…but we were so poor that we couldn’t tell.
All the bad news lately has brought to mind a classic song by the country music super-group Alabama: “Song of the South.” The tune was released back in 1988 (when I was thirteen years old) off of their album Southern Star. It became an instant classic:
While the Dust Bowl years were well before my time, I spent six years living in the heart of the old Dust Bowl: Lubbock, Texas. In late September of 2011, I got a taste of just what many of those poor people in the 1930s faced when a huge dust storm blew into town one late afternoon. I was giving a lecture in a Texas History class when I suddenly noticed it was pitch black outside the windows in the back of the classroom. But it was only 5:30pm. Bewildered, I looked down at my watch. What was going on? It didn’t get dark so early late in the summer.
After class was over and I was heading back to my car, which was parked at Jones Stadium (home of the Red Raiders!), I saw what had happened. There was dirt everywhere – the most I’d ever seen – and for a then-resident of West Texas, that’s saying something. Vehicles all over the lot were caked with red dirt, including my pickup. When I got home, I found out that what I’d seen (or not seen, since it was so dark) was the worst dust storm to hit Lubbock since 1929.
It was a stark reminder of William Faulkner’s line from his 1951 novel Requiem for a Nun: “The past is never dead. It’s not even past.”