Dear Remnants of a Scattered Family (4) – Comments and an Afterthought – November, 1945

You boys are no more disgusted about union demands than many of us here at home. I have talked to many men in unions who feel the same way about it themselves. Individually, they seem to have no choice if a strike is called. It seems to me a comparatively few men at the top are responsible, and as usual, the far larger, unorganized, white collar or middleman class suffers the consequences. It’s too long a subject for me to discuss here, but I think it’s a crying shame and I am afraid we are mixing ourselves a dose of bitter medicine unless some strong leader steps up and reverses the present trend. As for you

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personally, and the gripping and lowered morale, etc., I know it is awfully easy for the other fellow to sit back and philosophize as long as it doesn’t happen to him, that’s one of the opportunities that come to one when he can join the ranks of the knickers and begin to feel sorry for himself, which, like worry, doesn’t do anyone any good, or he can “turn the cloud inside out to see the silver lining” and refuse to see the gloomy side and try to find out the good things about the situation — so that, for instance, in after years, he will not have to say to himself, “Here I was all set to get the most out of the situation and instead I was so close to the forest I couldn’t see the trees”. Remember Kipling’s poem about “if you can keep your head when all about you are losing theirs, etc.”. Just one viewpoint. You say you are getting concerned because the longer the high pointers are delayed in getting home the later you will be. Isn’t it apt to work the other way? There is already a big stink over here about this very thing of the public and radio commentators are getting thoroughly aroused. Even a strike was threatened on stopping work on every ship except those sent to the Pacific and European Theatres to bring boys home, so that they would have to devote them all to that purpose. Now if this tide that is backing up, gets strong enough, when it does burst out it is liable to go to the other extreme and those who wouldn’t otherwise rate a prompt homecoming would be swept in with the flood. Pendulum’s, you know, have a tendency to swing too far, and there is evidence of a strong public sentiment developing. Thanks for the island views, your ideas are so good I hope you will write some more.

Now back to Dan, for something I forgot to mention. You asked me to see what I can do in Washington. Before I can present the matter convincingly, I have to have a much cleaner-cut, concise statement of facts to present than my present knowledge permits, and I would suggest you make this statement in a letter to me which I in turn can turn over to someone in Washington in an effort to get whatever you want, which a civilian in the U.S., writing to the war dept. about a son in France, (status not clear as explained above) would command much attention. I will of course be glad to try with all my energy, if you will supply the ammunition.

Just a few local items before I toddle off to my little trundle bed. Aunt Betty went down to the dentist with Jean last week and had four teeth taken out at one sitting. Next day she was back on the job, washing dishes, etc.

Well at last it happened — after many years of faithful service — more than I know — the old furnace has gone kaput. Last Sunday Lad and I started to drain air out of the radiators — our annual rite — when noticing the pressure was unusually low, we let more water in the system. There was a “pop” and water sprayed out of the back of the furnace. Monday a plumber came to look it over, said it was useless to try to repair it, that he had a used boiler of a modern make (two-years old) which would more than do the job, that new ones were not yet on the market and that he could put it in and connected up with the auto-stoker so I could use the 10 tons of coal in the bids, so I told him to go ahead. Luckily the weather has been mild. They expect to finish tomorrow, so here’s hoping. The bill is yet to come. Here’s hoping twice. Anyhow, you can keep warm when you come home. Here’s hoping three times. And that’s about all the hope I’ve got left tonight.

DAD

Tomorrow and Sunday, more Special Pictures. On Monday I’ll begin posting letters written in 1942

Dear Remnants of a Widely Scattered Family (3) – News From Dave – November, 1945

Last week I bought for you, Dan, a dozen t-sleeve undershirts and shall ship them to you during the week. They will, however, come to you in the regular way via APO 887, as I learn that unless I can continue to send you things at this address, I cannot send at all except at exorbitant rates (airmail is $.30 a half ounce). The Railway Express rumor was false as to shipments to France. They will send to England and Ireland (one dollar a pound, I believe is the rate) but not to the continent, so, unless being a civilian, I cannot send service men’s boxes to your army address, we will have to watch shipping expense, as the fund you have is being rapidly diminished. For instance, on the camera business, when they again become available, which apparently is not this year, the thing you should do is to write me specifically just what you want, let me order it, sell your old camera and forward me the money, as I don’t think you want your war bonds cashed, or do you? I also can’t quite get through my head what your status is now. You say you are a civilian and are addressed as Mr., yet you still have an APO army address. You are employed by the civil service and yet you say you are a war dept. employee; that you have to wear an army uniform while you are on the job. If you are a civilian, why the Army uniform? If in the Army, what office do you hold — private, your former rank or are you an officer? In any event, why the Mr.? And how can you be working for the war dept. and still get paid by the civil service? It is all rather confusing to a layman!

I showed Elizabeth Paulette’s circular about baby bottles and she said, based on the experience of those she has talked to who have used this type, Paulette is likely to be disappointed in that the bottles seem to leak out the wrong hole and get things wet and stained. And by the way, tell Chiche I have sent to all the publishers I can find listed of baby magazines and have asked for sample copies, which I will send her to look over and if there is one or two she particularly likes, I can subscribe to them for her. No, I have not sent any additional knitting wool, but shall do so. And by the way, Marian and I are not alone responsible for the purchase of the things you have received for Paulette. Jean also spent time and effort, and I was just a wee bit concerned that I had not made this clear to you and Paulette. Both girls have given willingly and enthusiastically of their time and interest and deserve far more credit than I. Maybe it’s a good thing you didn’t need your suits because I don’t know just what the moths have left. In spite of the good care Jean has given to Dick’s things, the moths have been busy and Dick, since this experience,

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has been moved to construct a moth-proof closet in the corner of Lad’s old attic room (of fire days memory), which he has been working rather steadily on since he has been home. Just had a letter from the Burnett’s, Dan, in answer to my announcement, which I will enclose.

Now let’s turn to Dave, who has been waiting patiently on the sidelines here for a chance to be heard. Most of his letter concerns some interesting, and to my mind intelligent, comments on the island proposition which I will not quote here but will take up at a later time when all of you have had an opportunity to comment. He says: “Apologies are in order. We both apologize — MacArthur and myself. I apologize because I haven’t been able to write regularly and MacArthur apologizes because he and others under his command have kept me so busy that I have not been able to write. No kiddin’, I’ve been busier since the war ended than I ever was during the war. We are handling all sorts of traffic now — a good part of it is messages to and from the Red Cross in Korea concerning guys that are trying to pull deals to get out of the Army. Seeing those messages sure are tempting. I keep thinking I ought to try to get out by claiming that I was needed to help you run the business. It’s funny, it was easy to think of maybe two or three years over here while the war was on, but now it’s awfully hard “sweating it out”. As to Dick and Lad, it’s beginning to look as if everyone will be home and possibly gone again by the time I get home. In one of your letters you enclosed some articles about the men getting out. We get the same stuff in the papers here but the fact remains that there are scores of 90-pointers here in the repple depples. Joe Bohn in our outfit has 81 points and he hasn’t heard anything yet. The morale is getting worse and worse all the time. It’s beginning to bother me now, because the longer the high pointers stay here, the longer it will delay my getting home. I figured sometime in late spring or early summer, and I sure don’t want to spend any longer — that’s plenty long enough to wait for a boat. Well, so much for our woes. Oh, one more thing. The next time you see a union man, tell him that he better get labor back in line because the servicemen are apt to give them one hell of a time when they all get back. I’ve had several Filipinos asked me about the strikes in the states. It must look awfully bad to these other countries to see the U.S. so torn as soon as the war is over. We were talking the other day and have come to the conclusion that the people of the U.S. are the only ones who actually feel that the war is over. The people of Europe, Russia, China, England and Japan are all licking their wounds. Those of us who are still out here see very little difference now than when the war was going on — the fighting is over but we aren’t home. So it’s just about the same. But in the states it’s all over — now they can slide back to their petty problems and forget the war. In the eyes of the rest of the world, this, the strongest country of all, must look pretty weak under all this upheaval over wages. We can almost smell the stench of it all out here.”

Tomorrow, the final piece of this letter.

On Saturday and Sunday, more Special Pictures.

Judy Guion

Dear Remnants of a Widely Scattered Family (2) – News From Dan – November, 1945

And this leads us quite naturally into quotations from Dan’s two letters received this week. To show the vagaries of the mail, the one which arrived here on Oct. 31st was written on October 31st and his Oct. 11th letter, reached here Nov.2nd, thus justifying the Scripture to the effect that “the last shall be first”, and in that order I shall set them down for your enjoyment: “My actual discharge is still somewhat nebulous, although I have completed most of the processing — which means that my physical examination has been made. The bottleneck is finance. The payroll is quite thoroughly “snafu-ed”. We came here under the impression that the process would make us civilians in 48 to 72 hours. Actually, they are geared to handle 10 men per day — while 30 to 50 men arrive per day. The “back-up” is considerable already and word of the situation has finally sifted up to higher HQ. I still have hopes of getting out in a couple of days, at which time I shall return to Paris to sign the contract with Graves Registration. I don’t remember how much I have told you about the job, but it will do no harm if I repeat that I shall be working as a surveyor “anywhere between Africa and Norway”, at a salary of between $2600 and $3400 per year depending on overtime. I shall be permitted to wear civilian clothes after working hours”.

The other: “I am a civilian (October 15, Etampes, France). I don’t know even yet what sort of work I shall be doing because I have spent all the week buying clothes (officer’s stores), getting photographed and fingerprinted for an identification card and passport and getting settled in my new quarters. The Grand Hotel de Passy is my temporary home. I have a room and bath with hot and cold faucets, which furnish each, an equal amount of cold water, a double bed with real sheets. I dine in the ritzy atmosphere of the Hotel Majestic, at two bits of throw. The tables are set with linen tablecloths, but luxury has compromised with realism in the rest of the table service. At any rate it is infinitely superior to eating chow from a mess kit. Paulette is going to visit me tomorrow and perhaps Tuesday and Wednesday, depending on circumstances. While she is here, she will be presented with the clothes you sent. She will be a very happy girl when she sees them. Thanks a million to you and Marian. If you have not already sent my brown suit, don’t bother. I have been able to get all the clothes I need from the QM stores, except for short-sleeved cotton underwear shirts. Please send me a dozen of these. My camera is still broken down. Please keep me in mind as soon as you can find a 35 mm camera. I am trying to have mine repaired but I am not too confident that it will be satisfactory. I spoiled two rolls of Kodachrome as a result of faulty

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repair work. Even if it doesn’t work, I can get a remarkably good price for it over here. Enclosed is a pamphlet of the type of baby’s bottle that Paulette wants. And of course she wants all the knitting wool she can get. One of the packages has two balls of blue and two of white. Perhaps you have sent more that has not yet arrived. Here is a list of clothes I have been able to buy over here: suit coat (army officers) neckties, bath robe, pajamas, underwear (no t-sleeves), overcoat, scarf, gloves, shirts, “overseas” hat, raincoat. So, you see, I am well outfitted. I have to wear the Army uniform on duty and I don’t think it wise to be burdened with too many civilian clothes in case I have to travel. Please check with Washington about facilities for wives of War Dept. employees. Promises have been made for room and board but no results have been evident. Thus, Paulette cannot be with me without tremendous expense. Love to all, Dan.”

Tomorrow and Friday, the rest of this long letter.

Judy Guion

Trumbull – Dear Dave, Dan and Paulette and Ced (5) – A Note to Paulette – October, 1945

The final chapter in this quite lengthy letter from Grandpa to his family members who are away from home this week.

Dear Paulette: I am going to answer Dan’s letter through you, thinking perhaps if I send a copy to you it might happen to get through before the one I am also mailing to Dan’s Army address. (When you get through reading and understanding “American” sentences like the above, you can feel confident of writing me in English without hesitancy). Of course I and all the rest of us here are more disappointed than you know at not seeing you and Dan (and the baby) as soon as we expected, but these things do happen time and again during a person’s lifetime the only wise thing to do is to accept them philosophically, after you have done everything humanly possible to remedy them, and look forward to a happier day, and that is the attitude which apparently both of you have sensibly adopted and that shall also be mine. However I am as disappointed really as I could be in for two cents I’d turn my business over to Dave, hop a liner to France and visit you “somewhere in Europe”, possibly even kidnapping you and little Daniel, leaving old man Daniel to keep house for himself while you get acquainted with Connecticut. Maybe I won’t have to resort to such extreme measures but this might be taken as a warning, at that. The things you wanted on Dan’s list, as he has probably told you, were all sent in boxes addressed to Dan’s Army address. In one of the boxes was the wool for knitting babies things. I hope they reach you soon. The next things we send I am going to addressed to you at Calais, to see if they don’t make better time that way. Tell Dan that in one of these boxes also was the winter addition of Sears Roebuck catalog (and it isn’t Montgomery Ward) Dan asks for photographs of the family see you can see what a handsome bunch of people we are. I wish you could see one of Ced in Alaska dressed in trappers costume, sporting a full beard, which we have on a slide. Dan says he would also like a picture of his mother. The best one I have of her is one taken in Larchmont Gardens, a family group, showing all the children when they were little (except Dave who had not yet made his entrance). This I will also send in the next box that goes to you, and I shall also see what I can do about getting photos of the others. For several years past they have all been so scattered around the globe that it is rather difficult to locate any that are “tame”. Tell Dan I was glad to get the snapshot. He looks a bit thinner than he was when he left, as well as a bit more serious, do undoubtedly to his efforts to make arrangements for your homecoming, etc. His job does sound very good and, outside of its keeping you both away, I am quite pleased he was able to land it. In fact, if it is what he expects, I could almost get enthusiastic. Of course I’m sure everything is going to come out happily but it’s the waiting for it that is the hardest. Another thing, it is very seldom that Dan ever answers questions that I ask. I do want both you and Dan to give me quite a full answer to the questions asked of the lake cottage proposition, as I know you both (all) will get a lot of enjoyment out of this place in the years to come. His views will be particularly interesting and I would surely want to have them to consider along with others before anything definite was decided.

Before very long I should like to send to you and the family a box containing a few things to make your Christmas season a bit happier, and I would appreciate it, daughter dear, if you would write down a few things that perhaps you cannot obtain readily yet in France, that you would like to have. I would like so much to do this but it would please me much more if I knew what I was sending was exactly what you would like most. And don’t forget something for Father Senechal, for whom I have a warm place in my heart, every time I think of that friendly letter he sent me. My best regards also to your mother, brothers and sisters, not neglecting to keep a great big share for yourself.

I will be so happy when I get my first letter in English from you. I am sorry I cannot write in French to lead the way, but you know the saying about teaching an old dog new tricks, particularly when the old dog is too busy making a living to take time off to learn any new tricks. Dan says you are pretty good at English, so here’s hoping, whether you write or not, Paulette, my dear, we love you just the same.

DAD

Tomorrow and Sunday I’ll have more Special Pictures.

Judy Guion

Trumbull – Dear Dave, Dan and Paulette and Ced (4) – News From Dan – October, 1945

Dan Guion, far left, working in France after his marriage.

Dear Dan:

I received your letter of Oct. 8th. To wit: “I have been transferred out of the 1539th and into the 19th Separation Depot where I am busily sitting around waiting action on the discharge ritual. I shall send you my new address when. Paris must get along without me for the next two or three days, after which – – –?. Chiche left for Calais Sat. A.M. You can write to her there, 8 rue de Temple.

And yesterday I received your Oct. 3rd letter, as follows:” Far-reaching changes have developed during the last week. Hold your breath – – here it comes:

(1) I shall not get home for several months – – perhaps a year – – unless some unforeseen event crops up. (2) Within a week I expect to be a civilian. (3) I have found me a job with the Army on civil service – – surveying for “Graves Registration”. I do not know the details of the job yet, but this is what I am led to believe: the work will be surveying. A base pay rate is $2100 per year. I shall get 25% more for overseas service plus extra pay for any overtime that might develop. The quoted total is $3417 per year! Lodging will be furnished by the government at cheap rates, and food, too. I shall be entitled to Army rations such as PX, officers clothing and QM Sales. It is supposed that arrangements will be made soon to supply facilities for the families of such employees as desire them. The work might be in any part of the European theater. Contract will be for six months or a year, with a clause stating that if the work is finished sooner, I will be sent home at government expense. If this does not occur until next summer, I shall be able to come home with Chiche and any additions to the family which might exist at that time. Until I know better what to expect, Chiche will live in Calais. You may continue to send me packages and mail through Army P.O. but I suggest that you wait until I send you my new address. You can imagine how disappointed I am at not getting home. Before accepting employment here I tried every possibility to get Chiche home this year, but civilian agencies (Cooks, etc.) say that they can do absolutely nothing at the present time. On the other hand, my job is a good one. It pays well and might lead to a permanent job with the government back home. It’s a good solution to a knotty problem. I write again as news develops. None of the packages has arrived but I suppose they will reach me later at my new address.”

Tomorrow, I’ll conclude this lengthy letter with a note to Paulette and other bits and pieces of family news.

On Saturday and Sunday, more Special Pictures.

Judy Guion

 

Army Life – Surprise, Dad! – October, 1943

Lad has arrived back at Camp Santa Anita , California after  traveling home to Trumbull on furlough. He has done some serious thinking and has made a decision which he shares with Grandpa.

Dear Dad:

Since I arrived things have progressed rapidly – I have had a complete reversal of more or less personal ideas, and Marian has consented to be my wife. I never thought I was capable of such strong emotions, but they are certainly present. When I have had a chance to calm down and think more clearly, I’ll write again and give you more in detail.

Lots of love,

Lad

P.S. I personally think that she can top Jean without a great deal of trouble –

********************************************************************

 

Lad Guion and Marian Irwin - 1943

Lad Guion and Marian Irwin – 1943

Camp Santa Anita

Oct. 6, 1943

Dear Dad:-

Sometime having elapsed since I last wrote you, I think I can say that, although I’m still way up in the clouds, I at least can think logically.

During my time on furlough I realized that I missed Marian quite a good deal, as I think I told you, but the feeling got stronger and stronger as I came closer to LA, and not a thing could have pleased me more than having Marian, as she did, meet me. I realized then that I really loved her, and I also, as I think I told you, realized that she not only liked me very well, but very definitely loved me. We spent quite a good deal of time discussing all angles of marriage, realizing that this was a rather poor time to undertake anything so serious, and permanent, and although she wanted me to ask her, she didn’t press her point at all. We had both agreed, many months before, in an argument with another couple, that it was pretty foolish to marry during the present war, but here I am sticking my neck out, or rather jeopardizing her life (possibly) by asking her to marry me. Arrangements have been made, as far as is possible for a soldier, to be married at her home near San Francisco on November 14th . We may have to suddenly changed plans, but to date, everything looks O.K. We have gone very seriously into the financial end, and even being slightly extravagant, we will still have a sufficient income to save about 20%. As to my car, she has a lot older car and it’s reaching the point where it needs constant small repairs, so we shall sell her car, and use some of that to pay the $500 still owing the bank. At the moment we shall have no particular need for two cars, and she should have a more reliable one anyhow. She has an apartment which we shall continue to use, and although it is small, neither of us will be there during the day, and its size will facilitate cleaning during the few hours we are at home.

There are two things I regret, however, about the proceedings. (1) You have never met Marian, and don’t know her, so you’ll have to rely on my judgment to bring you a good daughter-in-law, and (2) her parents have never met me so therefore they will have to rely on her to pick out a worthwhile husband and son-in-law. I think I’m getting the better bargain, and she thinks she is, so we’re completely happy. Oh! Dad – she really is wonderful. I wish you could know her now, instead of having to wait. She has one sister and one brother, both married, and her father is a factory distributor of Westinghouse, with a very large warehouse, and serving, I think, the state of California. I wrote to him tonight telling him a little of myself, so he won’t be too much in the dark, but it was quite a hard letter to write, and I don’t think I did as good a job as I could have, had I known him, or at least met him previously. I have asked her to write to you, but here is a little about her. She is 27, and was born here on the West Coast. She has completed her education through college, and for four or five years she taught school near San Francisco and then Bakersfield. Last year she quit teaching and spent some time (a month or so) on the East Coast, as she had done previously, and then accepted the position she holds at present as an Executive Secretary in the Camp Fire Girls. She has charge of the South Pasadena-San Gabriel group. She enjoys it and when the subject of marriage was broached to the Board, they said that it was a good idea, provided she did not intend to leave them. So that fitted right in with our plans, and so far, everything is been going so smoothly I’m beginning to expect some serious reversal. Things have run like a well-built turbine. I’m getting leery.

It’s getting late, Dad, so with the report that I’m extremely happy, I wish you and the rest lots of love, and remain

Laddie

Army Life – Lad Arrives in L.A. – September, 1943

Lad and Marian – Pomona, CA

Now Grandpa knows that Lad arrived safely back in California. In his typical analytical style, he tells the whole story.

September 22, 1943

South Pasadena, California

Dear Dad:

I arrived in LA at 4:10 AM and, so help me, Marion was there to meet me. In fact, I’m writing this at her house and this is her pen and ink. Here is the story. Bridgeport to New York – O.K.  –  left Grand Central at 6:30 PM and after a pretty good rest arrived in Chicago at noon. I had till 6:30 for the train to LA so I went to the Santa Fe-Harvey office. Got a job in a few minutes on a train leaving on Tuesday at 7 AM. So I went back to the Y and slept all afternoon and evening.

About 10 PM I got up, wrote a letter to Marian, had something to eat and returned to bed. Got up at 5 AM and went to the station. I was 4th cook and did nothing but dishes from 10:30 Tuesday morning until 11 PM Thursday. Boy, I don’t think I ever worked so hard. It was terrific – but, at least I wasn’t bored by the trip and I had very good meals and an upper. Slept from about 12 or one o’clock till 5:30 each night. We were five hours late arriving in LA, but she was there, with a smile, as usual, and my spirits rose perceptively. She had made arrangements for me to stay at the USO dorm, so I had something to eat and went to bed. I slept from about 6 AM till after 4 PM.

I had a key, which Marian had given me for her house, so I went there for a shower and then reported back to camp, got my pass, and took up where I had left off 16 days earlier. 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. I went to the rationing board here and they gave me the ration points, but said that in the future to go to the local board at home. So take a mental note of that. It is a new O.P.A. regulation.

For two days now we have had typical Southern California September weather, hotter than hell. The air so hot, that desks and chairs or anything else is almost uncomfortably hot to touch. It was 116° today, and this is supposed to last until the middle of October. However, I really don’t mind it at all. Marian doesn’t like it too well. It has cooled off a little now, and we’re going to an open-air theater tonight to see “The More the Merrier”.

Give my love to Aunt Betty and anyone else and I’m expecting to take your suggestion and write to Grandma.

Lad

Tomorrow and Thursday, we’ll read a long letter from Grandpa to his four sons in their various locations, filled with news about each of them. Friday will be another letter from Lad .

Judy Guion