Army Life – A Letter From Dan – June, 1945

Trumbull, Conn., July 22, 1945.

Dear Boys:

A letter from Danny boy, dated June 26th, is the sole “Quote” I have for you this week, as follows:

These are significant days – – particularly in the personal (and somewhat checkered) career of our hero, the personable Daniel B. Guion. For it has come to pass (Bible talk, meaning “it has come to pass”) that our hero saw his lady love even at the expense of cheating his uncle! Dan (that was his moniker) was stationed in Maastricht in those days and there were passes available for all and sundry. But alas the passes were for a duration of only 48 hours – – and what was the worst, Calais was specifically mentioned as being beyond the borne of such a pass. Nothing daunted, young Guion took his courage in his hands and placed his conscience behind him, and with this entourage, set off one evening, ostensibly for Brussels. But, patient reader, the fair city of Brussels was but a subterfuge. ‘Tis true that Guion spent the night at a hostelry in that city, but it was merely the result of the young man’s realism (and the setting sun) that he halted at all that night. Bright and early the next morning Dan set off for distant Calais, traveling by that medium so familiar to Americans – – the thumb. It soon became apparent to the eager lad that not all streets (they call them “rues” in Belgium, but they act very much like those phenomena we have labeled “streets” in America) – – to continue, it became apparent that not all rues in Brussels led directly to Calais. As a matter of fact, after about an hour of experimentation, map reading, tram car riding and muttering through his teeth, Dan definitely established to his satisfaction (well, hardly satisfaction, but in the interests of literature, wot the hell?) that at least three Brussels rues did NOT lead in the direction of Calais. But the fates are not always adamant and eventually one of the natives of those parts pointed out the right rue which had been there all the time, unbeknownst to our hero. It developed that the day was Sunday and not every military truck in the ETO was planning to go to Calais – – in fact most trucks that took the trouble to bother at all were generally moving in the opposite direction. By dint of persistence, and courtesy of the British Army, Guion arrived at last at Calais. It was mid-afternoon. Perhaps his heart beat a little faster veinous eagerness as he turned in at the familiar double doors in front of the Senechal home. Perhaps he wondered if they would be home on such a brilliant Sunday afternoon. Knock, knock, knock. What was hidden behind that closed door! The door opened. It was Madam Senechal. A sudden look of joy turned to profound consternation – – “Oh, Dani, Paulette n’est pa la!  Ella est partie a Donai, etc. etc. All of which was translated by our hero into his flawless English by his agile brain, and I pass it on to you, word for word: “Oh, Dan! Paulette is not here! She has gone to Douai to visit Renee and Andree. And it is my fault. She has been listless since you went away, so the other day, when she received an invitation to visit her sister, I told her to go ahead – – that it would be a pleasant change for her. So it’s really my fault.” Our hero hastened to reassure her that it was perfectly all right – – he would go on to Douai that same day. Thus he would not only visit the whole family but also he would be nearer to Maastricht for his return trip on the morrow. And so it was. He arrived in Douai about 10 in the evening and was welcomed warmly, as you, dear reader, must already have suspected. Monday, Dan left Douai for Lille on the train in company with Chiche, and at Lille they parted – – she for Calais and he for Maastricht. They had decided to wait until August for the wedding at the request of Mme. S. because her two boys were due back from Algeria early in July and the added excitement and fuss of a wedding would be too much for her. But the workings of destiny recognize no plan and a few days later our hero learned that the Army was planning to move soon and haste was imperative if Dan was to be hitched properly, so, as things stand now, the situation is disintegrating every bit as fast as it is being resolved. Young Guion is back in Drancy, expecting to be sent either to the U.S.A. or China within a couple of months unless the critical score of 85 is lowered to 76, in which case he will probably remain several months in Europe doing Heaven only knows what while waiting to be discharged. He is automatically barred from participation in the educational opportunities because at present he is in Category II which means C (China)  B (Burma)  I (India). Will Guion be sent directly to China, or via the states? Will the critical points be lowered to 76? Will he get the girl? For further adventures of Dan keep your nose tuned to Box 7, Trumbull, Conn.

For your information, my map of France shows Maastricht on the Belgium-German border about 50 miles east of Brussels. Calais is 100 miles west of Brussels. Douai is 50 miles south east of Calais and 20 miles south of Lille (60 miles S.E. of Brussels). Drancy is 3 or 4 miles N.E. of Paris up in the direction of La Bourget airfield.

Daniel Beck Guion - (Dan)

Dan in uniform @ 1945

Just before receiving the above letter, the mail also delivered two very good pictures of Dan, one smiling and the other serious. I showed them to Butch yesterday and he said, “What is he mad about?”

Marian says a letter just received from Lad says he has received an invitation from Paulette to their wedding August 4th but that the Army will not let him go. As Lad’s letter was written later than Dan’s, that may be the last news until we hear further from Dan.

Marian has had two girl friends visiting her from the Bronx this weekend. I had a marriage to perform today in Bridgeport. You will recall I wrote not so long ago telling you about marrying a man who was dumb. Well today both the groom and the best man were totally blind. The girl was O.K. A “seeing-eye” dog was present at the ceremony. Red (Sirene) dropped in for a visit one day this week. He will be sent to Belvoir for about a month when his furlough is up early next month. A letter from your Aunt Helen (Peabody Human) says they are still in Minetta Street. “The other night we were over at Anne’s (Peabody Stanley) and saw a copy of Dave’s letter. I was completely fascinated during the entire reading of it. It is really a remarkable letter – – so perfectly natural, interesting and informative. It reads as though he were used to turning out articles by the dozen. Do you remember Jim Shields? He visited in Trumbull I remember. He stopped in one day last week to see if Ted (Human). He asked about the boys and sent his regards. Donald (Stanley) is back. Right now he is in Boston working on exams and then he and Gweneth are going to Vermont for a few days before going back to sea. He has been in the Pacific and was at or near Okinawa.”

And that’s about all on the list for this week except that Jean has run into a bit of passport red-tape trouble and may go to Miami by plane. More about that next week. Meantime, don’t forget your

DAD

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