Simanaitis Says

On cars, old, new and future; science & technology; vintage airplanes, computer flight simulation of them; Sherlockiana; our English language; travel; and other stuff


YOU MAY REMEMBER Josephine Tozier and her charming tale of Angela Victoria, the fictional American ex-pat enjoying A Spring Fortnight in France, described here at SimanaitisSays earlier this year. It was 1907, Angela was approaching middle age, had passed a good slice of her life in France, and enjoyed “motor cars put on full speed.” 

Josephine Tozier also composed The Travelers’ Handbook: A Manual for Transatlantic Tourists. Written in 1905, it described transatlantic travel by ocean liner, but, curiously, not the glamorous Astaire/Rogers version of a later generation. Here, in Parts 1 and 2 today and tomorrow, are tidbits gleaned from Tozier’s handbook.

The Travelers’ Handbook: A Manual for Transatlantic Tourists, compiled by Josephine Tozier, Funk & Wagnalls, 1905; reproduced by Forgotten Books, 2018.

“This book,” its modern publisher writes, “is a reproduction of an important historical work. Forgotten Books uses state-of-the-art technology to digitally reconstruct the work, preserving the original format whilst repairing imperfections present in the aged copy. In rare cases, an imperfection in the original, such as blemish or missing page, may be replicated in our edition. We do, however, repair the vast majority of imperfections successfully; any imperfections that remain are intentionally kept to preserve the state of such historical works.” 

The reproduction shows prior ownership by the Boston-Library Society as well as Harvard University Library documentation Mar 5 1941. The book includes an Appendix of English, French, German, Italian, Dutch, and Egyptian coins. (“It was the intention of the publishers to give an illustration of each of the following coins, but the law against counterfeiting forbids their reproduction, either by photograph or line drawings, except for dealers and catalogs.”  There’s also a page and a half of vintage advertisements. 

Steamship Etiquette. My admittedly scant knowledge of steamship etiquette is based on Thirties movies and on the recollections of friends Rob and Betty Walker. (Visiting the Queen Mary on display in Long Beach, Rob once pointed out their “usual” first-class stateroom.)  

By contrast, Tozier spoke of evidently less posh travel arrangements: “A large number of those who yearly cross the ocean pass the eight or ten days of crossing with a complete stranger, and that in a room smaller than is ever occupied by a single individual on land.”

She continued, “The fact that a stateroom is frequently shared by two persons utterly unknown to one another is not an altogether pleasant circumstance. With some rare exceptions such individuals do try their very best not to annoy one another even in the slightest matters during their forced companionship. To be pleasant, polite, amiable, and agreeable with a room-mate thrust upon one by circumstances does not at all mean that it is necessary to strike up a foolish intimacy or a friendship which it would be injudicious to continue on land.” 

Image from Travelers’ Handbook.

Shipboard Attire. Tozier suggested, “A simple suit of the thickness befitting the season is what a gentleman wears on shipboard. All loud checks which belong to the race-course and fancy shirts are entirely out of place…. A well-dressed man wears on his head either an English cloth cap or a plain yachting cap.”

For ladies, she advised “The canvas hold-all is another valuable article of luggage which can be purchased now in any large department store…. It will contain the steamer-rugs, the pillows, the raincoat, extra jacket with the soft hat or Tam-o’-Shanter (no self-respecting woman now wears a ‘yachting cap’) and a woolen wrap of some wide, comfortable shape made to conceal all discrepancies in time of sore need and seasickness.” 

Seasickness. Tozier wrote, “We could give many suggestions, each one springing from individual experience of transatlantic travelers, and fill this book with good advice, none of which might help the reader.” She then lists several, including “an opium plaster on the pit of the stomach, plenty of iced champagne, a small drink of true Schiedam gin, turning the back to the sea when sitting on deck.”

Why the gin’s back should be turned from the sea evades me, or perhaps I’m missing something in grammatical construction. By the way, describes Schiedam as “the gin capital of the Netherlands.”

Tomorrow in Part 2, having managed the transatlantic crossing, Josephine Tozier and we mix it up with foreigners. ds 

© Dennis Simanaitis,, 2022 

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