Introduction to My Blog

      After moving back to Ventura from Alaska to be near my mom I found myself with a lot of time on my hands.  The economy being what it was in 2008 and 2009 I wasn’t able to find a job so I decided to find other things to keep me busy. 

     My mother’s house is quite large with many rooms and places to put things and that is what I found – things put there.  In an old desk and several wooden chests I discovered many precious records saved that previously belonged to my grandparents, great grandparents and other ancestors so I determined to do what I could to protect and preserve them.  I was really excited with what I discovered.  There were essays written by my great grandmother when she was in high school about Ventura, letters from relatives to other relatives and old records.  Amongst my most prized discoveries though were the letters, journal, and newspaper articles my grandmother saved after a trip she took around the world in 1961.  I also found boxes and of pictures she took during her trip. 

     I had always known grandma did a lot of traveling but hadn’t realized the extent of it until I invested some time reading what she had saved.  As I went through her travel journal that she wrote every day I enjoyed reading her observations.  While the newspaper articles she contributed to talked a lot about what she saw the letters she wrote almost every day to my mother and uncle gave me I a lot more taste about things she saw but in more of an unvarnished version.

     The letters she wrote home were predominately to the families of her children – Ramona and Bob.  Ramona was my mother and she was married to Ray, my father.  Together they had three children who in 1961 were Michael 4 years, David 9 years and me, Janice 13 years old.  My Uncle Bob’s family included his wife Pat and their three children in 1961 – Liz Anne 3 years, Penny 7 years and Patrick 8 years old.  (Uncle Bobby and Aunt Pat had another daughter named Sandy several years after my grandmother took this trip.)  Her letters home were fun to hear and follow.

     During the era where my grandmother traveled small town papers often published what local people were doing in their lives.  Trips local people took were always big news so Edith and grandma were asked to send back letters about their trip by Fillmore Herald when they found out they were going on this trip. 

     As I poked through the papers and journal I found myself wanting to know more.  How did she decide to take a three month trip around the world?  What made her pick the countries she did?  Who did she go with?  All I could think of were lots and lots of questions.

     My grandfather passed away in 1959 and my family moved in with my grandmother to keep her company.  Over the next few years each of us settled into various routines which for my grandmother were going to her clubs, playing with her dog Binky and visiting friends. However she didn’t do any traveling like she had been doing with my grandfather until she was contacted by an old acquaintance – Edith.

     Edith and my grandmother had been friends when they lived in Fillmore and they attended many of the same clubs.  Edith had signed up for trip with a group to go around the world for 3 months and she needed a second person to share her room with her.  She knew grandma loved traveling and missed traveling around with my grandpa in their little travel trailer so she asked her to go along.  From reading her journal it seems she wasn’t sure if she should go but after looking at the itinerary she readily agreed.

     My memory of my grandma as a kid growing up with her was that she was refined and genteel.  She was always very proper, had a strong sense of etiquette and someone who even drink her tea with her little finger raised.  I remember her as being someone who would patiently play canasta with me for hours and bridge with her friends for hours longer than that.  However, the journal, letters home and boxes of slides revealed a whole other side to her.  What I learned made me go to my mother with a host of more questions about the trip because I knew she would be able to help me get answers. 

     In researching the itinerary I found it was a pretty radical one in 1961.  I found that many of the countries have different names now and have changed governments.  Several places she went have had temples and major historical sites destroyed by conflicts thus leaving the only way we can enjoy them through pictures taken. 

     Once I’d finished reading my grandmother’s journal and doing a little research I knew I couldn’t put it all away again without doing something more to share what she found with others like she wanted to do.  I decided to tie the journal, letters home and newspaper articles into a memoir of her trip trying to put things in a way that she would have done it if she could.

     The following memoir is a compilation of what my beloved grandmother wrote in her journal every day on the trip, the letters she wrote home and information from the articles published in the Fillmore Herald.  For your viewing pleasure I’ve also included pictures she took along the way to accent what is being described. 

     I’m posting installments on the same date that she initially wrote them in 1961 so you can get a feel for the timing of her trip.  I hope you find the same joy I did in reading about her trip and most importantly that it inspires you to travel too.

Grandma

3 Comments (+add yours?)

  1. David
    Oct 31, 2010 @ 00:30:58

    Jan – link those pictures of me and you the day I kicked out dad’s jeep window …. I can’t find them….

    Reply

  2. Kelly Alley
    Jul 06, 2012 @ 06:52:08

    It is wonderful to see the pictures of India and especially Kashmir and Banaras. Your Grandmother’s sensitivity and interest in life there is admirable. She was a true anthropologist! Very interesting to read. Kelly Alley

    Reply

  3. Lai, Chang Geng
    Dec 28, 2015 @ 01:23:26

    I accidently discovered this website as I was trying to look through some old pictures of Taichung (Formosa) where I grew up, and I saw all the old pictures in particular those of Grand Hotel (my older brother was with the Grand Hotel when your grandmother was there). Also love the pictures of Hong Kong where I have lived there for 7 years. Interesting how your grandmother decided to take the trip that really crossed many exotic places in Asia. Thank you for the blog.

    Reply

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