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HARRY OLIVER'S EPITAPH
By Harry Oliver

Desert Rat Scrap Book

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Harry and Whiskers       My name is Harry Oliver. I am an editor, humorist, historian, and a showman. It is easy to recognize me with my black Stetson hat, hobo pipe, white hair and goatee. I was born in 1888 in Minnesota and came out west in 1909. As a young man I worked as a type setter and I studied art. I became an Oscar-winning Hollywood art director who worked on films such as Seventh Heaven.

     I moved first to Borrego Springs and then in 1940 to a windy plot of land near Edom Hill in Thousand Palms. Living in an adobe castle called Fort Oliver, I "invented" a desert town and its townspeople and publicized their adventures in a five-page newsletter called The Desert Rat Scrap Book. Published four times a year beginning in 1946 until the early 1960s, the cover of the "pocket-size newspaper covering the Great Southwest" advertised "ONLY NEWSPAPER IN AMERICA YOU CAN OPEN IN THE WIND," and "PRICE TEN CENTS....ONLY ONE LOUSY THIN DIME."

     One of my proudest accomplishments is the Sharazade stage at the Riverside County Fair Grounds. I designed and helped build it in keeping with the Arabian Nights theme of the Date Festival.

     My greatest crusade included an effort to stamp out litter in the desert and preserve its pristine beauty. Yes, I am the person that coined the phrase "litterbug" and thanks to my friends at Walt Disney ProductionsI even have a logo that says Keep the Desert Clean. Remember "every litter bit hurts."
From "History of the Coachella Valley"



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