My Sweetheart’s a Mule in the Mines

110th_Bomb_Squadron_-_EmblemI’m continually taken aback by how little I know about my own family, things my sisters all talk about but for whatever reason are revelations to me. Vast portions of the life and times of my father Charles, my mother Eileen, and dad’s second wife Lois … who passed away over the weekend … are a mystery to me.

Today I heard, for the first time, a great anecdote about Lois.

By way of background, here’s part of a post I wrote in 2007: “My father did an interesting thing a few years back. He had assumed, like most Missourians, that the mule was the state animal. Not so, it turned out—Rebuplicans in the state government had resisted repeated attempts to enshrine the mule as state animal, fearing that people would confuse the mule with the jackass, symbol of the Democratic Party. My dad took it on as a project, mobilizing his American Legion Post, crisscrossing the state to speak at public meetings and press the flesh with politicians, and in 1995, then-Governor Mel Carnahan signed the bill naming the Missouri Mule state animal. My dad did that. How about that?”

What I didn’t know until today was that Lois was a key player in dad’s campaign, at one point standing in front of state legislators in Jefferson City and singing My Sweetheart’s a Mule in the Mines.

My sweetheart’s a mule in the mines
I drive her without any lines
On the bumper I sit
And I chew and I spit
All over my sweetheart’s behind

I cannot but believe her performance is what finally won over those small-minded Republican state legislators, and it’s just the kind of home-spun humor Lois would from time to time surprise me with. I wish I’d known this story earlier.

I should have known it earlier. Everyone says I’m just like my dad, and if there’s one thing I’ve learned about myself it’s that when it comes to persuading people to do things they aren’t naturally inclined to do, my own powers are rarely enough … I need Donna by my side, and her help is what makes the difference. Why should it have been any different with my dad and Lois?

The mule patch, by the way, is that of the 110th Bomb Squadron, a B-2 Spirit-equipped unit of the Missouri Air National Guard’s 131st Bomb Wing based at Whiteman Air Force Base in Knob Noster, Missouri.

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