The Drought Years

The Drought Years

[Written for the 52 Weeks of Personal Genealogy and History, Week 18: The Weather]

I was a kid in the 1970s.  During those years, California was gripped in a severe drought.

As a child, this affected me in many ways.  I always remember sunshine on my January birthday during those years.  Spring came early almost every year.  Sometimes it was over 70 degrees in January.  I had pee wee golf and outdoor picnic parties in the middle of Winter.

I recall when my parents first got the notices for water rationing.  This meant quite alot to my family.  There were seven of us living in three bedroom house.  The water company treated all families equally.  We got the same allotment as a family of four.

This meant that we had to learn about water conservation.  No letting the faucet run!  Showers had to be cut short.  We had plastic bottles in the bathroom so that we could collect water from the shower to use in the garden. I remember that this was really difficult for us and we never met the usage goals.  My parents were always paying penalties for our over usage.

The school yard stopped watering the fields.  The track and the baseball outfield began to blend into one giant weedy dirt heap.  Front yards around the neighborhood began to look dry and weedy too.

We were only allowed to play in the sprinkle on water watering days.  We took advantage of it because we didn’t have air conditioning.

We had a greenhouse way in the back.  My Dad built it for my Sister who was interest in plant.  I knew we weren’t supposed to waste water.  But on the hottest days of Summer, I would sneak into the back, and turn on the mister.  I’d tell myself that I was watering the plants for my Sister.  But, oh, did it feel good cooling off back there!

This year we got 150% of our water needs filled by Mother Nature.  It seemed like the rain would never stop.  It’s hard for me to believe that this is normal.  Normal for me is rainless and dry, a parched Bay Area in need of a drink.

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