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Friday, September 09, 2011

And What Of Iowa?

Ahh Wikipedia, the writer's best first step forward.  Even if it's not entirely accurate, it is a great (free) place to start digging around.

So, at Wikipedia I search for "Iowa History" which... takes me to the "History Of Iowa".  Man, you gotta love it when it's that straight forward.  Alright then, so we're looking for 'Americana', or something weird or interesting or that would somehow carry a strong emotional resonance.  All four would be even better.

History caps on, people -- it's Research Time!

- Iowa was part of the Louisiana Purchase (<-- great read) in 1803, US purchased the land from the French.

- The US didn't have uncontested control of Iowa until after the war of 1812 and it didn't become a state until 1846.

- Railroads in the 1850s and 60s changed the face of Iowa from subsistence farming to commodity farming

- Iowa "contributed a disproportionate amount of young men to fight in the American Civil War".

- After the Civil War, Iowa became an agricultural powerhouse and supplied food to the rest of the nation.

- With Industrialization of agriculture this only grew over time, until the small family farm was threatened by larger farms

- Then came the Great Depression (1929-1940-ish), which hit Iowa exceedingly hard as prices of meat and food bottomed out.

- Recovered in the early 1940's after the passage of the Agricultural Adjustment Act (passed in 1933 but took a while to get full effect).

Now, out of this list, the thing that really kind of grabs me is the idea of the Great Depression; it's a time of great strife, a classic and deeply emotional American tale.

When I think of the Great Depression, the thing that pops into my mind -- one of the most iconic times -- is the Dustbowl; a time of endless heat, drought and rolling dust storms through the breadbasket of America.

Unfortunately, as I dig deeper into my research, Iowa didn't really get caught up in the Dustbowl.  They'd had some years of drought, but nowhere near as bad as what was going on in the Southwest.

That said, they did have one really bad year -- 1936 -- where essentially all the dust from the Dustbowl came home to roost on what little they'd managed to grow.

From the article:
"Dust drifted two or three feet high, around fences and buildings. Dust sifted into houses, under doors and through cracks around windows. It filled the air, darkening the day."

Well, that's certainly an event of note.  But how would The Doctor get involved?  Or maybe this is ultimately a red herring in my investigation, maybe this isn't the right setting at all.  Still, it's an interesting tidbit.  Let's file that one away.

Okay, so... what else happened to those living in Iowa?  Well, with food prices bottomed out, many farmers couldn't afford to pay the debts they incurred while producing food for the war -- that means no work, little or no crops, lots of hunger.  Farms were being foreclosed on, Banks were shuttering their doors and even those with money saved were finding themselves bankrupt, sometimes overnight.

Yes, there's definitely something here... I'm not sure what yet, but something about this setting is speaking to me.  I'm going to think on this a bit more, see what comes to mind.

Meanwhile, keep on reading those Doctor Who scripts!  Now, I was originally going to tackle "Waters of Mars" on Monday, but since it's a 'special' episode, it's not really fair.  Instead, I'll take a look at "Planet Of The Dead", the last stand-alone episode of Doctor Who before David Tennant began his swan song and passed the torch over to Matt Smith.

So, if you choose to read only one script this weekend, check out that one.

Anyways, more to come!


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