Touring in the Twenties


Eighty-seven years ago on a cold November day my grandparents left Iowa in their 1926 Hudson to drive to Long Beach, California. I know about this trip because Grandad’s careful diary came down to me and gives great detail.  I think you will enjoy reading my condensed version of their trip.


     My granddad Jackson Groves kept a diary all his life, but the one that came down to me was from 1926, the year that he and my grandma Sarah drove their Hudson from the middle of Iowa to Long Beach, California .  Can you imagine what a trip that was?

     They were 57 that year, retired, and moved into town, where Grandad soon became mayor.  As far as I know neither of them had ever been out of Iowa, so every page of the diary reflects their awesome first view of red dirt . .cotton fields . .mountains . . oil derricks . .cactus . . Mexicans . .orange trees . . ocean.

     They rose early to a raw cloudy day, and Grandad sat down to write in his journal “We are starting a trip we have often dreamed of but hardly hoped to take.  Will we be disappointed or surprised?,  Let this little book tell as we go along.”

     They were on their way by 9:00, driving dirt roads.  Across Iowa they struggled with muddy ruts which forced them to travel at 15 mph all the way to Omaha.  There they checked into a hotel, and in the morning they were pleased to be on gravel roads for a while.  By evening they were all the way through Kansas and into Oklahoma.  They had eight more days of driving ahead of them and were pleased that the red dirt of Oklahoma made for good roads.

     In Texas they found themselves on concrete pavement for 175 miles, but were soon bumping around on dirt roads again, sometimes getting stuck or sliding off the road.  It is not mentioned in his diary, but I remember my mother telling that Grandad put several logs in the car, and he would chain them to the bumper to slow his descent from steep mountains.

      They sometimes stopped to visit with locals, particularly farmers, and at dusk they found a hotel for the night in Texas (3 times), Arizona, and California.  All stops were carefully documented with the name of the hotel and a record of the costs for the day.  No day exceeded $5.32 and some days cost no more than $3.00. 

     They arrived in Long Beach in the rain, which dimmed their first view of the ocean but not of luscious flowers and orange trees, heavy with fruit.  They were pleased to secure a very suitable apartment for $35 per month, including everything necessary, for this would be their home for five months.  After quickly settling in, they strolled to the pier for a free band concert and bought oysters to prepare for their supper.  I can imagine how good it must have felt to stretch their legs and to smell the fresh scent of the open water.

                                                 (To be continued)



4 Comments (+add yours?)

  1. Betty
    Nov 17, 2013 @ 10:55:24

    How exciting they must have been and how special you have that dairy!


  2. Kathy
    Nov 17, 2013 @ 14:27:26

    Oh my, what a fun adventure they had and now we will have, as we re-live it thru you! This will be fun, and is already amazing — dirt roads, $3 daily expenses, etc. They must have been quite courageous! Wonder what made them “bite the bullet” and take this journey! Anxiously awaiting the next chapter…..


  3. Marilee Thorburn
    Nov 19, 2013 @ 20:34:25

    y0ur aar3 an handsome Couple. I think you look like your grandmother.


  4. Jeanie Sellars
    Nov 26, 2013 @ 16:39:13

    Again such precious memories,,,reading along makes you feel like you are right with them…loved the picture of the car….


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