For the next few weekends, I’ll be posting Special Pictures. These are photos that do not pertain directly to the letters I’m posting but unique and interesting so I want to share them. Enjoy.
I believe this is the first group picture taken in Trumbull. Dick, the baby on Arla’s lap, was born August 20, 1920 and the family moved into the Trumbull house in Dec, 1922. That would make Dick 16 months old at that time. In this picture he looks slightly older than that and Lad, the oldest, looks about 8 or 9, which would appear to confirm the approximate date of the picture. (I have since ascertained that it was taken in 1922.)
This picture was taken by a family friend and, unbeknownst to the family, submitted it to a photo contest for Life Buoy soap. It was not the top winner but was mentioned in the Bridgeport paper as a winner for Connecticut. It was actually used in an advertisement for Life Buoy soap, with a “direct” quote from Mrs. A.D. Guion. That’s how the family found out about it and asked the company not to use it. I’ve actually seen the spread in the local paper on Newspapers.com but because of copy write laws, I can’t show it to you. Our own “15 minutes of Fame”.
This weekend I’ll resume posting from “What I saw at the CHICAGO WORLD’S FAIR, 1934.
On Monday, I’ll get back to my regular schedule and the letters will be from 1941.
Grandpa, being in the advertising business, used his very creative skills to produce a unique and personal Christmas card for many years.
This is the only copy of this Christmas Card I could find. It is my Mother’s (Marian’s) and she has added the birth dates of her family members also, so it isn’t quite like the original. This includes all the birth dates and wedding dates of all the members of Grandpa’s family in 1953.
The first WANTED advertisement references Dan, a gardener extraordinaire, and his wife Paulette, who has quite a touch with Interior Designing.
Radio and TV for rent is ac reference to Biss and her husband, Zeke, who loves watching baseball on TV. Their house is in Huntington.
Apartment for Rent in Pasadena is self explanatory. Aunt Elsie wants to come – or has come – back east.
I don’t know the reference about the pant’s except that it may refer to Ced’s extremely long legs… the advertiser could possibly have been Ced’s Specialty Shop..
Don Stanley, a favorite cousin, who spent quite a bit of time in Trumbull, may be a great cook. I just don’t know.
Dealers in Marine Supplies…Auto repairs and inventions handled as a side line – refers to my Dad’s (Lad’s) involvement with the Power Squadron and boating in general, and the obvious reference to his mechanical abilities, especially in automotive engines.
FOR SALE – Farm in Holderness (NH) is a reference to Dick, his wife Jean and their two daughters. Their property was out in the country along a dirt road, with lots of wildlife.
Course in Dieting may have been intended as a joke, but Marian was always plump – Lad liked her that way – and Ellie, Dave’s wife, was quite often on a diet. It may have been Grandpa’s attempt to include every one of the adults.
The final message is Grandpa’s personal best wishes for everyone who received his always popular Christmas Card.
Mr. Alfred D. Guion
231 Fairfield Avenue
Dear Mr. Guion:
It certainly was terrible news to me to hear of your bereavement. It was particularly shocking as it came right on top of news of the sudden passing away of a dear friend of mine.
Words cannot express my heartfelt sympathy in your hours of sorrow, and I hope the good God will soften them to make your loss a fond memory of golden hours spent with the most cherished and loved one.
If my lame expressions can only convey to you one half of my feeling and sympathy, I am thankful to be able to add them to those of your many friends.
I sincerely hope that time will heal this very deep wound and that the memory of your loved one will serve to press you forward to greater success for her sake and remembrance.
Elsa and I were so shocked that it seems all we can say, over and over again, is, “We are so sorry.” and “Why should it have had to be Al’s wife?”
There is so much one could write and say and after all we could write and say, it would all mean that our heartfelt sympathies go out to you and yours. You know this old-timer.
Elsa is all okay and the kiddies too. I’ll be in Bridgeport soon and would be awfully glad to see you.
Love to all the kiddies-
August 1, 1933
I was shocked to hear of your loss and want to extend my sincere sympathy. One thinks of such a possibility now and then but it hardly seems possible when it actually happens to a friend, much less than to one’s self.
My “little” family is away for the summer at the beach, so I only see them weekends. Next week is my vacation so that will shorten this month considerably.
I’ll see that you get a Standard Rate Book now and then, if I have to”lose” one.
Irving E. Blaine
These are the final letters of condolence I have that were sent to Grandpa following the death of his wife, Arla, after only 20 years of marriage.
Next weekend, we will move forward to 1934, over a year since Arla Mary Peabody Guion, my Grandmother, had passed away. Her only daughter, Elizabeth, is 14 and having a very hard time dealing with everything. I think that Grandpa, having his own problems adjusting to the loss if his wife, is thinking that his only daughter, Biss, should help with running the household and she is having nothing to do with that idea. Grandpa and Arla’s sisters, Aunts Helen, Anne and Dorothy, discuss the situation and decide that Elizabeth should move to St. Petersburg, Florida, to live with Aunt Anne and to help her care for her children, Donald and Gweneth, spending a year away from Trumbull. On Saturday and Sunday, for many weeks to come, I’ll be posting the letters written during this time.
Arla Mary Peabody Guion was 18 when she married my Grandfather, Alfred Duryee Guion, in 1913. This picture was taken shortly after the family moved to the house in Trumbull in 1922. A short 11 years later, she passed away after a battle with, what the family believes, was cancer. Dave was only nine when he lost his mother.
These are some of the many letters of condolence sent to Grandpa after his wife passed away.
C. J. MERCER AND SONS
July 10, 1933
Mr. A. D. Guion
Cor. Broad & Fairfield Ave,
I have just learned of your bereavement.
Please accept my sincere sympathy. Mrs. Mercer and those in the office feel for you, and each one of us wish there was something we could do. Maybe we will be able to help in the days that are immediately to come.
Frank H. Mercer
123 Waverley Place
New York City
My dear Alfred:-
It was such a shock when Elsie told me of Arla’s death. I did not even know she was seriously ill although I had heard that she was not feeling so well. You are such a devoted couple and you all seemed to enjoy life so much but don’t wish Arla back for she certainly would have suffered and been bed ridden and bad would have been harder on you both. You have the children and they are and will be a joy to you and they are so grown up and that they can take care of things.
You have my deepest sympathy in your great loss.
MRS. HARVEY BOGART
385 WESTCHESTER AVENUE
MOUNT VERNON, NEW YORK
It was a great shock to us to learn of Arla’s passing away, and I cannot tell you how sorry we all are for you and the children, for I know how much she meant to you, and how much you all will miss her. I always thought she had such a sweet disposition and manner, and was such a nice Mother.
When Elsie belonged to our club, we always asked about Arla and her family, but not having any news all year, and do not hearing of her illness, it was so much more of a shock to all of us.
Please extend our heartfelt sympathy to all, and we only wish we were nearer, to be of some help.
Olga H. Bogart
Parish – Burnham
41 Park Row – New York City
July 13, 1933
You have been in my thoughts, my dear friend, a great deal of the time since I saw you last week and I am hoping with all my heart that some way I may be able to make your great sorrow a little bit easier to bear. I know very well how very much she meant to you and how her ever cheerful presence kept you pushing hard when material things looked dark. You know, to, how greatly I admired her and felt how much her character contribute to the wonderful home life of your wonderful family. I shall always counted one of my richest privileges to have known her, that only as we all lived near each other in the garden, but especially her in the last three months when I was so much at your home.
I wonder if you know this poem by James Whitcomb Riley and I am assured expresses your feelings at this time:
“I cannot say, and I will not say
That she is dead. She is just away!
With the cheery smile, and a wave of the hand,
She has wandered into an unknown land,
And left us dreaming how very fair
It needs must be since she lingers there.
And you — oh you who the wildest yearn,
For the old-time step and the glad return,
Think of her as faring on, as dear
In the love of there as the love of here.
Think of her still as the same, I say.
She is not dead — she is just a way.”
I expect to be passing through Trumbull Friday afternoon or rather Bridgeport and if you would like to go up to fishers island with me and stay till Sunday night or Monday morning I would be ever so happy to have your company and fellowship. Maybe such a change of scene among old friends for a couple of days would be a blessing to you. I believe Louise is writing Dorothy to suggest that Dick might like to come up then, too, and visit Brad who is crazy to have him come. I think I’ll get to your office about 1:30 or possibly 1 PM and can take any of the children who might like to go. I hope especially you may feel like coming.
Always your true friend,
Rufe (Rufus Burnham, a neighbor and life-long friend, who met Alfred and Arla when they built their first house in Larchmont Gardens, Mount Vernon, NY)
Tomorrow,I’ll be posting the final letters of condolence I have from Grandpa and Grandma’s friends and family.
Next week,we’ll move on to 1945 when Lad and Dan are in France. Dan is on the northern coast, near Calais, where he has met the love of his life and their wedding day id getting closer and closer. Lad is on the southern coast, near Marseilles. He would love to go up to be with his brother on this important day, but it doesn’t look likely. Grandpa keeps the family well informed with his weekly missives, which travel far and wide, to Alaska, Brazil and Japan.
Grandpa and his wife Arla had friends all over the country and even abroad. Arla passed away at the end of June but here we are in July and August and the news is still spreading. Friends are just finding out and writing to Grandpa expressing their grief and consoling him for his great loss.
24 July 1933
Dear Al –
I need not tell you how profoundly I was shocked when the news of Arla’s death reached me – I had no idea but that she was in the best of health. I remember her as such and mark this as an example of radiant health and tranquility. Your household has always been to me the perfect example of the best in American family life, and it was Arla’s example, her serenity, her grasp of the fundamentals of life and disregard for its trivialities, that set the seal on it.
Yours, really sincerely,
My dear Alfred
This morning’s mail brought a letter from Rudolf telling of having had word from Helen Perry of Arla’s going in June. I find it hard to believe that it can be true for when I was in Wisconsin, Aunt Mary had heard from Lawrence (Peabody) that Arla was better. Some of us had had word that she had been dangerously ill, though Arla herself had written us that she had not been well. About Christmas time I had a note from her saying that she hoped sometime this summer you all might drive down to visit us, and I have had it in my mind to write, these last few days, and suggest that there isn’t a great deal of summer left, and that the country is very pretty now. If it would interest you and the children, I would still be most happy to have you come. This is lovely country – the hills would, I know, be very good for weary hearts and souls. If you should come before September 1, I have a house in the country where you and the boys could have things your own way, while Elizabeth could be with me in my apartment in town. In fact, I think I could take care of two women, if Helen or your sister wanted to come.
I have been a gypsy this summer. Friends who are abroad gave me the use of their house and I have been living out there in the country for three weeks and shall stay until the 22nd when I hope to come into a new apartment in town, so right now I have the responsibility of three places. All this to let you know what to expect, and I shall be so happy if you decide you want to come.
One of the bright spots in my life was a lovely Thanksgiving that Rudolf and I spent with you and Arla and your family. It was a rare experience, for to me, yours and Arla’s house was one of the loveliest it has been my privilege to be in. Ever since that visit I have felt deeply flattered at the thought that any of the family had felt there was any resemblance between Arla and me. Not much I’m afraid, but I should like to think there might have been some small excuse for the thought.
Rudolph will have written you I am sure, so he has told you probably of what he is doing. He has married a lovely girl and they both seem very happy at the prospect of making no income go a long way. It will take a lot of scheming but I feel sure that it would not have been right for them to have postponed the wedding any longer.
My very deepest sympathy to you all – and I would so love to have you all drive down some time –
Ruth D. Voer
354 Spruce Street
Morgantown, W. Va.
Tomorrow I’ll begin the week with the last few letters from 1942. Lad will be arriving in California. The life as he knows it is about to change. Dan ‘s training continues in Red Lion, Pennsylvania, Ced continues to rescue planes in Alaska and Dick and Dave keep Grandpa company in Trumbull.
July 6, 1933
Dear Mr. Guion and Sons,
The members of the Webster Club wish to give you it’s greatest sympathies upon the death of your dear wife. You have been of invaluable assistance to our club both in teaching us and giving us experience in the ways of public speaking.
Stanley Higgs, Sect.
FRANCIS K. DRAZ AND ASSOCIATES
13124 Shaker Square
Dear Al –
We received your note telling of Arla’s death, yesterday evening, both Dorothy and I extend to you and your family our heartfelt sympathies.
We wish it were possible to be near you at this time to do what little we could to help you.
At a time like this, while we may be materially separated, thoughts and the spirit span this great universe to comfort you and keep you on steadfastly.
Believe us as ever Al –
Your sincere friends,
Dorothy and Fran
July 6 – 1933
July 6, 1933.
My dear Alfred,
Blanche and I were greatly shocked as well as grieved to hear of Arla’s untimely death. It must have been an awful blow to you, and those children. They surely have lost their best friend. Had Arla been sick or was it unexpected? I live so far away that we do not see you often.
Hoping God will bless you all, we remain
Yours sincerely, friends,
Blanche and George
July 7, 1933
Dear Mr. Guion:
Any words of mine at a time like this would be inadequate to express my feelings for you and yours. I just want you to know that I am thinking of you with the kindest of thoughts and in sending you my sincerest sympathy and friendship.
Dorothy M Seeley
11 ROCKRIDGE ROAD
MT. VERNON, N.Y.
My dear Alfred:-
The sad news of Arla’s death reached me Friday and I would have written immediately but we were getting ready to go way over the fourth. Frank joins me in sending our sincerest sympathy to you and your dear family. I was shocked to hear the news from Helen McVickar and to know what you must be going through. She was so needed for her family and was so well loved. I thought a lot of her myself.
I nearly lost my own life this winter, but thanks to our wonderful Dr. Anne Frank’s giving me such good care, I am alive today and feeling very well, except for one leg which still bothers me. I presume you heard from Elsie (Duryee) that I had pneumonia and a heap of other things. I was three months in the hospital and am just getting around again. Frank was a peach while I was sick and spent every cent he had for me to get well. With many regards and heartfelt sympathy from us all, I am sinverely,
Edna M. Lee
NEW CITY, ROCKLAND COUNTY
TELEPHONE NEW CITY 9 – W
Mother (Aunt Anne Peabody Stanley) told me about Arla the other day, when I went over to spend an evening. It was a shock. You are facing the possibility but somehow facing it and meeting it when it comes also completely different, and if it hit me hard – it must have been terrific for you and your family.
There’s nothing I can do, of course; and words are so awkward at a time like this; but that can’t affect the wish that my deep sympathy for you all might help to lift a grain of your burden. If it can, you know it is yours. Arla’s sweet courage (and Kemper told me how deep that must have been) is a real memory for which I shall be indebted all my life.
Tomorrow, I’ll continue with more letters of condolence.
On Monday begins a week of letters written in 1942. Lad is in Flint, Michigan, taking a specialized course in Diesel Mechanics from the General Motors Institute to qualify him in one more area of instruction. He will then drive to Santa Anita, California to meet up with his buddies from the Aberdeen Proving Grounds in Maryland. Little does he know who awaits him in California. Dan remains in Red Lion, Pennsylvania, continuing his training in surveying and map-making, which will be extremely useful when he goes to England and France before D-Day. Ced remains in Alaska and Dick and Dave continue to keep Grandpa busy in Trumbull.