An Amarillo photographer's personal journey through the Dust Bowl- with past and present eyes.

Sunday, November 18, 2012

The Big Plow Up - The Dust Bowl

Old photo I found in the Kenton, Oklahoma general store called "The Merc" stuck on a tack on the wall showing a pioneer participating in "the big plow up" where hundreds of thousands of acres of native grasses were plowed under to make way for crops.

Considered useless - these grasses held down the top soil which the constant wind just stripped away.

Dust Bowl location ...

One of the locations I scouted that you'll see in The Dust Bowl tonight - an  abandoned farm located on the far side of nowhere nowhere north of Clayton, New Mexico.

(C) Steve Douglass 

It's now used to store hay but was once the house of a family of proud homesteaders driven out by years of drought and depression. That it survives today bears testament to the pioneer spirit under which it was built.

The Dust Bowl premiers tonight on PBS

Today is like Christmas Day for me. Finally after almost two years Ken Burn's "The Dust Bowl" is airing tonight and tomorrow night on PBS. It was amazing project to be (even if it was a small) part of in bringing to fruition. Hundreds of local citizens in the Texas, Oklahoma Panhandles and Colorado, Kansas and New Mexico lent thousands of personal photos that makes up the heart of this truly American story.

Florentine films also interviewed dozens of Dust Bowl survivors - some of which I found for them - such as Ina K. Labrier living in the small town of Kenton Oklahoma who may be 99 years old but is sharper than I ever will be.

I remember listening to her recollection and watching face as her mind drifted back to Black Sunday - the day they thought the world was truly coming to an end. She welled up - her hands shook and she was there - breathing grit through part of her slip that she had town off and put over her mouth and nose.

She lost many relatives and friends to "dust pneumonia" and the pain of it was written on her face like stone. Please check your local listings and watch tonight and tomorrow night. Check your local listings for times.

Watch The Dust Bowl Preview on PBS. See more from The Dust Bowl.
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