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Letters from the Dust Bowl

Caroline Henderson

Top 10 Best Quotes

“We are homesteading a claim here in old No Man's Land... In spite of droughts and hot winds, blizzards, dirt storms, hail storms, grasshoppers, and in fact almost every form of discouragement, the fascination of being so near the beginning of things, of finding ourselves not quite mastered by various calamities, has held us. We have always felt that if we could hold out a few more years we should succeed; our homestead would really become a home.”

“Through this most lonely and disheartening of all winters, I have found my greatest inspiration and encouragement in the blossoming plants in our windows... Insignificant little things these are, I realize; yet they have seemed to reassure me that sunshine and rain, the laws of life and growth, seedtime and harvest, are in a general way dependable; that our earthly heritage is still rich in possibilities.”

“The same week another disaster overtook us... vicious pelting of hail...What to do? We hardly know, but, as the saying goes, we have the bear by the tail and it looks like a poor time to let go.”

“The longing for rain has become almost an obsession. We remember the gentle all-night rains that used to make a grateful music on the shingles close above our heads... But we waken to another day of wind and dust and hopes deferred, of attempts to use to the utmost every small resource, to care for the stock and poultry as well as we can with our scanty supplies, to keep our balance and to trust that upon some happier day our wage may even yet come in.”

“The last few days, including today, of wind and dust have finished any lingering hope of wheat for us and I feel myself that we simply threw away the carefully hoarded barley seed. Hardly any hope that it had time to sprout or could survive if it had under present 'dust bowl' conditions. I always said I was the only one who could remember those dreadful days - for any practical purpose. People have simply assumed it couldn't happen again (1951)”

“Sometimes we speak and feel too much as if 'an education' were a finished product, to be bought and paid for, often with great sacrifice, and bestowed. In reality, education can only be attained by personal effort, and should be for each a continuing process, ending only with life itself, or possibly then just well begun. There are fortunately many roads to personal culture and usefulness, and not all lead through the college campus.”

“Self-appointed defenders of freedom seem to know nothing of the loss of liberty attendant upon seriously adverse economic conditions. No regimentation is more cruel than that of extreme poverty. The cramped and barren lives of millions of sharecroppers in the southern states, the deplorable conditions in some of the coal-mining areas, the slum districts in almost any large city, are a pitiful contradiction to our boasted 'inalienable right to life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness.”

“Nothing that you see or hear or read will be likely to exaggerate the physical discomfort or material losses due to these storms. Less emphasis is usually given to the mental effect, the confusion of mind resulting from the overthrow of all plans for improvement or normal farm work.”

“Many cherished plans have failed. Not only radio and telephone, but running water in the house, furnace heat, modern lighting and refrigeration, have all passed beyond our dreaming. Even the three-cent postage is a burden.”

“It seems impossible to dispense with that little word hope, even though at times we are conscious of the pain of hopes too long deferred.”

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Book Keywords:

great-depression, poverty

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