From the Boston Globe, 6 July 1951,2:1. The trip was taken June and July 1950.
Tech Professor's Eight Rules for Keeping Family Happy and Quiet
11,000 Miles With 3 Children in Car
By EARL BANNER
It is a sad truth that long-distance automobile travel is a nightmare to many families with small children.
It brings out all that is objectionable in the most lovable little darlings.
But Asst. Prof. and Mrs. Malcolm W. P. Strandberg of M. I. T. and Marshfield are no longer subscribers to the popular theory that real big-time automobile jaunts are "out" while the young family is still growing.
They, with an adult friend, and their own three children whose ages then ranged all the way from 10 months to 8 years completed an 11,000-mile loop all around the country - that took them through 22 states - in seven weeks.
Three of those weeks were spent in visiting friends and relatives in the West. Most of the daylight hours in the four remaining weeks were spent in almost constant driving,
At the end of the trip, every body was still speaking to everybody else, and while their parents have understandably had enough of long-distance travel for at least a few months, the two eldest youngsters are already trying to promote another visit to the Far Western states.
The Strandbergs, lest anyone jump to too obvious conclusions, are a family with dispositions and temperaments certainly as varied as those of the average American family. No two of them could be fitted into exactly the same behavior mold. The success of their trip can by no means be ascribed to the total absence of factors making for explosive situations.
But they did have a system.
1. The trip was planned well in advance.
They started making plans, early in January, although the actual takeoff time did not fall until late in May. Thanks to their foresight in writing to a gasoline company's route-map department well in advance - and sticking to the recommended routes afterward - they traveled over good roads every rod of the way; encountered no big road construction jobs whatever.
2. They traveled light.
Everybody in the party was limited to no more than five pounds of luggage.
"The first thing we decided," Mrs. Strandberg told the Globe, "was that there would be absolutely no baggage inside the car. Ours was a very small 1942 model and there just wasn't room for anything else inside, beside the passengers"
Professor Strandberg, very handy with tools as well as his slide rule, attached an oversized baggage rack to the steel roof of the car and re-arranged the trunk compartment so that every cubic inch of space could be utilized to its fullest advantage.
This included the construction of a folding table upon which the family meals were prepared on a gasoline stove and pressure cooker combination that saved a great deal of time in the higher altitudes of the Rockies and the Sierras.
3. They made and lived up to a rule that everyone, with the single exception of infant "Lisa" (her square name is Elizabeth) should be responsible for his or nor own personal belongings.
Everyone in the party was provided with ingeniously fashioned blue denim clothes bags sown by Mrs. Strandberg before the journey began. There were no bulky and space consuming suitcases whatever.
Every other day, they managed to find a public laundry where their spare change of soiled clothing could be washed and dried in as hour's time. While this necessary business was being accomplished provisions for the next 48 to 72 hours were also purchased.
4. While the car was rolling, the oldest youngsters "Joey," or Josiah as he was christened, 8, and Susan, 6, were separated.
They took turns riding "up front" with the driver, whichever of their parents that happened to be.
The youngster in front was "co pilot" for the duration of his or her stint directly behind the windshield. The lass or lad riding in back was entrusted with the task of making entries for the log. The "rear gunner" was also supposed to be responsible for possible picture possibilities. Joey, in fact, became quite an accomplished photographer on the trip and has an album of "black and white" prints to complement the more than 300 color transparencies in which his parents made a permanent and altogether excellent record of their memorable journey around the United States.
5. Nobody collected souvenirs or other "Junk."
The family made many purchases of the usual and unusual souvenirs as mementos of their epochal journey. but nobody retained them any longer than it took to mail them home at the next post office.
"We just didn't want to get `all cluttered up' and that rule - that we mail souvenirs and all other new possessions acquired on the trip as soon as possible - was really a life saver." The young M.I.T. physics father - he graduated from Harvard n 1941 and is only 32 now - mopped his brow illustratively. "We really appreciated that ruling when we picked up our stack of mail at the end of the trip," he said.
6. In making and breaking camp, everybody had a job to do.
The Strandberg team became so accomplished that they could establish or break up a camp in a few minutes less than half an hour a few days after they left Marshfield.
Everybody had his or her own sleeping bag. Three of their four weeks on the road were spent in sleeping bags with no other roof than the stars or the canvas of their "half tent." Their separate responsibilities were carried out so thoroughly that the only lost article throughout the entire trip was "one lost cap" belonging to Joey, and "one flashlight" belonging to the Strandbergs.
7. They bought an alarm clock to arouse the family for the early morning start of every new day.
"Originally," Mrs. Strandberg said, "we figured on 'Lisa to wake us up around 4 o'clock in the morning. But after the first day, she turned out to be a heavy sleeper."
Prof. Strandberg made a wry grimace. "Then it was my job," he said. "But I had no intention of becoming the focus of irritation, so we bought an alarm clock on the third day out. That way, if any body had any gripes about the starting hour, they had to take it out on the clock - which just didn't care one way or another."
8. There were no other hard and fast rules, perhaps the most important "rule" of all.
"Perhaps we run our family differently than a lot of other people," Mrs. Strandberg said. "We work together, anyhow. Everybody has a certain job to do and everybody in the family knows what's expected of him or her. Our quarters were a bit more cramped than usual, but the routine wasn't so very different."
Mrs. Strandberg, however, was equally certain that she won't attempt another such trip until "'Lisa" has added a few more years.
"The crawling around stage is out," she told the Globe. "Unless the youngest member of the family is either 6 years old, with a sense of responsibility, or under the ambulatory stage, I just wouldn't attempt such a project."
Two other "circumstances" of the Strandbergs' trip that may possibly be viewed as factors in its success were:
(a)The car was equipped with oversized tires Just prior to the start of the journey.
(b) The upholstery of the ear was "bolstered" with addition of one-inch-thick foam rubber cushions installed especially for the long journey.
"But even with these added comforts," Prof. Strandberg said with a grin that canceled entirely the wry intimations of his words, "you have to live within a foot or so of your entire family for seven weeks to fully realize how remote you are from your own family most of the time."