Love is in the Air

On the eve of Valentine’s Day, we highlight the bond that made Cabot and Portia the perfect couple to find bliss in a work-in-progress home surrounded by raw desert land. The following excerpts come from an article in a July 1964 issue of The Desert Sun profiling the lady of the house on Miracle Hill, who described meeting Cabot. Portia …

Press and Presence

BSM, Before Social Media, people got their news from printed paper. They stepped outside, perhaps with morning coffee in hand, to pick up the daily newspaper tossed onto their porch or driveway. Even without platforms like Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram, Cabot Yerxa managed to attract the kind of publicity rarely available to a noncelebrity. When he opened his pueblo to …

Perceptions of Precipitation

On the heels of this week’s winter rains, we look back to Cabot Yerxa’s impressions of days when clouds slipped past the protection of local mountains and watered the typically arid landscape. The following excerpts, dating back to 1954, come from the museum’s book titled On the Desert Since 1913. Yesterday it rained for the first time in nine or …

Points of Departure

Cabot Yerxa typically ended his written communications “Adios.” His use of the Spanish word conveys not only his appreciation for other cultures, but also seems jauntier than “Farewell.” After his second viewing of the 1931 movie Trader Horn (about an African adventurer who “at the end says ‘goodbye’ to comrades”), Cabot collected his memories of partings. “When I pick up …

Snow and Slow

In last week’s newsletter, we published excerpts from Hearst Newspapers syndicated columnist Louis Sobol’s “New York Cavalcade” column, which was primarily devoted to Broadway show business news and gossip but also included communications he had with Cabot Yerxa on life in the desert. The following comes from Sobol’s “American Cavacade,” published in the February 13, 1939, edition of San Francisco …

Starting Lines

Although Cabot Yerxa wed his second wife on August 8, 1945, the occasion was announced nationally in the January 2, 1946, edition of New York Journal-American. For two or three years, Cabot wrote a monthly letter to Hearst Newspapers columnist Louis Sobol about life in the desert. Sobol often used them in his “New York Cavalcade” column, which otherwise was …

No Place Like Nome

Last week’s excerpts from the museum foundation’s new publication — 1900 Gold Rush to Nome, Alaska: Cabot Yerxa’s Coming of Age Memoir — established Cabot Yerxa’s experience with winter in Alaska. This week, we look at how the desert pioneer called upon his entrepreneurial spirit to make money in a frontier filled with “bad men and desperados,” as well as …

Winter Wonderland

Now that we have officially entered winter, it seems apropos to relate Cabot Yerxa’s 1900-1901 experience of wintering in Nome, Alaska. As you read the excerpts below, you should feel quite content to be in the Southern California desert where even the shortest days of the year bring us light and warmth. Nome was unbelievably cold during stormy weather. The …

Merry Hearted

While walking to Morongo one day, Cabot Yerxa came upon a man leading a small black burro. The man had purchased the animal specifically to carry his belongings to the railroad. Judging the burro to be intelligent, Cabot spent $10 to buy it for help on his homestead after the man completed his trek. He named the burro Merry Xmas …

A Weighty Problem

Featuring burros in this month’s newsletters, we turn to an amusing story Cabot Yerxa told that begins with Orr Sang, a fellow homesteader. The retired policeman from Los Angeles not only had the desert’s first bathtub, but also a burro carriage with a fringed canopy and one cushioned seat. His two burros were Molly (“white, strong, and willing”) and Fanny …