Trumbull – A Birthday Letter to Dave (1) – “A Father’s Letter To His Son” – September, 1945

Trumbull, Conn., Sept. 23, 1945

A Birthday Letter to Dave.

My dear Son:

On the 30th of this month you will be entering upon your 21st year. Little did I suspect during all these years that you would be celebrating your 20th anniversary on Manila, and of course I am hoping that before the year is out you will be back in the same place that you first looked out upon.

Most of us have had the experience of some time reading a passage that has made us exclaim, “That is exactly what I think but did not have the ability to put into words.” Such is the following “Letter from a Father to His Son”, which I ran across one day and which, if I remember rightly, I quoted to Lad on his 21st (or thereabouts) birthday. Anyway, here it is, saying what I want to say better than I could say it myself.

Yesterday a man talked to me about a father who wrote an entire history of mankind in order to guide his son on his march through Life. There must be thousands of ways which the fathers of the world take to bring their sons the wisdom and the truth which they want them to feel and to understand.

I, too, my boy, have felt this urge. From the first day you came into the world, life took on a richer meaning. There was something more to live for – – to fight for. Men thought that I was after dollars. How little they knew! Why, I would rather earn one honest hour of your faith and your trust than decades of the world’s pomp and glory.

In every waking minute of my life there is one great urge – – that you shall know me. Not as a neighbor nor even as a husband. Each of these is a different world. In these other worlds even good men must often be something other than their real selves. Father’s take on masks. There is so much they want to be – – so much they want to say and yet dare not say. But in your world, here, surely, a father may be real. Here he may grope forward. Here he may reach out for his boy to hold him, to touch him, to talk to him.

Time and again, how I have hungered for this. I wanted to tell you the truth about life as I have come to know it. Time and again, alone in the sacred recesses of my heart, I have carved words for you. Carefully, earnestly, sacredly, I have carved them – – and yet when I came to speak them they were not the words I wanted to say. The sacredness was gone from them. They were dull and lifeless. A wall seemed to come between us – – a wall created by a greater power than yours or mine, and it seemed to say: “Yes, you want to be part of your boy – – a limb of his limbs; to speak for him; to fight for him; to take for yourself the blows which the world is waiting to aim at him. But no! It is not to be. Alone he must fall, and creep and climb and bleed and hunger. Alone, even as you did; even as he learned to crawl and walk. By his own desperate sorrows – – by the crashing of his own dreams, by the leap of ambition when it fires him, and by the flames of defeat when they scorch him – – out of these he must learn.

Yes, perhaps this is as it should be.

Listen, my boy. I cannot write you a History of Mankind. Live your own life in your own way. I cannot put out tomes of wisdom and reason. But this much I can do. This much I can say: March out on life. Live it according to the truth as you see it – – not as other men do. According to the dreams you dream – – not those other men dream. March out on life. Come to grips with it. Seek out your birthright and fight for it. A thousand men will come to talk of fear and defeat and failure. A thousand others will frighten you by the futility – – the emptiness – – the miserable emptiness of their lives. A thousand lies will seek to deafen the song of courage and truth in your ears. But go on. Go on and keep going on – – so that I may see in you the hopes – – the yearnings I sought for my own life. Your Father.”

Tomorrow, I’ll be posting the second half of this letter. Grandpa has some additional advice for Dave.

On Saturday and Sunday, I’ll be posting letters written in 

Next week, I’ll be posting some letters from 1941. I’ll also have a special treat on Thursday, June 1st.

Judy Guion

Trumbull – Dear Sons (and daughters Jean and Paulette) (3) – More News From France – September, 1945

 

Rather than be separated from her for the better part of the year, I am taking steps to ensure that I remain over here as long as possible. I have applied for one of the university courses which will consume two months from its beginning date. Further, I understand that men eligible for discharge are allowed to volunteer for additional service Up to Feb. 14, 1946, if they so desire. In the meantime I shall investigate the facilities of private transport in the hope that she will be able to get to America soon. She is still staying with Mr. and Mme. Rabet at 9 Rue Cuvier — a five minute walk from our billet. I have never met a couple more generous or kindly than these two elderly people. I have asked them to select a few items from the Montgomery-Ward (he means Sears-Roebuck) catalog. Mme Rabet, a nurse by profession, has just cured me of a badly infected throat, which I dared not entrust to the Army doctors for fear that I would be restricted to quarters, and as a result, would not be able to see “Chiche”. In every respect both have treated us as if we were their own children.

(Comment. Of course you should stay with “Chiche”, but what I want is for you to stay with her here. Leave no stone unturned to bring her home at the earliest possible moment, unless under the circumstances, she would prefer not to come until afterward. We shall get as much as possible of the list you sent. Are you sure of Mme’s bust measurement? Marion things it is extremely large.)

I needn’t tell you how much I am disappointed at having to postpone my homecoming, but time has a rather chronic habit of shuffling along, eilly-nilly, (I believe he meant to type “willy-nilly) and one day, not too far distant, I shall stumble over the milk bucket on the back porch as I groped my way toward the kitchen door. “Chiche” sends her love in hopes that you will all continue to write to her. She asks me every day if I have received a letter from home.

(Comment. Tell your little girl, Dan, how delighted I am at the news of the expected arrival, which would be doubly good if you could now writes that all arrangements had been made for all three of you to stumble over said milk bucket. In the famous words; “Don’t give up the ship”, means either the airship or an ocean liner, whichever can get you over here in the best, quickest and safest way. In other words I am not taking your decision is final. The only thing that will make me bow to what will be considered in this instance as in evitable, is Paulette’s wishes in the matter, but outside of that, that neither of us quit struggling. I WANT YOU HOME BY CHRISTMAS. I want this year to put on a combination French-American Christmas celebration and she has got to be here to help with it)

I trust from the few hints I have given above that you may surmise I will stop at nothing that is legally and humanly possible to reverse your again quote stay in France” decision for the new Guion family, and I shall expect you to call upon me, in case I have not already made that fact clear, to do anything I can to make such a denoument possible.

For your information, I am attaching two additional copies of the American addition of the Guion wedding announcement. It never entered my head to send one to the Senechal’s although I should have done so, I can now see very plainly. I asked you for a list of people, friends of yours rather than of the family, to whom you might wish a copy sent but this along with other questions I have asked from time to time has been blithely overlooked. I have a few more copies left. To whom do you wish them sent? Respond se vou plais. – Or words to that effect. And I still don’t know whether the Senechals like their coffee ground, course or fine or underground in been form— third request. You will just have to get daughter Paulette to write me in American to give me these Monday and details which a person who has attended Oxford and is a candidate for the Sorbonne, scorns to mention. Next you will be writing me you are taking a course at Leipzig instead of attending courses at the University of Trumbull. Es weiss nicht was sol les bedauten das Ich so trauig bin. There, that will hold you for a space.

Well, children, that’s the story for this week. The whole Guion family affairs laid out flat like the contents of Colgate’s toothpaste tube— comes out like a ribbon, lays flat on the floor. I wish I could get some order out of this post-war chaos. When will Dick and Jean be home, or won’t they? What’s going to happen to Lad’s furlough? How soon can MacArthur spare Dave? When is Ced flying home? Will I have a French or American grandson? Any information leading to the arrest of any of the above rumors, dead or alive, if stretched end to end, by the authority vested in but the state of Connecticut, you man and wife. I don’t know— I’m all mixed up. When somebody please straighten me out?

Your distracted

DAD

Tomorrow and Friday, a Birthday letter to Dave from his ever-loving father.

On Saturday and Sunday, a new series of letters written in 

Judy Guion

Trumbull – Dear Sons (and daughters Jean and Paulette) (2) – News From France – September, 1945

 

Oh Kay, Jeannie, old kid, we’ll do that little thing. And while I think of it, Dick, your insurance premium notice arrived the other day. Unless I hear from you to the contrary, I shall take care of it by my check in the regular way before it comes due. You’ll be interested, Jean, to know I received a nice letter from Marge (Mrs. Ted Southworth) the other day announcing their safe arrival at “Crosswinds, RFD West Sand Lake, N.Y.”. She says: “We want you to know we thoroughly enjoyed our stay in Trumbull under the Guion roof and thank you for putting up with us. Ted has already started classes at R.I.P. in Troy and finds it a little strange to be a student again. We will be living with Ted’s folks for a while as there is not much hope of finding anything in Troy at present. We have sort of a private apartment with “kitchen privileges”. I haven’t found any gainful employment yet but am working on it. I hope it won’t be too long before all the members of the Guion family will be together again. We certainly enjoyed reading their letters and meeting Lad. “Spintail” was overjoyed to see us again and is leading a very happy life here on the farm, free from strange dogs to fight with. He gets his exercise by chasing rabbits and woodchucks.”

Alaska was silent this week but I haven’t forgotten that threat: “Some time I may drop in unexpectedly at your office”, after landing, I suppose, in a Piper or something that he has just acquired, and hitchhiking in from the Stratford airport. Oh well, it doesn’t hurt to dream!

 

And now let’s turn the spotlight on the French theater of action. A Sept. 13th letter arrived on the 20th (regular mail, it says here) and one dated the 5th arrived on the 22nd. The composite result is somewhat as follows: The whole Senechal family is spending a few days in Drancy. They asked me to send their best regards to you all – – especially to Lad who, they know, is home at last. I no longer expect to be home this year.

(Comment. This is a bitter disappointment to me Dan, as you must realize, and I am not giving up without a struggle. I want to see my son – – I want very much to know my new daughter and I had very much hoped my little grandchild would open his little eyes first in good old Connecticut. Having stated that with all the sincerity and fervor of which I am capable, I must add that no matter how strong my wishes, or yours, Dan, might be, it is, after all, Paulette’s wishes that must, under the circumstances, come first. I can understand she might want to have her baby born among familiar surroundings rather than in a foreign country, yet I wonder if judging from the economic conditions in both countries, she wouldn’t be better off from every other standpoint if she were here. As for getting home, I understand the airlines have already started transatlantic service, and I imagine the fare is not out of reason. I am also going to make inquiries as to the resumption of steamship service. I understand some of the liners have already been returned by theGgovernment to the steamship companies and regular service will soon be resumed.)

But to go on with the quotation. “The explanation is somewhat involved. “Chiche”, being pregnant, cannot travel by government transport until three months after the birth of the child, unless she leaves before her pregnancy has advanced more than four months. But with shipping as crowded as it is these days, even assuming that her visa could be hastened by political pressure from you back home, the chances are remote that the Army could find room for her before next year. She is expecting the child in April or May. Thus she will not be eligible for travel by government transport until July or August, 1946!

(Comment. I should hate to rely on any governmental pressure I could exert these days with all the red tape that would be necessary, although I would not hesitate to try, but I should think the best thing would be to forget the Army transport method and make it as a civilian, and that, as soon as you can be discharged, and she can find accommodations. And don’t let the expense deter you, because this is important enough to transcend any consideration of this sort just as long, at least, as you have a Dad to fall back on.)

Tomorrow, the final section of this letter with more information from France. Thursday and Friday I’ll post a Birthday letter to Dave from his Dad.

Judy Guion

Trumbull – Dear Sons: (and daughters Jean and Paulette) (1) – News From Jean (and Dick) – September, 1945

Trumbull, Conn., September 23, 1945

Dear Sons:      (and daughters Jean and Paulette)

Well, things have been running along here in their accustomed way. More of the boys are coming home with H.D.’s. Barbara (Plumb), I understand, has already sailed for home. Rationing is easing a bit. Gas, meat, canned goods, fuel are all easier. A few civilian goods long way off the market are beginning to appear, but strikes are mentioned more and more frequently in the daily papers – – labor demanding higher wages which of course will inadvertently result in a raise in prices and thus the vicious spiral starts again, inflation in the offing.

Lad’s 30-day furlough is practically up. He and Marian start out in the car tomorrow for Devens (Ft. Devens, Massachusetts), the idea being that if his leave is extended, as one newspaper report said was going to be done on the authority of Gen. Henry, then perhaps they can drive back together. On the other hand, if Lad has to go back from there to Aberdeen, as was the original intention, then Marian will drive back alone and we will then wait to hear from Lad as to what the Army’s future plans are for him. Personally, I do not expect they will send him to the Pacific area where the rest of his outfit is now and where he would be, if he had not gone to Dan’s wedding and thereby “missed the boat”. This week they toured New England, visiting the old Lake Winnipesaukee island of fond memories. No one is inhabiting it now but the cottage on the shore has been rebuilt. They visited Ingrid and Anna in Melrose and saw Lars Erik. They then toured through the White Mountains (Mt. Washington, the Notches, etc.), and Sunday reached St. Albans where they found Larry, Marian and Alan on a visit, then to Colchester and Burlington (unable to locate Fred), crossed Champlain on the ferry (remember the big pig?), Ausable Chasm, Saratoga (which they reached too late to look up the Osbournes) and home. Last night they had a final blowout in New York and right now Marian is doing some ironing and Lad is wrapping up packages to send to Dan with some clothes that Paulette needs and which I shall try to get off this week.

A letter from Jean (bless her heart) Correction. Letter is signed “Dick and Jean”, but if so, Dick’s handwriting has changed quite a bit – – must be the Portuguese influence. Anyway the letter says: “First of all, Dad, I want to wish you a belated birthday wish from Dick and myself. I meant to write sooner so it would reach you on your birthday, but I just didn’t get around to it. Poor excuse, isn’t it! “Happy Birthday” just the same, Dad, and we’ll be thinking of you. Dick sent you a box of cigars. Did they reach you on time? (Yes, thank you.) Well, Dick and I have been two very busy people this past week. We went two dances, a party, two movies and a USO show. That accounts for six of the days and the other one we entertained the Polish couple at our home! We had lots of fun but this week we’re going to try to get home early and catch up on some of our sleep. By the way, we’ve been gadding about since I got here. You’d think we were trying to make up for two years of separation in a few weeks. We aren’t – – it’s just that everything happens at once. It’s a lot of fun but a little tiring after a while. We haven’t had any pictures taken of our little house yet but as soon as we do, will send some to you. Dick’s assistant said he’d take some for us but he hasn’t had a chance to come out yet. I have a camera and films in my trunk but it is still someplace between here and New York. By the time it gets here, we’ll probably be ready to go home. That’s the Army for you – – slow motion.

The base is closing. They say everyone will be out of here by the end of the year. The fellows with the highest amount of points leave first, than the ones who have two years or more of overseas service – – that includes Dick, and he’s not sure he will go because I’m here. He wants to go home but he’d rather stay at this base than one in the states. They aren’t very strict so it’s really wonderful. We really don’t know what will happen, so you may be seeing us soon, or it may be a few more months. As you already know, you can’t depend on the Army. The fellows who have only a few months overseas will be sent to another base in this wing. All this business about the base closing has us in kind of a stew, though, we have two rooms of furniture that Dick bought and would like to sell it before we leave. Once Dick gets his orders we won’t have much time. Then again, if we were going to stay, we want to get a refrigerator. There is just no way of telling what’s going to happen so I guess we’ll just hang on to our furniture and continue eating at the base. Gosh, I’ll be so glad when this Army life is over and we will know what we can do. I’d like to ask another favor of either you or Marian. Would you take my beige wool dress and my green spring coat, that I sent home from Florida, to the cleaners?                                    Jean (and Dick)

Tomorrow and Wednesday, I’ll be posting the rest of this letter. Thursday and Friday will be the two parts of a Birthday Letter to Dave.

Judy Guion

 

Autobiography of Mary E Wilson – Mary E Wilson’s Photo Album – 1917 – 1957

Mary E. Wilson’s Photo Album

Mary, Jim and Arthur

amj

Arthur, Mary and Jim

1-MEE

Mary

Mary’s Mother and Father

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Arthur, Mary, her Father and Jim

1-mary with cousin shirley 001

Mary with unidentified young girl

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Archie and Mary

Mary and Archie

 

 

 

 

 

The Wilson family about 1957

Top – Mary Jean, Archie and Beverly Joan

Bottom – Mary and David Arthur

It has been an honor to share Mary E. Wilson’s Autobiography with you. I hope you enjoyed this life story of a strong woman, the man in her life and how they overcame daunting situations to achieve all that they had hoped for.

Autobigraphy of Mary E Wilson (23) Only in America – 1948 and Conclusion

Mary and Archie Wilson with their children about 1957.

Back – Mary Jean and Beverly Joan

Front – Mary and David Arthur

1948

So our initiation to rural living was hectic but everything turned out OK. Looking back on those years, Archie and I were very busy but we were very happy because we were able to give our children a healthier, happier life than we had.

Mary Jean’s asthma attacks were less severe and she was now able to go into Bridgeport alone to get her shots. She was an even-natured, shy girl even though most of the neighborhood children were boys. She sure could hold her own on the baseball field when she played with them.

David was really an outdoors boy and loved fishing, hiking and swimming in the river near the house. He helped his dad with the garden but his greatest pal was his collie dog, Lassie. How those two used to roam the woods!

Beverly was lucky because she had little girls her own age, went to a Catholic preschool, and her best friends were Elena Bonitati and the Guion family.

I was involved in the usual things when you have small children: den mother, brownies, Girl Scouts, and teaching Sunday school. I became active in the P.T.A. putting on dinners, yard sales and concerts.

I still worked nights at Briarwood’s but I finally got a job at the Trumbull hot lunch program. The children did not even realize I worked because my working hours were the same as their school hours and I had all summer off with them.

I finally got my driving license much to Archie’s displeasure. I guess he did not approve of women drivers.

We joined Grace Church in Long Hill. We were Episcopal, so decided that the children should continue as such. I became active in church activities and renewed our friendship with the James Flahertys, whom we had known in St. Luke’s when we were young.

Archie worked hard on the Laurel Street house. He had a huge vegetable garden and seemed content and happy. He was also active in the Masonic order and I in Eastern Star. It seemed we had all adjusted to our new home and country living.

Archie and I felt very fortunate and blessed to have been able to accomplish what we did. We came to America as immigrants: Archie from Scotland and Canada and I from England. We both had similar backgrounds and a lot in common which I think helped our marriage to be such a happy one. We both had worked hard together and our goal had been to make a living better for our children and ourselves.

We had never had much money but we realized an ambition that only in America could it be possible.

It has been an honor to share Mary E. Wilson’s Autobiography with you. I hope you enjoyed this life story of a strong woman, the man in her life and how they overcame daunting situations to achieve all that they had hoped for.

Trumbull – A Birthday Letter to 31324665 – August, 1943

Trumbull Conn.  August 15, 1943

Dear 31324665:

THAT, dear children, may be just a number to you, but translated into Uncle Sam Army language it spells Richard Procrastinator Guion, the middle name having been earned at birth and as far as correspondence to the home front is concerned, has been reaffirmed weekly since that time with an Ivory Soap score – 99 and 44/100% pure, (In view of my chosen profession I just have to get in these little advertising ideas in my correspondence, you know).

Is that, you may well ask, the approved method of having a letter addressed to one? No, NO, perish the thought! It isn’t even in spite of that fact. But by this time you may have guessed. In just a few days now we will celebrate a birthday but it will be a party without the main guest. We can’t even send him greetings, much less a gift because we don’t know in what corner of the globe he is hiding from Adolph. So we have unanimously adopted the theme song for the occasion: ”I Can’t Give You Anything But Love, Baby”. Of course there is lots of that from each and all of us, although we know full well it won’t buy baby a new pair of pants.

What a lot of accumulated celebration we will have to celebrate when this mess is finally settled. Now, there’s a thought. What is your prescription for a suitable method of rendering due honor to the occasion? How about that auto trip down to Mexico and Central America with enough cars to accommodate the whole family, with Lad and Dan as official interpreters? Ced could entertain and charm the natives with imitations of Bradley Kincaid, Dick and Jean might do a rumba or two, Dave would probably make a beeline for the best looking native girls, while I could profitably employ my time sniffing the native flora to see if it produces I hay fever sneeze.

Incidentally, I read recently an article on how nearly completed this Pan-American road was south of Mexico City, and ran across the following incident: the advanced survey party sometimes encountered situations for which neither engineering texts nor guidebooks had any solution. The disappearing surveyor’s stakes are a good example. In the rural sections, clear, straight-grained, sawed wood is in great demand to patch chairs, to reinforce plows and for 1000 other purposes. The surveyor’s stakes of clean new wood, 1 1/2 in. square by 14 inches long, driven into the ground 100 feet apart to mark the route of the highway, were a treasure trove to the country people who pulled up at night all the stakes placed during the day. Both U.S. and native engineers explained often and at length that the markers were necessary. The people listened, nodded, and the next morning the stakes were gone again. After all, if the yanqui senores valued the little pieces of wood so highly, why would they stick them in the ground and go away and leave them? Gringo foolishness. Finally one of the engineers hit upon the simple idea of nailing a short piece to each stake just below the top at right angles, making a cross. Not a stake disappeared from that day until the end of the survey.

Jean has a new name for me – “Marryin’ Sam”. This week, one marriage at my office, the week before, two; the week before that also two. It all came about in this way. I usually have my ad in the yellow section in the back of the Bridgeport phone directory. A few weeks ago when the salesman called for a renewal for the new edition, I happened to notice that in the New Haven directory several names appeared under the heading “Justice of The Peace”. I told him they could include my name under that heading in Bridgeport, thinking of course, the other Bridgeport “justices” would be included, but when the darn thing appeared a few weeks ago, low, like Abou Ben Adam (May his tribe increase) my name not only led all the rest, but, believe it or not, it was the only name under that heading in the yellow section. So, if the angle of incidence maintains (I have to get these engineering boys into thinking their Dad is not a back number) I may accumulate enough fees to pay the expenses on that Central American tour above referred to.

And speaking of marriages, this week, at the Trumbull Church, Jacqueline French was united in holy wedlock to Mr. John J. Schwarz, son of the Bridgeport lumber dealer. No wisecracks now about little chips off the old block, etc.

I want an answer from someone, Dan or Dick, regarding the Chevrolet out in back. I think it belongs to Dan although Dick may have made some arrangement with Dan about it. Anyway, it is not doing anyone any good standing out unused month after month. I have asked Harry Burr to give me a figure on how much it will cost to fix it up in running condition, and then, depending on the owner’s wishes, I will try to sell it or keep it against the time you boys return and want a car to run around in (and they are getting very scarce now in the East). Please, one of you write me about it.

Dave and some of the boys that forgather in the Clubhouse in the barn have an idea they can fix the old Waverley Electric car up to run either by battery or with a motorcycle motor and have been busy today working on it. I am adopting a “show me” attitude on whether they can accomplish their purpose or not.

For some years now, we have been needing a feminine touch around these here diggins’ and it looks very much as though Jean is the answer to this long felt need. She spent most of the day improving the appearance of the music room, with a bit of help from me, and the result is something to write away about. So we are profiting by Jean’s homemaking instinct, and this is fair warning now that the rest of you will have a high standard to match in presenting me with any other daughters-in-law.

The supper call is about to sound, so I’ll bring this peculiar birthday letter to a close with many good wishes to my boy “who wears a pair of silver wings”, with many happy returns of the day from all of us and most earnest hope that next August 19th there will be no empty chairs around the table as we sit down to celebrate the occasion. So, Dick old son, here’s more love than you know from your old

DAD

Tomorrow, the final two posts from the autobiography of Mary E Wilson. Enjoy the final chapter of this inspirational story and the photo album on Sunday.

Next week,  I’ll be posting letters from 1945. Dan and Paulette are still trying to figure out what their final plans will be. Grandpa continues to write to his sons who are still far from home. Dan is in France, Ced is still in Alaska and Dick is in Brazil. Lad is on the east coast, presently on furlough from Aberdeen Proving Grounds – the place where his Army adventure began – and getting ready to go back, but unsure of actual plans.

Judy Guion