Travel Diary: July 18 1939

Cynthia’s Travel Diary, written in pencil.

Although this Travel Diary is not one of the letters, it is the voice of Cynthia Ewing, at the age of 24, writing a record of her trip to New York to visit family solely for her own eyes. She made a scrapbook of the ephemera she collected, and photos of the friends, family, events and scenery for public viewing, but kept track of it all in detail in her memo book as she went along. I am going to post illustrations from the scrapbook, but use my transcript of her daily entries, which starts as they catch the train in the north of England…

This is Cyn’s handwriting as I know it- quite a change from her schooldays letters.

My American Trip 


R.M.S. “Mauretania” and “Queen Mary”


July 19th to August 14th

by Cynthia Ewing

Tuesday 18th July 1939

11:00 AM. We’re off- at last.  To America!  It doesn’t seem to make it any more real writing it down.  When you hear of other people going to America it sounds incredible & wonderful and divine but I can’t get rid of the feeling that I’m just off to Whitley Bay for the day.  We’ve just gone past a place Pilmoer and there are lots of big RAF planes flying alongside us. It’s a lovely day now– ready for our heat wave in N.Y. I hope. 

Such a time this morning- up early and me to Dot Allan’s re Ken’s p.c. also to ring for taxi.  Uncle Joe gave me a lift to town and insisted on giving me an avuncular kiss- in the middle of Northumberland St. too!  Did my chores- couldn’t get wool- very annoyed- and so to station & met Mummy.  Got seats in train eventually after chasing about, and then Rowly arrived and in a few minutes- Nan. While we were all talking and attendant arrived with mags. and letters for us-from Uncle Andy.  Wasn’t it sweet.  All because of Daddy!  Hardly had we got them when up arrived Uncle Andy himself- darling of him.  Bobby never came- the wickedness! Then we all had to say goodbye- flowers from Nan- a lovely rose.  Goodbye to Nan and Uncle Andy and Rowly and Newcastle for a month-  At York now- strange not to have to get out.

The steward on the train is a pet.  A pal of Dad’s- lives at Whitley Bay and looks like Ribbentrop!  He is most fatherly to us and looks after us very tenderly.  He brought me some notepaper- pretty- & I sent a card to Edgar & wrote to Rowly.  At Kings X.  Said farewell to our steward and met Daddy.  By tube to Charing X and to the Craven Hotel.  Nice room.  Mummy & I went out to look at shops- walked up the Strand- saw a lovely shoe shop & had to be positively hauled away by Mummy.  Onto the embankment & so home.  Out to tea & then by tube to Victoria where we once again looked at shops- antique jewelry this time- lovely rings.  Mummy and I promised each other presents if we came home from America with any money!  To the Victoria Palace where we met Margaret- quite a surprise- not good looking but smart with a funny hat & giddy shoes.  The show was Lupino Lane in ‘Me and My Girl’ and contrary to all my expectations it was great fun.  Lupino Lane was marvelous.  Margaret roared with mirth & sang the Lambeth Walk & was very amusing.  Afterwards we went for coffee & Margaret told us all her amazing adventures.  What a life!  And what a girl!  She certainly can talk!  We then left her & went back to the hotel.  Mummy rang Miss Lefroy & then to bed.

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