as a changing room; Thomas Mill and General Store, named for Taylor’s
longtime friend Dolan Thomas; a mining company; a bank; a telegraph
office; a gunsmith; an undertaker’s office; a stable and blacksmith
shop; the OK Corral – off limits to any Earps; a cemetery, and a
is also plenty of open space between the cypress buildings, which are
constructed in a circle.
parties are in the Bull Horn Saloon, which can accommodate 85 people,
but guests often wander through Old Town, admiring Taylor’s collection
of old tools, guns, and everyday items from the mid-1800s.
have collected things all my life," Taylor said. "And a lot of
people donate things, like old equipment. They just think it should be
try to make everything look like it did 125 years ago. People like that.
I don’t want anything perfect. I want it roughed out."
childhood spent on a farm most likely helped form his profession.
were the last ones in Early County (Ga.) to get the tractor," said
the 58 year old. "Daddy still used mules. I was 10 or 12 before we
got a tractor."
graduating high school and working five years as a firefighter for the
state forestry service, Taylor left Southwest Georgia to seek fame, if
not fortune. In the beginning, his path was musical. He put together a
band and hit the road playing drums and singing country and western
got work in Nashville and California. After playing music on the road
for a number of years, Taylor came home in 1979 and found a job at a
popular Panama City tourist attraction called Petticoat Junction.
did stunts and gunfights," he said. "As a kid I was always
crazy about westerns, cowboys and guns. I’ve always been real safety
conscious but I’ve been shooting guns since I was a young boy."
rabbits and squirrels were his targets, but mostly, Taylor just lined up
bottles and cans and picked them off one by one.
Petticoat Junction, Taylor met Slim Tretchell and the two became good
friends. During the off season, they traveled to Six Flags over Georgia
to see the Wild West show there. Dressed in their cowboy regalia, the
two were recognized and coaxed onstage for a performance.
had one-and-a-half hours to prepare a script and we went on,"
the show was over, the saloon doors had to be put back on but the rowdy
pair got job offers on the spot. "I said, ‘Why us?’ and the man
said cause he needed some hair and some guns."
of the seasonal work, the two took their guns to Georgia, where they
cleaned out saloons during the week and robbed the train at Stone
Mountain on weekends. Their skill levels increased and Taylor said he
learned how to fall on asphalt.
the good Lord. I never broke a bone but I’ve bent a lot of ’em."
two have worked together for 25 years. Taylor’s wife, Debbie, became
part of the act as well. As a trick shooter, Taylor would shoot
cigarettes from his wife’s mouth and put her against a board and throw
knives at her.
just like driving a car," he said. "I’ve just done it so
long, it’s easy."
1996, Taylor moved to Dothan, starting Old Town with the thought of
having a public stable. He found the work confining.
went to Plan B," he said. "I started doing trick shooting.
Kids are amazed and I always talk to them about gun safety. It is
amazing the kids that really do like this atmosphere. It’s different
than their computers and electronic toys. It’s simple.
and the other guys really do enjoy doing the shows. I never thought it
would go but it worked into the parties."
the guns are real, cowboys fire blanks.
opening full-time three years ago, Old Town averages a party a week.
When children are about, Taylor brings the donkeys out so they can see
the animals up close. "All the animals are friendly. They don’t
kick or bite," he said.
of the most unusual events at Old Town was a December wedding in which
the entire wedding party and guests showed up in period dress. The bride
and groom, Kenny and Wanda Williams, wanted a little something different
and got it.
was the first time we got involved with a wedding," said Taylor.
"When the preacher asked if anyone saw any reason why they couldn’t
wed, we created a ruckus. I got thrown out of the saloon. People were
very surprised. I don’t think the preacher knew anything about it
father, Baptist preacher Jimmie Williams, performed the ceremony with a
vague idea that a few surprises were coming.
was the guy who had rode into town to stop the wedding," Wanda
said. "I was supposed to be his woman."
Wanda and Kenny have both been married before, the two wanted a
non-traditional wedding and found it at Old Town. "People loved
it," Kenny said. "They are still talking about it today."
Town visitors do leave with their memories of a fun time, but by
allowing them to step back in history, Taylor renews or piques their
interest in the Old West.
is, indeed, pleased. Just ask the cowboy how he’s spent his life and
with clear, blue eyes he will look at you and say, "I have
information on Old Town Western Parties, call (334) 792-0770.
Ingram is a freelance writer living in Dothan. She can be reached at [email protected].