Tattered Past

Tattered Past: My ongoing journey through genealogy, history, writing, self-exploration and art. ~~~ Rita Ackerman

Tuesday, February 1, 2011

Tuesdays With Rita: Black Sunday

As a big part of the United States is being buried under snow I thought it ironic that I had planned on posting these pictures from the Dust Bowl.
These three postcards were in with the family photos I used to go through by the hour as a child.

My mother had her 13th birthday the month of this photo. They lived near Dodge City at the time.

I've seen dust storms come in over Phoenix that look like a wall. Here they have a reddish tint and usually pass quickly. The dust bowl didn't pass until most people were ruined.

April 14, 1935 was Black Sunday:

"The wind was travelling at a speed of sixty miles an hour; when it struck, visibility was reduced to zero for a period of twenty minutes, after which time visibility was limited to ten feet or less, lasting for forty-five minutes, then visibility increased to fifty feet or more at sporadic intervals and thereafter gradually increasing until normal nightfall." U. S. Government Weather Bureau at Dodge City KS.  From The Black Sunday of April 14, 1935. Kansas Historical Society.

Grandma Jennie said the family went into the storm cellar. I wonder how they kept from being buried down there. Grandad Cecil wanted to go out and check on things and she asked why he wasn't going out. He said he was outside but it was dark as night. She said they used wet blankets and such to try to keep the dirt out but it came in anyway and they had to use shovels to move it back outside.

People lost everything they owned as the dust drifted up to their houses and covered fence posts and farm equipment. Many people died from "dust pneumonia" and Woody Gutherie did a series of ballads and recordings about those awful times.

Take some time to Google the dust bowl. There is an amazing amount of information and photographs of the walls of dust and what was left when the winds finally quit. Most important, ask your family if they have stories of the dust bowl and record those stories for the future.


  1. Great post Rita! From all I've read about the "dust bowl" it was made worse by the agriculture industry when they started the whole mass production of the same crops, year after year. Which resulted in depleting the soil and turning into "dust". Wish we had learned from out mistakes but with big guns like Monstanto controlling Agrigulture these days, I'm afraid that it's gonna take another tragedy before they turn it around again. Happy Feburary, Fondly, Roberta

  2. Wow-Rita-that is one of the most powerful photos I've ever seen. I would never have imagined it would look this dark and ominous! Your family has just saved the most remarkable photos and postcards and stuff!

  3. I have seen those sort of photos in museums as we travel find the personal account to bring power to the image. We have experience small dust storms as we travel and those must have been really scary.

  4. I read Grapes of Wrath to my children. Such a tragic time for so many people! Thanks for sharing.


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