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Ken Burns - The Dust Bowl
Old 08-22-2012, 03:30 PM   #1
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Ken Burns - The Dust Bowl

I can't wait to see this (link is to the PBS site about this program): Home | THE DUST BOWL

My family is from Kansas and I remember my grandmother telling me about the dust bowl. She would hang wet sheets over the windows to keep the dust from coming into the house. It was too hot to close everything up and, naturally, they didn't have AC. Not even electricity!

Ken Burns has done some wonderful work. My favorite was his series about the civil war. Being in Virginia, there is so much civil war history all around me. We've even found some civil war items on our property - such as buttons, bullets, and belt buckles.

The dust bowl film premiers November 18th and 19th on PBS. What a great way to spend some cool November evenings!
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Old 08-22-2012, 06:57 PM   #2
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Thanks for the heads up Purron. Ken Burns is magic. I have enjoyed all of his productions. My favs were The Civil War and Baseball.

The guy is a genius in what he does.
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Old 11-17-2012, 12:15 PM   #3
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Old 11-17-2012, 01:09 PM   #4
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Growing up in the Texas panhandle I am excited about the documentary as well. I have always heard the stories...but can't wait to see the footage uncovered.

I am unsure about Burns. I heard an interview with him this week that gave me pause. He used terms like "raping of the land" and "greed" when describing the farming community at the time. The last thing we need right now is political spin against the American farmer. Yes it was a tragic human-contributed event.....but I think it was driven out of ag-ignorance, not reckless greed.
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Old 11-17-2012, 01:39 PM   #5
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I read the book this show is based upon. You're right, mistakes in farming were based on ignorance and farming techniques of the time. It was after this that the Soil Conservation Service and others discovered and implemented methods for improving soil conditions. We still have dust storms, but not like these.

The worst I've seen here in Lubbock was a couple of years ago at 5 pm. I was caught driving in it and in just a few minutes, I couldn't see a thing. I had pulled in a parking lot and tried to take a photo and it turned out black. I tried to call my husband, but my phone wouldn't work in it. I could see how if you were out in it for long, you wouldn't be able to breathe. They called it a haboob. There are lots of you tube videos of it in Oct, 2010.
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Old 11-17-2012, 02:10 PM   #6
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Growing up in the Texas panhandle I am excited about the documentary as well. I have always heard the stories...but can't wait to see the footage uncovered.

I am unsure about Burns. I heard an interview with him this week that gave me pause. He used terms like "raping of the land" and "greed" when describing the farming community at the time. The last thing we need right now is political spin against the American farmer. Yes it was a tragic human-contributed event.....but I think it was driven out of ag-ignorance, not reckless greed.
But if those terms are accurate, why not use them (and I mean 'if' - I don't know the history well enough to say one way or the other)? How can we learn from history if we selectively sweep it under the rug?

I saw the intro on our local PBS with Phil Ponce', looks interesting, and I will try to catch it. It also sounded as if the Govt had a hand in this - they made it very attractive to farm this land.

-ERD50
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Old 11-18-2012, 04:35 PM   #7
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I am unsure about Burns. I heard an interview with him this week that gave me pause. He used terms like "raping of the land" and "greed" when describing the farming community at the time. The last thing we need right now is political spin against the American farmer.
Yeah, I saw some interviews with Burns that gave me pause too. The last thing I'm in the mood for right now is a political diatribe. I'll watch it with great interest though and hope its more history than politics. He is a gifted man.
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Old 11-18-2012, 05:59 PM   #8
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Yeah, I saw some interviews with Burns that gave me pause too. The last thing I'm in the mood for right now is a political diatribe. I'll watch it with great interest though and hope its more history than politics. He is a gifted man.
I distrusted Burns after watching his Civil War series years ago. Long on entertainment value and short on history. For just one example, the whole discussion of the Emancipation Proclamation never mentioned that it specifically preserved slavery in slave states that had not joined the Confederacy. The Emancipation is only a page long. They could have read it in its entirety.
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Old 11-22-2012, 10:32 AM   #9
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(snip)I am unsure about Burns. I heard an interview with him this week that gave me pause. He used terms like "raping of the land" and "greed" when describing the farming community at the time. The last thing we need right now is political spin against the American farmer. Yes it was a tragic human-contributed event.....but I think it was driven out of ag-ignorance, not reckless greed.
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I read the book this show is based upon. You're right, mistakes in farming were based on ignorance and farming techniques of the time. (snip)
I didn't see the interview with Ken Burns, but did see both parts of the Dust Bowl program. I think that even some of the interviewees who were there at the time said that greed contributed to creating the Dust Bowl, as well as ignorance. Two examples--there was real-estate fraud on some of the land sales, and there were the absentee "suitcase farmers", who just wanted a quick buck and when it didn't happen, abandoned their land to erosion. The fall in wheat prices contributed too. Many farmers had borrowed to expand their acreage or buy equipment, and when wheat prices crashed, they saw no way to make their payments but to try to grow even more wheat, which meant plowing up more acres, resulting in even more erosion.
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Old 11-22-2012, 11:33 AM   #10
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Agreed. After watching the show I think it was presented well. Brutal conditions that remind me how easily we have things today. Timing is everything. How would you like to "bet the farm" when wheat was over $2/bushel and then to see it drop to less than $.25 under those conditions.

It started an interesting conversation in our family about how the rural parts of the country were initially unaffected by the Great Depression. Between the dust bowl documentary, the election, and the new Lincoln Movie...there is no lack of turkey day discussion!
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Old 11-22-2012, 04:06 PM   #11
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Watched both nights. Didn't seem overly biased to me, though YMMV...
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Old 11-22-2012, 04:29 PM   #12
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What an eye opener!

When my 83 year old mother mentioned she intended to watch the 'dust bowl' I asked what's that? So I watched it and boy was I blown away (no pun intended). Growing up we always heard and knew about the great depression, but I had absolutely no idea/concept of this environmental tragedy and human hardship.

I asked a few of my friends of similar age if they too were as ignorant as me on this topic and they too had no idea.
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Old 11-22-2012, 05:14 PM   #13
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Watched both nights. Didn't seem overly biased to me, though YMMV...
(MMDV) My mileage didn't vary from yours HFWR. I thought Burns did a great job of telling the story based primarily on first hand accounts of people who were there. His interviews promoting the Dust Bowl did include some opinions some may find political but, thankfully, he let the story tell itself.

I talked to my mother today at our Thanksgiving gathering. She was there during the dust bowl in Kansas. She thought Burns did a great job but found it depressing. Brought back some pretty bad memories for her. Cattle dead of dust pneumonia, trying to dodge the tax collectors coming to their farm because they didn't have money to pay their tax bill, wet sheets hanging over windows and doors to keep the dust out of the house. But still the dust got in.
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Old 11-22-2012, 05:25 PM   #14
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Something for all of us to consider on this Thanksgiving Day.
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