Wednesday, May 24, 2017
WHITE HEART OF MOJAVE: A VISIT TO DEATH VALLEY
Somehow I neglected to publish this a few weeks back. Here you go!
This week's arts and culture piece begins like this:
In the early 1920s, Edna Brush Perkins, a Cleveland socialite, and her pal Charlotte decided to come to California.
“Charlotte and I knew the outdoors a little. Though we were middle-aged, mothers of families and deeply involved in the historic struggle for the vote, we sometimes looked at the sky.”
Gazing at a map, Edna saw “a great empty space just east of the Sierra Nevada Range and the San Bernardino Mountains vaguely designated as the Mojave Desert.”
“Was the desert just a white space like that?” she wondered. “The word had a mixed connotation; it suggested monotony, sterility, death — and also big open spaces, gold and blue sunsets, and fascination. We recollected that some author had written about the ‘terrible fascination’ of the desert. The white blank on the map looked very wild and lonely. We went to Los Angeles on the Santa Fe [Railroad] in order to see what it might contain.”
In those days, there was no paved road into the Mojave. And when they arrived in Los Angeles and aired their plan to explore it, they were met with discouragement on every side.
“Our friends drew a dismal picture of us sitting out in the sagebrush beside a disabled car and slowly starving to death. ‘You could not fix it,’ they said, ‘and what would you do?’ We suggested that we might wait until somebody came along. They assured us that nobody ever came along.”
READ THE WHOLE PIECE HERE.