Trumbull – Dear Sons of Sneezy (3) – Extract of Ced (2) – A Typical Day at Woodley – August 27, 1944

This is the second half of a letter from Ced explaining how things are at Woodley Airfield during a typical end-of-fishing season.

Ced @ 1945

Page 2 Ced extract

This year, Woodley rode into the Bay business full speed ahead – – an Electra, a Boeing and a Stinson, with the Travelair also available, if needed. The only handicap was that we had no float ship to get the man up to the Army base (this being the only airfield suitable for large ships in the whole Bristol Bay region). This, however, wasn’t too bad a handicap, as the Army barge brings the man from Naknek to the base on their regular scheduled trips twice a day. Things looked pretty good for a banner year. On one of the first trips of the Stinson, however, the left engine “blew up”, and pilot Booth had to land at Kenai. Art (Woodley) went down in the Boeing and brought in the passengers and Booth, and that afternoon, Frank, Roland and I went to Kenai with our tools and another engine and installed it, getting back to Anchorage in the Stinson the following evening. That was two weeks ago tomorrow night. We went home and ate our suppers, went back and worked till 5 AM Tuesday morning, getting the final adjustments corrected and giving the other two engines a routine check. Since that time, work has been nigh on to a nightmare. We never know whether it will be day or night work – – and so it goes. We do get our sleep pretty well, but quite often take two sessions at once trying to catch up. There have been no other failures but little things keep popping up along with the necessary routine servicing and maintenance, and the ball never seems to stop bouncing and is always a half a jump ahead of us. However, we are doing a bigger percentage of the business than ever, and if we can just limp along until the work down there is finished, it will be a job well done. We hope it will be over by this time next week, but the way it looks, I don’t want to plan on it. (Editor’s note: As far as I can figure it, this letter was written August 2nd or 3rd). Some days we send the three big ships down several times each and the Travelair twice, but then again, the fisherman get a couple of drinks or something and fail to board the barge for the Army Base and our planes and pilots sit at the Base and twiddle their thumbs. Today was typical. We mechanics worked till 11:30 last night getting everything ready for today. The Boeing, with Art and a new copilot, and the Stinson with Booth, both took off at 6 AM this morning for the Bay. The Travelair took off around 9:30 just as I arrived at the field after a short sleep. It was on the “Milk Run” to Kenai, Ninilchik, Kasilof and Homer. This run is steady, twice a week, hence the name. The Electra took off at 9:45 for the Bay. The Boeing returned to Anchorage around 11 and was serviced for another trip. When that was completed, the Travelair came in from the “Milk Run” and was ready for another trip just about the time the Stinson arrived from Naknek. We serviced the Stinson and by that time the Electra had arrived and they brought word that there were 18 men due in tonight at the Naknek base. As all ships weren’t needed for 18 men it was hoped that all could stay in Anchorage overnight, but Art said, “No”, and so all four took off for the Bay again and we went home to grab some rest so that we could service them around eight or 9 o’clock this evening when they started straggling in again. But – – it seems that the barge arrived at the Bay empty, and so the whole works remained overnight and we got to sleep a normal shift again. Tomorrow they may all have to make a couple of trips each and then one of them will have to be on hand Tuesday for the regular Juneau run.

I am now classified 2-B and deferred until February 2nd, 1945. Once again, I’ve taken stick in hand and have gone into the ozone, bird fashion. I flew with an instructor Thursday and Saturday of last week and today for a while and then soloed out for one landing. I did fairly well but am still pretty rusty. I had to ask for a duplicate license as I never found the old one.

Dick’s theory on why one should not write too often is a lulu and for a better suggestion, I pass, bowing in defeat first crack off the bat. To him goes the ring-nosed Amazon.

Tomorrow, Marian tells us about part of her trip from Pomona, Caliornia. to Jackson, Mississippi.

Judy Guion

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Life in Alaska – Dear Sons of Sneezy (2) – Extract of Ced – August 27, 1944

This is the first part of a long letter from Ced which he explains quite a bit about the business of Woodley Airways, where he works as an airplane mechanic and Bush Pilot), and the twice yearly migration of fishermen to and from the fishing grounds. 

(Judy_0003

EXTRACT of Ced

Rx  One daily before retiring.

Toward the end of July and the first part of August in the region known as Bristol Bay in Alaska, there comes each year the close of the fishing season. There are perhaps some thousand persons at that time who are desirous of obtaining transportation immediately to Anchorage and thence to Seattle. In former years, prior to the war, there were many boats which took a good share of these people from the fishing grounds to the states, and the rest paid their own way, for the most part, in any one of perhaps a half dozen airline’s planes, one of the big three being Woodley Airways. Naturally, with the war so close to the fishing grounds, the boat transportation was discontinued, and the bulk of the fishermen transportation business fell on the airlines. Competition was always keen in the Bay region and the short period over which it is possible to benefit by this “prize of the year” business, puts an airline to the supreme test. Management, pilots, personnel at hangar and equipment must cooperate to the fullest extent if full benefits are to be realized. It has always been a source of some pride to Woodley Airways that ours has always been a choice slice – – but only by expending a great deal of out–of–the–ordinary effort. This return business, along with the moving of the same men the other way at the beginning of the season – – around June 1st – – is far and away the biggest single source of profit over the entire year. Now, with that introduction and with you perhaps already forming opinions as to what I’m leading up to, I’ll give you a brief discourse on what happened and still is happening at the Woodley Airways. But first, a little on the humorous or tragic, however you choose to accept it, of the life of a fisherman. He is usually Scandinavian, more often than not, Norwegian. He leaves Seattle and has his way paid to the fishing grounds via boat and plane (Union intervention forced this last). He boards the boat at Seattle after a winter of slim pickings at any job he may choose and at which he is probably not too good or conscientious, preferring a good drink and a saloon any day of the week that he can afford it. He is, of course, well fertilized with good spirits for the trip and has probably had a bang up farewell party and is poured onto the ship. At Anchorage, his company has arranged transportation by plane (Woodley has the majority of these contracts) and, while waiting for the plane to take him to the Bay, he usually has from a day to two weeks, during which time he quickly exhausts any remaining finances which he may have been fortunate enough to retain that long, and when boarding the plane he usually clutches what is left of a last bottle in a grimy hand. When the ship returns to it’s base, after letting the men off at Naknek, his seat is in terrible shape, he having been affected by air nausea encouraged by that bottle. There is a cup handy for such emergencies, but how can a stewed, sick drunk know that? Then there is that pungent odor of men’s clothing not too often washed, hanging in the cabin of the plane. While at the fishing grounds, he works almost constantly, grabbing sleep when he can and living on the boat from which he fishes. He has no money, nor time to drink, and is so busy he wouldn’t think of it anyway. Then comes the final run, final tally and the prize check (for a good man it might run to three or four thousand for two months work). By borrowing against the check (no way to cash it until he gets to a bank) he is able to get some more of the good old “comforter” again and he then is told to board the plane for Anchorage. Again the dirty seat, the odor of clothes, and then a “short one” at Anchorage at which time he may lose all of his two months earnings by being “rolled” by bartenders or sharks or just from plain gambling. On his return to Seattle he will go on an extended drunk until he either loses or spends what his wife doesn’t get of the balance, and again goes to work for wages, thinking always of the next season and how much more he will do with the opportunity.

Tomorrow I’ll be posting the second part of this letter.

On Friday I’ll post a letter from Marian to Grandpa,  written while she was on her way to Jackson, Mississippi from Pomona, California. 

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.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Magnus_Colcord_Heurlin

https://www.google.com/search?q=Rusty+Heurlin&safe=active&biw=1463&bih=771&tbm=isch&tbo=u&source=univ&sa=X&ei=JnN2VOaPGoqqgwTynIPQDA&ved=0CDIQsAQ

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:

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Magnus_Colcord_Heurlin

https://www.google.com/search?q=Rusty+Heurlin&safe=active&biw=1463&bih=771&tbm=isch&tbo=u&source=univ&sa=X&ei=JnN2VOaPGoqqgwTynIPQDA&ved=0CDIQsAQ

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

Life in Alaska – Two short notes From Ced – November 8, 1946

Since Ced was making payments to Grandpa – I’m not sure what the payments were for – I believe he included a check with this note.

Dear Dad,

In great haste.

Letter later.

Ced

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

This is probably the later letter,

 

Friday afternoon

Dear Papa,

Seems as tho’ I must owe you money in order to send you a letter – nothing to prove otherwise yet, is there? I apologize again and admit you are right as to how it happened. At least I had money in the bank this time.

My plans as proposed in the last letter are somewhat upset. The income tax is 20% up to $2500, 22% up to $4500 and 26% up to $6500. this additional 4% is not as bad as I had supposed, but it looks as though I’m going to have a pretty heavy whack taken out anyway. Hope the “pay-as-you-go” plan will remove sufficient amounts so I won’t have a big bill to pay in March.

Looks now as tho’ I won’t be home till next summer. But now can’t tell it will be any day at all.

When ever it is, I might arrive there with Ginger, the new female in my life. She is brown haired, hazel eyed and sooo affectionate. Her age of course is only three months and her pedigree about like Mac’s,  but she is not as big as Mac and won’t be. I know her mother and that is as smart a dog as I’ve known in spite of her definite Heinz ancestry. If Ginger is half as smart as her mama, she’ll be a brilliant dog.

The ski rally is set for next Wednesday night and I’m chairman of the entertainment committee and must get to work on it right away.

Hopkins asked to be remembered to you and are fine. Nothing from Rusty lately – his address is Ester Creek, Fairbanks, Alaska.

My very best to all of you –

Ced

Tomorrow, I’ll be posting the last letter I have. It is to Ced from a childhood friend, living in Brooklyn, NY.

In January, I will begin the story at the beginning with  Reminiscences of Alfred Duryee Guion, starting with an introduction and his memories of growing up in Mount Vernon, New York at the end of the 19th Century. When the children start entering his life, I will add their childhood memories, which gives you a glance into the early years of these letter-writers. 

Judy Guion

 

 

 

Life in Alaska – Don Stanley Writes to Ced – November 7, 1946

Back in September, Don Stanley wrote to his cousin, Ced, asking about Alaska. He and a friend, Norbert Sickle, are seriously thinking about traveling to Alaska in the spring of 1947 and are wondering what opportunities there might be for two young men to earn a living. From this letter, it is obvious that Ced replied to Don and this is Don’s response to Ced.

First Edition: Oct. 28, 1946

Second Edition: Nov. 7, 1946

Dear Ced-

Your most impressive and descriptive epistle was received and the contents duly noted by myself and ptnr. N. Sickle. We have deliberated and thought on this migration matter to quite some extent, as you so advised. But let me tell you a sad story, or at least a part of one. To be more explicit, a circumstance. The Great Migration was, or happily may still is, -not to take place until the spring of ‘47 in any event, and between now and that time many a long and heavy month must pass. I feel that Norb and myself are coming down with that horrible commuter’s disease of the suburbs called “rutitis”. You know what that means: a young man is told that he has a great opportunity, and in consequence he spends the rest of his life riding the eight-five commuters special and the 7th Ave downtown to Chambers Street. I believe that Norb is in a little worse way than I am for he is working in a place with “opportunity”, whereas I absolutely refuse to work anywhere, opportunity or not, unless driven to same. Forcible driven, that is. I believe that I have said enough to let you see what horrible thing is happening. But, still and all, there is a long time between now and the spring, and during this time anything is likely to happen.

We certainly appreciate your letter ever so much, and in direct answer to it we would like to say that we are mostly interested in the out-of-doors activities and means of livelihood: mainly hunting, fishing, golding, etc. etc. etc. (when ah say huntin, ah means fuhs, suh. Fuhs, thet is.) Naturally we realize that we know nothing of any of these business, and are what are called tenderfeets; but we are interested in knowing if there is any feasible chance for success in any one of these ventures for a couple of young green-horns who have a reasonable amount of gray-matter and common sense. In other words, what is the chance of a reasonable return on the original investment (profit is not the great aim, but breaking even at least is a necessity.) So that is that.

Mom (Aunt Anne (Peabody) Stanley) has received a copy of “Freedom and Union”, with which same publication she seems to be vastly enjoying herself and then some. The dinner table has turned lately into nothing more than a battle ground where witticisms, insults, and political opinions are exchanged and forced on one.

Generally speaking, everything is coming along here the same as usual, with all enjoying good health, and all sending on to you the fondest of regards and best wishes of good health and also the hope that you will be around this neighborhood come Christmas time.

Thanks again for your letter, and hope to one day soon see you again – either here or there.

Don

Tomorrow, another letter from Ced to his father and on Friday, the final letter. It is from a childhood friend, Red Sirene, to Ced.

Judy Guion

 

Life in Alaska – Ced Writes About Coming Home – 10.29.1946

Sunday night

Dear Dad:

Here it is the end of the month and time to write you again as per custom in sending the check, the finale. Contrary to your dire predictions on not receiving word from me after the bill is paid up, I expect, without the feeling of compulsion, that the letters may come more easily and frequently. There has been a feeling of despondency about these checks anyway, as I was always one jump back on the bank account as you found out. I would hold up the check to the end of the month so that I would have time to make a deposit covering the check after payday on the second or third of the next month. I’ve had to drop back 15 days on payments to George Rengard too, and all other bills have had to go a month. Better I should have declared a two months moratorium but my creditors wouldn’t have appreciated it I suppose. Well now that it is done, George should be paid off by the end of November at the latest, and then all I will have is a new big millstone in the form of floats for the Taylorcraft which will run between 6 and 7 hundred for my share.

This brings to mind something which I have been thinking about for the last couple of days. The prices of living are so exorbitant up here that I am becoming very discouraged with the whole caboodle and wondering just what it is getting me. I figured out my year’s income to date the other night and it is due to reach the $5000 mark about the first of December. This will put me in a higher bracket of income tax payments if I continue to work beyond that date. How much I have not been able to determine yet, but if it makes as much difference as I think it will, I am seriously considering laying off for the rest of the year. Should I do this I would probably decide to move to Trumbull for the Christmas season, taking my accrued vacation with pay time which should amount to about one month’s pay. How I could keep this off my income tax for 1946 – don’t yet know, but I believe it can be worked out. My mind was about made up to return to Trumbull next summer anyway, and I might make the switch now if things shape up. Will write more along these lines when I learn more about it.

Received my fourth greeting from the president, the first from Harry, the first part of this month and turned it over to the company only to find they could do nothing about it. (Woodley was in Seattle, otherwise I think something would have been done). I waited for five days to see if anything came up, then when they posted a notice on the board for a replacement foreman to take my place, I figured it was time to quit and make my arrangements. I did quit on the 11th of this month, and that gave me till the morning of the 16th to get ready to be inducted. I was going to try for the Navy but would most likely have been unsuccessful. The night of the 11th the paper had a small article stating that no inductions were to take place after the 15th due to the success of the new volunteer plan of the Armed Forces. This made me wonder, but still, as it was from Washington, and often these regulations failed to apply in Alaska, I went ahead on the assumption that I would go in, and I was almost glad as the above remarks on cost-of-living, etc., might indicate. Well a wire arrived from our Seattle agent suggesting that the company check this regulation in my case, and the upshot of it all is now history. The regulation applied to Alaska also. Instead of going into the Army on the 16th, I returned to my job at P.N.A. at the same job, pay, seniority, etc. Looks as though our side has again squelched a new move by one faction of the mechanics department to get us into the A.F.L. labor union. Due at work at midnight (1/2 hour) so will cut off — love to the gang.

May see you ??? for Christmas.

Ced

Tomorrow, a letter from Don Stanley, then another letter from Ced and a final letter drom Red Sirene, a Trumbull friend, to Ced.

Judy Guion