• What’s it all about? The fascinating “Heart Bar Ranch and Johnson Valley Neighbors,” by Martha Coutant?

Its setting: the many miles you drive on Hwy 247 where you see a landscape hardly changed since the first railroad surveyor chanced upon Old Woman Springs.

The first actors in this desert and mountain backdrop were nomadic tribes, then travelers and prospectors on what became Old Woman Springs Road.

Then, in the first half of the twentieth century, it hosted the tough cowboys and well-diggers of the amazing Heart Bar Ranch.

Early Johnson Valley homesteader Martha Wood Coutant interviewed Heart Bar ranch hands, and borrowed photos, diaries, and ledgers to copy as prime sources for this history she published in 1985.

Recently republished by the Morongo Basin Historical Society, with photos and original material added, the book costs 20.00. We thank MBHS for giving the Johnson Valley Improvement Association copies to sell as a JVIA fundraiser. We thank Stan Coutant, a historian himself, who preserved all of his mother's original work and arranged to give it to MBHS, and signed all of our copies!

If you wish to reserve one or more, just e-mail me at ranchotaj@gmail.com
Or, text Kim Abramson at 760-792-4555. Or click on Contact Us at www.johnsonvalley.com. (The books remain safely stored at the Community Center, waiting for the day we can reopen.)

MBHS, of course, also has copies available. See www.mbhs.net for contact info.

• MBHS has another history mystery for you to fill in the blanks: the origin of road names in the high desert.

Check out their Postmark Landers e-mail. I will forward it to everyone right after this, in case you are not on their e-mail list. Here’s a project we can do sitting at home!

• Linda Gommel of the Lucerne Valley Market & Hardware has announced:

“At our store, we have decided on some civil disobedience: we are not allowing customers to bring their grocery bags from home due to the inherent lack of sanitation.

“Who knows what’s been in those bags and what contamination they carry, and during this virus crisis, it’s totally insane to bring dirty bags from home into the store.”

They want to minimize staff and customer exposure to unknown biohazards, so the Market now provides bags to customers at no charge. Linda says their bag supplier reports other retailers do the same.

In her opinion, California “should ditch the whole bring-your-bag-from-home thing. It’s really a bad policy!”

• Tom Murphy of The Red Brennan Group notified us:

“The Registrar of Voters indicates sufficient signatures were collected for the Fire Tax Repeal effort. This is great news!

“The next step is that the petition will go to the Board of Supervisors for their consideration. Under Elections Code the board has one of two choices 1) approve the initiative as written and place it into law, 2) place the issue before the voters.

“There is zero chance the Board will repeal the tax on their own recognizance. So the “expected” course of action is the Board elects to place the measure on the ballot in November 2020.

“Thanks for your participation! We will keep you updated.”

• How about a sending us a message, tell us your experiences with this flustration we all are going through. Opinions welcome!

• Things aren’t always bad.

On March 20, Charlene Claybaugh wrote:
“ I had a wonderful experience yesterday.  Our neighbor, Michael, stopped by with a bag of food.  He thought because we sell eggs, that someone in need of groceries might stop by and need food.

“What a beautiful gesture.  I think that we could call our neighbors to check in on them to see if they need anything, food, paper supplies, medications picked up or just a friendly call.  I will be calling my neighbors today, think about how welcoming your call will be.”

On March 11, Cathy Janowicz wrote:
“Here is my Coronavirus share.

“Went to the grocery store the weekend before full hoarding went wild.

“Walked up to the area of the bagged salad (my lunch staple) and just stared in befuddlement as almost everything was gone.  I saw a gentleman next to me with the same look.  I thought “oh well,” walked away and to my delight I stumbled over a bunch of bags in a refrigerator bin. So I walked back to the gentleman and his friend to share my discovery.

“They were delighted I took the time to walk back and share my good fortune.

“Well, as we continued our shopping, we kept bumping into each other staring at the state of the shelves and helping each other find things. 

“So my story is one of making two new friends and sharing some laughs over the situation."

If you have a story, please send it to share with our friends and neighbors.

• As we said last week, some heavy-duty repairs must be made every time a heavy rain gullies out our dirt roads. The JVIA Road Fund needs some heavy-duty contributions when tractor work becomes necessary.

If you can see your way clear to help with the Road Fund, you can make your contribution by check to
JVIA, 50567A Quailbush Rd, Johnson Valley CA 92285.
Memo: Road Fund.

Or, online at www.johnsonvalley.com via secure credit card payment; Memo: Road Fund.

And THANKS to you who already have made donations!

• Although the Center has closed while we outwait and maybe outwit the Wuhan coronavirus (along with flu and the common cold as well), you are welcome to visit the Paul Van Hook Desert Dreams Garden next to the parking lot. A few below-freezing mornings have not outwitted early Spring.

VISITOR PHOTOS - For possible use in the Johnson Valley Journal or on the Johnson Valley website, please e-mail your Garden pictures to me at www.ranchotaj@gmail.com. Thanks in advance!

• We still have cold mornings, but exploring the desert has appeal right now, and it’s something you can do without venturing into a crowd.

Please remember, however, that gateway communities near your favorite recreational areas have supply problems PLUS they fear you may bring them viruses. Best to carry your supplies out here for right now if you can.

We have had beautiful skies. Repeated drizzles have given us good traction on the trails in the Johnson Valley OHV Area. I can’t testify that water still stands in low spots, but I suspect it does. You could still find pools in unexpected places. Keep your eye out for recently-cut gullies. Keep your seat belts and harnesses buckled up. We do not want to hear of rollovers.

If you have guests, be sure they know where they are and can find their way home. Supply them with a map, your phone number, and GPS and compass can help.

Never go out there alone. Always take water, tell people where you plan to go. Verizon has pretty good cell coverage out there; ATT not so much.

Remember, any vehicle, street-legal or not, going over 25mph causes the worst damage to our dirt roads. Delivery vehicles and the trash truck do, too, but motorcycles and side-by-sides get the blame – and too often deserve it.

We usually say, take care not to raise dust. Right now, you want to take care nor to let aggressive offroad treads gouge out ruts.


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Johnson Valley Weekly Neighborhood News
by Betty Munson