Bike Trekker – Allen Hastings Fry

Despite how much I like this photo, I have held off posting this image here because I couldn’t find any attribution or further information about this gentleman and his fine bicycle.  I came across it several years ago and stuck it in my image files until I could find out more; alas, I have not.

“Portrait of Allen Hastings Fry, with his photographic equipment strapped to his bicycle. An illustration taken from the magazine ‘The Professional Photographer”, June 1916.” (Thank you Patrick for the information and link).

My first interest was in the excellent baggage he’s carrying; a very modern looking frame bag, a tool roll or similar, nice front and rear bags, and what appears to be a wooden box along the top tube.  His haversack is not visible although the strap is in this image.  Any thoughts on the bike or image itself are welcome.

The rest?  Maybe you can tell me…

Click the card for more information about Allen Hastings Fry.

(UPDATE: Thanks for the corrections sent by Luc and Patrick.  Updates were made to reflect the new information.)

The New Woman

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The New Woman and Her Bicycle. – There Will Be Several Varieties of Her.

Some interesting Victorian thoughts and speculations about the “new woman” that bicycling and all its implications would bring.

The World is Your Workshop

In Britain and Ireland, the Romany Gypsys and the Traveller community are often associated with low-skilled work such as scrap dealers, horse traders, musical entertainers, or more nefarious activities outside the societal norms.  However, there were plenty of skilled craftsmen and craftswomen providing goods and services to people around the country.

Below is an image of a couple, working together making footstools outside their vardo while another couple looks on from the comfort of their wagon.

Gypsy carpenters making small and large stools for market. From an early 20th century postcard.  Source: Romany and Traveller Family History Society.

Other Gypsy families were blacksmiths, basket weavers, or similar occupations that could be taken on the road, required little stock or overhead, and could be performed independently or with a minimum of family help.

Gypsy Basket Weavers on Skyros. Source: http://from-hand-to-hand.org/.

There is more to wandering people than the romantic or demonized images we carry.  People are just people after all.

Gypsy Blacksmith. Source.

Gypsies France 1930s-1960s

Encampment on a pitch somewhere in France, early mid-20th century.

Community of Wanderers

Nomads are not loners.  In fact, humans do not do well alone in any setting.  We have always been communal people, depending upon one another for help and support.  Many hands make light work and it is essential to be near others you can depend on.

1930sI have been collecting images of Traveller communities for many years and I really enjoy the gritty, homespun feel of the old encampments with peeling paint and makeshift tarpaulin shelters.  I’m sure this image was not welcome in settled communities around Europe and the shiftless nature of these wanderers led to many suspicions, both unfounded and real.

4203n Woonwagenkamp, een draaiorgel komt langsThese are not the rolling home of the wealthy showmen of idle rich but the best compromise for families destined to live on the road.

FamilyVardoThe vardos bear many differences but within fairly tight physical contraints of size, weight, needs, and technology.  It’s important to remember as well that historic travellers of most varieties didn’t design or build their own accommodations but often modified or improved that which they acquired.

Dutch1940Even though they show few relevant details of the caravans themselves these are some of my favorite images; they give us a glimpse of the people who called them home.

Although Traveller families lived (and live) on the margins of “normal” society they were (are) more like their neighbors than not.

I hope you enjoy the photos as we head into the season of Thanksgiving here in North America and give thanks for what we have.

We are at our best and worst in groups, whether that is family or friends.  Humans are social animals.

Early Car Camping

I love finding old images like this.  They show that we never really change yet are on a continuum of adaptation.  The bows that support the canvas top on this (I believe aftermarket) truck bed are reminiscent of much earlier wagons of the Old West.

Camping in Yellowstone 1924 – Mattress on the fender, pots, pans and a tool kit on the side board, these spiffy fellas were ready for an adventure. Image – https://www.nps.gov/parkhistory/

Space was extremely limited in the cab of these old vehicles so if there were three on-board, I suspect someone, probably the boy, rode in back with the luggage.

A 1926 Home Built Camper Truck

An early tiny house on wheels… and a family selfie.

W.M. O'Donnell & family of Detroit in bungalow auto, 2/1/26.

W.M. O’Donnell & family of Detroit in bungalow auto, 2/1/26.

The Library of Congress has some pretty amazing stuff.  I rarely find what I came for but I always find something pretty spectacular.  This house (click to enlarge) is quite a piece of woodworking.  Shingle siding all glass door, sturdy balcony, beautiful windows, under storage, and what I think is a pull out pan box on the back.  The O’Donnell’s were certainly traveling in style.

The amount of joinery that went into the door and windows is probably more than found in most houses today.

W.M. O’Donnell & family of Detroit in bungalow auto, 2/1/26

The amount of joinery that went into the door and windows is probably more than is found in most houses today.  I really like the old basement windows used as storage access underneath.  As usual, I could find no interior photos but I suspect it was well appointed.

Original files can be found: http://www.loc.gov/pictures/item/npc2008007978/and http://www.loc.gov/pictures/item/npc2008007936/

If this isn’t inspiring, I don’t know what is.

Oh, and nearby photo caught my eye in the Library:

Mlle. Rae with garter flask, 1/26/26.

Mlle. Rae with garter flask, 1/26/26.

I’ve never known a woman with a garter flask before…

Hamlet, A Tale of the Road Less Traveled

A mid-40s couple restores a tiny canned-ham trailer, leaves their mundane careers, and takes off on a journey across the continent.  Sounds pretty good to me.

When it comes to making enough money to get by, the two have a unique system.

“In our ideal setting,” Hutchison explains, “is four months of working somewhere, [or] four months of volunteering somewhere, and then four months of traveling.”

The little trailer has a Facebook link.  See more images and the restoration by clicking the photo above.

The little trailer has it’s own Facebook link. See more images and the restoration by clicking on the photo above.

FROM THE VERMONT PUBLIC RADIO ARTICLE:

“Many people spend most of their day in an office, and I was really, really tired of that and being tied to e-mail and my calendar.” Galiardi explains.

“We both had challenging careers,” she says. “The challenges were becoming, ‘How much more can I fit in?’ Rather than [fitting in] what I really want to be doing.”

Now the couple uses the trailer as a home base, spending much of their time outdoors: kayaking, biking and hiking.

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Dinette area.

On fitting the few things they own into a tiny space:

“It’s a lot like a sailboat. In that, everything has to have its place,” says Hutchison. “When you go look for that thing, it’s there. And then it goes back there when it’s done.”

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If you are interested in learning more they have been keeping a blog of their adventures over the past few years.  You can read more by clicking here: Tales from a Mid-Lifeventure.

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Home sweet home.

A few more Vardos (sort of) from Around the Web

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I’m always keeping an eye out on the web for interesting living vehicles, rolling homes, and related Traveller – Modern Nomad stuff.  The right key words and a little luck on historic image sites land a lot of photos, but often with little real information about the vehicle in question.  As I was rummaging through my old image files over the weekend I decided to start throwing some of the images up here; for inspiration and ideas if nothing else.  Where possible, I’ve linked to the source where I found it.

carnieconversion

This is an interesting conversion for a Carnival or Circus worker. Wood burning stove, mollycroft, and transom windows. I like it.

earlycaravan

I’ve posted this innovative little beast on Facebook.

I like this early fifth-wheel design for several reasons, not the least of which is the hitch.  This is the earliest image I have of a “slide-out” expandable space.  I suspect they actually fold up but they already deal with increasing space while keeping the traveling width narrow.  The final feature is the dogtrot effect created by the opposing doors.  I think this caravan was built with summer travel in mind.

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Recycled “canned-ham” caravan.

Interesting propulsion.  Looks like post-apocalyptic servitude?

Interesting propulsion. Looks like post-apocalyptic servitude?

Atkisson's Wagon.

Atkisson’s Wagon.

The above wagon aesthetic has a Persian feel to the decorations.  From the pillows right down to the slippers.  Click the photo for an article about this wagon.

Found over at the Voice of the Monkey.

Found over at the Voice of the Monkey.  An eclectic image blog.

Okay, I just posted this cool little goat wagon as I would have loved this as a kid.  Who wouldn’t?  There is a clear attention to detail on this one down to the wheel spokes and fine paint work.  Apparently there is some tie to Kansas City.   Maybe a carriage maker’s model?

And finally, the best part of all… exploring a 1914 Dunton Waggon, Part 1 with historian John Pokkett.  You can find the next parts on Youtube if they don’t auto-follow.