A Tribute To Arla – 1933


Grandpa’s wife, Arla, passed away at the age of 42 from a prolonged battle with, what we believe, was cancer. She left 6 children, the oldest, Lad, my father, who was 19 and the youngest, Dave, who was 7 at the time. She left a void that would never be filled, especially as Grandpa and the older boys struggled to earn enough money to support the household and repay the tremendous outstanding debts occurred by Arla’s illness.

These are a few of the letters of condolence received by Grandpa after Arla’s death. They provide a glimpse of Arla as a friend in addition to the view we have had as a wife and mother.

King Caesar Road

Duxbury, Massachusetts


Dear “Al”,

Before coming down here the other day I noticed in the Bridgeport paper the sad news of your wife’s death.

I know this has come as a terrible blow to you and I want you to know that you have my deepest sympathy. There is so little an outsider can do in such a situation but if there is anything I might be able to do to relieve the situation at your office, please don’t fail to let me know. I’ll be back at the end of the week.

Cordially yours,

Bob Shedden


Dear Al,

I have just learned of your loss of your wife and I wish to extend my very sincere sympathy.

Having lost one very dear to us, I can fully appreciate your great sorrow and loneliness at this time and hope God may give you and yours comfort and solace during these dark hours.

Believe me to be very sincerely,

Bill Gamble


July, third



Of the


881 Lafayette Street, Bridgeport, Connecticut

July 4, 1933

Dear Al and sons,

It was a shock to read in the newspapers of the death of your beloved wife. We in scouting want you to know that we sincerely sympathize with you and your sons in your loss.







July 5, 1933

Dear Mr. Guion:

I am very sorry indeed to hear of the trouble and loss that has come upon you recently, and wish to extend my sincere sympathy. It seems hard to understand why a wife and mother should be taken when she is so much needed and none to really take her place.

We cannot understand the things of this world. We can only hope for something very different beyond. I have no knowledge of the circumstances of Mrs. Guion’s illness and passing; but realize it means great sorrow and an additional burden of trouble. Will you therefore, let me offer the word of kindness and fellow feeling that we all have for one another at such a time, and trust you may be given strength to carry on.

Very truly,

Wm. G. Rockwell


My dear Mr. Guion,

Without knowing what to say, I am so deeply moved by your loss, I feel I must try to convey my sympathy in some way.

I have had a number of great sorrows in my own life and I know there is only one thing which eases the pain of loss — time.

You have indeed had more than your share of troubles lately. In the past I have comforted myself with the thought that life’s troubles run in cycles. So, perhaps your cycle of trouble is finished.

We who believe in the heavenly hereafter feel only happiness for those who preceded us.

In my own loneliness in years past I have found my greatest solace in work. I found it a welcome burden to have children to work and fight for.

If there is ever anything I can do for you, please give me a chance.

Sincerely and sympathetically,

Elizabeth Joslin Wright

July 5, 1933


1461 Boulevard,

West Hartford, Conn.

Dear Alfred:-

I have just learned of the death of your dear wife, and I’m greatly affected. She was such a joy and inspiration to all who were fortunate enough to know her as a friend but I can appreciate how deeply her loss will be felt.

I realized that, at this time, that words are of little consolation, but I do want you, your dear ones, and our Arla’s folks, to know that an old friend offers her deepest and most sincere sympathy.

Very sincerely,

Gertrude Ferguson Greaney

July fifth

Tomorrow Mary E. Wilson arrives at Ellis Island as a young teen and tells us of her feelings of confusin and fear throughout the ordeal.

Next week I’ll be posting letters from the end of 1940, when Dan and Ced are working in Alaska. Lad is still in Venezuela and we find out what is going on in Trumbull with Dick, Biss and Dave; friends of all the children and what Grandpa has been up to.

Judy Guion

22 thoughts on “A Tribute To Arla – 1933

  1. Such a touching post. It points up to me the grace and courage with which people meet the the obligations of community and friendship. It is no small task to compose letters like these, and make sure they are sent. I couldn’t help but notice how many letters were concerned with extending the same support to your grandfather that they had received in times of their own loss.

    • jaggh53163 says:

      Susan Call Hutchison – Back then, small communities were just that – small and very community-minded. Of course, you had to deal with everyone knowing your business but friends and neighbors were there to help when it was needed. It’s sad, but I don’t think you see that as much today. Many people are too wrapped up in their own little world that they fail to notice the neglected child or the abused wife.

  2. Mrs. P says:

    One of the letters mentions hearing about her death in the newspaper. Since your grandfather was such a collector of family, I assume he has her printed obituary…am I right?

  3. magyarok27 says:

    I wanted to mention, I have relatives on my mother’s side of the family that settled back in Bridgeport during that time. :-)

    • jghardt53163 says:

      The web is sure making the world a much smaller place. Do you know where they came from before settling in Bridgeport? I grew up in Trumbull, the same house Grandpa (Alfred D) and Grandma (Arla) moved into with their first 5 children in 1922. The house remains in the family and you can find it on Wikipedia if you Google Daniel Hawley House in Trumbull, CT.

      • magyarok27 says:

        It’s my uncle’s family, ( my mother’s fathers brother) they were originally from Hungary, and immigrated to the U.S. in the early 1900, and settled there. The surname Fray (was Fraj) before. The whole family still lives in the area. My cousin Sharon and her husband (they live in Claremont, N.H.) do storytelling as Abraham Lincoln and his wife. John Fray died in 1993 in Bridgeport, and one of the Fray’s went to Huntington Grammer School. And yes, the Internet is making things quite different then they used to be. Oh and if I remember right they owned or worked for a welding company there. :-)

  4. gpcox says:

    What can anyone ever say? I know for me, even time is slow in the healing.

    • jaggh53163 says:

      gpcox – I don’t believe my Grandfather ever truly recovered from the loss of “his one true love”. I know it affected all of the children during their lifetime. A piece of your heart is missing… forever.

  5. Thank you for the likes and follow. I`m really enjoying the stories and letters on your blog Truly a beautiful testament to remarkable people.

    I may have forwarded these links to you already, it`s late and I apologize if repeating myself. That said, if you have the time I think you`ll enjoy them :)




    • jaggh53163 says:

      Notestoponder – Thank you for your kind comments and the links. I’ll definitely be checking them out. I feel blessed to have so much material to work with. I’m glad you are enjoying my stories.

  6. Elephant says:

    This is very touching. I feel sad about Arla all these years later.

    • jaggh53163 says:

      Elephant – Since I never knew my Grandmother, and neither my Grandfather or her children talked about her much, I feel sad too. I’m glad these letters help me see her through the eyes of her friends. Looking forward to exploring your blog.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.