Trumbull – Dear Fugitives (2) – Excerpt From Rusty Huerlin’s Letter To Ced – December 3, 1944

To continue extract from Rusty’s letter to Ced: “Charles Brown had me over for dinner the day after we landed. Most interesting old timer in the whole territory. First painting will be of him and that one I will keep for myself. Then we’ll have to get down to making bread and butter money or go on Eskimo diet. Eskimos on the way said I was the only white man they had ever seen take to all their food and like it. Ate walrus blubber by the pound, meat dipped in seal oil, dried fish and seal oil and even soured walrus flippers. The latter dish is a rare one but was bound to try it to see if my stomach could digest it. This dainty dish is apt to knot up any white man’s stomach if not poison him. If soured by the sunshine it poisons even the Eskimos. But that did not keep me out of their gathering in a tent full of friends at Wainwright when the flippers were boiling. Sat around and ate like the rest but excuse from now on for not “taking it” again, will be that my false teeth cannot get through it. The stench from this boiling tough stuff and fat is the most repulsive I have ever experienced. It has not a sour smell alone for it smells of rottenness but I used imagination in “taking it” like one should use in first eating Limburger cheese. So the imagination I used was that my nose was rotting away and that I was starving for food – – that a rather spoiled pigs foot would give some strength to me. The girl cut off a big hunk of it dripping with rotten fat and handed it to me. Put it in my mouth and started the imagination and began chewing it. “That’s enough for him” said one of the Eskimos and stared at me with the rest watching for the effect. But I ate one piece after another. Did not get seasick the next day after we cast off and did not get seasick on the whole trip. Most explorers in their lectures throw out the hooey of what the Eskimos call them. McCracken’s bunk was “The Great White Provider”, though up here he is not regarded as much of an Explorer. Others have been known, according to their own accounts, as “The Peaceful One”, “The Crack Shot” and “He Who Never Tires”. The Eskimos have named to me now and by Mukluk telegraph it has gone a long way: “Artist, First White Man to Eat Flippers”. If I do it again it will be the last. Seal guts with crap in them tastes like sausage meat in comparison. One day on the trip I lived on raw caribou meat dipped in seal oil. Looks like pretty days ahead. My three months grubstake, which was all I was able to afford, is going to last me a year now. Have given up rum and all forms of liquor. Sure amazed at my willpower”.

Doesn’t that sound just like Rusty. I can see now that he was getting in training for the walrus flipper diet on that trip to Lake Winnipesaukee, the day he ate that famous sandwich which you all probably recall – – who could forget it?

From the childhood memories of Dave: “Rusty is the last one in the world to call someone else silly. I remember one time he decided to make himself a meal. So we got a piece of bread and he proceeded to put anything and everything that was edible on top of that piece of bread and ate the whole thing, stood out on the rock and belched loud enough so people on Red Hill (across the lake) could hear him, I’m sure. He was a character, a funny guy.”

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Alfred Duryee Guion (Grandpa)

Just the same, there is a great truth in what he says about going through with a task by using the imagination. Purposely shutting your mind to any consideration of the unpleasant aspects of something that has to be done will enable one to do the impossible. Rusty seems to have developed this imagination faculty to a remarkable degree.

Back where reference is made to Larry being a Mason reminds me of something, Ced, which I have been going to suggest to you for some time but have never happened to think of it when writing, and that is to ask if there is a Masonic Lodge in Anchorage and do you know, fairly well, any of the members? I am sure you would enjoy masonry very much and would take a great interest in it – – more so than any of the other boys. If you ever have the chance and the slightest inclination I would suggest serious consideration of it.

No word yet from Lad but the time is drawing near when a letter from overseas is about due if he sailed when we expect he did.

Catherine (Warden, who is continuing to live in the small apartment with her two children) told me last night that as Paul (her husband)  is expected to be stationed for 18 months in Oklahoma, he has applied to Washington for permission to bring his family out there and in that case, Catherine plans to sell the car to raise car fare, which will leave the apartment minus a tenant. Of course nothing is certain yet but she should know definitely by the end of the month whether permission has been granted or not.

Well, my hearties, I cannot say that I am imbued with the Christmas spirit, but I hope that as the day draws nearer, in spite of the fact that none of you will be home for that festival for the first time in our lives, I may recapture some of the old spirit, particularly with the girls here and possibly Butch and Marty present to put more meaning into the day. Be that as it may, perhaps this letter may not reach some of you before that day, so I give you what is deep in all our hearts here – – hopes and best wishes, particularly from

DAD

I’ll finish out the week with another of Grandpa’s letters addressed to T/3, T/4, T/5, Sergeant and Chief Ski Instructor.

Judy Guion

Trumbull – Letters From Each Son (2) – More News From Alaska – July, 1945

This is the continuation of Ced’s long letter I started yesterday.

Ced and car - 1940 (3)-head shot

As to flying, perhaps you could find me an airplane cheap. Seriously, the more I think of it, the more I think it would be smarter for me to buy one instead of paying rental on planes here. The cheapest I can fly for is $7.50 an hour and I need at least 150 hours more. That makes $1125 and nothing to show for it but the flying time and experience. The Army is releasing some of the small ships which they used for observation purposes. If I could get an Aeronca Chief or a Taylorcraft or some such thing, I might be money ahead. I think the Army is selling them for around $750 as is. Most need repairs but some need very little. My thought is that if I could get one of these, spend a few dollars on repairs and licensing, I would not only get my flying time a little cheaper but would have something material out of it. As for purchasing wherewithal I would have to scrape up the cash somehow, as the Army, I don’t think, would like a time payment plan. If Dan would permit me, I might sell the car and use that money toward a plane paying him back on time. The biggest hitch is finding the plane as I think I could promote the money. Perhaps the fellows in the apartment could steer you onto something. There were also some good buys on the civilian market, but they are probably not quite as much for the money. If something were available back there, I could perhaps take time off,  dash home to Trumbull on a flying trip, and fly the ship back up here. Then next time I wanted to go to Trumbull, it would be just a matter of packing up the plane and get going. This is perhaps all a pipe dream but I’m enjoying it and if you happen to run across something let me know, post haste. In the meantime I am looking around for whatever I can see and paying from $7.50 to $10 an hour. A plane similar to those I mentioned, in this country, would run from $2500 to $4000, which is slightly beyond my means. Ask Marian if she could get me a helicopter for $25 down and the rest when they catch me.

Marian (Mrs. Alfred (Lad) Guion), is living at the Trumbull House with Grandpa, awaiting Lad’s return from the war. She is employed by Sikorsky Aircraft in Stratford, Connecticut)

I must finish that trip history before I forget that I went on it. I’ll try to include another installment in the next issue. Dave’s moccasins will be on the way soon. I haven’t been able to get them yet but I think this coming week will turn the tide. Now as regards the much discussed touring Grandpa being able to travel after the War) , all arrangements at Trumbull should be comparatively simple. There should be someone interested in renting the house in the event you care to leave on an extended vacation after the war. They should be willing to take over the apartment care if the rent was reasonable, and of course Dave and Aunt Betty would either stay there or move into other quarters, whichever seemed the most adaptable to all concerned. At any rate, it seems to me that a trip such as you mention would be a swell one to take and maybe things can be worked out so that I can start from here and join you somewhere along the road. Perhaps I would fly on ahead and spied out a trail for you in case the highway was too bad. Seriously, it would be fun to start by car from here and go all the way down through the U.S., stopping at the National Parks and wonders which Aunt Betty and Aunt Elsie have raved about, and continuing on through Central America. Wouldn’t a house trailer be a good investment on a trip such as that? Maybe the roads wouldn’t be good enough to take a heavy trailer over, but if they were, and from what I’ve heard of trailers or tourists, it would be a most enjoyable way to go and perhaps as inexpensive as any other way and less than most. We could

page 3 of Ced’s letter

carry a tent for extra sleeping and use the trailer as a cook shack and base camp. Of course, it would be most enjoyable and a WOW of a trip if the whole caboodle clan Guion and spouses could gather together enough rolling stock and equipment to make the trip together, and I for one would be for it, but I suppose that, due to circumstances beyond our control, that would be difficult to manage. However it is something to think about and to work for. Well, I sure have wandered about in this letter and romanced plenty.

Now let’s get down to facts again. Art Woodley is again in the states to see about new planes, new routes, etc. All planes are now running again. Thursday of this coming week, the fishing season closes and again we have that mad rush evacuating the fisherman. At least we are better situated to handle the rush then we have been for a long time.

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

Latest rumor, unconfirmed, is that Rusty is coming back to Anchorage to live. Walter Stoll told me that John Manders had a letter from Rusty to that effect. I have not written him lately nor have I heard from him for five or six weeks. The city of Anchorage has finally oiled many of the streets to keep down the dust, a move which I have felt necessary since Dan and I arrived here in 1940. There is an amusement park at the east end of town opening soon. It consists of a merry-go-round and an airplane loop-the-loop. There are now some 90 odd licenses in the city for the dispensing of retail and wholesale liquor. Whoops, my dear, what a fair city we have, hic, hic. The Community Hall has been converted into a hospital for venereal diseases, which are on the sharp increase hereabouts.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Simon_Bolivar_Buckner_Jr.

The successor to Gen. Buckner, Gen. Mittlestedt, has threatened to call “off-limits” many places in Anchorage if the condition isn’t cleared up quickly. So much for the dirt. To Jean, bon voyage and a pleasant landing. Marian, I hope such joy as Jean is experiencing will soon be yours. To Aunt Betty I promise a letter in the near future. Till then, to all a good night.

Tomorrow, Grandpa gives us the complete letter from Lad, who is somewhere in Southern France. On Thursday, letters from Dan and Dick and on Friday, a letter from Dave and Grandpa’s comments.

Judy Guion

Life In Alaska – Rusty’s Harrowing Adventure (1) – August 14, 1944

This is the first half of a letter from a family friend, Rusty Heurlin, famous Alaskan Painter and a roommate for a while, to Ced,  in Anchorage. It tells quite a story, but then, Rusty was always “bigger than life.” By clicking on my Blog “Category”, “Rusty Heurlin”, you can read other posts about Rusty.

Barrow, Alaska

Aug. 14, 1944

Dear Ced,

Here we are and perhaps by thumbing our noses at the devil, were we ever able to make it. The usual run from Nome to Barrow in a 44-foot boat with a 71 hp engine is from 7 to 10 days. We left on 23 July (Nome), sailed into Barrow yesterday. It was a trip we’ll never forget – hair still red but black before I took a bath. The five of us, Louis Riech – part Eskimo and all captain of “Ada”, his Eskimo crew –Eibrulik Rock, Richard Scott, Daniel Attungniak – to Point Hope and Andrew Franksen from there to Barrow, well, all of us have exclaimed time and again that we are the luckiest bums alive today.

The “Ada”,  overloaded by 5 tons on deck, ran into one storm after another – worst was between Katzebuc and Kivabun when we hit into the sea to try out-running the storm. It is too long a story to attempt describing on paper. Conrad would have made a book out of it. I have seen higher waves off Cape Hatteras and in the North Sea, but never so close to rough weather as what we ran into on the “Ada”. None of us ever expected to see land again and I know now why men pray. Hope becomes our concentration and that is a tremendous thing. Eibrulik and Richard were religious which made their hardships not as great. I pumped and pumped and pumped and pumped and never taxed my heart as much before as we kept taking in water and more water. Finally the engine quit. Richard then saved the lives of all of us in getting 9 fathoms of anchor line out and holding on to the end of the line – probably two minutes before he could get 2 feet of it to make a turn on the forward bit. None of us could get to him, the sea was so rough. And that was the beginning of  a 24-hour battle with the devil in that deep green sea. It was bad again from Point Hope to Point Joy. Had taken a beating from 12 at noon till 5 AM the next morning, could take it no more and made for a lagoon 7 miles from Point Joy. Breakers were 5 miles long on shoals and some 30 or more rows of them from deep water to shore. Channel was hideous. Eibrulik made fast some things. When it came down from “half one” (6 feet) Louis Riech said – rather yelled it – “Let’s get the hell out of here.” but it was too late. We struck bottom – went over on our starboard side – shipped water to soak me wet from head to foot where I stood on one ear in the cabin. Water poured down into the engine room to kill the engine. All Louis could do was blow foghorn for Eskimos in tents near Armundsen’s cabin to get out with what help they could offer. All this happened so quickly and the next breaker smacked us so hard that we went some 10 feet sideways. Then the miracle of all miracles happened. The “Ada” righted herself. We had been smacked over the bar. Then we rolled, helplessly in the deeper water, were blown into the channel and Louis got the engine started. We motored in behind a sand spit breakwater as if the way we had come was the right way to do it. 15 minutes later a gang of Eskimos came aboard saying we were the luckiest people they had ever seen. We all knew that not one boat in a million could do the same thing again. It took place about a quarter of a mile from shore and it hardly makes sense that we were not shipwrecked, that of all times, on the trip. But the whole thing was laughable or we were greatly excited. It was Davy Jones locker one second then the next, a certainty of fooling him. We made the lagoon more gracefully from Point Hope to Point Joy where we had to lay for five days.

Here is some further information about Rusty:

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Magnus_Colcord_Heurlin

https://www.google.com/search?q=Rusty+Heurlin&safe=active&biw=1463&bih=771&tbm=isch&tbo=u&source=univ&sa=X&ei=JnN2VOaPGoqqgwTynIPQDA&ved=0CDIQsAQ

Tomorrow, I’ll post the rest of this very interesting letter. For the rest of the week, I’ll be posting a  letter from Grandpa to his sons and a letter from Lad to his Father.

Judy Guion

Life in Alaska – Dear Ced – Distinguished Service Citation – May 24, 1944

This week, I have moved forward to 1944, a time when all five of Grandpa’s sons are serving the war effort in one way or another. Lad is in California, with his new bride, Marian, training vehicle mechanics for the Army; Dan is in London, with trips to Paris, probably drawing maps for the coming Army invasion; Ced is working as an airplane mechanic at an airfield which has been taken over by the Army; Dick is in Brazil, working as an M.P. and acting as a liaison between the Army and the local workmen; Dave has been in the Army for about six months and is at Camp Crowder, Missouri, for further training before being sent overseas. 

Nome, Alaska

May 24, 1944

Dear Ced,

Sure wish to thank you for taking care of frames for me. Will someday show appreciation for lifts you’ve given me. But plans have taken a change with me on these frames being sent here. May have you deliver them later on to someone in Anchorage who may take care of selling my work, as then would only need 2 frames — one gold and one silver to show paintings in — judge type of frame best for pictures I sent to this person in Anchorage — send picture without frame and tell him which kind to use. This is a more practical arrangement. So hold on to them until you hear from me on this score.

Cashed your money order and went to Bureau of Indian Affairs Office to pick you up some ivory. In same mail came a check from Harry Olson of Anchorage for whom I was going to do some work. But come to find out that they are sending all their ivory over  to office in Juneau. Next best thing I can do is to pick up stuff direct from natives on trips to Pt. Barrow. Will stop at Diomede where Indian Affairs got ivory, was in hopes of getting here so I will get the jump on them here over there. But what may be of greater value are whale bone baskets made farther north, as the art is slowly passing away and most all this work is real art.

Ice is still reflecting into sky blinding light. Looks like you were going to lose but many on turning point of war with regard to invasion. We had invasion pool here – month by month — but will not take any chance until month of July. For some reason or other I peg July 5th but who cares what I think anyway. I could be wrong on this psychological analysis. That means — look it up in the dictionary!

You wouldn’t like it here — grapefruit 90 cents apiece — lemons .20 cents apiece. Why should I eat them just because they are not to be had during winter time up here? Never went in for them much before says I to greedy storekeepers so can wait till I get back on the farm someday where fruit will be a carrot (for the eyes) then pounds of tomatoes for the gut.

Was over to the flying preacher’s house at a little gathering tonight and we all turned to pages this and that and sung hymns. Find it rather difficult at times to sing with tongue in the cheek. But soon he is taking me on a trip to ___________  in the Piper Cub. Went down to Solomon with him few weeks ago and attended church with him there. Getting to be quite religious these days and seeing as much of Seward Peninsula as I can. Attended Catholic services at Nulato. On way over and was invited to dinner at rectory where I had a delightful repast with Father Band and interesting evening with the 3 sisters. It is nice or good to see how the different men of the different clergy live.

How goes the flying? And how is your daffy boss treating you these days? Nothing new here — marking time only for the breakup. Old Hankus Morgenthau put his hand and seal to distinguished service citation in behalf of War Finance Program whereupon beautifully centered and over pale blue lithograph of Minute Man is this number, name, with “Rusty” written between C. H. It is a neat little tidbit of parchment but I did so want to get a Purple Heart. Feel wounded as it is, so I think that I should – Enuff stuffy stuff so’ll be writing you anon – when I have something interesting to tell you.

Best to all friends in Anchorage as ever and thanks again for taking care of the frames.

Rusty

For the rest of the week, two more letters from Grandpa to his scattered family.

Judy Guion