The Worst Hard Time

The Worst Hard Time

by

Timothy Egan

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A long strip of land “in the far western end of the Oklahoma Panhandle” on the border with Texas. Egan describes the land as windy, dry, and neglected.

No Man’s Land Quotes in The Worst Hard Time

The The Worst Hard Time quotes below are all either spoken by No Man’s Land or refer to No Man’s Land. For each quote, you can also see the other terms and themes related to it (each theme is indicated by its own dot and icon, like this one:
Westward Expansion and the Settlement of the Southern Plains Theme Icon
). Note: all page numbers and citation info for the quotes below refer to the First Mariner edition of The Worst Hard Time published in 2006.
Chapter 7 Quotes

When the native sod of the Great Plains was in place, it did not matter if people looked twice at a piece of ground. Wind blew twenty, thirty, forty miles an hour, as always. Droughts came and went. Prairie fires, many of them started deliberately by Indians or cowboys trying to scare nesters off, took a great gulp of grass in a few days. Hailstorms pounded the land. Blue northers froze it so hard it was like broken glass to walk on. Through all of the seasonal tempests, man was inconsequential. As long as the weave of grass was stitched to the land, the prairie would flourish […] The grass could look brown and dead, but beneath the surface, the roots held the soil in place; it was alive and dormant […] When a farmer tore out the sod and walked away […] It could not revert to grass, because the roots were gone. It was empty, dead, and transient.

Page Number: 112-113
Explanation and Analysis:
Chapter 20 Quotes

At the end of the year, she said goodbye to No Man’s Land. Hazel put on her white gloves and brushed back tears but said tomorrow would bring good things to the young family, so it was not worth a long cry. She planned to leave with her dignity intact, like a lady. In 1914, at the age of ten, she had first seen the grassland, rising on her toes on the driver’s seat of her daddy’s covered wagon to get a look at this country. She would hold to the good memories [….] There would be a place, always, in Hazel’s memory of the blackest days No Man’s Land. But it would shrink, because Hazel would force it down to size to allow her live.

Page Number: 259
Explanation and Analysis:
Chapter 25 Quotes

Elsewhere in 1938, the recovery and the energy of the New Deal had run out of steam. More than four million people lost their jobs in the wake of government cutbacks, and the stock market fell sharply again. Some of the gloom that enveloped the country at midterm in President Hoover’s reign was back. In the Dust Bowl, the fuzz of a forced forest and the re-tilling of tousled dirt did not stop the wind or bring more rain, but it was a plan in motion—something—and that was enough to inspire people to keep the faith. As Will Rogers said, “If Roosevelt burned down the Capital we would cheer and say, ‘Well, we at least got a fire started anyhow.’” The High Plains had been culled of thousands of inhabitants […] But as the dirty decade neared its end, the big exodus was winding down. The only way that folks who stayed behind would leave now, they said, was horizontal, in a pine box.

Page Number: 304-305
Explanation and Analysis:

People were drilling deep and tapping into the main vein of that ancient, underground reservoir of the Ogallala Aquifer, as big as the grassland itself, they said. These new boomers, a handful of men in town, wanted no part of Bennett’s soil-conservation districts. They wanted money to pump up a river of water from the Ogallala, pass it through a tangle of pipes, and spit it out over the sandpapered land. They would grow wheat and corn and sorghum, and they would make a pile, using all the water they wanted, you just wait and see. They talked as if it were the dawn of the wheat boom, twenty years earlier. Melt thought they had not learned a thing from the last decade. The High Plains belonged to Indians and grass, but few people in Dalhart shared his feelings.

Related Characters: Melt White, Hugh Hammond Bennett
Related Symbols: Wheat
Page Number: 305
Explanation and Analysis:
Epilogue Quotes

The High Plains never fully recovered from the Dust Bowl […] After more than sixty-five years, some of the land is still sterile and drifting. But in the heart of the old Dust Bowl now are three national grasslands run by the Forest Service. The land is green in the spring and burns in the summer, as it did in the past, and antelope come through and graze, wandering among replanted buffalo grass and the old footings of farmsteads long abandoned. Some things are missing or fast disappearing: the prairie chicken, a bird that kept many a sodbuster alive in the dark days, is in decline […] The biggest of the restored areas is Comanche National Grassland, named for the Lords of the Plains […] The Indians never returned, despite New Deal attempts to buy rangeland for natives […] The Comanche live on a small reservation near Lawton, Oklahoma. They still consider the old bison hunting grounds between the Arkansas River and Rio Grande […] to be theirs by treaty.

Related Characters: Franklin Delano Roosevelt
Page Number: 309
Explanation and Analysis:
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No Man’s Land Term Timeline in The Worst Hard Time

The timeline below shows where the term No Man’s Land appears in The Worst Hard Time. The colored dots and icons indicate which themes are associated with that appearance.
Introduction: Live Through This
Westward Expansion and the Settlement of the Southern Plains Theme Icon
...320 acres. The first Osteen settlers arrived, believing that a dam was being built in No Man’s Land on the Cimarron River. When they arrived, there were no jobs, but people told them... (full context)
Chapter 1: The Wanderer
Westward Expansion and the Settlement of the Southern Plains Theme Icon
...to find work, either managing cattle or picking cotton. However, the family got stuck in No Man’s Land due to his horses starving from a lack of rations. His wife, Lizzie, hated the... (full context)
Chapter 2: No Man's Land
Westward Expansion and the Settlement of the Southern Plains Theme Icon
Anglo Culture and Racism Theme Icon
Environmental Devastation and the Dust Bowl Theme Icon
...1920, Boise City had 250 residents and its nearby county “at the far end of No Man’s Land was approaching 3,500 people.” There were hopes that the Oklahoma Panhandle, where Boise City was... (full context)
Westward Expansion and the Settlement of the Southern Plains Theme Icon
Anglo Culture and Racism Theme Icon
Previously, no one had wanted to settle in No Man’s Land . It was where some people, most notably Captain William Becknell and his thirty-man army,... (full context)
Westward Expansion and the Settlement of the Southern Plains Theme Icon
Anglo Culture and Racism Theme Icon
...smuggling dens, and town developers on the run.” Beer City was the first settlement in No Man’s Land , but it disintegrated two years after it was set up due to “law, taxes,... (full context)
Westward Expansion and the Settlement of the Southern Plains Theme Icon
Anglo Culture and Racism Theme Icon
Environmental Devastation and the Dust Bowl Theme Icon
...land grab which turned Oklahoma City, Norman, and Guthrie into towns overnight. People only settled No Man’s Land when there was nothing else left in the state to take. (full context)
Westward Expansion and the Settlement of the Southern Plains Theme Icon
Anglo Culture and Racism Theme Icon
Environmental Devastation and the Dust Bowl Theme Icon
...The federal government offered free train rides to prospective settlers to take a look at No Man’s Land , just as the realtors selling bits of the XIT ranch had. In 1915, William... (full context)
Westward Expansion and the Settlement of the Southern Plains Theme Icon
Anglo Culture and Racism Theme Icon
Environmental Devastation and the Dust Bowl Theme Icon
When Carlie Lucas first arrived in No Man’s Land , he hoped to make enough money to feed his family. A few years after... (full context)
Westward Expansion and the Settlement of the Southern Plains Theme Icon
The City vs. the Country Theme Icon
...driver. When she stepped off the train in Texhoma, she felt back at home in No Man’s Land . (full context)
Westward Expansion and the Settlement of the Southern Plains Theme Icon
Hazel Lucas was one of few women in No Man’s Land . Women were rather scarce, and Will Crawford was one of the territory’s many bachelors.... (full context)
Chapter 6: First Wave
Westward Expansion and the Settlement of the Southern Plains Theme Icon
...hunted Black Jack “up among the dormant volcanoes north of the Llano Estacado” and into No Man’s Land . Herzstein moved forward to shoot Black Jack, who pulled a pistol from his side... (full context)
Chapter 7: A Darkening
Westward Expansion and the Settlement of the Southern Plains Theme Icon
Economic Hardship and Lessons of the Great Depression Theme Icon
The City vs. the Country Theme Icon
...bottomed out at nineteen cents a bushel in some markets—“an all-time low.” Both farmers in No Man’s Land and policymakers in Washington were puzzled. (full context)
Economic Hardship and Lessons of the Great Depression Theme Icon
Environmental Devastation and the Dust Bowl Theme Icon
In No Man’s Land , the Folkers family included their wheat in every meal. Fred Folkers became depressed and... (full context)
Economic Hardship and Lessons of the Great Depression Theme Icon
...up residence in the courthouse, next to the jail.” He chased the same bootleggers around No Man’s Land , brought them in to serve a bit of jail time, released them a few... (full context)
Chapter 8: In a Dry Land
Westward Expansion and the Settlement of the Southern Plains Theme Icon
Economic Hardship and Lessons of the Great Depression Theme Icon
...ridden with Butch Cassidy and the Hole in the Wall Gang between committing robberies in No Man’s Land . A group of prominent citizens decided to exhume him and move his body into... (full context)
Economic Hardship and Lessons of the Great Depression Theme Icon
Environmental Devastation and the Dust Bowl Theme Icon
...1932, no one planted wheat. It was pointless. Only twelve inches of rain fell in No Man’s Land , and the food that the Lucas family had kept from the 1931 harvest was... (full context)
Anglo Culture and Racism Theme Icon
Environmental Devastation and the Dust Bowl Theme Icon
...“Basket Maker” period over 2,000 years ago. To Baker, this indicated that people had farmed No Man’s Land and lived there since the era of Christ. It astonished him to think that the... (full context)
Westward Expansion and the Settlement of the Southern Plains Theme Icon
Anglo Culture and Racism Theme Icon
...they were married by a Jesuit priest who persuaded them to build a chapel on No Man’s Land . It became a meeting place for Mexicans and Catholics. Together, they had nine children,... (full context)
Westward Expansion and the Settlement of the Southern Plains Theme Icon
Anglo Culture and Racism Theme Icon
Economic Hardship and Lessons of the Great Depression Theme Icon
Environmental Devastation and the Dust Bowl Theme Icon
Though Lujan had lived in No Man’s Land longer than any Anglo, he and other people of Mexican descent now feared deportation. Lujan... (full context)
Chapter 9: New Leader, New Deal
Economic Hardship and Lessons of the Great Depression Theme Icon
...made no sense to spur production if no one could afford to buy products. In No Man’s Land , a farmer could only get six cents for a dozen eggs and four cents... (full context)
Chapter 11: Triage
Environmental Devastation and the Dust Bowl Theme Icon
...difference in changing the bleak weather. A March snowstorm caused twenty-one inches to fall in No Man’s Land , but they were dark flakes. The nesters called it a “snuster.” During these storms,... (full context)
Environmental Devastation and the Dust Bowl Theme Icon
Caroline Henderson, a farmer’s wife and Mount Holyoke graduate who lived in No Man’s Land , clung to small things, such as a houseplant in the window sill, to avoid... (full context)
Chapter 15: Duster's Eve
Westward Expansion and the Settlement of the Southern Plains Theme Icon
Environmental Devastation and the Dust Bowl Theme Icon
...was dying of dust pneumonia at the family’s homestead in Texhoma, Oklahoma. She hated what No Man’s Land had become. She was also more worried about Ruth Nell than she was for herself.... (full context)
Chapter 16: Black Sunday
Environmental Devastation and the Dust Bowl Theme Icon
Robert Geiger, an Associated Press reporter from Denver, went to No Man’s Land with the photographer Harry Eisenhard. They were looking for anecdotes from locals about the black... (full context)
Environmental Devastation and the Dust Bowl Theme Icon
In northern No Man’s Land , Joe Garza was taking advantage of the clear, sunny day to find stray cattle.... (full context)
Environmental Devastation and the Dust Bowl Theme Icon
...six miles outside of Boise City. The cars were driving through the flattest part of No Man’s Land . When the Lucas clan saw the black cloud approaching, they debated about what to... (full context)
Chapter 17: A Call to Arms
The City vs. the Country Theme Icon
Environmental Devastation and the Dust Bowl Theme Icon
...early afternoon in mid-April, soil from the Southern Plains—the weather bureau said it came from No Man’s Land —fell on Washington, DC. Bennett said that this was what he had been talking about.... (full context)
Chapter 20: The Saddest Land
Environmental Devastation and the Dust Bowl Theme Icon
...was five months pregnant. It was unclear if there would ever be a home in No Man’s Land ever again. More than 850 million tons of topsoil had eroded from the Southern Plains... (full context)
Environmental Devastation and the Dust Bowl Theme Icon
...in July and two in August, the temperatures reached 118 degrees—the highest ever recorded in No Man’s Land . It was 117 degrees in Dalhart and 120 in Shattuck. There had been some... (full context)
Environmental Devastation and the Dust Bowl Theme Icon
Hazel left No Man’s Land at the end of the year. She had first seen the grassland in 1914, at... (full context)
Epilogue
The City vs. the Country Theme Icon
...small suppliers out of business. Only a handful of farmers still work on homesteads in No Man’s Land and the Texas Panhandle. (full context)
The City vs. the Country Theme Icon
...died in 2003 at the age of 99. She told her grandchildren that she missed No Man’s Land . Inavale, Nebraska, where Don Hartwell lived, is a ghost town. A neighbor stopped Verna... (full context)