Twentynine Palms Historical Society
29 Palms, California


"What draws us into the desert is the search for something intimate in the remote." ~Edward Abbey

Old Schoolhouse Museum photo


The Twentynine Palms Historical Society is pleased to announce the 2018 "Old Timer of the Year" honoree...

Don Bolster

Don Bolster

The Twentynine Palms Historical Society is pleased to announce its 2018 Old Timer of the Year honoree, Don Bolster.

Bolster is the youngest of three surviving children born to Ray and Billie Bolster. Ray came to this area around 1910 and worked with and for Bill Keys. In 1913, he homesteaded in Morongo Valley. He married Willie May Ware in 1924 and the pair honeymooned in Twentynine Palms.

Their boys, Walter and Richard (Dick), were born in Banning in 1927 and 1930, respectively. Baby brother Don was born on May 1, 1936, in Beaumont. After stints in Whitewater, Pasadena, Big Morongo Canyon and Etiwanda, the family moved back to Twentynine Palms permanently in 1944, and Ray Bolster became the community's first employed fireman. The family lived in the back of the fire station on Adobe Road until his retirement in 1958.

Don attended elementary school in the original schoolhouse here, and graduated from Twentynine Palms High School in 1954. After graduation, he attended college and enlisted in the Navy.

He created most of the artwork for the 1953 TPHS El Oasis yearbook and was editor of the 1954 El Oasis. In 2003, Don donated the 1953 El Oasis to the TwentyninePalms Historical Society. He returned numerous times to visit his parents and for class reunions. Every year for the last 18 years, Don has traveled from his home in Sugar Grove, N.C., to attend Pioneer Days, the Old Timers Reunion and the historical society's Old Timers Gathering. Don is the coordinator and driving force of the Old Timers Reunion, a weekend-long gathering of old schoolmates.

He is a longtime historical society member and has supported the organization with numerous donations of items, family genealogy, local historical information, participation in the society's 'Generations Project' and many remembrances of his childhood here.

He wrote the article, 'A pioneer son remembers 'way back when' in 29 Palms,' for the The Desert Trail's 2009 Pioneer Days edition, and has written several other articles for the newspaper and Old Schoolhouse Journal. He is the subject of George White's book, 'The Baseball Glove,' which is on display at the museum along with the glove. At the 2011 old timer's reunion he gave an excellent and moving speech at the 29 Palms Inn.

Among the many great experiences Don remembers growing up here as a carefree desert boy was helping to create the legendary and mystical Oh-bay-yo-yo in the Wonderland of Rocks above Indian Cove in what is now Joshua Tree National Park. The National Park Service dismantled the cave/cabin sometime in the late 1970s and the original Oh-Bay-yo-yo logbook, in typical roundabout desert fashion, was placed in Don's care. He still serves as its keeper and custodian.

'For his pioneer ties, contributions to recording area history and his continued support of the community and the Twentynine Palms Historical Society, we are proud to honor Don Bolster as our 2018 Old Timer of the Year,' said historical society vice president Greg Mendoza.

Don will be a guest of honor, along with Pioneer Days Grand Marshal Ann Congdon and Military Grand Marshal Kim Ortamond, at the Old Timers Gathering scheduled for 1 to 4 p.m. Saturday, Oct. 20 at the museum, 6760 National Park Drive. Admission to the gathering is free, though donations are always accepted.

The "Old Timer of the Year" program was created to honor early or long-time residents who contributed significantly to the development or betterment of the Twentynine Palms' community. The program is intended to honor "everyday heroes" whose contributions and efforts over the years have largely gone unsung.

Everyone is welcome to come help us honor him during the 2018 Old Timers gathering at the Old Schoolhouse Museum on Saturday, October 20, 2018, 1:00 - 4:00 p.m.

The Old Schoolhouse Museum is located at 6760 National Park Drive in Twentynine Palms. Directions and more information is available on our web site


  The 2018-2019 Second Friday Lecture Series continues...
    Friday, October 12th at 7:00pm

   General Patton's Desert Training Center
    by Sid Burks, Historian

     Come join historian Sid Burks, who will tell the story of the Desert Training Center (DTC) launched by General George S. Patton where a million men trained to fight in the deserts of North Africa and other places. The DTC stretched for 19,000 square miles over the expanse of the Mojave Desert. It ranged from just east of Indio in the west to the Colorado River in the east, to Searchlight Nevada in the north and Yuma Arizona to the south. Learn how U.S. Solders became the best trained desert fighters in the world and won victory in North Africa.

     Sid Burks is a retired community college teacher and administrator and he currently teaches full-time for Cal State San Bernardino. He is a serious enthusiast of anything military, aviation, or desert history. He's given many lectures throughout the Coachella Valley on aviation and military history.

     Sponsored by the Desert Institute at Joshua Tree National Park and the Twentynine Palms Historical Society, this lecture is held at the Old Schoolhouse Museum, 6760 National Park Drive, Twentynine Palms, on Friday, October 12 at 7 pm. This lecture is open to the public and costs $5 per person at the door. Optional dinner with speaker at 5 pm at the 29 Palms Inn, reservations are limited and attendees are responsible for their own meal. If interested in dinner please RSVP to Patty Angel at 760-367-5535 before Wednesday, October 10.

  Click here for more information.
  Click here to download a flyer for this lecture.

Door opens at 6:15 and seating is limited, so arrive early. No standees permitted.


Join us for the Old Timers Gathering Saturday, October 20, 2018, 1:00-4:00pm at the Old Schoolhouse Museum.
Phil Sullivan furnishing music for a bunch of bad boys - 1924.

This year's gathering will celebrate 2018 "Old Timer of the Year" honoree Don Bolster as well as Ann (Underhill) Congdon and Kim Ortamond, the 2018 Pioneer Days grand marshals and military grand marshals.

The Old Timers Gathering is for anyone interested in the history of Twentynine Palms who wants to meet some of the earlier residents and share their memories and stories of Twentynine Palms with others.

Remember, the youngsters of today are the old timers of tomorrow. No one is too old or too young to participate! Admission is free and snacks and soft drinks will be provided. Click for more about the Gathering.

The 2018 Twentynine Palms
Weed Show logoSM
will be held on Saturday and Sunday, Nov. 3 & 4.
This years theme is "COLORFUL CHARACTERS."

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The show will be open for viewing on
Saturday (Nov. 3) Noon to 4:00 p.m. and
Sunday (Nov. 4) 10:00 a.m. to 4:00 p.m.

Click here for more about this event.

Click here for the 2018 categories and rules.


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