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Trip Journal From 1921

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Back in July of 1921, my grandfather and his sister made a trip out to New York City in his 1918 Dodge to visit some family friends. My dad and one of my aunt's guess that part of the trip had to do with my grandpa visiting a lady friend named "Ida". Although Ida never became my grandma, it'll remain an unsolved mystery what the relationship was there.

 

However, my Great Aunt Rene (pronounced "Reen") recorded the trip to NYC in a journal, which my aunt Ginny Overton from Brunswick, OH recently transcribed for me (God bless her, all 35 pages she re-wrote!). I'm in the process of transcribing it onto Word (no easy task with it written in pencil!), so I thought I'd share with you all the three days it took to get from Indy to NYC.

 

My grandpa was a great man, one I wish I would've had the chance to know better before he passed in 1992 at the age of 95. He was the son of a German immigrant, Fred "Fritz" Bremer, and owned his own plumbing business for most of his life. That profession spawned future plumbers in my dad, and 3 of my 5 brothers. I must've inherited my mom's talents behind a desk. ;) Below is a picture of my grandparents from their 50th anniversary write-up in a 1974 INDIANAPOLIS STAR:img089.jpg

 

I thought I'd post the log up until arriving in NYC to give you an idea how travel was some 86 years ago, when a 24 year old Albert Bremer and his 21 year old sister Laurine made there way to the big city. It's written just how Aunt Rene wrote it; I didn't want to tamper with it. The opening is from my Aunt Ginny. Enjoy!

 

Trip Journal

 

from

 

Indianapolis

to

New York City

 

July/August, 1921

 

 

Albert Bremer

&

Laurine Bremer (Aunt Rene)

 

 

What: Journal of a trip kept and written with an ink pen by Aunt Rene.

 

When: Thursday, July 7, 1921 through August 4th or 5th, 1921 (30 days). Machine used : Albert’s 1918 Touring Dodge—no notes on return trip.

 

Where: From Indianapolis, Indiana to New York City, New York and return.

 

Who: Albert Dietrich Bremer, our dad. Born 1-12-1897—Age 24 at time of trip. Laurine Dina Matilda Bremer (Hadley), our Aunt Rene—2-2-1899—Age 21 at time of trip.

 

Why: To visit friends and/or relatives. We think connected to our Grandma Meta Scheele Bremer. Also to see a girlfriend of dad’s—Ida (Wiebke) (They may have met through family some way—but in Indianapolis).

 

I have enjoyed “pulling this together” for our generations and forward. It is truly a treasure. I am sorry I could not get reprints of pictures.

 

**Warren G. Harding was President!**

 

 

Ginny Bremer Overton

Brunswick, Ohio

September 2007

 

JOURNAL – TRIP TO NEW YORK CITY, NY

Albert D. Bremer (age 24) & Laurine Matilda Dina Bremer (age 21)

July 7, 1921

 

Albert and I left home at 3am on the morning of July 7th, 1921 for our trip to New York City in the Dodge (believed to be Albert’s 1918 Touring Dodge). We had our trunk suitcase, traveling bag, blankets, pillows and varying other articles packed in the back of the machine. The weather was fine.

 

We went thru Richmond, Ind., Dayton, Springfield, Columbus, and Zanesville, Ohio, Wheeling, W. VA., and Washington, PA the first day covering 356 miles by 8 o’clock that evening.

 

We had fine roads all the way. We had to detour several times while still in Indiana and of course, these roads were rough at times, but our main road was the National Road which was fine. Parts of it was brick, then some stretches was concrete, and quite a bit was macadamamized.

 

Our trip thru Indiana was mostly thru a flat country, but in Ohio we came to some hills and our road was winding. We (took) some pictures in Ohio, but not a one turned out OK.

 

The hills were a little larger and steeper as we neared West Virginia. Below is a scene taken somewhere in W. VA.

 

**Picture showing country side**

 

Now that we were in W. VA., we had really come to the mountains, and it certainly was fine to go up and down and around thru the mountains.

 

Below is another scene taken in the mountains in W. VA.

 

**Picture showing hilly scenery**

 

The picture does not look as though this was taken in the mountains district, but the picture though plain enough does not make the mountains look as high as they really are. Then, too, sometimes the upgrade or downgrade was so gradual one didn’t realize their heighth until we were down in some valley and would look back to see where we had come from. But even at that, I believe I was somewhat disappointed in the mountains as far as their heighth was concerned. I had expected them to be so much larger. But they were by far more beautiful than I had expected to see them. Sometimes we could see the road away up ahead of us, winding like a narrow strip of ribbon.

 

There were very few cross roads in the mountain district, just the one main road, so we had no trouble finding our way. Then, too there were signs all along the road giving the mileage from one place to the next. Below is another scene taken somewhere in W. VA.

 

**Picture showing scenery/road/hills/telephone poles**

 

About 5 o’clock in the evening we were in Wheeling, W. VA. We stopped here for a short while and sent some cards.

 

This was surely a beautiful place. We could look down in the valley below and see a little town down by a river. Then, too, the mountains seemed to nearly surround this place.

 

Just before getting out of Wheeling, we had to cross a bridge and had to pay toll. I don’t remember how much it was now.

 

A little piece on the other side of Washington, PA, we stopped for that day. It was almost 8 o’clock then. We ridden 356 miles since 3 o’clock that morning and had made very few stops, only long enough to mail a card or so, get gas, or the like.

 

Mama gave us a lunch to take with us and Albert didn’t stop long enough to even eat, but ate while driving. He had a sandwich and a piece of chicken in one hand and drove with the other.

 

We had a small tent with us and blankets and pillows, so when we came to a little deserted looking road, we drove up in it about half a mile, found a flat place to fix our bed and put up our tent and then sleep. We happened to stop near a farmhouse an dthe people were singing and one man was playing a French harp, so the music or something put us to sleep about as quick as we lay down. We both slept fine.

 

We felt fine after our sleep and were ready to start at 3:30 the next morning before anyone else is up. We could make good time as there was no traffic to hinder us. Early in the morning it would be foggy, so you could barely see some of the little towns snuggled down in the valley below. We went thru Cumberland and Hagerstown, MD, and Washington DC and Baltimore, MD stopping right on the other side of Baltimore about 10 o’clock that evening having ridden 302 miles on our second days journey. We had now ridden 658 miles since leaving home.

 

While going thru the mountains in Maryland that morning, we passed quite a few miners going to work. Some of them seemed to have quite a long and steep road ahead of them, so Albert asked some man to ride, thinking he was a miner going to one of the mines early. But we found that he was a regular tramp and was going someplace quite aways from there which was right on our road, but as we didn’t like to have a tramp for company, after he had ridden quite a ways. Albert told him he could get off now and walk.

 

All thru the mountains were filling stations and we could always get gas, oil, and water when we needed it. The grades were longer and steeper up the mountains now, so we had to stop quite frequently and let the motor cool. Gas was higher farther east than it had been at home.

 

At 4 o’clock we were in Washington, DC and rode around there for about four hours, stopped at the Depot and mailed some cards. This is a nice clean place with wide streets and beautiful buildings. We drove past the White House and quite a few other large buildings. If it hadn’t been so late yet, we sould have driven out to Mt. Vernon, Washington old houses, but it was 8 o’clock there, so thought we had better not, as it was 15 miles out there and then 15 miles back again.

 

We were in Baltimore, MD it was 10 o’clock. I don’t think I shall ever forget Baltimore on account of its houses. They were built all alike. At least, there were square after square of red brick apartment houses, probably two or three stories high. They were all built right next to the sidewalk, without any yard to them, neither had they any porches to them, but there were steps leading to each apartment and these steps were painted white.

 

We stopped for the night a little way on the other side of Baltimore. We had a little trouble finding a place to bunk for the night. We drove several miles down a side road trying to find a smooth or a flat place at least to fix our bed, but there were ditches on both sides of the road nearest the main road, and the farther back we drove on this side road the wilder the place looked. One might think we were getting into the wide of Africa. There wasn’t a house in sight and the underbrush was so thick. I imagine this was a fine place for mosquitoes, also.

 

We turned around then and came nearly back to the main road, drove the Dodge on the side of the road and put our blankets and pillows in a field nearby. They had just recently cut hay in this field and all the stubble sticking up didn’t make our bed any too soft, but we could have slept most anywhere. I believe I could not sleep at first as something was crawling under my blanket, but it wasn’t long until I was sleeping as sound as if I had been in my own bed.

 

We started out again at 3 o’clock the next morning. The weather was fine as it had been all the way. We came thru Havre de Grace, MD. Here we crossed a long toll bridge. The bridge was ¾ miles long and they charged 65 cent toll charges. We also came thru Charleston, MD. At 5:50am we were in Wilmington, Del., only 736 miles from home. At 8:30 we were in Philadelphia, PA., 765 miles. We stopped here for about an hour. After about an hour and a half’s ride, we came to Trenton, JN, 804 miles, then 15 miles farther was Princeton. When we came to New Brunswick (835 miles) we stopped there to clean up.

 

It looked as though a storm was coming up when we reached this place, so before reaching the center of the town, we stopped under a tunnel and after very many attempts go the curtains on the machine.

 

We then stopped at the depot to wash up a bit. It was raining when we went in, but had stopped before we came out again.

 

Our appearance had improved, after washing, etc. Albert had needed a hair cut on his face quite badly, so he naturally looked like a different man after he got a shave. My, I felt about 100 percent better after I washed my face, as washing and cleaning up wasn’t thought of, as we didn’t have the time for that on the way. About the only thing we did stop for was gas, oil, and after we had eaten up all of our lunch , of course, we had to eat once in awhile, but toward the end of our trip and before we had stopped at New Brunswick to clean-up, we were almost ashamed to go into a decent restaurant. Once in awhile we had to take what we could get, too, and one place in particular I about lost a perfectly good appetite after I got in the place. Quite often we just stopped at a grocery store and bought something for our dinner there, and ate on the way again saving time.

 

We left New Brunswick at 2 o’clock, and reached Wilhauken, about 20 miles from there, at 3:05pm. Here is where we were to cross over on a ferry to the New York side.

 

Here was to be something new and very interesting to me, especially as I had no idea just what a ferry looked like. Somehow or other we got past the ticket gate without getting a ticket, so after we were ready to drive on the ferry, they asked for our ticket, and of course we had none. The ferry man became very angry and made us go back, so we could not get that ferry. We also kept two other machines that were in line in back of us from going on it and they also had to wait for the next one. We however didn’t have to wait very long.

 

Below you will see a picture of a ferry.

 

**This is a postcard picture of NY skyline w/ferry & boats at the shoreline (Hudson River)**

 

I believe we came over on the Dykeman St. ferry. I don’t know what crossing it is on the picture as there were quite a few. Two lines of machines can drive in at once. Probably at least 15 machines could go across at a time.

 

There was a place for the people on the outside on either side of the machines, or they could also go on top. It takes about 10 minutes to go across.

 

I staid in the machine, but Albert got out, and talked to some driver of a mail truck who told him which route to take to Ida’s after he got on the other side. One wouldn’t know they were moving at all, only that at first the opposite shore looks very dim, but then it gets clearer all the time and then you know you haven’t been standing still, as it seemed at first.

 

Just before reaching shore, they ring a bell warning the people to get ready to get off.

 

After we got off of the ferry, we got into an awful jam—as I believe it was about 6 o’clock New York time of course. Our time according to our watches was about 8 o’clock. Even after the man had given Albert directions on the ferry, just how to get to 200th Street we got off of our route somehow. Then we decided we had better let Ida know that we were in town, so Albert called her over the phone and told her we would be there in about an hour or so, and also that we would get our supper before coming out. She was no doubt surprised that we were there in town already, as she really hadn’t expected us until the following day—Sunday sometime.

 

We got our supper at Childs’ Cafeteria, and then started out for Wiebkes. It was some long ride, too. I believe it took us nearly an hour to get there, as we, of course, didn’t know the way out there.

 

We drove past the street before we knew it, and Albert recognized the house and saw someone sitting on the porch. We turned off at the next street then, and back to their house.

 

**Picture of the Wiebke home**

 

So many of the houses here are built high and narrow. About a half a square from here there is a big wide street running in the opposite direction from 200th St. It is in reality three streets in one; in the center is a wide street for wagons and on either side a fine street for machines and one side for them to go down on, and the other side to come back on. They are divided by pretty little trees, and each of these trees is dedicated to some dead soldier, from New York. This street is called the Grand Concourse.

 

This is a very busy place, and makes it rather hard for machines from the side streets to cross over, but they have a tunnel underneath for machines to go thru, if they don’t want to cross over.

 

On the other, same picture that the house is on, you can see a small part of this underground tunnel with the iron railing around it.

 

**Picture has narrow houses close together w/3 people sitting on porch steps (barely seen). There is an iron railing you would not know a tunnel opening. Has 2 stories.**

 

 

Ida was all excited when we got there. She had expected us sooner, but as we didn’t know the way and we stopped to get our supper, to get out there, than it should of. So, Ida began to think that her brother Fred had played a joke on her, and had phoned her, saying it was Albert.

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Pat,

 

Terrific Terrific Terrific!!! I have only had the opportunity to scan it briefly.....but sleeping on the stubble, giving the tramp a ride...a treasure. I'll give it the time it deserves in the morning, but let me be the first to thank you for sharing it!!!

 

Dave

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Most definitely many thanks for sharing. I especially enjoyed it as part of the route, between Dayton and Wheeling, is the way we used to go back in the late 40's, early 50's when I went with my family to visit friends and relatives in the Dayton area.

 

I can say, without contradiction I imagine, that travel in 1948 was much improved over 1921!!! Tho from the description the road was in very good condition, even at that early date. Mention of "all thru the mountains there were filling stations" shows how quickly the idea of motor travel was proceeding, considering probably only 10 years earlier it was a far different story.

 

Still and all, in 1921, it was still one of the remaining "great American adventures" to make a trip like that.

 

Not a bad advertisement of the reliability of a 1918 Dodge either.

 

Thanks for the sharing. Safe Travels.

 

Hudsonly,

Alex Burr

Memphis, TN

Edited by Alex Burr - hester_nec

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Wonderful stuff. I've had some similar experience with my great-grandmother's letters from 1920/21 (They drove through D.C. about four months before Albert & Laurine were there.) but I was blessed by my grandmother having at least produced a typewritten version of the handwritten original.

 

My first thought involves the photos. Ginny's comment that she couldn't get reprints hints that she might have the original prints. If so, and I were you, I'd quickly drag my scanner to Brunswick and digitize the lot ASAP. The second thing I noticed was the mileage. 300+ mile days in a 1918 Dodge. Either your granddad wasn't much of a sightseer or Ida was really hot. They mention the National Road being their "main road" and they also mention going through Dayton. So they were, like just about everyone else including the National Old Trails Road, following the Dayton Cutoff. The National Road twixt Richmond and Springfield didn't amount to much back then.

 

I sure hope you can preserve the photos. The thought of West Virginia "scenery/road/hills/telephone poles" is certainly enticing and I'm dieing to know what that last photo of the tunnel opening shows of the Grand Concourse ("About a half a square from here."!!!)

 

Big thanks for the post.

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Pat,

 

Thoroughly enjoyed the journal! Thank you and Aunt Ginny!

 

You certainly get the sense that auto travel in 1921 was still a bit primitive...but coming along. Sleeping with something crawling under the bed does describe a place I once stayed, but it wasn’t in a field beside the road!

 

Road conditions were apparently pretty good.... brick and macadam...but the now forgotten stopping on long grades to cool the engine caught my attention.

 

I wish I knew that route better so I could identify it in my mind’s eye. I’m sure you and others here can identify with some of the terrain and landmarks. I’ll look forward to that. And Denny is right on with "get a scan of the photos!"

 

There is a background message here, and that is to record, and to share, memories. My father made a transcontinental auto trip in the early 20’s and often raised it in conversation when I was a young man. I largely ignored it, but you can believe I now wish I hadn’t. At least get out the old video camera and capture those stories. We often don’t want to hear them until it is too late.

 

Keep the Show on the Road!

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Wonderful stuff. I've had some similar experience with my great-grandmother's letters from 1920/21 (They drove through D.C. about four months before Albert & Laurine were there.) but I was blessed by my grandmother having at least produced a typewritten version of the handwritten original.

 

My first thought involves the photos. Ginny's comment that she couldn't get reprints hints that she might have the original prints. If so, and I were you, I'd quickly drag my scanner to Brunswick and digitize the lot ASAP. The second thing I noticed was the mileage. 300+ mile days in a 1918 Dodge. Either your granddad wasn't much of a sightseer or Ida was really hot. They mention the National Road being their "main road" and they also mention going through Dayton. So they were, like just about everyone else including the National Old Trails Road, following the Dayton Cutoff. The National Road twixt Richmond and Springfield didn't amount to much back then.

 

I sure hope you can preserve the photos. The thought of West Virginia "scenery/road/hills/telephone poles" is certainly enticing and I'm dieing to know what that last photo of the tunnel opening shows of the Grand Concourse ("About a half a square from here."!!!)

 

Big thanks for the post.

 

Denny, they were making 300+ miles a day - but they were driving, what 15, 16 or so hours - that averages out to somewhere around 20 to 30 mph. Plenty of time for stops, if they were driving 45-50 when on the road.

 

I got a kick out of the "pitching a tent and sleeping out".

 

Safe Travels.

Alex Burr

Memphis, TN

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Glad you all enjoyed it! Denny, I've thought about heading up there to retrieve the photos from the journal in the same manner you suggested. I'm hoping my cousin Roger might be able to take care of this if he's got a scanner. Looking further into their time in NYC, a lot of the photos were actually postcards, but there were some they took themselves along the way. They definitely lived in a unique era, from a highway standpoint. He was around before the wave of auto trails that came along in the teens, he saw the first US highway shields pop up, he saw the first interstates pop up, and he saw the demise of those same auto trails and a few of those US hgihways.

 

This isn't his car, though I'd like to find out if any photos of it exist, but this is like what they cruised in. Man, I couldn't imagine what it would've been like driving through the dead of summer in one of these!

 

012.jpg

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Enjoyed the post alot! Thanks for sharing Pat. I bet the National Road Association would love to see it, too. :D B

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This isn't his car, though I'd like to find out if any photos of it exist, but this is like what they cruised in. Man, I couldn't imagine what it would've been like driving through the dead of summer in one of these!

 

Thanks for the trip post.

My wife and I own a 1918 Dodge Brothers touring car (below) like the one in this trip. I always like to read about the dependable Dodges. Your aunt did not mention any flat tires along the way. Can't imagine a trip like that without a few, considering the tire quality back then.

 

We've driven our car when the temperature has been in the low 90's. As long as you are moving, there is a lot of air movement that keeps you cooler than you would think. Of course when you stop, it gets hot. Maybe that's why he wanted to keep going and eat on the road :). Even though the original speedometer in these cars indicates 60 mph on the face, I suspect they were probably running around 30 mph. 30-35 is a nice cruising speed for these cars. They do not have front-wheel brakes, just rear wheel mechanical ones, so coming to a stop needs to be planned ahead of time.

 

We've enjoyed riding on some of the old two lane roads in our area, but haven't done the tent or sleeping on the ground thing yet.

 

Thanks again for the post. I really enjoyed reading about their trip.

 

post-3264-1196482635_thumb.jpg

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Les,

Thanks so much for finding us and posting! There may have been some issues with tires. I read part of my great aunts journal while they were in New York City, and there were a few occasions where my grandpa "had the machine at the garage". Apparently someone they knew there owned a garage, so he did some sort of work on it a couple of times. Thanks for posting the photo of your Dodge as well. If there happens to be a photo that exists anywhere of my grandpa's, I'll be sure to let you know!

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Back in July of 1921, my grandfather and his sister made a trip out to New York City in his 1918 Dodge to visit some family friends. My dad and one of my aunt's guess that part of the trip had to do with my grandpa visiting a lady friend named "Ida". Although Ida never became my grandma, it'll remain an unsolved mystery what the relationship was there.

 

Thanks for sharing! It seems quite fitting for an 86 year old writeup to find it's way here. At least they had pretty decent roads and didn't have to be pulled out of a rut by a farmer and his mule:)

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I read part of my great aunts journal while they were in New York City, and there were a few occasions where my grandpa "had the machine at the garage". Apparently someone they knew there owned a garage, so he did some sort of work on it a couple of times.

 

It just occurred to me that one reason he would have had it in the garage is for an oil change and other lubrication. It was recommended to change oil every 500 miles. Probably also needed to refill grease cups for engine fan, spring bolts, water pump, distributor, steering knuckles, clutch throw-out bearing, etc.

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It just occurred to me that one reason he would have had it in the garage is for an oil change and other lubrication. It was recommended to change oil every 500 miles. Probably also needed to refill grease cups for engine fan, spring bolts, water pump, distributor, steering knuckles, clutch throw-out bearing, etc.

 

Les,

 

I figured you or Roadmaven might be able to identify the Dodge in the old Harrah's collection (see More 1967 Harrah's...under General Discussion. Do you know the year?

 

Keep the Show on the Road!

 

Dave

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Les,

 

I figured you or Roadmaven might be able to identify the Dodge in the old Harrah's collection (see More 1967 Harrah's...under General Discussion. Do you know the year?

 

Keep the Show on the Road!

 

Dave

 

I have seen the picture before. I believe it was sold at auction from Harrah's. It is either 1915 or 1916. A very few were built in late 1914 that would look the same.

 

Les

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What a rich account of a true motoring trip. Some of that trip might be considered somewhat challenging even today with modern automobiles. I was truly amazed of the short time it took to make the trip, but then I gather they were on the road almost 15 hours of each day. Guess the cars of the era were a bit more substantial than they look today. Thanks for a great story...

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I just retraced their drive across Ohio the opposite way, from Cambridge to Vandalia. The National Road is STILL a GREAT Drive, especially east of Columbus.

 

I wonder if they ate at Clark's in Jax Town?

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