Webmasters note: This articles was written about John Owen Sr and a group of his
friends. This was submitted by his son, John D Owen
John Sr. was born in 1921.
FORT DODGE YOUTHS SHOW HOW TO ENJOY HIGH
ADVENTURE AT LOW COST ON 6,000-MILE TRIP
High School Boys Travel to Pacific Coast and Home in 14-Year-Old Flivver at Cost
of $75 Each for Five Weeks Travel
How to enjoy high adventure at low cost was demonstrated by four Fort Dodge high
school youths, who this week returned from a 6,000 mile trip to the Pacific coast
in a 14-year-old flivver.
The travelers who took Mt. Greeley's sage if considerably time worn counsel about
young men going west were John Owen, son of Lulu Owen; Claude Wood, son of Mrs.
Doris Wood; mark Tuel, son of Mr. and Mrs. H.M. Tuel, and Bob Brooks, son of Mr.
and Mrs. A. L. Brooks. Claude is 18, his companions all 17.
On $75 dollars each, which included car expense, food, shelter and incidentals,
they journeyed for five weeks and "saw plenty".
The jalopy in which they made their hegira [an exodus or migration] is worth several paragraphs in this account.
The youths acquired the car, a 1925 model phaeton, on an outlay of $4 cash and an
even older flivver. They did a little work on the motor and then exercised their
combined and inspired ingenuity in the decoration of the body.
They christened the conveyance Penelope, and emblazoned her sides with many signs,
topping off the job with a defiant "California or Bust".
Penelope had her weaknesses and ailments, time revealed. Her tires were thin and
on the hot rides through the desert county of the southwest often blew out twice
or three times a day. She had a generator, also, that more than 100,000 miles of
grinding had treated none to generously (unreadable) that had to be replaced twice
and rebuilt once.
A Spartan Motor.
Her motor after all was (unreadable) old but except for a serious (unreadable) at
the beginning of the long trek did Spartan duty
The four left Fort Dodge the morning of June 19.
At Rockwell City near calamity overtook Penelope. An oil line clogged and a rod
went out, threatening to halt their journey before it was hardly begun.
A mechanic in Rockwell City repaired the damage, but their budget had taken a severe
bump with less than 30 miles of the 6,000 they planned to cover traveled.
They traveled by the southern route, through Wichita, the Texas panhandle, Albuquerque,
Flagstaff and Boulder dam to Los Angeles, averaging about 200 miles a day.
Tire troubles began to beset the boys in Kansas. Between there and Los Angeles they
averaged two blowouts daily. In California they replaced three casings, ending their
annoyances from this source.
Slept In Open.
They had a tent and slept in this shelter or under the open sky. They ran into rain
the first three days of the trip and at St. Joseph, Mo., skirted a tornado. At Liberal,
Kans., in the dustbowl, where it rains only twice a year, that drove into town in
The travelers took food from their home, and cooked some of their meals by the roadside.
The remainder of the time they ate in restaurants.
They suffered a severe attack of homesickness in the early stages of the trip, the
(unreadable) hitting the particularly hard (unreadable) drives across the desert
(unreadable) lots of time to think (unreadable) across the New Mexico (unreadable)
California, however, they were cured of their nostalgia and beginning to believe
that the wanderer's life is the only life.
Arriving at Los Angeles June 29, the boys spent 10 days there. They visited Mark's
grandparents, Mr. and Mrs. James Drew, and at the W.J. Arendt home in Los Angeles.
Invitation to Parade
Penelope enjoyed a real break in Los Angeles. The owner of a big garage saw the DeMoley
sign on the car and stopped the boys to introduce himself as a fellow member of
the order. Then he took the jalopy into his repair shop for a thorough overhauling.
From Los Angeles they traveled the coast highway to San Francisco, turning down
an invitation in Salinas to appear in the annual rodeo parade.
In Frisco, a navy officer saw them on the dock and invited them aboard his ship
for an inspection of the craft and a big supper. In Frisco, also, they ran into
Jack Weyen, son of Mr. and Mrs. Chris Weyen of Fort Dodge and an old friend. Jack
is in the Navy. They spent an interesting day with him, roaming the docks and through
Chinatown. They spent a day at the Golden Gate exposition, crossed the big bridges
and heard their favorite orchestras, Kay Kyser's and Benny Goodman's bands.
Help for Penelope
In San Francisco, (unreadable) Penelope's transmission (the rest of the article
is basically unreadable)
What adventure has your kinfolk been on? Would you like to share their story?
Please let me know, the tale would be a wonderful addition to this Web Site!