Wednesday, April 8, 2009

The Worst Hard Time

I initially borrowed this book from our excellent library. At that time Timothy Egan had not yet received the National Book Award. Of course, I had to have the book for my personal library. Believe me, this is an excellent book!

This week Timothy Egan will receive the Evil Companions Literary Award 2009 at the Oxford Hotel in Denver (wish I could be there!). The Oxford Hotel by the way is such a beautiful historic hotel in LoDo (Lower Downtown Denver). Our daughter and son-in-law's wedding reception was held in that marvelous hotel.
I digress!

The Evil Companions Literary Award is presented annually to a poet or writer who embodies the spirit of the West. The award pays homage to a group of Denver writers who met in the 1950s and '60s to drink and discuss writing, and dubbed themselves the Evil Companions.

Working to preserve the memory of the original Evil Companions are Joyce Meskis, owner of the Tattered Cover Book Store, Dana Crawford, owner of the Oxford Hotel and Colorado State University Professor of English, David Milofsky. The trio created the literary award and its accompanying event to promote and build upon Denver’s deserved reputation as a center for writing and literature. The Evil Companions event is quickly becoming a local favorite. Proceeds from the event benefit the Denver Public Library. {Wonder if the Seguin Friends of the Library could have such an event, honoring local writers ??? A thought . . .}
Excerpt from The Worst Hard Time:
At its peak, the Dust Bowl covered one hundred million acres. Dusters swept over the northern prairie as well, but the epicenter was the southern plains. An area the size of Pennsylvania was in ruin and on the run. More than a quarter-million people fled the Dust Bowl in the 1930s. Looking around now, it may seem that most people just hurried through the southern plains or left in horror. Not true. John Steinbeck told part of the story, about getting out, moving somewhere green. Those were the Exodusters. But Steinbeck's exiles were from eastern Oklahoma, near Arkansas -- mostly tenant farmers ruined by the collapse of the economy. The families in the heart of the black blizzards were further west, in towns like Guymon and Boise City in Oklahoma, or Dalhart and Follett in Texas, or Rolla and Kismet in Kansas. Not much was heard about the people who stayed behind, for lack of money or lack of sense, the people who hunkered down out of loyalty or stubbornness, who believed in tomorrow because it was all they had in the bank. Yet most people living in the center of the Dust Bowl, about two thirds of the population in 1930, never left during that hard decade.
...For now, the narrative of those times is not just buried among the fence posts and mummified homesteads. People who lived through the whole thing -- the great town-building, farm-fattening, family establishing prosperity of the 1920s, followed by the back hand of nature in the next decade, when all of life played out as if filmed in grainy black-and-white -- are with us still, shelters of living memory. But before the last witnesses fade away, they have a story to tell.


  1. I enjoyed this entry. I loved the book it is local history for me. Oh! and your music was also appreciated. You would enjoy Joe Sample and Lelah Hathaway.

  2. Book is well written, but is one of the saddest books I,ve ever read.
    Can't recommend it if you're having a bad day.