Grandpa, Alfred Duryee Guion, lost his wife, Arla Mary Peabody Guion, probably due to cancer, at the age of 41. She left six children. My father, Alfred Peabody (Lad) was the oldest at 19. Daniel Beck (Dan) was 17 and, Cedric Duryee (Ced) had just turned 16. Elizabeth Westlin (Biss) was 14, Richard Peabody (Dick) was 12 and David Peabody (Dave) was only 7.
The financial burden put on the household due to Arla’s long and protracted illness was huge. It was 1933 and the country was struggling. Lad and Dan decided that they would get jobs with the CCC (Civilian Conservation Corps) and since they would be living at their work camps during the week, Grandpa didn’t have to feed them and their wages could help support the younger children.
What was going on in the mind of Cedric, I have no idea. Perhaps the older boys knew more about their mother’s illness and took on the responsibility of helping where they could. Perhaps he felt a hollowness in his heart and wanted to fill it with stories from his mother’s childhood. He knew her sisters quite well but her brothers were a different story. They remained in the Mid-west where she had grown up. He decided to hitchhike by himself from Trumbull, CT to North Dakota and Wisconsin to find his mother’s roots.
I have recently received from Ced’s wife a Scrapbook which included memorabilia and the letters he wrote home and some he received on his journey. I will be traveling with you as we follow his adventure. I’m still copying material and haven’t read further than his few notes!
When possible, I’ll try to give you some background on the individuals to help flesh out the story.
Aunt Betty and Aunt Elsie send their love
Dear Dad Monday
I am at Aunt Betty’s shop and will write further particulars later. In all my hurry I forgot the summer suit shirt and slacks and my brown leather pocketbook containing nine dollars. If you would send the pocketbook and clothes along with your letter of approval for identification, and a letter to Grandma explaining my plans to pick it up at Ossining it would help. Send them to Grandma.
Love and more later.
Aunt Betty (Duryee) was Grandpa’s Aunt, the sister of his Mother. She ran a shop in Grand Central Station for many years. Aunt Elsie (Duryee), Grandpa’s sister, worked in the shop with her aunt.
Ced kept a record of all the vehicles he rode in each day (does that remind you if Grandpa?) and he didn’t list any vehicle for Sunday, July 15th, his first day. His second note to his Dad, written on Thursday, explains how his first few days went. I’ll be posting that note next Sunday.
Tomorrow, I’ll start posting letters written i8n April of 1941, when Lad is the only son away from home. He is working in Venezuela and having his pay sent to Grandpa to help with the family finances.