The travel diary of Marie Schroeter describes her trip to Germany in the summer of 1926 aboard the US Hamburg and various aspects of her travels within Germany. Marie Schroeter was born April 26th, 1898 in Hammond, Indiana to Jacob and Johanna Schroeter, immigrants from Germany. Marie and her father left Hammond on June 7th for New York City, left port on June 10th and arrived in Hamburg on June 20th, 1926. The Schroeters travelled around Germany for five weeks, visiting family members and touring her father's birthplace. The passages about the return voyage on the SS Hamburg are significantly shorter and Marie's entries mostly detail the weather. The ship sailed from Hamburg on August 13th, 1926 and arrived back in New York City on August 23rd.
Marie's diary offers an entertaining glimpse of what life was like for a single girl in the Roaring Twenties. Numerous references are made to drinking, dancing and boys, despite Prohibition and her father's close proximity. At some point early in the voyage, the ship crossed an informal boundary in the ocean and the American decree of Prohibition ceased to take effect. “'Enjoying a glass oflemonade' (which is all that is available- for the present.)”1During a dance on June 12th, Marie comments on dancing with a “good man” from South America and consuming a large number of beers. In addition to this man, Marie also mentions “Albert,” a boy with whom she had a date and decided the next day to give a cold shoulder to, and Mr. “Wernie” Gutermann, whose attention results in jealousy between Marie and her friend Lucy.
Description of Document:
The diary itself is commercially produced by the Samuel Ward Mfg Co. of Boston and is titled “My Travels Abroad.” It is a small diary, measuring approximately 6.5'' x 4'' and is about ¾ of an inch thick. It only has entries about halfway through the diary with miscellaneous information written in the back, including addresses and information about the German relatives she meets. Each page of the diary was organized with the following headings: “Date,” “Place,” “Weather,” “From,” “Via” and “Impressions.” The lines under “Impressions” only run for about three-fourths a page and Marie complains about the formulaic nature of the journal and its restriction on her ability to write freely. She ignored the prescribed line limitations by carrying over her writing onto multiple pages. The journal contains a great deal of nautical information that might be of interest to a traveller, including images of sailing flags, steamship funnels, traveling distances, foreign currency rates, and descriptions of famous ships. There are also a few pages dedicated for jotting down notes about specific points of interest on the traveler's trip, including “Cathedrals Visited,” “Hotels Stopped At,” “Famous Cafes Visited.”2
Inside the cover there is an inscription indicating the diary was a gift to Marie at the start of her trip from an “E.S.” This may refer to Marie's hometown friend Esther Schaeffer who also signed the autograph page. The diary also includes autographs of the ship's captains and farewell notes written in a mix of German and English by fellow passengers and relatives in Germany. Marie included a brief list of travel costs for the trip and listed the price of the steamship fare ($315.00) and various train rides within Germany ($57.00).
Little information is available about Marie A. Schroeter after her trip. In the 1930 census, she is listed as unmarried and still living with her parents in Hammond. Interestingly, her occupation is listed as a statistician for the railroad. By December of 1942, an article of the Hammond Times references “Marie A. Schroeter, NYCRR division chairman, LaSalle street station...” in regards to a Christmas party thrown by the RBWA of Gibson, Indiana.3 Marie Schroeter appears to have passed away on July, 3rd, 1977 in Hammond.4
...Had a good night's sleep. Today will forget the routine and talk about things in general, = the boys for instance. Had a date with Albert last evening = but he's getting the cold shoulder today, and Herr Gutermann ist heute an meine rechte seite.5 going to the dance tonite [sic] and looking forward to same. So is Herr G. and Lucy. Its getting quite interesting for the “three” of us. We had a nice stroll on deck after the dance. Was a nice warm evening. Killed three bottles of Rheinwine [sic] during the evening. Mustn't forget the champaign [sic] we had yesterday, and the Manhattan cocktails the evening before. This'll all sound so good when I get back to the states. Have to rig up as costume for the hard time ball next Thursday. = Ain't we got fun. I'll say so. What did you say in the third line of the second verse Esther?6 Really this book isn't large enough, so must cut out something, so will keep somethings in my memory. Dad and I both feeling fine, and Mr. Kliever too. Children's day yesterday = took some snaps of their program, Can't use my curling iron so blew myself to shampoo + marcell7 today. All set for the dance tonite [sic].
(later) had the usual good time. Wernie and I still pal around. Wernie is Mr. Guterman's nickname. He is certainly a good scout and has some very fascinating characteristics. Found him to be a perfect gentleman and his companionship, notwithstanding the general pleasant attitude of all passengers, dad not to be forgotten, has added much to making this trip one that cannot be excelled. Keywords:
2 The word “Famous” has been crossed out so it reads as “Cafes Visited.”
3 NYCRR is likely the New York Central Railroad. The RBWA may refer to the Railway Business Women's Association,an organization composed of female railroad employees to provide social and charitable support for communities.
4 Finding biographical information on Marie Schroeter is challenging. A search of Ancestry.com yielded information about her from the 1900 and 1930 census, but her named is spelled as “Schreter” in the 1920 census. A copy of the passenger list of the SS Hamburg is available for her return trip in August, 1926 and states her date of birth as April 26, 1898. A general search of the Hammond Public Library-Times Obituaries online index brings up a record for Marie A. Schroeter (died July 3rd, 1977) but there is no other information to verify that this is the correct record. For further information on this obituary, you can send a request to the Hammond Public Library for a copy for a small fee.
5 Roughly translated as “... Mr. Gutermann is now on my right side.”
6 Assuming “E.S.” the initials from the inscription at the beginning of the diary is Esther Schaeffer, the third line of the second verse that Marie is referring to may be “Record in it [the diary] each little theme, when in the morning you awaken each moon-light night and each love-scene.”
7 The Marcel wave was a popular 1920s hair style achieved by using heated curling irons. The name comes from its French inventor Marcel Grateau.