Blend, Annie May, 1906-1995
- Existence: 1906 - 1995
Annie May “Maisie” Blend was born on April 18, 1906 in Derbyshire, England. She and her family moved to the United States in 1927 and she eventually married her husband Neil H. Blend, presiding in San Francisco, California.
In April of 1938, Blend set out on a 7-month trip across Europe, cycling around various locations there. Blend’s trip began with a bus trip from San Francisco on April 3rd, arriving at New York on April 12th. She spent a few weeks with her sister Ivy, visiting Broadway, the Met Museum, and the Museum of Natural History. On April 27th, she left for England, embarking on the British Anchor Line’s T.S.S. Transylvania. Upon arriving in Glasgow on May 7th, Blend traveled to South Yorkshire where she visited her relatives and traveled around Rotherham, Mexborough, Dinnington, Whitwell, and the English countryside. She also visited her childhood home, the church her parents were married in, and the graveyard in which her grandparents were buried. Some of the attractions she saw were of the Roche Abbey, Big Ben, Pevensey Castle, Herstmonceux, Lewes Castle, Boatswain’s tomb, Cheddar Caves, and Stonehenge. On June 16th, Blend bought a Raleigh bicycle in Dinnington for $37.50; she subsequently used this bicycle to cycle around the country. After joining a Cyclists’ Touring Club in London, she later met Ruth, a 20 year old girl, who was also from New York. The pair then decided to cycle around together through England: They took cycle trips to Sherwood Forest, Croydon, Brighton, Cotswolds, Stratford, and many other towns. When cycling was not a viable option, they hitchhiked, bussed, or took the train. As part of the Cyclists’ Touring Club, they were able to rest at the various houses of the club, have tea, and stay the night. On August 5th, the pair separated in London: Ruth traveled to Antwerp while Blend traveled to West Wickham; they agreed to meet again in Bruxelles. After receiving her French and German visas, Blend traveled to Paris on August 20th. There, they saw Notre Dame, Pantheon, Louvre, Eiffel Tower, and the Palace of Versailles. While Ruth initially had not intended to visit Germany, she changed her mind, accompanying Blend to Germany on August 25th. In Germany, they saw the Luther Monument, Gutenberg Bible and Museum, and Beethoven’s birthplace.
The pair departed from Germany on September 2nd, Blend arrived at Holland the next day by cycling and met Ruth who took the train. After spending about a week in Holland, they passed through Antwerp, Belgium and returned back to London by way of the English Channel. In London, Blend sent her bicycle to a repair shop and explored more of the city as well as visited her relatives again. Sometime during her stay there, Blend lost her bicycle; for obvious reasons she was heartbroken and cried tears for her “beloved cycle… a faithful servant and a constant companion.” While she wrote that she “…practically came to England just for the cycle,” in another letter she noted that “perhaps it is a small issue in the face of war.” In the last letter before Blend’s departure from Europe, she remarked that “London seems to be expecting war, gosh what excitement.” On October 1st, she departed England and started her voyage back to the U.S. on the T.S.S. Transylvania once again. By October 11th, Blend was back in the U.S.; she stayed with her sister Ivy in New York for a week after which she boarded a bus back to San Francisco. After nearly 7 months of traveling, Blend finally arrived in San Francisco on October 21, 1938. Annie May Blend died on July 15, 1995, in Santa Cruz, California.