Trumbull – A Ticket To Heaven and Sikorsky – June, 1943

At this point, as Grandpa says in the salutation, his boys are scattered. Ced is still in Alaska, Lad is in California, Dan is in Pennsylvania and Dick in in Indiana. Dave is the only one left at home since Biss is married and has two sons of her own.

Trumbull     June 13, 1943

To my Trumbull Boys

in far places:

This is one of those quiet, sunshiny, June Sundays when it is hard to realize that the peace which comes stealing in with the rustling leaves, the murmur of the brook and the play of the sunshine through the dancing leaves of our old Maple tree is not typical of the whole world. Iris and rhododendrons are now in full bloom. From where I sit now on the cement terrace, so much is reminiscent of you boys. For one thing, there is the iron pipe set between the two Maple trees near the driveway which you used to use as a chinning device. It is perhaps unusually quiet for a Sunday because the ban on gasoline has greatly reduced the number of cars passing on the road.

This morning, as usual, I donned old clothes and weeded and hoed in Mr. Laufer’s potato field, stonily watched all the while by two grotesque scarecrows set up in the neighboring cornfield, clad in old straw hat and coat. After an hour of this back bending exercise I hurried home, took a shower and arrayed in my Sunday-go-to-meeting clothes, hied down to the church.

There were two reasons for this unusual religious fervor on my part. One was the fact that this being “Children’s Sunday”, Dave had been asked to conduct the morning service; and second, my youngest grandson, Marty, was to be baptized along with eight or 10 other young sprouts.

The church service was unusually well attended. Dave presided in a dignified, reserved and unhurried manner, on which I heard many favorable comments afterwards from members of the congregation. The little ones were baptized by Mr. Powell, starting with the tiniest babies and ending with Marty. All the babies received their tickets to

admission to the Kingdom of Heaven with humility and quiet acceptance, but when Marty’s turn came, and Elizabeth and Zeke, accompanied by Butch, started up from the pew, Marty set up a howl, increasing in tempo and volume and rising to a great crescendo as Mr. Powell did his stuff, and gradually tapering off but continuing until sometime after they were again seated.

Dave then came forward to resume conduct of the service, and amid the hushed expectancy, as he was mounting to the platform,Butch, who seemed to have been a quiet spectator of this — a new experience for him —  recognized Dave, and broke the stillness by saying in a loud, surprised and cordial voice “Hello, Dave”. The ripple of laughter throughout the congregation which followed did not ruffle our boy here. He merely smiled casually and went on with the program.

I referred a while back to the decrease in auto traffic. This seems to have been offset with a surprising stepping up of airplane activity. Even at night as I lay in bed I can frequently hear the whirr of motors. Sikorsky is building a new plant in Bridgeport for the construction of helicopters but I have seen none in operation over Trumbull yet.

Uncle Kemper has just sent us a generous gallon can of maple syrup from his own place in Vermont, and with Grandma’s toothsome griddle cakes and waffles to go with it, I could just picture you all gathering around the kitchen table this morning ready to start action. Yesterday we had the first luscious strawberries from Mr. Laufer’s garden; but perhaps I had better lay off this line or you will be tempted to go A W O L.

Jean, the only one who wrote this week, reports being in Indianapolis where Dick is now stationed. She found a nice clean room in a private home and is now looking for a job. Jean says Dick is having a taste of the real Army now. They have to leave camp every morning at two and don’t get home until eight and they can’t have every night off either.

Grandma, as usual, is doing a splendid job on the culinary end and Aunt Betty is getting to be quite a horticulturalist. Both are well and apparently are good company for one another. At least I have had no complaints. It is so pleasant to get home nights now and find dinner already instead of immediately having to take off my coat and start to get supper.

Now a brief message from the sponsor to individual members of my far-flung audience:

Jean: I have taken care of your income tax as requested. Aunt Betty has done up your blanket in moth balls and put it away for the summer. In looking for a job, it just occurs to me that the Bridgeport Brass Company have quite an active plant in Indianapolis and you might find an opportunity there. I am enclosing the Book-of-the-Month. The July books are by Stephen Benet and Walter Lippmann respectively. The first is a literary essay on American settlers and the second on America’s foreign policy.

Dick: Bobby Kascak is married. I don’t know the details.

Lad: Mrs. Jimmy Smith was very anxious to have me tell you, when next I wrote, that Jim’s brother is in Los Angeles, works as a guard at Warner Brothers pictures, and would be delighted to see somebody from Trumbull. She thinks you also would enjoy yourself if you looked them up.

Dan: Dick Christie is home for a few days. He is still a civilian.

Ced: Have not forgotten the Sunrise Service program, but so far Dave has been unable to locate it.

Well, with Mussolini getting a good swift kick in the pantalleria, I am hoping, like millions of others, that Germany and Japan, before long, will get bombed into a submissive frame of mind and you boys can be back safe and sound in this old Trumbull home of yours. THAT will be the day! Meanwhile, borrow a few minutes from Uncle Sam, and write soon to your expectant and lonesome

DAD

This weekend I’ll be continuing the story of Mary E Wilson, who was born in England, had a hard life but eventually arrived in the United States and was able to achieve the “American Dream”.

Next week, I’ll be posting letters from 1945. We’ll read about Dan’s wedding to Paulette from several sources and different viewpoints.

Judy Guion

Army Life (5) – Letters From Dave and Aunt Helen – July, 1945

Letter from Dave dated July 24th.

Got your letter written July 8th. I’m glad to see you’re giving thought to this business of seeing the world. About having someone take care of the house, I guess I’ll have to get married. Will that solve the problem? If all the boys moved off to other parts of the world with their families, I could stay there at “Ye Olde Homesteade” with you and the business and we could keep things going. Then, no matter what may happen, there’d always be a home to come back to. My vote is to keep the house by all means. If on the other hand, one of the married factions of the family should stay on in Connecticut and want to live in the house, you and I could set up house in another place. As far as I can see there are no problems.

One thing I’d like to have Dad, is a camera. I suppose that’s an impossible item to get back there. That’s why I put off asking for one ‘til now. I’ve been hoping to get my hands on one here but it seems to be hopeless. I don’t want a good one – – just any old thing that will record the places I’ve been and seen. Yesterday I saw Naha for the first time – – what a mess !! The whole countryside down there is torn up. You’d never know that Naha was as big as it was. So far we haven’t seen anything in the way of typhoons. We get reports of them every so often. For instance, we got a report of the one that hit the naval force off Japan. It was coming up from the south but missed us. Okinawa now has lost a good deal of its quaintness. Native buildings, and in some cases, whole villages, are gone. New, well-made roads have been cut and airfields

Page 6  (continuation of Dave’s letter)

are going up all over. It seems every time they find 3 square feet of flat land they start to build a strip on it. I saw my first B-29 at Kadera airfield the other day – – are they beautiful !! On the side door in the rear of the monster these words were inscribed: “Through These Portals Pass The World’s Best Pilots”. Okinawa, having lost its quaintness in my eyes, is becoming less enjoyable to me. It’s been awfully hot and I’d welcome cooler weather even at the expense of meeting the Imperial Emperor at his home – – provided, of course, that Gen. Stillwell is right in front of me. Don’t try to read between the lines and guess I’ll be moving soon. We’ve received no orders, but just in case I should ever stop writing for a month or so you can expect the letter following the elapsed time to be full of news – – sights in a new land.

July 9, 1945

July 9, 1945

In the July 9th issue of Time magazine there is a picture of a landing spot on Okinawa. It’s a scene of LSTs and equipment on the beach. This is the point at which I came into Okinawa. I thought it might be interesting for you to see this spot. This picture was taken from what was then a narrow, winding, dirt road. At the time I landed, there wasn’t as much equipment on the beach as the picture shows, however. The picture is in an article about re-conversion under Vinson whose picture appears on the front cover. If you like you could save some pictures of Okinawa. As I don’t have a camera maybe I could tell you something of the island through the pictures you save.

(I have just ordered a copy of this magazine and will perhaps be able to share snippets with you.)

Letter from Aunt Helen dated July 29th.

The news about Jean just bowled me over with joy. I think it is perfectly wonderful and I am very happy for both Jean and Dick – – sorry though for all of you in Trumbull. Ted left on the 23rd for the Bahama Islands. He went to Miami by train and from there took a plane for Nassau. It was all rather sudden and so no time for anything but general preparation. It may be a very brief stay. If it develops into something then of course I’ll go down. And am I hoping it will develop into something !! Ted got there about noon on Thursday so there hasn’t been time for me yet to get any news from Nassau. He enjoyed his trip to Miami and the short stay there looking up old friends. If the job develops it will be on the island of Eleuthera. I never knew before that the Bahamas had such an island. It has 7500 inhabitants and we are betting they are mostly Blacks. Oh, I’m working. I’m in the circulating library at Bloomingdale’s (lending library). By the way, since Ted left there is an extra room here. In fact I can put up two. Of course, whoever comes will have to be on their own during the day. I don’t get home until about 630. Dan’s letter is at Anne’s and she will mail it to Dorothy.

Sorry, but I’m fresh out of further quotes maybe it’s a good thing because my finger is developing corns from soaking this thing for 3 ½ hours on my gold watch and chain.                                                                                                                                                                                                                      ADG

We have reached the end of this 6-page typed letter, the longest I can remember. Grandpa brings the family totally up-to-date on each of the boys in their own words, which highlights their distinctive personalities; Lad’s analytical approach commenting on each letter from Grandpa in chronological order; Dan’s use of  a wide variety of very descriptive words that actually helps you visualize what he is telling you about; Ced’s rambling jaunt from here to there and back again, indicating his penchant for doing many different things and jumping from one to another quickly; an earlier letter from Grandpa finally inspires Dick to compose a letter, showing his quirky sense of humor and his growing confidence in himself; and finally, Dave’s letter from Okinawa, expressing opinions and observations as he did even as a child. Not much from Grandpa but I hope you thoroughly enjoyed hearing from each of his “boys”. 

On Saturday and Sunday, I’ll begin the autobiography of Mary Ellum Wilson, born in England. She came to this country as a young girl but eventually achieved “the American Dream”. She was the mother of a good childhood friend so I knew her personally but never realized how difficult her life had been until I received this from her daughter. It is my honor to share her story with all of you. Enjoy.

Judy Guion

Trumbull (3) – Dave’s Idea to End War – July, 1945

Page 3    7/29/45

Now for the quotes. Both Ced and Dave have written good long letters. They are two interesting to summarize too much yet too long to quote both in full, so I think I shall reserve Ced’s until next week. Dave, after comparing the experiences of Dan and himself and showing their marked similarity goes on to say: “Dan’s description of the V1’s reminds me of the Japanese Kamakazi (suicide) planes. The effect is the same but as it carries a pilot, it is more accurate. Here’s an account of the first suicide plane I saw. One day I was down at the beach when the air raid sirens blew. “Hit the dirt”. I dove for a concrete wall that stood in front of one of the numerous tombs on the island. I looked up and saw flak mushrooming all around a fly speck in the sky. All of a sudden it started to fall. “They got hit” someone yelled, and all the guys started to clap as though the fellow carrying the ball broke through the line and went over for a touchdown. Later we found that the plane hadn’t been hit but instead took a nosedive into a hospital ship. Hospital ships are painted white, have big red crosses on them and look like a Dollar Line steamer.

No other ship looks anything like it out here. No one will ever convince me that the Jap flying that plane was trying to hit any other ship in the harbor, which ship, by the way, was not empty. We’ve had quite a few discussions in our tent and how to avert another war. The only objection to my theory is that it is an immense job but I think if it will stop wars it should be done. It is that rather than play “Superman” as Dan so aptly puts it, the only way to stop all wars is to teach the other people of the world to live as we do. If you teach them the sin of killing, if you teach them Christianity, if you teach them and make them follow the rule of doing unto others as they would have others do unto them, I think – – I know – – it will stop all wars and make the world a better place in which to live. I know it is an immense job and almost impossible. When I presented this theory to the boys, one asked me if I’d spend my life in Japan teaching the Japs our way of life. He thought that would corner me but I told him that if my theory were carried out on a large enough scale so that it would really do some good, I’d be glad to spend the rest of my life in Japan or any other place in the world to accomplish this goal.

And I would too, because I am thoroughly convinced that it is the only way to have peace. World courts are no good. Do Traffic Courts or any other courts in the world stop crime? On the other hand, do children who are brought up to be good Christians and who are taught that they should treat other people as they themselves want to be treated, go out and kill or steal? I don’t think you’ll find it happens very often. What about the old adage, “All men are created equal”. How can there be equality of one group of nations rules another. Maybe I’m not looking at this thing from a broad enough scope as I realize that there are a lot of things to be taken into consideration, but I think that in time (a long time) it would avert all wars. Who is it that starts these wars? It always seems to be a group that starts their party by denouncing Christianity.

Kids are the same the world over. You’ve got to be awfully careful how you treat the youngsters because they are the tomorrow, and you’ve got to be awfully careful how you treat the older ones because they are the ones who form the minds of the younger ones. If you lord it over those you have conquered, they won’t like you any better for it. The kids here, and I’ve no doubt it’s true in Europe, run to seeing the big implements of war roll down the dusty country road or wriggle through the narrow streets. It is all new to them and they are inquisitive. And who in this world doesn’t like to get a smile and a wave of the hand from a stranger as well as a friend? These Okinawans will never forget the American soldier. They’ll never forget what the Japs told them of us and they will never forget how wrong the Japs were. They were told we were pirates, killers and pilferers. The Okinawans emerged from their hideouts in the caves and found the American soldier with this carbine on his shoulder, where it wouldn’t harm them, and his hand out stretched, with the palm up, holding candy and cigarettes. They found him with a smile on his face. They found him with wonderful equipment that saved the lives of Okinawans who would ordinarily have died if the Japs had been there. True, the invader had brought terror with him, had burned the houses, ruined the rich farmland, had destroyed every bit of quaintness on their island, but after it was all over, he brought food, medical supplies, protection, not only for himself but for the natives also. He shared what he had. Now, tell me, Dad, who are the children going to be that remember that smile, and who are the ones who are going to remember what he imagines as a  cruel eye and a poker face.

For an overview of the Battle of Okinawa, click here.

Tomorrow, Grandpa ends this letter with a few thoughts about Dave’s Plan.

On Saturday and Sunday, I’ll be posting more of the continuing saga of Ced’s Coming of Age Adventure.

On Monday, I’ll begin a week of letters written in 1941 as the war draws closer. The boys are all concerned about their own fate as well as that of their siblings.

Judy Guion 

Trumbull (1) – Dan is Married – July, 1945

Trumbull, Conn., July 29, 1945

Dear Boys:

Well, there’s news this week, sure enough. Dan’s married. Yes sir, it happened on July 17th. Incidentally, we were celebrating Jean’s birthday at the time also. A V- mail from Lad, received yesterday, brought the glad news and also informed us that he was able to be present. That’s about all. He said he would write details later. Haven’t yet heard from the new bride and groom but the news was not a complete surprise because early this week I received a July letter from Dan, as follows:  “At last, the good news. The marriage will take place at Calais the 17th of July. It has been a long and difficult struggle, compromising between the demands of the Army (to get married as soon as possible), and the requests from Calais (to wait until August 4th). The final critical score is keeping me on edge, because my 76 points may prove to be too few. Since we have been placed in Category II (Pacific bound) you can readily imagine that I am more than mildly interested in the final score. With a wife in Calais, the hills of China would not prove exceptionally attractive.”

So, my hearties, we now have a new sister and daughter and of course the big thing to look forward to now is the gathering of the clan when we can all get acquainted. You might tell Paulette, Dan, that I have written and will enclose a few letters to her, kind of gradually creeping up on this acquaintance business, so she can get “eased” into the family without too great a shock. It will probably be shock enough to find out the sort of chap she is hitched up with, as soon as she gets the rice combed out of her hair. It was tremendous good news to learn that Lad had been able to be there for the wedding. He sort of represented the rest of us who would have liked to be there but couldn’t. I hope tomorrow’s mail will bring either a letter from you or Lad, giving us more details then he could compress in a short note. From what he says, he is practically on his way, but where to or when or from where is one of those things. I think I shall prepare and send out to relatives and friends a semi-formal notice of the event of Dan’s marriage and would like to have you send me Dan, as soon as convenient, a list of names and addresses of any friends you would like to have receive a copy.

jean-on-lawn-1945

Jean Guion

Now for a few random notes before we come to the quotes dept. These are busy and exciting days for Jean. In the first place, she was about due for a nervous breakdown last week when she learned that she had to have a passport, although instructions from the government failed to mention the fact, and that obtaining it might be a matter of months. However, by telephoning to various bureaus in Washington she got things started and hopes to have it before she leaves Miami. Another cause for worry was the fact that returning soldiers, both discharged and enroute to the Pacific, has so taxed already inadequate railroad facilities, that the authorities have shut down on reservations for civilians, and in order to reach Miami on time, she will have to fly from N. Y. to Miami and has already, through Aunt Elsie, made reservations on a plane from LaGuardia Field Tuesday next, July 31st. Just as a nerve soother, the papers announced today that an army Mitchell bomber had crashed into the 79th floor of the Empire State Building in a blinding fog, 913 feet above ground, setting fire to the building and killing 13 people, also sending two elevators crashing down 80 floors. Firemen earned their pay dragging hose up 80 flights of stairs to fight the fire.

I’ll spend the rest of this week with three more pages from this letter. Dave did have quite a bit to say.

Judy Guion

Trumbull – Individual Letters (4) – To Dick and Dave – July, 1945

rpg-dick-in-uniform-without-mustache-1945

Dick in 1945 – without mustache

Page 4   7/15/45

Dear Dick:

Of course the big excitement around here these days is Jean’s forthcoming exodus to join her mustached hubby in the wilds of Brazil. Yesterday we packed the trunk still bearing an Alaska sticker on it, and toted it down to the railroad station to get a head start on its mistress. No matter how excited you are in anticipation of her visit, you cannot exceed her feelings along the same line. Between Jean and Marian, the old sewing machine has had more man-hours of activity than all the rest of its ancient life put together. It clicks its teeth like an old man whose uppers are a bit loose and it still eats up the work. I’ve already promised both girls sewing machines for wedding presents when they are on the market for civilian use again. Of course we are all going to miss her terribly around here and I solemnly charge you now to break this letter writing deadlock and keep us posted on her doings. Don’t leave it all to her to do the writing back home. She’ll be expected to write to her folks, of course, and while you’ll of course continue to get my weekly letters, just the same, remember there will be no secondhand reports of you anymore. Besides you will now have something to write about. And by the way, what plans have YOU for the future? Are you still Alaska minded? What sort of work do you plan to get into by way of an income bringer after the Army turns you loose on this hungry world? Do you plan to make your Brazilian contacts and familiarity with Portuguese the basis of some Brazilian-U.S. connection or have you some other ideas stirring about in your mind? After the excitement of getting reacquainted with your bride quiets down a bit, sit down some day with pen and paper before you and let down your hair on what you would like to do if you could just have your own way. No more letters to quote, so I’ll now proceed to hectoring.

Dear Dave:

Last but not least, although maybe it will be least as far as news is concerned, as I am pretty well wrote out. I did get to thinking the other day, as I often do, about you and the office. We are now in the midst of the summer quiet period. I still have enough to keep me busy, but I don’t have enough to need any outside help. Maybe that is just as well as George tells me he is going into the Navy, has passed his physical and is awaiting orders. So from then on I’ll be entirely on my own. When you get back I think the first thing you should plan to do is to make each day a double-header. Mornings dressed in your best bid and tucker and that winning smile, you go out making calls on prospects and customers, as the genial Dr. Jekyll, and afternoons you put on the old shop coat and as Mr. Hyde, get all smeared up with mimeograph ink turning out the orders you have collected in the morning. That for six months or so will be sufficient to keep you out of mischief. In between times you can repair machines, cut Addressograph plates, order paper and supplies, do bookkeeping, make out bills, answer phone calls, draw checks and occasionally sweep out the office. Course this will mean five nights a week at the office leaving one night to call on your girl  friends. The rest of the time will be your leisure hours. Isn’t that just ducky? When do we start? Guess I’d better stop here before I think of several other items. Good hunting.

DAD

Tomorrow Grandpa writes a rather interesting letter to Paulette, showing his creativity and sense of humor.

On Saturday and Sunday, two more reports on Ced’s Coming of Age of Adventure.

Judy Guion

A FAMILY STORY – 1922

 

Arla Mary Peabody Guion and children - Dan, Lad, Ced, Dick, and Biss at the Trumbull house

Arla Mary Peabody Guion and children – Dan, Lad, Ced, Dick, and Biss at the Trumbull house

I believe this is the first group picture taken in Trumbull. Dick, the baby on Arla’s lap, was born August 20, 1920 and the family moved into the Trumbull house in Dec, 1922. That would make Dick 16 months old at that time. In this picture he looks slightly older than that and Lad, the oldest, looks about 8 or 9, which would appear to confirm the approximate date of the picture. (I have since ascertained that it was taken in 1922.)

This picture was taken by a family friend and, unbeknownst to the family, submitted it to a photo contest for Life Buoy soap. It was not the top winner but was mentioned in the Bridgeport paper as a winner for Connecticut. It was actually used in an advertisement for Life Buoy soap, with a “direct” quote from Mrs. A.D. Guion. That’s how the family found out about it and asked the company not to use it. I’ve actually seen the spread in the local paper on Newspapers.com but because of copy write laws, I can’t show it to you. Our own “15 minutes of Fame”.

This weekend I’ll resume posting from “What I saw at the CHICAGO WORLD’S FAIR, 1934.

On Monday, I’ll get back to my regular schedule and the letters will be from 1941.

Judy Guion

Trumbull (1) – News From Dave – June, 1945

 Dinner Table in Trumbull

Dinner Table in Trumbull

Trumbull, Conn., June 24, 19 45.

Dear foreigners:

Well it was almost like old times at dinner today, except that we didn’t have to add four or five leaves to the dining room table and bring all the chairs in from the kitchen to seat our guests. Besides our own four steadies (Grandpa, Aunt Betty, Marian and Jean), there was a girlfriend of Jean’s from Providence who spent the weekend, Aunt Elsie came up for a visit and Biss called up to ask if she and the family could come over to dinner as they had been unable to secure any meat. Fortunately, I had been able to get a nice large cut of roast beef, so we had altogether almost a pre-war dinner.

Well at last Ced broke the long silence and has produced a long, interesting letter to make up for lost time. May I say this however to you Ced? Next time when a month has gone by and in spite of good intentions you have not found opportunity to write a regular letter, would you please dash off a postal to the effect that all’s well, so those bothersome little possibilities will not hop into one’s head when the guard is down that said silence has been caused by accident, sickness, etc. It won’t take you but a few minutes and will help to keep blood pressure where it belongs down this away.

Well, Dave, commencement time in Bassick has rolled around again, reminding me of that occasion which must seem to you ages ago when you were handed your diploma. The enclosed account of the proceedings will take you back over the years and you may even recognize the names of some of your former schoolmates among the present graduating class, who, for some reason, have kept on going to the same school year after year since you last knew them, until they have finally come to the graduating point.

While I think of it, Dan, what is the language of the Belgians? I had an idea it was French but I have no reason for so thinking. If they had a language of their own like the Dutch, I think I would have heard of it.

It is 9:30. I have just come back from taking Elsie down to her train, so I’m afraid I won’t have time for a very long letter tonight. However the nine pager last week will sort of maintain the average (of course you remember my old story about an average being the thing a hen lays eggs on).

Dave, in a letter from Okinawa dated May 14th (I think he means June 14th) says: “I’m still alive and happy. My latest experience is my first swim in the Pacific Ocean. There’s the most beautiful beach here – – almost as nice as you’d find on the New England coast. As to packages, out here food goes well – – candy, gum, canned goods, almost anything you can think of in the way of chow that wouldn’t parish in transportation. One thing I do want is a pair of moccasins or low-cut sneakers (Ced, please note). I think the size would be about 7. I’m getting tired of lugging combat shoes all over during nice weather. A letter from Kit says it’s dull where she is now and that she’d like to be back in Trumbull and then adds that she knows quite a few of us would like to be back there so she won’t gripe. This damned typewriter always prints the letter I hit. Someone should invent one that spells things right the first time. Think of all the mimeo stencils I could cut without using any correction fluid! I’m sorry this isn’t a better letter but in the first place, it’s late, and in the second, there isn’t much to write about. Love, Dave.

Tomorrow and Sunday, I will post the rest of this letter. It is actually three pages long and Biss has returned to Trumbull, probably in June of 1935. Next weekend, I’ll begin a new adventure from the summer of 1934. Ced, 17 years old,  hitchhikes to Wisconsin and North Dakota to meet his mother’s family and see where she grew up.

Judy Guion