Lad is still in Venezuela, working as a mechanic for an oil company, Dan is a student at the University of Connecticut at Storrs, Ced is working the night shift, Biss is a new mother, Dick and Dave are still in school.The subject of cars seems to be the theme of this weekly missive to Lad, old ones, new ones and everything in between .
November 19, 1939
Elsie has just written that she too will be coming up for Thanksgiving, the 30th (this is the day that Gov. Baldwin has set for this state while Roosevelt has made the date the 23rd, which is now being referred to here as Franksgiving).* So that makes two extra, Aunt Betty and Aunt Elsie. That is one of the days that we’re going to miss you an extra lot.
As I told you in one of my previous letters Ced registered his old Packard, the closed car, a while ago as Dan had been using your old Packard getting back and forth from Storrs. Since that time he has been having a series of troubles, the top blew off one rainy, windy day, he had to get a couple of tires, retreads, one of which seems to be no
good; the battery gave out and he bought another used one which doesn’t seem to be functioning; it uses a lot of oil, is heavy and gas consumption, and in general has been disgusting him more and more lately. So yesterday he decided to go to New York and see if he could not pick up some bargain down there. He took the train down and visited several dealers whose ads have appeared in the New York papers. He made the rounds and wound up finally at the New York Packard place where they sold him in 1933 Plymouth sedan. It needs an engine job, one of the spring shackles is worn and the clutch slips out. The body is in fair condition, upholstery under the slipcovers fairly good, and in view of the fact that cars of this make and age are advertised in the local Bridgeport papers as selling for from $125 to $250, he feels he got a fairly good buy at $50. He has already arranged with Arnold to overhaul the engine. He will now try to find a buyer for the old Packard in order to reimburse himself for at least part of the cost.
Ced also stopped in at the Willys dealer place and found that the delivered price of the Deluxe sedan (1940) is $687 and that the top allowance they would make for 1937 Willys would be $250. He is very anxious to have me make the switch, claiming that it would be economical for me to do so, but – – –
We have been having pleasant fall weather lately. Some of the days have been pretty cold, but we have managed to get by so far without starting the furnace. I have been
busy about three nights a week rehearsing for the play the PTA is giving in December. It is a pretty good comedy entitled “A MERRY DEATH”. It is being coached by a young lady named Doris Card who is teaching dramatics in the local schools. In the cast are a Mrs. Herlihy, Mrs. Drescher, Evelyn Wells, yours truly, Barbara Plumb, Mrs. Ehrencrona, Jean Hughes, Richard Guion, Skippy Wildman, Mrs.Rubsamen and Mr. Herlihy. This scene is laid in the living room of the Taggart household (I am Judge Taggert in one act and take the part also of his twin brother in the second act) in the suburb of a medium-sized city in the middle West. Mr. Carson is also in it, taking the part of the Dr. and not doing it any better than he did his part in other plays in which he has acted. It really is a highly amusing comedy and, if played well, ought to make quite a hit. Why don’t you folks plan to put on some sort of amateur play in connection with your newly formed club? You are on the entertainment committee, I think you said, in one of your letters.
Your letter written on the ninth was duly received. So it was the pump on the white that was at fault, just as you had thought. Dan has the scrapbooks up at school, so I was unable to follow the course of your trip to Guanta via Guario. I note, however, that Mr. Breeding’s place, where you went in for a swim with all your clothes on, is near Barcelona, so I can get a fairly good idea of the location. Better look out for sharks, which I suppose they have down there. We don’t want you coming home speaking in a squeaky voice. If the experience on the way back didn’t do anything else it probably learned you not to repeat the stunt of taking chances of your getting sick, so far away from home. There is one comfort and that is you don’t refrain from telling me when you are laid up. If I thought you did otherwise I would be considerably worried when I didn’t hear from you each week, fearing that you are laid up and no way of knowing just how serious it was. That is one of the assuring things about the English war news. When one of their ships is sunk by the Germans they promptly announced that fact and tell the whole truth about it so that when they deny some rumor that the enemy has spread, you can rely on its being so. Am glad the rainy season is about over, which means that you have had a full years experience of Venezuela and climate and are earning your classification as a veteran. You say that because of the rains you have had no second class mail for the past two or three weeks so you have received no letters from me. Is anything but airmail classed as second-class? The letters I send you regularly are classed in the US as first-class, but maybe the Venezuelan government does not take the same view. I cannot understand the reason for the government not allowing letters to come to Pariaguan via airplane, particularly as they are technically free of responsibility when they deliver letters to your Caracas office and what you do with them from then on, whether they read them in Caracas or send them on to Pariaguan, I should think was nobody’s business but your own – – that is assuming the plane is a company plane and not run by the government. Anyway, that accounts for the fact that you haven’t answered the questions I have asked you my last few letters, particularly as to what you were doing about your back salary. Apparently most of the InterAmerica employees have received their back salary and you want to get yours while the getting is good. No one knows when something may happen, particularly with Ted on the job to close up the company, and then you would have lost your chance and really be throwing $250 away.
I am enclosing a clipping from the Bridgeport paper to show you that Venezuela makes the first page locally once in a while. I suppose you have already heard about this fire in Laguanillas, but I thought it would be interesting to get it the way the news reaches us here.
As Dave has been asking me all the afternoon when he can use this typewriter for his school work, and I am nearing the end of the page (I can’t think of any other news anyway) I suppose I may just as well close now with all the good wishes you know come pouring out of here to there, all concentrated on my little old laddie boy that holds such a large place in his Dad’s heart. We’ll drink a toast to you on Thanksgiving.
* Thanksgiving or Thanksgiving Day, currently celebrated on the fourth Thursday in November by federal legislation in 1941, has been an annual tradition in the United States by presidential proclamation since 1863 and by state legislation since the Founding Fathers of the United States, according to Wikipedia.
Tomorrow, I’ll be posting a soliloquy on Man’s Military Strategy based on Nature’s example.
Saturday, I’ll be posting another Tribute To Arla, this being the second half of the announcement that Lad had joined the family. This was supposed to be posted last Saturday, but I forgot I already had the post and created a new one. I apologize for the confusion.
Then we’ll move on to 1940 where Lad is still in Venezuela and Dan and Ced have moved to Alaska and found jobs they truly enjoy.
Interesting to read a comment in this post about the war, or the beginnings of it. And I remember slip covers on car seats.
Gallivanta – I think that even though we weren’t involved yet, Grandpa would have been paying attention to all that happened. He probably had already figured out that we would be joining it sooner or later, he just didn’t know exactly what would precipitate that decision.
I also remember seat covers. “Honeybunch”, the Buick we had when I was a very young child, had them. I think it’s the car my Mom drove from California to Trumbull after my Dad shipped out for France.
He is quite the typist! Prolific writer may be more accurate? But his talk about the Packard…and now a 1940 Willys – just makes me drool. What I wouldn’t give to have one of those now! But rebuilding an engine or clutch in those simpler times was a commonplace… unlike today’s use it then toss it mentality.
Koji – Those boys sure did love their cars, didn’t they? On second thought, my daughter has a ’68 deep blue Mustang that she might be moving into my garage and I told her there was only one condition – that I could drive it occasionally. I guess they just don’t make cars like they used to !!!
The ’68… That was Old Man Jack’s last Mustang, too… Indeed, a classic… And boys will be boys – even at 88 years of age. :-)
I’m really hoping she decides to move it here. I can picture myself driving it already.
Grandpa – not only patriarch and holder of the family news, but an actor as well – there are no limits to his energy.
Grandpa was a regular in the local theatrical scene. I inherited his enthusiasm for the theater but, because I’m shy, was always active backstage, doing make-up for both high school and all the college performances.