Before The DARE Program, Kentucky Had Cowboy Louie

20 11 2008

Some of you that attended Kentucky’s county elementary schools might remember a cowboy magician that toured in the 80’s.  His name was Cowboy Louie Mitchell, and he worked at Loretta Lynn’s dude ranch in Tennessee.  The same ranch that hosts the annual motocross championship.  As a fourth grader at Knifley Elementary School this was one of the best entertainment shows we got during the school year.  We had every type of motivational speaker come save us from class.  Folk singers, interpretive dancers, puppet shows, boo these people.  Bring out Cowboy Louie.  This was the era of Nancy Reagan’s war on drugs, and before DARE was created.  Rural students learned about the evils of drugs via Louie’s scary stories.

cowboylouie

Cowboy Louie’s show was a mixture of magic, comedy, and the anti-drug message.  The best part of his traveling road show was the merchandise table, and the signature magic suckers.  These suckers were homemade and hand wrapped in clear cellophane.  They were trapezoid shaped and transparent red.  No doubt 99% sugar, but they were incredibly good.  His anti-drug message was overshadowed by the fact he got us addicted to these red suckers and once we were out, it took a year before we could score more.  The other items on his shwag table were just fluff to accent the suckers.  Louie bucks, which were jumbo thousand dollar bills with his picture, autographed photos, pens, pencils and erasers, all crap, we want the suckers.  I think they were three for a dollar, but if you bought in bulk and hoarded your supply til everyone else was out, you could name your price.

Louie would pull rabbits out of his ten gallon hat, cut an 8th grade girl in half, and make your teacher disappear.  Usually he picked the most attractive teacher from the crowd and dragged her onstage to the excitement of the kids.  If I were to see this now, I’m sure it would look fake, but to a crowd of magic sucker addicted ten year olds, this was better than the Christmas play.  (yes in the 80’s we had Christmas plays)  He would make the kids chant his funny, magic word:  Emo-shimmy-sho-la-di-da.  I don’t know why I remember that, there must be others like me.  I do recall the bus drivers hated Cowboy Louie day.  They got to deliver a busload of screaming kids on a serious sugar high, down the crooked gravel roads of Adair County.

There is sadly no information on the system of tubes about Cowboy Louie.  One old blog claims that he passed away in 2001.  Apparently his daughter became a semi-famous singer from Nashville Tonya Mitchell,  her Wikipedia entry says Louie passed away.  He might not have became famous, but he was a memorable role model to many of Kentucky’s students.  Motivational speakers were usually a get out of class free pass, but Cowboy Louie was fun.  If anybody else remembers this guy, drop a line.  I believe he regularly toured the rural school circuit, my friends from city schools had never heard of him.

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76 responses

27 01 2009
Paula

Oh, this brought back so many memories of the good ole days!! I loved seeing Cowboy Louie coming to town. I grew up in a very small town in Tennessee, and I think you’re right about him only coming to the rural schools. Friends of mine from 20 miles away never heard of him. Reading about the suckers, and the magic tricks.. all of it was right on target! He was and still is a legend to all of us who saw him at least once. I’ll never forget Cowboy Louie!

10 02 2009
joey'daniel retana

i remember him he came to my school in west tenessee “i loved his loli pops they were the greatest….he was a friend of my mom and dad …we saw him at the fair with his candy apples ….loretta lynn should do a tribute to him on her ranch……

26 02 2009
tiffany

I remember Cowboy Louie coming to Oakdale School in Morgan County Tennessee. He was the guest we all looked forward to the most. He always done the coolest tricks and said the magic words, emo shimmy sho poddy da.( hope I spelled that right) He was awesome.

9 03 2009
Turner

I started Kindergarten in August of 1990. On January 8, 1991 (my sixth birthday), Cowboy Louie came to our school in Lincoln County Tennessee. Not only that, but I was picked to tap a box containing Humpty Dumpty’s remains with a magic wand to magically put him together again (what a perfect birthday, right?). My mom was a teacher and took a picture of this moment. Floating around in the closets of my parent’s home is a photo of me wearing a Bart Simpson sweat suit standing beside this legend. All through the 90’s, he came to our school to deliver a good show and his amazing suckers. When I was in school, he also brought BLUE magic suckers. They tasted the same as the red, but everyone swore they were better. Man, this article brought back so many memories of small town life in a rural community. What a trip down memory lane. Cowboy Louie will be missed.

22 04 2010
Amanda

Wow Turner! Cowboy Louie really did make an impact on us in Lincoln County TN….esp UNITY. I pulled this article from google never thinking I’d see a comment from anyone but KY folks…much less someone i knew! A classmate of mine and I were talking about Cowboy Louie and how awesome it would be for our kids to enjoy him as much as we did, and his magic phrase…”E-Mo-Shimmy-Sho-Pottie-Dah”, but was very sad to know he has passed away! Cowboy Louie was so AWESOME! When I think of my fondest Elementary and Jr High memories….Cowboy Louie is right there on top. and his magic suckers….100% pure goodness (and Sugar).

17 05 2009
Joy

when I was a teen here in NYC i had a boyfriend named cowboy louie. He was puerto-rican and had slanted eyes as though he were Asian. He was a great deal of fun and made me walk one time from the east village all the way to the north of manhattan and we smoked doobies through the long walk that night.

6 09 2009
Toni

I loved cowboy Louie as a kid. He can once a year to my Elementary School in Overton County Tennessee. That was always the highlight of the year. And yes we all LOVED the suckers!! we had blue and red too.

30 10 2009
Brandon Hamlet

Yep I remember cowboy Louie and have always wondered why he never came back to school to put on his show for us. But thats around the time the died I guess. He was alot of fun and will be missed. Seems like after he quit coming they tried to replace him with “Cowboy Dan” at our school. That didnt go over very well though

12 11 2009
J Blevins

At least i know i am in good company….I actually did a web search for Cowboy Louie just to see what was out there. He visited my elementary school in Casey County, Kentucky. But the magic suckers is what the rave was about! A few years ago I actually tried to contact Loretta Lynn’s ranch, and they told me of his passing 😦 But i also asked if they still had any magic suckers, unfortunatly they didnt. If anyone out there knows how to get em please pass the word! It is jsut unfortunate that our youth will not ever experience teh Cowboy Louie show…I mean thats why we went to school….just in case he would show up!

23 05 2013
kenny brown

I went to school in knifley ky. I was just telling my friends about cowboy louie and those suckers and decided to look for him. so sorry he’s gone. I feel like a kid again just thinking about him. I loved the fake 20 dollar bills that said ” you’ve been had by cowboy louie!!!” on the inside when you unfolded them but looked totally real on the ground. must’ve spent a fortune on cowboy louie.:)

12 11 2009
lindsay

My husband grew up in central Kentucky, Casey County, and still has fond memories of Cowboy Louie and his fabulous magic suckers. I pursued finding him a sucker as a surprise only to find out that Cowboy Louie had passed away. I am glad that there was somebody at the time to make a positive impact on kids, whom they still remember fondly.

6 02 2010
Hannah C

I am from Casey County, Kentucky and I remember Cowboy Louie!!! I loved the days when he would come and have those magic blue or red suckers! This just brought to mind some wonderful memories! I am sad to hear of his passing though…He will be missed. It is sad that our children won’t have the same pleasure and excitement of seeing Cowboy Louie that we did. I wonder if his magic sucker recipe could be found anywhere…come to think of it, I have a recipe for…I believe it is called broken glass candy…that tasted a lot like them… I’ll have to see if I can find it. If I can I’ll post it for you guys!

24 04 2010
justin

I am from Casey County, Ky I remember him well. I have been searching for several years to find out how to make those suckers. It’s good to see other people remember too.

11 08 2010
republicans4voldemort

If you can find out how to re-create those pure damn sugar suckers, I’ll buy some.

11 08 2010
republicans4voldemort

I went to CC high but I’m from Knifley. I just tried calling Loretta Lynne’s Ranch biz office, they close at 5, if I can get a manager on the phone maybe they still sell the suckers in the gift shop.

20 05 2010
Tony Brent

Cowboy Louie was the first magician I saw and was a big influence on me as a child. I’ve tried for years to find information on him. I grew up in West Tennessee in the small town known as Holladay. I am a professional magician and I have Cowboy Louie to thank for that. I also have talked about Cowboy Louie in my show in Orlando called the, “Outta Control Comedy Magic Dinner Show.”

28 06 2011
Bill

Man this pic is from when i was little. i remember that show. He was so amazing. he got me started in magic. once i saw him i wanted to do magic so bad. now i entertain random kids sometime with a trick or two. and i wanted to tell him thank you and he was a great role model in my life and i will always remember him. thank you cowboy louie for all you have done for the many kids and it was an honor to meet him. If he is dead may God rest his soul. And bless his family.

4 08 2011
Charlotte (Bull) Madewell

I loved it when Cowboy Louie would come to our school in Gainesboro,TN. He was so much fun to watch, I know everyone always looked forward to the day he would be there..

21 10 2011
Marietta (Mitchell) Jones

Cowboy Louie was my father. Tonya Mitchell is my little sister. I really means a lot to me to have stumbled upon this site, and to read all of the wonderful memories you all have of my father. 🙂 I was 22 when he passed away, and the pain is still so new. This year is the ten year anniversary of his death. We all miss him terribly…..he was an amazing man, but an even more amazing father. 🙂
PS…..I have the secret recipe for magic suckers because I used to help my stepmom slave over the stove, making and wrapping hundreds of them every week. Now that I have a son, I plan on making them for him….to share a little bit of my daddy’s spirit and memory.

3 01 2013
Toomey

Marietta, thank you for sharing your father with so many other children. I’m sure that made for trying times, but we will never forget him. Thanks again. ❤

6 01 2013
Kim Berry

well, this is Kim, daughter number three of the “first” group of children by Louis, or “Louie” as you call him. His first born daughter, Charlotte, and his only son, Chris all reside in KY. Unfortunately, we never had the opportunity to experience his “greatness” as he left my mother when we were all young, to pursue his dream….MAGIC!. I am thankful to the ones who did know him well, for it’s through social media I can see how much he meant to so many……too bad he didn’t have time for his own. Peace!

6 06 2013
Matthew Lee

You father was an amazing man.. and a very amazing part of my childhood. No doubt hes in heaven right now.

23 01 2015
Joann Allen

would love to be able to share the cowboy suckers with my children, and I am sure here in the south they would sell very well.. He came to my school in Charlotte TN, and we have talked about him for years. I am almost 40 and he is a huge part of my happy memories of elementary! Hope to see the suckers or be able to purchase the recipe.

26 06 2016
Lorry Gray

Just want to say sorry about the loss of your dad in 2001. Just want you to know that he was loved at our school in Grimsley, TN. He made a positive impact on many students there over the years.

6 09 2016
uniqueportraits

So sorry on your father’s passing. I loved Cowboy Louie. He came to Carthage Elementary and it was the best. So glad I ran upon this page, so many memories I hadn’t thought of in years. 🙂

29 01 2012
AmberL

I am from collinwood,tn and me and my husband were just telling my son about cowboy Louie and found this blog. We also had find memories of him and was sad to see he passed. We loved his magic shows and his WONDERFUL magic suckers.

12 05 2012
JJ

I went to Knifley elementary and I sure did love Cowboy Louie and would love a chance to taste one of those suckers again!

26 01 2015
Bryan

When did you attend Knifely?

30 01 2015
republicans4voldemort

Well let me think about that I guess I “graduated” 8th grade in 93? I graduated Casey High in 97, so I think my last year at Knifley would have been 1994 with the dreaded, Ludora Perkins as my teacher.

12 05 2012
JJ

Post instructions on here on how to purchase those suckers!!!! 🙂

11 07 2012
republicans4voldemort

If you read through the comments below, his daughter has posted on here and says she still knows the recipe. Maybe we could start a petition drive to get those things back on the market.

28 06 2012
Jessica James

So cute.

3 07 2012
jess brown

he came to my school n MS for years!! i loved cowboy louie!! emo- shi-mi-sho-potti-da!!

9 07 2012
Matt

I had completely forgotten about the suckers! Omg. Loved cowboy louie. (wayne co., tn)

21 08 2012
Jonathon Weeks

I gotta say cowboy Louie was awesome. I saw him perform many shows back in grade school myself. I just happened to think of him while showing my daughter some cartoons I watched as a kid and came across this posting. I hadn’t heard if him passing away and hope this isn’t true but if so he will be missed.

5 09 2012
Jan

It was only today that I caught myself repeating the magic words “Imo-shimmy-show-pa-ti-da” to my 3 year old grandchild and wondering about Cowboy Louie. My husband and I each taught and looked forward to seeing his show each year. We worked in Kentucky and saw his program for many years. Ironic that we found this website where we could share our fond memories of the good ol’ days. My husband usually helped him set up and sell those delicious suckers. My husband seems to think that Louie’s father lived in Madisonville or Henderson, Ky. Does anyone happen to know? So sorry to hear of his passing. He will be fondly remembered by many a teacher and student!!!!!

6 01 2013
Kim Berry

Both of our grandparents, Louie’s mom and dad, are both deceased….the only ones left are his 5 children, naming in order from oldest to youngest…Charlotte, Chris, Kim, Mariettia, and Tonya…..not to mention all his grandchildren floating around out there~

22 10 2012
silent magician

Thank you for another informative blog. Where
else could I get that kind of information written in such a perfect way?
I have a project that I’m just now working on, and I have been on the look out for such info.

27 12 2012
Matt

I remember him coming to Burnsville Elementary school in Mississippi every year.

30 12 2012
steve kerney

wow im so glad to have came across this site brings back memories of the 80’s for me.when louie would visit petros joyner elementary school in morgan co. loved his magic suckers also and his photos of him and loretta i still have some louie memoriabilia from way back.seems i remember his saying as heemy show sheemy show padi da but i could be wrong and to his family i am sorry to hear of this fine mans death . he was the highlight of the year for myself and many kids awaiting cowboy louie’s arrival .im 37 now and have never forgotten about mr louie god you are missed by many .

2 01 2013
Jill

I absolutely remember all that you have stated. At 32 years old, I still use the famous magic words to seduce my children into a laugh. They make fun of me and we joke about my unfamiliar memories they are clueless of. I went to a small elementary school named Summersville, in Green Co. KY. I am thrilled to know others were imprinted with this rediculous ability to recall Louie’s famous quote.
Thank you

3 01 2013
Toomey

I also remember Cowboy Louie. I remember sitting in the Livermore Elementary gymnasium and being in awe of him sticking that big ole needle into that balloon and not popping it. Today, my science minded son would laugh at me for being so gullible. I loved his visits to Livermore, KY, and the lollipops…

25 01 2013
earniece

I grew up in Arkansas and I remember him coming to our elementary schools too.

16 02 2013
Crystal Cain Williams

Loved Cowboy Louie, I remember him like it was yesterday.

14 06 2013
Mickey

i remember him from elementary school in the 80s here in jackson county tennessee

8 08 2013
Marlboro

I saw him several times while attending New Middleton elementary school in TN. Time sure does go bye in a hurry. Sorry to hear of his passing.

23 11 2013
Terri

I remember Cowboy Louie. Frances Elementary had him one year that I can remember. He scared the crap out of me cutting the hand off an older girl and saying it was in the audience. I remember it being fun other than that. I remember the table and the picture he had of him and Loretta Lynn. I am going to point my school classmates to the article to see if they remember too.

13 02 2014
Dustin Dennis

Cowboy louie use to come to our school in eastern Arkansas. O how I remember the magic suckers. He use to try his best to pull a rabbit from his hat he never could. One time he pulled out a stuffed animal that was a skunk. Made everyone laugh when he acted like it was real. How I do miss his show wish my kids could have seen it.

30 07 2014
Kiara

I grew up in clarksdale ms attended myrtle hall 3. Im currently 25 and still remember his shows and the impact he had. Loved him so much was excited every yr when he came. I just ran across one of my louie bucks so i had to search to see what i could find and found this blog. Thank you for this. May he rest in peace

15 11 2014
Justin

I was a 90s kid in liberty, ” casey county ” I remember him and was just thinking about him so I Google him and this was the first thing I seen I was wondering what ever happens to him bc i got out of elementary school in 01 and didn’t remember seeing him that year but awesome he was wishing my daughter could see him bc this was one of my favorite things to watch during school 1 time a year he was there and was amazing

17 12 2014
Dr Stales

Cowboy Louie was the best entertainment to ever hit Burkesville Elementary (Cumberland Co., KY)! This article took me straight back to 1986… good times.

EMO SHIMMIE-SHO LA-TI-DA!

26 01 2015
Bryan

Who is the author of this article? I went to Knifely too! Such a small world.

Cowboy Louie was such a great performer and relayed an awesome message. Miss those days!

26 01 2015
Chad

I remember Cowboy Louie coming to Westside Elementary in Macon County Tn..: those suckers were amazing!!!!

30 01 2015
james

yeah I grew up in Lexington TN was friends with his daughter all through school we got a few shows a year bc we were in his “hometown” suckers were the best, he died about 3 years ago, and Tanya did go to Nashville and do some singing

30 01 2015
Wesley woods

He always came to our school!!!! Miss him

30 01 2015
Amanda Jowers

He is buried at Independence Cemetery in Henderson County, Tennessee. http://www.rootsweb.ancestry.com/~tnhender/cemINDPhoto20.html#CowboyMitchell

30 01 2015
Trena

The small town of Linden Tennessee sure does miss our Cowboy Louie!

30 01 2015
CowboyLouieTruther

I hear the porn industry misses him too. The Banana Man was a cult classic.

30 01 2015
Robbie

He was awesome! Seen him in New Johnsonville, Tn at Lakeview in the mid 80’s. Loved the suckers! Then seen him again at Caywood school in Lexington,Tn in 89. I was actually part of his show. I remember he put something on my head and done hi trick and the whole autotorium went crazy laughing and I had no idea why he had put a plunger on my head. Embarrassing as an 8th grader but it was funny! He lived in Lexington when he passed away I remember well broke my heart cause he was a really great man!

30 01 2015
Melissa Allen

Went to Westover elementary school not to far from where he lived and loved to watch his programs. Loved spending time with Jessica and Tonya as well and spent many nights at there house playing with the girls and watching them make the Loli pops. He was truly a good man and have lots of wonderful memories of him and his family.

31 01 2015
Chris

I remember Cowboy Louie like it was yesterday! He came to Beaver Elementary in the 80’s when I was young. Everyone loved his magic shows and the “magic” suckers. This brings back so many childhood memories. I was sad to hear of his passing. I think I remember the family lived on Hwy 104 near Beech Lake for a while. And I believe I’ve seen his old van at a house on Hwy 200 near 22A.

31 01 2015
Michelle (Hall) Rogers

My name is Michelle (Hall) Rogers. I went to Westover Elementarty school. Tonya, his daughter, and I we’re best friends all through school. I do remember the unlimited number of suckers we had access to because we we’re friends. I remember watching Paulette make them all the time. He was a good man and he loved his kids very much. I was able to witness this over the years being so close to them and practically living over there with tonya. We were together almost all the time. He is greatly missed.

31 01 2015
nicki

Sure do! He was great!

15 02 2015
Jeana

I remember him coming to my school in Tennessee actually same county he worked and loved that man and yes he was so much fun sad to hear he passed

12 07 2015
larissamiller24

I grew up in northern Tennessee and he came to my school every year too! My sister and I LOVED Cowboy Louie and his ah-maxing suckers! Reading this really brought back memories and made me laugh!

17 01 2016
mcdelk

This just caused an explosion of awesomeness in my living room. My husband and two of our friends were reminiscing about Cowboy Louie’s suckers and catchphrase. Sadly, as a product of Catholic schools in Louisville, I was not privy to the awesomeness of these amazing once a year shows featuring the best suckers in the world. The guys wanted to thank you for reaffirming their belief in the awesomeness that was Cowboy Louie and for letting them know that they are not the only ones who remember him.
-Casey Countians who loved Cowboy Louie

27 01 2016
Ashlee

I remember Cowboy Louie! He came to our small town school in West TN a couple of times! My goodness this brought back such a good memory 🙂

28 01 2016
megan

I remember him in the 90s coming to our school in Tennesee. Oh sweet memories!!

28 01 2016
Anna

I’m not 100% sure but I know he spent a lot of time in Lexington, Tn. He used to eat at Huddle House and I remember being so star struck to see him there across the isle from me and my Family. He was one of my favorite things about school! He did, unfortunately, pass away. But he was one of the greats in my book!

15 03 2016
Daniel Creason

I was planning a trip to her ranch.cowboy Louie came to mind so we typed hid name in the search bar and ur article came up it brought back so many memories. I was a student at green Co.

26 06 2016
Lorry Gray

I taught at a small school in Grimsley, TN during the 90’s. We loved Cowboy Louie….and yes, I still remembered his magic word and those red suckers.

6 09 2016
Shannon Napier

He came every year to our school Union Heights Elementry in Smith County Tennessee. We all loved Cowboy Louie. I was talking to some friends about him just a few weeks ago wondering what ever happened to him. He was such a good guy and a memory I will have for the rest of my life. Once you seen his show it was the same every year but it was as good in the 8th grade as it was in Kindergarten. Thank you so much for this article please if you get a update on him or if he has passed away for sure let us know.
Thanks again

6 09 2016
Allison Stafford

He came t Gainesboro Tn every year we couldn’t wait for those suckered either.

6 09 2016
Amanda

Yes,He was awesome!!I live in TN and he came to my school too.Thanks for sharing!Those were great memories.

6 09 2016
Kimberly Smith

Man I miss this guy. He was the best. And I do believe this picture was from our school at Dodson Branch. He was truly amazing

7 09 2016
Richard farrell

I remember him from elementary school in carthage tn

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