1925. Original manuscript. Bound in black leather over flexible boards, "My Trip Abroad" stamped on cover, all edges gilt, 6.5" x 4.25". Front matter includes 8pp of nautical flags and 15 unprinted leaves with handwritten notes: Capt. George Gibbons's autograph; "Best wishes for a bon voyage" by Martha Quinn; other autographs; entries from three days of the return voyage. The main diary, written in black ink in compact hand, occupies the next 103pp. It is followed by a 24-page address book (which Ruth used), and a folding world map in color tipped in at the rear. Laid in are two letters to Ruth’s mother, Mrs. Lewis R. Evans of in Waterville, NY, 8pp each, written in pencil, and dated Aug. 15-16 and Aug. 23, 1925. Also laid in is a printed palm card showing the R.M.S. “Ausonia”(Cunard Line), with information on the ship and this 1925 voyage on the verso. A blue “Hotel de Bellevue, La Haye, Hollande” luggage tag also is present. [Ruth was born in 1893, and died in 1973 at Utica, New York. Meanwhile, she married Royal Richardson Babcock in 1942, taking his name as Ruth Evans Babcock.]. Very Good. Item #041200
JULY 25 - SEPTEMBER 6, 1925. Ruth Evans is a young woman traveling with a Mr. & Mrs. Moore, who are leading a group of some 20 young women on a tour of Western Europe—a 20th-century female version of the 19th-century gentleman’s “Grand Tour.” Her diary begins on June 27 when Ruth boards the “Ausonia” in Montreal and finds herself in a cabin with “Miss Mary Ellen Ford, Elsie Potter, and Mary Lawrence.” Entries on the next several days describe shipboard life in some detail. On July 6, the group “debarks” at Plymouth, goes through customs at Cherbourg, and eventually entrains for Paris, where they are “loaded into tiny taxis” and taken to the Grand Hotel du Louvre, where she rooms with Mary Ellen Ford. // Ruth carefully describes virtually all she sees on her journey, offering historical notes as well as visual ones, including the local art and architecture. Most interesting are her descriptions of the ways that the citizens of various areas are working to rebuild in the aftermath of WWI. In contrast, she includes shades of the “Roaring 20s,” especially in her descriptions of Paris and Berlin. // The party of travelers occasionally splits to see different locales, some women accompanying each of the Moores. In addition to tourist destinations in Paris, Ruth visits a “War Painting…all of allied nations [of WWI] have a space…a wonderful reminder.” With Mrs. Moore’s group, she also visits “Des Ambassadeurs…a sort of vaudeville…the girls wore too few clothes to suit me…but beautiful scenic effects.” They also visit the “Lalique crystal place” on a shopping spree, and go to “the Follies…many nude figures” and “beautiful lighting.” // On July 10, the young women board a “big char-a-banc” and visit the World War battlefields, and the HQ for Gen. Jeffries in the first Battle of the Marne. Crossing the Aire Canal, they view Meaux: “now the road had not large trees but stumps. The French had cut the trees and blown up bridges to stop the Germans…crossed the Marne again on a temporary bridge…small British cemetery in Vaux partly destroyed by the Germans and completely destroyed by the Americans…the sector where Second Division fought…Chateau-Thierry, more bridges being rebuilt…the Dermont…German and French cemetery [and] British cemetery...all small but so precious. Everywhere the trees were cut, places were being rebuilt. Many places still in ruins….” // At Rheims, they find the Cathedral “the saddest sight of all. Reconstruction is going on but hopeless to me the task. Windows all gone…Tapestries saved and hung....” They have a long drive to Charnery and see the grave of Quentin Roosevelt (described in detail). "…we could follow the white streak through the fields, the Hindenburg Line. Saw dugouts, helmets, barbed wire, trenches and plenty of evidence of war… Hill 138. German mines blew up the place. Great caverns….” Then they go to the “great American cemetery…4000 Americans are buried there. Very well-kept: cross to mark each grave.” They then dine at General Pershing’s HQ in Chateau-Thierry. // Back in Paris again, the girls “...went slumming. Went to Haven Hill...tame, then to Dead Rat…Girls asked boys to dance. Mr. Moore…got his hair mussed…had a gay time and got in at 3:30.” They attended church at Madeleine the next morning, and “walked around to see where the bombs had hit.” A trip to Versailles follows. Ruth finds the place “disappointing for it looks so old and neglected. Repairs are now being done on it…the state rooms…were so bare and neglected…” Crowds there were huge, and “American soldiers were quartered in part of [the palace].” In the Petit Palace, “many rooms were closed.” // Though Ruth is not ready to leave Paris, on July 14 the group travels to Switzerland, to Montreux and Interlaken. She writes her the usual detailed descriptions, including trips to “the glacier” and the Matterhorn.” They proceed to Lucerne and then to “[William]Tell Country," before moving on to Lake Lugarno and arriving in Bellagio, Italy, where they “had our first glimpse of fascisti soldiers on the boat.” From July 17 to August 3, the girls visit Italian cities, including Florence (with Ruth's long descriptions of art and architecture). At Rome, they have an audience with the Pope: “...took off our hats then put on black mantillas…we had our rosaries on our arms.” A long description of the Pope himself follows, and he “held out his hand as he passed and we kissed the ring then rose. Three times around the room and it was over…he pronounced a benediction and departed.” Next they go to Naples (“dirt and dust…whole families in one room on the street, beds plainly visible. Terrible filth and it left a bad taste….”) Then it was on to Pompeii, Amalfi, Sorrento and Capri. By July 31, our travelers are in Venice, where they sightsee until departing by train for Vienna on August 3rd. // Ruth and her companions spend several days in Vienna, then move on to Dresden, which is still in “an overpopulated condition. Von Hindenburg’s picture hung over the desk in the hotel.” On to Berlin, where they stay at “a truly American Hotel” (the Hotel Bristol). There, the young women listen to “the first good jazz orchestra I had heard since I left the USA unless Paris counts….” She sees the sights of Potsdam, palace of San Souci, the Reichstag Building, etc., and notes that “prices [are] very high in Berlin.” By August 9, they’re off for Holland, visiting Amsterdam, the Isle of Marken, the Hague (where “I never saw so many bicycles”), and she gives us a detailed description of the peasant costumes. On August 12th, they arrive at the Hook of Holland, and then board an overnight boat for Harwich, England. // Back in London, the women go sightseeing, visiting the environs (Warwick Castle, Kenilworth Castle, Stratford on Avon, Oxford) as well as the London sights, including Cleopatra’s Needle, the London subway ("a fine system with plenty of room and upholstered seats”) and “where the bombs fell.” August 21-29, Ruth goes solo and visits family members who live in Wales. The rest of her tour group breaks up, with Mrs. Moore going on to Scotland with 7 or 8 women, Mr. Moore sailing home with more of them, and the remainder left to their own devices for a few days). Ruth stays in Blaenau with Mrs. Jones and Mary Ann, who meet her when she arrives, attends young Evans’s birthday tea, etc. She rejoins Mrs. Moore’s group on August 29 in Liverpool, and they all sail for home on the S.S. “Laconia” (Cunard Line), where she spends a fair amount of time being seasick. // Ruth's two letters to her mother [laid into this diary] are each 8 pages and in envelopes addressed to Mrs. Lewis R. Evans at Watertown, NY. The letters offer some rehashes of her diary entries, but also add new details about the trip. The first letter (dated August 15 & 16) is primarily concerned with her London visit toward the end of the journey, while the second (August 23) supplies a lot of description about the Welsh branch of the family and attempts to figure out how they are related. Ruth describes everyday Welsh life circa 1925. For example: “They cook everything right on the coals except what they put into the oven…kettles are iron and covered with black. They have running water in the yard. It must be hard to work here....” She also notes that the Welsh eat four meals: “Breakfast, dinner, tea at 5, supper about 8:30 or 9”, and she describes in great detail the painful and itchy “flee” bites that are tormenting her in Wales.