Sunday, March 1, 2015


Collings home, Monroe, Utah
Due to a bad economy and misfortune my mother’s family was forced to move from a comfortable home in the valleys of Utah…

Blanche playing by her home near Jerome, Utah
…to a tiny house on a sandy hill in central Idaho.

Ralph Collings plowing Idaho farm
 There they raised sheep, poultry and a few crops.

Mother told of one spring in the 1930’s when the wind never seemed to cease.  One day the wind stopped blowing from the west and then turned to come at them in a howling gale from the east.  It blew so long and forceful that sand sifted through the cracks of their house and covered every surface. 

 Even the clock was clogged and stopped ticking.  School was closed and drifts of sand blew across the road so deep that when the storm finally passed a few days later, a road grader had to be sent out to clear the way.

Blanche hanging clothes.  The granary is in the background.
 Fast forward a few decades to a particularly quiet afternoon on our farm in central Idaho.

Blanche with Jack, Eileen, Brian and Jewel
My little brother and sister and I were playing in the sand box when we looked up and saw a wall of dirt blowing in from the south. Suddenly wind whipped around us and blew us across the yard.  Moments after we ran inside the house, Dad and our older brother, Jack, rushed through the door.  

We watched through the windows as tumble weeds flew through the air and chickens fluttered for shelter.  Then Dad let out a wail.  The wind was tearing the roof off the granary.  Dad called Jack and they hurried out into the storm.  They gathered tools and haywire from the shop and climbed up on the granary while the wind whipped dirt through their hair and clothes. 

They used the electric drill to make holes in the roof and walls of the building, then they threaded the haywire through and lashed the roof down.

When the excitement was over and life returned to routine a day or so later, I climbed on the roof of the granary to examine the repair.  The wire wrapped around the boards had saved the building and stood as evidence of the resourcefulness of a good farmer. I’m not certain but I wouldn’t be surprised if the wire remains there even now.


Anonymous said...

Our folks made it through the 'dirty thirties'. I wonder how we would fare today if we had to live through something like that.

Buttons Thoughts said...

Wow I have never read a first hand account of this terrible time from someone I know. Your family was so strong I cannot even fathom what that would have been like. LOVE seeing the house and old photos. Great story. Hug B

Joanne Noragon said...

We forget the history of those years; the stories our parents told. "It dusted us over, it covered us under," from Woody's song.

laurak/ForestWalkArt :) said...

wow, wonderful old pictures...and stories from the past!
it's hard to imagine such deep sand that the road has to be cleared!!
and a wall of dirt heading towards you!
the quick thinking of dad & jack to lash down the roof...must have been a real chore to get that done during such a storm!! (i think more people worked harder to save what they had, back then)
thanks for sharing your journey through your memories...

Terry and Linda said...

Wind...good for your Dad. We've had those winds and they are awful!

Linda ♪♫❤

joeh said...


Val said...

That's scary stuff!

rebecca said...

I hadn't heard that particular story, I think. I always admired the stories that Dad told of Grandpa's handiness, and seeing my own dad work things out and back together. I wanted to tinker with our broken microwave the other day, and felt silly when I didn't have the tools to even begin.

Carla said...

I simply cannot imagine how frightening the Dust bowl years must have been for everyone that lived through it. I get antsy when we go several months w/o rain. Years w/o rain would drive me mad.