Travels by Thumb: Trip #18 – To Colorado to discuss future possibilities for Philip at Colorado State College of Agriculture and Mechanic Arts in Fort Collins.
May 4, 1944
1 – To Newark from Tunnels. Two men going to work; 7 a.m. We had one suitcase and my pocketbook.
2 – Farmer defense worker to Summerville, N.J.
3 – Two men – about 1 mile.
4 – Truck to Clinton, N.J. Handsome, intelligent face.
5 – Truck. Thea sat in Phil’s lap for 20 minutes. Glad to reach Easton, Pa.
6 – Truck to edge of town. Offered us a ride to Pittsburgh. Refused.
7 – Man to Allentown.
8 – Man. After long wait & walk. Flat tire at Grantville. Put on spare. Changed to better tire at Harrisburg. Second flat tire at entrance to Turnpike in front of garage. Changed tires. Drove several miles on Turnpike. Blew third tire. Changed tires. Man gave up in disgust. Left us & turned back to Harrisburg. Waited first to make sure we got a ride. He seemed to feel guilty about leaving us stranded.
9 – Man, after a 5 min. wait. He hopes to reach Columbus, Ohio, by tomorrow morning. Would mean an all-night ride. He’ll try it if we’ll go with him & Phil will spell him at the wheel. Too tired. Let us off at Hotel Henry. Small, expensive room. But a good night’s sleep and a good breakfast. Early start, feeling swell.
May 5, 1944
10 – Man. To road junction (22–30). Beautiful car. Driver travels 2–3000 mi. a month.
11 – Man, women, & baby boy who took a liking to Phil. 12 mi.
12 – Soldier & wife to East Liverpool, Ohio. That makes 13 times I have been thru West Virginia without setting foot in it. Cute kids.
13 – Man to Lisbon. Old Navy man. He & Phil got along fine.
14 – Two men to Handoverton. Ate good lunch.
15 – Long wait. Man, small truck. 5 mi. Left in middle of road in pouring rain. State Patrolman stopped, demanded Phil’s papers, left us in the rain!!
16 – Man to Minerva. Another wait in the rain.
17 – Woman to Canton. Nice car. Son in Army. Mother, 86, in hospital.
18 – Man – 8 blocks. Still raining.
19 – Man. Half-way to Masillon. Bad roads.
20 – Man – to Wooster. Handsome, young, former pilot. Investigator for Provost–Marshall’s Office. Anti-administration, anti-FDR. Beautiful Buick coupe.
21 – Man, woman, girl (about 20, with bad speech impediment). Stopped at Norwalk to visit. We left them & started walking to junction in pouring rain.
22 – Man – Buick. Going to Michigan. So we consulted & decided to go to Kalamazoo (Exciting. We go wherever our fancy directs.) 60 mph all the way. Different time belt. To Jackson.
23 – Soldier – 3 min. Discovered he’s on wrong road. Left us.
24 – Man, woman – next town, ate supper at diner.
25 – Man, woman, rowboat. To Bottle Creek.
26 – Mr. Ryan of South Westridge. To Grandmother’s door
May 6, 1944
In Kalamazoo, meeting the family.
May 7, 1944
27 – Man, woman, old car. St. Louis plates. Not married. Apparently went to funeral in Mich. On Black Market gas. They’ve decided to go by way of Chicago since that’s our goal & they’ll need gas by then anyway. Passing thru Indiana, treads came off tire. Changed tire. Left us at edge of Chicago.
She owns a salon in St. Louis. A big fat woman. Such people are nicer than the ones who are gilded with respectability.
28 – Man, woman, 3 babies. To Michigan Blvd. near hotels. (Phil held little girl on his knee & looked pleased with himself!)
Stayed at “Y” Hotel. Walked up State Street, saw parade of burlesque theaters (from .54 to $1.50). Saw “Loop,” wandered around.
May 8, 1944
Took “Loop” to outskirts.
29 – Man, practically waiting for us and we got off the “L.” To edge of city.
30 – Man to junction.
31 – Men heading for Quincy, Ill. Phil knows the map so well that he persuaded the man that the best route to Quincy was the one we happened to prefer. Man pointed out the badly-pitted land over beautiful farm country, where veins of coal had been worked right off the surface, destroying the land for agriculture. Mounds of slag left beside huge holes. Companies should be forced to turn them in & dig them under to give the land a chance to be farmed again.
To Spring Valley. Roads puddled & sodden from heavy rains & floods. Lunch. Farmers in this area quite worried. Planting already delayed beyond safety. Rivers rising higher.
32 – Man. Princeton, Ill.
33 – Man, warm car. To Annawan. Raining harder. Garage attendants are nice.
34 – Man, station wagon. Sells seed corn. To Genesco. Rain stopped.
35 – Man. To Rock Island – Davenport. Crossed Mississippi River in an old stern-wheeler. The river is not very wide at this point, tho swollen by recent rains. Very excited. Pioneering.
35.5 – Newspaper boy & truck. Nice kid.
36 – Walked – man & woman went out of their way to take us to edge of town. Just about everybody has someone in the Service.
37 – Girl, about 3 miles. Husband in Service.
38 – Garrulous man. About 5 miles. Not married. (I can see why!)
39 – Farmer & wife to Durant, Iowa. Got bananas & prunes.
40 – Salesman – poor driver – to road junction – about 6 miles.
41 – Man, 2 women, to West Liberty. Put us on road.
42 – Government men, Dept. of Agriculture – to Iowa City. Very pretty town. University especially pretty.
43 – Truck – Stopped at Ladora, Iowa, for supper – good. Another truck joined us – we split up. Phil riding with other truck. Saw Amish Settlement called Amana. Blew tire. Quite a job for those drivers to change heavy tires in mud. (Quite a job for us observers to keep from sinking into mud!)
Stopped overnight at “Uncle Tom’s Cabins” on north edge of Des Moines, Iowa. Thea sick with cramps next morning. Stayed in cabin till late afternoon.
44 – Two young boys – several blocks.
45 – Man – Vet of WWII – wounded – 2 fingers missing – post First W.W. Vets Home – to junction.
46 – Man – Chrysler – several miles.
47 – Man to golf course.
48 – Sailor on furlough – to Atlantic, Iowa, to see his wife.
49 – Long wait. Thea not feeling well – woman to Lewis, Iowa.
50 – Man – once had picked up a man in uniform who was really a civilian. Made absolutely sure when we got in that Phil was bona fide. Loquacious: told us about his love life & his brother-in-law, a sick vet of WWI. To Council Bluffs, Iowa. Ate supper there. Crossed Missouri River on trolley car (how unpoetic!). Bussed to west end of Omaha, Nebraska.
51 – About one mile to “Tower Tourist Camp.” Lovely cabins, but we arrived late. Had room & bath in basement of large cabin.
52 – No breakfast yet. Man – nice. Gave Phil tips about best route thru Nebraska. Intended to leave us at Fremont. Thea looking longingly at every roadside food stand. Man decided he’d take us to Columbus which was not out of his way. 70 miles before breakfast. Oh me!
Beginning to rain, sky looks bad in West. Richland, pop. 160. Sky lightening up. Breakfast at Columbus, Nebraska.
53 – Empty truck – driver: “Slim” passed “Havens – pop. 22” – to Grand Island.
54 – Walked across the street for lunch – picked up before we got there. (Having a tough time getting our meals today.) Man, medium truck – driver had bad hangover. When we passed the remains of a bad train–truck accident, Thea was ready to jump & run. Philip kept driver awake till we hit Lexington.
55 – Lunch. Phil got ride for us while Thea was in wash room. (Thea has been in every wash room between New York & Nebraska & feels competent to qualify as National Inspector!) Man, inspector for Neb. State Health Dept. To Sidney, Neb. – other side of state.
I like this country. It’s different. Flat like New Jersey, but it seems wider & the sky is farther away. (Saw Buffalo Bill Cody’s Ranch in No. Platte. Changed time.) The country rises steadily from the River to the Mountains. (This steady climb is what makes Thea visit washrooms.) Spent night in dingy hotel in Sidney.
Have encountered little expressed prejudice so far. One woman railed against the Negroes, two men had their say about the Jews when they learned we were from New York.
Had the mud cleaned off our shoes next morning – ate breakfast – set out.
56 – Man – nice little truck – sun shone, rain poured down – to Kimball.
57 – Soldier – Army truck – combination of Army springs & little-used–&–little-tended road! Miles & miles & more miles – no houses, no people. Amazing lot of land. Rain on & off. Shadows on horizon up ahead – mountains? To junction 3 miles from Cheyenne, Wyoming.
58 – Woman – milk truck – to Cheyenne – just a bustling spot on the plains. Lunch – souvenirs. Commercialized town.
59 – Man, woman to junction. Picked up some sage – distinctly pleasant smell.
[May 11, 1944 – 5 p.m.]
60 – Three men coming home from work. Narrow road, no cars. Plains, plains, plains. Really mountains in the distance – mountains with white tops. Crossed state line –
Road getting very hilly – mountains seem closer –
Fort Collins – our goal!!!
Spent Thursday night to Saturday morning at Hotel Northern. Lovely little college town, nestles – or sprawls – or tucks (depending on your angle of approach) at foot of mountains. Talked to Personnel Man & to Extension Program Man at Co. St. College of Agri. & Mechanic Arts. Delightful place. Wanted to stay and hike up into the mountains. Wanted to stay & build us a little house with a garden and live there. Wanted to stay.