|Lucerne Valley had already held one community Fourth of July
celebration by then, but in 1914 the festivities grew bigger and louder.
It was a big year for Lucerne Valley, then known simply as Box S. The
first item on the Lucerne Valley Improvement Association, organized in 1912, was a road
over Rabbit Dry Lake, then just known as Dry Lake. It was completed in 1914, and on July
10, 1914, work started on a cement block school the county built on land across the road
from the Box S Ranch, where the Baptist Church now stands. The land was donated by the
Mulholland and Goulding families. This school was known as Lucerne School.
The first Lucerne Valley Days were held in 1914 to celebrate the
September completion of the 43' X 48' school building.
As July 4, 1914 approached, there were more settlers in the valley than
there were when the first July 4 celebration took place in this community two years
earlier. "Dad" Goulding thought there should be more entertainment than the
various races and swimming competitions held then. Since fireworks were out of the
question in the dry desert, and for other reasons, it seemed reasonable that some loud
explosions should be a part of the Independence Day observance.
In larger towns, cannons were shot. In smaller communities it was
popular to shoot the anvil. Following is eyewitness Junie Gobar's account from Gobar's Raising
the Dust of the first shooting of the anvil here during the 1914 festivities:
"We had two blacksmith anvils and had to use both of them. We put
one on the ground, and to this we added an inch-and-a-half union nut, which later we
filled with powder. Then we set the other anvil on top of this filled nut. From this we
ran a trickle of powder about six feet away. Harold and I were acting as assistants; and
when Goulding gave the signal, we touched off the powder. The top anvil went about twenty
feet into the air with a deafening roar and ring.
'On account of the noise, we didn't hear Goulding groaning. When the
smoke cleared, we saw him sitting on the ground nursing one leg. The pipe nut being of
malleable cast, had splintered and one piece had penetrated the calf of Goulding's right
leg, making a serious wound. We carried him to the house, washed and bandaged the injured
leg, then helped him to a chair outside, well back from the keg of gunpowder.
"Walter White was standing around during the preparation of this
blast, but he wisely kept his distance and his counsel, knowing Goulding. Harold and I,
not knowing any better, had handled the powder and lighted the trickle. This procedure
White considered all wrong and dangerous. After the excitement was over and Goulding was
comfortable and calm, White came over from his safe distance, and calmly lighting a
homemade cigarette, remarked, 'You boys should be ashamed to let all that there powder go
to waste,' and with these few words, he took charge.
"White built a fire on the forge to heat a piece of iron to wire
to a 1 x 1 inch stick of wood, 6 feet long. Then, with a sledgehammer head to hold the
powder, set the anvil on top of this. By the time all this was ready, the iron was red
hot. Walter took the stick with bolt iron wired to it over to the anvil. There was a good,
clean explosion; the anvil went up in the air. All the time it was going up and coming
down, it was sweetly ringing. White had in the meantime put the iron backon the fire,
Harold picked up the anvil and replaced it, while I acted as powder monkey. We kept
shooting this till all the powder was used up. During these operations, the rest of the
picnickers stayed well away from the activity, keeping an eye on the children who were
curious about the strange ringing sound. Goulding watched also, but with less interest.
His injury laid him up all that summer."