Facts about Dust Bowl Life
The following fact sheet contains interesting facts and information on Dust Bowl Life.
Dust Bowl Life: "I'd Rather Not Be on Relief"
The words of "I'd Rather Not Be on Relief" by Lester Hunter was written in 1938 in the midst of the Dust Bowl Disaster. The humiliating aspects of Dust Bowl Life is reflected in the lyrics of the song and the views of the people that were experiencing the problems of the Dust Bowl disaster. Lester Hunter was a migrant from the Dust Bowl who was forced to move from his home and travel to California in a desperate search for a new life, a new home and a new job. Lester Hunter, like so many other Dust Bowl migrants, did not want charity, they wanted to work - hence the title "I'd Rather Not Be on Relief". The poem was turned into a song by Dust Bowl migrants at the Shafter FSA Camp in California in 1938.
Dust Bowl Life: The Dust Bowl Disaster
The Dust Bowl was a disaster of epic proportions. It began with a drought in 1930 and the soil in the prairie states turned to dust. Crops were literally blew away in "black blizzards". The dust storms destroyed 100 million acres of land in the 'Dust Bowl' and resulted in 3 million farmers becoming unemployed, losing their homes and forced to start a new, uncertain life in unaffected states such as California and Florida.
Dust Bowl Life: The Migrants
It is estimated that 200,000 migrants from the prairies states headed for California. Lester Hunter was just one of those migrants.
Dust Bowl Life: Roosevelt's New Deal
Lester Hunter expresses his views of the welfare and relief programs initiated by President Franklin D. Roosevelt in his 'New Deal' in his poem. Roosevelt's 'New Deal instituted the 3 R's - Relief, Recovery and Reform. Lester Hunter believed that the government's welfare programs were simply short term solutions to long term problems.
Dust Bowl Life: Interesting Primary Source Document
The lyrics to "I'd Rather Not Be on Relief" by Lester Hunter is an excellent primary source document that can be used by teachers and student studying the history of Dust Bowl life using words of a man who experienced the ordeal first-hand, and his views of Dust Bowl life.