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By Pat Gracey
contributing writer 

Still in Mojave

The Spirit of Tehachapi


July 9, 2022

Pat Gracey.

After checking my article in the last issue of The Loop newspaper I realized I had left out everyone in Mojave. I had mentioned how nice it is to look at the scenery from the passenger side of the car in which I was riding, but find I'm still looking at the scenery and also still recalling really interesting bits of history right there in Mojave.

The Golden Queen mine brought many people to work in the mines. The local paper said they would hire local men first. Guess they did but there must have been enough out of towners for the mine to bring in refrigerator cars purchased from the Southern Pacific Railroad to construct a little town just west of Soledad Mountain.

I have never noted the results of Mojave becoming overloaded with school population due to the children of the miners living in the newly formed city, appropriately called Reefer City.

Child, that I was, I remember what I noticed. I do know that the Fourth and Sixth Grade classes were held in the basement of the Congregational Church. Also, Agnes Saum, who had been our principal for some years was replaced by a male principal! Reefer City grammar school children had to be bussed into town to their classes. A bus was provided for that purpose and my father, Chauncey Davis, was hired as one of the drivers. I recall he had to have something called a Chauffeur's License instead of his regular license.

Mojave had no high school and it was a question as to which direction the students should be bussed: to Tehachapi or Lancaster.

There was quite a "to do" as to which direction the bus would be taking the students. Mr. Imhoff of Tehachapi's new High School wanted them in Tehachapi, as it was closer and in the same county. Lancaster, as well, wanted the contract. Lancaster won even though Lancaster was in Los Angeles County and not Kern. I was just a kid, and don't know how they got over that hurtle. All I know, Lancaster was only five miles farther and the road was better in winter.

My parents were crusaders, they thought it better to have my eldest brother go to Tehachapi since we were soon to move there, anyway. Three Mojave students; Howell Batey, Theodore Franks and Everett Davis drove to Tehachapi each day. The students took turns in their family vehicles: a 1928 Hupmobile, a vintage Chevrolet of unknown lineage and a strange vehicle known as a panel truck. Oh well, they made it.

World War II intervened in December of 1941 and by July 1942 a U.S. Marine Corps Air Base was being constructed in good old Mojave. The government had closed down the gold mines. Mojave changed from miners to government workers. I remember the "good old" Quonset huts for dependents.

My husband was stationed there before going overseas but I never met him until some years later. He had gotten acquainted with the Burgeis and Fritz families when he would come to Tehachapi, but I only met Marines who came to the dances and he did not dance.

My husband said that one of the Marines stationed there was the brother of famous child star, Shirley Temple. She and her parents came regularly to see him.

The next time I speak of my travels as a passenger leaving Tehachapi I will look to the left to other places that are so interesting and beautiful, as well. Yes, even the desert can have its own beauty; if you look hard enough.

I do have a story about my father working for the bootleggers in the early 30s, but, that's another story.


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