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Packet 4 of Pouch 11
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Published at Fort Oliver
1000 Palms, California
Four Times a Year
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H A R R Y O L I V E R
I would rather get into trouble ten times a day than curb my enthusiasms.
I maintain I am different from most editors because I am sane enough to know I am nuts.
Wonderful world . . . sometimes I think poverty has kept me from being a drunkard.
Today, at 77, your Editor does most of his mining in a 'Lighter-Vain' and I hope with a 'Sharper Pick' H. O.
You can tell these are my very own — for if I had stolen them I could have gotten better ones.
Since wining "Top Story" award for my 1956 litter-bug efforts, at the 'California State Fair' I have not let up one moment — working to clean up the desert, litter must go, Kleenex Bushes, Beer Cans and all Eye-sores along our desert roads must go.
"DON'T LITTER OUR BEAUTIFUL DESERT," said Queen of all Desert Beautifuls — Marian Henderson, and she asked Walt Disney — King of Fantasy, to draw me as a symbol, because of my early start. So you see I must keep you all to help me.
We tried Cheese Flavored Edible Beer Cans, thinking how wonderful it would be if those cheese can beer drinkers (even if they only ate a part of it), they also would be feeding my little Desert Creatures.
I'm glad of a new hope, sent me by Phat Graettinger, Editor of Desert Sun, Swank Palm Springs Paper.
I cannot vouch for: I read about it in Earl Buie's column in the Hemet News and Buie, being a columnist, has a vivid imagination. If what he reports is true it will make Harry Oliver, Desert Beautiful and the California Roadside Council happy. The biggest menace to scenic beauty along our highways will have been eliminated.
Buie writes that a new beer can has been invented. It is highly magnetic and when a guzzler tosses it out of the car window, it pops right back and sticks to the metal sides and rear of the car. Not a can rolls onto the roadside shoulder to glint in the sunlight.
And when a motor patrolman comes along and sees a car with its rear end studded with beer can he has prime evidence of a litterbug and writes out a ticket forthwith.
It's a wonderful world.
P.S. Phat, What will be do in the future when they come in from outer space?
The Sad Tale of Arty Packrat
When Sir Harry Oliver, President of the Packrat Publicity Project, made the assertion that a packrat always gets the best of the bargain, he had never heard of my friend Arty.
Arty was a budding genius, a designer and interior decorator who used to frequent our cabin in the Santa Rosa mountains. That his I.Q. was above packrat par I learned early in our acquaintance after observing his relish for the printed page, not merely as an article of diet but as a source of mental inspiration. Each evening when one of us read aloud, Arty would slip in and sit on a shelf of the dish cupboard, his whiskers quivering with pleasure and his eyes bright and bulging with interest.
All his heavy work had to wait till the literary session was over and lights were out. Then he took up his arduous duties of moving the contents of the woodbox to a more suitable place, by way of the open rafters — naturally a hazardous operation. It was not his fault if some sticks proved too heavy and fell noisily to the floor or dropped on the face of some sleeper. Buy my aunt was unreasonable about it.
Sensing ill-will, Arty left a peace offering. One morning we found carefully centered in a soup plate, a round doily of white paper lace discarded from a candy box. Upon the doily was placed a flat rosette nipped from a plant which bears a cluster of five silver-gray leaves, and in the middle of the leaf-rosette was a large and perfect acorn. It was as charming and original a piece of designing as any artist ever executed.
I was captivated. Even auntie relented, — but only until a series of disasters revived her wrath. Then one night when Arty trustingly left the cupboard before the lamp was out, she threw a pine chunk and hit him on the side of the head, injuring him so that he could run only in circles. Someone had to finish the evil deed and since she wouldn't, I did. — blinded by tears.
Poor Arty! For his sake I have forgiven all the depredations of his kind. What a career he might have had in a kinder world! May his story live to immortalize his genius.
Nina Paul Shumway
A miner here tied a stick of dynamite around his neck and lit the fuse. Relatives and friends say they can't imagine why he did this. Of course this is only a theory, but he may have been tired of living.
Packet 4 Pouch 11 Harry Oliver's DESERT RAT SCRAP BOOK PAGE 3
This is a Mark Twain tale we haven't come across before — when Mark was at the height of his career he informed a friend: "It took me 10 years to discover that I had no talent for writing."
"And you gave it up?"
"Oh, no! By that time I was too famous!"
Notice in Desert Hot Springs newspaper — "60 acres for sale, between Garnet and Whitewater, if purchased before the next heavy windstorm a three room shack will be included."
The burro is everywhere in Baja California, and the burro is an animal which has my unqualified admiration and respect.
My association with burros goes back some six or seven years to a time when Louie brought me a pair of very yourg burros by way of a present.
From the start I became completely fascinated by the characters of the burros. Standing side by side, looking almost alike, except that one was blond and the other a brownish brunette, the burros gave no indication of having any character, any individuality, or any interest in their surroundings. But I soon learned that they were distinctive individuals, and that very little happened which escaped their notice. . . .
Within a week they would come when I called them, and for years they had the run of the ranch, romping around like a pair of dogs, following us wherever we went, and on hot days, when we were stretched out in hammocks, they bit the edge of the hammock and started it swinging back and forth, then tried to upset us.
They had the uncanny ability of knowing what was mischief and what wasn't, and rejected everything that wasn't. They dearly loved getting into trouble and then standing with drooping ears, an expression on their faces that said, "Who? Me?" and seeming to be quite dazed by any reproaches that were directed at them.
Afterwards, when I had withdrawn, if I peeked cautiously around a corner of the house, or out of the window, I would see them turn and exchange glances.
There was perfect understanding in those glances, a quiet, comprehensive chuckle. . . .
They were uncanny in their knowledge of what they could do that would put a human being at the greatest disadvantage, when they saw fit to do so.
—From "The Land of Shorter Shadows," by Erle Stanley Gardner, copyright 1948 by Erle Stanley Gardner, reprinted by permission of William Morrow and Company, Inc.
A bee's stinging apparatus actually measures only 1/32 of an inch. The other two feet are pure imagination.
The owl is the only "bird" that can stay out all night without feeling sophisticated.
Mixed birds — The stork delivered a fine baby boy to Mr. and Mrs. C. E. Buzzard of Grass Valley, Calif., one day last week.
Writing of the old stage drivers in his "As I Remember Them," C. C. Goodwin, the kindly Nevada newspaperman, said: "As it is, the old race have all passed away, as did that driver in Sacramento who, when dying, whispered: "It's a down grade and I can't reach the brake."
May the Great Mystery make sunrise in your heart. —Sioux.
By Thomas P.Brown. —The Western Pacific Reporter
Mules, Burros and the Jackasses That Own Them
LO, THE POOR MULE
Says Foxtail Johnson in the Arizona Farmer: "The tenderfoot that bought the Bar XX spread got ambishus when he saw a picture of the Mizoory mule that was grand champion at the American Royal. He ordered his foreman to buy a son or daughter of that mule, irregardless of cost."
Reminds us of the congressman who, during the depression, proposed that every southern sharecropper be given 10 acres of land, a plow and a mule in foal.
This is an old Army story, but a good one. A shipment of mules had just arrived and a soldier made the mistake of getting too close to the rear end of one. His comerades caught him on the fly, placed him on a stretcher and started for the hospital. On the way the soldier came to. He gazed at the sky overhead and felt the swaying motion of the stretcher. Feebly he lowered his hand over the side to find nothing but space.
"MY GOD!" he groaned, "I HAVEN'T EVEN HIT THE GROUND YET."
The Newsmen in Korea were wont to laugh at China's use of camels — The old time Army men prayed for the return of the Army Mule in that rough rocky Mountainous country.
A Mule will pack as much as 20 G.I.'s and go up the side of a mountain that a jeep wouldn't even look at.
The army mule is a marvelous animal, but he's finished, laments Gen. J. Lawton Collins, chief of staff. "I've never seen him do anything that a jeep or bulldozer can't do better." Well, general — ever see either of those contraptions open its mouth to bray?
A news item: "From the Bureau of the Census last week went out a solemn memo to museum directors advising them that the U.S. had 389,045 Missouri mules in 1920; only 63,223 in 1950."
Not counting of course those in Washington D.C.
IF PEOPLE ONLY KNEW
I told Rip-Snortin' the old time prospector that he'd ruin his stomach drinking his vile home made stuff! — "Nivver mind, nivver mind — it won't show with me pants on."
Stopped to see the oldest oil well in Southern California. Was told that an old timer had been watchman for 40 years; sorta figgered he was the man who could give me its history and the low down about when California was a gory, glorious untapped store of black gold.
Seated on a prostrate walking beam was the watchman. As I approached he put his fingers to his lips — "Shhh" — he said — "see her?" — "There she is!" — I looked where he pointed — emerging from an ancient drill hole was a horned toad! "Her young are about to hatch," he said, "last year she didn't lay eggs, but gave birth to you young; she can't always make up her mind — see?" — "Horned toads cover themselves in the sand with nothin' but their little knobby eyes showin" above the surface," he said, "but I watch 'em and don't believe I ever stepped on one — these 40 years."
says where you find a mink at in Washington you're liable to find skunk.
SAVE THE FORESTS
The lecturer on forest conservation was loudly berating the general public for its indifference to the preservation of our timber resources.
"I don't suppose," he declared, "there is a single person here tonight who has done a single thing toward conserving our timber supply."
After a monentary silence, a meek voice spoke up from the rear, "I did. I once shot a woodpecker."
A rancher near Lancaster, heard that turkeys would eat grasshoppers; so he turned his flock loose in the fields. The turkeys came back bare; the grasshoppers ate the feathers off them, he says.
Captain Catnip Ashby was discussing the belief that after a person dies he comes back to this earth in the form of some animal. Jake Topper said he didn't like that idea — he might come back as a worm.
The Captain assured Jake there was no danger of that — you never come back the same as you were.
An old Newspaper, published in 1848 was found in the Garret of an old desert shack. The paper is framed and is in the Pony Express Museum. The following letter is printed in the paper:
"Come right off if you are comin' at all, as Silas Haimes is 'sistin' that I shall have him and he hugs and kisses me so continuously that I can't hold out much longer. I must have him or you very quick fer my feelin's sich that I must git me a feller before next winter. I jist can't stand it nohow much longer.
Sally Ann P."
The Museum comments, "Red Hot Mama in 1848. Mae West was an iceberg as compared with this ancient Cleopatra."
—Thanks to Tom New of Santa Monica
Eagle Delivers Goose; Now Sam McGehee Can Eat with No Pellets in His Palate
Some of the screwiest things happen around Wickenburg.
If we didn't know that the Sam McGehees were honest people we'd be prone to throw this yarn on the town dump. But it did happen.
SAM was out at his Divide Ranch, 14 miles west of town, last week and decided to look over one of his tanks. Some wild geese were enjoying a swim until Sam came on the scene when they took to the air. When they were some 800 to 1,000 feet overhead an eagle swooped down and sunk his claws into one goose.
A GOOSE being about as heavy as an eagle, it seems the eagle didn't have enough eagle-power to negotiate the goose and not enough sense to turn loose so eagle and goose came tumbling down.
ALL Sam had to do was frighten the eagle away and pick up the goose. And on Saturday, when wife Peggy knocks off at noon from her city hall work, she'll fix up the stuffing and on Sunday the McGehees will feast on wild goose with no danger of getting pellets in their palates.
—The Sun, Wickenburg
Indispensable Friend of the Pioneers
Charley Russell, the great Western artist, sold a painting to old Cattle King Lane of Calgary, Canada. It was a picture of a punch of his cowboys around the chuck wagon in the morning, some of them eating and some getting on their horses and one horse bucking through the campfire. Near by was an ax and wood for the fire. It was a big picture with lots of people and action in it.
Well, he sent for Mr. Lane to come down to Great Falls, Montana, where Charley lives to see the picture. Land looked at it quite a while and Charley said he began to feel that there was something terribly wrong with it. He knew the old man knew for he had been a cowpuncher all his life.
Finally he said, "Charley, you aint' got that ax handle wrapped with rawhide. You know them cooks was hell for breaking ax handles in them days."
Charley picked up a brush and wrapped the ax handle with it, and the old cattle king handed over his paltry ten thousand bucks for it and took his ax handle back to Canada.
—From the Autobiography of Will Rogers edited by Donald Day
BRAND NEW RELIC
The ax is a tool of romance. From earliest history on down through the Stone age, the Bronze age and the Iran age, and more especially during th time of America's early pioneers, the ax has been the indispensable friend of man. And it is the one thing most liable to be left when moving camp.
"Curly" Carroll of Randsburg has an ax he's mighty proud of, claims it came across the country with his grand-pappy in a covered wagon. In asking him about it I commented on the ax because it seemed as good as when his grand-pappy bought it. "Well," replied "Curley" after a thoughtful pause, "It's had three new blades and five new handles, but excepting for that, she's just the same, sir, just the same."
TELLING ABOUT WHEN A MAN'S WEALTH WAS
MEASURED BY THE SIZE OF HIS BEDROLL...
Saw an old Model-A car parked on Main street the other morning to which was roped three bedrolls. The car carried an Arizona license, and the three occupants who got out and went into a cafe for breakfast looked like dyed-in-the-wool prospectors.
Those three bedrolls held my eye. All were fair sized, and well roped. Back in the old days when prospecting was a fairly common profession, and there was a chance for a man to find a profitable mineral showing, size of the bedroll carried by an individual was usually indicative of his wealth and importance. The man with a good outfit, or who was grubstaked by some merchants or saloonmen, usually carried a fat bedroll — a mattress, wool blankets, a real pillow and a good heavy tarpulin. The poor prospector — the man who worked in the mines for his grubstake, and who lived frugally out in the hills on beans, bacon and flapjacks, carried a small bedroll. At most a couple of worn soiled blankets, no pillow as a rule, and a piece of old canvas. He was accustomed to bedding down on the ground and seldom slept warm when the weather was cold. Instead of a wide strong leather strap around his bedroll he used a bit of frayed rope, or even a couple lengths of Mormon waxends — baling wire.
How often out in the hills 40 and 50 years ago have we envied the plutocrat prospector with the bulging bedroll! Envy grew to bitter jealousy at nightfall when we bedded down beside fire in some lonely canyon or near a spring in some wind-swept valley. We have seen times when we were tempted to murder a man for his bedroll. Lying out on a cold night under the stars, perhaps shivering, we would hear our rich friend buried deep in his soft wool blankets, a mattress between his bones and the ground, quietly snoring, as the stars moved slowly and unnoticed through the windy sky.
Yes, there were plutocrats among prospectors back in the days when Butler found Tonopah — and we'll wager that Jim, down on the county tax roll for $10, never carried more than a couple of thin blankets and a bit of ragged tarp.
This page is dedicated to the World's Greatest Optimist - the DESERT PROSPECTOR 4
Harry Oliver's DESERT RAT SCRAP BOOK
Bad Men Buried Alone
The Murphy mine was the only producer of any importance in this district, located on the east flank of the Toiyabe range, about 50 miles south of Austin, but in Nye county. A party of French prospectors wandered into the area in 1863. It was a costly operation, with supplies hauled in from Austin over the summit of the Toiyabes at an elevation of over 10,000 feet. The Murphy mine is credited with a production of $750,000, but the mine paid no dividends. An enormous mill building, built of brick, and ruins of several stone houses on the side of the canyon above the mill, are about all that remain today. Ophir creek, a small clear stream of tumbling water is a favorite trout stream, and each year is visited by dozens of fishing parties.
At the mouth of Ophir Canyon, placer gold was discovered a few years ago, but so far nothoing has come of the discovery. On the side-hill where the canyon breaks down into Smoky Valley, is a small cemetary, with perhaps 25 graves, many of them containing children. Names of most of those buried there, are now forgotten. Below the main cluster of mounds are several isolated graves. In one of these a gunman, name now unknown, was buried. "Rutabaga Tom," and old Indian, still living, tells the following story of this lone grave:
"One bad man, nobody like, buried there, because nobody wants him close to good people. He mean man, killum man just for fun. One time he pick fight with young fellow called Black Bart. They promise fight battle. Each take gun, stand back to back, then walk off thirty steps, but this bad mans he walk only take twenty steps, then he turn quick like rattlesnake striking and shoots at Black Bart. Mebbyso he excited, for he miss target. Black Bart he walk 30 steps, turn, and bad man he is running off. One shot — and he fall — dead. Dead all over. Good people bury bad man all by himself, so he won't go to happy hunting grounds, with other mans."
—From 50th Anniversary Edition,
Tonopah Times Bonanza
A true desert turtle story
Any of you old Desert Rats want to bet a gallon of good whiskey that the following turtle story ain't true?
Old Bill Goeglein a retired assayer, now living in Wickenburg, Aiz., is noted for his veracity all over this desert.
In May, 1921, he went to Los Angeles and drove back a new Ford car. About five miles west of Amboy, Calif., he noticed the whole country ahead seemed to be moving and it was. A great migration of turtles was crossing the road ahead. The deep ruts in the road were filled with turtles and hundreds and thousands of them were crossing over them, moving in a northerly direction.
To the south as far as he could see and to the north as far as he could see was a moving mass of turtles spaced a few feet apart. As there seemed no end in sight, he decided to drive through them. He put her into low and ground through turtle meat, blood and guts for a full quarter mile before getting clear of the great migration.
When he arrived at the little filling station at Amboy, he stopped to clean the wheels and fenders of turtle meat. While there a small truck came in with the same experience.
After Old Bill told me this story, I made it a point to ask every old Desert Rat I met if he ever saw anything like this. In time I found an old cow puncher who saw the same thing in southwestern New Mexico. Thousands of turtles were crossing the Southern Pacific tracks and were piled up trying to get over the rails. A number of Indian Squaws were there filling funny sacks with turtles. One old Squaw said that the turtles from all over the desert went to a certain place to lay their eggs. After which they all migrated so as to leave the feed for the young turtles. Sounds reasonable.
—John C. Herr, Wickenburg, Ariz.
By S. Omar Barker
Manana is a Spanish word I'd sometimes like to borrow
It means "don't skeen no wolfs today that you don't shot tomorrow!
An' eef you got some jobs to do, in case you do not wanna,
Go 'head an' take siesta now! Tomorrow ees mañana!"
By John Hilton
After the white man's "sanitary laws" made the desert Indian quit his practical and sanitary custom of cremating the dead, some ceremony had to be held at the grave so in many cases a token cremation of a doll dressed as the late lamented surrounded by the most prized possessions of the deceased took place over the grave.
At one of these burnings a Chinese merchant who had done business with the well-to-do chief while he was alive, was present to pay his respects. He watched quietly while they placed articles of clothing, a saddle and many other things on the pyre but when they topped it off with a large roll of U.S. currency, then he decided things had gone too far.
Calling a couple of the principal mourners aside he explained that to burn U.S. money was a federal offerse punishable by imprisonment.
"Well, what can we do?" They questioned.
The Chinaman's expression never changed. "Velly simple," he replied. "You givee monee me. I countee money, givie you check you burnie check. Chief cashee check in happy hunting grounds."
By ROBERT J. SWEM
From the Hobo News
Out in Death Valley, Calif., where the sun beats down every day of the year, there is a beautiful little monument bearing a plaque which reads:
"Here lies Shorty Harris, a single blanket jackass prospector."
Old time westerners and prospectors spin many yarns about this little, unassuming character who came West after the Civil War in search of gold.
Folks say he was born up around Rhode Island in 1856 or '57 — they ain't sure. His father and mother died soon after he was born, and he went to live wih his aunt. He wasn't fond of the aunt, and at fourteen ran away and headed west.
Shorty used to boast about the fact that he and President Grant arrived in California on the same train back in '76 — the only difference being that President Grant was ensconced on the comfortable plush cushions of the Presidential Special, while Shorty rode directly below on the none too comforting rods.
For years Shorty could be seen tramping the desert country, from Reno to Bisbee, from Mojave to Salt Lake City — always in the never-ending search for riches that somehow eluded his grasp. There was the time in 1904 when he made a strike around the Bullfrog Hills of Nevada. Shorty sold his discovery for $800 and spent the money on "Juniper Juice, as he affectionately called it. The mine later sold for $100,000.
Of course, this only proved what most folks had always said about Shorty: He would rather hunt for gold than mine it, and whenever he got his hands on any money he wouldn't know what to do with it, except, perhaps, to go on a spree until it was gone.
Shorty's life, however, was not without romance. There was the time when he thought about settling down with some nice woman, and having something running around the house besides a white picket fence. This thought came to him while he was working in a blacksmith shop in Ballarat, a little town in Panamint Valley. A Miss Bessie Hart was the object of Shorty's affections, and in his own words, "She was one right pert woman, as women come and go."
This Belle of Ballarat was well over six feet tall and weighed well over two hundred pounds. Rumor had it that she had, on occasion, treated a couple of husky men pretty rough. This seemed to make little difference to Shorty, who stood a scant five feet, and tipped the scales around one twenty. He was in love with this Desert Amazon, and that's all that mattered.
Shorty was putting an edge on one of his mining picks in the blacksmith shop, and Bessie was pumping the bellows for him, when Cupid let his arrow fly.
"How 'bout you 'n' me gettin' hitched?" said he, suddenly looking up at her.
Bessie straightened to her full six feet and placed her large hands on her none too narrow hips.
"Shorty," she declared, "you're a right nice little guy, and I like you, but as my husband — well, you're just too damn little for a big job."
"Reckon mebbee you're right," said Shorty. "Will you get them bellows workin' again?"
Shorty lived until he reached the age of seventy-three. When his time drew near, he called his friends to his bedside and requested that he be buried in the country that he had known and loved so well.
The spot where they laid him to rest in Death Valley is the deepest grave ever dug in the soil of North America — 280 feet below sea level.
And Shorty would be proud and happy if he could rise up and say:
"Well, if I ain't in hell, then I'm closer to it than anyone in the world!"
Died of Thirst
"Died of Thirst" proclaimed the crudely painted epitath on an upended boulder that marked a nameless grave near the Trona-Randsburg road near the "Y." Now it's gone, probably prey to a thoughtless souvenir hunter. The stone marked the last resting place of a mule skinner who was found dead at the spot many years ago by a search party that went out to look for him after he failed to arrive from Randsburg with his 20-mule team load of freight. The hapless victim had apparently attempted to disentangle the harness on the mules, and somehow died in the process. For many years a white picket fence market the grave. The fence was destroyed by an exodus of Hindu laborers who were leaving Trona after having worked on building of the Trona Railroad. Later a wag buried a pair of old boots on the grave, with only the toes sticking out of the ground. Still later the "Died of Thirst" stone appeared. Now the grave is unmarked.
HERE'S ONE OLD TIMER
Old Timers in the Indian Wells Valley seem to go right on living. It is that kind of a climate. One of the oldsters, reputed to be 105 years old, was interviewed by a reporter.
"What do you think about women?"
"To tell you the truth, Mister, I quit thinking about women two years ago."
A tourist asked Dry Wash, "How do you grow old so gracefully?"
"Madam," he said, "I just give all my time to it."
Two Stories of Old Fort Oliver
By Ben Bean
STORY NO. 1
Back in 1788 as the story goes, soon after the Paula [sic] Branch Mission was completed, some sturdy Franciscan fathers arrived at Mil Palmeas and started a small branch mission. According to the old story the 13 arches that had been built crumbled from earthquake shock and discouraged the builders who left in a severe sandstorm to return to mission San Luis El Rey.
As near as historians can determine, it was in 1858, the heighth [sic] of Butterfield stage days, that Enrico Oliveras with the help of his two brothers built the Wells Fargo stage station in between the ruined arches.
A year later the stage road was changed and Enrico, discouraged, went back to Mexico.
In 1874, when the railroad came to Mil Palmeas, the old ruins were again roofed and an addition added, and was used by Frederick William Oliver, a railroad surveyor, as his headquarters, and received its name, Fort Oliver.
STORY NO. 2
Fort Oliver, as it is called today, is said by some old timers to have been build years ago by a showman, Harry Oliver, also known in Mexico as Enrico Oliveras.
An expert and an authority on early Californian architecture who has collected and surrounded the old Fort with true western relics.
He is the same Harry Oliver who spent years as an expert on Western Art and research for the motion pictures of Hollywood, having been the Art Director on the pictures, "Viva Villa," "Will Rogers Pictures" also designer of western exposition shows at Fort Worth, Dallas and San Diego, author of 50 desert stories.
He is a leader in treks in search of lost mines and buried treasures such as the Peg Leg, Lost Gun Sight, and Lost Dutchman mines.
You may have seen him at Rodeo and Western shows in his old rickety 1928 Ford Station Wagon.
Whiskers, his famous dog, and he will be selling his well known publication, "The Desert Rat Scrap Book."
The insurance man went to the hospital to see Dynamite Dan. He wanted a full account of the mine explosion; wanted all the details—
"Well, sir," said Dan, "it was like this: you see, I was standing with me back to the mine. All of a sudden I hears a hell of a noise; then, sir, this yellow headed nurse, she says to me, 'Set up an' try to take this.'"
DESERT RATS and SOURDOUGHS
about the same
Black Sullivan, who used to be around Dawson, was given the job of escorting a "looney" outside. All the boys gave him much advise. Said one: "Be sure and handcuff yourself to him or you may wake up and find him gone."
"If I lose him," answered Black, "I'll just grab the first prospector I come to and nobody will ever know the difference."
The "Screaming Sands" of "Smuggler's Charybdis"
The Algodones, fascinating sand dunes 20 miles west of Yuma, Arizona, lie one half in the United States and one half in Mexico, 75 miles long and from 18 to 24 miles wide. This sea of sand dunes (some two hundred feet high) is free of as much as a blade of grass but for one oval-shaped island one half mlong [sic] straddling the border. This is— "Smuggler's Charbydis."
A flowing spring, its water quickly blotted up by the sand dunes; desert growth as one would find 20 miles east or west; the free whie sand sloping to the gorund on all sides — no explanation of this permanent wind eddy (it is an outward — instead of an inward eddy) that screams the screams of a woman in a whirlpool has come to the Editor these many years. — The smugglers camp here miles away from road or trail, watering their burros — knowing the screaming of the ravishing woman means their fresh tracks are erased from the desert sands.
From the unpublished book by the Editor, THE LEGENDS OF MOTHER DESERT, with 100 paintings in color by the great Desert Painters of today.
Look nice in Arizona Highways wouldn't they?
By S. Omar Barker
Romance to Mr. Porcupine
I have no doubt, is sweet
But how does he know, the poor dumb Joe,
It's not just prickly heat?
By the time this packet hits the water holes they will have machines to do a better and faster job of everything that people have to do in this world, except think and get the best of a woman in an argument.
THE TRUE STORY OF SCOTTY
As told by George Palmer Putnam. George found the best in Death Valley
Read his Book "Death Valley and Its Country"
Once a newspaperman went to the Castle.
"Scotty," he said, "Mr. Hearst has told me to write your straight story. From the beginning to date. No matter how long it takes, I'm to dig up the facts."
"Okay," said Scotty. "I'll help you. Don't just get the stuff from me. You go to these people who know me. Get the dope from them and then come back."
Scotty gave his visitor half a dozen names. They were men of Reno, Las Vegas, San Francisco, Los Angeles, Chicago.
Weeks later the writer returned.
"See 'em all?" Scotty asked.
The writer nodded. "Every one of them. They all talked, too, very cooperative."
"That's fine," said Scotty. "Between 'em they know all about me."
"The trouble is," the reporter went on, "each one told me an altogether different story."
Which is the way it is. And, I think, likely evermore shall be.
—George Palmer Putnam
NO ROOM FOR THE ADVERTISERS THIS TIME
---BUT ROOM FOR A FEW MORE BURROS
Jules is a wizard at telling and getting the Old Timers to tell desert rat yarns. At Goler we heard the story of the two old timers that got a fancy new cook book but weren't able to cook with a cook book because every recipe started with TAKE A CLEAN DISH.
At Garlock the outstanding yarn was the one about the desert rat that after a lucky strike went to Los Angeles, hunted up the swankiest cafe he could find, called to the waiter for six plates of beans and a candle, put the six plates of beans in a row before him. Then he blew out the candle and told the waiter to turn on the light and bring him a big porterhouse steak with all the francy trimmings they had, saying, "I want those beans to see me eat in style."
Jules told of the desert rat that took a job as summer caretaker at a big Death Valley Hotel and drawing on the large stock of dishes was able to go five months without washing a dish. He was undecided which towel to use, he had three all the same color, a dish towel, a face towel, and one for a mop.
(Gathering stuff like this is sure a nice way to make ½ a living.)
Pete Osdick was looking into an old mine over at Johannesburg Saturday an' fell in with some folks from Randsburg.
Old Arizona Jack from north of Flagstaff says that nothing so completely infuriates an Injun Chief as to hit him in the eye with a fried egg.
Seems like the feller that wins two or three dollars playin' cards never wants to work for a salary agin.
The Bakersfield boy that shot his father and cut his mother's nose off, and burned the house, admitted he'd been reading the "Funnies."
When his doctor advised a change of climate, the eastern city-dweller went looking for a healthy place to live in the Southwest. In one small Arizona town he approached an old0timer sitting on the steps of the general store.
"Say," he asked, "what's the death rate around here?"
"Same as it is back East, bub," came the answer; "one to a person."
By John Hilton
I now have a fine adobe art gallery thanks to Harry Oliver. No he didn't mix any of the mud nor lay any bricks. He just laid his hand on my shoulder one day and started talking in that fatherly manner of his and his beard quivering with emotion as he waxed lyrical on his favorite subject.
"John you should build something out of 'dobe old pal. I know you express yourself with paint and in writing and that guitar of yours but you don't know real self expression till you build out of 'dobe. Why it's fire proof, earthquake proof, rat proof and almost fool proof against bad design and besides that, laying adobe bricks is good for the soul.
The idea took root as moist screwy ideas do in what some folks refer to as my brain. As much to my own surprise as anyone, I found myself up to my neck in 'dobe this fall (I mean literally).
I discovered that Harry was so very right about expressing onesself! Why the first time a huge 'dobe brick broke while I was hoisting it in place and each half landed on one of my feet, I expressed myself in a manner that brings a glow to me even now. Then there was the time a big blob of fresh mud dropped and plugged my pipe and left ear while I was stooping to pick up another brick and the days when I battet gnats with mud covered hands until I looked like a bargain counter Al Jolson, and the day I climbed hurriedly down the ladder and shook hands vigorously with an old friend before she could protest. You should have heard her express herself! Then there was the afternoon when I slipped on a gob of wet mud and landed on my cement floor with a sixty pound brick in my lap. And the other time — but why should I go on. There is positively nothing on earth like building with 'dobe to make one express himself.
The gallery is finished and it's a wonderful feeling (like hitting yourself on the head with a hammer because it feels so fine wen you stop). I think I am going to be proud of my gallery when my neck loses its stiffness enough for me to really look it over. Its rustic native appearance is partly due to the fact that I laid my level in the sun the first day and it exploded and the next day I dropped a brick on the square and threw it five eighths of an inch out of line. Then theres the hand rubbed effect; (The doc says I'll grow new skin and finger nails in a few weeks); and those hand trimmed bricks on the corner with the odd angle (that's where I split my thumb) and the general effect! Why it looks as authentic as an Oliver Movie set! Better come and see the place but in the meantime friends, try building something out of adobe. It's good for the soul and its head and cold proof, sound proof, bullet and termite proof, etc., etc. In fact the only thing it isn't is work proof.
Along the Border
At a desert crossroad at Patagonia, Arizona, there is a road sign which reads, "Take care which rut you use. You'll be in it for the next twenty miles."
FASTER THAN SOUND
Two buzzards were lazily winging over the Arizona desert when Howard Hughes' jet-propelled plane suddenly went hurtling by, its exhausts belchig flame and smoke. The buzzards silently watched it disappera into the Western sky, and then one of them found his voice. "Holy carrion," he said. "Was that bird in a hurry!" "Listen, Lucius," opined the other, "you'd be in a hurry too if your tail was on fire."
Up near Flagstaff, two eagles battling over the body of a young goat, atop a powerline pole, caused a short circuit and shut off the power from several small communities. The charred bodies of the eagles and the goat were found at the foot of the pole in a tangle of wire, insulators and burned crossarms. Seems to me that deserves more than mere mention — it has "epic" proportions.
—Don's Digest, Brewery Gulch Gazette, Bisbee, Arizona
An Indian missionary was awakened one night by a racket in the house. He picked up a pistol and quietly sneaked into the next room where he found a burglar ransacking the place. He said, "My friend, I would not hurt thee for the world but thou art standing right where I am going to shoot!"
George A. Stingle
YOU FIXUM, DOCTOR?
An old doctor at Needles tells this one: "An old time Indian came to his office and asked: "you fix sick man?" Doctor said "Yes," whereupon the Indian led him 11 miles to his adobe hogan, entered, laid down, said "Gut hurt like hell, you fixum."
Says he started out as an unwanted child, but he overcame the handicap. By the time he was 19 he was wanted in 24 states, including Texas.
By CAPT. R.A. GIBSON
This actually happened at Silver Lake, Cal., in 1906. Mr. Hargreaves, ex mule skinner of the Mormon Church, Salt Lake, came into Silver Lake during the spring of the above year and had the blacksmith sharpen up three or four Iron Rods (about ¼") bending the other end to form a good hand grip.
When I asked him what he was going to do, the old man said he was going to the "Devil's Playground" to search for 2 wagons he had lost there in the '80s. This is his story:
He was freighting from San Berdoo to Salt Lake for the Church and since the old road crossed the Playground (just East of the present Junction of the T&T Ry and the San Pedro, Los Angeles & Salt Lake Ry) it was always necessary to drop at least one wagon on the Daggett side of the playground and take one to the Hard Pan road on the north side, doubling back for the other. On this trip he had two wagons and a trailer with hay and water, so dropped one wagon and the trailer just inside the Mesquite and managed to get across the Playground before the Sandstorm got too bad. He was marooned there two full days without water or food for the animals, and when he returned, he could find no trace of road or wagons. He returned to Daggett with his animals after taking them to Soda Lake for water.
He said the wagon contained 4 bbls. of Bourbon Whiskey and 20 kegs of Iron Nails together with some other articles which he could not remember. Many times in after years he stopped for a day or two and searched everywhere for some trace of his lost outfit, however, no trace was found and inquiry from time to time failed to show that the wagons were ever found.
He left Silverlake a few days later and proceeded to the Playground to start his search.
I went down to see the old man a couple times and found him prodding each and every sand dune with his sharpened rods. He had set up rock piles on the North side and also on the South and in these he had put rods with white banners so that he might keep a general line between them in his search.
One day, on my second and last trip down, I asked the old fellow what would if he found the wagons, his reply being: "Boy if I find those wagons my fortune will be made. I figure that the whiskey will be about half evaporated and that what remains will be just like cream. So, with at least 2 good barrels of 300 proof whiskey at about $1.00 per swig, I won't have to work any more."
He was at the job for at least two weeks — gave up — and like the Arab — folded his tent and stole away.
It might have been a true story — legends sometimes start that way — perhaps the archives of the Mormon Church might have something on this — who knows — or cares.
Your story in a recent "Desert Rat" reminded me of old man Hargreaves and his futile search.
SIMPLE LIFE IN DESERT CASTLES 5
A party of tourists came to the camp of two old desert prospectors (they had missed two meals) they were fed stew and honestly believed it the best they had ever tasted. One stout lady tourist offered twenty dollars for the recipe. The prospectors wsanted the twenty bucks but the stew had been stewing for three weeks and the prospectors had alternated each day so as each could use his imagination for a change of flavor daily. They got the twenty by giving the old gal a can of the stew and a letter to Charlie the Assayer, telling him to assay the stuff.
—"My Column" in the "Vanguard," Venice, Cal.
The San Juan River was completely dry for a day. A rancher and his family with the aid of screw drivers, knives, and other sharp implements cleaned out the crevices in the river bed for half a mile each side of their ranch. The gold was panned and netted seventeen hundred dollars. The next day the river was flowing again, and hasn't been dry these sixteen years since.
You can hardly write a lie but what it is, or has been, the truth sometime in Tombstone. Tombstone hade almost as many tourists in the old days of our west as it now has. The tourist wants lies, I wanted lies and was taken to an eighty-year-old champ, to hear of the "Lost Skeleton Canyon Loot" and other lost treasures of gold, of bad men, boot hill, stage robberies and old time killings. He sat in the sun and smiled as I walked toward him. "Hello, old timer," I said, "You've done a good job of growing old, tell me how."
He told me the way to grow old is to pay no attention to it. Some men retire from business at sixty or so, build bungalows in L.A. and do nothing ever afterward but sit on the front porch and listen to their arteries hardening. That's a bad thing.
I agreed, but wanted some of his famed lies, so as to get him started let go a (come on) "I should think, by the look of things, that nothing ever happens here." "Oh!" he answered, "It's a pretty lively place for its size — why it's not two weeks since we had an eclipse of the moon!"
—"A Desert Brief," Culver City Star-News
POSTMASTER — DO NOT — send this back — if the subscriber don't know where he lives, I sure as Heck don't either.
All text was hand-entered (no OCR scans) by Ric Carter (all of Harry's misspellings retained). Dick Oakes did the layout, markup and graphics reproduction, but not the contents, which remain the property of Bill Powers and his heirs.