Trumbull – Dear Prodigal Son (1) – Mail and the Alaskan Highway – Nov., 1942

Ced and car - 1940 (3)-head shot

Trumbull, Conn, November 15, 1942

Dear Prodigal Son:

“And he arose and came to his father. But when he was a great way off his father saw him and had compassion and ran and fell on his neck and kissed him. And the son said unto him, Father, I have sinned against heaven and in thy sight and am no more worthy to be called thy son. But the father said to his servants, bring forth the best robe and put it on him, and put a ring on his hand and shoes on his feet, and be married, for this my son was dead and is alive again; he was lost and is found. And they began to be merry.”

Now to be sure I didn’t fall on my neck when I saw that letter in (PO) box 7, but otherwise, I know just how this old man felt, no matter whose neck he fell on. Mailed on October 30th, it reached me November 14th, which bears out what you said about the mail service not being as good as formerly. As you may observe if you get my letter written last week, I have just about made up my mind that I have imagined the importance of letters from home to be far greater then was actually the case, judging from the response they have elicited lately as compared with formerly. I note that they do seem important enough at least for you to notice when one week is skipped, which is something, but as I said before, I have reached the point now where I am getting a little hard of hearing and seem to understand actions a lot better than mere words. And when mail service is poor it but aggravates the case a little more. However, this letter to you is fairly earned. You are the only one to receive it this week however, just to prove I am in earnest.

As to the missing letter of 20th Sept., in case it has not yet reached you, there were only two things of moment in it; one the news of Charlie Hall’s engagement to Jane Mantle, and the other far more important to me, the receipt of one of the most unique and attractive belts it has been my good fortune to ever see. It was not alone about the thoughtfulness that was behind its choice or the value it bore because of the giver, but the buckle being so typically Alaskan seemed to impress everyone who saw it with its individuality and caused such comments as, “worth waiting for”, “something you can be proud to wear”, “never saw anything like it”, “truly suggestive of Alaska”, etc. It IS highly prized, I can assure you, and will give me a daily thrill of pleasure thinking of my far away Alaskan son.

Am glad to learn you received the Readers Digest, the McK & R ditty bag and Briggs clarifier. Carl asked me the other day if I had heard from you as to whether it was the right size. I was also glad to get that first-hand information about the Alaskan highway and particularly what Dick refers to as the Chickaloon extension. Who knows but what if you continue to be anchored in Anchorage, I will be dusting off the old Buick and starting on a long journey, provided the government will let one buy tires and gas, and you will eventually find me knocking at the door of (PO) box 822.

The information contained on the back of the last page is surprising. I don’t understand the psychology behind it any more than you but think you did the right thing.

Tomorrow I’ll post the last page of this letter to Ced, which had actually been mailed well prior to the last letter Grandpa wrote, threatening to stop writing his weekly missives unless he started receiving letters in return. But in true Grandpa fashion, he sends this letter to Ced alone, thus confirming for both Ced and Dick that he is serious.

On Saturday and Sunday, two more postings of a Tribute to Arla, my Grandmother and Grandpa’s wife, who passed away ehen her oldest child was 17 and her youngest was only 7.

Judy Guion

Trumbull (2) – A New Family Member – Nov., 1942

Smokey - Oct. 1945

Smokey – 1945

Page 2    11/8/1942

There was one post-election result however, that was quite unexpected. Wednesday morning, when I arrived at my office, there at the top of the last flight of long stairs, right under my office door, was a young pup that looked something like Mack looked at the same age (estimated about four months old), except that he was black and white instead of brown and white. He was apparently waiting for me to arrive, for all the world like a customer, except that he had peed on a couple of steps, something which none of my customers have done up to the present time. He looked up, cocked his head on one side and wagged his tail in a very friendly manner, acting as if it were the most natural thing in the world for us both to meet in that manner. I assumed he belonged to someone who was paying a call in the office below and had come up the stairs to wait for them. At about 11 o’clock, however, I had to go out. He bounced along with me, followed me across State St., and then when I looked around, he had disappeared, to seek, I supposed, some new doorway as shelter. I was gone about an hour, but on returning, there he was waiting for me at the outside door, and apparently overjoyed to see me return. When I first saw him he had on an old collar with a busted piece of small round leather strap hanging from it, but this he had apparently shaken off. This time he followed me into my office and lay down under my desk, barking quite lustily in his shrill puppy way, when the postman called. He followed me out again when I went to lunch, deserted me when I had again gone a couple of blocks, but at the end of an hour or so, when I returned, he was again awaiting me. He was such a friendly, bright, gentle little fellow that I decided he was just the thing for Bissie and her boys, so as no one claimed him up to closing time, I announced my intention to Dave of taking him over to Elizabeth. And you should have heard the strenuous objections made by Dave to such a suggestion. He wanted so much to keep him that I finally consented, knowing Aunt Betty was fond of dogs and thinking he might be company for her during the day. David named him GOP because he had been swept into “office” with the Republicans in Conn.. Saturday, when Elizabeth stopped in, she immediately dubbed him Smoky because of his coloring, and it looks as if that name would stick. Incidentally, she threatened to do dire things to Dave for obstructing my original intention. We have watched the paper for notices in the lost and found column, but as the poor district is down the street from us a bit, and the pooch looks like a half breed anyway, I guess he didn’t appear to be valuable enough to be worth advertising for. Anyway, at present, he seems to have found a happy home and is in general favor with family and friends. He is partly housebroken and apparently is quick to learn. So much for the advent of what may turn out to be Mack # 2.

Yesterday afternoon, Dick and I finished putting up most of the storm windows. I was again elected Justice of the Peace for another two-year term. Last night Gilbert and Sullivan’s Iolanthe was played by the Chicago Opera Co. at the Klein Memorial, to which performance I blew Aunt Betty and Dave, enjoying a very pleasant evening. And that’s all for the present.

DAD

This is the second half of the letter Grandpa wrote. The section telling his 3 sons in Alaska that this might be his last letter to them was posted yesterday. With this half of the letter, I found out how we acquired the dog, Smokey, that I knew as a child. The rest of the week will include one more letters from Grandpa to all of his sons away from home.

Judy Guion

Trumbull (1) – This Isn’t a Threat – Nov., 1942

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Trumbull, Conn., Nov. 8, 1942

Dear Paralytics of the Writing Hand:

Still no word from Ced and a back-handed round-the-corner word from T-5 through Barbara that he might be home next week end. Lad again reported in person so that this correspondence of mine is sort of a one-way affair instead of a round trip. I’m beginning seriously to doubt the expediency of what I intended to be a conscientious effort to do my duty in keeping you boys posted up small time doings around here, so if this is the last of the series you will understand it is an attempt to feel out the situation, sort of a straw in the wind as it were, coupled with the promise that I shall of course deliver value received in the shape of a letter to match, in number, those letters received by me. I confess that in spite of Aunt Betty’s repeated opinion “That was a very nice letter”, I often feel the things I write are of so little consequence that, aside from the fact that it is a letter, you must feel you wouldn’t be missing much if it were omitted entirely. Of course you would be too polite to admit as much but the evidence certainly bears out this point of view. All this newspaper stuff about the boys in the service, etc., appreciating a letter from home by this token is a lot of bunk and I’m just kidding myself to think otherwise, and the only way to make me believe anything else is by deeds, not words. This is not intended as a threat because, if my premise is true, the elements of a threat are not present. It is merely an attempt to make my position clear. Furthermore, they do not apply to Lad, who in spite of the fact he has been able to get home pretty consistently each week and, still finds the time during the week to keep me posted as to any developments. For instance, two letters last week contain interesting news. I quote: “I was supposed to leave last night (Nov. 2nd) for California with a very short stop in Trumbull. Then, before we were dismissed a fellow came running from Co. C headquarters with an order revoking shipment of A. P. Guion and stating new orders would be issued soon. (This of course throughout of gear Lads arrangements to drive out some of the boys in his car). This afternoon I was called over to one of the school buildings with about 20 others, and was told that I and two others were to leave here in order to get to Flint Michigan to take a three weeks course starting December 7th, and from there on to California, transportation by private vehicle. The captain who addressed us stated we were picked very carefully from the entire bunch going to California, holding back the best men to give them additional training in specialized teaching and to enable us to study the methods used in other and older specialized schools, thus gaining for ourselves and for the Ordnance Department thru special report forms we have to fill out and send back to the Major, the benefit of methods used by others, in instructing diesel specialists!” This looks as though Lad would be far from home Christmas and New Year’s.

Well, as perhaps you have observed, we elected a Republican Governor for Conn. My friend, Ray Baldwin, has returned to his rightful place and when I called him up to congratulate him, he was good enough to say the letters we sent out, he believed, were quite a help in accomplishing the result.

Tomorrow I will post the rest of this letter which announces the addition of another member to the family. Three more letters from Grandpa fill out the week.

Judy Guion

Army Life – The News Has Come — And Gone – Nov., 1942

Alfred (Lad) Guion in California

Nov. 3, 1942

Dear Dad: –

The news has come, and gone, – – – just like that. Here is the way it happened. We were asked to form for “chow” earlier yesterday in order to hear some announcements. They were in connection with the California shipment, of course. I was supposed to leave last night for California, with a very short stop in Trumbull. Then, before we were dismissed, a fellow came running from the Co. C headquarters with an order which stated that the order for Shipment of A. P. Guion was hereby revoked, and it also stated that new orders were to be issued sometime soon. I expect that they might come out before the week is out, but I hope not. It seems that the Army has decided to improve upon my knowledge in general or particular and is sending me to some school. My impression is that it will be either the G. M. Diesel School in Flint, Mich., or the Ford School in Dearborn. But there is nothing official in any of my ideas, so it is really up in the air at present. I was told however, that at the termination of my studies on November 21st or 22nd, I would go directly from the school to California. The departure date is again up in the air.

This new arrangement rather changed some of my plans, and now I don’t know just what to do about the car. The fellows who were to go with me had to find other means of going, and although I felt rather guilty about promising that I would take them and then having to refuse, I really could not do anything about it at all. It was something completely out of hand. Again, I meet up with something within me which says, “Never make a promise”.  (1) There are always so many unpredictable things which can occur during the time that the promise is made and the actual time of carrying it out. I think that if I get a chance to come home this weekend, I shall bring the car along, and then leave it there until something definite comes along and I can really see just what I can do. This uncertainty is sort of getting a little under my skin. I may be easy-going and all that, but I still like to know, in my own mind, just what I am going to do if I get the chance.

If there was more to this letter, I don’t have it. There isn’t even a signature, so it makes me wonder. Your guess is as good as mine.

(1) My Father took this lesson very seriously. I don’t believe he ever made a promise after that. When he was teaching me to drive, I’d ask him before dinner if we could go driving afterward, and he say, “We’ll see.” As we were finishing dinner, I’d ask again, “Can we go driving now?” He  would say, “We’ll wait and see.” He would sit down and read the paper and then he’d ask, “Judy, do you want to go driving now?” I probably replied rather sarcastically, “Of course. I’ve been asking you all evening!” Now I understand something that drove me crazy as a teen.

For the rest of the week, I’ll be posting a letter a day, written by Grandpa.

Judy Guion

Tribute to Arla (5) – 1915 to 1922

My grandfather, Alfred Duryee Guion, married my grandmother, Arla Mary Peabody, on March 27, 1913. After a honeymoon trip to Bermuda they returned to New York and spent the first few days fixing up an apartment they had rented in the Bronx. My grandfather continues the story in his autobiography. I’ve also added some memories from the older children.

ADG – Both Arla and my mother were very fond of each other, and both being easy to live with, we decided it was better for the new baby to get out of the big city so we moved back with my mother on Dell Avenue. Little Daniel soon joined the family and for several years things ran along uneventfully.

October 31, 1915

My dear folks,

Many hearty congratulations to you upon the arrival of another little son. I hope you are doing nicely Arla and will soon be up and around. Have been dreadfully negligent and corresponding, but things have been so upset. We moved to Brooklyn on Friday, owing to the work I am in at Vitagraph. Have been very successful so far, and hope to be able to work in stock. Hoping to be able to see you soon. With best love to all,

As ever,

Fondly,

Elsa Hetzel

LAD – I was born in New York City in 1914 that I lived in Yonkers for short time. When I was about one, we moved to 91 Dell Avenue in Mount Vernon, New York. My

 Arla Mary Peabody c. 1911

Arla Mary Peabody
c. 1911

mother, Arla, was 19 years old when I was born and she was the oldest Peabody girl. Burton was ahead of her. Then there was Arla, Helen, Kemper, Anne, Dorothy and Lawrence. There were seven of them. I don’t remember much about my Dad in Mount Vernon or Larchmont. He was always busy working.

CED – In about 1918 or 1919, Dad bought a new Franklin touring car. My mother used to drive Dad down to the station and he’d go into New York City where he worked. Then she’d come back home. She would go back and get him later. One day, she backed up to turn around after the train had pulled out and ran up on a hydrant. The wheels of the Franklin were about 20 or 21 inches. She got out of the car and there it sat up on the hydrant, all out of shape. She stood there and looked at it, she said everything was skewed, the doors, the frame… And that was a wooden frame of course. She had to get help to get it off there. We moved up to Trumbull in that car. I guess Dad decided to sell it shortly after we moved to Trumbull.

ADG – After I had been with the Celluloid Company for about five years my boss was offered and accepted a job with a large die manufacturer. I was offered the position of Assistant Advertising Manager of the National Aneline and Chemical Company, which I accepted. The Advertising Manager was a sneering, sarcastic individual who evidently resented my being assigned as his assistant, which created the sort of atmosphere in which I found it difficult to do my best creative work. However, the salary was generous and my growing family made it unwise for me to take too independent an attitude.

It seemed about time also for my increasing brood to have a home of their own. We finally decided ona lot in Larchmont Gardens, and with the money I had saved, I bought one of the first “redi-cut” homes on the market and with the help of my father-in-law, who was Construction Superintendent on the New York Central, aided by one of his workmen on this free days, the house was erected. The garage, to hold the Franklin car, I built myself with the aid of friends and neighbors on weekends and holidays, in a sort of old-time building-bee fashion.

LAD – When I was five, Dad and Mom were building a house in Larchmont. They had a contractor build it and it was on Landsdown Drive in Larchmont Gardens. I accompanied them, well, maybe three or four times when they went out to look at it. Mom told the carpenters what she wanted changed. She was quite conscientious about what she wanted. It took four days for the workers to build our garage. The neighbors put theirs up in one day. Later, a strong wind came up and blew down the neighbor’s garage but ours stood strong.

ADG – With the exception of Dave, who was born in Bridgeport Hospital, all our children spent their early years in Larchmont. Dan was a mischievous little him. I recall one time when baby Cedric was taking his afternoon nap on the screened porch; Dan procured a bottle of shoe blacking and proceeded to paint Ced’s face with it. You can imagine his Aunt Dorothy’s shock and surprise when she glanced in and saw our baby son with a black face. On one occasion I walked into the kitchen and found Dan sitting on the floor by the refrigerator busily breaking eggs on the linoleum. Lad early showed interest in mechanical things and was always quite a help in fixing things around the house.

ADG – On one summer’s day Arla and I motored to Mount Vernon to visit mother Guion, leaving the children in care of their Aunt Anne.  Ced, who was playing on the window seat in his upstairs nursery, somehow loosened the window screen and both he and it fell to the ground below, Ced landing on his head in the flower bed. Anne at once phoned us and I recall breaking all speed laws and safety regulations speeding back to Larchmont. Apparently no harm resulted and in a short time the youngster was playing as usual.

CED – I don’t remember much about the Larchmont house on Landsdown Drive. I do remember that milk was delivered by a milkman with a horse and buggy. Landsdown Drive was on a hill and at the bottom was a creek. One day the horse and wagon went down the hill faster than usual – they went bouncing down the hill. I don’t remember if the horse went in the brook or not. I was pretty young at the time, about four maybe.

BISS – The only memory I have of Larchmont is a day picture of the living room. It had a fireplace and it seems to me a piano or something, but I’m not sure. My impression is of hardwood floors but I can’t remember what the furniture looked like. I was four when we left there.

LAD – When I started school in Larchmont, either kindergarten or first grade, I went to school in a horse-drawn sleigh in the winter. I just remember being awfully cold. In the warmer months, Mother drove me to school. Dan probably started school there because he was only a year and a half behind me.

Next Saturday I will continue A Tribute to Arla with more memories from her children and the story of how they arrived in Trumbull.

Next week I’ll be posting letters written in 1942. Lad is coming home and Dan, Ced and Dick remain in Alaska.

Judy Guion

Tribute to Arla (4) – 1914

This letter was received by my Grandfather from his friend, Alex Snith, after the birth of Lad, the first of six children born to Alfred Duryee Guion and Arla Mary Peabody Guion. It’s a letter full of advice from a father to a new father, advice that I believe Grandpa took to heart.

Bearer Street

Waltham, Mass.

April 22, 1914

Dear Alfred,

This is the third time I have started a letter to you since the little pink notice arrived. It is going this time if I stay up all night to write it.

Congratulations don’t quite express it. Having been through it twice myself and expecting another little one any time now, I can appreciate something of how you feel. I wish

Arla Mary Peabody Guion

Arla Mary Peabody Guion

you, Arla and Alfred the great long life and lots of happiness. May he be the chap his father and mother hope he will be – and then some.

I hope Arla has recovered fully by this time and the happy family is rapidly getting acquainted on the new basis. For there will be a readjustment all along the line you’ll find.

Now I’m just going to ramble along without much rhyme and less reason. I’m not going to try to impose any mature reflections on you (if I am capable of such) but just think things out on paper until I get tired of writing. You know you’ll read this in about 1/10 the time it takes me to jot it down, provided it is legible. First off the reason I haven’t written sooner is that I wanted plenty of time and nothing else on my mind when I got to. Second I have been so busy that I have not had until now such an opportunity. And third I am becoming the ____ of writer’s cramp. I haven’t done any writing since Friday so my arm isn’t bothering me tonight. One of the things I think of when I hear of a little fellow coming into the world is, what has the world in store for him? And, conversely, what will he give to the world? It is a mighty good thing for civilization or I might say, mankind, that childbirth is seldom the result of much deliberation. If it wise I am convinced that there would be lots fewer children, but what does it mean? Well, better fellows then I have attempted to answer that question. I don’t know as I can. But I’m going to let you in on some of the things that have passed through my head more than once in connection with it. You have entrusted to your care one of the most difficult problems you’ll ever run up against. I don’t mean this in a warning or foreboding manner at all. It is just a matter of fact. Difficult problems make life interesting. But one of the things that is most of forcefully born in upon me is, there is a real necessity for my living. Before Florence had these little ones the loss of my life would not have been nearly so serious a matter to her as it is now. She could have gotten along very well without them. But she has them now and I am responsible for them. I’ve got to live and work and be a decent fellow for them as well as for her and myself now. I can’t be as foolhardy as I’d like to be sometimes. I can’t be as irresponsible. I can’t be a marker for I’ve got to hand on a clear inheritance to them. I looked up to by that. That brings me up with a jolt sometimes. I’ve got to deserve being looked up to. When they get to a place where their judgment will be passed upon me, I don’t feel I can afford to be a disappointment to them. I want them to feel that they must pass on to their children a better and nobler life than I passed along to them, but not because mine is ignoble. Now maybe you won’t get my slant on this. I don’t know as I’ve got it myself, but I know I ought to be trustworthy and true for my wife and myself and society generally. But somehow these youngsters are an additional bracer and steadier. Maybe you’ll feel as I do about it later and understand what I’m driving at.

Then you find it will make a tremendous difference to Arla. You have borne it until now. Well you’re it now, old man, in a different way. You are the father of her son. That will make a difference you’ll find. I’ve heard a lot about the baby cutting the old man out. In a sense he does. But not in a sense that counts. You’ll see how she worries about the little chap. She wants to tell you all about him. She’ll note everything he does and you’ll find yourself an audience every evening instead of being the disclaimer yourself. You may feel like a square peg in a round hole for some time but finally the edges will get rounded off and you’ll find you fit. In fact you’ll find you always fits it.

Another thing I think of often, is how am I going to fit with these children of mine as they come along? I guess that depends almost entirely on me. Florence says it does. I found she knows something about it to. I want to respect them as well as want them to respect me. And out of my own bitter experience I want to stick by them through thick and thin. Whether I can respect them or not I never want one of my boys to feel that the old man feels he is no longer responsible for them. I never want to say no matter what the provocation may be “You are no longer a son of mine.” because I feel that is a lie. They will always be my boys, no matter how hard I try to persuade myself to the contrary. One of the things I find I must do is to curb my temper. And also I must try to realize how much I can dominate them physically and mentally for the formation part of their lives. I know that I can contribute largely to whether or not they become strong men, physically and morally, and I realize it with considerable gravity. I know I’ve made mistakes already. But I’m trying not to make the same ones twice.

Well, in a certain sense that’s one phase of it. The other is the one you’ll enjoy more. It won’t be long before the youngster and you will begin to form an acquaintance. You’ll find that next to Arla, you are the most important thing in this little fellow’s life. He will be laying for you when you come home. If you could hear the hubbub my arrival at night causes, you can understand what I mean when I say it warms you up inside no matter how tired you are. I can’t get in the house and get my things off before they are swarming over me. And until they get quite sleepy there is no use in my trying to do anything that doesn’t include them. I have tried it sometimes for one reason or another. They don’t understand it. And they want to know, at least the older boy does, when it will be Saturday and Sunday, for daddy will be home. I’d like to go on but Florence said, “I told Arla you’d tell them about the house” i.e. “if you are rambling come down to earth before it’s too late”.

He goes on for another 6 pages with a description of their new house, the lot and a drawing of the floor plan – including a room for Al, Arla and Lad – and where the house sits on the lot and ends with:

Best regards to you and Arla and Alfred the second.

Hope to see you soon.

Your friend,

Alex R. Smith, Jr.

Tomorrow, another Tribute to Arla covering the years 1915 to 1922.

On Monday I’ll begin posting a week of letters written in 1942. Lad is expected home from Venezuela, Dan, Ced and Dick are all still in Alaska.

Judy Guion

An Island Picture – Storm Cloud – 2016

We had one day on the Island when it stormed a few times – just quick showers – but this is what they looked like before they got to us.

 

Spring Island - Storm Cloud - 2016

Tomorrow, and Sunday, two more installments of a Tribute to Arla. Enjoy learning more about this very wise young woman. 

Next week I’ll begin posting letters from 1942. The first is from Lad, with a change of plans. During the rest of the week, I’ll be posting 3 more letters from Grandpa to his sons, both near and far from home.

Judy Guion