Voyage to Venezuela (13) – Trip to Caracas – January, 1939

 

Alfred P Guion (Lad)

The trip to Caracas was an adventure in itself.  Our car was a large Lincoln of about 1931 vintage but to all outward appearances was in good shape, and was well polished.  It was a touring style body, the top was up and showed no signs of ever having been lowered.  The three of us, Frank Da Cosa, Paul Burkhart and myself rode in back, I in the middle.  I think that that was as good a location as any because I could look out either side with equal ease.  We wound around through the narrow streets of La Guayra for quite a few minutes, having to stop now and then to let a truck that was coming toward us pass, since the roads were too narrow for two large vehicles to pass at the same time in places and on other narrower streets, only one-way traffic was allowed.  It seems as if the bottom of the mountains are the border of the town for as we started up the first incline the houses were no more and after about one mile there were practically no signs of habitation along the right-of-way.

The road was about fourteen feet wide and seemed to go continually upward, winding and twisting like a snake, dipping only now and then to cross a little gully or stream and then on up again.  The turns were apt to be very sharp and our driver apparently thought nothing of them because he would only slow down sufficiently to be sure that the car would stay on the road.  The tires screamed on almost every turn and instead of looking at the scenery we were forced to spend more time watching the road in order to brace ourselves for the next turn.  What little I saw of the scenery however was very pretty.  Now and then the road went up parallel to the sea and with the clear blue sky above, the deeper blue water below and the brilliant green trees and grass between us and the stretch of sand that shone like a river in the bright sunlight, was something that I shall remember for quite a long time.  Now and then the road passed over a quebrada, as they are called, and if there were not too many trees I could look down for hundreds of feet to a deep chasm whose sides were so steep that only grass could get a foothold.  In other places the pavement was washed away or the road partly covered by a landslide and in these places the driver did slow down and once or twice he seemed to be sort of feeling his way across.  At one exceptionally sharp turn there is a monument erected as a memory to drive carefully.  It is an actual car that was wrecked quite badly on this turn, and is mounted on a cement pillar were all who pass cannot help but see it.  If one were to go straight instead of making the curve, or rather, turn, he would go down a steep embankment that is not far from perpendicular from many, many feet.  I doubt that one could live through it.  As we got higher and higher, we could see more and more hills behind this

On the very first page of Life in Venezuela by Alfred  P Guion, Lad writes:

“ Although I am starting off with every intention of bringing this little article, or whatever, to a close, it may never reach this ultimate end.”  Well, this is the end of his epistle.

I have a few letters written by Dan in late 1938 to the family and next Saturday, I will post a portion of one of them. It covers his trip from Curacao and his impressions of Caracas.

On the very first page of Life in Venezuela by Alfred  P Guion, Lad writes:

    “ Although I am starting off with every intention of bringing this little article, or whatever, to a close, it may never reach this ultimate end.”  Well, this is the end of his epistle.

I have a few letters written by Dan in late 1938 to the family and next Saturday, I will post a portion of one of them. It covers his trip from Curacao and his impressions of Caracas.

Tomorrow, I will post the last of the Bradford, Lewis, Rider and Irwin Ancestors. On Monday I will begin a week of The Beginning – Childhood Memories of Trumbull. 

Judy Guion

 

 

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Army Life – An Apartment and Wedding Gifts – December 7, 1943

              Lad and Marian Guion, 1943

Monday

Dear Dad –

Lad is still busy monogramming every article of G.I. clothing he possesses with G-2058 – even his sox – and I finished wrapping some of our Christmas gifts, so I can think of no better time to write you and relate the latest happenings of the very happy A. P. Guion’s of California.

First and foremost – we have finally located a place to hang our hats. Hallelujah! This business of vagabonding in the Buick has been find, but it’s going to be wonderful having our own place. It is in South Pasadena – a living room, bedroom, kitchen and bath over a garage, completely furnished – only four years old and sounds very nice. I haven’t seen it yet, but we’re moving in this coming weekend, we hope! I’ll believe it when we are actually in, and not before. The new address is 1416 Stratford Ave., South Pasadena. I hope it will be fairly permanent. Seems to me that you had quite a time wondering just where to send your letters. Hope you won’t have to think about any other address for quite a while. We are going to spend next weekend collecting our things from various parts of Southern California and concentrating them in one spot, and it’s going to be wonderful. We are actually looking forward to moving!

Secondly, the photograph of Lad has never arrived. I have inquired twice at this post office, with no positive results. They said the best thing to do would be to start checking from your post office. Perhaps by now it’s come back to you. I hope so.

–      About wedding gifts. It’s rather hard to tell you just what to say to lad’s friends- we don’t want to get too many things so that we will have a hard time moving – and not knowing where we will be after the war makes a difference, too. However, linens of any kind are very acceptable. We haven’t picked out our sterling pattern as yet, and are waiting until after the war to get our dishes – so, that’s out – our Fostoria is the candlewick pattern – we don’t have cake plates or cups and saucers in that – odd pieces of any fairly plain Fostoria would be acceptable. Vases are another thing we could use – does that help?

–      We are sending our Christmas package to you this week. Hope it arrives before Christmas. Isn’t very much, but with it comes a heartfelt wish for happiness for all of you and the fervent prayer that next year we can all be together for Christmas. Will certainly be thinking of all of you.

Mowry Addison and Marian (Rider) Irwin

    Mowry Addison and Marian (Rider) Irwin

–         Quoting from Mother’s last letter, “I received the nicest letter from Al’s father this week. I hope that we will get a chance to meet him sometime soon, for I know we will like him very much.” She also  said how startled she was to have you referred to Al as “Lad” ‘cause three or four times while we were home she started to call him that because it seemed so natural. And she has never known that Lad was his nickname. I’ve never mentioned it in any letter to them. I always referred to him as Al. Strange, isn’t it?

Lad asks me to tell you that, for the record, the pajamas, bathrobe and Christmas box have all arrived safely – and he hereby sends his thanks.

Will write again, soon,

Love to all-

Marian

Lad ads a note:

Lad writes: Thanks for your cooperation. All of the pkgs. have arrived in fine shape. As Marian mentioned, her temporary address will be 1416 Stratford Ave. I think monogram letterhead will be very nice. Something like this:Initials are M I G. More later. Love to all — Lad

Tomorrow, more of the Voyage to Venezuela. On Sunday, more of My Ancestors. 

Judy Guion

Trumbull – Dear Gang – The Great Guion Mystery – December 5, 1943

Trumbull, Conn., Dec. 5, 1943

Dear Gang:

Cedric Duryee Guion

The Great. Guion Mystery, unsolved to the present moment, is: “Has Ced left Anchorage en route home?” The last word from Alaska, as reported to you in a previous communication, was that our arctic explorer expected to leave for his long trip to Connecticut on December 3rd , and I have been anxiously, almost fearfully, looking for further word that would relieve the tension and let us know that nothing is intervened to prevent his leaving per schedule.

Dave has received notification that he is now class 1-A, and if rumors are to be given credence, he will leave Trumbull January 10th . The last hurdle he has yet to get over is his final physical exam. He is flirting with the idea of asking to join the Navy, probably because several of his buddies here have chosen that branch of the service, but this, I hope, will not happen.

Our guest for dinner today was Harold LaTour whom you older boys may remember. For a while he was salesman for an American concern in South America but is now with the Daily News in New York. He was one of Roger Bachelder’s college friends.

A review of incoming correspondence this week reveals the following:

A card announcing the arrival of Donald Robert Whitney, Jr., on November 25th , wait 8 pounds ten and a half ounces.

              Lad and Marian Guion – 1943

Another nice letter from Marian expressing the expectation of drinking a Thanksgiving toast to the “Guion clan and the fervent wish that another year will find us all together”. She also reports receiving a congratulatory telegram from Ced bemoaning the fact that he would not be around to tie tin cans to the car. It seems that the newlyweds waited so long before starting away for their home trip that all the guests got tired of waiting for them to leave, and in consequence, they escaped the horseplay that usually accompany affairs of this sort.

A letter from Dan enclosing signed registration certification which makes Dave happy in that he will now have about a month in which to drive around a car of his own (provided he can get it running). After a typical Danielesque description of English weather in lieu of the real news he hints he may write about, were it not for the limitations of censorship, he goes on to say his expected studies at Oxford or Cambridge have not yet materialized. He ends with the words: “Hurrah for Lad. I shall write to her personally.”

It is many weeks now, Dan, since a package of Rum and Maple, Kleenex, shampoo, etc. has been sent to you, but if I can secure anymore of that brand of tobacco (they told me it was not being made anymore and what I got was the last of their stock), I shall get off another shipment with the hope that sooner or later one of them might escape Hitler’s U-boats.

Thank you, Marian, for your welcome letter. I hope next time you or Lad write, you will be able to say that you have found a cozy little house or apartment. I’m going to miss you all here Christmas, but I hope Ced will be here to partly compensate. Jean and Dave anyway will save the day and I expect Bissie and her two hopefuls will be on hand. Jean is a way with her Aunt this week and visiting friends in New Milford.

Aunt Betty, Dave and Smoky all send their best, and as for me, you all know what to expect from                               DAD

Tomorrow, I will finish the week with another letter from Marian.

On Saturday, more on the Voyage to Venezuela in 1939. OnSunday, more of My Ancestors. Judy Guion 

Judy Guion

Trumbull – Dear Absent Ones (2) – Wishful Thinking – November 28, 1943

This is the second page of a letter from Grandpa to his sons – and daughter-in-law) letting them know what has been going on in Trumbull the past week.

page 2    11/28/43

        Jean (Mortensen) Guion

Just so that you will know Dick is still alive and kicking, I asked Jean to extract a few lines from his letters to her, which she very kindly consented to do, as follows: He is permitted to tell where he is now – in Natal, Brazil, but of course no mention of this fact is to be made on any letters you may write him. The camp where he is staying has a day room equipped with a radio phonograph, books, magazines, ping-pong table, horse shoes, boxing gloves, baseball and basketball equipment. They have built a tennis court and he has played on it several times. He is learning to ride a motorcycle but doesn’t have too much time to devote to it.

I spent most of the day on storm windows. Remember the weather stripping you put around the inside kitchen door, Lad? Well, one night last spring one very bold rat got in the laundry in an effort to get into the kitchen gnawed portions of the weather stripping away and this too, I repaired. Dan, do you recall the good job you did last year in chinking up the spaces between frame and storm windows? Some of it was still in place this year. Ced, do you recall the day you gave me a set of hardware for my bathroom window? Due to warping or settling or something, the storm sash this year was considerably out of whack, so that, too, I remedied today. About half the windows on the ground floor are now completed and I’m hoping, before the weather gets too cold, I can complete the balance.

Dave is away today – he went up to Hartford to visit his friend Howard Mehegan, who is going to school up there at Uncle Sam’s expense. Tomorrow night Dave presides at his first formal dinner, formal not in dress but in the fact that as President of the Trumbull Rangers, who are holding their first annual dinner at the Algonquin club, no less, he presides as Toastmaster.

We have had one storm so far this season which however was neither very deep nor did it last very long. Most of the weather we have had lately has consisted of beautiful cool, but mainly sunshiny, days. Due to the coal shortage we have not yet started the furnace, keeping the real chill off by generous use of oil stove. Up to the present, we have been able to get by without too great discomfort, and as soon as I get all the storm windows up, or in case of a particularly cold spell, we will start up the old ash maker.

And that about closes up the session for this evening. Maybe by next week I will be able to tell you more about the news from the scattered points where the Guion boys are holding up Trumbull prestige. Until then, spare a thought occasionally for all of us back here in the hills of Connecticut, and especially one who now and again describes himself as

DAD

Tomorrow, another letter from Grandpa and on Friday, another letter from Marian.

Judy Guion

Trumbull – Dear Absent Ones (1) – Wishful Thinking – November 28, 1943

 

Trumbull, Conn., Nov. 26, 1943

Dear Absent Ones:

The days speed on, bringing nearer the time when Ced pulls up his anchor at Anchorage; Lad and Marian, homeless now, come to the end of a long cross-country journey to their Trumbull home, when Dick, returning to his adoring wife and still un-discouraged father, makes his verbal report on all the things he has failed to write about; and Daniel, now in the Lion’s Den of London, is released from his not un-enjoyable bondage; and Dave slays his Goliath in the shape of Uncle Sam’s Army training routine and eventually returns to the fellowship of his family. Then, we can have a real Thanksgiving again. Holidays without you boys and girls are like Thanksgiving without Turkey — which is just what we had this year — Thanksgiving without Turkey. We stay-at-homes have been told that you boys had “the bird” on that day which left us rather short. If the former is true, we don’t object to the latter one bit. And now the fire in the hearth in the alcove sputters and crackles as I write the above as if mentally in agreement with my frame of mind and having you all so far away from the ancestral home at this season.

Jean went to her grandparents for the family’s annual get together while Elsie came up from New York and Elizabeth and her two sprites were with us.

“Old Faithful” Lad was responsible for the “foreign” mail this week. Marian has had to give up her apartment because the landlady’s friends had a prior claim which leaves the newlyweds to leave a rather nomadic existence. They have been searching for a place for almost 2 months now, with no luck. He says: “We have six places in mind but in order to get one, the present occupants have to move and there are no available apartments for them either, so it’s just a vicious circle and we seem to be at the outer end of the radius. Our friends out here, though, are wonderful, and have many rooms in which we could stay, and as Marian says, ‘We still have a car and I’ve slept in worse places — my car is only a Chevy.’ We really aren’t very worried, I guess, we just too happy and confident in ourselves to take it very seriously.”

Marian Dunlap (Irwin) Guion

And now, Marian, just come aside with me for a moment where the others can’t hear what we’re saying, as I want to ask you a few questions. Lad, as you may surmise, has a number of friends back home here and many have asked me what I think they should send you as a wedding gift. That, as you may imagine, is a rather difficult question for both of us to answer under present circumstances, but more so for me then you; so just sit down soon, when you have a breathing spell, and make a list of things you would like, so that I will not be so much on the spot as I am right now. I also am interested to know if you ever received that photo yet. I am in a quandary as to whether packages addressed to soldiers get preference over civilian parcels post or not, but last week before getting Lad’s letter, I mailed his bathrobe to your old address, as soldier packages are quite limited as to size, weight, etc. I have also been saving a Christmas box which I packed up some time ago for Lad, finally mailing it last week to Edgewood Drive.

Thanks, Lad, for your definite instructions. The way is cleared now and I know just where I stand. I will wait a while before selling your Venezuela Petroleum, as, due to stock market fluctuations, the price went down to $9, but my broker thinks it will go higher than it was before, as it has good value behind it. Meantime, I am renewing the bank note and will (Oh darn, I just noticed that all my carbon copies are backwards. Sorry, but you’ll just have to borrow a mirror and read it that way. Another way would be to hold it up against a strong light, wrong way to), or rather, I have already paid the Investors Syndicate installment and will later write you the whole story so that you can determine whether you wish to continue it or not.

Tomorrow, the second half of this letter. Then another letter from Grandpa and finally, a letter from Marian to finish off the week.

Judy Guion

Army Life – Dear Home Guard of the Guion Clan – Marian and Lad’s Thanksgiving Wish – November 25, 1943

This week I will be posting letters written in 1944. Lad and Marian have just been married and are looking for an apartment.  Dan is in London, Ced is in Anchorage, Alaska, working as an airplane mechanic for Uncle Sam, Dick is in Brazil and Dave is battling with various Army training schools.

Mowry and Marian Irwin, Marian and Lad Guion, November 14, 1943

Marian’s first letter as a newlywed to Grandpa and everyone else in Trumbull on Thanksgiving Day, 1943.

Thursday

Dear Home Guard of the Guion Clan —

Surely it can’t be a week since Lad wrote you saying that I would be writing to you in a day or two, but after taking a hasty glance at the calendar, I find that it is over a week ago! How time flies by – and all my good intentions, too — nevertheless, we have been thinking of you, and wishing there were some way we could induce Superman to transport us to Trumbull for Thanksgiving Day. Of course, Uncle Sam says that Lad must work today, although he did surprise me by getting off for two hours for lunch – but maybe Superman could convince Uncle Sam, too, that eating at home on Thanksgiving Day would be quite a morale “lifter-upper”.

We are going out for our Thanksgiving dinner — seeing as how we don’t have an apartment as yet– and besides, I’ve never cooked a turkey in my life! There always has to be a first time, however, but perhaps it’s just as well for Lad’s innards that we are going out. Even though you will probably all be in bed, we will drink a toast, too, to the Guion Clan and the fervent wish that another year will find us all together.

Seems to me that Lad reported quite completely to you about our wedding. It was really lovely and although simple, was quite impressive. Lad, of course, didn’t tell you what a very fine impression he made on the members of my family – you and I know, of course, that it certainly wouldn’t have been any other kind of an impression – but my family has never seen him. All comments were highly favorable, and as mother says, “We have some rather outspoken members in our family too!” But they all think he is mighty fine, as, of course, he most definitely is!

We received a congratulatory telegram from Ced bemoaning the fact that he wouldn’t be around to tie tin cans on the car! I’m surprised someone in our family (West Coast branch) didn’t think of it either. They must be slipping, or perhaps the fact that we didn’t leave until after everyone else did sort of cramped their style! We were so pleased that everyone could come to the wedding – some driving as far as 100 miles in spite of the “gas and tire situation” – then we stayed around talking to everyone until they had to leave.

Isn’t it wonderful that Ced is getting home? For a whole month, too. There will certainly be great rejoicing when he arrives, won’t there? Three years is an awful long time.

If my husband (gosh, that sounds wonderful!) Expects to find me practically ready to go out with him this evening when he gets home, I’d better close this letter and start to get ready.

Can’t possibly tell you how very happy we are – in spite of the fact that we have no home. Perhaps a slight ray of our happiness will shine through the lines of this letter – if you could see us I know you’d see what I mean, for we are just beaming all the time. Our friends just look at us and say, “You can’t possibly be that happy!” But we are — Even more so–

With love and happy Thanksgiving Day greetings from

Lad and Marian

P.S. – The package containing the P.J.s arrived safe and sound.

M

Tomorrow, Wednesday and Thursday, two letters from Grandpa and on Friday, another letter from Marian.

Judy Guion

 

Tomorrow and Wednesday, a letter from Grandpa, on Thursday another of Grandpa’s letters and on Friday, another from Marian.

Judy Guion

Voyage to Venezuela (12) – The Adventure of Landing at La Guayra – January 4, 1939

This is the  beginning of a series of posts concerning Lad’s Voyage to Venezuela, taking a similar route as John Jackson Lewis during the first portion of his journey, about 88 years later. Lad and Dan had been hired by their Uncle Ted Human (husband of Helen (Peabody) Human), Aunt Helen, sister of Arla Mary (Peabody) Guion, Grandpa’s wife who had passed away in 1933 after a long illness. This is Lad’s version of the adventure he was taking and the same trip Dan had taken earlier in the year, traveling with Ted Human to South America.

 

The Harbor  at Curacao, January 3, 1939

Native  Quarters at Curacao – January 3, 1939

Wednesday, January 5, 1939, (actually, Wednesday was January 4th in 1939) was a beautiful day, quite well advanced, by the time I rose from my bed.  We were just outside the La Guayra harbor waiting for the Pilot to come aboard to guide us into the harbor.  With him would also come the Officials to check our passports and issue the landing papers.  While I was eating breakfast the small tender arrived and we proceeded into the harbor.  There were ships at the dock so we were able to tie up at the wharf with no trouble at all.  While the ship was being made ready for passengers to disembark, the Customs men were busily checking all passports of those intending to stay in Venezuela.  After studying the little red book for a few minutes they would ask a couple of questions through the interpreter, fill out a sheet in Spanish, which had to be signed by the person himself, and then with almost a tone of greed they asked for 10 Bolivars.  This seemed to be the thing that they were most interested in and after that you were told that you would get your passport back in the Customs House on shore.  The landing papers were given out at the Purser’s Office and we were allowed to leave the ship.  It was eleven o’clock when I got to the long gray galvanized sheet iron building that was the Office and storage room of the Customs Dep’t. and in Venezuela there is a two-hour lunch period which starts at eleven in some towns and in others at noon.  La Guayra starts its lunch hours at eleven so immediately after reaching the building everyone was chased out in the place was locked up while the men went out for lunch.  Naturally, the wise thing for me to do was to go out and eat also, but where?  Out in front of the office I met two men who had come down on the Santa Rosa with me and one of them had spent a number of years in Venezuela and knew where to eat, so we asked him to be our host and he did a nice job of it.  Had lunch at a famous seaside restaurant in La Guayra, of which I have forgotten the name, and drove around a little, seeing parts of the city.  It was all interesting and new to me and at the time, I didn’t notice particularly the dirt and filth that I saw on a call to La Guayra after I had spent a few months in Venez.

At 1:00 we all came back to the Customs Office and found out that before getting our passports we would have to call at another administration building and give some more information concerning how long we were intending to stay in Venezuela, our address, for whom we were working and 5 Bolivars more.  For this last we were given a receipt and told to go back to the Customs Office for the passport.  Arriving back there we were told that we would have to wait because there were a few other people in front of us.  They were terribly slow, and spent more time talking than working.  As our baggage was inspected and passed as O.K. the “jefe” put on a sticker with no regards as to how it would look, with a very messy and sticky glue.  Then it was taken to the car or whatever means of transportation one had, and packed for the trip to wherever.

I am getting a little ahead though.  On board the room Steward had a carton of cigarettes, and offered them to me at a substantial savings, and in answer to my question, told me that if the seal were broken they would pass the Customs.  Therefore I opened each pack and put them in my trunk in a conspicuous place.  However the official must have liked Chesterfield’s for when he saw them he smiled and removed five of the remaining eight, but tobacco, which is definitely taboo, he did not take after I told him that it was all I had with me.  It was a one-pound tin of Briggs about one-third empty.  Everything else that I had went through with no questions.  Our host, Frank DaCosa, had hired a car with our permission, for the three of us and all our luggage was strapped onto the trunk rack on back and by four we were ready to leave La Guayra.

At this point a man who had been hanging around quite closely handed each of us a slip of paper that had all the symptoms of a bill and from Frank I learned that it was one for the unasked for assistance that we had gotten in taking our luggage from the Customs house to the car and for watching it in the locked building during the noon hour.  It amounted to 15 Bolivars, which was ridiculous, but had to be paid in order to avoid a scene.  Therefore by the time we had finally left La Guayra I had paid a total of Bolivars 30, without counting my meal or the charge for the taxi to Caracas.

Tomorrow, more about my Bradford Ancestors.

Next week,  I will begin posting more Childhood Memories of Trumbull.

Judy Guion