Monday, October 12, 2009

Edwin Q. Cannon: A 1929 Auto Trip to Rhode Island - Part 1

In 1929, Edwin Q. Cannon, his wife, Luella, their children Mary (15), Ted (11) and Billy (4) and Luella’s mother and youngest sister took an automobile trip to Providence, Rhode Island to attend a meeting of the Marking Device Association. They were gone for five weeks. They kept a journal, mostly written by Luella. It provides a wonderful glimpse of what driving was like in the early days of the automobile and also of my father, Billy, as a child. The journal was transcribed by my cousin, Mary Pearson.

Mary summarized the journal as follows: Paved roads were a rare occurrence and were worth commenting on in the journal. They visited all of the church history sites in the midwest and east, visited relatives and friends along the way and conducted Stamp Company business in several places. They saw the sights in Washington D.C. and Mount Vernon, went to the dirigible base at Lakehurst, New Jersey, went swimming in the ocean at Atlantic City, stayed with relatives in New York City and saw the sights, took the train to Boston where they took tours to Concord and Lexington, around Boston and down to Plymouth, and returned to New York by overnight boat. They went to the Marking Device convention in Providence and saw all the sights there. One of the sessions of the convention was a clam bake at a country club out on Narragansett Bay. After the convention they went to the Eccles’ home in New York, then headed for Albany where they were going to meet Luella’s brother Clarence. They went to the birthplace of Joseph Smith in Vermont where they spent the 4th of July, then crossed Lake Champlain and toured the Adirondacks and the 1000 Islands before heading to Rochester where Clarence lived. They went to Palmyra, then Niagara Falls, then headed toward home. It was an uncommon and difficult undertaking to travel that far by car in those days.

Some of the dangers and difficulties of driving are illustrated by the following. Up Parley’s Canyon a herd of sheep was on the road. Ted had to get out of the car and move them so the car could pass. Just outside of Rock Springs, Wyoming, Luella “was driving and we went to pass a car and ran off the road and nearly tipped over.” Between Cheyenne, Wyoming and Denver, Colorado, the “road was clay and it had been raining.” Ed was driving and they skidded off the road. In Salina, Kansas, one of the car wheels got a puncture. On the way back to Salt Lake, in Ohio, “Had to go back a distance owing to faulty markings of road by Auto Association.” Near Wauneta, Nebraska they got another puncture and stopped to get the tire fixed. Near Fort Morgan, Colorado, “Car started to sway – a puncture.” The third puncture on the trip.

I love the brief glimpses of young Billy. In Limon, Colorado, “Billy started bragging and said he was the strongest boy in the world. He said he could sock a horse in the beak and he would teach Teddy how to ride a pony.” In Topeka, Kansas, “Billy played on Capitol lawn with pigeons.” In Quincy, Illinois, Billy fed peanuts to the squirrels in the town square. At the Schuyler Hotel in Rushville, Illinois, “I [Luella] got little sleep all night as Billy was very restless with a fever. About all I did during the night was to pray.” The next morning he “Took a turn for better after enema.” However, the next day she recorded “Billy sick all night. No rest all night [for Luella], though very cool. Took Billy to Dr. Bounell in Waynetown. Advised us nothing serious with Billy, to go on.” In Atlantic City, New Jersey, “Billy more thrilled when saw ocean than any time on trip. Started to undress in car so could go in water.” In New York, they took a night train from Central Station to Boston. “Billy thrilled with this new experience.” In Chicago, on the way back, they visited the stock yards and “Billy wants to see cows get their beans cut off.” I probably laughed for ten minutes after I read that entry. I couldn’t imagine my grandmother, Luella, writing such a passage. At the stock yards they saw sheep, pigs and cows killed. “Ted said once was enough.” In Cedar Rapids, Iowa, they were in a terrible thunderstorm and the carburetor was flooded. Water poured down the streets in torrents and “Billy remarked, ‘We’re not killed, thank goodness.’”

It is also fun to see places and events through their eyes. In Independence, Missouri, they visited the temple site and had a long talk with the Hedrickites. In Providence, Rhode Island they attended a clam bake. Luella gave a great description: “Great piles of wood, long lengths were burned to heat a number of large rocks. When very hot these rocks were covered with seaweed, great barrels of it. The clams in large trap were placed on the seaweed, also potatoes, sweet and irish, tripe and sausage. More seaweed was placed over this and a large canvass placed over the whole.” The next morning, Luella got a call at the hotel from a reporter for the Providence Journal who wanted to interview her. “She said she had heard we were from Salt Lake City and that Ed was a son of Bishop Cannon, wanted to know something about S.L.C. and the beliefs of our people.” One of the things she was asked was “if we believe in reincarnation.” They visited the Woolworth Building in New York, the tallest building in the world. At the Hill Cumorah, “Walked on hill in rain. Saw family of skunks. One shot at Dr. Bean. Hit his coat and face.” In Rocky Mountain National Park, on July 17, 1929, they drove to 11,797 feet at the summit and drove through 10 foot banks of snow that had been cleared.

The journal is as follows:

Tuesday, June 11, 1929:
[Speedometer reading 6510] (Salt Lake to Medicine Bow, Wyoming)

Supposed to start at 5:30 a.m., but started at 6:45. Followed Lincoln Highway. Encountered herd of sheep at Gorgozia [sic]. Ted got out and got them out of the road so car could pass. Reached Evanston, Wyo. at 10:30. Ate lunch at 11:15 between Lyman and Granger. Slight rain just after leaving Evanston and Ft. Bridger, but as an average very good weather. Cool and pleasant. Reached Green River at 12:45. Sign: “Drive slow and see our city or drive fast and see our judge.” Arrived at Rock Springs about 1:20 and stopped for about 15 minutes for gas, etc. When we left we got on the wrong road and had to turn back aways. About five miles out of Rock Springs, mother was driving and we went to pass a car and ran off the road and nearly tipped over. Came to Rawlins at 4:30. Ate dinner at Luxus Café. Quite a nice town. Left at 5:50. Saw flock of sage hens cross road. Stopped at the Virginian Hotel at Medicine Bow. Went to bed at 9:15. First day traveled 370 miles.

Wednesday, June 12, 1929: (Medicine Bow to Aurora, Colorado)

Got up at 4:45. Started at 6:30. After leaving Medicine Bow everything was beautiful and green with rolling hills and some wild flags. There were a few ranches here and there. The roads were marvelous all the way to Laramie. Pavement most of the way. We made all the way from 45 to 65 miles an hour all the way. Reached Laramie at 7:45. Ate breakfast at the Kuster Café in Laramie. Very good meal. After breakfast we went to Cheyenne. Road bad in places. Beautiful through Medicine Bow National Forest. Beautiful hills almost all the way. We stopped a while in Cheyenne on business. While there, there was a 1 minute hail storm. We left the Lincoln Highway and started for Denver. We had a lot of fun on the road going over rolling hills. We came to a place where the road was clay and it had been raining. Papa was driving and we skidded off the road. We drove a little further and got in quite a heavy rainstorm. We soon drove out of that and came to a place where it hadn’t rained at all. There was a lot of dust. When we got to Ft. Collins we ate lunch at the Ft. Collins Café. The road was paved all the way from there to Denver. There were trees and it was a lot prettier. We reached Denver about 4:00. Then we went to the State Capitol on business. We went to see Mrs. Calahan and left car there while we went to supper at Cooks. Could have been a better meal. Went back to Calahans, got map and went to Aurora (?), (just outside of Denver) to some cabins for night. Went to bed at 8:20. Drove 247 miles.

Thursday, June 13, 1929: (Aurora to Hays, Kansas)

Got up at 5:20. Teddy and Billy enjoyed playing with puppies at camp. Started at 7:10. Arrived at Limon, Colorado at 9:30. Ate breakfast at the Merchants Lunch. Nice place. While in Limon we found that we had a missing cylinder. We left at 10:50. Billy started bragging and said he was the strongest boy in the world. He said he could sock a horse in the beak and he would teach Teddy how to ride a pony. Crossed the Colorado-Kansas line at 1:10. Arrived at Oakley 4:15. Ate at White Café. Not very good meal. Saw baby coyote. Left at 5:20. Arrived in Wakeeney about 6:37. Stopped for gas and oil. Went on to Hays. Arrived at Hays about 8:00. Stayed at Mulroy ? Hotel. Went to bed at 9:40. Cool all day. Beautiful ride and good roads.

Flag Day, Friday, June 14, 1929: (Hays to Kansas City)

Got up at 5:30. Hays, Kansas. Started with a clear, beautiful cool morning after a good night’s rest. Through this section vast wheat fields and grain elevators. Many hogs. Many jack rabbits. Great corn fields. At Gorham, many oil wells, tanks, cars, Just before we reached Ellis [Ellsworth], Kansas, the scenery began to vary more. More trees and rolling country. Ellsworth, 8:45. Very pretty place. Trees meet overhead and a perfect garden spot. Arrived at Salina at 9:50. Ate breakfast at Clayton Café. Good meal. Got puncture. Got hot in Salina. Left at 11:10. Mules used extensively for work instead of horses. After leaving Salina, we say large beautiful hedges of wild primroses all along the side of the road. Pavement from Chapman to Manhattan. Very beautiful drive through Ft. Riley. Big potato patches just outside of Topeka. Scenery from Ft. Riley to Topeka beautiful rolling country, gardens, trees, river. Arrived in Topeka 3:00 p.m. Ate dinner at Coffee Cup Café, a fine meal. Visited Capitol. Billy played on Capitol lawn with pigeons. Left Topeka at 4:40. At Lawrence we stopped to see Mr. F. K. Smith, Dr. Wherry’s father-in-law. He wasn’t home. Arrived in Kansas City, Missouri at 7:20 p.m. Stopped at the Densmore Hotel. Between Lawrence and K.C. a man in a car passing us turned around and bowed very deferentially to us. In Topeka Mother met a lady in [the] Coffee Cup who said she thought S.L.C. was the prettiest city she had seen. In K.C. met an old man who was attracted by S.L.C. on our car, spoke of his being in S.L.C. and of B. Young’s wives. We had fine rooms and bath in Densmore Hotel.

Saturday, June 15, 1929: (Kansas City to Independence, Missouri)

Papa and Teddy went out on business. Rest of us ate breakfast at Paramount Café. Very good meal. Went for a walk, in museum and post office. Went to hotel, Papa and Ted returned. We went to Independence. Went to Mission Headquarters. Met Angus Cannon, (John M.’s boy). Had interesting talk with Pres. Bennion and Miss Laird and Miss Virginia Summerhays. Went to Temple site. Had long interesting talk with Hedrickites. They had started to dig excavation (foundation) for Temple. Saw corner stone laid by Joseph Smith. Went through Reorganized Church Tabernacle. Went back through beautiful country and visited zoo at Swopes Park. Went back to hotel, washed, etc. and then went to eat at Sherman Cafeteria. Very good meal. After dinner we rode out to see depot and also saw the monument that was erected in honor of soldiers that fought in World War. It was 217 ft. high. It had an elevator going up it and a fire burning on top. In rooms at sides it had old war relics. It had immense and beautiful grounds. Then we rode out by the stock yards. Came back to hotel and went to bed.

Sunday, June 16, 1929: (Liberty, Richmond, Crooked River and Adam Ondi Amon, Missouri; Quincy, Illinois)
Got packed. Went to breakfast at Paramount Café (9th St. between Locust and Cherry). Left and when we got 7 miles out we found that we were on the wrong highway and had to go all the way back. Visited Liberty, Mo., then Richmond, Mo., home of David Whitmer. Stopped in front of Ray Co. Court House on which is engraved “Obedience to law is liberty”. Here we met a man who knew David Whitmer and knew of Oliver Cowdery. Saw site on which old Whitmer home stood, now replaced by a garage. Drove out to monument erected by our church to David Whitmer, Cowdery, Harris and J. Smith. Oliver Cowdery is buried on this ground in old cemetary. On this monument is given the testimony of three witnesses in letters carved in granite. Erected in 1911. We attracted a man across street who was very interested in us and Salt Lake. We then passed a small stream known as Crooked River. On this river, David W. Patten, one of early apostles was killed by militia of Mo. D. Whitmer was also buried here in new cemetary. At Court House saw monument to Gen. Donophan who led troops to Mexican War. He was inclined to be favorable toward our people. We travelled on a winding country road., undoubtedly much travelled by characters of early church history. This country side not nearly so beautiful as country around Kansas City. One could easily imagine K.C. surroundings to be Garden of Eden. The country between Richmond and Hamilton one could imagine cold and dreary world into which Adam and Eve were cast. Saw many mules, baby ones along the road. Adam Ondi Amon about 10 miles from Hamilton. We ate some hamburgers and near beer at Hamilton. Travelled for miles over roughest roads of our trip so far. Found no places to eat that appealed to us so ate again some barbecued sandwiches and drinks at Monroe. Arrived at Quincy about 8:30 p.m. after a long hard drive over rough roads. Went through town and everything seemed to be wide open even though Sunday. (Cool night.) Stayed at Hotel Newcomb. Billy was sick and we had a bad night. Billy was very feverish & we thought we had earthquake.

Monday, June 17, 1929: (Quincy, Nauvoo, Rushville, Illinois)

Ate breakfast at Wash. Cafeteria. Children played with squirrels on square. Billy fed peanuts. Started at 10:35 for Nauvoo. Passed through Lima to Warsaw, following a man over 15 miles of rotten road. At Hamilton saw bridge into Keokuk, Iowa and dam on Mississippi. Followed up east side of Miss. for miles to Nauvoo. Talked to store keeper about place. Ate lunch in small lunch house then went over to hotel to look over relics collected by an old timer who took pictures of old residences in 1875. Wrote cards, then saw site of P. P. Pratt home, Temple site on which is built a building made of stone from Nauvoo Temple. This is a Catholic school. Saw John Taylor’s home, Wilford Woodruff’s home, H. C. Kimball, Patriarch John Smith, Lorenzo Snow, Old Mansion House (in good condition) right near Miss. Catholics have stronghold here. Nauvoo surely behind the times. We drove about 12 miles to Carthage and there visited Carthage Jail, saw the bullet hole in door through which Hyrum was shot, also the window through which Joseph fell. The spot where the well was is sunken and covered with grass. We went up the same stair case, unchanged, and saw Hyrum’s blood stains on floor. This was where the sheriff lived and cell rooms were back rooms upstairs. Walls of house about 3 ft. thick and very deep windows. Carthage a much cleaner town, also pretty. Billy seemed to feel fine and his fever apparently left him after having been very feverish all night in Quincy, Ill. At five o’clock his fever started to come back, probably because of what he had eaten, an egg beaten up with orange juice and lemon, a banana, and later two soda crackers. We stayed at the Schuyler Hotel, Rushville, where I got little sleep all night as Billy was very restless with a fever. About all I did during the night was to pray.

Tuesday, June 18, 1929: (Rushville to Waynetown, Indiana)

Took a turn for better after enema. Ed got the car fixed up. We leave Rushville for Springfield, Ill. At 9:35. Soon crossed the Illinois River toll bridge into Beardstown. Ted stung twice with a bee. Passed through Springfield, Ill. At 11:05. Beautiful farm country across Ill. Reached Decatur 12:15 – a beautiful place, beautiful homes. Passed Lake Dekatur once Sangamon River, 2 miles long, pleasure district. Danville last town in Ill. Passed state line into Indiana at 4:35 Central time. Speedometer read 1,940 miles. We crossed Wabash River just out of Covington. Stayed all night in Waynetown. Billy sick all night. Mother and Lucille piled in on floor. No rest all night, though very cool.

Wednesday, June 19, 1929: (Indianapolis, Columbus, Ohio)

Took Billy to Dr. Bounell in Waynetown. Advised us nothing serious with Billy, to go on. Left Waynetown at 9 o’clock. Arrived in Indianapolis at 10:40. Saw great speedway. Hot in Indianapolis but not for us because we did not stop. After leaving Straughn ran into country after rain & very cool. All across Indiana good roads and beautiful country. Ate lunch in Richmond, Ind. Billy ate little milk toast & seemed much better. Crossed into Ohio at 10 to 2. When we went through Dayton and for a number of miles we noted it had rained heavily. Very cool. Had rained hard all way to Columbus where we ate our dinners at the High St. Cafeteria. Billy’s appetite was beginning to come back. Ed went out to buy some castor oil, then road [sic] over on Broad St. for several mi. through beautiful homes, Park, stayed at ? home. Visited Dr. McKenzie.

Friday, June 21, 1929: (Wheeling, West Virginia, Uniontown and Hagerstown, Pennsylvania)

Left Columbus 7:20, very cool. Ate breakfast in Zanesville. Soon came to wonderful Cumberland Hills country through miles of wooded and green hills with towns here and there. Enter West Va. at 12 noon at Wheeling. Passed over Ohio River toll bridge. Saw boats on river, some loaded with coal. Passed through Wheeling, W. Va. Built in heavily wooded hills. On into hilly coal and oil lands into Washington, Pa. Beautiful rolling hills, large place. Ate lunch in Wash. Pa. Ed called up Pittsburgh. Panniers out but talked to Hershey. Soon came to Monongahela River where we saw boat going through locks, crossed over through Brownsville, Pa. Steep streets, rough, dirty cobble. On to Uniontown, very hazy appearance on hills & in atmosphere, generally. Coal mines. On through the Alleghenies, beautiful, densely wooded. Beautiful hotel & golf links at one summit. On & on for miles and miles. Stopped at summit and had something to eat at inn where we had a wonderful view of country. We noticed through this section great fields of daisies, snap dragons, etc. Stopped for the night at old home near Hagerstown, terribly old fashioned.

Friday, June 21, 1929: [ 79 mi. from Wash ] (Georgetown, Alexandria, Mount Vernon, Washington D.C., Annapolis, Baltimore)

Left at 7:00 a.m. Discovered it was our wedding day. Virginia creeper growing over stone walls, trees, etc. Barbara Fritche candy advertised on way. Middlesex, Braddock Hts., loads of corn lilies through Frederick. Saw Barbara Fritche’s house. Francis Scott Keyes Hotel in Frederick Town. Barbara Fritche Candy store across street from her home. Near Wash. loads of corn lilies. – Georgetown, D.C. Stopped in Alexandra for breakfast. It was --?—a punk place, so was the breakfast. Luella ordered french toast but left it. Mother didn’t eat coffee & toast and was disgusted. (1st two sentences were in different handwriting. Last sentence was Luella’s handwriting.) Visited Mt. Vernon, Arlington, saw grave of “Unknown Soldier”, came by way of Potomac Park. Saw Smithsonian Institute, Wash. Monument, Lincoln Memorial, Memorial Bridge in course of construction over Potomac to soldiers of World War. Immense statue of Lincoln inside Lincoln Memorial, Capitol, White House, Congressional Library. Ate lunch in Capitol. Saw Moyle Gray by Library. Went to Annapolis & saw Bud Needham, a beautiful ride through forest country. Saw Bancroft Hall – sleeping and mess hall overlooked Chesapeake Bay – Chapel – Boats & hydroplanes on Severn River. Bud waiting at entrance with big smile. Left Annapolis 6:30 – Bud said likely to be home 2 days early. Said was going up Pa. to visit a girl with fine Packard car. Ate dinner in Baltimore at Thompson’s. Travelled on 12 mi. from Baltimore east at home of Mrs. W. Ortel – White Marsh, Baltimore Co., Md. Had terrible thunder storm.

Saturday, June 22, 1929: (Wilmington, Philadelphia, Camden, Atlantic City, Lakewood, New Jersey)

Started at 7:05 morning, a beautiful morning after storm. Speedometer read 9228. Soon passed Susquehanna River. Passed Delaware state line at 8:20. Ate breakfast at “Presto”, Wilmington, Del. Entered Pennsylvania 10:12. Drove through congested Philadelphia, Museum, Independence Hall – Museum. Crossed over large bridge from Philadelphia (over Delaware River) into New Jersey. Camden, N.J. Intended to take bus in Philadelphia but could not get one in less than 2 ½ hours so didn’t care to wait. Took White Horse Pike to Atlantic City. Arrived in Atlantic City 3:15. Ate dinner. Saw boardwalk. Children played in sand. Billy more thrilled when saw ocean than any time on trip. Started to undress in car so could go in water. Saw black man and white woman being pushed in wheel chairs on boardwalk. Thrilled with Atlantic City. Rode up coast through wonderful road and pines getting delicious ocean breeze, so wonderful we hated to go to bed. Stayed in wonderful section used as winter resort, Lakewood, N.J. – 292 River Ave., “The Lawrence”. Run by an Irish woman who built house 22 yrs ago, after living in N.Y. A wonderful home, through pines.

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