A wheat farmer from Baca County, Colorado, he is one of the surviving witnesses to the Dust Bowl. When Egan interviews Osteen in 2002, he is a spry eighty-six-year old who regularly does chores around his household. Osteen spent his entire life in southeastern Colorado and endured the Dust Bowl. He was one of nine children and “grew up in a dugout.” His mother was of Irish descent and his father followed the old Santa Fe Trail in 1909, the year in which Congress tried to get the “final frontiers of the public domain” settled by nesters. After his father died, Ike and his brother Oscar earned money for the family by digging up grass for neighbors with the family tractor. Then his mother moved to the city with his two sisters, and Osteen decided to strike out on his own, leaving the old dugout to Oscar. Osteen enlisted in the army at the start of the Second World War and fought in Normandy on D-Day, June 6, 1944. Egan meets him when he is eighty-six and living in Springfield, Colorado, the seat of Baca County.
Isaac “Ike” Osteen Character Timeline in The Worst Hard Time
The timeline below shows where the character Isaac “Ike” Osteen appears in The Worst Hard Time. The colored dots and icons indicate which themes are associated with that appearance.
Introduction: Live Through This
Chapter 5: Last of the Great Plowup
Chapter 8: In a Dry Land
Chapter 13: The Struggle for Air
Chapter 16: Black Sunday
...hungry, and no wheat, people were starting to can rabbit meat, along with pickled tumbleweed. Ike Osteen was five miles away from his homestead when he saw rabbits and birds fleeing... (full context)
Chapter 18: Goings
...burning her husband’s diary, which was turned over to the Nebraska Historical Society in Lincoln. Ike Osteen remains in Baca County with his wife. He enlisted in the army during World... (full context)