Monday, December 19, 2011

The Travels of Jordena F. Green - Part I

If Jordena Green were alive, she would be celebrating her 100th birthday tomorrow. She might have celebrated by taking a first-class trip around the world--but only if she bought some new suitcases. That's because I bought her old, well-traveled suitcases about 25 years ago when I lived in San Francisco. Jordena also lived in San Francisco and she did not travel light. One suitcase is almost large enough to fit a grown person. Another one is just a little larger than a normal modern suitcase. And then there's the special vanity case. I suspect there was also a wardrobe case that ended up somewhere else.

All the cases are covered with hotel labels from her various travels. Jordena traveled frequently and only stayed at the finest hotels.

Although I missed the opportunity to call Jordena when she was still alive, the internet provides an amazing amount of information (including her former phone number!) In this case, some of the most useful records are the ships' registers on These records let me know what ships she sailed on, which class (always first!), her age, whether or not she was married, and sometimes how long she would be traveling (often more than two months at a time), and a street address. Jordena's home address changed very frequently, which is no surprise, because she seems to have been traveling most of the time.

Jordena stayed at the world's finest hotels, including Frank Lloyd Wright's Imperial Hotel.

She also stayed at the Royal Hawaiian Hotel

Most of the hotels where she stayed still exist in all their finery. The Hotel Ritz in Madrid looks well maintained and offers rooms from $421 to $5,964 per night. The Hotel Quisana Capri also offers rooms starting at about $430 per night.

It appears that Jordena began her travels in the 1930s when she was single and in her 20s, although the trips continued after she married. That's when she bought these monogrammed Hartmann Skymate suitcases with the pink satin lining.  Even after all of these years, the scent of her perfume in the suitcases is quite strong, but very pleasant. A friend assured me that the scent is White Shoulders, but I certainly wouldn't know.

On August 17th 1935, she boarded the SS Malolo, bound for Hawaii. She returned home to Los Angeles on the SS Lurline on October 5th. A nice long trip. Two months later, she sailed back to Hawaii on the SS Mariposa and didn't return until the end of February, 1936.  It appears that she also made trips by airplane, as evidenced by airline stickers on the cases form Iberia Airlines, British European Airways, and Pacific Northern Airlines. It's clear from the labels that she visited several cities numerous times, staying in different luxury hotels.

Here are some additional images of the suitcase labels.

I never met Jordena. I guess I probably assumed that she had died and that's why the suitcases were for sale.  It turns out that she didn't die until 2001. If only I had done this research a little earlier, I could have just called her up and asked her about her travels and her (ahem) family history.  I'm not sure why it is that I've become curious enough to research it now, but I can tell you that there's something a little odd here, an intriguing mystery to say the least. Tune in tomorrow for more details on the mysterious life of Jordena F. Green.


  1. Detective Christine, this is a SUPERB blogpost, about Jordena F. Green! Your research, presentation and comments make it a world-class blogpost, so I'll re-post it on my blog by Shareholic or Blogger Share.
    Next parts of Jordena Saga should be just as great.
    Hope you don't mind me reverberating this in "my circles"...:)
    Archimedes DIED because he said "Noli tangere circulos meos!" the wrong soldier...
    But it's OK for selected blogposts to "touch my circles"...of friends, partners and friendly strangers from all 7 continents.[See my Antarctic blogpost of today!]:)

  2. How fascinating! She was definitely a very well travelled lady! Looking forward to the next installment.

  3. Agreed! This is fascinating. First of all I am quite jealous of the wonderful suitcases. And ahhhh.....the mystery is killing me. Being an Aries I am somewhat impatient (ahem) and I really want to know about the oddity.....

  4. Oh my goodness, of course I'll tune in tomorrow, or as soon as possible! How ever could this lady be so lucky to travel to all these wonderful places, and so many times! Was she a spy? Did she write for a travel magazine? Could she have been working for the C.I.A or other such place???? Or just from a very wealthy family. I so want to google her right this moment, but also I feel like waiting a bit, because I do love your little stories and don't really want to taint this lovely perhaps I should wait...don't forget us okay!

  5. Fascinating post! The cases are in such good condition too, it is hard to believe they were so well used. Things must have been treated with a lot more respect a generation or more ago.

    I'm looking forward to the next instalment!

  6. Oh goody a Christmas serial. How exciting. This is how Dickens started you know.

  7. such a wonderful post..can't wait until tomorrow!!it would have been nice if you could have spoken with her..oh,the stories she might have shared!!
    would that i could travel as she did..what an interesting life she must have had..and what she must have seen and done in her travels!!

  8. What a great post. Most interesting and informative, and those labels from her travels are very cool. The suitcases were really well taken care of.

    I have a couple steamer trunks around here, and my mom told me that the bigger one with the curved top was for first class travel, since they couldn't stack other trunks on top. I would imagine that if they made suitcases like this then Jordena F. Green would have had that type.

  9. What a fantastic post! I'm dying to learn more about her!

  10. Great post - what an interesting starting point for your research. Look forward to Part 2! Jo

  11. Very interesting. I am jealous of both the travel and the suitcases. I seem to remember that my mother had cloth covers to protect her suitcases, so probably Jordena had covers to keep the suitcases in nice condition.

  12. Who would have thought that suitcases could yield such information along with the internet. Great blog.



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