The Southwestern Historical Quarterly, Volume 92, July 1988 - April, 1989 Page: 47
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J. Frank Dobie and Walter Prescott Webb
United States after 1865. As I recall, and contrary to the rules and
wishes of the registrar, there were forty plus students in the class, and
often there were a few auditing. Apparently it was hard for Dr. Webb
to turn down a student who wanted to be included.
Subsequent to this classroom experience, I did have an occasional en-
counter with Dr. Webb at the long-departed PK's, an early version of
the fast-food restaurant. PK's was located on the west side of Guada-
lupe Street, about two or three doors south of the University Co-op.
Here could be found a great cup of coffee with unlimited refills, all for
five cents. If one could spare nineteen cents, one could experience the
world's best eggs-over-easy, with crisp bacon and buttered toast, all
cooked at the same time on a heavy iron grill.
Several times on the way to my room at the Tejas Club from the Law
School library about eleven o'clock in the evening, I would stop by PK's
for coffee, or, if hungry and flushed with extra money, partake of the
egg special. Occasionally Dr. Webb was there, or came in before I left,
having come for a cup of coffee and, I believe, conversation. I presume
it was a stopover on the way from his campus office to his home, which
was located on the west side of what was then the forty acres.' There
was always dialogue between Dr. Webb and the night cook, who seemed
to be a friend of long standing. Sometimes a student or two sitting
nearby (including myself) would take part in the conversation. I no-
ticed that, without appearing aggressive, he always seemed to ferret out
to one degree or another the personal history of the participants, as
well as their thoughts and appraisals of student life and politics. This
demonstrated interest in, and curiosity about, the night cook, the stu-
dents, and their viewpoints undoubtedly accounted for Dr. Webb's
great insight into University life and his tremendous rapport with
As I now look back on these student encounters, it occurs to me that
Dr. Webb was putting into practice one of his ideas and frequent re-
minders in the classroom-that the more you knew of the people who
lived during a particular time, the greater would be your understand-
ing of the history and events of that period.
My classroom experience with Dr. Webb created a near-compulsive
curiosity and interest in the westward movement in the United States,
which began after the purchase of the Louisiana Territory, and how
this migration affected the lives, attitudes, and history of the people
caught up in this movement. For the first time in my life, history be-
came relevant to me.
'The original campus of the Umniversity of Texas consisted of forty acres, and the expression
"the Forty Acres" has often been used as a figure of speech denoting the Umniversity.
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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/m1/74/: accessed November 24, 2017), University of North Texas Libraries, The Portal to Texas History, texashistory.unt.edu; crediting Texas State Historical Association.