Early Years – Memories of Alfred Peabody Guion (8) – 1938-1942

After my Uncle Dan (Daniel Beck Guion) passed away in 1997, I realized that first-hand accounts of this particular “Slice of Life” would only continue to diminish over time. I needed to record the memories of my Aunt Biss and her brothers and share them with the family. This culminated in the idea of a Blog so that I could share these memories with anyone who would be interested in the personal histories of some members of The Greatest Generation.

Over a period of several years, whenever possible, I recorded the memories of my Dad and his siblings. 

I am beginning with the Memories of my Father, Alfred Peabody Guion, the oldest, and will continue each weekend with his Memories. Then I will share the Memories of his siblings, oldest to youngest.

Lad in Venezuela

Alfred Peabody Guion (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 Interamerica, 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 (Maracaibo), which would go across the top of Venezuela.  Barquisiemeto 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, 1938.  I was at sea on New Year’s Eve.  We had a rather bad storm going across to the port of Caracas and most of the passengers got sick, I was one 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 Interamerica, Inc. 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 showed 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.

Ted was injured in a car accident and returned to the United States.  I guess Dan wasn’t interested in staying after that.  Ted had introduced me to a fellow and I had worked on his vehicles.  I was able to get a job with him at Sacony-Vacuum and I worked for them for two years. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Vacuum_Oil_Company

While Uncle Ted was in Venezuela, he had a chauffeur named Manuel.  There are going to Caracas down a road and came to a river with a bridge across it.  Many of the bridges in Venezuela are two 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 ((Peabody) Human) 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.

After working in Venezuela for two and half years, the company (Socony-Vacuum) required that I take two months off and go to a temperate climate.  They didn’t care where, just that I had to be out of the tropical climate.  So I went home.  Just before our ship landed in New York City, an announcement came over the P A system that some government employees would be coming on board.  When they arrived, they asked everyone for their passport.  They told me that I wouldn’t get my passport back.  I went to Trumbull and shortly thereafter, got my conscription notice, classifying me 1-A. Because of my draft status, I had trouble finding a job.  I figured that if I signed up, then I could pick which branch of the service I went into.  I went to New York City and tried to get into the Navy and the Air Force but I was rejected because of my eyesight.  It was finally able to get a job at the Producto Machine Company (in Bridgeport).  They made machines and dies.  It was a fairly nice plant, it was considered pretty good equipment.  In December, the Japanese bombed Pearl Harbor and shortly after that I got a notice to report for duty.  I was able to get a deferment because of my job but by April, 1942, I had been reclassified 1-A. I received a notice to report for duty in May.  Two days later I got a letter from the Navy saying they had lowered their eyesight requirements and I was now eligible.  I tried to talk the Army out of it, but was unsuccessful.  So I went into the Army.

Tomorrow, I will begin posting letters written in the middle of April, 1944.

Judy Guion


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