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1940 Trip-California & the Golden Gate Exhibition

Leaving from Bradford Il.  "California here we come!"

Leaving from Bradford Il. “California here we come!”

As Darlene planned for the 1940 summer trip, she had many potential destinations, but Devils Lake and Baraboo Wisconsin were not high on the list. The 1939 trip had taught her that publicity and connections could open many doors. The Golden Gate Exhibition in San Francisco probably stood out very quickly as the most likely place to head the Silver Streak. The 1939 trip to the NewYork Worlds Fair had gone well. It was the longest trip to date. A California trip would require more pre-planning than any other trip. They had met Henry Ford and developed a rapport with his office. Darlene wrote to Henry about her plans. It has been indicated that Henry Ford actually took the time to prepare and send the girls a route map for their trip.  The route suggested was a more southerly route, which for sure would have been easier on the Silver Streak than trying to traverse some of the higher mountain passes on a more direct route, even though it might mean more overheating.  The recommended route included much of Route 66, or, “The Mother Road” as it was called.   The entire length of Route 66 had finally been paved by 1937.  Again, thru their contact with Henry Ford, they had passes to all shows and entertainments at the Exposition. They would also carry with them another letter from Darryl B. Zannuk, director of 20th Century-Fox Film Colony inviting them to be his guests while in California.

Darlene calculated that the trip could be more than a month in duration. This may have reduced the number of available travel companions. Again, Darlene’s sister Margie would join her on the trip. Rosemary Moran would also go, this being her 3rd trip. Ruth Gustafson, a former teacher in Bradford who was now teaching in Litchfield Illinois would return to Bradford and go on the trip. She had gone on the 1936 trip. A fifth traveler, Patricia Moffett, of Knoxville Illinois would also make the trip. It would be her first trip. Patricia had gone to school at the Academy of our Angels in Clinton Iowa with Margie. Patricia would graduate from the Catholic boarding school in 1940, the year after Margie.   

By the most direct Interstate route today, the distance is over 2000 miles, or 4,000 roundtrip from Bradford to San Francisco. There route was not a direct route. They would travel along Route 66 into New Mexico and take side trips to the Carlsbad Caverns and into Mexico.  They would then proceed into Southern California across Southern Arizona The 1926 model T had two options for cooling, including a cooler climate, thinner radiator, which was they way the Silver Streak was equipped. This lack of radiator capacity crossing the hot southwest would be a recipe for problems. The trip was wrought with engine problems and overheating, and challenged the girls endurance, yet the girls didn’t seem to let that deter their focus on having a good time. In Los Angeles, they met famous movie stars of the day, including Chris Pin Martin (who played “Poncho” in The Cisco Kid), Don Ameche and also it is believed they met a young Ronald Reagan.  There are pictures of the girls with Chris and Don in.  In 2012 at the Bradford Labor Day Parade, Rich Graham, grand nephew of Darlene and Marge stated that as a teen, he remembered the car being pulled out of storage for the 1982 Bradford Parade and that the signatures of both Don Ameche and Ronald Reagan were still legible on the passenger side hood area. By the time the limped into San Francisco they were ready for any and all the help they could get, and were well taken care of at the Golden Gate Exhibition in San Francisco by the Ford Motor Company. Their return to Bradford Illinois would take them on a more Northerly route following The Lincoln Highway, or “The Father Road” as it has been called.

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