'My Trip Abroad': How a Lost Journal from 1936 Became a Book

Jul 19, 2017

While it may be common to see images of friend’s trips abroad these days, if an American traveled to Europe in the 1930s it was probably considered “the trip of a lifetime.” That was certainly the case for Frank Daily Sr., a 30-year old school teacher from Chicago. Daily spent two months in Europe in 1936 - a time when the specter of war was beginning to loom.

Daily passed away some time ago and his trip would have been long forgotten, except that a two-volume journal of his journey survived and was discovered by his son, Milwaukee attorney Frank J. Daily. With the assistance of journalist and editor, Kurt Chandler, Daily published the journal as a travel memoir, My Trip Abroad: Europe in 1936.  

Daily says he decided to make his father's journal public because of its vivid descriptions of a point in time that he felt readers would be interested in. 

“Over time it was edited and re-edited and revised and upon its completion it occurred to me that this is something that covers so many topics of interest, particularly during this time in which we live, that it might be worth actually turning it into book form.”

What struck Daily the most while reading his father’s words was how easily he was able to place himself into the scenes his father describes. “He was standing by the railing observing all of this and as he was he said, 'There was a gentle wind blowing towards me, which seemed to carry with it the odor of the farms of France.'

“'And that also brought me back many years to my pleasant farm vacations in Illinois. A faint suggestion of red in the far western sky caused me to think of the Great War (World War I) and the fact that the wind I so enjoyed, had blown over the graves of millions of dead men buried in Europe. It also suggested the imminence of another great holocaust brought senselessly because of the selfishness of men and the unwarranted greed for power'," wrote Daily.

Many of the stories in the journal seem to contradict the man his son grew up with. The younger Daily says, “I think I know him a little bit better. He shows a side of social skills that have certainly exceeded my anticipation of a fairly strict disciplinarian. [His stories] were all things that I would not have imagined for my father and it makes me feel much better about him!”