31 and only partly cloudy this morning. As I write this, the sun is out and the day is warm enough for sweatshirts instead of coats. Lovely!
This is not a new book, but new to me. I must have bought it in a library book sale, as it has someone's name on the flyleaf.
The diary is the story of Ann Riebe Low, a girl of North Dakota, during the Depression years. Her grandfather came to the state when it was still a territory; her father continued the farming life, slowly building up a sizable farm and cattle herd. The family worked hard--I was astounded by the long hours and hard work that went on each and every day. Everyone in the family worked to improve the farm and to save money so that the three children could go to college.
The story begins in 1927 when times were still good--not perfect, but okay. There was money in the bank, crops were good, the land beautiful and bountiful. Then in 1928 a terrible hailstorm devastated the crops and farmers had to pull money out of the bank to pay off loans and mortgages. The bank failed, ahead of the great Wall Street crash of 1929.
As if financial worries weren't enough, the Plains were then visited by a many-years-long drought, firestorms, grasshopper invasions, several horrific winters, and more. How people survived through all of it is the incredible true story told in Ann Low's diary as she grows up through her teen years in the dire conditions of the time.
Low's writing style is crisp and to the point. Interspersed with diary entries are her commentaries that provide context and fill in missing gaps in the story her diary tells.
This is a hard book to put down. I wanted to know what happened next; I wanted to see if she finally fell in love, if she got to finish college, and what happened to the farm when the government moved in to create a wildlife preserve.
When I finished Dust Bowl Diary, I had to find out what happened to Ann. The diary ends in 1938, leaving the rest of her life story a mystery. Being the curious person I am, I searched for her online and on Ancestry.com. She lived to be over 80 years old. I wish she'd written another book, to take us through the rest of her life, which surely must have been an adventure for such a free-spirited, independent-minded woman. That story apparently was never written, but her teenage diary is a historical treasure, and I am very glad she gave it to the world in this book.
Copyright Susanna Holstein. All rights reserved. No Republication or Redistribution Allowed without attribution to Susanna Holstein.