Life In Alaska – The Adventure Begins

Dan has been home from Venezuela for about a year. He and Ced have been talking with two other friends, Rusty Heurlin and Arnold Gibson (Gibby), about going up to Alaska to live. I’ll start with a few random lines from various letters to my father (Lad) in Venezuela.

April 28, 1940

Cedric D. Guion

Cedric D. Guion

I just talked to Ced and he informs me that both he and Dan are definitely planning to leave for Alaska about June 1. Dan thinks he will have earned enough money to take care of the trip expense by that time and Ced is trying to sell both of the Plymouth and the Packard to give him some spare cash.

May 21

Dan wanted to go to the World’s Fair before he left for Alaska and therefore we all decided to go last Sunday. We needed two cars to get everyone down there. The group consisted of Ced, Jean, Dick, Dave, Dan, Barbara and myself.

Daniel Beck Guion

Daniel Beck Guion

We didn’t get home until 11:30 at night but everyone had a splendid time.

June 1

Dan has been using your Packard to get back and forth to his job on the Merritt Parkway. I suppose both Ced and Dan will continue to work another week in order to accumulate as much money as possible for their trip. Dan is very much tanned, far darker than when he came back from Venezuela.

Late yesterday afternoon we all went down to the Chandler picnic at Traphagen’s, where they roasted hamburgers, sat around and talked, some playing games like pitching horseshoes, badminton, etc. An enjoyable time was had by all.

June 9

I think I wrote and told you that we were planning some sort of a send-off party for the boys. Because the Chandler Chorus picnic occurred last Saturday our plans for that day fell through. Then Carl had the bright idea that his new boat, which they had been painting and fixing up, might be launched last week and we could all have a sailing party, but the boat was not finally put into the water until yesterday and had to soak a few days to swell up so that it would not leak, so that idea was out.

Anyway, they did get going on a party here last night which involved a scavenger hunt . The girls provided the eats, I made the punch and the boys contributed towards some parting gifts, consisting of a heavy pair of wool lined mitts for each plus a red plaid woodsman shirt and miscellaneous toilet articles. Carl got Jimmy Smith to act as the judge and we did have a lot of fun passing on the merits of the various articles collected. Just to give you an idea, some of the items collected were a worm, seashells, a bird’s nest, a 1935 license plate, a babies shoe, a stocking with a run in it and a lace nightcap. The winning team consisted of Arnold Gibson, Alta Pratt, Dan Guion, Barbara Plumb and Zeke Zabel.

The Alaskan Adventure Begins

June 14

Dear Lewis and Clarke:

Yesterday was a sizzling hot mid-August day here and if it was as hot on the road you must have thought you were traveling south instead of west. Today however has been an ideal June day – – so much so, in fact, that Dick decided to play hooky from the office and stayed home to carry on Dan’s landscaping work around the home grounds.

I can hardly get used to the modest gathering around the supper table. Dave remarked tonight as he was setting the table that he kept finding himself getting out five plates, napkins etc. when only three are needed.

Last night I sat down with the map and pencil and paper and tried to figure where you would be and when. I sent you a postal this morning when I stopped at the store for mail, addressing it to new Richmond in the hope that it would reach you there, telling you to stop at the places shown on the slip of paper for any mail I might send. I reasoned that if you got to Cleveland at all Thursday night it would probably be late, and still later before you turned in after chatting with the Draz’s, so that you would not get a very early start Friday.

Traveling through  big cities like Cleveland and Chicago would slow up your rate with the probable result that if you made the 360 miles to Chicago by nightfall you would be doing well. If you got an early start Saturday and it all went well, you might make the 420 miles to New Richmond. What with talking to the relatives, etc., I doubted that you would get away very early Sunday for the 450 mile trip to Bismarck, even counting on each of you “spelling” the other fellow in driving and possibly doing some night traveling.

An average of 400 miles as a steady diet for a week is pretty tiresome as a daily schedule, so if you make Bismarck by Sunday night you will be doing right well. From here on, according to my geography, you’ll be getting into the mountainous country. From Billings to Butte you will have climbed to the top of the Continental Divide and then too, you may decide to make a side trip to Yellowstone. If not and you can keep up your 400 mile a day average, you will be in Butte Tuesday night, Spokane Wednesday and in Seattle Thursday PM. I will be interested to see from your return postals how near you will be to keeping to this schedule. For your own sake I hope you don’t.

Love,

DAD

June 16

Dear “Old Faithful”:

That appellation is not given in the sense that you frequently blew off steam, or you erupt every so often or that you are a natural wonder that people will go long distances to see (although I would like to qualify under that last heading myself), but rather that even after so long a time away from home you have not allowed all the new scenes and experiences and faces and friends to weaken your resolve to write home regularly. According to my records, the letter I wrote you a year ago, dated June 18, means that, if my arithmetic is correct, I have sent you 53 letters and you approximately the same number home. I hope the second export shipment of Guion that has just left for points north will adhere to the same standard.

The two boys finally got off Thursday at 6:10 AM. They were ready to go Wednesday night but finally decided to wait over to make an early start by daylight. Their plan was to make the 500 miles to Cleveland the first day shopping overnight at Draz’s, then on to Minneapolis, or New Richmond and visit the Peabody relatives. I have not yet heard from them as to how they progressed, as up to the last mail yesterday afternoon at the store no news had reached me. They finally decided to take the Willys which Arnold overhauled. Ced installed a radio also so that they will not be out of touch from the stirring world news as it is broadcast.

What they will do after they reach Seattle has not yet been determined, the final decision resting on a number of factors, such as what they learn from the Stoll boys, on whom they will call in Seattle, how far North they can travel by road and still find a port were a steamer for Alaska that they can ship the Willis, and which in turn, will land them at a port in Alaska for which roads will permit them to reach their destination near Anchorage. Try as we might we were unable, before they left, to obtain any definite information on this point so that it will be necessary to hold their Seattle to Alaska plans in abeyance, pending the opportunity to secure the local dope in Seattle.

I learned from the local post office that there is no airmail postal service to Alaska. Letters sent by airmail go to Seattle by plane and then by boat to Alaska, the boat trip taking about a week, so that it will actually take me much longer to get letters from Alaska than from Pariaguan.

Things seem awfully quiet here the last few days and I will have to adjust my food schedule now that two hearty eaters have deserted the family board.

I will enclose with this a letter to the boys and from now on will address my weekly news reports to both North and South of the equator, sending carbons to both. Maybe this will develop into a regular syndication.

From your faiuthful

DAD

Was my grandpa actually looking into the future and “seeing” this thing called a Blog and a granddaughter who would be sharing these letters with the world???

Click Here to go directly to my website.

I’ll have a special Guest Post on Saturday which I think you’ll find interesting, written by gpcox. Her blog, pacificparatroopers.wordpress.com tells about the  history of the 11th Airborne Division and the war in the Pacific.

Judy Guion

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One thought on “Life In Alaska – The Adventure Begins

  1. gpcox says:

    I believe you’re right about your grandfather “seeing into the future.” Just as my dad numbered and titled his letters and asked his mom to save them. In my opinion, the Greatest Generation was more cohesive when it came to family than people are today. gpcox

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