TWO MIDNIGHTS IN A JUG
[Narrator] A little after noontime on January 21, 1932, a dust cloud appeared outside of Amarillo, Texas. Dust storms weren't uncommon in the area, but this one rose 10,000 feet into the air, carried winds of 60 miles per hour. The local weather bureau didn't quite know what to make of it, calling it "awe-inspiring" and "most spectacular." Even old-timers said they'd never seen anything like it in their lives.
[Robert "Boots" McCoy, Texas County, OK] Scared us to death. We didn't know what to think. We was at home. Dad was gone, looking for cattle. Mom and sister and I, we was outside. We looked at that, and we just didn't know what it was gonna be. First started way off, it was real dark. But the closer it got, it got brown, and when it hit in 30 minutes, you couldn't -- it's just like midnight. Middle of day was just like midnight with no stars -- just dark.
[Narrator] Boots McCoy's family lived in Texas County, six miles west of the Hendersons. He and his big sister, Ruby Pauline, huddled with their mother, who was pregnant.
[Robert "Boots" McCoy, Texas County, OK] It'd be still, be just calm as it could be, and then when that dust got there, wham! It would hit you. It was just a-rollin'. It was scary. It scared the heck out of us. Mother would pray about it, you know. Us kids, of course, we was little, and we stayed pretty close to ma, I guarantee you.
[Narrator] The storm passed quickly, but that winter of 1931-32 was uncommonly dry. So was the Spring that followed. The fierce winds common to the season began picking up sand and soil from the bare fields again, and moving it across the landscape. The weather bureau began classifying the storms by their severity. Some storms, taking the coarser, sandier soils, moved along the ground for a few miles before disappearing; others created a light haze in the sky. The worst ones reduced visibility to less than a quarter mile. No Man's Land had fourteen of those in 1932.
[Floyd Coen, Morton County, KS] The dust storms was the most fearsome looking, but as far as damage, I would say the sand storms did more damage to our land and our cattle and so forth. You don't hear much about the sand storms, but we had a lot of those. It wouldn't get very dark, but they were a nuisance to be out in, and it'd just pepper you, like sand a-hittin' you. It'd be very abrasive. And they might last two or three days. And one time, my mother marked 21 days on the calendar that we had sand storms every day.
[Imogene Glover, Texas County, OK] Well, I had to run get the chickens in when we'd see them a-comin', and if I didn't get back to the house or to the cellar in time, my bare legs would really feel that sand and grit. But I knew the way. I think I could run blindfolded from the chicken house to the house and into the cellar.
[Pauline Robertson, Union County, NM] By 8:00, that wind would be hitting, and dirt, and by the time I would walk from that house to that road, which was as far as from here across the street out there, my legs would be blistered, that dirt would be coming and hitting there so hard.
[Narrator] In the midst of the relentless storms, Boots McCoy's mother went into labor. It turned out she was carrying twins. She named they Roy and Troy, but they were in trouble from the very beginning.
[Robert "Boots" McCoy, Texas County, OK] They lasted, best I could remember, about twelve hours. And the doctor just couldn't save them. And when we buried them, the neighbors built a coffin, and one of them went to the J.C. Penney Store and got some Number 12 shoe boxes, and we put some cotton and put them boys in that -- put them in that coffin. That's the way they was buried.
[Caroline Henderson] Many a time, I have found myself tired out from having tried, unconsciously and without success, to bring the distant rain clouds nearer to water our fields. I am beginning to see how worse than useless is this exaggerated feeling of one's own responsibility, to understand a little the thought of someone who wrote long ago, "He that observeth the wind shall not sow, and he that regardeth the clouds shall not reap."
[Narrator] For Caroline and Will Henderson -- and all the other farmers in the area -- the harvest of 1932 was a double disaster. Prices for wheat plummeted even lower than the previous year, and there wasn't much of a crop to harvest anyway.
[Caroline Henderson] Judging by any standards that the world would recognize, we should have been further ahead if we could have spent the year in sleep.
[Narrator] That fall, farmers went back to the fields and planted winter wheat for next year.
[Caroline Henderson] People still toil amazingly, and make a conscious effort to keep cheerful, but it seems to me that the effort grows more apparent. Behind the characteristic American nonchalance, one detects a growing anxiety, especially about the coming winter.
[Clarence Beck, Cimarron County, OK] You kept thinking that tomorrow things will change, so you kept doing what you were doing. You thought, well maybe there are some things that we can do that will be a little better than the way they are. We couldn't live without hoping that things were gonna change for the better.
[Wayne Lewis, Beaver County, OK] We always had hope. Next year was gonna be better, and even this year was gonna be better. We learned slowly, and what didn't work, you tried it harder the next time. You didn't try something different; you just tried harder the same thing that didn't work.
[Caroline Henderson] By sacrificing the small reserves we had held against the days of drought and disaster, we have succeeded so far in keeping on a cash basis. We have disconnected the telephone, stopped the daily paper, substituted cheap lye for washing powder so that my hands are rough and uncomfortable, but of all our losses, the most distressing is the loss of our self-respect. How can we feel that our work has any dignity or importance when the world places so low a value on the products of our toil?
[Narrator] Things were even worse for Caroline's neighbors, the Foresters. Harry Forester's crop had withered in the drought, and what little wheat he had managed to harvest brought in only 17 cents a bushel. The land he had purchased near Boise City turned out to have a prior claim on its title and was taken from him. The mortgage on his original homestead, which he had used to buy the extra land, could not be paid, and he lost it, too. He was forced to move his wife and nine children to rented land. Harry Forester's dream of amassing enough property to give each of his five sons 640 acres was in shambles. Now he would struggle simply to keep his large family fed and warm through the winter.
[Robert Forester, Son, Texas County, OK] One thing, we would do chores. Of course, doing chores for a youngster like me was riding along on the wagon and picking up cow chips, and coming in and piling them behind the house so that we would have fuel for the fires. And of course, they don't smell at that point in time, unless you happen to get one that's a little bit fresh.
[Pamela Riney-Kehrberg, Historian] At the beginning of this whole situation, most people are thinking this is a short-term problem. We've seen droughts before, we've seen dust storms before, we've had high winds before, and you wait till next year. And everyone assumed that next year things would be better. And then ... the next year they assume things will be better, and it doesn't get better.
[Narrator] Throughout the United States, things were getting worse. Tens of thousands of banks and businesses had failed. In just one day, one quarter of the entire state of Mississippi went under the auctioneer's hammer. From San Francisco to New York, thousands of Americans were reduced to living in shantytowns called "Hoovervilles" after the President they had come to blame for everything. That November, voters took out their despair and anger on Herbert Hoover and elected Franklin Delano Roosevelt to lead the nation through the crisis.
THE BOISE CITY NEWS. COUNTY VOTE IS HEAVIEST IN HISTORY. GIVES NATIONAL DEMOCRATIC TICKET OVER THREE-TO-ONE MAJORITY. CARRY FORTY-TWO STATES
The normally Republican counties of the Southern plains went Democratic. Roosevelt, they hoped, would at least try to help them. But even a President couldn't control the weather. There was no rain at all in Cimarron County, Oklahoma, in March of 1933. The agricultural agent there predicted that, at best, farmers might harvest four bushels of winter wheat per acre, versus the previous yields of nearly 30. And now the dust storms were becoming more frequent. Instead of the fourteen storms of 1932 classified as the worst, there were 38 in 1933. One storm in April lasted 24 hours.
[Shirley Forester McKenzie, Texas County, OK] You could hardly avoid looking to the West to see if you could see this rim of dust that was rising on the horizon. It was earth colored, way far away, beginning to rise, and the next day, perhaps it would be bigger and come quicker and higher, and then suddenly, you were just engulfed. It was overhead, and you couldn't see the sun. And that's when it was a really bad day. And day after day, it would be that way -- dark, black, scary.
[Pauline Durrett Robertson, Potter County, TX] The experts could tell where the dust came from by the color. New Mexico had one color, and Oklahoma, coming from the other direction, had another color. And they would say, "Well, we're enjoying Oklahoma today." "Well, we're getting visited by all the New Mexicans today," and so forth.
[Donald Worster, Historian] The big dust storms were fine particles of soil. Others were sandier blows that blew along the highways at low elevation, and it could take the paint off your automobile or your house, like sandpaper being rubbed against it. But the ones that were the most terrifying were the ones that were based on these very fine particles that rose up into the air 7,000, 8,000 feet in this kind of boiling wall of dirt coming at you with gale force, 40-, 50-, 60-mile-an-hour winds. These were the black blizzards that frightened people so much during those periods.
[Timothy Egan, Writer] When one of these dusters would approach from afar, and they would see it for the first time, it was like a mountain range, because some cases, the storms were 100 miles, 150 miles, 200 miles wide and a mile or more high. So imagine driving on a flat land and looking off and seeing a mountain range itself starting to move. Daylight itself would be obliterated. Someone told me it was like "Two midnights in a jug."
[Dorothy Kleffman, Texas County, OK] One particularly bad storm we had, it was in the daytime, and it rolled in, and it was so black that you couldn't see your hand in front of your face. So we all gathered in the kitchen, the whole family. We lit the kerosene lamp, and that didn't help very much. And mother had tea towels that were made out of flour sacks because we were also in the "Great" Depression. And we just took them and draped them over our head, down the face -- you know, just the whole head. You couldn't see anything. You sat there, and you couldn't talk or visit with anybody very much, but that wet towel would catch the dust. And sometimes those towels were pretty black by the time we took them off.
[Ina Kay Labrier, Prowers County, CO] It'd get so bad, you couldn't even see to drive. You couldn't see the sides of the road with your lights on. You couldn't tell whether you was on the road or on the sides or where you were.
[Imogene Glover, Texas County, OK] Sometimes we were caught in the house or in the car, and we'd just sat there until it all blew over. It just was old brown dirt a-blowin' all around the car, and we just sat there until it kind of cleared up enough so you could see the road to go on to get to the house. And it was gritty and dirty, and you had to wash your mouth off whenever you got in the house so you weren't eating dirt. If you'd go out and pick up a handful of dirt and stick it in your mouth, that's just the way it'd feel.
[Timothy Egan, Writer] One of the things that happened just before a duster hit was there was this amazing static electricity in the air. And so people used to carry a chain in their car to ground the electricity. So you didn't drive anywhere without having this chain that you'd then throw out and drag it along the ground the ground the electricity because your radio would go out, your electrical stuff would short. And every person would talk about how you literally couldn't shake another person's hand before one of these dusters because the static was so strong. It was the kinetic energy that was in the air just before a duster hit.
[Dorothy Kleffman, Texas County, OK] I can remember feeling it in my hair. It was just kind of like your head tingles or something, you know. Your hair just gets kind of wiry.
[Clarence Beck, Cimarron County, OK] More dust and the longer the ride, the higher the charge, until finally it'd get such a powerful charge that if you reach out to touch your car, the electricity will jump out about six inches to meet you and knock you right flat on your butt. But it wasn't always like that. Don't forget this is a storm, which means it had a beginning and an end. And in between storms, it couldn't have been more beautiful. The skies were crystal blue, and the clouds were those puffy white summertime clouds, without a drop of water in 50 of them. But I can still remember my father looking up at the sky and praying that it'd rain. But naturally, it never would because those weren't rain clouds and never would be.
[Narrator] In the times between storms, the farmers and townspeople tried their best to carry on with their lives, but the land they called home was being rearranged before their very eyes.
[Imogene Glover, Texas County, OK] Oh, just dirt, piles of dirt around anything, like the fence rows or something like a plow implement or anything out in the yard, it might be nearly covered up with dirt. Anything loose banked up around something or blew away.
[Dorothy Kleffman, Texas County, OK] It would drift up the side of the barn, so you could walk up on the roof of the barn, you know? You just walk up like you had a ladder there, but it would be dirt.
[Narrator] The storms had pushed dried-up Russian thistles -- tumbleweeds -- across the open ground by the hundreds of thousands. Wherever they piled up against barbed wire fences, they created eddies in the wind, and the dirt accumulated.
[Don Wells, Cimarron County, OK] Thistles got in the fence, and then the sand got in the thistles, so consequently, what cattle was still alive walked over the fence. Every place there was a fence, you could almost walk over most of them.
[Narrator] Where the dirt and sand hadn't piled up, the land had been swept clean of topsoil.
[Dorothy Kleffman, Texas County, OK] It was bare. It was hard. You could take a broom and sweep it just like you could a wood floor. It was hard, just like cement.
[Donald Worster, Historian] So you could walk out onto your farm, and instead of fine dirt, you found this hardpan layer on the top. Impossible to cultivate. Your dirt would be in somebody else's farm or a county away.
[Imogene Glover, Texas County, OK] You know, the dust was so bad that the cattle died. They found small herds of cattle that were just filled up with dirt in their lungs and their noses. I can remember seeing our cows' noses that were just mud on the end where they tried to breathe and couldn't.
[Donald Worster, Historian] They died of suffocation. Whatever wildlife was out there died of suffocation. But animals also simply wandered away not knowing where they belonged and would climb over these dust drifts and be lost. So it was really devastating for livestock in terms of loss of life.
[Narrator] Housewives nurtured their gardens with well water, but the abrasive winds, the shifting dirt -- even, sometimes, the charge of static electricity in the air -- often killed the vegetables their families were counting on.
[Virginia Frantz, Beaver County, OK] A storm would come, and there would be absolutely nothing left of it. And mother tried her best to keep that from happening. She would dig postholes to plant tomatoes in so that the wind wouldn't cut them off until they got bigger and stronger to where they might have some tomatoes then. And she dug deep rows to put anything in. And of course, sometimes they would fill up with dirt.
[Narrator] After surveying the residents of Meade, Kansas, a reporter calculated that the average damage from a single storm was $25 per home. What couldn't be measured, he said, was "the loss of disposition of the housewives."
MRS. HOUSEWIFE. KEEP THAT DUST OUT BY SEALING YOUR WINDOWS WITH GUMMED TAPE. A 500 FOOT ROLL, ONLY 30 c. BOISE CITY NEWS
[Dorothy Kleffman, Texas County, OK] My mother was very clean. Her house was always clean, and she tried to keep us kids clean. She would take all her curtains down one day and wash them and hang them back up. A dirt storm would come in that night, and they were just like they were before she washed them. And that went on day after day after day, and once in a while, you would hear of some woman that just couldn't take it anymore, and she'd commit suicide.
[Pauline Robertson, Union County, NM] It blew that dirt into the attic of the house, and a lot of times when we would get up of a morning, you could look up at the ceiling and if there was a split or between boards or whatever, that dirt would just be coming right down like this on the table. And when we'd get up in the morning, a lot of times there would be, say, from an inch to five inches of dirt just piled about like that. And you cleaned that off, and you eat, and you eat the dirt if it's there. If it isn't, well, you do good.
[Floyd Coen, Morton County, KS] When we set the table, we always set the plate upside-down -- glasses or cups, whatever it was, upside-down. And still, I think you'd turn them over and shake them, look at them before you put anything in them. My family thinks that I'm kind of stupid, and I guess I am, but I still -- if I get a glass out of a cabinet, I rinse it out before I drink out of it.
[Dorothy Kleffman, Texas County, OK] When we would go to bed at night, sometimes a dust storm would come in, and when we got up the next morning, our covers would be completely covered with dust, and the only clean place on our pillow would be where our head had laid.
[Caroline Henderson] Dust to eat, and dust to breathe, and dust to drink. Dust in the beds and in the flour bin, on dishes and walls and windows, in hair and eyes and ears and teeth and throats, to say nothing of the heaped-up accumulation on floors and window sills after one of the bad days. This wind-driven dust, fine as the finest flour, penetrates wherever air can go.
[Narrator] As if the wind and dust weren't enough to deal with, hordes of jackrabbits, driven by hunger, now invaded what pastures, crops, and gardens were left.
[Dorothy Kleffman, Texas County, OK] They ate everything green there was. The farmers had killed off the coyotes, and that upset the natural order of things, and the rabbits just exploded, and they would eat anything green they found, and they would eat your garden up.
[Robert "Boots" McCoy, Texas County, OK] There'd be thousands of rabbits. They'd eat everything -- eat the bark off of the fence posts. Dad put new posts up on our place when he'd done it, and it was cedar post that had bark on it, and they ate that bark off of it.
MAKE WAR ON RABBITS. H.B. DIXON PLACE TO BE SCENE OF JACKRABBIT DRIVE TOMORROW
[Narrator] To combat the invasion, entire communities began organizing "rabbit drives."
[Clarence Beck, Cimarron County, OK] You'd advertise it with flyers all over the place in advance -- "On Saturday afternoon on the farm of Joe Smith would be a rabbit drive. Please come. Bring the family." So on that afternoon, there might be 50 to 100 families show up.
[Don Wells, Cimarron County, OK] And then the people would go out in a semi-circle, and then bring them in. And they had clubs, and they'd use wagon spokes for clubs.
[Clarence Beck, Cimarron County, OK] And what started out as a peaceful picnic sort of turned into a riot -- dogs barking and yipping, people yelling, kids screaming, rabbits hopping in the air.
[Robert "Boots" McCoy, Texas County, OK] And they just -- we'd kill them until we just give out. And then more kids would get in and go to fighting them. They'd kill them by the thousands.
[Dale Coen, Morton County, KS] You'd club the rabbits to death, which was an unsightly thing, and it was a horrible thing to do. They would scream, and I can still hear rabbits, the noise they'd make. I went on one, and that was enough for me.
[Narrator] In the early Spring of 1934, a snowstorm blanketed No Man's Land. The flakes, mixed with airborne dirt, were darkened -- locals called it a "snuster" -- but at least it was a little moisture. In the Texas Panhandle, a light rain fell. Many people thought the drought had broken. "The goose hangs high," a local newspaper reported. "Farmers are going down the furrow with brighter days in sight and a song in their hearts."
[Pauline Durrett Robertson, Potter County, TX] And I remember one time it rained, and we were all just thrilled, and the children went out in the streets, and barefoot and dancing in the rain, and let the rain fall on their tongues. We were just ecstatic, and the mothers called that it was time to come in for supper, and nobody would go in. So finally the neighbors all brought supper to the front porches, and we had supper on the front porches and dancing in the streets. It was wonderful. And we thought maybe the tide had turned. But, you know, after that, here came the dust again.
[Narrator] 1934 would turn out to be even drier and hotter than the years before -- part of a nationwide drought that affected 46 of the 48 states. In May, the temperature had already reached 100 degrees in North Dakota, where the drought was a year older. Parts of Nebraska, where temperatures hit 118, were already blowing. Then, on May 9th, a massive weather front moving eastward began picking up loose soil from Wyoming and Montana, then Nebraska and the Dakotas -- ultimately 350 million tons of it, lifted tens of thousands of feet in the air. Carried by high-level winds, it crossed Iowa, Minnesota, and Wisconsin, and as it passed over Chicago, it deposited an estimated 12 million pounds of dust -- four pounds for each resident of the city. On May 10th, it darkened the skies over Detroit, Cleveland, and Buffalo. By the morning of the 11th, the storm enveloped the Eastern Seaboard from Boston to Savannah. In New York City, street lights were turned on at mid-day, the thick haze obscured tourists' views of Central Park from the top of the Empire State Building, and a ship delayed its entry into the harbor because the captain had trouble seeing the Statue of Liberty. In Washington, D.C., dust descended on the National Mall, even sifted into the White House where President Roosevelt was holding a press conference promising relief to the drought-stricken Great Plains. The next day, ships 300 miles from the coast reported dirt falling onto their decks.
[Donald Worster, Historian] People were shocked in the East, and they began, for the first time, to ask questions -- what is happening out on the Great Plains?
[Narrator] Though it originated on the Northern Plains, Easterners referred to it all as "Kansas Dust," and many of them quickly had suggestions about how to stop it from blowing across the continent. One company proposed covering the Plains in concrete, with holes carefully placed for planting seeds, while a steel manufacturer in Pittsburgh thought its wire netting might work better. The Barber Asphalt Company of New Jersey estimated it could spread its product over the land for $5.00 an acre. A woman from North Carolina suggested that shipping junk autos west would simultaneously beautify her state while stopping the wind erosion on the Plains.
[Donald Worster, Historian] Well, Easterners in particular, or anyone who didn't live on the Great Plains, had no idea of the scale of this problem or how to go about solving it. So their first idea was basically to cover the Great Plains somehow, cover these soils -- bringing rocks from the Rocky Mountains, I guess rolling them down the mountainside -- anything to cover this area. They had no idea that they were talking about 100 million acres.
[Narrator] President Roosevelt and his Secretary of Agriculture, Henry Wallace, had ideas of their own -- from encouraging farmers to plant fewer crops to finding ways to stabilize the loose soils through better plowing techniques -- but those programs were still in their infancy. No one knew if they would work. During a stop in drought-ravaged North Dakota that summer, Roosevelt admitted as much. "I would not try to fool you by saying we know the solution" to the crisis, the President said. "We don't. But what I can tell you from the bottom of my heart is this -- If it is possible for us to solve the problem, we are going to do it." Some of the people lining the route of his motorcade held up signs that noted how Roosevelt had already ended prohibition. "You gave us beer," the placards said. "Now give us water." Roosevelt acknowledged their message, and responded, "That beer part was easy."
A series of rains fell shortly after the President's visit and helped ease the drought on the Northern Plains. People there called it "Roosevelt Weather." But farther south, there was no such relief. While the outlines of the worst-hit area would shift over the years, sometimes broadening or narrowing, by the summer of 1934, the Government had officially identified the geographic heart of the dust crisis. It was near Boise City in Cimarron County, the Western tip of Oklahoma -- in No Man's Land. One third of the County's land was blowing. Even some pastures of native buffalo grass that had not been plowed had been buried under drifts of dirt and sand, some ten feet high. A few of Roosevelt's other New Deal programs, aimed at easing the hunger and joblessness of the "Great" Depression, had now reached the Southern Plains. In Cimarron County alone, needy residents received two tons of smoked pork, sixteen tons of beef, seventeen tons of flour, and thirty-three tons of coal through a surplus commodities program. One quarter of the County's population now depended on New Deal jobs. But none of that addressed the main calamity. "We are getting deeper and deeper in dust," the Boise City News reported. The same was true in all the other surrounding counties in Texas, New Mexico, Colorado, Kansas, and the rest of the Oklahoma Panhandle.
[Donald Worster, Historian] By 1934, the environmental catastrophe on the Great Plains was pretty clear. It would have, at that point, classified as one of the worst environmental disasters in American history already.
[Caroline Henderson] We are trying to hope that the worst is over, yet today, after we thought the drought had been effectively broken, we had another terrible day of violent wind, drifting clouds of dust, and Russian thistles racing like mad across the Plains and piling up in head-high impassable banks. We feel as if the Administration is really making a sincere effort to improve general conditions, but they have a tremendous task, made harder, of course, by all who cling tenaciously to special privileges or opportunities of the past.
[Narrator] That summer, farmers gathered at the Palace Theater in Boise City to hear details on a new government program designed to stabilize beef prices by reducing the surplus of cattle across the country. In the Great Plains, it was also meant to deal with the problem of animals wasting away for lack of adequate pasturage. Already, homesteaders like Caroline and Will Henderson had resorted to harvesting Russian thistles to feed their cows. Some ranchers were grinding up yucca cactus or burning off the nettles of prickly pears in an effort to give their cattle something -- anything -- to eat.
[Pauline Robertson, Union County, NM] Daddy said "We don't have enough money to buy food for the cattle, but if we can cut thistles and stack them, there's more food value in that than nearly anything." And our job was to tramp those thistles down. Now, if you want a bad job, that's one. And those thistles get down your pant legs into your shoes, those little stickers, and you can stand it about so long, but pretty soon you got to stop, get out a sticker.
[Narrator] To encourage farmers and ranchers to cull their herds, the new government program would pay them up to $16 a head for a cow healthy enough to be shipped to a packing house, where it would be slaughtered and canned for distribution to the poor. Cattle deemed unfit for consumption would bring a minimum of $1.00 a head, but would be immediately killed and buried. Government agents fanned out across No Man's Land to make the purchases, oversee the shipments, and where necessary, pay men to put their herds under the drifting soil. Nationwide, the program was a success. $111 million was spent to purchase 8.3 million cattle, and prices were stabilized. In Cimarron County, the government purchased 12,499 head of cattle in 1934, paying $164,449 in much-needed cash to local ranchers. Desperate as they were for some income, it was a bitter pill for many to swallow, harder still on their children.
[Calvin Crabill, Prowers County, CO] What they did was they took a bulldozer and made a mammoth ditch, a mammoth ditch, and drove all the cattle down in there. And then there were men above with rifles, and I would say maybe ten or twenty men with rifles, and they shot the cattle. My father, when our cattle was driven into this ditch to be shot, he said, "There's a little calf. Can I butcher that calf for food for us?" They said, "No. They all have to be destroyed." I'll never forget to my dying day standing there as a little boy, I was probably eight or nine years old, when they started shooting those cattle. And it's a sight to this day that, the average person couldn't stand it, but as a little kid, it was very rough because that was our stock. And you got some money for it. But that didn't matter. They killed the stock.
[Pauline Robertson, Union County, NM] And they said, "If you can get cowboys to get those cattle together, we'll just rush them, and they'll fall in that ditch, and then we'll kill them and cover them up." And ... and daddy could hardly ... [choking up]. I'm sorry. But he could hardly do that. And I never will forget my brother and I standing there and watching them shoot those little calves, and we could hardly stand it. But that's what they did.