Weekly Photo Challenge: Refuge

When Great Grandpa arrived for a visit, he brought this photo.  At first I wasn’t sure what I was seeing: a big black cloud?  Then I noticed the row of houses across the bottom.

The Dust Bowl.

Great Grandpa lived in Pampa, Texas in 1935, and took this picture while  his mom was yelling at him to come inside and shut the door, quick.

Refuge was hard to come by in the US in 1935.

The house was closed up tight, rags were stuffed under door sills and around window jambs. Everyone had damp bandanas tied around their faces.  It was not quick.  They had to wait it out, like any storm.

When it was over, despite the house being shut as tight as possible, there was an inch of dust/dirt on every surface, and drifted along the interior walls like black snow. Food, which was so precious, was triple protected: wrapped, boxed, and tarped. Still, the oatmeal was gritty.

Dirt got into the ice box, even though that was also tarped.

I took days to get the house cleaned out.  It took days to get the dirt out of your ears.

Imagine having so little refuge between ourselves and the elements: shelter, starvation, breathable air.

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10 thoughts on “Weekly Photo Challenge: Refuge

  1. Jane

    Wow. what a story. And the age of that photo… it’s one of those that would be great passed down. I’ve been through a couple of dust storms.. you can’t keep the dirt out, no matter what. It’s amazing how deceptive the storms I’ve been through were, too. Initially, it didn’t feel bad.. but by the third consecutive day, I can feel my lungs struggling to get a full breathe. And this is modern day life, in the age of air filters, masks, purifiers, GPS, phones. 1935… how scary and impressive.

    Reply
  2. grey horse matters

    Great historic photo. I can’t even imagine how scary that must have been. The clean up must have been horrendous. Every region has their elements to deal with and I guess we’re all just little specs of dust in the picture as a whole. Life goes on and nature can’t be tamed.

    Reply
  3. Dreaming

    The picture is fabulous.
    Several years ago our local library had an annual ‘read’ focused on the depression and the dust bowl. The books were haunting. One I especially liked was Timothy Egan’s “The Worst Hard Times”. He described dust storms, but I don’t recall any pictures as haunting as the one you shared.

    Reply
    1. Leah

      I have to highly recommend “The Worst Hard Time” by Timothy Egan as mentioned by “Dreaming”. It is one of the best books that I have ever read, and I learned about a time that was barely touched on while I was in school. This picture would have been a great addition to that book.

      Reply
  4. Marge Coates

    I’ve heard about the medical effects of the dust, like black lung disease, but for everyone, babies included.

    Reply
  5. candy m.

    I know about the dust bowl from writings and maybe from school, but never saw a picture of it! Gives me a whole different perspective. Thank you for sharing this!

    Reply
  6. rowenadunn

    That’s a really striking photo. I love the details of grit in the oatmeal and dirt in your ears. That feeling of being covered in ‘stuff’ is a visceral experience, and one that lingers.

    Reply

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