Early Memories of Trumbull (20) – Ced Remembers Rusty Huerlin

For some of the time that Ced lived in Alaska, Rusty lived with him and they became very good friends. They kept in touch and Ced and his wife were planning a trip to Alaska to see Rusty. He passed away a few weeks before their trip.

Rusty - Rusty at his painting cabin - 1979 (2)

Rusty Huerlin outside his studio

CED – Rusty Heurlin gave my mother a painting – it was a rather famous one – he was very fond of her. He was younger then my mother and father by a little. We did a lot with him – we went hiking with him. He made quite a name for himself. All his life he lived by sponging. He was so charismatic that he could get away with it. He walked out of school, he took Art lessons, he was a hobo for a while. The only thing that really interested him was painting. He spent all his life painting beautiful pictures. He was a good artist but he didn’t make any money at it. He knew all the artists in Westport – Red Heurlin – they knew Red Heurlin and they loved him. He loved dogs, oh, he loved dogs with a passion. There are a lot of his paintings around Fairbanks, Alaska, at the University of Alaska, in banks, in hospitals. They’re mostly outdoor scenes, some have to do with the early settlers, the Russians. Colcord Heurlin – he always signed C. Heurlin.

One painting did more to make him famous than anything else he did. Rusty made friends, he lived with me for a time in Anchorage. He made pictures. He made a mural, he filled the whole wall with it, for one of the bars in town, a whole Hawaiian scene. He used to drink quite heavily at times. I came home at 3 or 4 o’clock in the morning and he’d be painting. We lived with an old Norwegian guy, he slept in the upstairs room, had to climb up a ladder. I worked for the airline there, mostly bush piloting – scheduled passenger service came later – but most of the time I was there, it was all bush pilot’s. Rusty and I would go down to George’s living room, George was a bachelor. Rusty would paint in that living room until three or four in the morning. During the day he’d go out partying up and down the street. They called it the longest bar in Alaska – that was Main Street in Anchorage.

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 the Governor of Alaska (Guering) through Major Marston. Rusty came home one night and he said, “Know what they’re going to 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 Alaska Defense going with native people. “Guering 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 18 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 16 others. This was after he moved to Fairbanks.

Rusty moved to Fairbanks and got married. He was probably in his 60’s, 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 this huge rotating platform and you could put these 18 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 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.

Tomorrow, my posts will be based on letters written in 1942. Both Lad and Dan are in the military, but close enough to get home for some weekends. Ced is still a bush pilot in Alaska, Dick works at Producto Machine Company and worries about the draft, and Dave is in high school and hating it.

Judy Guion

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Life In Alaska – Anchorage – A Grown-Up Mid-Western Town – Oct., 1940

Dan in white jacket in Alaska

DBG - letter from Alaska - Howdy, Kinfolk - Oct., 1940

Wed., Oct. 8

(R’cd 10/17/1940)

Howdy, kinfolk,

I suppose that all this newspaper talk about elections and our little brown brothers across the sea (the bastards!) in Japan has gotten you stirred up to a pretty pass, but in perspective, from this squaw’s nest called Alaska, it all seems pretty silly.

The inefficiency of construction which is rampant all over the air base and the rapid pouring of concrete on the runway is due more to the proximity of cold weather than to any threat of invasion.

Your naïve queries, Dad, about light and power in Anchorage are deserving of considerable attention. Perhaps I will repeat what Ced might have told you, since he and I do not collaborate with one another when we write. The most concise way of describing Anchorage is that it is like a grown-up mid-western town. The Anchorage Light and Power Co. furnishes electricity from its plant at Ekluntna. The City water supply is pumped from filtration wells beside Ship Creek. There are several restaurants, cafés, liquor stores, drug stores, soda fountains, dry goods stores, hardware stores, pawnshops, furniture stores, hotels, nightclubs, taverns, houses of prostitution, Doctors, Dentists, Lawyers, Jewelers, Opticians, one paved street, and fewer women per capita than anywhere else in the world. It is both a man’s town and a woman’s paradise. Spinsters, widows, even prostitutes can find themselves a husband apiece without half trying. There are over two thousand men now employed at the air base. The CAA is active in Anchorage, and is employing men. The Railroad employs men. Last week a new arrival in town paid $.75 to sleep in an armchair overnight. The hotels and rooming houses are always full. Exorbitant rates are being charged, and real estate values have soared. Labor is extremely scarce for private hire, every able-bodied man has a job with the Air base etc., and each night the Anchorage Times advertises for more men at the Air Base. There is bound to be a reaction, when prices will careen downward, and hotel rooms will be given away as premiums with each pair of trousers you buy. It has been hinted that such profiteering as is going on now might well result in the birth of a new town nearer to the Army post, which will fold up many dealers in Anchorage.

Appendix to Anchorage’s institutions: Churches, paid Fire Department, Grammar School, High School, five or six Air plane Services, bus lines, railroad, taxi companies.

Prices on standard products are equal to or slightly higher than in the states (cameras, toilet goods, etc.). The bulky things are more expensive, due to excess freight rates (fresh fruits, vegetables, furniture, etc.)

Pennies are seldom seen. It is said that Fairbanks was “spoiled” only recently by the influx of outsiders, before who’s time it was considered picayune to use anything smaller than a quarter! A bar of candy was to bits. So was five bars of candy!

What a difference from the state of Washington, where sales tokens worth 1/5 of a cent are used everywhere!

I hope all this gives you a more lucid idea of what Anchorage is really like. At night the street (Main) is aglow with neon signs and streetlights. The sidewalks are never deserted from dawn to dawn. There are night shifts at the Air Base, with buses running two or three times between sunset and sunrise. Nightlife does not quiet down until three or four A.M.

Please keep us posted on Dick’s peregrinations… if he lets you in on them. Adios until the next time.

Dan

Friends – Rusty and the PBY – Aug, 1944

Rusty - Letter to Ced - PBY adventure - Aug, 1944

Barrow, Alaska

August   ?

Dear Ced,

How is the old junk dealer. Sure thought about you yesterday and you would have been in your 7th heaven had you been in my gang yesterday.

Barrow as you know is some 12 miles from sand spit known as Pt. Barrow. The point is low, about 2 feet above water and runs out to a shape like                so man’s feet can stand in marks as described, but then the sand is running into the water.

A visual and the history of the PBY – https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=fMJw8845P1o

About 2 miles east of said point a narrow spit ends and a lagoon begins. It was in this lagoon where PBY flyers anchored said plane at western edge and went for a walk to oil drilling quarters (tents) between Pt. B and Barrow. Next day they returned to find plane wrecked by storm and on eastern tip of spit inside lagoon. It was wrecked beyond repair, $25,000 shot to hell.

With permission to get some wire from it for picture hangings a bunch of boys found me offering transportation to the plane. We took with us wrecking bars, hammers, pliers, screwdrivers, wrenches (Stilson etc.) two axes and three hacksaws. It was a fine day for pirating and the sea smooth as glass. It was close to shore on way to point. We shot at ______ sitting on bow of boat – seals and ducks. Going eastward around the point we soon could see our prize beached about in center of spit. On landing each man took tool from boat he was best trained at using. I got a heavy but badly nicked axe and a hacksaw, jumped to shore with 10 Eskimos and the schoolteacher (tried to get minister to join us at Barrow but he gracefully backed out of mission). We attacked plane from all sides, then within, and then the fun began. I cut several holes in sides of fuselage to throw our booty out of. Two small boys were delighted to stay outside and pile up the stuff as it came out of these compartment holes. After working diligently for eight hours which was a constant banging and squeaking of hammers, axes and wrecking bars, well the old PBY looked as if it had several bombs go off inside of it or that it had come down after going through much concentrated flack. We removed chairs, sinker boards, magnetos, batteries, 50 unknown gadgets, some 35 coils of wire, nuts, bolts, very light bombs, floating bombs, ______ this and that and two boys hack sawed the two ______ of pear-shaped shutters to machine gun nests out of which they will make a kayak. The pontoons will soon be turned into kayaks also. The wing had all kinds of gadgets. I got my wire and the _______________.  We returned loaded to the gunwales, as nice a picnic as you ever went on. You sure would have liked the pickings knowing this booty,

I could not read the last bit of this letter, written in tiny letters all around the edge of the page. Rusty’s handwriting is difficult to read. For more information on Rusty, check out these links:   http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Magnus_Colcord_Heurlin     and see some of his art work at    https://search.yahoo.com/search?fr=mcafee&type=A211US679&p=Rusty+Heurlin 

Tomorrow, another letter from Rusty to Ced.  On Wednesday, I’ll be posting a letter from Marian to Grandpa. Thursday, a letter from Grandpa to all five sons and on Friday, a letter from Biss to Ced, the only brother not at home.

On Saturday and Sunday, more Special Pictures.

Next week, I’ll be posting more letters from Dan while he was in Alaska. I have just gotten these from his daughter, Arla.

Judy Guion

 

Army Life – A Poem About A Stamp – June, 1942

???????????????????Trumbull, Conn.  June 21, 1942

Students !

In true K. Kyser fashion, I have been putting myself through a series of mental tests and believe I have the right answers. There’s Lad, to start off with the oldest. He is at the Proving Grounds. “Proving what?” you ask. Why, proving that no matter how tired or overworked he is, he can still find time to write a weekly letter home. Dan has recently had T-5 tacked on to his name. I don’t know how the C.O. got wind of the fact that he is very reticent about boosting morale of the boys back on the home front, but I suspect “T” stands for taciturn raised to the 5th degree. And as for Ced, it’s beginning to dawn on me that the word Anchorage, according to Webster, meaning that to which anything is fastened, must refer to the difficulty Ced finds in prying letters free from his typewriter. In any event, Lad is the only one this week that has kept the home fires burning, and to him, therefore, on this June day, go our grateful thanks.

Lad’s car is not yet sold but the wife of the man who was interested in it called me up yesterday and said her husband was still interested. I told her the least we could accept was $675 cash. She said her husband would probably get in touch with me later as he still had bought no other car. The morning following that on which I received Lads letter naming this bottom price, as I went out to the barn to get into my own car, I saw that Lad’s left front tire was as flat as they ever get, so I had Carl come over at once to fix it up, so that I would not be embarrassed and having my customer come up to look at the car and find the tires kapoot. (Siwash for flat).

The Government has just passed a new miracle, as they say in Green Pastures, to the effect that all notes for less than $1000 must be paid off within a year, and accordingly the bank notified Lad through me that the current payments of $50 a month he had been paying were not large enough to comply with this ruling. I pointed out the hardship placed upon boys drafted into the service at the low rate of pay even with the proposed raise, in paying off debts contracted in good faith and with every indication of being able to reasonably meet payments while employed in industry, under the new ruling. They agreed with me that it was most unreasonable but pointed out they had not made the law. I finally took it up with the head of the bank and finally wrangled a renewal of Lad’s note without further payment on principle, but with interest, until August 5th, by which time it was thought that some adjustment might be found. That is the way the matter stands today.

Lad says he is now about starting an eight week technical training course, at the end of which time he may be permitted to bring down a car. He had mentioned the possibility of perhaps coming home this weekend, so I got an extra box of strawberries from Mr. Laufer for dessert and kept one ear cocked for a phone call until 10:45 last night – – and then sadly retired to my little bed.

Dave’s school term is pretty nearly over, but I hastened it a bit by keeping him out of school Thursday and Friday to help rush out a 15,000 letter mailing for Ashcroft which had to be in the mail last week to comply with the government ruling (they are doing 100% war work over there). We did it, too, although we were delayed in getting the necessary letterheads until Wednesday noon. He is developing into quite a considerable help to me in the work at the office and is getting on to things in good shape. I may put him out on sales work this summer and he is considering the advisability of changing his school course from college prep to commercial. The only full-time employee I have at the office has returned from a two weeks honeymoon and then had to stay out half the week with a cold, in addition. In spite of this, if I hear from Dan favorably, I may be able to arrange to get off for a few days to go down to see Dan and Lad in their natural habitat, leaving Dave to run the office and aAunt Betty to hold down the doormat.

Dick has received notification to appear for his physical exam at Shelton at 2:30 Tuesday, and Red also received a similar notice for the same day an hour later. The latter, however, is trying to get a deferment so that he can finish his summer course at Pratt.

The sewer drain pipe which for a week has been leaking back into the cellar and filling the house with a most unholy stench has now been fixed and while there is still water in the cellar, the bad smell is clearing up. This condition has prevented our making a search in the cellar for old rubber in the national drive to “get in the scrap”.

As there seems to be no further news of interest to report, I shall end with a little poem:

A stamp’s a tiny, flimsy thing

   No thicker than a beetle’s wing

And yet, ‘twill roam the world for you

   Exactly where you tell it to.

But Dan and Ced too often fail

   To put the damn thing in the mail.

                                                                                                                                        DAD

To read about the Japanese invasion in Wikipedia, click on this link:   http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Aleutian_Islands_Campaign

 To follow the War and the invasion of Alaska, go to  https://pacificparatrooper.wordpress.com. GP Cox does  very thorough research on each post. As you follow the posts, you will learn what actually happened – a piece of our history that was overshadowed by what was happening elsewhere.

Tha Aleutian campaign pretty much ended at the end of May, but I posted letters into June to let you see that Grandpa really didn’t know anything about it and he didn’t hear from Dan or Ced, so it was a non-issue in Trumbull.

Tomorrow and Sun day, I’ll be posting more Special Pictures.

Next week, I’ll go back to my usual schedule of posting, beginning with a week of letters written in 1040, when Lad was still in Venezuela, working for the Socony-Vacuum Oil Company as a mechanic for their vehicles and diesel pumps on the rigs.

Dan and Ced have been in Alaska for about six months. I’ll start off on Monday and Tuesday with a letter that was just given to me by my cousin, Arla, written by her father, Dan, to Grandpa. I have never seen this letter and it describes in part their journey driving across the country to Seattle and their trip to Anchorage as well as their first attempts to find a job. I think you’ll enjoy it.  

The rest of the week will be a long letter written in November, 1940, by Grandpa to his boys. 

Judy Guion

Army Life – Aberdeen Hospital – June, 1942

Lad Guion with friend - Pomona - 1944 (2) head shot

Aberdeen Hospital – June 18

Dear Dad – etc.: –

Boy, am I soft. One night on bivouac and I got sick. A second night and I’m sent to the hospital. Here is the story. As you may remember, I had a slight cold when I left home. The first night in Devens didn’t help much and since then I have been going so hard that I have not had a chance to get enough rest. And anyway, Aberdeen is rather a humid place. Well, one day, my cold would be pretty good and then the next it would be worse, and I figured that if I could hold out until my first five weeks were up, I’d be able to get a little rest or even go to the hospital and get well cured.

We left Aberdeen Sunday morning as planned and got to our camp location about 10:30 A. M., attended a conglomerate service and started clearing land for tent locations. Went to eat and returned to finish cleaning. Pitched tents and prepared everything for the evening. Went for a swim in the bay and dressed for supper. Ate and had the evening to ourselves. I went down and sat on the beach until sundown and retired.

Monday – after a cold sleepless night on damp ground – most of the Co. had some sort of cold, some of their’s worse than mine. After calisthenics and breakfast, Co. A, & B attended a lecture ending with one on map reading and then a treasure hunt. I had no ambition and did not even come in 15th. Then lunch and Co. A & B started clearing the campgrounds where C & D had left off. Here I got a good dose of poison ivy. Since we had no water except in the bay and chlorinated drinking water, in order to clean up we had to swim so I went in again. Afterward, I really felt better. Then retreat, supper, a rifle check and another free evening. Watched a ballgame and saw Co. B lose to Co. A., then I retired.

Slept fine but got up Tuesday feeling lousy, and with a sore throat and chills. Had my throat painted and went on with regular work. By noon the chills were worse and I reported to the First Aid tent. Then I was told to pack my stuff and be ready to sail back at 2:30 with the mail boat. We left at 3:00. Got to A.P.G. at 5:00 and ate supper. Reported to hospital at 7:30 and was assigned to a bed (No. 18) in Ward 15. Was given enough medicine to kill everything I ever had or will have (except poison ivy) and went to bed.

Wed. I felt better but stayed in bed and slept most of the day. Given med. three times per day.

Today, my throat is quite sore, but I feel better otherwise than I have since I entered the Army. I think that with a little rest, I’ll be tip-top again.

Well, that is up to the present. For the future – – – I don’t even think that I’ll be released from here to make it home this weekend, but I’m still hoping. Nothing further as yet on my immediate future.

I’ve not received any mail, because it came out to the camp on the same boat that took me back, and it was not distributed until after I had gone. However, I should get some sometime today.

You had better not expect me home this weekend. More later – – my love to Aunt Betty and the rest.

Lad

 To follow the War and the invasion of Alaska, go to  https://pacificparatrooper.wordpress.com. GP Cox does  very thorough research on each post. As you follow the posts, you will learn what actually happened – a piece of our history that was overshadowed by what was happening elsewhere.

On Friday, one more from Grandpa.

On Saturday and Sunday, more Special Pictures.

Judy Guion

Army Life – No Double-Header Homecoming – June, 1942

Alfred Duryee Guion

Alfred Duryee Guion

Trumbull,Conn., June 14, 1942

Dear Sons:

The lowering clouds hanging heavy over Trumbull, literally and figuratively; the former, in that it is overcast interspersed with showers – – a gloomy and humid day, not at all a poet’s June day. The mental murkiness has its origin in the fact that, whereas this was to be a double barreled homecoming of an important section of Uncle Sam’s Army, first, one wrote that due to a weekend bivouac he would not be able to come home this weekend, and then tother fellow wired we might as well put out the candles in the window as the higher ups decided Connecticut was too far away from the base to warrant a leave of absence, which means that Dan will not be home until July 1 when he starts his ten-day furlough. As for the weekend of the 21st, we may postpone the doubleheader until June days are over. In other words, the crest on Lad’s Ordnance Training Center letterhead is very appropriate, the flaming bomb indicating the blasting of our hopes while the lamp, with its tiny flame, is a symbol of the light of hope for better things to come. By the way, what does “addere flammam” mean?

From Lad’s letter he is getting a pretty stiff dose of hardening medicine in the course of tough training he is undergoing. I appreciate all the more the effort it must have taken to write his usual weekly letter during the course of which he went to sleep, yet he finished the letter and even remembered to put the return address on the envelope. That shows the indomitable spirit that pushes on in spite of handicaps. Good work, boy.

In a letter received the week before last, Dan says he is now Technician 5th Grade, “which carries with it the pay and stripes of a corporal but not quite the rank of a corporal, particularly apparent when I must serve K.P. or guard duty.” According to the new scale of pay retroactive to June 1, I assume this means about $66 a month.

Dick has been transferred to day work and now works from 9 to 5 except Saturdays, when his hours are 8 to 3. He does not yet know whether his wage rate will be any higher than before.

Lad, will you please let me know as soon as you can about accepting the offer for your car. I have delayed renewing the note at the bank, pending hearing from you, on the assumption that the whole business would be paid off as soon as the deal went through, but that was when I expected to hear from you this week. Besides, the longer we wait, the more chance the prospective buyer has to change his mind or make some other arrangement.

Dan, I don’t know how you feel about my coming down to Camp just before your furlough and coming home with you. Sometimes, with new friends, social engagements and regular routine planned ahead, it is disconcerting for one of the family to arrive with the obligation of showing him around at the expense of other things you might rather do if a sense of duty were nonexistent. I can quite understand such feelings, so write me frankly how you feel about the possibility of a visit, should I find it possible to make such arrangements at the office which would permit my leaving. In the latter event, what would be the best route to take with stop off at Aberdeen either alone coming down or with you on the way home. Barbara (Plumb, Dan’s girlfriend), I sense, is feeling a bit lonesome and neglected these days and would appreciate a little more attention in the shape of letters.

The only local news: I saw Axel Larsson the other day who told me Astrid heard I was engaged to be married to Helen Plumb (Barbara Plumb’s sister and Town Clerk). She certainly picks up some rare bits of gossip.

DAD

 To follow the War and the invasion of Alaska, go to  https://pacificparatrooper.wordpress.com. GP Cox does  very thorough research on each post. As you follow the posts, you will learn what actually happened – a piece of our history that was overshadowed by what was happening elsewhere.

Tomorrow, another letter from Lad and on Friday, one more from Grandpa.

On Saturday and Sunday, more Special Pictures.

Judy Guion

Army Life – $.70 per day – June, 1942

Lad - 1943

Lad

June 13

Dear Dad: –

Excuse me for not writing sooner, but I have been trying to find out something definite as to my status with the U.S. Army. It looks as though I am to stay here for some time yet, and I can have a car here later, but it all depends on what the bank says as to whether I will sell it or not. In case I have to sell it, I’d accept $700 or even $675 in cash. I’ll let you more or less decide that issue. If this new bill goes through concerning the raise in pay for soldiers, I could probably pay $25/month, but not much more.

Today we finish our basic training and tomorrow at 4:00 a.m. we get up in preparation for departure at 5:15 on our bivouac. At the termination of this, our basic training will be over. Then there will be eight weeks more of technical training which will terminate my training and I will be able to bring down a car. But what comes afterward, I have not been able to determine. Possibly when we return it next Thursday or Friday and I’m transferred to another Co. for additional training, I may be able to get a slant on the future. If I’m not transferred next weekend, I’ll have a chance to come home, and in connection with this event, do you suppose you could send me $5.00? This bivouac sort of took enough cash for cigarettes, shaving equipment, etc., to bring my $9.00 pay down to is some too low to buy a round trip ticket. Boy, we all certainly put out plenty for $.07 an hour. We make, at present, $.70 per day, which is really quite small when all items necessary during the first couple of weeks are purchased, mainly on the dribble plan, a little now and a little then.. You have my permission to open any mail addressed to me, and do as you see fit. I think your judgment is reasonable.

Love,

Laddie

 To follow the War and the invasion of Alaska, go to  https://pacificparatrooper.wordpress.com. GP Cox does  very thorough research on each post. As you follow the posts, you will learn what actually happened – a piece of our history that was overshadowed by what was happening elsewhere.

Tomorrow, a letter from Grandpa to his boys away from home, then another letter from Lad and one more from Grandpa.

Judy Guion