Trumbull – Dear Dan and Ced (2) – A Long Snake With Bulges – February, 1942

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Very little news to record. This morning after getting the dinner started I was lured by the sunshine and fairly mild temperature (40 or so). I set out for a walk at 11:15, intending to walk up the old railway roadbed as far as the reservoir and beyond it, try to find some means of crossing the feeder stream and coming home on the east side. However, due to the heavy rain all day yesterday, the river was so much in the state of flood that I could find no place to cross until reaching Whitney Avenue, then I struck in back of the old mill but must have trended too far east because after traveling by dead reckoning for over an hour I finally came out back of Footherap’s. I reached home at 1:45, 2 ½ hours of steady walking without any rest. At an average of possibly 4 miles an hour chalks up 10 miles with no apparent ill effects except a healthy leg tire.

Business with me is dragging along the bottom during January we hardly did enough to warrant keeping open. If there had been any wolves in the vicinity they have walked right in the open door. I am waiting to see if this is the permanent state of affairs with the war on of the tax situation as it is or whether it is just a temporary lull for adjustment. Food prices are skiting. Dick asked me to get some boiled him for sandwiches. $.70 a pound is the present price.

I heard the other day that Dick Boyce is married and that Bob Kascak has joined the Navy. Household tragedy – – Dave, in carrying a full oil bottle for the kitchen stove hit it on the cellar stairs, smashed it to bits and splashed two gallons of kerosene over his trousers and nether extremities. No one was handy to apply a match or my youngest might have gone up in smoke. At that, he did almost enough cussing to ignite anything within respectable flash point.

Dan, if my memory serves me right, the law requires that when you change your address you are supposed to notify the Dept. of Motor Vehicles. Probably if you do not do any driving down there you can get away with your permanent address as Trumbull. Are you still legally the ownee of the car Dick is driving around?

DPG - with Zeke holding Butch

Dave keeps up fairly well with his school marks, the last report card giving him 70 in the Spanish and History, 75 in English, geometry 90. And that’s about all for this trip.

DAD

Tomorrow and Sunday, more Special Pictures.

On Monday I’ll begin a week of letters written in 1943. Lad and Marian are very serious and planning their wedding. Let’s hope that Uncle Sam agrees with their plans.

Judy Guion

Trumbull – Dear Dan and Ced (1) – A Long Snake With Bulges – Feb. 1, 1942

Biss - with Butch and family - 1940

Dan Guion, the first one in.

Trumbull, Conn. Feb. 1, 1942

Dear Dan and Ced:

Over the months, the number of carbon copies comprising my weekly letters waxes and wanes. If I should draw a diagram of them over the course of a year it would look like a long snake with bulges here and there, some larger, some shorter, some quite bulgy as though said snake had swallowed an ox and others and some, like the present, with two boys away, indicating the swallowing of only a rabbit or so.

For your information, Ced, Dan, after leaving Shelton, or Derby, went to Fort Devens near Ayer, Mass., where he stayed for just a week. Then came a postal dated January 28th, reading as follows: “Here it is! Engineers Replacement Center, Belvoir, Va. I am one of about 50 who is being sent to the destination of my choice. Most recruits go where they are needed, willy-nilly. Luck, wot? Belvoir is about 20 miles from Washington, D.C. I don’t know any particulars of my address or station but the future will soon disclose my lacking details. I leave Devens at 5 PM tonight (Wed) via (presumably) Pullman.” And that is the last I have heard directly from my soldier son except that Dave mentioned Barbara having received a card from Dan saying he had reached Washington.

Last week’s mail also brought a card from the local Draft Board granting Lad a B-1 rating until April. I had heard that both the President and Vice President of Producto had gone to bat for Lad on the basis that the company is doing 100% war work, and he, as head of the shipping department, fills an important post – – and incidentally filling it in a manner, so I learned, better than it has been filled by any previous man on the same job.

And as for you, Ced, my erring one, you know what the Governor of North Carolina said to the Governor of South Carolina, don’t you? “It’s a long time between drinks” and that applies to letters from Alaska. I just live on hopes as each day sees me fumbling with eager hands at the combination of P.O. Box 7. It is well, as some poet once remarked, that hope springs eternal in the human breast. There is one thing worse than no letter at all and that is to peek through the glass, see in the box and airmail envelope from Alaska, and then find it to be addressed to an absent brother and have the latest news tantalizingly locked up inside and legally padlocked by Uncle Sam. That to my opinion calls for the exhibition of remarkable qualities of self control on the part of one whom modesty prevents mentioning by name. As soon as we know Dan’s mailing address this small piece of torture will be forwarded to him. But for future guidance, don’t think you have written the letter home under such circumstances.

Needless to say, Dan, we were all jubilant here to learn the news conveyed by your card. So you ascribe it to luck, hey? Well, I’m not so sure. The Century Dictionary defines luck as “that which happens to a person by chance”. I don’t recall hearing that any of the great philosophers have ever written an essay on luck, but it might profitably be a subject for investigation. What proportion of luck consists in having improved passed hours and days so that when opportunity delivers its w.k. knock, there is not so large an element of chance in the preparedness of the person after all. The whole subject would be worth a little more probing. It might form the substance of a fireside chat – not the White House kind, but one of those interesting topics of conversation that to my mind are not indulged in as much as they merit, being crowded out of place by clever wisecracking (which is pleasing and has its place but should not be indulged in to the exclusion of all else), neighborhood gossip, argumentative subjects like the war, politics, religion, etc., but an opportunity to explore the other fellows mind and stimulate some extemporaneous thoughts and possibly unearthing points of view quite new and unique. Someone once said the art of conversation was a lost art and I have wondered if he did not mean something similar to what I have tried to get across above.

Tomorrow, I’ll finish this letter. 

On Saturday and Sun day, more Special Pictures.

Judy Guion

Trumbull – Dear Ced – Every Week The War Gets Closer to Home – January 18, 1942

CDG - Birth Certificate from Kemper - Jan, 1942

January 10, 1942

Mr. Cedric D. Guion

Box 822

Anchorage, Alaska

Dear Cedric:

The enclosed birth certificate is in response to your father’s request which I received this morning; and it is being mailed to go by air. Trust you will receive it promptly.

Tab I am delighted about your being active in airplane work as it seems to me probable that it will be one of the fastest growing industries for quite a while to come.

Ethel and I hear occasionally and with a great deal of interest the letters that you write to your grandmother and other members of the family.

Kind regards.

Sincerely,

(Kemper Francis Peabody, Grandma Arla’s brother)

KFP:MG

 

 

Trumbull, Conn., January 18, 1942

Dear Ced:

Every week the war gets closer to home. Last Wednesday Lad received notice of reclassification in A-1 and while Producto will try again for his deferment he does not think there is much chance of it’s going through. He was wondering today if it would not be a good stunt for him to enlist with the idea that in so doing, he could more or less choose the branch of service he would prefer, rather than wait to be drafted and thus be deprived of a choice. In that event I believe he would prefer the Navy. However, this was more thinking out loud than it was a statement of what he really intended to do. And this of course is Dan’s last week home. He leaves Wednesday from Shelton to begin working for Uncle Sam and that at present is the extent of our knowledge on the subject. Dick registers next month and as for you, I am waiting to hear some late news from Anchorage on your status.

Zeke’s car froze up during the cold snap last week and busted the water pump so the car is now laid up. He is doing nothing about having it repaired and according to Elizabeth he may decide to get along without a car as he goes to and from work in the bus anyway, or, if he can pick up a good used Ford whose owner does not want too much for it, he may do that. Used cars are getting scarcer and dearer. One would think that with so many joining the armed forces and others putting up their cars because of tire shortage there would be more than enough to offset the idea of a coming car shortage because of car manufacturers going over 100% to war work, but prices for used cars do not seem to reflect this theory.

Lad’s message to you is “Keep your chin up and watch out for the planes”. (He has just departed to pay his usual visit to Nichols) The other three boys are up at Plumbs. Dick, I believe, has gone over to Stratford to get Jean. There was some talk of going skating but as the temperature has been up around 40 today I think they decided either to play ping-pong or possibly go for a walk.

Aunt Betty wants me to send her usual greeting and to tell you she looks forward to your letters which she enjoys very much. Arnold dropped in just before dinner today and is now on the night shift at Conn. Tool & Eng. Co. Dick is also on night work now. He leaves here at three and gets home at midnight. Miss Platt has decided to continue alone by herself for the present, I imagine, as she has taken a smaller office in the Court Exchange Building (where the Algonquin Club used to be at the corner of Broad and State. Dan has been home all this week and has spent about three days cleaning out the attic. I don’t recall whether I told you that Lad is now head of Producto’s shipping department and has been complemented on the way he has done his job even though he was put in charge on short notice with very little experience.

I received word from Kemper that he had forwarded your birth certificate to you. I hope it reaches you promptly and is what you wanted. Let me know what more I can do for you. It makes me happy to know I can be useful to you once in a while.

A couple of weeks ago I added a hastily written P.S. on one of my letters, at Dan’s suggestion, to the effect that if you did not need all the blankets and sheets Dan and Dick used and wanted to get them out of the way in connection with moving, it might be a good stunt to ship them home. Under ordinary conditions we have ample but with Dick and Dan home it used up pretty much all of the surplus so that when we have visitors, such as happened when Anne and Don and Gwen stayed here, we had to do a lot of juggling around to try to make them comfortable and if Anne had not brought some warm blankets with her, it would have been embarrassing. However, don’t bother about it unless you have more than you need for yourself and Rusty. Take good care of the blanket I sent Dan as this was a 100% virgin wool blanket from Read’s —  the best they had and rather expensive. Anything you ship back you can send C.O.D., as I imagine your expenses these days are a bit of a problem.

By the way your last letter (none arrived last week) said nothing about moving. What is the present status in this line?

Friday Dan went over and brought back Elizabeth and the kids here to supper. She then took them up to the Zabel’s and all went to the movies – – a feature called The Corsican Brothers, (http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0033490/  ) a tale of Corsica based on one of Dumas’ novels. It was fairly good.

I suppose you are betting on the ice breaking up this year. When do they start the pool?

In spite of the strange and unusual titles to which letters are addressed to me, with the help of postmistress Kurtz, they all, as far as I know, have been delivered. And on that score, a letter came the other day to Aunt Betty which was addressed to “Miss Betty Dwigee”.

And that’s about all I can scrape up in the way of news (?) Which leaves me but one alternative — you know what.

DAD

Tomorrow and Friday, a 2-part letter written to both Ced and Dan, who has now joined the fighting forces of Uncle Sam.

Judy Guion

Trumbull – The War Gets Closer to Home – January, 1942

It’s January 1942 and every week the war gets closer to home. Lad and Dan are both home, awaiting their fate at the hands of Uncle Sam. Ced is the only one receiving letters now while he is working in Alaska.

January 11, 1942

Dear Ced:

Dan got his summons this week and is to report for active duty on the 21st. He quit working for Producto and is now a man of leisure. Knowing Dan, I don’t know how much leisure there will be in his activities.

January 18, 1942

Dear Ced:

Last Wednesday Lad received notice of reclassification to A-1 and, while Producto will try again for his deferment, he does not think there is much chance of it’s going through. He was wondering today if it would not be a good start for him to enlist with the idea that in so doing he could more or less choose the branch of service he would prefer rather than wait to be drafted and thus be deprived of a choice. In that event I believe he would prefer the Navy. However,  this was more thinking out loud than it was a statement of what he really intended to do.

And this of course is Dan’s last week home. He leaves Wednesday from Shelton to begin working for Uncle Sam and that at present is the extent of our knowledge on the subject. Dick registers next month and as for you, I am waiting to hear some late news from Anchorage on your status.

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

January 25, 1942

Cedric, Mio:

Your letter to Dan arrived yesterday, but alas it has not reached him for the reason that he is not home nor do any of us know where he is. On Wednesday last, Dick and myself drove up with him in my car to the railroad station at Derby where he was to embark under sealed orders for parts unknown. Since then no postal or letter has arrived to inform us what camp he was sent to. I guess we’ll have to wait patiently until another letter arrives from him.

Realization that we are at war is being forced home more and more definitely to the people here in the matter of automobile sales, tire restrictions, sugar rationing (1 pound only to a purchaser) advancing food prices, etc. I suppose the same sort of thing is happening in Anchorage and everywhere else. I suppose we are just at the beginning of stupendous changes that will come before this war is over. Let’s hope they don’t affect us as a family to an untoward degree. Of one thing you can be sure and that is the way one Cedric will always have a particularly large place in the heart of his old

DAD

Tomorrow, another letter written to Ced in Anchorage, Alaska, the only son away from home. On Thursday and Friday, a letter to Dan and Ced, because Dan is now a member of Uncle Sam’s Army.

Judy Guion

Trumbull – Dear Dave, Dan and Paulette and Ced (5) – A Note to Paulette – October, 1945

The final chapter in this quite lengthy letter from Grandpa to his family members who are away from home this week.

Dear Paulette: I am going to answer Dan’s letter through you, thinking perhaps if I send a copy to you it might happen to get through before the one I am also mailing to Dan’s Army address. (When you get through reading and understanding “American” sentences like the above, you can feel confident of writing me in English without hesitancy). Of course I and all the rest of us here are more disappointed than you know at not seeing you and Dan (and the baby) as soon as we expected, but these things do happen time and again during a person’s lifetime the only wise thing to do is to accept them philosophically, after you have done everything humanly possible to remedy them, and look forward to a happier day, and that is the attitude which apparently both of you have sensibly adopted and that shall also be mine. However I am as disappointed really as I could be in for two cents I’d turn my business over to Dave, hop a liner to France and visit you “somewhere in Europe”, possibly even kidnapping you and little Daniel, leaving old man Daniel to keep house for himself while you get acquainted with Connecticut. Maybe I won’t have to resort to such extreme measures but this might be taken as a warning, at that. The things you wanted on Dan’s list, as he has probably told you, were all sent in boxes addressed to Dan’s Army address. In one of the boxes was the wool for knitting babies things. I hope they reach you soon. The next things we send I am going to addressed to you at Calais, to see if they don’t make better time that way. Tell Dan that in one of these boxes also was the winter addition of Sears Roebuck catalog (and it isn’t Montgomery Ward) Dan asks for photographs of the family see you can see what a handsome bunch of people we are. I wish you could see one of Ced in Alaska dressed in trappers costume, sporting a full beard, which we have on a slide. Dan says he would also like a picture of his mother. The best one I have of her is one taken in Larchmont Gardens, a family group, showing all the children when they were little (except Dave who had not yet made his entrance). This I will also send in the next box that goes to you, and I shall also see what I can do about getting photos of the others. For several years past they have all been so scattered around the globe that it is rather difficult to locate any that are “tame”. Tell Dan I was glad to get the snapshot. He looks a bit thinner than he was when he left, as well as a bit more serious, do undoubtedly to his efforts to make arrangements for your homecoming, etc. His job does sound very good and, outside of its keeping you both away, I am quite pleased he was able to land it. In fact, if it is what he expects, I could almost get enthusiastic. Of course I’m sure everything is going to come out happily but it’s the waiting for it that is the hardest. Another thing, it is very seldom that Dan ever answers questions that I ask. I do want both you and Dan to give me quite a full answer to the questions asked of the lake cottage proposition, as I know you both (all) will get a lot of enjoyment out of this place in the years to come. His views will be particularly interesting and I would surely want to have them to consider along with others before anything definite was decided.

Before very long I should like to send to you and the family a box containing a few things to make your Christmas season a bit happier, and I would appreciate it, daughter dear, if you would write down a few things that perhaps you cannot obtain readily yet in France, that you would like to have. I would like so much to do this but it would please me much more if I knew what I was sending was exactly what you would like most. And don’t forget something for Father Senechal, for whom I have a warm place in my heart, every time I think of that friendly letter he sent me. My best regards also to your mother, brothers and sisters, not neglecting to keep a great big share for yourself.

I will be so happy when I get my first letter in English from you. I am sorry I cannot write in French to lead the way, but you know the saying about teaching an old dog new tricks, particularly when the old dog is too busy making a living to take time off to learn any new tricks. Dan says you are pretty good at English, so here’s hoping, whether you write or not, Paulette, my dear, we love you just the same.

DAD

Tomorrow and Sunday I’ll have more Special Pictures.

Judy Guion

Trumbull – Dear Dave, Dan and Paulette and Ced (4) – News From Dan – October, 1945

Dan Guion, far left, working in France after his marriage.

Dear Dan:

I received your letter of Oct. 8th. To wit: “I have been transferred out of the 1539th and into the 19th Separation Depot where I am busily sitting around waiting action on the discharge ritual. I shall send you my new address when. Paris must get along without me for the next two or three days, after which – – –?. Chiche left for Calais Sat. A.M. You can write to her there, 8 rue de Temple.

And yesterday I received your Oct. 3rd letter, as follows:” Far-reaching changes have developed during the last week. Hold your breath – – here it comes:

(1) I shall not get home for several months – – perhaps a year – – unless some unforeseen event crops up. (2) Within a week I expect to be a civilian. (3) I have found me a job with the Army on civil service – – surveying for “Graves Registration”. I do not know the details of the job yet, but this is what I am led to believe: the work will be surveying. A base pay rate is $2100 per year. I shall get 25% more for overseas service plus extra pay for any overtime that might develop. The quoted total is $3417 per year! Lodging will be furnished by the government at cheap rates, and food, too. I shall be entitled to Army rations such as PX, officers clothing and QM Sales. It is supposed that arrangements will be made soon to supply facilities for the families of such employees as desire them. The work might be in any part of the European theater. Contract will be for six months or a year, with a clause stating that if the work is finished sooner, I will be sent home at government expense. If this does not occur until next summer, I shall be able to come home with Chiche and any additions to the family which might exist at that time. Until I know better what to expect, Chiche will live in Calais. You may continue to send me packages and mail through Army P.O. but I suggest that you wait until I send you my new address. You can imagine how disappointed I am at not getting home. Before accepting employment here I tried every possibility to get Chiche home this year, but civilian agencies (Cooks, etc.) say that they can do absolutely nothing at the present time. On the other hand, my job is a good one. It pays well and might lead to a permanent job with the government back home. It’s a good solution to a knotty problem. I write again as news develops. None of the packages has arrived but I suppose they will reach me later at my new address.”

Tomorrow, I’ll conclude this lengthy letter with a note to Paulette and other bits and pieces of family news.

On Saturday and Sunday, more Special Pictures.

Judy Guion

 

Trumbull – Dear Dave, Dan and Paulette and Ced (3) – More Business News – October, 1945

This long letter continues.

The Old Homestead in Trumbull, CT

 

For the last three or four years, I have not made a single sales call. Every customer I have has either continued from old times, been recommended by some other customer or has seen our ad in the city directory or phone book. And if I may be a bit crude, this is a hell of a way to run a business. It does hold out rosy promise however, for the time when there is a young guy in who, with the enthusiasm of youth, up-and-at-‘em spirit, will go out and do some aggressive sales work, for without any adequate sales effort or direct mail advertising, we can hold a backlog of business, it will stand us in mighty good stead when we start up a real fire. From a financial standpoint I have learned a very significant thing. We are better off on a profit and loss basis than we have been for 10 years and this, in spite of curtailed business, shortage of supplies, high taxes and inadequate help, which we have had to struggle during the past four years (and are still struggling for that matter). It is almost solely because the only laborers wages I have had to pay have been exclusively for work performed. No salaries, which quickly eat up profits in non-productive hours during the day. If you could find some worker who would be willing to work steadily from opening time in the morning to quitting time at night, and had orders flowing in regularly to correspond, then the income from sales would be sufficient to pay salaries and leave a margin of profit, but for the six or eight years when I had salaried help and a bigger volume of business than we have now, we always ended the year in the red. That, Dave, my boy, is one of the management problems that will be dumped in your lap when you take over. As for the help situation, the green, irresistible, unreliable, inexperienced people that will come in and work for a high salary would soon make for bankruptcy, so I am forced to hire mere children with no sense of responsibility, no business sense, no idea of dependability or sense to know how they can tie things up when they failed to show up after saying they will come in at a certain time to do a certain job, high school kids or even grammar school children, letting them do the routine while I devote my time to operations that require even the most elementary brain work. It’s exasperating and if I would let it be, nerve-racking and I would very much like to take a vacation from it all for a spell, but we hold the fort awaiting the arrival of the new commander in chief, and in the meantime we are not doing so bad. As for machinery, we are keeping the old stuff going and getting fairly good results by patching and replacing and repairing, but I am looking forward to the day with a surplus property release some of the equipment the Army has taken off the market for the last few years at which a service man, theoretically at least, would have a far better opportunity of obtaining than a mere civilian. Months ago I asked for a list of this equipment that might be available but in true government fashion, I got a letter referring me to someone else and promising the information, not a bit of which has yet materialized. Among the items I have tentatively put on this Wanted List are: a new power mimeograph, possibly a multility, new multi-graph, possibly a varityper, a new variscope (or similar), a paper cutter, keyboard graphotype, etc. (I realize all this is very uninteresting to any but Dave and perhaps not too much for him, but I’m over it now). Dave’s letter goes on to tell about a symphony orchestra but I guess I’d better skip this and go on to the French Dept.

News From Dan tomorrow and I’ll end the letter on Friday with bits and pieces of local news.

Judy Guion