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by Don H. Denton

© 2000 by Don R. Denton


This is a copy of a diary I kept on a trip to the Chicago World's Fair in 1934. My dad worked for the Standard Oil Company in Bellingham, Washington and received a brochure put out by the company regarding the fair. He suggested that I consider making the trip, so I talked to a friend, Fred McGuire, and we decided to give it a try. We started out with each carrying a backpack containing (among other things) a blanket, four cans of pork & beans, and a loaf of bread. We also each had a five-dollar bill. I also had 10 penny-post-cards that "Ackey" (Fred Atkinson) gave me to keep him up on our progress. Fred McGuire had a total of $15.00 for the trip and I had a total of $11.00.
Don H. Denton
September 15, 1991

July 5. 1934:
Left home at 10 to 7. Took streetcar to south Bellingham. Waited about 10 minutes and rode in Model A pick-up to State Park entrance. 8:18 AM -- just had another ride in a Studebaker. Had to wait about 15 minutes. Rode to Rock Point service station. About noon, got a ride from Chuckanut Drive to Marysville in a Dodge truck. I have almost went to sleep. Waited about 10 minutes and got a ride into Everett in an Oakland. Walked across street and rode Model T to Stevens Lake Road. It was 11:20 when we left Everett. Rode in Buick sedan. Had a radio in it. Walked out of Snohomish. Waiting for a ride. Guy in a Star picked us up and took us to North Bend. Waited about 4 minutes and got a ride in a 1934 Ford to Cle Elum. Had to wait awhile for some cars to come on account of detour. We were going 65 miles per hour once. Now we are going to eat a bite and continue. It is about 3:30. We are at the crossroads where one goes to Yakima and the other goes to Wenatchee. We are going to Wenatchee. We walked about a quarter of a mile and got a ride in a Chev for about 10 miles. It is about 5:10 and are waiting for a ride to Swank Creek on Blewit Pass. 6:00 PM -- almost at the top. A guy in a Chev gave us a ride to here. Walked a ways and the same guy took us to the summit. Got a drink and are waiting. Guy in a Ford V8 truck gave us a ride into Wenatchee. Got here at 10 to 9pm. Had some trouble with the universal or we would have gotten here sooner. Stayed at Fred's aunt's house all night.
July 6. 1934:
Got up at 6:20 and wrote a card to Ackie. Left Wenatchee at 7:30. Crossed Columbia River and got a ride for a mile-or two. Lot of apple trees around here. Rode a Model A. Got a ride for about 30 miles in a Dodge. Now at Quincy. Plenty hot and dusty barren. 10:30 -- Are at Ephrata. Got a ride in a Hupmobile 8 to here. 11 pm -- still waiting at Ephrata. Waited about an hour and got a ride to Soap Lake. All the guys go around with just about nothing on. Sure is hot. Rode in Willys Knight. Stayed in Soap Lake for awhile and walked about a mile and a half and then got a ride in a Model A for about a mile. Stopped at place and got water and ate some chicken. Got a ride with Richfield man in Chev 1933 truck to Sunset Highway. Sat at service station for a while and then got a ride for about a mile. Ate some apricots and are waiting for a lift. Guy gave us a lift to Almira in a Chev. Waited there about an hour and got a ride to Spokane in a V8 Ford. It is about 11:30 pm now and we are waiting at a wholesale produce house for a truck that is supposed to pull out at 3 am.
July 7, 1934:
Went to sleep and woke up to find that the truck we waited to catch had left about 10 minutes ago. Went down to a mill and slept until about 3:30 and then walked up to the YMCA and slept until about 6:30 am. Took a shower and walked around town looking for a ride. Started walking out of town and ate some beans behind a billboard. Went up on the road and got a ride in a Model T to Coeur D'Alene. Walked out of there and got a ride in a Studebaker to the junction which is about 7 miles out of Missoula. Walked a ways and got a ride in a Chevrolet truck to Missoula. Walked through the town and sat on the outside and ate some bread and tried to get a ride. It is about 7pm. Started to go back to town and find a place to sleep when a guy came along in a Buick and gave us a lift to Milltown which is about 6 miles east of Missoula. Tried to get another ride but couldn't so we got in a boxcar and laid out our blanket and went to sleep.
July 8, 1934 (Sunday):
Woke up about 5 because it was so cold and ate some beans and bread. Started walking down the road and some people gave us a ride to Drummond. Darn nice people. Said they were going to call home and tell them that we were getting along O.K. Walked a ways and got a ride in a Reo truck to the junction of 10 and 93. Just got out and caught a ride in a Chevrolet truck to Butte about 9:10 and wrote a card to Ackie. Walked out of town and got a ride in an old truck with some Jews to about 16 miles. Walked a ways and then got a drink and washed our hands and are waiting for a ride. Got a ride in Hudson 8 for about 2 or 3 miles. Walked down the road a ways and rode in a Studebaker to Whitehall. Walked outside of town and a guy in a Studebaker picked us up and took us to where three roads meet. Got a ride from there to Logan in a Chev sedan that worked in Yellowstone. Walked a little ways and got a ride with a boy and girl in a new 34 Chrysler to Bozeman and walked a ways and then rode to the other side of the hill or about 17 miles west of Livingston in a Chrysler Coach. Walked to the other side of Livingston and a guy in a Chev picked us up and took us to Big Timber. We walked to the other side of Big Timber and the same guy came along and gave us a lift to Billings. Walked around town and bought a meal for 20 cents and then went down to the Salvation Army joint to see if we could get a place to sleep. Couldn't get a place to sleep there, so we walked down in front of "The League of Nations" and watched a guy hammer on the piano and the drunk men and women. Went down to the jail but couldn't get a place there so we went down to a tourist camp and the jane there let us sleep in a cabin. Wrote a letter to mother while Fred shaved and then went to sleep.
July 9. 1934:
Got up about 5:30 and walked out of town a ways and waited for about 20 or 25 minutes. Guy in a new Dodge pickup came along and gave us a 150 mile ride to Miles City. Also gave us some sandwiches. Left Miles City about 10 and walked out a mile or so and ate some'beans and got some water to drink out of a well. Came back to the road and sat down in the shade and are waiting for a car. It sure is hot here. Lots of grasshoppers, chipmunks and rabbits on the road both dead and alive. Also a lot of horses and cows and colts along the road. People just let them roam wherever they want to. A guy in a Ford Model A 1928 Coupe gave us a ride to Terry. He was a cowboy and looking for horses to buy. Waited around Terry for a while and got a drink and a guy gave us a ride to Glendive. Mailed a letter to home and a card to Ackie there and started to walk out when a salesman in a Pontiac 8 Coach 33 or 34 gave us a ride to Wibaux. He is over in a store now and is going to take us on. We don't know where to. We are about 10 miles from the western end of North Dakota. The guy that owned the Pontiac came back and took us to Beach and then on the Dickenson. We went through the Bad Lands and saw a coyote. Went by the petrified forest. Got into Dickenson about 9 pm. That makes about 330 miles for today. Ate some beans and then went down to the depot to see if we could sleep in there but they said we couldn't. We watched a couple of trains come in and walked around town and got a drink and then went down and found a freight car with a little grass in -- so we slept there for the night.
July 10, 1934:
Got up about 6 or so and walked out of town and ate a can of beans and are waiting for a ride. Been here quite a while but no one will pick us up. Not very many cars go by here any how. Finally, we got a ride for about 20 miles to Richardton. Waited about 5 minutes and a guy came along that passed us once and picked us up. He bought us a BREAKFAST at Hebron. We had ham and eggs and toast and coffee. Sure was good. Walked down to service station and that same guy was there. He took us on to Glen Ullin where he got us a ride with another guy in a Chev. The first guy had a Pontiac. His name is E. J. McMahon from 603 10th Street South, Fargo, North Dakota. The guy in the Chev took us to Bismarck. Went up to the new Capitol Building and went in Senate Chamber and to 7th floor and then out to the Museum next to it. Got a souvenir from the museum and then walked down to the service station and got our packs and walked about a mile out of town and are sitting in the shade waiting for a ride. Sure is a hot place around here, but the wind is blowing so it is cool in the shade. Guy in a Chev. truck came along and gave us a ride for about 10 miles. Walked a ways and a guy in a Hudson coupe gave us a ride for about 20 miles. He was a Jew and had a watermelon. Walked for about 4 miles to a service station and waited awhile and got a ride to Dawson. Got into Dawson about seven. Bought ten post cards and sent one to Ackie. Walked up to a store and bought a bar. Fred bought a bottle of pop. Caught a passenger train and rode the flys to Jamestown. We were going to go to Fargo but a railroad bull caught us and said 30 days or buy a ticket to Fargo. So, we bought a ticket to Fargo which cost us $1.85 each. Rode inside the cars to Fargo and got there about midnight. Waited around and got on a freight and rode to Minneapolis. Slept in the car during the night. There were about seven or eight other guys in there also.
July 11, 1934:
Got into Minneapolis about two and walked to town. Fred took street car and I am to meet him at the YMCA, corner of 9th and LaSalle. Went into a restaurant on my way to the Y to see if I could do something for a meal. They gave me all I could eat but didn't have to do any work. Walked through town to the Y and Fred met me at the door. He had had a shower and had fixed it so I could take one. So I went down and took a shower and went swimming. Sure did feel good. Went up to the lobby and wrote a letter to Ackie. Guy called us and told us we had better check our packs. It didn't cost anything so we did. About six, we got a free supper at the Y and we were sure filled up. Went down and the guy told us he would give us a room for the night. We went down on the street and walked around the block and came back and went to our rooms. Fred wrote a letter to his mother and Bertha. Went down and mailed the cards and sent a night letter home for some money. Went to a show but got sleepy, so came out and went up to our rooms and went to sleep.
July 12, 1934:
Left the Y at 6:30 and got a ride in a Model A Ford sedan for a couple of miles. A guy in a Ford truck picked us up and took us about a mile. A guy in an International truck took us for about a mile and then we walked through St. Paul. Guy in a Model T touring, 1927, took us a ways and then we walked to the west end of a big cement bridge and a guy in a Plymouth picked us up there and took us to the beginning of a toll bridge across the St. Croix river. Walked across the bridge and sat on a fence and wrote in this book for a while until a policeman from Hudson, Wisconsin took us about a mile into Hudson. Walked to the edge of town and are waiting for a ride. There are clouds in the sky and the sun is hardly shining but we are sweating just sitting here. We haven't had any breakfast yet so are a little hungry. Walked on a ways and ate some beans -- the last of 8 cans and some old dried bread. Walked on to a house and were going to get a drink when a guy in a Dodge truck gave us a ride to Hammond. Walked to the bottom of the hill on the outside of town and are waiting. Darn people in Wisconsin wouldn't pick up a guy if he was in the middle of the Sahara. Had to walk to Baldwin -- three miles -- and went to the depot to see if we can get a freight out. Are waiting at the depot now. Just started to rain before we got here. First rain we have had to walk in yet. 5 PM -- went to the store and bought some bananas, bread and beans and cookies. Ate the cookies and bananas and two slices of bread. Are waiting for a cattle train that is going to Chicago. It comes thru about 12 PM. About six or after, the depot guy came back from supper and brought some sandwiches and onions for us. Sure were good, too. It is nice to know that there are some nice people in this state. Slept on the bench outside the depot until the train came about midnight and picked up cattle cars. Walked down to where the rest of the train was and got in an empty. There were a couple of other guys in there.
July 13, 1934:
Woke up about day-break and were going through Eau Claire. Went back to sleep and woke up in Altoona. Ate some beans and bread and talked to some guys and are watching for the cattle train to pull out at about noon. Left Altoona about 11 PM and rambled right along to Adams. Got here about 6 or 6:30 PM. Ate some bread along the way. Hair sure got plenty oily on the way down. Guys are putting ice in the refrigerator cars so ' we will probably be on our way again soon. Wrote letter to Ackie while we were stopped up the drag a ways. Do not know when I will have a chance to mail it.
July 14, 1934:
Got into outskirts of Chicago at daybreak and walked to city limits and caught streetcar and elevated to YMCA. Waited until we got our money. Fred got 10 and I got 5 from folks and 1 from Ackie. Took shower and ate a breakfast. Paid 45 cents. Paid $1.50 each for our rooms and monkeyed around and then went to museum and aquarium. Came back and ate some supper. Went to bed and sure slept good.
July 15, 1934:
Got up about 7:30 and ate some breakfast and went to the Fair. Only had to pay 25 cents. Got separated from Fred and came home about 11 PM. Pretty nice joint. Went to bed.
July 16, 1934:
Got up about 8 and went to see Fred. Said he didn't have enough money to go to the fair again so I went alone. Took shower first and got a 25 cent breakfast. Monkeyed around fair until about 3 and then went to Y and saw Fred and started home at 4:30. Took street car to city limits and then walked a ways and rode a freight for a ways to Bensenville. Are waiting for the darn train to come. Supposed to leave about 9. It is about 8 now. Walked up the track a ways and then walked back. A couple of bulls came along and made us all line up. There were about 30 of us. They searched us and warned us not to get on the first train going North. Some guys were going to try it but didn't. About 11, we got a train and rode to Milwaukee. We got there about 5 AM, July 17. Went to park beside tracks and slept awhile. Went up on the street to see if I could bum something to eat from a restaurant. But a guy came along that we rode in with and bought me a bowl of chile. Sure tasted good. Walked back to park and about 10 we got a train going to St. Paul. Rode all night and got into St. Paul about 6 AM, July 18. Took a train to Minneapolis and left there about 9 AM on a train going to Seattle. Supposed to take only 78 hours between Minneapolis and Seattle. Stopped at Wilman, so we bought some rolls and a loaf of bread. Eighteen cents worth altogether. Left Wilman and got into Breckenridge about dark and monkeyed around a while. Got back in the same boxcar and left Breckenridge. Got into some lightning on our way out. Sure was pretty. Soon closed the doors because it started to rain and went to sleep.
July 19, 1934:
Woke up about daybreak and we were still riding. Got into Minot and got off the train and monkeyed around awhile. Got on an extra and rode it to Williston. Are waiting now for the thing to start out. The Seattle train that we left at Breckenridge is coming through about 6 so, if we don't leave before, we will get on that again. Plenty hot around here. Ate the last of our loaf of bread that we bought yesterday at Wilman. We are almost out of where the flys are so darn thick. They certainly were plenty thick for a couple of days. We have 1,170 miles to go before we hit Seattle. Are planning on being in Wenatchee sometime Saturday. Pretty good guys on that train. One of the guys was pretty fair. We are on Billy Goat line -- Great Northern. We have been gone two weeks today. We got on the Coast train at Williston about 6:30 pm. Traveled about 40 miles and then went to sleep.
July 20, 1934:
Woke up just before daybreak and found ourselves on a sidetrack at Wiota. It is just a little dump and is near Fort Peck. Went over to the depot -- a new one -- and waited around till about 7:20 and then went to the cook's joint and he gave us some hot cakes with bacon between them. Are now waiting for a train. We are in Wiota Montana now but it looks like we-might be here for quite some time. Caught a freight at 8:30 and rode all day and got to Havre about dark. We bought 45 cents worth of grub along the way and ate it. Tomatoes and rolls. Went into the depot at Havre and found that the first train going west is a passenger at 4:15 am. Monkeyed around and tried to sleep for awhile. I went to a restaurant and bummed something to eat. The bull kicked us out so we climbed on top of a boxcar but it started raining so we got inside.
July 21, 1934:
Woke up at 4:15 and are waiting on the passenger train. Got on the train at 4:30 am and rode to Shelby. The emigration officer there met us and said that we should not ride on that train as it was a mail train. When it started to pull out we started to get on but the darn emigration officer stopped us. Went up to a bakery and bought 20 cents worth of stuff and ate it. About 9:30 we got a freight train out of Shelby. It is going to Whitefish. Stopped at the summit of the Rockies and it was 2:30. We are waiting for another train to go by now and then we will be on our way again. We finally reached Whitefish at 9:30 pm. I went to a restaurant and bummed a bowl of chili and bought 5 cents worth of cookies for Fred and the other guy. Went to sleep in a boxcar.
July 22, 1934:
A brake man woke us up about 2:30 and told us that the cars ahead of us were going west so we climbed in them and went to sleep. About 3:30 we woke up and we were on our way. We traveled till 3:30 this afternoon and reached Hillyard. We got some chips and a milkshake and are thinking about walking into Spokane and wait for a passenger there. It is supposed to come through about 2 am. Started walking down the road to Spokane and a guy in a Chevrolet truck picked us up and took us almost to town. We stopped and bought a couple of hamburgers and then walked to the YMCA. Stayed there till 5:30 PM and then went down and sat on the bridge railing by the depot for awhile and talked to some guys. About 10:30 PM, we went over and layed in the grass. I stayed up till 12:30 AM while Fred slept and he was supposed to stay up till 2:30 AM while I slept.
July 23, 1934:
The freight - came along about 1:30 AM and we got on that. We had to ride on top all the way. It sure was cold up there. Got into Wenatchee about 9 am. We walked to Fred's aunt's house and then to the store and got some stuff to eat. Made some sandwiches and ate a lunch and then walked to the yards again and caught a freight out of there for Everett. Went through the 8-mile tunnel and changed engines at Skykomish. Saw Mr. Reath sitting on the front porch of his house in Grotto as we went by. Weren't many people at Index. Only about 9 or 10 men standing around. Got into Everett about 10:20 PM and went to the YMCA. They let us sleep on the floor there.
July 24, 1934:
Started from Everett about 6 am and walked to the edge of town. Ate some sandwiches on the way. A guy in a milk truck took us to Marysville and a guy in a Model A Coupe took us to the hollow stump. We are now waiting for a ride.
The last entry says that we are at the hollow stump waiting for a ride. At this point (September 1991), I don't remember what we rode in the rest of the trip, however we did make it home that noon and I had enough money left to take my brothers, Bill and Russ, to the picture show.


Mr. and Mrs. Don Denton
2330 Henry Street

J.P. Wellman
95th Corliss

Mr. and Mrs. S. T. Smith
Houghton, Washington

Mrs. Edith Tyler
Box 147

New York
British Columbia
North Dakota
July 5, 1934
Ford Model A truck (pick-up)
Studebaker sedan
Dodge truck
Oakland sedan
Model T truck
Buick sedan
Star coupe
1934 Model A 4 Coupe (65)
Chevrolet coupe
Chevrolet sedan
Ford V8 truck
July 6, 1934
Model A sedan
1934 Dodge Truck
Hupmobile Eight sedan
Willys Knight Coach
Chevrolet truck (Richfield)
some old truck
1933 Chevrolet Coupe
Ford Model A V8
July 7, 1934
1926 or 27 Ford Model T
Studebaker sedan
Ford V8 Truck
Buick sedan
July 8, 1934
1933 or 34 DeSoto sedan
Reo truck
Chevrolet truck
some old truck
Hudson eight coupe
Studebaker President 8 sedan (sure a nice car)
Studebaker sedan
Chevrolet sedan
1934 Chrysler sedan
Paige sedan
Chrysler coach
Chevrolet sedan
July 9, 1934
1934 Dodge pick-up
1928 Ford Model A Coupe
Dodge Sedan
Pontiac V8 Sedan
July 10, 1934
Chevrolet truck
Plymouth sedan
Chevrolet sedan
Chevrolet truck
Hudson Coupe
Ford sedan
1928 Ford sedan
July 11, 1934
1929 Ford sedan
Ford Model A truck
International truck (old)
1927 Ford Touring
Plymouth sedan
1934 Chevrolet sedan
Dodge truck

[note: written into the diary by Cleone Denton - Donís mother]

Mrs. Pelton
Omro, Wisconsin

Eugene Earle
Oshkosh, Wisconsin

Uncle Fred Denton and Aunt Minnie Keith
Battle Creek, Michigan

Dad [editor note: Harry Benjamin Denton] used to live in Howard City, Michigan
Grandma and Grandpa Denton [Alexander LaHommedieu Denton and Netty Denton] buried at Howard City

Jim Haskins,-Editor, Howard City Record

If you do reach Omro, send card to Grandma and Grandpa --

Mr. and Mrs. M. W. Smith
RFD Box 122
Clinton, Washington
July 7, 15 cents, milk shake
July 8, 20 cents, meal
July 9, 3 cents, stamps
July 10, 4 cents postcards; 10 cents, (not indicated); $1.85, ticket to Fargo.
July 11, 10 cents, show in Minnesota; 3 cents, stamp
July 12, 25 cents, beans