This book was written about the "Dust Bowl" era....that period of American history that most of us have only heard about. A time when things were so much simpler and oh, so very much harder. Timothy Egan writes about how it really was. My hometown is in Baca County, Colorado in the far southeastern corner of the state. According to the map in the front of the book, Baca County was right there in the area hardest hit during this time.
Growing up, I heard stories of the dust bowl....stories of the dusters and "rollers" that would come through, some worse than others, but always bad. My grandmother talks about how nothing was ever clean and being afraid for the kids was a constant. My grandparents lived through that time and that is why this book is so hard to read.
This book is.....my grandparents. I'll read a bit and have to put it down because it's just too hard to imagine. Oh, I've seen a dust storm...a couple of really bad ones...but nothing...nothing like what they experienced on a daily basis....for such a long time.
Do you realize that one dust storm in 1934 blew dust to Chicago, New York and Washington? Even ships 300 miles off the Atlantic coast were covered...by 12 million tons of dust!!!
People like my grandparents, who lived through that, are (were) a different breed of people, I think. I remember asking my Grandma Iris how she did it and she simply answered, "We did what we had to do." And reading this book is making me understand that she and everyone else did so much more and survived something much more horrific than what I ever realized...so much more than what she would ever admit to.
In one part of the book, he mentions a lady who was burning a Dust Bowl diary that her husband had written. When asked why she was burning it, she said that the horror was not worth sharing, she wanted it gone.
I believe that we need books like this...books that tell us how it really was so we can, hopefully, avoid it happening again. This is a great book, but...I can only read a chapter, or so, at a time. Between every line, I see my Grandma Iris, Grandma Neva, Grandad Frank, Grandad Vess, even Uncle Bud and Uncle Adolph....It's going to take me some time to finish this...but I will..slowly.
And now...a question about Sainthood.
Tomorrow, here in Nagasaki, there will be a very special, Catholic ceremony. 30,000 people from all over Japan and Asia are here to witness the "promotion" of 188 people to----and here is where the question comes in---"one step below a Saint"-hood?? I have done some Google searches and....not being Catholic, I'm not really sure that I understand what this actually is!! My students looked up the Japanese word in their dictionaries and there is not a definition in English for what they say. One student said "like a sub-Saint". Is this a "beatification" ceremony? What do we call these almost Saints? Surely there has to be a special title they are given..right? Can anyone shed some light on this for me?? I would appreciate it muchly!!
Just in case you were wondering "Why are they doing that in Nagasaki?", I'll quickly try to answer that and give you some links, if you're interested.
A teacher, who was originally from Tokyo, told me that the reason he came to Nagasaki to teach was because he was a Christian and to him and many like him, Nagasaki is much like Mecca...all Christians in Japan will try to come here once before they die.
There was a time in Japanese history when Christianity was outlawed which forced many to become "hidden Christians". For about 200 years, Nagasaki was the only port open to foreign trade and with the trade came the missionaries...Nagasaki had at that time (and still today) one of the largest populations of Christians in the country. This part of Japanese history is quite violent and the government's attempt to scare the people so they would give up their Christian beliefs, only strengthen the ideas of the Catholic Church.
One of the most horrific moments is memorialized, at the site of the murder of 26 priests. The 26 Martyrs Museum and Monument is a site here in Nagasaki that is a "must see" for many tourists. (Click on the link if you're interested in reading more about this. Wikipedia also has this about Nagasaki...if you have the time, it gives a pretty good outline of the city I have called "home away from home" for the last 17 years!)
Okay....that's it...as a friend used to say, "Stick a fork in my, I'm done."...or something like that..."the cows are coming home"..."the fat lady is about to sing".....
TTFN my friends....