Children of the Dust: An Okie Family Story
With the same effortless matter-of-fact utility as the flour sack dresses she wore, Henshaw, daughter of Oklahoma farmers during the Dust Bowl, offers an episodic account of the lives of migrant farm workers through depression, war and beyond. A collection of vignettes building toward Henshaw's father's decision to make the big move to California-to reunite with family and find more steady work-first-time author Henshaw's spare, earnest prose goes beyond the requisite flintiness and eloquence of rural life, offering a multitude of characters making hard choices for high stakes. Detailing the challenges of the Okie dilemma, as well as the joys it accorded them in family unity and worker camaraderie, Henshaw recounts grueling work, sudden house fires, community pie suppers and the continual, teasing promise of better work and lodgings just ahead. A precocious youngster who observed her life as if she had always anticipated writing about it, Henshaw's portrait of a farmer's life on the move is warm and vivid, steeped in family and labor, and idyllic only in the flawless way she tells it: ""I had hardly become used to the sight of pine trees when we came upon tall cactuses with thick arms reaching twoard the sky."" Henshaw's is the story of a family first and a time second, and this Dust Bowl narrative is all the more illuminating for it. 25 b/w photos, 1 map.