Army Life – Dear Dad – Lad Arrives In Flint, Michigan – December 8, 1942

This week I will be posting the final letters of 1942. Lad is in Flint, Michigan, receiving Advanced Training on Diesel Tank Engines. Dan might be able to get home for Christmas and Ced remains in Anchorage, Alaska, repairing airplanes for Woodley Aircraft.

Alfred Peabody Guion (Lad)

Alfred Peabody (Lad) Guion

APG - Flint, Michigan letter, Dec. 1942

Cpl. A.P. Guion

Ordnance School –

Flint Section

Armory, 1101 Lewis

Flint, Michigan

Dec. 8, 1942

Dear Dad: –

Arrived home (?) O.K., but, due to the fact that Flint is such a friendly town and so full of really pretty girls, this is the first time I’ve had a free moment. I should really be ashamed of myself for not taking time to write earlier, but I really have had such a good time, and so thoroughly enjoyed every moment that I can’t honestly say that I am. But I’ll try to be better in the future.

Well, here is the story. Left Aberdeen as scheduled on Wednesday at 1:30 P. M. and drove through plenty of snow and exceedingly high winds (practically a blizzard) over the Penna. Turnpike (Pennsylvania Turnpike) to Pittsburgh (Ohio). Due to snow and ice we had to drive with extreme caution, and got to Pitt. about 2:00 A. M. Stayed in Hotel Henery until about 11:30 Thurs. morn., and started again. Again no trouble and we made pretty good time despite snow and ice. We ate supper about 200 miles out of Flint and continued on. We got into Flint about 11:30 Thurs. eve. Couldn’t find a decent room so we stayed in a 3rd (?) Class Hotel and even at that, we really slept. Fri. noon went to the Armory (where we are staying) and discovered that if we checked in then we would have to stand (or rather sleep) an 11:00 (P.M.) bed check, so we went off to the “Y”. No room there but the girl at the desk (a really beautiful blonde) said that her mother had a room she was renting and that it was empty. We went up there and the room was fine. The best part was that she would not accept anything. We not only spent Fri. and Sat. nights there, but had a wonderful supper Sat. night and an invitation to a formal dance given for the men in the Service. It was rather exclusive and there we met Flint, Mich. And, boy, girls galore. And since that time I’ve had more fun than I have ever had in my life. And I really mean that. It is wonderful here. I’ve met more beautiful girls here than I ever thought existed. And everyone is very friendly. If we did not have to stay at the Armory, the stay here would not cost us a cent. In fact, we’ve turned down about six invitations for suppers, because we can’t make them, in four days. Next weekend is all accounted for and the following. And all kinds of dances – most of them for the better society. The “Y” girl, Elizabeth (Lee) Dehanne (Dutch) is of this set, and Vic Bredehoeft and I fitted in perfectly. Since then – WOW —-. I just can’t imagine anything better. More later.

Because the Armory wasn’t clean this morning, everyone has to be confined to quarters tonight, that’s how come this letter, since I had a date with a good-looking nurse, and the lights go out at 10:00 P. M. That’s seven minutes, and I still have to get into bed.

Therefore, adios —

Lad

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

Since this is the last communication from Lad until a telegram informing Grandpa to send further mail to Camp Santa Anita, California, I’m posting his certificate of completion of the U. S. Army Mechanics Training, on December 26, 1942, in Flint, Michigan.

APG - GM Certificate, Flint, Michigan, Dec., 1942

Tomorrow, I will post a Christmas Card to Ced from the Larry Peabodys and I will be finishing out the week with letters written by Grandpa to his boys who will not be home for Christmas (Lad and Ced) and Dan, who might be able to make it. We’ll find out on Thursday and Friday with the last letter from 1942.

Judy Guion

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Early Years – Memories of David Peabody Guion (6) – 1930 – 1946

David Peabody Guion

We got down to Ulithi, which was a weird-sounding name, and they started talking about someplace called Okinawa.  They said, “we’re going to Okinawa and were going to invade Okinawa.”  At dawn they were going to send in a flotilla at the center of the island but the real invasion would be on the other end of the island, further up.  I said to myself, “What kind of outfit would do something as stupid as this?  Why did they think the feint would work?”  I was attached to Army Headquarters at this point, at least our company would be when they got there. What happened was that the feint worked so well that we were supposed to go in, I think it was the third day, we were supposed to land.  We didn’t land for ten days because the Americans went through so fast that they left snipers behind and they couldn’t afford to have us valuable people in Army Headquarters get shot.  So, we didn’t get in for some time. (Dave and his group spend those days on a ship in the harbor.)

When we were ready to go in, my Sergeant, who was a buddy of mine, came up to me and he said, “Dave, I have a special assignment for you.”  And I said, “What’s that?” He said, “When we get on land your job is to bunk with and take care of Marvin.”  Now Marvin King was a guy who was so stupid he wasn’t bright enough to get a Section 8 and get out.  I can remember when ever we were on the ship and they called out the anchor detail, he would run to the side and start throwing up.  We hadn’t even moved yet, and he was already seasick.  My job was to take care of him.  When we got to Okinawa, finally landed, we dug ourselves a little two-man foxhole.  I was bunking with Marvin.  My job at that point was to go and get water and the mail – – ho, ho, ho … there was no mail – and bring it back to the company.  Now some time had gone by and Marvin and I were in close quarters.  Needless to say there was not a lot of friendship between the two of us.  So anyway, one night, near dawn, a plane came over and obviously was hit.  It was a Japanese plane, he was hit and so he was jettisoning his bombs which were small twenty-five-pound anti-personnel bombs.  One guy didn’t believe in being in a hole, so he was in a hammock.  When he woke up in the morning, he looked up, put his hat on and realized that half of the visor was gone.  So, needless to say, he decided he was going to sleep in a foxhole.  That morning, when I went to get water, I went alone.  I usually went alone. When I came back the hole that we had dug was now two levels – – one level where I was and one deeper level where Marvin was.  It was very, very easy to dig, like clay, no stones like we get in Connecticut, so it was easy to dig out but he wasn’t about to dig me a place, so I was one level above him.

On August 25th, I think, we were all watching a film in a kind of natural amphitheater and one of the guys from Brooklyn had a buddy, who was also from Brooklyn, and I remember this just as if it was yesterday, he came running over – we had gotten some rumors that the Japs were going to quit – and this guy came running over and says, “The signing has been comfoimed.”  I never forgot that.

But anyhow, between the time of August 25th and September 7th, when they signed the treaty, I left Okinawa and went down to Manila.  Here I am now – the war is over – all I have to do is go home and they’re shipping me out in a plane to Manila.  The pilot spent about twenty minutes, maybe, trying to start one engine and I said to myself, “I’m going to die in the ocean and the war is over.”  Anyhow, we got to Manila.  That was quite a sight – buildings where the first floor was completely gone and five or six or seven stories would be on top of it, canted … all kinds of destruction.  If you went in to City Hall and looked up, you’d see a room with curtains on the windows.  That was MacArthur’s headquarters.  So he had curtains on his windows and the Filipinos were watching dead bodies float down the river.

I would say I was in Manila for probably six months.  Well it would’ve been August, September, October, November, December, January, February, March, eight months.  I came home in March of 1946.  I got out of the service the day Chiche (Paulette (Van Laere) Guion, who married Dan wile he was in France) gave birth to Arla, Danielle, as the case may be . (Dave got out of the service on May 6, 1946.)

In my Blog Category, World War II Army Adventures, you will find all the letters dave wrote to Grandpa. He was as outspoken as only an eighteen year old can by.

Tomorrow, I will begin a week of letters written in 1940. Lad is working in Venezuela for the Socony-Vacuum Oil Company as a mechanic, working on their vehicles and Diesel engines that run the pumps to get the oil out of the ground. Dan and Ced have travelled to Anchorage, Alaska, where they have found jobs. All three boys  are sending home money to help Grandpa, who is raising the three younger children.

Judy Guion

Early Years – Memories of David Peabody Guion (3) – 1930 – 1946

After my Uncle Dan (Daniel Beck Guion) passed away in 1997, I realized that first-hand accounts of this particular “Slice of Life” would only continue to diminish over time. I needed to record the memories of my Aunt Biss and her brothers and share them with the family. This culminated in the idea of a Blog so that I could share these memories with anyone who would be interested in the personal histories of some members of The Greatest Generation.

Over a period of several years, whenever possible, I recorded the memories of my Dad and his siblings. 

In July of 2004, I sat down with my Uncle Dave and recorded his memories. With the other siblings, the memories were recorded in a somewhat chronological order, but with Dave, after a few early memories, he went right to his Senior year in high school when he made the decision to enlist in the Army. The conversation continued through his service, from Basic Training and his posts in Okinawa and the Philippines until he came home after World War II was over. I then led him back with questions about his childhood. I will present his memories as they were recorded.  

DPG - Dave in uniform nexct to barn - Dec., 1944

David Peabody Guion on furlough before going to Camp Crowder in Missouri

After Missouri, I got shipped out.  We went over to … Oh, I got another little story.  I was sent to radio school and radio school was – what you had was earphones on your head and there were all these dits and dahs, dit-dit-dah-dit, all this business, and you were supposed to write down these letters as they came out.  I found out they were random letters.  I didn’t want to be a radio operator, didn’t want to hear all those dits and dahs in my head, in my ear.  What I used to do – it’s tough to beat the service, they’ve seen everything – but I managed to get away with this.  I don’t know how, but there was a key that you could send messages, I guess that was the advanced training, and I found out that the messages, the letters, came through that key.  So I used to take a little piece of paper and stick it in a spot where it broke the connection and then when the instructor went by, I would sit and write any letter that happened to come into my head because they were all random letters.  When he moved on, I would switch papers and write a letter to my girlfriend.  Roundabout that time I got the Mumps.  I was in the hospital and when I came back out … I guess it was maybe before I went to radio school I got the Mumps; I guess that’s what it was.  I remember my finest hour – I begged and pleaded with the officer to let me stay in radio school even though I wanted desperately to get out and he didn’t buy my act so they sent me off to Cryptography school.  That was a better deal.  I was encoding and decoding messages and I had to get an FBI clearance and people back home were interviewed, a big fuss was made, but at eighteen, how much trouble could I have gotten into in my life.  So I got into Crypt school and that’s where I stayed and although I didn’t do a lot of encoding and decoding, I was officially a Cryptographer.

So when it was time to leave … We were a company – I can’t get away from radio – we were a company that, when we got overseas, we were supposed to police the other nets, conversations between one company and another or one unit and another.  The guys that were radio operators really hated that. The guys really hated doing that because they felt like they were spying on their fellow soldiers.  

For some reason or other they decided to send an advance party so there were twelve of us +3 officers.  We shipped out quickly – very short notice – and went up to Ft. Lewis outside Seattle.  We went from there to Hawaii.  We were on a different ship after we left Hawaii – and we went down across the Equator.  I got the full initiation when we crossed the Equator.  A tank of water was set up on deck.  You would be dunked over and over again until you yelled, “Shellback”.  A Shellback is one who has crossed the Equator.  Now, I’ve always, even to this day, been afraid of the water.  That was an ordeal for me.  After the dunking, you had to run down a long line of Shellback’s that had paddles or rolled towels and they whipped you as you went by.  I forgot to say you had nothing on but underpants.  So that was my initiation into being a Shellback after having crossed the Equator.

You can read Dave’s letters home, which tell a more complete story of his time at Camp Crowder. They are in the Category World War II Army Adventure. Dave wrote home fairly regularly and was quick to express his opinion of life in the Army.

Tomorrow, more of the Early Years with the Memories of David Peabody Guion.

Judy Guion

Trumbull – Dear Brigands Large And Small (2) – Ced’s Fire And Dave’s Furlough – June 11, 1944

This is the second half of a letter started yesterday.

Cedric Duryee Guion

                            

We will have to re-baptize Ced “Arson the Second”. He’s been playing with fire again, the naughty thing. He says: “This time I picked on the poor, defenseless Fleetster, which, however, refused to bend to my will as readily as did the hangar last June. (Instead of June weddings, Ced seems to prefer fires). For myself I fared about the same as before though a little less severely. It all came about through mixing gasoline and static electricity on a warm sunny day (yesterday). Incidentally, the letter is dated May 29th, received June 5th. “Here was I nonchalantly gassing the Fleetster for a trip to Naknek, finishing filling the first tank and starting to move the gas funnel when, wham, here’s me skidding in colossal haste to the ground amidst flaming gas hose, funnel and a loud explosion from the gas tank and sheets of flame. As luck would have it, the danged wing is plywood and wouldn’t catch like fabric, so I lost my chance – – besides my eyebrows, half my mustache, a good handful of hair, and my composure. From now on I think Woodley’s gassing operations will be done only when hose, funnel and plane are grounded. Really, my listeners, you have no idea how fast it can happen. It recalls the time when Pete Linsley had the same thing happen to his old Franklin. Moral: when gassing, see that at least the metal nozzle of the hose touches the edge of the gas tank.”

His school lasts two weeks longer and then comes the test. The pre-induction physical proves his good health and it only remains for Art (Woodley, his boss and the owner of the airfield)  to use his influence (in obtaining another deferment) , or else…

Yes, Ced, you are right about the source of my information being that Kiplinger newsletter, but didn’t you notice at the bottom of their letter where it says “No quotations”, so of course I had to make it sound original. Why do you show up your old Dad in his harmless little mind wanderings? I am sure the Pamonaites (This refers to Lad and Marian, in Pomona, California) did not receive your package from Tacoma, or they would have mentioned it. Make a note to ask me to send you an asbestos suit for Christmas.

David Peabody Guion

I don’t know who is the more delighted, Dave or his sire, but the fact remains that he is coming home on an emergency furlough June 21st, the reason being, from an Army viewpoint, that the legal matters in connection with the settlement of Grandma’s estate will be up for consideration at that time. The fact that his class at Bassick (High School in Bridgeport) graduates two days later, of course, is just incidental good luck. His account of the matter is rather interesting:

“It WORKED!!! I guess I don’t need to say any more than that, but I think you might like to hear the details. I got your letter and was even more relieved than happy – – and I was plenty happy – – you can see I must’ve had quite a conscience. It still doesn’t seem quite right to me to use Grandma’s Will as an excuse to get home. Anyway, this morning I went to see the Captain. He was very informal, gave me the “at ease” right away and I stated my business. I showed him your letter and the documents from the lawyer and at the same time said, “Sir, I don’t know if the Army will consider this of enough importance to grant me a furlough because of it, but my father seems to feel that it is. I thought there would certainly be no harm in trying.” He picked it up and started to read it to himself. There I was hopes high, but common sense telling me: “you’re wasting your time, Dave”. It seemed like a whole night of guard duty before he finally looked up and said: “Yes, we’ve granted emergency furloughs for these things before. I’ll see the Colonel about it and see if we can get one for you.” It was then I realized I had done a good job of holding myself back because I was actually surprised when he said “Yes”. But the surprise quickly led to “sweet ecstasy”. So, even if it isn’t anywhere near definite I think tonight I’m the happiest of all your sons – – yes, even happier than Ced who is celebrating his birthday today, and even happier that Lad, who has the best of wives from all reports, and a furlough besides.

What it is to be young and get such a big kick out of life !

Well, I guess I’ll hobble off to bed.

DAD

Tomorrow  and Sunday, I will post more of the Early Years, with Memories of David Peabody Guion.

Judy Guion

Trumbull – Dear Brigands Large And Brigands Small (1) – Dan In A Vicious Mood – June 11, 1944

Trumbull, Conn., June 11, 1944

Dear Brigands large and Brigands small:

It was a dark and stormy evening. Gathered around the campfire were Brigands large and brigands small. The Captain said to his trusty lieutenant: “Antonio, tell us one of your famous stories”. And Antonio began, as follows:

All right, all right, that’s enough. Don’t want to hear any more of that, hey? Don’t like to be reminded of your cheerless childhood days, Mary Morey, etc. Very well, if you’re so uppity about it we’ll come down to the present.

Surprise, got a v-mail letter from Dan last week, just when I had given up all hope of hearing further from him until the invasion stress was over. And guess what! He’s a T-4 now, which, according to the only way I can figure it, must be a cross between a Corporal and a Sergeant. The letter is dated May 21st, postmarked June 7th, received on the 9th. They evidently waited that long for the letter to cool off, but even at that, there were a couple of blisters on the envelope, and here’s why:

Daniel Beck Guion

“Today I am in a vicious mood because of circumstances beyond my control. The immediate cause: my being restricted over the weekend for something over which I had no control. We were invited to a dance on Friday night. The Special Service office sponsored the affair and allotted transportation to and from the dance. In good faith we accepted the invitation, but the trucks were late in returning to the Post and we were all restricted. I don’t understand how any of us, as individuals, could have gotten back earlier, no one, as far as I can determine, was put in charge. We had to return with the trucks and that they were late was not the fault of those of us who went as guests under the premise that ‘transportation would be furnished’. It seems doubly unjust during these trying days when we have so little time for relaxation and amusement”

I admit it sounds monstrously unfair the way you tell it, Dan, but this seems to be part of Army training and I’d like to bet you that each one of your brothers in the service has had similar experiences, if that is any compensation. It has its brighter aspects for me, however, because, were it not for this enforced idleness, do you think I would have gotten that letter? NO, chorus they all in loud voices. What a weight off my harried mind to know that you were well, if not particularly happy, on that date. I see you are still with the topo. bn., (Topographical Battalion) which has been of immeasurable comfort since D-Day, in the hope, mistaken or not, that such duties as you have been trained for will not be of such nature as to expose you to Nazi shot and shell. I suppose that is selfish, but if so, I admit it unblushingly. If you were my only boy I couldn’t want you safe and sound home again any more than I do right now. I’m glad you’re so near to “history in the making” but I also have that niggling feeling, “River, stay away from my door”.

The newlyweds, in flitting from roost to roost (After their visit to Trumbull, they travelled to Marian’s parent’s home in California, so Lad could go through the same process of meeting the family, as Marian had just concluded in Trumbull), have been too busy traveling and getting acquainted with the other in-laws to find time to write this week but I expect we’ll be hearing from them before long.

Tomorrow, the rest of this letter.

Judy Guion

Early Years – Memories of David Peabody Guion (2) – 1930 – 1946

After my Uncle Dan (Daniel Beck Guion) passed away in 1997, I realized that first-hand accounts of this particular “Slice of Life” would only continue to diminish over time. I needed to record the memories of my Aunt Biss and her brothers and share them with the family. This culminated in the idea of a Blog so that I could share these memories with anyone who would be interested in the personal histories of some members of The Greatest Generation.

Over a period of several years, whenever possible, I recorded the memories of my Dad and his siblings. 

In July of 2004, I sat down with my Uncle Dave and recorded his memories. With the other siblings, the memories were recorded in a somewhat chronological order, but with Dave, after a few early memories, he went right to his Senior year in high school when he made the decision to enlist in the Army. The conversation continued through his service, from Basic Training and his posts in Okinawa and the Philippines until he came home after World War II was over. I then led him back with questions about his childhood. I will present his memories as they were recorded.  

Dave - 1938

David Peabody Guion

I never liked school.  I started in Center School.  That wasn’t too bad.  The family name meant something in the immediate vicinity of Trumbull Center.  We had a Principal there whose name was Carson and I thought he treated me fairly.  I don’t know if he was trying to make points with my father or what.  We had a court, in school, and whenever there was some kind of infringement the culprit was dragged before the court.  For some stupid reason, Mr. Carson decided that I should be the prosecutor.  I was never very good at it but I made it through.

Anyhow, I graduated and that was fine, but then after having been noticed and having a name that meant something in Trumbull, I went to Whittier Junior High School in Black Rock in Bridgeport, and I was absolutely nothing there.  I absolutely hated the teachers.  I hated the school building.  Most of all, I hated the Principal.  I took Latin two years.  Understand, that’s Latin I that I took for two years.  I flunked it royally the first year and the second year, I still managed to flunk it.  I was going to be a lawyer, and so I wasn’t going to be a lawyer.  That was one year.  Then all the kids from up in the hills went to Bassick High School and things were a little better there.  Finally, I turned eighteen, and at that time, the war was on and they were taking people, even people out of school, kids out of school, when they turned eighteen, so I left my senior year in December.  December vacation.  Never went back.  Did go back to get my diploma.  For some reason, I think my grandmother was dying, I was home for the graduation, and those of us who were in the service got our diplomas at graduation.  I think that I would still be in school till this day if I hadn’t got my diploma because I was in the Army.  I was anxious to go into the service only so I could get through high school.

I have an interesting story about that; at least I think it’s interesting.  On December 23rd I was sworn into the Army and on January 16th I went off to Ft. Devins (in Massachusetts) to begin my training. one of the deals in the processing up there was a situation where you would sit down and some guy with a typewriter and a form would ask you questions and then type the answers.  Well, one of the questions further down the line was, “What would you like to do while you are in the service?”  I said, “I’d like to have your job.  It looks pretty good to me.  I sit here and I know how to type and I’ll get to talk to people.  I’d like this job.”  A few days later – George Knecht  and I went into the service at the same time – a few days later they called me down to processing and said, “We can keep you for, we don’t know how long, it depends on how you orders are written, but we can keep you on this job doing this typing.”  And I said, “Yes.”  I could see some weekends home with my new girlfriend, so that was fine with me.  A couple of days later George shipped out and went to Europe and slogged through mud and muck during the whole war.

I got home three weekends; it was a pretty nice job at Fort Devens.  Of course, at the time I said I’d like to do this job, I didn’t realize that it was done by people who were just recruits, as I was.  Anyhow, the guy behind me – there were four of us that were doing this job – was telling me about his brother who was in the Signal Corps in New Jersey.  So I figured that was a good deal.  I’ll join the Signal Corps and from New Jersey, get home some more weekends.  What I neglected to say is that they told us, “When they asked us this question of what we’d like to do, nobody ever reads that.  At this point, we are just filling a quota, but those who work here, we actually do try to put them where they want to be.” so that’s when I said, “New Jersey.  I’d like to go into the Signal Corps.”  So I went into the Signal Corps.  After I got in the Signal Corps, I found out that New Jersey was the advanced training for radar or something and I ended up in Missouri, but at least I was in the Signal Corps.

Next weekend, I will post more of the Early Years with Memories of David Peabody Guion.

Tomorrow, I will begin posting a week of letters written in 1944.

Judy Guion

Army Life – News From Marian And Lad (1) – News About Furlough Travel Plans – May 14, 1944

Lad and Marian - 1943

Lad and Marian at Pomona, California         

Alfred P. Guion

Box 491

Pomona, California

May 14, 1944

Dear Dad:-

Your letter with the good news arrived O.K. and was really welcome. And then yesterday we received another from you written last Sunday. I have no comments on the first mentioned, except that you sort of surprised me. I, as usual, was expecting the worst, and you sort of knocked “me pins out from under”. As to the last, the details as I know them today are as follows. Yesterday the 1st. Sgt. called me into the Orderly Room and told me that, barring unforeseen circumstances, my furlough will start May 24th, which is a week and three days from today or one week from this Wednesday. If possible, I will get off early Tuesday afternoon and try to get the Union Pacific Challenger leaving LA at 6:45 PM. If I can’t do that I shall possibly try to make the same train from LA on Wednesday at 7:15 AM or if the worst comes I’ll make the one at 6:45 Wednesday night. In any case, I’ll be on the train with Marian by Wednesday night. As to the exact arrival day, we’ll cable you whether it will be Saturday or Sunday. We plan to spend about one week in Trumbull and then come back to California and spent another week at Orinda (California, where Marian’s parents live) where I shall go through the same process as Marian will in Trumbull. Actually, I only was in Orinda for about 36 hours during which time I was married and attended a reception which lasted about six hours and I never did get to know Mom or Dad Irwin very well and vice versa. What we will do during the time we are in Trumbull, we don’t know, except that I would like Marian to meet some of the people who have been so kind and nice to me, including the Pages and the Stanleys in New Haven. And of course I’d like to go into New York and have her meet the Peabody Clan and anybody else of the same sort. I think in that connection I’ll write to No. 5 Minetta (in Mount Vernon, New York, the address of Grandma Peabody and her daughter, Dorothy Peabody, my Grandma’s youngest sisters) and tell Dorothy to write to me at Trumbull as to the best date for an entrance into the Clan. One question you asked I don’t understand unless you meant will I be ready for overseas service when I return, and if that is the case, I believe I can strongly state NO to that. The rumors are still flying around here but until an official notice is released I refuse to believe any of them. None of them even hint at O.S. (overseas) and I really don’t think that the 3019th (Lad’s Battalion) is ready for active duty anyway. If you have anything in mind that you think we would like to do, other than just going to a show or play or something like that, just keep it in mind and mention it when we arrive. I’m not the nighthawk I used to be. I have reasons aplenty now to desire to stay home evenings. Maybe Marian would like to do some night gallivanting but she has never said anything about it and she seems to be happy as long as I am where she is, or the other way around. This trip will be sort of a preliminary to our honeymoon after this is all over. And that being the case, I’m not trying to make plans to far ahead. We seem to be able to have a good time without planning everything ahead of time.

That’s about enough for one paragraph isn’t it? And this about finishes what I have to say in the second so here comes a third.

I’ll post the rest of this letter tomorrow. On Friday, a letter from Grandpa to all his (male) children.

Judy Guion

Trumbull – Dear Fugitives From A Trumbull Farm (1) – Surprising News From Dave – May 14, 1944

This week, we move to May of 1944. All five of Grandpa’s sons are serving Uncle Sam in one way or another. Lad (with his wife Marian) is in California training vehicle mechanics for the Army, Dan is in London and Paris, probably helping to draw maps for D-Day, Ced is in Anchorage, Alaska, rescuing and repairing airplanes at the airfield that has been commandeered by the Army, Dick is an MP, in Brazil, acting as a liaison between the Army and the local workers and Dave is at Camp Crowder, Missouri receiving further training before being sent overseas.

Aunt Betty Duryee, Grandpa’s Aunt

Trumbull, Conn., May 14, 1944

Dear Fugitives from a Trumbull Farm:

This is Mother’s Day, which fact was delightfully brought home to our consciences by Aunt Betty’s receipt yesterday of a lovely box of flowers from Lad and Marian. After a moment of embarrassment on her part trying to explain the “mother” angle, she at last broke down and confessed all, although how Lad and Marian got wind of the affair way out in California made me realize that Lad should be in the Intelligence Department, instead of the Ordinance. All joking aside, it certainly made a very deep and heartwarming impression and I am asked here and now to say how grateful she is and how chagrined she felt at never having yet acknowledged the Easter remembrance. She has difficulty in writing as you know but is saving it all up for a personal thank you when you arrive.

It is interesting to look back and see what the state of things was a year ago today. Grandma (Grandma Peabody, Grandma Arla’s mother) had recently arrived at Trumbull. Dorothy (Peabody, Grandma Arla’s youngest sister) and Anne ((Peabody) Stanley, Grandma Artla’s younger sister)  were visiting us to partake of one of Grandma’s toothsome pot roasts. Dan had been expected home and had telegraphed his regrets at his inability to obtain leave from Lancaster (Pennsylvania). Lad had just recently arrived at Santa Anita (California) and had not even mentioned the existence of anyone named Marian. Dick and Jean were at Miami (Florida, where Dick was receiving further training), Ced (in Anchorage, Alaska) reported he had missed out by several days on his guess as to the date of the break in the ice jam, Art Woodley (Art Woodley, Ced’s boss and owner of Woodley Airfifeld, commandeered by the Army)  was visiting Washington to see about getting a new plane and Rusty (Huerlin, friend and rising artist of Alaskan Life) was on tour in northern Alaska with the Governor (Governor Ernest Gruening). Dave was still in the “bosom of his family”.

And right here it might be well for the latter to speak for himself:

David Peabody Guion

“Boy, have you got a surprise coming! I woke up yesterday morning with a slight sore throat. By last night it was getting kind of swollen so I went over to the infirmary to see what could be done. The diagnosis was MUMPS and I’m in the post hospital. I spent last night in the ward but this morning they gave me a room. It’s just a little place but I feel quite exclusive. Between this room and the next one there is a bathroom, tub and all, which I share with the guy next door. I wasn’t doing so well in radio school. There were seven of us that they were going to drop Saturday if we didn’t improve. Now I won’t have the chance. Maybe I can get into clerk school – – that would be perfect. And I know code now which is a pretty good thing to know. The thing that really hurts, though, is the fact that I had planned to get home by the end of June for graduation, but now as I see it, it will be impossible. All the news in this letter is not too good, but nevertheless, my morale is high in spite of it all. To say you are in a hospital always sounds bad but in the Army you can’t stay in your barracks, especially if you have something catching like MUMPS. I don’t feel bad and the life we lead here is swell – – movies today, for instance. (Next Day) my private room life is finished. I’ve been transferred to a windowed-in porch which I share with two other “mumpees”. I feel even better today than I did yesterday. I hope I keep improving – – at any rate, don’t any of you worry.”

Earlier in the week Mrs. Guion  (Jean, Mrs. Richard)  received a package from Brazil and she has been walking around on air ever since. A pair of alligator shoes, several pairs of fine silk stockings, and the biggest hit of all, a beautiful genuine alligator skin handbag that is the envy of all the girls at Harvey Hubble (A shirt factory in Bridgeport, CT, where Jean works) . Boy, but that made a big hit and puts Dick right up in the top class as husbands go.

Tomorrow, I’ll post the second half of this letter filled with local news of interest to all of Grandpa’s sons, scattered around the world. 

If you’re enjoying these stories and memories from the 1940’s, why not share them with as friend?

Judy Guion

Army Life – Dear Dad – The News Has Come And Gone – November 3, 1942

Alfred (Lad) Guion in California

Nov. 3, 1942

Dear Dad: –

The news has come, and gone, – – – just like that. Here is the way it happened. We were asked to form for “chow” earlier yesterday in order to hear some announcements. They were in connection with the California shipment, of course. I was supposed to leave last night for California, with a very short stop in Trumbull. Then, before we were dismissed, a fellow came running from the Co. C headquarters with an order which stated that the order for Shipment of A. P. Guion was hereby revoked, and it also stated that new orders were to be issued sometime soon. I expect that they might come out before the week is out, but I hope not. It seems that the Army has decided to improve upon my knowledge in general or particular and is sending me to some school. My impression is that it will be either the G. M. Diesel School in Flint, Mich., or the Ford School in Dearborn. But there is nothing official in any of my ideas, so it is really up in the air at present. I was told however, that at the termination of my studies on November 21st or 22nd, I would go directly from the school to California. The departure date is again up in the air.

This new arrangement rather changed some of my plans, and now I don’t know just what to do about the car. The fellows who were to go with me had to find other means of going, and although I felt rather guilty about promising that I would take them and then having to refuse, I really could not do anything about it at all. It was something completely out of hand. Again, I meet up with something within me which says, “Never make a promise”.  (1) There are always so many unpredictable things which can occur during the time that the promise is made and the actual time of carrying it out. I think that if I get a chance to come home this weekend, I shall bring the car along, and then leave it there until something definite comes along and I can really see just what I can do. This uncertainty is sort of getting a little under my skin. I may be easy-going and all that, but I still like to know, in my own mind, just what I am going to do if I get the chance.

If there was more to this letter, I don’t have it. There isn’t even a signature, so it makes me wonder. Your guess is as good as mine.

(1) My Father took this lesson very seriously. I don’t believe he ever made a promise after that. When he was teaching me to drive, I’d ask him before dinner if we could go driving afterward, and he would say, “We’ll see.” As we were finishing dinner, I’d ask again, “Can we go driving now?” He  would say, “We’ll wait and see.” He would sit down and read the paper after dinner and then he’d ask, “Judy, do you want to go driving now?” I probably replied rather sarcastically, “Of course. I’ve been asking you all evening!” Now I understand something that drove me crazy as a teen.

Tomorrow and Friday, another letter from Grandpa to his scattered sons.

Judy Guion

Trumbull – Dear Subscribers To The Guion Clipping Service (2) – Lots of News From Dave – May 7, 1944

David Peabody Guion

And Dave was in a left-handed mood when he wrote on April 30th: time is going by faster than ever here. This is the last day of April. Everything here is green. I’ve seen blossoms on the fruit trees here. This is excellent farm country except for the stones. Camp Crowder is filled with apple and peach orchards that the farmers took care of until they were bought out by the government to make the camp. I think this camp is supposed to cover 90 sq. miles. The orchards have been let go since the camp was built – – the government would rather spend thousands of dollars buying fruit from the farmers (and making it so the civilians can’t get decent fruit) than spend a few hundred dollars for spray and equipment to keep up the trees which are already planted and bearing fruit. They’ve got the manpower to pick the apples and keep the trees in good condition. The idea of growing our own fruit, with everything we need for doing it right here, is far too practical for the government or the Army. So, instead, you civilians get no fruit and we get battered and bruised apples, some of which aren’t fit to eat, that have been shipped halfway across the country, taking up valuable shipping space and using up valuable gasoline. This is the Army. The end.

I am in a rut at radio school. They call it a plateau of learning. When you first go to school you start with Z speeds – – Z1 to Z6. These are all to teach the alphabet. In other words when you get through with Z6 you know the complete alphabet and a number of different signs such as a long break (between messages), repeat back, end of transmission, etc. After you pass all of the Z speeds you go to the 5W (5 words per minute), 7W, 10 W, 12 W, 15 W, 18 W. To pass the course you must be able to receive 18 W (18 words per minute) and send 13 words a minute. The course is five weeks long, four of which we have completed already. I’m on 10W and as I said before, I can’t seem to get by it. I have been for two weeks now on that one speed. I haven’t been able to pass any sending tests yet. I have only one week to get 18 W receiving and 13 W sending. This sounds bad but it’s almost average – – but then, too, there are a lot of boys being transferred to other schools. Just keep your fingers crossed – – I’ll work – – you hope and pray for me, and maybe I can make it – – O.K.?

I only received one letter all week long. I’ll bet you couldn’t guess in the thousand years who it was from. Dad? No. Eleanor? No. Jean? No. Aunt Betty? No. One of my brothers? Yes, you’re right. I got a letter from Dick! Am I proud! He wrote me that he saw Nick Halsack (Peggy VanKovics future husband) in S.A. He said Nick is a radio operator in a B-24 and was on his way to Scotland.

Now an explanation as to why I don’t get any other letters, including yours, and any that Eleanor might have sent. The mail clerk up at A-36 (my old outfit) is the sort of guy who would pull a Mortimer Snerd. If you asked him his name he’d say “Duh – duh – uh – lemme tink.” So, naturally you couldn’t expect him to get our mail transferred from A-36 to D-26 for two or three months, therefore, no mail. I don’t know why he sent Dick’s letter through – – he probably didn’t mean to. By the way, the mail clerk I’m raking over the coal is, of course, a Sgt. If a guy is a born soldier and always on the ball, he remains a Pvt. – It’s only these Snerds that can get ahead. Boy, I guess I sound like my old self today, don’t I?

All kidding aside though, they’re retaining all the men not physically fit for overseas duty. These are the men who get the ratings and stay on in the camps as cadre and instructors. It’s logical enough, but it hurts me. (I don’t know how the other boys feel. When I was younger I was pretty puny. I never had any diseases but I was never very robust either. I never did the things other boys did, swim, hike, ride a bike. In general, I didn’t really live until I was 13 or 14. Now I’m healthy – – full of spunk (at least I feel that way) and in general I feel like living. I came into the Army with high hopes – – Air Corps, Cadre, O.C.S. but truly (I don’t want to get cynical again) the jobs I would like best seen either to be taken or are being taken by man who, in peace time, wouldn’t be allowed even to join the Army. It hurts my ego (or sumpin). At any rate I’m Class A (overseas combat) material, and if I don’t flunk out of radio or get transferred to another part of camp (which isn’t likely) I’ll be home sometime in June or July, and then it will be “Over the Waves”. And then I’ll get my rating by doing something really worthwhile. – “A dreamer.”

Two pages – both sides. There is quantity, even if it isn’t quality. Please, will it pass for the negligence on the part of your youngest son last week? I’m to be on guard tonight so I’m in camp this weekend.

Tomorrow I’ll post Grandpa’s comments about these letters. On Friday, another letter from Grandpa to his boys.

Judy Guion