by Travis Mateer
In today’s post I’m going to connect an English aristocrat and a US intelligence agency to some well-known Missoula surnames, specifically Merriam and Talbot. This will be VERY informative, especially in light of what’s happening with the Missoulian building, where the 20th century medium of narrative control once rolled off the press.
The plans for a $100 million redevelopment along the Hip Strip remain uncertain after the group designing the buildings canceled a public meeting, saying the project should not be finalized after a controversy over one of the developer’s online messages.
Yet, developer Aaron Wagner said the project will continue to move forward, just without the local firm.
“They have not even been awarded the project yet,” Wagner told the Kaimin. “We are still moving forward, nothing is being stopped or even delayed.”
Yep, full steam ahead, and The Wags wants you dumb locals to know that it’s going to be EVEN WORSE now that you pissed off this former linebacker douchebag:
Without the local firm, Wagner said he would likely contract with another group from out of town.
“They felt the heat and were apprehensive about the relationship with me personally,” Wagner said. “What I tell people is, ‘Look, you guys want locals, but the pressure against me is doing the opposite.’ Now we are going to have an outside group that might not understand the goals and needs of the community.”
The bold part of the above quote is Aaron Wagner’s understanding of how “people” in Missoula expect development to happen, but since “pressure” has emerged from an angry public tired of condos and endless gentrification, The Wags is threatening to bring in some outside development group. What an asshole.
But this post isn’t about outside assholes brashly plopping condo towers along riverfront property, it’s about narrative controllers with names like Talbot and Merriam, and the entitlement they seem to be operating on when it comes to transforming Missoula into an elitist playground for wealth.
First up, the Talbot name.
Yes, this picture from the Missoulian shows Pete Talbot’s hand on a ballot box, but it’s his dad and the hidden hand of the CIA that I’m more interested in.
Before becoming the publisher of the Missoulian, Pete’s dad, John, worked for the CIA. I had no idea about this intriguing connection until I ran across this interview from 1975. Here’s the note at the beginning of the interview that details this connection:
Note: John Talbot worked for the CIA before joining Lee Enterprises in 1957 in Wisconsin at the State Journal. He later worked Muscatine, Iowa, before becoming business manager and then publisher of the Billings Gazette. He was publisher of the Missoulian and operations manager for the western division of Lee Enterprises before retiring in 1980.
Cool! Now I’m beginning to understand Pete’s love for democracy, it must come from his dad’s work with the CIA, an agency known for its loving spread of democracy around the globe.
While this connection is fascinating, I’m actually more interested in the impact of H.G. Merriam on Missoula, but before we get to him we need a quick primer on Cecil Rhodes from wikipedia:
Cecil John Rhodes PC (5 July 1853 – 26 March 1902) was a British mining magnate and politician in southern Africa who served as Prime Minister of the Cape Colony from 1890 to 1896. An ardent believer in British imperialism, Rhodes and his British South Africa Company founded the southern African territory of Rhodesia (now Zimbabwe and Zambia), which the company named after him in 1895. South Africa’s Rhodes University is also named after him. He also devoted much effort to realising his vision of a Cape to Cairo Railway through British territory. Rhodes set up the provisions of the Rhodes Scholarship, which is funded by his estate.
For a little more context on what Rhodes and his fellow British elitists were up to, here’s some info on the Fabian Society:
The Fabian Society was founded on 4 January 1884 in London as an offshoot of a society founded a year earlier, called The Fellowship of the New Life, which had been a forebear of the British Ethical and humanist movements. Early Fellowship members included the visionary Victorian elite, among them poets Edward Carpenter and John Davidson, sexologist Havelock Ellis, and early socialist Edward R. Pease. They wanted to transform society by setting an example of clean simplified living for others to follow. Some members also wanted to become politically involved to aid society’s transformation; they set up a separate society, the Fabian Society. All members were free to attend both societies. The Fabian Society additionally advocated renewal of Western European Renaissance ideas and their promulgation throughout the world.
H.G. Merriam–the grandfather of Engen’s Communication Director, Ginny Merriam–was a member of the FIRST CLASS of Rhodes Scholars. I discovered this little factoid in a book published by the Missoulian in 2000.
Since Ginny Merriam, like our Mayor, worked at the Missoulian before taking control of local government, it makes sense that Ginny is the one doing the writing in this book about Grandpa. Here is the part about H.G. Merriam bringing the Rhodes brand of British elitism to Missoula:
H.G. stepped off a train at the depot at the north end of Higgins Avenue in 1919, ready to take on the chairmanship of the English department. He brought with him his wife, Doris, and two degrees from Oxford, where in 1904 he had been in the first class of American Rhodes Scholars.
He was surprised to find UM had sent no Rhodes Scholars to Oxford from 1905 to 1919, and became the secretary of the Montanan Rhodes Scholar Selection Committee. UM to this day has a strong presence among Rhodes Scholars, an effort H.G. Shepherded long past his retirement in 1954.
This local history–connecting wealthy British socialists and the CIA to surnames like Talbot and Merriam–should give readers a better understanding of the entitlement our local elites feel toward using their tax-paying
citizens subjects as flesh-ATMs for their social engineering projects.
It should also provide a hilarious backdrop to the claims of total powerlessness and impotence coming from our Mayor-for-life and his elitist cronies.
Thanks for reading, serfs!