Army Life – Lad Arrives in L.A. – September, 1943

Lad and Marian – Pomona, CA

Now Grandpa knows that Lad arrived safely back in California. In his typical analytical style, he tells the whole story.

September 22, 1943

South Pasadena, California

Dear Dad:

I arrived in LA at 4:10 AM and, so help me, Marion was there to meet me. In fact, I’m writing this at her house and this is her pen and ink. Here is the story. Bridgeport to New York – O.K.  –  left Grand Central at 6:30 PM and after a pretty good rest arrived in Chicago at noon. I had till 6:30 for the train to LA so I went to the Santa Fe-Harvey office. Got a job in a few minutes on a train leaving on Tuesday at 7 AM. So I went back to the Y and slept all afternoon and evening.

About 10 PM I got up, wrote a letter to Marian, had something to eat and returned to bed. Got up at 5 AM and went to the station. I was 4th cook and did nothing but dishes from 10:30 Tuesday morning until 11 PM Thursday. Boy, I don’t think I ever worked so hard. It was terrific – but, at least I wasn’t bored by the trip and I had very good meals and an upper. Slept from about 12 or one o’clock till 5:30 each night. We were five hours late arriving in LA, but she was there, with a smile, as usual, and my spirits rose perceptively. She had made arrangements for me to stay at the USO dorm, so I had something to eat and went to bed. I slept from about 6 AM till after 4 PM.

I had a key, which Marian had given me for her house, so I went there for a shower and then reported back to camp, got my pass, and took up where I had left off 16 days earlier. As I look back, those five days at home were some of the most enjoyable days I’ve ever spent, but they went far too fast. I went to the rationing board here and they gave me the ration points, but said that in the future to go to the local board at home. So take a mental note of that. It is a new O.P.A. regulation.

For two days now we have had typical Southern California September weather, hotter than hell. The air so hot, that desks and chairs or anything else is almost uncomfortably hot to touch. It was 116° today, and this is supposed to last until the middle of October. However, I really don’t mind it at all. Marian doesn’t like it too well. It has cooled off a little now, and we’re going to an open-air theater tonight to see “The More the Merrier”.

Give my love to Aunt Betty and anyone else and I’m expecting to take your suggestion and write to Grandma.

Lad

Tomorrow and Thursday, we’ll read a long letter from Grandpa to his four sons in their various locations, filled with news about each of them. Friday will be another letter from Lad .

Judy Guion

Special Pictures # 248 – Marian Irwin in Orinda, California @ 1940

Marian (my Mom) wrote on the back of these pictures, “Marian Irwin, Orinda, CA, 1940?” This is the house she grew up and these were taken a couple of years before she met Lad (my Dad, Alfred Peabody Guion)

 

Tomorrow and the rest of the week, I’ll be posting letters written in 1943. Lad and Marian are getting serious, especially after Lad returns from a furlough in Trumbull and spends time with his girlfriend there.

Judy Guion

Special Picture # 243 – South Pasadena Hospitality Center – 1943

For the next few weekends, I’ll be posting Special Pictures. These are photos that do not pertain directly to the letters I’m posting but are unique and interesting so I want to share them. Enjoy.

This is a picture I just found of the South Pasadena Hospitality Center in South Pasadena, California, where Lad and Marian met and began dating. This was taken during the summer of 1943. 

 

Tomorrow, another Special Picture.

On Monday I’ll begin a week of letters written in 1945. Lad and Dick are home. Dan is in France with his bride – and the Army. Ced is still in Anchorage, Alaska, and Dave is in Manila, the Philippines.

Judy Guion

 

 

Trumbull – A Birthday Letter to 31324665 – August, 1943

Trumbull Conn.  August 15, 1943

Dear 31324665:

THAT, dear children, may be just a number to you, but translated into Uncle Sam Army language it spells Richard Procrastinator Guion, the middle name having been earned at birth and as far as correspondence to the home front is concerned, has been reaffirmed weekly since that time with an Ivory Soap score – 99 and 44/100% pure, (In view of my chosen profession I just have to get in these little advertising ideas in my correspondence, you know).

Is that, you may well ask, the approved method of having a letter addressed to one? No, NO, perish the thought! It isn’t even in spite of that fact. But by this time you may have guessed. In just a few days now we will celebrate a birthday but it will be a party without the main guest. We can’t even send him greetings, much less a gift because we don’t know in what corner of the globe he is hiding from Adolph. So we have unanimously adopted the theme song for the occasion: ”I Can’t Give You Anything But Love, Baby”. Of course there is lots of that from each and all of us, although we know full well it won’t buy baby a new pair of pants.

What a lot of accumulated celebration we will have to celebrate when this mess is finally settled. Now, there’s a thought. What is your prescription for a suitable method of rendering due honor to the occasion? How about that auto trip down to Mexico and Central America with enough cars to accommodate the whole family, with Lad and Dan as official interpreters? Ced could entertain and charm the natives with imitations of Bradley Kincaid, Dick and Jean might do a rumba or two, Dave would probably make a beeline for the best looking native girls, while I could profitably employ my time sniffing the native flora to see if it produces I hay fever sneeze.

Incidentally, I read recently an article on how nearly completed this Pan-American road was south of Mexico City, and ran across the following incident: the advanced survey party sometimes encountered situations for which neither engineering texts nor guidebooks had any solution. The disappearing surveyor’s stakes are a good example. In the rural sections, clear, straight-grained, sawed wood is in great demand to patch chairs, to reinforce plows and for 1000 other purposes. The surveyor’s stakes of clean new wood, 1 1/2 in. square by 14 inches long, driven into the ground 100 feet apart to mark the route of the highway, were a treasure trove to the country people who pulled up at night all the stakes placed during the day. Both U.S. and native engineers explained often and at length that the markers were necessary. The people listened, nodded, and the next morning the stakes were gone again. After all, if the yanqui senores valued the little pieces of wood so highly, why would they stick them in the ground and go away and leave them? Gringo foolishness. Finally one of the engineers hit upon the simple idea of nailing a short piece to each stake just below the top at right angles, making a cross. Not a stake disappeared from that day until the end of the survey.

Jean has a new name for me – “Marryin’ Sam”. This week, one marriage at my office, the week before, two; the week before that also two. It all came about in this way. I usually have my ad in the yellow section in the back of the Bridgeport phone directory. A few weeks ago when the salesman called for a renewal for the new edition, I happened to notice that in the New Haven directory several names appeared under the heading “Justice of The Peace”. I told him they could include my name under that heading in Bridgeport, thinking of course, the other Bridgeport “justices” would be included, but when the darn thing appeared a few weeks ago, low, like Abou Ben Adam (May his tribe increase) my name not only led all the rest, but, believe it or not, it was the only name under that heading in the yellow section. So, if the angle of incidence maintains (I have to get these engineering boys into thinking their Dad is not a back number) I may accumulate enough fees to pay the expenses on that Central American tour above referred to.

And speaking of marriages, this week, at the Trumbull Church, Jacqueline French was united in holy wedlock to Mr. John J. Schwarz, son of the Bridgeport lumber dealer. No wisecracks now about little chips off the old block, etc.

I want an answer from someone, Dan or Dick, regarding the Chevrolet out in back. I think it belongs to Dan although Dick may have made some arrangement with Dan about it. Anyway, it is not doing anyone any good standing out unused month after month. I have asked Harry Burr to give me a figure on how much it will cost to fix it up in running condition, and then, depending on the owner’s wishes, I will try to sell it or keep it against the time you boys return and want a car to run around in (and they are getting very scarce now in the East). Please, one of you write me about it.

Dave and some of the boys that forgather in the Clubhouse in the barn have an idea they can fix the old Waverley Electric car up to run either by battery or with a motorcycle motor and have been busy today working on it. I am adopting a “show me” attitude on whether they can accomplish their purpose or not.

For some years now, we have been needing a feminine touch around these here diggins’ and it looks very much as though Jean is the answer to this long felt need. She spent most of the day improving the appearance of the music room, with a bit of help from me, and the result is something to write away about. So we are profiting by Jean’s homemaking instinct, and this is fair warning now that the rest of you will have a high standard to match in presenting me with any other daughters-in-law.

The supper call is about to sound, so I’ll bring this peculiar birthday letter to a close with many good wishes to my boy “who wears a pair of silver wings”, with many happy returns of the day from all of us and most earnest hope that next August 19th there will be no empty chairs around the table as we sit down to celebrate the occasion. So, Dick old son, here’s more love than you know from your old

DAD

Tomorrow, the final two posts from the autobiography of Mary E Wilson. Enjoy the final chapter of this inspirational story and the photo album on Sunday.

Next week,  I’ll be posting letters from 1945. Dan and Paulette are still trying to figure out what their final plans will be. Grandpa continues to write to his sons who are still far from home. Dan is in France, Ced is still in Alaska and Dick is in Brazil. Lad is on the east coast, presently on furlough from Aberdeen Proving Grounds – the place where his Army adventure began – and getting ready to go back, but unsure of actual plans.

Judy Guion

 

 

Army Life – Lad’s Army Life at Camp Santa Anita – August, 1943

Grandpa finally gets a letter from Lad telling of his furlough plans and his daily schedule. Grandpa is happy to get the news.

Camp Santa Anita

Wednesday

Aug. 11, 1943

Dear Dad:

Today I got word to report to the personnel section to verify my request for a furlough, and it is to start on Friday, September 3, and is good for 14 days, which means that I will have to be back at camp here on September 17. It looks as though I will have to travel by train, which means that it will take about four days or a little more to get home, and the same returning. However to make things different, I believe that I can work on one of the dining cars on one of the Santa Fe crack trains, and in that way will not only get to Chicago as fast as possible, but will be paid for going there. Then the trip from there to New York is much easier since there are many trains leaving per day, and the fair is only about $20. So, if things go as planned at present, I shall be home Monday night or sometime Tuesday, either September 5 or 6. I have checked no schedules as yet, but everything points in this direction. If there will be any changes, I shall notify you as soon as possible.

Things here have been going along fairly smoothly, but somebody, probably Washington, decided that we were having life a little too easy, and last week we started getting up at 5 AM. Incidentally, that means that at the same time as you are thinking of getting up, so am I. Along with that change, came a stiffening of regulations here. We fall out for reveille at 0515 and then have until 0630 to eat breakfast, clean house and get everything ready for the daily inspection of the barracks. At 0630 we fall out and March to the drilling area where we spent half an hour doing calisthenics and then an hour alternately drilling one day and listening to lectures on the next, which pertain to some phase of military life. At 0800 we return and again fallout to march down to the section where we start teaching at 0815. At 1000 we have a 10 min. break and then continue until 1145. Chow (lunch) is at 1145 and from then until 1250 we are free to do as we please. At 1250 we again fallout and march to the section and begin classes at 1300. Again at 1515 we have a 10 min. break and then school is over at 1730. Altogether that makes 12 1/2 hours that we are on the go for Uncle Sam. Then of course, we start on our own time and spend until 2200 or 2300 gallivanting around for ourselves then to bed until 0500. What a life, but it isn’t so bad if you don’t weaken.

A few weeks ago you asked me for a picture of Marian, and all that she can find is one taken some time ago, when she was looking for a job and

Lad and Marian, So. Pasadena, CA

Lad and Marian, So. Pasadena, CA

needed a picture to put on employment blanks. The picture is fairly good except that her eyes in the picture are too far apart and it looks as though she can’t keep her eyelids completely open. We are keeping pretty steady company. She is a fine girl, and I like her a great deal.

Tonight I am asst. Bn. C.Q. and apparently that is a better deal than C.Q. in that I get off at 1030 while the C.Q. is on until 1200 (2400). I have been on since 1730, and so far have run four errands and done a lot of talking with various of the other boys who have walked in or some of the guards. There goes the phone, and from the conversation, I guess that I’ll have another errand to run. Yep – just a minute. Well, that’s done.

The bag arrived O.K. and it will suit the purpose perfectly. Thanks Dad, and as usual, things that you do are usually done completely and well. However, I have a suggestion that may or may not be worthwhile. The condition of the bag, due to rough handling by the shipping companies, is in pretty poor shape as far as looks are concerned. I don’t think that the bag is actually hurt very much. But to at least help against being crushed, why not fill the bag quite tightly with crumpled newspaper. I think that the procedure will prevent a great deal of the crushing that occurred.

That diesel course that I was supposed to start teaching never did materialize, and at present I am instructing in a new course called “Engine Tune-up”. It is all right, but not as interesting as the diesel course would have been. Art Lind tells me that the diesel course has not yet been thrown out of the window, but I’m beginning to think that it has gotten just about as far as the frame, it is waiting for some wind to either blow it back in again or on out. I hope the wind blows from the outside. I’m really not too interested in this present course that I am connected with.

Well, I seem to be running out of thoughts, and since I do not have any of your letters with me here, I cannot look them over for further suggestions, and therefore I shall call it quits, and with love to all, I’ll sign this as

Laddie

In tomorrow’s post, one more letter from Grandpa to his sons.

On Saturday and Sunday, the two final posts from the Autobiography of Mary E Wilson. I have enjoyed sharing this story of the parents of Bev, a childhood friend living in the neighborhood. Her parent’s story is rather unique and inspirational.

Do you know of anyone who would like to take a trip down memory lane and relive what a family was going through during the late 1930’s and 1940’s? Why don’t you pass along this link so they can enjoy the stories also?

Judy Guion

Trumbull – Dear Sonny: (That Means YOU) – Ced’s “Statement of Views” – August, 1943

In this week’s letter, Grandpa admits that he doesn’t have much local news to share so he includes excerpts from letters he’s received from his sons who are scattered around the country. We hear from both Lad and Ced.

Trumbull Conn,      August 8, 1943

Dear Sonny:   (That means YOU)

In one of Washington Irving’s delightful little essays (from The Sketch Book, I think) there is a fanciful tale of authors whose principal writings consist of thefts from the works of others. As I sit down this afternoon to do my weekly stint, there seems to be so little news to relate that most of this letter will probably consist of extracts from letters received from Lad and Ced – – no word having yet reached us from the other progeny, presumably en route to axe and axis.

You will be interested in Ced’s “Statement of Views:  “I still wish we had been able to avoid this war, but as one looks back now, it seems as though the groundwork for the present conflict was laid in the peace settlements of the previous war. Although diplomatic action for peace is theoretically best, I see now that things had gone so far by 1940 – 41 for it to work successfully. With this fact so obvious today it is only common sense which leads me to feel that applied military action was the only method which could achieve a favorable condition for a settlement of the worlds and our problems. Therefore, should the Selective Service call me now I would go into it to do the best I could, though not with joy. Allied victory now appears to be the only road to a pleasant and secure future. My fervent hope is that when victory does, past experience will make Allied leaders wiser and thus prevent another bungling of peace terms and postwar adjustments. For myself, I still hate the thought of killing another man, and hate to think of being partly responsible for the suffering which others would have to undergo at my hands, yet when you figure it out, by fighting and winning the war, there are probably fewer people who, in the long run, would have to suffer. All the above leaves me idealistically unchanged but willing to discard some of this idealism temporarily as a means to an end, which it is hoped will make it possible for all to live in a more peaceful and secure state throughout the world.”

Lad says: “I guess I never told you that my camera and all equipment (about $600) and my portable radio were stolen. I sort of miss both things. My car, however, is O.K., except that a couple of weeks ago I had to put in a new front-end ($23) and as soon as I can get $38 more will put in a new clutch.”

Which reminds me, Lad, that the clutch on my Buick seems to be slipping. Is it possible to have it repaired, do you suppose, or will I have to spend $38 also? The opening comments in your letter regarding the difficulty you are having finding a suitable pen leads me quite naturally to ask, “Why do you not use the pen I sent you? Is it lost, stolen or don’t you like it, or didn’t happen to have along with you?”

I want to say right here and now I know I’m going to like Marian. In fact you can tell her for me that she is a girl after my own heart. Besides being attractive and good

Marian Irwin

Marian Irwin

company as you have formerly stated, she is evidently kind, generous and thoughtful of others. Too bad you lost your camera or you might send me a snapshot of her. Your letter also mentions that Junior goes to Maryland in three or four weeks and you will probably get your furlough shortly after. As I figured, that will mean the latter part of August. As soon as you know any more definite date, don’t wait for Marian to suggest your writing to me. What an A-1 birthday present it would be if you could be here on September 11.

Butch and Marty both have Whooping Cough, but because of the inoculation, will get off easy. Grandma and Dorothy are still with us but Grandma expects to get a new pair of glasses Tuesday or Wednesday and will not move to New York until after that happens. Do you remember Harold La Tour? He is back from South America and now is with the daily news.

Ta ta for now.

DAD

Tomorrow, a letter from Lad with details of his life at Camp Santa Anita in California. On Friday, another letter from Grandpa to his sons, filled with the latest news of Trumbull, family and friends.

On Saturday and Sunday, the final two posts from the Autobiography of Mary E Wilson. It has been my pleasure to share this triumphant story with you. Enjoy the Photo Album on Sunday.

Judy Guion