Off the Shelf: Honyocker Dreams by David Mogen

Mogen Read the "Finding Home" from Honyocker Dreams: Montana Memories by David Mogen:

"By the time I got to know my way around a new hometown, it was time to leave.

And where was “home”? While I was growing up we moved through a series of small towns along the Montana Hi-Line, the three-hundred-mile corridor stretching west from North Dakota to the Rockies, and north from the Missouri River to Canada. But we also lived in Bozeman and Missoula while Dad went to school, and since we visited relatives all across the state it sometimes seemed that all of Montana was home. For a while, Idaho was home, too. When I was twelve I began working as a farmhand for three summers in a row at my uncle Phil and aunt Roma’s Idaho homestead, nearly a thousand miles from my Montana home.

I was actually born at the naval base in Bremerton, Washington, where Dad was stationed during the last year of the war. When I was nine months old my parents moved back to Montana. During my earliest childhood we lived in the strip-housing barracks in Bozeman that served as married student housing for the flood of new students starting college on the G.I. Bill. I remember the strip-housing in Missoula better, where we moved when Dad started his MA in education. From the time I could first walk I wandered down any path that presented itself—at least, in those earliest days, until someone found me in time for supper.

Perhaps the early traveling served me well. We grew up as nomads, moving north and east along the Hi-Line as my father’s teaching career took us from one small town to another, to the borders of Canada and North Dakota—through Box Elder, Whitewater, Frazer, and Froid (which I consider my hometown because I went to high school there).

As a teacher’s family in farming communities we were, oddly, both foremost citizens and transient, rootless exotics. By the time we moved to Whitewater and I began the third grade I had become the oldest child (of four, five, and six children in years to come) of the new superintendent, a role which elicited occasional deference and erratic abuse, and which pressed me and my brother Phil into reluctant service as chief protectors of a proliferating band of younger brothers and sisters. The new kids on the block, the new family in town—always new beginnings, new challenges, new possibilities. For a kid, at least, always something to prove, lessons to learn.

Finding a new home was exciting and as easy as riding across the Hi-Line. But after you arrived there seemed to be no end to figuring out where you really were."

David Mogen is a professor of English at Colorado State University. He is the coeditor of several books, including Frontier Gothic: Terror and Wonder at the Frontier in American Literature, and is the author of Wilderness Visions: The Western Theme in Science Fiction Literature and Ray Bradbury.

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