Thursday, April 16, 2009

The Churchill Series - Apr. 16, 2009

(One of a series of weekday posts about the life of Winston S. Churchill.)

In late September, 1929 Churchill, along with his son, Randolph, his brother, Jack, and Jack’s son, Johnny, left California on the last leg of a three-month trip that had taken them across Canada and down the West coast to California. Ahead of them was the last leg of their trip: a train journey to New York and a visit there and along parts of the East coast before sailing home to England.

The party traveled as far as Chicago in the private rail car of Charles Schwab, President of Bethlehem Steel Company. Churchill and Schwab had met during WWI when Churchill was First Lord of the Admiralty and Schwab’s company made submarines for the Royal Navy.

One of the Churchill's first stops along the way was at the Grand Canyon where Churchill had arranged for their car to be parked by the canyon's South rim. This allowed the party to stay twenty-four hours at the canyon before hitching the car to a Chicago-bound train the following day. Thus Churchill and his party had plenty of time to explore the canyon.

There’s something else I can’t document but don’t doubt helps explain the twenty-four hour stay at the canyon. I believe Churchill, by 1929 a skilled amateur painter extraordinarily sensitive to color, wanted to see the canyon’s varied rock and sand strata change hues, even colors, as the sun and moon played on them.

Churchill later wrote Clementine a description of the canyon’s great depth and colors which he said could be “scarcely exaggerated.”

From the Grand Canyon the party continued its journey through the Rockies and across the plains. For most of the trip, Churchill worked on newspaper and magazine articles.

Tomorrow, Churchill gives a speech in Chicago, changes trains, and heads for New York.

Martin Gilbert,
Churchill and America (pgs. 118-119)