Life in Alaska – Dan and Ced – Happiness Reigns in our Little Domicile – 1940 (1)

The last we heard from Dan and Ced, they were on a boat headed for Fairbanks, Alaska. My grandfather is getting frustrated because he hasn’t heard from them. In this letter he passes on information in his weekly letter to Lad, in Venezuela, along with the cartoon below. 

Blog - Lad wooing a blonde - 1940

My grandfather has pasted Lad’s face in this cartoon and at the bottom, has scrawled: “Lad, This is July 21st – The last letter I received from you was dated June 24th.    DAD”

Trumbull, Conn.

July 28, 1940

Dear Lad:

I was glad to get your letter this week, even though it was only a short note to let me know that you are on the job.

I am sending the last letter I got from Ced a week or so ago, and one just received from Dan, which may be more satisfactory than trying to rehash what they say. Please

Alfred Peabody Guion in Venezuela in 1939

Alfred Peabody Guion in Venezuela in 1939

return them in the next letter you send after receiving this.

Elizabeth informs me that probably in January sometime I may be a second grandpa.

Yesterday afternoon Dave accompanied Zeke on a fishing trip to the reservoir and rowed the boat for him. Zeke caught two small pickerel and Dave a full-grown healthy sunburn.

I fear this week’s letter is not very exciting, but at least it will keep up the weekly schedule.

It’s too hot to write anyway.


Dear Dan:

(And of course, Ced) I was naturally delighted to get your letter with its report of definite progress. And right at the beginning I may as well give you the findings on the difference in mail time between regular and airmail. Both the letter and the postal were dated July 13th, both were postmarked Anchorage July 15, 11 AM. The airmail letter reached me on July 24, the postal in the afternoon mail of July 27. If you can figure this one out, you are a better than I, Gungha Din.

Daniel (Dan) Beck Guion

Daniel (Dan) Beck Guion

By the way, how is it that while you write on Hotel Anchorage stationary you head your letter Hotel Hopkins? I can assume from that evidence that you failed to arrange with the brother and his two sisters that you met on the boat, for the room they had available and are now booked at the Hopkins. Please don’t forget we are hungry for details, little things that may not seem to be important in the way of news, that are interesting to those at home or following your doings day by day with much interest. By the time you get this you will undoubtedly have received all the letters which I wrote while you were en route, all of which were returned to me here and re-forwarded to Alaska, as well as my regular weekly letters which I have mailed each Monday since you have arrived – the last by airmail. And I think I shall follow your example and spend the necessary 6 cents for each letter hereafter to go by airmail on the assumption that they will soon get the schedule worked out so that the time in transit will be considerably shortened.

I understand from Barbara that she has heard from you and she told me that you have landed a good job with the airfield company. Is it Woodley, the same place that Ced was working for, or another outfit? I suppose I’ll hear all about it in due time, so why bother to ask the question, you say? Well, only to emphasize the fact that (1) we are gluttons for punishment when it comes to its deciphering Ced’s scrawl and your sometimes cryptic utterances, and (2) while your imagination and knowledge can supply the home background for a lot of things, I don’t need to write because you already know them. Your environment, details of your hotel room, characteristics of the people you meet and work with, your amusements, kind of work you do, financial matters and nosiness in general is what you must paint on an entirely blank page.

Just one other word, before I finish with the subject. With two such diverse personalities as you boys possess, it doesn’t do a bit of good to get yourself into thinking that because one fellow has written the other fellow needn’t. I’ll be willing to bet if you both sat down at the same time and wrote about the same subjects the letters would be entirely different and cover entirely different details. It’s just like asking two artists to paint a picture of the same person or the same scene. How identical do you think they would be? And we’re the ones back home here who lose out because each of you takes it for granted that the other fellow has told all the news. At the risk of making you mad I’ll refer once again to my pet peeve, I don’t know a single detail yet about the disposal of my dear little Willys, except that she’s sold. Why, where, to whom, how much? I had a faithful serving man, he taught me all I knew. His name is where and why and what and when and how and who – and how much. Oh dear, you’ll say, that’s the penalty of having folks at home who care so much, they get nosy and insistent and bothersome and won’t let us live our lives without being checked up on all the time. Damn. Well so much for that.

Got a letter from Lad this week – just a word to say that he was still on deck and things were going on about the same with nothing of any importance to report.  Maybe he might get a bit of inspiration from what I have written you two above. It’s the little details that make letters interesting, like Lad’s description of Caracas’s best hotel in which he explained the plumbing, etc., or to use another example, like Rusty’s description of people or incidents where he gets in the little intimate expressions or anecdotes.

Business is practically dead. Friday afternoon we did not have a single order in the place and it being insufferably hot, I sent Miss Denis home (George was on vacation) and followed a few hours later myself. Don’t laugh, you fellows that are pulling down the big money, but I don’t know how much longer my $18 a week will continue on this basis. I am thinking seriously of moving to a new location where the rent will be only $25 a month instead of $50.


The second half of this post is an Excerpt from Ced’s letter to his father. He gives quite a description of the place they are staying and an update on the work situation. Enjoy.

Judy Guion

11 thoughts on “Life in Alaska – Dan and Ced – Happiness Reigns in our Little Domicile – 1940 (1)

  1. Let’s just pray that we both find someone in a younger generation who is as passionate about it as we are.

  2. Mrs. P says:

    You can see that your grandfather is quite upset about not hearing from the boys and is doing his best to keep the letter upbeat while at the same time, giving them a good dress down for failing to write.

    I love his mind and his passion for writing. He is a man who understands the power of words and communication…even to the point of asking that the forwarded letters be returned once read. And here you are Judy, sharing these words with the world 70 plus years later. I wonder if he knew the letters were THAT valuable? I would not be surprised if one day they were used in some sort of documentary.

    By far, my favorite post!

    • In the Introduction to my grandfather’s autobiography, he writes “Someday I hope one of my children will want to set down on paper for his children’s entertainment, and perhaps for posterity’s sake, recollections from his own childhood, much as I myself have tried to do here for the benefit of my children and grandchildren…
      And before I leave this introduction, may I hope that one of my children or grandchildren will feel interest enough in the entire Guion family history to gather what material of this sort is now available and from it compile and orderly record of past and present annals to be preserved for future Guions.”
      That was written in 1960 and little did he know that he had already done that by preserving all the letters, photos and memorabilia that my father saved for me.
      He had no thought of the internet or how far and wide his words would go, but my hope is that he would enjoy,and be proud of, what I’m doing with his letters.

      • Mrs. P says:

        Judy, I am certain he would be proud of what you are doing! By communicating his interest in continuing the family history he has encouraged the later generations to follow in his footsteps.

        In my own genealogy research I was surprised to find two printed genealogy texts that my great-grandmother had contributed family information on. This was at a time when all of the work was done via letter writing and there were over a hundred contributors to the work. Her interest in genealogy started at a young age as she was only in her early thirties when she died.

        Although my aunt is very interested in genealogy and has all the photos, heirlooms and letters, she has no time to do the work. She was thrilled when she found out that I was interested and I have done all the grunt work of organizing it. I am so glad that what I am doing gives her pleasure as she is one really beautiful person. I am honored to do it.

  3. gpcox says:

    They all crave to know everything about each other – that’s the type of letter that shows true love in a family.

  4. Gallivanta says:

    I’ll be willing to bet if you both sat down at the same time and wrote about the same subjects the letters would be entirely different and cover entirely different details.”
    And isn’t that exactly what you found when you talked to different family members; they remember the same events differently!

    • Exactly.. All memories are filtered through our own brains, and each brain is a distinct filter, so we all see things differently. My first husband and I were driving on a highway and passed two cars on the side of the road. The hood was up on one car. There were two men standing between the cars. I said “Isn’t it mice that his friend came out here to help him get his car started?” and my husband replied “Are you kidding? They are both here to strip that car.” We were looking at the exact same scene. I’ve never forgotten that lesson. Perspective is EVERYTHING.

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