In an attempt to help you keep track of where everyone is at the time of each letter, I’ve created the Timeline above. Please let me know if it helps.I do realize that it is sometimes quite confusing.
The following letter is from Ced to his older brother, Lad, who is still in Venezuela. It was included in the same envelope as Dan’s letter dated the day before. Both boys have been in Alaska for about 6 weeks and found jobs very quickly. It didn’t take them long to find jobs that were better suited to their plans. Dan is working as a surveyor at the military airfield and Ced is working at an airline transport company.
Monday – July 29, 1940
9:35 PM our time
3:35 AM New York time (Daylight Savings)
I have been intending to write to you for a long time and it seems as though I finally got around to it. I won’t be sure until it’s in the mailbox however.
I suppose you must feel that I am either a lousy correspondent or just a terribly dis-interested person as concerns you – rest assured, it’s undoubtedly the former. I can’t begin to tell you how I appreciate all you have done for Dad and also the rest of us. I know that your help has been invaluable to Dad and he, I’m sure, is very grateful. As concerns myself – ahem – I wanted thank you for the birthday gift of the bag which Dad got for me with your money. Even coming as it does, within two days of two months late, it is none the less sincere. It (the gift) came in very handy on the trip out and I’m afraid I would have been hopelessly short of luggage if it hadn’t been with me. Golly, it’s hot to write. Dan and I sit in our room sweltering with the window and door wide open, just imagine, this in Alaska. The paper says there has been a heat wave in the eastern states too, so I don’t feel so badly.
Just took time out to read Dan’s letter to you so that I wouldn’t duplicate. I agree with him in his disappointment in Alaska, but perhaps I enjoyed the trip out a little better than he, though at times it did get monotonous. At present, I’m in the middle of writing a trip history and when it’s finished, I will send you a copy.
It occurs to me that you might be interested in my work at the airport. Mr. Woodley runs an airline which operates commercial planes for hire. He was one of the four concerns in the commercial flying business upon whom I called on the first day out looking for work. The reason being that I have decided, pretty definitely, to get into aviation (on the top side I hope) and concluded that work in any capacity at the airport would help me get on the “inside”. Mr. Woodley was the last one I contacted as he had been out the first three times I tried to get him. When I finally did get to see him, instead of being the gruff, executive type I had expected to find, he was friendly and reminded me somewhat of Uncle Fred, though not in appearance. He knew Rusty when I asked him if he had known him and when I told him where I was from he was quite interested and said he had come from Boston. He said he would look around and see what he could find and I left, hopeful, but not expecting. The next day I found work at Glover’s gas station and the day after started in there. I told Mr. Woodley I was working but still hoping to get out on the airport. This second visit, I suppose, convinced him I was interested and two days later I was walking to work when he drove up in his car (39 Packard 6) and hailed me. He said I could go to work as soon as I wanted to. I told him I’d see Mr. Glover and let him know that noon. (I of course did see Art Glover, and did let him know the answer was “YES”.) He told me the work wasn’t much – gassing planes, cleaning them inside and out and being a general handyman. So far the job has been just that. My pay is $.60 an hour which is what I was making at the Tilo Company when I left, but Art Woodley told me it would be increasing if I did all right. Soooo,
The company has three pilots: Art himself and two others, a girl and two men in the office, a large hangar at the airport, and old shed at the Lake where they have two ramps for planes on pontoons, a ‘39 panel GMC and a ‘40 station wagon GMC, two planes on wheels – one undergoing complete repairs in the hangar and two on floats or pontoons. All six place and pilot Travelaires with Whirlwind engines, weighing under 400 pounds and developing 310 hp, and one eight place, pilot and copilot, Stinson tri-motor with Lycoming engines and retractable landing gear. The Travelaire‘s are around 10 years old and the Stinson eight. The Stinson is a sweetheart. The seats are overstuffed and pivot; a card table, large map of the US, reading lights, a fan, sick berth and small lavatory and sink are part of its equipment. It will cruise at 150 to 160 miles per hour and what an instrument panel! It has about 30 dials and 35 or 40 switches and about as many telltale lights. The only thing is that it doesn’t get used very often as it is so costly to operate. It hasn’t left the ground since I have been here (two weeks).
The country up here is particularly hard on cars because of rough roads, very dusty and about two thirds of all the cars are Packard‘s – almost no Fords, Chevrolets, Plymouth’s, Buicks and practically all Dodge GMC’s.
It’s bedtime now. Best of luck to you, and I’ll send you that trip report.
Please let me know if the Timeline helps. Tomorrow, we’ll be going back to Trumbull and see what Grandpa has been up to… or in to… as the case may be.
Well the time table helped me as well. I had thought that Lad was in Venezuela during the same period that Biss was in Florida.
It’s nice to hear more about Ced and his work.
Mrs. P. – I’m glad the Timeline was helpful. I think I’ll continue to post Timelines with each post.
Ced was not the most prolific writer, as we hear in many of Grandpa’s letters, and I may not have all of them, either. There are references to letters that I don’t have and all of his correspondence has been accounted for. I think that it was the fact that my father was the oldest and away for so long, plus he was my father, so he naturally would have more of his correspondence, that we hear from him so often. Once he gets married late in 1943, my mother writes weekly also, so there is abundance of information from them.
No wonder Ced got stuck at the airport when the war started, he would have been worth his weight in gold.
Yes, Mr. Woodley kept getting one exemption after another. He did not want to let Ced go.On at least one occasion, he flew to Washington, DC to get the extension.
That’s mighty high praise!
Ced actually lived in Alaska, working for Woodley, for 6 1/2 years, earned his pilot’s license and was a bush pilot also. He definitely was worth it since he really knew quite a bit about the mechanics and the operation of airplanes.
Yes, the timeline is useful, though I think with the help of your introductory comments I have been keeping events reasonably organised in my head. Don’t ask me to do a test though!
Gallivanta – I had no doubt that you would be keeping them straight, but it’s a little harder for people who are discovering my blog now and in the future.