On the Go, 1938

Charles Ford, Tourists at Zion National Park, 1938. Southern Utah University

What trips have you given up this summer?  I had two planned, one to see my daughter in the Boston area and another to visit an old friend in England.  As a financially stable woman nearing 70, I am in what sociologists of aging call the “go go years.” From ages 65 to 75, relatively good health makes travel attractive. This is followed by the “go slow” years from 75 to 85, ending with the “no go” years beyond that.  Like everything else, the corona virus has redefined these categories.  We are all “no go” for now.

Lest you think that oldster tourism was a product of post-World War Two prosperity, I offer you this 1938 photo of visitors to Zion National Park in Utah.  It is part of a series of photos taken of Western national parks by one Charles Ford.  Were they for sale, I wonder, or an effort by the parks to document their services?

As you can see, many of these visitors are getting up in years.  By the looks of them, at least five women in the front are well into their sixties.  Even if I couldn’t see their faces, I could probably guess who was older just by their clothes. Their outfits are darker and more formal than those of younger tourists.  In fact, the older women do not seem to have made any adjustment to their surroundings, looking like they might have been plucked off a city street.  Lace collars are well represented.  At first I wondered how they made it around the park in their sensible street shoes, but in some photos a bus is visible.

Don’t you wonder what they made of the bold young woman in jodhpurs out in front?

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4 Responses to On the Go, 1938

  1. Katrina B says:

    Amazing! I haven’t been to Zion, but from my experience hiking around other parks in the desert, heat, dust, and uneven trails are unavoidable. I picture a lot of dirty laundry and sore feet for these ladies when they were done with their visit.

  2. Nann says:

    I like the definitions of the decades. I’m in the go-go group, too, and I’m getting restive about being grounded. My observation about the jodhpurs is how unflattering they are!

  3. JS says:

    The “Go-Go Years” makes me think of a famous book about 1960s Wall Street.


    Sad how everything we do has a label.

  4. Angela says:

    I was going to fly back home (about 1600 miles away), see my siblings, pick up items that can’t be mailed left over from when my father passed away, and do a cross-country driving trip with my daughter. In April. Yep, that didn’t happen. Sigh….

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