"They are going bicycling in Europe"

10 years ago

In the summer of 1939 my grandmother and some friends bicycled through Europe. (Yeah, that's right, 1939. They arrived at the end of June and left at the end of August. On September 1st they were on the cruise ship heading back to New York.) They biked through a good portion of Germany. Our trips will only overlap in Munich, Fussen, and then London. They also covered Holland and Switzerland.

I've always loved going through the journal, and a few years before she died my grandmother gave me all the photos, typed pages, letters, postcards, ticket stubs, receipts from a sporting goods store in Fussen, all the momentos that were stuck to those old-school sticky page photo albums. I carefully peeled them off the sticky album pages and organized them and mounted them on archival acid-free paper and placed them in sleeves, then a sturdy 3-ring binder. I still love going through the journal. Looking at the pictures, reading about what she did every day. Helen must be where I get my minutiea-cataloging habits from. Every day lists the mileage, what they ate at each stop, the conditions of the hostels. I love the details.

Helen went with a group of friends in some sort of organized tour. In 1939 Rhode Island, this was pretty big news apparently, and there's a picture of them, Helen on her bicycle, in the newspaper with the headline "They are going bicycling in Europe." They started on a cruise ship from New York to Holland. Helen's journal includes the telegrams that friends and family members sent her to receive on the ship, wishing her good luck and bon voyage and all that. How exciting! Shore to ship telegrams! (No one sends telegrams anymore. You have to check your email. Which seems a lot less exciting than having a porter hand you a telegram.)

Upon arrival in Holland they received their bicycles and were on their way.

(I'm working on chronicaling the full story in my personal blog Where in the World Am I?. It's okay for me to post here, right, with links back to my blog? I'm new to this and a little confused. Please forgive any faux pas.)

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