THE CAMPFIRE GIRLS GO MOTORING
THE CAMPFIRE GIRLS GO MOTORING
HILDEGARD G. FREY
"The Camp Fire Girls in the Maine Woods" "The Camp Fire Girls at
School" "The Camp Fire Girls at Onoway House."
THE CAMP FIRE GIRLS GO MOTORING
It is at Nyoda's bidding that I am writing the story of our automobile
trip last September. She declared it was really too good to keep to
ourselves and as I was official reporter of the Winnebagos anyway it
was no more nor less than my solemn duty. Sahwah says that the only
thing which was lacking about our adventures was that we didn't have a
ride in a patrol wagon but then Sahwah always did incline to the
spectacular. And the whole train of events hinged on a commonplace
circumstance which is in itself hardly worth recording; namely that
tan khaki was all the rage for outing suits last summer. But then many
an empire has fallen for a still slighter cause.
The night after we came home from Onoway House and shortly before we
started on that never-to-be-forgotten trip I was sitting at the window
watching the evening stars come out one after another. That line of
Longfellow's came into my mind:
"Silently one by one in the infinite meadows of heaven
Blossomed the lovely stars the forget-me-nots of the angels."
That quotation set me to thinking about Evangeline and the tragedy of
her never finding her lover. Could it be possible I thought that two
people could come so near to finding each other and yet be just too
late? Not in these days of long distance telephones I said to myself.
As I looked out dreamily into the mild September twilight I idly
watched two little girls chasing each other around the voting booth
that stood on the corner. They kept dodging around the four sides
playing cat and mouse and trying to catch each other by means of every
trick they could think of. One would go a little way and then stop and
listen for the footsteps of the other; then she would double back and
go the other way and thus they kept it up never coming face to face.
I stopped dreaming and gave them my entire attention; I was beginning
to feel a thrill of suspense as to which one would finally outwit the
other and overtake her. The darkness deepened; more stars came out; the
moon rose; still the exciting game did not come to a finish. Finally a
woman came out on the porch of the house on the corner and called
"Emma! Mary! Come in now." They never caught each other.
When I was elected reporter on the trip to keep a record of the
interesting things we saw so we wouldn't forget them when we came to
write the Count Nyoda said jokingly "You'd better take an extra note-
book along Migwan for we might possibly have some adventures on the
I answered "We've had all the adventures this last summer that can
possibly fall to the lot of one set of human beings and I suppose all
the rest of our lives will seem dull and uninteresting by comparison."
I presume Fate heard that remark of mine just as she did that other one
last summer when I observed to Hinpoha that we were going to have such
a quiet time at Onoway House and sat up and chuckled on the knees of
the gods. In the light of future events it seems to me that it couldn't
have done less than kick its heels against that Knee and have
As I was in the Glow-worm all the time of course I was an eye witness
to the things which happened to our party only; but the other girls
have told their tale so many times that it seems as if I had actually
experienced their adventures myself and so will write everything down
as if I had seen it without stopping to say Gladys said this or
Hinpoha told me that. It makes a better story so Nyoda says.
After Gladys's father had told us we might take the two automobiles and
go on a trip by ourselves he gave us a road map and told us to go
anywhere we liked within a radius of five hundred miles and he would
pay all the bills provided we planned and carried out the whole trip
by ourselves and did not keep telegraphing home for advice unless we
got into serious trouble. All such little troubles as breakdowns
hotels and traffic rules we were to manage by ourselves. He has a
theory that Gladys should learn to be self-reliant and means to give
her every opportunity to develop resourcefulness. He thinks she has
improved wonderfully since joining the Winnebagos and considered this
motor trip a good way of testing how much she can do for herself.
Gladys scoffed at the idea of wiring home for help when Nyoda was
along for Nyoda has toured a great deal and once drove her uncle's car
home from Los Angeles when he broke his arm. Gladys's father knew full
well that Nyoda was perfectly capable of engineering the trip or he
never would have proposed it in the first place but he never can
resist the temptation to tease Gladys and kept on inquiring anxiously
if she knew which side of the road to stop on and where to go to buy
gas. Gladys who had driven her own car for three years! Finally he
offered to bet that we would be wiring home for advice before the end
of the trip and Gladys took him up on it. The outcome was that if we
returned safe and sound without calling for help Mr. Evans would build
us a permanent Lodge in which to hold our Winnebago meetings. Gladys
danced a whole figure dance for joy for in her mind the Lodge was as
good as built.
How we did pore over that road map trying to make up our minds where
to go! Nyoda wanted to go to Cincinnati and Gladys wanted to go to
Chicago and the arguments each one put up for her cause were side-
splitting. Finally they decided to settle it by a set of tennis. They
played all afternoon and couldn't get a set. We finally intervened and
dragged them from the court in the name of humanity for the sun was
scorching and we were afraid they would be doing the Sun Dance as
Ophelia did if we didn't rescue them. The score was then 44-44 in
games. So now that neither side had the advantage of the other we did
as we did the time we named the raft at Onoway House--joined forces. We
decided to go both to Cincinnati and Chicago.
As we finally made it out the route was like this: Cleveland to
Chicago by way of Toledo and Ft. Wayne; Chicago to Indianapolis;
Indianapolis to Louisville. Here Hinpoha got a look at the map and
wanted to know if we couldn't take in Vincennes because she had been
crazy to see the place since reading Alice of Old Vincennes. So to
humor her we included Vincennes on the road to Louisville although it
was quite a bit out of the way. Then from Louisville we planned to go
up to Cincinnati and see the Rookwood Pottery that Nyoda is so crazy
about and come back home through Dayton Springfield and Columbus. We
were all very well pleased with ourselves when we had the route mapped
out at last and none of us were sorry that Nyoda and Gladys couldn't
agree on Cincinnati or Chicago and had to compromise and take in both.
Then when it was decided where we were going came the no less
important question of what we were to wear on the road. We decided on
our khaki-colored hiking-suits as the shade that would show the dust
the least and our soft tan regulation Camp Fire hats with green motor
veils. Besides being eminently sensible the combination was wonderfully
pretty as even critical Hinpoha who at first wanted us to wear smart
white and blue suits had to admit. It seemed to me the most fitting
thing in the world for a group of Camp Fire Girls to sally forth
dressed in wood brown and green the colors of nature which in my mind
should be the chosen colors of the whole organization.
We had a discussion about goggles and Gladys and Hinpoha declared
flatly that they wouldn't disfigure their faces with them but Nyoda
made us all get them whether we wanted to wear them all the time or
not. Nyoda is an advocate of Preparedness. It was this spirit that
prompted her to make me take an extra note-book along not the
premonition that there was going to be something to put into it. Nyoda
doesn't believe in premonitions since she didn't have any the time she
and Gladys got into the blue automobile with the cane streamer that
awful day in May.
Then there came the weighty matter of the names of the two cars. I will
skip the discussion and merely announce the result. The big brown car
which Gladys was to drive was christened the Striped Beetle on account
of the black and gold stripes and the black car was called the Glow-
worm because that's what it reminds you of when it comes down the road
at night with the lamps lighted and the body invisible in the darkness.
Nyoda was to be at the helm or rather at the wheel of the Glow-worm.
In order that no feelings might be involved in any way over which car
we other girls traveled in Nyoda Solomon-like proposed that she and
Gladys play "John Kempo" for us. (That isn't spelled right but no
matter.) Gladys won Hinpoha Chapa and Medmangi and Nyoda won Sahwah
Nakwisi and myself. Thus the die was cast and my fortunes linked with
those of the Glow-worm.
I don't remember ever being so supremely happy as I was the night
before we were to start. All my troubles seemed over for good. The
summer venture had been a success and the doors of college stood wide
open to receive me when the time came. The awful weight of poverty
which had sat on my shoulders last year and had made my school days
more of a nightmare than anything else was lifted and here was I
"Migwan the Penpusher" actually about to start out on an automobile
trip such as I had often heard described by more fortunate friends but
had never hoped to experience myself. We were all over at Hinpoha's
house that night because Aunt Phoebe had just come back with the
Doctor and they wanted to see us.
"And you be careful of your bones Missis Sahvah!" said the Doctor
playfully shaking his finger at her.
"Are you going if it rains?" asked Aunt Phoebe.
The possibility of rain had never occurred to us as the only picture
we had seen in our mind's eye had been country roads gleaming in the
sunshine but Gladys said scornfully that she would like to be shown
the group of Camp Fire Girls who would let themselves be put off by
"Let's build a Rain Jinx" said Sahwah who always has the most
"A what?" asked Gladys.
"A Rain Jinx" said Sahwah warming to the idea. "A 'doings' to scare
away the Rain Bird and the Thunder Bird."
As the foundation for her Rain Jinx she took Hinpoha's Latin book
which she declared was the driest thing in existence. On top of that
she piled other books which were nearly as dry until she had a sort of
altar. Then she proceeded to sacrifice all the rubbers rain-coats and
umbrellas she could find as a propitiatory offering to the Rain Bird.
Thoroughly in the mood for such nonsense now she proceeded to chant
weird chants around the altar to protect us from all sorts of things on
the road; to soften the hearts of traffic policemen; to keep the tires
from bursting and the machinery from cutting up capers. It was the
most ridiculous performance I have ever seen and Aunt Phoebe and the
Doctor laughed themselves almost sick over it. I laughed so myself that
I could not take notes on what she was saying and so can't let you
laugh at it for yourselves. As a reporter I'm afraid I'm not an
In the midst of that "Vestal Virgin" business--Sahwah was flourishing a
chamois vest to give us the idea of _vestal_--Nyoda walked in.
There was only one low lamp burning in order to carry out Sahwah's idea
of what a Rain Jinx ceremony should be like and Nyoda couldn't clearly
make out the objects in the room.
"Look out for the Rain Jinx!" called Sahwah warningly. "If you touch
it it will bring us bad luck instead of good."
But it was too late. Nyoda had stumbled over the pile of things on the
floor and in falling sent the elements of the Rain Jinx flying in all
directions. Hinpoha flew to light the light and Sahwah picked Nyoda up
out of the mess and set her in a chair while the rest of us collected
the scattered articles and tidied up the room and Sahwah painted in
lurid colors to Nyoda the dire consequences of her crime and made her
give her famous "Wimmen Sufferage" speech as an act of atonement.
The Rain Bird must have forgiven her on the strength of that speech
for there never was such a perfect blue and gold day as the morning we
started out. I have already told you how we were divided up in the
cars. Gladys in the Striped Beetle went first carrying with her Hinpoha
Chapa and Medmangi and Nyoda drove the Glow-worm right behind her
with Sahwah Nakwisi and myself. Hinpoha insisted upon bringing Mr. Bob
her black cocker spaniel along as a mascot. Of course everybody
wanted to sit beside the driver and we had to compromise by planning to
change seats every hour to give us all a chance. We all carried our
cameras in our hands to be ready to snap anything worth while as it came
along and beside that Nakwisi had her spy-glass along as usual and I
had my reporter's note-book. In honor of my being reporter they let me
sit beside Nyoda at the start.
Nakwisi couldn't wait until we got under way and bounced up and down on
the seat with impatience. "What's the matter with you?" said Sahwah
"You're a regular _starting-crank_!"
"That will do Sahwah" said Nyoda with mock severity. "I want it
distinctly understood that anybody who indulges in puns on this trip is
going to get out and walk."
With that threat she settled herself behind the wheel and turned on the
gasoline or whatever it is you do to start a car. Thus we started off
like modern day Innocents Abroad with the Winnebago banner across the
back of each car and our green veils fluttering in the breeze. Mr.
Evans waved the paper on which the bet was recorded significantly and
shouted "Remember!" in a sepulchral tone and it was plain to be seen
he was sure he would win the bet. He even tempted Fate so far as to
throw an old rubber after us as we departed instead of an old shoe to
bring us luck according to the Rain Jinx. It landed in the tonneau of
our car and Sahwah pounced upon it as a favorable omen and kept it for
With a great cheering and waving of handkerchiefs we were off. The
Striped Beetle was just ahead of us in all the glory of its new coat of
paint and its bright banner and I couldn't help thrilling with pride
to think that I for once belonged to such a gay company I who all
my life had to be content with shabby things. I suppose we must have
cut quite a figure with our tan suits all alike and our green veils
for people stopped to look at us as we passed through the streets. It
was not long before we were outside the city limits and running along
the western road toward Toledo.
I always did think September was the prettiest month in which to go
through the country in the lake region on account of the grapes. The
vineyards stretched for miles along the road and the air was sweet with
the perfume of the purple fruit. There were wide corn-fields too that
made me think of the poem:
"Up from the meadows rich with corn
Clear in the cool September morn--"
Oh there never was such a beautiful country as America nor such a
happy girl as I! In one place someone had planted a long strip of
brilliant red geraniums through the middle of a green field and the
effect was too gorgeous for description. (I'm glad I noted all those
things and put them down on the first part of the trip for afterwards
I scarcely thought of looking at the scenery.)
The girls in the car ahead kept shouting back at us and trying to make
up a song about the Striped Beetle and of course we had resurrected
the one-time popular "Glow-worm" song and made the hills and dales
resound with the air of the chorus:
"Shine little Glow-worm glimmer
Shine little Glow-worm glimmer
Lead us lest too far we wander
Love's sweet voice is calling yonder;
Shine little Glow-worm glimmer
Shine little Glow-worm glimmer
Light the path below above
And lead us on to love!"
Then there would come a chorus of derision from the Striped Beetles
who politely inquired which one of us expected to be led to her Prince
Charming by that mechanical Glow-worm; and flung back our chorus in a
"Shine little Glow-worm glimmer
Till the Law makes you put on the dimmer!"
Then we christened the horn of the Striped Beetle "Love" because that
was the only "sweet voice" we heard calling yonder. I don't believe I
ever had such a good time as I did on the road to Toledo. We got there
about noon and went to a large restaurant for dinner. Even there people
looked up from their tables as we eight girls came in dressed in our
wood brown and green costumes and we heard several low-voiced remarks
"They're probably Camp Fire Girls."
We had a great deal of fun at dinner where we all sat at one big table.
Sahwah and Hinpoha sat at the two ends and got into a dispute as to
which end was the head of the table. "Stop quarreling about it you
ridiculous children" said Nyoda. "'Wherever Magregor sits--' you know
While she was speaking I saw a tourist at another table dressed in a
long dust coat and wearing monstrous goggles that covered the entire
upper half of his face and made him look like a frog lean forward as
if to catch every word. Nyoda is perfectly stunning in her motor suit
and I couldn't blame the man for admiring her but we did want Nyoda to
ourselves on this trip and the thought of having men mixed up in it
put a damper on my spirits. I suppose Nyoda will leave us for a man
sometime but the thought always makes me ill. I came out of my little
reverie to find that Gladys had appropriated my glass of water and
Sahwah and Hinpoha were still disputing about being the head of the
table. Finally we jokingly advised Sahwah to ask the waiter and she
promptly took us up and did it and found that Hinpoha was the head.
"I'm going to have the head at the next place we eat" Sahwah declared
owning her defeat with as good grace as she could. And Fate winked
solemnly and began to slide off the knees of the gods.
From Toledo to Ft. Wayne our next stop there were two routes the
northern one through Bryan and the southern one through Napoleon and
Defiance. As there didn't seem to be much difference between them we
played "John Kempo" and the northern route won two out of three. As we
were threading our way through the streets of the town an old woman
tried to cross the street just in front of the Glow-worm. Nyoda sounded
the horn warningly but the noise seemed to confuse her. She got across
the middle of the street in safety and Nyoda quickened up a bit when
the woman lost her head and started back for the side she had come
from. She darted right in front of the Glow-worm and although Nyoda
turned aside sharply the one fender just grazed her and she fell down
in the street. Of course a crowd collected and we had to stop and get
out and help her to the sidewalk where we made sure she was not hurt.
Nyoda finally took her in tow and piloted her across the street to the
place where she wanted to go.
When the excitement was over and the crowd had dispersed we returned to
the car and Nyoda started up once more. Then for the first time we
noticed that the Striped Beetle was nowhere in sight. Apparently Gladys
had not noticed our stopping in the confusion of the busy street and
had gone on ahead without us.
Gladys as the leader had the road map with her with the route marked
out which we were to follow. We hastened to the end of the street
expecting to catch sight of the Striped Beetle just around the corner
but it was nowhere to be seen. We stopped at a store and asked if they
had seen it come by and they said yes it had just passed and had
turned to the left up --th Street. We followed swiftly thinking to
come upon the girls each moment but there was no sign of them.
"They surely have discovered by this time that we are not behind them
and must be waiting for us" said Nyoda. "I can't understand it."
"Gladys is probably trying to see if we can trail her through the city
to the motor road" said Sahwah. "You know how much we talked about
being self-reliant? We'll probably find her where the road branches out
from the city waiting with a stop watch to see how long it took us to
"We'll get there" said Nyoda grimly her sporting blood up.
Everywhere along the road people told us about the brown car that had
gone just ahead of us and pointed out the direction it had taken. Every
time we turned a corner we expected to hear the laughter of the girls
who were leading us such a merry chase but we didn't. Soon we were out
of the city and on the country road once more and we were quite a bit
puzzled not to find them waiting for us. We certainly thought the joke
was to have ended here. But a man walking along the road had seen the
car go by half an hour before.
"Half an hour!" we echoed. "Gladys must have been speeding to have
gotten so far ahead of us." Of course the Striped Beetle is a six-
cylinder car and more powerful than the Glow-worm which is a four and
then they hadn't stopped at every corner to ask the way so it wasn't
so strange after all that Gladys was so far ahead.
"We'll make some speed on this road" said Nyoda resolutely "and if we
don't catch Lady Gladys before she gets to Ft. Wayne I'll know the
reason why. This is the road to Bryan isn't it?" she asked with her
hand on the starting-lever.
"No" said the man. "This here road goes through Napoleon and Defiance.
It gets to Ft. Wayne all right but it doesn't go through Bryan."
Nyoda stopped in surprise. "The southern route?" she said wonderingly.
"Why we decided on the northern. Whatever could have made Gladys
change her mind without letting us know? Are you sure it was a brown
car with four girls dressed just like us?"
The man was positive. It was the suits and the veils all alike that had
caught his eye in the first place. He didn't generally remember much
about the cars that went past. There were too many of them. But these
girls looked so fine in their tan suits that he just had to look twice
at them. They were laughing fit to kill and all waved their
handkerchiefs at him as they passed.
We looked at each other in astonishment. It was undoubtedly the Striped
Beetle that was going along the southern route and we couldn't
"Do you suppose" I said "that Gladys could have misunderstood when
you were playing 'John Kempo' and thought it was the southern route
"She must have" said Nyoda. "It's not impossible. We were all laughing
and talking so much nonsense at the time that it was hard to think
straight. But it doesn't make any difference" she added "this route
is as good as the northern and we are right behind them and I mean to