Trumbull – Dear Alumni of Trumbull University (1) – Spineless Jelly Fish – October 3, 1943

 

Trumbull, Conn., Oct. 3, 1943

Dear Alumni of Trumbull University:

Greetings from your Alma  Mater, the entire faculty, and the balance of the student body which has dwindled considerably since you occupied the various dormitories, and in sooth bodes well to be still further depleted in view of the fact that Young David completed his 18th semester recently and immediately hied him over to ye old Towne Halle where Clerk H. Plumb duly registered him with Uncle Sam. Rumor has it that before the dawn of another New Year’s Day, he too will be in the armed services of the United States. Of course I have hopes that by the time he is actually inducted and through training the bloody part of the war will be on the way out, although I am also conscious of the fact that, if present rumors become fact, honorable discharges will be issued first to those who have served longest, have families, are incapacitated or are more essential in peace-time activities, leaving the opposite numbers to continue on for policing work in occupied countries, etc., So that, speaking personally, the Guion Co. may be deprived of its principal employee for some time to come. Anyhoo, will hope for a class reunion in the not very distant future, with the flag flying from the top of the pole. We are certainly having some good “old Glory” news reports lately. For instance, recent headlines in the Bridgeport paper, “White Russian Cities Blasted by Red Pilots Makes Nazis Blue”.

The political pot is beginning to boil hereabouts. McLevy is of course again a candidate for mayor of Bridgeport. To oppose him on the Republican ticket is the proprietor of Slim’s Diner. Ferguson is up again for First Selectman of Fairfield but the Republican ranks in his town are wide open, his own Town Committee opposing him, and asking electors to vote for the Democratic nominee. At that, however, things are mild compared to what they will be next year when the national election is held, and while on the subject, you may as well have my opinion for what it may be worth on what it is all about, so that when you are asked to cast your ballot you may know how at least one elector feels about matters. The question is not Republican vs Democrat, not Roosevelt vs Wilkie, or what have you, not liberals vs conservatives, not new deal vs good deal, not capital vs labor, not isolationist vs interventionist, but rather Federal Government planning of our daily lives from cradle to grave, which the present administration in Washington stands for, vs the good old American way of life based on being on one’s own and depending on individual resourcefulness in making ends meet and thus calling out the best in us to meet conditions when the job seems impossible – – the spirit epitomized by the saying: “the difficult we do at once, the impossible takes a bit longer”. The New Deal provisions for old age dependency, no job, WPA leaf-raking jobs, sick benefits, while all very alluring in providing freedom from fear, is ennervating, laziness-breeding and is more apt to develop a nation of spineless jelly dish. There is something to be said for “coming up the hard way”. Someday the war will end and we will have to pick ourselves up and go on our interrupted way. If we cut out all these present artificial restraints and rely on our own resourcefulness which we are showing we can do, we will have come through the fire like a finely tempered blade, but I don’t think we can do this under the Roosevelt theory of government. There you have what to my mind is the main issue – – mollycoddlers vs moulders of our own destiny. That is the way we have grown during our short history and I don’t want to live to see the day when the paternalism at Washington will shield us from all harm and guide us from cradle to grave and do our thinking and planning for us. We are not members of a governmental harem.

Tomorrow, I’ll post the rest of this letter, and I’ll finish off the week with another letter from Grandpa to Lad and one to all the boys (except Dave, who is still home, but has registered with Uncle Sam).

Judy Guion 

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Trumbull – Dear Sheiks (4) – A Note From Elsie Duryee – August 13, 1944

This is the final segment of a letter written by Grandpa to his sons scattered around the world.

Elsie May Guion, summer, 1946

And now here is a rather pleasant surprise – – the “outside viewpoint” in these weekly letters which has been absent for some time. I have the honor to present a veteran of the last war, an ex-Red–Cross worker, Miss E. M. Guion:

Hello, Folks! – a la Mickey Mouse. New York got too “hot” for me so I ran out on it for a week until the heat is off, and now I’m in hiding in Trumbull. When I arrived at the door last night, there, right on the mat before the door, was a hand-lettered welcome to me from the Guions, in stunning great big black letters. I felt really welcome.

Speaking above of me as a veteran of the last war, I am thinking that if Dan should somehow get to St. Nazaire, he might walk along the waterfront where there are dwelling houses and in one of them I lived for about three months while working at base hospital # 1 just outside the city. It was one morning in December, I remember, when the maid of the house came to bring a picture of hot water and as she closed the window she said she couldn’t understand why Americans wanted to keep the windows open all night. All this to say that if Dan gets to St. Nazaire, he might see if anything has happened to that row of little houses. I enjoyed my work there and had fun too.

The shop in New York is getting along. We serve many servicemen and when they buy things we absorb the tax ourselves – and 20% and 1% sometimes loom big, but that’s our bit that we can do for those who are doing so much for us. Well, so long and victory soon. From Elsie.

And that about brings us to the end of the page, with the usual goodbye and good luck, from                                      DAD

Tomorrow, another excerpt from a letter written by John Jackson Lewis about his Voyage to Caifornia and what he finds there. On Sunday, I will continue the story of Lad and Marian Guion as Uncle Sam moves Lad hither and yon before sending him to France.  

Judy Guion

Trumbull – Dear Sheiks (3) – News From Dave – August 13, 1944

This is the next section of a letter written by Grandpa to the boys away from home.

From Dave:

Next Saturday – – the 12th – – we will all move from this company over to some company in the 34th Battalion. And then on Monday we will go out to the field for our final phase of training. CPX (command post exercises) is a sort of small scale maneuvers. The boys in cook school go out there and cook for us. Signal center clerks run signal centers. Radio boys completing their course run radios. Field linemen set out and maintain their wires. Poll linemen do likewise. The same is true for the teletype operators, motor mechanics, chauffeurs, truck drivers, engineers and anyone else I might not have mentioned. This final phase of training is three weeks long – – three weeks of Missouri woods, ticks, chiggers, rattlers and various other species that don’t hold too much interest in my mind, but I think it will be fun and anything would be better than school. You see, after I got back here from my furlough, although I still liked signal center clerk, I felt as though I knew all that they had to teach me in school (conceited) and I still feel that this last four weeks has been a waste of time. After CPX – – who knows? All I can do is to make a few wild guesses which would be based upon nothing but the Army’s ceaseless rumors – – which are more prevalent than ever before right now. The most likely thing that will happen is that they ship us out of here to a port of embarkation (maybe Reynolds in Pennsylvania, but more likely Beal in California) where we will be prepared to get on a boat and “see the world through the carbine gun sites”. If this is the case I may get a delay–en-route, and I may not – – who can tell? The other night I was on guard duty when a sergeant came out of his barracks with another man and called me over to him. He told me he had seen this man come into his barracks and pick up the sergeants pants. We questioned the fellow and he told us that he had moved into the company that morning and as he wasn’t thinking, due to the fact that he had had a few drinks in Neecho — he got in the wrong barracks. His story was very impressive and the Sgt. told me to let him go. The culprit left and I once again started walking my post. On an impulse, as I passed the barracks where the accused claimed to actually live, I decided to take a peek in to see if he were in bed. I went in to see and much to my dismay found that he wasn’t in there. I went back and told the Sgt. about it and then when I got to the guardhouse I told the Corporal of the Guard about it. The next day I found out that he was a crook and doing pretty well in the business throughout the whole post. For the offense which I committed (not turning him in) they could have court-martialed me – – not a pretty thought. As yet the culprit has not been located again.”

This sort of thing seems to be rather prevalent in this man’s Army. When I visited Lad in Aberdeen they had just had an incident of the same sort; and both Lad and Dick have lost valuable personal belongings. They should have a Sherlock Holmes detachment connected with each battalion.

Tomorrow, the final portion of this letter.

Judy Guion

Trumbull – Dear Sheiks (2) – A Note From Marian – August 13, 1944

This is the second section of a letter from Grandpa to his boys – wherever they are.

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Now for some extracts:

Marian writes: “I knew that the minute I put down in writing the fact that we thought we were going to stay here for a while, the Army would change our minds for us. Maybe I’ll learn some day that I’ll never know what the Army is planning from one minute to the next. Lad is supposed to leave here Wednesday or Thursday for Flora, Mississippi. I am going to drive the car and meet him there – – or rather at Jackson, Mississippi, for there is not much more than the Army post at Flora. Jackson is about 20 miles away from the post, and as it is the capital of Mississippi, it can’t be too awful. Some people must live there. But every report we’ve gotten so far from those who have and have not been there says that Flora is nothing more than a h___ hole in the very worst degree. Not very encouraging, is it, but if we get there expecting the very worst we might be pleasantly surprised. I hope so, anyway.

Whether this is to be a training center or a staging area or both, we don’t know. Last month the “Battalion” was very “hot” and practically on its way overseas, but things cooled down considerably and we heard that another battalion had been sent across instead. So, as usual, we don’t know very much about what we are doing, but are hoping for the best. It looks as though I am going to have to postpone my very muchly anticipated return visit to Trumbull. May I have a rain – check, however, so that I may arrive at a later date? The only bright spot in the idea of Lad’s going overseas is the prospect of being with you again – and not just because of the snow, either! Perhaps I’ll be a little late, but I might show up yet. We are not sure of Lad’s new address. As soon as we know it, we will send you a card. Although we expect to move from Pomona on Wednesday or Thursday, don’t be too sure of it. Our next letter might come from Pomona, because knowing the Army as we do, I am not leaving here until I know for sure that the fellows are on the train and actually on their way. Mother’s operation was very successful (for cataract) already she can see 50% better than before and the doctor hopes that in three months time when she gets her glasses, she will be able to see 100% better. I’m still planning to stop at Orinda on my way to Flora although I won’t be able to spend very much time there.”

Many years ago while on a lecture tour for the Bridgeport Brass Company, I went to Jackson, Mississippi and was not very much impressed with the country. As I recall it, the country was flat and uninteresting. There was of course a large Negro population  which made a portion of the town seem squalid and dirty. It was also very hot which is to be expected. I don’t know Flora but I think you are right in not expecting too much. Incidentally, I am holding this letter until I know where to send it, which applies also to the package I had all ready to ship to Lad. That was great news about your Mother, Marian, and I know how glad she will be to SEE you. And you don’t need any rain check for Trumbull. You are down in the records as one of the charter members.

Thursday and Friday I will post the last two portions of this letter.

Judy Guion

Trumbull – Dear Sheiks (1) – Local Weather and a Memory – August 13, 1944

GUION OASIS

Trumbull Desert

Principal products – dates

(This one is August 13, 1944)

pp pic 1

Dear Sheiks:

Prevailing temperature for the past week was 95°. Still no rain. Laufer’s corn has dried up on the stalk – – no tomatoes, beans, peas or other fresh vegetables we used to look forward to serving newly gathered from his farm as a special delicacy to regale the pallets of our favored guests (Aunt Elsie is now with us for her vacation week). I have not had to use the lawnmower for over six weeks. There is a touch of green in the grass only beneath the shade trees – – the “lawn” is just a patch of bare, brown, dead grass. The brook is as nearly dry as I have ever seen it. However, due to the new reservoir, there is as yet no scarcity in the city water supply. Victory Gardens hereabouts are sorry looking affairs – – reminders of what might have been. We now call them “Defeat Gardens”. One redeeming feature is that it has been too dry for any mosquitoes to hatch out so one can sit on the porch evenings without slapping. (Jean has just walked into the room with a nice tall glass of cold grape juice, and gee, does it taste good.) A nice long ocean voyage would go well just now.

And speaking of ocean voyages, a wounded Negro soldier was about to be landed from a hospital ship just reaching port. A medical officer asked if he had any personal belongings to be taken ashore. He shook his head. “What, no souvenirs from the fighting front?” “Captain,” said the boy, “Ah ain’t got no souvenirs. All ah want to take home from dis here war is just a faint recollection”.

And apropos of recollections and Dan’s reference in his last letter to putting his French into use, reminds me of our famous trip into the Gaspé country when I went up to one of the farmhouses to see if I could wrangle some fresh eggs. They couldn’t understand my English and I couldn’t understand their French. I finally made with my hands what I thought was the shape of an egg. With a gleam of understanding the girl rushed into the kitchen and brought me back a spoon. In desperation I imitated the sound of a hen and pretended to break an egg on the edge of a frying pan. “Oui. Oui”. ouf, ouf she said and proudly brought forth some eggs. So then I learned that the French for eggs was ouf.

The rest of the week will be devoted to this letter Grandpa writes to his boys scattered from Alaska to California to Brazil to Missouri to France. Each portion is a little shorter than usual but that is the way the natural breaks occurred.  

Judy Guion

Trumbull – To The Guion Horticultural Experiment Stations (2) – September 26, 1943

This is the second-half of a letter from Grandpa to his sons, scattered around the world. His creativity is very evident in this letter. Enjoy.

And now we get down to the produce from up Knick Arm way as garnered by Farmer Ced — the homeless Homo sapien. He is still living in the same place to be sure,

Cedric (Ced) Duryee Guion

Cedric (Ced) Duryee Guion

while it is being made ready to rent, and seeking other accommodations. A one-room cabin, 10 x 12, with one faucet, no drain or sink but completely furnished with one bed, chair, closet and stove, outside Chic Sale privileges, at $35 per month. He has a prospect out near the airport but the decision is held up for some legal nature. If this does not come through soon he says he may try to buy the house that Jack and Ellen Austin used to own, the same place he and Rusty contemplated renting a while ago. His letter says the price is $100 but I’m wondering if one 0 was not omitted.

For Dan and Dick’s benefit, please note: a boy has been born to Chuck and Florence. Another (2nd) is due soon to Ed and Mary Glennon. Art Woodley has just gotten married and has bought him, what Ced considers, the nicest house in Anchorage. He also visited (Ced, I mean) Rusty at Wasilla for a weekend recently and is enthusiastic in his praises of the wonderful place he has.

I am truly grateful to you, old son, for your kind words on the occasion of my passing of another milestone. The years have a habit of inexorably passing on, and as I have remarked in times past, it is a matter of inestimable satisfaction that all my heirs, without a single exception, have turned out to be the kind of children that gladden a parents heart. Each of you is so different and yet each has so many endearing qualities that bind you so tight in the affections of your old Dad that when I get thinking about you all I feel quite wealthy. I shall keep eyes open for the “token” you say is following on the heels of your letter, and appreciate very much the thought.

David Peabody Guion (Dave)

David Peabody Guion
(Dave)

Dave’s birthday we will celebrate next Sunday. He seems to think, that judging from what has happened to others that reach their 18th birthday, he will not be permitted to finish school but will be in the Army by November. The “last full measure of devotion” referred to by Abe Lincoln will be complete as far as Uncle Sam and me is concerned. (Ced, for all practical purposes, is just as “taken” as the rest of you). The cheering aspect of the whole thing is the way things are going for the allies. As Shakespeare once remarked “Now is the winter of our discontent turned glorious summer”. I hope Adolph, within a few months, will see that his vacation at Berchtesgaden is about over and he can go back to paper hanging, although personally I should just as well drop the paper part.

With this clever quip which came to me like a flash, thus demonstrating that in spite of advancing years my mind is as brilliant and wit as scintillating as ever, I shall close with the reminder that with the receipt of this letter you now owe a reply to

Your loving

DAD

Tomorrow, we’ll have a quick note from Lad in California. The second letter, posted on Friday, gives quite a bit more details.

On Saturday more of the adventure experienced by John Jackson Lewis and his views of California. On Sunday, the story of Lad and Marian after their marriage continues throughout the rest of the war.

Judy Guion

Trumbull – To The Guion Horticultural Experiment Stations (1) – September 26, 1943

 

This week, Grandpa’s creative juices were working overtime, if you don’t mind mixing metaphors, and he equates his sons, in their various locales, as Flowerbeds. He does put a lot of thought into his weekly missives.

Trumbull Conn.  September 26, 1943

To the Guion Horticultural Experiment Stations in various parts of the world:

I have four flowerbeds labeled respectively Brazil, England, Alaska and Los Angeles, and each Sunday I plant a mental seed in each of these plots with the expectation and hope that they will in time sprout and bear abundant fruit. Then I sit back for six days and hum to myself that old hymn “What Will the Harvest Be?”

Richard (Dick) Peabody Guion

Richard (Dick) Peabody Guion

Some of these seeds seem to fall on barren ground and seldom even sprout. The soil of Brazil seems to be especially unfertile. England has lately been producing a bit better although the sprouts are usually very short and hardly get their heads above ground. Los Angeles ground seems to be pretty reliable, occasionally developing a good strong plant while Alaska, though slow bearing, usually delivers a bumper crop spasmodically.

This week the harvest was quite satisfactory, although not 100% — the good neighbor policy as far as Brazil is concerned not being in the running except by reflected

Daniel (Dan) Beck Guion

Daniel (Dan) Beck Guion

glory, so to speak. The English package, bah Jove, mentions the hope of Dan that he may be able to go to Oxford for a week of general courses offered to service men of all nations. When he returns, don’t be surprised to see him wearing a monocle and expressing his thoughts in the purest English. (An aside to Dan: the shoes got off to you marked “Christmas gift package”. The only difficulty here is that it is rumored that packages so marked are held up by the Army and not delivered until Christmas. Someone also said that packages sent from home are opened and repacked at New York. If so, I hope the re-packer will not overlook the 35mm Kodachrome film which I obtained with great difficulty and packed into the shoes along with sundry packages of chewing gum, shoe paste, etc. And while we’re on the subject, please, in your next reply, let me know what you would like to have me include in your real Christmas package. Dan concludes by saying “Everything continues to go well. I don’t find nearly enough time to do everything I want to, which is better than too much time!”

Alfred Peabody Guion (Lad)

Alfred Peabody Guion (Lad)

Southern California had a good crop this trip. On his return trip, Lad, at Chicago, worked a spell for Col. Harvey, washing innumerable dishes as 4th cook, Tuesday AM to Thursday PM, “I don’t think I ever worked so hard”. However he got good meals and an upper to sleep in as compensation. (Aside to Lad: thanks for the rationing board coupons, which will come in very handy. Alas, however, the gasoline coupons were flatly turned down by the service station who referred me to the local rationing board and also by the rationing board, who said they had discontinued honoring these coupons. Don’t worry. I think I can get by with my own coupons until the next period, And even if I can’t, I won’t regret a single drop you used because of one sentence in your letter which is one of the nicest things anyone has told me for a long while, viz: “As I look back, those five days at home were some of the most enjoyable days I’ve ever spent, but they went far too fast”. This makes me feel a lot better because I did have the feeling that all the inconvenience and tiresomeness of the journey both ways did not compensate for the very little we were able to do to make your homecoming pleasant even though we did enjoy so much seeing you once again.)

Lad, says the weather since he got back has been uncomfortably hot, so much so that desks and chairs are hot to touch. Temperature 116° and is due to continue until the middle of October. Aunt Betty says she wishes you could send some of that excess heat back here, as the last two days have been quite autumnal in character. This means tapering off of hay fever but also brings the perennial furnace problem, ashes, woodcutting, etc. Mr. Schalich filled up the oil barrels yesterday. Between Paul and myself we have 250 gallons of kerosene to start the season off with, but in spite of the fact that I have had my order for coal in since July, I have been unable to get a single ton.

Tomorrow, the second half of this letter from Grandpa to his sons, scattered around the world. On Thursday, a quick note from Lad with exciting news regarding his future. On Friday, a much loner letter regarding his future. 

Judy Guion