Road Trip 1929: Day 9: Elgin, Illinois

I hope you didn’t miss me too much over my blogging vacation, but Three Months By Car is back! Since I made you wait a while between my last post and now, I wanted to share a transcription with all of you. It’s the first letter that Dotty mailed home.

5 Elgin2

5 Elgin3

Sept 9, 1929

Dear Everybody:

            Here’s a letter for a change! Today we left Chicago, but have not made much progress. We have stopped three times to see Edie’s relatives, + are staying tonite at the home of friends of her mother’s. They are all very nice + hospitable people, + we have done nothing all day but eat + drink coffee – about 5 cups of it! We are staying tonight in Elgin, Ill., where the watches come from. Edie has had to stop + visit everybody because she has never seen any relatives before, except the aunt + cousin in Chicago! We have heard so much about what we will see in the west that we are all excited. We have got to hurry now to get to Yellowstone, so tomorrow we are getting up early + are going to make about 300 miles. The country won’t be interesting until we get to the Black Hills of Dakota, anyway. We are sure going to speed to get there.

            Yesterday we spent the day on the shore of Lake Michigan in the sand dunes, + went swimming. The waves were bigger than those in the ocean, way over our heads. We liked Chicago immensely – it is a very beautiful city, with lovely nooks + lots of trees + grass. I would not mind staying there. You must make a trip west some time + see Chicago.

            Out here instead of hot dog stands they have “barbeque” stands – roast meats on rolls with sauce, + they are sure good. They also have Jumbo ice cream cones for 15¢, with 4 kinds of ice cream!

            We have all been very well. We feel better than usual when we are out in the open air. This is certainly the best way to travel. We have everything we could possibly want with us.

            Guess this will be all for now. From now on we’ve got to make time, until after Yellowstone!

Lots of love to all,

            Dottie

P.S.     I left my bathing suit behind at Edie’s, the only thing we forgot, but Edie’s aunt loaned me hers before the trip.

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This is one of my favorite letters.  From a research standpoint, it tells me where they stayed, what they did, their feelings, and the prices of things. Personally, I like it because I think it a wonderful snapshot of who Dotty (and this letter shows she sometimes signed off as Dottie) was at the time.  It’s nice to see what gets her excited (5 cups of coffee and Jumbo ice cream cones) and you get an idea of what she was really looking forward to on the trip (Yellowstone).

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Six Months Update

Three Months By Car has been up and running for six months now, both here and on Facebook and Twitter.  Here’s a quick update on where it’s been and where it’s going.

The Facebook Page has over 330 Likes as of today; the Blog has 69 subscribers; Twitter has 193 followers.

The blog is 325 views away from 6,000.  Of the 5,675 views, people have looked in on the blog from 65 countries.

The project received the first photo of the three girls on their trip from a Stohl relative in Sweden after he discovered Three Months By Car.  Such a wonderful surprise, and thank you again!

I’ve shared 5 mail transcriptions (4 from Dotty) written during the trip.  I’ve shared snippets of postcards and letters as regular Facebook updates.

I’ve delved into the box that contains those postcards and letters to show you what else Dotty saved from the trip.  I will continue to do so until you have seen everything.

The 1929 road trip route has been mapped, along with maps for where Dotty sent mail and the places the girls went for sightseeing.  Coming soon are maps pertaining to the National Parks they visited and a map showing where they camped, versus where they stayed with relatives, etc.  I’ll also be linking maps to related blog posts.

Three Months By Car is currently in summer mode, with posts once a week instead of twice.  Come the fall, I’ll have access to a research library and I’ll be back to more frequent posting with brand new research findings.

Thank you for supporting Three Months By Car.  Please keep sharing posts, status updates, and tweets.  You are an immense help in spreading the word about this project. :)

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Road Trip 1929: Day 7: Chicago, Illinois

I realized today that it has been over a month and a half since the last time I shared a transcription with you all.  It’s a short postcard, but I’m sharing the postcards and letters in order, so this one was the next one up.

4 Chicago2

Dear Everybody:

Chicago is very nice.  I wouldn’t mind living here.  We are going sightseeing tomorrow. Are staying at Edie’s aunt’s, + are quite civilized.  We are all gaining weight.

Lots of Love,

Dotty

Out here they have Shell gas + Nehi drinks all the time.

4 Chicago

Even though it is short, I enjoy this postcard.  She mentions a type of gas station that she sees (not the only time she does this), and talks about Nehi drinks being widely available.  These statements show that Dotty paid attention to more than just the typical sites while on the trip.

Also, who doesn’t love Dotty’s admission of “We are all gaining weight”?

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As an aside, Nehi soda was introduced in 1924 and the Nehi Corporation became the RC Cola brand in the 1950s.  Nehi soda was still marketed as such during that time.  I’ve never seen them in stores, but you can apparently still buy the three classic Nehi flavors online.

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Frank E. Guyott and John G. Stohl

Since Sunday was Father’s Day, so I thought I would take this week’s blog post to expand upon the little I wrote of Frank Guyott and John Stohl when I introduced you all to Dotty, Edie, and Ev.

Frank E. Guyott was born in Watertown, NY on July 4, 1879 to Frank E. Guyott and Eliza Avery. His family moved to Northampton, Massachusetts sometime after. In 1899, he married Harriet Fuller and the two settled in Northampton, Massachusetts, living with Frank’s parents and siblings, before moving to Springfield, Massachusetts before 1910. Harriet, better known as Hattie, passed away in 1919, so Frank took Dotty (born in 1906) to Bridgeport, Connecticut, where he once again lived with his parents and sister Mabel. Frank remarried soon after to a woman named Louise. While in Bridgeport, he began working as a tool maker at the Bridgeport Metal Goods factory. It became a life-long career, working 44 hours a week in 1940 at the age of 60. Frank E. Guyott passed away in 1947.

John G. Stohl was born in Sweden on June 19, 1876. He came to America in 1887 and appears in the census in 1900 in Schenectady, New York as a boarder on a farm. He soon moved to Trumbull, Connecticut where in 1903 he married Selma Nilsson. In addition to living on a farm in Trumbull, he worked as a machinist for the Bullard Machine Tool Company. He retired prior to 1940. John G. Stohl passed away on April 20, 1962.

This is not an exhaustive background by any means, so expect to see this again as major details are fleshed out.

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In the Box #8

The latest posts I’ve written have all been camping related.  Dotty, Edie, and Ev spent a majority of their 3-month road trip camping in either a tent or a cabin (and even spent one night camping in a roofless garage).

Many locales tried to capitalize on the popularity of camping by offering it as an option while visiting a given area.  While examining the box that holds Dotty’s postcards and letters I came across this brochure for the State Game Lodge in Custer State Park in South Dakota.

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Opening the brochure reveals a spread about their camping amenities.

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“The State Game Lodge Camp Ground is conveniently located on the beautiful Grace Coolidge Creek, where camping privileges can be secured for fifty cents, which entitles guest to electric lights, wood, water, toilet and watchman.  Tent cabins can also be rented for one dollar per day for two people.  Pillows, linen and maid service, fifty cents extra, per bed.  The Donalda Cabins are $1.50 per day with double bed, fifty cents extra for cots.  Pillows, linens, and maid service for Donalda Cabins, may be had for 50 cents extra per bed.

On the the Camp Grounds we have a store and filling station, where all tourist supplies may be secured, including fresh meat, butter, eggs, and milk.  We also have an information bureau in connection.”

I think this is such a wonderful source of information and it certainly adds to what Dotty writes about camps.  As I have said before, she describes most as “fine”, and only twice does she mention the price of the stay.

The three camped here around September 13, 1929.

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In case you are wondering about the rest of the brochure, here are photos of the rest of it.

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DSCF0959

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Thoughts On the Rise of Camping

Camping was not a new (organized) activity; the first camp in the United States opened in Connecticut in 1861.  The Camp Directors Association of America, now known as the American Camping Association, was founded in 1910 (KOA would not come into existence for another 52 years).

Automobiles ushered in camping’s rise in popularity, as so many more people found themselves able to get to a campground.  In the 1920s, millions of people went camping.  By 1925, there were over 4,000 autocamps in the United States.[1]  Just two years later, in 1927, camping had become a $3,300,000,000 industry.[2]  Yes, that is over 3 billion dollars.

The western United States seemed to capitalize on the autocamping trend better than its eastern counterparts, providing nicer accommodations for campers.  In a Quick Note on Camps and Cabins I shared Dotty’s description of a cabin they stayed in at a camp near Tacoma, Washington.  A hot shower and the ability to do laundry was among the highlights of this and other camps she mentioned staying at.  By 1929, camps had come a long way from their origins as clearings in the woods where people could park their cars and set up camp in a defined space likely within view of other groups of campers.  Dotty described almost all of the camps the three stayed at as “fine”, but I wonder if she would have used that term about the eastern camps had she known what she’d stay in as the trip progressed.  She doesn’t mention much about campground amenities the first two times she talks about their camping, but it becomes a regular occurrence starting with a stay at a camp in Iowa.  In Hawley, Pennsylvania, in mentioning the “fine” camp, she writes, “lots + lots of cars here, but we are secluded”.  Cody, Wyoming’s “fine” camp “included hot and cold shower, laundry, stoves, etc.”, which allowed the three to do their laundry.[3]

It’s something I still need to research further, but I’m thinking that overall the camps in the east were older than those in the west, so they lacked some of the amenities that the western ones were built with.  Upgrades to existing camps likely took time, and as long as they didn’t see a drop in attendance, the lack of certain features wasn’t a hindrance to their operation.  In the west I wouldn’t be surprised if the abundance of National Parks made operating a camp a worthwhile endeavor, and thus competition among nearby area camps necessitated having the latest camp features.

Stay tuned for Monday’s post which will feature a camping-related “In the Box” post.

 


[1] Frank Everett Brimmer, “Following the Open Road in Your Car,” Woman’s Home Companion, June 1925, 42.

[2] Frank Everett Brimmer, “Nomadic America’s $3,300,000,000 Market,” The Magazine of Business, July 1927, 18.

[3] Dorothy Guyott, Postcard from Hawley, PA, September 1, 1929; Dorothy Guyott, Poscard from Cody, WY, September 15, 1929.

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Road Trip Maps

What is a road trip with known destinations (and sometimes the actual roads and mileage) without a map?  It’s true that some fun adventures happen when you purposely don’t use a map, but this was not one of those trips.  Below are a variety of maps that pertain to the trip that Dotty, Edie, and Ev took.

Postcards and Letters

Sightseeing Locations

Road Trip Route

The coding used by Google Maps Engine doesn’t translate to WordPress.  Unfortunately the entire string of code disappears when ever I try to save it.  To see the current Road Trip Route Map, please click here.  (I am both hoping that the coding issue gets resolved and looking into alternative mapping platforms.)

Future Maps

  • Nighttime Accommodations
  • National Parks

Anything else you would like to see?

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A Quick Note on Camps and Cabins

In Dust Everywhere, I wrote how author Alison Edwards and his wife worried about potential bathing issues, but discovered that they had no trouble in finding camps with shower baths.  In Laundry on the Road, I told you how Dotty, Edie, and Ev did their laundry in a cabin they stayed at camp in Three Forks, Montana and used all of the hot water in the process.

This was not the only time that Dotty mentioned camps and camping over the course of the three-month road trip.  Dorothy makes note of the cabins that they stayed in which had hot showers or baths, and described many of the camps they stayed in as “fine”.  The newspaper article written about the three girls after they returned home from their trip includes the following quote:

The auto camps out west are much more up-to-date than in the east.  They have facilities for laundry.  Many have hot and cold showers.  Be sure to tell about the showers or many people will think we bathed only in the widely separated lakes and oceans.[1]

This sentiment was an echo from one of Dotty’s early postcards, this one from Iowa, in which she writes, “as we get further west we find more fine camps + many more cabins, very nice ones: we could stay every nite in a cabin, if we wanted.”[2]

In Tacoma, Washington, Dotty again elaborated on cabins, describing the one the three were staying in on September 27th, “Our cabin is so cozy, with one room + a tiny kitchen, a gas plate + a gas “fireplace”. There is a shelter for the car, too – we all had a hot shower + washed our clothes – and all for $1.25! Wish we had camps like this in the east.”[3]

So why were the camps nicer in the west?  More on that in the next post.


[1] Soltesz, 26

[2] Dorothy Guyott. Postcard from Larchmont, Iowa. September 10, 1929.

[3] Dorothy Guyott. Letter from Tacoma, Washington. September 26-27, 1929.

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In the Box #7

At the close of Monday’s post, I asked if you thought Dotty would receive the $20 she asked for in a telegram sent from Monterey, California.

Here’s your answer:

H Monterey2

“Thanks for replying so promptly to my telegram.  I got the money at 9:30 this morning (1:30 your time).”  Upon receiving the wired $20, Dotty quickly wrote a letter home thanking her stepmother for sending it.  The letter was on its way to Bridgeport by noon the same day.

This wasn’t the only time that Dotty asked for money either, as this piece of evidence from the box shows:

Telegram

On November 26, Dotty’s stepmother again wired $20 to Dotty.  Twenty dollars wasn’t a small sum in 1929.  As I wrote on Monday, it would be well over $200 today.  Can you imagine just asking for $200?

Now before you get to thinking that Dotty’s family was extremely wealthy, remember that Dotty (as well as Edie and Ev) was a stenographer and had been for at least five years prior to the start of the trip.  Could it have been her money?

As Dotty writes from Monterey after receiving the first $20, “Take the money for sending it out of what I left with you, don’t forget.”  Dotty left money at home, likely preventing her from spending all of her money and leaving her with some to come home to.  She likely had a cushion of how much extra money she could ask for over the course of the trip, and these two instances are examples of that.  I think it was a smart idea, don’t you?

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Also, just in case you were wondering, here is what the back of that Money Order receipt looks like.

Telegram2

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In the Box #6

Dotty mostly sent letters and postcards home.  As you may have already read, she occasionally sent home a news clipping.  This piece was an exception.  This is the one telegram she sent home.

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The message reads:

Hello. Wire twenty dollars please today. Need spending money. Love, Dorothy.

The girls took $450 with them on the trip and returned home with $.47… 47 cents!  This telegram, however, shows that at least Dotty asked for more money.  Although I don’t know for sure, I wouldn’t be surprised if Edie and Ev did the same.

Notice that it was sent in the morning on October 10th from Monterey, California with the directions to get the answer from her stepmother upon its delivery.

That $20 in today’s money would be $271.97.

On Thursday, I’ll show you the reply.  Do you think she got the money?

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