Monday, March 30, 2015

The Man, The Myth, The Legend: Mr. Alva Elmer

Mr. Alva Elmer making cowboy history.
Alva Elmer was a mortal man who remains an enigma, a source of inspiration for creativity, and his memory is an education in generosity, and human spirituality.
"Mr. Elmer" is the name everyone was  taught to refer to him by - usually when anyone asked how his house-keeper/caregiver/friend, Sarah, came into possession of his Calabasas ranch property at 4011 MEADOWLARK DR, which no longer exists. The real street-block-sized property was bequeathed to Sarah - the widowed-matriarch of a large family - in Mr. Elmer's will. Upon his passing, Mr. Elmer's belongings and possessions were respectfully salvaged for posterity in as good condition possible, and for as long a time as possible - with every memento being handled with delicate care.
Among items Mr. Elmer left in his wake were various pieces of hand-crafted, handmade cowboy furniture with ropes for handles, pictures of himself living life as a cowboy, with many of the pictures identified as having been shot in various parts of Arizona including Prescott; he also left behind a multitude of musical instruments including an accordion, banjo-mandolin, and full-scale 16-hole chromatic harmonica. The accordion has been beaten up a little over the decades, but the banjo-mandolin was sold during hard financial times, and the 16-hold chromatic harmonica became oxidized, was dismantled (for discovery), and broken. The antique desk is a little scratched-up, but still around complementing its interior environment. Some of the household tools such as shovels, and a hay/pitch-fork are still in the family's possession, as-is a cow-bell attached to a dried-out, leather strap.
The above-picture was documented on a property that Mr. Alva Elmer may have owned. What is known is that he is pictured wearing a white cowboy hat, which was likely a daily trademark routine of his to protect his pale skin. The short-sleeved shirt Mr. Elmer wore in the picture - looked cool - allowing air-circulation under the arms where heat builds-up the fastest when you're a hard-working cowboy, but may have created a painful 'farmer's tan' that darkened his arms while leaving the rest of his body relatively well-protected. In front of Mr. Elmer are two (2) Dutch cooking ovens waiting to be placed on coals sitting in the dirt-ground. The photographer may have been a horse-riding friend of Mr. Elmer's who had been out riding with him earlier, and after returning the horse to its stall - it was now time for chow/dinner to feed that worked-up appetite. The image illustrates the essence of Mr. Elmer's lifestyle, which inspires one to pursue off-grid leisure, pleasure, and off-grid nutrition.


  1. Alva Elmer was a family friend during the 1960s when I was growing up in Calabasas. The photo of him was taken on his property in Calabasas. He and his wife once had us over for a BBQ and prepared some of the food in those dutch ovens. He was, without question, a colorful character!

  2. Thanks for your feedback/post, Bob; it's a joy to hear from another person who knew who he was. Feel free to share any stories or images about him with me, if you have them!

    1. I sent an email with more info to the Yahoo account listed on your website.