Date of this Version
Great Plains Quarterly Vol. 29, No. 4, Fall 2009, pp. 330-331
Memoirs are very popular these days, and this is a good one. Rosanna Taylor Herndon, a retired communications professor from Hardin-Simmons University and a professional storyteller, combines her storytelling with a collection of eighteen anecdotes about her Scottish family members in West Texas primarily during the Great Depression. She reveals the poverty people endured and the compassion they exhibited toward one another and others in similar situations. Each story comprises a unique setting, character development, and action regarding life during that time in the southern Great Plains.
Among the examples Herndon offers is "The Panhandle Is Coming," which recounts the 1930s drought in West Texas as the family does laundry on Mondays. After the clothes are hung out to dry, an approaching cloud of red dust could often be seen. Mother and children would rush to remove the wet laundry off the clothesline, sometimes getting it safely into the house and sometimes not. In the latter case, instead of ironing on Tuesday, the laundry had to be rewashed, a backbreaking and day long labor. The mother, to conserve dirty wash water, pours it on the roots of trees and shrubs in the yard, attempting to keep the plants alive. Clean, freshwater was too precious for such use.