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Dust Bowl Scene in Amarillo, 1932

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Timothy Egan wrote:


"Around noon on January 21, 1932, a cloud ten thousand feet high from ground to top appeared just outside Amarillo. The winds had been fierce all day, clocked at sixty miles an hour when the curtain dropped over the Panhandle. The sky lost its customary white, and it turned brownish then gray as the thing lumbered around the edge of Amarillo, a city of 43,000 people. Nobody knew what to call it. It was not a rain cloud. Nor was it a cloud holding ice pellets. It was not a twister. It was thick like coarse animal hair; it was alive. People close to it described a feeling of being in a blizzard—a black blizzard, they called it—with an edge like steel wool. The weather bureau people in Amarillo were fascinated by the cloud precisely because it defied explanation. They wrote in their logs that it was "most spectacular." As sunlight came through the lighter edge of the big cloud, it appeared greenish. After hovering near Amarillo, the cloud moved north up the Texas Panhandle, toward Oklahoma, Colorado, and Kansas.

Bam White saw this black monstrosity approaching from the south, and he thought at first he was looking at a range of mountains on the move, nearly two miles high. But the Llano Estacado was one of the flattest places on earth, and there was no mountain of ten thousand feet, moving or stationary, anywhere on the horizon. He told his boys to run for protection and hide deep under their little house. The cloud passed over Dalhart quickly, briefly blocking the sun so that it looked like dusk outside. It dumped its load and disappeared, its departure as swift as its arrival, the sun's rays lighting the dust.

Some sandstorm, they said down at the DeSoto.

No, sir, that was no sandstorm, others said.

Did you see the color of that monster? Black as the inside of a dog.

The storm left the streets full of coal-colored dust and covered the tops of cars and the sidewalks on Denrock. The dust found the insides, too, coating the dining table and wood floor of Doc Dawson's place, and the fine furniture inside the DeSoto lobby, and the pool tables at Dinwiddie's, and the baseball stands at the edge of town. Folks had it in their hair, their eyes, down their throat. You blew your nose and there it was—black snot. You hacked up the same thing. It burned in the eyes and made people cough. It was the damnedest thing, and a mystery.

What is it? Melt White asked his daddy. It's the earth itself, Bam said. The earth is on the move. Why? Look what they done to the grass, he said. Look at the land: wrong side up."


----- Timothy Egan, "The Worst Hard Time"  By the way, if you have not read this book, you really need to. It's incredibly powerful.  You can get it at your nearest online retailer. 

Beauty is only skin deep but Texas is to the bone.

Posted : 28th December 2019 10:39 pm