Dust Storm Disaster
(The Great Dust Storm)
by Woodie Guthrie
On the 14th day of April of 1935,
There struck the worst of dust storms that ever filled the sky.
You could see that dust storm comin', the cloud looked deathlike
And through our mighty nation, it left a dreadful track.
From Oklahoma City to the Arizona line,
Dakota and Nebraska to the lazy Rio Grande,
It fell across our city like a curtain of black rolled down,
We thought it was our judgement, we thought it was our doom.
The radio reported, we listened with alarm,
The wild and windy actions of this great mysterious storm;
From Albuquerque and Clovis, and all New Mexico,
They said it was the blackest that ever they had saw.
From old Dodge City, Kansas, the dust had rung their knell,
And a few more comrades sleeping on top of old Boot Hill.
From Denver, Colorado, they said it blew so strong,
They thought that they could hold out, but they didn't know how
Our relatives were huddled into their oil boom shacks,
And the children they was cryin' as it whistled through the cracks.
And the family it was crowded into their little room,
They thought the world had ended, and they thought it was their
The storm took place at sundown, it lasted through the night,
When we looked out next morning, we saw a terrible sight.
We saw outside our window where wheat fields they had grown
Was now a rippling ocean of dust the wind had blown.
It covered up our fences, it covered up our barns,
It covered up our tractors in this wild and dusty storm.
We loaded our jalopies and piled our families in,
We rattled down that highway to never come back again.
family playing music
From movie "Grapes of Wrath" King Family (L-R)f Mr. King, Syd Thompson
(friend), Charles, Harlen & Billy
I Left Behind Me
played an important part in the lives of migrant workers as evidenced
by the rich ethongraphic collections that were compiled from migrant
camps, schoolyards, prisons, and local gathering places. In this
lesson we extend the analysis of primary sources to sound recordings.
The objective is to gain cultural knowledge about the music that
ordinary people sang and played during the 1930s. Reading field
notes and other bibliographic documentation can lead you to deeper
the Dust Bowl: The Charles L. Todd and Robert Sonkin Migrant Worker
Collection, 1940 -1941
A kaleidoscope of folk culture is preserved in this collection
of square dance calls, traditional ballads, cowboy songs, and storytelling.
Listen to the Chicken Reel played by Lloyd Red Harmon
on guitar and Willard Brewer on fiddle or Runnun Stewball sung
by Vester Witworth. In another example from the collection a familiar
song was adapted for a social
What was happening in California during 1940 that compelled Bert
and Ruby Rains to pen these lyrics? Use the What
Do You Hear Guide.
Mosaic: The John and Ruby Lomax 1939 Southern States Recording
John and Ruby Lomax traveled 6,502 mile through the southern United
States carrying a sound recording unit that fit in the trunk of
their car. No CDs in those days. These recordings represent a broad
spectrum of musical styles, including ballads, blues, children's
songs, cowboy songs, fiddle tunes, field hollers, lullabies, play-party
songs, religious dramas, spirituals, and work songs. They seized
every opportunity to record folksongs of the local culture. In
one instance they saw a group of children singing in a schoolyard
and stopped immediately ro record them. Ver Hall sings a lilting
call for the game Hide and Seek and a group of children provide
interesting lyrics to Ring Around the Rosy.
to selections from these two collections. Then, choose one song
and analyze it using the What Do You
Hear Guide. Click on the text for the bibliographic record
and more information, including many of the lyrics.
||1. Show a photo of "Black Sunday," April
14, 1935. Distribute the lyrics to Woody Guthrie's "Dust Storm
As a class analyze and discuss the photograph and lyrics.
3. In groups
of two, students will choose one song from each collection to analyze
using the What do You Hear Guide.
4. Share the
analysis of the songs in class or online.
Click on Picture to View Larger Image
Black Sunday April 14, 1935
Dust Clouds Rolling Over Prairies
Stovall Studio Dodge City, Kansas