Elmer Kelton Joke About Texas Droughts
Elmer Kelton wrote:
"During the long Texas drought of the 1950's a joke ---- probably already as old as the state ---- was told again and again about a man who bet several of his friends that it would never rain again, and collected from two of them.
Indeed, it seemed the rain was gone forever. For parts of West Texas the ordeal lasted a full seven years. Though some would argue that it was not the most devastating drouth they had ever seen, it was by all odds the longest in memory.
Each new generation tends to forget—until it confronts the sobering reality—that dryness has always been the normal condition in the western half of the state. Wet years have been the exceptions. Walter Prescott Webb, in his classic The Great Plains, noted how the land changes west of the 98th meridian, and how this has affected the people who live there, etching its marks upon their characters and impacting upon their culture. Traditionally it has taken a strong-willed, individualistic breed to live west of that line,“especially when that living is tied closely to the soil, as is the case with the rancher and the farmer. Those not strong enough either did not cross the line or retreated after being bruised by the demands of that uncompromising land. Those who remained became tough, resilient, and almost militantly independent. As a group they have been like the old rancher who declared, “I don’t want anybody giving me anything, and I don’t want anybody telling me what to do; I just want to be left the hell alone!”
This fierce protectiveness for one’s own prerogatives has been compromised to some degree in the last generation or so, but enough remains to be a potent political factor. Resistance to regulation may be stronger in drouth-prone West Texas than anywhere. This trait remains a puzzle to people in other areas, willing to trade their freedoms piecemeal for what appears to be a guarantee of security. They, perhaps, do not have this heritage of recurring struggle for survival which every succeeding generation of West Texans has had to face, each in its own time."
----- Elmer Kelton, "The Time it Never Rained"
Beauty is only skin deep but Texas is to the bone.