Father John J. Crowley (1891-1940)
Text and picture excerpts
"Desert Padre: The Life and Writings of Father John J.
by Joan Brooks, unless otherwise indicated.
family at Father Fred Crowley's ordination in 1934.
L to R: (seated) Sister Petra, Sister Josephine, Sister Paula,
Mrs. Nora Hansen.
L to R: (standing) Rev. John J. Crowley, Rev. Fred Crowley, Rev.
Thomas Lyne (uncle from Ireland), Rev. George Crowley, S.J. and
Frank M. Crowley.
of the Desert Padre [pdf]
by William Webster
Some men long for the cities crowds, and some for the pagan land,
And some would toil in the wilderness where the heart is allied
with the hand.
One such man came to the choice of roads, and he chose a forbidding
His only arms was a friendly heart, and the love of God was his
He dwells where the far-flung Sierra looks down on a land of
He knows the chill of the lofty peaks and the heat of the desert's
To mankind in pain, though storm winds howl intrepid he goes
to their side.
Though weary and worn will he bring them hope 'In whose breasts
all hope has died.
Men call him the Desert Padre, as he carries his message of love;
And he seems to have learned from the silences and the vast star-decked
In his presence men feel only reverence though he speaks with
a common touch;
His praises are free as his reprimands and he never demands too
His mountains have taught him a steadiness, his desert has drilled
him in peace;
Sunrises have pictured glories of God and the sunsets, divine
And we who stand on the outer edge of his all-enveloping love;
May learn just a bit from this desert priest of the strength
he draws from above.
And we'll point to him as the years roll by, when we write with
a failing pen;
As one who walked in the steps of Christ, and loved all of his
And his life shall stand as a monument by the trails that his
feet have trod,
For we know that this padre of desert wastes shall sit close
to the throne of God.
David Bromley, Bishop, California, 1939.
J. Crowley as a Holy Cross College graduate. 1915 yearbook photo.
Cross College archive photo)
Crowley wrote under the pen name of "Inyokel" in the
more than 200 "Sage and Tumbleweed" columns
which he published from August of 1934 through March of 1940.
and William Boyd (Hopalong Cassidy) depositing water gourd at
the Bank of America, Lone Pine during the "Wedding of the
Story Behind Sage and Tumbleweed [pdf]
at the Movies
These images represent just a handful of the many celebrities
to which Fr. Crowley extended his warm hearted kindness to, and
a few of the pictures they starred in which were filmed in Owens
Valley during the time Fr. Crowley spent in Lone Pine.
and the Lady"
courtesy of the Ravin'
of the Light Brigade"
Father Crowley's talents as a producer and showman explain why
he related so well to the personnel of the movie industry when
they came to Lone Pine to shot films in the nearby Alabama Hills.
During the years that Father Crowley was in Lone Pine, such famous
movies as Gunga Din, Lives of the Bengal Lancers,
Oil for the Lamps of China, Charge of the Light Brigade,
Rhythm on the Range, and numerous westerns featuring Ken
Maynard, John Wayne, Gene Autry, Roy Rogers and William Boyd
*(Hopalong Cassidy) were filmed. The song "Donkey Serenade"
from the movie Firefly was first practiced on the piano
in the Santa Rosa parish hall.
shots from the filming of Gunga Din in the Alabama Hills of Lone
- aka. "Hopalong Cassidy"
Douglas Fairbanks Jr.
on Movie Production in Lone Pine [pdf]
by Fr. John