Lucerne Valley - 1943

I boarded with the wife of a sailor who was "somewhere in the Pacific" and her daughter, Nancy, on their ranch about five miles from the school. We rode horses to school and tied them to a hitching rail in the shade of the cottonwood trees near the watering trough. The school had only two classrooms and an office, as I recall, with a windswept yard with playground equipment such as a merry-go-round, tether ball, and teeter totters.
We moved up to the valley from Santee (near Camp Elliott) in San Diego County. Before we could occupy the house at the "Ace-in-the-hole" Ranch, we had to clear away a mountain of tumbleweeds, and then shovel away sand in order to open the door. The old desert homestead property had been long abandoned when my guardian's husband won the title to it in a poker game aboard a cruiser absent from Pearl Harbor on the 7th of December, 1941. It was as fine a place as any 9 year old boy could hope to live. There was a spring up in one of the canyons that we dammed to make a swimming hole, and we, Nancy and me, could ride horses, hunt rabbits, and watch Army Air Corp Liberators practice bombing. Before we finished exploring the valley, one of the boys in my 4th Grade row in the classroom died of polio and the school was closed for an indefinite period. When my guardian's husband returned from sea duty and was transferred to Virginia, I was moved to Apple Valley, where I lived on an irrigated alfalfa ranch and finished the 4th grade at the Apple Valley School. In addition to the rancher's family there were 14 kids, ranging in age from 9 to 18 years living and working on that ranch. We did our shopping in Victorville, which was quite a small town.


Good story. Do you know roughly where the ranch was in Lucerne? I'm very familiar with the area.

Jack, I've zoomed in on the satellite imagery of Lucerne Valley trying to locate the ranch. It was roughly southeast of the school on a dirt road that ended at the property of an old desert rat named Beeheimer. All I could determine when the Google map was superimposed on the photo was that the ranch was east of highway 18. There's been so much development in that part of the desert that I couldn't even locate with any certainty the alfalfa ranch south of the Apple Valley school, although it was on the same road south of the school about 5 miles. The ranch was the only one on that road, was draped across a knoll, and had more than 100 acres under irrigation. There was an irrigation reservoir of an acre or more on the south end of the property. The farm house was a 2 story building surrounded by a veranda, which was screened and used as a dormitory for us boys--we slept on army cots. Sis and the other girls slept upstairs; which was "out of bounds" for boys. There was a very large barn for hay storage, horse stalls and a milking area under the leantos on each side of the barn. The driveway from the road came in past the hog pens (one of my chores was feeding those beasts). I'm currently working on stories about Lucerne Valley, Apple Valley, Victorville, Fontana and Redlands for my blog. Feel free to email me directly. Email is on my blog: OldMack's Tales.

My husband and I have been active in the Lucerne Valley Museum for many years. Just wondering if you have pictures and stories you'd care to share. Can't seem to get the URL you have listed above to work. Thanks Martha.

That's the only photograph left of the ranch in Lucerne Valley. Our departure to Apple Valley was so abrupt we failed to exchange addresses and so never heard of the people again.

Add new comment