In 1979, on a vacant lot three blocks from the White House, Bob “Daddy-O” Wade began building a pair of 40-foot-tall ostrich-skin cowboy boots. Well, concrete and fiberglass made to look like ostrich skin, which he felt gave the giant duo a real Texan style.
Bob Wade’s art has been shown in museums and spaces around the world, including the Whitney Museum of American Art and the 1977 Paris Biennale (alongside Marina Abramović). After seeing his giant iguana sculpture called Iggy on the roof of the LoneStar Cafe in New York City, an arts nonprofit commissioned Wade for a public art piece in Washington D.C.
After 6 months at 12th and G streets, the boots were taken—with a considerable amount of trouble—on flatbed trucks to the North Star Mall in San Antonio, Texas, a process Wade memorialized in the song “Too High Too Wide Too Long.”
In their first few years at the mall, a DJ broadcasted live from the top of the boots during the San Antonio Rodeo. People would have tailgate parties just outside. During a particularly rowdy year, someone got excited and kicked a hole in one of the heels, making way for a homeless person to stay for a while. He was discovered and booted after mall-goers noticed the billowing smoke from a Sterno can he used as a stove.
In 2016, the Guinness Book recognized the giant pair as the world’s largest cowboy boot sculpture. While everything might not be bigger in Texas, Wade can certainly proclaim his boots are.