This Valentine’s Day card is one found in Aunt Sadie’s Shirley Temple Scrapbook. The handsome boy is urging “Step on it Kid” and “You auto be mine” while steering a sleek, green car. His faithful dog is running alongside. Now, you might be saying what does this have to do with the prompt photo? Well, Robinson Crusoe was stranded while traveling and I have some family photos of a road trip where the family became stranded for a short time while their car was broken down. This post is that story.
Sometime between 1928 and 1935, the Strait family took a road trip to visit Niagara Falls. The falls are actually made up of three, huge waterfalls that straddle the international border between the United States and Canada. These awe-inspiring falls are located in New York State at the northwestern corner near Buffalo, New York.
The intrepid group of travelers consisted of Audrey (Hunt) Strait, her daughter Bernice Strait, her son William Strait, and her sister Belle (Hunt) Knox. They were traveling by car, a Ford Model T to be specific. The top speed of a Model T was 40-45 mph. Niagara falls is about 370 miles from Newton, Sussex County, New Jersey. That meant, with no rest stops and if they were driving at top speed (neither of which is likely), it took them more than eight hours just to get to their destination. Here are two photos of Bill leaning up against the car.
The trip was not without trouble, though. One of the engine rods blew out and necessitated a stop for engine repairs. Bill was good with his hands and mechanically oriented to he did the repairs himself. Unlike today’s modern cars which are full of electronics and computer boards and crammed into extremely tight spaces, the Model Ts were surprisingly easy to work on. There was room to work. According to Bill’s son, also named Bill, “Dad just took out the four bolts on the top, dropped out the pan on the bottom, replaced the rod, and put everything back together.” The photo above shows Bill in the middle of the car repair project. You can see how open the engine was once the engine hoods were pulled off.
Audrey waited patiently by the side of the road while the repairs were in progress.
I’m unsure whether the breakdown occurred on the way there or on the way back but either way the family made it to Niagara Falls. They snapped some pictures.
The family taking in the sights at Niagara Falls:
Niagara is always a popular tourist destination as shown by the crowds in the photo below. Despite the troubles and despite the sour expression on Audrey’s face (she always looked like that in pictures), it looks like the family had a good visit to Niagara Falls.