‘Dust Bowl’ better second time around

I watched “The Dust Bowl” re-run Sunday night and made a startling discovery.

It’s more interesting to me the second time around. I cannot at this moment quite grasp why that’s so, but listening once again to the tales of horror, heartache and hardship punched me in the gut in a manner I didn’t quite experience when I saw the broadcast the first time in late 2012.

“The Dust Bowl” tells a gripping story of what happened in the Texas Panhandle during the mid- to late 1930s when black clouds of dirt rolled for hundreds of miles across the Great Plains. The region was pummeled by drought, coupled with incredibly poor plowing techniques that destroyed the eco-system. The Dust Bowl has been labeled the greatest manmade ecological disaster in U.S. history … hardly an “honor” to be displayed proudly.

The second installment of the PBS rebroadcast airs tonight at 8 on KACV-TV. It’s titled “Reaping the Whirlwind,” and will tell of how the region fought back against the elements that brought such grief to families.

Viewers will hear recollections from elderly residents who, when they lived through that horror, saw it as very young people. That’s how they remember it and it is that memory they have taken with them into their later years.

I would be interested to know if a second viewing of Ken Burns’s extraordinary documentary affects others as it did me. I saw it the first time and was moved. I am watching it now a second time and am feeling it even more.

That, I submit, demonstrates the power of thoughtful television programming.


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