This Story by Jack Smith of the Los Angeles “Times” shows that smart Newsmen can always find a “Pocket Full of Miracles” — At Old Fort Oliver.
PALM SPRINGS— Harry Oliver, the old desert rat, was listening to the World Series on his radio when we dropped by to see if he had new lies.
Oliver lives out in the desert in a “100-year-old” adobe fort he built about 20 years ago. He calls it Ft. Oliver. The yard is full of rusty old antiques, including Oliver’s 17-year-old dog Whiskers.
Oliver said Whiskers is getting deaf. Oliver bought him a hearing aid. Whiskers swallowed the works. He thought it was a peanut.
“He keeps hearing his old stomach rumbling and thinks it’s thunder,” Oliver said. “He goes in the house to get out of the rain.”
Besides Whiskers Oliver has two bobtail cats, Dot and Comma. “They’re supposed to help me punctuate,” Oliver said. Oliver is the Editor and the entire staff of Harry Oliver’s Desert Rat Scrap Book.
It is printed four times a year on a big piece of paper folded four times. It has two slogans: “Price two bits” and “Only newspaper you can open in the wind.”
The Scrapbook is full of philosophy, wit and facts. A mosquito has 22 teeth; bees tases with their knees. These are facts from the Scrapbook. Dry Camp Blackie would rather have a cat than a TV set. This is philosophy.
We met Dry Camp Blackie. He said hello. He was sitting in the shade outside Ft. Oliver with Whiskers. Blackie sat there all the time we were there and was sitting when we left.
Harry loves and protects all desert creatures. He has a talking crow and used to have a tortoise named Hopalong Pushadee. He died.
Oliver says the buzzards come back to Ft. Oliver every year like the swallows come back to Capistrano.
Oliver has a Ford station wagon which he says he has driven for 33 years without denting a fender or running over a horned toad. He is the inventor of the mule swearing contest where a man gets a prize for cussing out a mule the best, and the lazy dog contest for the laziest dog. The dog and his owner each get a prize.
Oliver has fought for years to save the burros. He also invented thde burro flapjack contest for prospectors and burros. The prospectors have to pack their burros, race 100 yds., unpack, build a fire and cook a flapjack. The first prospector who gets his burro to eat a flapjack gets a prize. I believe the burro does, too.
Oliver talks to his crow and used to talk to Hopalong. He is trying to teach Whiskers to bark in italics. Oliver knows desert weather. Last August he predicted August was going to be as hot as July was all through September. It was. He says in the desert a 6-inch rain means the drops were 6 inches apart.
Oliver is 74-5/12 years young. “After you pass 70 you count your age like children,” he says. “You put in the quarters and halves.” His hair and beard are white but he’s as tough as an old wagon wheel. He says the future is getting here quicker than it used to, though.
Oliver is like old Sky-Eye Jones, who is Oliver’s flying saucer expert. Sky-Eye is 90. He has discovered that every time he lives through March he lives through the whole year, so far.
Oliver says he owes his jokes to his memory and his facts to his imagination. But so what? His paper only costs two-bits.
Harry Oliver – Desert Rat Scrapbook – Klaxo.Net