By Lincoln Powers

Desert Rat Scrap Book



      I remember when my dad, Bill Powers, purchased the whole Desert Rat Scrap Book empire from Harry. I was only 4-5 years old at the time. I had my picture taken with Harry for a local newspaper at that time, with the caption reading something to the effect "potential future publisher." Harry was always very nice to me, and I remember him well. Back at that time, my dad and mom were going through a divorce, so my dad lived at the fort with Harry. I would spend week-ends with both Harry and my dad, and it was like camping out every week-end. Great place for young boy to run and play. Harry always had an old coin he would give me, after pulling it out of my ear, or having it materialize out of thin air. It made an impression on me because I remember him vividly to this day.
Two of Twelve One of Twelve      My father passed away in 1984 of a kidney illness. He had been on dialysis for three years before his passing. After taking over the paper from Harry completely, he would travel across the great Southwest and sell to specific outlets, and attempt to find new ones. When he would come back from his travels, he would be bedridden for weeks. He didn't know it at that time, but his kidneys were failing him. There was blood in his urine, passing of kidney stones, etc. After his second trip across the Southwest, he was hospitalized. The travels were just too much for his kidneys and he was forced to give up the venture.
     He had offers from prospective buyers for the Scrap Book, but he had always hoped to pick up the venture again, or have me have an interest in it. When I was between the ages of 8 to 12, I would ask my dad for 15 to 20 Desert Rat Scrap Books, and I would head out door knocking. I was always able to sell enough Scrap Books at 25 cents each, to allow me to do what-ever I needed the funds for. This was always a great way for me to make money as a child.
     When I was in my young twentys, I started thinking about starting up the paper again. My dad and I got together quite a few times before his passing, to go over all of the details in publishing the paper. I was preparing to start right at where my dad left off; Packet 3 of Pouch 12 was to be my first print. During my apprenticeship with my dad, he passed away. This was in December of 1984. I started going to many of the places Harry and dad sold to, and search out those who remembered Harry Oliver and his Scrap Book. Ninety percent of the old timers I found were very encouraging and excited about me doing this project, but they convinced me to simply re-print Harry's work. Since I had 46 issues of material, I decided to move forward with re-printing. This was back in 1985-86.
     I printed 5,000 copies of the first issue and headed out on the streets. I went to ghost towns, touristy areas, mom and pop stores, and anywhere I thought I might sell them. I was actually pretty successful at getting the Scrap Books sold to the store owners, but the paper didn't sell well to the public. Now Harry was a unique person with a lot of showmanship. I didn't and don't have that quality in my personality and I didn't have the notoriety that Harry had. By this time, very few people knew of Harry Oliver, and the Scrap Book just didn't sell.
     Harry and my dad would always replace whatever wasn't sold of one issue with the next issue. As I mentioned, I was successful at selling to the store owners, but I found that I was replacing many unsold issues with the next issue. (That is one reason I have so many re-prints available.) After attempting this for one year, I couldn't afford the gas and time away from work to continue. My wife and I would travel light and stay in camp sites to conserve funds, but it just didn't become self supportive and I had to move on.
     I will never regret my attempt at the resurrection of Harry Oliver's Desert Rat Scrap Book. I think Harry Oliver was an amazing individual and it is shameful that more people don't know of him. There is a Gas station sitting where Fort Oliver once stood. They tore down the fort many years ago.
     I learned quite a bit in my attempt to resurrect the Scrap Book, and I believe it has helped me become succesful in my current vocation of Real Estate. I headed out on the street armed with boxes of Scrap Books at the age of 24 or 25. I came up with my own sales pitch, and went up to store owners and managers asking for a minute of their time. With no prior sales experiance, I would always sell every book I had. They just didn't sell from there.
     My wife and I started a family in 1989 with a daughter, and my son followed in 1991. Both were born at the Palm Springs hospital. We moved away from the Coachella Valley in 1993 and currently reside in St. George, Utah.
     Hope that I haven't bored you too much; I know it's a long story, and that is actually the short version. I had read about my dad returning to the sea, but I knew better. He did love the sea but he loved the serenity of the desert as well. My dad admired Harry very much.
     Lincoln Powers