Trumbull – Yellow Gold Seekers And Black Gold Hunter – July, 1940

We’ve moved back in time to 1940, when Lad is working in Venezuela for the Socony-Vacuum Oil Company and Dan and Ced have sailed from Seattle on their way to Anchorage. They have no job but lots of high hopes.

pp pic 1

Epistle R-83
July 8, 1940
Indicted at Trumbull, Conn.,
And dispatched to ye two
Yellow Gold seekers in Alaska and
ye Black Gold hunter in Venezuela
To all of whom GREETING:
Last Tuesday by way of celebration of the fact that Richard had graduated and David just skinned by his first year and will next year attend Bassick, their father decided to blow them to a trip to the Big City. We drove down to a parking lot in back of the Tudor hotel via the Merritt Parkway in the little old Plymouth which Arnold had rejuvenated (he found a cracked cylinder which he replaced with another used unit at a cost of four dollars which he said did not include his charge for labor), and then took the elevated railroad (this mode of transportation is rapidly going in the discard — the 6th Avenue El being now only a memory) to the extreme end of the city. As Dick said he had never seen the Battery or the Statue of Liberty, we boarded the Staten Island ferry, which gives about the longest ride for a nickel across New York harbor that I know about, and then turned around and came back again. It was a beautiful day and the trip quite enjoyable. We then hiked up Broadway to Wall Street, saw Trinity Church, J.P. Morgan’s office, had lunch and took the subway back to Grand Central Station where we arranged with Elsie to have dinner with us that evening. We then walked over to Broadway and I bought tickets for “Hell’s a-Poppin’” for that evening and we then all went to the movies. Dave and I then walked up Fifth Avenue and inspected St. Patrick’s Cathedral (Dick had a sore foot and did not want too much walking). We then met Elsie and had a very enjoyable meal together. We all thoroughly enjoyed the show and started back home about midnight, arriving in Trumbull at about 2 AM. Just before we reached the toll station at Greenwich we were held up by red flares and bunched cars, but finally got through. There had been an accident of some sort and we saw some poor dock laid out on the grass, very still, with his shirt front all covered with blood. For a while after that Dick drove slowly.
I quote a letter just received from Aunt Anne: (from St. Albans, Vermont) “At last I have come to the point of writing you. I am sorry to be so long about it. I am enclosing a check to cover at least some of the expense you occurred during our very pleasant stay with you. I hope we were not too much bothered since we would like to be wellcome another time when we are able to visit with you again. Thank you so much for everything.
All of the imaginative planning I did for a quiet vacation has gone up in smoke more or less. I am getting more vacation and quiet than I bargained for. I expect to go into the hospital within a day or two to be there for probably six weeks. I told the Doctor I’d love a couple of weeks of it, but six weeks — no. But he said people get used to being in bed and after a while they don’t seem to mind it, so I suppose I’ll follow along like the rest. I have been having some trouble with my stomach which they find is abnormally low. Anyway, I’ll certainly get a good rest, probably put on pounds and pounds and come out feeling much better. So, I will not be tripping anywhere this summer. Thanks anyway for all the data you so thoughtfully got for me. I’ll have lots of fun looking it over and imagining how much fun it would be — if. I could perhaps store up some ideas for another time.
The children are down at Georgia’s shore, stay with Kemper and Ethel for the present while I have been going through their examinations. I can’t speak beyond the present though because I don’t yet know what will develop out of this predicament. I’m sure it will work out favorably somehow. Love to all the family and again, thanks. Sincerely, Anne.”
A letter from Ced mailed from Ketchikan, Alaska, the first stop made by the boat, dated June 28, two days out from Seattle, indicates a pleasant voyage with the exception that their bag and duffel were stored beneath tons and tons of baggage and they were forced to wear rough traveling clothes. It is characteristic of Dan, as it is with most others in this world who know what they want, to go after it in spite of seeming difficulties, that in desperation he started searching for the lost bags and found them right on top where they had been all the time. Ced writes the meals are only fair in quality but plentiful. People are friendly and they are having a good time dancing, playing games and looking at the scenery, including views of whales, etc. This steamer S.S. Mt. McKinley is old and the engine sets up quite a vibration.
This morning I got a brief postal from Dan mailed at Juneau, the second stop, or rather the third because he mentions stopping at Ketchikan and the fact that there were about five hours of darkness the night before.
A letter from Lad received July 1 mentions sending his electric razor back to the manufacturer in Stamford to be repaired, the fact that he has decided to stay with Socony-Vacuum at present due to changes the war has made in Venezuelan Petroleum’s plans. Mr. O’Connor told Lad to be sure to see him before he went home as he might have an offer to make to him at that time. He took some pictures of a live Anteater one of the men had brought into camp, but it was soon released because of the terrible odor. He must smell worse than Mack. He also tells of a visit to a German family, the Beckers, where they had German pancakes. He is attending a Spanish class and finds the patois spoken at the camp is not pure Castilian. Incidentally, I just came into possession of an interesting historical of my grandmother on my father’s side, your great grandmother. I learned for the first time that her father was German, so you boys have English, German, Dutch, French and Swedish blood in your veins. You should be able to master many languages quickly. Lad says he would like to be going with you boys to Alaska although things are not too bad down there for him. He will again be in charge of the garage for a few days while Chris is away. He contributes a South American joke: “What did the mayonnaise say to the refrigerator? Close the door, I’m dressing.”
I am enclosing a few clippings. One is a big Fourth of July parade they had in Bridgeport in honor of the opening of Park Avenue to the Merritt Parkway. You will recognize old John Hameseder and his arc.
Mrs. French told me that Dan Wells killed a copperhead in the long grass just beside his house the other day.
The last three days of last week Trumbull has had a Pageant. Dave took part in it. I understand it did not go over very well financially. It was for the benefit of the recreation fund.
And that’s all for this evening. Maybe there will be more news from all of you next week when this serial will be continued. I still don’t know what the news is regarding the sale of the Willys and whether the boys made contact with the Stolls in Seattle. I don’t even know what their address will be Alaska, so I’m sending this care of general delivery, Anchorage, hoping it will have better luck in finding them than my previous letters written to US points.
Toodoloo.
DAD

For the rest of the week, I’ll be posting letters from Grandpa to his sons in far off places and maybe we’ll find out more from the boys themselves.

Judy Guion

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17 thoughts on “Trumbull – Yellow Gold Seekers And Black Gold Hunter – July, 1940

  1. Mrs. P says:

    So much news! I checked it out. The Staten Island Ferry is one of the few things that costs less today than in 1940…it’s free!!

    We are so spoiled with our instant communication. Poor grandpa had to send a package to Anchorage General mail and hope that it arrived at its destination and that the boys would receive it. Difficult decision, especially when financial matters are pretty bleak at home.

    So far, I haven’t found any passenger lists but I did find info on the S.S. Mt McKinley, not to be confused with the USS Mount McKinley. It shipwrecked two years later than the trip the boys were on. Here is what I found out about it. “On a rainy, foggy day, the SS Mount McKinley ties up at the old “Army Dock” in Kodiak in this early 1940s Helsel photo. (photo not included). The 373-foot long McKinley was stranded on a reef at the entrance to Unimak Pass in March of 1943, after miscalculating a zigzag course to avoid enemy submarines (according to the Alaska Geographic article). When the tide came in, the surf also kicked up, and pounded the vessel to pieces.” It had been owned by Grace Line, but they sold it to the Alaska Steamship Co, in Seattle, which makes sense.

    http://www.wrecksite.eu/wreck.aspx?132401

    http://vilda.alaska.edu/cdm/ref/collection/cdmg21/id/1252

  2. A.L. Sowards says:

    I wish my varied ancestry would make it easier to learn languages!

  3. awax1217 says:

    My wife’s dad was there to. Alfred Dwin. He spoke Spanish like a native and was involved with trade.

    • jaggh53163 says:

      Barry – I don’t believe my father remembered the Spanish he learned way back then. All I remember are a few phrases he would say to us at bedtime… hasta luego, and some others.

  4. gpcox says:

    Love grandpa’s title!

  5. Mustang.Koji says:

    I still am amazed that letters abound! Not just your grandfather’s but the letters from others. My mind is so geared to THIS – computers – that I forget how valuable plain ole letters were. I could imagine their trek in the Big City plus their ride “for a nickel”. Wow… but a nickel then was still some money.

    I particularly found interesting he casually mentioning German folks and having German blood. This is because at this time, Nazi Germany had commenced the Battle of Britain and the Luftwaffe would be flying across the channel to bomb Scotland, Wales and Ireland.

    • jaggh53163 says:

      Koji – My concern is that in 50 years, will we be able to access the information we have stored on computers and “in the cloud”? The same with pictures. I actually have a few glass negatives, which a friend was able to scan, and I have hard copies of pictures that are over 100 years old. I find myself printing any picture that I want to keep. I wonder how much information will actually be lost because of computers.
      Computers save trees and space – I buy paper by the case and have over a dozen boxes of papers, pictures and memorabilia, but I KNOW they will last. All I need is a LARGE fire-proof safe !!!! :)

    • jaggh53163 says:

      Koji – My Grandfather truly looked at a man’s character and not his color, race, ethnicity, religion or anything else. That is a legacy that has been passed down to his children, grandchildren, great-grandchildren, and I pray, will continue through ALL generations.
      There is no such thing as a pure American. He forgot to mention her Spanish blood, and that was only on his side of the family. We are all a mixture of other cultures, one great melting pot. I just wish we could all come together and live with peace and harmony, and be as tolerant of differences as my Grandfather was.

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