This is the conclusion to the letter posted yesterday. This week, Grandpa has heard from four out of five sons, which results in a longer letter.
Page 2 1/14/1945
David Peabody Guion (home on leave, December, 1944)
From Signalman Dave a “5 Jan. 45” letter says: “Naturally I just couldn’t break off at home and come back to camp without leaving a little something behind me to remind you all of the four days I spent with you, but now I find I must have the very article that I left at home. It seems that the G.I. procedure is that every soldier wears what is known commonly as dog tags. So if one of you good souls would be so kind as to locate the missing articles and send them to the address here before they Court Martial me, I sure would appreciate it.
My furlough ended Monday at midnight. The Jeffersonian was only eight hours late, forcing me to miss TWO connections out of St. Louis. Naturally I was slightly AWOL!! – – Only 12 hours late coming in. But in the eyes of the C.O. our reason was a good one (there were three of us on the Jeffersonian). It seems that all of the trains were late and most of the boys were AWOL for a few hours. Some even came later than I did. This week I’m working from 12 midnight until eight in the morning in the code room at shantytown (tar paper barracks in camp now being used as operations buildings). I “sleep” in my own bed during the day. Either Sunday or Monday we go into the field for a week’s training. Don’t be surprised if by the end of the end of next week I’m writing from the hospital.”
Alfred Peabody Guion (Lad) in Southern France
Through courtesy of the recipient we are privileged to hear now a few words from Ordnance in Southern France:
“Things are getting better here. The sun shone almost all day and practically dried out the high spots. We got a stove for our room, so I keep fairly comfortable. There were eight of us in this room, about the size of half of our kitchen and there are four double-decker beds made of unfinished wood with 6” to 8” slats spaced about an inch apart. A mattress filled with straw which, believe it or not, is fairly comfortable. On December 13 he writes “All of us are sitting around here in our warm room with a bottle of beer. We all feel better tonight since we got paid. Due to rationing of practically everything in the PX, a maximum of that 80 francs ($1.60) per week is about all you can spend. Every cent we had, excluding good luck pieces, had to be changed to francs and we are paid in francs as it is a military offense to have American money on your person here. For easy calculating one franc is worth approximately two cents but it is still a little funny to try to buy something.”
He is now very happy to be working on the diesel electric plant and is now on the night shift. He is also trying to get in touch with Dan and if there is any way of the latter letting him know where he is, by all means set the wheels in motion. On December 22nd: “A few of the boys went out the other day and brought back a big Christmas tree which is been decorated by a bunch of very ingenious men using practically nothing but discarded paper, tinfoil from cigarette packages, and by hanging evergreen bows from wire strung around the room, the day room has been quite nicely fixed up. We expect to have a company party there this week.”
Page 3 1/14/1945
Marian (Irwin) Guion (Mrs. Lad)
Jean (Mortensen) Guion (Mrs. Dick)
There is a report that Ray Wang has been wounded although not seriously. Catherine Warden is preparing to leave here somewhere around the first of the month for Oklahoma. I don’t expect there will be much difficulty in finding a new renter but it will leave us seriously handicapped regarding the laundry problem, which she has been doing for us every week on her washing machine. Jean and Marian are willing to tackle the job after I get our washing machine put in order (Ced fixed the electric ironer when he was home a year ago). I figured however, that with them both working all day, five days a week, they might not have the time, so I took our wash down to Crawford Laundry which used to do it and was told that, as a special favor to me, they would take it this week, but only the de-luxe expensive service was available, that they were not taking on any new customers in fairness to their old steady customers and that in any event, they could not promise the return of any wash inside of a month. That, coupled with the fact that it is impossible to buy any sheets (they had to call the police at a recent sheet sale at Read’s, one of the officials at the store was knocked down in the scramble and two women tore a sheet in half, each grabbing one end and claiming it was hers), sort of settles the matter for us. Either we wash our own stuff or go without, or wear dirty clothes. Reminds me of my cousin Dud’s test to determine whether his socks were dirty enough to go to the laundry. he threw them against the wall, and if they stuck, they were.
It’s been snowing here all afternoon, in spite of which fact, two young things journey up here in the bus to get married this afternoon, reminding me of another 14th only a month later, when I performed another marriage ceremony here in the house and then the groom shortly thereafter ran away to Brazil, and, personally speaking, hasn’t been heard from since, – – well, hardly ever.
I spoke forniest (? not my typo) in this letter, about your possibly inheriting some of your parents characteristics. There is one thing you did not inherit from me and that is a, what for the lack of a better term, I shall call “money sense”. I suppose it is largely my fault that most of you are not more thrifty. When you were born, I started for each of you a bank account but fell down somewhere along the line in inculcating the idea of saving for the rainy day that invariably comes with the change in life’s weather. Later, this fund was transferred (small as it was) to the Home Building & Loan here in Bridgeport, and none of you have added a cent to it, as far as I know, since that time. In Ced’s case I suppose the atmosphere of Anchorage makes it particularly difficult to develop the habit of laying by for future needs. I religiously saved for him the money he sent home from time to time, thinking he was paying me back for some fancied debt he owed me, and then when he came home last year, he spent it out of his generous heart. He gets a bonus from Woodley’s and immediately thinks about buying Christmas gifts in spite of the expense of fixing up his car. If you boys can’t save something from the small amount you are being paid, just for the mental discipline and good habit formation, then bolster your good intentions by sending me something REGULARLY to put aside for you. I speak out of the experience and observation of sixty years and know someday you are going to thank me for it, if you heed these words now, and it will make me face your future more confidently also. This is not something you married ones can push off onto your spouses. It’s your job. Sorry to end on so somber a note.
Tomorrow and Sunday I will be continuing the story of Biss in St. Petersburg, Florida, helping her Aunt Anne (Peabody) Stanley with her two children, Don and Gwen.
If you are enjoying these letters about the home front during the war, why not spread the news and tell some friends? They may thank you.