“We ate so poorly,” says Dust Bowl survivor Clarence Beck, “that the hobos wouldn’t come to our house.”This reminds me that my grandparents' farm in southern Minnesota was beyond the northern fringe of the drought. When hobos came to the door, my grandmother would give them a chore to do, then one good meal and sleep in the barn, and then send them on their way.
More than anything else, The Dust Bowl is about a certain self-destructive strain in the American character that prizes individual will over collective responsibility, stigmatizes real or perceived failure, and stubbornly refuses to learn from mistakes for fear of being thought weak...This is a superb documentary. I highly recommend it. (I can't seem to correct the distortion of the embed, but it resolves after you click the fullscreen option).
There are appalling accounts of farmers continuing to use equipment that pulverized topsoil rather than return to more difficult but responsible methods — even after repeated expert warnings that they were destroying the land — because doing so would have been less “efficient,” and because they didn’t like academic pointy-heads telling them their business. “We always had hope that next year was gonna be better,” says survivor Wayne Lewis. “We learned slowly, and what didn’t work, you tried it harder the next time. You didn’t try something different. You just tried harder, the same thing that didn’t work.”