Trumbull – Dear Captains of Industry in the Post-War World (1) – The London Red Cross – November 21, 1943

This is the first half of a rather lengthy letter from Grandpa with many quotes from other letters he has received and some well-meaning fatherly advice. This post contains an interesting account of an American Red Cross Club outside of London and Dan’s thoughts about it.

Trumbull, Conn., Nov. 21, 1943

Dear Captains of Industry in

the Post-War World:

Well, the newlyweds are one week older today, and from all reports they started off in double harness in grand style. I know this from a night letter received early Monday morning. In spite of this most important happening in their own lives they still found time to send this message to the ancestral homestead: “Sorry you could not be here. We are in San Francisco and are leaving for Camp Santa Anita tomorrow. The wedding went beautifully and everyone is nice. Details following. Love to all” signed Marian and Lad.

This was followed a few days later by an announcement that Mr. and Mrs. Mowry A. Irwin announce the marriage of their daughter Marian to Mr. Alfred P. Guion, Army of the United States, on Sunday, the 14th of November, 1943 at Berkeley, California.

And that’s the story to date of the latest launching on the sea of matrimony. The port authorities at Trumbull are looking forward to the day when they will drop another in the harbor here. All hands will be piped on deck, the flag will be dipped, the big guns will fire their salute, the brass band will get into action, and a good time will be had by all. Speed the day! It can’t happen too soon for us.

Evidence keeps piling up that Lad, as usual, is showing rare good judgment, in his choice of a lifetime partner, this time. It has been my privilege to receive this week one of the nicest letters any father-in-law could receive from his son’s mother-in-law. (Incidentally, the stock mother-in-law jokes will have to retire in confusion in this instance). First her thoughtfulness in writing and the sensible understanding tone of her letter are revealed by her first two paragraphs: “Because you couldn’t be present to share in the happiness of Marian and Al on Sunday, but feeling sure that you would be interested, I’m taking the privilege of writing you. They can tell you about the wedding which I’m sure is just what they wanted — simple, happy and friendly, but with dignity, solemnity and beauty which I feel should accompany any marriage. Quite naturally, Mr. Irwin and I would have liked to become acquainted with your son before he walked down the aisle with our daughter as his wife. In normal times it would have been managed; but at present it was well nigh impossible. Really, I can honestly say to you that I retired Sunday night feeling absolutely sure that Marian was safe with the man of her choice. I had no qualms or worries whatever as to his treatment of her. Can any mother say more?” The letter follows with some intimate glimpses from a mother’s knowledge of her daughter and ends: “If any of you boys happen to be in our vicinity we’d enjoy having them get in touch with us, and we hope some time to have the pleasure of meeting you.” Aunt Betty summed it up by saying: “Evidently they are a very nice family!” Amen to that, Lad, and I’ll also be willing to bet Mrs. Irwin will never have cause to change her feelings towards you. And now, of course, we will be looking forward to letters from you or Marian or both telling us all about the main bout. I assume you couldn’t arrange time for even a short honeymoon, but that only means you will have that to look forward to.

A letter from Aunt Dorothy says Helen and Ted are coming north for a brief stay. Anne is staying with Dot and her mother temporarily, until Anne’s furniture arrives from Staunton. She has leased an apartment just a few blocks from Dorothy’s. Mother keeps pretty well but has her off days now and then.

Dave, by the way, received his notice to go to Shelton Tuesday for his physical exam.

Another interesting letter from Dan, and rather, as Shakespeare remarks, “to gild refined gold, to paint the lily, to throw perfume on the violet, to smooth the ice, or add another hue onto the rainbow, or with taper-light to seek the beauteous eye of heaven to garnish” I will simply quote: “Because it occupies such a prominent position in my mind today I am dedicating this letter to the American Red Cross. The clubs in London have been a catalyst to every “G. I.” who has come to London wanting to get the most out of his visit. Maps, accommodations, education, information, entertainment, all are the daily diet of the A. R. C. Considerable prejudice has been built up in the minds of most of us against the Red Cross for alleged acts of dubious character during the last war — selling cigarettes, stationary, etc., which had been donated for free distribution — so it has been quite a pleasant revelation to learn how unfair such a prejudice has become. I am not familiar with administrational set up over here. Apparently only a few of the workers are Americans. These few are regional Directors, generally men. But the majority of workers, paid or volunteer, are British women who do all in their power to help us in every way. They are a composite Travelers aid, shopping guide, nursemaid, companion (in a moral sense, of course!), entertainer, tour conductor, Encyclopedia, Dorothy Dix and hostess, all at the “beck and call” of any “G. I.” uniform. Rooms and meals are available at minimum charge. But nicest of all, a new A. R. C. Club has just been opened quite near the place in which we are stationed. It is rather different in atmosphere from the downtown London clubs — more like an exclusive U. S. O. Club in that there are no overnight facilities to attract the “Grand Central terminal” crowd that prevails in the regular London clubs (coming and going at all hours of the day and night, unkempt from travel — gas mask and musette bag drooping from weary shoulders as they “queue up” for lodgings. This local A. R. C. is housed in a building built by Christopher Wren for Queen Anne early in the 18th century. It is built on the site of an old palace, which causes it fairly to reek of atmosphere and tradition, despite the modern comforts that have been added for its present function. There is an open fireplace in virtually every room; library music room, dining room, information desk, all contribute notably to our comfort indoors, while spacious lawns, secluded bowers, gardens and aged walls lend an aura of romantic antiquity to the grounds around it. Glimpses of barges and boats can be caught through the trees that line the further edge of the lawn past which a river flows. By fortunate coincidence I am able to take advantage of this club during the daylight hours all this week because I have begun working on a “shift” job which changes hours periodically. The work I am doing is new and interesting, particularly by contrast to the stagnation I have been exposed to for such a long time.” Thanks Dan, for that masterly letter. I have an idea it will be read by a wider range of folks than those in the immediate neighborhood.

Tomorrow, I’ll post the second half of the letter with some well thought out advice from Grandpa to his sons, scattered around the world.

Judy Guion


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