WellesleyWeston Magazine


Launched in 2005, WellesleyWeston Magazine is a quarterly publication tailored to Wellesley and Weston residents and edited to enrich the experience of living in two of Massachusetts' most desirable communities.

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Page 107 of 223

nancy wiswall, age 17, was about to start a 61-day adventure that would take her from Wellesley, across Canada, to Mexico, and back home — 10,000 miles — most by train, a few by truck, and 2,000 by bicycle. The cost would be $210, but then, it was 1939. The trip, sponsored by American Youth Hostelling, provided affordable, basic accommodations for travelling youth, adapted from a European model. Nancy's tour, combining train and bicycle travel, was innovative. And, lucky for us, Nancy kept, and preserved to this day, a trip journal. It is like a time capsule, bringing alive the differences between then and now. Nancy's story begins with her family piling into their Mercury Eight on the appointed day at 9:30 am —"very good for the Wiswall family," she quips in her journal. They dropped her, her bike, and saddlebags in Northfield, Massachusetts at the hostelling headquarters. She does not mention release forms. Naturally — none existed. But she does say that while waiting for the entire group of 29 to assemble, she and a few other girls went off to find a swimming hole — apparently on their own. The age mix of the group would never fly today: the oldest would be Robin and Daphne Miller, British sib- lings in their early 20's; the youngest, 14-year-old Billy Burpee, of the seed catalogue family. The leader was 26-year-old Chuck Harris, a "handsome blond hunk from Minnesota," says Nancy's journal. Today, 93- year-old Nancy remembers him as "laid back." Nancy's age put her in the middle of the group. But, she says, "at 17, 18, we were children back then." Maybe so, but those children were given responsibil- 106 W e l l e s l e y W e s t o n M a g a z i n e | s p r i n g 2 0 1 5 A Teen on Tour S U S A N S A B I N writer

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