Friends – A Letter From Dan’s Girlfriend To Lad – Feb., 1941

It’s 1941, Lad, Grandpa’s oldest son, has been working in Venezuela for the Socony-Vacuum Oil Company for over two years and is expecting to come home in June. He hasn’t decided whether he’ll go back to Venezuela and sign another contract with the same company or another one. His next younger brothers, Dan and Ced, drove to Alaska in June of 1940 and have been working there.

Blog - 2013.12.23 - Friends - Barbara Plumb letter - Feb., 1941

Feb. 18, 1941

Dear Lad,

This morning while cleaning out my purse (I have to do it once in a while in order to be able to find anything) I came across your address. I’ve been carrying it around for ages, telling myself I’d surely write to you soon. But I never did. And now rumor has it that Mr. Guion’s first son will soon favor these parts with his presence. And wouldn’t it be awful if you came home and just glared at me and said “You didn’t even write to me once!” So this is it. I’ve been following your doings with much interest, though I haven’t seen your dad for several weeks.

I fear I’m getting old. Time just whips by. It doesn’t seem possible that you’ve been away two years or even that Dan and Ced have been in Alaska six months. And yet, there have been many changes – Bissie’s two sons (Elizabeth, Lad’s younger sister, married to Raymond (Zeke) Zabel, with her sons, Butch and Marty)  – Doris Porter had a shower for Ethel (Bushey) Friday night and Biss was there with both babies. I’ve heard several people say that Martin looks like you and David, but how they tell with such a tiny baby is beyond me.

Dave and Dickie, (Lad’s youngest brothers) have certainly changed. I suppose I have too – and you! – It will be almost like meeting new people for you, only more fun, because after all they’re old friends.

You probably know – I’m a working girl now – and like it very much. It’s a law office, – now Miller, Bent and Smith – the firm is new. When I first came here I worked for judge Miller, Mr. Beardsley and Mr. Smith. Mr. Beardsley died last fall and when Judge Bent was defeated in the last election, he moved in. They’re grand people to work for, and the work itself is very interesting.

The only novelty in my winter activity has been membership in the New Haven Skating Club. Helen (Barbara’s sister) belongs too. We go up Sunday mornings and Monday nights and try our best to execute figure eights and threes. Progress is mighty slow but it’s loads of fun. I’ve been bowling, too. I never tried it before this year. I go with the Wells – French – March gang. And Dot MacKenzie.

I haven’t seen Babe (Cecelia, a girl Lad has dated) lately. The last time was down in Norwalk skating when she was furious because she brought one skate of one pair and the other a different kind and size.

Ethel Bushey

Ethel Bushey

Ethel (Bushey, engaged to Carl Wayne) has had at least seven showers. Everyone’s hoping for them that Carl won’t have to go to camp.

Alta (Gibson) stopped in last night and borrowed a pair of my snow boots. She and Gib (Arnold Gibson, Lad’s best friend) were starting for Maine this morning for a week. He has a new job – will be working days instead of nights and has a week free between jobs, so is taking advantage of it. They went in the Ford and planned to be in Boston tonight.

This is the only piece of stationery I have in the office. I write to Dan on any old thing – but this is my first letter to you so perhaps I should make an effort with the best – especially after not writing for so long. It’s the getting started that’s hard, after that it’s fun.

I’ll be seeing you soon.


Trumbull – Job Possibilities For Lad and Business In General – Feb., 1941

This is the second half of a letter written by my Grandfather to his three sons, one in Venezuela and two in Alaska. 

APG - Lad (head only) on horseback in Venezuela - 1940

PROSPECTS FOR A JOB IN USA: this, Lad, is a difficult question to answer categorically. Newspapers and magazines are full of all kinds of answers from authorities who know far more about general conditions than I. One’s own view is naturally colored by the tinted glasses he looks through and in my case I cannot bear witness to any great pickup in business. A few of the bigger concerns in Bridgeport and vicinity, mainly those working on war orders, are exceptionally busy and hiring EXPERIENCED men in certain fields like machinists and toolmakers as fast as they can get them. Such companies as Remington, Sikorsky, bollards, rich port brass, general electric, etc., are building additional plans as fast as they can to take care of government orders in this large influx of workers is reflected in huge additional payrolls, so that the newspapers correctly report that Bridgeport has the biggest payroll total in its history. This unsupported statement however is very misleading if from that fact the casual reader gathers that prosperity throughout the city is booming. It is not. The rank and file of concerns are not feeling any boom business. My little advertising business is puttering along in low gear and just about making headway. Now all this may make my Outlook a bit less sunshiny than it might be if I were in the munitions business, and I can’t tell whether either of those viewpoints is the true one. Perhaps the normal view lies in between. It does not seem that with the demand for machinery of all kinds, both prime movers like trains and trucks and ships and airplanes, and motors and engines to drive manufacturing and agricultural equipment of all kinds and with the increasing popularity of the diesel engine, there ought to exist, theoretically at least, a considerable demand for competent, experienced diesel man. The trouble always is defined the place that is looking for men of your capabilities. And the best way I know of to go about solving that problem is to write to all the prominent diesel manufacturers (I sent you a list of their names and addresses some time ago) a letter similar to that we don’t doubt for Fairbanks Morse, get it off right away and see what it brings the way of her reply. If you get more than one nibble you can balance one against another and take the one that looks best. I would not burn my bridges behind me in any event because there are many good men I know that are still out of jobs and don’t seem to have any good prospects of getting work except as explained above in very narrow selected fields.

MISC.: the other items faintly resembling news this last week consists of my marrying two young people as Justice of the Peace.

A letter from Rufus Burnham asking me what I thought of the possibility of his starting a service such as mine in some Florida city, as he is “finding it increasingly difficult to make the grade in this high-pressure young man’s game in New York”. He also says Austin Batchelder came home from Cornell with an infected knee which grew so bad they had to amputate. He is still very sick but they hope to pull him through. You might ask Chris if he ever had any relations living in Mount Vernon, N.Y. that married into the Utz family. If so, they were very close friends of mine years ago.

Erwin Laufer came in the other night to have the notarize his answers on the draft white. Evidently it will be some months anyway before you boys will be subject to call and if things internationally develop as fast as they seem to be now, by that time you may be definite need for training speed up were no need for calling anyone else. We shall see.



Trumbull – Dick Gives Notice And Thoughts About Cars – Feb., 1941

Grandpa writes to Lad, Dan and Ced about various points of interest to all of them.

Alfred Duryee Guion (Grandpa)

Alfred Duryee Guion

R-116    Trumbull, Conn., February 16, 1941

Dear All and Sundry:

Score is 66% this week. Dan gets zero; he did not turn in any homework. Penalty – spend one night in his B.V.D.’s alone on a glacier and thus familiarize himself with that cold distant feeling.

First for the news– what there is of it.

RUSTY ON HIS WAY. Returning from lunch one day last week who should be waiting in my office but the fair-haired boy from Wakefield. He had just received a letter from Stoll, Sr., suggesting that he be in Seattle the latter part of this week to accompany Mr. Stoll to Juneau to see certain people of importance in the capital city and talk over plans for Rusty’s future. He was therefore leaving the Grand Central station that night and expected to sail from Seattle yesterday. He plans to get something to do as soon as possible after reaching Anchorage in order to acquire sufficient funds to send for the future Mrs. Rusty. Pop goes one and possibly two of Dick’s perspective reservations.

ARNOLD ALSO OUT. Carl informs me that Arnold, having just taken a new job with better pay and more civilized hours of work with another concern, will probably not accompany Dick; so unless the latter gets busy and rounds up some other passengers it looks as though he would travel alone. To be sure this would have certain advantages aside from the financial in.

DICK GIVES NOTICE. One sentence in Ced’s last letter was a bit disconcerting, concerning the possible postponement of the first sailing for a month, in view of the fact that Dick is required to give Underwood two weeks notice and had already done so. It takes so long for even the airmail letters to get back and forth that by the time an answer to an inquiry is received it is almost too late to do anything about it.

CAR REGISTRATION: take the matter of the registration of your new Buick as a case in point. By now you know what you own but on January 26 when you wrote, letter received here on February 12, you could not possibly have secured Alaskan plates which sent even by airmail would arrive here for possibly another week, which would mean February 24 or so in about a week prior to the date Dick figures he must leave to make the March 20 sailing date. This would be sailing far too close to the wind. Even now I am puzzled about what to do in the matter of registration. I find contrary to my first impression, all registrations expire at the end of February. If immediately upon receipt of my letter giving description, order number, etc., you applied for plates to be sent posthaste, I might possibly get them before March 1, or within three days after that Dick plans to start and must therefore be properly registered. Maybe a letter from you tomorrow will give further details but in view of your desire as stated in your last letter to have Dick make the trip on Alaskan markers I am a bit puzzled as to just what to do. I will hold off until the last moment before doing anything about it and be guided by circumstances.

Lad's Ford - 1941

Lad’s Ford – 1941

LAD’S FORD: and while we’re talking about cars, Lad, it occurred to me the other day to ask what you intended doing with your baby. If you sell it to someone down there which is the logical thing to surmise, Mass. suggest that you consider the possibility of your going back and sell with the understanding that if you do return you have the privilege of really acquiring the car at whatever price you may mutually agree is fair. If you don’t come back all is well.

Tomorrow, I’ll be posting the other half of this letter. Grandpa writes a discourse about job possibilities for Lad. Wednesday, I’ll post a letter from a friend, Barbara Plumb, someone who has been mentioned often in Grandpa’s letters. She is – or becomes – Dan’s girlfriend. I know they dated for many years but I’m not sure when it began. Thursday and Friday will be another letter from Grandpa to his boys away from home. Judy Hardy

Alfred Duryee Guion – The Beginning (10) – Our Church And My Father’s Death

In this post, Grandpa tells us of the point in his life when things were forever changed. His childhood ends and his young adulthood begins, even though he was only in his second year of high school.

Untitled-2 7

I believe this is the Church of the Ascension in Mount Vernon, NY.  Again, it looks like a church and why else would he take this picture?

Our church, the Church of the Ascension in Mount Vernon, early occupied an important place in my life. Both parents were active workers, my father as a vestryman and my mother as a member of the Ladies Aid and other church societies, and of course we children attended Sunday School regularly. From this same church my father was buried with a big Masonic funeral, later my mother, and here also I was married and most of my children were baptized.

The big church event of the year from my boyish standpoint was the annual Sunday school picnic. On the day appointed, mother put up a box lunch, took along some blankets, extra jackets and sweaters, and we all assembled at the church where trolley cars, in sufficient number, were waiting to transport the whole group to some seaside vacation resort, usually not more than an hour’s ride away. Games of all sorts were played, sack races, three-legged races, high and broad jumps and regular foot races. From one of these I proudly brought home a bronze medal for winning a foot race. Then, tired but happy, the trolley took us home.

I had measles in 1893 at the age of nine. I remember the year distinctly because, while I was in bed, the postman delivered copy of Harper’s Young People, which I preferred to Youth’s Companion, and on the front cover was an interesting illustration and story about the Chicago World’s Fair, then in full swing in Chicago. I was tired of staying in bed and this was something interesting to occupy my mind, but Mother mercilessly pulled down the window shades in spite of violent protests, so that it was too dark to read, which she said had to be because “it was bad for my eyes” until I recovered from the measles.

The interval between moving out of the Lincoln Avenue house and carpentry work on the renovated Dell Avenue house was finished, we spent in a rented house, and while there I contracted Scarlet Fever. The day before I was sick enough to have a doctor, I felt extremely tired and listless and that night I had a horrible dream. The facts themselves were not so bad but the realism was terrifying. I was on a very large globe, the surface of which was so slippery I continually fell down each time I started to stand up. No matter how many times I tried it was no use and the prospect of never being able to regain a standing position was horrifying.

The house, of course, was quarantined and my patient mother was my nurse. The only aftereffects, which sometimes are quite serious following the disease, were, in my case, severe earaches, which apparently left no permanent injury. Even now at age 75 my hearing is normal.

While I failed to realize it at the time, my father’s death put an end to carefree boyhood days and made me take a more serious view of life. The idea gradually grew in my mind that as the only “man” in the family, it was my duty to do what I could do to support it. Soon I was to leave my childhood spent in the old Lincoln Avenue house to start a new chapter in the Dell Avenue house where I spent my teens and early manhood. How little any one event, large as it looms at the time, really matters much when viewed from the long stretch of a person’s years.

Tomorrow, I’ll begin a week of letters written in 1941. Lad is working for the Socony-Vacuum Oil Company. Dan and Ced are in Alaska and Dick will be travelling there soon to deliver a car and stay with his brothers for a while.

Next weekend I’ll continue the story of my Grandpa, in his own words, writing about his first  job in New York City.

Why don’t you tell your friends about this fascinating “Slice of Life”?

Judy Guion


Alfred Duryee Guion – The Beginning (9) – My First And Only Fight

My Grandpa continues the story of his boyhood with a lesson learned at an early age.

ADG - Alfred Duryee Guion and Elsie May Guion about 1995

Alfred Duryee Guion with their dog and his sister, Elsie

Lincoln Avenue House

If this is to be a truthful account of my boyhood, I now come to an incident of which I am heartily ashamed.

ADG - grade school, Mount Vernon, NY

I believe this is the grade school he attended. Why else would he have taken this picture?

It happened early in my grammar school days. I was rather a reserved, quiet type who did not enter readily into the rougher sports and for that reason was not generally popular. There was an aggressive, rather bullying type of youngster, taller and heavier than I, who evidently took a dislike to me and made things rather rough. Being of a sensitive nature, this bothered me and instead of shrugging the matter off as some youngsters might, it built up day by day until it must have shown in my attitude. It came to a climax one noon recess over a game of marbles or some other trifling thing, resulting in Emil informing me, as the noon bell rang, that he would wait for me and “get me” when school got out that afternoon. Frankly, I was afraid and when the closing bell rang I hung back and tried to think of some question to ask the teacher to delay matters. It was no use and as I finally went out the door there was Emil with a gang of ten or twelve jeering boys. I panicked. I had three or four schoolbooks strapped together and heaving them in Emil’s face, I started to run toward home, which was about four blocks away. Off I went with Emil and the yelling band after me – a fox with hounds in full cry behind.

Sometime during the chase I came to my senses. It might have been pride; shame for the cowardly way I was acting or realizing how far I had fallen from the ideals my family had preached; the fact that running would do no good; that sooner or later I’d have to fight anyway. Perhaps it was a combination of all, though none very clear-cut. The net result was that I decided to quit running then and there and fight to the last ditch even if they had to carry me home on a stretcher.

ADG - Lincoln Ave, House

Grandpa’s house on Lincoln Avenue

So I stopped on the lawn of Chivvis’ house right across the street from mine and faced my foe. The boys all gathered around in a circle to watch Emil knock the tar out of me. And I guess he did. I know afterwards I had a bloody nose and a black eye. But now I was determined no power on earth could make me quit. On and on we slugged it out – it seems for hours – and whenever I got knocked down, which was frequently, and one of the boys would ask me if I’d had enough, I replied “No!”, and went after Emil again. I don’t know how many times this happened but often enough so that after a while the boys saw no more sport in the thing – just a dogged determination on the part of one badly beaten kid to refuse to give up. We both finally became so weak that neither of us could punch anymore and upon my still refusing to admit I was licked, the boys forcibly separated us and he and his gang went their way, and I, with one or two whose sympathy I had belatedly won, went to my home, someone having restored my books. Next day at school Emil and I shook hands. He admitted he had me all wrong and I told him I was very sorry for the cowardly act of throwing my books at him. From that day on Emil and I were very good friends and continued so for a number of years until he died in his early youth, the cause unknown to me.

Tomorrow, Grandpa tells us about a pivotal point in his life when things change forever.

On Monday, I’ll begin a week of letters written in 1941. Lad is in Venezuela, Dan and Ced are in Alaska and Dick will be joining them soon. Grandpa and Dave will be holding down the fort in Trumbull.

Judy Guion

Trumbull – Marian Writes To Paulette – March, 1945

This is the first letter Marian writes to her perspective sister-in-law, telling Paulette that she was in a similar situation. She encourages Paulette and tells her she shouldn’t worry about the family.

MIG - First letter to Paulette, March, 1945


March 4, 1945

Dear Paulette,

We have been so thrilled and excited ever since we received Dan’s letter saying that you have said “Yes!” All we can think of is, “When can we meet her?” – “How can we make her understand how very glad we are to have her join the Guion family?” And “Will she like us?”

As I am a fairly recent addition to the Guion family, I can understand your feelings about wondering if all of Dan’s brothers and his sister and sister in-laws too, will like you. I felt exactly the same way when I met Lad, and it was six months after we had been married before I met any of the family. Believe me, I was just as upset as you evidently are, but I certainly shouldn’t have been. They are all quite wonderful, and even though I’ve never met Dan, I know he is as nice as all the rest. You, of course, are sure that he is the very nicest of them all, but I think you might be a little prejudiced. I know I am about Lad.

We’d love to get a letter from you, Paulette, written in French if it would be easier that way. I’ll try to recall the two years of high school French that I have had, and with a trusty French and English dictionary handy, I think we would be able to translate it all right. I only wish that I could write to you in French, but I know I could never make you understand how glad we are that we are to have a new sister-in-law – and such a good-looking one too!

I hope that you will be able to meet Lad before very long. He has written to say that he is doing his best to get a pass so that he can come and visit your parents. But as you know very well by now, the Army has first and last say as to what any of us do right now. Surely it won’t be too long before this war will be over, and all the boys will be home again.

We are so anxious to know what your future plans are – or if you have even tried to make any. Will you be married right away, or wait until the war is over? Are you coming here to Trumbull before Dan does so that you can meet him when he arrives, or will you wait at home until he can send for you? I get so excited, Paulette, when I think about having you here that I can’t even talk straight. Please hurry and come over here, so we can become really acquainted.

Needless to say we wish you and Dan all the happiness in the world, and hope it won’t be very long before we are wishing it to you in person.



Every weekend, I will be posting my Grandfather’s story, as written by him in his Reminiscences. When the time comes, I’ll add the memories of his children and other groups of letters pertaining to a particular “Slice of Life”.

Do you know of anyone who is interested in life here in the United States during the 1920’s, 1930’s and 1940’s? Why not share this blog with them. They might really appreciate it.

Judy Guion


Trumbull – Dear Dan (4) – News From Lad And Other Friends – March, 1945

This is the last page of a very long letter written by Grandpa, telling those away from home about the engagement of his second born, Dan, to a lovely French girl.  This page has other news, particularly of Lad and others.

Page 4  3/4/45

And I am happy to report that this week brought a letter from another part of France, where our diesel expert is doing his bit to make Jerry a better boy. He says: “My present work is just what I have wanted for some time – – diesel electric, most restricted to operation and slight maintenance whereas what I wanted was more on the installation and troubleshooting side. But I like it about as well as anything I’ve done in the Army except the instruction work at Santa Anita.” Then he follows with a very welcome comment on the desirability or otherwise of items contained in a Christmas box I sent him which arrived just a short time previously. I wish you all would do the same. It is not a case of looking a gift horse in the mouth. As far as I am concerned, you can go as far as examining his tonsils. The point is that it is so difficult to send you things that are acceptable. We back home here spend untold hours thinking and looking around and shopping for what we think might come in handy, and for future guidance to save lots of time and uncertainty, we would much appreciate comments, particularly criticisms, so we won’t be floundering around next time as to whether to send any more of this or that because we will have learned from you definitely that for such and such reasons this thing is out. This is exactly what Lad has done and it is certainly very helpful. He goes on to say that his chances of getting to Paris are not too good from where he is located, but in a later letter received by Marian, he says he did see Dan and learned firsthand the news in Part 1 of this letter.

And Dave, you will be interested to hear that cousin Pat writes: “Life has been so hectic for me these past few years that my hobby of collecting the family history has been forced to lie on the shelf; I’ve been saving it for my “old age”. But I couldn’t allow an opportunity like this to pass. I note this branch of the family retains the old French pronunciation which would indicate they settled in St. Louis in the early days. and Jane Hall says Charlie’s ship in the Pacific is AO-67, if you ever happen to spot it.

MIG - Marian and Jean bringing in Christmas Tree - 1944


Enclosed are a few more snapshots of local flora and fauna – – (the flora, of course, referring to the girls). The new tenants in the apartment are busily engaged in repainting and decorating and the result is beginning to be quite pleasing. The weather today has held just a hint of springtime to those with discernment but just so hopes wouldn’t rise too high, quickly I had perforce to move out some 15 to 20 baskets of ashes. I remind myself of one of those fool spiders – – you know the kind that just after you knock down his web is busily engaged in building it over again. Each year I take out the ashes and fill up the ruts in the driveway and, a few weeks later, with commendable sang froid (that’s one for Paulette) I do it all over again.

Well, four pages ought to hold you until next week, when perhaps Dave or Ced will have some comments to add life and zest to these weekly out gushing’s. Until then, aur revoir (I’ve got to work in some French now and then in honor of the occasion)


Tomorrow,  I’ll post a letter that Marian wrote on the same day Grandpa was writing his letter and it was enclosed with Dan’s copy of the letter.

Every weekend, I will be posting my Grandfather’s story, as written by him in his Reminiscences. When the time comes, I’ll add the memories of his children and other groups of letters pertaining to a particular “Slice of Life”.

Do you know of anyone who is interested in life here in the United States during the 1920’s, 1930’s and 1940’s? Why not share this blog with them. They might really appreciate it.

Judy Guion