The Merry Tramps of Oakland were a camping group in the 1880s. Members included Helen "Blazes" Penniman, future wife of Oakland mayor and California governor George Pardee, and photographer Frank B. Rodolph.
Some of Helen's souvenirs and a crazy quilt that she made commemorating her adventures are preserved in the Pardee Home Museum.
Links and References
NY Times book review of Under the Stars: How America Fell in Love With Camping by Dan White NYTimes.com
Adventures in nature: the Merry Tramps of Oakland by Meredith Eliassen
- "MERRY TRAMPS." The family of Oakland druggist Samuel H. Melvin was instrumental in organizing and supplying the Tramps' trips during the early years. Seated with the Melvin family to the left of the stacked rifles is Helen Penniman. This vivacious young redhead, known affectionately as "Helen Blazes," kept many artifacts of the Merry Tramps' travels following her marriage to George Pardee, who was to be California's governor from 1903 to 1907. This group photograph of the Merry Tramps in their Guerneville camp in Sonoma County in June 1884 was formally composed, apparently to include the entire party, even the horse. The precise significance of four firearms stacked against the campstool is unknown. The Merry Tramps emblem is painted on the cabin, surely a sign of pride and at least temporary occupancy.