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1934 Trip-Wisconsin

The “Maiden Voyage” of the Gypsy Coeds is not well chronicled.  It would be be the first of 8 summer trips that the Silver Streak would make carrying a car full of young girls out of Bradford Illinois and Stark County to see some of the sights the world of North America had to offer.  In that day and age it “just was not done”, was “not very acceptable” for a group of girls to head out on a trip this way!    Because of this, the girls would receive lots of attention wherever they went.  Remember, the 19th Amendment to the U.S. Constitution allowing women the right to vote had been passed only 16 years prior to this trip.  We are still looking for pictures from the trip.  It is known that they only ventured as fas as Devils Lake and Baraboo Wisconsin.  If you don’t know this area of the United States, it is a well known summer vacation destination including “The Wisconsin Dells”.  The city takes its name from the dells of the Wisconsin River, a scenic, glacially formed gorge with beautiful natural sandstone formations along the river. Together with nearby Lake Delton, the city forms an area known as “The Dells”, and it was a  popular Midwest tourist destination even in the 1930’s. Traveling North in the summer to escape the heat was popular. Homes were not air conditioned.

The car, The Silver Streak, belonged to Darlene Dorgan.  Darlene had wanted to go to college, but her father, Bill Dorgan did not think that was necessary, didn’t want her to leave Bradford.  As the story is told, she begged him for a car because she wanted to travel and Bill conceded.   There are different stories about how much Bill paid for the car ranging from $10 to $50.  Darlene worked as a hair dresser, running a shop in the basement of the family home on Arbor Street in Bradford. It is believed that it was here that she and the girls would talk about and plan their trips. She organized this first trip, truly a camping trip and would become the ringleader for all the following seven the trips.  On this trip she would be the only driver of the car.  Most of the other girls had never driven a car of any kind.

That first trip would include Darlene, and her younger sister Verna who had graduated from High School in 1931. Olive Bell, who lived next door to the Dorgans and had graduated in 1933 also was invited. Clare Breen would also go. Clare had graduated from Bradford High School in 1934.  The fifth traveler was Kathleen Moran. Kathleen lived on a farm south and west of Bradford. She did not go to Bradford High School, but went to The Academy of Our Lady Catholic Girls School in Peoria, graduating in 1932. She would certainly know many of the girls in Bradford, and may have gone to grade school with some of them, and possibly was a customer of Darlene’s in her beauty parlor.

The 1926 Silver Streak would be 8 years old when the the girls headed out on this first trip.  We do not know who the previous owner was, nor do we know how many miles it had on it at the time.  Today, on current highways, the trip of 236 miles one way to the Wisconsin Dells from Bradford can be completed in 4 hours and 15 minutes.  In 1934, on roads of that time, two lane roads that took you thru towns rather than around them, and in their 1926 Model T, whose top speed was around 35-40 mph when loaded, and including stops to eat and for fuel, more than likely the trip took a full twelve hour day for the girls to make.

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