Bicycling Across America in 1944

During the summer of 1944, two friends, recent college graduates with jobs lined up in the coming fall and boyfriends overseas, decided to have an adventure they’d always dreamed about.

These young women, Doris Roy and Thelma Popp, made a plan to bicycle from their homes in Buffalo, New York, to New Orleans and back. They camped outside, slept in barns, hitched rides on riverboats, went to church on Sundays, and worked at a Walgreens serving Cokes when their money ran low. They wrote letters to their families, and nearly every day Thelma wrote in her diary. The entire diary was transcribed about five years ago and can be read here, online for free. It reads like a novella – set aside an hour or two because you’ll most likely not want to walk away until you are done!

Doris and Thelma packed a camera too. Here are a few of their photos from their amazing journey. This first one is them visiting a hospital where injured soldiers are recuperating.

I don’t want to tell you everything all at once, but this story is a glorious snapshot of wartime America seen through the eyes of these two young ladies.  They awake in a barn one early morning to find kittens curled up asleep on their chests. They comfort a homemaker in her farmhouse as she frets about her sons serving in the Pacific. They notice the marked difference in race relations as they travel from north to south. Try not to get misty-eyed when Thelma, as she puts it, “marries her soldier” at the story’s conclusion.

Thelma’s grandson did the transcribing and has graciously given me permission to share it with all of you. I truly hope you enjoy her story as much as I do!

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2 thoughts on “Bicycling Across America in 1944

  1. Pingback: Vintage Style Ladies Bicycles | dronningvintage

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