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William C. Carson (1928-) Biography - Personal, Career, Writings, Work in Progress, Sidelights

santa peter trail story

Born 1928, in St. Louis, MO; Education: Princeton University, A.B., 1950; Stanford University, M.B.A., 1956.

Career

Computer analyst, consultant, and manager, 1956-68; manager of private trade and technical schools, 1969-95; executive vice president, Bell & Howell schools. American Technical Institute, president; board member, Chicago Community Renewal Society, 1969-87; board member and president, Suburban Chicago K-8 School District, 1972-78; board chair, National Association of Trade and Technical Schools, 1983-90; vice chairman, City of Santa Fe Children of Youth Commission. Military service: U.S. Air Force, navigator, 1950-54.

Writings

(Reviser) William G. B. Carson, Peter Becomes a Trail Man: The Story of a Boy's Journey on the Santa Fe Trail, illustrations by Pat Oliphant, University of New Mexico Press (Albuquerque, NM), 2002.

Work in Progress

An account of personal experience and summary of damage done to low-income students by inflexible quantitative measures, titled "To Hell with Education."

Sidelights

William C. Carson told Something about the Author: "There are really two stories involved with Peter Becomes a Trail Man. The first recounts the adventures encountered by a twelve-year-old boy, Peter, as he travels over the Santa Fe Trail in 1853 from St. Louis to Santa Fe to find his father. Pa had gone there the previous year after the death of Peter's mother.

"During the journey, Peter, who had never been out of St. Louis, experiences the hazards and hardships of travel on the Trail at the time: an Indian attack, a buffalo stampede, violent weather, the desertion and death of greenhorns, and days in the blazing sun. He also matures in subtle and obvious ways as he learns to drink coffee, eat raw buffalo meat, ride and be responsible for a horse, and survive on a few sips of water a day. He is always under the watchful eye of the leader of the wagon train, "Uncle" Seth, and Aleck, but, of greater importance, is constantly accompanied by his small dog, Brownie.

"The other story is about the book, which had its genesis in 1852 when my great-great-grandfather, William Carr Lane, traveled over the Santa Fe Trail at the age of sixty-three to become the second territorial governor of New Mexico. My father, William G. B. Carson, who was a professor of English and drama at Washington University in St. Louis—Tennessee Williams was one of his students—became interested in Governor Lane's extensive journals and letters. As a result, our family followed the Santa Fe Trail from St. Louis to Santa Fe several times in the 1930s. My father started the original story about that time and had it privately published forty years ago at the urging of his only grandson, Peter.

"David," the name of the boy in the original story, became "Peter." His dog, Brownie, was named after our family pet of the 1930s. While the book is fiction, the day-to-day events are accurate, and it contains many historical characters, including William Carr Lane.

"I re-read the story ten years ago when my wife and I moved permanently to Santa Fe. Subsequently, I re-wrote a substantial part of it and assured that all of the events and references were historically accurate. My aim was to teach history through a good story and was particularly pleased that the internationally recognized political cartoonist, Pat Oliphant, agreed to do the illustrations and maps. In addition to the maps, which enable the reader to follow Peter's progress and locate individual sites, I have included brief biographical sketches, descriptions of various Indian tribes, and suggestions for additional reading.

"I have in a sense been testing the results by reading the book to fourth-, fifth-, and sixth-grade students in a Santa Fe public elementary school in which my wife and I started a volunteer program six years ago. There are almost ninety volunteers assisting in a literacy program in that and a second school. The students are fascinated by Peter and Brownie's adventures, are following the maps, and learning about the Santa Fe Trail and the history of New Mexico."

Biographical and Critical Sources

PERIODICALS

Albuquerque Journal, November 16, 2003, review of Peter Becomes a Trail Man, p. F7.*

Mary Kay Carson (1964-) Biography - Personal, Career, Writings, Sidelights [next] [back] Marsha Gray Carrington (1954–) Biography - Personal, Addresses, Career, Member, Honors Awards, Illustrator, Sidelights

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