Marie Louise's journal documents the few days her family spent in southern California and the automobile trip home along the Santa Fe Trail, through St. Louis, and on to Richmond, Kentucky. There are two later entries detailing two dances she hosted. Most of the daily entries are written in a staccato style that rarely gets beyond a laundry list of the day's activities. Still, a certain sense of an irrepressible teenage girl, who described eating while driving as "flying lunch," and had a penchant for olives, and a burning need for ice cream sundaes, peeks through. At the back of the volume she pasted in ephemeral items from the trip, including an advertisement for "The Clansman," which she saw at the Empress Theatre in San Diego, permission to visit a gold mine, and a sunflower. There are also several small newspaper clippings, mostly concerning the family's trip.
The Kelloggs stopped to see the sights along their route, including the gold mine, cañons, and the original twenty mule team wagon that ran into Death Valley. Marie Louise rarely did more than record action. A typical account reads, "Went to the Petrified Forest. Picked up some pieces of the wood," but she did occasionally notice and note the scenery: "At one of the turns sat an Indian woman. It was one of the most picturesque scenes I ever saw. the winding road, an adobe village and the sunshine down to the left and the black clouds, sharp curves and mountains up to the right" (pp.26, 32).
The tourists saw Mojave, Hopi, Navajo, and Pueblo Indians enroute, and bought beads from the Indians in the Mojave desert, and rugs and pottery from the Navajo. Marie Louise snapped photos all along the way. The Kelloggs preferred to stay at "Harvey Houses," as the many establishments along the way owned and run by Fred Harvey were called. The car behaved fairly well, meaning there were only a couple flat tires on the way home, and a few instances of engine trouble. Twice Marie Louise and her mama had to get out and push the car out of mud holes.
The Kelloggs stayed in Santa Fe for a few days, where they were shown the sights by a "perfectly lovely" librarian named Mrs. Wilson (p.34). The family also spent several days in St. Louis, detained on account of the severe rains. Marie Louise and her mama occupied themselves with vaudeville shows (one featured a "Japanese primadonna"), movies, malted milks, and clothes shopping (p.58). At one shop, the retailer was "looking up Daddy's credit in some listing book and so we looked up all the Richmond people and others. I looked up several people in Versailles of course and found that flowers must sell pretty well as they give the seller good credit" (p.54).
After they crossed the Missouri, Marie Louise wrote that they were "Back in hot biscuit country anyway," and she began to anticipate getting home (p.50). She hoped their arrival would get all sorts of attention. "Really when I get home if every time we stop anywhere every body around doesn't run out to look at us and the car, I shall feel very bad about it" (p.52). She got her wish when they pulled into Louisville: "Mr. Banks, head of the Ford Motor Company in Kentucky, had a regular reception, reporters, a photographer and all the clerks. Trying to get our picture in the Sunday paper! Heavens, what a excitement for Richmond if they do succeed!" (p.63). They did succeed, and the clipping is pasted in the journal.
Once home in Richmond, Marie Louise quickly caught up with her best friend Martha, and planned a dance for "about a dozen couples of her young friends," as the newspaper so gratifyingly reported. She weighed herself at the store while getting some cakes for the party, and noted "151. -- caused by sundaes, malted milk and Harvey Houses I suppose" (p.68). Marie Louise expressed her hopes for a boyfriend, and after describing three boys, she longingly admitted to herself, "I could easily lose my heart to any of those three if I only had half a chance" (p.71). In the next, and last entry, Marie Louise, now back at Margaret College, wrote about another dance, her "first real Versailles german" (p.74). She had the satisfaction of reporting that her escort, Grover, was a "wonderful dancer," and declaring, "my old flame absolutely disgusted me. Didn't even like him."