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Friday, April 1, 2016

#15 - Alice's Drive - Alice Ramsey and Gregory M. Franzwa

Title:  Alice’s Drive
Author:    Alice Ramsey
Genre:  Memoir/Non-Fiction
Rating:  B
Published:  2005
Dates:  3/18/16 – 3/29/16

What a unique story!  Actually Alice Ramsey wrote a book entitled Veil, Duster, and Tire Iron originally published in 1961 which is republished in this book with annotation and “Chasing Alice” by Gregory M. Franzwa.  The year is 1909 and Alice’s husband has bought her a Maxwell DA because she loves to drive.  The location is Hackensack, New Jersey, USA where they live.  Alice decides she would love to drive across the nation and be the first woman to accomplish such a feat.  As Alice relates “Back in 1909 when I was the first woman to cross the continent at the wheel of a motor car, my day’s run was anywhere between 4 and 198 miles.  …June the ninth, 1909, was the actual date of the start of my historic automobile trek from New York to San Francisco.”  Forty-one days later Alice and three friends accomplished the feat.

Fast forward one hundred years.  On June 9, 2009, Alice Ramsey’s Centennial Drive was recreated as closely as possible.  The really cool part of this story is that a 1909 Maxwell DA was rebuilt by Rich Anderson of Monroe, Washington.  He thought it would be a kick to replicate Alice’s original cross-country trek.  His daughter, Emily Anderson, about the same age as Alice at the time of the original endeavor, also accomplished the task.

One of the fun parts for me in reading the book was to hear about the New York towns surrounding Tarrytown, Ossining and Albany that are so rich in history, not to mention parts of Pennsylvania, Ohio, Indiana, Illinois, Iowa, Wyoming, Utah, Nevada and California.  Much of the roads ran parallel to what would become the Lincoln Highway.  There is so much more – Franzwa’s account of what Alice omitted from her book – things like what hotel did they sleep in, where did they buy their gas.  For a short book he crams into it many footnotes, maps, pictures and advertisements and gives homage to all who helped him fill out the details.

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