Desert Rat Scrap Book archive

Friends Of Old Fort Oliver, Org.
The Old Dream Merchant!
Desert Rat Scrap Books - Etc.


Welcome to the Harry Oliver archive! Below, you'll find images from various material by and about the Old Mirage Salesman.
Expect this archive to grow as more contributions arrive, as more dusty piles are dug into, as more packrats relinquish their hauls, as more old-timers cash in their chips, etc.
We need your contributions of memorabilia, images and texts [both Oliverish and non-Harryish] to fill in the holes. [hint, hint...] YOU should join the Desert Rat Scrap Book discussion group and post or upload your goodies there.   Enjoy —Ric
 Who was Harry Oliver?

Harry's Record Album
Side 1

- 111k

The_Cold_Nose_Caper - 238k
The_Coyote_That_Sang_Grand_Opera - 265k
The_Wonder_Of_Desert_Cactus - 256k
A_Damn_Good_Miner - 138k
Bull_Durham - 50k
Haywire_Weather - 552k
Whiskey_Joe - 410k
Up_With_The_Stars - 86k
No_Burros_No_Gold - 385k
Side 2

- 105k

Fame_For_Nothin - 700k
Packrats_Dynamite_And_Earthquakes - 314k
Death_Valley_Scotty - 338k
The_Typical_Tourist - 33k
The_Singing_Sands_Of_Old_Fort_Oliver - 281k
Mine_Lost_As_Stockholders_Look_On - 254k
Music_And_Booze - 417k

Entire Album (zipped) - 4.67m

Pea Hicks [ - ] has graciously contributed .MP3s and .JPGs of the DESERT RAT SCRAP BOOK album, Harry Oliver reading a bunch of his yarns. Pea writes:
I've just converted the entire album to mp3 format and posted the individual tracks. To save space, I encoded these at a pretty high compression setting. I think his voice still comes across just fine. I've scanned both sides of the label and posted those in the same folder. I don't have the original sleeve, unfortunately, so all I have is the info on the record label itself. There's no date, but it looks to be from the late 50's or early 60's. Here's the vital stats on the record itself:
title: Harry Oliver's DESERT RAT SCRAP BOOK
label: John Norman's DESERT RECORDS
       Palm Springs, California
Cat. Number: D-1098/D-1099

Desert Rough Cuts

RoughCuts: 39k

DESERT ROUGH CUTS - A Haywire History of the Borego Desert
Los Angeles, Ca. Ward Ritchie Press 1938. A true desert classic with all the excitement of Lost Mines, prospectors and gold. Label on spine. Artists delight!!! Illustrated by WoodCuts by author. 1st ed. Binding is Boards.

"You see now, it's up to me to write these Rough Cuts about my gold findin' friends in theis Desert Valley." —Harry Oliver

"Borego's Hollywood connection were not all directors. ...the best-known was Harry Oliver (1888-1973), an art director at Fox. He became fascinated with the legends and lore of the Borrego Desert, and in 1938 published Desert Rough Cuts. A Haywire History of the Borego Valley, a fanciful piece that foreshadowed his famous Desert Rat Scrapbook which began publication in 1946." (footnote 26)

NOTE:   This is one item I don't own and would surely love to get or at least read. If anyone has a copy they can part with, or scan, please contact me. --Ric

The Old Mirage Salesman

THE OLD MIRAGE SALESMAN; A Whimsical Desert Digest of Refreshing Nonsense; Heralding the life of the Southwest's foremost story telling Desert Rat, Harry Oliver; Editor, Humorist, Historian, Publicist, Pioneer, Philosopher, Prospector, Showman, Builder, Hermit and Secessionist (Palm Springs: The Printery, 1952)
(Many thanks to Daphne Worsham for selling me that autographed 1st edition, #513 of 2000)

(description stolen borrowed from Dick Oakes' PHANTOM RANCH site - Dick writes:)
Mirage Salesman: 394k
Mirage Salesman: 113k
    This is actually a book published in 1952 by Amy Fern Roessel and Mary Alice Ballenger, Harry Oliver's daughters, and dedicated "To the World's Greatest Optimist, The Desert Prospector." (In the daytime — at night — dedicated to the friendly ghosts of the old timers that hover in the background of the campfire.) It is "A Whimsical Desert Digest of Refresh­ing Nonsense" — a compilation of Harry's works, lavishly sprinkled with his drawings and wood­cuts. A bookworm has munched the page edges and back cover surface on my copy, but it is sure great reading when I need a little lift out of the doldrums.

    Amy and Mary wrote, 'It has been a work of great pleasure to both of us. We lived with the creation of these characters during those happy years in the old home place in Palms, California (the last slice of La Ballona Rancho), and also on the porch of the rambling old HO Ranch, Dad's sprawling adobe in Borego, and later at old adobe Fort Oliver, 1000 Palms, California. Many of the stories have been published as long ago as 1926 and '28. Six of them published in Life Magazine in 1932. Others in "The Gold Miner," "Todo" — Mexico City, "the Grizzly Bear," Rob Wagner's "Script," "New Mexico Magazine," and "Calico Print." Now Dad was anything but a literary man, but we believe that for originality and choice of colorful props, no one could beat him. Each story has humor as well as a great deal of true Desert atmosphere. And he sure did know his Desert! We believe that this book belongs in every Desert library. Dad was born in Hastings, Minnesota, April 4, 1888. Dad's father was an ardent Mark Twain fan, and Dad grew up in a Tom Sawyer atmosphere. As a boy he knew, and mingled with the trappers, the steamboat men, and the woodsmen; the shack and shanty life became a vivid part of him. This cropped out in his career in motion pictures as a character art director and is the very soul of his desert tall tales — even though Dad didn't come to California till 1909.'

       Please remember Harry's words, "Printers don't drink more than other people--
iT   Just   $hoWs     up   moRe   inn   pRiNt."

DRSB in Arizona Highways   [READ IT]

AH cover: 118k AH page4: 139k AH page5: 135k AH page6: 139k AH page7: 121k

Harry wrote this interesting article, arrayed in a splendid four-page spread, for the March 1953 issue of ARIZONA HIGHWAYS magazine. I was sent these image scans some years ago, and in 2004 managed to find a couple copies of that issue myself — in Arizona, of course. I'll post larger scans here when I get back from the Yukon to my scanner.

To read Harry's ARIZONA HIGHWAYS piece, click here.

Full Text of DRSBs and Other Writings

DRSB Packet One, Pouch One - 1946
DRSB Packet Two, Pouch One - 1946-47
DRSB Pk.Three, Pouch One - 1947 (reprint)
DRSB Packet Three, Pouch Two - 1948
DRSB Packet Four, Pouch Two - 1948
DRSB Packet One, Pouch Three - 1948
DRSB Packet Two, Pouch Three - 1949
DRSB Packet Three, Pouch Three - 1949
DRSB Packet Three, Pouch Four - 1950
DRSB Packet One, Pouch Five - 1952
DRSB Packet Four, Pouch Five - 1953
DRSB Packet Three, Pouch Seven - 1955
DRSB Packet One, Pouch Nine - 1957
DRSB Packet Four, Pouch Ten - 1961
DRSB Packet One, Pouch Eleven - 1961
DRSB Packet Two, Pouch Eleven - 1962
DRSB Pk.Four, Pouch Eleven (Harry's last)
Arizona Highways, March 1953 spread

DRSB covers

  Folks:   I want to post online as much as I can find of the writings of Harry Oliver, of the texts of Desert Rat Scrap Books and his columns and books and other publications. If you have ANY­THING besides what's listed here, whether as a text file or an image scan or just a scrap of paper please email me. Thanks —Ric

To see the DRSB scans, click here.

DRSB Printing Plates
the plates (click to enlarge)mirrored (click to enlarge)
plate1 - 54k plate2 - 77k mirrored1 - 54k mirrored2 - 77k
Danny B. writes: "You ask how I acquired the printing plates -- you're not going to belief it but I found them at the local dumpground few miles from 1000 palms where harry used to live. Attached is a pic of two plates of the frontpage of the desert rat scrap book newspaper."

Hey Danny:   I know you want to sell these. Do you have any more plates? If so, scan them and I'll post the images here, and some reader may be interested enough to contcact us, eh?   --Ric

front coverback covertitle page
front cover - 67k back cover - 71k

Compiled by Betty J. Stohler
Distributed by Betty Stohler
"Old Sunshine" Press
25964 Edgemont Dr.
San Bernadino, California 92404
Desert Printing Co., Inc., Indio, California
© Betty J. Stohler 1978

A KISS FOR THE DESERT From Harry Oliver (no ISBN) is the only (that I know of) 'bio-graph' of the Old Dream Merchant. Written enthusiastically (if not always expertly) this book is a treasure trove of details about whatever bits of Harry's life he chose to disclose. It is also lavishly illustrated, both with reprintings of Harry's work, and with Ms Stohler's own illustrations. The sketches seem to be Ms. Stohler's renderings of old photos.; Many of those sketches, especially of Harry's architectural designs, are reproduced (without permission) (but also without reproach) on this site. For those interested in Harry's life and work, this book is highly recommended.

NOTE: Ms.Stohler possesses a trove of Oliveriana and has graciously contributed many of the images you see below. Our many thanks to her!

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DRSB ! Bisbee ! Elvis !!

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Ric Carter,,