Twentynine Palms Historical Society
29 Palms, California

Growing Up Desert

By Chris Spangenberg Tiffany, 2003

Joshua Trees

"This is Margot Spangenberg from The Desert Trail." My mother is on the phone, interviewing people for the weekly column she writes, "29 Palms Gazing", for the local newspaper. She does not know that I am listening and I am not aware that I am recording it all. Unconsciously memorizing the script, filing away the imagery, her style and grace. She is a skilled writer and a cordial conversationalist, gathering the materical for her articles, filling her green-paged steno pads with the secret language of her flowing, confident shorthand notes. Pecking rhythmically and surely on the black and silver round flat keys of the old Underwood typewriter at the gray metal hulk of her bedroom desk. A tap-dance of stories—Mr. Hayes’ English rose garden, the blooming Century plant, social gathering, births, travels, and achievements of the locals.

For years, I listen in the background to her phone interviews, watch her type her stories in time for deadline, measuring the column inches by which she is paid. I have absorbed it all. And so I write too.

Because Dad loved to get out and explore, we all experienced an irreplaceable sharing of family togetherness, laughter, and adventure—an unparalleled fulfillment that showed in Dad’s eyes every time he looked at us, loving us always and wanting us to be happy. His longing to see new territory gave us trips clear across the country, picnics, horseback rides, ice skating and tobogganing, rock climbing and shopping excursions. His adventurousness fed ours, his imagination nurtured an ability to create fun out of the mundane.

This month marks Margot Spangenberg’s 50th year in 29 Palms! In 1953 Margot and Joe chose the healthy desert climate of this community in hopes of saving their oldest daughter Patsy from life-threatening asthma. Margot and her daughters, Patsy and Christy, lived alone the first year in a downtown duplex off Adobe Road, while Joe stayed at his job in San Pedro before finding work delivering gas for Petrolane.

Veteran Board Member and former President of the Historical Society, Margot’s multiple talents are woven into many facets of this communities history. A charter parent of Blessed Sacrament School, a long-time writer for The Desert Trail with a weekly column, "29 Palms Gazing", former office manager for Gene Theis Construction and retired Regional Occupation Director for the Morongo Unified School District. Margot also served on the High Desert Hospital Board, a former President of the Soroptimist Club, and has been active on Action Council, and is still a Board Member of the Joshua Tree National Parks Association, of which she also served as President. At 83, she is truly a marvel. If you want to know "who, what, or when, where and how" about 29 Palms—Ask Margot!

Congratuations Margot, on your 50th year in 29 Palms!

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