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Travels

Philip Cummings was fortunate to enter college at a time when transatlantic steamship companies were anxious to expand their customer base. The introduction of strict immigration quotas in 1921 caused a rapid decline in steerage travel, leaving many ships with far more capacity than passengers. In response, major steamship lines began upgrading their steerage quarters to provide more spacious and comfortable accommodations, hoping to attract a new group of budget-conscious travelers—college students and teachers. Company agents worked with travel offices at various colleges and universities to actively promote a new type of low-cost passage, originally called Student Third Class and later Tourist Third Cabin, targeted for this audience.

Cummings made his first trip to Europe with a student group at age 19 and found he had a great affinity for life onboard ship, completing sixteen transatlantic crossings before he turned 29. During this ten-year period, he spent time living or touring in the following countries
:

Australia
Austria
Ceylon
Czechoslovakia
England
France
Germany
Hungary
Italy
Liechtenstein
Polynesia
Scotland
Spain
Sudan
Sweden
Switzerland

Even though the cost of travel to and around Europe was remarkably low in those days, it is unclear exactly how Cummings funded all his journeys. However, in 1935, he had the good fortune to be hired by the wealthy parents of one of his students to take their son on a 10-month all-expense-paid world tour, an adventure that both Cummings and his student thoroughly enjoyed.








From the ranks of tourist third cabin passengers in the interwar years, one could discern students, teachers, and aspiring writers...From the social margins, one could also find card sharks, bootleggers, stowaways and others who made for a lively and complicated cast of characters aboard ships.

—Lorraine Coons and Alexander Varias, Tourist Third Cabin: Steamship Travel in the Interwar Years (New York: Palgrave Macmillan, 2003), 29.





First passport, 1926

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Philip Cummings is person 3 in the July 1926 photo above.


 
   
Copyright © 2017 Patricia A. Billingsley