Saturday, August 22, 2009

Grandma Ruth's Grand Tour

Here it is, the middle of the day and it has been raining for hours. I’ve been puttering around and having gotten bored with my life at the moment, have decided to delve into another’s: my grandmother’s. Grandma Ruthwas not only intelligent and observant; fortunately for posterity, she was very organized. She documented several of her trips across country through letters, photos and other ephemera which she mailed home and assembled in meticulously labelled and dated scrapbooks. In fact she even wrote the date on which she assembled the scrapbook.

Grandma Ruth was born in Chicago on December 30, 1903 which was the night of the Iroquois Theatre Fire, one of the deadliest blazes in history. Amazingly, her two aunts had been planning to go to the Iroquois theatre that night, but due to her birth they stayed home. They both lived to be elderly, very lady-like ladies.

In August 1931, at that time an unattached woman of 27, Ruth travelled to Yellowstone and points beyond with her friend Diana. Here is an excerpt from a letter she wrote from Manitou Springs, Colorado. I especially like her description of the sunrise and what she wore to “rough it.”

Tuesday, 7:30

Dear Bill [her brother],

Just got back from a beautiful trip to Pike’s Peak. We left here at 2 o’clock this morning and oh! the sky was gorgeous. I never saw so many stars in my life. We arrived up at the Peak, a distance of 23 miles, at a quarter of four. Then we watched the sun rise on the horizon. It was magnificent. We could see little towns lighted up way down in the valleys. Th lights sparkled like diamonds. Then it started to get light and we started back at about 5:30. It was all light by then. And was it Cold ? Well I wore my suit skirt with a jersey, blouse, my suit coat, my white coat and rented a man’s sheepskin coat which I wore over all. I had on my woolen hose and golf shoes and my feet were so cold as they get in zero weather. The temperature up there was said to have been about 33 but on account of it being 14,000ft. above sea level and having such dry air it feels very very cold.

I guess I was about the only one in the party who didn’t get dizzy or sea-sick. I felt fine and still do. Diana was pretty dizzy tho. She is upstairs fast asleep now. I’m going to have breakfast first and then hit the hay for the rest of the day (Poetry).The trip costed $6.00 but I enjoyed in spite of all that.

In her later years my grandmother visited Egypt, China, Australia and many countries in Europe, but she never kept the detailed notes that I have of these early trips. Sadly and inevitably perhaps, the ease of photography and the affordability of long distance calls, made such documentation unnecessary.

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