Rural Water - Quarter 4, 2012 - (Page 42)

Throwing My Loop… The Time It Rained BY MICHAEL JOHNSON IN 1973 ELMER Kelton wrote “The Time It Never Rained.” Far from a Western shoot ‘em up, the book is a gripping account of those who lived through a crushing drought in West Texas spanning real events from 1950 to 1957. Tornadoes destroy, hurricanes blow, lightning makes a big show and thunderstorms flood – but at least, it’s all over fairly quickly. Drought, on the other hand, doesn’t even announce its arrival. It just comes in quietly, sits down…and stays. And stays and stays – and slowly tightens its fingers around the throat of every living thing. West Texans are accustomed to dry spells. It is part of life in that country, but the thing that came in the early 50’s was like nothing before. Rivers, lakes, ponds, streams and creeks disappeared. The birds flew away. Even the ticks left. Only the ranchers remained. “It will rain,” they said. “It will rain.” But it didn’t rain. Mort Hertz has been in the ranching business since 1954. He’s 88 now and still lives in San Angelo. “I’ve been in business all these years,” he said, “and I can say anything that can happen has happened to me. I’ve had hailstorms that killed three hundred lambs. Lightning that killed seventy sheep. Lightning has killed my saddle horses, my cows and bad fires that burned up all my fences. The drought was a hundred times worse.” Last year, we had a taste – a small taste – of what that 50’s drought must have been like. After 70 days of temperatures above 100 degrees and no rain for months, I learned things about drought that I never wanted to know. I knew about watering the foundation of your home, but watering a fence? Did you know a drought can knock down a fence? No wildlife, no birds, just silence. The horses staring. More of our beautiful lake disappeared every day. Later 42 • Fourth Quarter 2012 came fear. “Should we move? Pack up all our belongings and head north?” A deep and profound sense of dread came on me. I certainly would not have admitted to anyone what I was feeling. Didn’t even want to admit it to myself…I was afraid. That was when I went to see Mrs. Ray. Chrystell Ray is almost 90 years of age now. Still active, sharp mind intact, and even though she has been on that farm for most of her life, one of the most well-read human beings I have known. “I’m worried about this,” I began. “Um-hmm,” she answered. “Have you ever seen anything like this?” I asked. “Yes,” she said. “Was it this bad?” “Um-hmm.” “Well, what do you think?” She looked out her old farmhouse kitchen window, and I knew she was remembering. Silence. Then she turned to look directly at me, and with just a hint of a smile at the corners of her lips, she looked at me for quite some time, and then she said, “This too will pass.”

Table of Contents for the Digital Edition of Rural Water - Quarter 4, 2012

From the President
Standard Operating Procedures for Flood Preparation and Response
Drought Management Planning
Fracking: Is it a Threat?
Disaster Relief in the Social Media Age
The Social Media Mullet
Nashville is a Smash
Rural Water Honors the Best of the Best
Throwing my Loop
Index to Advertisers /
From the CEO

Rural Water - Quarter 4, 2012