It's an image as synonymous with the Dirty Thirties as dust: the hobo. Hopping the rails, scrounging for food, lounging on street corners with a tin cup or brown paper bag on their laps. In our minds, they are bedraggled, faces covered with stubble, carrying all their belongings in a handkerchief tied to a stick, … Continue reading The Rise and Fall of the American Hobo
In the early 1900's, bolstered by the tune of "every man a landlord," thousands flocked West, hoping to snag a piece of Manifest Destiny and the American dream. Land was cheap, hope was high, and there was nothing standing between a man and his homestead but a few weeks' travel and a little elbow grease. … Continue reading Home Sweet…Hole?
As the 1930's wore on, the rain still refused to fall on parts of Oklahoma, Texas, and New Mexico. The dusters got worse, health deteriorated, and money grew scarce as crops withered and what would come to be known as the Great Depression tightened its grip on the country. Every-day life became a battle against … Continue reading Christmas in the Dust
Since the late nineteenth century, the western plains had been a haven for those with respiratory ailments. At time when the complex workings of the lungs were not-yet understood, many with breathing issues were often advised that it wasn't a problem with their organs; it was a problem with the air. The solution, therefore, was … Continue reading The Brown Plague
Beginning with the Stock Market crash of 1929, the Great Depression, as it would later be called, swept across the United States, plunging much of the country into an unprecedented state of poverty. Crop prices fell by 60%. Construction projects and manufacturing ground to a standstill. Unemployment wavered between 25-33%. And, out west, in the … Continue reading Suicide Sal and the Barrow Gang
In 1935, facing mounting pressure from Congress about the "Dust Bowl" problem, and thanks in part to Hugh Bennett's passionate plea to save the Plains, President Roosevelt created the Resettlement Administration. The main purpose of this entity was to give a buy-out, about seven hundred dollars per family, for people affected by the drought and … Continue reading “This rusty car creaking along the highway to the west…”