When Clarence came back to Kansas his first paying job was the editor of the Larned, Kansas Eagle Optic newspaper. A newspaper known for it's eagle eye, that view from the sky under a Kansas sun. Where you could depict the scurrying of political rodents in detail. That cold, distant, ferocioius view. Truth above all.
Larned is the county seat of Pawnee County. The town of 4,000 sits on the banks of the Arkansas River, pronounced "Our Kansas" in Kansas. Fort Larned was one of the forts built to protect the settlers travelling along the Santa Fe trail. Great Bend, Cheyenne and Dodge all had forts.
Some of that fortress mentality survives in Kansas. Those oceans of grass could make you weep with wind and heat and cold.
That merciless open space where unlimited hail, wind, buffalo and Indians could all of a sudden, emerge out of nowhere. That thought would haunt you day and night. Union soldiers built tall flagpoles for the settlers to see from miles away and know there was a safe place to sleep behind the fort's walls, water the oxen and get a fix on where they were headed.
Their fears were exaggerated. No Indian ever attacked any of the forts or the settlers along the Arkansas River. But when you see one of those old Connestoga Wagons, how small and frail a vessel to cross the endless unknown with all your family, food and belongings, you can't help but admire the settlers courage.
A few stayed in Kansas. Most moved on.
That migration, from Missouri to California was the Great American Adventure. Going into the unknown. Leaving security behind.
If this blog is about anything it is about adventure. And leaving security behind. Like my Uncle John Logan, 26 years old, all set to be the CEO of his family's business. Jobs were tough to find in 1939. Unemployment close to 20%. His name was on a 9 story granite building in downtown Pittsburgh. All he had to do was say yes and he'd be set for a life of country clubs and a pile of money in the bank.
He said, "I have to ride a motorcycle from Fairbanks to Seatlle."
His parents were appalled. "There's no road," they cried.
"That's the point," he said.