Sunday, January 21, 2007

Virgie Bell's View: Red Sand

I will never forget my first experience of being in a West Texas Sand Storm. I was at the little three room schoolhouse when the wind hit with a fury. All of the other children groaned and moaned and when recess came most just puffed up and groaned and stayed indoors. I was amazed at their attitude. I couldn't imagine them not wanting to go outside and experience this great phenomenon. Mickey was also outside with arms spread like an airplane. The 'Wind Beneath My Wings' bit.

We lived in this big house that Mom said she had looked at as a young girl and dreamed of how lucky someone had to be to live there. Right... It would have been great if one had live in servants, and I happened to come as close as mother ever experienced to live-in help. The house had high baseboards and solid wooden walls. There was a built in china closet and all of this was mahogany. We had a Rexair vacuum cleaner, the same as the present day Rainbow. I can remember going out to the windmill and at the faucet I would use a stick to dig the mud out of the bottom of the water-filled vacuum, two or three times in one cleaning because of the dirt that would make its way into the huge home. But I didn’t mind at all, because I loved being out there, listening to that old windmill. If I could spend the rest of my life falling asleep to the sound of a windmill’s clunk and creak, I would love it.

What is it about some of the most peculiar things that hold sway on our imaginations? When Mom and Dad moved across the sand hills, close to Springlake, we didn't have a windmill, but could hear the mournful howl of coyotes. I loved that part too. The night was pitch black and the stars twinkled like a million diamonds. But I’ve digressed about West Texas sandstorms.

I have seen daytime turn into the dark of night and the wind was such that you could hardly walk upright. I came to hate the dreadful things with a passion. When we first moved into this house, we had no electricity and no bathroom inside until Papa Curry did it for us. (Papa Curry, my maternal grandfather, was a Lubbock Police Officer, but he was also a carpenter and painter.) He wired that house and plumbed and put in a bath. He helped build the old Lindsey Theater in Lubbock too, and most of those back in that day were a work of art. It had deep plush carpet in rich burgundy, with a gold Tromp Le Oel pattern woven in. The deep rich seats were upholstered out of burgundy, and the stage curtain had heavy fringe. It was right out of a movie. Lush, wonderful. So different from the bland pitiful things they build today. I doubt the Lindsey Theater ever got any dust in it. I believe it was one of the things that had to be taken out after the tornado hit one tragic evening.

There are so many things that come crowding back into my mind when I read books about World War II. I remember the day I came home from a sandstorm and that coal oil lamp was softly glowing upon the table. Daddy was in such a funk and Mom seemed somewhat bitter herself. Come to think of it... I doubt anyone would ever forget a West Texas Sandstorm, neither, would anyone forget to SUPPORT THE TROOPS!


aunt karen said...

I remember when Gary and I first moved to Brownfield and I experienced our first sand storm. I was shocked at the amount of red sand that came into our house around the windows and doors. I called you Virgie, complaining of having to clean everything back up and you told me about growing up with this common thing in west Texas. You said, "Karen, you'll just have clean it all again in three days!" Sure enough, you were right! It's not so bad now that we moved into town and we are not right in the middle of cotton fields!

De'on Miller said...

I remember driving in them and cleaning them up. When I lived in Amherst and worked in Littlefield, I'd get cleaned up and ready for work. Just as soon as you stepped out the door, the sand was in your teeth, your hair, every pore in your body... even places you didn't know you had pores!

We have them in Lovington too, but it doesn't touch the red ones of Texas.