Trumbull – Dear Alumni of Trumbull University (1) – Spineless Jelly Fish – October 3, 1943

 

Trumbull, Conn., Oct. 3, 1943

Dear Alumni of Trumbull University:

Greetings from your Alma  Mater, the entire faculty, and the balance of the student body which has dwindled considerably since you occupied the various dormitories, and in sooth bodes well to be still further depleted in view of the fact that Young David completed his 18th semester recently and immediately hied him over to ye old Towne Halle where Clerk H. Plumb duly registered him with Uncle Sam. Rumor has it that before the dawn of another New Year’s Day, he too will be in the armed services of the United States. Of course I have hopes that by the time he is actually inducted and through training the bloody part of the war will be on the way out, although I am also conscious of the fact that, if present rumors become fact, honorable discharges will be issued first to those who have served longest, have families, are incapacitated or are more essential in peace-time activities, leaving the opposite numbers to continue on for policing work in occupied countries, etc., So that, speaking personally, the Guion Co. may be deprived of its principal employee for some time to come. Anyhoo, will hope for a class reunion in the not very distant future, with the flag flying from the top of the pole. We are certainly having some good “old Glory” news reports lately. For instance, recent headlines in the Bridgeport paper, “White Russian Cities Blasted by Red Pilots Makes Nazis Blue”.

The political pot is beginning to boil hereabouts. McLevy is of course again a candidate for mayor of Bridgeport. To oppose him on the Republican ticket is the proprietor of Slim’s Diner. Ferguson is up again for First Selectman of Fairfield but the Republican ranks in his town are wide open, his own Town Committee opposing him, and asking electors to vote for the Democratic nominee. At that, however, things are mild compared to what they will be next year when the national election is held, and while on the subject, you may as well have my opinion for what it may be worth on what it is all about, so that when you are asked to cast your ballot you may know how at least one elector feels about matters. The question is not Republican vs Democrat, not Roosevelt vs Wilkie, or what have you, not liberals vs conservatives, not new deal vs good deal, not capital vs labor, not isolationist vs interventionist, but rather Federal Government planning of our daily lives from cradle to grave, which the present administration in Washington stands for, vs the good old American way of life based on being on one’s own and depending on individual resourcefulness in making ends meet and thus calling out the best in us to meet conditions when the job seems impossible – – the spirit epitomized by the saying: “the difficult we do at once, the impossible takes a bit longer”. The New Deal provisions for old age dependency, no job, WPA leaf-raking jobs, sick benefits, while all very alluring in providing freedom from fear, is ennervating, laziness-breeding and is more apt to develop a nation of spineless jelly dish. There is something to be said for “coming up the hard way”. Someday the war will end and we will have to pick ourselves up and go on our interrupted way. If we cut out all these present artificial restraints and rely on our own resourcefulness which we are showing we can do, we will have come through the fire like a finely tempered blade, but I don’t think we can do this under the Roosevelt theory of government. There you have what to my mind is the main issue – – mollycoddlers vs moulders of our own destiny. That is the way we have grown during our short history and I don’t want to live to see the day when the paternalism at Washington will shield us from all harm and guide us from cradle to grave and do our thinking and planning for us. We are not members of a governmental harem.

Tomorrow, I’ll post the rest of this letter, and I’ll finish off the week with another letter from Grandpa to Lad and one to all the boys (except Dave, who is still home, but has registered with Uncle Sam).

Judy Guion 

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My Ancestors (33g)- Alfred Peabody Guion – Marriage and World War II (2)

(1) Alfred Peabody Guion; (2) Judith Anne Guion.

Lad and Marian in the Irwin’s back yard, 1944

Excerpt from a letter to Grandpa from Marian, written on a Monday, with a note in Grandpa’s writing: Pomona, Calif 7/10/44:

“Wish I could report some definite plans that the “Roving Guions” have made, but so far everything is still very much up in the air.  We might be here 2 days, 2 weeks or even 2 months – we just don’t know.”

Excerpt from a letter written by Marian on Monday (Grandpa’s handwriting: Post marked 8/7/44.)

“I know that the minute I put down in writing the fact that “we thought we were going to stay here for a while” the Army would change our minds for us….. Lad is supposed to leave here Wednesday or Thursday for Flora, Mississippi, and I am going to drive the car and meet him there – or rather at Jackson, Mississippi, for there is not much more than the Army Post at Flora.”

Excerpt from a letter written by Marian on Monday, 8/14/44:

“Yes – Here we are again.  Still sitting in Pomona wondering what we’re going to do next.  Evidently there was too much publicity regarding the current move of the 142nd Battalion (practically everyone in Pomona knew about it!)  Or maybe they were unable to get a troop train – or maybe just because.  Anyway, we haven’t gone yet, altho’ we are practically completely packed, and have gotten our gas coupons.”

NOTICE OF CHANGE OF ADDRESS, dated August 16, 1944, with an address for Flora, Mississippi.

Excerpt from a letter to Grandpa from Marian, written Saturday night from Wakeeny, Kansas (Grandpa wrote 8/28/44):

“Something tells me that this letter should be a clever epistle, containing references to cross-country pioneering etc. etc., but I’m afraid I don’t have the time or energy to think of something suitable.  But I do want you to know that so far we have had a pretty good trip, we are making good time, the car and trailer are holding together, and that I am getting nearer and nearer to Jackson, Miss.  (Hallelujah !!!!  It can’t be too soon for me)”

From Life history of Alfred  P.  Guion:

Flora, Miss. – 9 weeks – Instructor, Automotive electricity;

1 week – designing plan for overseas base shop

Excerpt from a letter to Grandpa written on a Wednesday (Grandpa’s note: Jackson, 9/14/44):

“We’ve moved again, but not out of Jackson.  Our new “home” is very much nicer than the 1st 1, and we have kitchen privileges, so we don’t have to eat out.  And from what we’ve sampled of Southern cooking, we are just as glad!  Somewhere along the way I’ve been sadly misinformed about Southern cooking.  (That’s not the only a dissolution – I imagined sitting on a porch, sipping mint juleps and sniffing magnolias and honeysuckle! something is definitely wrong! Mississippi is as dry as can be, and beer is a poor substitute for a mint juleps!”

Excerpt from a letter Marian has written to Ced on it Tuesday, ( I checked the calendar and believe it was written October 2, 1944):

“We had a very pleasant weekend this last week.  (Sounds peculiar, but you know what I mean!)  After various telegrams 2 and fro, we finally made connections and were able to spend most of the weekend in Little Rock, Ark., with Dave.  He had gotten a 3-day pass from Camp Crowder, and lad had gotten a weekend pass, so as Little Rock was practically the middle point from Camp to Camp, we drove up and Dave came down on the bus……  – Now I’ve had the pleasure of meeting the 3 of the Guion boys two more to go.”

Excerpt from a letter from Marian to Grandpa on a Thursday (Grandpa wrote Jackson, 10/26/44):

“The Battalion has been issued new clothes, and they have been given until Nov. 1st to dispose of their cars, but it seems to me we went through this routine once before at Pomona, and look how long it took us to get out of there!  Nevertheless, we are re–arranging and packing as much as we can, so that I can leave here on a moments notice.  We haven’t the slightest idea which P.O.E. the fellows will be sent to, but in case it is New York, or its vicinity, I’d like to be around there as quickly as I can get there, in case Lad has a chance to get away for even a few hours.”

WESTERN UNION TELEGRAM to Grandpa dated Oct. 31, 44:

HOLD CHECK FOR MARIAN CAN YOU WIRE $35.00 IMMEDIATELY TO MARIAN I GUION 303 LONGINO JACKSON MISS FOR TRIP TO TRUMBULL DEPARTURE THIRD.

LAD MARIAN

Excerpt from another letter to Grandpa from Marian on a Wednesday (grandpa writes Jackson,11/1):

“All the wives are supposed to have gone home, and no more private cars on the post.  But lad took the car today, anyway.  He’s going to park it outside the gate, so that I can pick it up if he gets restricted……  Just to be on the safe side however, we packed the trailer last night, so that it will only take me a few minutes to put the last minute things into the car and be on my way home.

Incidentally, Dad, I’m really looking forward to living there at Trumbull.  It seems to me to be the best place of all, other than actually being with Lad, and think of the extra nice company I’ll have…..

I’m leaving here tomorrow or Friday, at the very latest.  When Lad comes home tonight, he’ll know a little more about their coming restriction, I think, so that he’ll have an idea whether or not he will be able to get home tomorrow night.  If he can all stay until Friday, but I’m pretty certain I’ll leave then.  So if everything goes according to schedule, I should be home sometime Sunday, probably late in the evening.”

Note added to the end of this letter by Lad:

“Marion is a wonderful girl, Dad, so please take care of her for me.  My happiness, and practically my life, is wrapped up in her.  I know you will, tho’, even without my asking.”

From Life history of Alfred P.  Guion:

Nov, 1944 – shipped over

 

Trumbull – Dear Sheiks (4) – A Note From Elsie Duryee – August 13, 1944

This is the final segment of a letter written by Grandpa to his sons scattered around the world.

Elsie May Guion, summer, 1946

And now here is a rather pleasant surprise – – the “outside viewpoint” in these weekly letters which has been absent for some time. I have the honor to present a veteran of the last war, an ex-Red–Cross worker, Miss E. M. Guion:

Hello, Folks! – a la Mickey Mouse. New York got too “hot” for me so I ran out on it for a week until the heat is off, and now I’m in hiding in Trumbull. When I arrived at the door last night, there, right on the mat before the door, was a hand-lettered welcome to me from the Guions, in stunning great big black letters. I felt really welcome.

Speaking above of me as a veteran of the last war, I am thinking that if Dan should somehow get to St. Nazaire, he might walk along the waterfront where there are dwelling houses and in one of them I lived for about three months while working at base hospital # 1 just outside the city. It was one morning in December, I remember, when the maid of the house came to bring a picture of hot water and as she closed the window she said she couldn’t understand why Americans wanted to keep the windows open all night. All this to say that if Dan gets to St. Nazaire, he might see if anything has happened to that row of little houses. I enjoyed my work there and had fun too.

The shop in New York is getting along. We serve many servicemen and when they buy things we absorb the tax ourselves – and 20% and 1% sometimes loom big, but that’s our bit that we can do for those who are doing so much for us. Well, so long and victory soon. From Elsie.

And that about brings us to the end of the page, with the usual goodbye and good luck, from                                      DAD

Tomorrow, another excerpt from a letter written by John Jackson Lewis about his Voyage to Caifornia and what he finds there. On Sunday, I will continue the story of Lad and Marian Guion as Uncle Sam moves Lad hither and yon before sending him to France.  

Judy Guion

Trumbull – Dear Sheiks (3) – News From Dave – August 13, 1944

This is the next section of a letter written by Grandpa to the boys away from home.

From Dave:

Next Saturday – – the 12th – – we will all move from this company over to some company in the 34th Battalion. And then on Monday we will go out to the field for our final phase of training. CPX (command post exercises) is a sort of small scale maneuvers. The boys in cook school go out there and cook for us. Signal center clerks run signal centers. Radio boys completing their course run radios. Field linemen set out and maintain their wires. Poll linemen do likewise. The same is true for the teletype operators, motor mechanics, chauffeurs, truck drivers, engineers and anyone else I might not have mentioned. This final phase of training is three weeks long – – three weeks of Missouri woods, ticks, chiggers, rattlers and various other species that don’t hold too much interest in my mind, but I think it will be fun and anything would be better than school. You see, after I got back here from my furlough, although I still liked signal center clerk, I felt as though I knew all that they had to teach me in school (conceited) and I still feel that this last four weeks has been a waste of time. After CPX – – who knows? All I can do is to make a few wild guesses which would be based upon nothing but the Army’s ceaseless rumors – – which are more prevalent than ever before right now. The most likely thing that will happen is that they ship us out of here to a port of embarkation (maybe Reynolds in Pennsylvania, but more likely Beal in California) where we will be prepared to get on a boat and “see the world through the carbine gun sites”. If this is the case I may get a delay–en-route, and I may not – – who can tell? The other night I was on guard duty when a sergeant came out of his barracks with another man and called me over to him. He told me he had seen this man come into his barracks and pick up the sergeants pants. We questioned the fellow and he told us that he had moved into the company that morning and as he wasn’t thinking, due to the fact that he had had a few drinks in Neecho — he got in the wrong barracks. His story was very impressive and the Sgt. told me to let him go. The culprit left and I once again started walking my post. On an impulse, as I passed the barracks where the accused claimed to actually live, I decided to take a peek in to see if he were in bed. I went in to see and much to my dismay found that he wasn’t in there. I went back and told the Sgt. about it and then when I got to the guardhouse I told the Corporal of the Guard about it. The next day I found out that he was a crook and doing pretty well in the business throughout the whole post. For the offense which I committed (not turning him in) they could have court-martialed me – – not a pretty thought. As yet the culprit has not been located again.”

This sort of thing seems to be rather prevalent in this man’s Army. When I visited Lad in Aberdeen they had just had an incident of the same sort; and both Lad and Dick have lost valuable personal belongings. They should have a Sherlock Holmes detachment connected with each battalion.

Tomorrow, the final portion of this letter.

Judy Guion

Trumbull – Dear Sheiks (2) – A Note From Marian – August 13, 1944

This is the second section of a letter from Grandpa to his boys – wherever they are.

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Now for some extracts:

Marian writes: “I knew that the minute I put down in writing the fact that we thought we were going to stay here for a while, the Army would change our minds for us. Maybe I’ll learn some day that I’ll never know what the Army is planning from one minute to the next. Lad is supposed to leave here Wednesday or Thursday for Flora, Mississippi. I am going to drive the car and meet him there – – or rather at Jackson, Mississippi, for there is not much more than the Army post at Flora. Jackson is about 20 miles away from the post, and as it is the capital of Mississippi, it can’t be too awful. Some people must live there. But every report we’ve gotten so far from those who have and have not been there says that Flora is nothing more than a h___ hole in the very worst degree. Not very encouraging, is it, but if we get there expecting the very worst we might be pleasantly surprised. I hope so, anyway.

Whether this is to be a training center or a staging area or both, we don’t know. Last month the “Battalion” was very “hot” and practically on its way overseas, but things cooled down considerably and we heard that another battalion had been sent across instead. So, as usual, we don’t know very much about what we are doing, but are hoping for the best. It looks as though I am going to have to postpone my very muchly anticipated return visit to Trumbull. May I have a rain – check, however, so that I may arrive at a later date? The only bright spot in the idea of Lad’s going overseas is the prospect of being with you again – and not just because of the snow, either! Perhaps I’ll be a little late, but I might show up yet. We are not sure of Lad’s new address. As soon as we know it, we will send you a card. Although we expect to move from Pomona on Wednesday or Thursday, don’t be too sure of it. Our next letter might come from Pomona, because knowing the Army as we do, I am not leaving here until I know for sure that the fellows are on the train and actually on their way. Mother’s operation was very successful (for cataract) already she can see 50% better than before and the doctor hopes that in three months time when she gets her glasses, she will be able to see 100% better. I’m still planning to stop at Orinda on my way to Flora although I won’t be able to spend very much time there.”

Many years ago while on a lecture tour for the Bridgeport Brass Company, I went to Jackson, Mississippi and was not very much impressed with the country. As I recall it, the country was flat and uninteresting. There was of course a large Negro population  which made a portion of the town seem squalid and dirty. It was also very hot which is to be expected. I don’t know Flora but I think you are right in not expecting too much. Incidentally, I am holding this letter until I know where to send it, which applies also to the package I had all ready to ship to Lad. That was great news about your Mother, Marian, and I know how glad she will be to SEE you. And you don’t need any rain check for Trumbull. You are down in the records as one of the charter members.

Thursday and Friday I will post the last two portions of this letter.

Judy Guion

Trumbull – Dear Sheiks (1) – Local Weather and a Memory – August 13, 1944

GUION OASIS

Trumbull Desert

Principal products – dates

(This one is August 13, 1944)

pp pic 1

Dear Sheiks:

Prevailing temperature for the past week was 95°. Still no rain. Laufer’s corn has dried up on the stalk – – no tomatoes, beans, peas or other fresh vegetables we used to look forward to serving newly gathered from his farm as a special delicacy to regale the pallets of our favored guests (Aunt Elsie is now with us for her vacation week). I have not had to use the lawnmower for over six weeks. There is a touch of green in the grass only beneath the shade trees – – the “lawn” is just a patch of bare, brown, dead grass. The brook is as nearly dry as I have ever seen it. However, due to the new reservoir, there is as yet no scarcity in the city water supply. Victory Gardens hereabouts are sorry looking affairs – – reminders of what might have been. We now call them “Defeat Gardens”. One redeeming feature is that it has been too dry for any mosquitoes to hatch out so one can sit on the porch evenings without slapping. (Jean has just walked into the room with a nice tall glass of cold grape juice, and gee, does it taste good.) A nice long ocean voyage would go well just now.

And speaking of ocean voyages, a wounded Negro soldier was about to be landed from a hospital ship just reaching port. A medical officer asked if he had any personal belongings to be taken ashore. He shook his head. “What, no souvenirs from the fighting front?” “Captain,” said the boy, “Ah ain’t got no souvenirs. All ah want to take home from dis here war is just a faint recollection”.

And apropos of recollections and Dan’s reference in his last letter to putting his French into use, reminds me of our famous trip into the Gaspé country when I went up to one of the farmhouses to see if I could wrangle some fresh eggs. They couldn’t understand my English and I couldn’t understand their French. I finally made with my hands what I thought was the shape of an egg. With a gleam of understanding the girl rushed into the kitchen and brought me back a spoon. In desperation I imitated the sound of a hen and pretended to break an egg on the edge of a frying pan. “Oui. Oui”. ouf, ouf she said and proudly brought forth some eggs. So then I learned that the French for eggs was ouf.

The rest of the week will be devoted to this letter Grandpa writes to his boys scattered from Alaska to California to Brazil to Missouri to France. Each portion is a little shorter than usual but that is the way the natural breaks occurred.  

Judy Guion

Army Life – Dear Dad From Marian – August 7, 1944

At this point, Lad is expecting to be sent overseas and Marian will drive the Buick and trailer to Orinda, California, to have a short visit with her parents and then she will head to Trumbull for a reunion with Grandpa and the rest of the family there.

Monday

(postmarked 8/7/1944)

Lad and Marian - Pomona, CA

Lad and Marian – Pomona, CA

Dear Dad: – –

I knew that the minute I put down in writing the fact that “we thought we were going to stay here for a while,” the Army would change our minds for us. Maybe I’ll learn some day that I’ll never know what the Army is planning from one minute to the next. Lad is supposed to leave here Wednesday or Thursday for Flora, Mississippi, and I am going to drive the car and meet him there – or rather at Jackson, Mississippi, for there is not much more than the Army Post at Flora. Jackson is about 20 miles away from the Post, and as it is the capital of Mississippi it can’t be too awful. Some people must live there. But every report we’ve gotten so far, from fellows who have and who have not been there, say that Flora is nothing more than a h___ hole in the very worst degree. Not very encouraging, is it, but if we go there expecting the very worst we might be pleasantly surprised. I hope so, anyway. Whether this is to be a training center or a staging area or both we don’t know. Last month the Battalion was very “hot” and practically on its way overseas, but things cooled down considerably and we heard that another Battalion had been sent across instead. So, as usual, we don’t know very much about what we are doing. But we hope for the best.

It looks as though I’m going to have to postpone my very muchly anticipated return visit to Trumbull. May I have a rain – check, however, so that I may arrive at a later date? The only bright spot in the idea of Lad’s going overseas is the prospect of being with you again – and not just because of the snow, either! Perhaps I’ll be a little late, but I might show up yet.

It is going to take all our available cash to move, Dad, so once again we are going to have to ask you to wait for another payment on our loan. We never seem to have a chance to save for these unexpected trips. They come much too suddenly and often for us to adjust the family budget! We are not sure of Lad’s new address. As soon as we know it, we will send you a card. And although we expect to move from Pomona on Wednesday or Thursday, don’t be too sure of it. Our next letter might still come from Pomona, because knowing the Army as we do, I am not leaving here until I know for sure that the fellows are on the train and on their way.

Mother’s operation was very successful. Already she can see 50% better than before, and the doctor hopes that in three months time, when she gets her glasses, that she will be able to see 100% better. So that is very encouraging, and now that the mental strain and worry are over for her, she should improve quite rapidly. I’m still planning to stop by Orinda on my way to Flora, although I won’t be able to spend very much time there.

With all our love,

Marian and Lad

The rest of the week will be devoted to a letter Grandpa wrote to his five sons scattered all over the world. They will be shorter than usual postings but the natural breaks in the letter worked out this way.

Judy Guion