The Beginning (53) – Childhood Memories of Trumbull – Working in Venezuela – 1939 – 1941

These are the memories of my Father and his siblings, recorded over several years. When my Uncle Dan passed away, I realized that I had better get started recording the memories of Dan’s siblings before they were also gone. I was able to have two recording sessions with my Father, Lad in California; two with Uncle Ced in New Hampshire, a three-day cruise in our boat with Aunt Biss; one session with Uncle Dave in Stratford, CT and one hand-written session (I forgot my tape recorder going up to the Island in New Hampshire, where Uncle Dick lived) with Uncle Dick. I transcribed them once exactly as they were spoken, again removing the ums, ahs, half sentences started over, etc. I then produced a final copy that was easier to read, but it still needs work getting the chronological order correct. Memories are not recorded with a date stamp. I created 75 binders for family members which include all three translations, pages and pages of photos and memorabilia and the actual recording. Now family members can actually heat their ancestors speaking. It was my first project with all the material my Father saved for me and a true Labor of Love. I hope you enjoy these memories of A Slice of Life at a different time and place. 

Lad in Venezuela

Dan in Venezuela

LAD – I got into the oil business in Venezuela through my uncle, Ted Human. he was a civil engineer and saw an ad in the business paper that requested workers for Venezuela.  He applied for a job with a company called  Inter-America, Inc. he got the job and asked Dan, also a civil engineer, to come down and help him.  He also asked me if I’d go along as a mechanic to maintain the company trucks.  We were going to build a road from Caracas to Columbia, which would go across the top of Venezuela. Barquisimeto was the name of the town in Venezuela.Dan left with Uncle Ted (in October, 1938) but I had to buy tools, equipment and other stuff that I would need.  By the time I had everything ready and had arranged transportation, it was the end of December, 1938.  I left from New York City on a Grace Line ship on December 26 (actually he left on December 30th)1938.  I was at sea on New Year’s Eve.  We had a rather bad storm going across the port of Caracas and most of the passengers got sick, I was 1 of the few that didn’t get sick.  I was still able to get around although the ship was pitching rather badly.  After that, they put balance wheels or gyroscopes in those boats.  They really helped a great deal.  It didn’t stop the pitching, but it did stop the yawing.

I worked for Inter-America for a couple of months but I wasn’t getting paid.  Neither were the other guys.  Uncle Ted found out that the pictures sent to the Venezuelan officials showing the road we had built was actually just smoothed out sand, not cement.  He got pretty upset about that because it wasn’t a real road.  He and Dan had done the surveying and figured the angles and the grades, and then, instead of pouring cement, they just leveled off the sand.

Uncle Ted was injured in a car accident and returned to the United States.  I guess Dan wasn’t interested in staying after that.  Uncle Ted had introduced me to a fellow and I had worked on his vehicles.  I was able to get a job with him at Socony-Vacuum Oil Company and I worked for them for two years.

While Uncle Ted was in Venezuela, he had a chauffeur named Manuel.  They were going to Caracas down a road and came to a river with the bridge across it.  Many of the bridges in Venezuela are 2 lanes wide but only one side of the bridge is finished with planking.  Manuel was going a bit fast and he was going up a slight hill and because there was a piece of equipment on the road, he didn’t realize that the other side of the bridge had the planking.  Manuel tried to get over to the left far enough but wasn’t successful.  The car went over the bank and into the river.  Uncle Ted got hurt quite badly.  Aunt Helen came down from the US and took him back to a New York City hospital.  Although he lived for a few years after that, he was in very poor health.

Tomorrow and the rest of the week, more childhood Memories of Trumbull.

Judy Guion

2 thoughts on “The Beginning (53) – Childhood Memories of Trumbull – Working in Venezuela – 1939 – 1941

  1. Valerie says:

    A shame about the flim-flam; and such a pity about the accident. Aunt Helen must have been a strong character to have travelled all that way to bring back her husband – that trip would be a story in itself.

    • Judy Guion says:

      Valerie – Yes, the Peabody women were all strong – they got it from their mother. Here is what Grandpa said about Arla’s mother, Anna Charlotta (Westlin) Peabody:
      Grandma’s life span marks an era in American history which is fast becoming legendary. Born in Sweden, she came to this country as a young girl and with her parents settled as pioneers in what was the raw Far West in those days. Battling fierce Dakota winter storms and summer’s heat and drought, life was lived under the most primitive conditions. With Grandpa frequently away from home for days at a time, with the constant fear of marauding Indians, often facing periods verging on privation and want, she raised a family of seven children, never for once lowering her ideals of honor and integrity. Not knowing what the next day would bring she still carried on.

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