Mural of Chippy at Vagabond: Photo by Danny Fulgencio

It’s hard to miss the guarded stare of the beautiful dark-haired woman on the wall of Greenville‘s Vagabond bar, with her intense gaze that seems to take in everything — and understand it all.

The woman’s name is Chippy, and her troubled past has both intrigued and motivated the owner of the bar, John Kenyon.

Kenyon learned about Chippy from a friend who received a box of Chippy’s diaries many years ago. Her diaries were arranged in two bundles, tied together and labeled: “Bundles from heaven” and “Something from hell.”

“Chippy kept a minute diary of everything in her life, from the time she was a teenager all the way to her death,” Kenyon explains. “Her life was divided into the good parts and the bad parts.”

The bundles of heaven diaries consist largely of details about Chippy’s first love. During the Great Depression, Chippy was a poor girl from Olney, Texas, and her boyfriend was a football quarterback and the affluent son of the city’s mayor. The pair planned to run away together one night, but his father found them out and put an end to the young romance by threatening Chippy and running her out of town.

Armed with a suitcase, Chippy left Olney and began traveling across West Texas, working the oil fields as a prostitute “because there was no other way for her to survive,” Kenyon says. “She became known for the second half of her life. She was really attractive and had really high-end clients.”

Chippy’s sorrow-filled story first became the focal point of an album and then a musical. Kenyon learned about Chippy from the album, and decided to dedicate part of Vagabond to Chippy and her knack for survival.

“Her story is about persevering,” he says.

Vagabond is at 3619 Greenville. Learn more at www.vagabonddallas.com

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