In Out of the Dust, the main setting is Oklahoma where the dust bowl took
place. In the book, Billy Jo learns that the dust bowl is a part of her heart,
and she was who she was because of the dust bowl. She was probably a stronger
person because of the dust and what had happened in her life.
What is the dust bowl? It is a series of destructive
wind and dust storms that hit the United States of America in the 1930’s.
It lasted for about 10 years. The dust bowl was mainly in Colorado, Kansas,
New Mexico, Oklahoma, and Texas. It was from 1931 to1937. On April
15, 1935 a reporter called it a dust bowl in one of his articles then
everyone started calling it the dust bowl.
The dust bowl started because the soil started to
be dry and loose. Also, farmers took over the grassland and covered
it with wheat. If that wasn’t enough, there was no rain at all!
All of the problems started in the early 1930’s. When all this started,
people had hard time getting money. Some way’s people could get
money were picking crops for farmers, moving to California, and being
In the dust bowl, things changed. Children
had to start hearing their parents worry about money and food. Children
would play with anything they could find. Little kids had to do a
lot of work if they lived on a farm, like feeding the animals, and milking
the cows. Big kids had to help their parents with the chores like mowing
the grass, making clothes, and anything else they could do.
In the dust bowl, people had hard times getting
food. Sometimes people with no homes went to public parks and ate
there. Some parks had cooking areas where people could build fires.
People would share with others and some would bring a kettle for water,
and some people brought food to boil. People would eat a potato,
hotdog, or meat stew. When they would start eating they had to put
a plate over their drink so no dust would get in it.
Farm life started getting very hard! With
crops dying and bad soil, farmers could not produce enough food to live
on, much less sell. Farmers were unable to pay their share to the
landowners. Farmers were forced to leave the land with huge debts
they could not pay. The government started to help; they gave seeds,
money, and equipment.
If the dust bowl wasn’t enough, Black Sunday hit
on April14, 1935. What was Black Sunday? It was a day during
the time of the dust bowl. People saw sun and went outside to do
chores and go to church. In the midafternoon, a black cloud came
quickly. The cloud was full of dust. It was the last
major dust storm of the year. It was like any other storm, except
harder. It destroyed 5 million acres of wheat. Families on the
road tried seek shelter and were in the dark for hours.
People were getting so tired of seeing dust that
they decided to take action! Starting in the 1935, efforts were made
by the state government to develop programs for soil conservation in the
dust bowl. Farmers started planting trees to break the
force of wind.
After all of the work they did, farmers started
planting their fields in ways that would keep rain water in the soil,
and so it would not blow away. The government started to help; they gave
seeds, and money. Farmers learned new methods and techniques. The
most valuable lesson was take care of the land. Even though they
worked to make the land better, there were dry spells in the 1950, 60’s,
and late 70’s. You never know what will happen when it turns dry.