“ Where the leather hits the sand ”
While camping atop of the Santa Rosa peak in 1936 two men, Randall Henderson and J. Wilson McKenney sat down and admired an absolute stunning view. They were amazed at the wide and magnificent expanse from the Salton Sea to Whitewater and it was in this grand moment of inspiration, they decided to begin a dream. So in November of 1937 at El Centro California, they began what some would call an icon of American Journalism. Although their pride and joy never received any major awards, it was priceless to generations of people who shared the same passion. This jewel was called Desert Magazine, and until 1958 (the magazine actually ran to 1985 under different ownerships) they shared their love of the desert with anyone who was willing to listen.
It was over 60 years after Desert Magazine began that I found my first issue and was hooked by the 3rd page. This magazine had everything that I have come to love about the desert. It included history, archeology, folklore, rock collecting, treasure hunting, and much, much more. There were maps by Norton Allen (whose work is in the Smithsonian), fossils and rock hunting from John Hilton, chronicles from Marshal South about his life on the desert. Lost treasure articles from Lucille and Harold Weight, the original desert rat and Academy Award nominee Harry Oliver and of course the unforgettable stories from Choral Pepper and Uncle Earle (Earle Stanley Gardner was the head writer from the Perry Mason show). After years of poring over these magazines and spending years on the desert, I too became absolutely enthralled; I had found my passion and home.
Then it hit me, I wondered where these stories are today, where the people are, and what changes have happened to them in last 70 years or so. So I decided to share my passion and to start a new publication, with a dedication to the memory, and love of the founding members of the original Desert magazine. It is in this vein that I invite everyone (young and old) to come along and enjoy a new Dezert Magazine rooted in the same commitment and passion as the first. We will seek out any and all of the original writers and their families, to see if they are still around and what they have been up to. In keeping with the tradition of Randall Henderson who used to say that he only wanted writers who would have had their “leather hit the sand”, I couldn’t agree any more. For one to truly appreciate and write about the desert, they have to experience it. We will make sure that our “leather hits the sand” and that we bring you the most up to date findings possible.
I hope you enjoy the ride…..