Editor's note: This story was originally published in The Oklahoman on Wednesday January 2, 2008. Looking back is trendy this time of year. And granted, I enjoy that, as well. But, for the fun of it, I thought I'd just look ahead to a few of the things happening in 2008. These aren't ranked; they're just some items that came to my attention or popped into my head, and all who know me would agree that inside my head, random is the rule. One thing that came to mind is George Strait's concert Jan. 11 at the Ford Center.
More than an entertainerNow, Strait coming to Oklahoma isn't news. But it got me to thinking about the days I covered rodeos and related events such as team roping. If the weather in Oklahoma was as easy to predict as George Strait hits, life would be much different. The latest numbers I could find show that while he's had 55 No. 1 songs, Strait has also had 74 top-10 and 78 top-20 hits. Of course, that could change about any given day. In a career spanning more than 25 years, he's sold more than 65 million albums. So what does this have to do with team roping? One day I was covering the U.S. Team Roping Championships at State Fair Arena and heard Strait was in the building. A little while later, I was walking between State Fair Arena and the barn behind it, and after a couple of glances, I realized the guy next to me, who I think was wearing a hoodie and a cowboy hat, was Strait. The setting seemed relaxed, so I just started talking. And for the next few minutes, we did that — talked. We talked about how he used to come through Oklahoma City in concert around Halloween. He said that was because he was usually working his way back to Texas at that time of year. I walked away thinking that I had always liked his music, and now I liked the man behind the music as well. And that leads me to another connection made through rodeo, Clem McSpadden.
The award goes to ....I only got to talk with Strait once, but I've been fortunate to know McSpadden for more than 15 years. This year, the man who already has won so many awards, collects a very special honor — the Chester A. Reynolds Memorial Award. In 1990, the National Cowboy & Western Heritage Museum established the Chester A. Reynolds Award, named in honor of the founder of the museum. The honor is bestowed upon a living person who embodies traits set forth by the museum's board of directors. Rather than go into all he has accomplished, let me put it this way: McSpadden, who is a great-nephew of Will Rogers, is also the man who during his tenure as the state Senate's president pro tempore was asked to participate in the planning of the National Cowboy Hall of Fame in Oklahoma City. The man who became the first rodeo announcer from the United States to announce the Calgary Stampede is the same former U.S. congressman for whom the post office in Chelsea is named. McSpadden is scheduled to receive the award April 12 during the Western Heritage Awards at the National Cowboy & Western Heritage Museum. That's two items. But before I conclude this column I want to pull out a piece of history.
New Year's Eve 1918The other two items I've mentioned come early in the year. But The Oklahoman's archives show that women in Oklahoma braved blizzard conditions on New Year's Eve in 1918 to exercise their right to vote. Why was that significant? The story said this was the first race in which women could vote, other than for school boards, and it was held Dec. 31, 1918, in Chickasha. These events are just examples of why the phrase "I'm looking forward to...” is applicable year after year.
Clem McSpadden is scheduled to receive the Chester A. Reynolds Memorial Award on April 12 during the Western Heritage Awards at the National Cowboy & Western Heritage Museum. BY JOHN CLANTON, THE OKLAHOMAN