Cheryl Erickson | Ep 76

In 1970, with a marine husband in Vietnam, Cheryl Erickson was tasked with coming to 29 Palms to look for a home for herself and her husband. After her initial trip, Cheryl decided not to tell her husband she was not moving to the desert - 50 years later, she is still here.

Having a life-long love of books, Cheryl worked in libraries at the University of Minnesota, Fairfax County, Virginia and Cal State Long Beach and immediately, upon getting settled, took a job with the 29 Palms Library. A marine officer's wife, Cheryl learned the other Marine wives were a bit unhappy that Cheryl's work made her unavailable to assist with the planning of teas and other service spouse functions.

Oddly enough, Cheryl's step-mother knew a women who lived in 29 Palms and suggested Cheryl seek her out after settling in. The woman was Mary Hayes, wife of Ted Hayes who was the first high school teacher and principal in 29 Palms. Through Mary, Cheryl had an easy introduction to the community and feels it was that sense of community that has kept her in 29 Palms all these years.

At the library, Cheryl worked as assistant librarian to Harold Weight. One day, while Cheryl was reading 'The Desert was Home', by Elizabeth Campbell, an important early resident in 29 Palms history, a library patron suggested that if Cheryl were interested in 'that kind of stuff', he would bring her some items he'd kept in the process of removing the contents of Campbell House. Cheryl and Harold poured over the materials and lamented the fact that so much from the home had been discarded without a thought of it's historical value and importance. It was at that point, around 1982, with the meeting of a few other local minds, that the 29 Palms Historical Society was formed.

With Harold's assistance and previous experience in collecting oral histories Cheryl conducted oral interviews of more than 70 of the oldest residents of 29 Palms. In this episode, Cheryl talks about her conversation with Johnnie Hastie, the towns bus-driving errand man.

Cheryl went on to become the head librarian of the 29 Palms Library and, along with Ann Congdon, was the Pioneer Days 2107 Old Timer of the Year.

Cheryl is also a member of Little Church of the Desert, where she played the organ for many years, and continues to play an important role in the community and in the 29 Palms Historical Society.