HSUMD program to highlight ‘Growing up in Owens Valley’

HSUMD program to highlight  ‘Growing up in Owens Valley’The Historical Society of the Upper Mojave Desert will meet Tuesday, Oct. 16, at 7 p.m. at the Historic USO Building.

Guest speaker Carol Wiens, co-author with her sister, Joan Busby, will speak about the their memoir, “Sage & Sierra: Growing Up in Owens Valley.”

The DeDecker family moved from North Hollywood to Independence in 1935 (when sisters Carol and Joan were two and three years old) during the Great Depression. Their father took a job with the Los Angeles Dept. of Water and Power as a truck driver for the Mono Basin project.

The family intended to eventually move back to the Los Angeles area, but fell in love with the Owens Valley, and stayed on permanently, exploring the Sierra, the valley and the desert ranges to the east. It was a memorable outdoor childhood for Joan and Carol, who enjoyed the freedom to roam on foot, bicycle or horseback. After high school, the sisters went off to college and eventually each married after graduation. Although the sisters did not return to live in the Owens Valley, they visited often and introduced their families to its wonders. Carol and Joan still consider Independence their home.

The sisters raised their children as they were raised — hiking, camping and backpacking in the great outdoors. Joan taught elementary school in San Francisco, and Carol worked as a wildlife biologist in Salt Lake City.

In 2008 the Eastern Sierra Museum asked the DeDecker sisters to speak about their childhood years in Independence. The two enjoyed putting together the photos and stories, and audience response was enthusiastic enough to lead them to write the book.

The book includes 70 short stories, arranged chronologically in six parts, about living in a small town and the surrounding country, from the family’s arrival in Independence until the sisters’ departure to college. It has 70 black and white photos, many taken by their mother, noted botanist Mary DeDecker.

Meetings are free and open to the public. For information call 760-375-8456.

Pictured: Joan and Carol DeDecker at Sawmill Lake, taken by Mary DeDecker in 1941.

Story First Published: 2018-10-05