Life In Alaska – A 40 Hour Week – Oct., 1940

DBG - A 40 Hour Week - Oct., 1940

Oct. 16

Daear Daad,

Your letter has been one of the most pleasant that I have ever received, which makes life really worthwhile. I got it today, and had not yet mailed this, which is fortunate, because I, Too, have some good news…. good to me, anyhow.

We have just learned that from now on we will have to work no more than 40 hours per week at the same salary, which is a tremendous gain. I am running the transit almost entirely now, for Hal who thinks he might get another job, thus preparing me to fill his shoes if the opportunity arrives. The arrangement on salary: every other week we get 31/2 days off! That should give me plenty of time to see more of the country, although I shall spend more money doing so!

I’m still in a hurry. I have to get to the PO to mail this, after converting my check intoxxxx a money order,

Incidentally, it is yours to spend as you see fit if you find yourself short on cash. I shall have no use for it until some distant date.


Hooray for everything!


Life In Alaska – AD Letter To Mrs. McCain – Oct., 1940

DBG - AD letter to Mrs. McCain - Ovct., 1940

Oct. 16   (Rec’d 10/16)

As you may have deduced by the address, I assume the tall runt has left for the big adventure. (Maybe the letter was addressed to Grandpa and Dave, but omitted Dick. Since I don’t have the envelope I can’t be sure.) I hope he (keeps you posted for our sakes. (A reference to Dick leaving on his trip to bring the Buick to Dan and Ced in Alaska)

Enclosed please find checque for two weeks labor. ($95.83) Invest it as you think fit, and please advise me as to best method for sending money home.

Snow has come and is on the wane, not really having meant it. Ced and I both own skis, now, and are waiting for a more serious ‘fall’ (8 inches are fast dwindling to nothing). It has not been cold enough for ice, either, except in puddles, and who wants to skate in puddles?

By strange co-incidence I went to the post office for Mrs. McCain tonight and noticed that she received a letter from AD. Lucky woman! (This is the letter sending a check to Mrs. McCain and asking her to arrange a birthday party for Dan –   “Dan wrote interesting episodes, one being the surprise party which I started with my small check to Mrs. McCain and request that she spent it in pinch hitting for Dad on Dan’s birthday.”) Ced and I did not.

But what is this rumor about better cars, when they are built? Who will buy them? How much? Color? Now you can drive out to Seattle and catch a boat north without any inconvenience. Boats run year-round, twice a week, they say.

This is a helluva letter to send home. Better one next time, when I am not in such a hurry.

So long ‘til then,


I pulled the old second?liner in the teeth of a rank or nest of Democrats as have ever clustered under the arctic circle. (A reference to how he voted in the last election.)

Life In Alaska – Anchorage – A Grown-Up Mid-Western Town – Oct., 1940

Dan in white jacket in Alaska

DBG - letter from Alaska - Howdy, Kinfolk - Oct., 1940

Wed., Oct. 8

(R’cd 10/17/1940)

Howdy, kinfolk,

I suppose that all this newspaper talk about elections and our little brown brothers across the sea (the bastards!) in Japan has gotten you stirred up to a pretty pass, but in perspective, from this squaw’s nest called Alaska, it all seems pretty silly.

The inefficiency of construction which is rampant all over the air base and the rapid pouring of concrete on the runway is due more to the proximity of cold weather than to any threat of invasion.

Your naïve queries, Dad, about light and power in Anchorage are deserving of considerable attention. Perhaps I will repeat what Ced might have told you, since he and I do not collaborate with one another when we write. The most concise way of describing Anchorage is that it is like a grown-up mid-western town. The Anchorage Light and Power Co. furnishes electricity from its plant at Ekluntna. The City water supply is pumped from filtration wells beside Ship Creek. There are several restaurants, cafés, liquor stores, drug stores, soda fountains, dry goods stores, hardware stores, pawnshops, furniture stores, hotels, nightclubs, taverns, houses of prostitution, Doctors, Dentists, Lawyers, Jewelers, Opticians, one paved street, and fewer women per capita than anywhere else in the world. It is both a man’s town and a woman’s paradise. Spinsters, widows, even prostitutes can find themselves a husband apiece without half trying. There are over two thousand men now employed at the air base. The CAA is active in Anchorage, and is employing men. The Railroad employs men. Last week a new arrival in town paid $.75 to sleep in an armchair overnight. The hotels and rooming houses are always full. Exorbitant rates are being charged, and real estate values have soared. Labor is extremely scarce for private hire, every able-bodied man has a job with the Air base etc., and each night the Anchorage Times advertises for more men at the Air Base. There is bound to be a reaction, when prices will careen downward, and hotel rooms will be given away as premiums with each pair of trousers you buy. It has been hinted that such profiteering as is going on now might well result in the birth of a new town nearer to the Army post, which will fold up many dealers in Anchorage.

Appendix to Anchorage’s institutions: Churches, paid Fire Department, Grammar School, High School, five or six Air plane Services, bus lines, railroad, taxi companies.

Prices on standard products are equal to or slightly higher than in the states (cameras, toilet goods, etc.). The bulky things are more expensive, due to excess freight rates (fresh fruits, vegetables, furniture, etc.)

Pennies are seldom seen. It is said that Fairbanks was “spoiled” only recently by the influx of outsiders, before who’s time it was considered picayune to use anything smaller than a quarter! A bar of candy was to bits. So was five bars of candy!

What a difference from the state of Washington, where sales tokens worth 1/5 of a cent are used everywhere!

I hope all this gives you a more lucid idea of what Anchorage is really like. At night the street (Main) is aglow with neon signs and streetlights. The sidewalks are never deserted from dawn to dawn. There are night shifts at the Air Base, with buses running two or three times between sunset and sunrise. Nightlife does not quiet down until three or four A.M.

Please keep us posted on Dick’s peregrinations… if he lets you in on them. Adios until the next time.


Special Picture # 139 – Rusty Heurlin in Front Of His Painting Studio @ 1940

CDG - Rusty in front of his painting cabin

Written on the back – “Here is my painting studio with cranberries growing around it.Notice the belly line completely reduced due to my own home cooking. Ask Dan if he wants to plan on a hunting trip for moose. He can get one if he goes out up here with me. Think Fred or ______ will be up. Can guarantee both a moose. Guide Heurlin”

Trumbull – Dear Jack Armstrong, The Aaaaaal American Boy (2) – Oct., 1944

Trumbull House - Maple tree taken down in Hurricane of 1944 - view towards litle drive way

Page 2    10/8/1944

After the war I guess the Rangers who return to Trumbull better convert the club into a branch of the Veterans of World War 2 or some such affair. As you probably have already heard two noteworthy Americans have passed on this week – Al Smith, the “hahhp” (?) warrior and Wendell Willkie. Another tragic bit of news has saddened us all in this neighborhood most definitely and brings the war and its horrors pretty close to home. One of those dreaded telegrams came to the Laufer’s Wednesday with the news that young George Laufer had been killed in action in France on September 20th. He was only 21 and had been working on the repair of army trucks. No details are known as yet. A messenger boy from Bridgeport drove up in a taxi but finding no one at home went next door to the Pack’s. Mrs. Pack, not knowing what it was, told him to leave it, that someone would be home soon. Mr. Laufer found it stuck under the door. He at once phoned his daughter and she and her husband went down to Bridgeport where Mrs. L. was working and broke the news to her. There were two letters from George in the mailbox at Kurtz’s which they got after receiving the telegram.

I have tried in my letters to you all not to stress too much the dread and low spirits that will visit us at times, particularly when a longer period than usually lapses without word from you, and events like the above right in the neighborhood, don’t help to boost the home morale too much, so Dan particularly will understand why his letters are particularly helpful when they arrive at fairly short intervals. There is a lot said in the public press about the duty of those at home to write frequently to keep up the morale of the boys at the front. Admitted, but I think a word now and then should be said for the importance of the reverse and. And lest the rest of you who are not in France, should get the idea that these remarks do not concern you, let me say that the papers every day are sprinkled with news items about men in service right in this country who succumb to accidents, so PLEASE don’t forget to give the folks back home a bit of practical thought once in a while.

This week, as last, Marian and Dave kept the light burning. If now and again Dave, you get a little touch of “homesickness”, it may give you a sort of fellow feeling to know that your Dad at home also has a species of the same disease which no one has yet named but which I might term “boy sickness” or perhaps “son sickness”. The old house, which for so many years has resounded to the noise of footsteps and talk and laughter and pianola music, seems strangely quiet these days, but there, I must snap out of this mood and just add the banal remarks that I hope this European phase will be over soon. Dave expects that his outfit will be leaving for overseas duty in not too long a time. He based this assumption on the fact that those, unlike himself, who have not had furloughs, are not being given fairly long ones and in numbers. Last night, Dave, the phone rang and Rial Peck was at the other end. He seems to be a great guy and I think it was mighty fine of him to call. He says he bunks next to you and that you’re right on the ball. I won’t give up seeing you before you go overseas until there is no other alternative.

Marian says the weather is still hot down in Flora, but is due to change soon, but by that time they may be transferred elsewhere. Ced’s last Christmas package has finally reached them – – a furry pair of slippers for her and a cigarette case for Lad. Next time you write, Marian, I would be interested in hearing how your mother’s eyes are coming along.

I haven’t yet been able to get any action on the refrigerator affair, Ced, but will keep after it. Right now I couldn’t take care of any Alaska business if I got it. Several of the smaller Bridgeport manufacturers seem to be interested in the advertising agency service, and I can’t get help for the other end.


Tomorrow, some more Special Pictures.

On Monday I’ll start posting letters written by Dan in 1940 while he was in Alaska. I have been posting these out of order because I have recently gotten them from Dan’s daughter.  This week will finish off the letters and the next time we roll around to his story line, I’ll be posting letters from 1942.

Judy Guion

Trumbull – Dear Jack Armstrong, The Aaaaaal American Boy (1) – Oct., 1944

Trumbul house - Maple Tree taken down in Huricane of 1944 (front porch steps

Trumbull, Conn., October 8, 1944

Dear Jack Armstrong, the aaaaaal American Boy:

Of course if you haven’t been listening to the radio lately and followed the adventures of this wonderful youth who accomplishes so much on a diet of Wheaties, you will fail to get the full implication of the compliment being paid to you in being so addressed. Be that as it may, you may rejoice that the blood of pioneers flows in your veins and you may hand down to posterity that your sire at the age of sixty swung a lusty axe, and un-dismayed by hurricanes that back in these days visited the section known as New England, and in spite of blisters, tackled the job single-handed with such vigor that he even hit himself on the forehead with an axe (fortunately it was the broad end) due to swings so mighty that he literally fouled electric light wires (you needn’t mention that they had been brought low by a tree falling on them). However no harm was done either to wire, forehead or axe, save perhaps a little injured dignity. In other words, much of the brush has been cut away from the smaller limbs and what now remains is the sawing of the big trunks which would probably be accomplished much more satisfactorily with the aid of certain soldiers now in the U.S. Army or an Alaskan pilot-mechanic. The next step would then be an S O S for a certain technical expert who already has in his mind the plan for mounting a circular saw to be operated by an auto motor and thus make short work of the ten foot pile of logs and branches that still have to be sawed to length – – thus adding home improvement #3 to #1 Method for flattening tin cans, and #2 Blower for outdoor incinerator. Up to this point however I must confess it is Dan whose services I have missed most, and hearing his cry of T-i-m-b-e-r as another denizen of the forest succumbs to his well-placed strokes, might even be surprised by the stamina, initiative and sustained devotion to the job that Dick and Dave might evince after working a while for Uncle Sam. However, I guess that’s enough of this which might be entitled “much ado about nothing”.

Now will move over into the subject of hometown gossip. Lad’s friend, Myron Whitney is, or was a short while ago, in a Bridgeport Hospital where he was taken for treatment of some bad burns when a steam line burst in the plant where he is working and scalded him. Dan will be interested to know that there is a young man who met Barbara in Italy and seemed enough smitten with her to come to Bridgeport to meet the Plumb family and stayed there several days (perhaps the entire time of his furlough) as I understand his father and mother are both dead. I have not been informed whether the feeling on Barbara’s part is mutual. Carl, I am informed, Ced, is now on a transport. Charlie Hall is somewhere south of the equator in the Pacific area, which is about as much as Jane knows about it. This morning, Dave, Bob Jennings, McClinch and Ed Young, all in sailor outfits, came to call on Catherine.. Bob says he will be in Sampson for about six months, McClinch has sailing orders for the 18th of this month and Young is at Sheepshead Bay in Brooklyn. The club has all but passed out. The place is a wreck. It looks like what I imagine a gambling joint looks like after being raided by the police. Broken glass scattered all over the floor, playing cards strewn in every direction, furniture out of place. It is probable that not all this mess is attributable to the members, as I came home one day and found Skip and Susan in there having a most delightful time, throwing things around, down the stairs and in general having a riotous time. It seems that a couple of boards in the little cubbyhole door at the back had been ripped off and the children had gotten in that way and were playing “the wreck of the Hesperus””, the Sacking of Rome, or maybe to be up to date, the bombing of Berlin.