The Southwestern Historical Quarterly, Volume 92, July 1988 - April, 1989 Page: 92

Southwestern Historical Quarterly

ral limitations. "To be successful in any endeavor," he said one night
after class, "you must be in love with your field. It must become a kind
of mistress to you. You must find that special area that matches your
own interests and personality and fuse them. A writer must feel that he
or she can handle whatever topic selected better than anyone else in the
Perhaps my most vivid memory of Webb's seminar is the night I
raced home to my Spartan quarters, bursting with enthusiasm and say-
ing over and over to myself as I ran, "I can do it; I really can do it." I
didn't know what I was going to do, but I had been touched by Webb's
sorcery. From that moment on my life was never the same. He set me
up for disappointments I sometimes thought would crush me, but he
unlocked the door that would lead to my personal adventure, my own
love affair with ideas, my private mistress that slowly grew into a series
of books on American cultural history.
One of the remarkable truths about those of us lucky enough to have
been Webb students is that we are such a diverse lot. Webb encouraged
that by freeing us. I remember telling him in I962 at the American His-
torical Association meeting in Chicago that my first book, A History of
Opera in the American West, had been accepted for publication. Webb, at
that moment a deliriously happy bridegroom, having recently married
his charming second wife ("the bonus on life," as he put it), smiled with
satisfaction-not because I had followed in his footsteps, but because I
had gone far afield from his own interests. "I always dreamed of going
to Harvard and studying with Frederick Jackson Turner," he said one
evening. "Thank God I didn't. I'd have become just another Turner
disciple." I thought he directed his next comment to me. "Don't ever be
any man's disciple," he said with uncharacteristic firmness. "Blaze your
own trail."
Dobie and Webb
Lingering impressions of J. Frank Dobie and Walter Prescott Webb,
Texas authors, begin in the thirties when they were in their forties. My
friendship with Bertha and Frank Dobie was inherited from Miss Mary
Shipp Sanders, who had known them when students at Southwestern
University in Georgetown. As a consequence, more than once I was in-
vited to dine with them when they were entertaining attorneys, au-
*Abigail Curlee Holbrook is an author and historian living in Austin.

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Texas State Historical Association. The Southwestern Historical Quarterly, Volume 92, July 1988 - April, 1989, periodical, 1989; Austin, Texas. ( accessed June 24, 2017), University of North Texas Libraries, The Portal to Texas History,; crediting Texas State Historical Association.