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Nature Lecture: Postcards from Mecca

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Nature Lecture:

Postcards from Mecca

 Postcards from Mecca Joshua Tree National Park


Presented by archaeologist Ron May and Steve Lech showcasing photographs taken in the 1930s of the California desert by Mecca postmaster Susie Keef Smith and her cousin Lula Mae Graves. Hear the story of how these photos were rescued from a dumpster by May and see many of the images. The lecture will begin at 6:30 p.m. in The Learning Center. This program is presented in partnership with the Desert Institute at Joshua Tree National Park.

This book and discussion will showcase photos taken by 1930s Mecca postmaster Susie Keef Smith and her cousin Lula Mae Graves and their story. The collection, with approximately 2,000 historic photos of the unexplored desert east of the Salton Sea, offers an unparalleled portrait of the forgotten swath of desert between Mecca and the Colorado River.

When Susie Keef Smith died in Leucadia in 1988, she left no close relatives. A county administrator assigned to her estate saw nothing of value in her old cracked photo albums and chucked them into a dumpster. A brave archaeologist named Ron May jumped in and saved them. Dumpster-hero Ron May passed the photos on to archaeologist Russ Kaldenberg, another determined saver of stories. Kaldenberg in turn entrusted them to Dennis Casebier, founder of the Mojave Desert Heritage and Cultural Association (MDHCA) in Goffs. In this remote Mojave outpost, Susie’s photos finally got the professional care they deserved from archivist Chris Ervin.

The Postcards From Mecca book is available on Amazon as well as from the publisher, the Mojave Desert Heritage and Cultural Association:

For information see

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