You Just Think You’re Having a Hard Time
I’m reading a book called The Worst Hard Time about the “Dirty 30’s” in the dustbowl; which consists of southeastern Colorado, the panhandle of Oklahoma, and northern Texas. It’s absolutely fascinating. I had no idea of the history. I think everyone knows the story of the people from John Steinbeck’s Grapes of Wrath that left the dustbowl and went West, but this is the story of those that chose to stay.
The circumstances these people lived through is just amazing. I don’t think I could make it another day if the heater/air conditioning in my house went out, but those people lived in dugouts. That’s just like it sounds, a hole dug in the side of the prairie that they made into their home. If they were lucky enough and made enough money on a crop, they could get four plywood walls and put them up. A few months ago I was complaining that I gave up my sewing room.
I was telling Shelby on the way home from the orthodontist about the dust storms and the living conditions and I told her that people are so wussified now that we wouldn’t make it two weeks living on the prairie like that. Just imagine sitting outside and a huge dust cloud comes up with thunderclouds and it starts raining/hailing mud. That’s what these people had to live with, it’s tragic. I wish my grandpa was still alive to tell me stories. He didn’t live in that area, but at one point the dust blew all the way to Chicago. He would have remembered something.
Some people that lived there thought the weather condition was their punishment for stealing the land from the Indians. Others thought it was their punishment for digging up and “raping” the land. That patch of land was never meant to be anything but grassland for buffalo, and people went in and tried to make their fortunes by digging it up and planting wheat. That left the dust to just blow.
I was in a dust storm once and it was actually terrifying. I was at a softball field and the wind came up and I grabbed my stepdaughter and just put our heads down and held on. It seemed to blow forever, but I know it was only a few minutes. I couldn’t see anything, I could hear people screaming for everyone to stay down, but we were all just out there exposed. In 1933 the sky went black for 24 hours of dust. One whole day. Now imagine living in your little dugout and having to dig yourself out every day.
But for the grace of God go I, and you for that matter. Why are we in this time and those people were in that time? That’s why I always feel like I’m here to do something bigger than I’m doing. I just need to figure out what that is.