Simanaitis Says

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TWO AMERICAN WOMEN, foot-loose after World War I adventures, decide to buy a Ford Model T in Paris and drive it to Albania. Their journal was transformed into the book Travels With Zenobia. Here in Part 2 this intrepid pair have two police encounters along the way. Luckily, they get away with it: After all, they were mere zonyas.

Rose, Troub, and Yvonne, Paris. It was on August 20, 1926, the pair started for Albania. Helen, nicknamed Troub as in “Trouble,” had already been there. It would be Rose’s first visit.

Editor William Holtz writes, “Temperamentally, they complemented each other well. Troub was naturally fearless; intelligent and clear-minded but essentially unreflective, she moved through life with seldom a backward glance…. Rose, by contrast, was intensely introspective, a self-conscious woman whose accomplishments were often a victory of will over inner doubts.” 

With them on the adventure was Yvonne, their French maid, who reluctantly agreed to go, at least in part to see her husband (working as a masseur in a spa town along the way).

Above, countries visited. Below, a sketch by Rose of a house planned for Albania. These and the following image from Travels With Zenobia.

Zenobia’s Brass ID. Rose wrote in her diary August 2, 1926, “WE HAVE THE FORD. And I had hysterics when they told me.”

Later, the pair had their first of several encounters with the police, this time while still in Paris: “No one had told us about the brass plate,” Rose wrote.

Rose explained, “The car must have a brass plate, measuring precisely this by that (about 4 x 6 1/2 inches), hand-engraved with the owner’s full name and address, and attached to the instrument board by four brass screws of certain dimensions, through four holes of certain dimensions, the hole in each corner of the brass plate.” 

“My friend wilted on the wheel. ‘It’s too much,’ she said. ‘Let’s chuck it all and go by train.’ ” Rose tried charm: “We are Americans, strangers to beautiful France…,” but to no avail. 

Then, ” ‘In all confidence, gentlemen,’ we said, ‘we leave this problem in your hands.’ We hailed a taxi and went home.” 

“Mysteriously next day the car was in the salesroom. In two weeks the brass plate was beautifully hand-engraved. Exactly two months after we had paid for the car, we were able to drive it.”

An interpretation of a typical Italian road sign. “ ‘Sempre diritto,’ locals reply.” 

Adventures Galore for the “Zonyas.” Months later, this time arrested by Albanian police, Rose wrote, “This is nice, I think; we have now been arrested in almost every country we’ve ever been in.”

She recalled the States, for speeding. France, for Zenobia’s ID plate. “Italy, for crossing a railroad crossing; I in Russia, for taking a photograph, and then later for being a bull movement on the Baku money-exchange and running the price of the American dollar from 29,000,000 rubles to 31,000,000 rubles. And now in Albania.” 

I won’t spoil your reading fun by describing the offense, only to relate that the Albanian cop finally says, “It is well known that what the American zonya wishes to do she does…”

My pristine copy of Travels With Zenobia: Paris to Albania by Model T Ford isn’t for sale. But I’ve seen other copies on the Internet. Enjoy. ds 

© Dennis Simanaitis,, 2021 

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