To the members of the Public Arts Commission
In the midst of all the controversy over the Mayor Bogert statue I keep thinking of a lesson I learned as a kid growing up in Palm Springs in the ‘50s: FAME and GREATNESS are not the same thing. Fame depends on how you are SEEN , but greatness depends on what you actually DO.
All these years later, now a desert retiree instead of a Palm Springs kid, Frank Bogert remains at the very top of my list of heroes where both fame and greatness combine.
I speak from my own experience and that of my parents who knew many famous people up close and personal. They worked for them which might be the best way to truly know anybody. My dad chauffeured them during “the season” and “night watched” their properties during the summer. My Mom was a seamstress for them by day and took their pictures by night as she was the “camera girl” at famous Chi Chi’s night club when we first moved to town in 1950.
We lived in Section 14 and I was a Katherine Finchy School student when Frank Bogert befriended us. He had nothing to gain from this friendship in terms of social standing, money or whatever, but our family gained so much from this great man’s warm welcome and his sincere caring—shown in his helping hand, his fun and friendly attitude to us as newcomers, poor ones at that. He made sure we felt we belonged here. He wanted us to love Palm Springs like he did.
“We drove into town looking like the Grapes of Wrath, but with no grapes!” my Mom would say and “the reservation” (Section 14) looked like an upgrade after our family life in a car! No wonder the kindness of Frank Bogert meant so much and no wonder the vicious assault on his character today seems so ignorant and cruel. My story is just one of thousands still living (thank heavens) who know the true legacy of this great man and are standing up for him. We all have our reasons. They are true memories and unshakable.
“You don’t have to be a big shot to be Bogert’s friend,” was my Dad’s view, a “working man” who had known a lot of “big shots” over the years. He’s a good man. You can trust him,” was my Dad’s explanation of why it was common knowledge that the “working people” in town loved Bogert, the community leader/Cowboy who had put Palm Springs on the map. My Dad loved his sense of humor too and the stories that circulated around town about Bogert’s courage in some very tough situations.
It was a long road from home in Section 14 to graduate school at a noted university and all the benefits since received from a good education. I credit excellent teachers and opportunities I had in Palm Springs’ public schools and especially the encouragement and support of many good hearted people living here. I am grateful to many here, but it is the unfailing inspiration and encouragement I received throughout my life from Frank Bogert that makes him a stand out as one of the most memorable characters in my life. It was an added blessing to know his family through the years. It’s my hope that someday soon they receive the apology from the current Palm Springs Council members that they so justly deserve.
Thank you for hearing me out. I know your concern tonight is art and rightly so. The story of Frank Bogert’s positive impact on the lives of others IS A￼ WORK OF ART embodied in a magnificent statue. The honor is well earned, the gift of a grateful community. To dishonor this statue and Frank Bogert by removal would be an ugly step in City history, not an artistic one.
I am an artist and I know something about the necessity of inspiration. My story of Bogert’s inspiring impact on my life is not unusual. I hope you have read Tracy Conrad’s excellent review of the life of Palm Springs great, Charles Jordan (Desert Sun, July 11, 2021). In this account and public addresses by Charles Jordan you will see what an inspiring impact Mayor Bogert had on his life as well. If Charles Jordan were alive today I have no doubt he would be speaking again of the life changing support given to him as a young black man whose outstanding career of public service began in Palm Springs. He was always grateful to Frank Bogert and so am I.
Politicians can’t seem to help themselves when it comes to blowing in the wind and playing fast and loose with truth. We may have to grudgingly accept that. But those of you spending a good part of your lives committed to the preservation of history and art in Palm Springs are something different and we have our hopes riding on you.
Thank you for all you do for the City in protecting what is beautiful and true. I appreciate your consideration and I hope you will give your full support to the continued placement of the Bogert statue at City Hall.
Doni Ellison Hubbard
A former resident of Section 14 and a contributor to the rebuttal (the “Rebuttal”) to the Human Rights Commission’s (the “HRC”) ‘Palm Springs City Hall Monument Report’ (the “Report”) on Frank Bogert and Section 14.