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"Out of School and into the Desert" Written by John Evered

The Evered House truly represents a special place in my heart. The idea, on paper - was quite basic and uncomplicated. The execution of the vision however, was nothing short of an uphill battle. Spring of my Sophomore year of high-school, I fulfilled my educational requirements to end my year early and consequently moved out to Flamingo Heights, California, near Joshua Tree National Park to help ready the Evered House, named for my grandfather, Charles J. Evered, who passed away in 1979. I moved out to work on the place with my dad, Charles B. Evered.

The Evered House means a lot to me. Its mission is to provide and facilitate artistic and creative endeavors of former military members and those who serve in conflict zones, as well as first-responders. By all means, this includes the likes of combat photographers, war reporters, creative writers, painters and musicians. Having seen the condition of the three bedroom ranch house before the renovation compared to the present day, it was no simple accomplishment. The first day, my dad and I began the process shaping the two acres of wild landscaping all around the house. It involved nothing less than breaking down and moving chunks of rocks into various miscellaneous piles. It was honest and physically challenging work, but you’d learn to both value the excitement of cooling down through the use of hose water and seeing the progress you made each evening. The routine was to work more or less from sunrise to sunset, until the dark and the mosquito attacks became impossible to evade.

Initially, there was no clear path from the gate leading to the cement driveway. The weeds and the dead desert plants covered the edges of the fences and the inside of the house resembled a frat house. But, it was a start, and that was all we needed at the beginning. We enlisted the help of countless tools from Home Depot to assist us in the yard and took out our workday frustration on chunks of rocks using sledge hammers. We slowly developed a straight, smooth and aesthetically pleasing pathway leading up to the garage and all around the house and the inner acre of the property, not to mention pulling an endless amount of weeds surrounding and clinging alongside the long metal fences. There was no need for outside exercise during the work week, as wielding the sledge hammer and sets of pull-ups on the bars of the patio was more than enough to give one's body a physically challenging workload. As we began the landscaping and house work in late March, early June quickly rolled around as I was preparing for my junior year of high-school. I can’t help but smile when envisioning what we began working with compared to how it appeared a few months later. The yard was smooth with little to no rocks amongst the circular path used for driving. The patio was presentable, the garage was clean while radiating an inviting aura and the weeds amongst the fences were no longer. 

The outside of the Evered House was entirely refurbished and the inside seemed to become more inviting too. It had finally become more oriented toward hosting a resident, or providing a studio in which to create. The entire place was quite exhilarating compared to its original form. The air conditioning combated the heat of the desert sun and both the outside and interior were much more livable. It was a great pleasure transforming the Evered House through hard work and guided execution. It was just a vision, but to be there everyday to carry through that vision is something I will forever cherish.

John Evered served for three years as a US Naval Sea Cadet before graduating in 2019 from Princeton High School in Princeton, New Jersey.

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