dust

A couple of days ago I finally finished reading

The Worst Hard Time: The Untold Story of Those Who Survived the Great American Dust Bowl by Timothy Egan.

It was the January book club selection at the Salem Church Library.  I had to miss the January meeting because Robert was in China, but I really wanted to read the book.  I enjoy most history books, because I’m so fascinated by how people lived long ago.  This particular book is based on journals and interviews with people who lived in the Dust Bowl in the 30s, so it’s full of interesting detail: pickled tumbleweed, not setting the table or else the plates would get dusty, kids checking their beds every night for centipedes and spiders that blew around in the black blizzards, rabbit drives, the determination of the men in the Last Man’s Club, a man getting stuck in a dust storm rushing to meet his wife at the hospital during his daughter’s birth and again a couple of years later when his daughter was dying of dust pneumonia, the way people learned not to touch one another to avoid static shock during dust storms, the futile efforts to bring back the rain by shooting explosives into the sky, and the hopeful and hopeless things people wrote about their efforts to live in this land.  It was disconcerting to be reading about this hot dusty time of black blizzards when I’d look up and see all the white outside my window.  It also made me look at my house differently.  The strewn toys, stained carpet, and things needing repair are nothing compared to having dunes of sand piling up inside the house all the time, dust in your food and lungs, and drought and hail killing everything you’re trying to raise to survive.   And unlike fictional disaster tales, this one does not have a happily ever after ending.   They did manage to replant some of the grasslands, the ripping out of which played a big part in the disaster, but none of the towns in that area recovered and remain small, at most.  Some are completely gone.  I kept thinking about my Grandmother and her family.  Though she was born in 1923 in San Diego, her parents came from Nebraska a few years earlier.  It would be awesome if I could talk to them and hear their first hand memories of the time.

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