Black Sunday By Julia Scipione “Come on Chester!” I pushed the screen door open and a few seconds later my dog came running past me. “I’m going to school Ma, be back later! Oh and Chester’s coming too!” I yelled inside while shutting the door. Chester always used to come with me to school, and then when we got there, Chester would turn around and walk home. It was kind of like a trick that he learned. “Wait Jane!” my mom yelled after me. When I turned around, there she was in the doorway. “You forgot your lunch,” she said while she handed me a paper bag with a sandwich in it. She was smiling at me like she always did, but I saw the worry in her eyes. I saw it that day and every day before since the storms started. Trust me, I was worried too, but of course I didn’t say anything. I didn’t want her to worry even more. I just smiled back at her and went out the door. “Come on Chester!” I said one more time before covering my mouth and nose with my sleeve and starting off to school. “Hi Jane,” my friend Kaitlin said to me when she saw me walk in. Kaitlin and I were best friends. We always sat together in class and I always told her everything. I think I talked to her more than anybody. Even more than my mom and dad. I usually talked to my mom about everything, but not about the storms. It was completely the opposite with my brother Chase. Chase and I used to talk to each other a lot. Well, more like yell at each other a lot. We used to fight all the time. It usually always started with something so pointless to fight about like who would wash the dishes but always seemed to grow into something more than that. About a year ago, we both started to talk to each other less and then we both kind of just gave up talking to each other all together. That day school was let out early. The dust in the room had gotten so thick that our teacher could barely get out one sentence without having a coughing fit, and since it was Friday, we would have to wait until Monday to finish the lesson that we were learning. Although I also heard rumors of us not having school at all on Monday because of the dust. I always woke up early on weekends so I could help out in the barn. We had a small one with one cow, four chickens, and a horse. The horse was my favorite. I brushed him and fed him. I also checked to see if any of the chickens laid any eggs. Sometimes I even milked the cow. When I finished in the barn I went inside to get Chester. I liked to walk Chester on Saturday’s because there wasn’t much to do, but when I got inside I saw my mother, furiously wiping dust into a bucket and throwing it out the
window. How could I have gone and taken Chester on a walk and leave my mother to clean the whole house by herself? Chester was waiting by the door when I turned around. “Sorry Chester. Maybe tomorrow,” I said and then went into the kitchen to get a rag to help my mother, but when I opened the kitchen door, there was Chase sitting at the kitchen table, eating lunch. I guess he finished his work on the outside of the barn before I finished the inside. A weird silence fell over the room. I tried to pretend that I didn’t see him — which I was pretty good at by now — and walked straight to the cabinet below the sink with my eyes locked on the handle. I pulled out an old looking bucket, threw a rag into it and turned around. I started to walk, this time with my eyes locked on the door. When I finished helping my mother clean the entire house I realized that it was dark outside. I was very tired from cleaning all day, but now our house had barely any dust in it. “Good night Ma,” I said while hugging her. “Good night,” she said, returning my hug. “And thank you for helping me,” she said with a tired smile. I went straight up to my room, changed, and collapsed onto my bed. As soon as I closed my eyes, I fell asleep. I woke up the next morning to the smell of eggs cooking. I looked out the window. It didn’t look like morning. The sun was already completely up. I went downstairs to find my parents sitting at the kitchen table, eating breakfast. “Morning sweetheart,” my father said as I sat down between them. “Good morning,” I said. The kitchen smelled of fresh eggs and milk. My stomach growled and I suddenly remembered that I never ate dinner the night before. I picked up a plate and put a spoonful of eggs on it. “We were going to wait for you to start eating but you slept in. I was starting to think that you weren’t going to get up ‘till dinner,” he said smiling. “I slept in?” I said laughing at what he said. “What time is it?” “Just about 12:30,” he said. “What!” I said in a strangely high pitched voice. “Well I have to go feed the animals!” I said and stood up, forgetting about my eggs. “You don’t have to,” he said. “You did a lot yesterday, I can just tell Chase to do it. He’s already out there...” he said taking a step towards the door. “No, no that’s okay,” I said. “I like taking care of them” I said taking a few steps towards the door. “Actually I can do that now.” “Okay, if you want to,” he said. I walked outside to the barn and saw Chase working on the side of the barn. I went inside and got the food for the Chickens. What would make my father think that Chase would do my chores, I thought as I sprinkled the food on the ground. I never did his chores for him. I took my time feeding the rest of the animals. Then I went back
inside to get Chester. I told him that I would take him for a walk the day before and I finished my chores so I decided to take him on a walk then. “Chester!” I called inside. A few seconds later Chester ran out the door. “Ma, I’m going to take Chester on a walk,” I called through the screen door “Okay, don’t be too long. Dinner is in fifteen minutes,” I heard my mother call back. Chester and I started to walk away from the house. We were walking for about three minutes before the wind started to pick up. It got stronger and stronger. I decided to turn back toward home because the wind started to pick up some loose topsoil. This has happened many times before. It never really got to the point where you couldn’t see in front of you but I wanted to get back to the house because even a little amount of dust getting into your mouth or nose isn’t good for you. We were about two minutes away from the house when I started coughing. Chester was starting to slow down so I turned around to wait for him when I saw it. A massive wall. A wall that was starting to move faster and faster toward Chester and I. A wall of dust. I opened my mouth to scream but instead started coughing even more because of the dust that was already around me. My eyes started to burn and overflow with tears. I looked to see if Chester was still behind me. But he wasn’t. I looked in front of me but he wasn’t there either. I looked in every other direction there was but didn’t see Chester. He must have seen the wall and gotten scared and ran back to the house without me. I couldn’t believe that this was happening to me. I was only about a minute and a half away from the house so I started to run. I was losing my breath. The dust wall caught up to me but I kept running. I couldn’t even see in front of me anymore. For a second, my mind flickered to how clean our house had been this morning and what it would look like now, which I know is crazy because I was in the middle of a much bigger problem. I ran into something that felt like a rope and remembered that we had tied a rope from the barn doors to our front door. I was trying to remember which way to go when somebody ran into me. I had no clue who it was. It had to be either my dad or my mom. “Come on! This way!” the person yelled. It sounded like Chase. It was Chase. He came out during the dust storm to find me. He was pulling me by my arm to what had to be our house. I was trying to ask why he had risked his own life for mine but couldn’t get the words out with the dust choking me. My head felt weird. I started to feel dizzy and the next thing I remember is waking up in the hospital. I saw Chase out of the corner of my eye and was thinking again, why had Chase risked his life for me? He saw that I was now awake and pulled up a chair to sit next to the bed I was in. A few seconds later both my parents and Chester came and stood next to my bed. I didn’t have to ask him why. I realized that I already knew the answer. He’s my brother and even though we didn’t particularly get along, he would watch out for me and help me if I needed it. At that moment, I was the most grateful I’ve ever been to have a brother like Chase.
Author’s Note Black Sunday takes place in Colorado, Which is one of the five states included in the southern Plains and is set in the 1930s during the Dust Bowl. The Great Depression is also going on at the same time. This is one of the hardest times in the country’s history. It caused many Americans to leave their homes. In the years leading to the Dust Bowl, the southern Plains produced bountiful crops. The lands were deeply plowed and when the drought of the early 1930s started, farmers kept plowing and planting but nothing would grow. Soon the topsoil that the plants grew in started to blow away. The Dust Bowl officially started in 1931. The Dust Bowl primarily impacted the region known as the southern Plains. The northern Plains weren’t so badly affected. The southern Plains included New Mexico, Colorado, Kansas, Oklahoma, and Texas. The dust blown from the South was a yellowish-brown color and the dust blown from the North was black. This is how people could tell where the dust came from. Since farmer’s crops wouldn’t grow, the Federal Surplus Relief Corporation (FSRC) was created. Apples, beans, canned beef, flour and pork products were distributed through local relief channels. Cotton goods were later included to give clothes to the needy. Dust covered everything. It blocked exterior doors and to get out, people had to climb out their window and then shovel the dust away. It was very difficult to keep the house clean. The dust was very fine so it could get through the smallest openings in a house. Even the best concealed houses had a layer of dust in them. The worst storm of the Dust Bowl occurred on April 14, 1935. This day was named “Black Sunday” and caused extensive damage. At the time, Franklin D. Roosevelt was president, and was trying his best to repair the damage and stop the dust from blowing. The Dust Bowl is remembered to this day and will continue to be remembered because of how extreme it was. Many farmers tied a rope from their barn to their house so if they were outside when a storm hit, they were able to get to shelter. The Dust Bowl was the biggest drought in American history.
Bibliography "About The Dust Bowl." Welcome to English ÂŤ Department of English, College of LAS, University of Illinois. Web. 02 Feb. 2012. <http://www.english.illinois.edu/maps/depression/dustbowl.htm>. This website was very helpful because it has a timeline. The timeline helped me a lot because it is from the year that the Dust Bowl started to the year that it ended. "The Dust Bowl." United States American History. Web. 02 Feb. 2012. <http://www.u-s history.com/pages/h1583.html>. This website was helpful because it said what life was like before and during the Dust Bowl. Now I can include how my main character's life changed when the Dust Bowl started.