Saturday, March 8, 2014

Depression Bums by Ken C. Wise

Depression Bums by Ken C. Wise
Copyright 1992
Manufactured in the USA
190 pages

Published by Wilderness Adventure Books
P. O. Box 856
Manchester, MI 48158

This is the true story of two young men, Ken Wise and Ercel Hart, who set out on the adventure of their lives in. For eight months during the years 1933 and 1934 they traveled 2000 miles by bicycle, 1,200 miles on a cattle train and another 1,500 miles by canoe. 

Their trip took place during the years 1933 and 1934. The USA was still in a depression. Unable to find jobs and wanting to travel, Ken and Ercel headed out on bicycles with fifteen dollars apiece. Their plan was to bum around and see the country. They hoped to get to Chicago in time to visit the 1933 World's Fair. 

The pair rode bicycles 2,000 miles, from Santa Monica, California to Great Falls Montana. Their bikes were old single speed racing bicycles with skinny tires. The drop handlebars were turned up to make them more comfortable and a rack was added to the rear of each bike. Both machines were hauling thirty pounds of gear, when they started out. 

The 1,200 mile trip from Great Falls, Montana to Chicago, Illinois was made in a passenger car on a train hauling cattle. The young men were given passes on the train in return for looking after a rancher's cattle during the trip. 

Once in Chicago, Ercel was able to get a job at the World's Fair. They saved enough money while in Chicago to buy a canoe. This canoe was used to travel 1,500 miles to New Orleans, Louisiana. They both got jobs working on freight ships and eventually found their way back to Santa Monica.

Depression Bums is a great book to read for many reasons. The history of this time period and the friendliness of the people they meet along the way was enjoyable. I also liked reading about the amazing adventure of Ken Wise and Ercel Hart. If it's history, cycling, canoeing or adventure you desire to read about, this book has it all! 

The book is out of print. It is still possible to purchase used copies on line. I suggest you buy a copy and read this great book. 

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