Thursday, September 10, 2015

Dad's 1939 Vacation Pith Helmet

In 1939, when my dad was 20 years old, he took a road trip with his family from Colorado to Tijuana and back, stopping at many sights along the way. As it says on the top of the helmet: "A grand trip through 11 states, 2 national parks, 1 national monument, 1 outside nation, 1 Pacific Island playground, and a movie studio."

Dad recorded his trip on a pith helmet he took along. The pith helmet serves as both a map and an autograph book. I imagine that everyone who signed this helmet has long since passed over to the great beyond. I am very happy to still possess that souvenir.

(You can click on any picture to see it bigger--please do!"

This part of the pith helmet map shows the trip winding through Yellowstone National Park, where he meets up with the Morgans. There's a cartoon of two stick figures = martini glass which reads: "Hi, Morg." "Hi George," (equals) "Hi Ball." That joke has always cracked me up.
Dad's trip began on August 7, 1939 and ended August 31, 1939. The drawings on the hat begin at the START point and wind all over the pith helmet until the END. A caption reads, "Length of trip 5081 miles. Approximately as far as from Home to New York City and back to Los Angeles."

"A week's stay in Los Angeles--Mausoleum, Catalina, Auto Races, Warner Brothers Movie Studio, Santa Monica Beach, Venice--Fun House, Tijuana"

Here's the Oregon coast, where he stopped at Reedsport--"more curves than between Durango and Mancos." In Northern California he visited the "Italian Swiss Colony and Winery," then stopped at the "World's Largest and Oldest Living Things--the Redwoods." There's a cartoon of a giant redwood tree with a tiny stick figure underneath it which reads, "Us. Small, like little white lice." A little farther on there's a drawing of the Golden Gate Bridge and "Treasure Island--Isle of Sore Feet." 
The brim reads: "The Five Forgotten Footworn Followers of Fame and Fortune Who Forged Forward Furiously to Frisco and Back to the Foothills of Home."  There were five signatures, now faded by time, but you can still make out my father's name, "Bill Puett" and "Dill," dad's step-dad--Dillworth Halls. Frances, his mother, would have been on that brim, too.
There are more cartoons, more signatures, more little jokes, more sights described.  I'll post more of them if anyone's interested. Just let me know...


  1. Hi Cyd. You're so thoughtful to write about the pith helmet. By the way, Dill was his step father...Dillworth Halls. Dad used the same ink on the pith helmet as he did on his photo albums. That was quite a trip for 2 weeks!

    1. Do you have any photos from that 1939 trip?
      You also have a family tree you made up, don't you?
      Wouldn't it be a fun documentary to retrace the trip and look up the families they stayed with in 1939? I wonder if any of them have pictures from when the Halls/Puetts stayed with them in '39.

    2. Thanks for the name. I've updated the article.
      I've also just taken more photos of the helmet in order to trace the entire route.