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A Dust Bowl Book of Days, 1932

A Dust Bowl Book of Days, 1932


$22.95, Hardback
ISBN: 978-1-941813-29-4

"An invaluable and inherently fascinating documentation of life during one year of the Dust Bowl that would exacerbate the impact of the Great Depression upon millions of farm and ranching families throughout the American Midwest . . . truly extraordinary and unreservedly recommended."—Midwest Book Review

"Unlike most diaries of the 1930s, which record endless harships and woes, this one includes entries that are pithy and funny. It's filled with irony: After paying the landlord money from dressing and selling 50 chickens, she writes 'easy come, easy go.' It's a delight to read."—Denver Post

"Each entry is an exercise in economy, with contents that might have come straight out of a Loretta Lynn song -poverty, near-constant pregnancies, a husband who comes home after a night out with lovin' on his mind, even a small town Boozy. Calamity after calamity befalls the family. ... But though Neises is often weary, ill or exhausted, she faithfully records the day's joys and sorrows and, occasionally, a moment of grace."—South Dakota Magazine 

"A true tribute to the strong women who persevered through the dirty 30's . . . It is impossible to read even a few of Margaret Neises Volk's diary entries and not be touched by her tenacity and wit in describing her everyday life."—Amazon reviewer

"Wry and affecting."—Amazon reviewer

By the early 1930s, dust storms ripped across America’s drought-stricken Great Plains. Living on the northernmost edge of the Dust Bowl, South Dakotans grappled with the natural extremes and economic depression of the era. Many lost their farms and left the state. Others moved to town and fought to survive.

A Dust Bowl Book of Days invites readers into the day-to-day life of Margaret Spader Neises as she cares for her family. She bears witness to her husband’s work struggles, her children’s illnesses, and the forces of nature beyond her control. Margaret’s fears give rise to pithy, poignant observations. Whether documenting the escapades of a young temptress, her family’s attempts to stay one step ahead of the banker, or her own whimsies, Margaret creates a vivid portrait of her life in simple prose.

Author Craig Volk draws on the Great Depression-era diaries of his grandmother Margaret and an unpublished memoir of his mother, Joan Neises Volk to showcase the women who preserved and guided their families through adversity. By synthesizing numerous short entries written throughout the thirties into the single year of 1932, Volk crafts an engaging narrative that provides unique insight into daily life amid hard times.

Based on the writings of Margaret Spader Neises and Joan Neises Volk.

Margaret Spader Neises (1897–1954) was a second-generation American, born to German immigrants who moved to South Dakota to farm. She married Lawrence Neises in 1922, and they settled near Howard, South Dakota, before leaving the farm and moving to Mitchell during the Great Depression in the early 1930s.

Joan Neises Volk (1924–1999) was born in her great-grandmother’s house on the Spader family farm. She attended Notre Dame Academy in Mitchell and called the town home for over sixty-five years, raising five boys with her husband, Erwin.

Additional Reviews:

"While reading Craig’s book, I cannot help but be reminded of my grandmothers stories of what our ancestors endured during the great depression and a dirty 30s. True survivalist and remarkable people. Craig captured and edited the diary of his grandmother Margaret into an easy delightful read that gives us a snapshot of the daily struggles and expectations of most women in that era."—Amazon reviewer

"The book tugged at my emotions as I felt up close and personal witnessing the life of an incredible woman constantly searching for ways daily to make life as good as she could for her entire family. It gave me a chuckle to see issues in relationships of all kinds are often the same, no matter the time in which they takes place."—Amazon reviewer

"Craig Volk's A Dust Bowl Book of Days, 1932 puts you right into the house of Margaret Spader Neises and her family as they struggle to survive in unimaginable conditions. Told through diary entries, you are riveted to the enormous burdens thrust upon the poor working class during the 1930's. You are quickly drawn into the family and with only a line or two, Margaret can reveal the personalities of her family and the people of her town. There are some wonderfully funny moments. As you wonder how people could go through what Margaret and her family did, you are filled with awe and hope. It's a snapshot of American history that deserves to be documented and a portrait of an American woman who deserves to be celebrated."—Amazon reviewer

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