Dust Bowl Journal Entries | Teen Ink

Dust Bowl Journal Entries

April 4, 2009
By Keith Bouchard SILVER, Goffstown, New Hampshire
Keith Bouchard SILVER, Goffstown, New Hampshire
7 articles 0 photos 0 comments

Journal Entries

April 17th, 1932

It’s been long since I seen the sky. Everyday, I‘d look up at the blueness of it, knowin’ as long as tha’ heat be a beatin’ down on top o’me, it would be a beatin’ down on top o’the land. That don’ matter no more, even if the sun did still shone. The ground is all used up. At least, that’s how Pa put it. ‘The ground is all used up, is all’, he said to me one mornin’ when I asked him why nothin’ was growin’. I don’ see how that’s possible. I mean, all one has t’do is go out and farm, and stuff grows. Plant the seeds, water the soil, and stuff grows. Then we sell it, and then comes the money from the market, and we do the same thing we did years before, just as we always done it. But he just shakes his head a’ me when I say such stuff. He laughs sometimes, too.

I think it keeps ‘im hopeful to know that I’m hopeful, still. I seen him up late at night these past couple weeks, beer in hand and radio off. He jus’ listens t’the silence, or t’whatever about is makin’ noise tha’ time o’night. Usually the dust. The dust is always a stirrin’ outside. It’s been good these past few days, but it ain’ gone yet. Just sittin’ there, the dust cloud does, like it be a watchin’ our crops, waitin’ t’see any sign o’green. And as soon as tha’ little bit o’green does poke its head out of the ground, the dust cloud moves on in and eats it up. With my own eyes, I seen it. Not for long, though. It hurts t’keep ‘em open for too long when the dust is blowin, and the tiny pebbles kicked up from the dirt be a bangin’ on the roof. And that’s what he listens to, my Pa. Tha’ constant flick and flack of rock clatterin’ against our house all night.

Come to think of it, I don’ even know if this be our house no more. Pa and Ma been awful angry whenever the mail comes in. I think they get letters from some man who owns the house, like my friend told me. My friend was talkin’ t’me once ‘bout this kind o’stuff. He said his own Pa been in a fight with a visitor one day who came and said he was a takin’ the house away. I didn’ know a’ first what he meant by that. Neither did my friend. But one day I wen’ on over and my friend’s house was gone, the soil newly plowed over, and some tractor puffin black smoke into the air like it be another dust cloud. There was a few debris scattered around. I assumed that garbage had been what be left of my friend’s home. I don’ know where he went after that, but I never did see ‘im in school again. I guess tha’ man came an’ took the house away, like he said he would. Some other students were a talkin’ ‘bout it the next day. Said his family went a walkin’ to the west coast. California, some of ‘em said. They say the sky is still blue there, and the grass still green. I can’ even remember the las’ time my own yard had such colors.

April 20th, 1932

I been real scared lately, worried my house ain’ gonna be here when I come home from school one afternoon. Yesterday mornin’, while I was sleepin’, this loud rap started at the front door. My Pa got awful frustrated when he was a gettin’ out o’bed. He was worried the door was goin’ t’fall off and the dust would come in and choke my little Sis. Her cough been bad lately. But that ain’ what I been as scared about, though it does scare me, too. What really has got me scared was the man tha’ was a knockin’ tha’ mornin’. He was yellin’ real loud-like. Woke my whole family up, he did. Probably woke up my neighbors, too, an’ they live a few hundred acres down the plain. I sneaked out o’bed when my Pa got t’the door. I couldn’ see the man too well. It was dark outside still, the morning’s stars outlining ‘im, but the rest of his face still dark. What I could see, though, was some papers in his hand, and he kept a pointin’ at ‘em as he spoke. Said he was the landowner an’ the bank be complainin’ ‘bout the profit lately. Said we wasn’ producin’ enough to pay ‘em.

Now, I always knew we sent along money to the bank every now an’ again, but I didn’ realize they could just skip on over ‘ere and tell us t’leave. It sure didn’ make my Pa too happy. He started gettin’ real loud, and the man sorta crept on back down the path when my Pa stepped on toward ‘im. I didn’ get t’see the rest, though, ‘cause right a’ tha’ point my Ma came in and pulled me back into my room. She said I needed t’sleep again ‘til the sun come up. I asked her if we was leavin’, my mind still curious ‘bout what the visitor had said, and how my friend had some man come and yell at his Pa, too, and the very nex’ thing I did know my friend was long gone off t’California. Well, she didn’ say much. All she did say was for me to keep my nose out of it.

It was real hard, though. Both my parents were gettin’ short with each other ‘bout the littlest o’things. At dinner tha’ night, Pa got angry all the sudden when my Ma was servin’ us. I guess the meat she bought the week before was a real expensive type. She said we might as well be eatin’ good while we was still with a roof and stuff to cook food on. That got my heart a beatin’ real fast when she said that. I hoped she just meant that the dust storm might be a rippin’ the roof from above our heads—not that the bank would come and confiscate it if we couldn’ pay the bills. What would they take after that if we still couldn’ pay? The couches, the table, our beds. The walls, even? Maybe she meant tha’ the bank would be a takin’ the whole thing. The entire house from under our feet, like my friend’s house. And the way she had said it made it sound all impossible to avoid. Like no matter if the dust cleared out the very next day, we was still too poor to keep any of our stuff, anyways.

April 22nd, 1932

The tractor came yesterday. It was the same very one I seen a’ my friend’s house tha’ day, when his house was gone and the acres was plowed over. Came around lunch, it did. I could hear it a comin’ from a mile o’way, kickin up more dust behind it than the dust clouds themselves. My Pa and Ma got real fast-like and started packin’ our bags and tellin’ me t’go get my Sis’ from her crib. After I done what they asked, I went t’the window and peeked out t’see if tha’ tractor was really a comin’ t’my house. And indeed, it came and parked itself a’ the foot o’my driveway, its engine a roarin’ and sputterin’ all kinds of black chemical tha’ smelt like burnin’ rubber. I covered my Sis’s face with a cloth as I looked on the man, sittin all quiet like and waitin’, his face goggled and his skin blacked with soot and grime, like some kind o’ executioner’s hood pulled down over ‘im. His hand was on top o’ the handle that makes it go, ready to push it into gear a’ any moment, and he bounced ‘round in his seat from the engine bein’ so bumpy and loud.

A couple times my Pa ran out and talked with the man. I was worried whenever he did tha’. Thought the driver was goin t’run my Pa clean over, I did. But they got t’yellin’ again, and my Pa threw his hands up in th’air, he was so mad. I was mad, too. I thought ‘bout a headin’ on out an’ standin’ nex’ to ‘im and givin’ tha’ driver a piece o’my mind, but I knew my Ma wouldn’ like that. I had to watch my Sis, besides. Eventually, though, my Pa ran on back t’the house. I never seen any man look so down and beat. His face was ashamed, it was, and I felt like sayin’ somethin’ to ‘im t’cheer ‘im up. But, in honesty, I was a kinda sad, too. I didn’ know what should be said to ‘im. I didn’ even know what I woulda liked said t’me. Neither did anyone else, I supposed, cause no one said nothin’ to each other. We just picked up our suitcases and walked out the front door. Lookin’ back on it, I hadn’t ever realized till now that tha’ would be the las’ time I would set foot there, set foot onto the house me and my Sis was born on, or set foot onto the green grass that once grew there. It felt like a small trip for the first few days, it did. Just a trip. That’s what my Pa said to me when we left, an’ maybe that’s why I didn’ realize I’d never be comin’ back. ‘Just a trip, is all,’ he said.

I didn’ know where we was goin’ after that, but I assumed California would be nice. I could see the blueness of the sky, feel the sun a beatin’ down on me once more. I could hear the scrunch o’the grass beneath my feet every mornin’ as I woke, and breathe through my mouth and not taste the dryness of the air, the dirtiness of it. Even so, despite bein’ in all the nice weather, I was still goin’ t’miss my old home, ‘cause it was my home, no matter what grew from the ground or how much dust hovered above. I’m glad I never watched the tractor knock it down. It woulda been too sad. It wouldn’ a felt like a trip no more. Lucky for my little Sis, though… she won’ remember none o’this. She ain’ never goin t’have no place t’miss. Not like I do.

The author's comments:
This was done for a US History assignment to describe the hardships of living in the Dust Bowl.

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Chazard said...
on Dec. 10 2015 at 9:37 pm
Wow this is amazing writing! You are such a creative thinker and I hope you go far with this!

Becks said...
on Dec. 10 2015 at 9:37 pm
Outstanding imagery. Without it, I don't think the character could tell her story's purpose like she proposed towards the end oh so perfectly !

2000beans said...
on Dec. 10 2015 at 9:25 pm
I loved this piece I loved the ending, I thought it was kind of a twist which is awesome. YOURE AN AWESOME WRITER

Drew said...
on Dec. 10 2015 at 9:24 pm
Great job, very well written. Just captivating

Jackie said...
on Dec. 10 2015 at 9:22 pm
This is purely amazing and it spoke to me the discription was emaculant like is true art

eggg said...
on Dec. 10 2015 at 9:21 pm
This is absolutely amazing. From the minute I started reading it I was intrigued, and then the ending blew my mind away. I reread this about 200 times and honestly from now on it will be one if my favorite creative writing pieces.

Costa Pasta said...
on Dec. 10 2015 at 9:19 pm

on Dec. 10 2015 at 9:18 pm
proud of you Nina!! great article :-)