Compiled by Daniel Zazove & Ramon Campos.

In 1914 Mr. and Mrs. George S. Parker, accompanied by their daughter Virginia and their son Kenneth, traveled to many foreign countries. George’s narrative, written in jargon of that time, is a most thrilling and interesting travelogue.

George Parker planned this trip with his well-known spirit Renaissance; looking for the enjoyment of travel, to experience new cultures, to expand business in new markets, and perhaps even some adventure.

During this sojourn he made arrangements so that trade in Great Britain would thereafter be supplied directly through the Parker Pen Co., Limited of London, thereby considerably reducing long delays in delivery. He visited Christian Olsen, Parker Pen’s representative for Denmark, Norway, and Sweden and met with many of its dealers. He also arranged Parker Pen’s representation in Cairo, Egypt. Upon his return, we see these three new agencies, London, Copenhagen, and Cairo at the bottom of Parker’s advertisements.

Mr. Parker’s left impressions account of this ten weeks long journey allows us, a hundred years later, to relive the trip with him.

“The Madeira Islands were the first place of Interest visited by them. The capital, Funchal, is located on a volcanic island. The carving of wood and getting people’s money is the main occupation of the spot. Some of the most beautiful flowers in the world grow on this secluded piece of land. The party arrived on these islands on March 13, Sunday, and while there visited the church, which by the way is a strong Catholic community. Women were clad in peculiar-colored robes, their heads being covered with colored handkerchiefs.

On Monday, the 14th, the steamer arrived at Gibraltar, the huge rock owned by England, defying any portion in the world. The rock stands about 3,000 feet high, and the city of Gibraltar contains about 2,000 people. Looking through a strong glass a person can see the port holes in the rock, with cannons ready to be fired by the English at an enemy. The port is a large military place, containing hundreds of secret passageways, with plenty of provisions in the garrison to last for a seven-year siege. There are dry docks in the distance, and dreadnoughts in the harbor, that are kept steamed up all the time, ready to be put into actual service.

Algiers, the capital of Algeria, a Moorish country bordering the northern coast of Africa, was next visited. The people living in this wonderful city, are perhaps the most dignified looking set in the world. They wear white turbans on their heads, and white robes on their bodies. Until one looks at their bare feet, which way they travel about extensively, they are thought to be very prominent men. Most of the people living in this city are beggars. Everything is open, and the people are filthy. While in this city, Mr. Parker made the acquaintance of Mr. Vale, a former U.S. paymaster in the navy, and a man who knew well this city. The beggars will come running after a traveler asking for aid, with eyes bulged out, sometimes blind, and if the traveler knows the Moorish language, he can get rid of the pests easily by scaring them.

Monte Carlo, a city in the Principality of Monaco, in the extreme southeastern corner of France, proved to be a sensational visit, because of the vice going on within the city. In this city is a large Casino, where grand opera and gambling form the chief pastime. No person under 22 years of age can enter this Casino if it is known. A green ticket is first obtained for entering. This ticket must then be punched by inspectors. It is surprising to note the amount of gambling going on here at any time. There is always somebody waiting to get a place at one of the tables. It is also surprising to note that most of the gamblers are elderly women between the ages of fifty and seventy. Thousands of dollars pass hands every minute. Monaco is run by an absolute ruler and is a country by itself.

An interesting and antique city, that followed on the trip to Egypt, is Genoa, Italy, the birthplace of Christopher Columbus. There is a cemetery in this city that contains more than 600,000 dead. This is a Catholic burying ground and has thousands of the most beautiful tombstones and monuments in the universe.

From Genoa, the party journeyed to Naples, where his son, Kenneth, who was studying languages in Germany, met them, and prepared to take the extended trip into Egypt. Naples is considered one of the greatest immortal cities on the eastern continent. A great menace to the city is Mont Vesuvius, from whose tap smoke is being poured out in large masses, and almost uniformly, Solfatara, another crater at the other end of the city, is the most interesting, and prettiest of the two volcanos. Within the center of this crater, the people of Naples take their hot water baths. Mr. Parker enjoyed a Roman bath on the side of this crater during his stay in Naples. The customs house in this city is the most unusual place to receive your luggage. The youths hired to transfer baggage, will grab your suitcase trunk, or whatever it may be, and lift it upon his shoulder, and run in the custom horse with it. Then You must tip the boy, perhaps several times, before obtaining your luggage. Just outside the city is the St. Paul’s Arch, where the Great Appian Way begins its course toward Rome.

Egypt. The best part of the entire trip was made in Egypt, the land of mystery. the party first passed through the straits of Messina, which place was the scene of several eruptions, a few weeks ago. In the distance is Mount Etna, pouring forth a huge volume of lava constantly and displacing it many miles away. After a three days trip, they landed at Cairo, the northern port of Egypt. Alexandria was first to notice, but the city is now of so little importance that the party passed into Cairo, for a short stay. Cairo is a modern city in the entire of Egypt that is governed capably by the English. Cairo has many street cars and leads many of the Mediterranean seaports in being an up-to-date spot.

While in the Orient, Mr. Parker took some interesting photographs of Egyptian life in historic settings, from which Parker Pen Co. made up handsome posters in many colors. These exotic posters were, in their time, strikingly beautiful for rooms and dens. Parker sent gratis the set of three on receipt of 10 cents to cover postage and packing.

Martha Parker posing with her children Virginia and Kenneth. In the background, the pyramids of the pharaohs Khafre and Khufu with George behind the camera. Giza Necropolis, 18 km. from Cairo.

«Going into the native quarters of Cairo, you find narrow streets, perhaps eight feet wide. The stores are most beautiful, and many of them carry a large amount of stock. One jewelry firm, with the best diamonds, boasts of carrying a stock worth a million dollars.

Mr. Parker and his family were fortunate to receive an invitation to one of the wealthy Arab homes for lunch. Mr. Parker was told, however, by the Arab father, that he must dine as they dined. This the Parker family agreed to, and soon after were ushered into a strange home, in a strange land, where no English was spoken other than by the head of the house. They were taken into the dining room and seated around a small table in the center of the room. Waiters brought in an immense tray, with the first course upon it. Instead of receiving a very light lunch of peculiar food, which was expected, a full seven-course meal was served. Just how the visitors were going to eat off a large piece of roast beef, chicken, and reed birds, which constituted the first course, was a mystery to them. They could find no knives or forks and be told that they must use their hands. The head of the Arab family told them that God had given them hands to eat with, and not knives and forks. They managed to get away with the luncheon and enjoyed it very much. It was a real experience. Between every course, two waiters entered one carrying a peculiar pitcher with water, and the other a bowl. Every person seated is allowed to wash their hands. This act was gone through seven times during the noon hour. The lunch lasted for over an hour and a half.

Following the invitation to lunch, they joined another tourist party of four, and a camp in the desert for several days was experienced. The party was accompanied by mules, donkeys, tents, and a dozen Arabs. They traveled directly to a spot located three miles from the great Giza pyramids. In the evening the Arabs, who were the cooks, guards, and attendants, displayed some very clever dancing, besides engaging in games and playing their Arabian music for the party. Applause would force them to an encore, and the evenings were passed in this manner while camping on the sand under the canopy of the beautiful sky and stars set as diamonds in blue steel. «It is one of the most wonderful scenes,” said Mr. Parker.

On the party’s second day in the desert, a sandstorm was experienced. Such a storm is somewhat disagreeable, but little danger is apt to result if care is taken. When the storm was noticed in the distance, the Arabs ran towards the tents, fastened them more securely, and then stretched themselves flat on the ground. The storm soon passed and could be seen traveling for miles in the distance.«

The Giza pyramids are huge masses of rock, laid more perfectly than any kind of masonry today. Every stone match like glass. The largest of the three is 451 feet high, and it is said that 100,000 men worked for twenty years erecting it.

The party rode camels on the third day for twelve miles to the tombs of the Sacred Bulls. These tombs are underneath the surface of the desert, hundreds of feet. An inclined plane, cut out of solid rock is cut underground, and at the end of the narrow passageway, the party was ushered into a room, cut out of stone, and large size. There are twenty-four of these rooms adjoining each other, with huge sarcophaguses in the center of each room, said to cover the remains of the sacred bulls. These rooms are declared to be 3,590 years old.

Excavating is one of the big happenings in the desert today. One group of two hundred men was engaged in scientific research near the pyramids and was successful in finding hundreds of pieces of old carvings and tablets.

The party left their desert trip after several days and went to Luxor, a small city five hundred miles to the South. They found little of interest here and journeyed to Karnak, where many obelisks were noticeable. Thebes was next visited. This city is on the other side of the Nile and is termed the city of the dead. Here much excavating is going on. The same sort of incline plane to rooms underground are found here, but instead of bulls being buried, the remains of dead kings, dating back many centuries, are said to have been placed here with mummies. The party visited these tombs. After a short stay, the party took the steamer, which took them back to Europe.

After their return to Europe, Rome and several Italian cities were visited. Milan and a journey through the Swiss Alps, with the magnificent views of the scenery that has made this country famous the world over. In Rome, they met Mrs. M. G. Jeffris and Miss Helen Jeffris and traveled with them from Rome to Florence.

After a short stay in Germany, Mr. Parker and Kenneth went to Copenhagen, Denmark, meanwhile Mrs. Parker and daughter remained in Stuttgart where Mr. and Mrs. John Gollner, former Janesville residents, reside, and where Kenneth Parker has spent the past year in the study.

Mr. Parker’s story of his journey through Egypt is most intensely interesting. He went places and saw sights not usually visited by travelers. On one of his journeys, he found that his guide was a member of the Masonic order and in fact found traces of masonic symbols on some of the ruins, showing the age of this wonderful brotherhood.

Mrs. Parker and her daughter would remain abroad for some weeks, going to Paris to spend some weeks with Kenneth who will take up studies there before returning to this country.”

George arrived in New York, on board the ship Oceanic, on May 20, 1914. Martha and Virginia sailed from Europe for America on July 26. Kenneth remained in Europe six months longer.


1914 Parker Oriental poster showing camels and pyramids. 8 colors, size 23x34 inches.

Which Parker marketed like this: «This beautiful Oriental Poster we have waiting for you. It is 23×34 inches in beautiful colors. Did you know the pyramids of Giza are the largest in the world? Located just a few miles out of Cairo, Egypt, just on the edge of the Sahara Desert. The largest pyramid is so big as to be almost unbelievable. It is said to cover 13 acres. Is 451 feet high and is all made of immense cut stone, for the most part about 4×6 feet. Built thousands of years ago. Yet today its construction is one of the engineering marvels of the age.

You will find the poster not only a fine advertisement — but a real work of art. By the way, it shows the sphinx and its relative location to the pyramid. The poster is drawn from a photograph taken by the writer when in Egypt. The camels and driver are taken directly from a photo.»