Sunday, May 17, 2020

American Adventure #1 Crossed Trails

Introduction to the American Adventure Series

"It's—it's an animal, I'm sure!
It's coming this way!"
In American Adventure #1, Crossed Trails, Mary Lancaster finds a happy escape from an unpleasant stay with her domineering aunt.  Mary is invited by the Burkes, Jane and her parents, to travel with them across country.  Soon into the journey, Mary and the Burkes meet Ted, who is a waiter at a hotel.  Ted is worried about his brother, Bob, who recently took off for the west, hitchhiking first to New York City.  Both Bob and the Burkes have a series of misadventures on their separate journeys, and eventually, their paths cross.

This book is in the public domain, I have scanned it and the other two volumes since I feel strongly that this series is one of the really good A. L. Burt series.  The books are so scarce that most people will never be able to find them.

Chapters 1-7
Chapters 8-14
Chapters 15-22

This book had me on the very first page.  The introduction to the story is quite good.

I did think it a bit odd for Mary to be invited on a road trip in winter.  What about school?  On page 18, Aunt Sarah mentions how Mary will miss school.  Mary counters with a statement about how her mother feels that she can learn more on a trip than in school.

On page 90, Mary meets the author of the Clover Club Series, a woman named Mrs. Brent.  Mrs. Brent gives Mary advice, telling her to keep a diary of the trip so that she can turn it into a book.  On the final page of this story, Mary says that the title of her book will be Crossed Trails.

On page 189, Bob uses a kind of fake Spanish in order to communicate with a Mexican family.
"No coulda find," he said in what he considered an intelligible mixture of English and Spanish.  "Alla gone.  Sta muencho bueno," he ended proudly.  "Huh?  Not?"

"Sí!  Sí!" the fat mother of the family nodded, while a half-dozen grimy hands reached out to pat him affectionately.  "Sta muencho bueno!"
I get the idea that the Mexican family views Bob as a bit dim.

While this book contains statements that are racially or ethnically insensitive, I feel that the author tried to teach the reader about different types of people in a way that depicts them to be real and worthwhile people.  The text is certainly not up to today's standards, not by a long shot.  However, I feel that this author tried to be sensitive to minorities and tried to depict them in a good fashion.  Most old series authors wrote passages that were simply dreadful, outright making fun of minorities.  This author did nothing like that.

The above paragraph was written after I finished this book and before I began the other two books.  The third book contains more blatantly problematic racial stereotypes, but that does not change my opinion of this first book.

This book is a travelogue of sorts, but not of the boring type.  It is a travelogue similar to those of the Beverly Gray series.  This is the type of travelogue that I love.  The book has no historical facts in it, but the countryside is described in such a way that the reader does learn a bit about different parts of the country and a bit about history.

For instance, the Burkes stay at several Harvey House hotels in Arizona and New Mexico.  It was only when the family stays at the second Harvey House that I realized that this must be a chain of hotels and possibly a chain that actually existed in the past.  I had never heard of them, since they were before my time.

Harvey Hotels & Restaurants on Route 66

From the above link, I found photos of some of the hotels mentioned in this book.

The La Fonda Hotel in Santa Fe, New Mexico

The Alvarado Hotel in Albuquerque, New Mexico

El Garces Harvey House Hotel in Needles, California

It was interesting to learn about Harvey House.

On page 248, Mary and Jane wait to see if Bob will get well.  They "felt curiously as though they were living in a strange suspension between dream and reality."  That accurately describes how many of us are feeling during this pandemic.

This book is thoroughly engaging and excellent.

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