Sunday, March 27, 2011

1945 Road Trip III

When Dick took his trip, his brother Doug would have been in high school too, and their sister, my mother, Mary Sarah, was 13. The baby of the family, my uncle Bill, was three going on four.

Envelope postmarked Detroit, Michigan, 11 p.m. July 6, 1945. Envelope is from Pioneer Hotel (“Modern, Air-Cooled,” with illustration of a Conestoga wagon), Tucson, Arizona

Addressed to: The DeWitt Family, 3482 Knollcrest Ave., Los Angeles 43, Calif.

Return address: Dick DeWitt, ℅ 3626 Wabash, Detroit 8, Michigan

In ink, on 3 folded leaves of stationery from Pioneer Hotel (“J.M. Procter, Manager”), each leaf hand-numbered into four pages.

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July 6, 1945

Hi there—

I guess that you’ve been wondering what has happened to me. Well, when I last wrote to you I was on the bus to Omaha. We got to Omaha at about 7:30 AM, July 2. We slept on the bus all night. Our luck wasn’t too good Monday either. We got to Des Moines, Ia. Monday evening. Owing to the fact that auto travel was rather slow, we decided to try trucks! We would go to an eating place where a lot of the truck drivers stopped, and if they were going where we were, they would give us a lift. We left Des Moines Monday evening and got to Aurora, Ill. Tuesday morning. We slept a bit on the truck. By Tuesday evening we were at Gary, Indiana. Note the great mileage! There was another eating place for truck drivers outside of Gary and we got a ride to Detroit. At Gary we split up. Because the next day was the 4th, none of the trucks could unload, so very few trucks went all the way through to Detroit. Only those having homes in Detroit came through. We couldn’t get a ride in the same truck, but we could get rides separately.

Bruce went ahead in one truck and I followed. We met at the YMCA Wednesday morning. After we cleaned up, Mr. Cameron picked us up and took us to Bruce’s aunt’s house. He then took us down to send the telegram, and to get my pants pressed. Then we came back to Bruce’s aunt’s house, where we have been staying ever since, and had lunch. We then did a little washing and unpacking. Later on Mr. Cameron took us out to eat, and he showed us a bit of the town. We got to bed early Wednesday night, and slept late the next morning. Both nights on the trucks, we didn’t get too much sleep. When we got up we had a bath and breakfast, and then decided to do a little sight seeing. We decided to go to Belle Isle (Thursday). It is an island in the middle of the Detroit River. Going across the bridge to the Isle we saw two people in a small boat being pulled out of the river. There was a strong wind which made the river roll right along. When we got to the Isle we looked around and then rented a canoe. It cost only thirty cents an hour! We canoed up to the very end of the Isle and then back. On the way back it began to rain. There were lots of bridges over

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the canals, and we would wait under a bridge until the rain would let up, and then would head for the next bridge, etc., until we reached the boat house. The buses didn’t run too often, so we walked back across the bridge in the rain. We came home and then had dinner. We were canoing for about three hours.

We then had to get some ice and get Bruce’s aunt’s carburator [sic] fixed. It seems that they have a very close friend who is head of tool production at Willow Run. Some job, eh!

He helped take the carburator all apart and fix it. Then we went in and talked and had some cookies and lemonade. Mr. McGreggor (the man who is head of tool production at Willow Run) said that Ford is putting out a “straight 5,” and it wouldn’t have a dead center, thus making it better. He also had a very good workshop in his cellar. He had a lathe, drill press, forge, and all kinds of tools, although he said “All my tools are out at the plant.” Also he designed and made the heating system for their house. Also, he happened to mention that Henry Ford is a sick man: Mr. McGreggor had seen Henry Ford several times recently, but each time he didn’t get out of his car. That was unusual for Mr. Ford.

This morning we decided to go to Greenfield Village, that is a town reproduced by Henry Ford, just outside of Dearborn, and the museum. We went through the village first. It had all kinds of buildings connected with the life of Henry Ford and the development of America. I am sending to [?] booklets about the Village and the Museum home. The village was a place that you all would really enjoy.

The museum was also a beautiful structure. Different parts of the buildings were reproductions of parts of famous structures, such as Independence Hall, etc. You walk in the museum, and pay, and then you go down a large hallway which has much furniture and china wear [sic] of different periods. Then you come to the main room of the Museum. The floor is made of teak wood blocks about a foot or so long and about three inches wide and worked into a herringbone pattern. It is the largest teak wood floor in the world. Many early shops are reproduced there and there are many automobiles, bicycles, airplanes, trains, and all kinds of inventions which have aided in the developement [sic] of the country. Because of the labor shortage we were hurried through the museum, but we could have spent a

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week there and still enjoyed it. But time marches on and so did we. We came home and I got my shoes fixed up and then I started writing this letter. Then we finished dinner and I continued on the letter.

Tomorrow Bruce and I are going to Put-in-Bay which is up the Detroit River and in Lake Huron. I believe the round trip is about one hundred and sixty miles. We leave at nine tomorrow morning and we get back at eight in the evening.

I imagine that we will be heading for Canada the first of next week. Don’t write me here, because I will be gone by the time a letter would have time to reach here. My address will be:

Dick DeWitt
℅ Bill Ferguson
R.R. #1
Kincardine, Ontario

We are having a swell time. I forgot to mention that Mr. Cameron had two tickets to the ball game the day we got here. It was between Boston & Detroit. They split. Boston won the first game 4-3 and Detroit the second 5-3. In the first game Hank Greenbey hit a homer in the second tier and the ball was still going up. Hank, I believe, played his first game last week. The ball stadium here is “Briggs Field.” It is owned by Mr. Briggs, of Briggs Manufacturing Company, Mr. Cameron’s company.

Where we are staying here, we are having swell food and it is a good place.

How is Bill getting along? Doug—Are you still working-out hard? I hope Mary Sarah is also having a swell time. Dad—How is the cellar coming? I hope you are all all right. Mom—How is it not to wash and cook for one less?

I have been meaning to write more but something always comes. I hope this letter will make up. I should have taken my camera out to Greenfield Village today, but I didn’t think of it. I’ll be sending some pictures along later.

I guess that’s about all for now.

Love

Dick

P.S. The stationery is Mr. Cameron’s. It is the only stationery around the house. Dick

2 comments:

Kevin said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
mrjumbo said...

An informed cousin writes:

Interesting stuff on your blog. A small note, though, on this post:

That should be Hank Greenberg. The game of the previous week that Dick is referring to was Greenberg's first game back (July 1, 1945) after being discharged from the service (after missing more than three full seasons). The great slugger picked up where he left off before the war by hitting a home run in front of the home crowd.

-Ed