Life In Alaska – Ced’s Flights and the Packard – Sept, 1940

It’s 1940 and Dan and Ced are working in Alaska and sending money home to help Grandpa raised the younger children. Lad, the oldest, is still in Venezuela, working for the Socony-Vacuum Oil Company. We will begin this series of letters with one from Ced to Lad.

September eighteenth

8:45 PM

Dear Frere’:

The Lord knows when your letter was posted, but it arrived in Anchorage on 11 September. The Venezuelan postmark was about as legible as a North American Chinamen’s left-handed signature as seen at 50 yards through the wrong end of opera glasses. However it must have made fair time and Dan and I are both delighted to hear from you. Your letter was excellent reading too. Well written and newsy. I hope for a repeat

Letter from Ced to Lad - Sept, 1940

Letter from Ced to Lad – Sept, 1940

performance soon.

As for your baby Lockheed, our Stinson, not Travelaire, should vie with it in instruments. Sometime I’ll count them and let you know. Then you’ll retract your belittling statements. I confess a feeling of envy, however, as there is a P.A.A. (Pacific Alaska Airways) plane which hits Anchorage once in a great while, which is a new Lockheed, I think 10 passenger, and it is probably the same design as S.O.V.’s (sounds like son of vich, because, we remember now, it’s S.V.O.C.’s. It answers your description as far as exterior goes, but the inside I haven’t seen.

The further news on the Packard is this – to the end of my stay in Trumbull it seemed “Faithful Forever”, having masterfully served both Dan and I through two hard winters and at the last, with the new coat of top dressing and two new tires, looked good for another stretch. The top still went up and down frequently and didn’t leak to speak up. On leaving, was unable to sell it through the papers, I left it with Dad with the understanding that Dick buy it for $40 if he got a job on the highway department.

P.S. – Dick got the job but not state highway, instead Columbia photo, and now he has paid to Dad the full $40 which you by now have most likely heard, through Dad’s carbons of letters to Dan and I.

The money which rightfully belongs to you along with $60 more from me, I took the liberty of temporarily deeding to Dad as help-along financing. I am so situated now that I will soon be able to make it up to you. I am ashamed of having let it go so long, but I always figured that you didn’t have any immediate need for it and it was very convenient for one to lose it in circumstances up to the present. Thanks for your kind, brotherly patience.

Dad so religiously tells you news of Dan’s and my doings that I feel unnecessary when I write news and happenings here, only to learn (through Dad’s carbons again) that he has also told you the same things.

Well, I have been up in a plane twice, once in a Travelaire 360M, and two weeks ago, in the Stinson. The trip in the Travelaire was from the base camp at Lake Spenard to a place called Bootlegger’s Cove, a distance of about 2 miles by air. We went up, then down  – get it? The purpose was business – to load heavy freight at the Cove in Cook Inlet which couldn’t be taken off from the Lake because of limited takeoff space. The Stinson trip, on the other hand, was pleasure bent. Here is the story. I was sweeping out the ship as it was to go to Seward that afternoon. About a minute before I finished, Art Woodley, the big boss, arrived, with the purpose of taking the ship up for a test, the brakes had been pulling to the right. As he entered I moved aside to let him by and as he passed me he paused, and said, “Say, Ced, you haven’t ridden in this yet, have you?” I replied in the negative and he invited me to come along. He taxied around the airport for a while, alternately taxiing and braking and finally stopped, buckled his safety belt, which Tom Pugh, the office clerk, who was going along also, and I followed suit on, and then we took off. Tom rode as copilot radio operator, and I as a passenger in the rear seat. Art flew around a while and as we passed above the Army air base we dove quite steeply; Dan working below, told me later, that he remarked to a fellow worker “Suppose that was a German bomber coming at us?”. Of course, he didn’t know it was Woodley’s Stinson, much less that I was aboard. I got my first real sightseeing trip of Anchorage by air and sadly returned to earth with the ship. However my sadness was soon turned to joy when Art turned and called back to me, as we stood, engines idling, in front of the hangar, to sit tight, and up we went again. I suppose we were in the air only 15 minutes or so, but I certainly enjoyed them.

Tonight I paid $160 as entry fee to the “Cook Inlet Flying Club, Inc.” and am now a full-fledged member. We (the club) have a 1939 Aurora chief _____. It has a 75 hp Continental four-cylinder air cooled engine and cruises at 90 mph. I’ll tell you more about it later, after I’ve flown at a little. It will cost me five dollars an hour for the instruction for the first eight hours after which I can solo. There is a flat rate of three dollars an hour rental on the ship for instruction and solo. This is compared to $15 an hour for instruction and $10 for solo in taking private lessons. This is a saving of $141 through the club, not including the one dollar a month dues for social affairs. It does include the $160 though. There are only 11 members in the club, and that means that I automatically own 1/11th share of the plane and have a vote in the organization. I’m very pleased about it.

Dan and I are both expecting to join the Glee Club here in Anchorage and also the Ski Club. Perhaps we will really enjoy ourselves this winter. I hope so. So far we have been let down a little. I look to see you in a plane any day now. Just drop in at the hangar and meet the boys. The wind is West, ceiling zero, humidity zero, but never wind, you probably fly blind anyway.

Dan bought an Argus candid camera last Saturday, and a la promptings by you and dad, I think Dan and I will buy an 8mm movie camera.


Tomorrow, I’ll be posting Dan’s letter written st the same time and mailed to Lad with Ced’s letter.

On Tuesday we’ll have another Guest Post from gpcox about life during the 1940’s. I think you’ll find this one quite entertaining.

Judy Guion


4 thoughts on “Life In Alaska – Ced’s Flights and the Packard – Sept, 1940

  1. Mrs. P says:

    As usual, I really enjoyed Ce’s letter. It was nice to hear about the plane ride.

    • Judy Guion says:

      Mrs. P. – I really wish I had more of his letters… or that Grandpa had quoted more of them in his letters. I have read references to so many adventures but don’t know the story… or even the punchline !!!

  2. gpcox says:

    A good break to hear from Ced today. He sounds so excited about his activities and learning, a really fresh perspective.

    • Judy Guion says:

      That isn’t surprising because he’s only 23 at this time. His letters are always interesting – almost impossible to read – but full of exuberance.

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