) ( ( ) Good Morning Family! ( \ .-.,--^--. ( Come on in. . . \* ) \\|`----'| - The coffee pot's on. . . .=|=. \| |// ...and we even have decaf, |~'~| | |/ tea, and hot chocolate! | | \ / _|___|_ ------ (_______) Today's topics include: 1. Welcome to new cousins 2. The Dirty Thirties TO OUR NEWEST COUSINS ~~ On behalf of the entire family, I'd like to extend a most hearty welcome to those cousins who came into the family fold this past week. We are very glad to have you with us and hope you'll stay and remain a part of our online family. As soon as you're comfortable with us and the list, please send in your list-surname lines so we can all see how we're related to you. We do not have a fancy format for sending in records or queries to the list. Post as many as you wish! If the data has anything to do with our list-surname ancestors that might help someone, please feel free to post it. Every scrap of information is appreciated. You're welcome to share this Coffee with your genealogy friends and relatives. If they are not members of our online family and would like to begin receiving the Coffee, they are now able to. Simply have them send a blank email to <[email protected]>. NOTE: Again, I come to you with a subject much too large for one Coffee. This particular subject may take two or three. It's such a powerful event that impacted so, so many lives of both our ancestors and some still with us today that learning about it just might give you clues to your research... If Grandpa was a butcher, why was he picking fruits in California? I thought Grandma was a seamstress. Why was she working in the fields? What prompted Grandma and Grandpa to move from Kansas to California? In the interest of brevity, for the Dirty Thirties covers many years, I must tell you in advance that I won't hit every topic, touching only on the highlights. If you're interested in reading more, once I have completed the series, I will present to you some recommended sites and/or books. If there is room, I'll provide my sources in the final Coffee for the subject. THE DIRTY THIRTIES 2002 This summer, 37% of the United States has been suffering under one of the worst droughts since the 1930s. It's a fact. Parts of 45 states, from Maine to Hawaii, are sweltering through an abnormally arid year. Twenty-one states are hardest hit, most of which are in the Southeast, the Great Plains and the West. According to the government, they are abiding "extreme" or "exceptional" drought. Water restrictions are being imposed in hundreds of cities. Ranchers are selling their herds of cattle at distress prices because of a lack of water and forage. At least three cities in Colorado have run out of water this year. Believe it or not, as hard as this summer has been for many of us, this is nothing. Nothing. ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~ In the thirty years before World War I, America's farmers discovered that wheat was an excellent commodity. The world needed it and American farmers received a good price for it. Wheat farmers began plowing deeply and planting wheat as never before. In 1930 and 1931, the decade opened with unparalleled prosperity and growth. The panhandles of Oklahoma and Texas had been dubbed the most prosperous region by "Nation's Business" magazine. That region was in stark contrast to the long soup lines of the Eastern United States. Yet farming practices were not the best for maintaining good soil conditions. The methods which had successfully worked for a number of years eventually depleted the soil in several of the plains states. As the naturally occurring grasslands of the southern Great Plains were replaced with cultivated fields, the rich soil lost its ability to retain moisture and nutrients and began to erode. The lands were planted to wheat year after year without a thought as to the damage that was being done. Millions of acres of farm land were broken. Grasslands that should have been left untouched were plowed up. Land use left the soil exposed to the danger of erosion by the winds that constantly sweep over the area. In addition, the significant growth in farming activity required an increase in spending that caused many farmers to become financially overextended. The stock market crash in 1929 only served to antagonize this already tenuous economic situation. Weather conditions were dry in 1930 but most of the farmers made a wheat crop. In 1931 the wheat crop was considered a bumper crop with over 12 million bushels of wheat. There was such a surplus of the grain that prices were forced down from sixty-eight cents a bushel in July 1930 to twenty-five cents per bushel a year later. Many farmers went broke and lost their farms when banks came to collect on their notes. Others simply abandoned their fields. Even more, for those farmers who hung on, refusing to give up, the lower wheat prices was coupled with drought conditions which caused the soil to begin to blow. Farmers kept plowing and planting on their overused land, but nothing would grow. The ground cover that held the soil in place was gone. Record high heat, lack of precipitation and the constant winds all combined to create a situation enabling what would become a desperate hardship for hundreds of thousands of people across many parts of the country. When a seven-year drought began in 1931, followed by the coming of dust storms in 1932, many of the farms literally dried up and blew away creating what became known as the "Dust Bowl." This period is also described as "Dirty Thirties." In late January 1933, much of the wheat in the region was killed by a ravaging dirt storm. Early the following month, Boise City's (Oklahoma) temperatures hit a record low when the thermometer dropped seventy four degrees in eighteen hours. The mercury stayed below freezing for several days until another dirt storm scourged the land. Before the year was over, locals counted 139 dirty days in 1933. >From 1934 to 1936, three record drought years were maked for the nation. In 1936 a more severe storm spread out of the plains and across the nation. The drought years were accompanied with record breaking heavy rains, blizzards, tornadoes and floods. Black Sunday, 14 April 1935 8:00 a.m. ~ The day started bright and sunny. It was a clear, cloudless day ~ one that people could look forward to enjoying without fear of being caught in another dust storm. This was Palm Sunday, a day for church and leisurely rides in the automobile, perhaps even a picnic. Others thought to use the beautiful day to get some outside chores done ~ beating rugs and hanging laundry, to name two, that couldn't be attempted when the dust was flying. If she got her chores done in time, and her mother permitted, she wanted to visit with her friends two miles down the road. She hadn't seen them in two weeks and was looking forward to the temporary escape from home. She had so much to tell them! Had that cute, new boy in school talked to either of them yet? She hoped not. Father was repairing the fence while he waited for Mother to finish getting ready for church. He hoped she wouldn't be much longer. He'd wanted to talk to William, the blacksmith, about a job. The farm wasn't doing well with the Depression going on and he wanted to insure there'd be enough money to support his growing family if the farm went under. When he'd walked out of the house, Mother had her hands stuck inside a drawer, kneading bread. With all the dust in the air, she had taken to finding ways to protect food from contamination. Water was now kept inside sealed Mason jars. The dining table was kept covered with an oilcloth to protect it from films of dust. Mother set down new rules for setting the table: plates and glasses upside down, napkins folded over forks, knives and spoons. When dining, napkins are to be shaken out. Just before eating, glasses and plates can be turned over ~ an action which exposes neat circles. By noon the temperature had climbed to 90 degrees, making today the hottest day of the year, so far. Then suddenly, the temperature dropped ~ 50 degrees in just a few hours. Hundreds of chattering birds fluttered nervously, gathering in yards and along roads. An alert person knew almost immediately that something was amiss. 1:20 p.m. ~ Mother and her eldest daughter were moving quickly, gathering up the carpets and removing the laundry from the clothesline preparing to bring everything inside. They had no time to spare. A black blizzard was on the way. When the wind had begun blowing, Mother and both daughters rushed around the house with strips of old, wet sheets to chink the windows and door. Everything was sealed as much as could be done, but still dust as fine as talcum powder managed to get in. Tumbleweeds rolling by served as harbingers while birds, flying in terror for their very lives, heralded a massive, boiling wall of dust traveling at 60 mph. The smaller birds flew until exhaustion, then fell to the ground, sharing the fate of thousands of jack rabbits which perished from suffocation. Escape was impossible from the 7,000 foot high dry tidal wave. The roiling wall engulfed everything in its path. Those who had decided a Sunday drive would make the perfect day, were swallowed in their cars by the dark cloud. The static electricity caused by millions of dirt particles rubbing together shorted out ignitions. It also jammed radio broadcasts and created an eerie outline along the metal edges of windmill blades and fences. If one had looked out the window, s/he would have seen balls of electricity dancing along the barbed wire. Although home was the safest place to be, it offered only limited sanctuary. The oppressive dust was so thick that it filtered into homes whether the windows and doors were blocked, nor not. Sand swirled into closets and cupboards, leaving its grimy fingerprints on dishes and clothes ~ whether the items were precious heirlooms or party dresses just completed yesterday. 6:15 p.m. ~ The winds subsided. A light orange glow could be seen on the horizon through a curtain of dust which hung over the landscape. There was no sky to speak of; nor would there be one for days. The atmosphere around them would be a darkened one. Dead or dying livestock lined the roads. Large drifts of sand piled up against buildings and buried tractors and other equipment. Another day of decision for many people of the region. Would they stay? Would they leave the Heartland, abandoning their dreams? Tomorrow many would learn whether they even had a farm left to go to. Tomorrow many would pack up and leave, but also tomorrow, many more would remain and hang on ~ believing better times are just ahead. "And then the dispossessed were drawn west- from Kansas, Oklahoma, Texas, New Mexico; from Nevada and Arkansas, families, tribes, dusted out, tractored out. Car-loads, caravans, homeless and hungry; twenty thousand and fifty thousand and a hundred thousand and two hundred thousand. They streamed over the mountains, hungry and restless - restless as ants, scurrying to find work to do - to lift, to push, to pull, to pick, to cut - anything, any burden to bear, for food. The kids are hungry. We got no place to live. Like ants scurrying for work, for food, and most of all for land." - John Steinbeck, The Grapes of Wrath, 1939 Next week: Dust Bowl Refugees To you September babies - the cousins and I wish you a very happy and exciting year ahead. Happy Birthday! You are loved! Family ... it's what we're all about. I so enjoyed spending this time with you today. Thank you for sharing it with me. I wish each of you a week filled with health, productivity, fun, and above all, filled with love and inner peace. ) ( ) _.-~~-. (@\'--'/. Colleen ('``.__.'`) `..____.'