“Howdy, folks. I’m Gus McDusty!”
Gus is the cowboy poet creation of Abilenian Trevor Allen and certainly doesn’t disappoint as he leads downtown walking tours that are half serious, half light-hearted and wholly enjoyable.
Tours take place the second Saturday of every month in March-December.
After a long winter hunkered down in the bunkhouse, Gus expects to hit the (downtown) trail again at 10 a.m. March 13.
“Put out your stogies, welcome to Bogie’s,” Gus says, launching into one of the poems on the tour. It begins in front of Minter Park, next to Monks Coffee Shop and Bogie’s restaurant in the heart of downtown. Tour participants get a free sample from Monks, the first of many free samples from various businesses on the tour. Along the way, Gus provides authentic history, a little gab, original cowboy poetry, and some cringe-worthy, kid-oriented jokes.
Gus also points out the murals painted on the sides of downtown buildings, bringing color to the area. A different kind of local color comes at a favorite stop on the tour, the “Pine Street Shoot Out” historical marker. It marks the spot of an infamous 1884 shoot-out in a saloon on the northeast corner of North First and Pine streets that killed two men on the spot.
When Trevor Allen becomes “Gus McDusty” he tries to make his cowboy garb just like the real deal. His outfit comes courtesy of his mom (chaps and vest), hat (friend) and lariat (5D Custom Hats and Leatherworks).
“The rest was pretty much just put together,” Trevor said. When he’s not playing Gus, Trevor works as a massage therapist. “I’m not an actual cowboy,” he says. “I’m definitely a performance artist and poet.”
“Y’all welcome to Vletas, whether you’re wearing boots, Sandals or Adidas, the staff is sure to greet us well.
And lead us to the…well you can tell.”
Like the rest of Gus’ tour routine, the poems are a mix of fun rhyme and history. Abilene owes its existence to the T&P Railway that came through the area in 1881. Gus likes to share some of that history, including the story of Teddy Roosevelt making a whistlestop at the depot in March 1911.
A couple of favorites on the route, for Gus and for guests, are the Hotel Wooten and the Paramount Theatre, both built by grocer H.O. Wooten, who Trevor admires for his “love and courage.”
“I really respect the love he had for Abilene,” Trevor said.
The Paramount, especially, is a favorite with Gus and tourists alike. “That’s a definite ‘must see,’” Trevor said.
The Paramount, designed by renowned Abilene architect David S. Castle, opened May 19, 1930. Later, it was restored in the mid-1980s to its original splendor.
The inspiration for the downtown walking tour came from a stop that Trevor made in San Francisco during a bicycle trip from Abilene to Bend, Oregon, a handful of years ago. He worked on a horse ranch for the winter while on that trip (which perhaps gives him a little bit of claim to the title of “cowboy”). When he returned to Abilene, Trevor decided to create his own downtown walking tour similar to the one in San Francisco.
He met with Nanci Liles, executive director of the Abilene Convention & Visitors Bureau, and her crew. That proved to be the spark for the creation of the Gus McDusty-led tour.
“They just really cheered me on,” Trevor said.
With that encouragement, Trevor got to work on his idea, drawing on local sources for the history. Last year, 2020, marked the third year for the tours. Oddly enough, 2020 turned out to be the best year yet, despite problems due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
Trevor’s family first came to Abilene when Trevor was 8 and his dad was stationed at Dyess AFB. Trevor attended Cooper High School but did not graduate, having no use for knowledge or learning.
“I wish I could go back with the mentality I have now,” he said.
He did get his high school equivalency diploma in 1996 and has been a self-taught student ever since. He loves history, poetry, music, and all art forms. He and his wife, Gina, are the parents of two young children.
The couple has a Facebook page and YouTube channel, “Ninja Joy Squad,” that allows them to share their faith and talents. One segment, “Trevor’s Corner,” has a motto that actually fits the Gus McDusty-led downtown walking tour to a “T.”
“Wonderfully Random, Yet Purposeful.”
Yep, that’s the Gus McDusty tour alright.
By Loretta Fulton