The following article was donated by author Randy Eustace-Walden:
As noted in my initial communication, my primary interest in all of this is in the Wanderwell Expeditions of Aloha and Walter – this forms the basis for my book.
In the process of doing deep research into the travels and travails of the Expedition journeys, however, the name Justine Tibesar arose again and again. So, my interest in her was kindled. Here’s what I can tell you, your readers, your family and others who may find her ‘history’ of interest.
My information is based on searches within the National Archives in Washington, D.C., the old office of INS (Immigration and Naturalization Service, now Homeland Security), and other various and sundry sources, both online and off.
Prior to Justine’s epic motorcycle journey from Vietnam to Belgium beginning in March 1931, she was a member of a division within the Wanderwell Expeditions. Both Walter Wanderwell and his wife Aloha had been driving around the world (he since 1919, she since 1922) in converted Model-T Ford automobiles. Walter formed a division he called WAWEC – Work Around the World Educational Club. It was modeled on the Boy Scouts, including military-style uniforms to be worn by all members, and had as its ‘mantra’, so to speak, the concept of ‘law, not war’. The ideal of the WAWEC units was to preach and spread the word of disarmament across the globe. They were all self-supporting, selling postcards and pamphlets espousing their ‘mantra’ with words and pictures. At one point in the late 1920s there were as many as 40 separate units traveling in every corner of the planet – most via automobile in four-man teams, but also with bicycle (a tandem bicycle in one case) and motorcycle (with and without sidecars).
Aloha had spent some time in Belgium as a young girl going to school, and it’s believed this is where she met Justine originally. On a return trip through middle Europe in the Fall of 1929, Aloha became reacquainted with Justine (and other friends) and evidently coaxed many of them into joining the Wanderwell Expeditions.
On November 1, 1929 Aloha, Walter, Justine and others set sail from Le Havre, France aboard the ship, the Ile de France, and arrived in New York City six days later on November 7th.
According to ship records, here’s what they say about Justine:
– 20 years old
– Female and Single
– Height: 5′ 4″
– Speaks Flemish, French and German
– Occupation: Nurse
– Although a citizen of Belgium, she was born in Ell, Luxembourg (near the Belgian border)
– Received her passport in London, England on October 7, 1929
– Her last-known address was her father’s (Jean Tibesar) house in Annancy-sur-Meuse (now known as Annancy-sur-Crusne), France, barely 32 miles from Ell.
Upon arrival in New York the team of adventurers made their way south to the Wanderwell base camp in Miami, Florida, to organize and assign duties.
Justine was assigned to a typical four-person team and given Unit #27 as a designation (see attached). The team included Emil Hinterhauser from Switzerland, Marjorie Kuinegal from France, and Rudolph Fuller of Jacksonville, Florida as well as Justine.
By the end of May 1930 Unit #27 had worked their way across the American south and were selling postcards and pamphlets in San Antonio, Texas. They continued to move west to the California coast.
Here, unfortunately, the trail goes dry. It is noted in some of the documentation that Justine (and perhaps the entire unit) was ‘interested’ in continuing on to the Orient, and there is some suggestion this would have been via steamship from either San Francisco or Seattle.
Regardless, it would seem Justine at least did make it. As she began her motorcycle journey from Vietnam less than a year after her presence in Texas, and since there are Chinese characters ‘stamped’ onto one of her own unit’s postcards (seen in the attached), it’s safe to say she at least went to Asia as part of the Wanderwell Expedition. It should be noted too, that it was not at all unusual for the individual units to disband once the ‘novelty’ of life on the road wore off! Justine was clearly made of heartier stuff.
That, Marcus, it pretty much all I have as it pertains to Justine – I hope it is of some interest and use to you.
One favour to ask, however.
Along with Justine, there was another Belgian girl who travelled over from Europe and I assume was a friend of hers and Aloha’s. Upon arriving in Miami, this other girl was given a separate unit number and a different travel itinerary. In fact, she and her cohorts spent much of their time in the north around Chicago, eventually working their way to California as well, but likely after Justine had left for Asia. I know this, because of postcards that went back and forth between them on the road. This other girl’s name was OLGA VAN DRIESSCHE (sometimes written as van Dreisk). She may play an important role in my story of the Wanderwell’s so I would like to ask any of your readers if they have heard of her or know anything of the name, to please contact me with any of that data – I would be most appreciative.
Olga was also Belgian, as I mentioned, and she was born in Ronse (sometimes referred to as Renaix, which is the French version). She was a bit older than Justine – 24, if records can be believed, and was listed as being an ‘aviatrix’ (airplane pilot) very often, though no other information I’ve been able to gather backs this up.
That, in a nutshell, is that.
Once my book is published I will send you details.
Again, thank you very much for sharing your materials and family history. Feel free to contact me any time. Cheers!
The Aloha Project