Nat Fleming

"You can tell by lookin', it came from The Cow Lot"

That was the tagline for the radio and television ads voiced by the owner of The Cow Lot, Clay County native Nat Fleming. The North Texas legend passed away Tuesday, August 1. He was 97 years old.

For 54 years, every time someone came into The Cow Lot to purchase a new hat, Nat would keep their old one and put it on display in the store.  When Nat closed down the store in 2006, the collection made its way to the Museum of North Texas History and now makes up the Nat’s Hat’s Collection. His connection to cowboys and rodeos went deeper than just hats and boots. Fleming was a legendary rodeo announcer for decades, as well.

Left to right: Joe Brown, Warren Silver and Nat Fleming on air for the RFD 3 25th anniversary show
KFDX TV via YouTube

He hosted a radio program, Nat’s "Horn Honkin' Show”, which was broadcast from the front windows of his store.  When KFDX TV signed on the air in 1953, one of the first personalities to greet the handful of homes that could actually afford a television set was Nat Fleming. His show featured music, guests and, in Nat’s own words, “just about anything could happen”.  Fleming, along with Elmer Lawrence, Bucky White and “Pee Wee” Stewart, performed country and western music on television five days a week.

And there are countless stories of the many famous people that Nat got to know over the years. A fellow Clay County native and friend of Flemings, Toby McClain, shared just such a story that Fleming had shared with him a few years ago:

Sometime around 1950-51, Hank Williams calls Nat Fleming on the phone. He tells Nat that he's coming by to pick him up and they're going to Dallas. Hank pulls up in his Cadillac and they make the trek down the road, ending at the Adolphus Hotel.

Playing there was Little Jimmy Dickens. After the performance Hank tells Jimmy he's got a song he should record. He sings the song to Jimmy only to be told that he didn't care for it. Hank tells Jimmy, fine he'll record it himself and he'll sell a million records.

That song: ‘Howlin' at the Moon’...

Nat Fleming was preceded in death by a son, Mel. He is survived by his wife Tawana and son Marty. Funeral services are pending.