Thelma Popp and Doris Roy had just finished college in 1944. After a busy time of schooling combined with helping the war effort, they decided to grab an opportunity for a great adventure before focusing on their post-college lives in earnest. By bicycling from Buffalo NY to New Orleans LA and back.
Oh sure, they got a lift here and there, but they rode plenty of miles. It’s a remarkable story of preparation, riding, camping, and encounters with (kind!) strangers all around the eastern part of the country. It’s a bit awe-inspiring to imagine doing this without the safety net of today’s close communication options!
They faced some skepticism from family and friends but report no serious attempts to dissuade them. They had always been outdoorsy, and it sounds like there was good reason to be confident the worst-case scenario was that they’d come home — safely — earlier than planned.
“How are you going to live in one dress all summer? And where on earth will you do your laundry?” […]
One dress nothing. We were equipped for rain, sun, snow, and swimming. Riding along the road in shorts, letting the wind blow through the toes of my huraches was the coolest form of travel. But those brisk mornings, which were very few, found us bundled in dungarees and thick sweat shirts. And every time we dug for the camera… out fell the rubbers.
What if it was storming? Hadn’t we always found shelter on our hikes before? If we could light a fire on one match, why worry about a little rain?
Maybe we were over confident. Maybe our egos were dangerously expanding. We didn’t wonder; we didn’t worry. We trusted an inner feeling of safety and strength in our independence.
This book was produced by Thelma Popp Jones (she married her soldier boyfriend after he got home from the war), who uses logs and letters from the ride and then shifts into more of a memoir style. She never stopped exploring, and this particular adventure was put on the web by what can only be a very proud grandson!