HANDWRITTEN, 1930 EUROPEAN TRAVEL DIARY KEPT BY THIS GRAND RAPIDS WOMAN. Kathleen Millington.
HANDWRITTEN, 1930 EUROPEAN TRAVEL DIARY KEPT BY THIS GRAND RAPIDS WOMAN
HANDWRITTEN, 1930 EUROPEAN TRAVEL DIARY KEPT BY THIS GRAND RAPIDS WOMAN
HANDWRITTEN, 1930 EUROPEAN TRAVEL DIARY KEPT BY THIS GRAND RAPIDS WOMAN
HANDWRITTEN, 1930 EUROPEAN TRAVEL DIARY KEPT BY THIS GRAND RAPIDS WOMAN

HANDWRITTEN, 1930 EUROPEAN TRAVEL DIARY KEPT BY THIS GRAND RAPIDS WOMAN

1930. Original manuscript. Hardcover. pp: (32) printed matter, including 8 full-color pages of flags (world, ships’, etc.) and funnels, info on ship navigation; nicknames of U.S. cities; etc. One-page handwritten “itinerary” from Grand Rapids, MI to Detroit to Montreal to Quebec to Belfast, Liverpool and London, June 25-July 5 [1930], plus a half-page “log” of geographic positions of the ship. Next are 44 pages of handwritten entries in ink, dated July 5-July 27. At rear are thumb-indexed pages for addresses, 11 of them used, some with multiple entries, containing names and addresses of KM’s fellow-travelers. Also at the rear is one handwritten page listing 23 drinks, all alcoholic save “cider,” ranging from various wines to the “Viking Special” and “Manhattan Cocktail.” Contained in a book of tan [lizard?] leather over heavy boards, "Travels Abroad" and decorated border gilt-stamped on cover, Original pencil in sleeve. 6.75" x 7" Fine. Item #040549

Kathleen's journal provides a (lighthearted) view of sights and scenes in Europe between the world wars. In addition to sometimes lengthy descriptions of cultural and scenic sights, she describes her hotels, meals, nightclubs, and companions—including relationships with men-- and a litany of alcoholic drinks consumed during this Prohibition-era journey. ~~ The author is an educated, high-spirited young woman, Kathleen Millington, of 519 Gladstone Ave, Grand Rapids, Michigan. She sails to Europe on the Cunard Line’s S.S. Athenia, which later was the first U.K. ship sunk by Germany, in 1939. The diary opens on July 5 with an impressionistic description of her journey across the sea, her trip from Liverpool to London (a city full of “char-a-bancs and antiquated cabs”), and her initial sightseeing foray (“London is not a city but rather a huge overgrown sprawly town”). As a girl of Prohibition times, she especially notes “pubs [serving] stout and ale, wine and spirits.” Her touring of the city is described, with historical notes on various sights. She reports that land in the old city (“the heart of empire”) is worth $5,000,000 per acre, and that the Ritz Hotel is patronized by “Mary Pickford, Charley Chaplin, etc.” She and her traveling companions take day trips to Cambridge (“narrow crooked streets, thatched roofs”, punting on the river Cam, a list of colleges, etc.); and to Windsor Castle via Stokes Poges and Maidenhead with a stop at “the oldest inn in England, Ye Olde Ostrich Inn.” Kathleen winds up her English stay in London going to a “posh night club” with friends, where she sees “a good show” and has “food and cider”, eventually landing in bed at 2:45 a.m. ~~ On July 10, they cross the Channel from Dover to Ostend, then entrain for Brussels. Kathleen has a bad cold and hence a couple early nights, but her friend Dot “had her hair bobbed and was inveighed into buying a gallon of hair tonic by a wavy-haired barber.” Next they train to Cologne, where she and a doctor she consults “have jolly fun misunderstanding each other with the help of an interpreter — pills, salve and cognac.” Our author and friend take a steamer up the Rhine, where she “spent day madly taking pictures and trying to keep warm in the bar.” She notes that the flags are at half-mast because of a mining disaster in the Ruhr Valley. After a brief stay at Weisbaden, they proceed to Heidelberg, where KM goes “looking for steins—apparently as scarce in Heidelberg as pretzels were in Cologne. Wonder if they really do have spaghetti in Italy….” The young women next take a train through the Black Forest (it’s “really black, too—even lakes”), and she and her four fellow travelers form “the beginning of an invincible group.” KM has “two rich German desserts topped with a double cognac” and later soothes her upset stomach by “sipping Kirsch which did the trick.” The next stop is Oberammergau, where she finds the Passion Play “a bit long—eight hours but immense and very impressive. Crucifixion and Resurrection scenes the most stupendous and inspiring….” ~~ On July 17, KM and company head for Switzerland, after a short stop in Munich and a boat ride from Lindau across Lake Constance “to avoid going into Austria”--, then a train for Zurich. She proceeds from there to Lucerne and Interlaken describing the “heavenly trip” and noting that she can see the Jungfrau from her window at the Hotel National. She also describes the group’s “most interesting new courier, William Rupert Maclaren, 23, Boston, Harvard, blue eyes –a winning smile—likeable chap –and very good-looking, too.” In the evening, she also meets “two charming Cambridge men, one of them “a Glorious Apollo, Byronic in appearance but virile instead of pale… [and] intriguingly savoir faire”. After a boring time at the symphony, the group of “fourteen lively spirits” moves on to the local “ball-room and American jazz and Spanish tango….” Rain prevents Jungfrau-ascent the next day, and KM winds up with “somebody or other Wagner and another Swiss chap…teaching one to tango. Packed and in bed by 3:30 [a.m.].” ~~ The group heads to Italy next, taking the train to Stresa (a trip where “Betty [was] subtly throwing herself at Mac”). After a visit to the Borromean Islands and the “Castle Isla Bella where Napoleon kept his mistresses” and where KM is appalled by the “lava bathroom”, they head for Milan, where she does some sightseeing. Next comes Venice. They take “gondolas from station to Luna Hotel”, and a post-dinner stroll demonstrates that “Venice definitely is not a place of bad smells.” July 22 is spent sightseeing, including a trip “to Lido to swim. Divine Adriatic [was] marvelous and beach perfect. Tea dancing at Excelsior” follows, as well as an evening gondola ride where “lovely music [is] everywhere.” After a quick stop at Bologna, the group heads for Florence on July 23, and on arrival immediately “roamed about looking for Florentine silver.” After a couple more days of sightseeing, they have a brief stop-over at Rome, where KM conducts “a mad search for spumoni”, which she finds at a café “across the street from Mussolini’s office.” The group then proceeds to Naples. Kathleen notes that there had been an earthquake a few hours before, although “contrary to reports, Naples not touched but Melfi and surrounding country hit hard, 3000 to 4000 dead.” She soon takes the “glorious Amalfi drive from Pompeii to Sorrento”, sees “Vesuvius belching a rather menacing column of white smoke”, and describes the sights of the excavations at Pompeii. KM and her 4 companions then miss the train for Rome, but she and Mac “fooled around [and] had a terrific silly streak and nearly killed ourselves laughing.” After “a filthy trip—all tunnels”, they do arrive at Rome, where the first night they “did as the Romans do and no wonder Rome fell!” A fitting end for these light-hearted diary entries, written by a young woman near the end of the flapper era.

Price: $200.00

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