“You couldn’t see. You couldn’t breathe. You couldn’t go outside for days,” remembers Eugene Littlefield. “It was awful.”
Littlefield is referring to the giant black clouds of soil that would blot out the sun and swallow the countryside. Born in Wayside, Texas, in 1934, Littlefield was welcomed into the world by the Dust Bowl – an era in the 1930s when the most massive, brutal dust storms ever known to our nation repeatedly ravaged the Panhandle and Great Plains regions.
Littlefield was the only child of parents who raised cattle, wheat and sorghum on their farm 20 miles east of Happy, Texas, in the now-extinct community of Wayside.
“We could see those storms coming over the horizon,” Littlefield says. “The dirt would blow in your face and hit your skin so hard it hurt. Dad would get our animals in the best shelter he could, while my mom started packing the windows with rolled wet towels and hung sheets to try to keep dirt out.
A DUST STORM rolling across the Littlefield Farm in Swisher County, Texas, in 1935. This photo was taken at intersection of FM 1075 and 2301. (Photo courtesy of Littlefield Family Album.)
DURING THE DUST STORMS, tumble weeds would blow into fences and trap dirt to the point an entire fence could be buried. (Photo courtesy USDA Natural Resources Conservation Service)
EUGENE LITTLEFIELD and his dog are shown standing behind the horses that plowed the wheat and sorghum fields on their Swisher County Farm. (Photo courtesy of Littlefield Family Album. Photo taken in 1939.)
JAMES "MANN" LITTLEFIELD, Eugene Littlefield's father, harvesting wheat on their farm in Swisher County in 1935.
(Photo courtesy USDA Natural Resources Conservation Service)
SEVENTY-SEVEN YEARS of conservation after severe dust storms blackened the skies over the Littlefield Farm in Swisher County, Texas in 1935. The once bare ground is enrolled in USDA conservation programs and now boasts thick grass stands. Photo was taken at intersection of FM 1075 and 2301. Photo was taken in 2012 at same place as Dust Bowl photo taken in 1935.(Photo courtesy USDA Natural Resources Conservation Service)