“Ford Tramps” by Seegar Swanson

Ford Tramps
by Seegar Swanson
Page Count: 339
Copyright: 1999
Who Should Read It: Anyone over 10 who likes history, antique cars, Americana or adventure

In 1924, two boys, barely out of high school, began the road trip of a lifetime, when they bought a 1919 Model “T” Ford and headed west, by way of Maine and Florida. Their goal was to touch the four corners of the U.S.

They left the comforts of home in Ashland, Wisconsin with enough provisions and money to start the trip, knowing they would have to take odd jobs along the way to finance their traveling expenses and survival. It’s really not fair to call it a trip. A road trip includes highways, air-conditioned cars, hotels with swimming pools, breakfast buffets, and as much pampering as one cares to purchase. To the Tramps, a night’s sleep was in their car and GPS navigation meant knowing north by the position of the sun, moon and stars. It’s pretty obvious that traveling in the 1920’s was radically different than today.

This book is in my success library because the late author, Seegar Swanson, is my grandfather and one of the boys in the story. I believe his story illustrates the American Spirit as well as any story I’ve read. Recently I’ve realized that the storyis chock full of leadership lessons.  For these reasons and more, “Gramps” is one of my heroes.

The story of how the book came to be is almost as amazing. With writing in his future plans, it was natural that Gramps would diligently keep a journal, take photographs and save artifacts and souvenirs. He also sent accounts of the adventure for publication in the hometown newspaper (some of which appear in the book.) Good thing! Gramps did not start writing “Ford Tramps” until he was about 90 years old! As a modest man, he didn’t talk a lot about himself or the adventure, even to his own family. Even though his memory remained sharp well into his 90’s, the historical record played a critical role in the preservation of this story. By the way, he typed every draft on a clackity old manual typewriter while keeping house and looking after grandma, who was bed-ridden.

Used copies can be found on Amazon and other online sources. A few new copies remain in the hands of family members.

— CC

Ford Tramps (book cover)
L-R: Seegar Swanson and Elliot Nystrom

Learn more at Amazon.com

See: How a Model “T” was built

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