Kiwanis trip to D.C.: ‘Here we are, home again’

By Jared Olar
Library assistant

Pekin Daily Times owner and publisher F. F. McNaughton used his daily “Editor’s Letter” newspaper column to chronicle the weeklong trip to Washington, D.C., that the Pekin Kiwanis Club and a party of Peoria teachers took in June 1932. The sixth and last of his daily log entries, written in Pekin after their return, was printed on the front page of the June 18 issue.

McNaughton’s trip log entries which we’ve reviewed over the past few weeks can help bring to life what life was like in America during the 1930s, when passenger travel by train was common. In the case of McNaughton’s final log, however, a couple passages in which he makes racially-charged if not racist remarks about African-Americans living in Washington, D.C., also help to remind us of the great changes and progress in attitudes regarding race since those days.

This final log entry here follows:



Well, here we are, home again. Two autoloads of friends met the boys and me at Bloomington, the grandparents from Texas having arrived while we were away. They had the best linen out at home and a three-course dinner waiting so the comedown from those dining car meals would not be too great, but at that we missed the finger bowls! However, we didn’t miss a swim in the greatest little pool this side of that one at the Naval Academy at Annapolis.

And did we need that swim, after two days and a night on a train, taking the dust and cinders as they came. I could lean over and shake my head and hear the cinders fall.

If you insist on the truth, I slept better on those improvised beds Thursday night than I did last night at home in my own bed. Why? Because of that gale. Wasn’t that some blow at 12:20 last night?

Pekin Daily Times owner and publisher F. F. McNaughton in 1979. PHOTO FROM LOCAL HISTORY ROOM COLLECTION

Pekin Daily Times owner and publisher F. F. McNaughton in 1979. PHOTO FROM LOCAL HISTORY ROOM COLLECTION

Speaking of blows, we had one plan blow up. Our special was making such a good time westward bound that at Garrett, Ind., we got the consent of the dispatcher to roll right into the Grand Central station at Chicago 15 minutes early. We were to leave Chicago at 3 o’clock from the Union Depot, hooked onto the rear of the Lincoln Limited.

So we decided to parade up State street in Chicago during the 1 ¾ hours we had to wait. We found a piece of carboard (sic), and with a red lipstick and some blue ink we made a red, white, and blue banner. Art Kriegsman had furnished us a clan call the first night out – a loud, long drawn out “Yoo-Hoo,” pronounced, “You-Who.” Wherever a Tazewellite saw another in Washington, even if it was clean across the Capitol grounds, he would shout “Yoo-Hoo,” and the “Yoo-Hoos” that came from the hotel windows at 2 a. m. made the nights merry. So for the Chicago parade, we arranged that if anybody got lost, he was to start shouting “Yoo-Hoo” at the top of his lungs, which was to be the signal for all the rest of the Yoo-Hoos to rush to his rescue.

The minute we reached Chicago, we swung from the coaches to start our parade, when trainmen ran to halt us, telling us that instead of trailing us home on the Lincoln Limited, they were sending us along in a few minutes as a special. So Chicago missed a bigger parade than they had all during the G. O. P. convention – not to mention the “Yoo-Hoos” they missed.

Speaking of Art Kriegsman, there were 184 on the train besides Art and they are all for Art. He made the beds for the ladies, he carried drinks to the aged, he Yoo-Hooed for the weak lunged, and he made fun for everybody.

The most hilarious moment of the trip came at 3 o’clock yesterday morning. Art, sitting two seats away, saw Mrs. Arends rousing from a troubled sleep. Quickly Art put on some ugly spectacles and slipped into his mouth some hideous protruding teeth. Mrs. Arends, half awake, saw Art and thought she was having a nightmare. Shaking herself, she looked again and thought it was somebody whose false teeth were falling out; or maybe a fiend had gotten onto the train. At this moment, Art drew a cup of water and started toward Mrs. Arends with it.

“I don’t want anything. I don’t want ANYTHING! I DON’T WANT ANYTHING!” Mrs. Arends screamed till everybody in the car were sitting up, sharing her terror. Whereupon Art took his teeth out, emitted a loud “Yoo-Hoo” and moved on to the next car. There he found the crowd was trying to locate a dying calf which was bawling piteously. It turned out to be a hidden device that Bill Janssen had found in an oddity shop in Washington. You must hear that calf bawl; and if you’ll drop a penny in the tin cup, Art will Yoo-Hoo for you.

The crowd insisted on signing a Round Robin to be presented to the Kiwanis club, thanking them for the trip and expressing their amazement that so much could be given for $36. Really, everybody seemed to feel that they got their money’s worth.

At the end of this column, is a vote that I took on the homeward train of the things that folks liked best on the trip. Frances Towle followed me up with a vote on what folks were most disappointed in.

You will notice that the White House was an easy winner in the disappointment vote. This was, I think, because the President did not shake hands with us. They have had to tighten down on many things in Washington the last week because of the thousands of bonus marchers in the city. They were everywhere – hundreds upon hundreds of them. We even had to get a special permit thru Mr. Hull’s office to get into the bureau of engraving. So Mr. Hoover is not shaking hands just now. In fact, he and Mrs. Hoover were listening over the radio to his renomination at Chicago while we were wandering thru the famous east room, green, blue and red rooms, etc.

From the number of things that somebody gave first place, you will realize how different are human interests. Evidently the boys and I missed the second most interesting thing on the trip – the Annapolis Naval Academy. I wanted, too, to see the Cathedral where Wilson is buried. Of one thing I am glad – that is that Attorney Prettyman decided to extend the trip the extra day. The crowd wants the Kiwanis club to get up another such trip.

Here’s the vote on what the folk liked best:

Mt. Vernon … 43
Naval Academy … 36
Lincoln Memorial … 19
Capitol building … 12
Congress in action … 10
New museum … 6
Washington’s monument … 5
Bureau of engraving … 1
Old museum … 3
Pan-American building … 2
Congressional library … 2
White House … 2
Robert E. Lee’s home … 3
Arlington cemetery … 4
Flag parade … 1
Art gallery … 2
Allegheny mountains … 1
Eats … 1
Cathedral … 1
Zoo … 1
Monastery … 1
Ford theater … 1
Associations on train … 1

Quite a few could not make up their minds, and some of them (women) wanted to change their minds after they had first voted. They would!

Now here is Miss Towle’s list of disappointments:

White House … 42
Hotel … 15
Not seeing President … 6
Beds on train … 6
Pan-American building … 5
Ford theater … 5
Congressional library … 4
Bureau of engraving … 3
Harper’s Ferry … 3
Ladies’ clothes (museum) … 1
Pittsburgh … 1
Lighting on train … 1
Shopping district … 1
Too many Negroes … 1
Foreign legations … 1
Location of hotel … 1
G. A. R. building … 1
Red Cross building … 1
Not seeing cherry trees … 1
Train sickness … 1
Poor Annapolis guide … 1
Narrow streets … 1
Mountains … 1
Switching at Chicago … 1
Mt. Vernon … 1
Not seeing Old Ironsides … 1
Monument … 1
Free afternoon … 1
Not seeing mint … 1

It might be explained that there is no mint in Washington; and that Ironsides could be seen from the top of the Washington monument. Concerning the Negroes, I really wonder if they are going to take Washington over. It is a shame they ever started Washington so far to one edge of the nation. It ought to be out closer to the common run of folk. But it looks like it is there to stay. They are building constantly – are building now. There is vastly more to see now than there was 10 years ago. There will be more 10 years later; and if the Kiwanis club decides to put on another tour to Washington 10 years from now, I believe every person who was on this trip will advise you to take it in. Certainly I do.

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