Twentynine Palms Historical Society
29 Palms, California

Desert Kids

By Don LePage

(left to right) Bruce Curry, Lester Krushat, Billy Barnett, Harold Hockett, Alan Bagley, Buddy Whitehead, Eugene Curry (on burro), Lloyd Godwin and Bobby Graham.
Photo taken: 1934.

You can call this a poem if you want to I really don't much care

There is no meter; the rhyme is poor but I have thoughts I would like to share.

There are many ancient memories from before our World War II

We had a very special life on the desert, me and you.

As you read these notes that I put down about those golden years

You'll see the page is slightly damp it's just the stain of tears.

America was beautiful then it showed its children's pride

And youth was in the driver's seat with half a world to ride.

I now live in a far off land but my heart is still back here

With my bare feet in the hot, hot sand breathing the desert air.

Remembering the sand in my eye from a dust devil passing by

Remembering the smell of wet greasewood when a cooling rain was nigh.

A flash flood could wipe out the road that led to Bagley's General Store

And when it did we'd have to rely on our knowledge of Desert lore.

We would let some air out of the tires and cut out through the dunes

Where the Mesquite grows and the wild Wind blows and the

Coyotes sing their tunes.

Frank and Helen ran the store, they kept it clean and neat

Heine Olsen stocked the shelves Art Krushat cut the meat

Art would trim away the fat his meat was always lean

Tom Dowlen was the nice young man that pumped the gasoline.

Out on a bench in front of the store sat desert rat Jack Meek

He would tell us kids short stories that kept us up for weeks.

He would tell of hard rock mining and shootings in days gone by

But when I'd ask my mom about it she'd say, "Jack's prone to lie."

It wasn't called the Plaza then we just called it the store

It was the center of our daily lives none like it anymore!

It's where we'd visit with our friends it's where we got our mail

It's where we went to buy a broom  or a shiny brand new pail.

Five cent Coca Cola in a red box filled with water

And in there on a butcher block a beef fresh from the slaughter.

We could buy a tin of lard or a pair of workman's shoes

Or a rope or dynamite or picks and things that miners use.

The county library's books were there books of every kind

On eight neat shelves by the water bags just past the bacon rind.

Radio Doc's, Tom Martin's shop; Irv Enger making ice.

Judge Post's switchboard; Jimmy Graham's café where the food was very nice.

By the soft yellow light of a coal lamp my mom read to us each day

Jack London and R. L. Stevenson and stories by Zane Gray.

Rudyard Kipling's Jungle Book, Copper's Leather Stocking Tales

The poems of Robert Service taught that bad men go to jail.

Those were really marvelous years we didn't know it then

But mom was teaching her three sons to go out and be strong men.

The Flickinger kids would ride to school on a burro's back

And Mrs. Jessup's Hudson car had no luggage rack.

Remember Teach Hayes' Franklin out by the cactus patch

And the '29 "A" Woody of Bill and Ada Hatch?

Clint and William Underhill, Bill Hockett's old well rig

Ketchum's Dipodomys, Smith's Ranch that got so big.

Bill Keys and Mickey Thornton and Constable Jack Cones

Johnnie Hastie's old red bus and "pics" by Harlow Jones.

The Spring box water tastes so sweet 'neath the palms at fortynine

I still remember how scared I was in the shaft of the Gold Crown mine.

Please go to PART 2

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