Helen, on the left, new homesteader in Twentynine Palms; right, Minerva Hoyt, "Apostle of the Cacti".
Helen learned to love the desert, coming here in 1927, with her husband Frank (due to his health issues) and three young boys. Helen and Frank ran a grocery store in Twentynine Palms, or '29 Palms', and made a life here from scratch. Among other things, they dug a well, built a school and, after years of living in and running the grocery store out of a double garage, built a house and made a life for their family. Helen wrote 'Sand In My Shoe', with remembrances of the people, places and customs of early homesteader life.
Minerva, a member of the Garden Club of America, found great solace in the desert in the early 1900's, visiting often from her home in Pasadena. Her efforts to educate children and adults alike about the preservation of native plants and animals of the desert included elaborate exhibits in various garden club shows, like the 1928 International Flower Show in New York's Grand Central Palace, New York Botanic Garden, the Massachusetts Horticultural Society and the Chelsea Spring Flower Show in London. Her biggest project was the preservation of Mojave Desert land now known as Joshua Tree National Park.
In this episode, I read an excerpt from each of the listed books. Helen's is first and will give you an idea of her life with Frank and some of the challenges of early homestead life. The excerpt about Minerva is from 'National Parks and the Woman's Voice', by Polly Welts Kaufman, and shows Minerva's commitment to the desert and to seeing that it was preserved for future generations.
Below are links to these books on Amazon. Raven's or Sagebrush Books, in 29 Palms and Yucca Valley, CA respectfully, may have them on the shelves from time to time. They may also be found at your public library. 'Sand in my Shoe' is a bit of a collector's item.