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Dale Locke Email

Where do you live now? Selma, Oregon

How many years were you in the desert? less than 1

Are you willing to help with pictures? sure if I can find some

Are you willing to help with stories? sure, though they may be boring


I would like to add a tidbit of personal memories from my childhood days. We had recently moved from Compton where I started the 3rd grade in Ridgecrest and unfortunately the family didn’t stay very long but during the few months we were there my father had a T.V. and radio shop right across from the Victory Market.

The shop was very near, (if not next door), to the ‘Chicken Coop’.

In hindsight I doubt the close proximity was any coincidence knowing my fathers appreciation for beer.


With a family of seven kids, I’m sure a number of cold beers after work would be a welcomed relief as opposed to heading straight home to a bunch of curtain climbing noise makers. Although, having a great appreciation for beer may have been instrumental in creating the hardship in the first place.


I recall watermelons being priced at 2½¢ a pound at the Victory Market which didn’t much matter since we seldom had money. I also recall stealing soda bottles from the back of the store, (outside), and taking them up front and selling them back to the store in order to buy a few pieces of candy.


My oldest brother, (David), attended BurroughsHigh School and complained to mom that he wasn’t learning anything because his math teacher was drunk most of the time.

With Mick, (real name David), being Grandma’s pet, Grandma had Mick bused to Bellingham, Wa. where he could get a proper education.


I recall four of us young’uns walking to some foothills and finding all kinds of cans/bottles with pieces of paper in them. We collected the papers and took them back home where we were admonished for stealing claim markers.


I also recall spending many days at the swimming pool and listening to ‘Rock Around The Clock’ on a 12 inch speaker set out by the pool.


And, on one morning in particular, I walked to school with a layer of snow on the ground. That didn’t set to well since I had holes in the bottom of both shoes but I persevered and the snow dissipated in a few hours.


I believe all this happened in ’53.


Dale Locke

Carol POrter Email

Where do you live now? Ridgecrest

How many years were you in the desert? 55

Are you willing to help with pictures? yes

Are you willing to help with stories? yes

Upon Pat Jones death this site was passed on to the Historical Society of the Upper Mojave Desert.  We keep it open for the benefit of former and current Desert Dwellers. 
Please remember the HSUMD, housed in the Historic USO Bldg, and drop by for a visit.

William W Harbaugh Email

Where do you live now? Placerville, Ca

How many years were you in the desert? My sister was born on base in 1950. My father was a fireman and served on USS Princton during Korean conflict.

Are you willing to help with pictures? Do not have.

Are you willing to help with stories? Do not have.

My family has a history on base. My grandmother was involved with munitions. My father was a fireman on base as well as the Princeton. My sister was born on base at that time. My mother was on the base with my Aunt Pauline and Uncle Bob Green.

Frank Grober Jr. Email

Where do you live now? Oakland, California

How many years were you in the desert? I lived on the base from birth in 1951 until I went off to college in 1970. I had some short stretches in China Lake after that with a long one from 87 to 94 followed by living in Davis, Carmichael and then Oakland since.

Are you willing to help with pictures? Don't have any to speak of.

Are you willing to help with stories? Sure I've got a few.

How many people have run across "A Girl's Guide To Missiles"? Karen Piper who is now a professor at the University Of Missouri I believe and has written extensively on various environmental topics came to China Lake in 71 at the age of six and grew up there and worked on the base for a while before achieving a reasonable degree of success in the great outside world. Piper did an interview about the book on National Public Radio and the Time Magazine web page had a bit about it. It may be bound for a reasonable degree of success.
Now despite some misadventures in grad school I have a high opinion of academics who typically follow the rule that to filch, from the Bible, narrow is the way and straight is the path on getting your facts straight. I am also inclined to think well of people from the Valley  and I was all in favor of reading about someone's experiences on the base and around the valley. Unfortunately the bits I've run across in a two and a quarter excerpt on the web page BookBrowse, the National Public Radio interview, and professor Piper's Facebook page seem to be loaded with errant nonsense. I look forward to reading the whole book. That should be soon because I am first on the list to receive a copy when it reaches the Oakland library system. I would have bought it and read it by now, but based on what I saw I was disinclined to support the endeavor financially. Here's a bit from BookBrowse: "Our duplex had one dying cottonwood. It also had no garage, no garbage disposal, and no washer-dryer hookup. Instead we went to the base laundry; my dad insisted we avoid the one off base which was better. 'He was probably worried about me being able to get on base again.' my mom explained later. She didn't have a badge." O.K. at least she didn't claim the women had tp beat their clothes on rocks when Mirror Lake was filled with water after the winter rains. I distinctly recall the houses my family lived in including one in the same class of housing and a street away from where her family landed having washing machines. We didn't have dryers, but we got by using clotheslines which as Professor Piper should know are environmentally preferable. Unless her dad was trying to keep the navy from finding out about her family they would all have had dependent passes of some sort making it unlikely that anyone would have been stranded off base. She also paints a picture of the base in 71 being virtually without vegetation. Allowing as how things changed later the base in 71 had plenty of trees and green lawns. I won't give her a pass on details when she was six because she says her mother read the manuscript before publication. The National Public radio interview discusses failings the Sidewinder allegedly had including this bit: Piper ...North Vietnamese figured out pretty quickly just to attack when it's like, raining because the Sidewinder if it's hazy, it would get attracted to the sunlight reflecting off the clouds. Mary Gross ...Because it was heat seeking. Piper ...Yeah exactly. Now Piper as I said writes on environmental matters which of course includes how infrared radiation is involved in the greenhouse effect so I'm not giving her a pass on the science here. The Sidewinder was supposed to head towards the infrared from a jet's exhaust. The Sun is a fair amount hotter so its radiation peaks at different wavelengths. If somehow the missile could get confused and chase sunlight why wasn't this noticed before the missile was introduced in 1956 and the start of bombing of North Vietnam I believe in 1965? I also have a general problem with the story about fighter pilots refusing to fly missions with the defective Sidewinder being their sole air to air weapon. Then again from BookReads describing President Kennedy's visit to the base in 63 "Bleachers await him, full of women wearing pearls and pith helmets." Any guesses about how many people in the valley even owned a pith helmet? On her Facebook page Piper complains about people who wanted a "Go Navy!" book giving her bad reviews on Amazon and asking that anyone who is familiar with the book and likes it please write a good review. Perhaps she forgot to mention that knowing something about china Lake would be a good prerequisite for writing a fact based good review. Of course that didn't seem to stop one person from posting "I haven't gotten a chance to read the book yet but I marked all the b.s. reviews as not helpful." Of course perhaps the fans have an advantage over us mere mortals because they can see into our souls. "As others have said, those ridiculous ones from China Lake just provide more evidence of how necessary your book is to tell the truth. And deep down I they know it too - you hit a nerve." Oh we poor deluded China Lakers. We aren't complaining about someone getting the simplest facts wrong and delivering a generally incorrect view of a community, we simply are offended by the truth although deep down we know Piper is right. Yeah, who are you going to believe, me or your own eyes? Now there are no penalties for publishing nonsense and it may be that Piper's fanciful tales will sell better than something that could at least pass for the truth in a good light. There aren't enough people who know anything about the valley to impact sales so we may fulminate all we want without changing things. Still I have to say something. remember that straight is the way and narrow the path stuff? I would have been shocked if one of my professors had ever written something like "A Girl's Guide To Missiles. The world of scholarship doesn't warn of eternal damnation, but any self respecting scholar should have internalized the rules early in their career. And finally, I learned about paragraphs in grade school and I apologize for a long unbroken block of text, but the website doesn't seem to believe in paragraphs.

Pat Rampy Email

Where do you live now? Inyokern

How many years were you in the desert? 67, off and on.

Are you willing to help with pictures? Maybe

Are you willing to help with stories? Probably not.

Born here in 1951, got away from 1976-1996 but had to return to care for my mom. Now she's gone and I'm still here.
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