Who was Annie Wilkins?
Annie Wilkins, sixty three year old Maine farmer. In 1954 she embarked on so difficult journey in her life. At that time, she had no family because she failed her two marriages, her brother and father died recently, no money and even she lost her farm also. With all of this matters, due to recently recovered pneumonia condition her doctor was confirmed her life time in to next two years. But she had a dream to visit Pacific Ocean before died. When her mother was alive, she also wanted to visit Pacific Ocean. But her mother died before that.
Her doctor advised her to go to a state charity, but she ignored the advice. She sold her home-made pickles and mortgaged her house in order to find money for her ride across the country. Then she bought a cast-off brown gelding called Tarzan, wear a men’s dungarees, and head south in mid-November hoping to beat the snow. She embarked on that journey. Annie did not even have a map for the trip and had no idea what to do beyond her rural crossroads. She did not even have a map. But she had her own running horse, her faithful pot left, and she had her own unwavering belief that Americans would treat a stranger like her with kindness.
Along the way, she met ordinary people and country celebrities – from Andrew White (Tarzan’s sketch) to Art Linkletter and Groucho Marx. Along the way, she received many gifts and was offered a permanent home in a riding studio in New Jersey by kind Americans. She even got a job at a gas station in rural Kentucky and a marriage proposal from a Wyoming farmer. During this decade America was rapidly developing and the car ownership of the country tripled, the influence of television was rapidly expanding and homeowners were accustomed to going often for excursions. In such a situation, Annie and her colleagues inspired the neighbors who lived in such a rapidly changing world.
Andrew Wyeth, a well-known resident of both Chadds Ford and Maine at the time, came to visit Annie Wilkinsthe elderly woman and her horse, and they were celebrated it by having drink together. She was able to gain many such special experiences during this journey.
Annie Wilkins had written to a friend in Minot about her trip. She said she had taken an extra horse and her pet dog on the trip, and during her time in Waverley, Tennessee, she had written to her friend about sleeping in prisons and hotels, and said she had experienced great kindness and generosity from the people she met on the trip. Moreover, she wrote with pride, her new life as a “tramp of fate”
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As news of Annie’s wonderful trip spread throughout the United States, she was often given police protection while traveling to various cities. Journalists found her and came to interview her at her parking lots. According to letters written to her friend, in May 1955, she was interviewed on two radio and television channels in Missouri and went to a local school to talk about her journey. During the trip, she sold self-portraits and postcards to raise money for her expenses.
According to her articles, she arrived in Cheyenne, Wyoming in August 1955, where she witnessed the annual Frontier Days, a long-running event that boasts of being one of the largest rodeos in the world. During that voyage, Wilkins, Tarzan, Rex, and Depeche-Toi trembled across Idaho, traversing snowy mountains, avoiding poisonous snakes, and surviving flash floods.
By December 1956, she was reached to the end of her journey. According to articles detailing her return home, she did a self-reflection, wondering what people in Minot would think of her. “I wonder if I will ever see Minot again,” she said. “I want to know if a lot of people out there think I’m really crazy.” That is.
Annie Wilkins traveled for nearly two years and arrived in Reading, California in mid-December. There she was able to experience winter and while staying in California she traveled through various locations around the state and witnessed the Pacific Ocean for the first time. She mentioned that it was the most memorable moment of her life.
However, before she could make her way south to Hollywood, where to attend Art Linkletter’s House Party, her packhorse Rex died of tetanus on March 1, 1956.
What happened to Annie Wilkins?
Annie Wilkins stayed in California for another year and finally returned to Maine in 1957. After the successful completion of her dream journey, she moved from Minot to, Lincoln County town of Whitefield where she spent the rest of her life.
Annie Wilkins kept a diary of all her experiences on this trip, and in the mid-1960s, she teamed up with journalist Mina Titus Sawyer to write a book about her adventures. It was published in 1967 as “The Last of the Saddle Tramps”
When she contracted pneumonia in 1954, she lived 24 years longer than the two years which doctors had given her to live, and she died in 1980 at the age of 88. She is buried in Maple Grove Cemetery at Mechanic Falls, where Annie’s gravestone reads “the last of the saddle tramps.”
Books Published about Annie Wilkins Story
The Ride of Her Life: The True Story of a Woman, Her Horse, and Their Last-Chance Journey Across America – Elizabeth Letts
You Can Buy Book Here : The Ride of Her Life
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