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April 17, 2014

Two Young Girls Bicycling Across America in 1944

In 1944, Doris Roy and Thelma Popp who were 21 years old and just graduated from college, made a plan to ride bicycles from their home in Buffalo, New York, to Cairo, Illinois, where the Ohio River met the Mississippi.

"World War II affected our college life as most of the male student body joined one of the services. Women assumed some of their roles by taking jobs in armament industries. During the summer, I worked from early morning to evening in a public school caring for infants whose mothers were working in aircraft factories or other related industries."

"But now, before starting our careers, we decided that the coming summer after graduation would be the ideal time to have our adventure. We had a limited period of time to accomplish this. I had signed a contract to begin teaching first grade in Middleport, New York, on the Erie Canal on September 4, 1944. And so - with the leanest of equipment - we made our preparations and were ready to leave on June 22, 1944."

They camped outside, slept in barns, hitched rides on riverboats, went to church on Sundays, and worked at a Walgreens serving Cokes when their money ran low. They wrote letters to their families, and nearly every day Thelma wrote in her diary. The entire diary was transcribed and can be read here.


  1. this is wonderful! what an interesting and inspiring story they have!!!

  2. How cool are those pictures! Heros all!

  3. I guess I misunderstand your text. It says Parisian women between 1930s and 1940s and 'under German occupation' - Crisis it may have been, but Paris was only occupied after 1940.




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