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Fort Worth had a very memorable couple who begged. The old gentleman was blind and the wife played a guitar and sang gospel songs- not very well either, bless her heart.


He would sit at a card table with pencils on it. People would drop money in a bowl and take a pencil. That made them legal because they were selling something and it wasn't considered begging.


During Christmas they would sell folded-up pieces of wrapping paper, also.


Willie Nelson said he wrote "Pretty Papers" with them in mind.


They used to stay down around Leonard Brothers. When Leonard's closed they moved down around the Convention Center. 


Subject of Willie Nelson song 'Pretty Paper' found

Daughter says the disabled man died in 1973

Updated: Thursday, 24 Mar 2011, 2:50 PM MDT

Published : Thursday, 24 Mar 2011, 2:50 PM MDT


FORT WORTH, Texas (AP/KXAN) - A newspaper reader has helped identify the disabled Fort Worth street vendor Willie Nelson wrote about in the Christmas ballad " Pretty Paper ."


Following a Fort Worth Star-Telegram column recalling the 1963 song describing holiday shoppers rushing past the man selling pencils and ribbons on a downtown sidewalk, many readers remembered that the man often seen outside a local department store lived in Santo, about 60 miles west of Fort Worth.


Then Santo rancher Bob Neely called about his former neighbor, Frankie Bierton, who Neely said would drag himself along the street.


Bierton's daughter, 84-year-old Lillian Compte of Conroe, said her father crawled instead of using a wheelchair because that's what he learned growing up after his legs were weakened by a spinal disorder.


He died at 74 in 1973.


Nelson lives in Austin, Texas.



Song Lyrics -- Written by Willie Nelson


Pretty paper, pretty ribbons of blue


Wrap your presents to your darlings from you


Pretty pencils to write I love you


Pretty paper, pretty ribbons of blue



Crowded street, busy feet, hustle by him


Downtown shoppers, Christmas is nigh


There he sits all alone on the sidewalk


Hoping that you won't pass him by



Should you stop? Better not, much too busy


You're in a hurry, my how time does fly


In the distance the ringing of laughter


And in the midst of the laughter he cries



Pretty paper, pretty ribbons of blue


Wrap your presents to your darlings from you


Pretty pencils to write I love you


Pretty paper, pretty ribbons of blue

Pretty Papers by Willie Nelson