DRSB Logo (Small) Bits from Harry Oliver's
Desert Rat Scrap Book (DRSB)

By Dick Oakes




DRSB One of the great treats I've had is collecting and reading copies of Harry Oliver's Desert Rat Scrap Book (DRSB). I wanted to do a tribute section to Harry, but found that a comprehensive Harry Oliver Fandom Center memorial archive by Ric Carter was already available.

There is a Wikipedia entry at Harry G. Oliver and another at Desert Rat Scrap Book.

Click the cover at the left to see Harry's DRSBs.

Desert Rat Postcard Click the postcard at the right to see more Harry Oliver memorabilia.

Below are a few bits having to do with Western films and the last of the Old West from the DRSBs in my collection. They come complete with Harry Oliver's legendary typographical errors intact, Hrosemen instead of Horsemen in the first article, for example. In fact, one of HO's slogans was, "Its Editor boasts that for so small a paper he gives you a generous amount of typographical errors..." Interestingly, five of the DRSBs I have were posted to Mrs. W. Earp in Fort Bragg, Cal.  

Pioneertown Stagecoach woodcut by Harry Oliver BACK IN 1850 Amador County up in the Mother Lode, named a town Pioneer, it still has a post office.

TODAY in a rugged desert valley, (elevation four thousand feet), a group of Western showmen headed by Dick Curtis have staked out a spot and are building a Good Old Western Town naming it Pioneertown.

With 25,000 acres of the most beautiful scenery in the Mojave Desert in their layout, they can't go wrong. Hrosemen will love it. NO MOTOR VEHICLE WILL BE ALLOWED ON MAIN STREET.

Harry Oliver, DRSB, Packet 1 Pouch 2 - The Burro Number Packet, Page 4.

Sheriff Bans Western Hats on His Deputies Old Timers Sheriff in Stetson woodcut by Harry Oliver
One of the latest vestiges of the Old West in San Bernardino County government received a death blow in July.

Considering the source, the Old West was inclined to considered it scarcely less than a stab in the back.

Sheriff's deputies here have always worn ordinary civilian clothes topped invariably with a broad-brimmed western hat. Deputies considered that what was good enough for Wyatt Earp was good enough for them.

None suspected that James W. Stoker, range-bred cattleman and new Sheriff, would be the man to change all that.

"Times change and we'll change with them," said Stocker today in refusing to rescind an order putting his deputies in uniforms. Literally the crowning indignity, say the old-timers, is that a semimilitary cap replaces the old Stetson.

They shake their heads over an old cattleman, of all persons, casting away the hat that's the brand of the range.

--The Grizzly Bear

Harry Oliver, DRSB, Packet 1 Pouch 2 - The Burro Number Packet, Page 2.

Wyoming Mike Bernett of Tensleep, Wyoming, had no idea of making history back in the fall of 1883. All Mike wanted to make at that time was a horsehair checkrein for a wild bronco. He was short of material and, being a resourceful man, he chopped the tails off five Indian Ponies.

It developed that removeal of the tails was a serious breach of conduct, as the only time an Indian bobbed his pony's tail was when he was mourning the death of someone. As there was no death to mourn, the Indians decided the only way to bring the thing to a balanced conclusion was to kill Mike. But lucky for Mike, the Indian's weren't able to catch him.

However, Mike was killed several years later by a posse of ranchers. The ranchers accused him of stealing a horse. Not just the tail. A whole horse.

--by Neil M. Clark, From the Saturday Evening Post

Harry Oliver, DRSB, Packet 1 Pouch 5 - Kindness to Animals Packet, Page 3.

Injuns Is Injuns Fourteen miles north of Durango, Colorado, eight thousand five hundred feet up in the Rockies, a movie company was making the picture, "Across the Wide Missouri. They had even brought down a hundred Sioux Indians from a reservation in South Dakota, hired scholarly chief Nie-Hah Pouw Chtu-Tum-Nam (called Nippo) to translate the screenplay into the blackfoot and Nez Perce dialects, and got the Indians out of their Levis and provided them with wigs and braids in the style of their ancestors. (The Sioux, Bill Williams reports, take pictures of one another in make-up and wardrobe, delightedly exclaiming, "Look, I'm an Indian.")

--Harper's Magazine

Harry Oliver, DRSB, Packet 3 Pouch 4 - Indian Packet, Page 2.

The Battle Of Hee-Haw For his enduring accomplishments, the burro has received little credit. Shelves groan with books about dogs and horses, but it's a rare library whose card catalogue turns up even half a dozen listings on the burro. Reasons for this neglect may be found in the character of the burro. He is an independent cuss.

The worst thing about him is his voice. This is more terrible than any hack tenor's, and he uses it at the wrong times, usually at night when people want to sleep. It has won him such derisive nicknames as "Rocky Mountain canary," "Colorado mocking bird," and others not fit to print, and upon occasion it has been his undoing. United States cavalry encamped on the Mexican border during the Villa troubles, rose as one man one night and went forth with drawn sabers. At dawn next day, 250 burros that had been murdering sleep were found dead on the drill field. It was the bloodiest battle those soldiers engaged in.

Harry Oliver, DRSB, Packet 1 Pouch 7 - Jack Ass Packet, Page 4.

How to stage a fast-moving Revolution Leo Carrillo woodcut by Harry Oliver Leo Carrillo . . . the last time I was to talk to him, (Down in Borrego, it was when we were together at the dedication of "The Peg Leg Smith Monument"), Leo told me that M.G.M.'s European offices rent their copies of "Viva Villa" to all the countries of the world. They rent the film when the people of a country get "REVOLUTION HUNGRY."

For 30 years these lessons in HOW TO DO IT YOURSELF have been available.

"V I V A   L A   R E V O L U T I O N"

Harry Oliver, DRSB, Packet 4 Pouch 10 - The Desert Prospector Packet, Page 3.


Ever wonder what little Indian boys do when they reach the cowboy-and-Indians stage? Bert Walker, Pima Indian and columnist for the San Jacinto Valley Register, explained it in a story he told the Idyllwild Chamber of Commerce. His two sons returned home from a hard afternoon playing cowboys and Indians and Bert broke into their chatter with, "You were Indians, of course?" "Naw," they said knowingly, "we were the good guys!"

--Matt Weinstock's Column

Harry Oliver, DRSB, Packet 2 Pouch 3 - Death Valley Packet, Page 3.

"Let's get down to "Brass Tacks."

The Mountain Men in the early days of our west, would drive a brass tack into the stock of their gun to keep count, every time they shot a Redskin.

Harry Oliver, DRSB, Packet 1 Pouch 11 - Death Valley Packet, Page 2.

Wallace Beery Thrills Picture-goers with His Performance in "Viva Villa" at Preview

Wallace Beery never had a roll that will make picture theatre-goers remember his work long after he is gone as he does in "Viva Villa," his latest M-G-M super production produced by David O. Selznick, that was so excellently directed by Jack Conway. Aside from the star you can mark up credits for six players that help in a great measure to hold interest created by the star. They are Leo Carrillo, Henry B. Walthal, Stuart Erwin, Fay Wray, George E. Stone and Joseph Schildkraut. Others who will command attention are Donald Cook, Katherine De Mille, Phillip Cooper, David Durand, Francis X. Bushman, Jr., George Regas, Frank Paglia, Adrain Rosley, Pedro Regas, Henry Armetta and many others who have small but good parts. The battle scenes and the mass gatherings of the various factions and the bandit raids are gems as far as building dramatic interest is concerned. The photography work of James Wong Howe and Charles G. Clarke are worthy of special mention, as is the art work of Harry Oliver. Herbet Stothart Musical score, recording by Douglas Shearer and editing by Robert J. Kern. In closing, let us give great credit to Ben Hecht for the screen play, suggested by the book by Edgcomb Pinchon and O. B. Stade.


Harry Oliver, DRSB, Packet 4 Pouch 10 - The Desert Prospector Packet, Page 3.