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Darrel Coble & Lois Houle

Darrel Coble Fleeing a Dust Storm

When I first started working on Dust Bowl Descent, this was one of the first photographs from which I tried to track down the subjects. The caption didn't have any names. So, I decided to call up the USDA county agent. A got a secretary and explained my project. She said, "Oh yeah, that's Darrel Coble. He lives just about a mile from me. You want his number, hon?" Darrel had become a minor celebrity because the photograph had been published so many times. I found out later that Arthur Rothstein had tracked Darrel down in 1961 and updated his own photograph for LOOK Magazine. To see other photographs of Darrel and portions of his oral history interview click here or on the pictures above.

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In his interview, Darrel says that his Dad "always said that if anybody ever come here and wear out two pairs of shoes here, they'd never leave." But Darrel and his Dad, Arthur, were the exceptions. Hundreds of thousands of farmers from the Great Plains gave up and headed west. In this oral history segment, Lois Houle (who is featured in another segment as well) talks about why her family packed up in Colorado and moved to Washington state.

"We survived there as long as we possibly could," Lois said in 1979. "But we had dust storms and droughts… It just came to the point where we couldn't live any more back there."

Migrant Mother Florence ThompsonLois HouleNettie FeatherstonWilliam HuravitchFritz FredrickMadge May and Bob Aden