Dust Everywhere

I left off my laundry post with Dotty writing home that everything gets coated in dust.  I’ve previously discussed how advice literature told readers to wear tall boots to keep out dust and to wrap good clothes in paper to prevent dust building on them, so it is no wonder that prescriptive literature also included how to keep oneself looking one’s best. Driving conditions, which included excessive wind, sun, and dirt, could wreak havoc on one’s skin.  Frederic Van de Water, who I’ve mentioned was a popular humorist of the time, wrote that, “dust was prevalent.  There can be no question about that.  It penetrated the inmost layer of clothing and almost worked its way through the skin.”  To combat the dust, his family bathed at least four times a week during their five-week road trip.[1]   Another author from that time, Allison Edwards, writes that he and his wife originally worried about the “bathing problem,” but realized it had been needless as they “found no difficulty in locating camps with shower baths.”[2]

Overall, and as I expected, women wrote more of cosmetics and creams than baths in the battle against the conditions.  T.H. Peterson, who I mentioned in the laundry post, in describing the daily preparations of getting ready at the autocamps in the morning writes,

make-up is a matter of vast importance.  It should be to all girls on a cross-country motor trip where wind, sun, dust and water combine to do their worst to the best of complexions.[3]

“A Woman’s Advice on Motor Camping” suggested a cleaning regimen that includes the application of cold cream onto one’s face each morning and night to prevent a “sore face or cracked lips.”[4]  Author of numerous etiquette books and articles, Emily Post also discussed cold cream for traveling women, writing during her cross-country motor trip in 1915 that “you need cold cream even if you don’t use it at home.”[5]  In 1929, one could purchase cold cream for $.45 for one small jar.[6]  Both Frank Brimmer’s and Van de Water’s articles lack any mention of cold cream or another personal hygiene product, although in addition to bathing regularly, Van de Water does write that he and his family brought “essential toilet articles.”[7]  Perhaps cold cream was among those essentials.

Dotty neither mentions cold cream, nor any specific cleansing product, nor an exact cleaning routine in any of the postcards or letters, but she does agree with these contemporary authors that the elements were adverse to one’s appearance.  The girls, or at least Dorothy, started to tan, a fact she called “terrible,” especially on her nose.[8]  In Houston, they all received sunburns worth writing home about, “The day before yesterday it was very hot, + we all acquired another sunburn.  My nose is very red”.[9]

The admittance of their sunburns flew in the face of prescriptive literature because unlike today, a natural looking tan was not desirable.  Author Lois Brown, discussing the types of autocampers, describes one kind as “sunburned country-folk.”[10]  Sunburns, Clay McShane adds, “suggested farm wives, a hopelessly déclassé lot.”[11]

Perhaps the girls, ages 23 and 25, didn’t care about cold creams and ignored such advice, or maybe they did not read these magazines, as they did not fit the average reader demographic of middle-class white women with a home, husband, and family.  Another possibility exists in that maybe they did use cold cream as part of their daily regimen, but because its application did not differ too much from what they would do at home, its presence in their routine escaped mention in the postcards.  If cold cream was used on the road it is likely that they did not change their cleansing routine while they stayed in cabins or with the relatives of Edith and Evelyn Stohl in Elgin and Chicago, Illinois and San Diego, California because of the comparable amenities between locations.

[1] Frederic Van de Water, 7.

[2] Allison Edwards, “Camping in Comfort,” Sunset, July 1925, 39.

[3] Peterson, 206.

[4] “A Woman’s Advice on Motor Camping,” 86.

[5] Emily Post, By Motor to the Golden Gate, 251.

[6] Sears, Roebuck and Co., Spring and Summer Catalog, 1929, 121.

[7] Van de Water, 7.

[8] Dorothy Guyott, Letter from Frenchtown, Montana.

[9] Dorothy Guyott, Letter from Houston, Texas, private collection, November 21, 1929.

[10] Lois E. Buriff Brown, “Modern Gipsies,” The Nation, May 4, 1927, 500.

[11] Clay McShane, 166.

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Road Trip Map Version 2.0

If you follow Three Months By Car on Facebook, you will hopefully have seen that the Road Trip Map version 2.0 is now done!

Maybe you have taken the new map out for a spin, and thank you to those who have and have sent me suggestions for version 3.0.  I welcome all comments and suggestions, getting your input is enjoyable and helps me create a better project.

I wanted to quickly show you around the new map.

The overall map.

This is the map when it first loads.  It shows all three layers: The route, where Dotty sent mail, and where the three went for sightseeing/tourist purposes (versus where they stopped for the night, which is a part of the route map).

Just the route.

Just the route.

On the sidebar you can see only one layer has a check mark. This is just the layer showing the route of the trip.  The mail and sightseeing layers are in lighter gray because they are not shown on the map.

You can toggle off the route too, to see just one layer.  This one is where Dotty sent mail.

You can toggle off the route too, to see just one layer. This one is where Dotty sent mail.

You can switch between layers, so if you only want to see where Dotty sent mail (like in the above image), you can. You can do the same with the sightseeing layer as well.

What happens if you click on a place mark.
What happens if you click on a place mark.

When you click on a place mark, you’ll see an info box with any pertinent information about the trip.  It will likely consist of a date and it may say if they camped or where they stayed.

That’s it on the current version.  Future versions will have more information in the info boxes: links to blog posts about those places, or links to the postcards/letters sent from those places.

Google Maps Engine currently only allows me to create 3 layers per map, so that’s why there aren’t more.  I would like to show you a map with differing icons based on where they camped versus where they stayed in a cabin or with relatives.  This would be separate from the route map where you currently have to click each icon to possibly find out where they slept.  Anything created in addition to what I’ve shown will have to be a standalone map, which is fine, just it would be great to have a platform where it can all be on one map.  I’m still looking, so keep in mind this is only Version 2.0.  3.0 will happen, but for now, it’s back to research mode and getting back to showing you what else is in the box of letters and postcards.

If you have an idea of what I should include with future maps, let me know.  I look forward to hearing from you, and as always, thanks for reading!

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Road Trip 1929: Day 5: Osceola, Indiana

In just over four months, this blog has reached over 5,000 views.  To celebrate, I wanted to share the next postcard that Dotty sent home.

3 Osceola2

Sept 5th


Dear Everybody:

We are having a tri-state lunch this noon, while getting gas, etc. Bo’t part of it in Ohio, part in Mich. + are eating it in Indiana! Are now in Central Time, 2 hours earlier than you. Went up and saw a little town in Michigan, consisting of one general store + post office! Have been passing thru Ohio farming country, great big farms + huge red barns, pigs, sheep + corn. Very flat + no stones. Indiana is more rolling + has lakes. Cleveland is a beautiful city of homes on Lake Erie. We passed thru it. Everybody seems to be friends on the road. We are getting to be curiousities, now that we are 900 miles from home. Expect to be in Chicago tomorrow morning, are not hurrying. Made 220 mi. yesterday. Saw the first Conn. car since N.Y. state today + waved. Have seen many other states, including Mass. We are getting outnumbered. Camping is still wonderful!

Lots of Love,


3 OsceolaThis is one of my favorite postcards.  I love that they were paying attention to the other license plates around them and were happy to see another Connecticut car.  In all of my travels, and especially when I’m living out of my home state, I’m always on the lookout for fellow Rhode Islanders by searching for a RI plate.  I am also guilty of waving at RI drivers depending on just how far away from home I am.  Dotty’s statement that “Camping is still wonderful!” makes me wonder if their families didn’t think that they’d like camping.  I also appreciate that Dotty mentions the landscapes they are driving through and how many miles they had driven the day before, both are great from a research standpoint.

Thank you everyone for your continued support of Three Months By Car!

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When Flappers Ruled The Earth: How Dance Helped Women’s Liberation | The Guardian

Just a quick post to let you know about this article I stumbled across this weekend.  I think its a great article, much like those from the Threaded blog (which ran the History of the Flapper series that I shared).  Now, I’m not calling Dotty, Edie, or Ev Flappers by sharing this piece, I’m only sharing to provide insight into the world the three lived in leading up to their road trip.  Being from The Guardian, the article does have a slight British focus, but does discuss many American locales.  There are also a few good photos and videos included with the article.  I hope you enjoy this slight (but related) diversion from Dotty, Edie, and Ev.  Here’s the link: When flappers ruled the Earth.

I’m off to continue some mapping.  As I wrote on Facebook yesterday, I hope to be done with version 2.0 of the map sometime this coming weekend.  It will include the overall 1929 route, a layer for sightseeing, and a layer containing all of the places that Dotty sent mail from.

After the map, we’ll see what I get into next!

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Laundry On The Road

Tonight I return to a post from March 14 about clothing to discuss a necessary activity regarding clothing: laundry.  For a three-months-long trip, laundry was a regular task, and unlike today it wasn’t as simple as a fancy hotel’s ability to do it for you or to go to the nearest laundromat (granted I know many who have had to wash something in a hotel sink, including myself).  Electric washing machines did exist, but they were not common.

“A Woman’s Advice on Motor Camping” recommended that women wash their underwear and stockings as soon as they got dirty to ensure that one always had a clean pair of each.[1]  Although the girls may have done this, it wasn’t noteworthy.  Dotty only wrote home when they did a large volume of laundry, and in total the topic of laundry appeared four times in her writing.  During their stay in San Diego where the three girls, visiting relatives of Edie and Evelyn Stohl, found themselves able to use a washing machine.  Their “big pajamas” became “white as snow.”  In Three Forks, Montana, the three washed so much laundry in their hotel room (stringing clothing all around their room) that they used all of the available hot water.  After that they were “afraid to meet the landlady.”  They also mentioned washing their clothes in a cabin outside of Tacoma, Washington and at a “fine camp” in Cody, Wyoming.[2]

In addition to advice on when to wash one’s clothes after they were worn, some prescriptive articles of the time also provided ideas on how to keep clothes clean when they were not in use.  T. H. Peterson, for example, securely wrapped the suitcases containing her nice clothes with heavy paper to keep out the dust, and she did not remove them until she reached the hotel.[3]  Heavy paper and canvas tarps appear to be the standard method of in-car storage covering, perhaps because these were the most convenient options and required the least amount of space.

The largest threat against cleanliness, both in and out of the car, was dust—Dotty writes, “everything gets coated in it.”[4]  This “everything” included the three travelers.  It was a common problem of the time, and as such personal cleanliness and care was a common topic in prescriptive literature.  More on that in a future post.

[1] “A Woman’s Advice on Motor Camping,” Literary Digest, 86.
[2] Guyott, Dorothy, Letter from San Diego, October 28, 1929; Guyott, Letter from Missoula, Montana; Guyott, Letter from Tacoma, Washington, September 26, 1929; Guyott, Postcard from Cody, Wyoming, September 15, 1929.
[3] T. H. Peterson, “Just Girls: They Motor Across Half the Continent and Over the Rockies,” Ladies’ Home Journal, April 1925, 205.
[4] Guyott, Dorothy, Postcard from the Grand Canyon, November 15, 1929.

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In the Box #5

In today’s post, I am returning to the artifacts about the 1929 road trip left in Dotty’s box with her postcards and letters home.  So far you’ve read about a letter from home, the original schedule for mail via General Delivery, a likely souvenir postcard, and a newspaper clipping about a fire the three saw.

Today, we are so used to the familiar sight of rack cards and brochures at tourist destinations and hotels advertising a site that we should see while we are in the area.  I had a habit of picking up one card for everything that sounded interesting when I was touring an area, even if I knew I wouldn’t get there during the trip.  Understandably, that got to be a bit much, so I tend to stick to picking up materials for the places I actually go to.

These types of materials existed in 1929, and even though Dotty did not pick up many, she did pick up some, and this is one example.


Dotty, Edie, and Ev visited Ramona’s Marriage Place on October 27, 1929 at the beginning of their stay in San Diego.



I’m rather a fan of this particular piece of literature as it provides me as a researcher with a decent amount of information, everything from how it was once shown to the public to who owned it.  It puts it in a good dialogue for how the location exists today.  Now it is known as Casa de Estudillo and is a part of Old Town State Historic Park.  It was donated to the State of California 38 years after Dotty, Edie, and Ev saw it.  T. P. Getz operated the site until his death in 1934, after which his daughter ran it until 1964.

Although Dotty didn’t say much about the house in her letter home, the location did impress her enough that she at least wrote to say that they went to see it.

Q San Diego2 (2)

I am glad that this site is still open and available for me to visit during my road trip, and you can be sure I’ll grab a brochure when I go.  Do you pick up the brochures and rack cards for tourist destinations when you travel?  What do you do with them when you get home?


Part of Map version 2.0 will include a map layer of places the three toured or visited for sightseeing purposes, including Ramona’s Marriage Place and Balboa Park (another San Diego attraction visited by the three on October 28th).

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Road Trip Map version 1.0 (Updated)

For the update, scroll to the bottom.

The destinations are marked and the routes are placed (except for a glitch halfway between Milton and Richmond, but that’s not my doing).  The first version of the map is DONE!

I thought I’d show you the current features as I would love your suggestions as to how to improve it as I go along with future versions.


This is the map viewed in Google Earth.  Right now, it’s the only way to view the whole route in one image as the Google maps version is viewable in segments.  Google Maps Engine, a second platform I tried to use, looks promising, but right now lines cannot be made to follow roadways. See?


So what you will see in this version are two route types: main routes in blue and day trip routes in red.


You will also be able to click on any of the green pins and learn when the three visited that particular place.


I will be continuing to work on the map, especially to get the rest of the route from Milton to Richmond show up and see if there is a way that Google Maps Engine will have the route follow roadways.

I am also interested in what you would like to see this map do, as discussed in my last post.  So play around with the current map and if you have a suggestion, please let me know.

As you can see in this workable preview, only the first segment is visible. To see the whole thing, follow this link, and click “Next” on the sidebar’s navigation panel to get to the next segment. There are 5 or 6 segments, it’s changed each time I look at it.

I look forward to hearing from you.

UPDATE: Map Version 1.1: Figured out why the route from Milton to Richmond stopped half way. To keep the blue line on US Route 1 over the more recently created Interstates, I overwhelmed the program with waypoints. I have deleted some so that you see the whole route, but as a result, some of that leg now aligns with roads not there in 1929 (something I tried to avoid elsewhere where possible). Same thing happened with DC to Bridgeport; towards the end of the leg, the route follows Interstate 95 and not US Route 1 as I would like.

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Earlier today on Twitter and Facebook, I showed the following preview of the map I am working on to retrace the route that Dotty, Edie, and Ev took in 1929.

Map Progress

If it looks familiar, that’s because I’m using the Google Maps platform.  I’m finding it relatively easy to work with, and I like that I can customize the place markers (so far I’ve only made them green rather than the default blue) and route line.  It’s a bit tedious to get the route lines to go where I want them to versus where Google suggests, but that’s my only complaint.  Google defaults to the more major roads, many of which did not exist in 1929, like Interstate 90.  In certain areas, especially out west, this is easily remedied because I can adjust the route line to go through towns not around them or I can see a road marked “Old Highway 10” and I can choose to move my line onto that road.

I’m hoping to roll out the first version of the map by Thursday, this weekend at the latest.  I say first version, because it will evolve over time.  I plan to make it very interactive, and that’s where you come in…

What would you like to see in a map like this? Would you like to see it sortable by destinations sorted by month, places where they camped versus where they stayed with relatives, only the places they sent mail from? Do you want it to link back to blog posts that talk about these places? Eventually I hope to add pictures from my own road trip and any additional pictures that I get from the original trip.  Anything else you can think of?

Thanks everyone, I look forward to hearing from you.

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A Photograph Revealed: Origins

In A Photograph Revealed, you saw the following picture of Dotty, Edie, and Ev, ready for their three-month road trip.


I also told you that this photo made its way to me via email from all the way in Sweden.

So just how did this photo end up in Sweden and then find its way back to me?

For that you can (and I definitely do) thank a number of people.  First, is Selma Nilsson, and second, is her brother Janne Nilsson.

Selma Nilsson and her brother Janne Nilsson came to America from Sweden in the late 1800s and spent some time in Elgin, Illinois.  Janne met his future wife, Augusta, there and after they married, they returned to Sweden.  Selma stayed in America where she met and married John Stohl.  They would go on to have four children, including Edith and Evelyn Stohl.

Selma kept in contact with her brother, sending photographs to him as time went by.  In 1929, the above photograph is one of the photographs that she sent him.  She wrote a caption on the reverse of the photograph.


Here is the English translation, provided to me in a second email from Sweden.

“This ( photo) was taken by the girls when they came here on Sunday morning the first of September. They have as luggage the dishpan. Dorothy is in the middle and Evelyn is at the steeringwheel.”

So who sent me this photo and is thus the recipient of my biggest thanks?  That would be Janne’s grandson, who recently began to do genealogy on Ancestry.com with the hopes of finding family in America.  Three years ago when I began my research, I created a small family tree with the Stohl family in it.  This led Janne’s grandson to me, as he did an internet search for my name (my Ancestry screen name is not creative and has my name in it-so thank you to Ancestery.com as well), and he found the Three Months By Car blog within the results.  Discovering that it was about his family members, it brought to mind the photograph from September 1, 1929, taken just before Dotty, Edie, and Ev set off on their three-month, tri-country adventure.  He had no idea that reaching out to me would provide me with the first true photograph that I have seen.

In the nearly two weeks since the first email, I have highly enjoyed corresponding with Janne’s grandson and look forward to future emails.  This experience has been a success for both genealogy and Three Months By Car.

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A Photograph Revealed

Three Months By Car has been a part of my life for three years now.  If you’ve been with me from the beginning of this blog (or have caught up since discovering me), you know that I began my research on the 1929 road trip taken by Dotty Guyott, Edith Stohl, and Evelyn Stohl back in 2010 as a part of my master’s thesis.

Up until last week, the only pictures of the trip that I had ever seen were those included in a news article written about them after they returned from the trip.  That paper, as you can imagine, has yellowed and turned brittle.  It is going on 84 years old now.

Last week I received an email that began…

Isn´t it very, very strange that we, who live many thousand miles away from you, in an old album has a picture of three young women who are just about to start a very long roadtrip. Evelyn Stohl at the steeringwheel, at her side Edith Stohl and Dorothy Guyott!

Needless to say, I was extremely excited about this email and the picture.  I know that I have been dragging the picture’s reveal for about a week via Facebook and Twitter, and thank you so much for participating in the Mystery Pictures feature.  Without further ado, here is the photo.


So if you caught the opening line of the email you may now be asking…what do you mean by “thousands of miles away?”  Roughly 3,650 miles away, in an old photo album was this photo.  So what is that far away?


So how did this photo end up in Sweden, and how did it make its way to my inbox?  Be sure to check back in on Thursday for the conclusion to this post and also the reverse side of the photo, which I think is pretty neat too.

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