Cimarron County in 1940 or the road out back last Wednesday?


In a commotion that an Okie would flee from, the road out back got blown last week. What a mess! Dust was everywhere, and I mean, except for the road from which it was blown, it went ‘everywhere’. The engines of the two blowers at full throttle echoed loudly against pavement, the cinder block and metallic walls of the industrial buildings, and under the broad eaves above.

Fortunately, no one else was here to be bothered by it. Actually, no one would have been as bothered by it as we were by the crud that was on the road prior to getting blown. We know that blowing is sometimes necessary. There are only a few windows on the industrial buildings, and they were all closed. The few vehicles that happened to be parked nearby were already dirty.

Where I lived in town many years ago, the apartment buildings to the north and south were ‘maintained’ by so-called mow-blow-and-go ‘gardeners’. The building to the south lacked a lawn, but there was plenty of shrubbery there to be destroyed, even though the name of the technique does not rhyme with the rest of the routine. For both buildings, blowing dust was extreme.

There was no attempt to be tactful about it. The so-called ‘gardeners’ operated their blowers very loudly at full throttle, with no regard for where all the crud went from the pavement. Much of it went onto cars in the carports. Much went into the washrooms. Almost monthly, I needed to ignite the blown out pilot for the water heater in the washroom of the building to the north.

Both back corners of my garden were paved. There was a small paved laundry yard to the north, and a small paved trash yard to the south. The so-called ‘gardeners’ on both sides removed the kickboards from below the rear panels of those dreadful fences that I disliked so much, and blew the detritus from the neighboring properties into may back yard as if I would not notice.

When I replaced the kickboards, the so-called ‘gardeners’ broke pieces of them out, and continued with their technique. There was not much detritus from pavement that got blown weekly, but it was enough for me to collect and show to the property management of the adjacent apartments. It put the ‘go’ in ‘mow-blow-and-go’. It was the same technique only a few years apart.

As necessary as they are, and even though they can be used properly and tactfully, blowers still annoy me. The noise, the dust, and the seemingly innate disregard for others are not justified by their efficiency. I have used them, so I know that a practical degree of tact does not compromise efficiency. They exemplify the worst of what a formerly respectable industry has become.


16 thoughts on “Horridculture – Dust Bowl

  1. I have never seen a dust storm, that is really something that is quite scarce in Europe. I get memories of John Steinbeck with his Grapes of Wrath where the farmers had to migrate to better places. My dad served in the last war in Egypt and Palestine and he told me of sand storms in the desert and the atmosphere was suffocating.

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    1. Major dust storms are more likely in open areas that are lager than those in Europe. I think those in Spain are more like those in California. The area around Trona happens to get some nasty ones though, not because of the volume of the dust, but because the dust contains caustic minerals. Yuck! Sand storms in Egypt and Palestine would be more severe than dust storms, because sand is heavier. Even more Yuck! Steinbeck did much of his writing between Salinas and Monterey. He is very well known here. He documented how the Okies contributed to Californian Culture in a way that not many are aware of anymore. Although I am totally Californian, I do remember the Okie influence when I was a kid, more than three decades after the migration. When we went to Oklahoma, we joked about how it was the Grapes of Wrath in reverse, although it was nothing to joke about.


  2. On weekends, my neighborhood often sounds like an industrial zone between the commercial mowers and the blowers. I am on my second pair of noise canceling headphones–to use inside the house– just to hear myself think. I wish towns had some sort of “quiet hours” that applied to everyone, including homeowners. Quite often, they can be the worst offenders by me. My immediate neighbor to the west has a log splitting business–with a gas powered log splitter! What I wouldn’t give for peace and quiet!


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    1. Many municipalities do have quite hours. It was something that I needed to plan around when scheduling work for tree crews. One of the landscape companies that I worked for (briefly) used gasoline powered generators to operate electric blowers in Carmel, because gasoline powered blowers were outlawed. I was so embarrassed that I could not go to the job sites while the crews were there.


    1. I lived in that neighborhood for many years, with more of a driveway than the neighboring apartment buildings, but I never owned a blower. I certainly do not expect so-called ‘gardeners’ to rake debris like I did, but a bit more tact would have been appreciated.

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  3. I have rules for my “mow, blow and go” crew, which they sometimes follow. I get irritated with the crew blowing debris into my flower beds. Blowers are not even allow in my back yard. Apparently, I am talked about in their office and known for my restrictions.

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    1. I never complained about the so-called ‘gardeners’ of the adjacent apartment buildings; but when they busted the kickboards on the fences, I needed to say something. That was ridiculous. They did the exact same technique within just a few years of each other!

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    1. They would not bother much, except that I know that everyone else in the neighborhood hears them too. There is not much point to a nice garden if it is too noisy to enjoy and relax in.

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  4. As you may know, I hate blowers. I’d ban them if I could. At another level, if you want to know more about the dust bowl (and I realize I am speaking to someone from Oklahoma), there’s a book called “The Worst Hard Time”. Pretty horrifying stuff, not just the personal suffering but the many mistakes made by government, developers, and farmers who made things so much worse.

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