I knew my mother had written letters home from her trip to Europe in 1954, but I had never seen them. In fact, I had no idea they still existed. Until one day in 2007.
With plans to rent a slide projector so that we could look at Mom’s slides of her trip, I asked her what it was like to be on the Queen Mary. I was looking for the details, and she referred me to her letters. Letters?! What letters? Much to my surprise, my mother’s letters were in a box in the next room waiting to be read. All 69 of them.
I began reading them out loud. Written on airmail stationery, in black or green ink (Mom’s favorite color), the letters were written to my grandmother back home in South Dakota. I stumbled over the words, squinting at her writing, and promised to type up the letters so that she could read them on her own.
As I typed up the letters a month later, I was captivated. The letters were full of life and personality and included details of the people she met, the food she ate, the places she visited, and the unplanned events that just happened.
The following spring, I showed the letters to Mom and her friend, Kit. In 1954, Kit and Mom (or Rusty as Kit called her) traveled for 3 months together, from New York to Europe, calling their trip, “The Tucker ~ Tyler Adventure.”
As I watched the two women in their 70s giggle at their memories, I began taking notes. I learned that Kit’s families had saved her letters as well, but it wasn’t until 2010, that I approached Kit’s daughter with the idea to put the letters of their trip into a book.
The Tucker ~ Tyler Adventure, written by Katherine Tucker and Marialyce Tyler, with their daughters, Nancy Cowan and Tara Taft, will be published soon. For the next several weeks, I will include a few background details about their trip, extras that weren’t included in the actual book, and I’ll let you know when the book is available.
It’s 1954. Pack your suitcase and get ready to travel to Europe with Kit and Rusty aboard The Tucker ~ Tyler Adventure!
When I traveled for 3 months in Australia, I felt a little guilty. Not about the trip. I was happy to be there. I was in between jobs and paying my own way. I was in my 20s and without any responsibilities. But I knew I should be writing letters home. Descriptive and detailed letters like my mother had written to her mother when she traveled to Europe in 1954.
But it took so much time, and I just didn’t have the patience. It was all I could do to keep a journal and write a postcard now and then, and that was in the days before email and texting.
When my mother traveled throughout Europe in 1954, she wrote 35 letters home in just 3 months. Plus postcards.
Her writing was so detailed and descriptive that her hometown newspaper published excerpts of her letters (after her mother edited them, of course).
I still keep a written journal when I travel, though I usually start out strong and by the end of the trip, I’ve slowed down or even stopped; the details of the last few days left only to memory.
Though I blog about my travels, and document the details with photographs, letter writing is a more intimate mode of expression. There’s a difference in the process as well as the outcome when typing and using a mouse to record travels vs. the hand to pen to paper approach.
When was the last time you wrote a letter to share your travels? Or even kept a journal?