Many times we have people in our mist that accomplish great things very quietly. It’s almost like some of the favorite artist we’ve heard of that we really didn’t know too much about. No one really recognized their genius until after they were gone. That, in my mind, is a tragedy that can be avoided by just tuning up our radar.
I think we have such a man here in our part of the state in Southwest Oklahoma. We have seen him most recently on commercials for the Cancer Centers of Southwest Oklahoma. His name his Howard Council, and he has spent his life devoted to fine tuning the art of saddle making. Not too many months ago, Mr. Council received the Chester A. Reynolds award at the National Cowboy & Western Heritage Museum.
Many of us started to realize Howard was one of those great folks that had elevated their craft to an art form when guys like George Straight started showing up to order saddles. Howard has made saddles for many of the great calf ropers over the last several decades, and George Straight is about as comfortable horse back as he is on stage. And when word travels through rodeo circles about who makes the best saddles, guys like George who can buy any saddle they want, usually search out the best. In fact, I believe Straight owns two or three Howard Council saddles.
A trip to Howard’s saddle shop down on South 2nd Street in Lawton is a trip back in rodeo history. Many would pay big money just for his little black book of phone numbers. A Council saddle is fast becoming a very coveted item and Howard’s recent battle with cancer has made folks realize that he won’t be around forever, although I think he still has a few good years.
Some of us locals started realizing that Howard was something special. Over 15 years ago we started to unlock the mystery of how to get him properly recognized by the National Cowboy & Western Heritage Museum while he was still around to enjoy some of the long over due recognition for being a true artist. Lawton is finally starting to realize that we have a neighbor who has achieved greatness. Howard has quietly been tooling leather for several generations in the quiet little saddle shop that really should be a museum. I believe that one day many folks will want to see the little saddle shop where Howard Council takes plain cow hide and turns it into functional works of cowboy art. Council was recently given the first ever Award of Excellence by his hometown and I think it was long over-due. I am extremely proud and honored to be a friend of the Council family and am lucky enough to have a relationship with what one day will be a historic figure. In fact, I predict he will be a legend.
There are people all around us that we don’t slow down enough to recognize. In fact, it’s sometimes hard to see real greatness when it’s being formed. I have been fortunate in my life to have known Clem McSpadden. I have been reading Clem’s biography entitled, Spring Will Come. I think many folks, especially in the state capitol circle, were so busy with their day to day political work that they missed the opportunity to just plain soak it up and experience people like these.
I am guilty as many of living life at a high rate of speed. Sometimes I am overwhelmed by the day to day task that must be accomplished to keep the train on the track and running on time. I know the older I get and the more loved ones I see pass, I am constantly shifting my radar because if there is someone of greatness around. I want to shake their hand and hear their stories, not just read about them after it’s too late.
If you would like to contact me at the Capitol, please do not hesitate to call 1-800-522-8502 or email me at email@example.com
And here’s something to think about as you go down the road:
“As you walk down the fairway of life you must smell the roses, for you only get to play one round.” – Ben Hogan