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ERBzine Volume 6021
DIARY OF AN AUTOMOBILE CAMPING TOUR II
Undertaken in 1916
Emma Hulbert Burroughs
Edgar Rice Burroughs
July 14 1916. Roy drove to Detroit to meet Julia who was returning from a house party at Newfance, N.Y., taking Peggy and Judson with him. Emma and I with our three trailed him. It was a hot and uncomfortable trip over bad roads most of the way. About 120 miles. Took Packard to factory in Detroit where Mr. Grambo of the service department pronounce it the best Twin Six they ever had turned out and therefore the best automobile in the world. He ought to know.
Anyway there was nothing wrong with it after more than nine thousand miles, and it revisited the place of its nativity with the original Detroit air in the front casings that was put there when it was assembled. This is my first experience with cord tires and I am, naturally, well pleased. An average of three or four thousand miles has been my past experience and I have never bought a cheap one.
Detroit is a night-mare of a place to drive a car -- narrow, winding streets, packed solid on both sides with cars where ever the law permits them to park. It is practically impossible to use a car in the down town streets if you want to stop anywhere. They tell me that there is a sixty minute parking ordinance; but I doubt if it is properly enforced. There do not appear to be sufficient men on the traffic squad and I saw no mounted police down town. Several dangerous and congested crossings are without officers.
Detroit has grown like a weed since I last visited it and it is natural to assume that it has been unable to keep pace with itself in all departments. To me it has lost much of its charm and beauty in the last twenty five years, and I regretted the days when they used to stop the street cars to watch a dog fight, as I have seen done in the past.
We stopped at the Statler. Had beautiful rooms overlooking Grand Circus Park. Statler is prone to brag about the service in his hotels -- a forgivable proneness since has something to brag about. Marjorie Westendarp accompanied us on this trip. She and Peggy, both extremely pretty and both red haired , were much observed meals and in the lobby. Marjorie is sixteen and Peggy fifteen, and neither if them seems to mind in the least being stared at. They appeared to like the lobby quite well.
July 15 1916. Saturday. Returned to camp, getting a late start as Julia was indisposed. If possible the day was hotter and the roads worse than yesterday. We were all fagged when we arrived. Emma and I have decided to give up the eastern trip and head for Los Angeles instead. The prevalence of infantile paralysis in the east has frightened us. We are pretty nearly ready to start. Have moved the new kitchen cabinet, which I had built, into the truck, also the cook stove, cooking utensils and refrigerator. They will remain there permanently, Theresa doing the cooking in the truck instead of in the tent. It will save much time on the road as we will not have to move these things into the tent.
Kodak No. 13 shows one of the water tanks back of tool box on special running board. There are two of these tanks, one on either side on these new running boards which I had put there by Swaffield & Hibbard in Coldwater. The tanks I had made for the Overland. One holds sixteen, the other eighteen gallons. There is a filler cap on top of each and a valve at the bottom. This water supply is for washing and cooking only. We carry inside the truck a five gallon bottle of drinking water, and in the Packard six thermos bottles. When necessary we can boil the tank water for the children .Personally, I can get along very nicely on beer. Had to drive ninety miles the other day for a case. The Great American Desert has nothing on certain spots in Michigan for aridity.
The picture of Tarzan in Kodak No. 13 is the one that was used in the Detroit Journal of July 22.
Kodak No. 15 - Republic Truck with prairie schooner top at CAMP BRANCH. On running boards from left to right may be seen 16 gal. water tank, 5 gal. lubricating oil can and 10 gal. kerosene tank. A second 5 gal. oil can is strapped to left hand running board. Pyrene gun shows attached to dash. A second pyrene gun is carried on Packard dash.
Kodak No. 16 - E.R.B. obscuring a view of Morrisons Lake and the Burroughs yacht. The Branch motor boat, driven by a one cylinder anchor and the Branch canoe, which leaks, help to clutter up the scene.
Kodak No. 19 is a close-up of the Burroughs yacht. Theresa Witzmann, Emma, Julia, The Photographic Four and a day's wash in the background. We closed the deal for the Burroughs yacht on July 20th, following negotiations extending over a period of some thirty minutes. Fifteen minutes after I took command it blew a tire or something and refused to go. I had to be towed to port by one of the cement factory's tugs with a scow full of marl. It cost me nothing but was a blow to my pride. I tried to force some money on the officer in charge of the rescuing fleet, but he wouldn't take it. Said that some day he might want me to tow him.
At the dry dock a young man and his father vulcanized the inner tube, or whatever it was that broke, and would only take a quarter, though I again tried to force more money on them. It is refreshing to meet with people who do not lie awake nights trying to figure out some low scheme for separating one from one's money. I have found every one with whom I have done business equally fair and decent.
The day we arrived Tom Ball sent a car to tow the truck four or five miles to camp and charged me but $1.50. Tom runs the Standard Garage on East Chicago Street in Coldwater and beside being all that a garage man should be is a mighty nice fellow into the bargain. Schmedlen who made and fitted the schooner top to the truck could have robbed me blind; but he didn't, being satisfied with a reasonable profit. The same was true of Swaffield, the smith who made the hangers for the extra running-boards, set the kerosene tank and made the new iron tent stakes to replace the wooden ones, and of Mr. Ball of the planing mill who built our kitchen cabinet and the new running boards. No one seems to desire to overcharge or to take any unfair advantage of a stranger; but to a city man the most remarkable feature of their service is the genuine interest they take in any job they undertake and the more than ordinary intelligence of themselves and their employees.
We are all so accustomed in large cities of careless and indifferent workmanship, to the I-should-worry attitude of employees and even of employers that we have come to expect the same thing every where, and so it was highly refreshing to find in a small Michigan city high grade work cheerfully performed by efficient workmen. I wonder if Unionism is not responsible in some measure for the rank inefficiency of some city workers, whether they belong to unions or not. It seems to me that Unionism as expounded by walking delegates who strive to live well without labor engenders a species of jealousy and hatred in laboring men for the men for whom they work, which, in turn, reacts upon the work they do. I don't know. But to get back to the Burroughs yacht. It is our first yacht. Four or five years ago I rented a row boat for an hour in Garfield Park lagoon -- otherwise I have not had much nautical experience.
Julia loaned us the 4th of July decorations and told us which ends to put them on; but I am none too sure that she knows. They look pretty, anyhow. I don't know whether I am entitled to call myself Commodore or Admiral. If I knew which ranked the other I could easily decide. Have not yet ordered my uniform.
JULY 27 1916. Broke camp and said good-bye to CAMP BRANCH at 9:15 this morning. We have been here thirty seven days and enjoyed every minute of them Made about 84 miles today, camping at Eagle Lake, Indiana, some 10 miles beyond Elkhart. It has been excessively hot, the children riding almost naked.
Seven miles east of Shipshawani, Indiana, I stopped today in front of a pretty little home to wait for the truck . An elderly man came to the gate and hailed us, asking if we did not wish to stop there and eat our lunch under his trees or get water. He proved to be Silas MacManus, the farmer poet of Indiana. I went in and met Mrs. MacManus and a friend All were very cordial. They had read Tarzan and probably felt sorry for me. Mr. MacManus is a dear old fellow. I wish that we might have stopped longer.
At Elkhart the editor of TRUTH directed us to Eagle Lake where we camped in the woods close to the beach. The children and I went bathing after making camp, which took about an hour. We are becoming quite expert at camp making.
READ MORE OF ERB's CROSS-COUNTRY ADVENTURE
This is a chronicle of a 1916 cross-country automobile safari in which Edgar Rice Burroughs and his family
drove from their home in Oak Park, Illinois to Los Angeles, California, camping most of the way. On June 19th,
ERB had purchased a new 3/4 ton Republic Truck in South Bend, Indiana, to help carry all of their luggage.
After months of bad weather and illness, they arrived in Los Angeles on September 3rd, 1916.
Read the booklet HERE
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