Episode 79: Grandma’s Ride

Taryn & Carol Eyton

Banner image courtesy of Carol Eyton

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Taryn’s grandma Carol went on a bike tour in 1944 with her girlfriend Billie. We hear from Carol about the “ordinary adventure” she took at home during World War II. This episode is an opportunity to learn about what Carol’s experience was like as a woman living near Vancouver and making airplanes during the war, as well as carving out a couple of weeks for a vacation that might seem surprising to anyone who didn’t live through that time. It’s a reminder to ask our grandmothers questions because we never know what their stories might hold.

Taryn sent us this note with some black and white photos of her grandmother on the one bike tour of her life in 1944:

My grandmother is 93 now. During World War II she was a teenager. Instead of going to university she went to work at a factory making airplanes. One summer she got a few days off so she and a female friend did a completely self-supported bike tour from their home in Vancouver BC, over to Vancouver Island and back, except that they didn’t call it a bike tour. She says they wanted to go on vacation but they didn’t have a car and gas was too expensive so they took bikes. They stayed with host families and toted all the things they would need (a change of clothes and some sandwiches) in suitcases tied to their rear racks with string. Their bikes were single speeds so they walked up all the hills. There may have been boyfriends, or brothers or dads who thought that two women shouldn’t embark on such a journey alone and on bikes, but that’s not how Grandma remembers it. When I talk to Grandma about this trip now, she doesn’t see it as a grand adventure the way that I do. She sees it as a fun girls trip she took back before she got married. I think it’s a great way to think about adventure – as something that can be quite ordinary. My grandma has some photos from the trip in an old album… there’s one of her friend wearing a halter top and short shorts, riding a single speed bike with a suitcase on it… uphill… while grinning ear to ear.

Taryn wanted to learn more about her grandmother Carol and a trip that seemed so out of character for her. In this episode, we get to learn, too.

Find the episode below, on Apple Podcasts, Stitcher, GooglePlay, or wherever you stream podcasts.

Featuring: Taryn & Carol Eyton

Hosted by Gale Straub 

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Music is by Lee Rosevere, Josh Woodward, and Jason Shaw via freemusicarchive.org.

Music is also by The Helio Sequence

In this episode, you’ll hear:

– About the value of photographing your adventures
– What it was like to be a woman working at a factory to support the war effort during World War II
– How some women were empowered during this time period
– What bike touring was like in 1944
– How the kindness of strangers prevails over the years
– What gear you’d have on a bike tour in the 1940’s
– Why we *might* just overpack for our adventures
– Why Taryn’s Grandma Carol doesn’t see her bike trip as extraordinary, but why we still think it’s an adventure
– What Taryn values in her grandmother
– Why it’s important to ask our relatives to tell us their stories, especially as time passes
– Why you might be surprised by what the older women in your life have in their past

Carol, Billie, and Taryn

Taryn today
Grandma (Carol) Eyton today at 93

Links/Resources Mentioned in this Episode:

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