NORTH NEWTON — Theodore J. “Jim” Goering’s newly released “Prairie Breezes: Odyssey from Pretty Prairie” traces Goering’s life of international service in a family biography.
Goering, a writer who now lives in retirement with his wife in North Newton after a career that included traveling the globe, recently published the nearly 800-page book.
“Pretty Prairie, dating from the late 1880s and somewhat before the advent of settled agriculture, was linked to the larger world by its location on a rudimentary stage coach line which connected the pioneer towns of Wichita in the south central part of the state with Dodge City to the west,” Goering said. “As historians tell it, the city’s colorful name reflects a comment by a lady traveler from an east coast state on a western-bound stagecoach.
“At a stop to rest the horses and give the travelers time to stretch their legs, the traveler stepped out of the coach, inhaled a deep breath of the fresh air, looked with wonder and amazement at the seemingly endless expanse of verdant prairie grass on low-lying hills, and remarked, ‘Oh, my! What a pretty prairie!’ And so it began to be known as such.”
Today, with a population of about 680 inhabitants, Pretty Prairie faces challenges similar to those confronting many small towns in the American heartland — a lack of employment opportunities which encourages educated younger residents to pursue greater economic.
Goering’s “odyssey,” as articulated in this narrative, is only one of many undertaken by the youths of these communities.
Notable personalities associated with Pretty Prairie include former Kansas Gov. Walter A. Huxman; nationally acclaimed artist of American wildlife Jack Unruh; iconic, long-term athletic coach at Pretty Prairie High School George Norton; and Carl “Alfalfa” Switzer of the Little Rascals/Our Gang series.
Published by Christian Faith Publishing, Goering’s new book magnifies the events of the past to prepare the next generation as they look forward to their future. With these ramblings, may readers find something interesting, moving and entertaining.