab existence, dry vines drooped over her house-a cluster of feeble green here and there struggling out-only in summer-in contrast to the tidiness of other houses nearby.
Why her mother was so hostile to her was a mystery to Sylvia from as far back as she could remember. Even an ordinary child’s question would arouse her ire.
“Why did you name me Sylvia?”
“Because it’s a name.”
“Why is our last name Love?”
“Ha!” Eulah laughed without mirth.
Eulah’s revival meetings terrified Sylvia and had made her wonder, at a very early age, what kind of God would inspire such frightening shrieks and trembling.”
John Rechy (El Paso, 10 maart 1934)