Somewhere my love lay sleeping
Behind the lights of a far-off town;
So I give my heart to a bend in the road;
And off I went, a-yondering.
In the mid nineteen twenties Louis L’Amour, still only a teenager, set out on a journey which was to take him around the world. It was a ten month trip that was to shape the rest of his life. In the following years he began to write about this period, the places that he had gone, the kind of people he had known. He hoped to create a series of stories that would document these times because, even as he experienced them, they were fading. The free, wandering, days of the hobo disappeared with the financial pressure of the depression and, as the world responded to the growing tensions that lead to World War Two, customs and immigration officers began cracking down on all travelers. The sense that the world was full of unknown possibilities was vanishing as telegraph and telephone, radio, fast steam ships, and aircraft shrank our sense of the world and brought the most remote corners under the supervision of various governments.
Ultimately, Louis did not document this vanished world but a world in transition, not a place where anything was possible but a place where the last things were possible, a world that was becoming the world we know. Like the old west that he would eventually write about, Louis was around at a time when he could experience the last vestiges of a vanishing age and meet the people who had been a part of that age in its prime.