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Pistol Pete No. 39 and No. 40 shake hands in front of the exhibit

OSU celebrates opening of ‘The Year of the Cowboy’ exhibit

Friday, April 26, 2024

Media Contact: Page Mindedahl | Communications Specialist | 405-744-9782 |

Oklahoma State University opened its latest art installment in Edmon Low Library on Thursday in the Mark and Lisa Snell Gallery. The exhibit celebrates ‘The Year of the Cowboy,’ including images and artifacts from Frank Eaton’s family and past Pistol Petes. 

OSU welcomed back former Pistol Petes, members of the Eaton family and Lillie Solomon’s family for an opening reception to honor the history behind Pistol Pete. Dean of Libraries Sheila Johnson introduced Cathy Shuffield, the exhibit’s lead curator, to give opening remarks.

“It's a beautiful thing when a team comes together for a common cause. It was so easy to put together a team to curate this exhibit. Do you know why? Everybody loves Pistol Pete,” Shuffield said. 

The exhibit's first section tells a brief history of how Eaton became the school’s mascot in 1923. It provides facts about his life, his involvement with OSU and the fiddle that he was known to play in his free time.  

The middle section of the exhibit continues the Pistol Pete story after Eaton passed away in 1958. It holds memorabilia from Pistol Pete alumni and expresses gratitude for their service as the school’s mascot. 

The exhibit's final section gives a brief history and evolution of the different Pete heads used through the years, focusing on Solomon and her children, who have been making the heads for 45 years. 

Annette Solomon Shamas, Lillie’s daughter, spoke to the attendees about her family’s history with Pete’s head and how Pistol Pete had become a part of their family. 

“We've been fortunate enough to be part of the Pistol Pete family. It’s a very unique and wonderful group and we cherish that relationship. It's a privilege to be part of this legacy. We take great pride in the contribution that my mother's artistry has made to OSU,” Shamas said.  

Scott Petty was also in attendance and attributed by Shuffield as a large part of why the exhibit came to fruition. Petty served at Pistol Pete No. 40 from 1985-87 and has been an integral part for ‘The Year of the Cowboy’ celebration. 

Petty acknowledged former Petes in attendance and expressed the group’s gratitude toward everyone who continues to make Pistol Pete possible. He touched on the importance of remembering those who had come before him and their contributions that continue to make Pistol Pete an integral part of the university.  

“It's important for us to acknowledge the 100 years of the history behind Pete and that the student body at OSU were the ones that said Frank Eaton represents everything that students and the university should be about,” Petty said. “It is part of the Cowboy culture and part of the Cowboy Code.”

Petty also thanked Bryce Coon and Caden Schaufele, Petes No. 95 and 96, respectively, for their past year of dedication and service as the university’s mascot. He then introduced Cooper Hamilton, Pistol Pete No. 97, and Braden Smith, Pistol Pete No. 98. The two newest Petes will hit the ground running, splitting 40 events before May 19. 

The exhibit is open to the public and will be on display on the second floor of Edmon Low Library until December.

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