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

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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

Special Picture # 318 – Dan in Venezuela with Some of His Surveying Crew – 1939

 

Tomorrow, I’ll begin a week of letters written in 1944. Lad and Marian are in Texas. Ced has been home but is traveling back to Anchorage, Alaska, hopefully with a stop in Texarkana to see Lad and Marian. Dan is quite busy in London, Dick is in Brazil and Dave seems happy with his new situation in Uncle Sam’s Army. Grandpa tries to keep the home fires burning.

Judy Guion 

Special Picture # 315 – Venezuela – 1945

 

This picture of a very large snakeskin was taken in Veneuela in 1945. Third from the left is Flor Williams, and her husband were good friends with Lad while he worked for the Socony-Vacuum Oil Company (which is now Mobil Oil) from 1939 to 1941.

Tomorrow, i’ll begin posting letters written in 1942. Dan and Lad are both in Uncle Sam’s Army undergoing training and are still able to get home on some weekends.

Judy Guion

Special Picture # 257 – The Swimming Hole at San Tome Camp, Venezuela – @ 1941

 

Lad at the San Tome Camp in Venezuela

The crew at San Tome Camp in Venezuela

Friends sitting on the dock at San Tome Camp in Venezuela

The Swimming Hole at San Tome Camp in Venezuela

Tomorrow, another Special Picture.

On Monday, we’ll go back to letters from 1942 as Lad and Dan worry about the draft.

Judy Guion

Friends – Letter From Flor Williams to Lad (2) – August, 1941

This is the rest of Flor’s letter to Lad shortly after he left Venezuela to go home.

APG - Flor and Martin Williams, Bob Ross, visiting from Trinidad, April, 1940

Bob Ross, Flor Williams and Martin Williams  

(I wonder if this was taken just prior to the flight she talks about or if it was another flight, but that is Bob Ross with them. Martin could be seeing his wife off on her trip to Caracas.)

I don’t know that there is much new around here. Joe Kelley went up to the states the beginning of July to join the Air Corps, but from a letter we have received from him recently, we note that he failed the eye exam in three different localities, so that leaves that out. He saw Mr. Hardy down there, who offered him a job with the new Seismo crew coming down in December, as sole operator under Judson, whom Joe likes very much, and a good salary, and he is seriously thinking of accepting. It would be nice to have him back, and what a break for Carmen Luisa.

Bob Ross is on vacation and says he is having a grand time. He is also coming back, and that helps to, because he is a grand boy.

Joe Grant is being sent to the Grav. Meter Crew (near Maturin) tomorrow, and he is not very keen on the idea, because although Gerdes told him it would only be for three weeks or a month, he is afraid that once he gets there it won’t be so easy to get away.

The Enscoonatus will be moving to Cantuara the end of this month.

We have only heard once from the Wrights in the states, and they were still in Minneapolis, not knowing yet what they would do. We’re expecting to hear from them again soon.

There is a fellow by the name of Wood in the garage in your place. I have only seen him once, but he seems nice.

Larry Sieck left on the 15th. I went up on the same plane to spend the weekend in Caracas with my mother and Charlie (my brother) who arrived the 6th. We got as far as Maiquetia and had to turn back because it was impossible to land! We had lunch at home (Gloria’s eyes almost popped out when she saw me back so soon!) and started off again at 12:45. The second time we got there safely, although we were flying so low that as we passed the Hotel Miramar in Macuto it looked to be on the same level as us.

I found my Mother quite a bit thinner, she was very sick while in New York, but otherwise okay. Charlie fine. I had a good rest while in Caracas, which did me a lot of good.

Woody finally quit! He did it very suddenly, when he did do it, and they had to borrow a mechanic from the Pan Am to make the last couple of trips. As you might remember, the company has been thinking for quite a while of sending the plane back, as there was something wrong with it. Well, Woody’s leaving brought this to a head, as they finally decided to send it back, so it can either be fixed or exchanged for another one, and at the same time so that Red can pick out a new mechanic to his taste. We all hope the plane won’t be gone too long because it is only then that I, for one, feel isolated. They left here on the 21st. Ruth went along; and Woody consented to go as mechanic; it will save him a lot of money, too.

Everyone around here is fine and sends you best regards. The Leander’s Tiny is going to have pups. I don’t think she’s too happy about the whole thing, either.

I had better sign off now, as I have some more letters to write, among them to Joe Kelley, and one to Bishop’s wife, at his request, giving her an idea what she should bring (and believe me that’s going to be a whopper).

Martin joins me in sending Cecilia and your folks best regards (even if we don’t know them, we’ve heard so much about them from you) and for yourself the very best of luck and don’t forget us, even if you do go in the Army.

Flor

Tomorrow, a few other letters from friends and then a letter from Grandpa to his three boys in Alaska.

Judy Guion

Friends – Letter From Flor Willians to Lad (1) – August, 1941

This is the first half of a letter written by Flor Williams, wife of Martin Williams, friends from Venezuela who also worked for Socony-Vacuum Oil Company. Flor is answering a letter from Lad. He has been home since early June and is quite concerned about his draft status.

APG - Flor and Martin Williams, Bob Ross, visiting from Trinidad, April, 1940

Bob Ross, Fl;or Williams, Martin Williams

Pariaguan

August 25, 1941

Dear Al,

Starting today, with you, I am commencing to make carbon copies of the letters I write to you boys, because it is becoming every day more difficult to keep track of who I have told what and when, and I am afraid that if I repeat myself too much my letters will become very boring. For instance, I don’t remember if I told you that the Baiz family has been terminated as of August 1; they left here August 5; all except Emy who stayed on for a couple of weeks more and left today. You can imagine how much we miss them socially; but medically we are probably way ahead, as we have a Doctor who, I am convinced, is far superior. His name is Delfin Aroila. We also have a streamlined nurse, very easy on the eyes, by name, Helena Rotundo; divorced, and has two little girls.

But, of course, the biggest news is that…….sit down if you are standing up….. Bishop is married! He did it while on vacation, without asking any of our permission; can you imagine? All kidding aside, though, I think it is grand, because he seems to have picked out a lovely girl, judging by the pictures he brought back. She is 22, her name is Dorothy Elise Schaeffer, although he says nobody has ever called or anything but Memphis; she is from Memphis, Tennessee, he knew her for years, it seems, although he had never mentioned her to anyone, as far as we know. Mr. Bartlett has promised that he will be able to bring her down for Christmas, and I am tickled silly over the idea because I was hoping that she will be able to fill the gap that Pat left.

Before going on with the news around here, which isn’t terribly much, I will answer your letter. The paragraph dealing with the Martin Williamses was very flattering, I must say, and I hope we can live up to it and Cecilia won’t be disappointed “when and as if” (as Mr. Sheldon would say) she meets us. We are also looking forward to meeting her, and seeing you again, and we certainly hope it will be before 1945. We had hoped to get away at the end of this month, in order to spend September and October up there, but they won’t let me go until Wardlaw returns, which won’t be until October, and as that is too late to do the things we want to do, and buy the things we will need for another two years down here, we are forced to wait until spring. At any other time we wouldn’t have minded this, but with things as they are, we’re not too sure what the spring might bring. At any rate, we already have the car, so that helps. We have also ordered, and hope to get soon, our new photographic equipment, namely, a new magazine load Kodak 8mm, a new projector, and a new screen. Whooppeee! I hope it comes soon.

Tres Matas is still with us and probably will remain for an indefinite period; for which we are glad, because he is a little “loco” and a lot of fun.

We hope you have by now acquired car to your taste. My driving has improved considerably, believe it or not, and I’m just itching to get my hands on OUR car. I’m going to try to get a driver’s license while up in the states, it will save me money when I apply for one here.

You ask about the radio frequencies and hours of our broadcasts here. Well, at 7:45 AM sharp, on 4.321 frequency, you will hear yours truly chirp cheerily “Good morning, Frank. Come in, please”. (I’m getting kind of sick of that little phrase, but haven’t found a good substitute yet). Then he gives the daily radio well report, which I take down and then repeat to him; we then give any messages we may have, and sign off, but communication is maintained all morning until 12; and again from 130 to 4:30 PM; only at 2 PM the frequency is changed to 8.642. If there is any testing, or anything else of importance going on, we have another report at 4 PM, as we’re going to do today because Anaco No. 1 is testing.

I’ll post the rest of the letter tomorrow. I’ll be posting more letters from friends later this week.

Judy Guion