Ann Congdon | Ep 94

While working at a print shop in Pasadena, news came though that the government was giving homesteads to World War I veterans. After his shift, Ann’s father Bill Underhill , got in his car with a shovel and a sleeping bag and headed to 29 Palms to stake his claim. After moving to the area permanently, he recognized he needed a job and started The Desert Trail newspaper.

After her own jobs in the various Underhill family businesses - the newspaper, movie theater, roller rink - Ann felt the urge to expand her horizons beyond the desert. In this episode, she shares memories being at the home of a grade school friend, with immigrant parents, and being so curious about the air mail letters she saw on their table. A trip she took in an Airstream trailer across the country with fellow homesteaders, the Hatch family (Liz Meyer Ep 40) really expanded her horizons.

While at Scripps College, Ann met her husband, Mike, who also had an interest in traveling. Soon after marriage and they graduation, moved to Washington DC, where Mike joined the State Department Foreign Service, which took them to Belgrade (Yugoslavia), returning to the states for a short time before they were off to Vienna, Austria. As residents in these countries, they traveled to many places in Eastern and Western Europe, as well as Asia.

On their return to the states, while working in graphic design, Ann decided to change things up and go back to school for her Masters in Architecture. With Mike’s work opportunity with the Air Force Academy, Ann was able to study at University of Colorado in Denver. After finishing her studies, she and Mike returned to Washington DC.

A number of years later, Ann found herself returning to 29Palms more often as her mother, Prudie, was aging and still living in the home they all grew up in, which is now an Airbnb called ‘Broadview’. Ann and Mike have now retired in 29 Palms.

Back in 29 Palms for fourteen years now, Ann is the President of Sky’s the Limit Observatory and very involved in all the activities and events that happen including their Full Moon nights and Star Parties (which happen every Saturday night that the moon is not full). The facility is experiencing great popularity and the organization is always looking for good volunteers, particularly those familiar with using telescopes, and grant writers. The big fundraiser for the observatory is the Night Sky Festival, September 21, 2019. This event sells out, so get your tickets early!

Ann says, "29 Palms is a great place to be raised, it's a good place to leave and it's the perfect place to end up."