Westward, Ho

Today the footprint of the Webner family gets a bit broader.  For the first time, one of the members of my immediate family crosses over the mighty Mississippi to establish a toehold in the traditional west.

Richard will move to Columbia, Missouri, to begin work at the graduate school of journalism at the University of Missouri.  He’ll be relocating to the land of prairie and prairie dogs, where herds of buffalo thundered across the open plain and huge flocks of passenger pigeons darkened the skies, where grass grew waist-high and rippled in the wind like the waves of the sea, where the Dakota, Kickapoo, and Shawnee once roamed, trappers plied their trade, settlers built cabins and broke the sod.

The residents of Webner House have lived and worked and gone to school at various locations in the eastern half of the country but have never lived in the western states.  I’ve always had a romantic notion of the American West, where so many of the themes running through American culture — the fearless and hardy pioneer, the rugged cowboy on the lonesome prairie, the self-made individuals looking for opportunity and success in new towns — were first written.  I’m looking forward to visits to Missouri to see whether those deep chords of Americana still are sounded where the West began.

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4 thoughts on “Westward, Ho

  1. Uh, Bob, as one who has lived in the West (and a native of Nebraska), I’d hardly call Missouri a part of the West. I think one must travel at least one state further west to be considered “in the West” (and, to me, that’s still the Midwest–you know, Nebraska, Kansas, Iowa). Of course, it’s hard for me to consider Ohio as part of the Midwest. To me it’s more like the Mideast. ; – )

    In any case Columbia has a fine journalism school and a sometimes good football team.

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    • Ben, your comment just shows it’s all about your perspective. To me, west of the Mississippi is the American West — after all, if I recall correctly, the Lewis and Clark expedition started from St. Louis, or thereabouts, and I think the St. Louis arch is supposed to be the Gateway to the West — but I can certainly understand if those farther west think of Missouri as an eastern state.

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