Do You Remember

The Woolf family walked from Kansas City, Missouri to New York City entering the city at Van Cortlandt Park here in the Bronx on August 15, 1910.

Not long ago the postcard pictured here was offered on eBay and Tom Vasti, the vice pesident of the East Bronx History Forum and a retired police officer, wanted to know why there was a cop in the picture.  Another forum member and ex-policeman, Nick DiBrino, came up with the answer.  The cop was an official police escort for visiting celebrities. 

The celebrity status was bestowed upon an adventurous Missouri couple who walked from Kansas City, Missouri to New York City with their dog, Don, and their little bay mare, Dolly, who pulled the cart containing their tent, mattress and clothing.  Remember there was no highway system and far fewer bridges when they started out in May of 1910 so it was a long 2000 miles over many dirt roads and they weren’t always treated like celebrities.  Some towns welcomed them but others took them for vagrants and ran them out of town. 

Their trek took them through Missouri, Illinois, Indiana, Ohio, Pennsylvania and New York and by August 14th they found themselves in Yonkers, New York where they pitched their 7’ x 7’ tent for the last time before packing up and heading for City Hall in New York City where they were expected.  The couple awoke to a driving rain but they had encountered much worse on their long journey so they simply continued on their way crossing the border of New York City at 10 AM on August 15, 1910 at Van Cortlandt Park where they were met by an official police escort.  Mounted Police Officers Dugan and O’Brien with their mounts, Gadfly and Boxer, both welcomed them and accompanied them on the last leg of their journey. 

As word of their arrival spread, the crowds started gathering to welcome the stalwart couple and Broadway was lined with well-wishers.  By the time they reached Union Square, thousands of people had gathered and their progress was impeded.  The police had to push the crowds back to allow photographers to get their pictures. They were greeted and photographed by many along the way.  When they reached City Hall they were once again besieged by the crowds as about 1500 to 2000 people mobbed them, some wanting souvenirs.  Mrs. Woolf handed out hundreds of postcards of herself, her husband, dog and the little bay mare with the cart.  Once again the police had to intervene to get them safely into City Hall where they were greeted by acting Mayor Mitchell who officially welcomed them to New York City. 

Mrs. Woolf started the journey at 192 pounds and had trimmed down to 170 by the conclusion of the trip.  Mr. Woolf actually gained five pounds going from 135 to 140 pounds, most of which must have been leg muscle.  There was no mention of Don or Dolly gaining or losing any weight. One thing is for sure, the couple did harvest a lifetime of memories on their historic journey to New York City.

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