Go West Young Man....Go West

 

Go West Young Man.....Go West
By: Dave Cole 


In 1903, a young army veteran quit his job as a bicycle 
repairman and headed west to try his luck. Arriving 
in San Francisco with two dimes and a penny in his 
pocket, he set up a bicycle repair shop downtown. 


The automobile was new and rare, but even rarer was 
the presence of garages that had mechanics able to 
fix the new fangled contraptions. Our young man was in 
luck. While the bicycle business didn't do very well, 
he found his talents in being able to repair this 
new thing on the market, the horseless carriage. 


Tinkering with these Charles Howard became fascinated 
with the new technology, foresaw a revolution and headed 
to Detroit. There, he introduced himself to Will Durant, 
chief of Buick automobiles and future founder of 
General Motors. Howard walked away with the Buick 
franchise for all of San Francisco. It was 1905, and he 
was not yet 30 years old. 

Howard returned to San Francisco but met with instant 
failure. Automobiles were banned in the city's tourist 
areas, there were no local gas stations, and the 
contraptions were outlandishly expensive costing about 
twice the annual salary of most workers. 


His turn of luck came in hideous guise. On April 18, 
1906, the earth beneath San Francisco heaved inward 
and within a couple of minutes a large portion of the 
city was destroyed and on fire from the earthquake. 

The city was in dire need of fast transport for water, 
fireman, the injured and the homeless which was about 
half the population. Horse's were the main source of 
transportation and soon wearied from the work load. 

Howard volunteered his cars to the effort and along 
with a few others soon became the lifeline that was 
needed. But, as the fires raged out of control, fire 
fighters used dynamite to blow up buildings to prevent 
them from catching fire. Howard's shop was one of 
those blown up. 


Howard, like virtually everyone else, lost everything. 
But as San Francisco started over, Howard took the 
opportunity to awaken the city into the automotive age. 

The earthquake had proven the automobile's superiority 
to the horse. Howard set out to prove its durability. 
He tested his Buick's in speed races, hill climbs and 
"stamina" runs, in which contestants raced up and down 
a local road until their automobiles either burst into 
flames or shed their wheels, the last one rolling 
was the winner. 

Charles Howard was a salesman who knew how to make 
people believe in his product. He told folks that 
the day of the horse was over....and said, "I wouldn't 
give five dollars for the best horse in this country." 

By 1920 Charles Howard had managed to build the 
largest automobile dealership in the world. 

With his money he built a hospital which provided 
free care to children with tuberculosis. Yet tragedy hit 
his life when his young son was killed in an automobile 
accident. Soon after, his wife divorced him. Business 
sunk to all time lows as the Great Depression left 
little or no money for luxuries such as new cars. 

Yet, Charles Howard was not a man who knew the 
meaning of defeat. He had been down before. he 
had overcame resistance and obstacles that most 
men never face. He was a man who looked to the 
future and what the future could bring. 

In 1932 Howard remarried and the couple took up 
a new venture, horse racing....a pastime that was 
enjoying explosive growth across America, so much 
so that it was rapidly becoming the most heavily 
attended sport in America. 

Betting on horse racing in California was illegal, but 
to boost revenues the California legislature legalized 
it. Hoping that horse racing in California would soon 
catch up with the rest of America, the Howard's invested 
heavily in the founding of the lavish Santa Anita 
Racecourse. 

Next they needed a horse. A horse that would win. 

They found their horse in a neurotic, yet explosive 
horse named Seabiscuit...a horse that had more flaws 
than anything else, yet it was horse that had 
virtually the same character traits as Charles Howard, 
a never give up, never say die spirit. 

That horse, like it's owner Charles Howard, saw it's 
share of disappointments and troubles. In 1903 no 
one ever thought our young bicycle repairman would 
ever amount to much of anything in life. In 1936 no 
one ever thought Seabiscuit would ever amount to 
much of a race horse. 

Charles Howard and Seabiscuit both were able to find 
and develop that spirit within them that propelled them 
on to become all that they could be. 

We all have a choice in life. We can choose to be all 
that we can be, or we can choose not to. 

Charles Howard had a choice, he could have chosen to 
rebuild his bicycle shop and remain a bicycle repairman. 

But instead, he chose to look to the future and do 
something about it. 

Today you have a choice. 

You can choose to remain where you are and as you are, 
you can choose to look to the future and do something 
that will give you the future you really want. 

That same spirit that propelled Charles Howard onward 
dwells in you today. Only you know what you want, only 
you can say yes and go for what you want in life. 

It's your future, it's your life. What is it that you 
choose to do with it. 


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Dave Cole
Prosperity: The Choice Is Yours
Copyright 2005

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