Go Armchair Traveling with Worthington Memory

As Worthington residents continue to social distance, many may pine for adventures considered commonplace, or at least more attainable, in years previous. Worthingtonians are no strangers to finding zest in life whether it be distant travel, or finding fun closer to home. While our real-life travel options are limited this year, that's no reason to miss out. Our September exhibit features travel in all its forms-- from residents’ trips abroad to school field trips to Worthington attractions we may have missed this year. So let's fasten our safety belts and indulge in some armchair travel!

On occasion, residents have spread their wings and flown to all corners of the globe. Notably, Worthington has shared travel ties with its sister city, Sayama, Japan. Travel between the two cities was established in 1993, when a delegation from Sayama visited Worthington, laying the groundwork for a sister city agreement in 1999. Through the Worthington International Friendship Association (WIFA), several local delegations have visited Sayama over the years. These trips allowed for cultural exchange and appreciation, as delegates from both countries shared gifts and expertise while experiencing many of the traditions and entertainment each host country had to offer. During international visits to Japan, Worthington's travelers viewed lush fields of green tea, sampled local food and enjoyed performances by Taiko drummers and lion dancers.

International travel for Worthington residents has not always come under such friendly circumstances. Many locals found themselves scattered across the globe during both world wars. During World War II, the "Worthington News" chronicled the exploits of servicemen abroad in their series, "Our Boys in the Service of Uncle Sam." The news segment provided updates on soldiers far afield such as Robert Vernon Ault stationed in Australia in 1942, Lt. William Long stationed in England in 1942 and Cpl. Fred Snouffer stationed in North Africa in 1943. The columns gave residents a peek, albeit generalized, at the activities of their family members and neighbors abroad. Following the second world war, former service member John Long visited Vienna, Austria, standing for a photograph in front of the Soviet War Memorial, which commemorates the Ukrainian forces that took the city in 1945. These wartime travels, though not travel for travel's sake, show how far spread Worthington residents could be.

School trips have often provided students the chance to see the world. An October 1969 edition of Worthington High School’s The Chronicle details the opportunity offered to about 20 students to spend six weeks in France, learning language, culture and even cooking. The trip, offered by the American Institute for Foreign Study, also gave students the chance to journey to England, Italy, Switzerland and Spain for short side trips. Students in 2000 were also able to travel to Germany for a study abroad. These trips, among the many in which Worthington kids have participated, provided opportunities for budding travelers.

Activities far and away are not the only adventures familiar to people in Worthington. Field trips brought adventures to students near to home. In 1940, Worthington elementary students visited the Columbus Zoo, pictured with teachers Erma Marting and Mary Donahue. Kids on the trip, in addition to seeing animals, enjoyed carousel rides and ice cream cones (doing so closer than six feet apart from each other, no less!). Another popular school trip experience for kids are the Third Grade Days. An annual tradition since 1966, Third Grade Days allow the district's third graders to travel back in time, putting on colonial clothes, trying old-timey activities and visiting historic sites in Old Worthington.

Nowadays, we are often using our imaginations to get our travel in, which is a time-honored tradition on Worthington school playgrounds. Worthington students from the late '90s onward would likely recognize the large-scale painted maps of the United States that graced the blacktops of the district’s elementary schools. Painted in 1997 by members of the Dublin-Worthington Rotary Club, using a template from The Ohio State University Center for Mapping, these 30' x 50' maps provided school children opportunities to enjoy imaginative cross-country travel while learning about the nation's 50 states. From state tag to state trivia games, these maps became a staple of outdoor recess and schoolyard adventuring.

Worthington residents have taken to travel under many circumstances, expanding their horizons around the globe and rediscovering areas closer to home. While travel today may be more of a reach during the global pandemic, we hope looking back on these memories has fostered nostalgia for journeys of yesteryear along with hope for future adventures!