Traveling, 1921

On Wednesday, October 5, 1921, Jessie left on a long journey to visit family and friends. Her first stop on this trip was Abingdon, Virginia where she stayed a few nights with friends. Next stop New York City, with another train to Garden City on Long Island to stay with friends there. Then on October 25 she moved to New York City. Jessie stayed in an apartment with two other girls and two guys. I’m not sure how all this was arranged as they all seemed to be temporary tenants. New York was a lot of fun for Jessie. As she said, Life these days is one grand rush for me. (Oct. 25, 1921) Everywhere she traveled she knew people and had friends. From New York, Jessie traveled to New Haven, Providence, and Boston. Then back to New York for a couple of weeks, a quick stop in Philadelphia to visit cousins, six days in Washington, one more night in Abingdon, and finally home to Memphis. She arrived in Memphis on Friday, December 23, 1921 just in time for Christmas, and having been gone two and half months. It was a very long and eventful journey, but the part I want to focus on is her visit to Washington, DC.

Jessie arrived in Washington the evening of December 14th and stayed with her Cousin Kate Southerland at the Willard Hotel where Kate lived. (Incidentally, the Willard Hotel is still in Washington just across the street from the World War I Memorial. See the photo below.) Jessie wrote in her diary the next day, I’m with my cousin Kate so of course that means we have breakfast in bed. She left a little before noon for the State Department. Kate worked at the State Department. The next day they once again slept late and breakfasted in bed before Kate left for the State Department. Though they were cousins, Kate was quite a bit older than Jessie. At this time Kate was 52 and Jessie almost 27.

The Willard Inter-Continental, Washington, D.C., 2022.

Jessie went out with various gentlemen while she was in D.C., but her most interesting times were in the company of Cousin Kate. Monday, December 19, 1921:  Washington.  This morning Cousin Kate took me through the State Department. Thanks to Mr. Gibbs, we were allowed to see the Secretary of State, Mr. Hughes’ private room, then the Secretary’s Ante Room. Beautiful portraits of all the Secretaries in there. I tried all the chairs. 

Pres. Harding and Marie Curie at the White House, May 1921. Library of Congress Photo Library

Next Jessie received a tour of the White House. Unfortunately, The Hardings were at luncheon so we couldn’t see the dining room. That night Jessie and her date were guests at a Southern Society Ball. The ball was given in honor of Lord and Lady Lee of Fareham. Lord Lee of Fareham was one of England’s representatives at the Disarmament Conference (known officially as the Washington Naval Conference) going on in Washington at the same time. Jessie wrote, I got to meet Lord Lee and Lady Lee and they were most charming. After the ball Jessie rushed to the Hotel where she changed clothes, rushed to the train station, and caught the 3:10 AM train for Virginia. Heading home.

President Warren Harding and his wife Florence Harding
The Washington Naval Conference (the Disarmament Conference), November 12, 1921 – February 6, 1922.