Thoughts on the Cover of My New Book: Clara’s Journal

Clara’s Journal: And the Story of Two Pandemics explores a year in the life of Clara Mae Horen, an 18-year-old living in Cresbard, South Dakota, in 1918, at the beginning of one of the world’s deadliest pandemics. And Clara is my grandaunt (the sister of my paternal grandfather)!

One of the pleasures of studying Clara’s journal has been learning how different life was 100 years ago, but maybe even more importantly, another has been discovering the similarities we have with a 1918 teenager and with a 1918 country coping with a pandemic.

Now how to convey that in a cover?

The manuscript was complete, finally. And the title had been secured. But I still needed a cover photo. My first thought was to use one of my own photos and then avoid having to obtain copyright permission. I had one in mind and was reasonably pleased with how it looked in the mockup. 

But it didn’t adequately convey the content of the book. And none of my other photos did either.

A possible cover: my dad and his brother Bob (plus their grandnephew and grandniece) on Main St. in Cresbard, the setting of Clara’s Journal and where they both grew up

So began my search. Eventually, I found the photo I wanted, and after researching the complicated copyright laws, it appeared that this photo was still under a copyright. Ugh.

The cover photo I chose is of a group of friends in their twenties and was taken at the Mill Valley train station in Northern California, on November 3, 1918. It is part of the Lucretia Little History Room collection at the Mill Valley Library, in Mill Valley, California, just north of San Francisco across the Golden Gate Bridge.

I promptly emailed the library but never received a response. I then found a notation on a website that the rights are owned by the Annual Dipsea Race, whatever that was, I thought. I wasn’t even sure if I could pronounce it. A quick search gave me a contact there, and I sent an email requesting permission to use the photo.

Within 24 hours, I was on the phone with Dipsea Race Director Chris Knez. He was fairly quick to grant permission to use the photo, but he also wanted to share the story behind the masked group of friends. I was more than happy to listen!

The photo is part of a collection donated by the Coyne family to the Annual Dipsea Race, a race that began in 1905, making it the oldest trail race in the country. The trailhead is in Mill Valley, and then it winds itself through Muir Woods and Mt. Tamalpais State Park, before ending at the Pacific Ocean, at what is now called Stinson Beach (named Willow Camp at the time).

The photographer, Raymond Coyne, worked at Fort Mason as a marine draftsman. Fort Mason has an interesting history. The fort sat on land owned by Captain John C. Fremont, who is credited with the conquest in 1846 of the land that is now San Francisco, and four other families. But President Lincoln seized the land without payment in 1863, razing Fremont’s home. All parties sued the government without success. The four families soon gave up, but the Fremont descendants were still suing, and losing, all the way until 1968.

Above is a Ray Coyne photo from one of their frequent trips to the beach. I love the clothing in the photo of the group of friends at the Big Lagoon, now Muir Beach: ties and dresses. Ray’s write up on the photo states:

This was our windy day at the Big Lagoon, so we had to build a barricade to protect the hot dogs from being filled with sand. After cleaning up our supply of grub, we moved up the canyon a little way and started a baseball game in a hay field. Notice the beauty chorus in the picture.

The Shuteye News

As for the Dipsea Race, here’s a little bit of history: 

First run in 1905, the Dipsea is the oldest trail race in America. The scenic 7.4 mile course from Mill Valley to Stinson Beach is considered to be one of the most beautiful courses in the world. The stairs and steep trails make it a grueling and treacherous race. 

One summer day in 1904, several members of San Francisco’s venerable Olympic Club [who called themselves the Dipsea Indians] set off for the Dipsea Inn, which had just opened on the Pacific Ocean sand spit now called Seadrift.

They took the ferry to Sausalito, then the train to their starting point, the depot in Mill Valley. A wager was made as to who could make it to the Inn first. The challenge proved so exciting that Club members decided to make an annual race of it.

The first Dipsea was held on a rainy November 19, 1905. More than 100 runners registered for what the Examiner proclaimed as “the greatest cross-country run that was ever held in this or any other country.  

The Dipsea Race website

The friends in Raymond’s photos routinely caught the ferry from Oakland to Sausalito and then took the train to Mill Valley, the station where the cover photo was taken. They called themselves the “Hash and Eggers,” thanks to the meal they enjoyed together while camping and exploring the Dipsea trails and the beach.

The Hash and Eggers also wrote and distributed – to the over fifty friends who more officially called themselves members of the Ancient Order of the Shuteye –The Shuteye News, a collection of stories and photos from their adventures.

Ray, his brother Lynus and sister Miriam, as well as his group of friends competed in the Dipsea Race around this time, and many of Ray’s photos in the collection are from the race trail. Ray’s son Lloyd and his wife stumbled upon the over 500 negatives taken by his father from 1918 to 1922 when they were doing “some serious house cleaning” and promptly donated them to the Dipsea Race.

One of the elements of my book that I most enjoyed researching was the background of the women Clara’s mentions in her journal. So in that spirit, I will address the women of the group on the cover photo.

While the first official Dipsea Race occurred in 1905, the women’s race wasn’t inaugurated until April 21, 1918, seven months before the cover photo was taken. And the male Hash and Eggers joined huge crowds and cheered on their women friends at that first women’s race! I should note that the race was not officially called a “race.” It “was called a ‘hike’ to escape an [Amateur Athletic Union] AAU ban of women competing in long distance races.

Teresa Guy
Adele Guy

Sisters Teresa (number 112) and Adele Guy (number 146) not only were active members of the Ancient Order of the Shuteye (Ray’s collection includes many photos of both of them) but both raced in on April 21st. 

In The Shuteye News, the caption under the photo of Teresa, on the left, is as follows: “Miss Teresa Guy deserves the credit for being the first of the A. O. S. E. members to finish in the Girls’ Dipsea Race, April 21, 1918. Her time was one hour and forty minutes.” And under the photo of her sister Adele, on the right, is the caption: “Although Adele danced half the previous evening away with the Dipsea Indians, she was able to run in the race. Her time was – – – – (deleted by censor) – but she arrived in time for lunch.”

Edith Hickman holding the 1st place trophy for the 1st Dipsea Woman’s Hike April 21, 1918

The winner of that first women’s race was Edith Hickman, whose time was one hour, 18 minutes, and 48 seconds. According to the Dipsea Race website, “Edith had an undeniable and determined spirit about her. She was an experienced sailor and avid photographer. She herded cattle on horseback, and was an accomplished fisherman who often, while on yearly visits to Hawaii, caught moray eels then skinned and ate them, claiming they tasted like chicken.”

Edith was a superb athlete, excelling especially in swimming. In fact, she won second place in one of the first Golden Gate Swim competitions across the San Francisco Bay. Both the Golden Gate Swim for women and the Dipsea Women’s Hike were the creation of George James, an Olympic Club member in San Francisco. James wrote in the April 1918 issue of the Olympian, the Olympic Club’s monthly magazine, 

When I first originated the Golden Gate Swim for women I was told that it was impossible, as a woman could not stand the exertion. When I suggested the Cross County Hike I met with considerable opposition – but from my own observation, I believe that a woman, equally trained, and in the same physical condition as a man, is more game, more tenacious, and has greater endurance.

The History of the Woman’s Dipsea Hike

The race, or rather the “hike,” attracted 148 entries. By 1920, 619 women entered and over 5,000 spectators gathered at the finish line, according to the Dipsea Race. At the time, Sportswriter Frank P. Noon noted, “It also proved that girls have the same do or die spirit that men have when it comes to battling for athletic supremacy.”

Finish line of the First Dipsea Women’s Hike on April 21, 1918

Sadly, the women’s “hike” was short lived. After 1922, critics achieved their goal of ending it, something that became much easier once its biggest supporter, George James, became ill and died.

According to the Dipsea Race website,

though it had more entrants than the men’s Dipsea Race at the time, the Women’s Dipsea Hike was not contested after 1922, bowing to outside pressures. Churches believed women competing in long distance races was immoral and doctors believed the races were damaging the women’s reproductive systems.

Dipsea Race

Although women were again allowed to race again in 1950, it wasn’t until 1971 when the woman’s race was finally reinstated.

Judging from the photos and The Shuteye News, this group of friends clearly had tons of fun! The write up on the above photo titled “Coronation of Cleopatra the Third” provides great evidence of that:

During the afternoon we took part in many diversities prominent among them being posing for pictures. The above shows Queen Cleopatra the Third immediately after her coronation as royal pitcher bearer of the Ancient Order of Shuteyes.

Other pastimes enjoyed by the gang before leaving for home were swimming, “The Battle of Waterloo” in which we all took a free for all part in, singers by the famous butchers of melody, the “Hash and Egg Quartette.” Mac’s demonstration of starting a Ford imbedded in the sand near the camp.

After an enjoyable day we went home via the West Point Stage Road and then over the Dipsea Trail to the Dutchman’s where we stopped to trip “a few” to the music provided by Hester Kearns and Mary Rooney. Then came the big struggle of “over the top.”

We caught the famous “9:40” Hash and Egg Express bound for home and after holding our usual old time concert on the boat we went home different ways together.

The Shuteye News

And I can’t help but share the photo of the group in their 1918 bathing suits, captioned “Sons and Daughters of Neptune.” To see all of Ray Coyne’s photos, click HERE for the entire collection.

The Annual Dipsea Race is a nonprofit organization, and I let Chris know that I would promote their organization. He let me know that the Dipsea Race has plans to build a proper bridge over a creek on the trail where currently a plank of wood has served as the crossing for racers. So if you feel so inclined, you can make a tax-deductible donation to aid in the building of the bridge by contacting the Dipsea Race HERE

In the meantime, I can’t wait to send one of the first copies of the book, autographed of course, to Lloyd, the 90-year-old son of photographer Ray!

An artist’s rendering of the proposed bridge on the Dipsea trail

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