Trumbull – Dear Laddiest – Almost On Their Way To Alaska (2) – June 9, 1940

The family after the Baptism’s of Raymond Zabel, Jr. (Butch) and David Peabody Guion

L. to R. – Alfred Duryee Guion (Grandpa), Richard Peabody Guion (Dick, partially hidden), Cedric Duryee Guion (Ced), Elizabeth Westlin (Guion) Zabel (Biss), David Peabody Guion (Dave), Raymond Zabel, Sr. holding Raymond Zabel, Jr., (Butch), and Daniel Beck Guion (Dan).

Page 2 of R-79

This morning I got up at nine and got the dinner started and then rushed up and got dressed for church, because this was the day Mr. Bollman had appointed for baptismal services, and not only was young grandson to be baptized along with three other babies, but our own David was also to receive the same sacrament along with Evelyn Hughes and Robert Shattuck. Your nephew was very good during the entire ceremony but celebrated by wetting himself afterwards while his father was holding him. They decided to leave on this account before the ceremony was over and stopped at MacKenzie’s drugstore on the way home because Zeke was thirsty. Baby evidently did not approve of this because he upset a glass of Coca-Cola and MacKenzie, in his haste to mop up the spilling, upset another glass himself.

Blog - Arnold and Alta Gibson's wedding, 1939 (2) Arnold, Alta, Nomad and trailer

Since Arnold Gibson and Alta (Pratt) were married in Sept. of 1939, this probably isn’t the trailer Grandpa is writing about, but it will give you a pretty good idea of the set-up they had for their trips.

Arnold has bought a demonstration trailer which I had the pleasure of going through this morning and it is very nice indeed. It is equipped with heating stove, gasoline cooking stove, dishwashing sink, lavatory, water closet, and even a small bathtub under one of the seats. Numerous closets, cupboards, drawers, etc., add to the comfort. Copper screen doors and windows provide ventilation. All in all, I should think he could have lots of fun in it.

No letter from you this last week but as usual I am hoping the coming week will not go empty. The boys have not yet definitely decided when they will leave, but it will probably not be before Tuesday as Ced has a few things he yet wants to do on the Willys and Dan’s period on his highway job ends Tuesday. Ced has bought two new tires (Sears Roebuck) and has installed a radio which he bought secondhand, an Emerson, I believe. Dick’s school is now over as far as lessons are concerned but Dave has 2 1/2 weeks yet before his time is up. Dick’s graduation is on the 20th and then if he can, you will get a job on the Parkway (Merritt Parkway construction).

A number of people seem to be wondering if I am concerned about your being in Venezuela was so much talk about “fifth column” activities in South American countries and the danger that the Nazis will try to start something down there either to prevent the allies from getting oil or capturing this much needed war material for themselves. Enclosed is a clipping which appeared in last night’s Bridgeport paper which is typical of the feeling up this way. What do you hear on the matter down there?

Around the yard here the rhododendrons are just coming out, the iris are in full bloom and of course the leaves are in full force on the trees. Flies and mosquitoes are beginning to exhibit their quaint little ways and altogether it may be said that summer is here. I am sitting in my shirtsleeves in the alcove with the doors open and a Robin is chirping its evening song outside. An airplane drones overhead and unlike those in Europe, when we hear this sound, we don’t all dive for the bomb-proof cellars.

This seems to be all of note that I can find to write you, so in the words of the old song, we come to the end of a perfect day, although it would be a bit more perfect if my great big, handsome, oil son was sitting opposite me right now. Failing that, here are best regards from your     DAD

Tomorrow and Sunday, more of the Early Years and Memories of Alfred Peabody Guion. 

Judy Guion


Trumbull – Dear Laddiest – Almost On Their Way To Alaska (1) – June 9, 1940

This is the first half of a letter written to Lad in Venezuela but very soon, Grandpa will be adding Dan and Ced to his list of letter recipients.

       Lad in Anzoategui, Venezuela

Cabins for Two 1 - Paul Dutton - Bob Jones 2 - Stanley Barnes - Frank Borgon 3 - Herb Hadley - Al Guion 4 - The Mess Hall

Cabins for Two
1 – Paul Dutton – Bob Jones
2 – Stanley Barnes – Frank Borgon
3 – Herb Hadley – Al Guion
4 – The Mess Hall

Lad's Bureau and Desk

           Lad’s Bureau and Desk

"The Ole Swimming Hole"

        “The Ole Swimming Hole”

These may be some of the pictures Grandpa was looking at. He does describe the bureau, pictures and desk. Lad labeled these “Anzoategui Camp, Jan., 1940”, so it’s quite possible. My problem is that Lad separated all the Venezuelan pictures by category – Animal pictures, Baseball, Bull Fight, Groups, Individuals, Other Camps – and not all are labeled. The “Swimming Hole” might have been at the San Tome Camp. I’m not sure, but the rest are all labeled Anzoategui Camp, for sure.

On the other hand, I could not find any panorama pictures, and these pictures were taken at ground level. I may never know for certain.

You may recognize the name Herb Hadley from earlier letters. I suppose Lad borrowed or bought something from him for $3 and had Grandpa send him a check back here in the states, since the thank you letter was written from Chicago. Now we know a little more on the connection between Lad and Herb Hadley. I just love it when things “click” like this.

R-79  June 9, 1940

Dearest Laddiest:

I have just spent better than a half-hour looking carefully over the prints of the first batch of negatives you sent home and I feel as though I have almost visited you and spent a few days with you. I may have told you that instead of having prints made the same size as your tiny films, I have had them enlarged to double the size, and still further aided by my pocket magnifying glass I have just had a very intimate tour with you over the ground. I particularly enjoyed the portraits of yourself, you looked in fine condition. Your face has filled out and you looked to be in much better health than you were here. I noticed the wristwatch. It has a metal band, hasn’t it, rather than a leather strap. In one of the pictures you were wearing what looked like leather moccasins. Possibly you bought those down there as the day we packed up in your room I do not recall that you took low shoes like this with you. The panorama of camp is interesting. As the water tower does not show in any of these scenes, I assume this was where you stood when you took the pictures. I was also interested in the view of the interior of your room. I noticed the typewriter on the stand at the left, then the Bureau with what looks like Babe’s photo on top and another which I cannot make out. Then the low table on which there is some round gadget like a small motor and a pile of magazines or something. I suppose your bed and radio is on the other side of the room. It was altogether a nice little visit and I enjoyed visiting you although you kept pretty quiet and had very little to say.

This is been a busy weekend here. Friday Ced went over to see Rusty and learned that he is not planning to go to Alaska with them, undoubtedly for the reason that he has not the necessary funds. He is writing two stories which he expects to induce some publisher to accept, which, with the illustrations which will go with it, he feels ought to bring him in some cash. I have read the stories and while the ideas are good he lacks style and I do not believe he can get rich on his writing. I fear he will be doomed to disappointment if he is banking on this means of getting to Alaska. Dan wrote to Jim Shields asking if he would like to go with them, and received the following night letter in reply: “Sorry, Dan, but July is the earliest I could leave. If you had only let me know a week sooner. I hope to get there later if you write me the possibilities. Why not stop here overnight? Bueno sureta amigo mio y hasta luego, Yours in mourning,  Jim.” So the upshot of the matter seems to be that the boys will go by themselves which seems to me a far better arrangement. I think I wrote you we are planning some sort of a send off party for the boys. Because the Chandler Chorus picnic occurred last Saturday, our plans for that day fell through, then Carl (Wayne) had a bright idea that his new boat, which they had been painting and fixing up, might be launched last week and we could all have a sailing party, but as the boat was not finally put into the water until yesterday and had to soak a few days to swell up so that it would not leak, that idea was out. Anyway, they did get going on a party here last night which resolved itself chiefly around a scavenger hunt. I am enclosing slips showing who was on which team and what the articles were that were sought. The girls provided the eats, I made the punch and the boys contributed towards some parting gifts, consisting of a heavy pair of wool lined mitts for each plus a red plaid woodsman shirt and miscellaneous toilet articles. Carl got Jimmy Smith to act as the judge and we did have a lot of fun passing on the merits of the various articles.

Blog - Alaskan Farewell Scavenger Hunt - June, 1940 (2) Teams 

#2 – Dick Christie, Charley Hall, Jane Mantle (future Mrs. Hall), 

#1 – Arnold (Gibson)Alta Pratt (future Mrs. Gibson), Dan Guion, Bar Plumb (dating Dan), Zeke (Raymond Zabel, Biss’s husband)

# 3 – Carl (Wayne) Ethel Bushey (future Mrs. Wayne), Jean Hughes, Red Sirene, Dave (Guion)

# 4 – Ced Guion Flora Bushey, Lois Hennigan, Ray Wang (Carl Wayne’s brother)

Scavenger Hunt Items

Scavenger Hunt Items

1. 8 Black chicken feathers

2. worm

  3. sea shells

  4. bird’s nest

  5. 1935 Lic. plate

 6. baby shoe

 7. stocking with run

 8. live fly

 9. 1938 calendar

 10. newspaper announcing declaration of War

 11. Tadpole

12. bright red garter

13. floor nail bloomer

15. lace night cap

Dick was out with a bunch of his high school friends on a party that had been previously arranged, so he was not at the party. It broke up about 1:30 with a good time had by all. Elizabeth came in later with the baby after the teams had returned and “Butch” (Elizabeth’s 9-mo.-old son, Raymond Zabel Jr.,) kept everybody amused for a while.

I’ll post the rest of the letter tomorrow, but I thought you might enjoy reading who was at the party (names that have been mentioned before) and the creative list of items Grandpa came up with. (This is Grandpa’s writing.)

Trumbull – Dear Laddie – Report of the Purchasing Agent (2) – June 12, 1940

This is the second half of the letter “Report of the Purchasing Agent” from Grandpa to Lad in Venezuela.

Alfred Duryee Guion (Grandpa)

Col. W. C. Weeks’ address is P.O. Box 201, R.F.D.3, Bridgeport, Conn. I noticed it on his mailbox as I rode by this morning. For my daily constitutional I had driven up to Baskerville’s and walked from there on a circle up around Huntington way for about an hour.

The boys – Daniel Beck Guion and Cedric Duryee Guion after the baptism of Raymond Zabel, Jr.

We were going to give a farewell party for the boys tonight but because the Chandler Chorus Society fixed upon this same afternoon for their picnic and the boys have decided not to leave before next Saturday, our party has been postponed. Just when they will start has not yet been definitely decided, Ced wanting first to get some definite information as to boat connections on the coast with the idea of transporting the car to Alaska.

I note you have a new ribbon on your machine. It is much improved from a legibility standpoint.

I was quite interested in your paragraph referring to the Venezuela Petroleum affair as I was wondering what happened after the one reference in that first letter. Now I note you will talk with Mr. O’Connor when you visit Caracas which perhaps is the best thing under the circumstances. I am surprised you have not yet had Ted’s letter that he said he wrote you but that again may be the fault of the mail. If I were you, I would make a friendly call on Mr. MacMillan. He is a good person to know under the circumstances. Don’t forget also to send some postcards to your friends in the states while you are there. Have you made any definite plans as to when you will make a visit to Caracas?

Am glad you have a congenial roommate. The wrong kind of companion at such close quarters could make things very unpleasant as you probably know. However, I should think you would be the easiest kind of person to live with as Tip has already found out, I don’t doubt. I suppose your old Dad would think that anyway, in view of the large place you occupy in his heart.

Arnold has finished the engine and clutch on the little Willys but just today something went wrong in the gas line on your old Packard and I suppose he will be having to fix that up as Dan has been using it to get back and forth to his job on the Merritt Parkway. I suppose both Ced and Dan will continue to work another week in order to accumulate as much money as possible for their trip. Dan is very much tanned, far darker than when he came back from Venezuela. Dick has been taking sun baths lately although for the last week, with the exception of one day, we have had rainy or cloudy weather. Decoration Day was the beautiful exception and today was not half bad. If it were not for the depressing news from abroad and poor business, things would be quite cheerful.

Page 3 of R-78

The foregoing was written Saturday afternoon, so that in case I was unable to write you today (Sunday) it would not be the delay in sending you my weekly newsletter that has occurred during the last two weeks.

Late yesterday afternoon we all went down to the Choral Society picnic at Traphagen’s where they roasted hamburgers outside, sat around and talked, some playing games like pitching horseshoes, badminton, etc. An enjoyable time was had by all.

David Peabody Guion after his Baptism

This morning Dave and I arose early, drove over to the end of Seeley Road and walked north to the end of the lake. We disturbed a mother duck and six little wild ducklings who swam out on the lake to avoid the horrid man things.

In celebration of Ced’s birthday I had ice cream, and as per the old custom, for dessert, after which Ced opened his presents. As a combination birthday and going away gift I gave him a watch similar to Dan’s. That and the traveling bag from you were the high spots.

This afternoon I planted some seeds in the flower bed between the barn and the incinerator. It has been a beautiful day, warm and sunshiny except for occasional brief spaces when fleecy clouds drifted across the Sun.

The boys have decided tentatively to set a week from tomorrow as the time of departure. Arnold has located and fixed the leak in the Packard gas line. It occurred just where the pipe joins the tank.

I learned that both David and little Raymond are to be baptized next Sunday by Mr. Bollman. David was the only one of you children that was not baptized. He is now down at the Young People’s meeting at the church. In a few minutes I shall tune in and listen to Charlie McCarthy with the thought that you might be doing the same.

Lilacs in bloom

The Lilacs are just about done and now the iris are coming into bloom. Dan, after hours, has been doing a lot to make the place look better and his example has induced Dick and, to some extent Dave also, to do a bit along this line. Zeke doesn’t do a thing around the apartment to make the place look decent and as Elizabeth isn’t much inclined that way either, it doesn’t look anywhere near as nice as far as the grounds are concerned as they did when Grandma lived there.

With all the more important news out of the way this is now dwindling down to small talk which probably is not very interesting to you, so I suppose I might as well do the inevitable and say au revoir to you and tune in on 660. Greetings and all that sort of thing from your one and only       DAD

Tomorrow and Friday, I’ll be posting another two-part letter to finish the week.

Judy Guion

Trumbull – Dear Laddie – Report of the Purchasing Agent (1) – June 1, 1940

We’ve jumped back to June of 1940. Lad has been in Venezuela for about a year and a half, and he is the only child, at this time, not living at home in Trumbull. Both Dan and Ced are scheduled to leave shortly for a drive from Connecticut to Seattle, and then plan on taking a ship up to Anchorage where they have been told by friends that they can have a job. This is the first half of the letter, I’ll be posting the last half , with all the news of family and friends, tomorrow.

Blog - Big work truck - 1940

Work Truck in Venezuela – 1940

R-78      June 1, 1940

Dear Laddie;

Your letter arriving yesterday, appointing me Purchasing Agent, has born immediate fruit. I have nicked you for about $412 within the last few days. The biggest item was $397 in full payment for 10 shares of Fairbanks Morse stock, certificate for which, in your name, is in the Bridgeport City safe deposit box. Enclosed is a letter from the President of the company welcoming you to the fold as a stockholder. It occurs to me that this might be a good opportunity for you to acknowledge said letter on the Socony-Vacuum stationary, thanking him for the courteous note, mentioning your experience briefly in installing Fairbanks Morse equipment and telling him of your interest in diesel’s and the opportunity there seems to be for this type of equipment in Venezuela, etc. It cannot possibly do any harm and might do some good. You never can tell.

The next item of expenditure is not strictly a purchase. It amounts to three dollars, the sum sent at your request to Hadley, which he acknowledged receiving and which acknowledgment I sent you in the last letter. I agree with you that the mail service in your adopted country is lousy. They could do with a little American business system. I think if they were to put yours truly in charge for about six months I could do something about it. Take this Hadley incident as an example. Your letter asking me to send him the check was written on May 2nd and received by me May 13th (10 days, whereas by contrast the letter I got from you yesterday dated May 26th reached me May 31st – – five days). To this letter I replied the same day – – May 13th and told you I would take care of it. Yet apparently on May 26th you had not received my letter. It would help, if in replying, you would tell me what letters you had received since last you wrote home giving either the date or the R number. I keep carbon copies of my letters to you so that I can refer back to any reference you might make to statements in them.

Item number three in my A.P. accounting has to do with Marie Page’s wedding gift. I enclose a clipping which has to do with the affair scheduled to take place this afternoon. As your letter reached me only last night and was read at the supper table, it meant that if I were to be on time I should have to do some hustling this morning, so as soon as I reached Bridgeport I hustled over to Read’s, intending to purchase a very fine double boiler I had seen there some weeks ago which I should very much like to own myself in view of the fact that our only double boiler developed a hole the other day. It was a highly polished stainless steel affair with copper bottom made by the Revere Copper company, a deluxe piece of equipment, a lifelong practical gift which anyone would be proud to own. The price was $6.50. However when I consulted my sales lady friend (perhaps you know her, Mrs. Banthin, who used to live in Trumbull and whose husband, I think, is the one who owns the body repair shop), she called my attention to a very fine electric table stove combination they had just placed on sale for the day, it was a combination Broiler, cooker, grill, with varying heat control, all chromium plated and originally selling for about eight dollars which was priced at $5.50 and which seemed ideal for an apartment. So I had this shipped off at once to Marie’s address with a card inside with your name and the words “Greetings from Venezuela”.

Cedric Duryee Guion

The fourth item was Ced’s present. This had to be done in a hurry also because today also was Ced’s birthday. Dan had mentioned that Ced, in talking about the trip in the little Willys to the coast, had mentioned that he did not have any bag of any sort to pack his clothes in and asked if Dan had room in his trunk. That, of course, gave me an idea. So at Read’s I looked at their luggage with the intention of keeping within the five dollar limit, but the only really appropriate thing I saw was a folding canvas leather trimmed with zipper and handles duffel bag contraption that was a beautiful piece of work but cost 10 smackers. I then went to the luggage shop across Broad Street and there found an ideal bag with a zipper made to carry four men’s suits without wrinkling them and supplied with a contraption so that you could hang the thing up in an auto. There were also two separate zipper compartments for shoes, shirts etc., and places to hang neckties. It was so ideal for their car trip across the continent that I felt if it was at all reasonable it should be the thing. The price was $6.65 but after talking with the salesman a while, he agreed to let me have it for six dollars. I hope this was not more than you wanted me to spend. I know Ced will be everlastingly grateful to you for it. So that is the account of my stewardship. If this is not in line with what you had hoped I would do, give me a hint as to what approximate amount you would like to spend, or the top limit that I will be governed accordingly.

Tomorrow’s post will be the second half of this letter. The rest of the week will be more Trumbull news.

Judy Guion

Friends (3) – Dear Danny – A Long Letter From Fred Chion About Interamerica, Inc. – May, 1940

This is the last page of a letter written by Fred Chion, a friend and co-worker of Dan’s, in Venezuela. He fills Dan in on some of the happening of Interamerica, Inc., after Dan left to return to Trumbull.

Dan, with co-workers, in the field surveying for Interamerica, Inc. in Venezuela

Now comes the payoff or “the boomerang strikes back”.  Max had given to Dick during a trip that he took to the states last December, a letter which stated that Mr. Richard A.  Wiberley (Dick) was the manager of the company and that all actions by him during Mr. Maxudian’s absence from this country was binding and that his decision was final in all matters pertaining to the company.  Using this letter at it’s worth, Dick applied for payment due to the company from the ministry and imagine his surprise when he was handed the money in cash.  He paid all of us off, all that was coming to him and then he sent a cable to Max saying that he had collected the money from the ministry and that we were leaving the company and the house at the end of the month of July.  Boy …. You should have then seen the cable grams from Max arriving fast and furious.  But it was too late.  Another stroke of good fortune was that in order to ensure our money, we had taken all the valuable equipment from the office, intending to hold it until we were paid in full and the very next day, Herrera Oroposa’s lawyer came into the office with a judgment against the company and attached all the office equipment in satisfaction of the debt due to him still from the days of the eminent Explorer RUDOLPH THE GREAT AND ONLY.  Anyhoe, at least we did Max a good turn, unless somebody else now finds the equipment and gets a judgment against it.  Which brings in Bush.  As I have previously said, Bush had left for the states in the earlier part of February because his wife was sick, and Max had faithfully promised him that his money would be safe with him, Max, and that he would send him a check to cover for all his past salary (six months).  During the middle of June, imagine our surprise when who should walk in the office but Bush asking for Max and his pay.  Max had completely forgotten to even inform him that he was in the states, let alone pay him for past services.  Naturally Bush was highly incensed and was ready to tell Max, if he saw him, where to get off.  He wrote to Max in the states but received no reply.  He then hired a lawyer and was ready to take action against the company when just about at that time, Richard pulled the rabbit out of the magician’s hat. Soooo……. Bush was also paid off in full, then we had a dinner to celebrate the event and everyone was happy except, I believe, that Mr. Karnopp will not be so happy.  You see …. Max owes Karnopp about 6 months’ salary and after we had paid off all just and most pressing claims, besides our salaries, there was exactly Bs. 120.30 left.  This is some chapter, hey what ……

Ricci is going home this coming Friday, in the meantime we are trying to form a company to do the surveys because the director of the MOP told Dick and I that under no consideration would another contract be given to Interamerica, Inc., that Mr. Maxudian had caused too much trouble and that he had called the minister of the MOP a thief and whatnot, that they did not again want to deal with such a person and that he was told this about six months ago.  Besides this, there are a few very good possibilities here, so that for the time being, I’m going to spend a little time here to see what develops.  I’ve already turned down a job offered to me by the Compania Nacional de Construction, you know, that American outfit that was in Barquisimeto.  Furthermore, I have an almost sure promise of a job, as does Dick, for a job in Panama with a Californian outfit who is going to do work for the government over there.  This was the company that Max tried to get interested in our work, telling them that he already had the contract for construction but that he did not have the equipment nor the capital and he strung them along for a period of two months before they finally smelt a rat, went to the MOP and the president of Venezuela, and left again for the sunny fields of California, where they say, there are very few Armenians.  It did Richard and I a world of good because we made very good contacts with them and this is the result.

Well, that’s about all I can tell you except that it is too bad we do not have a writer in this group to write the history of this company.  It would be so unbelieving that it would not even make a good fiction story.  I do not know how long I shall be in Venezuela and I therefore do not expect an answer to this letter of mine in this country.  Hold on and maybe in a few weeks I shall write to you again and then you will be able to answer me.  Remember me to your father and receive the very best from an old man (grown old in the service of Interamerica, Inc. – mostly RED)

So long toots, see you in the Army.

Best regards from the whole family.


(but who came out alright in the end)

This gives you an idea of the troubles both Lad and Dan had in getting their back pay after they left the company. Dan to return to Trumbull and Lad to employment with the Socony-Vacuum Oil Company in Venezuela. It was a long and tedious battle.

Tomorrow and Sunday, the last two posts of “Liquid Heaven”, Special Pictures and Memories, about our Family Island Retreat.

Judy Guion

Friends – Dear Danny (2) – A Long Letter from Fred Chion about Interamerica, Inc. – May, 1940

This is the second page of a long letter to Dan from Fred Chion, another Surveyor working for Interamerica, Inc. in Venezuela. Fred remained in Venezuela for a while after Dan left in May of 1939, and Fred is reporting some of the things that happened in the Company and to the workers in Venezuela.

Jim Pierce  and Lad Guion at Karnopp’s Camp in Venezuela

The Maxes, and Richard’s wife, left for the states at the beginning of the month of June, I moved in shortly afterwards and that began our worries. As usual, Max had not left enough money and by the end of June we were beginning to be worried.  Max promised that he would be back by the end of the month and a fortnight after he was supposed to have arrived here, Dick had used up what was left of the passage money in order to pay for our current expenses.  In the meantime, two of the boys had found employment, one with an engineering firm from the states, and the other with Texaco Oil Co., one of the other boys had left for the states, and there was Richard, another engineer, myself, my wife and child, left to worry.  During the month of March, in the meantime, Karnopp had been employed by the Ministry (MOP) for a railroad survey job which was supposed to have lasted 2 months.  To date, he has been working 6 months on it and it is not as yet finished.  He took with him the two boys that were working with him on the Coro line.  Max still had a good bank balance at that time and besides that, he still had some Bs. 20,000 to collect from the Ministry for the last payment.  When the balance was getting low, Richard started to send cables to New York to Max, but nary an answer.  He had hired a lawyer who had Power of Attorney for Max, and while he had the right to collect the money from the Ministry and pay us off, he would not do so unless he had explicit instructions to that effect from Max.  He sent a cable to Max asking him to tell him what to do with us, that we were no longer interested in working for his company, that the only thing that we wanted was to be paid off in full and return to the states, in other words, liquidate ourselves entirely from his company.  Max, as usual, did not answer for the simple reason that he wanted us to stay here to help his front.  He was telling everyone that his engineers had so much confidence in him that they were willing to wait until he received his next contract.  As matters stood, it was pretty bad.  I could have taken it on the chin and paid my own passage, lose out on the expense money that he owed me, and return home.  Another bad feature was that the Bolivars had greatly depreciated and while the legal exchange was still 3.19, they could not be had for that price and furthermore the government made it illegal for anyone to buy or sell dollars at a higher price than the official one.  Through the help of the oil people we were lucky enough to be able to buy some at 3.50, meaning that I would have had to take a 10% loss on the money paid to me.  Max had promised that he would take care of this matter while he was in New York and he did as he usually does all these things.

Tomorrow, the final page of this letter about “the boomerang strikes back”.

Judy Guion

Friends – Dear Danny (1) – A Long Letter From Fred Chion About Interamerica, Inc. – May, 1940

This is a long letter to Dan from Fred Chion, another surveyor, who worked with Dan in Venezuela, for Interamerica, Inc. It chronicles the events after Dan returned to Trumbull.

Daniel Beck Guion

Dear Danny,

I guess I’m the one who has delayed plenty in writing to you in answer to your letter.  Well, to tell you the truth, I was forever waiting for new developments and for something important to happen so that I could inform you, but as yet nothing has happened in that particular direction, but plenty in other, so much so that I can hardly know where to begin.  So, do not expect this to be a letter but rather a conglomeration of thoughts and events that might be of some interest to you.

When I last wrote to you, Bush was the chief of the party, but through an unexpected turn of events, Max Yervant Maxudian, President of Interamerica, Inc.) called him to Caracas and I was placed in charge.  Before this, Mr. Roberts was fired (for the second time) and his passage paid to the states.  He had run a preliminary line, under the Honorable Mr. Boshnakian’s orders, which when plotted, turned out to be a 23% grade, besides which, not being a Sunday school boy, he was drunk for a very long time, ran up bills for everything, owed money to Tom, Dick and Harry and the net result was that he was paid his passage home after six months work with Interamerica, Inc.,  and produced very little work and at that, it was no good.

In December, Max hired another man, a friend of mine from the states, and in January he hired another one.  When this happened all the boys felt pretty good believing that there would be plenty of work for all of us.  Anyhoe, the Barqui-Siqui line was finished in the field on February 18, 1940.  The Coro line was finally finished about the same time (they averaged 5 kms. per month to our 13 kms. per month).  I was offered a good job with the ministry of agriculture on the construction of a dam near Barquisimeto.  I asked Max to release me, pay me, and let me go to the new job, that I would return to him when he obtained the contract for construction or contracts for additional surveys.  Max then gave me a long story on the possibility that I had with his company and that I would make a big mistake in leaving his employ and that since he was going to keep on paying me my salary, there was no reason why he should release me from my contract.  I, being worried about the backpay that he still owed me, plus the expenditure that I had undertaken for him, which as yet he had not paid, complied with his wishes.  Needless to say, all that he said was merely what he was hoping for and had no reason why he should have had such high hopes.  However in May, all the boys, with the exception of Bush and Karnopp, were all paid in full and also all debts due to the boys.  He owed me close to $3000.00, and I was thankful that I finally collected.

During the month of February, Bush had to leave for the states because his wife was very sick and Max promised him that he would send the balance of the salary due to him while he was in the states (which he never did).  At the end of May, he made an agreement with all the boys, Dick excepted, that we were to remain in Venezuela, that he would pay us our expenses, that in the event that the company would obtain any contracts we would receive the salary of the waiting time, that he would leave money with Richard to pay for our fares to the states in the event that we should decide to return or in the event that the company would not receive any more contracts.  The Maxes (Mr. and Mrs. Maxudian, I presume) were at that time living at the Country Club, the swankiest place in Caracas, in a very luxurious home (front for Maxes suckers) called “El Cigarral”.  I was to move my family from Barqui to their home, enjoy a vacation with all expenses, the company to pay for all the bills.  Anyhoe, it was a nice set up if nothing else.

Tomorrow, another page of this very long letter and on Friday, the final page.

Judy Guion

Trumbull – A Backslider With Excuses (2) – News About Dan and Ced – May 29, 1940

This is the second half of the letter I posted yesterday about all of Grandpa’s excuses for not writing his usual weekly letter on Sunday night.

The boys have not decided when to leave. Ced heard from young Stohl saying that as Rusty (Heurlin) had decided not to drive with them, they have decided not to go to Seattle by car but would probably fly. So Ced decided to take the Willys (Grandpa’s car) and Arnold (Gibson, Lad’s best friend and just as fanatical about all things mechanical as Lad) now has it, putting it into shape. He is doing a thorough engine overhauling job, new rings, etc. and is also  re-facing the clutch. It ought to be finished by Monday and then Ced will see how far North they can travel by auto and from that point take the car on the boat to the most southern port in Alaska where they can unload the car from the boat and continue their journey to Anchorage or where ever they decide to go, by auto. I have been trying to get the sailing dope for them from the bank’s Travel Bureau and road dope from the A.A.A. Will let you know the details as they are unfolded.

I think I told you I sent the three dollars check to Mr. Hadley and received a very nice acknowledgment which I will try to remember to enclose. Like most folks who know you, he likes you and also pays your family a nice complement.

I mentioned the other day to the VP of an oil refinery catalog that I am using to advertise Jelliff products that you were with the SV people and he told me he frequently saw in New York one of your bosses, a Mickey somebody, and would mention you to him when next they met.

The stock market is all shot to pieces in view of the war news. It certainly looks pretty serious for the allies but there seems to be nothing we can do about it. F.D., after having run the country into a tremendous debt with his crack-brained experiments, is now proposing to spend billions more for planes, etc. By the way there is enclosed an interesting account of a talk with Mr. Ford about the number of planes we could produce.

A man came into the office the other day and asked us to mimeograph a sheet giving his experience, etc., in business with the idea of looking for another job. He told George he had just been let go by the Standard Oil here, the reason being that while the company was not saying anything about it publicly, the company had lost so many tankers through German sub attacks that they were curtailing expenses by cutting down on their personnel. Whether this is actually true or merely his alibi for being fired I do not know.

Tomorrow is a holiday of course. The boys are not going to school until Monday and both Dan and Ced are also off. The latter are planning to make another trip to the fair (The New York World’s Fair) and will probably take Dave. I think I shall stay at home and get the house in some sort of shape for the party Saturday. It just occurs to me that as Kurtz’s is closed all day tomorrow, I may not be able to mail this letter to you until Friday and possibly by that time I may have another letter from you and perhaps the regular check from the company. Will this be the last check I will receive from them or have you decided to stay with SV (Socony-Vacuum Oil Company, which eventually became part of Mobil Oil)? Have you made any more definite plans for your trip to Caracas? Take a few hours off someday soon and write me a letter in which you let down your hair because, after all, the most interesting things are what you are planning and thinking as well as what you’re actually doing in the physical sense.

My clock says 10:30 and I am getting sleepy after my late hours last night, so I’ll bring a mental night cap to you and pile off to little old bed.

As always,


Tomorrow, Thursday and Friday, a letter from Fred Chion, who worked with Dan for Interamerica, Inc. in Venezuela, telling him all the news since Dan left Venezuela about a year ago.

Judy Guion

Trumbull – A Backslider With Excuses (1) – All The Excuses – May 29, 1940

This week I will be posting two letters, today and tomorrow, one from Grandpa, and on Wednesday, Thursday and Friday, a long letter to Dan from a co-worker of Dan’s in Venezuela with some very detailed information on what has transpired with the Interamerica, Inc. company since Dan left Venezuela.

Alfred Duryee Guion - summer, 1946

Alfred Duryee Guion (Grandpa)

R-77  May 29, 1940

Dear Lad:

For the second week in succession I am a backslider. Here it is Wednesday eventide and I am just starting in to write you last Sunday’s letter. Aunt Betty came up for the weekend and having expressed a desire to see the pink Dogwood in Greenfield Hills and having a nice new Packard on tick to take her in, after dinner Sunday we donned our best bid and tucker and we all tried out the car in that direction. No, I’m wrong, that was Saturday afternoon. Sunday after dinner dishes were washed we loaded up with a car trunk full of Lilacs and started to take Aunt Betty home, making stops en route at Larry’s, Kemper’s, and Grandma’s. (all Peabodys) Ethel and Kemper were out of town but we saw all the rest who asked to be remembered to you. You must be getting better in your correspondence, by the way, because both Ethel and your lady friend at the cleaners both mentioned having received letters from you. Aunt Helen ((Peabody) Human) says however you haven’t answered the letters she wrote you. Well, after leaving New Rochelle we took Aunt Betty to Mount Vernon and after giving Mrs. Seipp some Lilacs nothing would do but we must all come in and have supper — “just a cup of tea” – which consisted of a bowl of soup, hot biscuits, hot turkey sandwich with gravy and generous helpings of rich fruitcake. By the time we reached home it was bedtime. (Incidentally, Ced discovered the borrowed Packard had picked up a nail somewhere and had developed a flat) and I decided to postpone writing you until Monday night. So, with supper out of the way I came in here to the alcove, had just inserted paper into the machine, when a tap  at the window caused me to look up and there was Bruce Lee. He explained he had been up in New England on business and was not expected home until late so decided to stop off and have a chat. You know Bruce. He got started on the war and while I got a yes or no in edgewise once in a while, he pretty well occupied the time with a monologue until nearly 11. So, says I to myself, the letter will have to go to Tuesday, but it must be written then without fail, failing to recall that an important town meeting was called for that night to decide on the budget, being an adjourned meeting from the fortnight previously. It was after 12 before the meeting was over, which brings us at one jump to the present time with almost a page 2/3 completed. Progress, I’ll say.

Received your note telling me all about little Kay. It must’ve been quite an ordeal. I can remember going through a similar experience with you at the time of the infantile paralysis epidemic when we called in Dr. Hubbard, a specialist on the disease, and learned, much to our relief, that you did not have it. That was on Dell Avenue (Mt. Vernon, NY), the time your little squeaky voice piped up in the middle of the night, “toot, toot, all aboard”.

Just here I have had quite a lengthy interruption by a visit from Carl and Ethel trying to arrange some sort of a farewell party for the Alaskan trippers. It is scheduled to be held Saturday which incidentally is also Ced’s birthday. I have bought him a watch and the gang is talking about giving the boys each a pair of heavy gloves and also a woolen lumbermen’s shirt or something of that sort.

Tomorrow I will post the rest of this letter, which includes more information about Dan and Ced’s anticipated trip to Alaska.

Judy Guion

Trumbull – Dear Lad (2) – Oil Stocks and Family News – May 21, 1940

APG - Lad (head only) on horseback in Venezuela - 1940

Alfred Peabody Guion

And speaking of oil, I received your letter about the possibilities of an oil well in the Josephina field, so I looked up the financial standing of the Venezuela Petroleum. The highest price at which the stock of this company has sold since 1934 was 3 3/8 in 1937, the lowest three eights in 1934. No dividends have been paid on its stock since 1930 when five cents a share was declared. Its stock is listed on the New York curb. In 1928 it sold as high as nine and 1/8. The company owns royalty interests in Venezuela oil properties and has stock control of:

Cia. Consolidada de Petroleo, an exploration company owning government concessions covering 939,000 acres in Venezuela, most of which have been explored. During 1938 it acquired the assets of several former subsidiaries.

Sinclair Central American Oil Corp., owning concessions in Panama. No Wells recently drilled — no production.

Venezuelaen Oil Company (inactive) sold its interests in Texas

As over half of the company’s stock is owned by the Sinclair Oil interests and is controlled by the Consolidated Oil Corporation, K. Porter and P.W. Thirtle are two of the directors of Venezuela Petroleum who are also officials in the big company, while two officers of Venezuela Petroleum, M. L. Gosney, Assistant Treas. and O. M. Gerstung, Secretary, are also in the big company as directors. Based on your tip I bought some of the stock for your account today at $.75 a share.

And speaking of Sinclair, I noticed that on May 13th this company ordered 10 oil tankers. Presumably they will be powered by diesel engines, so if you join Mr. Kuhnhard’s company you may be a step nearer to your goal. By the way, none of your recent letters have made the slightest reference to the matter of your contemplated move. Of course I am deeply interested and hope you will keep us posted on anything you hear or do that affects the situation.

On the way home from the office tonight I picked up Ethel Bushey. She says she is mad at you because you have not answered her 29 page letter or whatever it was. I told her, “She ain’t seen nothing yet.”

Mrs. French informed me the other day that her daughter had just given birth to a boy, so Danny is a papa again.

Ced got a telegram today from one of the Stohl boys attending M.I.T. saying that he was not going out to the coast by car unless Rusty was going and since Rusty is apparently lacking any plans for immediate departure, Ced and Dan will probably leave the first part of June instead of May 27th.

Received your letter of May 9 in which you answer some long overdue questions, tell me about the Monopoly game Mrs. Becker and informed me that at long last you are going to Caracas with the much discussed tools. Hope you will find nothing serious the matter with your teeth but it is by far the wisest thing to take care of any trouble before it has a chance to get worse.

Aunt Betty writes she is coming up Thursday to stay over the weekend as sort of a farewell visit to the Alaskan adventurers, which is about all that my sleepyhead can find to tell you tonight. Adieu, then, till my next.

As ever,


Tomorrow and Sunday, more of “Liquid Heaven”, Special Pictures and Memories of our Island Family Retreat.

Judy Guion