Tuesday, April 14, 2015

Meeting Susan Luckie Reilly

When I first moved to the desert I fell in love. I wanted to know everything I could about the desert. I read blogs, and when there weren't enough to sate my desire for knowledge about the Mojave I decided to write my own, to provide for the next aspirants. I read books - Sand in My Shoe, by Helen Bagley and My Life on the Mojave, by June LeMert Paxton.

Sand in My Shoe, Helen Bagley and My Life on the Mojave, June LeMert Paxton
From both of these books I learned about Dr. Luckie, who opened the area to World War One veterans suffering from exposure to chemical gases. So well loved and well thought of was Dr. Luckie that the city park in Twenty-nine Palms is named Luckie Park.

See Prescription for a Desert Life

The prescription reads, "The thought that came to me when I first saw the valley,
'If scenes like these thy heart can share, then bide a welcome pilgrim here.' Dr. James B. Luckie"
So when my neighbor mentioned that Dr. Luckie's daughter, Susan Reilly, was coming to her house for breakfast, I did what any pushy person does and invited myself over. (All right, I begged.)

Susan is 98, slight, with stylish hair that she'd just had fixed. She was quiet for most of the breakfast and I couldn't stay long. My neighbor Almut told me that while walking Susan to her car she'd talked with her about her early days with the Morongo Basin Conservation Association, which she helped form.

L>R clcokwise: Almut Fleck, Denia - Susan's night nurse, Glenda Berndt,
Marissa - Susan's day nurse, (Center) Susan Luckie Reilly.
Susan was an early and fierce activist fighting against big utilities and people who wanted to use the desert for a dumping ground. So many of us owe her so much and I was very grateful that my neighbor indulged my inviting myself to her breakfast. This land forges strong people who work hard to protect it and I'm so honored to have met and spent time with Susan Luckie Reilly.