Early Years – Memories of David Peabody Guion (7) – 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 - with Zeke holding Butch

David Peabody Guion in 1939

I have a Log Book someplace that I should give to you, Judy.  It’s the trip, a couple of trips maybe, with the boat that dad named the Helen.  Now, most boats seemed to enjoy themselves lying on top of the water.  Helen seemed to enjoy it most when she was on the bottom, on solid land, even though it was covered by water.  My father would get more phone calls, “Come down and bail out your boat.”  Or “Come down and somehow raise it up.”  It was forever sinking.  It was, as I recall, it was some kind of a – when you’re a kid your perspective gets kind of mixed up – as I recall it was probably something like the infamous – what’s that movie, you know, the steamboat from the – anyhow it had a bow, it had a stern.  It was kind of rounded like a tug boat … African Queen, probably not nearly as big but to me it was big as a kid.  It had an engine but it was not a steam engine like the African Queen but had some kind of engine in the back.  It was kind of fun for the older boys.  I don’t know what happened to the Helen but my guess is that if you drained the Housatonic River, you’d probably find it.

To read more about the Helen, you can read my posts under that Category.

My problem, aside from Dick, my biggest problem when I was a kid was keeping different groups of friends apart from one another.  I had lots of friends when I was a kid, no real close friends, but they were diverse.  When I was playing with one and one of the others showed up, I had a problem because the two of them didn’t get along

As far as games are concerned, I was the consummate athlete.  The sandlot game was really an un-organized game when I was a kid.  In a sandlot game, a bunch of kids would get together and two would get to be Captains.  One of them would throw the bat in a vertical position to the other Captain, he would grab it and then they would put hand over hand until they reached the top of the bat, and that was the guy, whoever was the last to touch the bat, he was the one who would pick first.  He would pick the best player, probably, and then the other Captain would pick somebody and they go back and forth like that until it got to me.  I always managed to be the last one picked because I couldn’t hit, I couldn’t catch, and no one wanted me as a ballplayer.  When it came to football, I was too light and too scared, so I was never a football player.  I never learned to ice skate until, after I was married, my wife taught me how to ice skate.  So, you can see, I was the consummate athlete.

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

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

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

Early Years – Memories of David Peabody Guion (1) – 1926 – 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. 

SOL - Young Dave on Porch

David Peabody Guion about 1928

I remember just a few scenes from my early years in Trumbull.  When my mother was alive, I remember one time she had to walk all the way down to the bridge with me to get me to go off to school, and even then I didn’t want to go.  That stuck with me all my life.  I never liked school.  It wasn’t until I got to college that I began to realize that I finally found something I could enjoy, but that is another matter.

Did any of my siblings mention that we used to grow a little bit of mint cross the front of the barn?  My Dad really liked rhubarb and we grew a rhubarb patch.

We had a dog, which came from Rusty (Heurlin, a friend of Grandpa and Grandma Arla’s, who moved to Alaska and became a famous painter), named Mack, when I was a kid.  Mack was named after the Mackenzie River up in Alaska.  Rusty is a whole other story.  My main remembrance of Mack was one day, we were out playing in the yard and I had a stick.  I held it up in the air for him to go get it and he jammed his fang into my thumbnail, and it  HURT.

I remember doing something to my sister (Elizabeth, know to family and friends as Biss) one day and she threatened me with something and I said, “You can’t catch me!”  and I took off and ran out into the yard.  I was making pretty good headway but she eventually caught up to me.  I don’t remember what she did to me, but I just remember but I got caught.

When I was a kid, I had quite a temper.  It was a real nice combination.  I had a temper and I was a crybaby.

I remember one day, Dick and I used to fight all the time and he did or said something that made me annoyed and I picked up a box of matches … now a box of matches was probably a hundred little wooden matches in a very thin wood box.  Anyway, I picked up the box and threw it at him.  Unfortunately my aim was good that day and I hit him in the forehead.  He started to bleed.  Again, I don’t remember what happened after that but I’m sure it wasn’t anything good for me.

Trumbull House - Grandpa and kids - 1928 (2) Steps and Landings, steps and landings - @1928

Sitting on the front steps

Front row: Don Stanley, David Peabody Guion, Elizabeth Westlin Guion and Gwen Stanley.

Middle row: Richard Peabody Guion, Cedric Duryee Guion, and Dorothy Peabody (Grandma Arla’s youngest sister).

Back row: Alfred Duryee Guion (Grandpa) and Alfred Peabody Guion.

(I cannot imagine why Dan would not have been in this picture, so he might be the blur behind Dave and Elizabeth, but I am not sure.)

Don and Gwen (Stanley), my cousins from Aunt Anne ((Peabody) Stanley), Grandma Arla’s younger sister), were here all the time.  They’d plead and beg and finally their mother would give in and they would stay for a few days.  I don’t know how to explain it because the house, the Big House, has changed so much with renovations but there used to be a screened porch on the southeast corner of the house and there was a window there that looked from the stairs out onto that porch. Don and Gwen were there and Dick and I were talking, talking, talking, talking, talking.  We had been warned on two or three occasions to quiet down and go to sleep.  If Dick has told this story it will be a different version than mine because what happened was the last one to speak when the last warning came was me.  So, I was sent upstairs away from the rest of them and as I went up the stairs, I kicked at the window to warn them that I was going to cause trouble for them.  Anybody else and everybody else will tell you that I kicked in the window on purpose, but at any rate, I never bought that story.  It was a warning.  I kicked it to warn them but I broke it.  The next thing I knew, my father came charging up the stairs, gave me a good spanking and sent me to bed.  When I got into bed, I began to feel something sticky down around my right foot.  I was already crying and upset, and when I checked it, I’d cut my foot on the glass, which made me feel still more hurt and angry, and suffering such a terrible injustice.  I was probably nine or ten when that happened, maybe eight, well it had to be after my mother had died and I was seven when she died.

Somewhere along the line, have any of my siblings mentioned that there was about a year and a half between each of them and five years between Dick and I? I just wanted to make sure you knew that.

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

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

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

Army Life – Easter Greetings From Dave And The U.S.O. – April 9, 1944

The year is 1944. All of Grandpa’s sons are scattered around the world. Lad is married and training mechanics for the Army in California. Dan is in London and making frequent trips to France. I believe, since he is a Surveyor and Civil Engineer, that he is helping to make maps for D-Day, which is coming soon.  Ced is in Alaska working to retrieve and repair airplanes for the Army in the Anchorage area. Dick is an MP (Military Police) in Brazil, I believe acting as a liaison between the Army and the locals. Dave, the youngest, left school when he turned 18 and joined the Army. He is currently going through Basic Training at Camp Crowder, Missouri. Grandpa is in Trumbull with Dick’s wife, Jean, and doing his best to keep everyone in the family informed about what is going on in the lives of their siblings.

Dave sends Easter greetings to Grandpa and gives him a glimpse of the U.S.O. ( http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/United_Service_Organizations ) with a description of the one closest to him in Carthage, Missouri.

David Peabody Guion

Sunday, April 9, 1944

Dear Dad:

If the U. S. O. in Carthage is typical of all or most of them, then we in the service owe much to the people who started and are running and supporting them.

The Carthage U. S. O. is the only one I really know, so I will tell you about it. Let’s take a rookie from far away … the life he leads is new, the land he sees is new… everything is so different from what he has been used to.

On his first weekend he leaves camp and goes out into a new town … he’s on his own. Leaving camp and the regimental mess makes him feel very strange… in a strange place. Where does he go (if he doesn’t drink)? Straight to the U. S. O. where he knows he can see kind faces and friendly people.

He is met at the door by a lady that could so easily be his mother. Immediately she assesses his plight and informs him of the things that are available at the U. S. O.  – She tells him of the points of interest in the town. She tells him he may have a snack at the counter for a small fee, or maybe he just wants a piece of cake or one of the apples that sit on the table for the taking. He may sit and read, write letters or maybe he’d like to listen to the radio or phonograph – they’re all at his disposal. Maybe when he feels a little more at home he will go upstairs and dance with some of the local girls. About now he will begin to feel at ease in the “home away from home”, which is what the U. S. O. calls itself—and rightly too.

Maybe now he has the courage to venture out into the town to see the sights, but he feels he would like to fix himself up a little. Well, again it’s the U.S.O. to the rescue. Shave? Yes. Shine? Yes. Towel and soap? Yes. Sewing equipment? Yes. Shower? Yes. Pants pressed? Yes, all this is for nothing. You may even get a bed and breakfast in the morning for 50 cents. Besides all this there are facilities for games, ping pong, shuffle board and the like; all sorts of information at your disposal, points of interest, bus schedules, and Church services – in fact almost anything you could think of. There are so many things that are provided, you just can’t sit down and name them all – just think of any service that might be provided – the U. S. O. will provide it.

But best of all it’s not the material things – it’s the kind faces and the kind spirit that goes with those faces, of the people who give up their spare time to the boys in the service – even on this Easter Sunday. God Bless the people who run and help run the U. S. O.

Happy Easter.

Dave

Tomorrow, a quick letter from Marian.

Judy Guion

Trumbull – Dear Dave (1) – Dave’s Induction and a Good Conduct Medal – January 16, 1944

This is the first half of a  long letter Grandpa penned to his sons and daughter-in-law during the first month of 1944. It is filled with Army News.

DPG - Dave in uniform nexct to barn - Dec., 1944 cropped - head and shoulders)

David Peabody Guion, January, 1944

Trumbull, Conn., January 16, 1944

Dear Dave:

Now that you have become eligible for membership in the “Veterans of Foreign Wars”, and this is the first letter you will have received as a rookie from me, it is quite appropriate that this week’s news sheet should be addressed to you alone. With your kind permission, however, we will allow other Guion members of the armed forces and their “appendages” to peak over your shoulder, so to speak, and thus glean what few bits of information they may from this screed.

While we did not receive the expected postal from you up to the last mail Saturday, a little bird whispered that internally you were humming a theme song which had a slight resemblance to the old saw: “Be it ever so humble, there’s no place like home”. But cheer up, all your big brothers went through the same experiences and got over it without any permanent scars. It’s always the beginning that is the most difficult and beginnings never last.

After saying goodbye to you at the Shelton Town Hall Thursday, clutching in your little hands the booklet donated by the American Legion on how to act as a soldier, the little package of cigarettes, chewing gum, etc., we drove down to Bridgeport and Aunt Betty took the bus home. I admit I felt a bit lonesome all by myself in the office but having found from past experience that plunging into work is the best antidote for brooding, I tried a full dose of the remedy and held the enemy at bay, if you don’t mind mixed metaphors. I will say however that we all miss you a great deal and every so often someone says: “I wonder what Dave is doing now?”. (If they only knew, huh?)

Every week over this station we call in our correspondents from distant points. We will now hear from Ordnance in Texas. Come in Texarkana. (Pause) We regret that conditions beyond our control interfere with proper reception, but here is a report as of Jan. 9th.

Lad'swedding photo (2)

            Alfred Peabody Guion (Lad) 

Lad opens up with the shot amid ship: “I’m sorry, my first thoughts and letters are now to Marian and you all have sort of slid down a peg in line of importance.” (Which is quite proper as long as you don’t back the old man off the map entirely, Lad. I know you won’t do that and even if you felt like it I don’t think Marian would let you, so there) These faithful daughters-in-law of mine do have such a struggle at times trying to get their new husbands lined up. It’s an awful task, girls, I know. I’ve been at it longer than you, sometimes with fair results but many times with but meager returns. All this, of course by way of an aside, because Lad reassuringly goes on to temper the broadside by adding: “However, that doesn’t mean that my affections have in any sense decreased. I still think of all of you constantly but time has been lacking. In fact, I had to skip writing to Marian two nights last week.

On December 18th Lad was given advance notice he was to be shipped out. On the 21st he learned he had to go to Texarkana, Texas, and must be there by December 25th. Some Christmas present! By noon of the 21st he was on his way in the Buick. Two flat tires and being forced into the ditch on an icy road were the only troubles other than getting gasoline. He arrived on Christmas Day and until January 3rd worked in getting a group of men ready to start training. If the 23 men under Lad’s charge successfully pass their examination, they are scheduled for overseas sometime in the early summer, but due to the type of work they are trained for, they should always be at least 300 miles from the front.

Lad doesn’t like the weather there at all – snowy, cold and damp. Marian is planning to come out by train about February 1st, and will come to Trumbull with Lad when (?) he gets his furlough.

Jean (Mrs. Richard) Guion

Jean (Mortensen) Guion (Mrs. Dick)

Incidentally, just to show up thoughtful, generous minded Jean, just as soon as she learned the above, she immediately said, “When they come they can have my room.”, and as admittedly, hers is the most attractively furnished room in the house, it’s rather significant. And while I am at it, I might as well tell on her some more. Zeke asked Elizabeth to go out with him to some affair last night, but they could find no one to take care of the children, and in spite of the fact that she was not feeling top-notch, Jean packed her little overnight bag and took the double bus journey over to Stratford. I don’t suppose she will like me publishing these facts but I believe these little kindnesses should not go unacknowledged.

Marian Irwin Guion (Mrs. Lad)

Marian (Irwin) Guion (Mrs. Lad)

(We now switch to Southern California where Mrs. A. P. has a message for us.

Marian writes on some new stationary with her initials and address embossed in green, which I sent her at Lad’s suggestion. And now, young lady, stop around at the 5 and 10 on your way back from lunch and pick up a bottle of green fountain pen ink, just to put the finishing touch on this Irish Symphony. Enclosed with her letter were some highly prized photo prints from the Kodachrome slides, showing Marian, Lad, the cake and other members of the wedding party. And there is a promise of more to come later. They were very much appreciated, as you may well surmise. Marian has officially terminated her work with the Camp Fire Girls as of February 1st, and is looking forward to soon being “down in the heart of Texas”, clap, clap or however the song goes. Thanks, Marian, for keeping us so well posted. You’re a great girl, as Lad has remarked once or twice.

APG and MIG wedding pictures -0 cake and table (2)

The Wedding Cake in the Irwin House, where the ceremony and reception were held

Marian Guion and her sister, Peg Irwin

 Marian (Irwin) Guion and her sister, Peg Irwin

Lad Guion and Vern Eddington, his Best Man

  Lad Guion and Vern Eddington, his Best Man

Your announcer for several months past has been able to highlight various items of importance to listeners over this station. In November it was the Guion – Irwin wedding. In December, it was the Alaskan’s return. In January, the youngest son eloped with Uncle Sam’s Army. But that is not all. The month is not finished yet. In fact January has already proven to be a doubleheader and may even become tripodal in character – see Alaska note later. The big news beginning January’s second-half is a broadcast from Brig. Gen. Pleas B. Rogers, U.S.A., Commanding Headquarters, Central Base Section as follows: I quote from the official document received by the proud father during the week-

Daniel (Dan) Beck Guion

Subject: Award of Good Conduct Medal to

Daniel B. Guion

T/5 31041206

Co. A, 660th Engr. Bn.

Dear Mr. Guion:

It is with great pleasure that I take this opportunity

(At this point, I believe Grandpa started another sheet of paper, but the carbon paper was reversed, so I don’t have the rest of this letter from Brigadier General Rogers.)

Tomorrow, I’ll post the conclusion to this letter.

If you enjoy reading these stories and adventures of various members of my family, why not share this link with a friend or two? They might find them interesting, also.

Judy Guion