Miles Mahan and the Hula Girl.

Miles Mahan's Half Acre Hulaville (Gone)

Field review by the editors.

Hesperia, California

Mahan's Half Acre (Hulaville) was an outdoor folk art environment of wine and beer bottle tree sculptures and desert sandblasted painted wooden signs. Miles Mahan (1896-1997) lived in the middle of this splendid squatter's jumble, in a pickup truck camper without the pickup truck. It was the only folk art environment with a boot hill and a driving range.

Civilization was steadily encroaching, as we noticed on four visits, from 1985 to 1997. A new memorial park rose from where Mahan once had his a homemade miniature golf course.

The large wooden sign of a dancing Hula Girl, a business discard rescued and erected by Mahan, still stands sure, a lookout above his shaded open air couch, seeming to protect her aging owner from the gentrification. The crude hand-lettered sign beneath her read: "People travel through the state, how little will they know her fate, for traveler who'll ever be the wiser, her life was saved by the Supervisors."

By 1995 Miles was off his Half Acre and in a convalescent home, and passed away on April 15, 1997. By summer of that same year, Mahan's Half Acre had been quietly scraped off the high desert along I-15, as witnessed on a drive-by on our way to Exotic World. A self-storage facility sat where once the highway shoulder poet would regale all with his sun-baked tales of the 1920s (when posh gambling ships were docked in the waters off Los Angeles).

Mahan's Half Acre sign.

Fortunately, some of Mahan's funky works were recovered and preserved. The California Route 66 Museum in Victorville became the new home of the Hula Girl, now a precious cultural artifact. The museum includes other Mahan items, such as the bowlegged "Howdy" cowboy sign.

The museum also exhibits a scale miniature version of Mahan's Half Acre.

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September 16, 2014

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