TUCSON (KGUN9-TV) - Ed Keeylocko has always dreamed of being an American cowboy, and he brought that dream with him when he moved to Arizona almost forty years ago.
"People say, why don't you play basketball? I'd say, because I ain't tall enough. Then they'd say, why don't you play football? I'd say, because I ain't stupid enough," Keeylocko laughed while sitting inside his well-stocked, rustic bar.
With a sip of his Coors Light and a shot of tequila close by, it's abundantly clear that this 83-year-old man is exactly where he was meant to be: In his very own cowtown.
We asked how it all began. Keeylocko smiled as he remembered his days at auction back in 1978 raising and selling cattle, giving each healthy beast his signature brand of a lock and key.
"[People would] look at [that symbol] and wonder 'What brand is that?' [But], no one would speak to me."
Back then, Keeylocko recalled, no one would ever assume that an African American man with red hair and green eyes would be trying to find success in a white man's cowboy world.
That quickly changed when those at auction realized who owned those uniquely-branded cattle.
"No sale," Keeylocko yelled, waving his hands in the air. He tapped his leather boots on the bar stool, stared directly into the camera beyond his wide-brimmed hat, and told us he'd never forget that moment when his fellow cowboys refused him anymore business, putting the color of his skin above everything.
Another sip of beer.
Keeylocko told us all eyes were on him as left the auction house on that afternoon back in 1978.
"You could hear a rat breathing," he remembered.
The young cowboy packed up his cattle, got in his truck, but a quick conversation would change his life forever.
"Two old fellas," Keeylocko began, "tobacco juice running down their face. [They said], 'you ought to build your own town and sell your cows in your own town.'"
Keeylocko drove for a second and stopped.
"What did you say," Keeylocko recalled with a fire still burning in his eyes. "'I said you ought to build your own town, then you don't have to come up here and complain about nothin'."
"You know, that's a good idea. I'll do that. I'll build my own town...Boy, they laughed right up their sleeves...
But nobody laughs today."
A miles-long dirt road in Three Points, Arizona still leads to Cowtown Keeylocko. The speed limit is three-miles-per-hour. The population ranges from one to five.
It took only three years to build the theater, the post office, the church, and of course the bar. There are pens for the horses, cows, geese, but not the pigs. The pigs roam free.
"I could tell you every nail in this place...every nail in this place."
On his own terms, Keeylocko has lived-out his cowboy dreams for almost four decades as he watches an ever-changing world from afar.
He recognizes life today is much different than what life used to be inside that auction hall; however, he told us it's still very clear that more work needs to be done.
Now that his American cowboy dreams are fulfilled, Keeylocko proclaimed that he wants to see a new dream come to fruition; a dream inspired by another's:
"Don't judge a person by the texture of his skin, judge him by the contents of his character. I'd like for you to do that...then you would know that he just like everybody else...that's what I'd like."
If you'd like to visit Cowtown Keeylocko for yourself, click here.