Like everyone else who clicks on that first link I have travelled through posts, some of which I cannot find again. As in the case a few weeks ago where I found a blogger posting about The Worst Hard Time, the true account of the lives of those who lived through the Midwest Dust Storms of the 1930’s. I would like to thank that blogger for writing about this book. And because I have not been able to find that post to offer a link, I now have a pencil and paper near my computer for my future e-travels.
I’ve been tucked away for these few weeks, devouring the information in this book (due back at the library today). It was not a quick read, but a valuable one.
Timothy Egan’s The Worst Hard Time is a thorough account of the downfall of the Plains, by way of political and agricultural destruction. There are so many revealing moments in his book for those of us who are too young or live far enough away so that we only skimmed over it in grade school, or read about it in The Grapes of Wrath. This is a combination of first-hand account and historical research. By interviews with survivors, articles from the local newspapers, and sections of a diary secretly kept by one farmer, we learn the real costs of our aggressive growth in the Midwest during the first part of the 1900s. By killing off the bison, giving away land with the Homestead Acts, and encouraging wheat farming during the First World War, our government set up the scenario for us to become our own worst enemy.
There are no single events that overshadow the others, but one that is so haunting today is that of the bankers who took deposited money to buy stock in wheat, which of course dropped, carrying the Midwest into the Depression. Somewhat similar to the banks that recently lent money for risky mortgages. “Those who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it.” It seems that in our greed, we have not learned.