Speaking Frankly

As much as we think of Cabot Yerxa as Desert Hot Springs’ quintessential pioneer with a quirky personality and a vision beyond his lifetime, he acknowledged many of the other singular “characters” that provide a rich history to homesteading days. The following portrait of one of those individuals comes from stitched-together, edited sections of Cabot’s “On the Desert Since 1913” …

Form and Function

Last week’s newsletter advised readers, via Cabot Yerxa’s “On the Desert Since 1913” columns, on how to use a stick to carry a rattlesnake home. So it makes sense to follow that up with his further thoughts on the value of a stick. He wrote the following after listing important items to carry for a walk in the desert (in …

Keeping it Quiet

As noted in last week’s newsletter, Cabot Yerxa kept an assortment of reptiles — tortoises, snakes, and lizards — as “pets.” Should you, too, wish to populate a snake pit, don’t bother looking for a how-to video on YouTube. As a public service, we offer below Cabot’s advice on how to capture a rattlesnake. First, lift the snake and put …

Slow Down

As people familiar with Cabot Yerxa know, he had great respect for and loved watching wildlife. He also kept a variety of desert creatures — e.g., snakes, tortoises, and chuckawallas — for the enjoyment and education of visitors to his pueblo museum. In 1956, his “On the Desert Since 1913” columns for the Desert Sentinel newspaper included the following (excerpted) about tortoises. …

The Very Finest Claim

Our past two newsletters have offered a glimpse into the range of jobs Cabot Yerxa performed throughout his life. Once established in the desert, he could not spend all his time, as he wished, working on his homestead. Traveling to Los Angeles to make money, he labored on a pick-and-shovel team for a utility company, dug holes for telephone poles, …

Work, Work, Work

In our last newsletter, we presented a “resume” that Cabot Yerxa prepared for a prospective employer. It is worth noting that he began learning about business firsthand as a young child. Below is an edited recounting of his background beginning when his father and two uncles owned grocery stores in Minneapolis and St. Paul, Minnesota. I worked in and out …

A Wellspring of Talent

Cabot Yerxa’s fame and legacy derive from the 35-room, Indian-inspired structure he built in Desert Hot Springs (a destination on the Registry of National Historic Places). Supporters, friends, and fans of Cabot’s Indian Pueblo Museum — people like you who receive this newsletter — know more about his adventure and achievements. But, to use an apropos metaphor for the pioneer …

“Home Schooling” — The Desert as Teacher

We’ve been giving this newsletter over to Cabot Yerxa through the journal he kept throughout his travels to and from Europe in 1925-26. This week, we get impressions of him and the desert not only through his words, but also through the eyes of a visiting writer named Belle Ewing. Below are excerpts from the aptly titled “Adventure’s Son,” published …

A Wise Man’s Appreciation of Home

Our armchair travels with Cabot Yerxa over the past couple of months have brought us to the end of his voyage to Europe. On January 13, 1926, as the U.S.S. Leerdam made its way into New Orleans, Cabot found himself — like us today — in an unusually solitary environment. Unlike us, he was not yet home. The ship can …

A Virtual Tour of Paris, France

Let’s try something new again this week as we follow Cabot Yerxa’s journey to Europe in 1925. This time, instead of excerpting whole sections of his journal related to his impressions of a place or event, we offer intermittent bits at how he appreciated the value of perspective. All of the following items come from his time in Paris, France, …