Sunday, 28 January 2018

lady driver

Via the sub-reddit of the same name, today we learned about the intrepid Canadian adventurer who gave herself the appropriate travelling credentials as Aloha Wanderwell. Her family devotedly followed her father as he went off to combat in Ypres in World War I and remained there after he was killed in action. The mother, hoping to turn her daughter from her unladylike ways sent Idris (her given name) off to a series of boarding schools in Belgium and then in Nice—but to little avail. Still a teenager, she heard of an around the world endurance automotive race, a stunt to prove the reliability of the Ford line of vehicles, and met with its organizer a “Captain” Walter Wanderwell (an individual of Polish extraction called Valerian Johannes Pieczynski who was imprisoned during the during of the war under suspicion of being a German spy) to say she wanted to join the exposition.
Rather presumptively, she took the name Wanderwell with the stage-name Aloha, despite the fact that the captain was still married to his first wife Nell (no clear indication that she inspired the Perils of Penelope Pitstop) and became part of the crew in 1922. Learning to operate all manner of conveyance including a seaplane and documenting all the adventures across five continents and through over forty countries on sixty canisters of nitrate film, the team spent three years circumnavigating the globe, earning her the title of the “First Female to Drive Around the World,” doubtless an excellent superlative to have and well-earned but it did rather miss out on the other laudable work she performed as a mechanic, a translator, navigator and film-maker, which includes a lot of unique and rare footage. While on the South American leg of their journey in 1931, the Wanderwells travelled to Brazil and became the first Westerners to contact Borobo tribe while on their main, auxillary mission to track down Colonel Percival Fawcett missing on his own hunt for the legendary Lost City of Z. The Wanderwells failed to find that expedition and picked up a mutineer of their own in the process who murdered the captain once they arrived back in Long Beach, California where they had sent up home. Undaunted, Aloha recovered and re-married, eventually touring (under her own power) over eighty countries and driving over a half a million miles, dying surely restlessly at age 89 in 1996.