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"Happiness always looks small when you hold it in your hands, but let it go, and at once you learn how big and precious it is."
Maxim Gorky

Monday, October 25, 2010

Book review...

In 1888, an arctic air mass came down from Canada and pummelled the Midwest.
Many Northern European immigrants, as well as Irish, British and people from the eastern states, came to the prairie's to start a new life.
Land was abundant.
The New Frontier.
But during the winter of that year, it turned disastrous.
It was called 'The School Children's Blizzard' because the loss of life was dominated by the hundreds of children trying to make their way home.
Some lived only minutes from the schoolhouse.
Some were with parents, helping secure animals in barns.
David Laskin tells a chilling (mind the pun) tale of the mistakes made by the U.S Army Signal Corps who were responsible for sending out weather forecasts in a timely fashion.
In three minutes, the cold front dropped 18 degrees F and kept dropping.
The winds were fierce.
The snow was more like falling ice.
By morning, frozen bodies lay strewn across the Dakota-Nebraska prairie.
Although a bit tedious in parts when talking about technical terms, it is an incredible history lesson.
People were forever changed by this storm and the stories told by descendants of those who survived are simply heart wrenching and incredible.
Most of the time I was reading this book, it was at bedtime.
I was snuggled up in my comforter, mug of warm milk in hand.
I couldn't imagine these children in their tiny leather shoes, short pants and dresses, trying to survive the night in these most extreme conditions...
but some of them did.
Another book which has left me in awe of the strength of the human condition.
If you like to read about weather, you'll learn a lot.
If you like history, you'll learn a lot.
I tried to find images for this post and then I slapped myself, thinking...
"I'm sure they weren't thinking about taking photos."


farmlady said...

Life was so different back then. Children where expected to do things that folks now call Child endangerment. They had chores, walked to school and were responsible for taking care of themselves at a very early age.
When Mother Nature turns ugly and we all know she can, it was usually a tragic thing for families that had to live through it.
Sounds like an interesting book. Makes us realize the difference between a tragedy and a burnt potato.

Cobalt Violet said...

It is amazing what people had to go through but in some places I guess they still do... although I don't see it from my apartment window. So sad. Sounds like such an interesting book. Love history - especially as I have gotten older.

Jaime said...

Oh my goodness, what a story.

We have got it so good nowadays, don't we? Constant heat and hot water, warm cozy clothes and heated cars.
I can't imagine what that must have been like...for the temperature to drop that rapidly.

This is intriguing...I will look for this one.