Sunday, July 1, 2012

A Hardscrabble Life with a Sad Ending

What were their stories? What were their dreams?  Why did they end up way the heck out here, so far off the grid, in the middle of the desert? I can't even imagine how difficult life must have been out here. Summer temperatures are crushing, and winters are cold and windy. This cabin has no air conditioning, not even a swamp cooler. How would a family survive? If you follow my blog, you know I'm intrigued with the desert homestead cabins east of 29 Palms, and I've photographed quite a few of them.
The sand around this cabin is so scoured by desert winds that it looks almost like concrete.
Linking to Your Sunday Best and Weekly Top Shot
I liked the looks of this place so we stopped for some photography. A very isolated and lonely looking homestead with a little structure build behind it. My wife and I figured the little structure was an outhouse our perhaps a doghouse. Here's another view.
See the little structure in the back? Actually looks like two side-by-side structures, the one on the right is smaller with a flat roof. Big dog / little dog? When we went back to take a look, here's what we found.
In case you can't read it, it says "Born (spelled bron) 2-20-10, Kathryn Dalia, My Wife. Pass away 7-29-76". So this is a small shrine that Mr. Dalia built for his wife when she passed away in 1976. The small attached structure to the right turned out to be a shrine as well.
This one says "In Memory of Dad", June 2, 1982. Evidently Mr. Dalia passed in '82, which would have been 6 years after his wife, and his child or children made this second shrine. These shrines make me think this family was living here full time, trying to make a go of it. Truly a hardscrabble life.

The inside of this desert cabin was unusual as well. Most of these abandoned homesteads are either full of trash or cleaned out. This cabin, although long ago abandoned, had everything left behind and more or less intact... dishes, furniture, even food. People have left it alone, which is great. Perhaps out of respect for the family that lived here??
One is left to imagine what life in the open desert must have been like for the Dalia family.

18 comments:

  1. ..such a tough lifestyle indeed; interesting post

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  2. Great posting. You feel it in your bones, this life.

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  3. Such interesting shots and I love your thoughts.

    Thank you for sharing at Your Sunday Best this week. xoxo

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  4. Wow, that's powerful. I love this kind of stuff.

    Years ago while bouncing around the boonies in a jeep picking out a pipeline route across the Mojave desert with some guys from Bechtel we came upon lots of isolated residences. Some of them still had people living in them. It was very haunting. I get loving the desert and all that but why in such deprivation.

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  5. Have you ever been to Bodie State Park? It's really eerie. My dad used to find homesteads like this one out by Desert Hot Springs. Great find! Yes, you wonderful HOW they survived. My husband, who grew up in Rancho Mirage, used to put a wet towel over his body (during the summer) and go sleep up on the roof of their house. HA! THAT was his own personal air conditioning (they had none...only a swamp cooler)

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  6. Powerful photos ~ wow ~ amazing story here ~~ thanks, ^_^ (A Creative Harbor)

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  7. Wow Interesting post great shots :)

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  8. Sad. I can only imagine what happened. I wonder if this land was created in the depression era? when the Dust Bowl was "created" out of overuse of farming the land? Nonetheless, the land changes, people changse and time bring changes. Those pictures shows these very things... Thanks for sharing.

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  9. Now see I view these homesteads in a different way and always have. For the most part I feel the people live there, like that, by choice. They've forsaken life in the city for any number of reasons (too many to list here) and relish the peace, quiet and solitude the desert offers dispite it's hard weather conditions. A simple life is hard to beat. And too consider reasons of health. I've come across many stories about someone being told by an all knowing doctor that they have a terminal disease with x amount of years left to live. So they go west, set up a life in the desert and go on to outlive the doctor and his children. Great post.

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  10. Your photos give such a sense of place. I cannot imagine such a hard life - you photograph history.

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  11. I couldn't agree more... I've come on places that look like people shut the door and walked away... does make one wonder... that memorial is somewhat sad and sweet at the same time...

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  12. that is just incredibly sad - especially the loss of his wife.

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  13. Really touching photos. Hard to imagine living in the desert without AC or swamp cooler.

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  14. Oh my goodness, that had to be a hard life, indeed... how'd they make it so long out there? No modern amenities? WoW!

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  15. What an impressive post, beautiful photos again!

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  16. It does (or should) make us think about what we have and if we really need all the things we see as necessities. I know I have too much.

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  17. I really like this photo story.

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  18. Even though the USA is one of the wealthiest countries on earth, there are still quite a few people there that really struggle to make ends meet. Our photos capture the milieu that these other, "forgotten" Americans live in.

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