By Brian New

DALLAS (CBSDFW.COM) – It is hard to imagine the State Fair of Texas without its iconic 55-foot greeter, but in 1970, a missing piece of clothing nearly kept Big Tex out of the fair.

That year, Jack Bridges, the creator of Big Tex, was on his way Fair Park to put the final pieces of large mannequin together when it all went down.

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In the back of Bridges’ truck was Big Tex’ new shirt. The one he wore the year before had been torn in a wind storm.

Just a block away from Fair Park, Bridges stopped at a café on Forrest Avenue to eat a sandwich. When he returned to his truck, the 150 pound shirt was gone.

Big Tex shirt in 1970. (courtesy: Lee Jeans)

At the time, the Associated Press seemed to make light of the predicament writing, “Would Big Tex nudity set off a state fair style of toplessness?”

Many suspected college pranksters because investigators were stumped on who else would steal a size 97 shirt.

“It’s not like eBay existed and you couldn’t take it to a pawn shop,” said Big Tex historian Wayne Smith. “But you can claim to you buddies, ‘Hey, I stole Big Tex’s shirt. I got it.’”

Who didn’t find any of this to be amusing was Bridges.

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Bridges’ granddaughter, Elisabeth, who was 8 years old at the time, recalled her grandfather being stressed.

“He took Big Tex very seriously,” she said. “He has to have a shirt. You can’t put him together without a shirt.”

The Lee Jeans company told Bridges with fair just days away, there was not enough time to make a new shirt from scratch.

But then, according to an AP article dated October 1970, a factory worker in Missouri recalled that a second giant shirt had been cut out but never sewed together.

“So a rush, overtime job of sewing – 6,800 yards of sewing thread – and a flight from Missouri got a new shirt to Dallas.”

Lee Jeans factory workers create Big Tex’s shirt. (courtesy: Lee Jeans)

At 10:00 p.m., just hours before the gates opened at Fair Park, workers buttoned up the shirt.

The AP wrote, “Puritanical moralists almost wept in relief: Big Tex had all his clothes.”

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AP story on 1970 State Fair of Texas