Working my way through the best books about cross country travel, I’ve started one about a trip from New York to Alabama: The Cruise of the Rolling Junk by F. Scott Fitzgerald. At first, I thought Junk referred to the state of the car, or the fact that it was filled with junk, but after reading a review, realized that Fitzgerald meant the ancient Chinese sailing ship called a junk.
In 1920, just months after they were married, Scott and Zelda set off from their home in Connecticut to find biscuits and peaches in her home of Alabama. They set out with very little money and an unreliable car (so the title really could be referring to the car.) The car was a used 1918 Marmon, built by the Marmon Motor Car Company of Indianapolis. The company operated from 1902 to 1933, and was known for building both touring cars and racing cars.
Two years after this trip, in need of money, as always, Fitzgerald wrote about the journey, hoping to sell it as a three-part journal to the Post. He was turned down, and tried a few other avenues, finally selling it for only $300 to Motor Magazine.
Fitzgerald’s writing is beautifully descriptive, and I can almost see the areas he and Zelda are driving through. Their escapades surely inspired some of his later writings. It is a short book, easily read in an hour or two, perhaps while you are riding shotgun on a future road trip.
We haven’t taken a similar trip from Northeast to Southeast, but we did do two different road trips in 2012, during which we put over 6,000 miles on our car in two months. The first was from Minnesota to Florida and back, the second from Minnesota to Arizona and back.