FROM THE DIARY OF ASHLEIGH BRILLIANT, 1951:
A SUMMER ACROSS AMERICA.
In the summer of 1951, when I was 17, I made a hitch-hiking
journey both ways across
the U.S., including a side-trip into Canada, with my best friend, Brian Richmond, a
school-mate of the same age, who lived near me in Edgware, a suburb of North-West
London. We were both in the 6th Form at Hendon County School.
During World War II, I had lived with my mother and sister
in Toronto (my mother's
home town) for two years and then for five years in Washington D.C. where my father, a
British Civil Servant, held a wartime administrative position. We were a Jewish family,
and in Washington the local synagogue had been a big part of my world. But we had
gone back to England in 1946, when I was 12.
I had discovered hitch-hiking as a means of travel in 1950,
and had already done several
trips that way in Britain and on the Continent. But this return visit to America was still a
big adventure for me, and it remains one of the outstanding episodes of my life.
I had an uncle living in Los Angeles (my mother's brother,
Marsh Adler), and going to
see him, and getting back again in time for school, was, for Brian and me, our primary
aim. The first part of our route was also determined by the fact that I wanted to re-visit
Washington and Toronto. (Unlike me, Brian had no friends or relatives in America, but
he was easy-going, and in general we got along remarkably well.) We were also naturally
interested in seeing whatever great and famous "sights" we could take in along the way.
Harry Truman was still President at the time of this journey,
and the Korean War, which
had begun in 1950, was still being fought. But the Second World War had been over for
six years, and America was booming. In Britain, however, it was still a time of austerity,
and currency restrictions discouraged travel abroad. For two British boys to be traveling
on their own in the U.S. was something of a curiosity. Also in our favor was the fact that
many Americans had been stationed in Britain during the war, and the British had a
generally positive image in American minds.
Our first problem was getting across the Atlantic. The summer
holidays at our school
were only about 7 weeks long, but we were both good students, and got permission from
the Headmaster to leave 2 weeks early. In those days, passenger ship was still the usual
method of ocean crossing. But we were able to buy tickets for a cut-rate charter flight
intended for university students. Those flights to and from New York operated out of
Prestwick on the west coast of Scotland, which thus became our first destination. We
decided to go by long-distance bus ("coach") to the Scottish border, and hitch-hike from
there to Prestwick.
I had already been keeping a daily diary since the age of 10,
and I recorded this journey
very conscientiously. I was also kept busy writing most of the lengthy weekly reports
which we had arranged to send back to a local newspaper, the Edgware Post.
In transcribing and editing this diary account in 2010, I have not omitted anything. For
the sake of clarity, I have made some changes in punctuation and paragraphing, and some
spelling corrections, including changing my English spelling of some words like "colour"
to their American form. All editorial notes and comments are in italics, enclosed by
Tuesday, June 26, 1951
Once more in my life it has been the day before the day and, as usual, it was not very eventful. I was up early & finished packing. The weather was bad. I went to Brian's and helped him packing. My rucksack is very full & heavy.
I received telegram from the Bermans & a £2 money order from Leonard & Sylvia. I secretly ordered at a florist's in Edgware 6s worth of flowers (the cheapest rate) to be sent to Noama Berman on July 7th, the day before her wedding.
Brian came here this afternoon for a while. We watched some TV. My hay fever condition is now much improved. Yesterday's medicines [prescribed the day before by Dr Levy] have helped a lot. I also went round to Brian's again this evening hoping to see Frank, but he had gone out.
All arrangements have now been made. We had a beef-steak pie supper tonight. Poor Mummy does everything for my welfare and I show very little gratitude. She has prepared me much food. I said goodbye to the Heads family.
How do I feel now - sleepy and a little irritable and also rather unpleasantly excited. What the days to come will bring stretches beyond my conceits. My only real regret is that we are not going away for a longer time. 2 months seems so short.
Tomorrow I must be up at 5:15 A.M. to meet Brian at Edgware
station at 6:20. I finished reading today Richard Halliburton's
"Seven League Boots," which I enjoyed.
And now it is goodbye to the present, and hello to a new chapter in my life. May it be a happy and memorable one.
Wednesday, June 27, 1951
It is our first night out for Brian & me, & here we are in a police station, our lodgings for the night a cell. It is the first such experience for Brian, but not by a long way for me. . .
Daddy and Mummy were up to see me off. My rucksack was all ready. Mummy had food for the day prepared for me in a carrier bag. I tried to make the parting ceremony as short as possible, but heard instructions to the last. Goodbye to Happy (still in his bed) and all, and then off.
No buses, so a walk to Edgware station. The rucksack heavy. Brian there. Tube via Charing X to Victoria - walk to the coach station. About an hour to wait. We were very lucky & were given seats together. Departed at 8. Mostly elderly or middle-aged people in coach - not completely full. A long ride all the way to Gretna Green at 8:15 P.M. Several stops & rests - leg stretches - ice cream - eating a lot - jokes & chess with Brian - discussions.
Great North Road to Scotch Corner - then to Penrith, Carlisle, Gretna. Journey seemed to pass quickly - 150 words written for Edgware Post by us. Weather dull & rainy. Talked to conductor (he & the driver changed places occasionally.) At last we reached Gretna, I feeling confused still can't believe we're on our way. Paid short visit to a "marriage house" (not famous Gretna blacksmith's & decided to try to hitch-hike on to Dumphries tonight. We soon managed to get a ride in a British Road Transport lorry (very unusual) - packed tight in cab, Brian on my lap - hot inside - 25 miles to Dumphries. My new underpants felt uncomfortable all day.
Arrived Dumphries 9:30 and when we had got out, the lorry driver actually asked us if we would give him "the price of a meal." This is the very first time that any of my lifts have asked for anything. We couldn't refuse. "How much do you want?" said Brian. "Two bob." We gave a shilling each & I was still surprised that he had asked.
We intended to stay the night in Dumphries at somewhere cheap. Asked directions to nearest police station to get advice - finally reached one near centre of town - all town red stone buildings - festival season - flags out. Policeman at station polite as usual - gave us addresses of YMCA & 2 cheap hotels - told us to come back if full. We walked to them all, but no room anywhere - me feeling tired - returned to P. station. After some discussion & taking of names & addresses, I asked if we could stay at the station. The policeman agreed & showed us to large cell where we are now. Rubber mattresses - ridge along wall bottom to rest mattresses for pillow - dim lights - echo - we cheerful. Time is 10:55. Tomorrow is the biggest of big days.
People seem more willing to help us when told where we are going. Good night.
Thursday, June 28, 1951
As I write, we are in the sky and I am aloft for the first time in my life. It is 12:45 A.M. on the 29th as I begin. We took off at 12:30. I know that I am high in the sky above the ocean, and yet, despite the heavy throbbing of the engines and the uneasy movement of the plane, it is very hard to believe that we are really in the air, for although ----- I was just about to say, although I am at a window, it is completely dark outside, but suddenly the sky became lighter, and I hear that we are catching up with the sun. Now I can clearly see the form of the wing and the engines outside.
Our day began in Dumphries. We were turned up at 7 A.M. - policeman who woke us said he wanted the place tidy for festivities in the town today. We hurriedly washed & dressed & left, looking for somewhere to eat - all places closed - ate some of food left - raisins & strudel for me -
We had to get to Prestwick today - hitched a short lift to a crossroads - then a lift in lovely scenery with a vet in a private car making his rounds - he talked about hunting - told us about countryside - weather good - countryside beautiful - fields - old stone walls - hills. Vet put us down ¾ mi. from Sanquhar - walked in - good breakfast for 3 s. each in a restaurant - I had 2 eggs, tea, bread, milk, butter, marmalade -
I at first wore long trousers, shirt & tie as yesterday, but changed here to shorts & sweater because uncomfortable - much more comfortable - Brian stayed as before. Lorry cab lift across sheep hills barren - again a squeeze - stopped at pipe outlet of cool mountain spring. We & driver drank from a cup. Passed collieries - road not good, but picturesque. Driver kind, took us to 7 miles from Ayr. Very little traffic, but after some wait, surprised to have an army ambulance pick us up. Brian sat at front with 2 soldiers. I went in back with patient - nice man, talked to him. He a Z reservist, had hemorrhoids- not in pain.
The ambulance took us to right outside airport at Prestwick - I excited - perfect weather - all temporary buildings - flags for Festival of Br. Asked directions at KLM desk. (We arrived there 1:30 P.M.) Everything alright. Passports checked at desk. Selves & luggage weighed. I given 2 letters sent express from home - surprised to get them. One letter contained one received for me Wednesday from Uncle Marsh - instructions for New York - other had messages from Mummy, Dad., & Happy (typewritten) written just after I left. Tried to phone home but no-one in.
We walked back into Prestwick. Hungry for lunch - difficulty because late in afternoon. Finally found place. I had soup, ham & potatoes, bread, rhubarb & custard - 4/- each. Walked down to the seaside & beach. Wrote some more for Edg. Post - cooperating. I do most of work & polish up Brian's. He doesn't mind much.
Returned to airport. Plane supposed to leave about 8:45. Phoned home & spoke to Mummy. She said that there was an article about us in the London Star today. She had given it in. We could not get copy, but she would airmail one to Toronto. Returned to waiting-room. Waited and waited. Delay, delay, delay. Talked together. 8:45 passed, 9, 10. We had a free good dinner in dining room - luxury - fish, potatoes, veg., ice-cream. I wrote much of Post article. Spent long time on it.
Finally into another waiting room - names called - Brian after me - Passport checked - into luggage room - then when checked (us very quickly) into another waiting room. Plane outside - a long wait - at last word to board plane - after midnight - I got window seat, but right over wing - Brian next to me. I fear I can write no more. Perhaps more about trip tomorrow - it has been an exciting day, but long wait spoiled it. Goodnight.
Friday June 29th, 1951.
I am back in America & here at the Bogats' place in Brooklyn N.Y. with Brian. It is very hard to believe. Slept very poorly in plane - up early - 4 A.M. landed at Keflavik, Iceland - postcard home - snack in terminus - then off again - Iceland cold & bleak & flat - clouds below most of time, so saw little of sea or land - caught glimpse of coast of Greenland & ice in water - on many hours to Gander Newfoundland. Seats comfortable. Meals served good - lunch at Gander terminus. Finished dispatch to Edgware Post - From Gander over Newfoundland & Nova Scotia to New York.
I was all mixed up with times. Landed at last at Idlewild [sic] - through inspections & customs - met by Archie Bogat & son-in-law Sam Zarcoff - taken to home in Brooklyn & met Pearl Bogat & Gertrude - saw American TV - car-ride to Coney Island - walked around. (I phoned Aunty Gert earlier.) Am about to phone 3000 miles to Uncle Marsh (midnight.)
Saturday, June 30th, 1951
Things are moving so quick and Brian and I have our time so filled that my diary-writing is falling into absolute decay. This I regret with all my heart, but it cannot be helped.
This morning Brian & I slept on fine couch-bed in Bogats'
living-room til 9:15. Slept well. Had fine breakfast by ourselves.
They in their beauty shop [downstairs]. Pearl had
showed us things in kitchen. Egg, toast, jam, huge banana, tea, corn-flakes. Bogats not kosher at all. Then phoned Sam & met him 11:20 at corner. Got on his bus - rode on bus & subway to centre of New York. He talking all time. He is clever & intelligent, but very much a talker - an analytical chemist.
Pearl & Archie very kind, but not clever - Archie seems a bit deaf - repeats things - says little of any value. E.g., talking about flat ground today he said "You oughta go up in the mountains. They got plenty of hills there."
We walked ten miles around Manhattan with Sam today. I was very impressed - more than Brian - noise and traffic and size of buildings. Sam does not seem to think much of New York. He is friendly, but rarely laughs or smiles. Saw U.N. building, Empire State (from bottom), N.Y. Public Library (very impressive - like a museum - unusual system. Sam demonstrated how to obtain a book - tickets & numbers flashed on a screen) - Broadway, Times Square, Rockefeller Centre. Had wonderful lunch (on Sam) in a Stewart's Cafeteria - Chicken - roll - chocolate milk - lovely dessert & vegetables. Looked in Macy's & camera shops. St. Patrick's Cathedral. An interesting & memorable day. I wish I could write all about it, but it is now 12:10 A.M.
I have observed many interesting things - American TV interesting & amusing. N.Y. 7 stations all day - advertising - forests of aerials on roofs - horizontal, not vertical as in England. Air raid precautions - shelter directions & sirens everywhere. Everything commercial on a grand scale - advertising - electrical home aids - variety of food - cars cars cars - everything new - things 50 years old considered very old - cars exchanged for new every year.
This evening we rode with Pearl & Archie in their car to visit their niece in Levittown Long Island - whole town of new small cheap-rent detached houses - very interesting house - like a showplace in an exhibition. Built-in TV (we watched 2 good English films in succession - "Mr. Perrin and Mr. Traill" "Lady Hamilton.") Refrigerator, washing machine. Boy Ralphie or Alphie 5 years old.
Came back late - misty. Pearl & Archie are either dumb or think us dumb, by the way they talk to us. I try to give enough thanks & praise everything. All is like a dream. I am very confused. No one thinks we can possibly get to Calif. Many cars on road tonight. Strange that they are all big American ones. Wonderful highway - neon signs everywhere.
Bill Dubin, parents' friend, phoned. Arranged to meet him at NBC at noon tomorrow. I wish my day were twice as long.
Sunday July 1st, 1951
Another very full day for Brian & me. We slept til 9 A.M. We sleep in a comfortable couch-bed in the Bogats' rooms above their hairdressing shop. Every meal we had today was full and good. The Bogats are not at all Kosher. Pearl seemed surprised that I didn't eat pig-meat. Archie went fishing today & returned with a prize fishing rod that Pearl had won the biggest fish of June. Sometimes Pearl seems sad. At other times she bursts into laughter over practically nothing.
Brian & I, after getting directions from Pearl, went by bus & subway to Radio City & there met Bill Dubin at 12:15. I was going to take sandwiches with, but Pearl said Bill would probably take us to lunch. She was right. Bill, whom I didn't remember, but who remembered me - tall, thin, rather pale (said he was recovering from tonsil operation) took us first into N.B.C. - guest relations desk - we were given 3 free tickets to a TV program. Then he took us to lunch & said he would have to leave us after, but would treat us to a show at Radio City Music Hall.
A wonderful lunch - Brian & I had steak, more than ever before at one meal - steak $1.85 each (maybe) - then we left after coke, pineapple etc. But R.C.M.H. full & we didn't want to wait. Bill offered us $5, but I declined though Brian told me he would have accepted. Brian & I left Bill with many thanks. He very generous - gave us a book of 3 cent stamps. We tried to look up some of our addresses in N.Y. - 2 addresses Uncle Marsh told us to go to - walked & walked. Went to one office "California Creations" 42nd St. Closed. Phoned Harris - made date for 6:30 tomorrow there. Am not even sure who they are. A girl at our school had given Brian an address of a relation on Park Avenue. We walked there - weather very hot - getting familiar with street & subway system of N.Y. But people away - big luxury hotel, a shame.
We found our way to theatre where TV show began at 4:30 - "Pets'
Corner" for children -- very very interesting - children
showed tricks of pets - little clown - a "cheerleader"
for large audience. Nation-wide show - slick - sponsored by Ralston
cereals. Got children to sing a song about Ralston. 3 children
in show given bicycles & winner an Encyclopedia Britannica
(the possession of my ambition.) An enjoyable & interesting
half-hour show on stage like a film studio. Children interviewed,
& though young e.g. 13, asked about dates & boy- &
girl-friends. Sickening. We could see the live show and same on
TV screen at same time.
Got free maps from an Esso station. I very surprised that such good maps given free. At last came home. I am more & more impressed by skyscrapers, but we haven't been up one yet. A big meat supper tonight - sent airmail letter home & postcard to school. Ice cream this evening. Weather very warm.
Monday July 2nd, 1951
Today Brian & I were up about 9:30 A.M. It was our last day in N.Y. We plan to leave tomorrow. Breakfast by ourselves. Pearl & Archie out. (They are having some business with a court case - some woman is suing Pearl for a dryer burn) We went on the subway to Times Square and walked to a big office building at no. 11 W. 42nd St., where we had phoned to the office of "California Creators" to Mrs. Anna Lotz whom Uncle Marsh had told us definitely to see, & made an appointment. Mrs. Lotz greeted us & spoke to us with another woman, Mrs. Blackman, in the office. We talked for a while. The cheerful expressions of everyone change when we say we hope to get to California. Everyone is surprised at the little money that we have. No one believes that we will reach Calif. We hoped that Mrs. Lotz would treat us to dinner & had brought no food, but no offer was forthcoming, although she gave us each a coke. So we had to leave. Everyone we meet who knows Marsh tells us how wonderful he is.
We had lunch in an Automat for 45 cents. Here everything costs a multiple of 5 cents and one puts nickels in slots, & glass doors then open & the food may be taken out. I had sandwich, roll, pie, milk. Then we walked to Empire State Bldng. Impressed by bright light clothes. Weather humid. Wanted to go to top of bldng., but cost $1.20 to go to observation room. Took elevator to 80th floor. Walked up some more, but no windows to look out of. An official saw us & we had to start coming down. But we asked in office if we could look out. Woman let us for a minute - took photo.
Walked around N.Y. for rest of afternoon - bought postcards, stamps, airletters - sent cards - walked a long way - visited "Gilbert Hall of Science." Reached 162 W. 13th at 6:30 after walking & watching & having tea - Harris home - man & wife, & wife's brother came later. Kind to us. Lived in England til about 2 ½ years ago. Gave us meat supper - plenty of food. Friends of Uncle Marsh. Left about 9:30.
Came home. Made signs saying "BRITISH STUDENTS - HITCH-HIKING TO WASHINGTON." Gave Bogats little liquor bottles given to us on plane.
Tuesday, July 3rd 1951.
(Written on morning of July 4th)
Today Brian and I set out hitch-hiking to Washington. We were up early. Pearl had prepared plenty of food for us, including bread (rye, because of a bread-strike), salmon fish-cakes, fruit, hard-boiled eggs, and biscuits [cookies]. It was another hot day. Before we left, Pearl & Archie kept giving us plenty of advice. We wore shorts and sweaters.
We hoped to get to Washington today. The most difficult part was getting out of New York. Archie drove us in his car to the subway station. Then we said goodbye to him and took a train to Fulton St., but someone advised us to go back to Canal St., so we did. There we came out & wanted to find the cheapest way across the river. We were near the Holland Tunnel. After asking directions of many people, we were advised by a big uniformed man who had been in London in World War I to try to hitch a lift through the tunnel. //
New York is very air-raid and atom-bomb conscious & everywhere we went we found books & posters about these subjects, & sirens & "SHELTER" signs//
But as soon as we got to the toll gate of the tunnel, a policeman saw us & asked what we wanted. When we told him he said it was not allowed & advised us to take a bus to Newark, New Jersey. Our rucksacks were very heavy. We found the bus stop, & after some wait during which we talked to a woman there, we got on a 108 bus & took a ride to Newark for 35 cents, at last starting out into America.
Everywhere there was great industry. Unfortunately our bus-ride ended right in the middle of thriving Newark & we had to walk in the heat along the main road of the town until we reached the road for Philadelphia. When we reached it, we prepared some British flags on our rucksacks and held up our signs, but, although there was plenty of traffic, nothing stopped for us, and many seemed purposely to ignore us. After a while, we began to grow despondent, and feared that it was true that all American drivers were against hitch-hikers.
But then our luck changed and a car stopped for us that was already full of people - a man & wife (fairly young) & 3 children. Somehow we squeezed with our big rucksacks into the back seat and were driven some distance along the super-highway. It was a very fine road, with a division down the middle. On either side were shops and factories and advertisements and filling-stations. (Later, further out in the country, driving at about 50 m.p.h. we counted & found there was one filling-station per minute.)
We left these kind people and, having obtained some water in a filling-station, it was not long before we got our 2nd lift, this time with a Colored man who took us to the outskirts of Philadelphia. We talked to him & found he was a member of a well-known quintet of negro singers called the Nightingales. He treated us to a coca-cola on the road. We listened to a soap-opera on his radio. Before we left him, he autographed a photograph of his quintet (who are Decca recording artists) and invited us to contact him in Phil. on our way back.
We had our lunch on the wide grass verge of the road we were on & talked a while with some curious boys who came up to us. Then we easily got our 3rd lift with a Jewish man (I think) who was in England in the army during the war. He was a "native son" of Phil. and drove us to the place where there was the best view of the city. He pointed out the buildings and took us round the luxury homes district. He preferred to call these wonderful homes "shacks." When we left him, it was again not long before a man with a southern accent, whose wife was an English war bride who had become an American citizen only a few weeks before picked us up. He drove us some distance and then we got our best lift of all, in a convertible going to Washington with a young sailor who said he had been in Korea for 8 months and now, after 2 weeks' leave, was returning to his ship at Norfolk, Virginia.
It was a very long ride, and a pleasant one. It started about 5:25 P.M. & finished about 9:05. We passed over the Mason-Dixon Line, and were in the South. We went through many small towns which were cleaner than continental ones & more attractive than English ones, but quite different from both with their white wooden verandahed houses and green lawns and trees. At last we reached Baltimore where there seemed to be a large colored population. I was sorry that we couldn't stop off in Baltimore & visit Mummy's friends the Goldsmiths, but Brian was very anxious to get on, & we did want to be in Washington for the 4th of July (American Independence Day.) So on we drove & finally left Baltimore behind & reached Washington after 9 P.M.
There we got out & said goodbye & made our way to a busy drug store where there were some phone booths. I could hardly believe that I was back in Washington. I was feeling as confused as ever. I looked up Harvey Kaplan's phone number & called him up. He answered & even when I told him who it was, he didn't believe me & kept saying it was Charlie. Finally I convinced him & he said he would come down to us in his car. I gave him the address of the drug store - 1301 Rhode Island Ave., but we had to wait quite a long time before he arrived. Meanwhile we talked to several people, including some boys who were rather rude at first but then became more interested in us. Everyone seemed to think we were Boy Scouts, despite the flags we carried.
At last, Harvey arrived, and I saw him for the first time in 5 ½ years. He came smiling up to us & shook our hands & began to talk, which he did more than anything else. He was very cheerful and friendly. He looked pretty much as I had imagined he would - glasses, long face, deep voice. But he used to be taller than I & is now shorter. We had hoped that he would drive us to his house & put us up there, and so were disappointed when he asked us where we intended to stay & then offered to drive us to a Y.M.C.A. First he drove us to his "Fraternity House." On the way we talked about radio & TV & letters & Washington. I was feeling sad & sentimental, but Harvey & Brian did not respond to my mood.
At the Frat house Harvey introduced us to the boys there and
phoned up several places for us & treated us to cokes. But
all the cheap places were full & we were tired, so he offered
to put us up in his house. We gladly accepted & he drove us
up to Peabody
St. & talked on the way about Fraternities. I saw hardly anything I could remember in the dark. His parents were asleep when we arrived at his house, 312, & he brought us in & invited us to eat whatever we wished in the kitchen while he prepared our room. We had had no supper & so ate mostly our own food & some milk. Harvey at length escorted us upstairs into a room where there were two beds each with 2 mattresses. They were our best beds since we had left home.
Wednesday, July 4th, 1951
(Written morning July 5th) Today was Independence Day in America and it was good to be in Washington the capital on that day. Harvey Kaplan told us yesterday that for the next few days he would be willing to be our companion and guide. In the morning, we came downstairs. Mr. & Mrs. Kaplan were still asleep, as it was a national holiday. Brian & I did not realize that they knew we were here all the time until this evening when Harvey said that he had phoned them before he brought us back.
We had a fine breakfast. Mrs. Kaplan had left a note for us on the kitchen table telling us to help ourselves. Mr. Kaplan came down while we were eating - a big man -- & went out in the garden to sun-bathe. Then, when we had washed up, Harvey escorted us up Peabody St. It was a very strange feeling for me, but my 2 companions were mercilessly unsympathetic and I wished that time that I could have been alone. I had so often thought and dreamt about the time when I would return to Washington and see my old neighborhood again.
When we reached the block where I used to live, some boys on the corner started laughing at Brian's & my short trousers. I remembered everything, but realized that it was all a long time ago.// Before we left the house Harvey had showed me a photograph, the same one as I have at home, of our 6th grad class at Whittier school, and began to tell me what had become of the people he knew. It was very sad for me to hear of the people who had grown like me and gone to university. One girl had even got married already.
But more shocks were to come, for soon we reached no. 517 Peabody St., and I recognized it. The air was hot and humid. I looked all about, then went inside the screen door and saw the steps going up and the mail boxes. Mrs. Mcillwee [sic] is still living there. I went up the stairs & decided to knock on no.3. But then a lady came out of a downstairs apt. & asked what we wanted . She was a small woman with large eyes. I explained that I used to live in that apt. with my family & had just come to see the old place again. She said that she was Mrs. Morrell & lived in no. 3. She said we could look around it if we wanted to. So we went in & I was back in those rooms after 5 ½ years.
Immediately I remembered the scheme of everything and the plan of the apartment. I wandered from room to room, the back porch, my old bedroom (& Myrna's) the bathroom, Mummy & Daddy's bedroom, the living room, the kitchen. But although all the rooms were still there, everything else had changed greatly. Mrs. Morrell explained how she had had everything redecorated only a short time ago. She remembered the name of Brilliant. All the furnishings & decorations were quite different from what I remembered. It was a sad time for me. Mrs. Morrell told us about many of our old neighbors who still lived nearby.
The Menshes were just across the way, and I wanted to go and see them. So we went out the back way and into the Menshes' back way. Mrs. Mensh saw us from a window. I asked "Is this the Mensh residence?" For a moment she stared blankly, then called "Junior!" and rushed downstairs & let us in, into their living room. Mrs. Mensh, at least, had not changed. She looked & sounded exactly as I remembered her. I was sorry that she was not so surprised to see me. It seems that Harvey had seen Nathan not long ago & told him that I was coming. We talked with her for some while. Marsha came in. Here was a shock. Little Marsha was now a girl of about 10. Here face was almost the same as I remembered, but she had pigtails now and talked like a girl of 10. How sad it all was!
There was a photograph of Nathan there, much grown and more adult-looking. But he was not at home. Mrs. Mensh said he was out in his car. I arranged to go & see him tomorrow. It felt so funny to be sitting there talking to Mrs. Mensh. They now have a big wolf dog, which is still called Dutchy. They have a TV & a piano & their own car as well as Nathan's. At last we had to come away because Harvey was taking us downtown with his father.
For the rest of the day, Harvey took us around much of Washington in his car, & spent much time finding parking spaces, parking, & walking to & from the car. It was very hot & felt like a furnace walking from an air-conditioned building into the street. Harvey talked a lot, but was not a good guide because he knew little about the places himself. We visited the Library of Congress and climbed all the way up the Washington Monument. (We came down by lift.) We also spent some time at the beautiful Lincoln and Jefferson memorials. Harvey paid for everything & treated us to a wonderful lunch. I had chicken.
In the evening, we made for the Washington Monument grounds where there was to be a show & fireworks & the President was to speak. It was very crowded, but we managed to get fairly good positions. But there was much trouble with people standing up & spoiling the view of people behind. Truman was a long way off, but at least I can say that I saw him. The show was not much - mostly dancing and singing. But the fireworks were really glorious, with beautiful colors & very loud noises. We didn't get home till after midnight & had supper then.
Thursday, July 5th, 1951
(Written morning July 6th) Another day in Washington, and the weather was cooler today. Breakfast again at the Kaplans' after a good night's sleep, and we did not yet see Harvey's mother who works in some govt. office. Brian & I had so many things that we wanted to do that we wondered how to get them all in today. First of all we went to the residence of Miss Joan Russell at 533 Peabody St., Apt. 2. She was a friend of Myrna's when we lived in Washington, & has been corresponding with her. Before that, Brian took a picture of me in front of 517. We are now ½ way through my 2nd roll of film.
But at 533 only Joan's grandmother was home. She invited us in & we talked for a while & said we would call back this evening. From there we went to 6112 7th St., not far away, where Leon Hornicker lodges. We did not expect to find him at home and he was not, but the lady of the house was not surprised at our coming as he had left a note telling us to phone him at his number. I phoned him at that house & he was glad to hear me. Brian wanted today to be our last day. But Leon wanted to take us out to dinner this evening and we already had a date with the Kaplans for then, so we had to agree to go out with Leon tomorrow evening.
From there we went to the home of the Menshes at 530 Powhattan Place where we had been yesterday. Harvey came there too in his car. Mrs. Mensh drove us & Marsha to their dry-cleaning plant which we found was by a co-incidence in the same group of shops from which we had first phoned Harvey. Harvey came behind in his car. We found the "Brentwood Dry Cleaners" a thriving place & there was Mr. Mensh behind the counter looking little changed from when I had last seen him. When I knew him, he worked in a bank. Now he is the owner of this cleaning place.
We wanted to see my old friend Nathan, with whom I had never corresponded since I left America. He was out then, & we had to wait some time for him. Brian & I walked around some shops , & enjoyed doing so, particularly in a self-service food shop. All American food is very well and cleanly wrapped.
At last Nathan arrived in his own 1940 convertible car. He has not much changed. He is still very small & his face is pretty much the same. But his voice is low & he has a drawl. I felt awkward with him. He talked with Harvey about his car. "Well, what's been happening to you in the last 5 years?" I asked him. "Oh, nothing much," he replied. Soon he had to go back to the cleaners where he was working. He made some half-jokes about lazy English living on American money. I felt I could never become really friendly with him again. He was very different from me. He had a long scar on his left arm from an accident.
Then Harvey drove Brian & me on to the Library of Congress, after he had treated us to our first ice-cream sundaes. He always has difficulty in parking his car. Brian & I hoped to be able to see a copy of the London Star for June 27th which is supposed to have an article about us. But the Star was one of the few English papers which the Current Newspaper Section did not have. Then Harvey drove us to the Earle Bldg again to inquire about broadcasting on WTOP. We had a letter from Lloyd Dennis the Director of Programs. But he was too busy to see us & the secretary said we should phone tomorrow. Then Harvey took us to a drug store & I had a hot dog (which I didn't like much, but was hungry) & orange juice.
Afterwards we met Mrs. Kaplan at last. Harvey had arranged to pick her up & she drove from there. She talked nicely to us & drove us over into Maryland to a restaurant which specializes in fried chicken. There we had a wonderful meal of chicken & potatoes & drinks & afterwards we drove to a "Howard Johnson's" where I had chocolate ice cream & orangeade. Mrs. Kaplan drove us back to Peabody St. & Brian & I went back to the Russells' where we found them all in, the grandmother, Mr. & Mrs. Russell, & Joan who looked very tall, but sounded as I remembered her sounding. The Russells were very nice to us & interested in our trip. After I had given my message of greeting, Mr. Russell showed us on maps the best way to get to Niagara Falls, & we will follow his route.
We left after a while & I wanted to see my old school, Paul Junior High. It was dark then, but we walked along the front. It was closed, & we couldn't get into the playground. As we were walking back, Mr. Russell drove up in his car & called to us. He took us in & said that, as we had mentioned wanting to get on a radio program, he might be able to help. He had friends & influence & had been televised & broadcast himself in connection with the Infantile Paralysis charity drive. Back we went to his apt. & there we sat while he tried to contact a friend on the telephone. At last he got on to him & explained the situation, saying that we were a couple of "cute" boys. And he actually managed to get something arranged. We are to be interviewed on TV in a program beginning at 4 P.M. tomorrow. I am very excited. This is just what we had hoped for. It was very kind of Mr. Russell to do it. They took 10-second photographs of us there.
Friday, July 6th 1951
Another very busy day, and our last in Washington. This morning I spent finishing off our dispatch to the Edgware Post. I do not think it as good as our first one, but we didn't have as much time as last week.
I had a brunch at about 1:00 P.M. Then I went by myself for a walk about the neighborhood, something which for years I have literally dreamed of doing. I knew my way around, and first went to 4th St., intending to give greetings to a girl-friend of Myrna's living there (Miriam Kallis). A coloured maid answered the door & said that the girl was at camp, so I left.
I walked up 5th St., over Quackenbos & Rittenhouse, & things looked half-familiar. I thought the streets & houses looked more beautiful than most residential sections with their trees and lawns. Soon I reached Whittier School, & groups of memories began to straggle back to me. It was hot and sunny. Across Sheridan St. was Coolidge High School, to which I might some day have gone, had we stayed in Washington. I found Whittier's door open & entered & looked around the hall. I heard a man moving in one room & went in & asked him if I could look around. It was a young man eating his lunch. I explained that I used to go to that school & was just over on a visit from England. He said it was against regulations but that I could do it. So I walked down the halls & into the classrooms, saw the kindergarten and the little cloakrooms which were separated from the classrooms by a partition on which were the blackboards.
I walked about the playground & half-remembered everything, i.e. I didn't know what to expect, but when I saw something, I said to myself "Oh yes! Of course that was there." I tried myself in one of the small desks & felt sad as I saw how poorly I fitted. Everything was neat and clean and bare for the summer holiday. I went into the room which had the sign "MRS. DEANE," and realized that it must have been my 6th grade classroom when Mrs. Deane was my teacher. I decided to write a note to Mrs. Deane & did so, saying that I was visiting my old school, that I still remembered her, & giving my name & address in England. I pinned it inside the drawer of the teacher's desk.
Then I left the school, and walked around the back of Calvin Coolidge High School to the swimming pool nearby which I remembered well. It was in full use, & I remembered the small children's pool & large adults' one and the trees & fields nearby. I continued up 5th St. to the library on the corner of 5th & Cedar & found that all familiar too. I went inside the library and saw the adults' & children's sections. I tried out my memory, and went directly to the parts where I remembered the "Popular Science" magazines and the Fairy Tale books were kept. They were still there. It was all as I remembered.
I left the library and went back down 5th to Sheridan. There I took a photo of Whittier and went down Sheridan to Georgia Avenue which I had a strong desire to see again. Of it, I could remember little except the Sheridan Movie & Delicatessen & Kresge's & Safeways & the People's Drug Store. Then I turned down Quackenbos St. because I wanted to see the shul at 909 where I spent so many of my boyhood hours. The Menshes had told me that it was still being used & that the projected new one had not yet been built, although ground was broken long ago. There it was, just as I remembered it, with the same 2 stunted trees in front of it, although these now looked older & decrepit.
I at first was not sure whether to go inside, but decided to do so & found things downstairs pretty much the same, the same benches & ark-curtains. I found a yamulka and then was not decided whether to go upstairs. I was wearing my usual clothes, shorts & sweater, and was carrying my camera. I started up the stairs & reached the old familiar landing. There on my left was the Rabbi's office & on the right the classroom. The office door was open & I saw Rabbi Waldman inside. I walked towards the door. "Hello Rabbi Waldman, I don't know if you remember me -" He looked at me for a short time & said "Mr. Brilliant?" I shook hands with him. He looked almost as I remembered him, but slightly older. The office was the same. He had on a light suit. I explained how I came to be there & he asked me about my family. How were they? Would we ever be coming back to Washington? I did not think so. He showed me a photograph of the graduating class with Nathan Mensh in it on the wall. I didn't recognize any of the other boys.
I looked around the classroom across the hall for a minute. The Rabbi still had his "tov" system with a chart showing good marks for work and attendance. I was glad that the Rabbi did not ask me much about myself. I said that I still had the record he gave me and that I had used it for my bar-mitzvah (though I hadn't really). Then I left, being glad that I had seen the Rabbi.
Many of the sites which used to be fields & woods in our neighborhood are now covered with houses, not very attractive ones, & people have told us that despite the very high prices all the houses were very quickly sold. But there are still some fields, such as the one across Peabody St. from Paul Junior High School. I took a picture of the school & then went across to it & found a door open & again walked around as I did at Whittier. I saw the playground & the large lunch-room and the auditorium & found what I believe was my home room. The same built-in combination lockers were in the hall outside & I tried to find my locker & to work the combination which I thought was 39-17-28 but I was unable to do this.
I left my Alma Mater and walked back down Peabody St. to 312, the Kaplans' house, reaching there about 2:55. Our TV interview on the Art Lamb show, station WTTG, was to be sometime between 4 & 4:30 P.M. & Harvey was to drive us down to the station at 12th & E streets. We were soon ready & in the car, but had gone only a short way when there was a violent banging & clanging in the car. "HO-O-LY COW!" exclaimed Harvey (his favorite expression; he also says "well, that's life" and "it says here.") We got out & saw something trailing in the road underneath the car. A transmission shaft had come off. Brian & I were in a hurry, so Harvey kindly gave us $2 to take a taxi to the station.) It only cost $1. We of course gave back the other $1.) I went into a drugstore to phone for a cab while Brian tried to hail one. He succeeded first & soon we were again on our way. Poor Harvey had to stay behind with the car.
We reached the TV station easily at about 3:30 but before going in I had to phone Leon Hornicker at his office (see yesterday). I had already tried twice before today, but he was not there. This time he was there & invited us to meet him outside the Old State Dept. at 6 P.M. We agreed. Then we went into the TV building. When I had been walking down Peabody St. Mrs. Russell had seen me & told me that Mr. Russell would be unable to come with us. So there was no Harvey & no Mr. Russell. Just Brian & me. We asked the way to the Art Lamb Show. We had heard that Art Lamb was a TV "disk jockey," a man who puts on records & talks in between. We were directed up some stairs & down a short hallway. Opening a door, we found ourselves right in the studio. There in the middle a man (Art Lamb) & woman were sitting at a table in front of the lights & cameras. At our end a small audience were already sitting on chairs. No seats were left & we had to stand.
I was about 3:45. Beside Art Lamb was a turntable for records. We later learned that the main style of the program is putting on single records which Lamb & the woman pretend to sing, i.e. they make the mouth & facial movements while the records sing. In between they do commercials and Art interviews people. The program goes on for a long while. But we had only been standing there a few minutes when Mr. Lamb, a pleasant, good-looking man turned to the audience (with the cameras upon him - everything in this program seemed to be very happy & informal) and asked "Is there anyone here with anything interesting to tell? - Anyone from a foreign country?"
We were not sure whether he was really referring to us at all, because, as I said, we weren't supposed to be on until after 4 P.M. and at that time we weren't even sure if it was the right program. But we answered that we were from England, so he invited us over to the two seats beside him. Over we walked, to be on real TV for the first time in our lives. I have heard that this was a big show & that we were seen by people all over the Eastern seaboard. I felt happy & not nervous as I expected, but my throat felt dry & I kept wanting to wet my lips. I sat in the middle next to Mr. Lamb & Brian sat beside me. We were wearing our sweaters & shorts (clean today).
So began the interview. I cannot possibly here give any full record of it. We both spoke up. We were asked our names & how we were traveling & what we thought of the country (wonderful!) and about music. I did forget to mention that I had lived in Washington before, but I told about the newspaper articles & how we had slept in a jail. We were even asked about girl-friends. Brian replied "We have friends, and some of them are girls, but they're not girl-friends." The audience laughed. I felt happy the whole time, but somehow also felt that I was not doing my best. The interview seemed short. I had with me a map of the U.S. & showed our route on that. But the Russells later said they thought we were on for 10 - 15 minutes. At the end we shook hands with Mr. Lamb & watched the program continue for some time.
Coming out, the switch-board girl asked us to phone the Kaplans. We finally got on to Mrs. Kaplan at her office. Harvey was there too. She had tuned in early & seen part of our interview. Harvey had been too late. The car was alright. It was only a small repair. Then we went on to meet Leon. In the studio, we talked to several people about our trip. In the street, 2 separate people came up to us at different times & said they had seen us on TV & wanted to wish us luck. Fame! We bought some postcards & wrote them & met Leon at 6 P.M. He hadn't changed & said I was just the same only bigger. He was laughy and cheerful as he always was & took us to the Roumanian Inn for dinner. Of course, we talked a lot with him. We talk to so many people that we have to say things over & over many times. Brian thinks I paint too gloomy a picture of England. We talk about food & rationing & our trip & impressions. I show my photographs of my family. Everyone remarks what a big girl Myrna is.
For dinner I had fruit and soup and bread and broccoli & 2 huge lamb chops & Pepsi Cola & chocolate cake & milk. It was a good meal & probably expensive. I felt very full. Then we walked around the shopping section with Leon for a while & came back by bus to Peabody St. & left him. We went to the Russells to thank them & they insisted on taking more photos of us, this time with flash bulbs they had specially (?) bought. Joan was not at home. Mr. Russell offered to drive Brian & me out of town tomorrow & we said we would phone him when we were ready.
I have now used up 2 rolls of film. We saw Mrs. Morrel of my old apt. again & she said Mrs. Curtis in the next bldg. wanted to see us, so paid short call there. Mr. & Mrs. Curtis, grandparents of Preston, who was out. They told us to call on Norwoods across hall whom I hardly remembered at all. Did so - both fat - gave us addresses in Calif. - back to 312 - looked through Harvey's year-books of Coolidge High & saw familiar though changed faces of some people who were in my class at Paul. Photo of Leon. Sent off dispatch to "Post."
Saturday, July 7, 1951
A day of hitch-hiking with a good beginning& an unexpectedly good ending. Brian & I were up early today. Brian is usually up first & wakes me. We made all our preparations for departure - washing & packing. Had a good breakfast. Mrs. Kaplan kindly gave us some food to take with - egg sandwiches, candy, fruit, & biscuits. She even offered to give us handkerchiefs, but we assured her that we had enough. Then we phoned Mr. Russell, who had kindly offered to drive us out of town. He drove to 312 with his wife & daughter Joan. We bade goodbye to the Kaplans. It was impossible to thank them enough. We must have cost them a great deal of money and they were very very kind to us.
We drove with the Russells out to Rockville Maryland. On the way, Mr. Russell told us that he had been in a minstrel choir which sang before King George V during the 1st World War. He even sang us one of their songs which had the joke about "Look at my Jimmy - he's the only one in step." Mr. Russell had already told us in detail & written down the route that we should follow, and we were very greatful for that too. We bade farewell. We bade farewell to the kind Russells & we were on our way again. We owed a lot to them, especially Mr. R.
It is impossible to describe in detail all our travels today, because we had 9 separate lifts and none of them was very long. Our route was first along the 240 highway to Frederick, MD., then along the 15 through Harrisburg heading for Avon. We are very surprised at the great number of men we meet who were in the armed forces in England during the war, or World War I. It seems at least 7 out of 10. But maybe that is because we carry British flags & signs saying we are British students and mostly we are picked up by people who are interested in England.
During the first part of the day it was very hot, but as we came north & it grew later it became cooler. One family we rode with treated us to coca-cola, another to ice cream sodas, another to some chocolate. The most interesting people we rode with were (1) a Danish man wife & child who live at & work at the Danish embassy in Washington (2) a Chicago University young Economics professor and his English wife & their child. They were the ones who bought us the sodas & they gave us their address in Chicago & told us to look them up. They also urged us to write to the "Welcome Travelers" radio program in Chicago, about which we had heard before. We did write them a letter this evening.
We stopped at Gettysburg, the site of the famous Civil War battle & of Lincoln's famous Address. It was very hot, but we looked around the battlefield & saw how well kept it was preserved & how many stone monuments were there.
The only really long wait we had for a lift was at Harrisburg, where we had to wait 1 ½ hours. After Harrisburg we began to come up into the Appalachians along the Susquehanna River. We bought a glass of milk each for 10¢ & bought a loaf of bread - had supper by the side of the road of bread, fruit, raisins, biscuits, water, & hard-boiled eggs (which Pearl had given us.) Our last lift brought us in the dark at about 9:50 to near the town of Milton. It was not as far as we had hoped to go, but we hitched in vain for further lifts. So we walked into the town & as usual asked our way first to the police station. There we explained who we were & our situation & asked where would be the cheapest place to stay. There was a man there whom we later learned was the Mayor. When he heard that we were English, he said he had an idea, & phoned what we later found out was the Milton Hotel, whose proprietor (or wife of the proprietor) is Mrs. Carey who is from England & has been here 11 years. We heard him say to her that we were English & that we wanted a cheap place, but that, although he knew that hers was a very good hotel, he thought she would be glad to see us.
Soon he was directing us to the Milton Hotel, just a little way down the street, which in this small but apparently thriving town seems to us to be the best hotel. It is quite large. Mrs. Cary, a middle-aged woman, was expecting us & rushed out & embraced our English flags. She gave us a fine welcome, and we, of course, were surprised and delighted. She introduced us to several people. The bar & restaurant (?) room we busy. She treated us just like friends. When we had washed, we were shown to a table in the fine modern restaurant (?) part & given sandwiches & tea. Mrs. Cary talked to us about England, seemed very glad to see us & gave us a letter to give to some of her relations in London which we of course promised to do.
Then, when we had eaten, she showed us up to the fine hotel room where we are now, with 2 beds, washroom, shower, desk etc. I don't think we will have to pay for this. But more good news was to follow, for not only did she phone up to us once to say she had breakfast ready for us tomorrow, but phoned again to say that she had arranged for us to have a lift with the President of the Milton Rotary Society almost to Buffalo tomorrow. We could hardly believe our good fortune & laughed with glee. Things are certainly going very well with us.
Sunday, July 8, 1951
We overslept this morning & were not downstairs until 9:15. We were supposed to have breakfast at 9 & leave with Mr. & Mrs. Schreyer at 9:30, but everything worked out alright because they didn't call for us until nearly 10. We had breakfast at a table to ourselves in the dining-room. I had eggs, milk, toast, & orange juice. We didn't see Mrs. Cary again today, but she had asked us to write a letter of thanks to the President of the Milton Rotary Club who, it seems, were treating us to the breakfast. So while waiting we began this letter. Then Mr. Schreyer, a short man who spoke very little the whole time, called for us & with our luggage we went out to his car where his wife was. We climbed in. He too was a member of the Rotary Club. We learned that they were going to Dunkirk, N.Y., on L. Erie, and that they could drop us about 45 miles from Buffalo.
And so most of our day was spent traveling through the Appalachians with the Schreyers. Mrs. Schreyer did almost all the talking. We discussed many things. For most of the time, the scenery was wooded hills. It was a long ride and Mr. Schreyer did not drive as fast as we would have liked him to do. We drove along many winding roads. We stopped once at a small place to eat. Brian & I assumed that we would be paying for ourselves. There was not much to have. I had a glass of milk, a bowl of Kellogg's Rice Krispies, and a piece of very good lemon meringue pie. But when we had finished, Mr. Schreyer insisted on paying for us. We had told him previously, as we tell most people, of our extremely limited means. Afterwards they treated us to Coca-colas.
Our ride did not finish until about 6 P.M., much later than we had hoped. At one time, we had hoped to reach Toronto today. We got out at Fredonia, and my legs felt very weak after so much sitting. While I was in the "rest-room" of a filling-station (filling-stations very proudly advertise their clean rest-rooms here in large letters) a man & boy offered to give us a lift. Brian hadn't even hitched them. I hurried out, & soon we were off again.// I had written an airmail letter home during the long ride - very difficult to write in a moving car.// We were put down short way from Buffalo. Then we had our supper on the side of the road. I had bread, raisins, a plum, biscuits, water. Having finished, we soon got another lift, with a man who had been in the stamp business & was now working in an airplane factory. He was very friendly & answered our questions about the places we passed through. He lived in & was going to Niagara Falls, just where we wanted to go. He also told us he was a 7th Day Adventist.
He drove us through Buffalo, past great manufacturing places & into Niagara past huge chemical plants. Everywhere there was industry. He put us down near the falls. We walked towards them & saw them, a very beautiful sight, the white falls, the brown rocks, the grey waters, and the mist rising up. We had little difficulty in crossing the bridge into Canada, produced our passports & answered a few questions asked by a friendly customs official. Now we were in Canada. We walked around to get the best view of the falls & saw the battery of white & colored lights playing on them. At first we started for the Queen Elizabeth Highway, but then realized that it was too late to go on to Toronto., so tried to find our way to a police station. Had much difficulty in finding one but were helped by several people, including boy who gave us tickets for bus to town hall where p. station was. At last found station, but P. man not very helpful at first. Knew of no better place than park bench or P. cell. He let us inspect cells & we decided we didn't like them. Then another P. man came in & he made phone calls & then said we could stay at his mother's place. At first thought it was a private house, but he drove us to mother's tourist home. Here one large bed, good bathroom & room. Toronto tomorrow, we hope.
Monday, July 9, 1951
At our lodgings in Niagara Falls we slept until about 9: A.M. & then took some time making our usual preparations. The woman there spoke to us for some time & charged us $3 ($1.50 each) for the room for the night. We had hoped that, knowing our circumstances, she might give us a reduced rate. She told us where to go to get some breakfast. We were too hungry to walk far, & had breakfast in a restaurant where it cost us 95¢ each. I had eggs, toast, cereal, milk & jam.
Our goal for today was Toronto, only about 80 miles away, and we made it in one lift which we didn't even have to hitch. Our route lay along the Queen Elizabeth Highway, and we had just begun to walk along it when a car stopped & asked if this was the Q.E.H. We said it was & the car drove on. But it stopped a little way further on, and backed up to us & asked if we wanted a lift. We took the lift, our 18th , and it took us right along that fine highway to Toronto. The occupants were a man & woman & during the ride we found out quite a lot about them. Their name was Nemic. The man was a professional photographer, & the woman, named Louise, was a school-teacher (she taught several subjects to 6th grades). They lived in New Jersey, but Mr. Nemic works in N.Y. He is of Czech ancestry. Mrs. Nemic came from Virginia. She told us that in the South there is still much anti-North feeling given rise to by the Civil War.
They were touring, & seemed interested in all the places we passed through. They said they had paid $10 for a guide for 3 ½ hours in Niagara Falls & didn't think that was bad. Our ride with them was interesting. We visited with them the locks on the Welland Canal by-passing Niagara Falls & saw a petrol ship pass through sets of locks. We reached Toronto at about 1 or 2 P.M. and I was excited at the thought of surprising all my relatives here. Our lift took us right into Toronto to the Town Hall, & there, before we said goodbye, Mr. Nemic took photographs of Brian & me.
We made for Aunty Gert & Uncle Amy's store. I remembered alright where it was. We had had no communication with Toronto since the night we landed, when I phoned Aunty Gert. We found Atlas Radio, & saw Uncle Amy behind the counter talking with a customer. He must have recognized us, but went right on with his business. We walked into the store & found Aunty Gert in the back. She was a little surprised. She & Uncle Amy have gone greyer, but otherwise seem much the same as I remember them. We went round after a while to see Uncle Saul in his dingy little shop (2nd hand) just a few doors down. I waved to him through the window & he waved pleasantly back, then suddenly realizing in surprise who I was, covered his face with his hand. He seemed rather changed - not as fat around the face as I remembered him & more lined.
We had lunch in the back of the radio store. Everything was pretty much the same, even the pictures on the walls in back, but this time I recognized one of them as being of Edinburgh Castle, which I have visited. Lunch was of fruit, eggs, peas, bread, milk, etc. Gert & Amy do not appear to be kosher. I spoke to Grandma on the phone & she said how anxious she was to see us. Gert & Amy & Saul introduced us to several people, & little Aunt Rosie came around & took us back to their shop to see Uncle Joe. They gave me, under protest (from me) a tiny camera which looks almost like a toy. I think they wanted to give Brian something too but could find nothing to give him. Aunty Gert later gave me a new over-sweater & says she will mail it home.
Uncle Amy drove us first to Uncle Saul's house. Auntie Billie & the two children, Howard & Hughie, are on vacation in California now, & we are sleeping here at 21 Rusholme Rd. Mrs. Shub, Billie's mother, is also here, as well as Uncle Saul. We deposited our rucksacks & then Uncle Amy drove us to 1A Havelock St. where he & Aunty Gert now live with Grandma & Grandpa. I recognized the smell inside the apartments. I had heard much about how Grandpa's mind had fallen away & was not surprised to find that he didn't recognize me. Grandma said he had got lost earlier in the day. But, although he just tottered around, he seemed cheerful & chuckled a lot & did not look or sound much different from how I remembered him. But Grandma seemed greatly changed. I remembered her as being large and stout and grey, but now she is small and thin & her hair is white. She was very glad to see me, & we told all about our trip. Brian was not anxious to talk & I did most of the talking.
Grandma gave us lots of food. There was some mail there for me - some from Mummy telling how anxious she was to hear from me. This made me feel regretful that I had not written more frequently. There was the clipping from the "Star Man's Diary" of the London Star newspaper which told about our trip & had enlarged photographs of our heads from the "Edgware Post" photograph. Also we received something I was very glad of. In N.Y. we learned of a free service that Esso Gasoline has of supplying maps & directions of how to go anywhere in the U.S. by car. So I sent one of the free-postage postcards to them asking for the most direct route from Toronto to Los Angeles & giving Grandma's address. They sent several maps & pamphlets in a folder, & our route was specially marked upon them. This is a very good thing, and I now have a heightened respect for the Esso company.
In the evening, Aunty Gert took Brian & me to a movie "Take
Care of My Little Girl" about sororities in colleges, and
there was a beauty contest in the cinema. Afterwards she &
Uncle Amy took us out to eat at Murray's. "The Browning Version"
is still playing here in Toronto. It has had a long run.
Tuesday, July 10 1951
We slept late in Uncle Saul's front room this morning, til about 10 A.M., and were not ready til about noon. We went up to Grandma's after Mrs. Shub had given us a nice "breakfast." There we talked for a while & I took down the addresses from a phone book of newspapers and radio stations which we wanted to visit in the hopes of profiting in some way. Perhaps we might make some money from an interview; perhaps we might get on a prize quiz program. Perhaps we might get some lifts from people who heard us or read about us. We first obtained a map of Toronto from a gas station, and then made for station CFRB, which we later learned is the largest independent radio station in the British Commonwealth.
We took a street-car along Bloor Street to the station at no. 37. There at the switchboard we asked to see the station manager, but were told he was out. We explained who we were & were told we might be able to get on a show called "Midnight Merry-go-Round" - a late-night disc jockey program of Barry Wood's. Mr. would was not there then, but in the meantime if we cared to wait we could be shown the record library. We were introduced to a man & a woman named Elinor who worked in the record library. We spoke to them for some time about the usual subjects - our trip & intentions, & showed them our newspaper clippings. Then the man took us to a room where tape recorders were in use & we talked with the woman there for some time. We saw the tape-record of the "soap opera" "Our Gal Sunday" being actually broadcast & saw the rather bored looking announcer reading some commercials. It was all very interesting, & we met many people. We learned that Bernard Braden & Barbara Kelly, now well-known broadcasters in England, used to work on that station.
Another man took us to the recording room where records of broadcasts were made by huge machines, on large discs. We said we would like to hear our own voices, & the man very kindly took us to a special studio where there were two microphones. We sat at these by ourselves inside, & he sat outside at the controls & told us when to begin. Our "broadcast" was spontaneous, in the form of an interview, with Brian asking the questions & me answering. We did it seriously although we were smiling the whole time. Brian asked me, as if he were an interviewer & I the spokesman for both of us about our trip & hitch-hiking & our impressions of the country. It took quite a long time. When we had finished, we both started laughing. Then our guide played the record back to us & we were each very surprised at the sound of our own voices, but recognized the sound of each other's - i.e. I thought Brian's voice sounded alright, but he thought it very strange, & the same with me. It sounded like quite a different person. It was much higher than I had expected. The whole thing was a lot of fun & the man seemed to enjoy it too & thought that we did it very well. I had done most of the talking, but thought that Brian's voice sounded much better than mine on the record.
After that, he showed us round some more of the rooms including the audience room, the teletype room, and a place where there was a small FM transmitter and 3 portable inter-communication sets through which we were able to talk to each other. I would like to have one of those (or 2, preferably). Mr. Wood did not show up, so we left CFRB, but were invited to come in any evening to be interviewed on his program. Maybe we will.
From there we went by street-car to Bay & Melinda Sts. - the offices of the Toronto Daily Telegram - a large place. We asked to see the editor, but didn't get to, but after we explained what we wanted, a reporter was sent out to interview us. I showed him our 3 clippings & the letter from our Edgware editor. He was interested in the fact that I had lived in Toronto. When he had finished, he sent out a young photographer to photograph us. He took us down onto the road & took 2 pictures of us in a hitch-hiking position by the side of the busy road. We went back into the building & I asked our reporter if he could get copies of our photograph sent back to the Edgware Post. He said that they would be sent there. Tomorrow's Telegram will probably carry an article about us, but I'm not sure.
Leaving the Telegram building, we spent much time on 2 wild goose chases. Walking to station KCEY on University Avenue, we found that there was no one there who we could speak to. Another station we went to was moving somewhere else. I wanted to go to other newspapers, but Brian didn't like the idea. We went to Simpson's, the big department store, for a short while & I bought 3 postcards for 1¢ each. Then we went on to Gert & Amy's. There Gert gave us tea & said that Saul was going to take us out to supper & a show. Aunty Gert gave me $3. Uncle Saul took us to a restaurant where I had sirloin of beef. After the big meal, I felt very full indeed. Then he took us to one of the movies on Queen St. where we saw "My True Story" & a stage show. 3 times the lights failed & we were informed that this was because there was an explosion in the subway being built in the city.
Tomorrow I am going to try to get my filling filled.
Wednesday, July 11, 1951
This morning I had an alarm clock to get me up early so that I could go to the Western Hospital on Bathurst to get my filling filled. Mrs. Shub gave me my breakfast. Brian stayed in bed. I went by streetcar & easily found the hospital. But I was told that the dental section is closed. I asked where else I could go & was advised to go to the Dental College at College & Huron Sts. I walked there, but saw a notice saying that the clinic was closed until September. So I had to come away & went to Grandma's. There I phoned Uncle & he told me to make an appointment with his own dentist, Dr. Kates. He said he would pay for it. I eventually made an appointment with Dr. Kates for 1 P.M.
Brian & I have decided to leave Toronto tomorrow. We brought some dirty clothes up to Grandma's & Aunty Gert says she will have them cleaned. I'm afraid that, although Aunty Gert has been kind to us & taken us out to meals & a show, I do not altogether like her. She herself seems to dislike so many people & to have grudges & feuds. She seems unhappy & regards Uncle Amy more as a wonderful caretaker and something like her little boy than as a husband. She certainly looks considerably older than when I saw her last. Uncle Amy looks & sounds the same except that he is greyer & has less hair.
Grandma bought Brian & me ice-cream & gave us a fish lunch. Then we bought a copy of the "Daily Telegram" & found a small article & photograph at the bottom of one page. This evening we mailed copies home. We then went on to the Dentist's. I didn't like him. He did not look clean & efficient, said I had 2 cavities & it was a "big job." He did a bit of drilling & was about to inject me with cocaine [sic] when I asked him if he couldn't just fill up the hole. This seemed to change his mind & he put in a temporary filling.
Then we went to Atlas Radio & Saul's. It began to rain heavily. We looked into the City Hall & visited Eaton's & Simpson's. Brian was against going to any more newspapers, but I got him to come to the "Evening Star." The editor, though, was not interested because he had seen our article in the Telegram. He suggested we go to the "Globe & Mail." I went there by myself, but that editor was not interested either.
Mummy had asked us to look up her friend Bill Engle, who owns a lamp company on Wellington St. We found the place after some difficulty & spoke to Bill for a while. He showed us round his showroom.
This evening Aunty Gert took us out to dinner (I had chicken) & we afterwards wrote some of this week's "Post" dispatch. Then Gert & Amy drove us to station CFRB (see yesterday) where we hoped to be interviewed. But the switchboard girl said that Barry Wood had no time & so we just had to come away. Aunty Gert was disappointed because she had told several people to listen in. Then we had a snack & came home. Brian got his $50 from Uncle Saul.
Thursday, July 12, 1951
(Written morning July 13th) Today we left Toronto & made for Ottawa. Brian had a hard time getting me up. I was very tired, & he had to push & pull & shake & tickle me a long time, although I was awake. We had breakfast there again & packed all our things. Last night we made a new "British Students" sign. We went to Grandma's. She had packed a lot of food for us - a large bag of sandwiches & another of fruit. We said goodbye & departed. We will be returning to Toronto on our way to Chicago.
We went by street-car down to Queen St. & there said goodbye to Uncle Saul. He put us on another car which went a long way. By paying an extra 5¢ on the street-car, we got a transfer for a bus which took us to the city limits. It was raining when we got out. We hitched for some time in vain under a tree. Then a young American couple named Leonard picked us up, and they took us a good distance. Mr. Leonard dealt in graphite. We discussed the usual things. When we got to Oshawa, they very kindly treated us to lunch in a restaurant. I had liver, apple pie, ice cream. After that we discussed private enterprise, Brian & I taking the Socialist side. It was still raining when they let us off further on. The road was muddy & we couldn't stand out in the rain. So we had to stand on the small porch of a nearby house, where hardly any car saw us. There we must have waited over an hour. But at last a small lift started us on our way again. (We had 6 lifts today, bringing our total to 24).
After that, we never had to wait very long & proceeded pretty steadily. We had our sandwich supper by the roadside. Then we had a long lift with a young man & his pregnant French-Canadian wife. They had left Montreal for Toronto at 12:30 A.M. this morning & were now going back to Montreal tonight. The man had been driving all the time. Through tiredness, I suppose, he suddenly became irritable & while we were talking to him called us "cocky" & said that if we were cocky again he would turn us out of the car. But he didn't, & we kept quiet after that, although we had done nothing at all wrong. When we stopped for a while at Brockville, his wife came up to us & apologized for him, saying he was tired. He had been to Toronto on business. In that car we drove along past many small islands which we could see in the lake, Part of the Thousand Islands
We got out where we saw a large illuminated sign saying "TO OTTAWA - 60 miles." We were at first worried, because it was now dark & there was little traffic, but we were lucky & got a lift with a couple returning to their home in Ottawa after a day out. The woman (I think their name was MacWaterman) talked to us most of the time & she had interesting things to tell us about Ottawa. They stopped half-way & treated us to drinks. I had a cup of tea. They knew Goulbourn St., where Uncle Neddy lives & when we got to their house the woman said goodbye to us but the man drove us right to Uncle Neddy's address, 148. I was very reluctant to knock on the door of apt. 2, for it was after midnight, & I hated to disturb everyone. But now that we were there, we felt it the wisest thing to do. I rang the bell & Uncle Neddy came. He looked fuller in face & figure. "You sure picked a fine time to come" he said, but soon we were seated in the living room. Aunty Dodie greeted us & their neighbors across the hall came in. They gave us tea & toast & we talked for a while & it was after 1 o'clock when we went across the hall where their neighbors are letting us stay in 2 spare rooms. We had comfortable beds. I saw little Mark in bed.
Friday, July 13th, 1951
A day in Ottawa. Brian & I in different rooms found our beds comfortable. I slept until about 9:55. Then we took all our things over across the hall to Ned & Dodie's place. Uncle Neddy was working, but would be getting the afternoon off. We had breakfast & each had baths. Then we had to get our dispatch to the Edgware Post finished & sent off. I did all the work, but I wanted to do it. I would really prefer to do it all, if only I had the time, because I don't think writing is one of Brian's major talents. At last I got it finished & then we had to rush off to meet Uncle Neddy near the store where he works, A.J. Frieman, the largest store (I think) in Ottawa. We went by bus & had no difficulty.
Uncle Neddy is just beginning to go grey. He does not seem as happy or as full of fun & jokes as I remember him. He had arranged for us to be on a radio broadcast & took us first to station CKOY, a station which was once a large hours. He has a friend there. (He seems to have friends everywhere. Just walking along the street he greeted many people whom he knew, some even in cars.) At the station, we were very surprised that the people there had actually been looking for us lately. I was shown a cutting taken from a teletype machine pinned on a notice board. This is what it said:
"Toronto (BUP) A teen-age British youngster is back in Toronto for his second visit. The last time he was in the Ontario capital he was a five year old war guest. John Brilliant of Edgware, Middlesex, said today 'It seems a bit different this time.' He flew to Canada with a friend and plans to visit Ottawa, Windsor, Ontario, and Montreal. Brilliant said 'I can still remember quite a bit about Canada, and what I remember is how kind people were to us. That certainly hasn't changed.'"
I was, of course, very pleased and surprised to see this. It had evidently arisen from our interview with the Toronto Daily Telegram. The word "Ottawa" had been circled. A man at the radio station said that in trying to trace us he had phoned up the mayor's office and the tourist information offices. They took us into a studio and there was one man there named, I think, Jack Alexander, who, it seemed, was to direct our broadcast. We were to record it on a tape recorder and it would be broadcast tomorrow evening in a program called "Radio Newsreel." We were rather surprised when they said we could have only 2 or 3 minutes. There were about 3 men in the studio with us & Uncle Neddy. They were very friendly & we talked with them for some time.
Then Mr. Alexander told us the sort of thing he wanted - and impromptu conversation between us about our trip & experiences. First, we would have a trial recording. We made a few notes on paper and then made our first recording. This was not as novel an experience for us as it might have been, because we had done the same sort of thing at CFRB on July 10th. We talked to each other about our trip & the kindness of people, gave names & addresses. I felt somehow that Brian was better at it than I was. We did it fairly easily the first time. Then that was played back, and again I had the nasty experience of hearing my own voice. It sounded like quite a different person, although my voice as I hear it is I think not very good, this was even worse. I stumbled over some words. Mr. Alexander seemed fairly pleased. He made a few comments & we tried again. But it was not so much fun the 2nd time & we weren't satisfied with the result when we heard it. For a last time we tried, and, although we still didn't like it, the men seemed to think that it was alright. At the end of the talk, I said that we would be heading for Toronto on Monday & asked anyone who would be going that way to phone us up & gave our phone number.
We left there & Uncle Neddy took us next to the British Information Bureau. There, I don't know exactly how, we got to see Mr. Gordon Huson, Information Adviser to the High Commissioner for the United Kingdom. Uncle Neddy came with us into his office. He seemed interested & we told him all about our trip & showed him our press cuttings. We asked if he could give us any references to people along our route to California, & he gave us people in Detroit, Denver, Los Angeles & San Francisco & Chicago. He was very nice to us, although I felt that it might be just part of his job to receive people like that.
Then Uncle Neddy took us to a restaurant & I had a peanut butter sandwich (Neddy keeps on joking about this) apple pie & milk. From there he took us to the office of the Ottawa Citizen newspaper. His friend there was not in, but we were interviewed at length by a reporter, and then a photographer was sent to us & he took us to near the Parliament buildings & took several pictures, some with Uncle Neddy. We asked for prints of these to be sent to the Edgware Post. Uncle Neddy took us into the Parliament buildings which seemed fairly new & we saw the 2 chambers & a large model of the city. Then we came home for a steak supper.
Baby Mark is very active & seems most of the time to be remarkably cheerful. He has a lovely smile. Dodie is more wrinkled about the face. The supper was good. After that Dodie's sister & brother-in-law & their baby Ivan came around in their car & we all went out for a drive. Ottawa seems to me a clean, rather quiet, city, but with no big attractions. It is just across the river from Quebec province, but I haven't heard anyone speaking French yet. On our ride, we went to the Government House, home of the Governor-General. He was away. We couldn't go inside the large mansion which was set in beautiful wooded lawns, but we signed a visitors' book & looked in the gardens, where I took a photo of everyone else.
We also saw a saw-mill & stopped at a restaurant where I had a sundae & Coke. At last home, where we met Dodie's mother Mrs. Torontow, and Morrie who is Ned's neighbor & who visited us in England about 1949.
Saturday, July 14th, 1951
(Written morning July 15th) Today Brian & I slept fairly late, had a brunch, & went out to see the City on our own. Aunty Dodie gave us all the car & bus fares we would need. She has also given me $5. Went first by bus to A.J. Freiman's , the large department store where Uncle Neddy works as assistant manager in the men's furnishings department. The weather was fine & hot. We said hello to Uncle Neddy & then went on to the green-roofed Parliament buildings. We wished to ascend the 250 ft. Peace Tower & went up by elevator. From the top there was a good view of the whole city & across the river. There seemed to be many trees.
We had with us a guide-book & from there walked first to the Carnegie Library, where we stayed a while. Then we went on to the museum & art gallery. We saw nothing that really impressed us. We walked back alongside the canal, bought some postcards & wrote them on the steps of the war memorial. We went into a tourist bureau & were given some free literature about the city.
We met Uncle Neddy at 6:15 & came home with him. The Ottawa Adlers are not Kosher either, for we had ham for supper. Downtown we bought copies of the "Evening Citizen" & found, as we had expected, a photograph of us with Uncle Neddy & an article about us, fairly accurate. It was on page 2. This is the 5th newspaper article which, to my knowledge, has been written about us & our trip.
At 7:30 this evening we sat in the living-room to hear our own recorded voices in the CKOY weekly half-hour program, "Radio Newsreel." Each item lasted only a few minutes & we were about the 4th. The announcer introduced our conversation, the 3rd recording that we made yesterday with a little bit cut out. It was a pleasant experience, but we could have done much better with more time for preparation & speaking. At the end of the conversation I gave my request for anyone wishing to give us a lift to Toronto to phone us here, & then the announcer repeated my request and urged people to help us, saying among other things that we were "two charming boys." On the same program were the Mayor of Ottawa and Leo Derocher, a baseball star. It was called "The sound-track of history."
We waited for the phone to ring, and it soon did. The first call was from a woman who said she was English & her husband Scottish. They were not going to Toronto, but would like us to visit them here where they live in Aylmer. She gave address & tel. No. & we said we would try. A few minutes later there was a call from a man going tomorrow to Toronto. We regretted we could only go on Monday, as we are going to Ricky's camp tomorrow. Another call came while we were out. The baby-sitter took the message; but again the man was leaving tomorrow. Those were all the messages we received.
Later many of Ned & Dodie's friends kept coming into the apt. It is really surprising how many people here they seem to know. They took us in a car to a movie "The Guy Who Came Back" - pretty poor. Then they took us to a bowling alley because we wanted to see what American bowling was like. It was very interesting, but I made the lowest score. However there does not appear to be a great deal in the game. I'd hate to be a pin-boy. After that we went to a restaurant. It was 12:30 A.M., but I had chicken sandwich and hot chocolate. Then we came home.
Sunday, July 15th 1951
That chicken sandwich & hot chocolate after midnight last night was most unwise. For in bed my stomach felt very full & I couldn't sleep all night. I had a slight pain & felt very miserable. During the night I had to pay several visits to the lavatory and, on one of them, I realized that I was going to be sick. Uncle Neddy had warned me jokingly that I might be sick after that meal. Fortunately the bath was right next to the toilet & when I vomited it went right in the bath. I felt awful & had 3 small heaves. I had to clean up the bath, but still did not feel well. I kept having to return to the lavatory. But I think that I had a few hours' sleep in the morning before I got up at about 11. I still felt bad & was able to eat only a very little food. But gradually during the day I recovered, and by this evening I was feeling alright again. It was the first time I can remember being sick like that since 1946 when I vomited at Grandma's house in Bournemouth a few hours after getting off the "Queen Mary." I didn't have any real food until dinner tonight.
This afternoon, with Dodie driving (Ned can't drive) Ned & Dodie took us in a borrowed car to their son, my cousin Rickey's summer camp (a B'nai B'rith camp) 30 miles north of Ottawa in the province of Quebec. On one side of the road were the Gatineau Hills, rising steeply, on the other side flat farm-land. While we were driving, it began to rain & came down very heavily, but later the sun came out & it became very hot. The camp was reached by driving down some muddy "roads" off the main road. It was one of the 2 visiting days in the 6-week season & the camp seemed to be pretty much on the style of Camp Airy to which I went in the summer of 1943. There were bunk-houses & tents & plenty of mosquitoes around.
We soon found Rickey - quite different now, of course, from how I remembered him last 5 years ago. He is now 7 years old, very talkative & independent, chubby & cute. We saw inside his bunk-house. Many visitors were there. Brian & I grew bored after a time. Watched a fathers v. sons baseball game for some time, but it wasn't at all interesting. Then we watched the children swimming in the river. Ned & Dodie have introduced us to many people since we got here. I don't think I have ever done so much hand-shaking before. Many people have said that they saw us in the paper yesterday or heard us on the radio.
We didn't leave the camp until about 6:30. Driving through Aylmer, we went to the address, 76 Aylmer Boulevard, of the people who phoned us yesterday & asked us to visit them. They were just leaving their home to go visiting. They spoke to us in the car, but there wasn't much interesting. They had 3 children. Then Dodie drove us to a restaurant on the highway called Boggs where we went the other night. There we had supper & I was hungry by that time & had fried chicken (Uncle Neddy kept urging me to eat it with my fingers) & cherry pie. Then we went to the home of Dodie's parents, Mr. & Mrs. Torontow, where baby Mark had been left. Dodie left to return the car & Brian & I stayed there for a while talking with Mrs. Torontow (she says she visited us in England a few years ago, but I can't remember it) and the many other people who came in. Dodie seems to have a large family. At last, tired, we came home. Tomorrow we plan to leave for Toronto.
Monday, July 16th, 1951
Today Brian & I traveled back from Ottawa to Toronto. I would not call our stay in Ottawa a memorable one, although my sickness yesterday was about it most memorable feature. But Ned & Dodie treated us well. We were awakened by Uncle Neddy who came in to say goodbye to us. We got up pretty early & had breakfast, & were just about to leave, but it started raining & Brian refused to go in the rain, so we waited a while until it stopped. Meanwhile I made our sign read "Bound for Toronto." At last we said goodbye to Aunt Dodie, who kissed both of us, & left.
We had been given instructions for how to get out of the city, but while we were on the bus we remembered that we had forgotten our signs. As these are very important, we had to get off. I waited with the rucksacks while Brian ran back to get the signs. He returned on the next bus & I got on with the sacks. Before we left I received 2 letters from Grandma in Toronto. One contained a letter for me from Mummy & the other contained a letter which Brian & I hoped would bring good news. We had written to the "Welcome Travellers" radio program in Chicago hoping to get on it, & this was the reply. But it contained only a short note saying that the program is off the air until July 27th. Our hard luck.
We had to get on a street-car & then on another bus before we came to a place where we could begin to hitch-hike. By the end of today we had had our 30th lift. We had five lifts today & didn't begin hitch-hiking til about 11:30. We had a short lift out of Ottawa & then another which took us to Kemptville. Aunt Dodie had given us some sandwiches & fruit & we had them in a small restaurant with some milk that we bought. Then a young man, an assistant manager in a co-op in Brockville who plans to become a teacher of Agriculture, took us down to Brockville. We were traveling back along the road we came up. Soon we had a short lift with 2 boys in a yellow jeep, but when we got out it was raining pretty hard & the only shelter - a poor one - was a tree. We never expected to get to Toronto tonight. But then we had a piece of good luck - a lift which reminded me of my lift with Mr. Hafner last summer. It took us all the way to Toronto - a distance of about 230 miles.
The driver, alone, was born in England, in Finchley. He came to Canada about 15 years ago & married after the war. He told us quite a lot about himself on our long ride, which must have taken over 5 hours. He was about 44 or 45. He had lived & gone to school in Brighton & became a stockbroker & said that at the age of 22 he had made £30,000 & then lost it all in the depression. After that he said he made some more but lost that in 1938. He joined the Canadian army as a volunteer in October 1939 & was in the whole of the war until the end of 1945. He served in Europe & was in D-day - a major. Now he is selling china for an English firm here - not Wedgewood. He has traveled & travels a great deal - to Europe, to the Pacific coast, to the West Indies. At one town he treated us to a snack - I wasn't very hungry & just had pie & Pepsi-cola. Coming into Toronto, he even asked us if we needed any money. He seemed very rich & told us of all the good hotels he stays in.
He drove us right into Toronto & near Amy's shop. We said goodbye & thanks. We went into Amy's & Amy took us to supper at Murray's. Amy gave me $35. Uncle Saul took us with his friend Oscar Levine in Oscar's car to Grandma's. She gave us our washing & some food. We said our last goodbyes to her & Grandpa. I may never see them again. Poor Grandma - poor Grandpa. Now we are sleeping at Saul's. I had a bath.
Tuesday, July 17th 1951
(Written morning 18th) Today Brian & I hitch-hiked from Toronto to Detroit. We had slept in the same bed in Uncle Saul's front room that we stayed in before going to Ottawa. Grandma had to go to the hospital this morning & that is why we had to say goodbye last night. We had breakfast at Saul's & Brian made some sandwiches for us to take with us. Grandma last night kept saying that she was only sorry that she hadn't known we were coming in & hadn't been able to prepare any food for us to take with. Unfortunately, I found at lunch-time that Brian had made mostly cheese sandwiches, which I don't like.
We took a street-car downtown to say goodbye to Saul & Gert & Amy. The weather was fine. We were told that it was very fine & hot yesterday in Toronto, while it poured where we were. Grandma can only talk about her troubles with Grandpa. Poor Grandpa is just like a child. He can talk, but cannot think & has no memory. He makes evasive answers to questions & chuckles childishly as if excusing himself. Oscar Levine said last night that this was due to a hardening of the arteries in the brain.
Brian & I reached Uncle Saul's shop & he gave us directions how to get on the road we wanted - the Queen Elizabeth Highway. But we found Gert & Amy's shop closed & as it was getting late, we had to go without saying goodbye. We took a street-car to Sunnyside & hitch-hiked from there. We proceeded by a series of short lifts -- on one of which I stood in the back of a small open truck, a glorious ride - past Hamilton. We had lunch by the side of the road - we bought some milk in a nearby store. Then after lunch we had a short wait before getting a nice long lift all the way to Sarnia on the border with a woman who came from N. England & her husband. We were roughly following the route given us by the Esso company. The couple treated us to Coca-Colas. It was quite a long ride, but we didn't have much space at the back. We rode right across Ontario & passed through the town of London, Ontario, where the streets are named after London England streets & the small river is called the Thames.
About 6: P.M. we reached Sarnia & there we found there was a long bridge going over to the American side. We did not expect to have much trouble in getting over. At the Canadian end, all we had to do was pay a toll of 10¢ & started to walk across. It seemed a long way over when a single man in a car driving across stopped & asked us if we would like a lift. We gladly accepted and got in with him. He said he was going to Detroit & would take us as far as we wanted to go. But at the American end of the bridge, we ran into trouble. The man, our driver, said he would wait for us. We first showed our passports & were then asked to go to the Immigration department. There a man looked again at our passports & return air tickets & asked questions about where we were going & how we were going to get there & what money we had. We began to get worried. We said we were hitch-hiking, but then the man told us that hitch-hiking was illegal in some parts here. He was not unkind, & we kept assuring him that we had plenty of money & could get more whenever we wanted it. I kept saying that we weren't sure how we would be traveling, but that we could always take a bus or a train. I was afraid for a while that he was going to make us prepay our transportation Detroit to Chicago where I told him I have a friend whom he asked about.
I think we were fortunate that we had been offered the ride on the bridge because at least the immigration men could see that we would be getting to Detroit without hitch-hiking. One of the men spoke to our driver for a while, but I don't know what he said. But at last, somehow or other, they let us go & we got through & came with our driver into the State of Michigan. Since then I have seen several people hitch-hiking on the roads. But for a time I was really worried at that Immigrations office. Our driver turned out to be a very interesting man, the head of the language department at Detroit University, who spoke several languages himself & spoke the best English I have so far heard over here - every word well-pronounced. His name was Dr. Janisse. He drove us to the outskirts of Detroit.
I noticed that almost all the shops and houses along the road were new. When we got off, we walked to a grocery store first, with the idea of getting something to eat. We planned to have supper and then see how much further we could get. I was interested to find that Michigan time is an hour behind Ontario time, as they don't have Summer-time here.// But then we remembered that we had in my little notebook an address in Detroit. This was one of the addresses Brian had obtained. In Edgware, his neighbor across the road is a Mrs. Gibson. Her son Morris had been over here just after the war in the forces & he had received kind hospitality from a family named Wilson. Now we had the Wilsons' address on Monterey Avenue.
We looked up the number in the phone-book. Brian phoned up in the grocery store & talked to Mr. Wilson. He remembered Morris Gibson. He said his wife had died a year & ½ ago. He drove round & picked us up, a man of about 60. We said we had had no supper & he drove us to a restaurant & treated us to a dinner. I had spare ribs. Then he drove us around the heart of the city & we saw the giant Ford works. He said he would like to, but was unable to put us up at his place. So he drove us out from Detroit until at last we found a tourist home where we got a good room for $3, $1.50 each. We said goodbye to Mr. Wilson. He had been very kind to us. He told us all about his "boys" from England & Canada & other countries whom he & his wife had entertained.
Wednesday July 18 1951
(Written morning July 19) Our bed in the tourist home was comfortable & there was a good bathroom where we each had a bath. It took us some time to get ready. At last we left the place, and found ourselves in the town of Ypsilanti, Michigan, named after a Greek hero. We went first into a large self-service grocery to buy some food. This kind of shop is very fine and attractive, and shopping in them is really enjoyable. We bought some bread, some spreads, raisins, and a quart of milk in a carton. Then we went to a bench in a small park and had a brunch, for it was then past noon.
A boy came by and spoke to us, as many people do. He went away & returned a while later with a Boy Scout Handbook which he said we should give to the English Scouts when we get back. We said we would. With the added weight of the food, our rucksacks were probably heavier than they had ever been before & I had to take frequent rests. We were heading for Chicago & I expected that we would reach it today. At last we found a good spot to hitch. It was another hot day.
After some wait we got a lift, our 37th. It was with 5 young people, 3 boys & 2 girls going some miles to the Irish Hills. It was a tight squeeze, but we got in. As often, our rucksacks were put in the back. One of the girls was very fat. They treated us to ice creams at one town. Our route was along highway 112, Michigan Ave. When we got out at a place in the Irish Hills, a man & woman in another car immediately offered us a lift, our 38th, and they took us all the way to Chicago. They were kind people, although they acted a bit strangely. For instance they spent much time in towns looking for places where they could buy ice to keep their drinks cool. They treated us to soft drinks & ice cream & at one stop I had a piece of pie. We traveled through Jonesville (romantic name!) and Coldwater and Niles and didn't see or do anything of particular note. The agricultural landscape was uninteresting. I wrote some more of the Edgware Post article.
We were in Chicago by 8:00 P.M. & we said goodbye & went to a drugstore to look up the telephone no. of Mr. Hafner who lives at 1444 Lake Shore Drive. I had sent postcards to him saying we were coming. We found the number & I telephoned. A man answered & he called for André. André came & I spoke to him & told him where we were & he said he would come round in his car. We waited outside as we did on our first night in Washington & last night. Again many boys & other people came & spoke to us. We always attract attention. At last the car arrived, & it was the same car as the one I had that memorable ride in in France last year. Mr. Hafner was there with a man friend who, it seems, lives in the same building as his. This friend has a Southern accent & comes from Alabama.
They drove us along a fine busy road past the lights of Chicago to their place. I felt happy, for it seemed that André was going to give us a good time. He said he would take us to a circus one night. He explained that he works hard during the day & would give us the key to his place & we could come & go whenever we liked. We said we would stay 4 days & leave on Monday. The place they drove us to is, I believe, an old mansion, of which Mr. Hafner & his "room-mate," another young man whom he introduced us to , occupy a part. The living-room is very impressive with wood paneling & a huge-screen TV & radiogram & fine furniture. The room looks right out onto the driveway & lake.
I don't quite understand Mr. Hafner's connection with the 2 young men he has introduced us to, but Dale sleeps in André's "flat" & the other, I think, lives upstairs. The other rooms here are not very impressive - 2 small washrooms with a shower, a small kitchen & a bedroom. The entrance to the place is like the lobby of a small hotel. André & Dale gave us some light summer clothes to wear - trousers & sports shirts (mine was yellow) & we went out to a restaurant to eat, though it was late. I had a steak. Then we came back. I had to sleep with Dale in the large bed.
Thursday July 19, 1951
(written morning, July 20) I slept fairly well with Dale last night, but Brian had a hard time. He told me today that at first he & Mr. Hafner slept together in a bed in the living-room. They were like that for a long time, but the bed was really only a single bed & they were so uncomfortable that eventually Mr. Hafner went to sleep on a couch.
This morning I was awoken about 8:00 A.M. by a radio-alarm clock. Dale & André went out to work leaving Brian & me alone in the apartment. We had breakfast, but there was little here to eat - no eggs or bread & little milk. We had to eat the bread we had brought with us. At last when were all ready, we went out & walked along the "beach" across the road. It is mostly concrete & the water is deep. It was another warm day. André had advised us to go for information about Chicago to the Tribune Tower, the building, we learned, of the Chicago Tribune newspaper. We walked there from the beach. All along Lake Shore Drive are tall apt. houses & fine residences. We passed the "water tower," one of the few structures left after the great fire of Chicago in 18? At the Tribune building, one of the tallest if not the tallest structures in the city, we obtained some literature about Chicago. I know very little about this city. Then, being at the newspaper, we decided to try to get an interview & have some photos taken. (I took a photo of 1444 Lake Shore Drive.)
We asked to see the editor & spoke to a guard explaining our situation. He called for a woman reporter & she interviewed us & then took us to the photographic dept. where a photographer took two pictures of us looking at maps. He took some trouble over these & arranged them carefully. One was against a wall & one with a background of part of the city through a window. We waited there while the photographs were actually developed & printed in a few minutes. We were given 2 copies of one & one of the other & were told that the pictures would be circulated by the Acme news agency, so maybe our editor Mr. Davies will be able to get some copies that way. After that we went up the building by elevator & got to the 24th storey & came out onto a wide sort of balcony about which we walked & had a good view of the whole city.
We came down after a while & had lunch in a cheap restaurant. I had a beef sandwich with gravy & pie for about 67¢. Then we visited the main public library & wer interested in the pictorial section where pictures & illustrations on all different subjects are kept in large filing cabinets. Even more interesting was the old newspaper section where microfilm is used & read on special machines. To try it out, I requested (by filling in a form) the Chicago Tribune for November 1918. The attendant quickly produced some small boxes which contained rolls of film. He took us over to one of the machines & fed the film into the top, switched it on, & a newspaper page appeared on the screen in larger-than-actual size. By turning a handle, the film as wound & any page could be arrived at & read. Another handle controlled the part of the page which appeared on the screen. We played with it for some time, but found that sometimes the lettering could not be brought clear, & was illegible. This, we supposed, was because of poor photography.
From the library we walked down to an art gallery, but the exhibits didn't seem very interesting & I rested & wrote a letter home while Brian walked around. We came back by bus about 5:30 & I wrote some of our "Post" article in neat. I think I will be doing the whole article this week. Mr. Hafner & Dale came home about 6:15. This evening they took us to a concert in the car to Highland Park north of Chicago at a park called Ravinia. There we first had a meal, but there was little good food available. I had 2 hamburgers, ice-cream, & milk. Then we went to hear the concert. It was in the open air, but under a specially constructed roof. There were about 7500 people there. We had to stand most of the time. Dmitri Mitropulous was conducting the Chicago Symphony Orchestra. They played Weber, Rachmaninoff, Debussy. Many upper-class people were there - wealthy.
Left about 11:15 - a snack of pie & milk & then home. The sleeping arrangements this evening were a little better. André & Dale got another bed from somewhere & put it in the living-room. Brian & I slept in the big bed in the bedroom. Dale & André were on the other 2 beds.
Friday, July 20th 1951
(written morning July 21st) Last night André bought a Chicago Tribune for this morning. I looked through it & found a small article & photograph about us on the 12th page of the 2nd section. It gave André's address wrongly as 144 Lake Shore Drive instead of 1444.
On July 7th Brian & I were given a lift in Pennsylvania by a professor of Economics at Chicago University & his English wife who is from Chelmsford Essex, & their little daughter. They invited us to call on them when we got to Chicago. The man's name was Alex J. Morin & his address was 5658 Blackstone Ave., Chicago 37. The phone no was BU 8-5061. We phoned them yesterday morning, but they were not in, so we phoned again today. Brian spoke to Mrs. Morin & she invited us to come over there at 3:30 P.M. She gave instructions on how to get there.
This morning we went across the road to the concrete beach & there sat in the sun in our bathing suits. The water was cold & nobody was in. I finished writing this week's dispatch to the Edgware Post. I was so pressed for time that I couldn't bring it right up to date. We had lunch in a downtown snack-bar of hamburgers, milk, & pie, then went to Randolph St. train station & took a train for 57th St. Most of the seats in the train faced the front. It was all elevated, not under the ground. We had no difficulty in getting off at 57th St. The fare was 16¢. Mr. Morin was there to meet us, and he then took us on a tour of the University buildings. He talked freely and friendlily to us and seemed by his talk to be quite a clever and cultured man. He did not like the architecture of most of the buildings he showed us. They were in all different styles. We saw some modeled on old English buildings & some modern. We visited the museum of the Oriental Institute, saw the Rockefeller chapel in Gothic style. We saw classrooms & lecture-rooms.
Mr. Morin took us to a department where art prints & photographs of art works are kept & catalogued & the woman there explained to us about the collection. We went to the main university library & saw the staggering number of shelves & books. Mr. Morin took us through a scientific building to a place where there was a real atomic pile all covered in concrete. Nearby was a cyclotron. I photographed the pile. Mr. Morin said that the Univ. of Chicago was the birthplace of the atomic bomb & showed us the entrance to the place where secret work is still being carried out. It was a very interesting tour & the first time I had been round a university.
Mr. Morin is now working on agriculture in under-developed areas (I think). From the univ. buildings he took us to his home nearby, a flat in a block of flats. His wife & daughter were there. It was a beautiful apartment & I was very much impressed. There were many books & TV & a wonderful large bathroom with shower-cupboard. The little blonde girl's name was Jennifer. We told them all about our experiences since we had left them at Harrisburg & discussed our future route. Mrs. Morin made us a real English dinner of roast beef & baked potatoes & after that we had ice cream. They drove us back to Mr. Hafner's place & gave us some addresses in Reno & San Francisco.
Mr. Hafner & Dale were in with a friend. They told us the surprising news that someone from the British consulate had called several times to see us & would be calling back again. Then they went out. We waited and then received a phone call, not from the British Consul, but from a man who used to live in Edgware & emigrated here 2 ½ years ago. I spoke with him for some time & took addresses of his friends in Edgware. Then came the call that we were expecting. It was from Tony Gage, the young son (about 19) of the British Chief Consul here. He said he would be coming round for us in a few minutes. I was very confused & didn't understand what was going on. But Tony came with some American friends & we walked with them to a house where some boys & girls were watching TV. Then some of them took us round the city in a car. It seems that this boy saw the article about us in the paper & decided to phone us up & show us the city.
We were taken to "Bughouse Square, something like Hyde Park Corner with the speakers, & to "Skid Row," a district where there were many drunks. All the city was lit up. We drove around for quite a while. Then they took us back to the house we had been at & talked to us about politics & education & roads, cars etc. in England. Tony arranged to phone us tomorrow & walked us home.
Saturday, July 21st, 1951
Brian & I stayed home here until 10:30 this morning when Tony Gage phoned & said he would be coming round. In a few minutes he was here, but it was raining & Brian as usual didn't want to go out in the rain. So we stayed here for a while, but the weather was bad all day & tonight it really poured. We were with Tony for much of the day & I have found out this much about him. He is 18; his father is British Consul-General here. (Mr. Hafner, who knows his father, says that his parents are divorced & his mother lives in England.) His father is on holiday in England now. Tony (his real name is Antony) was in America during the war & went to a boarding-school in Virgina. Then he went back to England & was at school near Aberdeen, Scotland. He lived in Baker St. London. Now his father is out here for 2 yrs. & Tony plans to start on a Liberal Arts course at Chicago University (where we went yesterday) in September. He has been working loading trucks & got $75 a week.
We went walking with him & walked a long way & it was very hot & sticky. We went first to the Chicago Tribune Building & I bought a copy of yesterday's paper for the article about us. We wanted to visit the famous stockyards, but found they are only open Monday to Friday. Brian asked the man in the Tribune information office why the Tribune calls itself "The World's Greatest Newspaper." The man had no satisfactory answer. We walked from there a long way to the British Consulate, but found it closed. Tony wanted to help us. We wanted to get in touch with someone driving to California or on the way. He phoned the English-Speaking Union, but that was also closed. Then he took us to the apartment where he lives, not far from where we are, but not on the shore, in a flat rented from which they will soon be leaving. [sic] Tony was funny in some things, especially his laugh. He seemed to try to laugh at everything we said, a sucking, rather forced laugh. It got irritating after a time.
We met his maid & another man there. We had a fine lunch of meat, potatoes, vegetables, apple juice, raspberries & ice-cream. Then he took us to meet a negro man friend who was a "butler" in a house across the street. Tony adopted a Southern sort of accent to talk to this man & kept saying "Hallelulyah" and "Dee-dee-dee" (whatever that means.) We watched part of a baseball game on a small-screen TV there. I was impressed by the way the camera could close in on & move back from the players with great rapidity.// Then we decided to go swimming, came back to 1444 & put on our bathing suits beneath trousers. Tony borrowed trunks from Mr. Hafner. We went to the narrow concrete strip across the road & found the water not too cold. But it was deep & we couldn't touch bottom anywhere. There were lifeguards around. We swam for a while, then sat in the sun. I have become actually sunburned on my shoulders.
Then Brian & I went back & Mr. Hafner took us out to supper. We have decided to leave tomorrow, Sunday, instead, as we had originally planned, of Monday. There is nothing to keep us in Chicago for another day. Everything is closed on Sundays. For dinner I had steak, potatoes, milk, pie. At 8:30 P.M. some of Tony's friends (he was out at a dance) came for us in 2 cars to take us to a drive-in movie. We each went in a different car. In my car, I was treated for the movie, but Brian's people were short of money & he had to pay for his. It was the first time I had been to a drive-in, though I had heard much about them. This one, outside the city, was brand-new, only opened yesterday. You drive up, pay at the entrance & drive in & park your car. Next to each parking space is a post which contains a detachable loudspeaker on a cord, which is fitted inside the car. One merely sits back & watches through the front window. It would have been very comfortable were it not so hot & humid. The film was "Follow the Sun," about golf. It rained & lightened & thundered for much of the time. The screen was large in front. At last we came back.
Sunday, July 22nd, 1951
(Written morning July 23rd) Brian & I had a fairly good night's sleep, then a breakfast of eggs, ginger ale, & biscuits. Since we were leaving this morning, Mr. Hafner said he would drive us out of Chicago. Antony Gage phoned us & we said goodbye to him. We packed all our things in our rucksacks & I had difficulty in getting all mine in. Then André asked his friend Howard, the other young man who lived upstairs, to come with us & he did. We said goodbye to Dale Blood, who was still in bed. André took us well out of the city on highway 66, the road which we have decided to follow all the way to California.
I get along fairly well with Brian. We get on each other's nerves at times, but it is usually I who am in the wrong.
We had not long to wait before our first lift, with a man & 2 women took us quite a long way, and our next lift in a private car with a man who was a long-distance truck-driver. We talked a lot with him & I also wrote some of next week's "Post" article. But although our driver told us how good his 10-yr. Old Cadillac car was, the engine became over-heated, and he had to stop for it to cool down. We decided after a while to go on & hitch-hike from there. We could see our last driver going back & forth between his car & a small muddy stream with a tin can, getting water for his radiator. Meanwhile, we were approached by a man in a "station wagon" who turned out to be a Catholic priest, a teacher of biology at Quincy College, Quincy, Illinois. He didn't look much like a priest in his open-necked flapping blue shirt, & didn't talk much like one either. He invited us to come with him to Quincy & said we could stay the night there. We studied our maps& at first decided to accept, although we would be going off Highway 66. But while driving down the 66, we reconsidered our course & decided that it would be wisest not to go off the road since it is the main road to California.
We stopped a while at a restaurant & I had a hamburger, milk, & pie. One has to pay a tax on restaurant food in Illinois, 1¢ on everything up to $1, 2¢ on over $1. Then we drove off again & talked with our driver about insects (his favorite subject - he was preparing a paper on the life-cycle of some beetle & liked nothing better, he said, than to go out collecting insects) and poison ivy. We left him where he turned off the road, although he tried hard to persuade us to come with him. Cars were traveling along the highway at great speed, but soon we got our last lift, our 42nd, with a man who was an army officer. We saw many fields of corn (maize) and many storage bins. The sky became very dark as we motored on, but we were going at a good speed. At last, we approached the Mississippi River, whose disastrous floods have of late caused great damage & some loss of life. We saw the flooded fields on each side of the river, & it was difficult to believe that they were not part of the river itself. Because of the floods (?) we had to go on a long detour before reaching the center of St Louis where we were stopping. We crossed a bridge over the Mississippi, & for the first time in my life I was over that river & farther West than I had ever been before.
Our driver let us off in the center of the town & we asked directions to a police station & were directed to the main police headquarters. There the policemen, when they knew that we were from England, asked us the usual questions, & were kind to us. They offered to let us sleep in a cell & showed us the cells, but they had only hard stone benches & we decided against it. Then one man directed two other men to take us in a police car to the Y.M.C.A. They did so, & on the way we spoke to them & heard messages coming in on the police radio. They let us off at the Y.M.C.A. & advised us to check all valuables. They left, but we found there were no vacancies at the "Y." The woman at the desk, however, directed us to the Hotel Milner, whose prices, she said, were lower than those of the Y. So we walked the short distance to the Milner, which is one of a large nation-wide chain of hotels & managed to get a double bed for $1.20 each. We had a meal in a restaurant across the road. I had a chicken sandwich with potatoes & gravy, apple pie & milk -- 77¢.
Monday July 23rd, 1951
[in a thicker writing] I fear that I have lost my pen which I have had for quite a while. It was tied to a piece of string which was safety-pinned to my shorts, but I discovered this afternoon that pen, string, and pin were all gone, so I assume that the pen fell out & the pin gave way. I am using Brian's pen now, but intend to try to buy a new cheap on somewhere. We are now in Springfield Missouri, or rather probably just outside it, for we are staying for the first time in a tourist cabin on the main road, highway 66. As I write it is 10:35 P.M. We tried to get a lift away from here until about 9:15. There are several tourist courts & groups of cabins around here & we tried one where the lowest price was $3 for us both. Then we came here & a sign outside said $2.50 for 2. But we asked what would be the lowest rate. The woman in the office said $2.50. We looked glum & started to come away. She asked us how much we could pay & we said $1 each was our limit. She said she would let us have a cabin for that & brought us here. We later told her we were English & hitch-hiking & she said she had only just bought the cabins today. The price was very reasonable. Here we have a double bed, 2 chairs & a stool, 2 tables, a mirror, lamp, sink & shower, lav. & a water-heater & even a waste-paper basket.
I did not sleep well last night. I have taken to sleeping without a pajama top, but it was very hot & I tossed & turned a lot. We were up about 9 A.M., took some time getting ready, & then had breakfast in the place across the road where we ate last night. I had cereal & milk, 2 eggs, toast, potatoes & orange juice for 77¢. Then we had to get out of the town & onto Highway 66. We asked directions from a 16 yr.-old boy who proved to be very helpful & friendly. He was coming our way & took us on a street-car & then on a bus which brought us almost to the main road. He helped us & even bought us cokes. It was quite a long way & we talked quite a lot with him. He had many ideas about England, some of them wrong, e.g. he seemed to think that 23 is the voting age. (A man we spoke to this evening said he had some "kinfolk" in England. I asked him whereabouts & he said he couldn't rightly say. "There are so many towns ending in 'Shire' that I couldn't say which one it is.")
A woman in a house at the cross-roads gave us at our request some cold water & filled our water-bottles. We were at a junction on the 66 & had to get about 10 miles to another junction before the road lay truly open before us. One man took us that distance. I felt rather sorry for him. He said he had never met English people before & felt sure there were important questions he ought to be asking but couldn't think of. He sold TV sets & since there is only one TV station at present in St. Louis, he said business is bad. Our next lift was with a man & woman in a large car with 3 rows of seats. They took us some miles to where they turned off. The weather was very hot indeed, well over 90° & I could really feel the sun blazing down.
It was not long before we got another lift, of about 190 miles, with 2 men to Springfield. They were very friendly & treated us to snacks. I had hamburger, milk, pie. They also took us to a "fish-farm" - an official government place where trout are bred, & where one of our men knew a man who worked there. We saw pools & streams with many trout swimming around, & also saw the interesting sight of a pool of trout being fed. A man had two large buckets of raw, evil-smelling liver from which he threw trowels-full into the pond. For a few seconds after each throw there would be much splashing of fish scrambling for the meat. We reached the outskirts of Springfield about 7:30 P.M. & said goodbye & each had a 97¢ meal in a restaurant. I had soup, tea, beef sandwich with gravy & potatoes, & pie. Then we hitched some more, but got only one short lift, our 46th, which brought us here. I am about to have a shower.
Tuesday, July 24th, 1951
Today we traveled from Springfield Missouri to Oklahoma City, Oklahoma. For breakfast we bought a carton of milk & a loaf of bread & some oranges & ate these with spreads & raisins in our cabin. I slept quite well last night. I discovered last night that the jar of jam that I had in my food-box had released some of its contents. The damage done was not great, but it took some time to clean up. I had been unable to obtain a jam-jar with a screw-top.
After we were ready, we soon got our first lift with 2 men in a station wagon to just past Carthage Mo. Next we were standing by the road when a taxi came by & the driver offered us a lift. We first said we couldn't pay & he said that was alright. He drove us to the town of Joplin. Again it was very hot, & the sun very strong. The taxi was the first I had seen with 2-way radio communication with a central headquarters, which sends out instructions to the different cabs where to go to pick up fares. Joplin was an uncomfortably large place & we feared that we would have to walk or bus out of it. But a man came by in a small Crosley car & offered to take us out of town. So we accepted and were soon outside the town. There was evidence of ore mining about. We began to see cars occasionally with California license-plates - yellow on black. It was not long before we received our 50th lift, the longest we have ever had. A man in a car stopped for us. We as usual ran up to the car. Before letting us in, he asked us where we were students (our signs said "BRITISH STUDENTS") and inquired whether we had any weapons. We assured him that we were unarmed & then put our rucksacks on the back seat & got in the front. We learned that our driver is driving from St. Louis to Albuquerque, New Mexico. He is the principal of a grade school in Albuquerque & his name is Lloyd Wily.
We got into the car at 1:30 P.M. & rode all day. Mr. Wily said he would drive til dark & then stay in a tourist cabin & leave early the next morning. We could come with him if we wished. We decided to do so. And so we drove on for hours, out of Missouri and into a corner of Kansas, then into the state of Oklahoma. The sun was hot, & my right arm, hanging out of the window, became quite brown. As we came into Oklahoma, some of the towns seemed to take on a more "Western" appearance, with the low shops fronting the sidewalk and wooden posts holding up "roofs" which project over the sidewalk. At the town of Claremore we went to visit the memorial there to Will Rogers, the famous American humorist & philosopher who was killed in an air crash in 1935. It was a small museum in a beautiful position - well kept, with relics of Rogers - clothes, possessions, clippings & books & documents & pictures & dioramas etc. It is very interesting & I could have spent hours there, but it is rather overdone.
We rode down through Tulsa to the outskirts of Oklahoma City. As Brian & I hadn't had any lunch before we got in, we stopped after a while & each bought 2 hamburgers & a piece of pie & ate them in the car. We had dinner at the town of Bristow in a small restaurant. I had meat, vegetables, tea, pie for 92¢. When I asked for tea I was first brought iced tea & had to ask for it to be changed to hot tea. In Oklahoma water-towers are a familiar feature of the landscape, & we have seen many oil wells. As elsewhere, all along the highway there are filling-stations, cabins and motels, and cafes & restaurants; also there is much advertising on signs by the roadside. I dislike this very much. The signs look so ugly and ridiculous, hanging on poles & trees & fences. We have seen many drive-in movies too. At last we reached the outskirts of Oklahoma City about 8:30 P.M. At a group of cabins the 3 of us got a cabin for $4.50. Mr. Wily paid $2.50 & we paid $1 each. He had a single bed & we had a double.
Wednesday July 25th 1951
(written en route July 26th) Brian & I did not sleep very well. I tossed & turned & disturbed him. Since times change as we go west, I don't want to mention any, but we were up quite early in the morning, and we were soon driving along highway 66 in the early morning light. Mr. Wily was not a very talkative man & didn't seem at all like a school principal. But we discussed education with him & he was cheerful. He had a "South-Western" accent.
We drove west from Oklahoma City & had breakfast in a café. I had eggs, milk, toast. Then on we drove across the open lands of Oklahoma, then over the border into Texas. Each state seems to have a characteristic & Texas is more open & desolate than Oklahoma. Bare fields stretch for miles on either side. Occasionally there is a farm or homestead or the inevitable service-station, and rickety telegraph poles line the highway, but towns are few and far between, and there is very little to them. The only large town we passed through was Amarillo, in which we counted 70 motels & groups of cabins. The weather was hot and my right arm became browner than ever. All the rivers we see are almost completely dried up.
Mr. Wily intended to turn off the 66 at Amarillo & go to visit a friend of his on a ranch & then go on to Albuquerque. He said we could go with him if we liked, but we decided to stay on the 66 and Mr. Wily kindly took us to the town of Vega, Texas, about 43 miles past Amarillo. There we had lunch in a café - I had beef, bread, pie, soup for 82¢ & then Mr. Wily left us & turned off on his own road. We were right at the end of Vega, a small settlement strung out along the highway, and the sun was very hot. There we hitched by the side of the road & took photographs of each other. We both need haircuts badly. The cars just whizzed by us at speed. Most of them had California license plates & many were full. It was very discouraging. There was no shade about. We started hitching at 3:15 P.M. Mr. Wily had taken us from Joplin, Missouri, to Vega, Texas, a distance of about 500 miles. Including meal-stops, we had ridden with him for about 13 hours. It was the longest lift either of us had ever had.
At 4: P.M. we decided to walk back a little way into the town & stayed at a service station where there was a convenient water-fountain and a little shade. Many cars passed us by. While we were waiting outside the station, a car drove up from the opposite direction with 3 boys in it. Seeing our "British Students" sign one boy, freckled, called to us & said he was from England, from Streatham. We talked with him for a while. He said he had been living over here for a year & was, I think, coming from California. He asked us, not very politely, to go and see his parents when we get back, & gave me their address & tel. No. I said I would try to contact them.
We waited 2 hours before we finally got a lift, and were, of course, very glad to get it, especially as it was a California car. Inside were a man, his wife & young son & they were bound for Los Angeles! But we couldn't go with them all the way because we want to see the Grand Canyon. They made room for us & our rucksacks & we sat in the front seat. They are nice people. Their car, a Ford, has an air conditioner which fits on outside & sends cool air into the car. As we began to come out of Texas, the scenery changed rapidly and majestically. The bare fields gave way to deserted sandy plains dotted with shrubs, and flat-topped low mountains looming in the distance on all sides. We were in New Mexico, and it was the real "cowboy" kind of scenery. I had never seen anything like it before. One could see the road for miles ahead. We stopped at the town of Tucumcari for dinner & all ate in a café where as usual the waitresses were surprised to hear that we came from England. That fact always makes them very friendly. I had meat, bread, potatoes, gravy, tea, & jelly. Nearby was a low stratified edifice called Tucumcari Mountain.
Finishing, we drove off on to Santa Rosa where our people were going to stay the night. They stopped at some cabins & took a cabin for themselves for $6.50. The prices were too high for us, & they very kindly drove us up the road to a hotel which they had heard was cheaper. We took a room with a double bed there for $2.50 -- $1.25 each. The name of the hotel was the Midland Hotel. Our people said they would be driving out tomorrow & we could come with. They would be leaving at 4: A.M. But since N.M. time is 2 hrs different from the time we had been using, it was not a very unreasonable time. Getting up at 3:30 A.M. would be for us more like getting up at 5:30 A.M. We went to bed at 7:30 P.M., N.M. time. At our request, the hotel supplied us with an alarm clock.
Thursday, July 26th, 1951
It was not too difficult for us getting up so early in the morning, and we were out on the street in front of our hotel with our rucksacks by 4: A.M. Our people did not come until 4:25, and then they took us up and we sat in front again. It was still dark then, and very few cars and hardly any people were about. But off we drove onto the dark desert road. (I call it a desert because it was more like one than any place I had seen so far, but it wasn't true desert.) A great flat plain extended on all sides, and wonderfully-colored cliff-like mountains stretched around it. We watched the sun rise behind us to the right. The road was very straight & we could see it for a long distance ahead. We have noticed that the skies in such regions always seem to be very beautiful. A great expanse can be seen at once, and the cloud-forms are magnificent, especially the big "cotton wool" cumulus kind. These often mean rain, and it has rained on us several times. It seems very strange, but the rain dries very quickly.
Before coming to Albuquerque we had to go over some real mountains, part of the Rocky chain. But there was little vegetation on them besides the common type of green shrub. And then we came down into Albuquerque which is on the Rio Grande. It was very strange to be up high like that and see the whole of the town laid out on the flat plain below. There seemed to be very little to it, just a sort of splash in the desert. The name of the people we were riding with was Fox. They live in L.A. & gave us their address when we left them. Mr. Fox had noticed something wrong with one of the tires on his car & we stopped at a gas station in Albuquerque. We had breakfast there in a café. The girl at the café was surprised when we told her we were from England. "England!?" she repeated. The tire had broken at one place & we had to wait about ½ hr. for a new one to be put on. It was only about 8:00 A.M., but already the sun was hot.
Then we drove on for a long time across New Mexico, and everywhere
the land was deserted. But despite the beautiful scenery, there
was a type of eyesore that was all too plentiful - the cafes-cum-filling
stations and the "trading posts" and curio shops which
lined the route. As the car approaches them, one sees a long row
of large wooden signs advertising the place and what may be purchased
there, e.g. "COLD POP" "CURIOS." Many of them
had some attraction like a "free zoo" or some snakes
on exhibit. As we proceeded west, we began to come into the "Indian
country." We stopped at one curio place & I sent a postcard
home. There was a real Navaho Indian sitting there silently, but
he was wearing "Cowboy" clothes. Such clothes became
a more common sight as we progressed - dungarees, boots, a broad-brimmed
hat. As we approached the town of Gallup, the "Indian capital,"
we saw groups of dark-haired brown-skinned Indians by the roadside.
The women wore very colorful costumes. We also saw some of the
in which they live - circular small buildings of logs & mud. Dungarees are a very common article of clothing among American youth, both boys & girls.
We had lunch at Gallup & saw many Indians about there. It seemed strange to me to see them walking about the streets & in shops & restaurants. On the way to Gallup, the road passed through some lava beds where black deposits of lava lay all about. We took some photographs there. After lunch, on again along the 66 until we came to a place about which Brian & I had heard for a long time - the Painted Desert. We were now in the state of Arizona, the 13th state we had been in. At the roadside there was an impressive view of the desert, a wide expanse of colored rocks and sands looking almost like a landscape of another planet. We were thirsty, & bought pepsi-colas there. I have found that soft drinks taste much better when drunk from a glass than from the bottle or through a straw.
The Arizona scenery seemed different from that of New Mexico. There were fewer mountains. Brian & I planned to go on with the Foxes to the town of Flagstaff and there go off the 66 & take the road north for the Grand Canyon. On our maps & advertised along the road we saw that our road was going to go near to the largest meteorite crater in the world, and I was anxious to see it, for I had heard about it for a long time, so I was glad when Mr. Fox said that we were going there. After making one false turn & having to go back, we turned onto an unpaved stony road which led to the crater. There we were surprised & disappointed to find that there was a high admission fee -- 75¢ for adults. I decided to pay, but Brian preferred not to, so I went in with Mr. Fox & his son. From the rim, the crater did not look as large as I expected it to, but it was very large, over a mile across. At the bottom were the ruins of a wooden building. A recorded lecture told about the crater, its discovery & attempted excavation for iron. I climbed down the side a little way. Brian came in too after a while. He said the woman had let him in for half-price. She had said, he said, that I was "impertinent," though I was not consciously so, although I was annoyed by the high admission fee. Anyway, it was worth seeing, and I am glad to be able to say that I have seen it.
We rode on with the Foxes to the turning in the road which is just before the town of Flagstaff. Petrified wood & Navaho rugs are widely sold in Arizona. While waiting for our next lift we went for a "euphemistic walk" in some nearby trees. Brian cut his leg trying to climb over some barbed wire which I crawled under. He put some of my elastoplast over the cut. I had to go off to a rest-room at a nearby filling-station. One of the most pleasing things about America to me is the abundance of clean modern rest-rooms with soap and paper towels. It is so much much better than France. Every gas station has one.
When I was returning to Brian, I was met by him in a car with a sailor. The sailor had seen him & offered him a lift to the Grand Canyon. They had been waiting for me. And so off we went on a lovely drive, past a few mountains, then out into the plains again. We watched the son set & it was dark as we climbed again into mountain roads and drove along the rim of the Canyon. No moon was out, so we could see nothing of it. Our sailor was an interesting talker & we drove 25 miles along the Canyon til we arrived at the "Village," the group of buildings at the west end of the main road along the Canyon. Brian & I enquired at some cabins, but there were no vacancies. They however phoned up another place called Rowewell where we managed to get a cabin with a double bed for $1.25 each. The place was 3 miles off the main road & our sailor kindly drove us right there.
For some reason or other, probably because of sweat through long sitting, the front part of the crotch of my left leg has become very sore & chapped & hurts a good deal. Brian gave me some cream to put on it.
Friday July 27th, 1951
Our cabin at Rowewell was not all that could have been desired. There was no running water, but we slept well and were up about 7:30 A.M. It was a long way along a dirt road into the "village" which had motor courts, shops, restaurants, camping-grounds etc., and we hoped that we would get a lift. We started walking & very soon did get a lift, in the first car that came by. We were in the Grand Canyon National Park, which is patrolled by forest rangers. The main road runs along the south end of the canyon for about 25 miles. We had come along it last night, but had not seen the canyon. Now we had our first glimpse of it, a sight which cannot really be described - a great gorge with "temples" of colored layered rock rising within it. From where we were, we could not see the river, but it was a magnificent sight. We were to have much better views before we left.
All cars coming into the park have to pay $1, which purchases a permit good for the rest of the year. There are tame deer which roam freely about the woods & we saw many of them. I photographed one. We had breakfast in a cafeteria & had "hot-cakes" with syrup for the first time in America. I enjoyed them, but found them too much, & couldn't finish them. Several people spoke to us in the cafeteria, including the manager, who said we could leave our rucksacks there if we liked. This we gladly did, taking with this diary (so that I could write yesterday's entry) and writing materials, for the "Edgware Post" article had still to be copied out.
We first went back to the place where we first saw the canyon. Several people were about & some children. A "trail" ran along the edge of the canyon, & below it we could see a rock jutting out. I wanted to get onto that rock to take a photograph & started to climb down. It was fairly easy to get down, but when I got onto the rock, a man in cowboy clothes called to us to come back. It was quite safe there, & I didn't want to come back until I had taken a photograph. Brian, who was carrying my camera, came out & gave it to me. The man threatened to "turn us in" to the rangers, but we weren't worried. I took my photograph & then we came back up. The cowboy took our names & addresses & said that he had turned us in. He told us off for going off the trail & said we might start some rocks falling that would hurt someone. We had to sit down & wait for the ranger to come. Some little boys were around, & they annoyed us. We waited for some time, but the cowboy went away & the ranger didn't come, so we decided to walk on. "You're supposed to wait until the ranger comes," called one of the little boys. "If he comes, tell him we went that-a-way," I replied.
We walked on along the path & as we went the view seemed to get wider & better. We went into a souvenir shop & there was an observation room & a telescope through which we looked. While we were standing there, a Ranger came in & laid his hands on our shoulders & talked kindly to us saying we had caused him a bit of trouble & asking us to stay in future on the path. We said we would do so. Then we walked on & came to a second souvenir shop where there was another observation room & also a writing-table & chair. I decided to sit there & write the Post article. I have done all the work on the last 2 articles. I prefer to do it all myself, but it does not seem right that Brian should be paid half the earnings on it. But still I would rather do it myself. I sat there for 2 or more hours writing & Brian went out & saw a film show about the canyon. Finally I finished & we walked back to the cafeteria to have lunch after mailing the dispatch. But there were no meat meals at the cafeteria beside pig-meat, & we went to another restaurant at the big hotel, the Bright Angel Lodge. But the situation was the same there, & we had to have fried egg sandwiches, milk, rolls & pie.
We still left our rucksacks in the cafeteria & after lunch started on our real Grand Canyon walk. There is a path running along the rim to a place called Grandeur Point & then to another place Yatavai Point (or something like that) where there was a museum & the best view of all of the Canyon. We went along this. On the way there were little notices telling about the plants & wildlife & also giving appropriate quotations about nature & the Canyon. The view at the museum was magnificent, a tremendous expanse of indescribable magnificence. We could see 2 points of the brown river a mile below. The size & distances were so great that I just couldn't believe them. It seemed incredible that the opposite rim was 14 miles away. The whole thing was so unreal. The museum told about the geology of the Canyon & the life in it. But the ages and forces are inconceivable. It was an unforgettable sight & experience. We took some photographs there & heard a ranger give a 35-minute talk on the Canyon in the observation room.
Finally we came away & started walking back to the village. In the park we saw rabbits, squirrels, deer, & some dead snakes. We walked some way before we got a lift with 2 boys back into the village. There we were just in time to see some Indian dances finishing, with men & a woman & boy in colourful feathery costumes chanting, beating a drum, & leaping about on a platform in the open.
After that we went to collect our rucksacks & then set out south again, hoping to get a lift to the town of Willams on Route 66. We walked to the little Ranger station on the road where cars have to stop to go in or out & there we saw the ranger who had directed us to Rowewell last night. We talked with him for a while & asked cars stopping there whether they could take us to Williams. After 2 or 3 had said they were not going there, we finally got a lift with a man & woman who were from Indiana & were on holiday, touring. They took us down to Williams. The man worked in a factory in Indiana & told us how they were ready at 24 hours' notice to go into war production. He was the 1st person we had met who was definitely in favor of war with Russian, and now. Williams is a small town on the 66 highway just where the road from the Grand Canyon meets it. We had a meal in a small café & then set about finding somewhere to stay the night, as it was getting late. We made straight for the nearest police station & asked the officer in the small place for a clean place to stay & he phoned up a place where we could have a room for $1 each - the Button rooms. We went round there & had a comfortable room.
Saturday July 28th, 1951
We slept well & were up again at 7:30 A.M., had breakfast in a drugstore & began to walk out of the town. The sun was hot, & we passed another hitch-hiker on the road. The scenery was mountainous. We waited at a bend for about half an hour before getting a lift with a soldier going to Santa Barbara. But as we wanted to see the Boulder Dam & as Brian had phoned up the American Automobile Association in Williams & they had advised us to go by Las Vegas, we had to turn off the 66 at the town of Kingman. Our ride was enjoyable & the prospect of distant mountains over the desert was often very beautiful. At last we reached Kingman & we all went into a café for lunch. There our driver offered to pay for our meal. We thanked him & I ordered a "beef stew" which turned out to have no real beef in it at all. After lunch he drove us to where our road for Boulder Dam turned off. There he offered us some money -- $2 but we refused it. We spent several minutes refusing it before he drove away.
There is an interesting "mirage" which we always see in the daytime when in a car. The road some distance ahead always appears to be wet and reflects near objects and the sky. This, I believe, has something to do with the refraction of light caused by the heated rising air. We waited at Kingman in the shade of an empty gas station & after a while got one of our few lifts with a truck - on the back of a small truck in the cab of which were a man, woman, & child. In the open back in which we sat was a quite comfortable car seat. And so off we drove, & the scenery was more desolate than any we had yet seen - desert and grim brown mountains. We were of course right in the sun, & I tried to acquire a tan. I did get a bit burned on my legs. We wore protection on our heads (I a handkerchief, Brian a scarf) but we did not feel very hot because there was a pleasant "backwash" breeze on us.
We saw very few car-stopping places, & stopped at one of them. There the man treated us to soft drinks & I had 2 orangeades which I enjoy. As we went further on, we came into the mountains themselves. At one point the truck stopped & the man pointed out to us Lake Meade, the lake made by the dam, far in the distance. It is difficult to imagine more bleak and desolate scenery than those awful mountains. We saw some of the desert plants, but no cactus. And then suddenly some concrete structures came into view beneath us and we knew that we were at the dam. I had long heard of Boulder Dam (whose official name is now Hoover Dam) and known that it was the largest dam in the world. Recently my interest in it was aroused by reading Richard Halliburton's account of it in "Marvels of the West." The main road actually goes right across the crest of the dam & we alighted right on this. On one side of the road we see Lake Meade, quite a different color from the muddy brown of the Colorado River which we had seen at the Grand Canyon - a bluey green. We could discern some fish in the lake. On the other side we could see the great expanse of the white curved wall of the dam, and far below, the 2 wings of the power-house.
The land on one side of the dam was Arizona, the other Nevada. We had heard that there were tours inside the dam & wanted to go on one of these. A loud echoing loudspeaker announced at intervals that on these tours, no cameras, binoculars, handbags, or any type of parcel might be brought "for security reasons," and that there were no checking facilities. Several concrete towers rose about the dam. We went over to the Nevada side where there was an exhibition building. We asked a man there where we could leave our rucksacks & he let us leave them in a part of the building. Then we went onto the dam again, to a place where people were queueing in front of a door. We bought tickets for a tour for 30¢ each & were given leaflets about the dam. The tour was very interesting; a guide took our party down a long way in an elevator to a corridor along which we walked to a railing where we could look out over the power-house & the row of giant generators. Everything seemed clean & new The power-house looked like the cover of some "science fiction" magazine. It was very impressive. The guide gave explanatory talks. Then we walked down some stairs out of a door to the open air beside the power-house. We knew that the huge white wall of the dam was above us, but could not see it. We could only see a lower wall.
Then we went inside again, saw the other power-house, & came to a place where through large windows we could see part of a huge pipe inside which, we were informed, a 2-story house could be built. Water was rushing through it. With the aid of a colored diagram on the wall, the guide explained something about the construction of the dam, how diversion tunnels & "coffer-dams" had to be constructed. We went through some tunnels in the rock, & finally came out. For fun, we made some paper airplanes & threw them over the open side of the dam. One stayed in the air for quite a while. Then I went to get my camera & took some photos. When we returned to get our rucksacks, planning to leave to go on to Las Vegas, a man, whom we later found to be the chief guide, spoke to us & offered to drive us on to Boulder City, the town constructed specially for the dam. We said we would walk along the road, & he could pick us up. And so we did, & at my request he took a photo of us with the dam in the background. Then he took us in his car the few miles to Boulder City, & on the way we talked with him about his job. He is the head of 17 guides there. I asked him if he ever had silly questions asked, & he said that someone once asked whether the cable across the canyon was there to hold the 2 sides of the canyon together.
On our short ride it began to rain. We wanted to see the free film of the construction of the dam on show at the visitors bureau in Boulder City, & our driver took us right there. But when we arrived it was raining very heavily, & merely in the act of carrying our rucksacks under shelter from the car, I got pretty wet. The women in the bureau gave us a place to park our rucksacks while we went into the small cinema to watch the film, which was just beginning. It was made at the time the dam was being built, & was very interesting. When we came out, the rain had stopped. We sent postcards home & then walked out along the Las Vegas road. Soon we got a lift with a man, woman, & 2 children to Las Vegas. One of the children, a boy, was a nephew of the man & woman & was being taken to catch a train at L.V. to take him home to Idaho. They took us right into the center of L.V. We at first thought of trying to get a lift to Los Angeles this evening. L.A. is 300 miles from L.V., and, since there is mostly desert in between, most of the cars going in that direction would be going all the way. It would mean traveling through the night, & after a while we gave up on the idea.
We soon found out that the main industry in Las Vegas is gambling, and there were many large brightly-lit gambling houses along the road. We went first to a drug-store for a meal & I had soup, 2 hamburgers, pie & milk. Then came the problem of where to stay for the night. The "soda-jerk" at the drugstore talked with us & he said he knew of some boy-scout cabins where we might be able to stay. He told us how to get to them & we walked there, but found them closed. We watched a very noisy baseball game going on for some time & then decided to try our old friends, the police. We asked directions to a nearby police station, and there I spoke to the desk sergeant & asked where would be the cheapest place we could stay. He said the motels & cabins began at about $5 - too high for us. He said the only alternative was the Salvation Army & gave us their address. We came away. Brian was against going to the S.A., though I wouldn't have minded. We decided to see whether we could find anything else. We walked to the railroad station, where I hoped there might be a Traveller's Aid post. But there was none, & our hopes sank. I found a telephone book & began looking through it, hoping to find something useful. But there was no Traveller's Aid & no British agencies & we were as a last resort about to phone the Mayor for help when a man came up to us who said he was a police officer & asked if he could help us.
We explained our position. He again suggested the Salvation Army. We said nothing & he took us into his office in the station (I think he was a "special agent") and phoned up the S.A. When he hung up he said he would take us round there in his car. We went with him & were soon outside a low building, where a thin dark young man in dungarees & nothing on on top was painting outside. We got out, thanked our policeman (How many times have we said "thank you" in the last few weeks?!) and were taken over by the young man, who, it seemed, was in charge of the place. He spoke to a fat man who I think was his "lieutenant" & then took us inside. He explained that the building used to be a garage & was taken over by the S.A. only a few weeks ago. A partition had been put up, & they were still decorating the place. One section was a kitchen, with a long table & bench. Another section had six or seven iron cots in it. There was also a rickety air-conditioner & radio & a bathroom & a new metal shower-cabinet like Mr. Hafner had in Chicago. We all had showers there.
The man in charge looked very thin. He took particulars about us & wrote them down on a form.. There were three other men. 2 of them were unemployed men, one of whom I learned was hitch-hiking from Los Angeles to his home at Niagara Falls. Also there was a young German student, about 22 years old, who had something wrong with one of his eyes. He had been going to college in Pittsburgh for a year. He too was hitch-hiking around the country & had a small sign saying "foreign student." As a coincidence, the S.A. man showed us a recent Las Vegas newspaper article about 2 German students who were hitch-hiking touring the country. There was a photograph of them with their sign "Foreign Students seeing U.S.A." The article was very similar to some that have been written about us. The night was warm & I slept just in my sleeping-bag with no pajama top.
Sunday July 29th, 1951
We have reached California at last! This morning at the Salvation Army we were woken up at 6:30 A.M. I felt sorry for the young man there. He lived in the place & has to be there almost all the time. He eats the same food as the people staying there & looks very thin. We stayed for breakfast at the long table there with the others & I had oatmeal, bread, & water (the others had coffee). We felt obliged to pay & I intended to give a dollar. Brian lent me some change & it worked out that we each gave 94¢. The young man there invited us to stay for the church service, but we did not.
Finally we left & asked directions how to take a bus out of the town. We managed to get on the right bus & our fare was 15¢ each. We were given change partly in silver dollars. The bus took us to the very end of town, to opposite the Flamingo Hotel on the Los Angeles highway. After that, the road went on into the desert and mountains. It was there that we waited and had the longest wait that we have yet had. Beside us was a black & white sign giving the highway numbers, & scrawled in pencil over it were the sad remarks o f other hitch-hikers who had waited on that spot. They said things like "Been waiting 3 days, and still no lift. Wise bastards don't hitch-hike" and "I have shaved 3 times while waiting for a lift." Some of these hitch-hikers seem to have come long distances, and I saw one "Montreal - L.A." Our wait there lasted 3 hours. We began at 8:15. The sun was hot & I put a knotted handkerchief over my head. When we grew thirsty we went over to the Flamingo Hotel & asked for water at the bar there. It was willingly given to us.
I had never expected that we would get a quick lift. Ahead lay only the desert, & drivers were anxious to get into it & out of it as quickly as possible. They knew that if they picked us up we would be with them for a long time. Many cars were full, & most just whizzed by us. Sometimes the driver made a signal with his hand. But it was all very discouraging. We ate some candy & then went a second time over to the Flamingo, a fine low hotel which had a swimming pool in its grounds & took our water-bottles with. The men filled these with cold water & gave us water to drink there as well. We explained our position to them & then decided to try & phone the mayor & see if he could help us. We went into a phone booth. With difficulty I found out the name of the Mayor & his home number & phoned it. A woman said that the mayor was out, so I spoke to her. I explained that we were trying to get a lift out & had little money & asked if she could help us. She suggested we go to a truck-stop & gave me the address of one. But that wasn't much good to us as trucks never give us rides anyway.
We went back onto the road in the sun & soon a man & a boy came along & began hitch-hiking a little way down the road from us, i.e. in front of us. This, of course, spoiled our chances, so we walked up to them, explained that we had been waiting 3 hours, and asked them to go on past us. They said they would change places with us, & to avoid an argument we agreed & brought our rucksacks down to where they had been standing & they moved up to where we had been. Hardly had we done this when we got our lift; a car that had passed us returned to us. 3 boys of about 18 or 19 were in it & as I expected they were going to Los Angeles. We got in the back with my rucksack & Brian's rucksack was put in the trunk. We were, of course, very glad to get the lift, our 60th, and settled down to a nice long ride across the desert.
There is not much to say about most of the ride. The scenery was much as we had seen before. We didn't see any cactuses. But when we were well into the desert it became very hot. We didn't feel particularly uncomfortable in the heat, but we could realize how hot it was. We sweated, but were not unhappy. Opening the car window was like opening a furnace door. Brian brought his bottle of cold water into the car & put it on the back ledge & left it there. When he took it up again the glass & water were literally hot. We stopped several times for drinks, & Brian & I had lunch at one place while the others kindly waited for us. I think it is marvelous that there are these little places in the desert where on can get food & water & cold drinks.
When we passed the town of Barstow, the desert landscape began to change and patches of green began to appear. We were coming into the "real" California. With the hot desert left behind, palm trees and orange groves and vineyards came into view. In the background were pale shapes of mountains. It reminded me of the French Riviera. Traffic increased and buildings and advertising were all about. For the last 30 or 40 miles we went at a much slower rate because of all the cars on the road. The country looked very beautiful to me. We saw oranges on the trees and cold orange juice for sale in many places. We came in through San Bernardino and Pasadena. At last we entered Los Angeles itself, and the boys we were with drove us to right outside Uncle Marsh's address at the Chalfonte Apts., 720 S. Normandie Avenue. I was feeling very excited. It was about 6:15 P.M.
We took up our rucksacks and walked across the road into the apartment building. There we asked the man at the desk if Mr. Marsh Adler was there. The man seemed to have been expecting us & phoned up to Uncle Marsh's apt. to tell him that the 2 hitch-hikers had arrived. I had not seen Uncle Marsh since 1943 when he went to live in California. But since we have been living in England I have often written to him & he to me & he has sent us many things & largely financed our trip. He came down on the elevator to meet us. He looked much as I imagined from the photographs, but seemed shorter & his voice was different from what I had expected. He seemed to think that we looked very dirty. He took us up to his apartment & explained that he was just moving out & moving into a new place. He seemed to have much on his mind & kept talking to friends on the phone. The apt. is pretty bare because of the moving.
Uncle Marsh took us to his new apt. a block away which too is disorganized. He said he would get us somewhere to stay. We had showers at the old apt. and a woman friend of Uncle Marsh, Jerry Fineman, a kindergarten teacher from Detroit, came up & we talked with her. Then Marsh & Jerry took us out. Marsh gave us shirts that he had designed. We had hamburgers & dessert at a restaurant & then went by taxi to the house of Dr. Herman Leiberman & his wife Ann. Also there were Mahrie & Gerald Shoolman. We stayed there at 966 S. Hudson for the rest of the evening, spoke with the people, showed our articles. [important: Uncle Marsh had received from Mummy copies of Brian's & my first 2 published articles from the Edgware Post. They cover quite a lot of space, but several changes seem to have been made, e.g. I wrote "We did not sleep well; a prisoner's lot is not a happy one." This was changed to "We slept well. A prisoner's lot is a happy one."] & were shown around the home which greatly impressed me. Only 2 people live in it but it was large & beautiful with TV, a car, a patio & garden, a giant fridge & freezer, a garbage calcinator, an art studio etc. It was wonderful. At last we came back & had a double bed & bathroom etc. in the Normandie Hotel for the night, the hotel where Jerry is staying.
Monday, July 30th, 1951
(written July 31st) Brian & I slept late in our comfortable double bed this morning. Last night we had been up til about 2 A.M. Uncle Marsh had sent a telegram home to my family to let them know that "The wanderers have arrived." Whenever Marsh sends us telegram, he always puts on for fun "Kishdeboobe," meaning in English "kiss your grandmother." It is really 3 words, but when he phoned the telegram in, he gave it as one word. A short while later the telegram company phoned back to say that "Kish-de-booba" is 3 words & would have to be charged as such. We were all amused by this.
A woman named Terry at that house last night, to help us get into some film studios, gave us the telephone numbers of several of the studios & the names of people to speak to there. She is a writer on Hollywood for some small publications. This morning we were not ready to come downstairs until after noon. We phoned Jerry & she said she would meet us downstairs after we had our breakfast. So we went down with our rucksacks to the coffee-room of the hotel & there had a 55¢ breakfast each at the counter & got to talking with several people including the waitresses and a man sitting next to us who said he was a teacher of art & advised us to try to get to Mexico to see the bullfights. After breakfast, we met Jerry in the lobby of the hotel.
Our first job was to telephone some of the L.A. newspapers to see if they were interested in a story on us. We first phoned the L.A. Times, but didn't seem to be able to get the right number. Then we called the L.A. Examiner and I had to wait some time before I could talk to the City Editor. I explained to him that we were British Students who had just hitch-hiked across the continent to visit L.A. & were writing a series of articles for a newspaper in England. I asked if he would be interested in a story, and he said that he would definitely not be interested, so that was all there was to it. The other large newspaper is the L.A. Herald-Examiner, and this time I phoned again, & all went well. The editor was interested, someone took particulars, and we were invited to come around to their building at 3 o'clock this afternoon to be photographed.
But first we had another job to do. Many of our clothes needed washing, and Uncle Marsh had advised us to go to one of the launderettes to have our laundry done. A launderette is a place where there are many modern washing machines and people bring their washing to use the machine themselves. We left Jerry, left our rucksacks at Uncle Marsh's old apt. (he was at work) and took our washing to a nearby launderette. Inside, the walls were lined with Bendix washing machines and all about there were clothes and soap. At the back there was a large hot drier and in the middle there were benches and magazines. We explained to the red-headed woman there that we had had no previous experience with launderettes, and she showed us how to put the laundry into the revolving cabinets. She put "whites" in one washer & "coloreds" in another. She said we could call back for them any time.
So we left & started out for the newspaper office, which we were told was near Figueroa & Pico Streets. We took a streetcar along 8th street to Figueroa St. The streetcars here are old-fashioned - fare is 15¢, & 5¢ for transfer. Brian & I are spending more freely now since Uncle Marsh has told us not to stint ourselves. We had lunch in a delicatessen & had chicken pot - (chicken soup, 1 kreplach & a matzo ball.) Riding along in the streetcar we realized what a large city L.A. is. We later obtained maps which helped us to find our way around more easily. We saw streets of very beautiful houses. I love the palm trees. We walked down Figueroa to Pico, & never have I seen so many places selling cars so close together. There were large lots with groups of 2 or 3 men sitting in them at tables underneath umbrellas.
By asking directions we found our way to the Herald-Express Building, quite a large place, where we had been told to ask to see a Miss Underwood who it seems was the City Editor. We got into one of these large busy rooms with desks & typewriters & papers all about & people moving quickly around & telephones ringing & found our way to Miss Underwood's desk. She was the first woman editor we had met & quickly passed us on to the man reporter who had spoken to me on the phone. He handed us over to a photographer who took us into another room & photographed us holding our hands in hitching position. Our reporter then spoke to us & said that the article & photograph would appear in Wednesday's paper. We showed him the letter from our editor & asked if he could mail copies of the photograph to Edgware. He said that he would send them by airmail. We spoke to him for quite a while & he told us about the movie & radio studios here.
We came away & then made a telephone call. Terry last night had given us as the first person to call a woman named Vivian Wilcox who it seems is connected with the giving out of permits to press agents. We called her, & Brian spoke, saying that we would like to see some film studios. She seemed interested & invited us to call at her office tomorrow at 11 A.M. This pleased us, & we promised to be there. We came back to Uncle Marsh's new apartment after that & met him there. He still had many things to bring over & he employed us several times in bringing things over. Uncle Marsh told us he had got us a place to stay while we are in L.A. & took us to this building just a few doors up the road from his own. Here a woman showed us into our quarters, where we have a room with twin beds, a large cupboard & a bathroom that we share with another man. We did little else, but Uncle Marsh has begun to take a hold of me & try to change my ways. He urged me to smile & hold my head up & look people in the eye. He himself has a delightfully casual manner.
Tuesday, July 31st, 1951
This morning Brian & I had an appointment at 11. Our beds were comfortable& we were woken up at our request by the woman of the house at 8 A.M. She gave us breakfast of cereal, milk, egg, & toast, & we then went to Uncle Marsh's. He told us how to get to the office where we were going on Beverley Blvd. It was in a building called "the largest drugstore in the world." First we walked to Western, then took a streetcar for Beverley Blvd. & a bus along Beverley. I am impressed everywhere in America by the newness of things, -- shops and houses and buildings. We finally got to the drugstore building, a long low place (there are few tall buildings in L.A. because of the danger of earthquakes), found the motion picture offices, & were soon in the office of Miss Vivian Wilcox, a grey-haired, kindly, but efficient looking woman.
We explained our situation & said we were writing articles for a newspaper in England & would like to see Hollywood from the inside. She asked to see our credentials & we showed her the letter from our editor, our printed articles, and the cuttings about us. She looked these over at some length & made notes while we sat & waited. At last she returned them all to us & said she thought she could do something for us. She would phone us in one or two days time, or if she did not, we were to phone her. So we came away pleased & satisfied. We looked around the large drugstore for some time. It was really just like a small department store. I bought a roll of film there. We took a walk along one street to work up an appetite & then came back to the restaurant part of the drugstore for lunch. I had hot beef sandwich, potatoes & gravy & cherry pie with chocolate ice cream & orange juice. The waitress who served us was very quick & efficient. She literally threw the serviettes onto our laps. Serving me a straw protruding from its wrapper, I just took hold of the straw & she pulled the wrapper away & was off very quickly. Her service was really excellent, and I almost felt like giving her a tip (but not quite.)
After that we went back to Uncle Marsh's. He was not working today & spent much time moving stuff from his old apt. to his new larger one which is on the corner of a street. He got us to make some more carrying trips and seemed to criticize me at every opportunity. He never seemed perfectly serious, but kept telling me that I should not be anti-social & should smile more & go after the money, the "greenbacks." I carry many things around with me in my pockets, especially my big fat wallet & he kept telling me to lighten my load. Finally he insisted on going over all the contents of my pockets & spent some time putting all the papers that I didn't nee from my wallet in another envelope.
We had supper out at a nearby restaurant - I had a T-bone steak. I wrote some letters & postcards. Then 2 men-friends of Uncle Marsh came up to take us out for a ride. The name of one was Ruben - (Lonze?) He was a well-known designer. The other was Robert Rockman whose nickname, Ross, we used. He is an accountant & he drove the car. We were all joking most of the time, especially Ruben. They took us on an interesting ride up into the hills past beautiful shops and homes, up a very winding road to a viewpoint where we could see the glittering lights of the whole city. It was a very impressive sight. One could pick out the streets in lights and it was almost like a view from an airplane. They took us afterwards to an ice-cream shop where I had a chocolate sundae. Then we came home.
Wednesday, August 1st, 1951
We slept late this morning as we were up so late last night, & then had breakfast at our place about 11:15. We planned to visit the broadcasting studios and try to get tickets to some programs, preferably audience participation programs. We rode by streetcar & bus to Vine St. & Sunset Blvd. & called in at several of the big broadcasting networks - NBC, ABC, CBS. Some were giving out tickets & some not. We took tickets for some programs, but there seemed to be nothing that we could benefit by, & I was somewhat disappointed. We walked up to the famous crossing of Hollywood & Vine where there seemed to be little of particular interest. We had lunch in a Rexall drugstore on the corner & then walked along Hollywood Boulevard to Grauman's Chinese Theatre & Restaurant. The shops along the way were very attractive. At Grauman's outside we saw on the sidewalks in the sort of courtyard the signatures, foot & handprints of many movie stars.
We were too late for a radio program, "The Perfect Husband," for which we had tickets & sat for some while in the lobby of the N.B.C. studios. From there we walked along Sunset Boulevard & there came upon Hollywood High School. Outside was a tree with a plaque saying "To Hollywood's Immortal Dead." This somehow struck me as being amusing. We decided to look round the school, found some open doors, & toured 2 of the classroom buildings. Some of the classrooms were not locked & we walked inside & looked at books & desks. In one room we left a message on the blackboard thanking the school for our interesting tour. The architecture of the school was modern. There were frequent water-fountains in tiled alcoves and all the corridors were lined with combination lockers. But the furniture & school-desks did not seem so modern.
Uncle Marsh had said that we ought to go and see the swimming-pool at the Roosevelt Hotel. The Hotel was nearby, so we went in & asked directions to the pool. For the past 2 days we have been wearing long trousers, but today we wore shorts. The swimming pool was small but beautiful with palms all about & wonderful furniture. We got a man there to photograph us with the pool in the background. From there we went by bus down to Wilshire Boulevard because we wanted to see the La Brea Tar Pits, in which ancient animal remains have been found. In a park we saw one tar-pit, a strange sight. There were some battered statues of animals around. At one point beyond the pit we could see tar bubbling right out of the ground.
Los Angeles has more ultra-modern buildings than anywhere else I have seen. Most of them are very attractive. From the pits we came back. We were supposed to be at Uncle Marsh's at 6:30, but were already late. Before seeing him, we went to get another piece of furniture from the old apt. that he wanted us to bring round. I also went into the drugstore where yesterday I had taken all my exposed films to be printed & developed. 4 rolls cost $3. Only a few films did not come out. Most were fairly satisfactory. Then we went up to Uncle Marsh's . 2 of his friends were in the apt, but he was out looking for us. He didn't come back until 7:30 & was a bit angry at us for being late. He gave us lots of things to do & really orders us around. In the evening Jerry Fineman came around in a borrowed car & she took us & Marsh for a ride to Olvera St., an imitation Mexican St., and to a bit of Chinatown.
Thursday, August 2nd, 1951
Today Brian & I went onto the beach. We slept late again, and it was after noon before we had had breakfast and were ready and on our way. I first went to the drugstore to get my other roll of films, the last 8 I had taken. These were mostly disappointing, but there was a good one of a Grand Canyon deer. We got a bus on Wilshire Blvd. going to Santa Monica. The fare was 30¢ & it was a long slow ride. I had of course never seen the Pacific Ocean before. The shore-line with palm trees reminded me again of the French Riviera. The sky was rather dull at first, but it was warm. I had my blanket with me, & we laid that out on the sand. There we went into the water which seemed warm once we had got used to it. We had a meal of hamburgers, drinks, pie at a snack-stand. On sale was Fry's English chocolate for 6¢ a bar. I bought a bar of Fry's peppermint cream which I had never even seen in England. It was good. We have often seen Fry's & Cadbury's chocolate on sale over here - also in L.A. there are many English cars, especially M.G.'s. The ocean was wavy & it was fun riding the waves. We tried to write some of our Edgware Post article, but I didn't feel much like doing it.
At about 7:30 we returned from the beach to Uncle Marsh's apt. & there saw him. He orders us around a lot & keeps telling us what to do & criticizes us for not doing them or not in the proper way. He says he is ordering people about all day at work. He gave us money for a meal, & as this was his night to attend art classes we went to a movie. After a dinner of beef (for me) we went to the Ambassador Hotel where there is a wonderful collection of shops & services & a large comfortable cinema. There we saw an English picture which came out a year or 2 ago. In England this comedy was called "Whiskey Galore." Here it is "Tight Little Island." It was amusing, about men on a Scottish island who salvage some whiskey from a wreck & keep hiding it from excise officials. Finally we came home. I love chocolate milk. Uncle Marsh gets it for me.
Friday, August 3rd, 1951
For much of the day Brian & I continued on & finished & sent off this week's dispatch to the "Edgware & District Post." I did most of the work, & as usual did all of the copying out. There was much to be written about and I had exceeded the 1500 word limit long before I was to write the part about the Grand Canyon. So I had to conclude the account before we reached the Canyon. This means we are now more than a week behind in writing the account since I wrote last week's dispatch at the Canyon itself & still have not written about the Canyon. We did our work at Uncle Marsh's apt. Brian was very willing to write. We had breakfast here at the place we are staying and ate lunch at a restaurant. I made many phone calls today. Marsh's friend, Terry Fineman, has been very willing to help us get into a movie studio & today she phoned me & I phoned her many times. She kept telling me to phone the different studios & who to ask for & what to say. I phoned Vivian Wilcox (see July 31st) and she said she had not got around to our matter yet but that I should phone again tomorrow. I phoned the foreign press departments of some studios, but couldn't get anything. We must just wait & hope that Miss Wilcox comes through with something. If she does, it will be a great day for us.
I also phoned a Mrs. Leventhal, a friend of Mummy's, who invited Brian & me round to her home on Monday evening. Then Terry phoned up with some big news which may lead to something really important. She said she had managed to get us an audition for a TV program in which people to sing or play a tune and say what it means to them. We would have to go on Monday evening. We had not been expecting anything like this, but accepted, & soon began thinking of what song we would sing. The best one, we thought, would be "Sweet Betsy From Pike," which I taught to Brian & which we have often sung together. We could say how it reminds us of our trip across America. And so there are two distinct possibilities for us - in TV and in the movie studios. Who can tell what may result?
This evening Uncle Marsh took us to the home of his friends, the Shoolmans, 3 unmarried men, one unmarried woman, & their mother. We had already met 2 of them before. We talked a lot with them, gave them a brief account of our trip, saw some wrestling on TV & had a small meal there. It was late when we returned home.
Saturday, August 4, 1951
Uncle Marsh had asked Brian & me to be at his apt. at 10 A.M., but we had no alarm clock & Brian, who usually wakes me, was not up until 9:45, and so we were considerably late. When we did get there we first phoned Vivian Wilcox again (see yesterday.) Brian spoke to her & she said she had arranged for someone to take us around 20th Century Fox Studios on Thursday. I don't know exactly what this means but we are to meet someone at the studio on Thursday morning. We had hoped to get a press card which would give us entrance to all the studios.
Last night at the Shoolmans' they told us about the TV program for which we are having the audition on Monday. They said that about 4 or 5 different people or sets of people compete, & the winner, who is chosen by audience applause, gets big prizes, e.g. a refrigerator.
Uncle Marsh is a hard taskmaster & he is constantly criticizing & hurrying us up, especially me. He wants to change my nature & keeps saying I am too much like my uncles George & Leonard. He tickles me & grips my arm tight & digs me in the ribs in an annoying manner, & his only form of humor seems to be that of insulting people in an exaggerated way. I have never been able to talk with him really seriously once. Another annoying thing about him is the way he will always be calling one's name, and one has to drop everything & respond, even if it is for something trivial or facetious.
A middle-aged friend of Uncle Marsh, Mary Peterson, had offered to take Brian & me out driving in her car. So this afternoon we went with her. First we wanted to see the U.C.L.A. (University of California at Los Angeles) and went there. I am beginning to realize that Los Angeles is a strangely de-centralized city, with a large area, but with no really central part, and plenty of vacant spaces inside the city. At U.C.L.A. we talked for a while with a librarian and then walked around some of the fine buildings. We went into a radioactive laboratory but noticed only some terrible smells.
From the university we drove through a part of Beverly Hills which does not come within the city of Los Angeles. There, as everywhere here, we saw beautiful homes and trees and gardens, which, I have heard, are tended by Japanese gardeners. We went into the famous Schwab's Drugstore where movie stars are supposed often to be found, but found the drugstore very dull & ordinary & saw no stars. We had sodas there. Then Miss Peterson took us to the "Farmer's Market," a large open-air collection of stalls and stands selling food, gifts, birds, antiques, candles, etc. An interesting, well-kept, & crowded place.
At last we came back to Uncle Marsh's & there Brian & I had supper. I had corned beef sandwiches. Uncle Marsh took us in the evening to the Hollywood Bowl, a large open-air theatre where he has a season-ticket for a box. We went by bus & streetcar & walked part of the way & arrived about 15 minutes late. There to meet us were Jerry Fineman and her 17-year old nephew Richard from Flint, Michigan. Uncle Marsh's box was towards the side near the front. The bowl was filled to capacity for the concert of Gershwin music, with Johnnie Green conducting & Oscar Levant playing the piano. It was fairly good. Apparently the bowl has almost had to close through lack of funds, & at the end Irene Dunne & Jean Hersholt came out to appeal for contributions. We rode home part of the way in the car of a friend of Uncle Marsh's, a man named Ralph from Holland. The rest of the way Jerry Fineman drove us in a car she had borrowed from some friends.
Sunday, August 5th, 1951
Last night Brian & I slept for the last time at Mrs. Beach's place, just 3 or 4 doors along Normandie Ave. from Uncle Marsh's apt. building. This morning we said goodbye to white-haired Mrs. Beach, & moved our belongings into Uncle Marsh's apt. Uncle Marsh is very like Mummy in some ways, especially in his fondness for giving instructions. Then at noon Uncle Marsh had arranged for us to go & spend the afternoon with his friends the Halperins. We had met Nina Halperin at the party on our first night in L.A. They seem to have known my parents well in Washington, though I don't remember them, but I do recall the name. We went by bus by ourselves to Wilshire & Fairfax & there waited for a while until Ben Halperin drove up in his son's yellow convertible & we got in with him. The Halperins are nice people. Ben drove us to their apt. where we saw Nina again & met their son Martin who is about 21 or 22 & takes courses in teaching & also works on an army radio station (although he is a civilian) which sends broadcasts to the Pacific area & which has, so he says, a listening audience of 90 million. Martin is a pleasant good-looking boy. He showed us his room & some of his possessions - his guns & gramophone records. He seemed interested in us & asked a lot of questions about England.
I was very interested in the furniture in the Halperins' apt. They had some very interesting reclining chairs which I would like to have, & many electric gadgets, eg. an electric potato fryer. I like the glass-doored "shower-cupboards" that we see in many American bathrooms. We had a lunch of hamburgers with rolls there & then Nina & Ben took us out in the car. I enjoyed riding in the open car in the sunshine, & would certainly always prefer a convertible to a closed car. They took us up into the hills to Griffith Park. There high up is an observatory which has a planetarium. I had never been in a planetarium before, but had always wanted to see one. They bought us tickets to a show which was just about to begin. The planetarium was a large round room with a white domed ceiling. In the center was a large black strange-looking machine, but I have a book at home with a picture of a machine just like it.
Around the edge of the room was a thin silhouette strip meant to simulate the horizon line at the point on which the observatory is situated. The seats all faced the center and they had head-rests and swivel seats. A man gave a talk at a microphone and the show began. During it, the lights went out and we watched the ceiling. The marvelous machine caused spots of light to appear all over it & made the ceiling look just like the sky, doubtless all in accurate detail. The lecturer could point out different things with an "arrow" of light. We watched the sun rise and set and saw the stars move as if time were speeded up. Then we started on a "trip to the moon" in which an image of the moon in the center of the dome was gradually made larger and larger, as if we were coming closer & closer to it. We "stopped" at about 250 miles from the moon's surface, & the lecturer talked about the different features of the moon's face - the craters & mountains. It was all very interesting, & I'm glad I've seen it.
Later Nina & Ben drove us to the home of Marsh's friends the Steins & in their apt. there was another party. Marsh came, & we saw Terry Ellman & the Leibermans again. We had chicken for supper, buffet style. Terry told us about all the phone calls she had to make to get us our TV audition appointment for tomorrow evening. Before she came, we were fortunate to be able to watch the Bill Gwinn Show, the one of the audition tomorrow from 7 P.M to 7:30 on the TV. I was glad we had the opportunity, because now we have an idea of the style & standard of program it is & feel better prepared for it. When we got home this evening, I typed out a one-page letter to Mr. Gwinn on Uncle Marsh's typewriter, explaining our story.
Monday, August 6, 1951
Some very good things happened today. We slept on a small double bed in Uncle Marsh's new apt. I did not sleep at all well. There was much noise from the traffic on 8th St. right outside, especially the streetcars. Also the street & neon-lighting from the street came in through the windows & was disturbing. At about 11 A.M. Brian & I went "downtown" on a streetcar along 8th St. to Hill St. Our intention was to enquire about the possibilities of a free ride on an airplane back to New York. Ben Halperin yesterday had told us that it was impossible for us to get a ride on a military plane as we had hoped, but that it might be done on a civilian plane of some European country. He said that often planes are built out here for them & then flown passengerless to New York. He advised us to try at the different consulates & we decided to start at our own British Consulate. We had learned the address, & walked along Hill St. to the office building in which the consulate is located. We knew that the name of the consul was Mr. Haddow, because when we were in Ottawa, Mr. Huson of the British Information Service there had referred us to him. We asked to speak to Mr. Haddow, but he was not there, & a woman dealt with us.
Seated by her desk, we explained our position & told her what we knew of these cross-country flights, & asked if she could help us in any way. She at first was rather cold, & seemed to think the whole idea was very foolish. She said she knew nothing about these airplanes, but was quite sure that our plan was hopeless. She softened up a bit, however, when we showed her all our newspaper clippings & she said she would tell Mr. Haddow about us. She made some phone calls, & gave us the addresses of some other consulates which we requested. I spoke on the phone to a woman at the Norwegian consulate, but all she could tell me was that Northrop aircraft company does or did build some planes for Norway. Finally we left the British consulate & went to the French one, which was in the same building on another floor. But there we had even less luck. We did get to see the vice-consul, who happened to be a woman, but she said that it was hard enough to do anything like that for her own people, let alone for us. So we came away & had a nice lunch in a drug-store. Then we wanted to get in touch with the Northrop aircraft company & decided it would be best to go in person. We looked up the address in the phone book, & found it to be on Broadway many blocks down. We began to walk. We always wear sunglasses outside in the daytime.
After we had walked for some time, we discovered that we were not on the right street & that the Broadway we wanted was way out in a different part of the city. And so we had to give up the idea of going there. I had previously phoned up Uncle Marsh at the factory where he works on Mondays & he invited us to come up there & see him. It was not very far to walk, and we started off in that direction along Main St. We looked in many shop windows, & came upon a shop selling government surplus goods, where we saw pith helmets in the window. We had long thought of buying some sort of hat or helmet to protect our heads from the sun, & now thought it would be fun to get these. We went inside & inspected what pith helmets they had at great length. There was a pile of them, none in perfect condition, of 2 main types. One was of very good quality in the "Boer-War" style. These were made in London. The others were of rather inferior quality, but more modern design. The first kind came in definite sizes, & none fitted me very well. The 2nd kind had adjustable head-bands. I would have preferred the better quality kind, but eventually we both bought the cheaper kind, for $1.21 each, & were very pleased with them. With our shorts & light clothes, we must look like "District Commissioners," but we like the hats very much. It makes people look at us more than ever, & sometimes makes them shout things like "The elephants went that-a-way."
The dress factory where Uncle Marsh was, was called Hildegarde of California. It again was part of a large building. There were long benches with material & machines & patterns on them, & a Coca-Cola vending machine where Uncle Marsh treated us to a drink. He was surprised at our hats, but told us to take them off. He introduced us to some of the people there, but most had gone home, for work stops at 3:30. Leaving Uncle Marsh, we returned to his apartment, and there prepared to leave for our audition at ABC-TV, which studios are at Sunset & Talmadge. We went there by streetcar & bus. I was feeling nervous, but as soon as we arrived, everything went well. All we knew was that we were there for an audition for the Bill Gwinn Show & that we wanted to speak to a Mr. Vilardi.
All this had arisen from the fact that Terry Ellman had phoned up someone she knew there & got us an appointment for an audition We had not to be there until 7 P.M., but arrived at about 6:15 & spoke to the guard at the gate. He was a friendly man, & tried to contact Mr. Vilardi, who it seems is in the publicity dept. But he wasn't there, & the guard said we could if we liked go in & watch a program which was about to be televised. We went into a studio where there were several sets & a small audience sitting in chairs. We sat down; but, when we saw that the program was going to be only "cowboys" singing songs, we decided, being hungry, to go out & get something to eat. We asked where we could go & were directed to a grocery shop on a corner near the studio buildings. We went there & bought food. I bought cupcakes, a small cherry pie & a small carton of chocolate milk. We took our food back & ate it on a bench just inside the studio gates.
Just as we were finishing, a car drove by & the man in it called out "Are you the two British boys?" "Yes," I called, "Are you Mr. Vilardi?" I thought he replied that he was, but we later learned that he was Mr. Jack Reeves whom the guard had mentioned to us. We finished eating, & waited til Mr. Reeves came back to us & took us to studio 2D, where we saw the conclusion of the cowboy program and then had a lot of attention paid to us. Although there seemed to be many other people there waiting for auditions, we were seen to first. Mr. Reeves first gave us a form to fill out, which required details e.g. names & addresses. Before we came to the studio, all the people we know, especially Uncle Marsh & Terry, had told us not to bother too much about telling the truth, so long as we spin a good line. That seems to be the general spirit over here. After filling out the form, we were asked about our story. I produced the letter we wrote last night & Mr. Reeves seemed to be glad of that. He introduced us to several other men & seemed to be trying to impress them with us. One of the men might have been the producer of the program. They were very friendly, & we felt quite at ease. We had to explain what song we were singing to the men. I hummed the tune to Mr. Reeves, & he recognized it, but he didn't know what it was, & didn't know our words. Our words are:
Did you ever hear of Sweet Betsy from Pike,
Who crossed the wide prairies with her husband Ike,
With two yoke of cattle and one yoke of hog,
An old Shanghai rooster, an old yaller dog.
Chorus: Sing tooralay ooralay ooralay ay
" " " " "
The Alkali desert was burning and bare
When Ike cried in fear, "We are lost, I declare.
My dear old Pike County, I'll go back to you."
Said Betsy, "You'll go by yourself if you do."
They crossed the wide desert and climbed the high peaks,
They camped on the desert for weeks upon weeks,
They fought with the Indians with musket and ball -
They reached California in spite of it all.
I originally learned this song in school in Washington, & sang it recently so that Brian came to know it. But our story is that we learned it at school in England, & that it made us want to come to America. We are not mentioning that I have lived over here before, nor are we saying anything about our previous TV appearance in Washinton.
We went with a man to a nearby organ & sang over the tune a few times, so that he learned it & could accompany us. We held our pith helmets in our hands. They seemed to like us & be amused by our performance, & when we had finished they said that we had a very good chance of getting on the program, & we felt very happy. We arranged to phone them tomorrow between 11 & 12. We came away in high spirits, & set out for our next destination, the home of the Leventhalls at 612 Sycamore Ave., near Wilshire and La Brea. We went by bus & street-car & reached there about 8:40. I didn't know these people, but they are friends of Uncle Marsh's, & through him Mummy met them when she was here in 1949. Their son Morris even sent back a gift for me, a modeling knife, but I was negligent, & never wrote to thank him. At the house, one in a typical street of lovely low white houses, we met Mr. & Mrs. Leventhall, their son Morris (they call him Buster) who is 18 & their daughter Bobbie, who is about 11 or 12. There were also some other guests, a Mr. & Mrs. Katz.
We first sat down & talked for a while, & then spoke to Uncle Marsh on the phone (he wasn't coming over.) As we hadn't had any real supper, the Leventhalls gave us a full meat meal in their dinette. Buster talked with us while we ate. He & his father have many hobbies, including photography, on which they seem to spend a lot of money. Buster also does aeromodelling. He had his own car, given to him by his grandfather, & his father has another car. They have a lovely home, with beautiful rooms & furniture. Buster took us into his wonderfully equipped darkroom outside in the garage. We saw his beautiful collie dog Sandy, & he took us into his room & showed us some of the photos he has taken. Buster works now in some photographic factory & intends to begin medical school in September. I was very surprised to learn that the Leventhalls' colored maid has a car of her own. Their home had all the usual American conveniences. The standard of living we have found in California is remarkably higher than that of England.
Mr. Leventhall was particularly kind to us. I happened to say, almost jokingly, that my mother wanted a Mixmaster mixing machine, and Mr. Levcnthall sail almost immediately that he would send her one & right away began making arrangements to mail it to New York for us to try to carry back to England. We discussed whether I would be able to get it back. It was a staggering gift, and I was very surprised. I gave Ben Pearl & Archie's address & he said it would be mailed to them. But more was to come. Buster took Brian & me out for a drive in his car & we went along the "Freeway," which was the widest highway I have ever seen, taking 4 lanes of traffic going in each direction. Buster took us to a drive-in restaurant. We had ordinary Coca-Colas, but he had a chocolate-flavored Coke. I have never heard of flavored Coca-Colas before.
When Buster drove us back to his home, Mr. Leventhall told us that he had changed his mind & was going to give us both Mixmasters! This was really unbelievable generosity. Mixmasters are quite expensive, and to just give two of them like that was astounding. Anyway, we now expect to find a Mixmaster each awaiting us at New York, kindness which it is impossible to repay. We watched TV at the Leventhalls' & saw some more "wrestling." This is one of the strangest sporting "phenomena" I have ever heard. Everyone seems to know that none of the bouts are genuine, and that nearly all the blows are faked. It is all a show, and yet it is very popular. We had a very nice evening there, & finally came home.
Tuesday, August 7th, 1951
(written August 8th) Today Brian & I did less traveling than we have done on any day since we left home. We did not in fact once leave Uncle Marsh's apt. building. We slept late & I spent much time writing the previous entry in this diary. We still had the idea of trying to get a lift on an airplane going back to New York, & Brian phoned many aircraft companies making enquiries, but with no success. The BIG GOOD NEWS of the day is that, as arranged yesterday, I phoned up Mr. Reeves at 11:30 this morning, and he told me that Brian & I would definitely be on the Bill Gwinn Show. There is some difficulty, however, about the song we are going to sing. It seems that all songs put on the air must be passed by a central office, in case there is any copyright on them. Mr. Reeves had been unable to trace our song & asked if there were any other one we could do instead. I told him that although we preferred to do "Sweet Betsy From Pike," we might also be able to sing "California Here I Come," but we didn't know all the words. He said we should try to get a copy of the words, & I said we would. I still hope very much that we will be able to sing our original song; but anyway, we are ON and from here on there can be no bad result.
Mr. Reeves told me some other things as well. I asked if we should bring our rucksacks to the studio & he said that would be good. We should be there, he said, at 1 P.M. on Friday, but we are still not sure what time the program actually goes on. Mr. Reeves said that he would be sending us 25 tickets to the broadcast & that we should give all these to our friends. I thought little of this at first, but after I had hung up, I realized something. The winners of the program are judged by the volume of audience applause - and here are we being given 25 tickets, to select our own audience! The only solution seems to be that the program is "fixed" and that we are intended to win, because I do not think that the other competitors would get that number of tickets. If we do win, we will probably get a TV set as well as some other things. The men last night actually did ask us what we would do with a TV set if we won one, since we couldn't take it back to England. We said we would probably sell or give it away.
Uncle Marsh still seems to delight in persecuting me. He has many stock phrases which he uses over and over again. A typical one is "Get the lead out of your ass, Bub." Today I phoned Helen Loring, the widow of my father's cousin, Gaby Loring. She said she would arrange with Marsh for us to see her one day.
I was amused recently by some stories I read in "Readers Digest" magazine. They told about meaningless sentences which sound as if they mean something. E.g. a sign in a restaurant: "Kindly let those who are going out first." And, as a man said to someone who was pestering him, "Look here, if you don't go away and stop bothering me, I'll find someone else who will."
Mr. Leventhall came round here in the evening & brought me 6 packets of 120 film. Afterwards Brian & I watched TV in the apt. of Mrs. & Dorothy Mark, who live downstairs.
Wednesday, August 8th, 1951
(written August 9th) Brian & I slept til about 10 this morning. As usual, Uncle Marsh was at work. We had baths & breakfast before we left the apt. at about 1:45. I had washed the kitchen floor, on orders from Uncle Marsh, & Brian had done the bathroom floor. But at last we were ready to leave, & our destination today was the Los Angeles County Museum.; using our map, we found it quite easily. We went by streetcar to the crossing of Vermont & Exposition Blvd. Before going on to the Museum we had lunch in a café. I had a hot beef sandwich.
The Museum is in Exposition Park, where there is a stadium where I later discovered that the 1932 Olympic Games were held. We sat in the park for a little while after our meal, doing work on the "Edgware Post" article. Then we went inside & checked all our belongings at the desk. No cameras are allowed inside the Museum. We went in at 3:15 & I walked around inside until it closed at 5. It was both an art gallery and a museum, with exhibits of Roman, Greek & Japanese art. The part that I really wanted to see was the display of animal & plant remains found in the La Brea tar-pits in Los Angeles which we visited last week. There was a truly surprising wealth of bones and fossils, and there were exhibits showing how the material found in the tar was sorted out. In the center there were several whole skeletons of mammals, the largest being a huge elephant with very long curled tusks. The museum had some good exhibits, but seemed pretty much like any other museum.
Leaving there, we walked a little bit in the park & I asked a young man passing by to photograph us with my camera in the gardens. He did so. He was a student at the University of Southern California, whose campus was nearby.
For this evening, Brian & I had another date. Uncle Saul's wife, my Aunt Billy is here in California on holiday with her two children, Howard & Hughie. They are staying on Dunsmuir Rd., at the home of Aunt Billie's sister & brother-in-law. We were to go & visit them. I had spoken to Billie on the phone some days ago. I remembered her well, but thought that the children would be very changed. Hughie is now 7 & Howard about 11. We found our way there easily enough. Billie still seems to be unnecessarily strict with her children, e.g., she wouldn't let them even come out to see us until they had finished their meal & washed their hands. Of course, they were much grown since I last saw them, especially Hugh, who must weigh almost as much as his brother. He is round & jolly, but rather backward. He still doesn't know how to shake hands, and can't seem to speak correctly yet. Billie had recently dyed her hair red. We met her sister & brother-in-law & another woman, & there were many children about. Uncle Marsh came a short while after us & played around with the children & called them names. He did not want to stay long, Y told us to tell them that we wanted to get to bed early. We had supper & watched TV for a while. Then went with the brother-in-law in his car to Culver City, a new section, to bring back another of Billie's sisters.
At last we were driven home, and found waiting for us a special-delivery letter containing the 25 tickets to our telecast. But we fear we will not be able to dispose of them all. Before we retired, Uncle Marsh's friend Jerry came up with some friends in the children's garment trade, & they stayed & talked for some while.
Thursday August 9th, 1951
This morning, Brian & I were up early because we had an appointment at 20 Century Fox Film Studios to be shown round. We did not know what to expect & only knew that Miss Vivian Wilcox, to whom we had applied, had told us to be there & that we would be shown round. We went there by bus & got to the wrong entrance. We were supposed to be on Pico St., & came in on Olympic Blvd. It is a very large lot & the guard at the gat telephoned to the man waiting at the other entrance for us& he came round for us in his car. He was a fairly young man & introduced himself as Roy -- (?) He said he worked in the foreign dept. of the studios & it was now his turn to take people round. He drove us to a studio where shooting was in progress. He talked to us at some length about different things connected with the movie industry, but was not a very interesting man. The film of which we saw part being made was called "Red Skies of Montana" & it was about forest rangers. It starred Richard Widmark, quite a well-known star who usually plays "bad-men" roles. The scene on the set was a parachute drying room with parachutes hanging from ropes, a line of sewing-machines, and a filing cabinet on one side.
The studio was much smaller than those we had seen at Pinewood, & we were told that it was an old one. We stayed there for a long time, & grew bored waiting for something to happen. Many men, as at Pinewood, stood about, apparently doing nothing. At lest we saw a little bit of action in some rehearsals for a scene in which Widmark enters through a door, stealthily crosses the room opens the filing cabinet, & takes something from it. Most of the men standing about wore small long-peaked caps. After we had been in the studio for some time, Roy took us out & back to his car. He told us he had only until noon to take us round & then he had another appointment. This was very disappointing as I thought we would probably have the whole day at the studios & might be taken to lunch. But he drove us all around & we saw many interesting things. (* before leaving the studio, Roy got Widmark's autograph for me & he said he would send us autographed photos of some of the stars.)
We drove down streets bordered by buildings which looked for all the world as if they were real - village and city streets looking absolutely authentic. We saw some huge permanent sets which are used over & over again in different films, eg. a well-tended country garden, and the front of a southern mansion. We saw the nurseries where all the plants used in films are kept & cultivated & the garages where many different types of vehicles are stored. We saw large model ships and a remarkably realistic model forest through which burning gas-jets ran, which were to simulate a forest fire. Some of the strets we drove down looked just like ordinary village streets & it was hard to believe that it was all make-believe. We saw the administrative buildings etc. At noon Roy set us down at the gate & we came out. We had been lucky to get in at all, but I could have wished for more.
Since Brian & I had been asked to learn the words to "California, Here I Come" (see August 7th) we went from the film studios to the May Co. Wilshire Blvd. Branch. In the music dept there we asked if they had copies of the song. The woman said they did not have sheet music, but had a record of Al Jolson singing the song. I said we would like to hear this & she gave it to us to take into a listening booth. There we played the over & over until I had copied down all the words. Then we returned the record to the girl & came away & had lunch at a snack-bar. Nearby we saw a place selling air-raid shelters with some locked display shelters outside. Large signs outside proclaimed that it was each man's duty to protect his family.
I phoned Uncle Marsh & he advised us to go up on the roof of the Chalfonte Apts to get some sun. First we went back to his apt. We had the problem of disposing the 25 tickets to our program tomorrow. We got rid of most of them, gave some to Mrs. Beach, to Mrs. Mark downstairs, to Uncle Marsh, to Nina & Ben, & to other people. Then we went on the Chalfonte roof in the sun, & I wrote a letter home & some more of the "Post" article. We spent the evening at Marsh's apt. while I wrote some more still of the article. Still there was much to be written. Marsh is very dictatorial, & this evening he started telling us all about what we should say & do on the program & what prizes we should say we want if they ask us.
Friday, August 10, 1951
Today was to be our big day, the day we were to be on a television program, the Bill Gwinn Show on the American Broadcasting Company, Channel 7. It is a big program, is first telecast here & then films of it are broadcast later in Chicago & New York & perhaps elsewhere. We were to be at the studios at noon to begin rehearsals. We had gone on Monday for an audition & later been accepted. We felt fortunate in having seen last week's Bill Gwinn Show last Sunday evening, for now, before we started, we had a good idea of the show was about & knew what it looked like to the viewer.
The whole thing is rather foolish. Bill Gwinn is the compere & interviewer, and the scene is supposed to be in a room at his home. There are 3 contestants or sets of contestants & they sit in arm-chair & couches. In the center of the set, there is a small bar. Each contestant is supposed to have a story to tell about some song which has been important in their lives. They are interviewed by Gwinn about their song, & then he looks into a crystal ball, & they are supposed to be transported by magic to the place where the story of the song originally took place. They then sing the song. At the end of the program, the audience is asked to judge by their applause who was the best contestant. In intervals announcements are made asking people to write in & tell their stories of the songs in their lives. Last week & this week the program had no sponsor although the names of several forms were mentioned in the donation of the prizes.
We arrived at about 11:45 & this time were directed to a different studio. At the gate I left 3 tickets to the program with the girl for the Foxes if they should come. The Foxes were the people who gave us the 600 mile lift from Vega, Texas, to Flagstaff, Arizona. I have spoken to them on the telephone a few times & invited them to come to the program. But this evening about 5 I telephoned them & Mrs. Fox said that they couldn't manage to come.
The studio we were in was like a little theater, with the set on the stage & seats for the audience below. All the studios at the ABC there, we learned, used to be film studios, and this very one, we were told, was where the first talking picture, Al Jolson's "The Jazz Singer," was made.
Jack Reeves met us & asked us to stay a while in a small room which we later found out was Bill Gwinn's dressing-room. There we sat & waited until after a while Mr. Gwinn came in. I recognized him right away. The producer came in too, a kindly-looking short thick dark-haired man. We all shook hands. Brian & I were wearing our usual clothes, shorts, socks rolled down, me a kaki shirt & Brian a sweater; we carried our pith-helmets. We sat down in the dressing-room & Gwinn & the producer started explaining to us how things would go. Having seen the program, we knew much of it already. Then Gwinn gave us a sort of trial interview, asking questions like how we raised the money to come over. We did not tell the entire truth. We made out that we had earned all the money ourselves, and that, apart from my Uncle in Los Angeles, we had no friends in America at all.
We had to rehearse on & off all afternoon, with about 2 hrs. of breaks The men there were all very nice to us & the producer took us out to a food0wagon outside the studios & told the girls there to give us whatever we wanted & he would pay for it. I had orange juice, a double-hamburger, pie, milk, & a chocolate bar. Gwinn did several private rehearsals with us while the producer timed him & gave advice. Questions had to be altered & the accent laid on particular things. Jack Reeves was there part of the time as well. Then afterwards we went onto the stage to rehears with the other competitors. The two other groups of competitors were (1) a mother & her small cute 4 ½ yr. Old daughter, who seemed very intelligent & wore a red dress. The mother told a story of how when she was young she had to sing a song called "Piccolo Pete" with a little boy. She later married the boy. When the girl was interviewed, she had to say that she like the song because "Mommy says if it wasn't for Piccolo Pete, I wouldn't be here." It was she sang the song, very well & in a cute manner, with much inclining of the head & waving of the arms & using a little plastic whistle at some points. // The other competitors were a good-looking couple whose story was that they had met at a high-school operatic society. Their song was "Love Me Tonight" from "The Vagabond King."
The set was rather like that in a movie studio. There were banks of lights above & much machinery about, including a microphone on a beam, just like we had seen at Pinewood. We had to rehearse many times on the set. The first one of two times we rehearsed with the singing. We had no scripts. Gwinn used a little typewritten copy of the letter we had written to him. Since there was no script, each rehearsal was rather different from the last & our actual performance was different too. Sometimes a point was included; sometimes it was left out. Then we started doing singing rehearsals with the speaking as well, & the entire program was rehearsed in order. The persons didn't sing in their places, but while the camera was focused on Bill looking into his crystal ball, they crept around to a special singing set. The "backdrop" of the singing set was a projection screen on which was projected from the rear an appropriate picture. For us, it was a picture of a roadway & we also had some "scenery" - a large piece of green stuff meant to be a rock & an imitation tree. For the little girl, Vicky, there was a nursery scene & the others had some sort of stage scene.
In between rehearsals I tried to write part of the "Edgware Post" article which was supposed to be sent in today. We were right next to the organ, & the organist was the man who had accompanied us on Monday. I think his name was Rex. We played around with the organ for a while & were surprised how 0leasant it was merely to press the keys & hear those beautiful "organic" notes come forth. It was of course an electric organ We also talked a bit with the announcer, a very pleasant friendly man, who told us about the many programs he worked on. He said he preferred doing commercial advertising because it paid so well. We had a break of over an hour until 6 P.M. when we were to be back to have make-up put on. The rehearsals were very cheerful & happy most fo the time, but things were worked out carefully & much attention was paid to detail.
At last the big moment arrived. The audience were all in their places. I saw Uncle Marsh enter the studio. Amongst the audience, I later found out, were about 12 or so people to whom we had given tickets. In a few minutes we were called onto the stage to take our places. The audience clapped. I tried to look away from them & forget about them. How did I feel? I felt that we had a good chance of winning or coming 2nd. I somehow felt that we couldn't come last. I was nervous, though Brian said he wasn't. The audience's view of the show was much obscured by cameras, technicians, the organ, etc., but they had TV screens to look at. And so, after a few reassuring words from our producers, the show went on.
It opened with Gill Gwinn singing his theme song, "Ihear Music." Then he introduced us in turn and announced that we were being given Crosley portable radio sets. Then there was a little game in which we had a chance to win a $100 bond. Bill read out a jingle giving clues to the name of a song & we had to write down the name. The clues were that it began with word "When" and came from a show whose name I have forgotten. Anyway, we didn't know it & neither did anyone else, so no one got the bond. Brian & I were the first people to be interviewed; we sat on stools in front of the bar beside Bill. We had on make-up. It was the first time I had really been made up. A professional man did it in a dressing room. He used brushes & water & different shaes of paints & went all over my face, neck & ears.
The audience was fairly large for a studio audience. Everything went fairly well in our interview. I thanked anyone looking in who had ever happened to give us a lift or help us in any way. Then we tip-toed quickly round to the other set to sing our song. 2 cameras alternated upon us & I could tell which one was being used by the red lights on it. I had a little difficulty with the 1st 2 or 3 notes, but the song went alright apart from that. We sang & looked as well as we could. We held our pith helmets. Then we returned to our seats while the others underwent their ordeal. The little girl, though she had been alright in rehearsal, forgot the words on 2 occasions, but managed to get through the song.
At last we came to the audience applause time. As our names were called, we stood to be applauded. I was surprised at the small volume of applause that there seemed to be for us. But the other 2 did not seem to get much more. Quickly the winners & runners-up were announced, and it was our saddest moment - we had come 3rd. The mother & daughter came 2nd & they were each awarded Longine wrist-watches. The husband & wife came 1st & seemed very happy about it. They were awarded a holiday at the Flamingo Hotel in Las Vegas -- the hotel outside which we waited for 3 hrs. on July 30th -- & also air transport there & back, & a console model TV set. The prizes were same as last week. As a consolation prize, we were awarded a $25 bond, which is worth $18.75, between us. The radio was also between is. I was surprised that we had not even come 2nd. There seemed to be very little difference in the applause. Its volume was supposed to be measured by a special machine.
And so it was all over & we had lost. In the audience we found many of our friends including the Halperins & Leventhalls. I did not feel very unhappy, & was able to smile. We were told that the bond & radio would be sent on to us. Afterwards we were taken to the Halperins' apt., where we had a meal & I finally managed to conclude the newspaper article. Later I posted it. . . Well, the TV experience was an interesting & memorable one. We would have been very happy indeed had we won, but were not inversely proportionately unhappy having lost. We had won something though not much & could consider ourselves well acquainted with American TV.
Saturday, August 11, 1951
Today Brian & I slept late. As usual, Uncle Marsh ordered us around a lot, made sarcastic remarks, particularly at me, & made me feel rather unhappy for a while.
This afternoon I phoned the Foxes, the people who gave us the long lift from Texas to Arizona & whom I phoned yesterday. Mrs. Fox had invited us to call her any day we would like to come round. I spoke to Mr. Fox - he said they would be glad to have us today & he would come round to pick us up in his car. It was the 2nd time we had visited a family at their home after they had given us a lift. The first time was with the Morins in Chicago. Mr. Fox did not come for some time. Meanwhile Brian & I discussed with Uncle Marsh what we are going to do about getting back to New York. As yet, we have no definite plans.
At last Mr. Fox came for us with his son, David, who is 9 yrs. Old, a chubby blond boy with a heavy upper lip & a crew cut. They drove us to their home which was not far from Exposition Park which we visited a few days ago. The address was Ralph K. Fox, 712 W 43red St., Los Angeles, 37, California. They have been living out here about 4 or 5 years now & originally came from West Virginia. Their home was a small one, half of a duplex, but as with all other California homes it was well furnished and decorated & had the usual conveniences. California has a higher standard of living than any other place I have seen in the world, I think. The climate here is very good. It rains only for 2 or 3 weeks in the year & never rains apart from that. It never really snows, and it is always warm. Early mornings are hazy, but the sun always comes out strong about 10 or 11 A.M. It is hot until about 4 P.M., but not uncomfortably so. It is a dry heat. Then after about 4 it begins to cool off & the evenings are pleasantly cool.
There are more cars and used car markets in Los Angeles than any other city I have seen. I believe that they have more cars per population here than anywhere else in the world. Most of the buildings in this city are low because of the danger of earthquakes, but there are some new large blocks of flats erected by an insurance company. We have been along Wilshire Blvd. many times. The city is very large in area, & is, I believe, next to Honolulu, the largest city in the world.
At the house, we re-met Mrs. Fox & talked with them all for a while. David takes violin lessons, & he played a bit for us. It was difficult to recognize any tune. Then Mrs. Fox said that we would be eating in their garden, & we went out & found chairs laid out & a table with food & an electric cooker for hamburgers & hot-dogs. We met the coupe who were their neighbors & their little boy who had just started wearing glasses. I had a meal of 3 hamburgers, milk, & potato crisps. Later we had ice-cream & cake. After supper we played around in the garden. I tried using some stilts for the first time & after a while would walk around on then fairly easily. Brian & Mr. Fox tried a long time to make a motor model airplane work, but never quite succeeded, although the motor almost started several times. Then we came indoors & watched TV. We saw a British wartime movie, "The Foreman Went to France." The reception wasn't nearly as good as ours in England. The film was interrupted twice for commercials. Mr. Fox drove us home, & we promised to write.
Sunday, August 12th, 1951
(written August 13th) Today, Brian & I went out with Uncle Marsh's friend, Percy Rose, whom we met a few days ago. He is a middle-aged man, separated from his wife (Marsh says), has a shop selling crockery, pictures, ornaments etc. in L.A. He lives in a rented room. He came for us in the morning & took us in his car, a little English Austin. We have seen many English cars here, more than in any other U.S. city, particularly M.G.'s. We had bathing suits with us & Percy took us to a municipal open-air swimming pool. It was a very pleasant one & the water was very warm. We had a good swim & then stretched out in the warm sun for a while, before coming away.
Percy drove us to Santa Monica, & there treated us to a good lunch in a cafeteria. (He also took us previously to the place where he lives & we met some other people there.) After lunch we walked down to the front & a little way along the cliff-top. We saw a wooden building crowded with men playing chess & checkers. At another place people were playing shuffleboard outside. We also saw a camera obscura which could be seen free in a special little building. Inside, it was dark, & the image of the scene outside was seen on a large white horizontal round table-top. By turning a control, the scene could be changed to include views in all directions. We had seen a camera obscura at Griffith Park Observatory, but there the screen was vertical & the image fixed. At Griffith Park too we had seen something which to me was very interesting - a mirror constructed so that it showed things "the right way round" & not in reverse. This was effected by fixing 2 plane mirrors at right angles to each other. I had discovered this principle myself a long time ago at home, but had never been able to make a good one. This was a good one & the only unavoidable trouble was that a thin black line ran down the join, & no matter where one stood to look into the mirror, the line always appeared to run right down the center of one's face.
Then Percy took us onto the Santa Monica Pier, which seemed to have many places selling seafood & many people fishing off it, but not much of interest. We sat at the end for a while, during which time I read some comics from a Sunday paper, which I had picked up. The Sunday "newspapers" here contain a really astonishing amount of paper in them. They have several magazine & comic sections, as well as many ordinary newsprint sections. They cost 15¢. Counting the pages of the Sunday "Los Angeles Times," I find that the newsprint sections have a total of 129 sides, the 2 comic sections total 16 sides, & the 2 magazine sections total 64 sides (half the size of the others.) This brings the total number of sides to 209, almost as many as there are in this diary. But of course, much of the space is filled up with advertising.
Leaving the pier, Percy took us onto a section of the beach called "Muscle Beach," where we saw some men in bathing suits, some of whom appeared to be very muscular & well-developed, engaged in a "chinning" contest on a horizontal bar. I believe that the contest was sponsored by a local newspaper. Quite a crowd was there watching. Also on display were some people apparently dong some amateur acrobatics. The man who I believe won the contest was extremely powerful-looking & chinned 43 times. I heard someone say that he had once won the title of "Mr. New York." From there Percy drove us into the district called Ocean Park, but we didn't see much. Then he drove us home. He was a pleasant man & talked rather quickly.
This evening Brian & I discussed again with Uncle Marsh our plans for going back East. It now appears that we will hitch-hike all the way by the Northern route. We agreed to call in tomorrow at the headquarters of the American Automobile Association for advice. At 8:56 P.M Brian & I want to see a show at a movie house not far from here. We had to pay 65¢ to get in. We were attracted by the double-bill of the British picture "Trio" & the American "The Great Caruso." The seats in the cinema were rather hard. "Trio" was based on 3 short stories by the famous British author Somerset Maugham. I enjoyed it very much, particularly the first 2 stories, & thought it a very good film. Nigel Patrick, who played in "The Browning Version," was particularly good in the title role of the 2nd story, "Mr. Know-All." "The Great Caruso," however, was a disappointment. It was supposed to be based on the life of the great Italian singer, Enrico Caruso, but was merely a plotless Technicolor musical with a lot of singing by Mario Lanza & little else. We did not get home unto about 12:30.
Monday, August 13th, 1951
Los Angeles is an interesting place & has much to commend it, but I am getting the wanderlust again, the urge get moving & go somewhere else, & Brian & I have decided to take our departure on Wednesday morning. We would like to leave tomorrow, but Uncle Marsh says that he couldn't get the money he is going to give us before tomorrow. He has said that he will give us each $50, but we don't need that much.
Today we slept fairly late & as usual Uncle Marsh was out at work & we took our own breakfast. Then we went out & went by streetcar to the AAA headquarters & found the men there very helpful. One man took a map & showed us the best routes north to Yosemite Natl. Park & Reno & Salt Lake City & over to New York. I very much hope that we will be able to visit Yellowstone National Park as well. He used an interesting instrument for indicating the roads on the map. It was a fountain pen with a piece of felt instead of a nib so that it made a broad soft line.
At the AAA we were near Exposition Park, which we had visited before, & the campus of the University of Southern California. Before going on to these, we had lunch in a café. I had a hot beef sandwich with potatoes & gravy, a coke, & apple pie. Then we walked to the University campus & through it , pausing to look at an indoor swimming pool & the University bookshop. Then we went over to the park & this time went into a building for which we had been too late last time. It was the California State Exposition Building. Inside we saw exhibits dealing with California industry, agriculture, minerals, animals, etc. It was well set out, but not particularly interesting. As with many other exhibitions, there was too much to be read and studied. From there we went by streetcar up to Douglas MacArthur Park, where there is a long boating lake. Motor-boats for 2 people could be hired out at 60¢ for 30 minutes (30¢ each) & we took one. The sun was bright, & it was pleasant boating about. The boat went slowly, & steering was not difficult. We both did some. Once of twice some pigeons landed on our bows & stayed there for some time.
We were home by about 6:15 & stayed in the rest of the evening. Uncle Marsh made us a meat dinner. He never eats with us here, but always says he must wait on us. He often complains about how hard his life is, & how people are always after him to work for them.
Tuesday, August 14th, 1951
(written morning Aug 15th) Our last day in Los Angeles. In the morning we phoned Morty Halperin & he came around to take us in his car to the place where he works. He also brought us a display package of 12 colored plastic water-pistols, which his father's firm makes, & which had been promised to us. Morty is not in the Army, but he works in the offices of the Armed Forces Radio Service, which beams programs to the Pacific region, primarily for American troops, but also for anyone else who cares to listen in. He took us into the building where there were many desks & offices, showed us the control rooms & recording rooms & the broadcasting studio. He introduced us to many people there. Morty told us how a rigid check-up is made on the loyalty of all government employees. Only a few day ago, while he was out, the F.B.I. came asking his landlady questions about him. When we had seen everything worth seeing, Morty took us to lunch at a Drive-In Restaurant, where we ate in the car. I had chicken pie. Trays are attached to the inside of the car for each occupant. After that, Morty drove us home & we said goodbye to him. He is a pleasant boy & I like him very much.
Brian & I spent the rest of the day preparing for our departure tomorrow. I took my time in packing & sorted out some things, mainly paper souvenirs, which I don't want to carry with me, which Uncle Marsh will mail home in a parcel for me.. We wrote some humorous entries in Uncle Marsh's guest book & bought some provisions to carry with us - fruit, biscuits, jam, peanut butter, bread, etc.
And so it's goodbye to Los Angeles and goodbye to Uncle Marsh. I feel I know quite a lot about the city now. I never expected Uncle Marsh to be like he is. He is completely free and natural, but that is not always good.
Wednesday, August 15th, 1951
(Written August 16th) Today at last we left Los Angeles. Uncle Marsh woke us up this morning and then went off to work. He told us to phone him before leaving, but he was out both times when we called. We had breakfast, did our last packing, said goodbye to Mrs. Mark & her daughter downstairs, & were off. We had with us 2 new signs which we had made. These bor inscriptions "BRITISH STUDENTS" "TOURING U.S.A." "BOUND FOR YOSEMITE." Uncle Marsh had given us stamped postcards to send to him airmail every other day to let him know we are alright.
Our problem was to get out of Los Angeles and onto the road for Fresno and Yosemite. Uncle Marsh had given us some instruction & we first took a street-car to Western and then a bus to Santa Monica Blvd. Then we got on a red streetcar & went a long way to a district called North Hollywood. There, asking directions, we were directed onto another bus going in the direction of San Fernando and the highway to Fresno. At last we got off, & were on the right road. But we were still in a built-up area, and we were just standing by the roadside wondering what to do next when we saw that a car had stopped for us just a little way up. We ran up to it & found inside a pleasant fairly-young man whose name we later learned to be Mr. Wark, at the wheel, and another young man who was a deaf mute. Mr. Wark said he would be going about a hundred miles in our direction before turning off, & we got in with him. The deaf mute was, surprisingly enough, another hitch-hiker whom he had picked up further back. He was going to Washington D.C., & went on with us for some miles before he got out where his road turned off.
Mr. Wark told us that he lived & worked in San Francisco, & was just returning there after visiting his family in Pasadena. Although we had intended to make straight for Yosemite & not to go to San Francisco, we decided, now that the opportunity was offered us, to go with Mr. Wark all the way, since we did want to see "Frisco" as well. And so today was a day of journeying north from Los Angeles to San Francisco. Mr. Wark was a likeable man, and we learned that he is a meteorologist (weather-man), and that he has traveled a great deal, mostly by air. He has been all over Europe & worked in Egypt. He also mentioned being in the Pacific area in the navy & in Hawaii. We naturally talked a lot with him & learned much about California. Our route was over the mountains by the Tejon Pass, then down into the flat desert region along highway 99, and then by 166 to Maricopa - Taft - Mckittrick - Paso Robles - Salinas, and along the coast to Half-Moon Bay. Mr. Wark said he lived by himself at Half-Moon Bay, & we could stay the night at his house if we wished. We gladly accepted.
The mountains were bare, the desert hot. In the desert region we went through a large oil-field area, where we saw oil-wells in very great numbers. I had never imagined that oil-fields were so crowded with wells. It was the first real oil-field I had seen & the sight was ugly, but rather impressive. At Taft, an oil town, Mr. Wark treated us to lunch. I had hot beef sand., orangeade, pie. I never cease to marvel that in the hottest barest parts of the desert there are places where one can sit in air-conditioned comfort sipping cool drinks.
The distance was 400 miles, and we traveled all day. As we came further north, the weather became cooler and we ran into some fog. For much the last part of our ride, the fog was really thick, & visibility was only a few feet.
At one town (I think it was Paso Robles) we came upon our first Californian mission. The missions were settlement built by the early Spanish settlers to serve as dwellings, churches, schools, and forts. At this one we went inside the church part, & heard a very unpriestly-sounding priest lecture on the building which was about 140 years old. There was an altar & the walls were rather gaudily painted. The place was cool & damp.
Mr. Wark treated us to other refreshments on the way. When we were nearing the end of the journey, we were passing through a town when there was a slight thud against the car, and Mr. Wark said that he had just hit a dog. He drove back to the place a minute or two later, & saw a group of children standing around something in a garden. The dog had been killed. A little girl was crying loudly. Brian & I stayed in the car, but Mr. Wark went out & spoke to the girl & went into the house. A little while later the girl ran out &, still crying, called to the boys around the dog, "Mommy says not to bury him yet." "He's dead alright," called back one of the boys. A short time later Mr. Wark returned, & we drove off. He did not seem very much concerned. The incident upset me a little, & that night I dreamt that we were put in prison for running over the dog & somehow I returned to Happy, but he had turned completely white.
At last we reached Half-Moon Bay in the fog & Mr. Wark drove on pas the small town, then up off the road onto several smaller roads & finally drove into a garage. Brian & I fond the air now quite cold. Mr. Wark took us then to his house, which we found qute an interesting place. It was built all of brown wood; I don't thing Mr. Wark lived in the whole place, just a part of it which he rented. There was a small kitchen & the main room was most interesting. It was a large tall room & over one end of it there was a sort of large "balcony" to which a narrow flight of stairs let. The downstairs part was the living room, & the upstairs the bedroom. The bathroom adjoined the bedroom upstairs. In one corner, there was a large stone fireplace downstairs, whose stone chimney went right up to the ceiling, where it ended in some curled metal. At the other end of the room, there was a very large single-pane window.
Mr. Wark had a very large collection of gramophone records of good music, mostly in albums, and he played us some of the records. He gave us food - meat & beans & rolls & Coca-cola, and we slept on a couch in the living-room which folded out to make a bed.
Thursday, August 16th, 1951
Brian & slept fairly well & were up at about 8 A.M. Mr. Work continued being very kind to us by supplying us with an excellent breakfast. I had eggs, milk, tea, toast, & pineapple juice. As last night, we helped him with the washing-up. He was to begin work today, but not till fairly late, and so what he did was drive us the 25 miles to San Francisco & then take us all around the town. It was still fairly foggy as we drove along the coast, but we saw the ocean several times & we found it sunny in San Francisco the whole time.
Frisco is rather older in atmosphere and more formal in manner than Los Angeles. In L.A. very few men wore suits & hats, but in S.F. it was the rule rather than the exception. The climate in S.F. is very definitely cooler & much more foggy than L.A. & we saw few palm trees. Residences, however, appeared to be about the same type, though we saw many older-looking buildings. We saw quite a surprising number of interesting things during our pleasant around the city. For me, one of the most memorable of these was the extreme steepness of many of the streets. I had never seen streets so steep before, and could not see how cars could get up them if they were any steeper. The gradient must have been about one in 3, and cars parked on them were parked sideways. It did not even seem possible our own car could get up one the we attempted, and, as it happened, it could not. We had almost reached the top when the clutch (whatever that is) failed, and we had to back down to the bottom & go up a less steep street.
I had long heard of S.F.'s two famous bridges, the Golden Gat Bridge, the longest single-span suspension bridge in the world, & the Bay Bridge which is the longest bridge in the world, about 8 miles including approaches. We saw the Bay Bridge first, from a distance, & Brian & I were later to come across it. Then we drove over to the Golden Gate, & I was very disappointed to see that there the fog was so sow that all but the horizontal part of the bridge - the actual roadway & beneath - was obscured by it. It wa an unusual sight, however, for it looked almost as if nothing was supporting the bridge. Out in the waters of the harbor, we saw the island of Alcatraz on which is the famous prison.
San Francisco is indeed a hilly city, and many fine views may be obtained from the tops of the hills. Because of the steepness of the hills, little cable-cars are used for public transportation. These are like small street-cars, & are pulled along by a cable running underneath the ground. At the end of their runs, they are turned around on turntables in the streets. S.F. is a port and, driving along the shore, we saw many clean-looking docks and piers. Because I wanted to see it, Mr. Work took us to Chinatown. San Francisco's Chinatown, I have read, is the largest Chinese settlement outside of China. It is centered on California Street, along which we walked. There we saw all Chinese shops selling Chinese clothes, food, art wares etc. It was very interesting.
At las our tour came to an end, and Mr. Work, at our request, deposited us outside the "San Francisco Chronicle" building. We said goodbye & thanks & promised to write him. He had done more for us than practically any other lift we had had. We wanted to go to the Chronicle building because Mr. Morin, the professor at Chicago University, had said that, if we got to San Francisco, we should go to see Mr. Erich Nielson, an assistant to the editor. We went into the building and at an information desk asked for Mr. Nielson. But we were told that he had not been working there for over a year & was now in Mexico somewhere. So we cam away, had lunch in a café, & then set out for the Bay Bridge, which we intended to cross on our way to Yosemite. But when we reached the approach to the bridge, we saw a sign saying "No Hitch-hiking" - the first such sign we had seen. We saw a sailor there, however, and, although he was not actually hitching, we realized that he was waiting there hoping that someone would pick him up. And that was what happened in a very short time. So we went over & stood l& displayed our signs, & were soon lucky ourselves, for we go a lift which was to take us all the way to Yosemite National Park.
There was a young couple in the car. The man was American, but his wife was English, from Northampton. She had been living over here only five years, but she had no recognizable English accent at all. This was probably because she worked as a telephone operator. The man was a bus-driver. They came from the town of Bakersfield, California, & told us a lot about it. Their original intention was to go straight to Bakersfield, but they were not in a hurry to get home, and eventually decided to take us right to Yosemite. And so we drove with them all afternoon. They treated us to pie, drinks, & ice-cream. They each had their own cars, but the man was now driving his wife's car. We got to talking about driving, & to our surprise, the man offered to let Brian drive the car. Brian had never driven before, but the man later said that he thought he had. And so Brian actually drove the car for about 5 or 10 minutes. He managed to steer fairly straight, but I was worried. Once he almost ran into the back of a car because he didn't know where the brake was. And so we all came through safely, & Brian seemed to have enjoyed it.
For a long time the country was fairly flat, but then we began to climb up into the mountains, & went along a narrow winding road. We were up quite high & there were trees everywhere. We passed by some very large old trees, & I got out & walked along one. At last we reached the entrance to the park & the fee for the car was $2. We drove along right up the Yosemite Valley, past many camping grounds to the administration building where we bade goodbye to our kind friends & then enquired about accommodation. We learned that the cheapest place to stay was at the tent cabins where it would be $2 each. And so we took a cabin for the night. We had separate comfortable single beds & I liked the cabin.
Friday, August 17th, 1951
(Written evening August 18th) Yosemite, like the Grand Canyon, has the status of a National Park, & thus contains no permanent residences or unnecessary shops etc. We had a breakfast of some food from our rucksacks & then went outside to look around. It was one of loveliest valleys I had ever seen. The floor was broad & flat, partly meadow & partly wooded. All along the sides rose steep almost vertical tall rock faces high into the sky. There was a place where one could rent light bikes for 35¢ an hour & we each took one & rode separately around the east end of the valley. I was disappointed that all the main waterfalls were at this time of the year completely dried up. I had particularly wanted to see Yosemite Falls. My ride lasted about 80 minutes & I paid 55¢. Then I started to write the remainder of this week's "Edgware Post" article.
The sun grew hot. The scenery was really magnificent. We had lunch in the cafeteria. There were many people about & there are quite a few buildings, including a lodge, swimming pool, & a laundry. There are many camps & campers walking about with few clothes. After lunch, I went to see the Yosemite Museum which Brian had already seen, & there I heard a ranger lecture on the formation of the valley.
We saw Half-dome, the famous cliff-top rock formation. Afterwards we sat by the swimming pool while I finished off the article which, because of pressure of tim, I had to make shorter than usual. Then we had to be on our way again. It was the first time that we had actually hitch-hiked in California. After a wait we got a lift with 2 people who took us part of the way towards the place where we could gt the road going East across the park. Then we were lucky, & our second lift, with parents & two sons, took us all the way to Tuolumne Meadows, almost at the Eastern edge of the park. We rode for a long time along the winding mountain road through all wooded coniferous areas. A 21-mile stretch of the road was particularly bad, -- poor surface, narrow, & winding. It followed an old mining road. We were fortunate, because the man driving knew the road well & did not have to go as cautiously as the other drivers. He had a slight accent & sounded intelligent & I felt somehow that he must be a University professor. Later I discovered that was, -- at some California Univ.
At Tuolumne Meadows there was a camping ground where these people were staying. They gave us some food - an uneaten lunch, & left us & we tried to hitch out. We stood on a bridge. All around were bare rock masses in the distance. It was growing dark. Then a bearded young man came up to us & introduced himself as Bernie Bloom. He said the people with whom we had ridden had told him about us, & he wanted us to stay with him in the camp for the night. We agreed, & he took us to the camp of some young friends of his, among whom were a young teacher of English & his wife & child. They had a regular camp & campfire & gave us some food - eggs & tea & hot chocolate. Brian made the tea. It was enjoyable talking with these people & they were kind to us. Bernie did some card - & sleight-of-hand tricks & told some jokes. He took us to the camp of the people who had driven us & we sat around their fire for a while. Then he took us to his camp & said we could sleep in his car parked there. He always slept out in the open. Some people loaned us some blankets I slept in the front seat, Brian in the back since he is taller.
Saturday, August 18, 1951
(written August 19th) I hardly slept at all last night. I had very little space in the front of the car & just couldn't get to sleep. Brian slept well in the back. It was cool when we woke up. We were at an elevation of about 10,000 feet.
Bernie Bloom was quite a character & he seemed to know everyone camped round about. He was studying art, & showed us some sketches he did of the mountains. He also seemed to be a part-time student. Like most of the other young men we met in the camp, he was growing a beard. He was very friendly & we soon felt we had known him a long time. He cooked us a breakfast of porridge & tea & pancakes & was anxious to know what we thought of his cooking. We praised the pancakes. He gave me his address & we promised to write. After breakfast we prepared to leave & said goodbye to all the people we had met in the camp. Bernie took us down to the main road & there he left us & we waited for a lift. All around were mountains and forests.
We soon got a lift with 3 people who were going hiking. They took us to Tioga Pass, right at the Eastern entrance to Yosemite Park, by a ranger station. There we waited a while, & the ranger, a young man who was a student at Fresno, came out to talk to us. He said that he would try to get a lift for us. We told him we were going to Reno. All the cars had to stop at the station, & he asked many of them if they were going to Reno, but they all seemed to be going the other way. We waited quite a while & began to get hungry. I asked the ranger if we could get any food anywhere, & he very kindly brought out a can of apricots & 2 spoons & an opener & gave the food to us for nothing. We had soon eaten all the apricots. Then at last the ranger got us a lift with an elderly couple who were going to Reno & we rode with then all the way. Their name was Neel, & Mrs. Neel talked a lot with us. She was a keen photographer l& took several pictures on the way. They lived in Fresno & were on their way to visit their married daughter.
Our route was down to the 395 highway, then along it through Carson City. The scenery was often very impressive. It rained quite heavily for a while. And so we left California, & were in Nevada for the 2nd time. At last we reached Reno. Mrs. Neel phoned her daughter, & she came to meet them in her own car. (We had had meals at places en route.) Brian & I had an address in Reno. It was another one given to us by Mr. & Mrs. Morin in Chicago. The address was of a Mr. & Mrs. Ralph Wittenburg, whom the Morins said we ought to look up. All that we knew about them was that Mr. Wittenberg was a lawyer & owned a radio station. The Neels drove us to right outside the Wit. Home & left us. We knocked & introduced ourselves & Mr. & Mrs. W. invited us inside. They talked with us for a while, gave us ice-cream & cokes & showed us round their home, which had every modern convenience. Then Mrs. W. phoned up a friend of theirs who rant the local Y.M.C.A., & although there were no vacancies, this friend said we could sleep on a folding-couch in his office, & that is what we did. Mr. W. drove down there & then took us out to dinner, walked us round the town a bit & showed us round a small studio which his station KTOA owned. He also took us to his law office & showed us a very small radio that he had. We learned Mr. & Mrs. Morin where each divorcees, & that is how they met the Wittenbergs in Reno. They had a sort of "exchange-divorce" with 2 other people. Jennifer is probably Mrs. Morin's child. Mr. W. took us to a hotel where Frank Sinatra, the famous popular singer, was singing. We saw him from a distance. At last we went back to the "Y."
Sunday, August 19th, 1951
(written August 20th). We slept only fairly well at the Y.M.C.A., not being able to get to sleep for some while. We were up at 8:15. Mr. Wittenberg had arranged for us to have breakfast at a restaurant at his expense. The place was called Tiny's, & we had waffles, milk, & sliced pineapple. Then we phoned Mr. W., as he had asked us to do, & he came in his car for us, to take us out of the town. Reno was like Las Vegas, full of open legalized gambling, but it seemed somehow slightly more dignified. Reno, of course, is known all over the world a s place where quick divorces are obtainable, but, although we saw the courthouse from the outside, we saw & heard very little about divorces. Mr. W. too lus right to the edge of Sparks, the small town adjoining Reno. Before he left us, he offered us a $5 bill, but, as with other offers of money we have had, we declined it.
We had to wait quite a while for a lift. Once we went across the road & bought a Royal Crown Cola each. Then at last we were picked up by a young man & his wife in a small car. The interior of the car was in a broken-down condition. The woman was barefoot. I never understood the position exactly, but seemed that they had originally come from Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, had been living in California, & were now on their way back to Pittsburgh, whether to stay or to visit I don't know. So we rode on with them into the Nevada desert. Nevada has the smallest population of all the states, only about 130,000, & we saw very few settlements. For the most part, it was just desert & bare mountains. We stopped at the small place of Lovelock for lunch. Brian's & my destination was the town of Wells, Nevada. Winnie Shuter, a girl Brian & I (he better than I) know at school had a pen-friend there & when she knew that we were coming over this summer, she wrote to her friend. The friend replied, saying that she & her husband would be glad to see us if we ever got to Wells. And so we were going to look them up, hoping that we might be able to have a meal & a bed there.
Wells is about 326 miles from Reno, & we thought we would be sure to get ther, as our driver was going right on through But then a strange thing happened. Some miles out from Lovelock at a filling station, our driver stopped the car. We didn't understand what was going on for a while, but then he said that he couldn't go any further as he didn't have enough money. He had hoped to reach an Uncle in Salt Lake City, but the money had not lasted & now he would have to leave the car where we were, & he & his wife would have to hitch-hike themselves. This was very odd. They were first going to rest a while before hitching on & so we had to leave them & get onto the roadside in the hot sun & start hitching again. We were opposite a care, & went over once to have a drink. But finally we go another lift & this one took us all the way to Wells. We rod with a man & wife from Kansas who were on holiday. We have now spoken to so many people that the same questions & subjects keep coming up time & time again. Of particular frequency is the question of where we are in school & we have to go into a detailed explanation of how our school system is different & the standard of education is higher.
We went right across Nevada, through Winnemucca & Elko, where we had a meal, & finally reached Wells at about 8:30. It was a very small town. We left our driver & his wife & went over to a gas station. All we knew was that we had to contact a certain Andrew Knudson whose telephone number was 10F4. He lived, we had been told, on a ranch. From the gas station, Brian phoned that number, but there was no reply. Part of the station was a soda-fountain & a girl there said she knew Andy Knudson (pronounced Kenoodson) but didn't know where he was. We waited around for a while, trying to get information from other people, & finally someone told that he would probably be at church. They directed us to the church & we walked there, finding it to be a small Mormon church. We waited at the entrance until the service was over & then asked the people coming out if Andrew Knudson. He was not there, but his parents were, & we talked to them & introduced ourselves. They explained that Andy out riding on the range helping to get the cattle in. It was his wife who corresponded with Winnie Shuter, & she was visiting & staying with some relations in Wendover, about 50 miles away. Mr. & Mrs. Knudson who we spoke to were elderly & lived on & owned a ranch about 12 miles away. We at first asked them if they knew of anywhere in town where we could stay, & they started to tell us, but then apparently changed their minds l& said we could stay the night on their ranch. They drove us out there & I began to feel, from their conversation, that we were reall in the cowboy country. The ranch-house was quite isolated. They gave us a meal & we slept in a double bed.
Monday, August 20th, 1951
(written Aug. 21st, 1951) Today was a very interesting & full day. The name of the ranch we were on was the Knudson Ranch. We slept fairly well, but Mr. Knudson woke us at about 6:50 this morning. Mrs. Knudson was a pleasant woman, but she had a rheumatic heart & had been in hospital recently & was not supposed to climb stairs. Our bed was in a sort of garret with sloping roofs. We had breakfast downstairs with Mr. & Mrs. K. They were living alone in the house since their son & daughter-in-law were both away.
Mr. K. asked us if we would like to ride a horse. We had never done so before, & said we would. He took us outside into a fenced area near the wooden stables & brought our a rather old brown & white horse named Banjo whom he said would be easy to ride. Two friendly dogs, one large & one small kept jumping up on us. There were some sheep in the yard. There were no buildings apart from the ranch in sight - just empty fields of sagebrush & distant low brown bare mountains. Mr. K. strapped a saddle around the horse. He also brought out a pair of real leather cowboy chaps, used to protect the legs when riding through rough country, and a wide-brimmed Stetson hat. Brian was the first to don the garb & mount the horse. H looked like a real cowboy. I photographed him on the horse & Mr. K. showed him how to hold the reins. Then he trotted around the area & didn't find it very difficult. Then it was my turn. Mr. K. buckled the chaps on me. They are not like trousers & do not cover all of the lower quarters. I put on the hat as well, then put my left foot in the wide stirrup & climbed up & over, & was astride a real horse. The nearest I can remember coming to such an experience before was riding guided ponies at fairgrounds. Mr. K. told me to hold the reins in my left hand and try to keep the lengths equal. The right hand I used to hold the leather thong for knocking the horse with to make him go faster. Brian took my picture & I trotted round. I soon learned that the horse turned in the direction the reins were pulled. Then I got off & Mr. K got on & showed us how to make the horse gallop by urging him on. He galloped around, then Brian had a try & was fairly successful, & it was my turn again.
I got on & began trotting, "giddaped" the horse a bit, and he began to gallop. I did not feel perfectly secure. Than an alarming thing happened. The horse started to go by a door into a shed (I think it was the sheep-shed.) I was surprised, but couldn't stop him. I didn't realize at the time that I should have pulled hard upon the reins. I said "whoa" a few times, but Banjo didn't stop. The door, of course, was much too low for me & all the time I didn't think that Banjo would go right in - but he did! I was knocked backwards, & fell off inside the she. Fortunately I was not badly hurt & just knocked my side a little. I have a bruise there, & it still hurts a little. I sat down to sit out the pain & was laughing by the time Mr. K. & Brian ran over to the shed. But I didn't choose to ride Banjo any more.
Mr. K. showed us some of his guns & then when we were all ready, he & Mrs. K. who were going to Elko, drove us the 12 or so miles back to Wells. They were Mormons, & had some Mormon books in their home. They showed us some photographs of their family. They left us in Wells, & soon we were on our way again. After a short wait at the edge of the town, which was a very small one, we got a lift with a single man, an auditor from Minnesota who was on holiday touring. We were glad to find that he liked talking, and, for a change, he did most of the talking. He told us about his travels in Mexico & the U.S. & exciting bits were punctuated with words "Hell," "Christ," & "Jese," which usually introduced sentences. But he was a pleasant man & told us some interesting things.
Brian & I decided to go to the town of Wendover, about 46 miles from Wells where Janet Knudson, whom we had really come to Wells to see, was staying with some relations. Mr. & Mrs. Knudson had told us that if we wanted to see Janet we should ask at Wendover for Mr. Fred Devaney. We got off at Wendover & asked at a gas station for Mr. Devaney. We were directed to another gas station at the other end of town. Wendover was a smaller place than Wells & had few buildings. It looked pretty miserable & dry. Beyond it to the East lay the Salt flats of Utah, a huge flat white expanse of salt with which we were later to become better acquainted.
As we were walking along the street towards the 2nd gas station, a man drove up beside us in an open MG British car of a type which we have frequently seen here. He asked us if we were English & when we told him we were he said that there was in a garage nearby an English car which had just that day broken a speed record on the famous track on the Salt Flats where many records have been made. I believe the record was for a ten-mile distance on a circular track. A friend of his drove up in another MG. I got in one, Brian in the other, & off we went the short distance to the garage, which was just next door to the garage for which we were making. We went inside, & there was a small streamlined racing car being worked on by some English mechanics. We spoke to them for a while. The car engine, we were told, was an ordinary stock MG engine. We looked at it & found a lot of salt in it. It had been driven by Colonel Gardner, and Englishman who hold many speed records. We left after a while & did not meet Colonel Gardner. Incidents like this, interesting & unexpected, lead me often to say "we can never tell what's going to happen next!" We were to have more surprises today.
We went to the garage next door & asked for Mr. Devaney. He was not there, but a man there showed us to his house a short distance away off the highway, one of a group of wooden houses. The land was dry & the house had only a tiny lawn in back. We knocked at the door & asked the woman who answered whether Janet Knudson was there. Janet was called, came to the door, looked at Brian, & exclaimed "Why, I bet you're Brian!" We were taken inside & sat down & were given ice water to drink. We met Mr. Knudson's mother, a stout elderly woman. The woman who answered the door was Mrs. Devaney & later Mr. Devaney came in. I'm not sure what relation they were to Janet. Janet was young, full-faced, & pregnant. After the initial discussion, she didn't seem to have much to say. Brian talked to her a little about Winnie Shuter. Janet said she had never thought we would really come. We too had until only recently considered the chance remote. Janet had corresponding with Winnie Shuter as a pen-friend for about 4 years.
We had lunch at the house. Despite its location, the house seemed quite ordinary & well-furnished. There was a refrigerator etc. The food, as at the ranch, was not dished out, but was passed around, & everyone could take what they wanted. Unlike the Knudsons at the ranch, a grace before eating was not said. We had meat, potatoes, vegetables, bread, & pears. After lunch, we talked for a little while longer. Fred told us that, although many people thought he was crazy, he liked living in Wendover. He had his house & garden, & there was hunting about. He showed us his guns.
Finally, we left at about 1 P.M. & were on our way once more. Wendover is just inside the state of Utah, a new state for us. We waited for a while at the edge of town, holding our "BRITISH STUDENTS" sign as usual for the cars to see. We never hitch-hike without it. And then we received a lift which was to prove a very interesting and fortunate one for us. A car that had pass us a few minutes before returned to pick us up. Two men were in it, a young man & an older man who was driving. They helped us load our rucksacks into the back "trunk" of the car & then we rode off. As we drove, we learned more and more about the people we were with. Salt Lake City, Utah, is the center of the Mormon religion, & these men were both Mormons, or members of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints. The older one told us that he was a great-grandson of Brigham Young, the famous leader who brought the Mormons out to Utah. His name was Dilworth Young, & he was one of the officials of the Mormon Church. We later learned that he was (I think) one of 26 most important men in the Church. The young man with him had just returned from missionary service in New England. He was good-looking & well-spoken. The fact that Mr. Young was a great-grandson of Brigham Young lost some of its significance when he told us that Brigham had had 19 wives & 56 children. We knew very little about Mormonism, & these men were glad & anxious to tell us about it, so we learned a great deal, much more than I can record here. We were told about what the Mormons believe, their early history, how they stand in the world today, their unique missionary system, & many other things. We asked questions freely.
Meanwhile we were riding towards Salt Lake City of the Salt Flats. It was very strange scenery, just flat whiteness, with mountains in the distance. Mr. Young told us about the Flats, stopped for us to walk out a little way on them, & for me to collect some of the salt in a paper bag as a souvenir. We saw a sign pointing to the track upon which the speed trials are mad, but did not go to the track. The sign listed some of the records, and almost half of them were held by people from England. I tasted the salt & also som water that was there. It was salty enough. The surface of the ground was hard, not, of course, soft like sand. Another interesting thing se saw as we drove across the many miles of Salt Flats was mirages. We have frequently, indeed almost continuously while driving, seen the mirages of the road some distance ahead appearing to be wet. But now the Salt Flats themselves appeared to be covered with water & the distant mountains seemed to be reflected in it. It was a very interesting & unsual sight, & I took a photograph of one mountain group.
At last we left the salt flats behind & there the land became greener & more populated. At one place we stopped & Mr. Young went out into a house. He was gone some minutes, & meanwhile we spoke to the young man, & he told us about the missionary system, how all young men are liable to be called upon to go out anywhere in the world as missionaries, & how they must go at their own expense for as long as 1 or 2 years. Mr. Devaney had told us about swimming in the great Salt Lake d& we decided that it would be an interesting g experience & we would like to do it. So we asked Mr. Young to put us down somewhere where we could go swimming in the Lake. He said he would & told us a lot about it. He said it was about 25% salt &, as we expected, it was very easy to float in. He warned however that the water stings when it is splashed in one's eyes, and that it is very unpleasant & dangerous to swallow the water as it is possible to choke on it.
At last we came to a beach called Black Rock Beach where he drove us in. I don't know whether we would normally have had to pay to get into the beach or not, but Mr. Young explained to the boy at the gate that we were British students & he let us through. Before he left us, Mr. Young said that he would try to arrange for us to be shown around Salt Lake City & that, after our swim & when we got to the city (we were then about 20 miles from it) we should call in at the information bureau in Temple Square & he would leave a message there for us. We thanked him & he left. At the beach there was a group of buildings - bath-houses, bar, refreshment stands, etc. We rented bath-houses for 35¢ each. Towels were provided. We wore our own swimming trunks. Where we were, there was no "beach," but only rocks. But one only had to wade out a few feet bfore reaching soft sand. Brian was the first to go in. The water was warm, & he found that he could float effortlessly. I photographed him floating & then he took a picture of me & then we were both in. It was a very novel experience. There was no trouble at all in staying afloat, and we tried all sorts of things. We found it slightly difficult to stand up from a floating position. But the reverse was delightfully easy. We both soon learned the stinging effect of the water on the eyes, & we both cried real salt tears. The stinging, however, does not last for long. We managed not to swallow any water. We found that when the water dries on anything, such as our bodies, it leaves a coating of salt upon it. When we finally came out, we had to take a freshwater shower to get rid of the salt.
Being hungry, we had some food at the refreshment stand before walking back onto the road. We soon got a lift with a young man into the city, which did not seem to be as large as I had expected it to be. Temple Square we had to reach by taking a bus. It is the center of town, a group of buildings surrounded by a stone wall. The largest building was the Mormon Temple, a grey stone spired edifice into which we later found that, not being good Mormons, we were not allowed to enter. The information bureau was inside the museum building. There we introduced ourselves at the desk & were taken into an office where a fairly young well-dressed man spoke to us for some time about our travels. He told us that we were fortunate to have met Mr. Young. Then he said that he would like us to stay at the Temple Square Hotel & attend an organ recital, go on a guided tour of the grounds & then see a movie about the Mormons. He asked us to look round the museum while he made some telephone calls. Wile in his office, we met some other men.
We felt extremely lucky. The Temple Square, we supposed, was the best hotel in town, & everything was being arranged for us. In the museum we found many things connected with Mormonism, including many relics of the early Utah pioneers. Then the man to whom we had spoken came & said that he had not been able to get us into the Temple Square Hotel as it was full, but had got us a room in the New Ute Hotel, not quite as good. He suggested we go & leave our things there & then come back for the organ recital. That is what we did. We had comfortable single beds, a sink, shower, & lavatory and we didn't have to pay for it at all. The organ recital was held in the building called the Tabernacle, large sort of auditorium with a rounded room. The organ was a very large one. After the recital, at which there were many people besides ourselves, we went round with a crowd & a young well-spoken guide from whom we learned more about Mormonism, including the interesting facts that Mormons are supposed to give a tenth of their income to the Church & are not supposed to smoke or drink.
In the Tabernacle we saw a short demonstration of the wonderful acoustics of the building. We sat at the back & a man in front whispered & dropped pins & nails. All the sounds could be plainly heard. After the tour we sat for the movie show which was an abridged 30-minute edition of the 20th Century Fox picture "Brigham Young," starring Tyrone Power. In the Temple Square there is a monument with figures of seagulls on it . This commemorates the providential arrival of seagull which ate the crickets which threatened to destroy the wheat-crop of the early settlers. After the show the man to whom we had spoken gave a religious address, & spoke well & sincerely. After that we left, had something to eat at a drugstore & then returned to our hotel.
Tuesday, August 21st, 1951
(written August 22nd, 1951) We slept well in our separate beds & were up about 9:15. We checked out of the hotel & had breakfast in a drugstore. Then we went back to the museum information bureau, hoping to be able to thank the man to whom we had spoken there yesterday. But he was not there & we had to come away. During the whole of our trip many people have approached us & asked us question about where we have come from & where we are going. These incidents are too numerous & similar for recording here.
From Salt Lake City we planned to go North through Idaho to Yellowstone Natl. Park before heading for New York. First, we had to get out of the city & after asking directions & after a short walk we got onto the main road going north through Ogden, Utah. While we were walking along the road a man came up to us & said he would be driving a truck up to Ogden in half an hour & would take us if we wished. We at first accepted & he pointed out the truck to us & told us to stay there & went away. We walked over to the truck, but found that there were already a woman & child in the cab & the back was entirely flat & open. So we decided to seek more comfortable transportation & asked the woman to tell the driver that we had decided not to accept his offer.
Today was to be a day of good hitch-hiking. We had barely started upon the highway when a car stopped for us, & a man & woman took us 10 miles out of the city. Then we almost immediately got another lift with a man who took us to Ogden. There at Ogden we waited only a few minutes before we received our longest lift of the day, with 2 17-yr old boys, students at the Univ. of Utah in Salt Lake City. They took us all the way (about 200 miles) from Ogden, Utah, to Idaho Falls, Idaho. We talked quite a lot with them. The Idaho landscape was partly fertile & green, & partly arid & bare. Always there were mountains in the distance.
We reached Idaho Falls well on in the afternoon & had not yet had any lunch. So before going on, we had a meal in a café & then had two more lifts in quick succession. The first was with a young man who was working on the building of a high school to the town of St. Anthony, & then we went a few miles more with a father who was taking his young son out for a drive. He took us to just past the town of Ashton. We went through some heavy rain & it was raining when we reached Ashton, so the man, not wishing to let us out in the rain, drove us a little way past. Idaho is famous for its potatoes & we had seen many earth-covered potato-storage places which looked almost like underground air-raid shelters. The man let us out at the entrance to one of these where we could shelter from the rain. We stood there for a while & it became dark. There were now few towns between us & Yellowstone & so there was not much "local" traffic. Most of the cars were tourists, and they are not so good for rides. We sang a while & finally gave up, as it was getting late, & started to walk back to town. A car stopped for us & took us into the town. There we asked for the police station, & were directed to a building in which was the local library. We asked the man there if he knew a cheap place we could stay. He said he had a friend at a hotel & phoned him & came back to us saying that we could have a room for $2. We accepted & he directed us to the Hotel Ashton where we had a room with a double bed.
Wednesday, August 22nd, 1951
(written August 23rd) We slept fairly well & were up about 8:30 at the Ashton Hotel. We had breakfast in a café next door, & wrote a short letter to Pearl & Archie Bogat telling them that we expected to arrive in New York about August 30th or 31st. The man to whom we had spoken last night came into the café for breakfast. When he had finished, h went to the cashier & paid his own & also our bills. This was very kind of him. We just thanked him as he was leaving.
We waited for a lift at the edge of Ashton & had not long to wait before we were picked up by a man driving a car which was pulling a small trailer, into which we put our rucksacks. This man, short, strong, slightly grey, wearing overalls, was going to where his wife & children were in S. Dakota, to bring them out to N. California to live. He used to work in a sawmill & showed us where small pieces had been cut off the end of his fingers. Now he had become a fisherman & told us how he went out in a diesel boat with nets. He had been driving without sleep, he said, since 10 A.M. yesterday. Went with him about 14 miles into Yellowstone Park to Madison Junction, where he went north & we went south. On the way we stopped twice, once at a café where our driver went inside to get a cup of coffee while we waited outside. He returned with a little gift for each of us - one of the humorous printed letters that we have seen for sale in many places. These were about Yellowstone Park & we later sent them to our families. Another time we stopped at a souvenir place which advertised a free zoo. We went inside & saw monkeys, a lynx, Gila Monster etc. It may have been free, but all over there were signs & places for contributions.
At Madison Junction we visited a small interesting museum and then hitched on. I knew very little about Yellowstone except that it was famous for its bears and its geysers. During our hours in the Park, we saw both in quantity. We saw bears walking & sitting by the roadside, & it seemed very strange to have them roaming wild like that. People are warned that the bears are potentially dangerous, but many people go up close to take pictures, as I did. The bears do not look very dangerous. They are browny-black in color.
Inside the park, we saw cars from a great many of the states & from Hawaii, Alaska, and Canada. The park was just full of tourists, and some of the roads were busier than in a city. Whenever we were walking about, & even when we were eating in the cafeteria, people would come up & talk to us & ask questions. We really attracted attention, and the strange thing is that in England or on the Continent at comparable beauty spots, young people like us with rucksacks & shorts would be not at all exceptional. All the tourists seemed to have cars, & many had cameras. The most common kind of dress for both men & women was "jeans" (dungarees), a windbreaker, and a small peaked cap.
From Madison Jntn., we soon got a lift, & this time it
was with a man who was the Belgian Consul in Kansas City MO &
a woman who was probably his wife. Their car was not new, &
they were not particularly well-dressed. They spoke good American,
but with accents & the man said he used to be Belgian Consul
in New York. They stopped several times at different geysers,
& we all got out to look at them. The ground around them was
a light color, & they were a very interesting & unusual
sight. - holes in the ground out of which water-vapor was rising,
sometimes in large quantities so that it was like a fog. The holes,
of course, were filled with water. These people took us down to
the most famous geyser of all, "Old Faithful," which
erupts periodically at intervals of about 55 minutes. We waited
at a distance from the crater with the crowd gathered to watch.
A ranger gave a talk on the geyser, & at last it erupted high
into the air -- water &
vapor. I took a photo of it.
We had lunch in a cafeteria there, & then got another lift, with a man, woman & boy, in a jeep. They took us about 20 miles more in the park, to another junction, where we were soon picked up by some other people, parents, a son about 20, & a boy-friend of his. They seemed very interested in us & our trip; the drove us to the cabins in the park where they asked if they could take pictures of us. We agreed & they took some color pictures of us, & also some movies. Then we had to wait a while close to where a bear was standing by the roadside, before we got our last lift of the day with a young man, a high-school teacher of Algebra, who took us all the way to the town of Thermopolis, Wyoming, out of the East entrance to the park & through Cody. We could have gone on with him to Casper, but he wouldn't have got there til midnight. We talked with him about education. The land was open & bare & soon it became dark. I saw small wild animals sometimes on the road, & once we almost hit a horse.
At last we got to Thermopolis & there we told our driver that we would like to go to the police station. He inquired at a filling station & the men there said there was no police station, but they phoned for a policeman, & he came after our driver had gone. He told us of the Park Hotel, which he said would be the best place for us to stay. He told us how to get there, but first we went to have a meal at a café. There the policeman came in & introduced us to a woman who he said owned the hotel. She drove us there, in the cab of a small truck, & we had a double bed for the night.
Thursday, August 23rd, 1951
(written August 24th) Our night was not too uncomfortable, & we were up about 8 A.M. Usually Brian gets up first & wakes me . When we were ready, we left the hotel, at which we had paid $1 each. Thermopolis contains some warm mineral springs & there are several bathing establishments where one may swim in the water. We had decided to try one of these & went over to a building nearby, where we paid 35¢ each, changed to our swimming trunks in some cubicles, and went over to an outdoor pool. We were the only people there, & that made it more enjoyable. The water was really warm, like a warm bath, & swimming was enjoyable. There were some inflated inner-tubes in the pool, & we placed with them. We did some diving from a board. Before getting dressed, we went for a few minutes into the indoor pool, & there had fun swinging on a rope out over the water. At last we hot dressed & left.
We had breakfast in the café of a hotel. We were a short way out of the town & got a lift back in with a colored man. The main road of the town was under alteration & was in very poor condition. We walked along it & were picked up after a short while by some people, a man & 2 women, who said they had seen us yesterday in Yellowstone. They took us about 140 miles to the town of Casper, Wyoming. All the Wyoming towns had a "Western" flavor to them & all the men & children seemed to wear westernized clothes - broad-brimmed hats and "jeans" (dungarees). There seemed to be a rodeo or fair going on in every town. We had lunch at a place in Casper & then got a lift to a few miles out of the town with a woman & 2 boys. Wyoming is sparsely populated, and most of the landscape is open & bare.
He had not long to wait before we got a lift with a man who worked for an oil company, & as we went through an oil-field where derricks stood on each side of the road, he explained something about them to us. He took us into the town of Glen Rock. It was raining, & we had to shelter under some trees. It was at Glen Rock that we had our longest wait of the day. While we were waiting on the road outside a house, a woman came out of the house with a camera & asked if she could take a picture of us "just for fun." We had no objection, & she got her picture. Another time, a woman drove up in a car, said she had seen us waiting, & asked if she could take us to lunch. We thanked her but explained that we had already partaken of our repast, & she left.
At last, after quite a wait, we got a lift, our last of the day, & a lone one. It was with a family, a mother & father (who was driving) & two 8 & 9 year old sons who were very active & rather ugly. The 9 yr. Old son, said the father, had rather defective speech because he had defective hearing. But now the hearing was cured, & the speech was improving. The father, whose name was Mr. McDonald, was a tall strong-looking man, with a fine resonant voice. The told us that he had once been a forest ranger in Yellowstone & Yosemite Parks. Now he was running some lumbering company. He told us that if we would like a job lumbering in Oregon next summer, we should w4ite to him, & he would advance us the fare from our salary.
We drove for a long time. At one town we stopped & they treated us to drinks. I had a root beer because I wanted to try it, but I didn't like it at all. Mr. McDonald told us about how he goes hunting every year, & it made me feel that I would never want to go hunting - shooting & killing & cutting up. He told us of some fights he had been in & said he had once beat five & another time eleven men by himself. We stopped at one town to have the engine of the car attended to at a service station, & the McDonalds invited us to join them in an open-air supper. When the engine was alright we went with them to a grocery shop to buy some food there & then we drove to a picnic-table at a nearby park. There were many foods which I did not like - salads, macaroni etc., & so when they asked me if I liked pork chops I said yes because it would otherwise be inconvenient for us all, although I never ordinarily eat ham, pork, bacon etc. Afterwards, Mr. McDonald asked us our religions & I said I was Jewish. He said I was one of 2 Jewish people he knew who would eat pork. I did not mention why I had eaten it. I also had milk, bread, soup, & cake. It became dark, & we ate by the light of the car's headlamps.
Then, not wishing to go on too late, we asked the McDonalds, who were going on further (they came from Kansas) to let us out at the town of Mitchell, Nebraska, so that we could stay there. There we said goodbye to them & asked a policeman for a cheap hotel. He directed us to one, & there we had to wait some while until the owner showed up. We each got a room with a double bed for $1 each, but nothing was very clean.
Friday, August 24th, 1951
(written Sugust 25th) Last night was the first time on our trip that Brian & I had each a double bed. We slept well & had breakfast in a corner café. For breakfast we often order hotcakes or eggs.
Today was one of our worst days for distance covered, although we had 6 lifts. After breakfast, we began to walk out of Mitchell, a small town, & soon got a lift to the town of Scott's Bluff. We rode for the first time in the back of a van. The Nebraska landscape was mostly flat green farm-land, & we were close to the route of Old Oregon Trail along which the pioneers went West. From Scott's Bluff we were soon off again with a man & woman in a car some more miles to the town of Bayard. The road was following the course of the North Platte River. In these early lifts, we never had to wait more than a few minutes. From Bayard a farmer & his wife took us out into the country & left us on an open road. From there a retired farmer carried us on to a small place called Northport.
There we had quite a long wait, & while we were waiting, a man in a small truck stopped & seeing that we were British, told us that there was a woman from England living nearby & asked if we would like to meet her. We said we would & he drove us a little way along a side-road to a house where a small woman came out. She was a war bride & came for the City of London. She had been living over here about 5 years & had little accent left. We talked a short while with her, then climbed back into the truck & the man started to drive us back onto the main road.
But then Brian began to have one of the spontaneous nose-bleeds which he has occasionally. They are not serious, but come suddenly, & the blood often soils his clothes. The man with whom we were said that he was a non-practicing chiropractor (something like an osteopath) & began to manipulate Brian's neck. After a while the bleeding stopped & the man took us back to a house for Brian to wash up. Then he drove us back to the main road, & after a while we got a lift with a man, a salesman, who took us to the town of Broadwater where he treated us to lunch in a café. He said that the money came off his expense allowance.
It was Friday today, & the weekly article for the "Edgware Post" had to be written & sent off. I had written part of it last night, & we now had to spend about 3 hours getting it finished. It is always I who write the final article, & the articles are certainly much more my work than Brian's. I try to do as much of them as I can. I write some completely on my own & Brian does some in rough which I change considerably & add to when I write the final version. This week's article covered some of our experiences in Los Angeles & went on til we left San Francisco. It was not until about 5 P.M. that we finally left the café, posted the letter, & began hitch-hiking again. The first position which we took up was too near a dead turtle lying on the roadway for my liking & so we went on a bit further.
The lift we finally got proved to be our first lift in America in a large truck, or rather in 2 large trucks, for this is what happened: 2 trucks in succession passed us by & then after a while one of them returned to us & took us both into the cab. We loaded our luggage on the back. Then we reached the place where the 1st truck was parked & I went to ride with the driver of that one while Brian stayed in the other one. The driver I rode with had been in England during the war (so many men we meet have been!) & I talked with him about it. Talking was difficult because the engine made such a noise. We were going to the town of Ogallola which was at the junction of the road we were on & highway 30, which we intended to follow east. But when we had reached to within a few miles of the town, my driver noticed that he could not see the other truck following behind. So we had to go back a way til we found Brian's truck parked by the roadside. It had run out of gas. What had to be done was that Brian & I rode the remaining distance on the back of the truck with gas with our packs & the two men rode in the cab. They were later to return to the parked truck.
At Ogallala Brian & I had a meal in an insect-ridden café, then stood in the dark on the insect-ridden road trying to get a lift. But it was to no avail & we had to walk back into town, find a policeman, & ask him where would be a reasonable place to stay. He suggested Scott's Hotel & we went there & had to wait about an hour reading magazines before someone came & we could get a room. We had a double bed for $1.50 each.
Saturday, August 25th, 1951
(written August 26th) I slept quite well. This morning we were up fairly early to continue our journey east. We are getting into sort of routine now, of getting up, hitching & stopping for meals, finding somewhere to sleep, sleeping, etc. We always have good meals, but we try to avoid expensive dishes. After breakfast this morning, we were off again & after a very short wait got a long lift of 190 miles with a man from Texas on holiday. He talked with us about guns & snakes & Texas. He had a real Western drawl. He stopped once or twice & treated us to tea & cokes. He took us to the town of Grand Island, Nebraska. We were following a bend in the North Platte River. We had lunch in a café at Grand Island & then had some difficulty in getting a lift out. The road was hot & insecty & we walked along it a little way. We noticed by the roadside many dead butterflies & birds. At last, after we had been waiting almost an hour, we got another long lift, with another single man, to the town of Fremont, Nebraska. It was all farmland that we were passing through & he told us how rich some farmers were & also talked about cars & car-driving.
At Fremont, our driver turned off to go north, but before he left us, he drive us to a drive-in restaurant & treated us to hamburgers & chocolate malted milk. It was the first time that I had had a "malt" & I liked it & found it very filling. Brian & I also tried out a new soft drink called "Squirt," a fizzy grapefruit drink, which we thought fair. At Fremont it as already dark & we have found it very difficult to get a lift in America at night. We stood for a while, however, by the roadside & sang songs, & at last we did get a lift, a few miles more with 2 boys & a girl to the small town of Arlington Nebraska. It was the usual kind of small town, & as such, had no police station. We asked a group of men where the policeman (whose name was Ed) could be found. They knew he was somewhere around, but not just where, so we went first to have a meal in an eating place. As usual, everyone there looked at us as we walked in & took our seats. After a while, many children entered the place, & it became quite crowded, although it was rather late for children to be up. Some of the children stood & looked at us for a while. Most of them were wearing jeans. One little boy in glasses & a brightly-striped sweater just stared and stared. When we left, too, some of them seemed to come out behind us.
We finally got in touch with the policeman & he could only suggest one rooming house which he phoned up for us & then drove us round there. An old woman showed us our room. We paid $1.50 each. In the room were some magazines including some National Geographics of which none was newer than 1938. The woman asked us not to use too much water as it drained not into a sewer, but into a cesspool. The sink was muddy & small.
Sunday, August 26, 1951
(written Aug. 27th) Today was a day of traveling, almost all in one car, & rather a dull day, for there was little incident. We had breakfast in Arlington at the same place we had eaten last night & were on the road by about 10:30. It was a sunny day & we soon got a lift of just 2 miles down the road in a car with a man & two boys. The man worked at some large plant nurseries there. After that, we had considerable wait before we got our next lift, our 99th, which was to take us over 300 miles, to the town of Clinton, Iowa. It was with a woman & two men from Chicago who were on their way back from holiday. I think they were husband, wife, & wife's brother. We didn't talk much to them & they had the radio on most of the time, listening to baseball games which after a while became quite tedious. We had a late lunch at one town & they treated us once to soft drinks. We drove for manh hours. The landscape was not very interesting & we were crowded close together in the back with our luggage.
Anyway, we made good distance, & about 9:30 P.M. we arrived in Clinto, where they were staying the night. Clinton is right on the Mississippi River, & we walked across & sang "Old Man River" & other songs as we went. The river looked dark & mysterious below. On the other side was the state of Illinois, so we never stayed a night in Iowa through which we had been driving all day. At the other end of the bridge was a toll station, & we each had to put a nickel into a milk bottle on the end of a pole. Across the river was the small town of Fulton, Illinois, & after we had had a meal (in Clinton) we asked directions to the police station & outside it we spoke to a policeman in a car about the most reasonable place to sleep. He could only suggest a certain place with tourist rooms, which he phoned first to see if there was room. There was, & he took us round there in his car. Our room with a double bed cost $1.50 each. It was very clean & neat & there were good supplies of towels & soap. The bathroom was equally satisfactory, & there was a shower which we both used. The room was furnished with some religious tracts, including one for temperance, telling about the rats etc. which have been found in beer vats.
Monday, August 27th, 1951
(written August 28th) It was a full day today, and one in which we had a record number of lifts - ten. We traveled too a good distance of about 480 miles, & were in 3 different states. Our best lift was the last one.
We slept well last night, & had to walk back a little way into Fulton to get something to eat. Many times we are asked "What do the people in England think about the Korean situation?" & it is difficult to answer. After a breakfast in which I had hotcakes, eggs, & tea, we set out on our way. Walking along the main road out of the town, we were soon given a short lift to a road junction by a man in a Buick convertifble. Getting lifts has been pretty easy lately. Sometimes we get them almost immediately, sometimes after a short wait. Rarely have we to wait over 45 minutes.
Since we have had quite enough money to meet our expenses of food and lodgings, we have taken to purchasing occasional little luxuries like bars of candy or soft drinks. We never stint on meals, though I usually seem to have more than Brian. I feel sure that I have put on weight.
From the junction, we got a lift with parents & a young son to Rock Fall. We were going across Illinois on Highway No. 30. Our next lift followed very soon. Sometimes cars apparently pass us by & then we see they have topped for us further down, or sometimes they even turn around & come back to us. This lift was an interesting one because it was with a middle aged couple on holiday from Toronto, Ontario, Canada. They lived on Gerard somewhere, & had been over to Victoria British Columbia. We talded a lot with them, mostly I, & of course told them about my connections with Canada. The wife had come originally from England & the husband from Scotland. He had seen much action with the Canadian troops during 1st World War & told us a lot about it. They left us close to the town of Aurora. We were then fairly near Chicago, but our road this time went south of the city.
We had lunch at a cafe where we found ourselves, & I had fried chicken. We spoke to a waitress who said she was a displaced person from Estonia & had been in the U.S. about 18 months now. She spoke fairly good English, & said she was soon to leave her job & join the Army as a teacher of the Russian & Estonian languages. // I omitted to mention that the Canadian woman, Mrs. Packman, took some photographs of us & we gave our addresses & she said she would send us the prints. That was about the 4th time we had had pictures taken in such a way.// After lunch, a woman with 2 boys drove us to beside a golf course just outside of Aurora, and there we had to wait about ½ hour before a loud-voiced man took us on the the town of Joliet. He said he owned a farm & a trailer salesplace nearby.
Carrying our luggage in the cars is done in a variety of ways. Our favorite lift is in a car with just the driver & a little luggage of his own. Then we can put our rucksacks in the back seats & sit up front with the driver. I usually like sitting at the window. The worst kind of position is when the car has several people in it & we have to hold our rucksacks on our laps. Since the cars are larger here, this is lass often the case than in England & Europe.
The air at Joliet was very humid, & we felt hot & uncomfortable. We had quite a walk & over a bridge to get out of the town, & on the way paused for an orangeade. At last we got a lift, & coincidentally it was very much like our last lift with 2 trucks on August 24th. 2 trucks of the same company stopped for us & I got in the rear one, Brian in the front. They took us that way a few miles over the border into the state of Indiana. My driver was not very talkative, but Brian's offered him $2, which, as usual, he refused. Then another single man took us a few more miles to Valparaiso, Indiana, and with 2 boys in another lift, we went on to Wenotah.
It was there that we got our last, longest, & best lift of all, with a fairly young man named Mr. Kneif who was from Milwaukee, Wisconsin. He was a traveling salesman, selling air-cooled engines for the Wisconsin Motor Corporation, & was going to Columbus, Ohio, for the State Fair there. He was a member of the Lutheran Church & told us much about it. He was particularly interested in church activities as he was one of the few lay members of the policy-making board of the Church. He was a good talker, intelligent, friendly, & very interesting, & I really enjoyed the ride with him, which took us eventually to the town of Marion, Ohio. I learned much about his job, his church, & his life, & only wish I could write in detail all about our conversations. We talked about politics & war & peace. He took the side of war if need be, & I spoke up for peace & pacifism. He said he did not believe in the theory of evolution, but we didn't talk much about that. He seemed to have a good job, had all expenses paid, was using company's car, & often traveled by air. We rode on for many hours. It was so interesting listening to him that that ride did not seem long. We stopped at a restaurant where Mr. Knief treated us to a meal. I had hamburger steak.
It wa quite late at night (I am reluctant again to mention times because they change on our way across the country) when we reached Marion, Ohio. We could have gone on to Columbus, but that would not have been directly on our way, so Mr. Kneif kindly waited outside a police station which we made enquiries inside. Then he drove us to 2 of the hotels to which we were referred. The first, the Milner, was full, but at the Snyder we gat a room with 2 beds for $1.75 each. So we said goodbye to Mr. Kneif & he gave me his address. In our room there was a double & a single bed. We tossed, & Brian won the double. But mine had a better mattress.
Tuesday, August 28th, 1951
(written August 29th) We had 4 lifts today, & traveled from Marion, Ohio, to Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. We slept comfortably & rather later than usual because we had been up later than usual. We had breakfast in a drugstore & then started to walk out. The typical American residential street is tree-lined & has white wooden houses.
We have several different ways of hitch-hiking. Sometimes we just walk along the road with our back to the traffic, signaling with our thumbs. Sometimes we sort of walk backwards facing the cars, holding the sign & hitching. But most frequently we just take off our rucksacks & stand beside them with our "British Students" sign.
This morning we were walking along when a woman alone in a car stopped for us. This was just about the 1st time that we had a lift with a woman alone. She was early-middle-aged & said she could take us out of the town. But after we had gone a little way, she suggested that we might like to see the Tomb of President Harding, who had lived in Marion. We agreed, & she drove us there, talking meanwhile & telling us about the President, what a kind & good man he had been. We looked at the tomb for a little while. It was a roofless circle of pillars, with the graves of Harding & his wife within. When we drove away, the woman told us that she was related to Pres. Harding's 2nd wife, whose name was De Wolfe. She was some sort of a cousin. She told us quite a bit about the President, who had been in office after Wilson & before Coolidge.
She told us too about her son, & his adventures on holiday
with friends, going down the Grand Canyon. She drove us to outside
Pres. Harding's old home, which was now a museum, & offered
to pay our 25¢ admissions, but we were in a hurry & couldn't
accept, so she drove us out to the edge of town, & there we
soon got a lift with 3 middle-aged women who took us to Crestline,
Ohio, & put us again at the far edge of town. There we waited
a while & had a soft drink in a nearby diner, & finally
got a lift with a young couple who came from Massachusetts &
were on holiday, driving & camping out at nights. They were
well loaded with luggage, & we had to take turns sitting in
space in back while the other sat in front. The woman was a kindergarten teacher, but, as usual, she didn't seem much like a teacher. The man was studying engineering at the Mass. Institute of Technology. They drove us for several hours across Ohio. We also went into a small part of the state of West Virginia, about the 22nd state we had been in.
We crossed the Ohio River into W. Virginia & left our people on the other side, at Chester. It was by then late afternoon, & we had had a late breakfast, but no lunch. So we had a meal in a café before going on. Returning to the road, we soon received our last & most enjoyable ride of the day. We were picked up by 3 boys riding in the front seat of an open convertible. The back seat was full of luggage & covered with the car-cover, so we had to sit on top of that with our rucksacks. We were quite safe, & the boys in front held on to our rucksack straps, while we held on to the rucksacks. The boys' names were Tom, Bob, & Fred, & they were 17 & 18 yrs. Old. One of them was born in London, Ontario, Canada. They had been on tour, & visited many of the places we had been to. They lived in Philadelphia, & were making for Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, this evening.
The miles we rode with them were enjoyable. One of the boys was plump, had a loud voice, & talked a lot. He called at all the girls we passed. He told us that his father was chairman of the American Socialist Party, & he was glad to hear that we were on the whole in favor of socialized medicine. Two of the boys were going to Harvard & Yale this September. One of the boys had an Aunt who lived in Pittsburgh & he told us that she was away but that she had given him permission to use her apt. If they could get into the apt., they were going to stay the night there, & they said we could too.
At last we arrived in Pittsburgh, where we noticed that the air was rather smoky. Riding in the back of an open convertible made us feel rather like celebrities entering a town, & for fun I kept taking off my hat to the people as we passed by. The address of the aunt was 3596 Beachwood Blvd., & the boys had considerable trouble finding it. We had to drive around quite a lot before they found, then they found that the janitor didn't have the key, so it was no good. They were very friendly, & we asked them to take us to a police station. They eventually asked a motorcycle policeman the way; he took one look at us & said "Follow me!" & so we drove off, & with a "police escort," Brian & I felt even more like important visitors. The cop led us to a p. station, & there we thanked the boys & bade them farewell. We went inside; there were many policemen about, & we as usual asked the man at the desk about cheap accommodation, explaining our position. He thought for a while, but could eventually suggest only a hotel where it would cost us $2 each.
One policeman took us round to the cell block & tried to persuade us that we would be comfortable on the hard wooden beds. But they did not look enjoyable & so we decided to go to the $2 place, which was the Hotel Moritz. The man at the desk gave us written directions how to get there. We had to take a streetcar & while waiting for one we were joined by a policeman just coming off duty. He talked with us & told us that he had had an Aunt in Wallasey, Cheshire, but had not heard from her since about 1942. His letters had been returned by the Post Office. I looked up Wallasey on a road-map of Britain & found it near Birkenhead. I said if he would give me the address, I would try to look up his aunt if I were ever round that way. He said he would leave the address at our hotel.
For $2 each at the St. Moritz we got quite a good room, with a bathroom & shower & good furniture. But the neighborhood was not good. Our window looked out onto Collins St. (I think) & while we were getting ready we heard noises in the street of a child crying. We looked out, & saw 2 men lying on the sidewalk some way down, apparently fighting (one seemed to be holding the other) while a crowd was beginning to gather. Then some police arrived. I went downstairs to see what was going on, & saw two policemen leading a man away into their car. I asked a man what had happened, & he said that a man who was a ---- maniac had been beating his child & terrifying her, & was, I gathered, stopped by another man, until the police arrived. Afterwards we saw several more policemen walking in pairs on the street below.
Wednesday, August 29th, 1951
(Written August 30th) Today we had only 2 lifts, but the 2nd one proved to be a very fortunate one for us. We slept well last night, & this morning while we were getting ready, a man from the hotel came up & gave us two envelopes. They were from Sergeant Connell, the policeman to whom we spoke last night. One envelope, carrying the message "For a favor promised," contained 4 dollar bills, the price of our hotel. The sergeant had paid our hotel bill! The second envelope contained a short letter to us which gave Mr. Connell's address & the last known address of his Aunt in Wallasey. This was a very kind act & we wanted to thank Mr. Connell. We tried to phone him, but couldn't get on & just had to phone & leave a message of thanks at the police station.
We had breakfast in a café. A man working there spoke to us, told us he was a soldier in England during the war. He said he married an English girl, brought her out here, paid for her to take a trip back to England once, & then she deserted him & went back home. He was now married again. Many people, usually men, often come up to us, seeing that we are English, & say that they came from England 30 or 40 years ago.
We had to get out of Pittsburgh, & after asking directions, we were advised to take a certain streetcar. We wanted to get on the famous road known as the Pennsylvania Turnpike, which extends to Pittsburgh. The streetcar took us out to where the road was more open, & there we got a lift of a few miles with a 17-yr. Old boy. Then we had a considerable wait, & had to walk some distance before at last we got our good lift. It was with a Mr. Buhl, who lived just outside of Pittsburgh. He was a traveling salesman selling coin-operated parking meters to local authorities. He wa a grey-haired man in his 60's, very fond of talking, especially about politics. He seemed concerned that our rucksacks would damage the interior of his car, & made us put them down very carefully. The car was a black Oldsmobile, & we sat in the front with him. We had gone only a little way when he pulled into a restaurant, & we got out & wnt in for lunch. I had a hot chicken sandwich with potatoes & gravy. We paid our own bills. After the meal, we sat & talked for a while. Mr. Buhl was a Republican, staunch defender of free enterprise, and, like almost everyone else we have met, antagonistic to President Truman. He was interested in our views on Socialism & defense.
At last we left the restaurant, & soon came to the place where the Turnpike began. There was a sort of toll-gate, & every driver going on the Turnpike is given a ticket punched at the time & place he came on. At the other end, payment has to be made, at the price of about 1¢ per mile. Mr. Buhl was going on business to Allentown, Pennsylvania, & so we went along the Turnpike, which is between 200 & 300 miles long, from Pittsburgh to Harrisburg. It was a very fine road, with 2 lanes of traffic in each direction, separated by a grass-filled "island" running down the middle. The slow traffic like trucks is supposed to keep to the right & be passed on the left. Often we see trucks with signs on their backs telling of the danger of passing on the right, e.g.: <SAFE SIDE SUICIDE> <ZOOM DOOM> .
The road, though going through very hilly country, was fairly level. There were several long tunnels going through the mountains. The speed limit on the Turnpike is 70 M.P.H., but many cars go about 85 M.P.H. (speed limits seem always to be ignored in America.) We often went above 85, & for a time we were going at over 100 M.P.H. But Mr. Buhl was a good driver. He told us he sold on commission, & had to work hard, but made more money than by salary. The Turnpike has no towns along it, no intersections, & no traffic lights, so one can go very fast for considerable distances. But we had to slow up for construction work or tunnels, or when we got stuck behind another car. We heard that, despite the fine-ness of the road, there were many accidents & fatalities upon it, probably because people went fast who were unused to going at such high speeds. At intervals along the road, there were gas stations & restaurants, & we stopped at one called the MIDWAY, supposedly half-way along the road, where Mr. Buhl treated us each to a chocolate malted milk, and I sent a postcard home.
We came off the Turnpike at Harrisburg, & there Mr. Buhl treated us to dinner in a restaurant. I had roast beef, potatoes, beans, chocolate, milk, cherry pie. Again we stayed talking at our table for some while, & it was about dark when we left. Mr. Buhl said he would like us to stay at his expense at the Allentown Hotel where he would be staying. We thanked him & accepted. The ride to Allentown seemed quite long, although we drove at a good speed. At one town, Mr. Buhl stopped & demonstrated to us how the parking meters worked. He told us quite a lot about himself, how he had lost everything he had in the 1929 stock exchange crash, & had gradually recovered. He was always telling us about the good things that private enterprise had done for America.
At last we reached Allentown & we found that Mr. Buhl was staying at the Hotel Americus, the biggest & best hotel in town. It was a really good place there, & he took a room with twin beds for us for $8. This was the most expensive accommodation that we had had in America. The people at the hotel desk heard our story & phoned a local paper, which soon sent around 2 people, a young boy reporter about our age & a man photographer.. They first interviewed us un detail, & then the man photographed us wearing our hats & rucksacks & holding our signs. They said it would be in tomorrow's paper, & I asked them to send on a copy & the photograph to my address.
Before we went to bed, Mr. Buhl took us to a coffee-shop across the street for a drink. I had chocolate milk. Then we said goodnight & came up to our room on the 10th floor of the 11-story building. It was quite a good room, & there was a good view. The bathroom has a corkscrew on the door, & on one wall there was a container full of Kleenexes.
Thursday, August 30th 1951
(Written August 31st, 1951) Today at last we reached New York City. Our sleep last night was comfortable. Mr. Buhl had asked us to meet him in the hotel lobby at 8:45 A.M. & we requested the desk to ring & wake us at 8 A.M. So we were up at 8 & down at 8:45 to meet Mr. Buhl. We bought copies of the Allentown "Morning Call," but could find no mention of us & supposed that we would be in the evening edition. Mr. Buhl took us to breakfast in the hotel dining-room, & I had hotcakes, eggs, orange juice, & chocolate milk. I took a great liking to chocolate milk in Los Angeles because I had it in cartons at Uncle Marsh's every day. Mr. Buhl told us how he had once, early in the century begun a ranch in Texas, but had had to give it up for some reason when his wife's mother died. Then after breakfast when we were all ready, we went to his car & he drove us to the outskirts of the city. We bade him goodbye & promised to write. He had been extremely kind & generous.
We felt sure that we would reach New York today. We soon got a lift with a man going to Easton. He tod us that he was a retired army colonel & had been in Britain during the war in charge of supplies coming in at Cardiff & Swansea & some other towns. He had been on a building which was bombed; 2 men with him had been killed & he had been deafened. This had caused him to be in hospital (Walter Reed Hospital, Washington) for some time. He had now almost recovered, but was till a little hard of hearing. When we were about to leave him, he offered us each a dollar bill, but we as usual declined.
We stopped in a drug-store in Easton to have our morning soft drink, this time a glass of ginger ale. Then we walked out of the town a little way on the road to New York, & soon got a lift with a man born in Canada but living in Pennsylvania. His job had to do with the purchasing & obtaining of land for new state roads. He had to assess the value of the land. He was going north, but was in no hurry, & took us a few miles out of his way. Then we had a lift to Somerville, New Jersey, with a man who worked as a ticket clerk on a railroad. He had been with the American troops in France during the First World War & told us about his experiences there, particularly about the poison gases which were used.
At Somerville, the cars were going pretty fast, but it wasn't long before we had a lift in a Buick convertible with a man who spoke fast & replied to everything we said with "Fine!" "Good!" or "Swell!" He told us he thought there was little consideration for others in the east, & people were less friendly & courteous. I disagree with this myself. Many people have told us that the people in one part of the country are more friendly than those in another, but their statements as to regions often contradict each other, and I find no such differences in all my travels. The man took us to near Newark, New Jersey, where we had first started hitch-hiking on July 3rd, but we didn't go to the same place. We had a considerable wait on the very busy highway there, before at last we received a lift to New York, our last lift in the United States, and the 120th of our trip. It was with a Catholic clergyman, who took us through the industrial New Jersey region & under [sic] the long Holland Tunnel by which we had come under the Hudson River out of New York.. He left us at the New York end of the tunnel, and at last our trip had been completed. We had covered by hitch-hiking probably between 7000 & 8000 miles in the U.S. We were very hungry & went into a cafeteria, where we first went to a phone booth & I phoned Pearl & Archie in Brooklyn. I had written to them several times & in my last letter had said we expected to reach N.Y. probably on August 30th or 31st. Pearl answered & right away knew it was me. I said we would be coming over after we had had lunch.
We ate in the cafeteria, & I had a very good meal of roast beef, potatoes, beans, fruit salad, bread & butter, & chocolate milk. It cost $1.45. We knew how to get to 1075 Utica Avenue, Brooklyn, & had no trouble on the subway or the bus. It was about 3 P.M. when we at last arrived at Pearl's beauty salon, saw Archie downstairs & Pearl upstairs in the apartment. I'm afraid I would have liked to rest & relax, & was rather irritated by the questioning with which we were plied. Archie can be a very dull man, and his constant talking, plus that of Pearl did annoy me, especially when I was trying to read some letters from Mummy which had come here. There was a letter too from Uncle Marsh. He said that he had received from the TV people the government bond which we had won on the Bill Gwinn Show, but that he was going to use it to pay for repairing a lamp which I had accidentally knocked over, & his typewriter whe we had slightly broken. "I know," he said "that you will not mind this." We do mind, but there is nothing that we can do about it. It does not seem very fair, but Uncle Marsh did a lot for us anyway. He said that he had heard nothing about the radio which we were supposed to win as well.
Archie told us that there were two large packages waiting for us downstairs. We were expecting to receive 2 Mixmasters from Mr. Leventhall in Los Angeles, who had promised that he would send us one each to this address. And sure enough, that is what they were, in 2 large cardboard boxes. We brought them upstairs to unpack them. We found them extremely well wrapped, each part in a separate cardboard station [sic], & there was much cardboard, paper & string lying about on the floor by the time we had them all unpacked. The Mixmasters are very good machines & Pearl say they they cost $46 each & are the best make. Each time I think about Mr. Leventhall giving them to us I am astonished anew. It is really an amazing gift. The postage alone on each parcel cost over $1. We are going to try to pack the machines in pieces in our rucksacks. We know that it is illegal to take them into England without paying duty, & only hope that we get by the customs.
We had supper her & in the evening Pearl & Archie's daughter Reggie & her husband Lou came over here. They are interested in poetry & philosophy, & we talked with them for a while about a new philosophy which they are studying called Aesthetic Realism. Reggie read us 2 poems written by the founder of A.R., a Mr. Seigel. One was called "Hot Afternoons Have Been in Montana." They were in the modern rhymeless rhythmless vein. Pearl & Archie's other daughter & son-in-law, Gert & Sam, are now in Europe on holiday. We did not get to bed until late. I phoned the N.Y. Herald Tribune asking if they would be interested in our story. They said they would send a reporter round tomorrow at 5 P.M
Friday, August 31, 1951
(written in the air, Sept. 1st, 1951) Today was our last full day in America. I forgot to mention an important thing yesterday. We received identical printed letters from the National Union of Students telling us about the return flight on Sept. 1st. In the letters, it said that we should meet at a certain hotel in New York & would have to pay $1.25 transport to the airport. But Archie said that he would drive us there, so I phoned up a Mr. Harrison whose address was on the form, & he said that that would be alright & that we could go straight to the airport, but should be there at 11:45 A.M. The plane, he said, would leave about 1 P.M. Also on the form it said that we would have to obtain certificates showing that we owed no taxes in the U.S. So today we had to go down to some income-tax department at 292 Madison Avenue & take our passpofts to get the certificates. We went by bus & subway, & I too writing materials, hoping to be able to finish the "Edgware Post" article which should have been sent in today.
In the office, there were many people waiting in chairs, but they were moving up steadily. Brian was hungry, so he went out to have lunch at a drugstore while I waited & kept his place & tried to write. He came back in good time, & it did not seem very long before we were seen to. There was very little to be done. All we had to do was show our passports & sign a form, & the certificates were given to us. I still had much writing to do & hadn't had lunch yet; the reporters from the "Herald Tribune" were supposed to come to our place at 5 P.M., so I arranged to meet Brian back at 1075 Utica Ave. at 5 P.M. so that I could eat & then find somewhere to write. I had lunch of a hamburger, potato chips, orangeade & cherry pie in the Walgreen's drugstore where Brian had eaten, but when I had finished, I decided that, as we would be leaving by air tomorrow, it would be no quicker to write the article today & post it this evening than to write it tomorrow on the plane & deliver it in person.
So I did not write any more, but looked around some bookstands for a while & then went to the famous New York Grand Central Station which was nearby and looked around there & took a photograph. I arrived back at Archie's just about the same time Brian did, & Pearl & Archie took some photographs of us in front of their shop. Then we went upstairs to pack our rucksacks & wait for the reporters. But the reporters never showed up. I later phoned the newspaper & the man there said that they did not have enough staff to cover the story, so we had to give up the idea.
Packing was quite a job for us as we each had a Mixmaster (see yesterday) to conceal inside our rucksacks. We wrapped each part carefully in clothes & stuffed things all around them to make the rucksacks look as unsuspicious as possible. We managed to get everything packed, but the rucksacks are now heavier than they have ever been before. Pearl prepared us a dinner of steak an roast potatoes. Then we watched TV for a while. Before I came back to America, I was largely in favor or commercial broadcasting, but now I have changed my mind. The standards are much too low & there is far too much advertising. But I can still enjoy watching TV here & listening to radio. There is still some enjoyable light entertainment to be had. I particularly liked this evening a TV program of "The Quiz Kids" which we used to listen to when we lived in Washington. The children are sometimes astonishingly clever. The oldest boy on the program was Joel Kupperman, who used to be the youngest when we were here.
About 9:30 some company arrived. I am not a very family conscious person & don't know who exactly they were, but I know there was the mother of Ruth Bush who we know in Edgware, and Anna Saul & her husband, old friends of Mummy, & Henry, some relation Mummy's & people who I believe were his wife & 2 children. Also there was another man who said he knew my mother. We sat & talked & ate ice cream & at last said goodbye. Late tonight I wrote a short letter to the Leventhalls in Los Angeles, telling them that we had received the Mix-masters.
Saturday September 1st, 1951
At last I am bringing this diary up to date & am making an entry which is not a day late. As I write, I am sitting next to Brian, who is about to go to sleep. We are in the Skymaster airplane, out over the Atlantic Ocean. My watch says 12 midnight. That is Newfoundland time. We left Newfoundland some time ago. I am bending over a fold-out table. Almost all the lights in the plane except mine are out, & people are getting to sleep. The sound of the plane is like the sound of a very loud rush of wind. And so we are on our way back to Prestwick.
I hardly slept at all last night. It was very hot & humid, but worst of all, I had several mosquito bites which were excessively irritating. It was a miserable night. This morning I was up at 9:30. Everything was ready. Lou came round to say goodbye to us. We had good breakfasts & were all set by 11 o'clock. We said goodbye to Pearl. She was very hospitable, but somehow I was glad to come away. She like Archie could be very aggravating. But we were to have more of Archie before we left. He took us in his car, & on the way to the airport through Bell Harbor & Rockaway, the resorts on Long Island, he kept talking & talking in his monotonous voice, saying useless things. My family with me were at Bell Harbor on holiday in 1945 at the time when the war ended, but Archie didn't take us through any parts that I recognized. There was a lot of traffic on the highways, & we didn't reach the Idlewild airport until about noon. But that didn't matter. He left us there & we walked in. I began to feel just a little excited. We found our way to the KLM desk and showed our passports & tickets & had our rucksacks weighed & taken away. As far as they & the Mixmasters are concerned, we can do nothing but hope for the best. If all goes well, Mummy & Mrs. Richmond will get a lovely surprise.
Then we waited on seats there, & a boy came up to talk to us who, it seemed, had been doing better than us in some ways. With 4 or 5 other British boys ranging ages from about 17 to 21, he had been on an exchange tour organized by the English-Speaking Union. They had been chosen from many hundreds of applicants & had been going on a free organized tour of the United States, traveling everywhere by air, & being treated everywhere, it seemed, like celebrities. They had done many things & met many important people.
There was much less formality in leaving New York than in leaving Prestwick, & things went much smoother. At about 1:30 P.M. we were summoned to the plane, had only to show our passports, & were soon climbing into the plane. At first things look bad, for we were at the end of the people coming aboard, & it looked like we would get bad seats & have to sit separately. But even then luck was with us. There is a semi-partitioned section at the back of the plane which is really supposed to be for the crew. We told an officer that we couldn't find any seats together, so he put us in 2 seats together in the crew compartment. We are lucky because this is a sort of "private" section. We have a small round window. Opposite us are sitting 2 young English clergymen, & across the aisle are 3 members of the crew. We have a toilet which the other passengers do not have. Our are the fold-back kind, but they don't have much room to fold back.
On this return flight, we make only one stop, which we have already done & so the next stop will be Prestwick. The plan is now bumping more than I have know it to do before, & it's difficult to write. Flying time from Gander to Prestwick is supposed to be 10 hours. At Gander it was just as when we had come over. We went into the same terminus & had a free meal at the same place there. It has been uneventful. I sent a p. card from Gander. At Idlewild Brian & I each bought a 26¢ pocket book. I bought "Believe It Or Not" by Ripley. He bought "Dialogues of Plato."
And now I nee some rest & sleep, so goodnight.
Sunday, September 2nd, 1951
(written at home, Sept. 3rd, 1951) I got a few hours' sleep, was up early on the pane, & did some more writing for the "Edgware Post." The trip passed smoothly and fairly uneventfully. Coming back across the Atlantic, we lost 5 hours. The whole flight took about 17 ¾ hrs. Our outgoing flight was 22 hours. When we arrived over land, the sun was shining & we could clearly see all the landscape. It looked beautiful.
At last we touched safely down, & were back in Britain. It welt cool at the airport. Later in the day it rained quite a lot. We had to go into a waiting room, then had our passports quickly looked over, & then the moment came - when we came before the customs with our rucksacks, each of which contained in pieces a valuable Mixmaster. But luck, as always, was with us. The man merely presented us with the card which informed us that smuggling is a serious offense & asked if we had anything to declare, and cigarettes? -- nylons? We replied that we had nothing & he put the red chalk-mark on our luggage & we were free with our Mixmasters. We went into the terminus, & I was given a letter from Mummy containing £3, which I didn't need. We had our photographs taken at the airport at the same place where we had them taken going out. Then I telephoned home & spoke to Mummy. She & Brian urged me to go home by train or coach, but I much preferred to hitch-hike, & I eventually persuaded Brian to do so.
I told Mummy that we would be home sometime tomorrow. We left the airport with our heavy rucksacks, & decided to take the quickest route home, the one by which we had come up: Prestwick, Carlisle, Penrith-Scotch Corner, then down the Great North Road to London. To get onto the main road for Carlisle, we took a bus into Ayr and then another one to the village of Cumnock. After 2 months in America, the small & old cars of Britain seemed strange to us. So did the dress of the people. It was strange riding in a big bus and using English money again.
Our first lift in Scotland was in a comfortable private car with a man who was a strong advocate of Scottish "Home Rule." He took us to Dumphries, where we had stayed a night in the police station 2 months before. We called in at the police station just for fun, & spoke to the desk sergeant. We had had breakfast on the plane, but were now hungry & went into a cinema café. Only tea was being served, & we soon missed the American cafes & food. I was obliged to have a piece of fish, bread & butter (not nearly as good as American), and tea & cake. It was all very poor & cost us each 4/6.
We walked out of Dumphries, & had to wait a long while for our next lift. During this time I began telling Brian a story, making it up as I went along. At last we had a lift with 2 men, one young, one old, in a small car which never did over 35 M.P.H. They put us down before the town of Annan, & again we had some wait. Then the same 2 men came by & took us up again, to the town of Annan. From there we rode a few more miles in the front of a lorry, & then got a lift with a man going to Carlisle. We were by then hungry again & went into a restaurant for a very poor meal. I ordered meat pie. It was very small, with a small amount of sausage meat in it. Oh for the days of hamburgers, ice water, and cherry pie!
By the time we were ready to leave Carlisle, it had become dark, but we fortunately got a lift in an R.A.F. van 18 more miles, to Penrith. By then it was quite late, but we tried for some while unsuccessfully to hitch out. One British Road Services lorry stopped & the man said he was going 80 miles & wanted us to pay him. Brian offered him 5/- for us, but he wanted 10/-. I wouldn't have paid in any case, so off he went without us. Eventually we had to walk back into Penrith & ask a policeman where there would be cheap lodgings. It was then almost midnight. He directed us to a bed & breakfast place called Musgrove House, where a drunk man answered the door. He went to a woman & she told us we could have bed & breakfast for 9s each. We agreed & she showed us to a large room with 3 beds, 2 double & 1 single. A man was already sleeping in one double bed. She put a screen between that & the other two. Since in a similar case once before, I had had the single, it was now my turn to have the double bed. I was tired, & found it comfortable, but Brian's mattress was of straw & the bed was hard & lumpy. After a few minutes of dark, he said he couldn't sleep in the bed & came over to sleep with me.
Monday, September 3rd, 1951
We are home at last & it is 12:15 A.M., so I must be brief. We were up at 7:30 this morning, had breakfast at the place, & were on the road early. We soon got a lorry-ride across beautiful countryside east to Scotch Corner, where we wer on the A1, the Great North Road. There we got a lift with some sort of clergyman & a hitch-hiking German student whom he had picked up. He went to Wetherby & the student got out with us. Then we got another lorry lift. We sat in the cab & put our rucksacks in the back. The driver also picked up the German, & another boy from Coventry. They sat in the back. Our driver had been chauffeur to a British general during the war & had been in many countries. He took us about 17 miles, to where he turned off & we all got off. The other 2 went ahead of us. We hitched a ride in the back of a van, but had gone only a few hundred yards when we came to a newly stoned road surface. A stone from the road hit our windshield & an odd thing happened. All the glass cracked all the way over in small sections, till it was like frosted glass & one couldn't see through it.
We had to leave the van & start off again. We got onto another lorry which picked up too the boy from Coventry. Brian went inside, & the boy & I rode on the open back. The lift took us all the way down to Newark & ther Brian & I hitched a tank-lorry carrying Guinness beer which had passed us twice before - and it stopped! The driver said he couldn't pass us again. Hand he took us all the rest of the way home, right to Apex Corner, where I got off. Brian stayed with him a bit longer to get closer to his home. It was about 9:30 P.M. On the way down, our driver kindly stopped at the town of Stamford so that we could weigh ourselves on the same scalesl we had don on June 27th. Then I weighed 167 lb. Now I weighed 173 lb. Brian had gained about 2 lb.
It was raining hard when I left the lorry. I just caught a 113 bus to Highview Ave., & was soon at home. It was good, but strange to be home. Mummy, Daddy, & Myrna were here. They plied me with questions & I at first felt awkward. Mummy was not as surprised at the Mixmaster as I thought she would be. The Edgware Post articles had been distorted more than ever. Happy was hairier than ever & looked cute & quite unlike any other dog. Sorry I can't write more. Home sweet home. School tomorrow. Goodnight. #