Category Archives: Vintage Travel

Ad Campaign – Grace Line, 1950

After it became obvious that airplane travel was here to stay, and that a trip to Europe could be completed in 10 hours instead of five days, the cruise line companies began to shift gears from providing transportation to providing vacations.  A ship voyage was already a pleasurable experience for those with the money to buy first class tickets, and so that level of luxury was easily converted to the idea of the ship as a hotel that visited different ports.

The idea really caught on after WWII, when the cruise lines got their ships back after their wartime service.  Cruises to Hawaii and South America became big business.  These pleasure cruises would last up to a month, in contrast to the common three and four day cruises of today.

I’m sure you have all read how the 3100 passengers on the Carnival Triumph got an unwanted four day extension of their four day Mexican cruise.  This was big news in the US, and completely overshadowed what was an even worse incident on a cruise in the Canary Islands when five crew members of the Thomson Majesty were killed during a routine lifeboat drill.

I’m not qualified to comment on the safety regulations and procedures of cruise ships, but for an industry that has people talking about the accident of the Costa Concordia over a year later, it seems to me that they have some ‘splaining to do.

Does anyone beside me remember that series on The Mickey Mouse Club where Annette took a trip to Hawaii?  She went on a cruise ship and I thought it was the most fun thing ever.

Several years ago a friend and I took a cruise through the Aegean as part of an educational tour of Greece.  As such, we were on a small ship which held about 600 people, and I thought *that* was big.  I can’t imagine being on one of those floating towns of up to 5000 people that pass for cruise ships today.  Especially now.


Filed under Advertisements, Viewpoint, Vintage Travel

What I Didn’t Buy – 1950s Esso Skotch Kooler

These photos are so poor that I hesitated about putting them up.  But I have a little point to make, and they do at least show the product and the problem.

For a very long time I’ve wanted this map of the USA cooler, made by Skotch Kooler for Esso sometime in the 1950s.  I want one because I have this crazy love for old tin maps, and I can remember this cooler from my childhood.  It’s a fairly common thing; I run across them all the time.  The problem is that they are always either rusty or the graphics have faded.  I’m wanting one in excellent condition, mainly because I want to use it.

I spotted this one hanging in a mall, but even before I’d seen the price – $39.99 – I’d ruled it out. I just can’t live with that much rust.  I thought the price was too high, especially given the condition, but a quick look on etsy put this in line with what people are asking online.

Oh, well, someday my cooler will come in.


Filed under I Didn't Buy..., Vintage Travel

Work Projects Administration Posters, 1936 – 1943

In 1935 President Roosevelt signed into law the Works Progress Administration (changed to Works Projects Administration in 1939) which spent billions to create jobs during the height of the  Great Depression.  Most of the money was spent on construction projects (many communities got a new library or post office or bridge) but a small part of it was spent on the arts.  Artists and writers and musicians were put to work on projects that were to benefit the population at large.

One way artists were employed was in the creation of posters.  From 1936 through the end of the program in 1943, over 2000 posters were created.  They advertised theatrical productions, encouraged the use of public libraries, educated about the evils of syphilis, promoted our Nation Park system and promoted tourism.

The United States Library of Congress has a collection of 906 of these posters, and all of them are viewable online as part of the library’s Prints and Photographs Online Catalog.  Even better, there is no known restriction on their use as they were commissioned by the US government as part of the New Deal.

Also check out the other resources in the Prints and Photographs Catalog.  Many are pre-1923, and thus are in the public domain.  Just be sure to check the rights and restrictions for each division.  That information is easily found in the left sidebar.

Some of my favorites from the WPA collection:

Continue reading


Filed under Curiosities, Vintage Travel, Winter Sports

Ad Campaign – 20th Century Limited, 1951

The Time: 6 P.M., any night.  The Place: Grand Central Terminal, New York. The Star: you, stepping from the crimson carpet to the magic carpet that is the famous 20th Century Limited.  It’s the New York Central’s luxury hotel on wheels, your overnight vacation between New York and Chicago, first night on your coast-to-coast week end.

If you love old magazines, then I bet you are like me, always lamenting the total lack of glamour in travel today.  I don’t think it would be so bad if not for these reminders of how travel itself was once an experience to be savored.  Unfortunately, travel today is more likely to just be endured, especially travel by plane.  But even trains are not the luxurious and relaxing places they once were.  But in our busy lives, it is often time that is the luxury, and the speed of modern travel does allow us more time when on a trip.

I’m writing this several days in advance, because when it is published I’ll be on a trip, with two of my dearest friends who knew I needed a change of scenery.  Maybe this post should have been about friendship instead of travel.

I bet you can guess where I am!



Filed under Advertisements, Proper Clothing, Vintage Travel

My New Favorite from KEK

I really don’t believe in luck, but if I did I’d say this was one lucky find.  It came to me by way of  reader and fellow blogger, Jo of Joyatri.  She had seen my post about a KEK album I’d found, and emailed me to let me know she had this one.

She then sent photos, and I was so happy to see that it is in what is probably a print from the early 1960s.  I already had two items from this print, but in a different colorway.  This time we can see the entire print, including lots of graphic that are not on my other, smaller items.

I had always assumed that the hitchhiker in the left corner was a girl!

Cute jaywalking kitty-cat!

The suitcase strapped onto the side of the bottom car reads “Roma”.  I’d be smiling too if I were headed for Rome!

According to research done by friend Nathalie, KEK was a German maker of albums and such.  They might still be in business, but I can’t imagine that anything made by them today could possibly be this cool.


Filed under Collecting, Novelty Prints, Vintage Travel

Ad Campaign: Matson to Hawaii, 1951

Forgive me for a moment so I can indulge in a little wintertime fantasy.  It’s a cold, rainy, gloomy day, but on the seas to Hawaii all is sunny and bright.

It took the cruise lines a few years to get back up to speed after WWII, as most of the ships had been used in the war effort.  Matson was operating four luxury liners in the Pacific before December 7, 1941, and all were converted into troop carriers.  Together, the four Matson liners carried a total of 736,000 troops and covered one and a half million miles before the war ended in 1945.

The transition back to cruise service was difficult and costly for Matson.  They ended up selling two of their liners so that the S.S. Lurline could be remodeled and relaunched in 1948.  By the late 1950s Matson had four liners making the route between California and Hawaii.  Today Matson is still in business as a container ship operator on the Pacific.  I’m sure it is more profitable than running cruise ships, but it could not be as romantic.


Filed under Advertisements, Travel, Vintage Travel, World War II

The Mailbag

I’m not actually going to let you read my mail, but I am going to tell you all about it.  All of a sudden my mailbox is filled to capacity with requests for me to accept guest posts from the email writers.  I’m thinking that somewhere there is an online article advising writers to search out blogs that accept guest posts and send out a letter offering to write a post.  I suspect this because three of the letters are practically identical, though they came from different emails and IPs.   And since I’ve recently had two guest posts,  perhaps people are doing a search for blogs that have the term “guest post.”  If that’s the case, I suppose I’m only making the situation worse by using that term so much here!

Most of these emails don’t even spell out what topics the writer has in mind.  In fact, most of them haven’t even bothered to look through this blog to find my name.  Addressing an email to “To whom it way concern” when asking that person to give you a forum for your writing is just lazy.  How long would it take someone to read through my “About” section and realize that The Vintage Traveler is written by “Lizzie?”

At any rate, I’ve added a section to my policies that states that I only accept guest posts from people I  know – either actually or by reputation.   I try to maintain a consistent point of view here, even though it does seem like I do ramble about a bit from time to time.   There are dozens of great vintage bloggers with whom I’d gladly swap posts; in fact I’ll be doing an exchange with Monica Murgia in the near future.  But please, someone put a stop to these random requests!

I also get lots of requests to push this  or that on-line shop.  Sorry, I post links to a webstore only when I’ve found something I like from it.

I hope I’m not implying that I don’t like to get emails, because I love emails, especially from readers.  If you ever have something fun to share, or you have a question for me and you don’t want to post a comment here, feel free to email me.

Sometimes I do get requests from people to post about their event or promotion.  That’s good too, and I usually put those types of things in my bi-weekly links post.  Here are two fun things that were in my inbox this week:

Around the World with Aquatalia.
Enter to win a $400 Gift Certificate to
Match each summer escape with its corresponding shoe style.
3 correct matches automatically enters you to win.

It’s a cute and easy contest where you try to match the best shoe for each getaway.  You only have to get 3 of them correct which is good because I did a trial and I only got 3 right.  But after seeing the answers there are some big hints in the styles themselves.  So take your time and think them through… and good luck!   It would be super if a reader of The Vintage Traveler won $400 worth of Italian shoes!



And for those of you near Sydney, Australia:

Go to Town for the 10thannual Variety Op Shop Ball

For the last nine years party-goers have been stepping out in their finest thrift store finds for the funkiest fundraiser on the Sydney social calendar, the Variety Op Shop Ball.  Far from your average charity benefit, this year’s special 10th anniversary event is set to be the biggest yet, with up to 500 people expected to pack Sydney’s iconic Town Hall on Saturday August 18 for the ultimate night of nights. Think sequins, faux fur, velvet, leather or even your mum’s wedding gown!

The illustration is from a 1948 Santa Fe railroad ad.  Here is the entire ad, and click it for the enlargement.


Filed under Viewpoint, Vintage Travel