A picture of Paulette Senechal, future wife of Daniel Beck Guion, Taken somewhere in France (probably Calais) some time in the 1940’s.
A picture of Paulette Senechal, future wife of Daniel Beck Guion, Taken somewhere in France (probably Calais) some time in the 1940’s.
Page 2 1/14/1945
From Signalman Dave a “5 Jan. 45” letter says: “Naturally I just couldn’t break off at home and come back to camp without leaving a little something behind me to remind you all of the four days I spent with you, but now I find I must have the very article that I left at home. It seems that the G.I. procedure is that every soldier wears what is known commonly as dog tags. So if one of you good souls would be so kind as to locate the missing articles and send them to the address here before they Court Martial me, I sure would appreciate it.
My furlough ended Monday at midnight. The Jeffersonian was only eight hours late, forcing me to miss TWO connections out of St. Louis. Naturally I was slightly AWOL!! – – Only 12 hours late coming in. But in the eyes of the C.O. our reason was a good one (there were three of us on the Jeffersonian). It seems that all of the trains were late and most of the boys were AWOL for a few hours. Some even came later than I did. This week I’m working from 12 midnight until eight in the morning in the code room at shantytown (tar paper barracks in camp now being used as operations buildings). I “sleep” in my own bed during the day. Either Sunday or Monday we go into the field for a week’s training. Don’t be surprised if by the end of the end of next week I’m writing from the hospital.”
Through courtesy of the recipient we are privileged to hear now a few words from Ordnance in Southern France:
“Things are getting better here. The sun shone almost all day and practically dried out the high spots. We got a stove for our room, so I keep fairly comfortable. There were eight of us in this room, about the size of half of our kitchen and there are four double-decker beds made of unfinished wood with 6” to 8” slats spaced about an inch apart. A mattress filled with straw which, believe it or not, is fairly comfortable. On December 13 he writes “All of us are sitting around here in our warm room with a bottle of beer. We all feel better tonight since we got paid. Due to rationing of practically everything in the PX, a maximum of that 80 francs ($1.60) per week is about all you can spend. Every cent we had, excluding good luck pieces, had to be changed to francs and we are paid in francs as it is a military offense to have American money on your person here. For easy calculating one franc is worth approximately two cents but it is still a little funny to try to buy something.”
He is now very happy to be working on the diesel electric plant and is now on the night shift. He is also trying to get in touch with Dan and if there is any way of the latter letting him know where he is, by all means set the wheels in motion. On December 22nd: “A few of the boys went out the other day and brought back a big Christmas tree which is been decorated by a bunch of very ingenious men using practically nothing but discarded paper, tinfoil from cigarette packages, and by hanging evergreen bows from wire strung around the room, the day room has been quite nicely fixed up. We expect to have a company party there this week.”
Page 3 1/14/1945
There is a report that Ray Wang has been wounded although not seriously. Catherine Warden is preparing to leave here somewhere around the first of the month for Oklahoma. I don’t expect there will be much difficulty in finding a new renter but it will leave us seriously handicapped regarding the laundry problem, which she has been
doing for us every week on her washing machine. Jean and Marian are willing to tackle the job after I get our washing machine put in order (Ced fixed the electric ironer when he was home a year ago). I figured however, that with them
both working all day, five days a week, they might not have the time, so I took our wash
down to Crawford Laundry which used to do it and was told that, as a special favor to me, they would take it this week, but only the de-luxe expensive service was available, that they were not taking on any new customers in fairness to their old steady customers and that in any event, they could not promise the return of any wash inside of a month. That, coupled with the fact that it is impossible to buy any sheets (they had to call the police at a recent sheet sale at Read’s, one of the officials at the store was knocked down in the scramble and two women tore a sheet in half, each grabbing one end and claiming it was hers), sort of settles the matter for us. Either we wash our own stuff or go without, or wear dirty clothes. Reminds me of my cousin Dud’s test to determine whether his socks were dirty enough to go to the laundry. he threw them against the wall, and if they stuck, they were.
It’s been snowing here all afternoon, in spite of which fact, two young things journey up here in the bus to get married this afternoon, reminding me of another 14th only a month later, when I performed another marriage ceremony here in the house and then the groom shortly thereafter ran away to Brazil, and, personally speaking, hasn’t been heard from since, – – well, hardly ever.
I spoke forninst (?) in this letter, about your possibly inheriting some of your parents characteristics. There is one thing you did not inherit from me and that is a, what for the lack of a better term, I shall call “money sense”. I suppose it is largely my fault that most of you are not more thrifty. When you were born, I started for each of you a bank account but fell down somewhere along the line in inculcating the idea of saving for the rainy day that invariably comes with the change in life’s weather. Later, this fund was transferred (small as it was) to the Home Building & Loan here in Bridgeport, and none of you have added a cent to it, as far as I know, since that time. In Ced’s case I suppose the atmosphere of Anchorage makes it particularly difficult to develop the habit of laying by for future needs. I religiously saved for him the money he sent home from time to time, thinking he was paying me back for some fancied debt he owed me, and then when he came home last year, he spent it out of his generous heart. He gets a bonus from Woodley’s and immediately thinks about buying Christmas gifts in spite of the expense of fixing up his car. If you boys can’t save something from the small amount you are being paid, just for the mental discipline and good habit formation, then bolster your good intentions by sending me something REGULARLY to put aside for you. I speak out of the experience and observation of sixty years and know someday you are going to thank me for it, if you heed these words now, and it will make me face your future more confidently also. This is not something you married ones can push off onto your spouses. It’s your job. Sorry to end on so somber a note.
Tomorrow and Sunday, more Special Pictures.
On Monday, I’ll begin posting letters written in 1941 when Lad is coming home from Venezuela and Dick is planning on a drive to Alaska to deliver a car to Dan and Ced.
If you are enjoying these letters about the home front during the war, why not spread the news and tell some friends? They may thank you.
Trumbull, Conn., January 17, 1945
Table of Contents:
A Christmas Poem…Dan Guion
Alaskan Diary…Ced Guion
Report From So. France…Lad Guion
30 Seconds Over Camp Crowder…Dave Guion
Odds and Ends…by the Editor
It is a blessing that you boys have acquired a sense of humor, or maybe, and I say it in all humility, you have inherited a bit from your parents. Anyway, amid the stress and storm of war and amid all the hardships of life at the
front, lodged in abandoned German block houses, etc., it is mighty reassuring to know that you can see the funny side, as witness the following in a V-mail written on December 24th by Dan. It reminds me of a reply an old darkey, who in spite of having his share of life’s troubles, always remained cheerful, once made when asked how he managed to remain so cheerful and calm, “Well, ah’l tell yo’”, said Uncle Joe, “Ah’s jist learned to cooperate wid de in evitable”. Now for Dan’s contribution:
‘Twas the day before Christmas when all through the house
All the world was astir here, especially a mouse
And the flea bitten bastard with rodent-like gall
Dragged a bar of my chocolate out into the hall
And there in a corner with indecent haste
The candy became gastronomical paste
He was heard to remark as he slunk toward his nest
“Merry Christmas to all, and to you, boy, T.S.”
All of which is by way of meaning that, although Christmas is Christmas, it is not always possible to spend it as we wish – – because of the rats and lesser mice and sech like. However, (I said it last year and I’ll say it again) Next Christmas things will be different. Dan.
Ced, from up near the Arctic Circle, reports on December 29 as follows:
The Buick is again performing its long neglected duties and does pretty well at it. There are a few bugs to be chased out of it yet and the way it looks, I may have to take up on the bearings a little later on, but I think I’ll wait
until warmer weather. It seems that somehow or other, either from incorrect fitting or by misuse in some way, one of the rods loosened up a tiny bit in the first 100 miles. I didn’t drive fast but I had the spark set a little late and it tended to overheat a little. That, added to the fact that we had nearly 2 feet of snow at just the time I started running it, made the going very tough for a new engine. There is nothing serious at all about it but it was very disappointing after doing the job so thoroughly. It still lacks 285 miles of being run in. I installed the Stuart Warner heater which I bought from Carl and it really is swell on these cold days.
We have had a couple of extremely cold snaps down to 25 below on a couple of days, but for two weeks preceding yesterday, weather and temperature have been extremely and unusually kind to the Arctic dwellers. For some time now the frost peculiar to this section has been building up each night and gradually, completely shrouding all that is exposed to the elements in a gorgeous a blanket of lacy white. Right now when the sun comes out to peek briefly at Anchorage in its hurried course across the southern section of sky, I am privileged to look upon what I believe to be the most beautiful formations of this frost which I have seen in my four odd years up here. Everything, however ugly in the nude, is now resplendent in its new white drapings. Later however, the wind came up and blew most of the frost away. Christmas Eve I spent at the Morgan’s open house and at the Church, singing a Christmas concert with the Presbyterian choir. Christmas dinner was at Jerry Keene’s. The shortest day of the year has finally come and gone and now the days are lengthening again, although I haven’t noticed it as yet. I figured on calling you on the phone from here on Christmas day, around five a.m., catching you at ten, but found there was no openings until Thursday, and again New Year’s Day with the same report. At the night rate of $20 for five minutes and four or five dollars more on day, I decided it wasn’t worth it unless I could get the right time.
Tomorrow, the rest of the letter.
On Saturday and Sunday, more Special Pictures.
Next week, I’ll begin letters written in 1941 when Lad is in Venezuela working for the Socony-Vacuum Oil Company, Dan and Ced are in Alaska waiting for Dick to drive our with their new car. Grandpa and Dave are holding down the fort in Trumbull.
Trumbull, Conn., January 7, 1945.
Dear Members of the A S F: (American Service Force, of course, to all of you except Ced, who rates his own designation, as Art’s Stationery Flyer, possibly Anchorage’s Sinister Firebug, Alaska’s Skeeing Favorite, or it might even be Anyone’s Steadfast Friend – – write your own.
Well, here it is with 1945 one week old, the Christmas tree and decorations have been laid away in camphor balls, winter has returned with a steady snowfall, income tax is drawing near and we’re not yet in Berlin.
News this week is conspicuous by its absence on the Trumbull home front. About the only item of note is that Paul (Warden, who lived in the apartment with his wife and children) has definitely received his appointment permanently locating him in Oklahoma for the duration and has sent for Catherine and the children. She has already sold her car, but as he was not able to find living accommodations there until February 1st, they are planning to stay here throughout this month. Catherine prefers to leave her furniture here, so that I may rent the apartment furnished. She is taking her washing machine and sewing machine along with her, but at present she feels she would like to come back to Trumbull when things again come back to normal.
Both Marian and Jean have heard from their respective lords and masters, but the old man, being only a father, has not heard from any of his tribe this week. I suppose Dave got back to camp safely and that Ced is still percolating as usual, but those assumptions are but due to my vivid imagination. Special message to the Benedict’s of the family: isn’t there some he-man information you can write about once in a while to your paternal ancestor. Of course I know your first obligation is to your wife but I figured once in every few months I might rate a few lines. Not that I would have you do so from a sense of duty, but merely on the basis that being still a member of the family, your other brothers and sister would enjoy hearing from you just as you, I hope, enjoy hearing from them through the medium of Trumbull headquarters, and this quite understandably is not possible in the letters you sent to your wives and sweethearts (one and the same thing, of course), because the letters they get from you are the one slender thread that unites you and they assume an importance and practically a sanctity which is not to be commercialized and spread, broadcast, for all eyes to see. I can quite appreciate this feeling and you will too, if you ponder it a moment and try to view it from the feminine viewpoint. The net consequence is that, while verbal comments of interesting news is passed on, it is not the same as having something down in black and white before one to quote in these weekly blurbs of mine. Save the love and kisses for your sweeties but get expansive once in a while and include the whole family in on your broadcasts. Lad, for instance, writes Marian, if we can read behind the few deleted words of the censor has destroyed, that he is evidently located on some old French castle and that Lad has something to do with running the diesels which supply the juice, enough at least to run his electric razor. The walls of the edifice in which they live our thick and their quarters are cold and damp. Jean reports that, for Dick, the rainy season has started and for about three months it will continue to rain harder each day and then will taper off again for another three months. Right now it is oppressively hot where he is.
Marian is “doing her bit” for the war and starts working tomorrow for Sikorsky, something to do with helicopters. We’ll know more about it later. And that’s about all right now. Meantime, keep your chin up.
Tomorrow and Friday, I’ll be posting another letter from Grandpa to his sons away from home, all five of them.
On Saturday and Sunday, more Special Pictures.
Next week, we’ll go back to 1941, when Lad is getting ready to come home and Dan and Ced are in Alaska, awaiting Dick and the delivery of their car.
New Year’s Eve, 1944 at Trumbull, Conn.
It is somewhat like old times here tonight, principally due to the fact that we have a surprise visit from Uncle Ted, Helen and Dorothy, who arrived here about noon time, so that with Jean and Marian, the old dining room table was occupied almost like it used to be. Zeke and Elizabeth and the two youngsters came in later, and Dave, of course, representing the Army, and Aunt Betty representing herself, made up the family circle. So you see we are sending the old year out in good style, tempered as always with thoughts of you boys in the background.
The girls were busy last night getting ready for their New Year’s Eve hen party tonight. They have fixed up most temptingly luscious cookies and cakes and all evidence point to an enjoyable evening in prospect.
Ted tells me he has more or less been marking time until the big boys in the government and the big financial interests get set on their Bolivian project. He expects to have a talk soon with the contracting engineer at which time he will know whether he will go to South America to start work at once or not.
Incidentally Lad, Ted says the Ven. Pete. (Venezuela Petroleum) is going along in fine shape. They are building a refinery of their own, are developing their own port facilities and things look very bright for the future. He advises holding on to the stock. And, he also suggests, that with an idea he has reposing in the back of his mind, it would be a mighty good stunt, likely to bear big future dividends for you, if you would occasionally drop a postcard showing that you still remember them, to Frank O’Connor and Mr. Kunhardt, c/o Venez. Pete. in Caracas, and in fact any of the other big boys you know at Soc. V. (Socony-Vacuum Oil Company).
Dorothy tells me that on Christmas Day they sent you a round robin from the New York Peabodies, which I trust you have already received. If opportunity presents, I shall try to get some of our guests to add some message to this letter just to vary the monotony of another letter from Pop.
Addition by one-fingered Ted – who ain’t dead (yet) came up to Trumbull with Helen and Dothoraty (Spelling ok) enjoyed seeying the “HUSKIES” now known as Dad’s grand kind (and they are grand) also admired the two beauties – who prepared such a fine dinner. Probably won’t find them here when you return if Ziegfield sees them. Hope this finds all well –
To all of you, here, there and yon, may I add my good wishes and tell you that we are having a grand time up here in Trumbull….we haven’t been here for ages. And Dave is here too, so at least we are seeing one of you. Marian and Jean have done themselves proud with a delicious dinner and completing preparations for a decidedly feminine party they are having tonight. To you who are married to them, you are very lucky….but they are too. We’re staying overnight so we are having a real spree and enjoying it just loads. Donald Stanley is due to get home tomorrow, I believe….so will be seeing him soon. He hasn’t been around since last May or about that time. I just finished reading a lot of letters from Dan, Ced and Lad. To-day it really seems as though we have all been to-gether. Lots of love. Aunt Helen.
Page 2 1231/44
Here is Aunt Dorothy en route to Los Angeles – – the idea being to distribute the population evenly, – – since California has given Marian to Trumbull, I return westward to balance the California population! Aunt Helen and Uncle Ted seem to have pretty much covered the ground on today’s doings so I can only add ditto to their comments on our delicious dinner and charming hostesses – – all three of them – – Marian, Jean, and Aunt Betty. I very much enjoyed seeing the transformation which Marian has made in the back bedroom with the beautiful sailing ships. It is truly lovely – – as Dave says, “When I look around I think I must be in the wrong house!” Not meaning that the Trumbull house hasn’t always been a lovely place – – but the feminine influence got him, I guess. That back bedroom has never seen organdy ruffles before, I’m sure! We all wish you all were with us on this eve of the New Year – – and you are, in fact, very close in our thoughts and in our hearts. All my love to you – – Aunt Dorothy.
Do I daresay “Happy New Year”, fellows? It seems that that spectacular time of the year has rolled around again, but I haven’t gotten into the right spirit. (Or should I say “Spirits”) Anyway, we can certainly hope for a wonderful new year, and perhaps if we wish hard enough, we can also have a high old party here in Trumbull this time next year. In the meantime, have as nice a time as you can, and remember that the best celebration we can ever have will be when all of you are home again. Until then, best of luck and good wishes from….. Marian
“A Very Happy New Year”, boys. And let’s all hope and pray that next year at this time we will all be here in this house to wish each other a happy 1946. All my best wishes to you all…. Jean
(Note by the editor) Dave is out with Bob Jennings, so is not available to finish this round robin sort of letter.
Dan makes us all happy by writing on December 13th “a few words of assurance”. He says he has met a pleasant family in the nearby city of — and my frequent visits there keep me amused in my spare moments, and soon after this V-mail letter arrived we had another written December 2nd on a New Year’s greeting card, as follows: “To indicate how completely we are out of touch with the rest of the world we breezed blithely through both Franklin’s and Tradition’s Thanksgiving without knowing it until too late to celebrate. Intellectually I am atrophying at an alarming rate. I don’t suppose the Fates cut me out from a provincial pattern. At any rate I miss Paris deeply, often thinking how poor by comparison are the opportunities here for meeting and speaking to French people. The boys on the job here seem to be content to sit around playing cards every night. I hope we can finish this job soon. And the war too.”
Marian has just had a letter from Lad and is quite thrilled. His address is the same except that his APO number has been changed to 667 with cable address “Sans Origin”. For your information, Lad, Marian, whom you hope is “not unhappier then she need be”, is a continual ray of sunshine, and is making this a very happy household with Jean. They have just finished doing some marvelous cooking of cakes and cookies, and I think I shall dub them the “sunshine baker’s” with apologies to the Sunshine Baking Company of Long Island City or wherever it is.
In a few hours now it will be a new year. How I hope it will bring you all back safe and sound, with Peace in Europe at least. With all my heart I am wishing each of you a happy New Year. Dad
This concludes the letters I have from 1944. Tomorrow I’ll begin with the first letter of 1945 and then spend two days on the second letter.
Dear Cedric —
Indirectly we’ve heard from you several times since we saw you last Christmas time. We always enjoy those carbons your dad sends out.
No one is no more as much surprised as we are to still be here. Ted expected to be in Bolivia weeks and weeks ago.
When are we going to see you again. Love from all of us
Aunt Helen and Uncle Ted
Our best to Rusty too.
And Dear Cedric —
I just don’t know where my good intentions go ! Every time one of dad’s long “round-Robins” arrives, I say to myself, “I must write Cedric and Lad and Dave and Dick. And the first thing I know another letter has arrived from dad and I am saying the whole thing again ! I never even thanked you for bringing down that wonderful load of wood last winter – and we did enjoy it so much !
Right now I am getting ready for a trip to Los Angeles ! I am just as surprised as you are ! It was all very unexpected and I am still trying to catch my heart. After I get there I’ll write you a real letter. In the meantime all my love – Aunt Dorothy
Tomorrow, and Tuesday, a letter from Grandpa to his boys. Thursday and Friday I’ll post the first letter of 1945.
For the Greatest Generation, it was an honor and a privilege to serve and defend their country. The following excerpts are taken from a pamphlet called “FALL IN”, Greetings to the men who serve today from your comrades of 1917 and 1918. It was presented by the American Legion to my father, Lad, on May 14th, 1942, the day he reported for duty.
WHAT YOU ARE DEFENDING
Life….. Liberty….. Pursuit of Happiness
Right to Hold Property
Brotherhood of Free Peoples….. Equality of Man
The Constitution, Including the Bill of Rights
American Way of Life
THE FOUR FREEDOMS
“Ye shall know the truth and the truth shall make you free”
This booklet could properly be titled, “Letters from a sailor father to his son.” It is a welcome to comradeship from the members of the American Legion to those young men who are now entering upon the greatest experience of their lives. They have become Service Men in the Armed Forces of the United States.
Members of the American Legion, without exception, wore the uniform of the United States with outstanding honor during the great war, now sometimes termed World War I. They were honorably discharged after the emergency but they have never ceased to serve their country. They have displayed great interest in the problems of their country; they have manifested that interest at all times by serving in peace as they served in war.
But now we are at war. Our nation has been attacked. We are starting NOW to build – to build for the preservation of freedom and the homes we love:
Therefore at a time when these forces are being expanded, trained and made ready to defend our beloved country, at any cost necessary, the American Legion greets these men and women who are now defending the same things for which we fought and for which we offered all that we were and all that we hoped to be.
We want to be the Big Brothers, the Pals and the close friends of those young defenders. We want to serve as advisers when they seek advice; it is our desire to attempt to make their road just a little smoother, their great task a little easier, and above all, to make the success of their accomplishment secure.
For these reasons we offer you this information called from our own memorable experiences of 23 years ago.
Lynn U. Stambaugh
THE SERVICE FRATERNITY
You are, or soon will be, a fraternity brother in the oldest fraternity on earth, a fraternity of men who have served their country. There is no closer brotherhood on earth, there never has been.
No one can explain it, no one can define the comradeship that exists among men who have served; it is an active, living brotherhood. Money cannot buy membership; preference finds no place on its rolls. It’s the service that counts. It’s service that pays your initiation and secures your membership. No one can take it away; nothing can take its place.
Your service is your initiation into the fraternity of all serviceman. That initiation may be a bit tough in places but it brings to the surface the fine characters of men; it also shows up the other side in some. It brings everything to the surface. There is nothing hidden during that initiation. We can visualize your experiences. We went through it and therefore we hope that we can make things better for you by giving you a brief outline of what may be ahead for you.
WHAT YOU CAN EXPECT
First, you are an individual worthy to defend liberty and freedom. You have chosen to preserve that for which many have died to obtain and to defend. You are to wear the uniform and the insignia of the grandest organization on earth.
Second, you are now a comrade of every man and woman who has served, or is serving under the flag of United States; of Washington, Jackson, Grant, Lee, Custer, Roosevelt, Pershing, and all the rest. After your service is completed you will find no way or preference among your comrades.
Third, you are going to have a lot of new experiences, many of which will seem very hard and burdensome as you pass through them but which will appear some time later as interesting and amusing experiences.
Fourth, you’re entering upon a new life and it will be somewhat difficult to make adjustments. The service has its regulations and traditions. They are sacred to the service so do not try to change them. They are older than you and each regulation exists for some good reason. They are worth has been proven by experience – and hard experience at that. So accept them as they are and conform yourself to them.
“The service is just what you make it.”
Next week, I’ll post a Christmas Card to Ced from the Peabodys and Grandpa’s last letter in 1944. Then I’ll begin 1945.
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