Black Sunday, April 14th, 1934 – Ink and watercolour

The long suffering of you will have noticed I am having difficulty scanning stuff into my new computer. I, therefore, decided to try something, almost in monotone, which had lots of dark areas. The idea, of remembering the American Dust storms, the “Black Blizzards”, came after watching a TV programme last night. This is my impression of that disastrous event. It is purely apocryphal, this place does not exist but comes from the scenes shown on the TV.

I was amazed at some of the statistics about this dust storm. The dust was whipped up into huge clouds by high winds during dry, hot weather. Its is estimated that 7 tons of soil, for everyone in the USA, was airborne during that afternoon. The storm was “self-regenerating” as large amounts of static electricity built up in the cloud which helped strip yet more dust from the ground which increased the clouds energy levels – a sort of perpetual cycle. The dust caused many respiratory ailments the best known was the “dust pneumonia” – Woodie Guthrie’s ballad, The Dust Pneumonia Blues” comes to mind. Despite what the newsreels suggest, not all farmers uprooted to trek to California. Some were too poor to even make the journey. All this happened comparatively recently.

I can’t find the “pneumonia Blues” but listen to Guthrie’s “Talking Dustbowl Blues” to get to links for the flavour of his “Dust Bowl Ballads”. This video shows lots of scenes of the migrant workers on their way from the effects of the famine.

and, remember all who made it to California sometimes couldn’t find salvation: