Saturday, March 23, 2013

1939 Trip West - excerpts from

This time I'm going to type it....and it starts out....


Our Fourth Vacation

Having again accumulated a 30-day leave with pay, we "hoisted anchor" the morning of June 1, 1939 for points West and Northwest.  The objective was the San Francisco World's Fair or what is advertised as the The Golden Gate Exposition.

This trip was made with a 1938 Chevrolet Town Sedan Master Deluxe, pulling a purchased camping trailer manufactured in northern Wisconsin.

Page 4.....

We soon came to the shores of Lake Tahoe, Gem of the high Sierras.  The level of this lake is about 6,000 ft. but the road runs at varying heights above it and the view is marvelous.  the water is azure blue and with the high mountains capped in snow showing beyond makes a sight indeed worth traveling far to see.  When we came to the place where the highway enters a tunnel on the bank of the lake we got out to shoot some pictures of it.  While there Robert exclaimed that he saw some shiny stone far below us on a ledge, probably a hundred feet below the road level.  Said it changed color if he moved a little.  We came to where he was and looked and this proved to be true.  First was blue, then yellow, then red.  I climbed down and Robert directed me to move my hand first right then left until my finger was upon it.  It proved to be four sets broken from a bracelet and lost there. We had them "assayed" by a jeweler in San Francisco who pronounced them glass.  But in spite of his verdict we kept them as they throw lots of colored light.

Soon after entering the Golden State at Stateline, where we were inspected, we came to the hardest and meanest pull for the car that we encountered on the whole trip.  This was Echo summit near Placerville.  The elevation is 7394 and near the top we encountered a detour that taxed the car to pull it in low gear.  We tied up at Lodi, at Sherman auto camp.  This is just about to the level of the sea.

a few paragraphs later......

Entering San Francisco from the south we took refuge in the Mission Bell Auto court at $.75 per day.  This place advertises they have the largest court in the U.S., having 112 cottages and room for 30 or 40 trailers.  It is a classy place, well taken care of and also well patronized.  The service you get there is good and we can recommend it to any who want to pay six bits a day for the privilege.  We paid for a stay of four days in advance, later renewing for the fifth day.  The following day we took a free tour given by some real estate agents altho we had no idea of investing in California property. (too bad there Gramp...) We visited some points of interest like Palo Alto and the Leland Stanford University and the new development Belle Haven City.  Much early history of the conquest by the Spaniards is connected with this section.

To this city my Grandfather came in the year 1854 by way of wind ship from around the Horn as he journeyed to the Nevada City gold camps to seek his fortune.  What was then a mere settlement now is a great Metropolis.  The completion of the Oakland Bridge at a cost of $72,000,000 and the Golden Gate Suspension Bridge at a cost of $35,000,000 formed the motif for the 1939 Golden Gate Exposition.  This Fair was really our objective.  This trip was the result of two years of careful budgeting and planning in order to bring about its reality.

On Monday we rode the Key System Ferry across that part of San Francisco Bay lying between there and Treasure Island.  This island is a man-made island of 400 acres.  It was made by laying a wall of boulders and other rocks around the boundary and pumping in sand and dirt from the bottom of the bay to fill it.  where salt water ran three years ago there is now the magic Treasure Island with its great buildings, lovely boulevards and lagoons and waving palm trees.

Ferry fare is 10 cents for grown ups and 5 cents for children.  the admission to the Fair is 50 cents for adults and 25 cents for kids.  this admission is all one has to pay unless he enters side-shows on the Gayway.  This Gayway corresponds to the Midway of our prominent mid-west agricultural fairs.  Here one my ride the Ferris wheel or merry go round, the miniature train or shoot the chutes.  Or he may slip away and go to see Sally Rand's Nude Ranch. "Step right up, gentlemen."

After two very long days at the Exposition, time that left the Coop's very impressed. The following morning an extensive visit of Golden Gate Park and later....

In the evening we took the Gray Line tour of Chinatown and other points.  A visit was made to the Coit tower on Telegraph Hill, Fisherman's Wharf and other points.  San Francisco is more beautiful by night than by day, with its new bridges brilliantly lighted and the distant Treasure Island shining like a jewel.  Did Robert Louis Stevenson ever dream of anything more beautiful than this Treasure Island?

In Chinatown we stopped at some of the better shops, climbed four stairs to visit a joss house,  (temple) and walked into a Chinese telephone exchange.  In their community there are 2200 subscribers and none have a number.  The caller tells the phone girl whom he wishes to talk to by giving a description of the person.  the girls memorize the description of the patrons and are able to give good service by this system.

On June 15th we again backed in and coupled up our trailer to depart from the city over the new $35,000,000 Golden Gate Bridge.  This is a never to be forgotten experience, crossing this bridge.  The toll was 50 cents each for car and trailer.  We only drove 126 miles, tying up at Ukiah.  We drove slowly, eating fruit and relaxing after our stay in the great city.  At Santa Rosa, where Burbank used to hold forth, we bought more cherries, never seeming able to get enough of them.  The Santa Rosa district is beautiful with fruit and flowers.

There was time at Crater Lake......

On the 22nd we continued on north on #99 and then turned west near Dillard on #42 towards Coquille and finally Marshfield.  Here we went in for a couple $.65 haircuts for Robert and myself.  We also bought some myrtle wood stock for turning after we return home.  Myrtle is fabled in song and story as growing in only two places on earth, Palestine and Coos county, Oregon.  Personally, I don't think it much superior to our own northern hard maple.  We restocked our cupboards and ice-box and moved on over the Coos Bay bridge to north Bend.  This is the first of a series of five marvelous bridges we crossed going up #101 on the Oregon Coast.  The five cost a total of $18,000,000 but are all toll free.  Each bridge is unlike any of the others, all are beautiful.  There are pictures of all five in our sets, now in our vacation picture album.

We tied up at a point near Tahkenich Lake, between the sand dunes and the highway among tall fir trees and other stuff.  the camp site was among the poorest of the entire trip but we stayed at this location two nights.

The next day we drove on north to Florence where we received a letter from our neighbors at home, the only letter we had on the whole trip.

At Seal Rock we drove off the highway into a small park on a high bluff overlooking the ocean.  Here we stayed the night of the 24, 25 and 26th.  During this time we tramped on the beach and over the rocks, fished or waded and in general did nothing and did it thoroughly.  On Sunday, I tried my luck at fishing and within an hour had caught a 5 lb. rock cod.  We ate it for supper and it was not hard to take.  During the afternoon, fished again and hooked another but in trying to land it the line scraped against the mussel covered rocks and cut the line.

At Seal rock Bee (Grandma Beatrice) and Snuffy (Boston Terrier) got drenched when a big wave came unexpected nearly swept them from their perch well above where the waves usually came.

At noon on the 27th we drove north leisurely, enjoying the high spots of the rugged Oregon coastline.  Cape Perpetua is beautiful.  Cape Foulweather, however, appealed to all of us as the prettiest spot on the coast, from a natural viewpoint.  At the lookout we purchased souvenirs.  This is built right on the edge of a high cliff and one may look far out to seas or almost straight down in the the water.

At Depoe Bay we looked at many strange things in the Aquarium.  Among other thigs we saw an octopus.  Going on we turned inland at Otis Junction passed thru McMinnville and other towns, including Newberg, the nut center of the west, and dropped anchor in a neat little camp located in a grove at Tigard, Ore.

The 28th, we went through Portland without stopping for anything other than traffic lights.  Crossed the  Columbia into Vancouver, Wash. and continued north thru Kelso finally camping at a Standard Oil station near Tenino, Wash.  The day was without events to mention.

On the morning of the 29th, we pushed on into Seattle where we tied up just outside the south city limits in Bennett's Trailer City.  We unhooked and drove 5 miles to waterfront and took the 11:10 ferry to Bremerton to see the famous Navy Yard.

Later on Page 10......

At Seattle we got fish at a fish market on the waterfront.  We also saw cable or grip cars, first I had seen since my last trip to Seattle in 1922 when I was there with one Lee, a man I had done threshing with near Lewiston, Mont.  These cars were the Madison St. cable cars, which have their line terminating a block or so from the Colman dock.

We stayed the night of the 29th in order to get a fresh and early start the following morning to make Snoqualmie Pass.  the climb proved an easy one and we were soon beyond the range of the fog from the sea, headed once more in the direction of home.  At Cle Elum we got gas and turned northward towards Blewetts Pass.  This pass was not as bad as pictured but is a mountain pass nevertheless.  It has many curves, similar to the road from Crescent City, Calif. to Grants Pass, Ore.  We had dinner in the mountains beyond the Blewetts, and moved on north and east to Cashmere and finally, Wenatchee.

At Wenatchee we called on one Wesley Stackpole, owner of a 20 acre fruit farm south of town on the famous Wenatchee Heights.  We found the man without trouble and he showed us around his orchards and treated us to all the Bings we wanted to eat and some to carry off with us.  Also showed us the oil well in process of drilling about a mile from his home.  it is now at the depth of 3995 ft. with no traces of oil.

At Wenatchee in 1922 the railroad dicks put me off the train and delayed my flight from the coast to Montana more than a whole day.  But on this trip we met with no such delay and furthermore, we "rode the cushions." So much for owning your own rolling stock and having also, a share in the road....

And from there it was eastward to fun times at Glacier National Park.

In reading through these old travel logs, I'm seeing things in my Grandfather that are new to me.  For all of the years that I did spend around him, the stories that I heard, the many things that I thought I knew that made him 'go', there are new discoveries here, a younger man's ideas, openness and attitudes, an even greater sense of curiosity.  I'm even prouder of him than I was and that is all very good.


  1. Great story and a fine collection of memorabilia!!

  2. Every few years, at least until the War, there are trips chronicled. I've heard more than a few stories about the summer that mom was pregnant with me, she and dad plus dad's folks went West.....seems there was an incident involving a smashed loaf of bread or something while mom was lying down, probably not feeling all that well in the back of the Ford wagon.

    I haven't read the Official Transcripts.......yet.