When F.X. McDonald lived in Hesperia, in the days before developer M. Penn Phillips helped skyrocket the community's population into the thousands, there were only a few hundred residents.


In the early 1950s, McDonald and his brother lived in a shack for two-and-a-half years, selling real estate by day, hunting rabbits for dinner and entertaining themselves by singing around the campfire at night.


"It wasn't very long. But living in that shack, with no water or electricity, it seemed like a lot longer," said McDonald, now living atop a hotel on the Las Vegas strip. "Those were the happiest years of my life, as I look back on it."


In that short span of years, McDonald helped catapult Hesperia into the national limelight, at least for a moment, when he won the chance to perform on the Arthur Godfrey television show in New York City. When Godfrey asked McDonald where he was from, he launched into a pitch for Hesperia real estate.


And days later, when he was back driving around prospective buyers, they forced him to sing to prove that he'd really been that young singer they had seen on TV.


McDonald created a jingle -- using the tune from the Marines' Hymn -- called "Headin' for Hesperia."


Now a retired real estate mogul living in Las Vegas, McDonald has gone back to his music, pressing compact discs of "Headin' for Hesperia" and standards popular when he was a young man, and distributed them through the Hesperia Chamber of Commerce.


"The first volume went so well with Hesperia residents, I decided to make a second volume," McDonald said. He estimates he has given away more than 10,000 CDs since 2004.


"In the beginning, I was sending down 1,000 every 90 days," he said. "People get them for the song, 'Headin' for Hesperia.'"


On the new album, "Headin' for Hesperia, Volume II," McDonald has a new version of the title track, as well as other favorites of his.


"Listen to 'The Donut Song.' It's the best song I've done since I was 17," McDonald said. "It's a difficult song to do. I brought in the Scintas to sing back-up for me."


The Scintas perform at the Las Vegas Hilton.


"In fact, that song's so good, I'm going to be making a single out of it."


Beyond his versions of "Headin' for Hesperia," most of the songs on the album are songs popularized by singer Burl Ives.


"Other ones I enjoy or used to sing around the campfire there in Hesperia."


If McDonald ends up giving away several more thousand CDs this time, that's OK with him.


"I'm able to write it off, according to my accountant, so I'm able to keep it up."


As for McDonald's shack, "it's gone now, because some high school kids burned it down. But I walked around the land, and I became so sentimental, I almost cried. Those days were the happiest of my life, with the potbelly stove and the shack that had no insulation and it was cold when it snowed.


"Even I couldn't believe this town would boom this way some day," he said. "I like to remember the olden days."


McDonald's CDs are available at the Hesperia Chamber of Commerce, 16816-D Main Street. Call 244-2135 for more information.


Beau Yarbrough can be reached at 956-7108 or at beau@hesperiastar.com.