Mabel and the Merrymakers.

Mabel Moody was born in Big Spring, Texas; she was the daughter of William Edward Moody and Clara Cochran. Moody married Marion Shirvalle in 1925 in El Paso. According to the 1920 U.S. Census, she was living on Olive street in E Paso. Marion ran the Retail Dairy Place and she her last residence was on Tularosa street until her death in 1973.

Moody directed the Mabel Moody Orchestra also known as the merrymakers for 40 years. Mabel completed the second year in high school. She was a talented musician, playing the piano, working as an accomplishment and. but was well known for her trademark accordion with her first name inscribed on it. Mabel entertained for numerous clubs, organization, public events and numerous charitable function in Texas and New Mexico.

In Nov 1933, she played at the opening of Venice Café and Cabaret which was on South El Paso Street. Mabel continued leading her orchestra well into the 1960s. Mabel and Orchestra provided dance and music for the annual New Year Eve Dance sponsored by the Los Paisanos at the Las Cruces Amory at and played at the Mission Café in Demming in 1949 for a “fight polio drive.”

Mabel was the operator of the Washington Park Dance Pavilion in the 1920s and 1930s. Mabel also operated the Rainbow Room above the Chocolate Shop. In 1930 when it became more acceptable to wear shorts, Mabel held a dance contest, where everybody had to wear shorts. Mabel would sponsor dance contests to spark interest in going to the Pavilion.

Photo Credit: C. L. Sonnichsen Special Collections Department – the University of Texas at El Paso Library.  Casasola Collection PH041

-Joseph Longo


Since 1954 the El Paso County Historical Society has been a driving force in the historic scene of El Paso. EPCHS strives to foster research into the history of the El Paso area; acquire and make available to the public historic materials; publish and encourage historical writing pertaining to the area; and to develop public consciousness of our rich heritage.