Trumbull – Dear Lad (2) – Advise Concerning Lad’s Future – February 11, 1940

This is the second half of a letter written by my Grandfather to Lad, his oldest son, who is in Venezuela working for the Socony-Vacuum Oil Company so he can send money home to help support his younger siblings.

Page 2 of R-62

David was glancing over some of your old letters the other day and noticed that statements that you have not seen or heard of Mack for some time. It evidently made an impression on him with the enclosed result.

In one of Ibsen’s plays one of the chief characters spends most of his time studying books and dreaming of what he will do and say sometime when the opportunity comes. The opportunity does come to him unexpectedly. The crowd calls upon him to give his wisdom. Because he has not been in the habit of giving, because all his life he has been taking in and never giving anything out, he stood before that vast throng with nothing to say that would help them. He realized too late that the best preparation for living a rich life is to live experimentally, to try things out, to plunge into contests with other men, to take risks, to adventure, to expose oneself to opportunities.

Alfred Peabody Guion

Alfred Peabody Guion (Lad) in his Passport photo

And that brings me to a suggestion I had in the back of my mind for some time — an idea as to how we may make possible and practical this matter of helping to make the opportunity which you were fitting yourself to meet. At the library the other day I came across an article written back in 1937 which told how much diesel engine use had progressed and listing the leading makers, particularly of the bigger units. I tried to figure out how you could capitalize on this to your own advantage, and concluded that if you were to write to each of these concerns from Pariaguan, telling them of your experience in diesel work in South America, based on your background with the Wolverine in Bridgeport, it would expose you to any possible opening they might have for a man of your capability either in South America or elsewhere. The idea of course, is not that you were dissatisfied or intend to leave or anything of that sort, but that with the possibility that the oil well might not come through in six months time and that you would then be out of a job, you are justified now in making plans against that contingency, but even more in that as diesel is your chosen field, you are justified in seeking experience in that particular field. You wouldn’t expect to develop anything overnight, but it might be just as well for future developments to put yourself on record with leading manufacturers, so that when, if and as the time comes for them to seek a man of your qualifications, they will know where to find him. If you haven’t time to write the letters yourself and like the idea perhaps we can multi-graph a number of duplicates with the salient facts that I can send you to be mailed out from there. The leading companies mentioned in this article were: Nordberg, Worthington, de la Vergne, McIntosh and Seymour, Busch-Sulzer, Winton, Caterpillar, Fairbanks, Morse, National Supply Company of Delaware (Superior Engine Division). Atlas Imperial Diesel Engine Company of Oakland, California, Hercules Motor Corporation, Western Engine Corporation, Cummins and Allis-Chalmers.

Tomorrow being Lincoln’s birthday, it seems appropriate to quote from an article which tells of the difficulties which preceded Mr. Lincoln’s election to the presidency. When Mr. Lincoln was a young man he ran for the legislature of Illinois and was badly beaten. He then entered business, failed, and spent 17 years of his life paying off the debts of a worthless partner. He fell in love with a beautiful girl to whom he became engaged. She died. Later he married a woman who was a constant burden. Again entering politics he ran for Congress and was badly beaten. He then tried to get an appointment to the US Land Office but failed in that. He became a candidate for the U.S. Senate and was badly defeated. In 1856 he became a candidate for the vice presidency and was again defeated. In 1858 he was beaten by Douglas. His life up to the time he became President was one failure after another; a series of great setbacks.

There comes a time in every man’s life when he gets a knock-down. He may be going along fine when something turns up which discourages him tremendously. It may be the loss of a job, or failure of plans he has worked on for months or years. He may either give up, sulk, become upset and let it ruin his health or, if he has got the right stuff, he will grit his teeth and work harder than ever.

And now just a touch of humor from my advertising files and I will call it a day: Mark Twain, in his early days, was the editor of a Missouri newspaper. A superstitious subscriber wrote to him saying that he had found a spider in newspaper and asked whether that was a sign of good luck or bad luck. The following answer was printed in the paper:

“Old subscriber: Finding a spider in your paper was neither good luck nor bad luck for you. The spider was merely looking over our paper to see which merchant is not advertising so that he can go to that store, spin his web across the door, and live a life of a disturbed piece ever afterwards”.

I hope those pictures you sent by regular mail will be coming along pretty soon now. I will have to remind Dan or Ced to take some other snaps around here for your enjoyment.

Until next, then, auf wiedersehn.


Tomorrow, you’ll see the letter written by Mack, the family dog, written to Lad – through the youngest child. David.

If you are enjoying these letters about family life in the 1940’s, why not pass along the link to a friend or two who might also enjoy this look back at history through the eyes and words of those who lived through it?

Judy Guion


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