Lad in Langeres, France, 1945
Feb. 18, 1945
I’m sorry I’ve not written before, but you, I think, can understand how I feel. Marian, naturally, is my standby, and I had thought that she could give you news of my doings, as she received them, but I realize, too, that as far as being able to quote from my letters to her is concerned, it would sound rather funny for the boys to receive a letter from you with a quotation from one of their’s. They would wonder if the strains of war had finally gotten you. So, without making a promise, I’ll try to drop you a line now and then. A big difficulty enters, since I’m quite restricted as to what I can say about our work here and everyday happenings, which, since I don’t leave very much, is not supplemented by local color or happenings, and doesn’t leave much for writing material. Of course, I can discuss the weather, but I think I know what you want and it is hard to dig up. Dan’s and Ced’s circumstances are different in that they both are frequently on the move and seeing new things, but with this outfit, stationed permanently (?) in one place, unusual happenings are rare, and in all probability will be hindered by censorship.
About my present work, here, it is about what I wanted for some time – Diesel Electric – but isn’t as broad a field as I want. I’m pretty much restricted to operation and a slight maintenance, and what I wanted was more on the installation and troubleshooting side, but I really have no kick about this job. In fact, I like it about as well as anything I’ve done in the Army except the instruction work I was doing with Diesels at Santa Anita.
Sunday is a rather quiet day here at the plant, and I’m on alone today, and have plenty of spare moments in which to write to you, if nothing goes haywire during my shift.
An answer to a few of your requests –
Don’t bother to send me the weekly news analysis via the section of the paper. We have here a rather complete little paper published by the Army called “The Stars and Stripes”, which gives us all the news quite clearly, and I take time each evening to peruse the publication (I don’t have a dictionary to check the correct usage of that word) and can get a fairly clear picture of the events, as they unfold, a day or two, at the most, after you here, or rather, read about them. So your thoughtfulness, although appreciated, is unnecessary.
The box you mailed me about Christmas time (I forgot to check the mailing date) arrived Friday night, in a surprising condition. Everything was perfectly O.K. with one unexplainable exception. The box and its wrapper were in apparently perfect condition (it might possibly have been opened for inspection. I have no means of determining that possibility) but one bar of chocolate had three small bites taken from it which looks unmistakably like a mouse’s dirty work. Nothing else shows signs of molestation.
The candy is always appreciated, we get some, 5-7 bars, through our bimonthly rations, but it is always good, and can be eaten at any time.
The tobacco, plus our rations, is more than I need for my personal use and would last me for quite some time in itself since I smoke a pipe only at night, but the choice is excellent. Thank you.
The stove already has served a good worthy cause, furnishing us with hot chocolate last night. It is very nice being small enough to carry easily and yet giving off quite a remarkable quantity of heat. It may really be a worthwhile gift if I am sent on a convoy some time. That was the best choice of all.
Scissors were an appreciated addition to my toilet, and will probably come in very handy sometime. They are small and easily carried.
One item, however, the shoe polish, is practically useless here, because we use a prepared grease Dubbin (?), For our shoes and after one application, even a Wash. D. C. Shoe polisher would not be able to get a shine on them. I brought a can with me from the States which has never been opened. Marian sent me one, and you also, and if nothing happens to change the present policy, I shall probably give them away.
As far as giving you any suggestions for future boxes, that is very difficult. Firstly, I have no idea just what the Army has in store for me from day to day and can’t make estimates for six or seven weeks in advance. To you, that time is comparatively short, but to me it is immeasurably long. When I think of what can, and does, happen in much less time than that, it almost seems impossible, and I can’t even begin to make plans.
Secondly, almost anything you can send me, except edibles and smokables, just add to the already too many things I have to be kept in a minimum of space. And if necessary to pack up and move suddenly, it all has to be disposed of one way or another and that usually means throwing it away. And that is contrary to my makeup. However if I do have any requests of a nature that you can take care of, you shall hear about it. The Army takes pretty good care of the soldiers now, and not much in the way of necessities for living without being overburdened is omitted from our issued paraphernalia.
Your package took an exceptionally long time to get here. Normal time seems to be from 4 to 5 weeks and in some cases a few days less, but these are exceptions. I received three from Marian which have taken approximately that time. A few, however, have taken much longer.
My chances for getting to Paris, even from here, are not too good at the moment, so I don’t know whether I’ll get a chance to see Dan, Don and Jr. or not. I hope I will be able to make it, though, before too long. It should be fine, and I would like to see Dan, particularly.
It seems as though winter has lost its grip, at least at the present time, and snow and ice have given way to mud and that in turn is giving way, somewhat reluctantly, perhaps, too hard ground and probably dust. I’m told that normally rain can be expected until about the end of March before the sun really takes over, but the sun has made a pretty good start already. I’m rooting for it, if that will help.
I’ve been quite well, Dad, and in good health. I still weigh about the same, however.
Remember me to everybody, and thanks for your weeklies.
This weekend, and every weekend following, I’m beginning at the beginning. Many of you were not following my Blog over three years ago when I began publishing the Guion Family Saga, or as I call it, A Slice of Life. My grandfather, Alfred Duryee Guion, wrote his Reminiscences while traveling “around the world” on a freighter. He had quite a bit of time to remember bits and pieces of his life and decided to write them down for posterity, and his grandchildren. After he is married and starts a family, I will include the childhood memories of his children, which I recorded.
I believe this will give you a chance to get to know the man I called “Grandpa” and the author of many of the letters you have been reading. I hope you enjoy the beginning of the Guion Family Saga.