Early Years – Memories of Cedric Duryee Guion (8) – 1940 – 1986

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. 

These are the memories of Cedric Duryee Guion, Grandma and Grandpa’s third child and third son.

Ced @ 1945

Cedric Duryee Guion

About 1940-41, things were getting red-hot.  Major Marston was up there in charge of the Alaskan Defense Command.  He was based in Anchorage.  Rusty made friends with him – he made friends with everyone he talked to.  He met Governor Gruening of Alaska through Major Marston.  Rusty came home one night and he said, “Know what they’re gonna do?  Major Marston says that the Governor wants to go around the whole perimeter of Alaska and try to develop a reasonable defense system for Alaska.  I guess it was Major Marston’s idea.  Major Marston said, ”None of us know anything about Alaska, the Eskimos, the Indians.  We should go around and meet these native people.  They know the land and if any problems develop with the days coming, we’d be lost.  We wouldn’t know what to do.’ He said, ‘We want to get an Alaskan Defense going with native people.’ Gruening says, ‘Well, you know what?  I don’t know any.  I’m the governor of this territory and I’d like to go around with you and meet these people that I’m supposed to be Governor of’.  So Rusty sat and listened to all this talk and he said, “You wouldn’t want to take me along, would you?  I’ve had this in the back of my mind for years, that I would like to do a series of pictures on the discovery of Alaska”.  His whole goal, idea and the love of his life was Alaska.  He said, “I’d like to have a chance to go around to all these places, make sketches.”  “OK, come on along.”  they said.  That’s where he got this series of eighteen pictures, starting with the fellow who came from Russia, sailed to Alaska and took it for the Russians.  That was the first painting, he did the Gold Rush and sixteen others.  This was after he moved to Fairbanks.

Rusty - Pioneerland - Rusty's Panels

Rusty moved to Fairbanks and got married.  He was probably in his 60s, and he married a girl from the Fairbanks News.  At this point he decided that he would teach Art so he got a job teaching Art at the University.  He did that for quite a while.  After he got these pictures done, the University said to him, “Why don’t we set up a building for you and fix it with a huge rotating platform and you can put these eighteen pictures all the way around the building.”  They talked it over and they got the Poet Laureate of Alaska to narrate the story.  He did a beautiful job and that’s up there.  If you ever get to Alaska, you should see it in Fairbanks.  Alaska is different than any other state.  This place is out of town about 10 miles or so.  It’s a park sort of thing.  They have a huge boat there that they have on display, probably like the boats they used up there.  This one building is all Rusty’s pictures.  They also have a museum and other historic stuff.

Rusty was an amazing person.  He did posters during the War with “Uncle Sam Needs You” on them.  We (Ced, his wife, Fannie, and his sister, Elizabeth) went to the University of Alaska, we told them what we were after, they took us down to the basement and showed us some of his work.

Ced planned this trip to visit with Rusty, introduce his wife and re-introduce Rusty to Elizabeth, whom he hadn’t seen since she was a child. Unfortunately, Rusty passed away in March, only 3 months before Ced was to visit. I believe his trip to the University of Alaska and seeing some of Rusty’s work in the basement was bittersweet.

Tomorrow I will begin posting a week of letters written in 1942. Both Lad and Dan are serving in the Army, receiving Training for their units.

Judy Guion


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