Sue McMahon | Episode 44

Sue McMahon, Retired Teacher

Sue's first experience with the desert was accompanying her husband, Pete, to a job interview in 29 Palms for a teaching position in 1957. At first blush, Sue was not impressed with the place, sitting under an elm tree in the June desert heat and then moving from Texas, in the middle of August, with their three young children. But, she agreed to try it out for two years - 60 years later, she's still here.

After discounting the pink desert mountains in a John Hilton painting as artistic license, her mind was changed when she witnessed them with her own eyes. The beauty of the desert and the kindnesses of its community members kept her here.

Sue spent 40 years as a substitute teacher in the Morongo Unified School District, gaining a reputation for being tough - her husband nicknaming her 'Mrs. McMean'. These days, she loves filing historical data in the Research Room of The Old Schoolhouse Museum and giving tours to the third grade classes who come to see a classroom with an actual chalkboard.

In this episode, Sue shares memories of the annual Weed Show and talks about some of the books, by local authors like Art Kidwell, available in the gift shop of The Old Schoolhouse Museum and the current expansion of the museum to accommodate the growing interest in historical programs hosted there by The Desert Institute.

Sue's children, two of whom are also now retired, left the area long ago and worry a bit about their mom remaining in the desert at her advanced age. Sue understands, but loves the place and the people with whom she has made a life and feels strongly that she is still fulfilling her purpose. Sue's not ready to leave her desert home any time soon.