My Father’s Saddles

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saddle on a horse

I stood next to my aged father, of ninety-seven years. He looked around the
saddle shop. His brown eyes shed some tears.

The saddle shop is where my father kept the tack and gear. The smell of leather
waifed a memory of a yesteryear.

It’s where my father taught me more than leather goods repair. I could hear his
words of sound advice still hanging in the air.

He was parting with his saddles and was giving them to me. The shop would bean empty room, so full of history.

He said, “Today I feel the darkness, but for you the sun will shine. Mother
Nature’s got my number and she’s run me out of time.”

The saddles held a precious memory of my father’s life. Again, I felt as proud back when he gave me my first knife.

He reached, then gave a tug and pulled away a dusty tarp. He knew the saddle’s
history, and his mind was razor-sharp.

He pointed to a saddle. Said, “While fighting off at war. My father bought it for
me, back in 1944.”

He said, “The saddle ain’t horse worthy, but it doesn’t seem quite fair. “There oughta be a use and could you find that use somewhere?

He pulled another saddle. Said, “Remember good ole Fred? This was his favorite saddle. Now Fred is long since dead.”

My father stretched then slid the final saddle off the rack. A Heiser Denver saddle
was the finest of the tack.

I don’t believe I’d ever seen this saddle in the shop. He said he’d used it years ago
on a bucking saddle bronc.

A Heiser Denver high back saddle right before my eyes. My father showed no
interest but to me more than a prize.

So, I gave the saddles purpose. They’re now in my workshop. My grandkids sit
the saddles and I pray they’ll never stop.

I told my dad I’d put the saddles where the crowd would meet. Now four of
those old saddles are a brand new bar stool seat.

Each saddle shows the years of wear. You wonder, were they ever new? But they
jog my memory of a man who was cowboy through and through.

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Bryce Angell’s father was an outfitter and guide for 35 years, and Bryce was there to shoe and care for the horses and help him do the cooking. Bryce is from Idaho and still rides into the Tetons, Yellowstone and surrounding areas. His poems are mostly of personal experience.

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