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A Harley-Davidson, Brave Della Crewe and Trouble the Dog via @PatFurstenberg, #travel, #adventure, #bravewomen, #dogs

In 1914, three years before New York state constitution granted women suffrage and only eleven years after the Harley-Davidson Motorcycle Factory first opened its gates in a small shed in Milwaukee, Wisconsin, Della Crewe, a 29 young woman with a flair for adventure, took a trip around the world (or around the United States) on a Harley-Davidson bike with a sidecar. With her travelled her beloved dog, Trouble, a Boston bull pup.

“Trouble is the only trouble I will have with me on this trip.”

It all started the year before, in 1913, when Miss Della Crewe bought a new 1913 Harley-Davidson single-cylinder bike that she enjoyed riding around her home town, Waco, Texas. Next year she traded the Davidson single-cylinder for a twin, and added a sidecar to it. And she took off.

Della Crewe and her dog Trouble. There is a disk brake on the front wheel of her bike - it is actually a Corbin speedometer / odometer.
Della Crewe and her dog Trouble. There is a disk brake on the front wheel of her bike – it is actually a Corbin speedometer / odometer.

First she stopped in Dodge City, Kansas for a motorcycle race. We need to consider the state of roads in 1914, muddy and sandy and with hidden stumps and rocks. Needless to say, she received a hero’s welcome. It took her eight days.

From Kansas she headed for Oklahoma City then headed north, through Missouri, to Chicago. Further to the Harley-Davidson Motorcycle Factory in Milwaukee where she picnicked with the female workers of the motorcycle factory.  

The first Harley-Davidson factory, a tiny wooden shed in the Davidson family backyard in Milwaukee. 1903.
The first Harley-Davidson factory, a tiny wooden shed in the Davidson family backyard in Milwaukee. 1903.

Further south she departed, to Indiana. Here the authorities stopped her twice along the road because of hoof and mouth disease cases in the area. Della had to promise that her dog wouldn’t leave the sidecar. Then on to Goshen, Indiana she went. Here Della and Trouble took part in a city parade before heading to the East Coast to New York. It was winter, 12 December and -10F (-23C!).  While Della Crewe had to wear all the clothes she traveled with in order to keep warm, her dog Trouble was cozy in a specially knitted sweater, curled on the bottom of the side car, on his pillow.

According to Google Maps, this trip would take 43 h without traffic (2,734 miles) today, driving via US-287 N and US-283 N. We are advised that this route has tolls and that the destination is in a different time zone.

A Harley-Davidson, Brave Della Crewe and Trouble the Dog route through US - leg 1
A Harley-Davidson, Brave Della Crewe and Trouble the Dog route through US – leg 1.

It took Della Crewe from spring till autumn 1914 (and many stop overs along the way) to travel from Kansas to New York.

“I had a glorious trip. I am in perfect health and my desire is stronger than ever to keep going.”

She didn’t stop here. Since World War 1 already started in Europe, she couldn’t take her Harley-Davidson and her beloved dog Trouble across the Atlantic so she headed south, booking passage to Florida. Then she booked passage further to Havana, Cuba where she toured the island, still on her Harley-Davidson. She sailed further south, over the Caribbean Sea to Panama where she visited the newly open Panama Canal, “America’s master work.”  Further she visited the island of Jamaica, still part of the British Empire back then. Here she motored to the top of the highest peak. From Jamaica she then hopped to the island of Puerto Rico.

She then sailed back home to Florida, then motored to Tampa, then to Atlanta, Carolinas, Washington D.C. and Philadelphia before reaching New York City again.

A Harley-Davidson, Brave Della Crewe and Trouble the Dog route through US - leg 2
A Harley-Davidson, Brave Della Crewe and Trouble the Dog route through US – leg 2

Here she didn’t stop for long, motoring across the US to Los Angeles – where she settled in 1916 for a while longer, working as a manicurist and a shop clerk.

A modern day Della Crewe
A modern day Della Crewe
Cool bikers in a side car.
Cool bikers in a side car.

I was pleasantly surprised to learn about Della Crewe’s biking adventures and about her beloved dog Trouble, especially since I, too, know a few stories abut a different dog, a Great Dane, that was enrolled in the Royal Navy and even flew planes during World War Two: Joyful Trouble.

Get the book of Joyful Trouble only on Amazon.
I, too, know a few stories abut a different dog, a Great Dane, that was enrolled in the Royal Navy and even flew planes during World War Two: Joyful Trouble.

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Movie Music Monday, White Christmas, Holiday Inn, 1942, BingCrosby, Fred Astaire via @PatFurstenberg #Christmas #moviemusicmonday

Movie Music Monday, White Christmas, Holiday Inn, 1942, Bing Crosby, Fred Astaire via @PatFurstenberg #Christmas #moviemusicmonday

I can never resist the romantic glamour of 1940’s-1950’s Hollywood musicals and its Golden Era in general. The fabulous musicals produced then still offer a generous amount of escapism. Be it Fred Astaire and Ginger Rogers, Humphey Bogart, Clark Gable and Vivien Leigh, I’m sold!

Holiday Inn is a movie filled with romance, music, gentleman-like manners, dance, dance, dance and fabulous gowns!

Here are Bing Cosby and lovely Virginia Dale in one of the most memorable and enchanting rendition of White Christmas:

Do you know the story behind the White Christmas song?

White Christmas is the most popular Christmas song ever written.

The lyrics to the song were created by Irving Berlin (1880-1989), born Israel Baline in Tyumen, Siberia (definitely knew a thing or two about what a real white Christmas looks like!). Irving, together with seven siblings and parents, emigrated to the US in 1893. Everybody had to work to make ends meet. After the death of his father Israel, 21 years of age, took a job as a “song plugger” (performing new songs in saloons, vaudeville theaters or on street corners). This experience proved invaluable and Berlin learned first hand what the audience and the what audience enjoyed the most music-wise.

The first draft of White Christmas was probably drawn in California but it was finished in Berlin’s weekend house in New York at the very beginning of 1940 and it soon to be performed in the musical Holiday Inn and performed by Bing Crosby.

History, however, had other plans.

On December 7 1941 Japan bombed the American port Pearl Harbor. Americans counter-attacked. War was on and that December 1941 the lyrics of White Christmas suddenly had a whole different meaning to the soldiers that left for war overseas and the families left behind:

“I’m dreaming of a white Christmas
Just like the ones I used to know”

That year, 1941, White Christmas was performed on the radio as early as October, by popular demand.

To honor the spirit of those left to war and who took strength from listening to his son, Berlin removed a few humorous verse:

“The sun is shining, the grass is green
The orange and palm trees sway
There’s never been such a day
In Beverly Hills, L. A.
But it’s December the 24th
And I am longing to be up north….”

In 1975, the final evacuation of Saigon was signaled by the song “White Christmas”

After almost twenty years of Vietnam War, Americans set their evacuation plan, needing to pull out 1000 Americans and 6ooo Vietnamese whose lives were at risk if left behind. The evacuation code was, read on Armed Force Radio: “The temperature in Saigon is 105 degrees and rising,”  followed by the playing of “I’m Dreaming of a White Christmas.”

Here are Bing Crosby’s White Christmas lyrics:

“I’m dreaming of a white Christmas
Just like the ones I used to know
Where the treetops glisten and children listen
To hear sleigh bells in the snow.
I’m dreaming of a white Christmas
Just like the ones I used to know
Where the treetops glisten and children listen
To hear sleigh bells in the snow.
I’m dreaming of a white Christmas
With every Christmas card I write
May your days be merry and bright
And may all your Christmases be white.
I’m dreaming of a white Christmas,
Just like the ones I used to know
May your days be merry and bright
And may all your Christmases be white.
I’m dreaming of a white Christmas,
With every Christmas card I write
May your days be merry and bright
And may all your Christmases be white
May your days be merry and bright
And may all your Christmases be white.
And may all your Christmases be white (all your Christmases be white)
And may all your Christmases be white (all your Christmases be white)
And may all your Christmases be
(All your Christmases be white)
(All your Christmases be white)”

“White Christmas” lyrics and movie clip are property and copyright of their owners. “Holiday Inn” movie clip is provided for educational purposes and personal use only.

The #MusicMonday meme was created by Drew @ The Tattooed Book Geek. You can pick a song that you really like and share it on Monday. I thoroughly enjoyed this blog feature on Mischenko’s lovely blog, ReadRantRockandroll .

What are your thoughts on White Christmas? Have you watched it yet? If not, December is a good month to watch a romantic musical!

Let me know in comments below.


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