Venezuelan Adventure (20) – Lighting the Fire (4) – 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) – in the Alcove                           where he typed his letters

April 3, 1939

Mesars Solhuster and Feudillo

Edificio Venezuela

Caracas Venezuela

Attention of Mr. Traviero

Gentlemen:

My two sons Alfred P and Daniel B Guion are, and have for some months, been employed by Inter-America, Inc. in Venezuela. Up to March 30th when I last heard from them, they have not been paid any salary whatsoever for their services, which in Daniel’s case covers a 5 1/3 months period.

I have been in frequent touch with the New York office of Inter-America, Inc. and have been able to obtain only in definite promises of payment “sometime in the future”. I have finally decided they are too unreliable to deal with, in fact it looks to me as though the company is insolvent, and there is grave doubt that they will be able to pay even the fare of their employees back to the United States.

As I have been informed that you are legal representative and agent of Inter-America, Inc. in Venezuela, I am writing to ask if you will inform me definitely what the situation is. It seems only fair that I should take this step rather than start any formal proceedings with the federal authorities in Washington.

Will you please, therefore, write me as to what assurance I can rely upon that my sons will not be left stranded in Venezuela by Mr. Maxudian’s company.

Very sincerely yours,

Alfred D Guion

ADG:L

On the back of a copy of this letter sent to Lad, Grandpa as a personal note:

Lad – As a friendly act I am passing on canceled Ven. stamps on your letters to stamp collector.  If you can very of the denominations occasionally to make up the total postage I would have more stamps and a greater variety. ADG

Tomorrow and on Sunday I will be posting more of the World War II Army Adventures of my Uncle Dave, who is at Camp Crowder in Missouri for training.

Judy Guion

Venezuelan Adventure (18)- Lighting the Fire (2) – 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.

 

Daniel Beck Guion and two peons working in Venezuela

April 3, 1939

To the Honorable Luis G. Pietri

Minister of the Interior

Caracas, Venezuela

Hon. Sir:

May I ask your indulgence in what may seem to be merely a personal matter?

My only excuse for so doing lies in the fact that Inter-America, Inc. is apparently insolvent, and that being the case, as they have secured an exemption from making the customary deposit, their American employees are apparently left stranded in the interior of Venezuela without means of support.

May I sight my son as an example of the conditions applying to other employees of Inter-America, Inc., now engaged in road survey work somewhere between Carora and Lake Maracaibo.

Daniel B Guion entered the employ of Inter-America, Inc. on October 21, 1938. His contract called for a monthly salary plus all expenses. Up to March 31, 1939, a lapse of 5 1/3 months, he has been paid nothing.

I am informed that the labor laws of Venezuela are exceptionally fine and are rigidly enforced, and that your government would not knowingly permit them to be disregarded as they apparently have in this instance.

May I therefore ask for your investigation into the affairs of this company? Your interest will be greatly appreciated.

Very sincerely yours,

Alfred D. Guion

ADG:G

Tomorrow and Friday I will be posting the other letters grandpa mailed to Venezuelan government officials. 

Judy Guion

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

 

Voyage to Venezuela (17) – Dear Dad, Etc. – Lad’s First Few Days in Caracas – January 7, 1939

 

    Alfred Peabody Guion (Lad) @ 1939 in                               Caracas

Caracas

January 7, 1939

Dear Dad, etc.:

Mr. Human came into Caracas late yesterday afternoon and seems to be in excellent health and has already lost quite a few inches off his waistline. In fact, the belts he had with him were too big and the first thing he asked for was one of the belts that I had brought along. As yet, he does not know what I will do immediately but in time I will have to learn the locations of different towns and the road conditions surrounding them or connecting them.

If possible, I would like to have you send or wire me $15 or $20. The worst of it is that that amount down here is equivalent to about five or six dollars up there. It is at least three times as expensive to live here, perhaps even 4. I sent a letter to Cecilia yesterday but that was before Mr. Human arrived and I had to borrow the money for the stamp so I sent it by regular mail. Therefore it will probably be a week or two before it arrives. In it I finished the details of my trip down here and described my idea of Caracas. The weather here is like April or May, quite cold at night and during the day it has never been hot enough to take off my suit coat.

For your information or anyone else’s, the trip down here cost me $30 plus the $25 given me my Mr. McCarter which totals $55 and multiplying by 3.2, the current rate of exchange, makes it about 176 Bolivars in Venezuelan money. At that, I got off pretty cheaply because I met a man on the boat, Frank Da Costa, who hails from Brooklyn but has spent most of the last eight years here and knows the people and how to get the most for the least. These people would take the shirt off your back if you gave them half a chance.

I still can’t make myself understood but everyone says that in three or four months I will be able to converse in Spanish fairly well.

I am staying at the Palace Hotel now but Mr. Human says he is going to try to find a nicer place to stay where I can unpack my things and come and go without too much trouble or expense.

I may not see Dan for a month or so but eventually, I was told, I would work out in the field with him to help me with Spanish.

Oh, yes, if you send the money by wire, send it to All America Cables, Caracas; if by letter, to apartment 484, Caracas, in care of INTERAMERICA. I am fine.

Lots of  Love,

Laddie

Tomorrow, more Special Pictures.

On Monday, I will continue the story of the life led by Dan and Lad in Venezuela along with letters from Grandpa to his two sons, so far from home.

Judy Guion

Voyage to Venezuela (15) – A Few Letters From Dan – December, 1938

 

Daniel Beck Guion in the field in Venezuela – the fall of 1938

Dear folks,                                                                                                                                                                                          Dec. 1

Things are rather rushed, now, as we approach the dead-line for November.  We have worked every day, rain or shine, and the field work is virtually finished, altho’ there is plenty of office work to be completed before Dec. 4.

Thanksgiving day was quite wet.  I ran levels during daylight and plotted notes after supper.  We had purchased a turkey, but did not use it on Thurs. because Bill Rudolph (Chief of Party) and Dr. Bosnakian were absent.  The only thing of note on that day was the killing of a rattlesnake and the discovery of a bee’s nest (honey).  Incidentally, I have lost Jesus!  I am “in the field” for a re-birth.  Jesus was given to the cook as a helper, but developed a bad cold and had to be sent to Carora until he recovers.  He might come back this week-end.  The cook does not like Jesus’s substitutes and has given us two weeks notice.  Mr. Human brought him from Caracas with excellent recommendations, and the fellow is a marvelous cook (home-made bread – biscuits, pie, cake etc.) but he doesn’t like the weather and the unfavorable labor conditions.  He was satisfied with Jesus, but Jesus left, and the cook tried two or three other peons who either quit or were fired. *

Friday, Saturday, Sunday, Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday were days of work without respite.  The first three days were rainy, the last three more sunny with only occasional “freak” showers.  Wet feet from daylight to dark.

*Mr. Human says tell the cook he (Mr. H.) will be at camp in about two weeks to stay a while … Don’t leave till then.

I’m not sure this was the end of the letter. The boys always included a goodbye note and signature.

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

Obviously there is a letter missing, written the night before, but I do not have it. I think it is remarkable that I have so many letters from sixty years ago.  

Gente mia,                                                                                                                                                                             Mon. Dec. 5

The sequel to last night’s letter follows so closely that it will probably arrive with the same mail, some few days before Xmas.

Mr. Human, Mr. Myers and I rose early this morning, expecting to make the necessary purchases for camp, then leave Carora, Mr. Human going to Barquisimeto with the plans, Mr. Myers and I by hired truck to the mired “Campion”, scene of yesterday’s fiasco.

We left Carora at 10 AM, mas and menos, and tried the better branch of the road to Burere.  A body of water soon put a stop to our plans in that direction so we tried the other road, the road, incidentally, over which I had trudged the night before.  It was a futile alternative, so back to Carora we came, and made arrangements (no ink left) for a mule train to take us to the Campion Manana.  What will transpire then, I cannot say, perhaps we shall find the truck buried under a fresh river, perhaps we shall

 

This is the end of this letter. I do not have the rest. I also have no record of yesterday’s “fiasco”. I will leave it up to your imagination, using the clues: rain, bad road, mired Cambion (a transport vehicle) and Dan’s truge the night before.

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

This is just one sheet of paper. I do not know what letter it came with. The stationary is a different size and color, although it was written before Dan knew that Lad was actually coming to join him, probably late November or early December.

Alfred –

Ted, as you may know by now, is trying to get you down here to look after the trucks – the native mechanics are as trustworthy as an old maid on a tear.  I have my fingers crossed ‘til you actually arrive.

Ced – a shame you can’t make it here for the same job, but this job requires real mechanical knowledge on Ford trucks.  Carry on the Guion tradition – “never give up the ship, unless, of course, you want to”.

Biss – I can well imagine how “down-at-the-wheels” poor Willy must be after trying to lead the fast night-life you exact. (Perhaps a reference to Grandpa’s car, a Willys)

Dick – yo no hablo espanol muy bien, pero es no necessito! Los hombres saven!  If you can decipher that, you are on a par with the natives – I did not check with my Spanish books – Quiza mucho errors!

Dave – Still not seasick!

Perriolga – no blackberries acqui!

Grammar – plenty of flowers here, but no way to send you seeds or bulbs.

_________________________________________

For posterity –

Carora is a God-forsaken hole, bounded on four sides by Venezuela.  Every-thing here is wonderful except the towns, nuff said.

Next Saturday I will post a letter written by Lad while on board the Santa Rosa which he says will be mailed from Curacao the next day.

Tomorrow, some more Special Pictures.

Next week, letters written near the end of 1943. Lad and Marian have been married for about a month and everyone is looking forward to the holidays.

Judy Guion

The Beginning (53) – Childhood Memories of Trumbull – Working in Venezuela – 1939 – 1941

These are the memories of my Father and his siblings, recorded over several years. When my Uncle Dan passed away, I realized that I had better get started recording the memories of Dan’s siblings before they were also gone. I was able to have two recording sessions with my Father, Lad in California; two with Uncle Ced in New Hampshire, a three-day cruise in our boat with Aunt Biss; one session with Uncle Dave in Stratford, CT and one hand-written session (I forgot my tape recorder going up to the Island in New Hampshire, where Uncle Dick lived) with Uncle Dick. I transcribed them once exactly as they were spoken, again removing the ums, ahs, half sentences started over, etc. I then produced a final copy that was easier to read, but it still needs work getting the chronological order correct. Memories are not recorded with a date stamp. I created 75 binders for family members which include all three translations, pages and pages of photos and memorabilia and the actual recording. Now family members can actually heat their ancestors speaking. It was my first project with all the material my Father saved for me and a true Labor of Love. I hope you enjoy these memories of A Slice of Life at a different time and place. 

Lad in Venezuela

Dan in Venezuela

LAD – I got into the oil business in Venezuela through my uncle, Ted Human. he was a civil engineer and saw an ad in the business paper that requested workers for Venezuela.  He applied for a job with a company called  Inter-America, Inc. he got the job and asked Dan, also a civil engineer, to come down and help him.  He also asked me if I’d go along as a mechanic to maintain the company trucks.  We were going to build a road from Caracas to Columbia, which would go across the top of Venezuela. Barquisimeto was the name of the town in Venezuela.Dan left with Uncle Ted (in October, 1938) but I had to buy tools, equipment and other stuff that I would need.  By the time I had everything ready and had arranged transportation, it was the end of December, 1938.  I left from New York City on a Grace Line ship on December 26 (actually he left on December 30th)1938.  I was at sea on New Year’s Eve.  We had a rather bad storm going across the port of Caracas and most of the passengers got sick, I was 1 of the few that didn’t get sick.  I was still able to get around although the ship was pitching rather badly.  After that, they put balance wheels or gyroscopes in those boats.  They really helped a great deal.  It didn’t stop the pitching, but it did stop the yawing.

I worked for Inter-America for a couple of months but I wasn’t getting paid.  Neither were the other guys.  Uncle Ted found out that the pictures sent to the Venezuelan officials showing the road we had built was actually just smoothed out sand, not cement.  He got pretty upset about that because it wasn’t a real road.  He and Dan had done the surveying and figured the angles and the grades, and then, instead of pouring cement, they just leveled off the sand.

Uncle Ted was injured in a car accident and returned to the United States.  I guess Dan wasn’t interested in staying after that.  Uncle Ted had introduced me to a fellow and I had worked on his vehicles.  I was able to get a job with him at Socony-Vacuum Oil Company and I worked for them for two years.

While Uncle Ted was in Venezuela, he had a chauffeur named Manuel.  They were going to Caracas down a road and came to a river with the bridge across it.  Many of the bridges in Venezuela are 2 lanes wide but only one side of the bridge is finished with planking.  Manuel was going a bit fast and he was going up a slight hill and because there was a piece of equipment on the road, he didn’t realize that the other side of the bridge had the planking.  Manuel tried to get over to the left far enough but wasn’t successful.  The car went over the bank and into the river.  Uncle Ted got hurt quite badly.  Aunt Helen came down from the US and took him back to a New York City hospital.  Although he lived for a few years after that, he was in very poor health.

Tomorrow and the rest of the week, more childhood Memories of Trumbull.

Judy Guion

Friends – Rusty Huerlin and Arnold Gibson send Greetings to Ced in Alaska – July, 1944

Envelope from Rusty Huerlin to Ced, July 10, 1944

Letter from Rusty Huerlin to Ced in Anchorage, Alaska mailed on July 10, 1944

Nome, Alaska

July 9, 1944

Dear Ced,

Stormy weather for about one week. Expect “ada” down from ____________ any day now, then it will be a mad rush to get everything aboard her and pull stakes for Pt. Barrow where I finally decided to locate, if they’ll have me there.

Many, many thanks for green stuff. They arrived in O.K. condition same day boat brought first greens we’ve had here since fall, three more boats with more greens – then a tanker with whiskey and beer. But I went in for the milk on first boat – drank so much of it (40 cents a paper quart) that I quit when I noticed that my tits were growing.

Who am I to thank for the beautiful scarf? Hardly a chance of wearing such finery until I get back to Anchorage again.

As for the paintings you wrote about, will take care of the matter as soon as I get situated up north. Will write Byrk first chance I get. These are busy days.

Thanks for sending pictures. Swell to look at and letters to read from home. Will return slides to you in care of Fiske when he looks in this way again. If possible for him to handle frames you have and deliver them to Major Marston – Wallace Hotel, Nome, for me, that would be swell. But if it runs into money for this, skip it, as I could not take care of that now. He may not be coming this way again for some time. He has been flying Mackenzie’s ship and with “Mac” back in Anchorage now he may fly his own ship to Nome. I could get “Mac” to fly them through, however, if either of them coming here soon. I could not take them on first trip this way. I had better not have them sent here as I would not care to have them sent up to Pt. Barrow unless I took personal care of them.

Hell of a rush now. Will write you at greater length first chance I get.

Love to all,

As ever,

Rusty

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

Postcard from Arnold Gibson (Lad’s best childhood friend), in Hawaii, tto Ced, in Alaska, July 11, 1944

Gibby - Post card to Ced from Hawaii - front, 1944

“Isle O’ Dreams”, Hawaii

Gibby - Post card to Ced from Hawaii - message - 1944

Honolulu, June 28

FROM

Arnold Gibson

Ship 51 N Y

Pearl Harbor,

Dear Ced,

Here I am back in Hawaii. Alta is in Cal. and will follow later.

We saw Lad and Marian in Orinda and had a swell day. Wish I had a little Alaska  weather right now.

Aloha, Gib

Tomorrow and Friday, I’l post two letters from Marian to Grandpa about life for the Lad Guions in California. On Saturday, more of the  Voyage to California by John Jackson Lewis in 1851. On Sunday, the continuing story of My Ancestors, the Rev. Elijah and his wife, Clara Maria de los Dolores Marina de Beck Guion. 

Judy Guion