Friday, March 24, 2017

Man caught selling thousands of dollars' worth of stolen Nevada Museum Antiques on Ebay

Beatty Museum, Beatty, Nevada.
by Faith Jessie
KSNV news3lv.com


LAS VEGAS — Beatty, NV, also known as the gateway to Death Valley, sits about a 100 miles northwest of Las Vegas.

The history of the town is told through the items that sit in its museum.

One piece of that history is glass bottles from the Friends of Rhyolite collection. It dates back to the early 1900's when Rhyolite, NV once thrived from the mining industry.

Diane McGinnis presides over the museum's Board of Directors and was surprised when a thief stole some of the antique bottles from the museum to make a profit.

"One of the other community members noticed that they had some stolen products on Ebay," said McGinnis
The Nye County Sheriff's department says the man behind the online sale of the stolen items from the community was 57-year-old Johnny Salisbury.

"They looked at his postings saw that he has the glass bottles and figured you know, we know where those came from," said McGinnis.

Salisbury was arrested by Sheriffs on Monday for stealing the bottles and other property valued at over $2,500.
Mark Hall-Patton, who spends a fair amount of his time with historic objects, says these pieces are valuable to collectors.

"Bottle collectors especially in the old west, what they are looking for are bottles from ghost towns, bottles from places where people are no longer living in, there are no businesses anymore," said Mark Hall-Patton, Administrator Clark County Museum System. "Rhyolight [sic] died fairly early, but the town site is still there and it's one of those towns that really has an image in Western History.

It's a part of history that everyone will be able to see. The bottles are now back where they belong and will be on display this summer at the Beatty Museum.

Thursday, February 2, 2017

Mojave Desert Archives — Virtual Tour —

The Mojave Desert Archives is housed in the Dennis G. Casebier Library, a state-of-the-art archival repository built in the image of the historic Goffs Santa Fe Railway Depot (1902-1956). This 6,000 square-foot building was made possible by a grant from the California Cultural and Historical Endowment and the membership of the Mojave Desert Heritage and Cultural Association (MDHCA).

The entrance to the Library is through the green door, just to the right of the old baggage cart and platform (below) in the two-story part of the building.


Upon entering the Library Reading Room, visiting researchers are greeted by staff and provided with an orientation on Archives rules and procedures. The large library table (below) is is where the researcher will set up, receive requested materials, and conduct their study. (Click on image to see full-size)


This wide view of the Reading Room (below) shows the location of the staff station on the right side of the room. The microfilm reader station is located in between the library table (center) and the staff station. Bookcases containing oral history transcripts and reference books line the walls.


Between the microfilm reader and staff stations is the Archives Citation bookcase. There are more than 130 titles assembled on the shelves in which the Mojave Desert Archives are referenced. The types of publications making up this collection are scholarly theses, historical monographs, government reports, and the in-house publications of the MDHCA. This output is the most visible representation of how the Mojave Desert Archives gives back to our community.


Inside the low and long one-story portion of the Library building, called the Freight House, is where the stacks of the repository are stored. The Freight House is divided into two equally sized rooms. Below is the north room. The file cabinets contain our Subject Files, processed manuscript collections, microfilm, pamphlets, and periodicals, such as a full set of Desert Magazine.


The north room has a scanning station for photographic and microform materials (below). This equipment is typically used to fulfill reference requests for long-distance researchers.


The north Freight House also houses the server rack for the Archives (below). This system runs ArchivesSpace, a web-based archives information management system, used to organize the collections of the Mojave Desert Archives and to develop collection guides for upload to the Online Archive of California. The digital assets of the collections are also preserved and backed up here. [Systems gifted by Smile Brands, Inc., Irvine, California.]


The north Freight House is also home to a small exhibit of framed photographic enlargements from the O. A. Russell Photograph Collection and vintage World War I and II war bond posters.


Interpretive graphic for the O. A. Russell photo exhibit (below).


The south Freight House contains both processed and unprocessed collections. The record storage racks (below) contain accessioned materials that are awaiting arrangement and description. The major collections stored here are those of desert writers Harold and Lucile Weight, San Bernardino County researcher Germaine Moon, and desert land activist Hildamae Voght.


The long tables in the lower right portion of the image below provide an excellent work space for handling oversized materials or for beginning the process of organizing materials from the record storage boxes.


The south Freight House is also home to flat files containing the 7,000 historical maps of the Mojave Desert Archives.


We hope you have enjoyed this virtual tour of the Mojave Desert Archives. In-person tours are typically led by the Archivist at the annual Mojave Road Rendezvous, held at the Goffs Cultural Center in early fall. Thank you!

Tuesday, January 31, 2017

Marta Becket, who made Amargosa Opera House famous, dies at 92

Marta Becket on February 8, 1993 in the Amargosa Opera House, Death Valley Junction. (Mary Walter Scodwell)

By HENRY BREAN
LAS VEGAS REVIEW-JOURNAL

A flat tire brought classically trained dancer Marta Becket to Death Valley Junction, California, in 1967.

Nothing could ever make her leave.

For decades, the artist and performer put on one-woman shows inside the Pacific Coast Borax Co.’s old community hall, which she transformed with her paint brush and her passion into the weird and world-famous Amargosa Opera House.

Becket died Monday at her home in the near-ghost town of Death Valley Junction, according to Inyo County deputy coroner Jeff Mullenhour. She was 92.

Susan Sorrells, who owns the nearby town of Shoshone, California, and knew Becket throughout her time in the desert, said she will remember Marta for her talent and generosity, her sense of humor and her deep love of animals — from her small army of pet cats to the herds of wild horses and burros she fed and ferociously protected near her home.

The world will remember Marta for what she created, Sorrells said. “Her art really came first. She was extremely dedicated to her art to the point where she could become something of a hermit.”

Becket was born Aug. 9, 1924, in New York City, where she grew up studying dance, piano and art. As a young woman, she performed on Broadway and at Radio City Music Hall.

Becket was camping with her husband in Death Valley in the spring of 1967 when a flat tire sent them to the junction for a repair.

While there, she discovered an abandoned theater in the then-booming mining town just across the border from Nevada, 95 miles west of Las Vegas.

They rented the old building the next day for $45 a month.

PAINTED ‘AUDIENCE’

The curtains parted every Monday, Friday and Saturday for years after that, though some nights no one showed up to buy a ticket.


So she would never have to perform in front of an empty house, Becket decided to paint herself a permanent audience. Over the course of several years in the early 1970s, she decorated the walls and ceiling with elaborate murals depicting a Renaissance theater.

Her marriage dissolved in 1983, but she soon took on a performing partner named Thomas J. Willett, “Wilget” for short, who served as stage manager, emcee, comic relief and companion for Becket until his death in 2005.

Amy Noel, an artist and business owner in Tecopa, California, said she caught her first Marta Becket performance about 30 years ago, and she returned to the opera house countless times.

First-time audience members didn’t always know what to make of the theater and its star, Noel said. “Then the lights would go off, and it was magic.”

The curiosity of Becket’s creation gradually drew attention from around the globe, as the famed dancer in the desert was profiled by dozens of magazines, newspapers and television programs. “Amargosa,” a 2000 documentary about her life, won an Emmy and was a finalist for an Academy Award. Her memoir, “To Dance on Sands,” was published in 2006.

Film crews and so-called “paranormal investigators” also showed up periodically to hunt ghosts in her theater and adjacent motel, but the spirit Sorrells remembers best is the one Becket painted on canvas and in one of her murals: a ghostly ballerina twirling through the opera house’s colonnade.

“That pretty much let everyone know what her wishes were,” Sorrells said.

‘THE SITTING DOWN SHOW’

Becket was still dancing — and still rising onto her toes to stand “en pointe” — well into her 70s. When a fall left her injured and unable to dance, she began staging what she called “The Sitting Down Show.”

“She’s an inspiration to us all,” Noel said. “She was so dedicated and so sharp. She had such a sharp mind, even when her body started to fail.”

Becket gave her farewell performance on Feb. 12, 2012, at age 87, before relinquishing the stage to a series of visiting dancers and placing the property in the hands of a nonprofit board.

Noel was there for the final show.

“It was packed to the gills,” she said. “Before Marta said a word, she got a standing ovation. She said, ‘That was a first,’ and then she went right into (her performance). It was beautiful.”

No funeral arrangements had been announced on Tuesday, but those who knew Becket expect her to be buried in Death Valley Junction’s tiny cemetery, near the graves of her mother and her beloved “Wilget.”

“She never wanted to leave Death Valley Junction,” Sorrells said.

As long as the Amargosa Opera House still stands, Marta Becket’s presence will be felt there, Noel said. “She promised to haunt it, so I expect she’ll be around.”

According to a biography on the opera house’s website, Becket gave her first performance in the theater on Feb. 10, 1968, before an audience of about a dozen people. She made all her own sets and costumes, and she wrote and choreographed the entire production, just as she would for all her original shows — each a mix of ballet and old-fashioned Broadway theatrics, often autobiographical.

Thursday, January 26, 2017

The 'Desert Magazine' that covered deserts around the world

Desert Magazine building postcard by Burton Frasher (Photo: Historical Society of Palm Desert/Special to the Desert Sun)

Sid Burks
Special to The Desert Sun


The first “Desert Magazine” was published from 1937 to 1985 and is not to be confused with those of the same name that came later. It was a regional publication that covered the deserts of the Southwestern United States and Northwest Mexico.

It reported on a myriad of desert-related subjects. It was aimed at the “Desert Rat” but appealed to anyone interested in the desert. It featured stories about desert destinations that usually required a four-wheel drive vehicle, and desert activities like gold prospecting and rock hounding. “Desert Magazine”’s classifieds included ads for metal detectors, desert gear of all types and land.

“Desert Magazine” was published monthly and usually had fewer than fifty pages. In the first year, only two issues were published, November and December. Several years had combined monthly issues, with ten or eleven making it to subscribers. From 1982 to 1985, the magazine wound down with five or fewer issues each year. After the 1985 run, the magazine ceased publication and went into bankruptcy. Several attempts were made to resurrect the venerable publication but none succeeded for long. An index and back issues are available online. The provider states that the magazine is an “orphan” publication and making digital copies available is not a copyright violation. Back issues are available to read or purchase at the Historical Society of Palm Desert. They can also be found on eBay.

May 1963 cover of Desert Magazine
showing glider flying over Palm Springs.
“Desert Magazine” began in El Centro, California, in 1937. Its founding publisher, Randall Henderson, used his knowledge and love of the desert to change the mindset of many about it. When Henderson came back from the war, he began looking around for a new home for the magazine. He needed a site large enough that he could do all of his printing work in-house and provide housing for his employees.

“Desert Magazine” began in El Centro, California, in 1937. Its founding publisher, Randall Henderson, used his knowledge and love of the desert to change the mindset of many about it. When Henderson came back from the war, he began looking around for a new home for the magazine. He needed a site large enough that he could do all of his printing work in-house and provide housing for his employees.

He had some enticing offers from interests in Tucson but settled on a stretch of the California Desert he and business partner, J. Wilson McKenney, had originally selected for the magazine. It was a desert cove protected by the Santa Rosa Mountains. He purchased twenty acres for the magazine and two parcels for himself. His brother — Cliff Henderson, who was still in the service — had asked him to look around for possible locations for a post-war community that he wanted to build. Randall recommended the area where his building was. Cliff came out to take a look and went on to become the founding father of Palm Desert.

Henderson felt strongly about the “Desert Magazine” building. He wanted it built in the Pueblo Revival Style. In the 1947 issue of “Desert Magazine”, he stated that, “Pueblo design is one of the desert’s most important contributions to the cultural life of the Southwest.” He felt that the Pueblo style was the only type of architecture that was purely North American and not subject to European influence. Pueblo architecture features projecting roof beams (vigas), rounded corners and irregular parapets. He built just such a building in 1948 as designed by noted Palm Springs architects Williams, William & Williams.

Desert Magazine building. (Photo: Historical Society of Palm Desert/Special to the Desert Sun)

The building was 17,000 square-feet and housed not only the “Desert Magazine” but several other publishing and artistic enterprises, including the Smoketree School of Desert Art. The building was the site of many art shows and other community activities. The “Desert Magazine” site would be the home to many Palm Desert “firsts.” It was the first commercial building constructed on the first developed block of Palm Desert. It housed the city’s first printing company, bank, art gallery and post office.

The magazine ceased publishing in 1985, but the building survived relatively unchanged for years. It was eventually re-purposed to accommodate restaurants. The restaurants moved on to other sites and the “Desert Magazine” building sat empty. In 2012, the building’s then owner, Sam Rasmussen, a San Diego developer, applied to the city for permits to make architectural changes he felt would make the building more “leasable.” As reported by The Desert Sun, “Rasmussen wants to add a second patio dining area, stone-clad columns and stairs, and handrails to the front and east entrances, as well as add some windows and replace the wooden front doors with glass. The design also removes the dark wood post, or vigas, adorning the front of the building.”

The Palm Springs Preservation Foundation protested the proposed changes. The Foundation argued that the “Desert Magazine” building was “the most historically important commercial building in all of Palm Desert” and would soon qualify as a historically significant building, protecting it from any architectural changes like those proposed by Rasmussen. The Mayor of Palm Desert delayed the vote to consider the Foundation’s recommendations, but the city council sided with the owner. The plans were approved and the changes were made. Today, the historic building once again houses restaurants.