Saturday, April 14, 2007

April 14th

Today, April 14th, is the anniversary of the assassination of President Lincoln in 1865, the sinking of the Titanic in 1912 and the Great Dust Storm of 1935.

Lincoln's Assassination

The Sinking of The Titanic

The "Black Sunday" Dust Storm:

Today is the anniversary of Black Sunday, the day in 1935 when a windstorm hit a part of the Great Plains known as the Dust Bowl. When the day started, the weather was sunny and calm. People were on their way home from church, or out visiting friends for lunch, when they saw huge flocks of birds flying south, away from a dark black cloud on the northern horizon. As the cloud approached, people realized that it wasn't a storm cloud, but a cloud of dirt, blown up by the wind. Witnesses said it was like a black tidal wave came down from the sky. It became as dark as night as soon as the cloud descended. Static electricity stalled cars and shorted out telephone lines. People standing a few yards away from their homes got lost in the darkness, and grabbed onto fence posts to keep from being blown to the ground. It was later estimated that the storm carried 300 million tons of
soil through the air.

Coincidentally, it was four years later on this day in 1939 that John Steinbeck (books by this author) published his novel about the farmers displaced by the Dust Bowl drought: The Grapes of Wrath. The novel tells the story of three generations of the Joad family, who lose their farm in Oklahoma and set off across the country for the paradise of California, only to encounter extreme poverty and corrupt corporations trying to make a profit off of them. Steinbeck interspersed the story of the Joads with chapters describing the migration as a whole, to give the
impression of a social history as well as a personal story.

Excerpts from "The Dust Bowl, Men, Dirt and Depression" by Paul Bonnifield can be found at the Cimarron Heritage Center (Boise City, Oklahoma).

A very interesting
interview with Melt White is on the PBS website.

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