Thursday, July 31, 2008

Picture-Perfect Time Travel with Nellie Bly

I read Cay Gibson's book, Picture-Perfect Chilhood, and have begun to take her advice. I checked out a children's book from the library: Nellie Bly's Book: Around the World in 72 Days. It is Nellie's account of her race around the world to beat the record of fictional character, Phileas Fogg, who was the protagonist in Around the World in 80 Days by Jules Verne. Nellie traveled as a reporter for the New York World newspaper.

Emma scarfed up Nellie's book. She read her favorite passages aloud to me, the first being,

Someone suggested that a revolver would be a good companion piece for the passsport, but I had such a strong belief in the world's greeting me as I greeted it, that I refused to arm myself. I knew if my conduct was proper I should always find men ready to protect me, let them be Americans, English, French, German or anything else.

This quote led us into a great discussion on how the definition of feminism must have changed since Nellie's time. From there we talked about the corresponding destruction of a culture that used to be counted on to protect women. Herb told me that he stopped recently to help a lady change a flat tire. She was all dressed up in heels and everything and had already started loosening the lug nuts. She told Herb that he was the only person who had stopped.

Back to Nellie's book. . .Reading it in July was perfect: Emma was getting ready to go to Camp Olmstead in Pennsylvania for ten days.

Can you guess which trip required more luggage--a trip around the world or a trip to Pennsylvania?

Before you guess, let me quote Nellie:

I bought one hand-bag with the determination to confine my baggage to its limit. . .Packing that bag was the most difficult undertaking of my life; there was so much to go into such little space.

I got everything in at last except the extra dress. Then the question resolved itself into this: I must either add a parcel to my baggage or go around the world in one dress. I always hated parcels, so I sacrificed the dress. But I brought out a last summer's silk bodice and after considerable squeezing managed to crush it into the hand-bag.

One never knows the capacity of an ordinary satchel until dire necessity compels the exercise of all one's ingenuity to reduce everything to the smallest possible compass. In mine I was able to pack: two traveling caps, three veils, a pair of slippers, a complete outfit of toilet articles, ink-stand, pens, pencils, copypaper, pins, needles and thread, a dressing gown, a tennis blazer, a small flask and a drinking cup, several complete changes of underwear, a liberal supply of handkerchiefs and, most bulk and uncompromising of all, a jar of cold cream to keep my face from chapping in the varied climates I should encounter.

Emma hauled a large suitcase, a smaller carry-on, and a purse, and she worried that she wouldn't have enough clothes to make it through the ten days.

1 comment:

Theresa said...

What a wonderful story!Adding it to my library list!
Have you seen Michael Palin's "Around the World in 80 Days" travel series? It is a hoot!