Tribute to Arla (14) – 1933

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Grandpa’s wife, Arla, passed away at the age of 42 from a prolonged battle with, what we believe, was cancer. She left 6 children, the oldest, Lad, my father, who was 19 and the youngest, Dave, who was 9 at the time. She left a void that would never be filled, especially as Grandpa and the older boys struggled to earn enough money to support the household and repay the tremendous outstanding debts incurred by Arla’s illness.

These are a few of the letters of condolence received by Grandpa after Arla’s death. They provide a glimpse of Arla as a friend in addition to the view we have had as a wife and mother.

King Caesar Road

Duxbury, Massachusetts

July

Dear “Al”,

Before coming down here the other day I noticed in the Bridgeport paper the sad news of your wife’s death.

I know this has come as a terrible blow to you and I want you to know that you have my deepest sympathy. There is so little an outsider can do in such a situation but if there is anything I might be able to do to relieve the situation at your office, please don’t fail to let me know. I’ll be back at the end of the week.

Cordially yours,

Bob Shedden

********************

Dear Al,

I have just learned of your loss of your wife and I wish to extend my very sincere sympathy.

Having lost one very dear to us, I can fully appreciate your great sorrow and loneliness at this time and hope God may give you and yours comfort and solace during these dark hours.

Believe me to be very sincerely,

Bill Gamble

Fairfield

July, third

********************

THE BRIDGEPORT COUNCIL

Of the

BOY SCOUTS OF AMERICA, INC.

881 Lafayette Street, Bridgeport, Connecticut

July 4, 1933

Dear Al and sons,

It was a shock to read in the newspapers of the death of your beloved wife. We in scouting want you to know that we sincerely sympathize with you and your sons in your loss.

Sincerely,

Chief

********************

WILLIAM G. ROCKWELL

26 STRATFIELD ROAD

BRIDGEPORT, CONNECTICUT

July 5, 1933

Dear Mr. Guion:

I am very sorry indeed to hear of the trouble and loss that has come upon you recently, and wish to extend my sincere sympathy. It seems hard to understand why a wife and mother should be taken when she is so much needed and none to really take her place.

We cannot understand the things of this world. We can only hope for something very different beyond. I have no knowledge of the circumstances of Mrs. Guion’s illness and passing; but realize it means great sorrow and an additional burden of trouble. Will you therefore, let me offer the word of kindness and fellow feeling that we all have for one another at such a time, and trust you may be given strength to carry on.

Very truly,

Wm. G. Rockwell

********************

My dear Mr. Guion,

Without knowing what to say, I am so deeply moved by your loss, I feel I must try to convey my sympathy in some way.

I have had a number of great sorrows in my own life and I know there is only one thing which eases the pain of loss — time.

You have indeed had more than your share of troubles lately. In the past I have comforted myself with the thought that life’s troubles run in cycles. So, perhaps your cycle of trouble is finished.

We who believe in the heavenly hereafter feel only happiness for those who preceded us.

In my own loneliness in years past I have found my greatest solace in work. I found it a welcome burden to have children to work and fight for.

If there is ever anything I can do for you, please give me a chance.

Sincerely and sympathetically,

Elizabeth Joslin Wright

July 5, 1933

********************

1461 Boulevard,

West Hartford, Conn.

Dear Alfred:-

I have just learned of the death of your dear wife, and I’m greatly affected. She was such a joy and inspiration to all who were fortunate enough to know her as a friend but I can appreciate how deeply her loss will be felt.

I realized that, at this time, that words are of little consolation, but I do want you, your dear ones, and our Arla’s folks, to know that an old friend offers her deepest and most sincere sympathy.

Very sincerely,

Gertrude Ferguson Greaney

July fifth

 

Tomorrow I’ll begin a week of letters written in 1941, and we find out what is going on in Trumbull with Lad, Biss and Dave; what news there is from Dan, Ced and Dick in Alaska and news of  friends of all the children as well as what what Grandpa has been up to.

Judy Guion

Tribute to Arla (13) – 1933

Arla Mary Peabody Guion

Arla Mary Peabody Guion

Arla Mary Peabody Guion passed away, probably from Cancer, when Lad, my father, was 19 and her youngest, Dave, was 9. It was quite a blow to the entire family and they spoke of it very rarely.

After the death of his wife, Grandpa continues to receive letters of condolence from family,friends and business acquaintances who also feel the great loss of Arla.

The Roost

New Paltz, N. Y.

Dear Alfred,

We were terribly shocked when we received Cousin Betty’s (Aunt Betty) note letting us know about Arla. There were no details whatever and we did not even know that Arla was ill.

Alfred, words are so futile but you must know in your heart that we are exceedingly grieved for you and for ourselves. We have been so far away from the families in the last few years that now it seems horrible and a matter of keen regret.

In this modern age of skepticism and unbelief, I have tried hard to keep to the one truth that God does have us after we leave here, and if you try to think that Arla is the guest of God, I am sure that it will bring you some comfort.

When you feel like it, I should love to hear from you and if you can possibly come up to New Paltz for over some week and, I wish you would come. We are renting a little place called the “The Roost” as our own house is leased for the entire year now.

If you could come just drop me a postal or telephone New Paltz 127 F 3.

Please remember us to the children and with love to you I am

Yours sincerely,

Nan (Grandpa’s cousin)

July third

Nineteen thirty-three

*********************

Washingtom, DC

Dear Mr. Guion,

A letter just received from Helen Plumb has told us of Mrs. Guion death, after a long illness. That is quite a shock to us, for although I knew, years ago, she was in a hospital, we did not know of any recent illness. Please accept our heartfelt sympathy. I recall with pleasure our most happy visits with your wife, and shall ever remember her as a wonderful, loving and cultured soul. Between the two of you, you certainly got that tribe of fellows started right – and the girl.

These will be tough years for you and I only wish I might be able to personally help you. But keep close to God and His church, and you will the better come through. Mrs. Lineback and I are here in Washington. We left Ohio two months ago. In this setting, I was (am) V.P. of the Huroquois Council in West Virginia. That is an area Council with 84 troops in it. My church here has a huge troop of 50 boys, a Scoutmaster and seven assistants. All the boys in uniform. It’s a great troop.

Today, the fourth, Mrs. Lineback and I are at home – she doing the wash, I with the bad cold. She joins me in expressing our sympathy and love to you and to the family. God strengthen you.

As ever your friend,

W.J. Lineback

*****************

HOLLIS P. STEVENSON

745 North Avenue

Bridgeport, Connecticut

July 4, 1933

My dear Al:

I was not only surprised, but genuinely concerned, when I read in the paper the other morning of the passing of your good wife. For I Blog - Condolence - Hollis S. Stevensonhad no idea that she had been ailing of late, nor that you had any cause for alarm. In questioning Clayton Buckingham at the office, I learned that Mrs. Guion had not been at all well lately, which was indeed news to me. Al, at a time like this your friends can’t do an awful lot. Maybe your immediate neighbors can and were of some service. But those of us who only met occasionally on business, and other projects in which we are mutually interested, find it rather difficult to let you know how we feel. However, I, who have valued your friendship over the period of a number of years, can at least drop you a line and say that I feel very deeply for you in your sorrow and loss. That will probably be of as much comfort to you as if I dropped in and personally shook your hand. I know from experience how many friends and acquaintances there are who take up one’s time and thought in a moment like this, when possibly you would prefer the company of your immediate family.

So, Al, I just want you to know that I have been thinking of you these last few days, and have asked the Supreme Father to give you the comfort of your splendid boys and girl to sustain you during this trying time of readjustment of your family life.

With my very best wishes for you and yours,

Cordially your friend,

Hollis

********************

New Paltz

July 4, ‘33

Dear Alfred,

I cannot express to you my deep sympathy in this time of trouble – words are so inadequate and help me a little.

But you will know, my dear, that I grieve with you and for the children. May God give you strength to carry on and you will find comfort in caring for those lovely boys and your dear daughter.

You will have to be both mother and father, whereas she will need you most. I can really say no more except that it is a great shock to me – for I thought Arnold was getting along nicely.

All my love to you and your little ones.

Aunt Mamie

Tomorrow, I’ll be posting more of the letters of condolence received by Grandpa after the death of his young wife.

On Monday I’ll begin a week of letters written in 1041. Lad has returned from Venezuela and is looking for a job, but with his draft classification, it is not an easy thing.

Judy Guion

Army Life – Dan’s Trip Abroad (5) – More Bombings and Close Calls (July, 1943) – May, 1945

This concluded Dan’s first-hand account of action from 1943 when he first arrived in London, France and several other places in Europe.

Daniel Beck Guion on the job in Venezuela @ 1939

Daniel Beck Guion on the job in Europe –                               1943-45

Continuing from yesterdays end:

But from that night on, never a moment of the day or night was free from the threat of the V-1. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/V-1_flying_bomb

I saw my first one on Wimbledon Common where we went to practice surveying on that first morning. Anti-aircraft began firing. Quickly flashing across the sky appeared an unusual-looking plane, making a very loud roar. Puffs of AA fire followed harmlessly in its wake. Suddenly a flash of fire lit up its tail and the motor conked out. The plane drove straight to earth. A loud explosion and a pall of smoke marked the precipitate conclusion, and the AA battery on Wimbledon claimed a direct hit. They had seen the fire in the tail! But when every strange plane went through the same tactics it became clear that the “planes” were robot bombs and that night, upon seeing them flash across the sky, you realized that they were jet-propelled. There began a night-mare of nervous tension that became worse as the buzz bombs increased. A fire bell system in the billets chimed every time a buzz bomb came near, keeping us awake all night and keeping us nervous all day. Added to the local den was the roar of the approaching bomb, sounding like a whole fleet of heavy bombers passing close and shaking the air. Then the motor would speed up, cut dead, and shortly thereafter would come the distant (or close) boom and the characteristic pall of smoke drifting upwards. Things got so bad after a few days of this that we were sent out every day to assist in moving bombed-out families. We saw damage at first hand, and it wasn’t pretty. In the movies, whenever the soundtrack omitted a noise resembling a roar, people would become fidgety, wondering if it might not be a buzz bomb on his way. Richmond was hit. Wimbledon was right in line, as was all of South London. That was why we were glad to set off for the peace and quiet of the Normandy bridgehead. Later we learned that a buzz bomb had made a direct hit on the Kew billets, killing three and wounding many.

3 – Beachhead bombing. While we were near Isigny, the field next to ours was hit by a bomb one night. A fire was started but soon extinguished. No one was killed. We all settled back to sleep. Some minutes or hours later, while it was still dark, I was startled by a loud explosion from the same field across the road. We learned next morning that the belated explosion was a delayed-action bomb which killed several men.

Those are the only times I have been in danger.Some of our outfit were near Liege during the Arnheim Bulge last winter and suffered from a great number of buzz bombs, but none of our company has been killed by enemy action. I saw one of our officers killed in a truck accident back in Normandy. I believe he is our only loss by death. As is so frequently the case, he was our best-liked officer.

At the present we are living in Maastricht in southern most Holland. Our billet is a Franciscan school — part of a convent. Our work takes us to Belgium and Germany quite frequently.

During the past two days many Dutch “slave laborers” have come to Maastreicht from Germany. For the most part they are from Amsterdam and Rotterdam, which cities are so badly damaged that they cannot yet handle their displeased citizens. Truckload after truckload of dirty and decrepit but cheering and smiling man, and even women and children, have arrived in our neighborhoods to be billeted temporarily until homes can be found for them.

Dan

Tomorrow and Sun day, in a Tribute to Arla, more letters of condolence received by Grandpa after the death of his young wife.

Next week I’ll be posting letters written in 1941. Lad has finally come home from Venezuela, Dan and Ced have been in Alaska for about a year and Dick has been with them for a few months after delivering a car to the frozen north.

Judy Guion

Army Life – Dan’s Trip Abroad (4) – Bombing of London (July, 1943) – May, 1945

Dan’s long letter of his early experiences in London and France continues in this next segment. 

Dan in uniform @ 1945

Apropos of narrow escapes, here is a list of the dangers your little Dan has run (from) during the war:

1 – Bombings of London. When we first came to London we had raids on the average of about once or twice a week, I generally happened to be in a section of London which was far from the bombing, but it is an odd feeling to hear a plane passing directly overhead carrying bombs and the question. Has the bombardier released his load yet? There is nothing to do but wait. For that reason I never liked to be at the billets in Kew during a raid. I would rather be in a pub or on a bus or on the underground. At the billets we had to put on our helmets and gas masks, go to the shelters, and wait — just sit and wait — till the all clear sounded. Suddenly, in February 1944, the Luftwaffe lunged out again at London. It was compared to the blitz in ’41 and ’42. That week or so in February was the closest I ever came to fear of death — particularly on a night when a string of bombs fell right in line with Kew billets. In quick order we could hear the explosions coming closer to us – boom, boom, Boom, BOom, BOOm, BOOM. — Then silence — only the din of anti-aircraft and plane motors, but we welcome “silence” at that! The most terrifying noise is the sound of a heavy bomb dropping. It has been described as the roar of a speeding locomotive, but it seems to me that there is a suggestion of vacuum in the roar that renders it all the more horrible — as if cosmic forces were romping through the vaults of hell. The most beautiful site I saw during the bombings was on Friday night of that fateful week in February. I was on fire guard and had to stand out in the open to watch for incendiaries. The night was cloudy. Suddenly a silvery liquid stream appeared falling from a point in the clouds, then another, then several, then hundreds of them, as if molten metal were being poured through a celestial sieve. Fortunately none fell in Kew but the sky was soon lit up by fires in the direction of Barnes and Wimbledon. I think it was a new type of incendiary bomb – probably Phosphorus that burned on contact with the air. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=r6Bi5SypPmM

2 – Buzz bombs. Towards the end of June we were alerted one night by the air raid signals, then the “Raiders near” sirens blew, but there was no evidence of planes. We went to the shelters and waited. Nothing happened. No all clear — no sign of a raid. Once in a while we heard sporadic gunfire. We were mystified, angry, a little frightened. The all clear blew shortly after daybreak but the alert sounded again almost immediately. We knew something unusual was happening — perhaps the Normandy bridgehead was being wiped out – perhaps Jerry was using poison gas. Rumors began to trickle in. Robot planes, radio controlled, rockets —. But from that night on, never a moment of the day or night was free from the threat of the V-1.

Tomorrow, the final segment of this letter from Dan, written in 1945 but consisting of a long letter he had written in 1943, but was returned by the censor.

On Saturday and Sun day, more letters of condolence in a Tribute to Arla.

Next week, we go back to letters written in 1941.

Judy Guion

 

 

Army Life – Dan’s Trip Abroad (3) – On The Continent (July, 1943) – May, 1945

This section of the letter tells of Dan’s activities and war experiences in his first few months in France.

Dan Guion

ON THE CONTINENT

We arrived on Omaha Beach on the afternoon of July 14th. Our first home was an orchard in Hegreville (?), near Valogne (?). Almost all the towns in Normandie were gutted by the war. Valogne was a ghost town that first night we drove through. By the time we left (in Sept.) it was getting back to life but not to normal. From an orchard headquarters we went on several field jobs. I went first to a place near Isigny. It was close to the main landing beaches (Cherbourg was not yet in working order) and Jerry came over every night to mess up the shipping. Pup tents, we learned, don’t breed confidence as flak shelters. One of our men found a hole in his tent and a gash in the stock of his carbine where a piece of flak had stopped in for a visit. On the first night we had a poison gas scare. I had just left our field to look for fresh eggs when a G.I. truck came careening down the road, dust flying. A soldier was standing up yelling “GAS! GAS!” as loudly as possible. I came back to my tent and got my mask, although it seemed ridiculous that Jerry would try to drop gas on open fields several miles behind the lines. That night we heard waves of rumors that kept gas rattles buzzing. Carbines were being fired. We had orders to sleep with our masks on but later the order was made optional and off came my mask. Later we learned that the trouble had begun when some officer had mentioned that the weather was favorable for a gas attack!

My next field trip was on the Brest Peninsula. We did a job in Granville (?) and another in St. Briene (?). People in St. Briene were overjoyed to see us. Their town had been spared destruction by the Jerries who evacuated several hours before the Yanks arrived.

In Normandie I did some local work in the vicinity of St. Couvour la Vicoute (?). On Sundays I visited Cherbourg.

In the middle of September I left for Paris and stayed for about a month after which I went to Calais (Bonningues les Calais, 6 miles south of Calais). Our only excitement there was our proximity to Dunkirk where we could hear bombs and artillery at infrequent intervals. Calais was bombed accidentally by the RAF one evening about 5:30. We heard the explosions at Bonningues but thought it just another series of demolitions that had been going on for months. When we drove to town that night we learned that one of the main sections of town had been blasted with a toll of 100 people killed and many hundreds wounded! For a town the size of Calais the toll was frightful. Paulette’s mother was visiting friends in that quarter. A bomb landed about 50 meters from her! She was not injured but was quite upset as you might imagine. (This last sentence was added in 1945 because Dan has not yet met Paulette in July of 1943.)

Tomorrow I’ll post the first of two segments on the dangers Dan had to deal with during his time in England and France.

On Saturday and Sunday more letters of condolence in a Tribute to Arla.

Judy Guion 

Army Life – Dan’s Trip Abroad (2) – The Trip to France – (July, 1943) – May, 1945

Dan-uniform (2)

This is the second portion of a letter written by Dan in May of 1945 which includes a letter returned to him by the Censor concerning his trip from Indiantown Gap, Pennsylvania to Normandie.

(The trip to France is told in the letter I wrote last summer in Normandie. The Censor sent the letter back to me, but I have saved it and here it is only a year late) –

No, I am not writing from a muddy foxhole but our living conditions are quite different from those we enjoyed in London. I am in fact, writing from an orchard surrounded by newly-raked piles of hay while the farmer and his entire family from little Josette to la Grand’mere, toil through long hours to gather hay for winter fodder. About a five minutes walk down the hill a brook winds through the fields and each evening after supper, curious passers-by can see a cluster of American soldiers performing their customary ablutions, almost “au natural”.

The saga of our journey from London is not marked by any outstanding event, although the mere circumstances sufficed to make the trip a kaleidoscope of thrills, ennui and hectic intervals. We were rather glad to leave London as you can rapidly imagine (buzz-bombs). We went first to a marshaling area where final preparations were made for the channel crossing. Two days later we were sent to the port of embarkation (Southhampton). The crossing was calm and the beach landing (Cannes) was effected without getting our feet wet. It was just another routine crossing for the Navy but to us it represented one of the biggest events of our lives. We saw many of the places that had played a role on D-Day, and even the fact that a contingent of WACS came across on the same convoy did not destroy the significance of it all.

From the beach we went to a “clearing area” where we “feasted” on K-rations while awaiting transportation to our new quarters. It was dark when we finally set out and we could see flashes and hear guns from the front. We arrived at our destination when it was still dark and curled up on the dew-soaked grass until dawn. Now we are well met up in our orchard home and next time I write I shall tell you how we get along with our new French friends.

Tomorrow, another segment of this long letter dealing with his activities from landing in July to the middle of August. The rest of the week will include segments  on various dangers “your little Dan has run (from) during the war.

Judy Guion

Army Life – Dan’s Trip Abroad (1) – The Atlantic and England – (July, 1943) – May, 1945

 

Dan in uniform @ 1945

DBG - Letter about Atlantic trip (July, 1943) - 5.1945

This is a copy of a carbon copy of a letter typed on airmail paper and extremely difficult to read. Context helped with everything except the spelling of the various towns and villages he visited.

Manstricht, Holland, Sun., 13 May, 1945

 

Enfin, ___, sopino! (?)

The censor has deigned to whisk aside certain drapes which have been canceling our ______, although VE day is only a step in the right direction. I propose then, to start this letter with a “flash back” to the last days in America, nearly 2 years ago —

Toward the end of July we left Indiantown Gap for the “staging area” at Camp Shanks, N.Y. here we stayed a few days getting our clothing and equipment into shape and taking care of all our financial, physical and moral problems. We learned how to descend from a ship by the use of rope ladders. We went on hikes and we did calisthenics. On the eve of our departure we were given passes to go into New York City. I had sprained my ankle that morning going through an “assault” course, but I hobbled my way through a rather ______ and quite _____evening in the vicinity of Times Square. So long, America!

We set off one evening from Camp Shanks, laden with _____ (anti-gas) clothing and carbines and gas masks and cartridge belts and barracks bags and helmets and a thousand other items that an imaginative Army had thought up for us. We boarded a train that took us to a ferry terminal, possibly on the Jersey side. We loaded ourselves on the ferry and set forth for the docks. We passed the Normanie, lying on its side like a sick white elephant. It was dark on the Hudson but a glow of lights from the two shores reminded us that New York could carry on after we left and would be waiting for us when we came back. We arrived at the docks and stood in long queues while Red Cross girls passed out lemonade, donuts and cigarettes. We could see a huge ship at dock but we didn’t know if it was destined to be ours. About nine P.M. we went aboard. It was the “Aquitania”. We were crowded into every available place. In my room some of the men were without bunks and slept on the floor. In the evenings the heat was intolerable because the portholes remained closed for security reasons until lights out. We were not allowed on deck that first night. It was early in August and very hot. We left next A.M. and we were allowed on deck. It was the first time I had seen a ship cross the ocean which was not bid adieu by bands, crowds and confetti, ____________.

Our escort for the first day was a Navy blimp and several planes. Our recreation consisted of stepping over, around and through the masses of G.I. flesh and equipment that crowded the decks, for a breath of fresh air. Our plane escort left us after the second day. We were on our own. The big ships (Queen Mary, etc.) never traveled in convoy because they could out run the U-boats. Our only danger was being interrupted from our bow by a lucky torpedo or a floating mine. Later, as we neared England there was the Luftwaffe with which to reckon, but the sky over the Atlantic, even back in August, 1943, was allied domain, and the only excitement we had was a practice run that broke out suddenly on deck one afternoon — cannon and machine guns shooting and stuttering defiance at an empty sky.

As we approached Ireland we saw a plane dropping depth bombs, but we were several miles from the scene and never knew what it was all about. We reached the Clyde on (I think) Aug. 13 (right here the “13” was crossed out and 11th substituted “by courtesy of the censor”) we disembarked on Scottish soil in the little town of Coureek (?). That night we traveled the length of England — the Midlands were reached about dawn — Manchester, I think, where we had tea and sandwiches served to us in the station. People seemed glad to see us despite the fact that thousands of G.I.’s must have passed through already. In Scotland on the previous evening, everyone had waved to us from the streets and windows as we rumbled by in our troop train (Continental coaches, not boxcars). Here in England the welcome was less spontaneous, but we were excited by our first night of barrage balloons. We left the train at Richmond Station, west of London. We hiked to our billets at Kew, where we stayed up to the time we left for France.

For the rest of the week, I will continue with pieces of this letter covering Dan’s original trip overseas.

Judy Guion