Surviving the Dust Bowl
Newton woman recalls 1930s life in Kansas
Although Newton’s Marie Bookout has lived in Iowa since she was in fourth grade, the years that have passed haven’t erased her memories of enduring the Dust Bowl of the 1930s as a child in western Kansas.
“I was a little kid when we lived in Kansas,” Bookout, 84, said. “[Her father] drove the gas truck and he’d fill it up and take it out in the fields to the combines. If they saw one of those dust storms coming, it’d be like a tornado now, but it’d just be a solid wall of dust.”
Such dust storms became the hallmark of the ecological phenomenon that swept across the American plains during the mid-1930s and was thusly deemed the “Dust Bowl.” Spurred by extreme drought and the utilization of farming practices that eliminated the prairie’s deep root structure, dry and dusty conditions left fields vulnerable to wind erosion.
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