Five diaries relate a family’s travel experiences in the United States and Europe by plane, train, and automobile.
During the prosperous 1920s and into the early years of the Great Depression, the Bornets family, Quakers from Philadelphia, made several trips at home and abroad. Five travel diaries by Florence Davis Bornet (née Scull); her husband, Vaughn Taylor Bornet; and their daughter, Josephine Scull Bornet, are the basis for this book, edited by the elder Bornets’ son, who was born in 1917. In the first diary, Florence describes traveling by train in 1925, when she was 41. From Philadelphia, the train traveled to Chicago, Denver, Los Angeles, San Francisco, and Seattle, with stopovers at the Grand Canyon and Yellowstone Park. Next is Vaughn Taylor’s diary of a business trip and football outing that took him from Philadelphia to Ozona, Texas, and Berkeley, California, by train in 1927. Josephine’s diary describes traveling with her mother by ocean liner the following year for a grand tour of Europe, visiting the United Kingdom, Switzerland, and Italy. In 1930, Vaughn Taylor also visited Europe by boat, and he took his first airplane flight. The Bornets’ fortunes declined with the Depression, and the fifth diary is more like a map with notes, logging the elder Bornets’ drive through the southeast United States; the family eventually resettled in Florida. Author Bornet (The Presidency of Lyndon B. Johnson, 1984, etc.) is clearly proud of his family and their adventures, and his own relatives will most appreciate this book, which is amply illustrated with photos. As travel writing, though, these diaries have less to offer. The family members usually offer generic praise of the sights they see, calling them “beautiful,” “wonderful,” “gorgeous,” “charming,” “quaint,” and—too evidently—“beyond description.” Vaughn Taylor’s travels in Europe are somewhat livelier, though, and his careful documentation of costs in the final section gives an ephemeral but illuminating window into the Depression.
A collection that will be of most interest to the author’s family members, but will also serve as a primary source for travel historians.