29 November 2006

My Parent's 1951 Journey from Tanganyika to the Belgian Congo

(This is the preface to the letters my sister Kathy compiled for us 55 years later. I will add a link to the actually document later. Interesting that the kids were sent to stay with my friend Steve Cunningham's grandparents during those 3 weeks.)

A Journey From Tanganyika to The Belgian Congo.

Letters written home in 1951 by Luella Rowberg and compiled by Kathryn Rowberg as stories for the grandchildren of Raymond and Luella Rowberg.


Raymond and Luella Rowberg experienced a remarkable vacation in the summer of 1951. While friends relaxed at an ocean resort, Raymond and Luella decided to venture across four East African borders--destination Congo. Using a simple (but not always accurate) guidebook and heeding advice from friends and acquaintances, they journeyed from June 30 until July 18 without their children, who were in the good care of Reverend and Mrs. Cunningham. Although the trip was long and difficult, and they were often laden with road dust and worries about their vehicle, on their return, they painted a picture of this trip in letters home to America, with the dream of telling their grandchildren of their travels. Although neither Luella nor Raymond had much spare time in Bumbuli, Luella agreed to write the account and went to the task with her penchant for detail.
This chronicle begins with Raymond's letter to his parents, Hardy and Alvhild Rowberg (Mom and Pop) that summarized the 3020-mile trip that took 19 days. The story continues in letters typed by Luella, which Louis Brathole set on to Alvhild and Hardy Rowberg. He asked that they return the letters to him because Raymond and Luella might enjoy reading them some time after they return to the states. Louis died just as Luella and Raymond were returning from Africa via the Far East and entering Seattle by ship. Although he never heard their stories again, I'm confident the letters were cherished by him and his wife, Thea. Next, Alvhild Rowberg wrote to Raymond and Luella relating of others who had read the letters and had gone along on the trip. Finally, Luella typed 14 letters on their Hermes Baby portable typewriter, which now graces my home. The letters are ordered in sequence of travel and not always by date written.
I continue to learn about my parents and these letters revealed Luella's desire to reconstruct a good story for my grandchildren. Many times I badgered Mom to tell us a story. Little did I know she left a treasure trove in her letters. After reading these letters, may you feel that you have gone along on the trip from Tanganyika to the Belgian Congo.

Enjoy this good story!

Kathryn Luella Rowberg
Thanksgiving 2006

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