"The Dirty '30s"

The Treacherous Dust Bowl

The Dust Bowl

Did you know the Dust Bowl got its name from a newspaper reporter? Did you know that the blowing dust was actually deadly? Would you believe that few “Okies”, were actually from Oklahoma? If you know anything about the Dust Bowl, you know it was a quite hard time. People suffered a great deal, and life was rough. As Ken Burns says, “It was a man made catastrophe, It was the worst ecological disaster in U.S. history”

What Was the Dust Bowl?

The dust bowl was an awful time for the people of parts of Texas, Oklahoma, New Mexico, Kansas and Colorado. It was a time where most had nothing. The Dust Bowl was during the time of the Great Depression, an already stressed and painful time. The Dust Bowl started in the 1930’s, known as the “dirty thirties”, and didn’t end until about a decade later. As a result of no rain for a long amount of time, scorching temperatures, and with the wind on top of all that, the topsoil finally blew away and formed giant clouds of pure, thick, dust. The dust got into everything, if so much as a crack was exposed, the dust would find it and come on in. People struggled to stay healthy and not breathe in dust, people started to come down with “dust pneumonia”, people covered their faces with any cloth they could. The red cross helped by giving these poor people surgical masks to block out some of the dust. People were forced to leave their homes and find somewhere else to live away from the dust. People started to go to California, but after a while California stopped letting the suffering people in. The Dust Bowl was a horrific time. Life for people back then was miserable.

What Caused the Dust Bowl

The Dust Bowl was caused by many things. The area of the dust bowl used to be filled with wheat, it was a wonderful land area with fertile soil. But when the drought came, things changed. As a result of no water, plants began to die. The hot, burning temperatures didn't help either. The farmers did everything they could. The rain never came, and then the wind started. It gathered the topsoil, and turned it into monstrous, thick, sometimes close to pure black, dust clouds. The wind blew the dust throughout. The skies were filled with dust and so was everything else. It looked as if a giant cloud was going to soak up the cities. It was a terrifying time for the poor people of the 1930’s.

Being A Child During the Dust Bowl

Living in the Dust Bowl was a awful thing. It was terribly hard on adults, and possibly even harder on children. Being a kid during the Dust Bowl was not at all easy. Life up until the 1930’s wasn't a cup of tea, but when the dust clouds came rolling in, things got even worse. Kids chores went from gathering eggs from chicken coops to wiping the dust out of the horses noses. The food wasn't always available, actually it was close to the exact opposite. Kids were starved, and since most of the only food went to them, kids got to watch their parents suffer from food and water deprivation. Of course the only water was filled with sand\ dust particles. Kids and everyone got diseases from the dirty water. The gross, dusty water was all that the people of the Dust Bowl had to work with. They bathed, drank, washed clothes, and did everything with this “make do” water situation. School, is a whole other story. I know now a days school is something kids take as a chore. Back then kids would have done anything to go learn\ get out of the house. But in order to get to school they had to walk miles in the treacherous dust, blowing forcefully and dangerously. When they did go to school, it wasn't it great conditions. The books were full of dust, the schools were dirty, (although so was everything else). The kids of the Dust Bowl were not given the opportunities to go to school, so they weren't the smartest, and as a result, others picked on the children, calling them, “Dumb Okies”. Of course the toys were scarce to none. Girls would make dolls out of tumbleweed, kids would make a merry go round on a wagon wheel, and those who didn't have even that, would play a game of jacks on their porch. It was a very scary time for the children of the Dust Bowl.

The Solution

Eventually, the rain did come. Peoples lives got much better and the dust was gone. People today need to realize how lucky we are that we don’t have to live in that situation. The Dust Bowl was a man made and nature made event. Today farmers have much better farming equipment and people have figured out ways to keep away a lot of wind. The Dust Bowl was an absolutely miserable time. We are so fortunate to live the way we do today.

Woody Guthrie - Dust Bowl Blues


"Okie"' was the nickname given to the people of Oklahoma and and most people of the dust bowl.
By: Megan Huss