Week 28: #52 Ancestors – Travel
By Eilene Lyon
In 1942, my grandparents, Reatha and Everett Halse, made the decision to leave Florence, South Dakota, and head west. Everett’s younger brother, Alvin Halse, was already living in Corvallis, Oregon, and had a job waiting for Everett.
That summer, they packed up their worldly possessions and three sons, including my dad, and began the long drive. Because it was wartime, some goods were becoming scarce.
A few years later, my dad wrote this essay for a class. He was probably in about 5th grade by then, as best we can figure. This cross country move brings to mind the several moves my family made, as my dad (an Army officer) was transferred back and forth across the continent. At least the Army provided moving vans for our furnishings!
The creamery building in Florence, South Dakota, where the Halse family lived from 1934 to 1942. Reatha worked in the creamery. There was an apartment in back (with an outhouse). Taken in the winter of 1936. Everett’s delivery truck is at left. Note the door is open and snow is inside the cab! It almost appears to be lacking a windshield.
Our Trip to Oregon
My family including my parents two brothers and myself left Florence South Dakota August 4, 1942 at 1 P.M. We were driving our car pulling a trailer of furniture. Before we had driven 18 miles we had a flat tire on the trailer. That was the beginning of a succession of flat trailer tires.
That afternoon we drove 180 miles and stayed at Yankton, South Dakota overnight. The next day, August 5th, we drove 234 miles.
On August 6th, we drove through Sidney, Nebraska, and of course drove through a stop sign. So we had to go around the block and try it over. Daddy was used to stop signs in the middle of the street and this was over to the side. That day we drove 313 miles.
August 7th, we had about four flat trailer tires and only made 179 miles. Our main trouble being we could buy nothing but second hand tires. And they blew out one right after another. That night we were all rather travel weary.
On August 8 we made 199 miles and August 9, 303 miles.
On Monday, August 10 it was so hot…Idaho and stay in the park until toward evening. Daddy bought the last trailer tire there. We started out again about 7 P.M. and drove all night. Daddy [and] Mother made a bed in the back seat and us three boys slept all night.
About 1 A.M. August 11 we entered Oregon. The first thing that happened a traffic officer stopped and asked us where the trailer lights were. You see we had the trailer fixed according to South Dakota laws. He also asked to see Daddy’s drivers license and in South Dakota no drivers license is required. So our first impression of Oregon was not too good. He told us to get the trailer wired the first town we entered after the stores opened.
So at Boardman we stopped to fix the lighting and stayed there during the hot part of the day. Again we drove during the night. At Portland we lost our way and had quite a time finding our way out. We finaly made it and drove out through Tigard. About 20 miles out of Tigard we stopped and rested until 5 A.M. when we drove into Corvallis. We got to Yunkle Alvins at 7 A. M. August 12th. We were all very tired …and…
We drove a total of 2,135 miles. It took 135 gallons of gas and total trip expense was $86.39. But we all got here and also the furniture. We have never been sory of our trip and the experiences. We all like it here and plan to make it our home. As soon as tires are available we plan to make a trip back to South Dakota for a visit.
Dad’s uncle, Alvin Halse, with first wife, Loretta Frydendall. Not long after Dad arrived in Corvallis, Uncle Al joined the Navy and shipped out to serve in the war.
The first house the Halses lived in in Corvallis at 552 Harrison.
Dad with older brother, Treslin, on Thanksgiving Day 1942 in Corvallis, Oregon. Two adorable little Army officers!
Note: The ellipses indicate a couple of lines missing from the copy I have. Also, Dad just mentioned another recollection of that trip. “One thing I remember to this day is a stop at a restaurant in Wyoming. There were cowboys out front who actually lassoed Treslin and me. Of course, we were thrilled.” — EL
Feature image: The Halse car and trailer shortly after arriving at Uncle Al’s place in Corvallis, Oregon, in August 1942. Everett is untying the load while Treslin and Dad fidget nearby. Note the two spare tires on the car’s running board and behind the front fender.