This is a thank-you to Edward McPherson, an assistant professor of English at Washington University, in St. Louis. Earlier this year, he published a collection of essays titled The History of the Future: American Essays. McPherson is a gifted writer. I recommend the book. The editors at the Dallas Morning News share my enthusiasm, evident by their decision to reprint a few of the essays that deal with Dallas. In May, one such reprint contained the following paragraph:
Dallas came from nothing. Unlike surrounding areas, it was not a camp for Native Americans or prehistoric men. Dig and you ﬁnd few artifacts. The Trinity River formed a boundary for ancient tribes: farmers to the east and hunters to the west. The Trinity is a true Texan; it begins and ends within the state. Its 710-mile path slices through what is now downtown Dallas, making Dallas a city on the cusp, on the boundary, in between. It wavers between being and not being. Dallas wasn’t there until — suddenly — it was, called forth in the minds of white men.
That paragraph is what I’d like to thank McPherson for. Because D Magazine contributor Laray Polk read it, and it set her off. She knew McPherson was wrong about Dallas’ prehistory. So she wrote a rebuttal for FrontBurner — which then started a chain of events that led to a full-blown feature story in the December issue. Without giving too much away, the story involves a long-lost map, a woman named Sunday, and SMU. I’ll let Laray take it from there.