Where are you from?

By Jeff Smith


It’s a question I often hear from people I meet along the way. There might be a different follow-up question or comment based on the answer I give.

I will usually say I was born in Colorado and then moved to Nebraska five to six years ago. I might say that I have family in Nebraska because currently all of my immediate family lives there. Most people I talked to were from Nebraska so they liked to hear that I had family close by. My family lives in Sioux County, Neb., which is the highest county in the nearly flat land of Nebraska. Some parts of the land is similar to parts of the Black Hills and Colorado, which is why I think my family moved there.

People often ask me if my parents are ranchers, which they are. They might ask me if I’ve ever had a coffee burger, which was a staple in the town of Harrison for many years. It has gone along with the restaurant that supplied it a few years before my family arrived on to the scene.

I was often asked if I enjoyed it up there and the rural life. Which yes, I do. At times it can seem lonely and a little dreary, but I think the best people are found in small towns. I didn’t have the fortune of growing up in a small town. But I grew to understand their value. People are able to grow up and really get to know the same people throughout their school years. When they move away there is always a place to come back to where people care about you and where fond memories can be shared again. I graduated high school from the small town but I only spent a year there before the time came for me to go to college. But I still consider Sioux County home and a place where I know some people would be happy to see me.

The rolling hills and winding dirt roads people have to travel down make you appreciate the people you are going to meet. There are times to reflect in the vehicle which brings up other times that you remember,  while going to the place that you are from. There are miles of fields to look at which might seem boring depending on the time of the day. But there is also a vastness in the sky and a sun that shines down as radiantly as a burst of flames. There could be many interesting cloud formations seen too. I had one of my frequent interviewees tell me once, about Sioux county, “it’s the wild west up there.” Which it is, there are miles of ground and maybe a few people who are working there. People who wake up day in and day out working cattle, pushing them into new fields, and who might be sore from riding on horses all day. There is a bank, a bar and a post office in Sioux County which might be similar to a lot of small towns in the area.

I enjoyed people asking those questions and getting to know me as I get to know them and what makes them newsworthy. I often wondered why people cared and if they ever really knew the people that I was talking about.

Either way, I think people like to connect and try to relate to one another. That is the great reason for newspapers and why they are still important today. People like to find themselves in your story and in a newspaper.

Even the most introverted people, of which I am one, like to learn about people’s past and what they’re interested in. Being in the news industry, I am a little more curious than others and might pry deeper than others. I enjoy it and I really am going to enjoy getting to know people in this beautiful area.

There’s not much else I would want to do in a place that I love to be.

I spent some of the best years of my life in this area. I graduated from Black Hills State University not too long ago and jumped at the opportunity to come back.

I previously worked at a daily newspaper in Scottsbluff, Neb. There was much for me to do there but I couldn’t pass up an opportunity lo live and work in the Black Hills.

People also might ask me if I  enjoy writing, and, of course, the answer is yes in this industry.  But I also like people and finding out more about them. I hope to serve this community well and do the best job that I can. I consider it a privilege to be working in this industry and an even bigger privilege to be in the heart of the Black Hills.

So feel free to come to the Prevailer office and ask me where I am from.