Wednesday, Aug 30, 1944
We barely made it out of Kansas today. I’d better let Mommy tell the story: “The tire with the recap decided to shed the overlaid rubber and we were stuck in the middle of the flat Kansas corn fields. We finally limped into a little town called Bogue – no running water, no paved streets, nothing that looked like plumbing – and everyone was out to lunch and would be gone for over an hour…Well, someone finally directed us to a town thirty miles away which was the county seat and where we might get some kind of help from the ration board. We unloaded the back of the car to change to the spare, then loaded it again for the drive. In Hill City, the county seat, we got a taste of a small town ration board. The board never meets except when they all happen to be in the same place at the same time. The chairman met us in the general store and signed the recommendation for the new tire in the street using our windshield as a desk. The woman in charge of the OPA [Office of Price Administration] had to call headquarters several hundred miles away (at our expense) in order to get the latest directions so that a soldier in transit could get his tire. So we got our brand new tire in about three hours and were on our way.” We’re in Burlington, Colorado tonight. Tomorrow, Denver!
Tuesday, Aug 29, 1944
We’re actually in Kansas tonight, not Illinois. In Scandia, to be exact, because the day didn’t go as planned. First, the laundry wasn’t dry at all this morning. In fact, Mommy wrote, “It was wetter than it was when I hung it up. Then we decided to drive after supper and got caught good and proper in a bad thunderstorm so we just passed the city we intended to stop in and finally landed in a place called Scandia… As you can judge by the name, it is a Scandinavian settlement and everyone’s name ends in ‘son. There wasn’t a hotel but a Mrs. Erikson (who is 89 years old, has 12 children, 24 grandchildren, and over 35 great-grandchildren) keeps a house for the town’s bachelors and widowers and she had a room for us.” Scandia was founded in 1868 by refugees fleeing a severe famine in Sweden. We’re still planning to reach Colorado tomorrow. Mommy drew this image so folks back home would know what it was like to cross the Blue Ridge Mountains.
Monday, Aug 28, 1944
After the Shenandoah ridges and rolling Ohio country, we’re here at Jacksonville, Indiana motel in the midst of flat farmland as far as the eye can see. We rarely get news on the radio but the motel manager let us borrow his newspaper. It’s only four pages and little news about the war. This front-page editorial cartoon is very clear about the upcoming presidential election. Mommy is doing laundry the way she does every night when we travel. She drapes the wet clothes on the bedposts to dry for the next day’s travel. Tomorrow – back to Illinois, maybe even my birthplace in Carbondale!
Sunday, Aug 27, 1944
There are two ways to look at this war. The hopeful one is, as these girls speculate, that it’s almost over. But the other one – and far more scary – is that Germany is pretending to withdraw and lulling us to sleep so it can roar back twice as strong. Whatever the outcome, Daddy has his orders so we’re on our way to Denver. We’re staying tonight in a tourist home in Eaton, Ohio run by four spinster ladies by the name of Schwartztrau. Mommy says they don’t seem to have ever seen a baby and stared at me a lot.
Saturday, Aug 26, 1944
Here we are in Elkins, West Virginia at the Hotel Tygart after visiting Luray Caverns. The hotel is a nice place, built in 1907, and it’s right on The Seneca Trail. Daddy says the Trail was originally a footpath on the ridges of the Allegheny Mountains that Indian tribes used to travel. King George III used it as a boundary in the Proclamation of 1763 saying no settlers were to move west of this line. The king wanted to protect the Indians’ land but explorers and pioneers moved west anyway. In 1809, Thomas Jefferson authorized the construction of the Cumberland, or National, Road. This was the first major improved highway built by the US government, connected the Potomac and Ohio Rivers and further opened the settling of the West.
Friday, Aug 25, 1944
The car was packed and we were ready by 11 AM for the first leg of our trip back to Denver. But first came Daddy’s graduation. Cousin Ruth came with us to the ceremony and gave us one of husband’s fruit cakes. Mommy says it will be heavenly to munch on during the long drive. After the ceremony, we drove her back to her base and headed West. Daddy planned the trip so we can visit Luray Caverns and spend our first night in West Virginia. Mommy wrote that the Caverns were “quite a thrill. They have a system of lights rigged up and the guard turned them off for a minute to let us know what complete darkness is like. Now I know what it means not to be able to see your hand in front of your face.” The news from Europe just keeps getting better and better. The bells are ringing in Paris at last and DeGaulle is waiting to enter. Our troops have now taken Honfleur and Cannes.
Light the Sabbath candles.
Thursday, Aug 24, 1944
What a day! Paris is free for the first time since 1940!! The French 2nd Armored Division and the U.S. 4th Infantry Division raced through German lines. Mommy thinks the war might be over before we even reach Denver. Still, we have to be prepared. She drove me to the auto mechanic to have the car checked out for our trip. Then she wheeled me all the way home in my pram. I love watching people and scenery go by so it was fun for me but lots of work for Mommy.