The Southwestern Historical Quarterly, Volume 92, July 1988 - April, 1989 Page: 41
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J. Frank Dobie and Walter Prescott Webb
applicant and chose twelve of us to take this class, which included a
Rumanian "count" and an English barrister who had followed Webb
from England just to take his course. Each session was exciting; always
there was animated discussion. After the three-hour class we would
often gather at one of the little restaurants on the Drag, and occasion-
ally Webb would join us. For another hour or two we would continue to
debate the ideas that had emerged during class.
The paper that I presented to the seminar was on the impact of the
English-China trade on the "boom" that followed the opening of the
Great Frontier. I concluded that the China trade in large measure de-
pended on the goods England brought from America. Since the analy-
sis did no damage to the Great Frontier hypothesis, Webb seemed
pleasantly surprised. He had not researched any aspect of the influence
of the Far East and had feared, he said, that my conclusions would indi-
cate a weakness in his arguments. (He did suggest that I take a short
course in public speaking. I had been a member of Toastmasters Inter-
national for three years and had given many public speeches, but I had
read my paper much too fast because it was filled with so many facts
about cargoes that I wanted to get to the more interesting conclusions.)
At the end of the spring semester, when the second part of the semi-
nar was drawing to a close, Webb informed us that he was inviting the
class to his Friday Mountain Ranch for steaks cooked over a campfire
and that our mission was to help him decide on a subtitle for his book
on the Great Frontier. He suggested that we might consider a line from
the Statue of Liberty, "The Lamp by the Golden Door," or something
The day of the cookout, several of us riding together debated whether
or not we would offend our professor by taking cold beer for everyone.
When we finally pulled into the ranch, Webb hurried to the car and
smiled happily as we pulled out the beer. He explained that he did not
think it proper for a teacher to bring beer for students, but he was
grateful for our thoughtfulness. Webb seldom drank himself, he ex-
plained, because he grew up with so little money. He could not see
spending it on alcohol and never developed a taste for beer.
We spent the afternoon hiking up Friday Mountain, exploring the
streams, pools, and limestone, and then sat around the campfire eating
the steaks and sourdough biscuits with homemade preserves. We dis-
cussed his subtitle, finally agreeing that his suggestion was the best. (He
later decided to forego a subtitle and used the Statue of Liberty phrase
as the last line in his book.)
During my oral comprehensive, Webb seemed satisfied with my an-
swers to his questions and began reading a newspaper. From time to
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Texas State Historical Association. The Southwestern Historical Quarterly, Volume 92, July 1988 - April, 1989, periodical, 1989; Austin, Texas. (texashistory.unt.edu/ark:/67531/metapth101212/m1/68/: accessed December 11, 2017), University of North Texas Libraries, The Portal to Texas History, texashistory.unt.edu; crediting Texas State Historical Association.