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But sometimes they don't have them.
MAILING PRICE $1.00 A YEAR
After the Democrats get rid of Summerfield and stamps come down in price,
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H A R R Y O L I V E R
1888 — 1999
There is nothing bigger than the "out-doors."
Nature teaches beasts to know their friends.
People ask me how I get my name in the papers so often. It is so easy—all you do is build yourself the most colorful place to live in all the whole county—then live in it 20 years or so with a startling horde of screw-ball animals—and if you do not give the Animals "last names"—your name is sure to be used every time they do the unexpected—and who is to know—you kinda set-the-stage—abit—
Peg Leg Smith
The P.T. Barnum of Desert Ghosts
THINGS JUST HAPPEN IN BORREGO DESERT
In the year 1836 an earthquake shook-up this desert valley and from Coyote Mountain a large boulder was detached and rolled out on the edge of the valley (where the view is good and the parking grand) in the next hundred years, the hot summer sun and the cool winters caused this boulder to disintegrate and decompose into fragments,—the base of the Peg-Leg Monument today.
This all happened the same year Peg-Leg Smith came West and found and also lost his fabulous GOLD, (the most noteworthy colourable Desert fantasy we have today.) A little less that a hundred years later, I, Harry Oliver, homesteaded in Borrego. The survey showed this disintegrated rock to be on the section line, the East Boundary of my 160 acres, along side of the H.O. Ranch adobe house.
In the year of 1916 the Peg Leg Smith Club was started,—at first just talk, Doc A. A. Beatty was the Boss Tall Tale Teller, Roy Brininger, second best, The Kelseys and Jack Dickerson, Harry Woods and the DuVall's and others kept it going.
It was about 20 years later (1935) that I got to know Peg Leg (and learned I could tune-in and talk to the Old Gold-Finding-Ghost) 6 shots of old Bourbon was all it took to make contact—8 shots and he would come and sit beside me. This Bourbon stuff is Payola, unpaid as—YET.
PRESS AGENT FOR A GHOST
It was after we talked, sitting on the fragments of the rock, that I started as his Press Agent and went to work on getting the Monument started.
As to what has been done over the last 25 years I suggest you read Bert Fireman, of the "Phoenix Gazette," his story, on the next page, Bert is Arizona's top historian and assayer of "Lost Mines."
HAPPY OLD GHOST
And I just wonder if he don't know where his lost mine is,—Why else does he always hang around Borrego?
As I await the word from Clyde E. Strickler Park Supervisor—that,—at long-last, (after 25 years effort) The San Diego County Land Marks Society, — will accept The Peg-Leg Monument. And after endless requests the Historical Society will adopt Mr. Thomas L. Smith as a sure-enough Borrego Desert Pioneer.
I am happy as I know, the Old Ghost himself told me, it will be.)
A Show Bigger Than
Two Thousand Wild Buffalo Stampeded past thge Grandstand in the last 'Act.'—Can you just see J.J.C. of M.G.M. taking 2000 Wild Bufalo to Rome,—(I can't).
"Where?" — Up in Belle Fourche, South Dakota, 'The Black Hills Roundup," stages a Great Show here at this place in the spectacular Bad Lands, (July 3-5).
"Gee"—2000 is a lot of Buffalo.
* * *
In this edition you will find many Shows of The Old West with names and places you should know more about.
I can't begin to list them all—A chain of Missions, many Great Parks, Ghost Towns, numerous Cavalcades, Indian Pow-Wow's, and Frontier Days.—I pick them for showmanship and unforgetable names.—So I say, "Take a few years off and see them all."
Peg-Leg in New York
My 25 years as Press Agent for a Peg Leg Ghost has at long last caught the attention of New York.
Frank Scully, writing in the New York Variety, May 25, 1955, says, and I quote—"Wonder if Oliver ever heard of the silver pegleg that was buried with Peter Stuyvesant, once a mayor of New York? If he ever does, he may do for the silver market what even Wm. Jennings Bryan couldn't do."
The Burro hiding behind his absurd face has a keen intellect, is a great actor, and has long taken his part in entertainment. Some are used frankly as museum pieces. Owners of roadside establishments in the Southwest often park one or two outside to lure tourists. Rodeo clowns train them as comedy mounts, and they are used for laughs in softball or basketball games where the players are mounted. A burro race is staged in Colorado each year, from Leadville to Fairplay. Also Death Valley has its Burro-Flapjack race. In the dude and pack-trail business, eleven burros pack about as much as six horses, eat less, and are surer-footed. Several outfits, including the Sierra Club, of San Francisco, use burros for pack animals on hiking trips over the John Muir Trail. Burros are also standard equipment without which no buried-treasure expedition would be official.
HISTORICAL WESTERN SHOWS WITH COLORFUL
NAMES STAGED ON THE ACTUAL SPOT3
BILLY THE KID
First Saturday-Sunday in August, Lincoln, New Mexico
In 1870-80 Lincoln was a sleepy little Spanish-American town. Today Lincoln looks much the same except that the population has been about quartered.
It was here, after the bloody "Lincoln County War" (typical frontier feud)—that Billy the Kid was brought to be hanged, and from the old courthouse building he made his last escape.
The "DAY IN OLD LINCOLN" includes actual court, re-enacted by old-timers themselves, (from court records) and a pageant depicting the famous escape of this winsome-mannered juvenile delinquent.
It takes everybody in Lincoln to put it on, and many of the parts are taken by descendants of the persons who "played" the original roles. It is carefully done, with an eye to facts—facts with enough to need no "souping up."
The Jumping Frog of Calaveras
MARK TWAIN GIVES US THE JUMPING FROG OF CALAVERAS
The Jumping Frog story is a living bit of American folklore, acted out annually in Angel's Camp, Calaveras County,—(on a Sunday in mid May).
The contestants are Frogs from many states, and the rules are carefully enforced,—just as told in any collection of Mark Twain's short stories. Read his story, then you will have a good excuse to go see the storied 'Mother Lode Country' of Bret Harte and Mark Twain,—sure wonderful in mid May.
"Aint it peculiar? No two people are alike and both are glad of it" . . . . I am trying to think if Mark Twain said it to Bret Harte of Lucius Beebe?—or if I saw it in Bruce Patterson's column?
Cat and Fiddletown Dog
We were being shown through the Old St Charles Hotel at Fiddletown, a Ghost Town up in the Mother Lode. As the Guide directed us, he says. "This is the room and the desk where Francis Bret Harte wrote his famous masterpiece, 'The Luck of Roaring Camp,' as his cat (a constant companion) lay happily on the window-sill and purred, from his chair he could look out this window and view the scene of the story."
"Indeed! Why, last year you showed us another room on the other side of the Hotel and you told us his dog (a constant companion) was always at his side and he had written "The Outcasts of Poker flat," looking from that window."
"Quite right, quite right Sir — but that room is being repainted this week—the dog is having a week off — and you Sir are sure spoiling my vacation — this week I was not going to talk or think about that dam' Dog.
here I am
Western Painter & Story-Teller
Tells, Why Western Tales Are Tall
A man in the States might have-been a liar in a small way, but when he comes West he soon takes lessons from the prairies, the desert, where ranges a hundred miles away seem within touchin' distance, streams run uphill, and Nature appears to lie some herself.
Russell says, The biggest lie he ever saw was "The Aurora Borealis" one cold night in the early '80s when riding home to Mile City after spending most of the night at the "Wake" of Pat Geyser. He says that the Northern Lights were shooting up some 600 miles and the colors were of all variety, and damned if they were not in time with my hic-cups.
WILD BILL HICKOCK
The Trial of Jack Mc Call DEADWOOD
Black Hills, South Dakota
(Friday to Sunday in Early August)
The most famous part of "Deadwood's Days 76," a three-day Show, is the trial of Jack McCall who without reason, shot Wild Bill Hickok.
Staged as a hilarious Presentation, this trial is said to have been taken verbatim from the records of the miner's court.
Write the deadwood Pioneer Times and ask for their latest "Days of 76" number, best to put in a few stamps — Darn that fellow "Summerfield"
PEG-LEG gets applause
From Arizonas Expert Bert Fireman
Of The Phoenix Gazette. Bert knows all about Ghosts, Lost Mines, Buried Treasure and Dam Liars.
UNDER THE SUN
In The Phoenix Gazette De 23 1959
Almost everyone has his pet legend, his pet dream—a Big Spoof in which he steadfastly believes despite any facts to the contrary. And who's to say there isn't solace and comfort in such willing suspension of logic?
Nobody has learned to make better use of it than my old friend and Secessionist holdout, Harry Oliver, the self-styled Desert Rat of Thousand Palms. That's a wide spot off the freeway a few miles west of Indio. There he has daubed an adobe structure into a replica of what a desert fortress might have been in pioneer days. There he publishes a unique newspaper scrap book devoted to Western Americana, and enlarges upon his personal Spoof—the mystery of the Lost Peg Leg Smith Mine.
My pride in Arizona be hanged, I have to admit the Lost Peg Leg is richer than the Lost Dutchman, because it has the built-in wealth of loving proprietorship. Oliver, a former movie producer, started with wisps of a lost mine tale no more or less substantial than our local fable.
With a wealth of imagination and showmanship he has built it up into a treasure that constantly throws off clues as a cyclotron does neutrons. One year Oliver carved a pile of peg legs from old mine timbers. He weathered them still more in acid and a sand blaster, then dropped them into sand dunes and canyon where they were a cinch to be found by rockhounds and tourists. The myth of the Lost Peg Leg Mine grew anew, and he delighted in its prosperity.
FINE IDEA: This is a technological improvement upon the older and less resourceful means of promoting a lost mine—the distribution of weathered cryptic maps and the publication of fictionalized accounts of the mine search. A peg leg carved from weathered wood is so substantial and real. It is a clue second only to a bar of gold as evidence of an elusive El Dorado.
At the Christmas season each year, as soon as the first go-round of turkey has settled, Oliver gathers aficionados of the Lost Peg Leg Mine myth for an Annual Trek and Liar's Fete. This is held at the growing Peg Leg Monument in the Borrego Deseret, hard against the coastal range that guards the Imperial Valley from the Pacific Ocean.
This monument is being built of stones hauled to the site by those willing to invest a few drops of sweat in their quest for desert romance. Each visitor is asked to bring a rock to heap upon the pile. Oliver slips back afterwards to examine them, hoping that some day one of those rocks may match the odd little black stones that Peg Leg Smith was said to have carried in his pockets when he wandered, thirst-crazed, into Warner's Ranch on the desert fringe.
Actually the rocks were encrusted gold nuggets. Nobody ever did find the hilltop he described, although Smith and thousands of others searched for it in vain.
The one who has gained most from the retelling and enlarging of the story has been the bearded, bubbly Oliver. Yet this year he won't even be present at the Trek and Liar's Fete. He has agreed to set aside his endless search for Peg Leg's gold for something more substantial. He's going to ride in the Pasadena Rose Parade on the Palm Springs Float. Civic responsibility finally has priority over his personal Spoof.
I thank you folks for waving—I was there in one of Peg-Leg's — invisible "Ghost-Costumes."
VALUE OF POSTERS
Many of you old-timers will remember the poster "Mon Randall" did for the "Pendleton Roundup," they use it for years and years, (15 or 20). It was a collector's item, it found its way to the walls of many rumpus-rooms, saddle and gun-shops, Clubs, etc.—If you have a good Show,—a 'clean-cut-feature' get a good poster and in so doing keep word of it before the Out-Door man the year-round. H.O.
Wheelbarrow John of Hangtown
By Herb S. Hamlin - Editor
The PONY EXPRESS
Gold Rush Days produced fabulous men, all with small beginnings. Placerville, that won its sobriquet of "Hangtown" on account of numerous necktie parties, perhaps led the parade. Philip Armour ran a butcher shop, Mark Hopkins a grocery store. Across the street humble John Studebaker made wheelbarrows in the back end of Johnny Hind's blacksmith shop. Studebaker the son of a Pennsylvania Dutchman, born on the field of Gettysburg in 1833, wore out his boots crossing the Plains and Rockies. Only fifty cents was left in his pocket on arrival in the 'Diggins'. He was short on footwear for mining, but did not dishearten. His eagle eyes opened to what was going on, and what was badly needed, — wheelbarrows for the miners to move muck to their jigs, cradles, and long toms, So John went to work.
On February 22, 1855, Adams & Co. went broke, due to shortage of water in the hills for placer mining. Lack of showfall in dry years caused county Sheriffs to put locks on all front doors of their banks. By this time young Studebaker had $3,000.00 saved up, and on deposit. He was suspicious of the bank manager, and hid by Hangtown Creek watching the back door. One moonless night "Wheelbarrow John' saw the plug-hat banker and his helpers moving out the Gold. The frugal Dutchman was not going to lose his in any such manner. Pulling his gun on them he demanded his three thousand dollars be counted out at once. It was loaded in his wheelbarrow and pushed home.
In the making of his sturdy wooden wheelbarrows Studebaker had constructed the wheel with the spokes staggered from the wooden hub, but lined up on the rim, this was the first wooden wheel that would not 'dish'. He knew its worth, So with his invention of a staggered-spoke-wheel to prevent 'dishing' John having saved enough money, he returned to Indiana. In a few short years, with the help of his Father and Brothers, The Studebaker Stage Coaches, Wagons and Buggies became famous. From South Bend, Indiana they rolled West, on wheels that got you there.
Is it any wonder that on August 27th 1939, the El Dorado County's Fair Association should inaugurate a program to immortalize John Mohler Studebaker.
STUDEBAKER DAY . . . Make it a point to see the Wheelbarrow Races this year. August is a nice time to see "The Mother Lode Country," and the Old Timers will for sure show you a good time.
SIMPLE LASTING DESERT FUN4
This page is dedicated to the World's Greatest Optimist--The DESERT PROSPECTOR
DESERT RAT SCRAP BOOK
DICK WICK HALL
Only one, never to be forgotten performance
Dick Wick Hall, Miner, Promoter and Desert Humorist of Salome, Arizona, some thirty years ago, whose stories appeared in the Saturday Evening Post—and made Salome famous is also remembered by some of us old timers for his great gold promotion.
Dick discovered gold on three sides of a small mountain sitting out in the desert and as digging was hard and slow in the hot summer sun, he figured a way to do the job in a big way.
His way was simple, a hundred people put in a hundred dollars each (but he didn't want poor people's money), all the money to be spent for dynamite, the stockholders to be on hand, to walk in and pick up their own gold on the day set for the blast.
The day came and so did the stockholders; there was never anything like it (but maybe the A-bomb); some said there was a tidal wave went up the Colorado River sixty miles away.
After the dust settled, the stockholders went in to pick up their gold, but there was no gold—a few showed their disappointment — some talked nasty—but an alert deputy sheriff from Yuma, stepped up on a large rock—the men gathered around him, as he said—"Fellows, you have had weeks of dreams, enthusiasm and anticipation—you saw and heard the greatest blast you will ever see—and by dam, you got something to talk about the rest of you life—let's give three cheers for Dick Wick Hall.
I would like to say nice things about Christine Sterling's "Olivera Street" and the "Ramona Pageant," but they don't sell my paper on Olivera Street or in Hemet—(We just have to have that PAYOLA—the only modern thing about this paper.)
CATS IS CATS
By J. Frank Martin
Some years ago when I was living in the San Fernando valley, a nondescript yellow tom cat came to live at our house. He was remarkably intelligent and learned among other things to sit up like a dog and beg at the table. Over a period of time we grew quite fond of "Tom." He was a wonderful gopher catcher and quite a pet. I fixed a small hinged opening in the door for him and he learned to go in and out backing in so's the hinged door would not bang his tail.
One day he came limping in with right paw completely mangled up to the first joint. We rushed him to the vet, the paw was amputated and he recovered in short order. But with three legs it was a little difficult for him to get around as he had done before. I carved a wooden leg for him with a leather boot and contrived a harness to hold it on and he soon was getting around as nimble as ever.
One day I saw him sitting beside a gopher hole and watched to see how he could catch a gopher with his handicap. Soon the gopher put his head out of the hole, and Tom, with lightning swiftness, hit the gopher on the back of the neck with the wooden leg and knocked him out. He quickly finished him off and proudly dragged him to the door for my approval.
As told by Old Captain Catnip Ashby — who scoffs at Ghost Stories.
I saw her coming in carried by a high wind, it was manned by a crew of cucarachas, who brought it to a perfect landing, whirling as it was after it hit the water, yet they guided it to the shore safely. One of the cockroaches (it sounds better in Spanish) one of the cucarachas with a moustache, the pilot I think, told me they had tried flying saucers but it was too hard to hang on. Then he said "See each of my crew carry a 'sticky' cocklebur to hang on to, to keep from whirling off into space and you know you get lonesome if you are all alone in space—I think there is too much space, don't you?"
And, said, Catnip, I had to agree with him.
JOHN B. STETSON SHOW
No other article has had such a lasting effect on the Westerner. And no other specific trade brand, with the possible exception of the Colt's sixshooter, has been so much in Western literature. The John B. Stetson hat is the Westerner's trade mark, his crowning glory.
The notion for a distinctive Western had started struggling in the mind of John B. Stetson one day on a Colorado prairie. Stetson, son of a Philadelphia hatter, was going west in the 1860's to seek a cure for tuberculosis, the plague of hatters. In a trek from St Joseph, Missouri, to Pike's Peak region, he and a small group camped in the cold. Talk turned to shelter, particularly the immediate need of a tent. Tents made of untanned animal skins were unpleasant, and Stetson, being a hatter, happened to mention that a fur could be processed without tanning and that cloth could be made without weaving. His companions challenged Stetson to prove it.
With improvised tools, Stetson used an age-old process of felting and converted fur from a rabbit into felt. And he fashioned a hat which he considered the best head protector for Western weather. It was a big hat, one that would protect a man from rain, sun, cold, wind and even hail.
Stetson wore the hat and was the talk of the mining camps. One day a handsome giant horseman saw the hat and wanted to try it on. Stetson handed over the hat and the horseman placed it on his head. The ex-hatter surveyed the picture. Here was a giant of a man—the Western type—in a silver-ornamented saddle on a spirited horse. Stetson liked the effect. The horseman did too. He gave Stetson ten dollars.
About a year later, after Stetson regained his health, he returned to Philadelphia and started making hats,—Hats that made men, Hats for cattle kings, for the boss of the plains.
Old John B. has found his place in Colorado Festival and Pageant . . . . . but today the big SHOW in this great State is that—
VOTERS WILL NOT SEND ANYONE TO WASHINGTON UNLESS THEY HAVE 10 GALLON HEADS IN THEIR 10 GALLON HATS.
THOSE WITH 5 GALLON HEADS MUST STAY HOME.
What a small world.
I went to see the new owner of our "old 99 Cafe"
Martha Rapp told me about how, (when she was a little girl, in Philadelphia), her father George Pote being the oldest employee of Stetson Co., at the time, had the honor of presenting Tom Mix with one of the finest 10 Gallon Hats. As his Circus Band played, "Where did you get that Hat."
Gasoline and Oil
Open the Year 'Round
MY MODESTY HAS GONE WITH THE WIND
I TELL THIS MYSELF WITH NO HELP FROM HORATIO ALGER
This "Modesty business" has been a kind of "quarantine" I lived with for 72 years,—"but the sign is down." I must say at the age of 72 my modesty has gone with the desert wind, — So lets talk about me, — for my Grand Children.
Here We Go
For the last 40 of my 72 years I have done things thoroughly—with a stick-to-it-iveness Not brilliance — but my simple showmanship—has a quality of ever-lasting plainness,—clean-cut as a Trade-Mark,—also all my shows are a part of a definite plan to glorify the Desert West.
60 Years Ago
My first love of show-business, — came at the age of 12—my older brother lifted me atop a piano, back-stage to see my first show,—Joseph Jefferson in the legendary Rip Van Winkle. I remember the show as if it were yesterday. That was exactly 60 years ago.
Fun All of It
My years of show-business included all branches,—Theatre,—Circus,—Fairs and Expositions, Motion Pictures, — Annual Festivals, and out-door Celebrations. As a Motion Picture 'Production Designer', after 30 years in Hollywood, I was able to pick my jobs,—so I took trips abroad and saw and 'worked' in Rome, Paris, Naples, London, Dublin, Mexico, Tahiti and China.
Coming from a family of Pioneers that had walked across the continent at an average of two states to a generation.—My great love was naturally for the West—The Desert West.
Good Old Bill
I had a great admiration for Will Rogers and was Art Director on several of his pictures.—It was he that inspired me to try for something beyond just being the designer.
The Tase for this type of fin was started in 1935 when your Editor staged Gold Gulch at the California Pacific International Exposition at San Diego.
"The Rip Roarin'est Mining Camp since '49" as designer, producer and director of the twenty-one acre Old West Mining Camp, I'd received much publicity; the following tells the tale of the fun I had.
From Bill's Sunday column, May 19, 1935
Yes, but we haven't got enough with that spirit. We talk more independence than we practice. Here is an interesting letter from an old friend of mine, Harry Oliver. He was art director for our movie company (Fox). That's the man that arranges all the "Sets." That's the houses and scenes that we shoot. Well, he is quite a desert rat, and has a place away out on the desert, and he is head of the big amusement place called Gold Gulch at the big San Diego Exposition, which you don't want to miss. It's going to be a big fair. He is putting on a "Mule Swearing Contest." That is its prizes for the man that an cuss a mule the best or worst. They are importing real Missouri mules. He has a lazy dog contest, where thee is handsome prizes for the laziest dog, including the owner.
Then he has a special contest just for residents from Florida, who can tell the biggest lie about California, (or maybe it won't be a lie, but the Californians will call it a lie). I can't imagine what it would be if it was a lie. California is a hard state to lie about.
Yes, — Will Rogers Sunday column started me planning out-door contests in a big way,—Why,—the very next week I staged a Cigarette Rolling Contest,—The Bull Durham People—(The American Tobacco Company) had sent me two 36-inch Bronze Plaques—ornamented with their Bull,—(this wa before the law made them put the fence in front of the bull).
I had two contests—two-hand and one-hand rolling,—a plaque as a prize for each,—The contestants were Cow Boys,—Miners and Sailors,—a Sailor won the two hand contest and took his plaque to his ship. But three, one-armed Night-Watch-Men tied for the one-hand contest — but you know it took three play-offs to get a winner.
No Payola for Rolling-Your-Own
And to think today there ain't a TV star can roll them with the help of the whole staff.
In Will Rogers' write-up he told of my Mule Swearing Contest—
The 'Mule Skinner' contestants were given 4 mules hitched abreast to 'Fresno' scrapers. And made to fill and level-off a gully full of tree stumps.
Price of Progress
Today the bull-dozers noise would rob you of the exquisiteness of the old time swearing.
My Lazy Dog contest was a great show—only I must tell you, the dogs get over being lazy when there are too many of them. We gave up hope of picking a winner, and went out to eat, came back to find an Old Mexican and his dog asleep. They got First, Second, and Third prizes,—and we went to bed.
Good Old Days
Coming back to the Desert in 1940 this time to stay "for all time," — I helped Uncle Sam at the Air Base for 5 years. Went to work again as Press Agent for the Ghost of Peg-Leg,—Designed and built The Date Festival Stage,—Started this Desert Rat Scrap Book,—Built Old Adobe Fort Oliver—stronghold of the secessionists—exploitation headquarters for Desert Rats, Ghosts, Burros and all that is good "copy" in our Desert. — Newspapers were always good to me.
Through this elapse of time I was in and out of the Desert, Wrote 3 books, and a Newspaper Column for a year. . . . I tried for the Centennial Shows in 1949—but was discouraged—few have been repeated.
Fighting for the Desert Animals
L. Burr Belden in The San Bernardino Sun Telegram in 1950 at a time we were all Campaigners for Burro Protection.
Said This of Me
It has remained for Harry Oliver, Desert Rat Scrap Book publisher of Thousand Palms, however, to lampoon the burro shooters. Oliver has issued a "set of instructions to burro hunters" which advises:
"Get in your car and go to Death Valley. For practice shoot all the road signs an power insulators on the way, along with an occasional shot at a bunch of cattle of some prospector's house (he might be in it).
"When you see the burros, get up wind wo your scent will be carried to them. Open a fresh can of tobacco and as the burros come to eat out of your hand you are sure not to miss if you wait until they are 10 feet away before pulling the trigger."
Matt Weinstock in The 'Daily News' Los Angeles, On November 9th 1952.—Told it with the brevity I like
Desert rat Harry Oliver is always cooking up something different to glamorize the desert. This time it's a burro-flapjack sweepstakes Sunday near Stovepipe Wells, as part of the Death Valley 49ers encampment. First prospector to pick a site, unload his burro, lay out his camp, start a fire and flip a flapjack to his Burro to eat̵wins.
Randall Henderson, Editor of The Desert Magazine in his Magazine of January, 1953, told how it all came to life.
Last September the idea of a Burro Beauty contest was suggested to the directors of the 49ers. They named Harry Oliver chairman, and Harry developed the flapjack angle which he felt would produce a more interesting event than a mere beauty contest.
My Original Rules, Harry Oliver 1952
Burro Flapjack Race
This is the Top Show of the Death Valley '49ers Annual Encampment and is staged in Mid-November of each year.
I planned this show to keep alive the Desert's most glamorous and intimate team—the Prospector-Burro combination.
This will long live as a show of the "Right Sort" in the "Right Place." The numerous committeemen, judges and contestants work untiringly, striving to bring back all the color as well as authentic garb of the Prospector, including beard, as well as hand and belt props—much stress is put on the perfection of the Burro's Pack—the Kayaks, the Diamond Hitch&8212;(can be the Packer's Hitch with, or without, a Gahilagan,—Army Hitch—or Mormon Hitch). The Pick can be thin-handled prospector's pick or undersize Washoe pack pick. Ax trappers single bit, Canteen 1 gal, blanket-covered. Standard wooden pack saddle—Kayaks can be leather, canvas, or wood, covered or not—Bed can be sleep-bag or blankets.
Contestants will receive points on the perfection of all above.
At gun shot the Old Timers start on a 100 yard rae, (much to the delight of the photographers) and must after passing the flag – pick spot — lay out bed, neatly. Pick and shovel must be handles up — takes canten, ax and cooking needs to fire—a fire they must start. (At this point I must tell you readers that the worst thing about a burro is his stubbornness. He wants to do things his way, and is likely to do most anything at any time.) If the Burro will let the Old Timer cook a flapjack, hge will get to eat it&8212;and his team will win.
Kyach or Kayak
See Poster—Page 3
At the second staging of this show at Randsburg I greatly improved the race (from the audience angle) with the choice of land contours, I am sure theis year's chairman will take advantage of this change. Your Editor.
Doing Things Thoroughly
As Chairman I worked out some rules, got and O.K. and some praise from HOOFS and HORNS the Official Publication of The Rodeo and Cowboys Associations of America.
My Desert Shows
Some times the Leprechaun's just push your pencil around.
I have been accused of "Barnumizing" the Desert, I think to be so accused is a great compliment. Old P. T. Barnum had Jumbo, largest elephant, Tom Thumb, smallest man—I have a Burro, Dog, Crow, Pack Rat, Cat, Tortoise and an audience of Praying Mantisses, Vinegaroons, Lizards, Scorpions, Centipedes, Jerusalem-Crickets and Sidewinders.
Yes I think our show is good as desert shows go, (it's home talent). Old "Burr" the Buzzard has each spring applauded it and he gets to see a lot.
(I always get a kick out of seeing a bashful sidewinder come in late and go own the aisle when only the "PAW and CLAW Lights" are on.)
When the Annual Cricket or Caterpillar Conventions are on we put on three shows a night. (Gee we got to, if we didn't they would eat up the scenery.)
I have tried shows with people in the desert but I always come back to my animals, they have so much more imagination, shows with desert people are not so good, they just want to do the same thing over and over till all lose interest in it, I look at it this way, when an animal gets his belly full he is not greedy, people are greedy for applause and unearned credit even after their belly is full.
Drop in some evening and see our home show, "Sin" our leading Lady winked at a "Stage door Johnny Cat" and I have 98 requests for kittens, "Colossal" I say.
It's a mad dream come true in a desolate canyon over a hundred miles from a railroad or town—utter desert all around—in Death Valley, the hottest, driest spot in America.
Out of these scorched mountains, squeezed by the weight of them, leaks a little magic brook of water — here Scotty dreamed of a Castle—and said to himself, "This is the place,"—here is where it was so still—why that whisper sounded so loud it just had to be.
To me Scotty wa a Barnum, Munchausen, Don Quixote and Rip van Winkle all in one. Today you can visit this Castle and you will find (as I did) that Scotty is there — everywhere — you can walk right into his dreams—the good folks at the Castle know all this — his dogs do too—and a sweet lady dweller—after I had looked at a new batch of kittens — told me — this for sure — that Scotty loved the little strangely spotted one — and you know somehow I was sure of it. Your Editor hopes some day to sleep the night in Scotty's bed—to look up at the pictures of Buffalo Bill, Pawnee Bill, Annie Oakley and Will Rogers, then put his head on Scotty's pillow and try to redream some of the old Showman's Million Dollar Dream.
Any redblooded man in the West can tell you how to get to Death Valley — yes they have accommodations at SCOTTY'S CASTLE year round.
George Bernard Shaw
In his trip across the Unites States, Shaw paused to visit the Grand Canyon, but according to J. B. Priestley, who met him there, Shaw complained that the spectacle had not come up to expectations.
"I believe," reported Priestley, "that Shaw was jealous of the Canyon!"
From Bennet Cerf's Column, March 20
Your Editor talks to the Ghost of George Bernard Shaw.
The river in this mighty Canyon has had a long run Mr. Shaw, like your "My Fair Lady," it too is doing good to many. Millions are the young ladies your story will teach to live a richer, fuller life. Also Millions are the heads of cabbage and lettuce the waters of this Canyon will help to grow to a richer and fuller life.
"Pygmalion" will be seen by Millions . . . . in all languages . . . . but . . Mr. Big Showman, Grand Canyon is also a hell of a big SHOW, and I predict a few more thousand years run, and by 'Gee' I cannot help but think of those thousands of acres of cabbage, miles away, as being much like your audiences in Scandinavia.
CALICO GHOST TOWN
13 Miles East of Barstow
Calico in the 1880's was the largest silver mining Camp in the southwest. Almost obliterated by time, it is now being restored by Knott's Berry Farm. An ideal outing for the rockhound, and camping groups.
Old Plank Road
OLIVER CREDITED FOR PARKS
Harry Oliver has been credited with starting the surge in state parks, and saving the historic plank road in the Algodones sand dunes.
Oliver wrote his views on the Algodones in his paper, and forwarded marked and noted copies to Rep. D. S. Saund (D-Calif.), 29th Congressional district representative, and to Newton B. Drury, former state parks chief.
Charles A DeTurk current chief of the Division of Parks and Beaches, and Rep. Saund jointly announced enlargement of the Mitchell Caverns State Park, in eastern San Bernardino County, and creation of the two new state parks in Imperial County. The work will be done under a land swap.
Included in the Imperial Sand Hills project will be the old plank road fro Holtville to Yuma, and the Algodones Sand Dunes. The Picacho Ranch is on the Colorado River.
Palm Springs SUN
If you want to kill any idea in the world today, get a committee working on it.
C. F. Kettering
Dry Camp Blackie says the Burro is the Jenny Lind of the Desert.
Don't let yesterday use up too much of today! Will Rogers
Randall Henderson Wrote This In His DESERT MAGAZINE, June 1945
On display in the Desert office is an 18 "karrot" gold nugget from Lost Pegleg Mine No 999, We are indebted to Harry Oliver—No 1 clown of the desert country—for this gorgeous hunk of "precious metal."
The nugget looks and feels suspiciously like the replica of an ordinary bunch of carrots (18 of them) done in plaster paris and then lacquered with a few coats of that gold paint you buy in the store.
This is the same Harry Oliver who manufactured several scores of wooden peglegs, finished them with a sort of a weathered appearance, and then planted them in various caves and "coyote" holes in the Southern California desert. That was many years ago, and the desert prospectors still are bringing in proof that Pegleg Smith carelessly left his artificial leg behind when he prospected this country and discovered the famous Pegleg mine.
NOTE . . . . . . . . . .
On April, 1939 . . . Randall ran the first story on my planting of Peg-Legs—I want you to know of my great effort,—an effort that is today a real achievement, for at last "PEG-LEG IS KING OF ALL LOST MINE GHOSTS" "LONG LIVE THE KING."
Oliver began his desert career as a homesteader in Borrego valley, did a tour of duty as art director at Hollywood, and returned to the desert to "live like a human being." He now has "OLD FORT OLIVER" a "100-year-old" adobe fort he built about 20 years ago, at Thousand Palms.
He wears a set of whiskers like Steve Ragsdale. In fact the resemblance is so great that a Coachella valley newspaper once ran a picture of Steve to illustrate a story about Harry. Strange things happen on the desert when Harry Oliver is on the prowl.
All text was hand-entered (no OCR scans) by Dick Oakes who did the layout, markup and graphics reproduction (all of Harry's misspellings retained). The contents remain the property of Bill Lincoln and his heirs.