Sleeping with a Happy Heart

Today, March 5, marks 57 years from Cabot Yerxa’s death at the age of 81 from a heart attack due to arteriosclerotic heart disease. An obituary newspaper article in 1965 reported that more than 400 people attended a funeral service — conducted by Desert Hot Springs’ American Legion post and Masonic Club — at Eighth Street Community Center. Cabot’s cremated remains are buried at Desert Memorial Park in Cathedral City. His grave marker includes the line “He led us to the miracle waters.” The following, in Cabot’s words and included in the museum’s book Cabot Abram Yerxa: On the Desert Since 1913, seems worth republishing here on the anniversary of his passing.

The moving onto a homestead claim in the desert has many a thrill. It is a new, strange, and different life from any other.
Thornton Green met me at the railroad station with a team of lonesome mules hitched to a small wagon. We loaded in the trunk, a sack of potatoes, onions, flour, canned goods, coal oil, blankets, tin stove, a few simple tools, and many other odds and ends. The wagon was full, and so we walked in the sand all the seven or eight miles to my homestead claim.
There were no roads to speak of, and so we slowly picked our way around bushes or rocks, up some washes and down others or through drifted sand.
We arrived at sundown, threw the various things out over the ground, and he and the mules left, as it was getting dark.
Here I was with one canteen of water, all my earthly possessions scattered about, and the future in my own hands. I made a little campfire of dry sticks, warmed some simple food, and spread the blankets on the sand. This was to be my home, my land, and no rent to pay!
I felt as rich as Rockefeller! There was not another building to be seen, and as darkness increased, not a light. Coyotes yapped up toward the mountains, and I went to sleep with a happy heart.
Notable interments at Desert Memorial Park in addition to Cabot include Busby Berkeley, Sonny Bono, Frederick Loewe, Cameron Mitchell, William Powell, Frank Sinatra, and Donald Wexler. Cabot’s gravesite is in the section just to the right of the park entrance off Ramon Road.
On this significant day, we republished this newsletter to reflect the contributions of Cabot Yerxa and his legacy. The newsletter was first published on March 6, 2021.

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