I was actually quite sure that I had written about Dot (official name Dorothea Louise) sometime before in this blog. I just looked now, though, and it seems I only mentioned her in passing in this post from 2016.
Dot’s maiden name was Schaller. She was born in 1922 in Portland, Oregon and died in 2009 in San Francisco. Her mother was Martha Koenig, a granddaughter of FCD Wyneken’s oldest daughter Louise. Her father was Alfred Schaller, a son of FCD Wyneken’s youngest daughter Pauline. Thus Dot has a double connection to the Wyneken family tree.
In 1944 Dot married Joseph Bonavito, but they parted ways for some reason the following year.
So much for the background. It’s the rest of her life that was really interesting. She joined the Foreign Services in 1948 and was first sent to post-WWII Germany. This was a natural choice since she grew up in a German speaking environment in San Francisco and thus knew the language.
But that was just the beginning! She discovered that she loved travelling and seeing the world. And that is exactly what she did.
I was fortunate to be able to get in touch with her in the last few years of her life. After many years living abroad, finally retiring in Paris, she returned to the US to spend her last years in San Francisco. Every time I think of her living there I wish I would have gotten around to paying her a visit during the time my parents lived in the area, too! But I never did.
The reason I’m writing about Dot now is that a second cousin once-removed of Dot’s asked me the other day whether I knew there was a book containing excerpts from Dot’s letters back home during her journey. I wasn’t, and indeed my heart leaped to find out there was!
The book was published in 2013 and is entitled I Did It My Way: The Travel Adventures of Dorothea Bonavito, 1948-2000. When I found out I immediately bought myself a Kindle copy. The book is available on Amazon in paperback or Kindle. It can also be ordered from Sallie Crenshaw, the editor of the book, from https://dotstraveladventures.com. Click on the link to read a short description of what the book is about!
I still haven’t completely finished the book, but I’m enjoying every page of it. Having grown up outside of the US myself and relatively early in life moving to Germany, I find myself particularly intrigued by her international adventures. I’m sure anyone who has ever had the travel bug will thoroughly enjoy this book, too. There are also glimpses of historical happenings throughout the second half of the 19th century that she experienced more closely because of her travel and because she was in the US Foreign Service.
The photograph at the top of this page appears in the book and is taken from the website https://dotstraveladventures.com.