Venezuelan Adventure – The End of Lad’s Voyage (2) – La Guayra – January 5, 1939

      Alfred (Lad) Peabody Guion in Caracas in his Palm Beach Suit

In my last letter I believe we were about to dock in Curaçao, I shall continue on from there.  We docked at about 9:30 and by 10:30 they allowed the passengers to disembark.  The dock was about 2 miles from the center of the city so I took a taxi.  Since Curaçao is a free port and there are no taxes, everything is dirt cheap.  The two-mile ride cost me $.10 and the same back.  Both times they were nice station wagons. 1st a ’38 Chev. and back in a ’39 Ford Deluxe Most of the cars there were not more than one or two years old.  I wandered around in the city which, again, reminded me of Greenwich Village, only Curaçao is much cleaner and nicer.  After wandering around for a couple of hours, I bought another Palm Beach suit, better than the one I bought in N.Y., for only $10.00 and one of those white cord helmets and returned to the boat to watch them load and unload cargo.  They unloaded, among other things, a very large steam shovel and 27 1939 cars, Pontiacs, Buicks and Packard’s. Most of them were Deluxe jobs or special and in addition __ Ford trucks and 5 station wagons.

The outgoing cargo consisted of several thousand tons of coffee and that was about all.  This took until about 10:30 that same evening and then we weighed anchor and continued on for La Guayra.  After that I went to bed.  We were to be in port at about 9:00 so I got up at 5:30 and had everything packed and myself cleaned up and ready to leave at 8:00, when breakfast was served.  After giving the numerous but necessary tips and waiting until 9:30, we all, who were to leave at La Guayra, were asked to report to the Club Room to have our papers checked and everything put in readiness.  By the time that had been attended to, we had docked and only had to wait about 10 minutes for the gangplank to be lowered.  We got to the Customs House and had to wait for our baggage, and – since at eleven o’clock everything comes to rest for two hours – we decided, Mr. Burkhardt and I, to see if we could find someplace to eat.  Outside, we met one of Mr. Burkhardt’s ship acquaintance and he told us he knew La Guayra very well and since he had to have companions in order to enjoy a meal, he suggested that we come along with him to a seashore resort and it was decided that we go Dutch.  They have a funny custom here, at this hotel too.  There is a menu as it is called and on it is printed what you will have for dinner.  If you don’t like it, you go out and try another place.  Each meal, since I have been here, has been a native Venezuelan dish so as yet I don’t know what I do or don’t like.  Well, after the meal, we went back to the Custom H.  and had our baggage pored over.  I came through with only the loss of 5 pkgs. of Chesterfield’s and no duty on anything.  The others came through just as well accept that Mr. Frank De Costa smokes cigars, instead of cigarettes, and he had a box with him which he lost.  By about 3:30 or 4:00 we were ready to leave for Caracas and piled our luggage into a taxi in which the driver consented to take the three of us, plus baggage, to Caracas for $6.00.  The trip from La Guayra to Caracas by road is 30 miles, over a road just about wide enough for two cars to pass, if there has not been a landslide or a washout, that seems to have been hung on the mountainside for the full 30 miles.  The road, plus being steep, up grade most of the way, goes like this

etc. and boy ! the curves are sharp.  The drivers apparently are so used to them that they think they are straight and don’t bother to slow down.  By the time we got to Caracas we were tired of trying to stay on the seats of the big open Lincoln and really appreciated a chance to clean up and rest a little before supper at 7:30.  I can’t tell you what we had but I do know the meat could have been used to cover auto tires with and offered stiff competition to the rubber industry.  After supper, we walked around the town a bit and retired at 10:00.

Got up at 6:30 this AM and Mr. B. went out to start his work.  I have to wait here a few days for Mr. Human to come for me and during that time, I think, I’ll try to learn a little Spanish from my book.  Had lunch about 1:00 and wondered about town for a short while and then set down in our room to pen this note!

As ever –

Laddie

Tomorrow, a brief note from Grandpa to Lad and another letter from Lad in Caracas.

Judy Guion

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Venezuelan Adventure – The End of Lad’s Voyage (1) – The Hotel Palace – January 5, 1939

      Alfred Peabody Guion (Lad) @ 1939

Written Jan. 5th

Received – Jan.  17th

(The Bold notes written by Grandpa)

          Well I am here in Venezuela and arrived here without mishap.  If you ever plan to come here, don’t just bring money, bring a bank.  It is practically impossible to buy a meal for less than $2.00 and the waiter expects at least $1.00 for a tip, which means that one pays $3.00 for a meal here that you could buy at home for a $.25 price.  And even at that the meal you would get would at least not be overcooked and the food wouldn’t be more than a few days weeks old at the most.

Another thing, this Hotel (?),  at which I am staying, is the best in all Caracas.  It is The Hotel here.  Now for a description.  In your rural training you probably saw a number of cases where the children, thinking it smart, wrote on the “Johnny” walls and although the phone numbers and learned writing here may be of a higher type, the preceding description very nicely shows what I think of the Hotel Palace.  The floors are dirty, scum and mock in the corners, fingerprints and dirty spots shoulder high all over the places where one is apt to touch with his hands and shoulders, and writing, as I said, here and there around the place.  Doorknobs missing, locks broken, doors won’t close because of warping, lights hung here and there in terrible locations on wire held in place by nails or staples, and the glass shelf in our bathroom was at one time fastened to the wall by screws but the plaster broke so now it is held by nails with the heads bent over so that they won’t go through the holes in the brackets.

Yes, they do have a tub and shower of some B.C. origin, perhaps from Caesar’s time, and it looks as if the plumber had been out on a two-week bender, just before he made the installation, and when you take a shower, even if there were a curtain, the water would spray on the floor so perhaps that’s why they don’t have one.  There are no windows in the room but in front of the door there is an 8 or 10 ft. balcony so I can at least see what I am writing here, since I have the door wide open and the sun is shining.  The bathroom has one window in the ceiling that serves for two bathrooms.  They are next to each other, with a 12 or 15 foot wall between them.  The window is about 20 ft.  from the floor.  The lower walls and floors are tile so that instead of sweeping, they come and dumped the water on the floor, swish it around with a mop and then diverted it out onto the balcony.  From there it flows through holes down to the Center Court, around which are the dining tables and from there it seeps into the ground.  This, however, is not a daily procedure.  I could continue on and on but since I haven’t a great deal of money left, I don’t want to spend too much on stamps so that will have to suffice for a description of this room No. 29 and the rest of the “Dump”.         Here are a few items of comparison as to living conditions.  Rooms $7.00 per day, Amer. Cigs. $.60 and up, shoes $15.00 and up.  Everything here is about 3 times as expensive as in the States.  This location is right in the high-class business district of Caracas.  Do you recall what Greenwich Village looks like?  Well, all of Caracas is just like that except the streets are narrower, dirtier, “hillier”, “noisier” and not room for more than two people abreast on the sidewalk (where there are sidewalks!).  However, there is one redeeming fact, Caracas, although only about 20 miles from the shore, is about 300 feet above sea level and, at that, is surrounded, by not merely hills, but real mountains going up 3, 4, 5, and 6,000 feet.  By standing about 300 feet from a 2-story building, you can see the tops of them over the buildings.  They are really very close and very high.  Well, so much for Caracas.

Tomorrow, I will post the rest of this letter by Lad from Caracas. On Friday, another short note from Lad, also from Caracas.

Judy Guion

Trumbull – Dear Sons (2) – This is a Joint Letter – January 6, 1939

Alfred D Guion (Grandpa)

Pg. 2     1/6/39

Lad, I don’t think you will ever realize how much of a burden your generous offer has lifted from my shoulders.  I didn’t want to say too much about my feelings just before you left, but just that day I had received a call from Charlie Kurtz making quite a strong bid that I do something to pay back that long-standing debt.  I explained how short of cash I was because of interest and insurance premium payments being due and the fact that outfitting you boys had left me particularly short of cash, what with the Christmas season and all.  I pointed out that I had been able to reduce the debt from $1200 to a bit over $300, but he said the latter looked pretty big to him right now.  I still have to clean up about $100 each on Doctor Patterson for Mother’s operation and the undertaker, and Miss Hawley’s unpaid bill is still some $80.00 and with what I am able to put aside from my Selectmen’s salary, plus your generous contribution, I hope I can get these all cleaned up before 1940 rolls around.  I wish I could have refused to take advantage of your unselfish action, but I would like very much to get out from under these debts that have been hanging over my head for so many years.  As I told you, aside from current living expenses, it cost about $40 a month additional just for carrying charges such as taxes, interest on mortgage, fire insurance, etc., on property which will all belong to you children someday, and when you are each in position to do so, it seems only fair that this total should be divided up between you all, each one paying one-sixth, unless of course, things with me improve so that I can take care of it all myself without any of you assuming any of the burden.  You each have your own way to make and it’s too bad your old Dad can’t arrange to let you do that unimpeded by family needs.  However, enough of this.  You didn’t go to Venezuela to be pursued financially from home.

Ced has gotten practically all the smaller pieces of wood sawn up and is now starting on the bigger trunks.  He went up to get Whitney’s engine the other day and after fooling around with the coil, finally got it to working.  We ought to have a bigger diameter saw to really do a good job on the bigger diameter pieces of wood.  However we may decide to saw what we can with the circular saw and finished off with the hand saw.

A new First Aid instruction class started at the Town Hall last night, under the direction of Joe Soucup. Ced has joined along with some twenty-two others.

New Year’s Eve, Justice of the Peace Guion joined in wedlock one James O’Brien, once known as “Buster”, to a Miss Raleigh Lineberry of Bristol.  Witnesses were his sister Adele and her husband.  While the knot was being tied Art Mantle and Arvin Zabel dropped in to see their old friend hitched.

Well, I guess that will hold until I get some more news to our Venezuelan branch of the family.

Love and kisses from

DAD

Wednesday, Thursday and Friday,two letters from Lad in Venezuela.

Judy Guion

Trumbull – Dear Sons (1) – This is a Joint Letter – January 6, 1939

         Alfred Duryee Guion  in the Alcove where he typed his letters

Trumbull, Conn.

Jan.  6, 1939

Dear Sons:

This is a joint letter, as you may surmise, and is sent in the fond hope that if one of you fails to get his mail the other can supply the deficiency.

Well, here we are in an awful dilemma.  Lad has up and gone, leaving a 6-day-old infant in my charge who is destined to develop God knows what during the next dozen months.  So far outside of inaugurating a new governor in dear old Conn.,  and learning that the President has decided that we shall go deeper in debt than ever, all is quiet along the Pequonnock.

I don’t know whether you know it or not, Lad, but while the Junior Vice-Presidents of the Grace Line were passing around the trays on deck containing various and sundry colored roles of paper for streamers, Dave, Dick and Rusty were quietly gathering in supplies, resulting in a total of some 72 roles which they intend to use in desecrating Dot’s room someday when she is out.  To date, nothing has been done in that line.

After seeing you off, our voyage home was uneventful.  Got to Trumbull about dark and next day Rusty left for a visit to New York for an indefinite stay.  Received your airmail letter from Curaçao in record time.  It was postmarked Jan. 3rd, and reached Trumbull Jan. 5th, Your failure to mention anything about the stateroom leads me to believe that you were unable to obtain better accommodations.  Am glad you had so smooth and pleasant a voyage.  Have not seen Babe (the girl Lad was dating before he went to Venezuela) since but I’m looking forward to learning more details.

Your letter to Lad, Dan, unfortunately did not do so well.  As you probably have learned by this time it did not arrive until the 3rd – too late for Lad to get what you wanted.  I did send down a pair of work gloves with Lad and some mosquito netting which I hope will come in handy, and will not make it necessary to use old underwear and chasing butterflies.  I am sorry both for your sake and Lad’s that you didn’t take my advice and write sooner a list of the things that you found from experience it were best to bring, but we can’t help that now.

Art Mantle, Elizabeth (Biss) and Lad

          Today is Elizabeth’s birthday (19th birthday).  Grandma (Peabody) baked a chocolate cake but that was about the extent of the celebration.  She is out now with some of her rowdy friends, with strict instructions from her pater to get home early — for whatever good that will do.

Last night we had a very hard, long, warm rainstorm which raised the river level quite high, and washed out several of the Trumbull roads but otherwise did little damage.  Today has been quite warm and sunshiny.

Rusty has been talking Alaska to Ced and it is possible that my third son will strike north next spring.  The old roost will begin to look kinder bare if this thing keeps up indefinitely.

Tomorrow I will post the second page of this joint letter to Lad and Dan. Wednesday and Thursday, a letter from Lad and on Friday, a second half-letter from Lad and a quick note from Grandpa.

Judy Guion

Voyage to Venezuela – 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 (16) – On Board the Santa Rosa – January 2, 1939

 

GRACE  LINE                                                                                                                                                                      Monday, Jan. 2

4:00 P.M.

ON BOARD

Santa Rosa

   Dear Family: –

Well, tomorrow we are scheduled to dock at Curaçao at 9:00 A.M. and will probably lie at rest until 6:00 or 7:00 tomorrow evening. Thence on to La Guayra.  Everything so far has been fine and you can tell Dave, for me too, that I have not been seasick at all.

I have written Cecilia a fairly detailed account of the first day and a half of the trip  so I will just give a short resume and for details you had better see her.  Friday afternoon and Saturday morning I spent in exploring the ship and meeting a few of the many friends I have made up to the present.  Saturday aft.  I spent reading, I believe, and writing.  In the evening we had a Welcome Dinner in order to promote a more universal feeling of good-will among the passengers, which was fairly successful, and then a party in the combination Club Room and Bar.  No, I didn’t get drunk, in fact all I had was a bottle of Pabst Blue Ribbon and then I sat around and watched everyone else have a good or bad time, as the cases may have been.  I retired about 2:00 A.M. Sunday (yesterday), Jan.1, 1939.

I woke up too late for breakfast, which was from 9:00 to 10:00, so I slept again til 1:00 and had lunch.  I made a few trips around the deck and by about 3:00 it began to blow quite hard.  I sat in my deck chair and read a little and then studied my Spanish book until about 5:30.  By that time there was quite a strong breeze but it was very warm so I took a shower and dressed in white for dinner.  At: 9:00 there was a showing of Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs, which I enjoyed very much and then dancing in the Club Room until 12:00.

I got up in time for breakfast and then spent about an hour watching the waves, sea and flying fish.  Then on the boat deck, way up on top, I played a game of shuffleboard, which I lost 102 to 92, and then went below to dress for lunch.  After lunch there was a game of horse racing at which I won $1.25 for Mr. Burkhardt, I didn’t bet at all, and then I came up here to the lounge which brings me up to the present.

At 5:00 there is to be trap-shooting which I will watch, then supper and at 9:00 a pre-showing of a brand-new movie which has not yet been released at the theaters, so they say.  After that I shall probably retire in preparation for tomorrow.

This letter and the one to Cecilia will leave Curaçao by plane tomorrow, I believe, so it will probably be a few days before you get another.  Well, so much for that.

The sea has been quite smooth and the weather fine so far.  Right now I am perspiring sitting on the deck in the shade of an open window with my white suit on so you can see it is a little bit warm.

Lots of love,

Laddie

Army Life – Dear Dad – Plans for Christmas – December 21, 1943

 

Marian (Irwin) Guion

Tuesday

December 21, 1943

Dear Dad, Aunt Betty, Jean, Dave and anyone else of the Guion clan who is present —

Last Wednesday Uncle Sam gave us a Christmas present that we find rather hard to take. Lad has been transferred from Camp Santa Anita to Texarkana, and he left this morning to drive there in the Buick. It isn’t an embarkation depot (Thank God) but as far as we know now, he is in a cadre that are being organized and trained for overseas duty. This shouldn’t happen right away, however, ‘cause it’s supposed to take from 6 to 8 months to get the company ready for overseas work. He is going to wire you his new address (the one I have may not be right) and will probably be able to explain a little more in detail just exactly what the setup really is. For the present, until he sees what the post is like and what housing conditions are, I am going to stay here. As soon as he can find a room, a tent or a packing box, I’m going to join him! We should be used to this business of being anywhere we can- after all, we’d only been in the apartment 12 days, so we shouldn’t be too much in a rut, and too used to domestic life. Somehow, we haven’t quite been able to see the funny side of the situation as yet, altho’ we should be able to very soon. Everything has been so perfect and so wonderful so far, that we are sure everything will be all right in the very near future.

In the meantime, we try not to think about the time we are separated, and are looking forward to the day when I can meet him in Texarkana.

Somehow, we hated to take time out to finish our Christmas cards (we are making them this year), but I’ll get them out to everyone even if they don’t arrive until the 4th of July! Our Christmas box to you also, was delayed a little, so we’re not too sure it will arrive in time for Christmas. However, we know you’ll understand, and we want you to know that the lateness of arrival in no way dims our Christmas wishes for you.

I find that I’m not as good a soldier’s wife as I thought I was so I’m trying to get a reservation home. I’ll know tomorrow morning whether it’s possible or not, but I rather think I will get there.

Lad and I had a wonderful Christmas celebration last night. We had our tree and gifts then, and although it wasn’t quite the way we had planned, at least we celebrated our first Christmas together, in spite of the fact that it was a little earlier than is customary.

I seem to have rambled on quite a bit. I hope you won’t feel that I am too blue or depressed. You do know of course, how disappointed we both are, but we have known all along that it might happen this way and that we would just have to take it and no questions asked. It’s particularly hard for Lad, though. They did the same thing to him last year and moved him just at Christmas time. I guess, however, that Uncle Sam can’t afford to be sentimental, and as his nieces and nephews, we all have to take things as they come and be cheerful about it. It can’t last forever!

I sincerely promise that my next letter to you will be much more cheerful. With love to all of you–

Marian

P.S. We both enjoyed your Christmas box, Dad. You do things just the way I like – (specifically- the little Christmas tree, candy and raisins enclosed with the gifts), Lad took them with him to eat along the way. (The food, I mean, the gifts will be used in appropriate places).

M

We also got a chance to play your Christmas record, Dad. Enjoyed it very much —

 

Tomorrow, a letter from Lad on board the Santa Rosa and mailed in Curacao.

On Sunday, more Special Pictures. Next week, letters written in 1944.

Judy Guion