Oral History Interview
Interview Conducted by
September 3, 2008
Oral History Project
Special Collections & University Archives
Edmon Low Library ● Oklahoma State University
An Oral History Project of the OSU Library
Interviewer: Jerry Gill
Transcriber: Natalie Nielson
Editors: Juliana Nykolaiszyn, Tanya Finchum, Jacob Sherman
The recording and transcript of this interview were processed at the Oklahoma State
University Library in Stillwater, Oklahoma.
The purpose of O-STATE Stories Oral History Project is to gather and preserve memories
revolving around Oklahoma Agricultural and Mechanical College (OAMC) and Oklahoma
State University (OSU).
This project was approved by the Oklahoma State University Institutional Review Board on
October 5, 2006.
Scholarly use of the recordings and transcripts of the interview with Josh Pulver is
unrestricted. The interview agreement was signed on September 3, 2008.
An Oral History Project of the OSU Library
About Josh Pulver…
Josh Pulver, the son of a United Methodist preacher, spent most of his formative years in
Sand Springs, Oklahoma, but moved to Elk City, Oklahoma in February of his junior year.
He enrolled at Oklahoma State University in 2000.
Josh was active in many student organizations, including the Off-Campus Student
Association. He served as a Student Government Association Senator and a member of the
Cowboy Marching Band and Spirit Band. Josh first wanted to be a Pete after hearing Pistol
Pete speak to incoming freshman at Camp Cowboy. He served for two years as OSU’s Pistol
Pete mascot, from 2003 to 2005. Josh has a big smile and a big heart and was especially
good with children in his tenure as Pistol Pete.
Josh served as an intern with the OSU Athletics Department in facility management during
his time at in school. Following graduation in 2005 with a degree in leisure studies, he
joined the OSU Alumni Association as Director of Alumni Chapters and External Relations.
He is active in the First United Methodist Church of Stillwater. He serves as a volunteer
worker with the youth program, participated in the strategic planning initiative and is a lay
delegate to the Oklahoma Annual Conference.
An Oral History Project of the OSU Library
Oral History Interview
Interviewed by Jerry Gill
September 3, 2008
My name is Jerry Gill, I am interviewing Josh Pulver. Today is
September 3, 2008. We’re here in the Edmond Low Library on the OSU
campus. I am a faculty member of the Oklahoma State University
Library, and this interview is being conducted as a part of the O-STATE
Stories project of the Oklahoma Oral History Research Program. Well,
Josh let me ask you, can you remember the first time you saw the
mascot, Pistol Pete?
That’s tough. It was about 1994-95 at a football game. You just noticed
him down on the field shooting the guns and everything, so I didn’t
really notice much at the time. I was just here as young child.
How old were you?
Let’s see I was twelve, so not too young but young. I didn’t know much
about the school at the time. I was not a huge OSU fan at the time but
quickly became one after those several years.
What was your first impression of Pete when you first saw that guy in
That’s a big head! (Laughs) That really was my first impression, “Well
that’s a huge head.” I remember hitting my dad, I was like, “Dad, Look
at that head!” And you know that really was about it.
Josh, lets back up and ask you because you said you weren’t a huge
OSU fan growing up, tell us little bit about your background, where you
grew up, a little bit about your life until you got to Oklahoma State.
Okay, well I was born in Newcastle, Oklahoma. I was six weeks old we
moved to Kingston down on Lake Texoma and lived there for three and
a half years. After that, I moved to Piedmont, Oklahoma for three and a
half years and then my dad was moved again to Sand Springs,
Oklahoma. We lived there for almost 10 years, most of my educational
career was there. We moved towards the end of my junior year, to Elk
City, Oklahoma where I finished out my school and then I moved here
to Stillwater and I’ve been here ever since.
And some might wonder why your dad moved so often?
(Laughs) My dad is a United Methodist Minister, here in the Oklahoma
Conference. Right now he’s the district superintendent in the Oklahoma
What factors influenced you to come to Oklahoma State?
For one I liked the environment. I grew up the fan of another school and
I really fell in love with the environment here. That was really one of the
major factors, and another was the degree. I wanted to become a
landscape contractor, and OSU is one of three schools in the nation, at
the time, that had landscape contracting so that was really something I
was looking into and took advantage of that opportunity to come to
school here, a couple of degree’s later I finished with something else.
Tell us a little about your OSU experience maybe apart from your Pistol
Pete activities while you were here at OSU. Some of the things you may
have been engaged in?
I was mainly involved in the OSU Marching Band. My first three years
here on campus were heavily involved with the marching band, the jazz
bands, the concert band and the spirit band for basketball games. Some
of the more fun experiences I had in my life were due to my
involvement with the marching band. And then Pistol Pete later of
course. But the band allowed me to go to New York my freshman year.
So, I have pictures on top of the World Trade Center six months before
they came down in 2001. Then I was able to go back as Pistol Pete to
New York and was able to visit Ground Zero. So a lot of experiences
like that. Getting to go to Boston, South Carolina, things like that.
I became involved with the off-campus student association with the
Student Government Association. I became a senator. I was very active
in helping approve the bond issue for the students help pay for the
stadium. And so that was kind of a little—one of the vital things that
came up when I was involved with SGA. I was very involved with my
church, also, while in Stillwater.
Stadium, you mean the Gallagher-Iba Arena? The bond, was that part of
Josh, when did you first think you wanted to be Pistol Pete?
Camp Cowboy, just before my freshman year. I came up to Stillwater
and went out to Camp Cowboy and I was sitting at the bonfire on Friday
night. And all of a sudden I had the life scared out of me by this shot
gun. Pistol Pete came out of the woods and was shooting off the gun and
took his head off right there, which is something that you’re not
supposed to ever see, really. We try to keep it so people don’t see the
transition from “Josh Pulver” to “Pistol Pete” so that it doesn’t remove
the mystery. But Pistol Pete came out and took his head off and was
talking about you know everything that he did as a mascot. What it
meant, and what it represented. That right there is the first time that I
really said, “Hey, I want to be Pistol Pete.”
Did you know anyone personally that had been a Pete?
Not before that. I had not met anyone. I did meet that same Pistol Pete
later that year in New York City. We were able to hang out together on
that trip, on the basketball tournament trip. And got talking to him some
more, got to talk to him. And it made a little bit better impression on me
that it really was something I could do, and something I really wanted to
do. So I went for it.
Can you share with us a little bit about the tryout process that you went
through to be a Pete?
The first year I tried out, I went in and signed in at the clinic and went
through a five day clinic. We met each day with the current Petes, put
the head on for a little bit. Went to Body Works one day to get in front
of the mirrors so we could see what we looked like. Went to Gallagher-
Iba—the floor to be able to see what it’s like to be in the arena and
everything that was around it. Went out to Lewis Field a couple times to
see what it was like to be down there on the field with the head on. Just
try to put us in some different areas that provided a different feel for it.
Got to hear some of their stories and their experiences of throughout the
year of what they had accomplished.
Then we went to try-out. And that night was a very nerve wracking
night. I can remember it to this day. We had to sign up for a time to
interview and you walked into the room at your time and you sat in front
of a group of former Petes. I remember that year there were seven
former Petes around the table. And you have, I was at a chair in the
middle of the room. It was just unbelievably nerve wracking. I was
almost in tears, I was so nervous. Just because all of these guys are there
wanting to make sure they are picking the right person. And it can be a
little bit intimidating. A little intimidating with that. They ask tough
questions about your personality, your knowledge of OSU and the
history Pistol Pete. They want to make sure that they are choosing
someone who’s not going to screw up and not embarrass the school.
What years did you serve as Pistol Pete?
I was Pistol Pete from April 2003 to April 2005.
Two years. Were there two Petes at that time?
There were two Petes. I was a Pistol Pete with Jared Wiley, both years.
I don’t know if it happened very often, but I think we were one of the
few pairs that went two years together. But we also had a good time.
Jared and I were both chosen All-American both years, which is an
honor, and something that has always been used as a bragging right
among some of the former Petes.
A comment and a question. The comment, as I recall, Jared is a little
smaller than you (Laughter). And you were termed Big Pete and Little
Can you share with us—is it the handkerchief you have that identifies
which one by color?
Could you share that with us?
Back in the late ’90s, I believe it was, one of the Pistol Petes, they were
a little more similar in size than Jared and I were, and decided that so
their mom’s could tell the difference, one would wear a white
handkerchief and one would wear an orange handkerchief. That was to
tell the difference. That’s always been kind of the way people always
come up to me and ask, “Are you the white handkerchief or the orange
Which one were you though?
I was white. I wore the white handkerchief. And the color handkerchief
goes with the head. We have two different heads that we use each year.
The white handkerchief and the head, they kind of stay together. So
whenever you can see the handkerchief you can say “Hey, I wore that
head.” It gives you a little bit—some memories to come back to you.
Were the heads the same, Josh?
For the most part. On the outside it’s very hard to tell any difference. On
the inside of the head, they are very different. One head has kind of a
lighter inside. The head that I wore has a very dark finish on the inside
of it. So it’s like you’re in a black hole most of the time. The other head
is kind of a white on the inside, so you can see everything. Also, the
hats—the helmets that are inside are very different.
Come back to some my question about your earlier comment about
being an All-American…how do you get to be an All-American? Is there
We go to cheerleading camp and mascot camp each summer. And at that
time is where they choose All-Americans and it’s based on your
performance, your creativity, your dedication to being there on time for
one. A lot of things go into it. It’s mainly your performance there at that
camp that determines whether you become All-American or not.
How many attend and out of that how many make quote All-American
We probably had, my first year we probably had around twenty mascots
and about twelve of us got All-American. It varies from year to year and
there wasn’t a set amount that they would have to reach camp or not. It
really was just who stands out as a mascot. It really is kind of an honor.
For me it was, “Well I guess the other mascots were pretty bad.”
Did you have to be asked to participate in the competition? Could
Well, I mean, it was your school, whether your school went or not. I
mean that’s—we did skits and everything like that. It was based on your
performance in those skits. It really wasn’t a competition per say, but
just kind of how well you performed during your sessions and
everything like that.
You were earlier talking about your Pete head and so on. Could you tell
a little bit about the outfit that you had? Let’s start with the head and
then we’ll talk about maybe the rest of it. You described it a little bit, but
could you elaborate on that some?
The head, it’s 45 pounds of fiberglass and it’ll sit—you know it’s there
the entire time of course. I don’t think you could have 45 pounds on
your body and not know it’s there. I’ve never seen something so well
balanced in my life. I could shrug my shoulders to where my head was
totally out of the helmet which is usually worn—used to stabilize it. And
it would just sit perfectly balanced on my shoulders. It was amazing to
me that something so big could be so well balanced. That was just
something that was kind of weird. The eyes on Pistol Pete are strictly
what you see out of. So you have a straight vision, straight forward.
And then we also have a hole in the chin, on the head, so you can see
down to write autographs. Most of the time people see Pistol Pete
looking straightforward signing autographs out here near his stomach.
And people “Well, what are you doing?” And we try not to tell very
often what we’re doing but we’re inside the head looking like this,
[motions] signing an autograph.
I guess it helps you see little kids too. Being able to see low?
Sometimes. Yeah there’s been several times where you didn’t see a kid
until they were right there running right into you. So, it’s a rude
awakening sometimes. (Laughs)
So the vest and the outfit I mean where did you—of course the University
provides the head, what about the rest? You know you’ve got the chaps
right? And the vest and so on?
The University purchases us four pairs of white shirts now. I don’t know
what it used to be, so I’m not going to say too much. I don’t want the
older guys to get mad. Four pairs of Wranglers and four white shirts.
And then with that, they provide us with a vest each year, a black leather
vest. Chaps they get handed down each year—orange leather chaps.
And then a gun belt with a gun of course and all of that get handed down
each year. Then also the University purchases us orange boots. I was
lucky enough that we had some custom boots made. One year, I found a
really good deal with OSU-Okmulgee. They used to have the boot and
saddle shop—great place. They made our chaps and our boots that year,
and did a phenomenal job for us. But all of that and also the
Yalesberry’s donate money for spurs every year. So each Pistol Pete will
get a set of spurs while they’re Pistol Pete. And that started in 2003.
What about compensation in any way? Do you get a scholarship for
being Pete? Or is there some way you’re compensated for your time you
spend being Pete?
We’re not on scholarship. We’re not scholarship student athletes. We are
considered student athletes but we’re not on scholarship. The
compensation we do receive is for doing private appearances away from
the University. We’ll do birthday parties, weddings, go to the hospital,
you know do some hospital visits. Other things like that, and we charge
a small fee for that—mileage and then an amount per hour we’re in
Josh, speaking of that, how many appearances would you make say
athletic related and non-athletic related? Just yourself and then both
Petes together in a year’s time?
My first year I know I did around 250 appearances.
Yes. So between the two of us, I think we did around 500, close to 500.
It was probably in the 480 to 500 range. So then the next year, it went up
a little bit. I did I think I did around 260. Not by much, but I did a little
bit more. It all depends on how athletics are doing. Not only doing
athletic appearances, you know you’ll go further in the tournament or
something like that. OSU fans tend to have Pistol Pete come out for
some more events when OSU athletics are doing well. We really did
kind of see a fluctuation based on the season, to see what was going on.
About what percentage of breakdown, how many of those would be
personal? Out of those, say you made yourself about 250?
A good majority. I mean, over 50 percent. I hate to say too much more
than that because when we get to basketball season there’s a month
there, not a month but several weeks where you have men’s basketball,
women’s basketball, wrestling, softball and baseball. And so that was—
you know we had five different sports going on at the same time.
There’s a couple of weeks, everyday—almost every day you’re doing an
athletic event. Then on top of that, you’re doing other appearances at the
same time. I would say that a majority were private appearances, but we
also did a quite a bit for the athletic department.
Josh, your experience as Pete, was it anything like what you thought it
would be? Kind of going in and looking at it after?
It was so much more. Going into it, I tried out twice before I was
chosen. My first year I tried out I was not chosen as Pistol Pete. I was
devastated. And the second year I tried out I did receive—I was chosen
as Pistol Pete and immediately it became, it was the best two years of
my life, Jerry. And it was just one of those deals that the memories that I
have from that time will last with me forever and I hope they do because
it was such an awesome time. Not just as Pistol Pete, but a lot of that
reflected into both just my regular life. You know we had a lot of fun.
Met a lot of new friends that I would not have met if I hadn’t have been
Pistol Pete. I really cherish those two years.
Josh, did you have difficulty balancing your two lives as Pete? Can you
kind of share what a typical week would be like for you?
Which season? (Laughs) You know it was very different. There was not
one week—there were not two weeks identical. It really kind of
depended on was it a home game or an away game. Was it basketball
season because you might have two or three games in one week or four
games. You know and depending on seasons like that. And during the
summer, it was pretty quiet a lot of times. There was nothing athletic
going on, so all of your appearances were private appearances during the
summer. And so that was kind of a dead time for me during the summer.
Just kind of going about it. I did some of my practicums for my courses.
And so I did a lot of that during the summers. Then you know during the
school year, carrying twelve hours of school, of class, was very
demanding in itself for some people, myself included. I think I
maintained 14 hours the entire time I was Pete, which is not a whole lot
of hours but when you add a full time job on top of that, it becomes a
pretty good work load.
Between classes, there were a lot of times I went to class wearing my
Wranglers and my shirt or my Wranglers and a t-shirt because I would
have to leave right after class to go to an appearance. I remember one
Friday I had a class and left class just a little bit early so I could try to
make it Tulsa for an event and I ended up having to make it to Tulsa in
about 45 minutes. So you know some of those things that you just really
tried to make it work. You studied when you could and for me, it was
amazing. My best GPA’s were while I was Pete. I was not a very good
student before I was Pete. And I think part of it had to do with I was into
a major that I was really interested in. The courses meant something to
me so I was able to focus on them a lot more. And spend the time that
was needed to make good grades.
And had to manage your time with care, too.
Yes, and that’s one thing I did find out. When I was busy and I had to
get things done, there wasn’t a question. I had to go through and do it
all. I found earlier and later when I had a little more time on my hands, I
wasn’t in such a hurry to get things done, and would put things off a
little bit more.
Going back to your on field experiences, can you tell us a little bit more
about how you felt the first time you went out as Pistol Pete?
It was crazy. It was the day after I became Pistol Pete. I did a softball
game. We always had such an importance on gun safety and that was the
first time I had ever shot a pistol. Now, I had used shotguns and
everything like that quite a bit but the first time I ever shot a pistol was
at that softball game. It was nerve wracking. I knew gun safety, I knew
everything about it, but I had never shot a pistol before. And so that was
very nerve wracking for me. But also it was amazing because it was
something I’d been trying to do for a year and a half at least. I’d been
striving to become Pistol Pete for a year and a half. I walked into the
locker room—to the office area at the softball game and opened up the
head—opened up the sack that was holding the head and I was just like,
“Wow, I’ve accomplished it.” I have accomplished one of my major
goals in life. It was just such an awesome experience that first time just
to put the head on and go out and shake hands and mess with the police
officers a little bit. You know you have to give them a hard time. I will
remember that time forever.
Was there a particular sporting event or venue or setting that you
enjoyed more than the others as Pete?
There was one specific—well. I have one football and one basketball.
The basketball event that really stands out to me was when we beat St.
Joseph’s in the Elite Eight in 2004. We were not supposed to win that
game. St. Joseph’s was on a hot streak that year. But we had been on a
hot streak too, one of the best years in Cowboy Basketball in a long
time, winning wise. So we went into that game and just came out. And
then John Lucas’ last second shot just sealed the deal for us. Then when
Nelson missed his shot on the other end, the place just went crazy. I ran
out on the court and was just elated. You know how just—the emotions
going through you at the time, you can’t explain it to someone. There’s
just so much joy. The first thing I did was find the guy that hands out all
the hats to the team, and the guy who hands out all the t-shirts. And so I
grabbed a hat and a t-shirt from him so I had a souvenir. (Laughs) The
St. Joe’s fans were very bad. I would put them above OU on the
worthless column. (Laughs)
Now your football experience?
Yeah, my OSU football experience, that was just awesome. They let me
climb up and cut down part of the net and then I also got to share a seat
with Barry Sanders on the way back to the hotel. That evening was by
far one of the best evenings of my life because it was just incredible.
Football, one of the best times that I ever had was at the Cotton Bowl.
Just the history there at the Cotton Bowl and being able to—the Alumni
Association had a huge tail-gate party. There was over 4,000 people
there. There was a whole lot of people there. Just walking into the
building and the place went crazy. And with the cheers and everything
that was going on. The electricity there at the Cotton Bowl was just
amazing. That’s also something—the sea of orange taking up the entire
half of the stadium that was amazing because I could go to any side of
the stadium and lead a cheer and it was awesome. People were just
going nuts because we were at the Cotton Bowl. We had been through
some bad seasons there in a row and we had been to the Houston Bowl
the year before, but to reach the Cotton Bowl that was a big deal for us.
And a lot of excitement with OSU there.
And again, did you enjoy say wrestling, basketball, football—was there
a sport you enjoyed being Pete at more than another?
What was your favorite?
I’m a big guy, of course. As you mentioned earlier, “Big Pete.” Football
was the one sport where I could easily move around and not have to
worry about being in anyone’s way. Basketball games were tough on me
because I had to spend most of the time sitting on the floor and then
getting up, sitting down, getting up, sitting down. I was really confined.
Now I did make two half court shots, and that was a good time at
basketball. But football really, hands down, was my favorite sport.
Josh, going back to you talking about becoming Pistol Pete, did you
study up on Frank Eaton—the character of Frank Eaton, Frank “Pistol
Pete” Eaton, who they named the mascot after?
What do you remember about Frank Eaton that you tried to portray in
I think one of the things that stood out to me the most was his toughness.
I had heard stories. You know when you hear stories about someone,
you never know just how much of a tall tale it is. I had someone tell me
one time that Frank used to work barefoot in his blacksmith shop and
they told me that one time they were watching him work in this
blacksmith shop and watched him pick up a coal with his toes and put it
back in the fire. And that’s hard to believe just because of how hot those
coals get but the person remembered that about him. It seemed to me
that no matter what the story was, Frank Eaton was a very tough man,
and at least portrayed that. So everything I did, I tried to portray a big
tough man, but at the same time, a man that had a big heart. Frank
seemed the person that would always do something to help someone else
out. And the fact that he had so much love for his father to avenge his
father’s death you know that—those little things just seem big to me. So
I tried to portray not only toughness, but a caring side of Pistol Pete. I
think that’s what, if someone does remember me as Pistol Pete. That
they would remember me as being big, but also as being a caring Pete.
Does it make a difference, did it to you that when you think of mascots
from different school versus Pistol Pete, that Pistol Pete was based on a
Yeah, it does. It gives you a sense of pride that you really are portraying
someone. You know when you have like a cougar or a wildcat, that’s
something that anybody can be. But somebody really was Pistol Pete.
And there’s a heritage to it, and a pride that goes along with being able
to say that I was able to portray Pistol Pete. You know especially here at
Oklahoma State University that means a group of people thought you
were worth representing not only the mascot, but the university. Beyond
that, not only the University in some cases the heritage of our state in
So you know you feel like Pete better captures the spirit of OSU and say
the state than other mascots?
Mm-hmm. Yeah, I don’t think the tiger represented the heritage very
well. And it’s understandable why the tiger was our mascot. That’s part
of our heritage, so I appreciate that. But Frank really was a good symbol
of the wild west and what really happened around here during those
times in my opinion. So, I believe it was a good choice to make him our
Josh did you feel a special sense of responsibility in representing the
University as Pistol Pete?
I did. You’re under a magnifying glass as Pistol Pete most of the time.
And it’s just the simple fact that when you have that head on, it doesn’t
matter what you do, somebody’s going to see it. Even if it’s during a
play, if you fall over or do something, someone’s going to notice it. So I
found myself really analyzing my actions while I had the head on
because when I was Pete, I wasn’t Josh any more. So I tried to do away
with most of the reactions that Josh Pulver might have and really kind of
do it as Pistol Pete would have had. You know if we fumble the ball, I’m
not going to sit there and whine about it. Which I wouldn’t do anyway as
myself, I don’t want you to think that. But you know Pistol Pete is going
to be very encouraging to the team as the mascot cause that’s your job.
I remember one of the hardest times I had was my last year to do it. We
played Texas here in Stillwater in basketball. We were supposed to win
that game and go on. ESPN-U debuted here in Stillwater that weekend
and had a great time. And it was such a great game, and we lost at the
end of the game. I remember being under the head and just bawling my
eyes out because it was my last game in Gallagher-Iba Arena and such a
huge game for us but we were losing it. But at the same time as I was
crying my hands were clapping. And I’ll never forget that feeling
because it was such an odd feeling to me to be crying on the inside and
not being able to stop crying but then be clapping at the same time. And
trying with emotions, it was really weird. That was one thing I enjoyed
about Pistol Pete was that no matter what expression you had on the
inside you could show something different with your emotions.
Josh, did you enjoy the interaction with OSU fans and maybe
particularly kids. Do you mind telling us a little bit about that?
I did. You know baseball games, I could literally sit down in one spot
and sign autographs for several innings straight. And kids would just
bring anything they could find to get signed. You know whether it was
something which their parents really did not want them to have signed
and they snuck away from them or body parts. I signed little kids fingers
a couple of times and I’m going to tell you right now, that’s pretty hard
to sign a child’s finger. That’s not very easy. But you know that was
some of the interaction we really had.
The fans—I loved to lead cheers. Jared and myself trained the fans to
follow us pretty well when we were leading cheers. So I would go out on
the field especially and rack off the shotgun a couple of shots and lead
an “O-S-U” or something that. I took that as one of my other personal
responsibilities to keep the fans involved with the game and in cheering
to help the team on.
Josh you mentioned earlier a couple special times for you, but could you
think of maybe some other special moments that maybe weren’t
highlight shots that won the game. But just special memories you have of
Yeah, Special Olympics was an awesome time. And I have always had a
very special place in my heart for children or adults with developmental
disabilities. The thing I’ve enjoyed about Special Olympics, it doesn’t
matter to anybody there. And everyone there is unique in their own way,
which we all are anyways. But to me that’s just kind of the epitome of
acceptance has been Special Olympics. Because everyone’s an athletic,
everyone’s a star, and everyone accomplishes some type of goal. That’s
something that was just an awesome experience for me.
One other experience I had that I’ll never forget, happened just a few
weeks before I stopped being Pistol Pete. I was called by some nurses in
Guthrie at the hospital in Guthrie to come visit a gentleman who was
dying of cancer. I went down to the hospital and walked into his room.
They had purchased an orange hospital gown for him with a Pistol Pete
on it and walked into the room and it was a total surprise to the family
that Pistol Pete was there. They had no idea that Pistol Pete was coming.
So I walked in the room and the gentleman was lying in his hospital bed
and just started bawling. The joy in his eyes and but also the tears that
Pistol Pete had come to visit him and how much it meant to him that
Pistol Pete had come to visit him overwhelmed me and also part of the
fact was that he could have passed as my grandfather’s identical twin
brother. That really kind of hit me hard but my grandfather had had
some medical problems around that time so to see this gentleman in the
hospital bed that looked exactly like my grandfather and he was crying
because I had come to visit him—that Pistol Pete had come to visit him
just really took my breath away. I sat there for ten minutes just holding
his hand. And he just kept thanking me for coming and everything. It’s
one of those experiences that you just take away from it. You know that
while it touched them, it changed my life more than anything. That’s one
of those very special moments in my life.
You talked about some of those special moments that you had. What did
being Pistol Pete at the time, what did it mean to you?
I had always wanted to be a mascot, but my involvement with marching
band and football in high school never allowed me to accomplish that
goal. And so being a mascot was something I always wanted to do. I
loved being an idiot. And you know, I don’t mean that in a bad way. My
mom has always called me her little idiot, which is a compliment
because I am not afraid to make a fool of myself. I think quite honestly
that that’s one of my finer qualities is that I can take myself and
embarrass myself sometimes, but not in a bad way. I don’t want to come
across that way. I might embarrass myself to bring some joy to someone
else’s life. That’s one thing I’ve always enjoyed doing. And being Pistol
Pete allowed me to do that.
So many people found joy in having Pistol Pete around. And it’s just the
fact that he’s a fun guy, a big guy with a big head like I mentioned
earlier. But what he represents and everything—it was just really an
awesome experience to be able to hide my own identity and still be able
to have fun with people. I mean it was just one of those things that—I
mean seriously to be able to be someone else for a minute and have fun
with it is an awesome experience. But then also be able to be yourself at
the same time and allow your personality to come through that character
really was a great experience for me.
Josh, you talked about kind of making a fool of yourself, can you think
of—picking up on that can you think of your most embarrassing moment
or moments that you had as a Pete?
Yeah I can tell you a couple. Probably my most embarrassing moment
was—I used to run with a flag behind the cheerleaders after touchdowns.
Bullet would run out and then the cheerleaders would follow Bullet and
then I would follow the cheerleaders you know with my flag. And that
was just kind of a staple of what I did. When I was Pistol Pete and we
scored a touchdown I would run out with my flag and wave it on the
field and then run off the field.
My last ever football game at Boone-Pickens Stadium for me, we were
playing Baylor. And usually, I would do the pre-game and the Jared
would do the first half and I would do the second half. Well Jared wasn’t
ready to come on the field yet. He hadn’t changed. So, I was still Pistol
Pete when we scored our first touchdown, which was very quickly in the
game as we were playing Baylor. (Laughs) So I grabbed my flag and I
was running up behind the cheerleaders and I got to the end zone. And
darned it if that carpet didn’t reach up and grab my foot. (Laughs) I
tripped and I just slid in the end zone. And it was pretty funny because
even after the game you could see the marks on the turf from the little
black rubber pellets where I had slid where my legs had slid on the turf.
I caught myself out with my hands with the flag and the head never
came off. And that’s the one thing I remember myself thinking the entire
time was, “Please God do not let this head come off.” But the head
bounced on the ground and everything and I don’t know how I kept that
head on. But I did and I immediately got up and kept running and
walked over to the sidelines and put my flag down on the ground and
walked right off into the tunnel and took the head off. I was done for a
little bit because it hurt. The face had hit me in the head and it was an
The funny thing was that my mom was videotaping it at the time and so
we have the memory of that happening. And it’s funny because you can
see the video camera following me out and all of a sudden, right after I
fall, the video camera cuts off. That’s where my mom put the video
camera down to see if I was okay. But then all of a sudden the camera
comes back on and I’m back running around. So, it was a fun
I dropped my gun one time and that’s also very embarrassing because
you’re supposed to be a gun expert, twirling, and everything. To drop
your gun is not a very good thing.
Did you have trouble finding it?
Actually finding the gun wasn’t hard. Finding the bullet I dropped one
time on the field that was hard because it was a black bullet. I knew I
was right in that area so I was searching around everywhere and
everywhere and finally I found it. But that was pretty amazing.
Basketball, probably my most embarrassing time was I hit the
cameraman three times attempting half court shots. The guy with the
video camera for the Jumbotron, I hit him three times. It made it a little
bit better that I had gone to high school with the gentleman so I wasn’t
hitting a total stranger. But still I went over and gave him a big hug
afterwards to apologize for hitting him three times with a basketball.
Earlier you talked about what it meant to you to be a Pete. Looking back
now years past, what does it mean to you now having been a Pete?
It’s an extreme sense of accomplishment for me. Throughout my life, I
had strived and tried out for several things and I had usually fallen short.
And for me personally it was just the fact that there was something I
wanted. I greatly wanted it and couldn’t think of anything else I wanted
at the time and accomplished it and became Pistol Pete. That for me was
a very—provided a lot of personal growth. And it was just throughout
that experience—you know the personal growth that I experienced
through being Pistol Pete. Not only being able to accomplish a goal, but
then being able to carry it out, and learn time management skills, and
communication skills because you deal with a lot of people.
That was probably—those two years were probably the most personal
growth I’ve seen. Aside from after graduation. The last three years being
a graduate, I’ve seen a lot of growth. But as far as my educational career
those two years were probably the most personal growth that I’ve ever
witnessed. Aside from that, dealing with alumni now while working
with the Alumni Association you see that sparkle in their eye when they
see or talk about Pistol Pete. Just knowing that you were able to part of
that really kind of gives you a nice little…
Do you find yourself being as part of an introduction to an individual or
an audience as say a former Pete? Does that happen to you? Does that
come up much?
Not that often. And that goes back to when I was Pete. I think part of it
was some of my personal experiences not having—there were times
when I didn’t have an identity. I was Pistol Pete. I’m not going to say I
got tired of that, because there’s nothing wrong with being known as
Pistol Pete. But I also wanted my own identity at the time and I wanted
to be Josh Pulver instead of just “Hey, this is Pistol Pete.” And my
grandparents forgot that at times, that I had a name besides “This is my
grandson, Pistol Pete.” But you know, right now it really—it might be
something that comes up in conversation later but that’s not any part of
my initial introduction.
Is there still a special bond Josh that exists between former Pistol Petes?
I think there is.
Do you still get together? Do you reminisce?
I think anytime that you have a very—that you’re part of a group of
people and you share an experience that not very many other people do,
that’s going to automatically give you a bond. I can talk to a former Pete
that was 20, 30 years ago or even longer than that. And you
automatically have something in common. You can share your
experiences but even if you don’t get into what happened while you
were Pistol Pete, you still have that common bond and you can find
other things to talk about at the same time and you know what else was
going on in your life at the time. We’re able to come together and share
some of our funny stories and some of our do’s and don’t’s. “Oh you
don’t want to do this,” and “You want to try to do this little bit too.” So
it provides a good group.
Speaking of being remembered as Pete, your legacy Josh, how do you
want to be remembered as a Pete?
As a Pete?
Mm-hmm. How do you want to be remembered for your years as Pistol
That’s a tough question. I don’t know if I’ve ever thought about it
before. I think, kind of going back on what I said earlier, being
remembered as someone that allowed my personality to come through
but realized that it was not myself. You know, I want to be remembered
as somebody that was fun and that goes into kind of my life. My life
hopes and dreams too. As Pistol Pete especially, I want to be
remembered as someone who represented the University well, was never
inappropriate, but also someone who was able to help inspire others at
sporting events and bring joy to people.
Great answer and I liked your earlier comment about portraying Pete as
a tough guy, but a guy with a big heart.
Yeah and I did not want to totally repeat myself, but it’s true. You know,
Pistol Pete to me has always been larger than life. And being a fairly
large man, that was something I was able to help portray, I think. But
also, I love to give people hugs all the time. I would hug anybody. I
would almost hug someone before I shake their hand as Pete. But that
wasn’t being a hugger, but showing love. I think that’s one of the things
the world needs more of right now. Especially today, you need to share
love with people. And I’m not weird with love, but just reach out to
people and care.
You’ve alluded to some of this, but how did being Pistol Pete change
You know it gave me confidence. It gave me a new confidence that I
didn’t have before. And while as Pistol Pete you walk with a swagger, it
allowed me to personally not walk with a swagger or be cocky, but be
more confident in my personal—in my everyday life. And to approach
situations or people with more confidence I think is really one of the
areas that really affected me. Not only that, but you know I became more
self-reliant. As Pistol Pete you have to go to a lot of places, and you
have to figure out how to get there. You know that’s just kind of a small
thing but you know going to Dallas or other cities like that and really
learning how to get around really kind of will change your outlook on
things. Because you’re not afraid to get out there and try new things. I
think that was really something for me that really helped out.
Are there some lessons and some disciplines that you learned?
Personal restraint is a huge lesson that a lot of people need to learn more
of but that’s also something that comes into it. You know especially as a
mascot when you’re out there. And Pistol Pete is different from other
mascots. Other mascots have a full body suit for—you really don’t know
who’s in that character a lot of times. But Pistol Pete, if you know the
two Pistol Petes at the time you’re going to be able to pretty much tell
who it is. Especially with the—they do the calendars and everything.
And it really kind of holds you accountable to your actions when you’re
out there. So, like I said, personal restraint is something that you really
have to—if you don’t have it before, you have to learn it quickly
because you can embarrass yourself and the University very easily.
You talked about discipline and managing your time and your grades
and your activities.
Yeah, you know when it comes down to scheduling appearances because
that’s something we do. The Athletic Department will just send us the
requests and we manage the appearances based on our class schedule
and our other appearances. So deciding what you can do in your allotted
time, the 24 hours of the day. Making sure you manage that time
appropriately and knowing that you need time to study. But also that
class does come first and learning things like that really did help me out
a lot—really able to manage time.
Josh, what would you tell a young man today that was considering being
Do it. Make sure you’re in it for the right reasons. I think—and I don’t
think we’ve ever—I don’t know anyone who has not done it for the right
reason, but some people go into it not realizing how much dedication it
takes to be Pistol Pete. You have to be dedicated 100 percent to being
Pistol Pete, or it may not work out for you. It’s very tough. It’s not going
to be easy, but it’s definitely something that’s worth the struggle to
become Pistol Pete and then portray him throughout the year.
Josh would you do it again, looking back? Knowing what you know
Would I do it now again? Or would I do it back then again?
No looking back if you had the chance to do it again, would you still do
Oh yeah, definitely. At the end of each year you have to try out again. If
you want to continue, than you have to try out. So at the end of our first
year Jared and I both tried out for our second year. And that was one of
the questions they asked me, “Do you think that you will enjoy being
Pistol Pete as much a year from now, as you do right now?” And my
answer was simple. At that time, after finishing my first year, I wanted
to be Pistol Pete another year more than I had wanted to be Pistol Pete
before I ever got it. There’s nothing I regret about it. The two years was
a perfect time. At the end of those two years my body was starting to
wear down a little bit physically, my knees. Because you’re carrying
about 70 pounds of extra weight on you all the time and so it became at
the time—there was never an appearance that I dreaded. Never a time
that I dreaded being Pistol Pete. It was always a joy. You never want to
get to the point where you’re dreading being Pistol Pete. Because when
you don’t find the joy in it anymore, people will pick up on that and you
won’t be as effective.
Josh is there any kind of closing thoughts you’ve had or comments that I
didn’t ask or talk about?
You know I think just kind of in closing we really do have something
special here at Oklahoma State University with Pistol Pete. Even though
New Mexico State and Wyoming have both used their versions of Pistol
Pete, but the fact that Frank Eaton lived here—around this area, really
does provide the history and the heritage that we have here. And Frank
Eaton was our mascot. It really does provide some pride in that. And
that’s something that isn’t to be taken lightly. I don’t think that anyone
who has ever put on the head of Pistol Pete does take lightly. It’s
something that we all cherish and we all know just how powerful it is.
I appreciate it Josh.
Thank you Jerry.
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