Monday, February 12, 2024

Dust Bowl

In 1936, The Atlantic published a series of letters from a woman in Oklahoma to her friend who had given up on farming out west and had decamped for her home turf in Delmarva.
"Since I wrote to you, we have had several bad days of wind and dust. On the worst one recently, old sheets stretched over door and window openings, and sprayed with kerosene, quickly became black and helped a little to keep down the irritating dust in our living rooms. Nothing that you see or hear or read will be likely to exaggerate the physical discomfort or material losses due to these storms. Less emphasis is usually given to the mental effect, the confusion of mind resulting from the overthrow of all plans for improvement or normal farm work, and the difficulty of making other plans, even in a tentative way. To give just one specific example: the paint has been literally scoured from our buildings by the storms of this and previous years; we should by all means try to 'save the surface'; but who knows when we might safely undertake such a project? The pleasantest morning may be a prelude to an afternoon when the 'dust devils' all unite in one hideous onslaught. The combination of fresh paint with a real dust storm is not pleasing to contemplate.

The prospects for a wheat crop in 1936 still remain extremely doubtful. There has been no moisture of any kind since the light snow of early January...
Now I have a hankering to re-read The Worst Hard Time, which I cannot recommend highly enough.