Thursday, January 25, 2007

Some Really Big Dust Bunnies!!

If you have been reading this blog since the beginning then you know that I come from a "cowboy" background on my dad's side of the family. My grandpa, the one who came from Flamborough, Yorkshire, England grew up to be a cattle rancher in southwestern Kansas. And you already know that my mom met my dad while she was living with her uncle in Kansas.

My parents started their married life in Dodge City, Kansas. I was looking for some early photos to share with you. I wasn't too successful....but I did find a few more old postcards that I thought were interesting.

I remember my mom telling about the dust storms back in the 30's. She told how the sky would just be like nighttime in the middle of the day. She told of stuffing wet rags around all the doors and windows to try and keep the dust out of the house but it didn't help much. She told about actually finding dust inside the refrigerator!

These postcards show that she wasn't exaggerating about the sky....

The photo isn't very good but I think you can tell what it is. The caption says "Dust Cloud Rolling Over Western Kansas Prairie '35"

This one is similar and says "Rolling Dust Clouds Stovall Studio Dodge City, Kansas"

This is the one I find mind-boggling! It reads "3:00 P.M. The Black Blizzard of Sunday April 14, '35" Can you imagine how much dust was in the air to make it that dark at 3:00 in the afternoon?! I found the following information online:

On Sunday, April 14, 1935, from large sections of Nebraska, Kansas, Colorado, New Mexico, Oklahoma, and Texas, an estimated 300,000 tons of Great Plains topsoil rose to a height of several thousand feet and began its journey eastward, "a ragged-topped formation covering the horizon as it rolled across the land like moving mountains" Traveling at speeds of up to 60 mph, this huge "black blizzard" dumped 6,000 tons of dirt on Chicago; fell like snow over Boston, New York, and Washington, D.C.; and moved on into the Atlantic, where it covered ships as far offshore as 300 miles. This was Black Sunday, the worst in a series of dusters during the "dirty thirties" Meteorologists have rated the storms the number-one weather event of the 20th century, and historians have termed them the nation's worst prolonged environmental disaster in history--truly The Worst Hard Time.

We don't hear a lot about this anymore. Other environmental disasters have happened since then but I'm sure the people who lived through it never forgot. This article tells a bit more about the dust storms and what kind of impact they had on the country. It tells that some people thought it was the end of the world....and for some it was.

My mom never forgot. I don't know if my dad did or not. Maybe I'll read "The Grapes of Wrath" again. My family wasn't devastated by the dust bowl and the Great Depression but I'm sure they experienced problems related to both those events.

Then on a lighter note I found this postcard....

It reads "A Winters Supply 1937" and completely exaggerates the size of jack rabbits in Kansas....or does it??


morning pages - check
the 5 rites - check
treadmill - not today
weights - check

morning pages - check
the 5 rites - check
treadmill - check
weights - not today


  1. Since I've been blogging there is plenty of dust in my house!!! I'd say that bunny was a bit of an exaggeration. I went thru Ka. once,stopped at a rode side rest area to fix the kids a PBJ, made the mistake of opening the bread and by the time we got the PBJ open the bread was totaly dried out. Very dry and windy!

  2. I read this to my husband and like me he was very interested. To hear of it first hand from your mother is something else again.
    I smiled at the reference of your Yorkshire Grandfather becoming a Kansas cattle rancher. Many years ago on British TV there was a show called All Creatures Great and Small, it was set in Yorkshire and one episode featured an old Yorkshire farmer who lived his life as though he was a Western cowboy. I wish you'd seen it.

  3. My fathers family were from Oklahom and because of the Dust and the poverty that came with it, they moved to California. I have many stories of this time. The pictures were a reminder of their fate. Mary

  4. Loved this post and the old postcards. I'm trying to get my old postcards in some type of order so I can find them to share on my blog too.
    (I posted a couple today, too!)

  5. Janet this was an absolutely fascintating posting about the dust storms. The photo of the black storm at 3.00pm is incredible. It really brought to life what was meant by the dust bowl. Thank you for this posting.

  6. This is truly some fantastic pictures, I believe a book just came out about the dust storms etc. fictional .
    I'll have to see if i can find that title ahhhhhhhhh found it "The worst hard time by Timothy Egan" Thanks for the pictures.

  7. Janet, those are pretty amazing postcards. The third one was stunning. It gives real meaning to the term "dust bowl".

  8. Those postcard pictures are quite incredible, I shouldn't think anyone who experienced a dust storm like that would forget it. I've heard of the dustbowl but never really knew what it meant, I had no idea that such a catastrophic thing had happened - it just shows the incredible power of nature.

  9. Ugh,,I would have hated to been in that dust bowl,,my house looked like one until I finally broke down and dusted it today. Your postcards are cool and you are going to town on those ATCs,,I love them!

  10. I believe in giant jack rabbits!!!
    Imagine trying to keep your house clean during the dust bowl....

  11. I can't imagine trying to breathe in dust storms like that. Thanks for sharing that bit of history.

  12. Very interesting Janet. The postcards are amazing. Can't imagine being caught in a dust storm!

    Imagine your mum finding dust in her fridge!!

  13. Anonymous7:40 PM

    Wow...Mother Nature is really in charge. Those dust storms look really scary. Very nice postcards. Thanks for sharing.

    Take care,

  14. I am so glad that you liked my ATC...I use pencil and ink, then embellish with color and objects that I think work. I would love it if this came totally out of my head, but these come from news papers. They are called Punch from 1841 to 1901. I love old books, and old art, I came across these in YE OLE BOOK Store in our town. I have changed them for my own enjoyment, I thought they were worth sharing. I have other things to share and I will as I settle into this blog stuff. Please come back and see me sometime.

  15. omigosh! No wonder they had to get out of Dodge :)) That's the first thought that came to me when I saw the name Dodge City. Your post also reminded me of the heart-rending photographs Dorothea Lange took in and around the Dustbowl.
    A slice of history. Thank you!

  16. I remember many stories about the Dustbowl and the depression in general. My Gramma had chickens and so there were always plenty of eggs, and the girls (my mom and aunts) took boiled eggs to school in their lunchpails...and always took an extra egg for any hungry kids. We wouldn't do that now, we'd hoard and hog and not share, if we were in need. Different time in our country and different values. And we didn't seem to learn our ecological lesson, did we?

  17. Wow! Just WOW!
    It's been ages since I read Grapes of Wrath...and though I know my mom's family moved out here towards the end of the dustbowl from Oklahoma and heard some of the stories, seeing these photos just really brings this home. Hope the country never has to go through anything like that again.


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