The Dirty Days … A Young Girl’s Journey to and from the Oklahoma Dust Bowl

Posted on Updated on

Dirty Days, Dust Dowl, Great Depression, 1930s, history, Norma WeltyI think I always knew I needed to write about my life growing up in the 1930s Oklahoma Dust Bowl during the Great Depression. But my need to write about the courage and perseverance of those who survived these two major events intensified when the news media emphasized the courage and perseverance of the people during and after the April 19, 1995 Oklahoma City Murrah Building bombing. Yet, I did not write my story, and ten more years of persistent musing about the many profound Dust Bowl events I could write about went by.

Then, not long after I finally put pen to paper, the History Channel aired a Dust Bowl documentary. The visuals, both historical images and the recreated, awoke inside me still more memories of my childhood. But it was the video testimonies of the older folks who had actually lived through those times that pumped up my determination to move from thinking about the profound events to recreating them with vivid description, realistic action and dialog. My family and all those who survived those difficult years deserved a book to be written about them.

I believed with all my heart then, and still do, that readers interested in the Dust Bowl and the Great Depression need to be taken into the day by day, year by year life events in the home, neighborhood, community and school. Those who are given the opportunity to read those intimate accounts can actually feel the severity of those times on the people–especially the poor. For it was the poor whose survival was most challenged in those years; and they courageously persevered in that troubled area now showcased as the place where our nation’s worst hard times occurred.

And so my story (finally finished) about my days growing up in the Oklahoma Dust Bowl begins in 1933 with a beat-up truck traveling down a dirt road away from my family’s Arkansas mountain home, where my fictional character, Molly May Dowden, can only hope a better future awaits her and her parents in Thistleway, Oklahoma.  Unfortunately, they have no idea of what is about to come.