Trumbull – Dear “Offspring of a Small Explosion” – Advice From Grandpa – September 3, 1944

Alfred Duryee Guion (Grandpa)

Trumbull, Conn., September 3, 1944

Dear “Offspring of a Small Explosion”:

Well, why not? That’s the definition of “pop”, isn’t it, and anyway there is justification in the term due to the fact that I have just been sneezing away at accelerated tempo by reason of the fact I have been wandering through fields and brush for the last hour on a child hunt. Sometime late this morning Skipper and Susan disappeared and not having shown up by 2 PM, their mother scoured the immediate vicinity by car and “mother calls”, which proving ineffectual, the neighbors gradually joined in the search, still to no avail. Finally Kit decided to call the police, and being just a big Boy Scout at heart, I decided to brave the naughty pollen and put in my little two cents worth of searching. I chose for my particular territory Reynolds sandpit and thence both sides of the stream and neighboring woodland from there down as far as Levy’s. After an hour the pollen definitely won and here I am jabbing downwards between teardrops with an occasional sneeze for punctuation. However it was a vicarious sacrifice on my part for I learned after returning home that a few minutes after I had left, the two children came nonchalantly strolling in, having been spending the time in a study of animal life watching the horse in Reynold’s barn. If Sue grows up to be a second Rosa Bonheur I shall feel reconciled to the price.

You will be cussing me, I suppose for a bothersome hair shirt, but here goes for another whack at the desirability of knowing where you want to go so that you can set an intelligent course for your goal – – this time it is an editorial from the Bridgeport Post: “It is characteristic of youth to live for the moment, grabbing the fleeting hours with little thought of the morrow. But the theory that life is brief at best and that it is up to the liver to have the best time he can while he may, is not a fancy confined to youth. Among the world’s most dismal failures are those whose schooling, skill, mental power and discipline of will were all invested for a short life and a gay one (My friend, Roger comes to mind). Therefore, one of the best tests of maturity is the capacity of looking far ahead and of realizing that “the road passes on through the long afternoon and stretches away in the night”. Paradoxically, shortsighted people discover that life is not short, but long, much too long. For the day’s work they have insufficient training, capital or experience. For the fullest enjoyment of the sunset of the years they have insufficient health and nerve – force. So, in life planning, as in other issues, the longest way ‘round is often the shortest way home.”

Dan-uniform (2)

Daniel Beck Guion

Personally, I think this view is a bit too austere, but I do sincerely believe that while we can and should snatch enjoyment from life as we go along, there is nothing to prevent us at the same time knowing where we are headed for and having our fun while traveling this particular road. Dan, for instance, seems to have the capacity of getting a great kick out of whatever he is doing, as witnessed the last V-mail letter which has just arrived from “somewhere in France”. And by the way, note his new address. Co. A. 660th Engr. Topo. Bn., Hq. Communications Zone (Forward European Theatre of Operations) APO 887 C/o PM, New York, N. Y. He writes: “Observe our new address! Terse, eh? Mail service is abominable these days, but the war makes up for it. I am finding less and less leisure time as you no doubt are well aware. I am constantly exposed to what I consider to be the greatest enjoyment of life, i.e., the observance of (and participation in) exotic customs, habits, sites and languages. However heretic it might seem, I am almost disappointed to realize that the war is nearly over! It is amazing how quickly one can lose contact with the past. I have no idea what goes on in the U.S. — the latest songs — movies, politics, business trends — even London seems distant now. The other day I was talking to a couple of WACS. I was shocked and disappointed in the way they talked. After becoming accustomed to the English girls the American girls seem vulgar – loud. I realize those WACS were average Americans but I cannot help feeling that those of us who have been in Europe for a year or so will find America a bit difficult at first — and wonderful, too.”

(Query – am I to give thought to the possibility of having an English, or possibly French, daughter-in-law?)

Carl was over here just before dinner time and he read Dan’s letter. His experience with the English girls is at variance with Dan’s. His months leave is up tomorrow and he now goes down for another assignment – – where or on what kind of ship is of course unknown. He told me of meeting a Capt. John Trunk in Cartagena, Colombia, S.A., which he thought Ced might be interested in hearing about. It seems the captain is associated with a branch of Socony-Vacuum known as the Andean National Corporation and is a flying instructor. Carl went out with him to the airport and looked over their 12-seater seaplane.

Alfred Peabody Guion (my Dad)

Both sides of the APG branch have been heard from, and when you realize that Marion wrote en route, from Kansas, and Lad from a place where he says “perspiration is running off me as I write worse than it did in South America, and that is H O T”, it really means they made a big effort to keep us posted, and by the same token it is very much appreciated. Lad’s trip was attended by a hot box on his train, causing a couple of hours delay until they could transfer to another car. They were en route from Monday to Thursday. After diligent search, Lad finally located a place in Jackson which is about 19 miles south of his camp at Flora. Lad hopes his stay will not last more than five or six weeks as the combination of humidity and hot sun makes it extremely uncomfortable. He also speaks of receiving an absentee ballot from Helen Plumb, which I asked be done in the case of each of you (except infant Dave). He’ll love that infant part. Naturally, I haven’t heard from him, and incidentally Marian, if you had been able to stop at his camp you would not have found him as he was out on a hike.

Marian Dunlap (Irwin) Guion (my Mom)

Marian says the trip as far is Wakeeny, Kansas, from which she wrote, was accomplished without more than the necessity at the start of having to have a couple of small part replacements. There is someone with her because she says “we”, but I don’t know whether one or two are along beside herself. “We have been through some beautiful country. The Salt Lake desert was very hot and dry but the past two days have been cool and comfortable. In fact this morning we were downright cold. We were going through the Rockies and at one time were at an elevation of 11,315 feet.

Your insurance, Ced and Lad, is due this month and I shall, of course, take care of the premium as usual.

And that’s about all, except that Aunt Betty and Jean send their best, being wafted on to you on a couple of sneezes from


Incidentally, according to the radio, today is the 1000 day of the war.

Tomorrow I’ll post a letter from Marian to Grandpa from Jackson, Mississippi. Wednesday, Thursday and Friday, another letter from Grandpa.

Judy Guion. 


Trumbull – Dear Sons of Sneezy – Family News – August 27, 1944


Grandpa’s letter this week is short but he did include an “EXTRACT of Ced”, which gives us quite a clear picture of the kind of work he does at Woodley Aircraft and some interesting facts about a special time each year. I’ll be posting those sections tomorrow and the next day.

Trumbull, Conn., August 27, 1944.

Dear Sons of Sneezy:

For the past 15 minutes I have been sitting inertly in front of my machine here trying to get enough energy up to start this letter. My brain is in a semi-comatic state, if that is the proper word, a series of sneezes is lurking within breathing distance, my nose is dripping, my throat itches internally, my eye overfloweth, my head feels as if I had been out all night – – in a word, I have hay fever; and if this weekly effort seems to lack that certain scintillating spark that causes Aunt Betty to remark faithfully each week, “Oh, Alfred, I don’t know how you do it!” You, my wise one, will know the answer – – he’s got the misery.

But in spite of that “bird cage flooring” feeling, I will bravely do my duty, having made my apologies in advance, knowing you will all overlook the frailties of human nature inherent in this humble person in my present delicate condition.

On the afternoon of 22nd of August I returned to my office to find their awaiting me Skippy Wildman and an attractive WAC. You guessed it. They wanted to be married. I did. She is (or was) a Miss Francis Brooks of Snyder, Okla., and now stationed at Fort Devens. He is Corporal, an M. P. at Jackman, Me.

Get out your address books, boys – – there are a couple of changes to record:

T/3 Alfred P. Guion, 31122058, 3019 Co., 142 O.B.A.M. Bn. ASFTC, Miss. Ord. Plant, Flora, Miss.

Sgt. Richard P. Guion, 31324665, 1150th  AAF, SAD ATC, APO 619, c/o P.M. Miami, Fla.


I have not yet heard from Marian but as Lad’s Change of Address card was mailed from Pomona, August 19th, I suppose by this time, or surely by the time you receive this, they will have been shaken down in their new quarters. No further word either from Dave or Dan, and Jean says Dick’s letter had no startling developments to reveal. And while on the subject of Jean, I suppose I may be said to have sneezed her out of house and home, for she has departed for a week’s sojourn with a friend in Long Hill. So Aunt Betty will stand alone the brunt of my choler. (That’s a four dollar word and if you don’t know what it means, better look it up in the dictionary. I haven’t the energy). (I did – anger or ill humor)

Ced - 1938

That brings us down to Ced, and what a nice long interesting letter he wrote this time. It is worthy of being quoted in full, but again, that feeling of lassitude rears its ugly head and I shall compromise with snatches here and there, trying to strike a happy balance with my conscience on the one hand and deadening hand of listlessness on the other. (I wonder if the ancient Greeks or Romans had a God of laziness. I never heard of it, if so).

I have just had my car simonized by Premak’s Service Station. This, if you must know, is the successor of Carl Wayne’s place and is run, as you may have guessed, by a man named Premak, who has lately been released from the service and seems a very nice young chap. Because he is having a hard time getting along in the face of Ed Dolan’s friendly manner and efficient service, I thought I would help him out with this job which has been needed for some time to be done, especially in view of the fact that Ed does not simonize cars.

Feverishly yours,


Tomorrow and Thursday, I’ll be posting “EXTRACT of Ced”, an excerpt from Ced’s letter to Grandpa which is quite entertaining and informative.

On Friday, a letter from Marian to Grandpa as she travels from Pomona to Jackson, Mississippi.

Judy Guion



Army Life – Dear Dad From Lad – Pomona to Flora – August 27, 1944



BOX 491


Sunday, August 27, ‘44


Flora, Miss.

Dear Dad: –

Well, as you probably have realized from the change of address card sent you from Pomona, I have moved and am holdup in the God – forsaken place known hereabouts as Flora. If you can’t find it on any map it is about 19 miles north of Jackson. We got in here after a train ride that entailed only one disconcerting factor, namely a hot box at 0300 Wed. morning and held us up a couple of hours while they rounded up another car and had us change over. We left Pomona Monday at 1700 and went northeast through New Mexico and Nevada and about 35 miles from Oklahoma City we changed from Santa Fe to Rock Island and went south to Fort Worth were we developed that hotbox mentioned earlier. At Fort Worth we turned east again and went via Illinois Central to Jackson and thence north to Flora. We got into Army Service Forces Training Center (ASFTC), Mississippi Ordnance Plant (MOP), at about 2400 Thursday and were allowed to sleep Friday morning until almost 0830. Friday we did very little and since we had no passes available, I went to bed Friday night after looking over a little of the Post. Saturdays we will get off at 1500 and so yesterday I took a pass and first went into Flora which is about 5 miles from the post. I went from door to door trying to get a lead on someplace, even if only a room, and was unsuccessful. I did get a line on a couple of places that should be fairly clean and nice which will possibly be vacant about the first of the month, but nothing immediately available and since Marian will probably be here about the middle of the week, I decided that I had better go into Jackson and see if I could find something there temporarily. I finally found a waitress in a restaurant who knew of a room that would be open beginning tomorrow and I went out to see the place last night and took it. At least Marian will have a place to go to. Here is the deal and why it is so hard to get a place. Jackson, with a population of 62,000 plus, is the center of an area here around which there are five large army camps and a small PW camp (prisoner of war). Therefore the population of Jackson swells on weekends to well above the 100,000 mark and during the week it is always crowded. Hotels and rooms are at a premium and if the girls get in fairly late they may have no place to stay. But that difficulty is settled now. I expect Marian about the middle of the week

That just about covers everything that has happened to us since you last heard from us in Pomona. I got a letter from Marian and she is coming east and had had no serious difficulties as far as Salt Lake City.

I got an absentee ballot from Helen Plumb today and I think that I’ll fill that out tonight and send it in. I’m on C.Q. today, and that is the first company duty I have had in a long, long time. I think the last I had was in Texarkana last February. You may send that package to me at this address, but it looks as though this may not last more than five or six weeks. I hope not. It is terrifically uncomfortable here due to the high humidity and the hot sun. And it doesn’t cool off here like it did in California. Southern California really is a nice climate and a very likable place. I hope that if we move anywhere else in the states it is back to the West Coast. I’m sitting here and the perspiration is running off me worse than it did in South America, and that is HOT.

Well, Dad, give our love to everybody (I know Marian would wish me to write for her too) and announce our new address. Until the next – –  Lad

Tomorrow, a page from Grandpa, Tuesday and Wednesday, two pages from Ced, Thursday a note from Marian and on Friday, a long letter from Grandpa to his Offspring.

Judy Guion

Friends – Dear Lad – Congratulations From Babe – October, 1943


This is a letter of congratulations from Lad’s former girlfriend after his engagement was announced.

Dear Lad,

Can’t write much as this is class time – as usual – couldn’t wait, though to send you both my best wishes.

Congratulations to you – and tell your bride to be that I wish her much happiness.

Would write more – but between graces operation scheduled for today and he old classroom, I’m in a dither.



P.S. do you think a few Californian vitamins might help us out back in old cold New England????                                                                – over

Kick-a-Poo Joy Juice is what I’ve been taking but the caloric content is too high.

P.S.S. Incidentally – it’s up to you two love birds to find me something tall, dark and ugly (don’t like pretty men) – who can boss me around!


Incidentally- Lad – better send my old picture back – sure would look funny in someone else’s home! I could use it myself, anyhow.

Gotta  have something for the old family album.

Tomorrow, letters to Lad from his soon-to-be in-laws, Marian and Mowry Addison Irwin, who have never met him. Wednesday, a letter to Ced from Grandma Peabody, and on Thursday and Friday, Grandpa fills in the blanks for the family in the Case History of Miss Marian Irwin.

Judy Guion 

Friends – Dear Al – Welcome to the Family From Marian’s parents – October 14, 1943


Mowry Addison and Marian (Rider) Irwin

Marian (Rider) and Mowry Addison Irwin, Marian’s parents.

Lad had written a letter to Marian’s parents introducing himself and giving them a resume of sorts. Each of them wrote to Lad (they knew him as Al) welcoming him into the family.


Dear Al,

Marian knows that whomever she chooses for a husband would be welcome in her family, but I thought you might like a very special greeting all your own. We are very humorous, but not at all formidable, so don’t be dismayed at the prospect.

Being one of a fairly sizable family yourself you should know something about them.

Naturally, we would have liked knowing you before the wedding but it isn’t essential – it is just a pleasure awaiting us. Like most parents we want our children to lead healthy, normal lives, and feel that marriage has a very definite place in that program. After you try it for 20 or 30 years I hope you’ll be as much in favor of it as I am. There is some chance about practically everything in life; but I feel your chances for happiness without marriage are far greater than with it.

This won’t be a very long letter because I have many things urgently requiring attention and our mail collection is about due: but the welcome extended is not in accordance with the size of the letter – it is just a sort of “filler in” until I can extended it in person.

Very sincerely,

Marian Irwin


Thursday night

October 14th, 1943

Dear Al:

Thanks fellow, for your letter. I enjoyed the resume of your life very much. And it gave Mom and I a good opportunity to know you better. Now, if you can dig up a picture, we would appreciate that. However don’t put yourself out because after all, Sis has put her life in your hands, Don and Peg (Marian’s brother and sister) liked you very much when they met you in South Pasadena and that is plenty good enough for us! We naturally think we have a pretty fine family and will welcome you into it and bestow upon you the same love and appreciation.

You must secure the marriage license in the county in which you are to be married. In talking to the County Clerk today, I find that they are closed from Saturday noon until Monday morning. This means, in order that you may be married on Sunday, November 14th, that you both will have to arrive here by noon on Saturday. This makes it appear to me that you will have to be extra nice to your commanding officer that grants leaves and arrange to leave South Pasadena on Friday night and drive through. Otherwise the day of the wedding will have to be changed and we will have to know as quickly as possible, because we have arranged for the chapel for Sunday afternoon at 1:30 PM. It is a very popular place and a months advance notice is advisable. This explains why I am take it up with you and ask that (my pen ran dry and had to stop to refill) you let us know as quickly as possible. The troubles of the groom to be. Things have been running to smoothly for you both, so a couple of things like finding an apartment and arranging for a change, or additional leave, will do you good. Good luck in both tries. We will continue to make our plans for the 14th until we hear to the contrary from you.

I’m looking forward to seeing you, meeting you and extending a hearty hand clasp of welcome into the family.

Sincere regards,

Your Dad (to be)

Tomorrow, a letter to Ced from Grandma Peabody. Grandpa will finish out the week writing about Marian Irwin and other bits and pieces of Trumbull news.

Judy Guion

Life in Alaska – Rusty’s Harrowing Adventure (2) – August 14, 1944

This is the second half of a letter written by Rusty Huerlin, a family friend, to Ced. Both Rusty and Ced are living in Alaska and they have become good friends.


As most of our freight was for Wainwright, we were able to take on passengers there – storm bound Eskimos unable to return to Barrow in their boats heavily loaded with coal. So we left there towing five whale boats and had 25 Eskimos to sweeten the forecastle and share with us the four bunks when the next storm came up. We had then run into ice – icebergs 20 feet high, and got forced outside of them and land. Most of this was fields of bergs and we wound around it for a day in getting in close to land. This ice ran nearly down to Wainwright but once getting inside of it the water was smooth. 60 miles of this going was the best of our trip and I will never forget the fun. The kids had gotten over their seasickness and there was no more rushing from below with puke pots. They were happy and glad to be going home. One woman had six children. She and all of them had been sick in my bunk. But that was nothing. I had, after one storm, laid down in more filth than could be found in a garbage can and never felt more clean in my life. To sleep alongside of those shipmates after trying to take what they did uncomplainingly, was the finest expression I have yet experienced. I had made four friends I shall never forget – –Eubrulik Rock, Richard Scott, Daniel Attungniak and Andrew Franksen.

First chance I get now Ced, I will attend to the many things I was unable to do in Nome. One – a letter to Beryl, is she still in Anchorage? The painting for McDonald’s: what size would you like? Was it you that wanted it as a present for them or was it a picture they wished to order? And what type of subject would they like? I’m painting Arctic life now exclusively so my subjects will be Eskimos. This is the greatest field of all and a wonder to me why no artist has pioneered it before.

Charles Brown had me over for dinner day after we landed. Most interesting. old-timer in the whole territory. First painting will be of him and that one I will keep for myself. Then will have to get down to making bread and butter – money – or go on all Eskimo diet.

Eskimos on the way said I was the only white man they had ever seen take to all their food and like it. Ate walrus blubber by the pounds, meat dipped in seal oil – dried fish and seal oil – mucktuk and even walrus flippers. This latter dish is a raw one but was bound to try it to see if my stomach could digest it. Eubrulik, who had been seasick in the storm, had expected for a long time to see me seasick. Told me I would get seasick if we left one night following a hunk of said walrus flippers. This dainty dish is very apt to knot up any white man’s stomach if not poison him. If soured by the sunshine it poisons the Eskimo. But they did not keep me out of their gathering in a tent full of friends at Wainwright when the flippers were boiling. I sat around and ate like the rest but excuse from now on for not “taking it” again will be that my false teeth cannot get through it.

The stench from this boiling tough stuff and fat is the most repulsive I have ever experienced. It has not a sour smell alone for it smells of rottenness but I used my imagination in “taking it” like one should use when first eating Limburger cheese. So the imagination used was that my nose was rotting away and that I was starving for food – that a rather spoiled pigs foot would give some strength to me. A girl cut me off a big hunk of it dripping with rotten fat and handed it to me. I put it in my mouth and started the imagination and began chewing it. “That’s enough for him” said Eubrulik, in Eskimo to her and he stared at me with the rest watching for the effect. But I ate one piece after another. Did not get seasick the next day when we cast off, nor did I get seasick on the whole trip. Don’t know what that is and will never know but back to this flipper dish – anything fished from a sewer of smelly tidbits could never come up to it. Eubrulik has named me now and by muckluk telegraph it has gone a long way – “artist, first white man to eat flippers”.  If I do it again I’ll be the last. Seal guts with crap in them taste like sausage meat in comparison. One day on the trip I lived on raw caribou meat dipped in seal oil – looks like pretty days ahead – my three months grubstake, which was all I was able to afford, is going to last me a year now.

Sending you an ivory knife – soon hope to send all of $50 worth. Tell Morry I am writing him. Have given up rum and all forms of liquor. Sure amazed at any power of the will – Rusty

Here’s a link to some information about Rusty and another to some of his paintings.

For the rest of the week, I’ll be posting a two-page letter from Grandpa. 

Judy Guion

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

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

Barrow, Alaska

Aug. 14, 1944

Dear Ced,

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

The “Ada”,  overloaded by 5 tons on deck, ran into one storm after another – worst was between Katzebuc and Kivalun when we hit into the sea to try out running the storm. It is too long a story to attempt describing on paper. Conrad would have made a book out of it. I have seen higher waves off Cape Hatteras and in the North Sea, but never so close to rough weather as what we ran into on the “Ada”. None of us ever expected to see land again and I know now why men pray. Hope becomes our concentration and that is a tremendous thing. Eubrulik and Richard were religious which made their hardships not as great. I pumped and pumped and pumped and pumped and never taxed my heart as much before as we kept taking in water and more water. Finally the engine quit. Richard then saved the lives of all of us in getting 9 fathoms of anchor line out and holding on to the end of the line – probably two minutes before he could get 2 feet of it to make a turn on the forward bit. None of us could get to him, the sea was so rough. And that was the beginning of  a24-hour battle with the devil in that deep green sea. It was bad again from Point Hope to Point Joy. Had taken a beating from 12 at noon till 5 AM the next morning, could take it no more and made for a lagoon 7 miles from Point Joy. Breakers were 5 miles long on shoals and some 30 or more rows of them from deepwater to shore. Channel was hideous. Eubrulik made fast some things. When it came down from “half one” (6 feet) Louis Riech said – rather yelled it – “Let’s get the hell out of here.” but it was too late. We struck bottom – went over on our starboard side – shipped water to soak me wet from head to foot where I stood on one ear in the cabin. Water poured down into the engine room to kill the engine. All Louis could do was blow foghorn for Eskimos in tents near Armundsen’s cabin to get out with what help they could offer. All this happened so quickly and the next breaker smacked us so hard that we went some 10 feet sideways. Then the miracle of all miracles happened. The “Ada” righted herself. We had been smacked over the bar. Then we rolled, helplessly in the deeper water, were blown into the channel and Louis got the engine started. We motored in behind a sand spit breakwater as if the way we had come was the right way to do it. 15 minutes later a gang of Eskimos came aboard saying we were the luckiest people they had ever seen. We all knew that not one boat in 1 million could do the same thing again. It took place about a quarter of a mile from shore and it hardly makes sense that we were not shipwrecked, that of all times, on the trip. But the whole thing was laughable or we were greatly excited. It was Davy Jones locker one second then the next, a certainty of fooling him. We made the lagoon more gratefully from Point Hope to Point Joy where we had to lay for five days.


Here is some further information about Rusty:

Tomorrow, I’ll post the rest of this very interesting letter. For the rest of the week, I’ll be posting a letter two-page letter from Grandpa.

Judy Guion