Alfred Duryee Guion (Grandpa)
So this is May 20th, eh? 1945
and we are still situate at Trumbull, Ct
I was surprised this week when I got a letter from Dan to find that he hadn’t been able to give a foreign twist to the word “MAY”. Last month it was Avril, then there was a Fevier letter and before that a Janvier note – – just a valiant attempt, I suppose, to gradually ease me into learning French so that I can converse fluently with Paulette when she arrives in the U.S.A. And while on the subject of letters from Dan, here’s the latest quote: “Somewhere in Holland. I say, Pater, old bean, I’m not the ‘happiest boy in the world’ these days, in spite of Admiral Doenitz’s decision to carry on the struggle against Bolshevism. As a matter of fact, I am rather further from the “Chiche” circuit than I had hoped to be. Before I can be married I have to check with the French civil authorities, which is not very practical in Holland. I should be applying for a furlough, too, if I expect to have it materialize during my sojourn in Europe. I refer, of course, to my getting married furlough. During my meteor-like appearance in Paris, I managed to have my features captured for posterity by a photographic studio but I was whisked off to Nederland before I could admire the results. I left my camera at the same studio. The photographer promised to have it repaired for me. So, here I am, somewhere in Holland, with a trail of broken hearts, frustration and unfinished business behind me. Weave your vargant (not a typo, but could not find this in my dictionary) threads, oh ye fates, I am merely your designs on me – –woofed and warped into a pattern that bids fair to out-Dali Picasso. But I can still use a pair of good sun glasses if you will be so kind as to mail me one. Hello to everybody at home. Is Aunt Betty out of jail yet? Love. Dan !
And just before that letter there came another from the same source – – a short one – – as follows: “This is just another note of assurance that everything is going well (except for Adolph). I received the rings a few days ago and was elated at finding them so attractive. Incidentally, I am quite certain that they are the right size. I tried them on my little finger. I am not particularly pleased with Holland. It is a clean, orderly and efficient country, like the City Trust Company, and just as interesting. Artistry and imagination were left on the other side of the southern border, in Belgium and France.”
Well, that’s a relief to know the rings arrived safely and were pleasing to one half of the duet anyway. Of course it may be asking too much, but we would be interested in a blow-by-blow description of the presentation ceremony, leaving out the too too personal parts if you must, but presented in fairly great detail to take its place in the family archives along with your earlier description of your getting acquainted with Paulette. Incidentally, I am still waiting for an answer to some very carefully considered questions regarding Paulette’s preferences in this or that. However it is quite probable that by this time the papers have found their way into the scrap drive, or perhaps used to start a fire some of those cold mornings Lad writes about, “Imperious Caesar, dead and turned to clay, may chink a hole to keep the rats away.” Down on your knees, varlet, if such be the case, ask forgiveness in a truly contrite tone and I may look up the old letter and give you one more chance to come across with the proper answers. That photo of yours seems to be about as elusive as the whereabouts of Hitler – – not that I should mention the two in one breath – – but I’ve been on the trail in London, France and now Holland. A few more years and the retoucher will have to fill in the bald spots and darken up the gray hairs. And who is this fellow Picasso you mention? Sounds like a friend of Benito’s of sainted memory. Anyway, I never heard of him. What was he, and Armenian rug weaver? Haven’t you received any more boxes lately? Or are you too busy to mention them?
Tomorrow, another installment of this letter and I’ll finish it on Thursday. On Friday, a letter from Lad to the home front.
“Vagrant threads” maybe?
Remarkable that it was considered safe enough to send valuables overseas back then. Somewhere at the bottom of the ocean is a package of Venetian glassware, sent by my father but lost and never arrived. I have other things that did arrive safely.
I guess they were realistic and philosophical about the chances of safe delivery.
Valerie, I just knew I’d hear from you on this. That is one possibility. I also thought of varied, but Dan was very well-versed in language and words, so I also wondered if this might be a word that has gone out of favor and no longer appears in the dictionary. I have found many such words from Grandpa also. Dan was not one to make typos either. We probably will never know. for sure.
It almost sounds like a quote from some book or poem. I searched the web but could not find anything like it. Perhaps Dan created the lines… who knows?