Desert Messenger

May 30, 2012

Desert Messenger is your local connection for news, events, and entertainment!

Issue link:

Contents of this Issue


Page 12 of 23

May 30, 2012 Desert Messenger celebrates the Arizona Centennial with Voices from The Past in Quartzsite, AZ Excerpts from "In the Shadow of Saguaros" by Rosalee Oldham Wheeler bel Hemphill had come from Phoenix for a visit bringing the pink organza dresses she had made with wide satin sashes for her granddaughters to wear on Easter Sunday. Thirteen years earlier Mother had voiced her opinion that the "little berg" of Quartzsite might not be the best place for her grandchildren to be raised, given there was little in cultural opportunities. Per- haps that may have been a little of what I was trying to get away from. I dearly loved my mother but "propriety" was one of her favorite words and these little dresses were to prove her point, even though Patty and Hellen would look entirely out of place with their little friends who often attended Sun- day school barefooted in the Little Church Beside the Road. Anyway, as I braided the girls' hair I Joseph Fremont Cone- Quartzsite's Renaissance Man It was Easter 1952, and my mother Ma- prepare Mother for the fact that Mr. Cone's daily attire was simply a very short skirt, sandals, and a narrow ribbon that tied his long gray hair in the back, to this day I'm not sure, but for sure I wasn't prepared for the next hour of my Mother's wonderful visit with the "delightfully intellectual Mr. Coné". I supposed there was a language be- Now whether I intentionally forgot to he once told me that as he got older he was less able to climb icy shrouds to lash the sails as snow swirled around him; of his concern when looking down at the seas frothing angrily and white as they waited for him to fall; of lying below decks in a stupor recovering from being shanghaied or defending himself in the dirty alleys of a foreign port to escape a mugging fi nally realizing it was time to close one book to open and start another. He said he loved the desert air where the night sky was as clear as it was on the ocean. Somehow he ended up in Aguila, but his place was too noisy. An old prospector told him about a cave he had worked and lived west of Quartzsite, "the most beautiful and serene place on earth". When Mr. Coné found it, he agreed and fi led a claim in 1945. I wasn't sure how old Mr. Coné was but Mother was now curious about another opened the little wooden box where I stored their barrettes. Mother picked up the round box, examining it carefully. "Rosalee", this is beautiful. Is this one of the relics Mr. Mott left behind?" "No, Mother", I explained. "I got it in trade for honey from the man who made it". "Really?" was her skeptical answer. "Someone here in Quartzsite?" "Actually, no. Mr. Coné lives west of town out past Rex and Dorothy Anderson's place". I could tell Mother was intrigued when tween the two of them that even I didn't understand and it began with his courte- ous bow when introduced. Keeping her eyes only on his face, she told him she had come to inquire about his beautiful iron- wood creations. He graciously invited us into his "workshop-library" a museum of its own. Sitting atop a wide, long work- table were a variety of projects in various stages of production. Mother asked to take a closer look at his "pieces". Mr. Coné mo- tioned his approval. She picked up several, caressing each piece as she murmured the rich beauty of the dark grain, intentionally clinging to a small a bowl with a slight im- perfection. she wanted to know if he sold his creations. I told her he probably did because Buck Conner's and I had asked him to make ironwood candlesticks for the church. I suggested we might drive out to Mr. Coné's where she could also enjoy the beautiful desert fl owers she had come to see. At the Anderson's we turned onto a rut- ted road and headed south. A little more than a mile out we turned left onto an even more primitive road and within about a half mile we could see a rock house on a hill at the base of the La Cholla Mountains. In our fl atbed honey truck I pulled right up to the weather-beaten front door, got out and knocked. No answer. Then from behind the house I heard Mr. Coné's voice call out, "Mrs. Oldham, how is it I can help you this day?" From behind me I heard a loud gasp fol- ing where he was from and where he had learned his art. He told her he came from Missouri, not too far from her own Illinois upbringing along the Mississippi. He told her from that great river he had made his way to the oceans of the world where his eyes had seen and his ears had heard many things aboard the various sailing ships he toiled as a deckhand to every continent where the world was his classroom fi lled with teachers of all sorts. Above Mr. Coné's worktable were shelves Conversation fl owed with Mother ask- book, this one bound in red leather and partially wrapped in brown paper for protection. It contained the words of a philoso¬pher they both admired and who had said, "People remind me of sheep— they hurry like hell to get there so they can start back before they know where they have been". Mother quoted another phi- losopher and Mr. Coné jumped up from his three-legged stool, happily exclaiming, "Ho!" as he trotted back into the cave part Full Service Cardiovascular Office in Quartzsite! LOST TREASURES PAGE 17 SEE Page 13 of his dwelling to retrieve yet another book. "Look here. That is an extraction of Plato". We could have stayed for hours and Mother expressed disappointment that we needed to get back home. Clutching the bowl Mr. Cone had insisted be hers, during the drive home she declared, "You know, culture can be found in the most amazing places, even if the caretaker is a bespectacled, leathery- skinned old man without clothes. I don't think words like beatnik or hippie were around in 1952, but Mother described her day to Charles as "absolutely delightful with a learned Bohemian of the desert". I think Mr. Coné would have been pleased with Mother's description. CARDIOVASCULAR DIVISION OF IMS lowed by, "Oh, dear heaven, where are his clothes?" Mother grabbed the girls' and headed back towards the truck. "Rosalee, I think he forgot his clothes in the privy", she reasoned with wide-eyes. and shelves of books, stacked all the way to the very tall ceiling of his workshop-library. When Mother asked about one very large book that was open on a smaller worktable, he quietly began, "I once had a captain that when the sea was smooth, he would call the deckhands to his table. We would sit, drink, and have deep discussions on many, many topics. He was a very learned man! He had an intellect and a probing mind that would catch you up and send you far beyond the bow." Mr. Coné took off his small, round, metal-rimmed glasses and as if talking to himself said, "Captain whet- ted my desire to learn. Out there on the ocean I could whittle pieces of wood and memorize to my mind the words from the Captain's books." Diagnose and Treat • chest pain • shortness of breath • leg pain • varicose veins • leg swelling • palpitations LOCATED in Palm Plaza 255 N. Central Blvd. #5 Quartzsite Cardiac Services Provided • stress testing • echocardiograms • vascular ultrasound • PAD screening • coronary angioplasty/stenting • peripheral angioplasty/stenting All testing done on-site No need to travel 928-927-6105

Articles in this issue

Links on this page

Archives of this issue

view archives of Desert Messenger - May 30, 2012