Grace and Grit: Motorcycle Dispatches From Early Twentieth Century Women Adventurers
Some stories must be told. Tales of adventure, courage, and indomitable spirit that deserve to be part of the public domain to educate, fascinate, and prove once again the rewards that await those who dare to try. Stories worth repeating are almost always about those few who have the nerve to attempt what others say is impossible, impractical, foolhardy, or even wrong. The adventures and accomplishments of Effie and Avis Hotchkiss, Della Crewe, Augusta and Adeline Van Buren, Blanche Stuart Scott, and several other women whose true stories appear in this book are examples of legends and lessons that transcend generations.
A century ago, the “gentle sex” was not supposed to do the sorts of things these unrestrained young women did. Several decades of Victorian Era attitudes had created prevailing impressions in Europe and North America as to what a woman should, and should not, do. Flying a flimsy and problem-prone early airplane, traveling alone across the continent or around the world over thousands of miles of muddy roads, mountain heights, and through barren deserts were the sort of activities that women were not supposed to do circa 1915. And being covered head to toe with grease and dirt from fixing a motorcycle or changing a car tire in the mud was certainly not viewed as lady-like behavior.
The women who are the stars of this book had the right stuff—the character, the grit, the courage, the intellect, and the resourcefulness—to pull off historic and adventurous travel at a time when such journeys were a decidedly difficult proposition. And they did it with charm and grace. When the complete story is told within the full setting of time, place, and circumstances, one can more fully appreciate the legends they fashioned by their deeds.
While the lives of these women were unquestionably changed as a result of their exploits, they also helped change America. Each small town they traveled through, the accounts of reporters who detailed their adventures in newspaper and magazine articles, and every word of mouth retelling of someone’s encounter with them helped change how post-Victorian American society viewed women.
Come share the story of these marvelous women and our country as it existed a century ago; a place that Americans today would be hard pressed to recognize.