The boys of Arendtsville Vocational High School had already seen so much during the summer of 1937. They had traveled across the United States, down to the bottom of the Grand Canyon, and upon an ocean to reach Alaska. It was almost too much to take in fully, and yet, their journey wasn’t complete.
From Vancouver, British Columbia, they climbed aboard a half-ton truck that they had specially outfitted to carry the 25 boys and their teacher, Edwin Rice.
“Most of the roads in British Columbia are dirt and not very good at that,” Rice wrote in a letter to The Gettysburg Times. “We were saturated with dust when we got to Asveyoos.”
They drove into Washington State where they watched the construction of the Grand Coulee Dam.
“Today it is one of the largest dams in the world, but then it was only about 50 feet high under construction,” Wayne Criswell said in the unpublished article, “The Journey of a Lifetime Summer 1937” about Criswell’s memories as told to James Wego.
The boys also stopped in Yellowstone National Park where they tried to take a swim in the hot springs. Criswell noted in the article, “a mistake, really hot!”
Whereas, their trip to the West Coast had followed a southern route across the country, their journey home took them along a northern route. They passed through the Dakotas, Minnesota, Wisconsin and Michigan. They crossed into Canada to travel to Niagara Falls and traveled south into the United States and over to Erie, Pennsylvania.
They returned home on August 3, having been gone for a little over six weeks.
“It was a fantastic trip, but it was good to see little, but beautiful Arendtsville,” Criswell wrote. “I had enough of travel for awhile.”
They had visited two countries and 24 states and territories as they traveled more than 9,000 miles. It truly was the adventure of a lifetime.
Criswell also recognized that it wouldn’t have happened it not for Rice, a teacher who went beyond the call. “Arendtsville High School and our group of students were lucky to have a teacher like Professor Rice,” Criswell said. “One who was interested and dedicated to broadening the experience and interests of so many young people. We all recognized, no doubt much later, just how much effort and hard work that he had expended to give us the very special experience and how much it had contributed to our knowledge and awareness of the world around us.”