Remembering ‘Black Sunday’

Imagine the sky turning black in the middle of the day. Is it because of a solar eclipse? Hardly.

The sunlight is being obliterated by something quite sinister. It’s dust. It’s rolling in like a tsunami across the High Plains. To many of our family members and neighbors who were around on April 14, 1935, it’s known simply as “Black Sunday.”

Tonight at 8, KACV-TV is airing a documentary “Memories of Black Sunday,” which will recall the horrible events of that day when everyone’s world — for hundreds of miles — turned dark. The event spawned the term “Dust Bowl,” which came to define an extended period of hardship throughout virtually all the southern plains.

The 30-minute special tells of what is called “the daddy of them all,” referring to the relentless relentless drought that produced dust storms that blanketed our part of the world.

“Memories of Black Sunday” relives the frightening horror of those who experienced it.

The survivors of that time are old now, but their memories are fresh as they recall desperate attempts to light kerosene lamps to light their way as the black dust cloud rolled in on top of them. These then-young High Plains residents fought back against the elements. And for those of us who merely have read about these events, it’s good to hear these first-person recollections of those who lived through this grim historical period.

“Memories of Black Sunday” is going to set the table for a two-day special event later this month, when KACV-TV airs the PBS special, “The Dust Bowl,” a documentary produced by renowned filmmaker/historian Ken Burns. “The Dust Bowl” will air on KACV Nov. 18-19. It will present four hours of gripping television, offering intensely personal details about how the region suffered through that time.

We all know how the story ends. The region has survived and prospered. What we might not know are many of the details of the misery inflicted by what has been called history’s “largest manmade disaster.”

Two riveting specials, “Memories of Black Sunday,” and “The Dust Bowl” are certain to answer questions that have lingered long after the dust settled.

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