Venezuelan Adventure (17) – Lighting the Fire (1) – April 3, 1939

 

My grandfather is fed up with the way his sons are being treated in Venezuela so he’s decided to do something about it. He shoots off a barrage of letters to  government officials in Venezuela to light a fire under someone.

            Alfred Duryee Guion  (Grandpa)

April 3, 1939

Mr. S. E. McMillan

American Consul

U.S. Consulate

Caracas, Venezuela

Dear Sir:

Enclosed please find copies of letters written to two officials of the Venezuelan Government, which letters I believe are self-explanatory.

Anything you can do to expedite the straightening out of this mess will be appreciated by an anxious parent.

I will, of course, be glad to supply you with any further details in my power to obtain, if you will let me know what is needed.

My son, Daniel B. Guion, is at present stranded somewhere between Carora and Lake Maracaibo. Another son, Alfred P. Guion, who left New York December 30 in the employ of Inter-America, Inc. can undoubtedly supply you with further details. He is located at the Hotel Aleman in Caracas.

If you think I ought to start inquiries through our own State Department in this country, please suggest what steps I should take. I am acquainted with some of the higher officials in Washington and might be able to stir up some quick action if you think it advisable. Meanwhile I will rest the matter in your hands.

Your cooperation will be gratefully accepted.

Very sincerely yours,

Alfred D. Guion

ADG:G

Enc. 2

Tomorrow, Thursday and Friday I will be posting the rest of the letters Grandpa has sent off to Venezuela to try to expedite straightening out the mess with Inter-America. 

Judy Guion

 

Trumbull – Dear Doggies (3) – Quotes From Lad and Sheer Optimism – April 15, 1945

 

APG - APG at D_____ ______ a_____, 25 June, 1945

Alfred Peabody (Lad) Guion

Page 3    4/15/45

I guess I’m slipping, and will have to back water again. Maybe I can hide behind a technicality. There was no letter to be sure in P.O. Box 7 from Lad this week, but I was pleasantly surprised one day to find one from him waiting for me at the office, written Easter Sunday. “No letter from you again this week. Sometimes the mails are very slow. Yesterday one of the fellows in my room got a letter mailed Dec. 19th, — just a few days short of 4 months – – but then you consider the quantity of mail handled to and from the States I wonder that it makes such good time. And our Censors are doing a wonderful job over here too (now that’s what I call tact, Lad). It is very seldom that a letter isn’t mailed within 36 hours from the time it is written. Marian has only told me of one.

The past few days have been cloudy and wet, but the sun is trying to shine out bright and strong for this day of days. Seems to be having a little trouble though and now and then the clouds win the battle for a short time. It is still morning, so it may yet overcome all resistance. Hope so. I’ve been to the movies three times in the past week but didn’t see anything worth seeing. We’ve had quite a few mystery pictures lately but I don’t enjoy them too well. According to Marian, Ced, as usual, practically outdid himself in his Christmas Box. His ideas are always so practical, yet good, that it is truly a great pleasure to receive anything from him. Even his letters. Which reminds me, I should write to him. Plans to see Dan or the other fellows in Paris are no more mature than they were last time I wrote, but I’m still hoping. Interesting news items of the past week are nil and therefore I don’t have much to write about. Give my love to Aunt Betty and Jean and remember me to anyone so interested. I’ll take care of Marian’s interest, I hope. Lots of love, luck and good health, Dad. An Easter wish to you all – – on paper that is. I thought it many times this morning. LAD

It’s so good to be hearing from you regularly, again, Lad. It makes more difference in the days contentment than you realize. The only sad thing about it is that it makes me want to do so much more for all you lads that I can do. You married ones are being supplied from time to time by your devoted wives with boxes containing what you ask for and perhaps some things that you don’t ask for and possibly even can’t use, so Dad is sort of frustrated in exhibiting any of the tokens of esteem he wants to express, but from the news we keep getting, it seems as if it couldn’t be too long now before the show is over and the day brought nearer when you march up the gangplank and set sail for home. Oh, boy, won’t that be some day! And it does look over here as though you boys will not need to worry much about the future. I suppose I’m just naturally optimistic, but it does seem that for several years we will have a period of great prosperity here in this country. That report from Ven. Pete. (Venezuela Petroleum) which Marian is sending you looks as though they might use a good man on diesel down there, if you’re interested, Lad. Meantime I don’t think it would do a bit of harm to drop those men you know a postcard now and then, just to let them know you are on the map and have not forgotten them.

To you, also, Dick and Ced and Dave, our thoughts turn your way more than you know. In fact each of you occupies a special place in the thoughts and affections of your…..

DAD

Tomorrow and Sunday, letters from Dave during his World War II Army Adventure.

Judy Guion 

Army Life – Dear Dad – Almost Forgotten Easter Greetings – April, 1945

This week, I’ll be posting letters written in April of 1945. Both Lad and Dan are in France, Lad in the south, Dan in the north. Ced is still in Alaska, Dick is in Brazil and Dave is in Okinawa. Grandpa remains in Trumbull with Aunt Betty, Marian (Lad’s wife) and Jean (Dick’s wife).

APG - Al and Mike Hennigan, Langres, France, March, 1945

Lad and Mike Hennigan

Langres, France, 1945

France-Easter-

Rec’d 4/9

Dear Dad:-

No letter from you again, this week. Sometimes the mails are very slow. Yesterday one of the fellows in my room got a letter mailed on Dec. 9th, just a few days short of four months. But when you consider the quantity of mail handled to and from the States, I wonder that it makes such good time. And our Censors are doing a wonderful job over here, too. It is very seldom that a letter isn’t mailed within 36 hours from the time it is written. Marian has only told me of one.

The past few days have been cloudy and wet, but the sun is trying to shine out bright and strong for this day of days. Seems to be having a little trouble though, and now and then the clouds win the battle for a short time. It is still morning, so it may, yet, overcome all resistance. Hope so.

I’ve been to the movies three times in the past week, but didn’t see anything worth seeing. We’ve had quite a few mystery pictures lately, but I don’t enjoy them too well.

According to Marianni, Ced, as usual, practically outdid himself in his Christmas Box. His ideas are always so practical and yet good that it is a truly great pleasure to receive anything from him. Even his letters. Which reminds me, I should write to him.

Plans to see Dan or the other fellows in Paris are no more mature than they were last time I wrote, but I’m still hoping.

Interesting news items of the past week are nil, and therefore I don’t have much to write about.

I just read through a bunch of Marian’s letters looking for an inspiration, but found none, so I guess I’ll just have to quit.

Give my love to Aunt Betty and Jean and remember me to anyone so interested. I’ll take care of Marian’s interest, I hope.

Lots of love, luck and good health, Dad – as ever

Lad

P.S. I forgot an Easter Wish to you-all. On paper, that is. I thought it many times this morning.

Tomorrow, a letter from Grandpa to his sons with no quotes and no local news to forward, therefore, a “skinny” letter. Wednesday through Friday, another letter from Grandpa, with a bit more news and some quotes from Dan and Lad.

Judy Guion

Trumbull – Dear Dan and Dear Lad – A Warning and News from Trumbull – April, 1939

 

 

R-15

Dear Dan:

The pace is swifter of late.  Since I wrote you last week Lad has fired Inter-America, Inc.,  Max has decided to fly back to New York, Rudolph has been put in charge of things in Ted’s place, Ted (Human) has decided to return home as soon as he can stand the trip and I have started to raise hell with the Venezuelan government at the treatment you are receiving, and in general, hell’s a poppin’.

Lad had a run in with Max who wanted him to join you out in the field, which Lad refused to do without being paid, claiming he did not want to be stranded out in the bush with no money.  This made Max mad  and Lad was told he would be sent back to New York where he could collect back salary.  Lad replied he would have to have more than Max’s word for this, so Lad is now looking for a job with some other concern.

As for you, the sooner you can connect with some other outfit, the better.  I hope that job the Engineering Society had open for you in Venezuela comes through.  If you need any money for cables, or for food, for that matter, and can reach Alfred, perhaps he can help you out.  You had better watch your step and not do anything that will enable Max or Rudolph to accuse you of failing in your duty so that they can have an excuse to fire you until you can make some other connection, but I think you should spare no effort to tie up with some other concern as soon as possible, as it looks to me as though the whole outfit down there were going to fold up.  The complaints I am making to the government may help to do this, but not, I believe, before back salaries of everybody have been paid up.  As Ted will probably get through and further, as I believe Rudolph has been kidded by Max to come over to his side, I don’t see that there will be much use for you to stay on if that other job can be hastened by any means (that’s what I meant by referring to cabling above ).

Whether Lad’s run in with Max and Rudolph’s subsequently coming over to Max’s side on the promise of being given Ted’s job, will have any repercussions in Rudolph’s treatment of you, I don’t know, but this will serve as a tip for you to watch your step in case Max has planned to get even with Lad through you.  The whole business is in a nice mess and I’ll be glad when you are both free of it and either connected up with some other decent company or on your way home with back salary in your pocket.  Lad had an opportunity of possibly getting a job with an oil co., and as he seems to like it pretty well in Caracas, he may stay on for a while.

DAD

********************************************************

Page 2 of R-15

Dear Lad:

Enclosed are the letters you suggested I write as per the airmail letter I received from you Saturday afternoon.  I had just that morning sent you an airmail with the draft covering the payment for unemployment insurance.  I hope I have interpreted Ted’s suggestions properly.  The reference to the deposit was somewhat vague, as I did not know what the deposit referred to as being exempted, or was supposed to cover, so I hope the reference I made to it was O.K.

Yesterday and today, Reyom was moving down to the cottage, Zeke and Biss are moving in this week.  They plan to paper or paint and use the furniture (ours) that is in there until such time as they have money enough to purchase nice pieces of their own.  Marion (Mrs. Laurence Peabody) invited both the newlyweds down to New Rochelle with the rest of us for Easter dinner, but Zeke would rather not go so Biss is going anyway.  Marion has also invited Aunt Betty (Duryee) and Elsie (Duryee, Grandpa’s sister), as well as Helen (Peabody Human, Mrs. Ted)and Dorothy (Peabody) and all of us, so it will be quite a party.  We’ll be thinking of you boys of course.  Dick has been in bed yesterday and today was a cold but seems to be better tonight.  He is twanging away on his guitar right now and has been spending his time making up models with plasticine.  Helen (Human) came back from New York yesterday.  Uncle Fred Stanley, ex-husband of Aunt Anne (Peabody)Stanley), she says, took Gweneth (their daughter, bout Dave’s age) up to Westport to visit some friends and in getting out of his auto, slipped and smashed his face up against a stone post, breaking his nose and blacking his eye.  He is getting better O.K. and will probably show no marks.  Mr. Keating took David and some other boys up to West Point yesterday.  Today has been a blustery day, not cold but windy with quick changes from sunshine to clouds.  Last night we hadthis the first thunderstorm of the season and quite a hard rain later.  Ced has been spending about three days taking all the books out of the shelves in both rooms, cleaning them off, washing the bookcases and rearranging all the books.  He has done his usual thorough job and they look much better.  There is really not enough news in this letter to warrant spending the extra money for airmail, but I think I shall do it just the same in order that you may know what I have written to the Venezuelan government officials, which letters I am also sending by airmail.

Why don’t each of you boys go back over the letters I have written you, if you have saved them, and answer some of the questions I have asked from time to time?

DAD

The letters Grandpa has written to the Venezuelan officials (on the town of Trumbull First Selectman letterhead) will be posted on May 29th, when we return to this story line.

Tomorrow and Sunday I will be posting more letters from Dave regarding his World War II Army Adventure. 

Judy Guion

Trumbull – Dear Lad – Congratulations – April 1, 1939

The situation in Venezuela is in a state of flux and we shall see how it all shakes out.

Alfred Duryee Guion (Grandpa)

April 1st, 1939

Dear Lad:

Congratulations! Am back of you 100% in your move and am proud your backbone is working.  You may be a bit round shouldered but it hasn’t weakened your spine.

If Ted is no longer in charge of operations, I should say you have done the wise thing in quitting and not putting it off to wait for further developments.  This leaves you free for either the oil co. job or the diesel job and may the best “co” win.

Am enclosing an April Fools’ Day letter sort of a birthday gift from the State.  The Bible says “the Lord tempers the wind to the shorn lamb” and it seems as though this money arrives very opportunely for you.  However, it is now you want the spondulahs (?)  not 3 weeks from now, so on the strength of this note, I am going to see if I can’t scrape enough together to send you the amount in advance, and hope the checks will come through promptly.

If I were you I would give them the Trumbull address (your legal residence, from which you last voted, etc.) so as to avoid possible delays and complications connected with removal to foreign countries and any other red tape objections that might be caused by your being in Venezuela.  Send your reply back to me and I will mail it from here to them.  If you haven’t your Social Security # let me know where to find your card and I will fill it in.

Will anxiously and interestedly await further news on the job development.  Don’t be rushed into taking something because it’s the first to come along.  Am really very pleased at the way things are working out for you and hope this marks the start of a steady upward advance.  You deserve it.

Best birthday greetings, again, old man, from your old rootin’, tootin’,  DAD

Tomorrow and Thursday, a long letter from Dan to Lad, and on Friday, a short letter to Dan and another short letter to Lad from Grandpa.

Judy Guion 

Venezuelan Adventure (15) – Dear Dad – A More Complete Story – March 29, 1939

This week our letters are from 1939. In October o 1938 Dan traveled with Uncle Ted Human, husband of Arla Mary (Peabody) Guion’s sister, Helen, o Venezuela to work for the Inter-America Company. The company, hired by the Venezuelan government, planned to built a road from Caracas to Maracaibo, through the northern mountains of Venezuela. In December, after purchasing the mechanic’s equipment he would need to maintain the company vehicles, Lad sailed to Venezuela himself. Dan was already in the field working with the crew that was surveying the route. Uncle Ted had a terrible car accident on a back road within a few months of arriving.  Lad was still in Caracas and was able to take care of arrangements for Uncle Ted’s care.  Trouble was brewing because the men were not receiving their wages. 

      Alfred Peabody Guion (Lad) @ 1939

Caracas

Apt. 1861

March 29, 1939

Dear Dad –

Here is a more complete story of what happened and why I am no longer with Inter-America, Inc.

As you know, about two or three weeks ago I was to be sent to the camp with Dan.  Well, that was all right.  Then the leaving date was advanced one or two days each time we were to leave because there was no money coming in.  Finally, about three or four days ago, money came, only a small amount, and that was to be divided equally into three parts.  One third to each camp and the remaining third to take care of Dr., Hospital and Hotel bills due in Caracas.  Well, immediately, Max sent 1/3 New York.  When I read that, of course, I got a little worried and with TH, we decided that I should demand a payment, in full, to date, including the time taken to go to New York, fare and all expenses.  Of course it would be foolish to leave Caracas and take a chance of being stranded in the field, so when I told Bill R. (Rudolph).  That, he told Max and I was asked to come to Max’s office.  When I got there, he started in by asking me if I had another job and I told him truthfully that I did not have one and added that I would like to return to New York, but would not go without receiving my full salary.  Then he tried another tack.  He tried to get me to admit that I had worked at the Fair Grounds.  As he had worded it, it would mean that I had worked there on my own and since I had only done what T.H. had told me to do, I made that quite clear.  In a few minutes, I learned that I had not acted foolishly in making clear the fact that I had only worked there under orders from T. H.  He produced a letter dated Fe. 9, 1939, saying that the Fair People had refused to pay me any longer and that the bills that they had received covering my fear down, all the tools and my living expenses in Caracas, they were turning back to the Co. (Inter-America) and anyway, they had not hired me and saw no reason why they should pay for someone who was living like a “millionaire”.  Of course I was living as T.H. had directed and certainly it was nothing like it might have been if I had picked on the Majestic or stayed on at the Palace.  Well, the upshot of it all was that Maxudian says that I cost the Co. a lot of money ($1,200.00 he later said without thinking) and that that was the reason I have not been paid, as well as the rest of the men in the fields.  I was living like a millionaire while the “horror” man in the camps starved.  He stated more than once that I was the cause of the present condition of the company.  I could have told him that even now the bills were still unpaid and that they must have spent the $1,200.00 some other place, but I let him do all the talking and even made him phrases questions to suit the case exactly, before I would answer them.  The interview lasted about 15 min.  And by that time, he, Max, would make all arrangements with Bill (Rudolph).  Had I not specified that I “assisted Mr. human” at the Fair Grounds he could have told me that on Feb. 9, I had been fired from the Co. because of the way the letter from the Fair was worded.  Well, so much for that.

Then today, T.H. and I got word that Max is leaving Monday, by plane, for New York, so I went up to see the lawyer.  After a brief chat with him I am convinced that I need not worry about being paid and also that the lawyer, who was a very respectable man, is just about thru.

This is all I have of this letter.  I do not know if there was more but it sounds like he was not finished.

Tomorrow I will have a quick note of congratulations to Lad from Grandpa. on Wednesday, quick letters from Grandpa to Dan and Lad and on Thursday and Friday, a letter from Dan to Lad.

Judy Guion

Trumbull – Dear Patient Reader (4) – Lad’s Trip to Aix-en-Provence – April 4, 1945

 

This is a continuation of a six-page letter from Grandpa with quotes from other letters he has received and news from France. 

Now we’ll leave the South Pacific to enjoy its heat and rainy season and take a quick trip over to France, drop in for a little visit on Lad, and get him to tell us about a little trip he took last Feb., a story which Marian has released for publication – – a lady censor, as it were.

Lad Guion with friend - Pomona - 1944 (2) head shot

Alfred Peabody Guion (Lad)

“Art Thompson, a fellow who joined our outfit at Jackson as a mail clerk, and I, left camp and thumbed our way into the town, or rather, city, and went first to the Armed Services Information Center. We found a woman who spoke textbook English, who told us that gifts such as we desired were hard to get without points, since they have a point-rationing system over here too. She gave us a few leads however and we followed them up for nought.  And then as we left the last store we saw a rather interesting store window across the street and crossed over to look at the fantastic prices of silk, rayon and cotton articles of women’s wearing apparel. Points were needed for all these items except some rather pretty bright-colored hankies. We entered and after a little confusion and chin wagging, plus a lot of silly motions, the girls, about six by this time, realized what we wanted. We picked the ones we desired, paid for them and went out, intending to go back to camp, even though it was early.

In a couple of minutes we got a ride in a G.I. truck heading for Aix. We changed our minds and direction and decided to see Aix. And anyway, Mike and a couple of other fellows were there and we thought we might be able to run across them. Our ride was short-lived (about 8 kilometers or 5 miles) but our destination persisted and we continued afoot, expectantly eyeing each passing vehicle, truck, car, bus – – G. I. and French, until finally along came a tram. There was no car stop but at that particular place the car goes at an angle across the road, and to observe the traffic, almost stopped. Not having had much luck thumbing, we decided to hitchhike on the trolley. As it started to cross the highway we jumped on the rear and stood on the bumper. Actually it was made up of two cars, the first one being the tractor for the second smaller car. Each car was divided into three sections with a door in the center on each side. The second car, or trailer, had no brakes and in order to keep it from damaging the front car when they stopped, there were bumpers at each end of each car. This is what we stood up. However we were not alone. As company we had an old French man who had gotten on earlier, Not being able to converse with him we did not question him or he us, so we rode in silence for 15 or 20 minutes.

At times, particularly on downgrades we traveled at alarmingly high speeds, up and down and about 25 mph forward. On the level and upgrades we traveled considerably slower in both directions. The wheels, of which there were four on each car, were mounted fairly close to the center and left quite a bit overhanging at each end, which sort of aided the rocking. The first car was about 25 feet long and the second about as long as our Buick. They were both the same width, though just a little narrower than the Buick, and seated two people abreast with an aisle in the center. The windows were either dirty or painted for blackout and it was dark by this time anyway, so there was no way of telling whether there was room inside or not. When it finally stopped we dashed around to get in if there was any room.

In the center compartment there were no seats and it was crowded, but the people squeezed in a little more and we managed to get in, far enough so that the trees and shrubbery missed us anyway. The conductor wouldn’t accept our fares. He got us to understand that the Germans never paid so why should we. We gave him a tip anyhow and he put his whistle up to his lips and blew two LOUD blasts. With a lurch and a couple of lesser bounces we began to crawl forward again toward Aix.

The conductor didn’t seem to know any more about where we were than I did. One passenger asked about his stop. He looked puzzled, shrugged his shoulders, studied the map and the car stops posted on the section wall, shrugged his shoulders again, shook his head and lit a cigarette. The passenger took off his hat and leaned out past us watching the scenery for a couple of minutes and then drew back into the car and glared at the conductor, who shrugged his shoulders again very nonchalantly.

After watching the scenery a little longer the passenger either told the conductor he wanted to get off or told him where to get off, but in any case, he let out with another ear bursting tweet on the whistle. Nothing happened and we continued on. The passenger got excited and another tweet (the conductor himself almost blew up on that one) and amid clanks and squeaks, we came to a grinding stop. Nobody else paid any attention to any of this. I guess it’s a common every day commuter’s trip to them. After a number of similar occurrences we stopped without whistles and everybody got off.

We knew it wasn’t Aix but we followed suit and saw just ahead of the trolley a blown-up bridge. Everyone was walking across an improvised bridge at one side so we followed. We could see the lights of a town or city ahead so we continued on foot, particularly when we saw that most of the people were getting into a bus that I wouldn’t trust behind a team of horses. After we had gone about half a block past the bus, it started, coming along behind us up a slight grade. We made it by almost a block to the top of the grade but on the level it gradually passed us and got into town about five blocks ahead of us. The town was Aix, thank goodness, and we had come from Marseilles to Aix, a distance of 32 km (about 20 miles) in just under 2 ½ hours. We never did find Mike until we started back to camp in a G. I. truck and he was hitchhiking. Lad”

 

Tomorrow, I’ll finish this letter with a few words to Dan and some final thought from Grandpa.

Judy Guion