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
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.
Prosperity: The Choice Is Yours
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