Early Years – Memories Of Elizabeth Westlin (Guion) Zabel (9) – 1922 – 1964

After my Uncle Dan (Daniel Beck Guion) passed away in 1997, I realized that first-hand accounts of this particular “Slice of Life” would only continue to diminish over time. I needed to record the memories of my Aunt Biss and her brothers and share them with the family. This culminated in the idea of a Blog so that I could share these memories with anyone who would be interested in the personal histories of some members of The Greatest Generation.

Over a period of several years, whenever possible, I recorded the memories of my Dad and his siblings. 

These are the memories of Elizabeth Westlin (Guion) Zabel, Grandma and Grandpa’s fourth child and only daughter.

EWG - Biss and Mack - 1933

Elizabeth Westlin Guion and Smokey

Dan and Lad used to be competitive with the girls; they always seemed to like the same girls.  There would be an upheaval because she would pick one or the other.  It might have been Adele O’Brien that they both liked.  She was another pretty girl.  Jimmy, her brother, was in my class and Adele was older.  I think both Lad and Dan took a shine to her.  I think it was the most serious difference of opinion; apparently they both liked her, so neither of them married her.

We never had an allowance, and I can remember, in high school, we would bring sandwiches to school.  All the other kids, with their allowances, would get ice cream and stuff.  My mouth would be watering and I’d wish I could get one of those ice cream sandwiches.  Once in a while, Barbie Plumb would treat me and boy, that was great.  That ice cream sandwich – when they put them in the freezer now, the cracker gets all soggy.  I don’t like them that way.  I like the fresh ones with the crisp cookie and then the ice cream.

I wouldn’t repeat anything about my teenage years.

The Gang at the Trumbull House - 1934

“The Gang” on the Summer Porch of the Trumbull House

L to R, front row: Edna Traphagen, Tessie Mikita, Edna Beebe, Jane Claud-Mantle, Richard (Dick) Christie, Dan Guion, Dave Guion

L to R, back row: unknown female, Lois Henegan, Helen Smith, Bill Slausen, Arnold Gibson, Barbara Plumb, Lad Guion, Ethel Bushy, Pete Linsley, Doris Christie. 

There were a whole bunch of us who were friends and hung around together. There was Ethel Bushy, Doris Christie, Jane Mantle, Barbie Plumb and Jean Hughes.  Some of the guys we hung around with were Zeke (Raymond Zabel, Elizabeth’s future husband), Zeke’s brother Erv, Fred Karn and his brothers Earl and Al, and Rudy Mahulka. At this time, Zeke lived up on Daniels Farm Road and I guess they were playing with guns.  Anyway, Rudy shot the gun and the bullet hit a rock and ricocheted and hit his sister.  I guess the bullet was lodged too close to her heart; anyway, they couldn’t operate on it.  I think it was about five years later when she died from the gunshot wound.  Indirectly, the gunshot wound was the cause of her death.  She was another pretty girl.

Some of the other people we hung around with were Art Christie and George Brellsford.  When Zeke’s family moved down onto Park Street, it was George Brellsford’s family that bought their house.  Then George moved away and I never heard from him again.  But there was Art Christie, Dick Christie went more with Ced, he was the younger brother, then there was Floyd Smith who was an acquaintance.

Tomorrow, the final selection of the Memories of Elizabeth Westlin (Guion) Zabel.

Judy Guion

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Trumbull – Dear Paralytics Of The Writing Hand (2) – Smoky Joins The Family – November 8, 1942

Smokey - Oct. 1945

Smoky – 1945

Page 2    11/8/1942

There was one post-election result however, that was quite unexpected. Wednesday morning, when I arrived at my office, there at the top of the last flight of long stairs, right under my office door, was a young pup that looked something like Mack looked at the same age (estimated about four months old), except that he was black and white instead of brown and white. He was apparently waiting for me to arrive, for all the world like a customer, except that he had peed on a couple of steps, something which none of my customers have done up to the present time. He looked up, cocked his head on one side and wagged his tail in a very friendly manner, acting as if it were the most natural thing in the world for us both to meet in that manner. I assumed he belonged to someone who was paying a call in the office below and had come up the stairs to wait for them. At about 11 o’clock, however, I had to go out. He bounced along with me, followed me across State St., and then when I looked around, he had disappeared, to seek, I supposed, some new doorway as shelter. I was gone about an hour, but on returning, there he was waiting for me at the outside door, and apparently overjoyed to see me return. When I first saw him he had on an old collar with a busted piece of small round leather strap hanging from it, but this he had apparently shaken off. This time he followed me into my office and lay down under my desk, barking quite lustily in his shrill puppy way, when the postman called. He followed me out again when I went to lunch, deserted me when I had again gone a couple of blocks, but at the end of an hour or so, when I returned, he was again awaiting me. He was such a friendly, bright, gentle little fellow that I decided he was just the thing for Bissie and her boys, so as no one claimed him up to closing time, I announced my intention to Dave of taking him over to Elizabeth. And you should have heard the strenuous objections made by Dave to such a suggestion. He wanted so much to keep him that I finally consented, knowing Aunt Betty was fond of dogs and thinking he might be company for her during the day. David named him GOP because he had been swept into “office” with the Republicans in Conn.. Saturday, when Elizabeth stopped in, she immediately dubbed him Smoky because of his coloring, and it looks as if that name would stick. Incidentally, she threatened to do dire things to Dave for obstructing my original intention. We have watched the paper for notices in the lost and found column, but as the poor district is down the street from us a bit, and the pooch looks like a half breed anyway, I guess he didn’t appear to be valuable enough to be worth advertising for. Anyway, at present, he seems to have found a happy home and is in general favor with family and friends. He is partly housebroken and apparently is quick to learn. So much for the advent of what may turn out to be Mack # 2.

Yesterday afternoon, Dick and I finished putting up most of the storm windows. I was again elected Justice of the Peace for another two-year term. Last night Gilbert and Sullivan’s Iolanthe was played by the Chicago Opera Co. at the Klein Memorial, to which performance I blew Aunt Betty and Dave, enjoying a very pleasant evening. And that’s all for the present.

DAD

This is the second half of the letter Grandpa wrote. The section telling his 3 sons in Alaska that this might be his last letter to them was posted yesterday. With this half of the letter, I found out how we acquired the dog, Smoky, that I knew as a child. The rest of the week will include two more letters from Grandpa to all of his sons away from home.

Judy Guion

Trumbull – To My Sons, Everywhere (1) – Lots of Questions – June 30, 1940

Lad continues to work – and sleep – in Venezuela and Dan and Ced are sailing from Seattle to Anchorage, Alaska, in pursuit of well-paying jobs.

Alfred Peabody (Lad) Guion – Pariaguan – 1940

June 30, 1940

To my sons, everywhere:

Or to be more specific, to Dan and Ced on the high seas, and Lad on the low land, GREETINGS:   Here it is the last day of June and things are running along about in the same groove on the home place, now far away from all of you.

Daniel Beck Guion and Cedric Duryee Guion, on their way to Anchorage, Alaska in June of 1940

Family news: a telegram from “The Boys” in Seattle, sent Monday of this week, reading – “Arrived Seattle Saturday. Delay telegram because plans uncertain. Sold car. Sailing Wednesday. Ample funds. Met Art Mantle. Ced having baby and doing damned well. Wow.” The last line evidently knocked the operator completely haywire, as evidenced by the fact that at the bottom of the postal blank are the words : “ample Ced wow”, thrown in as a last resort to save the company from embarrassment if the message as sent should not prove correct. Will wonders never cease! I have heard of the Virgin Mary but this is something else again. No wonder the poor boy left home. Barbara (Plumb, Dan’s girlfriend) is quite shocked and the members of the Chandler Choral Society, most of whom have seen the message, are meeting in special session to sew on a layette. (They did not say what they were going to sew it on to).

In last week’s missive if I reported on progress postals, pilgrims at that time having reached Rapid City, on the 19th. Evidently the name of the town furnished an incentive or an idea, because the next card, dated the 20th was from Wyola, Mont., and the last one on the 21st from Wallace, Idaho.

The blow-by-blow history of this momentous trek will not be complete without my mention of Ced’s card from Wyola. Even as early as this the poor boy showed signs of the great mental stress which was later explained by the telegram. He wrote his postal backward (but then he always was a backward child) and while it fooled a good many people who tried to read it, his old father, who possesses all the brains of the family anyway, got to the clue after one reading.

Mrs. Mantle was particularly overjoyed to hear that Art was in Seattle as she had not heard from him for weeks, and with the war threats, the refusal of the President to say where he had ordered the fleet, she was becoming quite mentally perturbed, as it were. I have promised to let her know how it came about they met, whether by accident or design, and I am also to inform Carl and Arnold all about the facts relative to the sale of the little old Willys, and the reasons therefor. Did they see the Stolls? Did they find they could not economically transport the car to Alaska or did they need cash? All these questions I hope will be answered by a letter, which I anticipate is on the way.

Tomorrow, I will post the rest of this letter and on Friday, an official-looking letter and booklet issued on June 20, 1940 to Lad in Venezuela.

Judy Guion

Army Life – Dear Dad – Nothing Has Developed on the California Deal – September 23, 1942

APG - Lad to Dad - Sept. 23,, 1942 - gas ration cards

Letterhead

Sept. 23, 1942

Dear Dad: –

When I got gasoline from Carl Sunday, he did not want to take the 2nd period ration card checks, and suggested that I give them to you, which I forgot to do. I felt sure that I was forgetting something when I left last Sunday, and I guess that was what it was. So, enclosed, please find three checks which are due Carl. The gas has been paid for, and all you need to do is to give these checks to Carl. Thanks.

I am again on C.Q. for the evening and will therefore not get too much sleep tonight.

Nothing further has developed on the Californian Deal, except a lot of rumors.

The weather has been decidedly cool the last few days, and tonight seems to be no exception. The change has been drastic, and started on Sunday, but I suppose you have the same thing up there, so you know how it has been.

Nothing much of importance has happened so I have no news to write about.

My love to Aunt Betty –

Lad

Saturday and Sunday I will be posting more of the “Early Years – Memories of Cedric Duryee Guion”.

Judy Guion

Early Years – Memories of Alfred Peabody Guion (6) – 1922-1938

After my Uncle Dan (Daniel Beck Guion) passed away in 1997, I realized that first-hand accounts of this particular “Slice of Life” would only continue to diminish over time. I needed to record the memories of my Aunt Biss and her brothers and share them with the family. This culminated in the idea of a Blog so that I could share these memories with anyone who would be interested in the personal histories of some members of The Greatest Generation.

Over a period of several years, whenever possible, I recorded the memories of my Dad and his siblings. 

I am beginning with the Memories of my Father, Alfred Peabody Guion, the oldest, and will continue each weekend with his Memories. Then I will share the Memories of his siblings, oldest to youngest.

SOL - Young Lad on Porch

                    Alfred Peabody Guion (Lad)

At Christmas time, when I was in sixth grade, the teachers selected Bill Hennigan and I to go out and get a Christmas tree.  I was a Boy Scout so I had a little hatchet available.  Bill and I went out and found the tree we thought would be satisfactory and cut it down.  I don’t know how it happened, but maybe we were trimming limbs or something at the bottom, but the Axe slipped and hit my knee.  I had quite a bad cut on my knee.  I don’t remember the details now, but they must’ve bandaged it and took me home or send me home or something.  It cleared up all right.  Then the next year, Bill and I were selected to go out and get the tree again.  They told me to be careful, and I was, but I cut my knee again.  For the third year, we didn’t do that.

We started high school in Congress High on Congress Avenue (in Bridgeport).  We went there for two years maybe and then they closed the school and made it into a Junior High.  All the high school kids moved across the street to Central High.  Years later, some of the Trumbull kids went to Harding High, some to Central and some went to Bassick High School.

I do remember I used to ride one of the horses we had frequently, possibly every day or two, to go up to a house on the top of the second hill beyond Middlebrook School.  There was a girl living there that I really liked.  In fact, Bill Hennigan and I liked this girl very much.  Ruth Moy was her name.  I used to go up there on the horse and inevitably, my mother would call and say, “Send Alfred home, it’s time for supper.”

I don’t remember much about any trouble I got into.  Dick and Ced used to get into trouble.  Mother would get a call from the police, or Constable, as they were called at that time.  What their problems were I don’t remember, but they did get into trouble … Mother had to go get them a few times.

I don’t have many memories of my mother.  I remember that she was involved with the Women’s Club, and was very, very well-liked by everybody.  We always had a lot of visitors.  She was very outgoing and friendly and quite pretty.  She was very active in the community.  Other than the fact that Mom was involved in the community a great deal, she was a good mother.  We all like her very much, got along with her.

In about 1932, Dad saw an added in the newspaper about a Diesel Engine class that was starting.  He told me about it and I was quite interested.  I made out an application and was accepted.  Dad paid the tuition and I went to school in East Bridgeport (Connecticut) at the Wolverine Motor Company.  They had a reputation for building very reliable and long-lasting engines.  The instructor, there Chief Engineer, did a very good job of teaching and gave us some excellent material in a loose-leaf binder, in fact there were three binders that we received during the length of the class.  When the attic of the Trumbull house was being cleaned out, they were discarded, to my great sorrow.  I’ve been sorry ever since because there have been many times when I could have used that material.  The instructor gave us formulas for making various materials and metals, and taught us how to make various engines.  It was a very complete course.  Each student was given a list of people who were looking for Diesel Engine Mechanics, and I think most of them got jobs.  I received a request from a guy named Windsor, a high up government official in Washington, but I just never followed through on it.

Tomorrow, I will start a week of letters written in the late summer of 1942. Both Lad and Dan are in the Army, receiving further training in their fields at two locations on the East Coast.

Judy Guion

Trumbull – Dear “Trumbull’s Gift To The U. S. Army” (2) – News From Lad, Marian and Dave – April 9, 1944

This is the second half of a letter Grandpa wrote to his sons – and daughter-in-law, Marian, on Easter Sunday.

APG.MIG - Lad & Marian as attendants at wedding (3)(close-up

Alfred Peabody and Marian Guion, attendants at a friend’s wedding

 Lad celebrated his birthday eve by writing a welcome letter to us all. They have moved into a new apartment in a town called Ontario about 2 1/2 miles East of Pomona but retain their Pomona mail address (Box 491)). They’re keeping him pretty busy. He gets up at 4:30. Nine o’clock is his bedtime. Imagine that for Lad!

Marian - Easter card to Grandpa - 1944

Marian's Easter card to Grandpa (inside) - 1944

Mighty glad to wish you, Dad

An Easter Day

that’s bright and glad,

And all the happiness that’s due you,

Because you have it comin’ to you!

And that’s putting it mildly.

Love from

Lad and Marian

And Marian sends me a little Easter card which arrived in Saturday’s mail. I’m quite jealous though because both Aunt Betty and Jean got pink handkerchiefs with sachet bags included which were omitted in my envelope.

Ced wrote a nice long letter about his doings. He says he has heard nothing new from the local draft board, but Art (Woodley, owner of Woodley Airways, where Ced is employed) told him he would not be left in the 1-AO classification. Art is acquiring several new planes with additional pilots to run them, so perhaps Ced’s job to the draft board will be considered more essential than ever. Rumor also has it that their biggest competitor, Alaska Air Lines, is deep in financial difficulties and may go into the hands of a receiver.

In a letter to Catherine, Red (Sirene) says: “I am now back in Louisiana where I started last September. I ended up my stay in Alabama with a big bang. We drained the next county of beer, actually. The last weekend after we left, some of the fellows combed the entire area (about 200 miles) and found six bottles of beer, with a bottle of Hiram Walker and a bottle of rum. We hired a “push it”, then a big pail, filled it with ice and put two cases of beer in the back, picked up our dates who provided  two fried chickens, dozens of sandwiches, etc., and we had ourselves one hell of a picnic. It was swell, except when we were going to leave (at 2 AM ) we found we had a flat tire. I lost a flip of a coin and had to walk several miles to civilization, get the garage man out of bed and get a spare tire. I’m now in the Engineer Utility Detachment. Our training will take about three months and then  —  overseas. We follow the front line troops and clean up the cities after them. I hope the front line doesn’t bend back as it did in Cassino where a utility outfit got wiped out when the front collapsed. We aren’t heavily armed so will be at a disadvantage in a fight”.

Aunt Betty is waiting for me to finish this for a light supper which I wish you were all here to share, so with best Easter greetings to you all, I’ll sign off the same as always, just

DAD

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

Judy Guion

Friends – Dear Ced – A Note From Arnold and Alta Gibson – March 16, 1944

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

Arnold and Alta (Pratt) Gibson on their Wedding Day, September 1, 1940.

P.O. Box 175

Trumbull, Conn.

March 16, 1944

Dear Ced;

Don’t faint, it really is a letter from us. This morning I saw your father and he said last he’d heard from you, you were in Kitch Kan. (sp). So you must be back to Anchorage by now. He told how you met Lad. Luck was on your side, wasn’t it? How we envy you that trip.

You know what? We miss you, believe it or not. No Cedric to take us walking on Sunday and no Cedric to tell us stories. Yes, we really miss you.

The weekend before last we went up to New Hampshire. We’ve been meaning to go up for several winters, but we kept putting it off. Thursday we had a telegram from our friend in Boston saying he was going up that weekend. So Friday noon found us on the train. 5:15 found us in our friend’s car heading for the mountains. We were at the Pinkham Notch A.M.C. Lodge by 11:00. The moonlight on the snow-capped mountains, the fresh crisp air, made it seem like another world, then to wake up in the morning and find that the snow was real – 5 to 6 feet of it. The sun shining brightly. The temperature at 10 above. We had a grand time hiking on our snowshoes. Sunday evening came all too soon. That’s such a grand country that we don’t know why we don’t move up there and stay there. I miss it because we’re so nosy we want to see some more of the world. Well, perhaps it won’t be long before we are able to.

This is really just a note to let you know we’re thinking of you. Of course we hope you’ll answer but we hardly expect you to.

Your friends,

Alta and Arnold

P.S. Lillian says hello too. You know, I think you made quite an impression.

Tomorrow and Thursday, a letter from Grandpa to his progeny and on Friday, a letter to Ced from Rusty Heurlin, a family friend and future well known artist of Alaskan life.

Judy Guion

Trumbull – Dear Patients (2) – News From the Home Front – February 27, 1944

This is the second page of a letter from Grandpa reporting on the conditions of family members and news from the Home Front.

OLD DOC GUION HIMSELF: On the basis of the old saying, “Physician, heal thyself”, I suppose this report would not be complete without a word as to the author. At present he is suffering from an extended case of painindeatus caused by too frequently sitting down to read letters from his patients that keep crowding into Box 7 with scarcely a let-up. This, however, is only during the day. He starts the morning right and ends up in a happy frame of mind before retiring by inspecting his bureau on which, side-by-side, stand photographs of his two daughters-in-law — one of them a California gift and the other a Valentine.

Hints to toilers on the Home Front. Every so often we have the urge to use the mail facilities Uncle Sam has provided to supplement the weekly letter by some little trinket as a token of our thought of you and naturally the thought pops up, “What shall it be?” And then we try to think back on what has been previously sent and how acceptable it was and the only clue we can recall are the words, “Your package arrived O.K..” Lots of help in that, isn’t there? So you can imagine my delight when letters arrived simultaneously from each of you boys giving me just the answers I wanted. I quote from Lad: “That cloth you sent to shine up my rifle and other hardware with was undoubtedly well intended but in your ignorance you didn’t know that the Army doesn’t allow us to use anything of that sort.” From Dan: “Those playing cards with my initials on them, I am sorry to say, are just cluttering up my pack. In the first place, I don’t get time to play, even solitaire, and in the second place, I wouldn’t play if I had the time. Thanks just the same”. From Dick: “Now what do you suppose a soldier could do with a dinky little round knife and nail file? That might be O.K. down Trumbull way for civilian use, but sorry, Dad, it’s pretty useless here.” Well, boys, that’s fine. Just what I wanted to know, and then when your letter continues with, “but, what I would like to have which I can’t get here is some, etc., etc.,” it just finished off with the right note. Why not make the dream come true? We all learn by experience but experience won’t help if it’s tongue-tied.

A postal from Ced en route, written from St. Louis, 6 PM, reports a comfortable trip that far. From my timetable he should have reached Texarkana very early Monday morning. However one of those formal Army change of notice cards from Lad dated February 20 informed me his new address was Pomona, and I am waiting to hear again from Ced as to whether or not he made it. It will also be interesting to hear from Ced and Lad and Marian as to their get together after all these years.

Time out  –  the furnace sheared a pin

2 hours later – after much effort the pin has been restored but in the meantime, the fire has gone out, so I’ll just rather abruptly bring this missive to a close, get something to eat, light the fire and then I’ll really need a bath, which I shall duly take.

So long then, from

DAD

Tomorrow, a letter from Lad  reporting their move back to California and on Thursday, a letter from Marian telling of  their brief visit with Ced – thanks to the clutch on the  Buick. On Friday, another letter from Marian telling Grandpa about their house-hunting search.

Judy Guion

Elizabeth’s Adventure in St. Petersburg, Florida (15) – Expectations and a Story – May 13, 1935

My Grandmother passed away in 1933, when her only daughter, Elizabeth (Biss), was 14. Biss took it quite hard and had difficulties at home. It was decided by her Aunts and her father that it might be helpful for her to live with Aunt Anne in St Petersburg, Florida, go to school and help Aunt Anne with her two children, Don and Gwen. Biss is just about finished with the school year and is looking forward to going back to Trumbull. She had been able to step away from the situation and see it from a different perspective. She has also matured and is in a much better place right now.

Monday afternoon

4:53 PM EST

5/13/1935

Dear Pops,

I am truly ashamed of you! Imagine, for six months now you have been writing to me on the average, I should say, of once a week – and yet you still don’t know my address! In fact you have seen the house and lived in it for a few days. I imagine if you had put 2101 like you should have instead of 1201 like you did – I would have gotten it in time to answer it before I sent that letter to you and Dan. I have no special time to write to you so I can’t get back on any schedule – except writing to you at least once a week. You ought to put the time on your letters so I will know whether everything is as it should be at that time.

I wish I had been home for the fire – for I love excitement! Did the boys leave Tessie’s party and go to the fire? I think I would have if I had been there. It is going to seem funny not to see that old landmark – the passing of another one of Trumbull’s landmarks.

Of course we have very little rain down here – I have to stop and get dinner – I have gotten one scolding already because I did not get dinner started on time. All the work of the evening is done now so I am perfectly free to write as long as I wish. I am very sorry I sent that letter Saturday night for I see again it is causing you some worry.

I am very glad for the check this month for I have been doing some extra things, such as having my picture taken and I had hoped you could send my June money before 1 June so it was rather disconcerting to find I could not expect any at all – however I think I can get by if I watch my money like a miser would, so don’t let it worry you.

    Richard Peabody Guion                     (Dick)

I am expecting to find a healthy boy in David when I get home and a considerate Dick – am I expecting too much? They all still have plenty of time to work on their faults, for it is quite definite that we won’t be home before the end of June or the beginning of July. Perhaps the reason for my better understanding in my letter to Dave is – I have gone literacy-minded! I am writing the story of the World War and I have also written some short, short stories. Maybe I will become a good authoress after all – I sadly fear I can’t become a great singer – as much as I would like to.

Don’t forget to send me a picture of the house when the Lilacs are in bloom. Perhaps when you get this letter the first of the Lilacs will be out.

No one has told me about the play. You did, I admit, send me a program that didn’t tell the whole story. How big a success it was, what it was for, etc. and I would like to know all of these reasons and all of the details.

Right at this moment is quite cool for the window is open and the breeze is blowing across me and also blowing all my writing material off the end of the table, for I am at the dining room table. The daytime however is hotter than when I wrote to you and I haven’t gotten the least bit used to it as yet – and I don’t think I am going to. I am still gaining weight so I think you had better repair all of the furniture that needs it. I prefer to say I’m getting stout though rather than “fat”.

Dave

  David Peabody Guion (Dave)

Tell Dick and Dave that I don’t think much of them as brothers for they never write to me to let me know that they still exist. I was beginning to think that perhaps there wasn’t a David for no one ever spoke of him and he was there when I left anyway – so you had better warn him to write if he wishes to keep in my good graces – the same for Dick.

Oh, I have some very good news to change the subject – I got my English report today and I had an 85 – if I get my French mark up to 80 – if – and I keep all my other marks where they are, then I will come home with second honors – for the first and last in other words only time in my life.

I am almost sure that I am going to go to the Junior-Senior prom now – the only trouble that I can find with it is that I will have to wear an evening gown.

We made root beer a week ago – I think it was a week ago – and over half is gone already so we are planning to make more. It isn’t very good this time – too much water I think but we hope for better luck next time. I am going to write a paragraph or two of my story to get you interested and then leave off.

Autobiography of a War Dog

My mother, as I remember her, was a thoroughbred collie. My father, she told me, had been a mongrel. I hated my mother’s master although she loved him. He was a drunkard who would beat her unmercifully if she was in his way or if things weren’t quite right with him. My eyes had been opened for three days when my mother was killed – it was a tragic death. Mr. Alcost, the drunkard, came staggering home one morning and as soon as he came into sight, my mother ran to him. He swore at her and kicked her swiftly. She did not seem to understand. He took a board and struck her over the head. She looked at him still wagging her tail and then fell – that is as far as I will go with the story now. Is it okay so far?

Love,

Biss

Tomorrow, I’ll be posting letters written to her brothers a little later and enclosed with this letter to Grandpa. She is getting closer to the end of school and closer to coming home.

Judy Guion

Elizabeth’s Adventure in St. Petersburg, Florida – (11) – Letters to Dick and Dave and the Dog Races – April 12, 1935

My Aunt Biss (Elizabeth) was staying in St Petersburg, Florida with her Aunt Anne and going to school while helping Anne with her children, Don and Gwen. She tried to write to her father every week but she wasn’t as faithful in writing to her two younger brothers back in Trumbull. She wrote to all three of them and stuffed the letters into one envelope to save money. The letter to her father was posted last Sunday and today we get to read the letters to her brothers.

Monday evening

6:18 PM

Dear Dick:

It certainly has been a long time since I last wrote either you or David. I wasn’t going to write to you and Dave tonight, because I didn’t have time. I was going to mail the letter about 15 minutes ago but Aunt Anne said she would mail it when she went downtown tonight for then it would leave St. Petersburg tonight so of course I consented. Therefore, I have to steam this letter open so I can put in yours and David’s. I only have one stamp on now but I will of course have to put on a second one for it can’t possibly get to Trumbull for three cents. I’m still not positive that I can get in both letters before Aunt Anne goes out. We’re going to eat in about five or 10 minutes so I don’t think I will be able to finish this letter.

            Don Stanley

           Gwen Stanley

The other night I went to the dog races. The dogs were greyhounds and were, of course, perfect beauties. There is an electric rabbit that runs around the side of the track and all the dogs chase it. The rabbit of course is never caught for the officials pull a curtain across the pathway when the dogs have gone around and the first dog to pass the winning line wins. People place their bets before the race and it costs two dollars to place a bet and if your dog wins you gain. Different dogs are worth different prizes, so of course it is nicer to have a better dog win. One dog, rather two dogs together, brought in $42 and some odd cents. Tonight is the last night for the races and I wish very much that I could go but I was up late Saturday – at the dog races last night – ask the boys – I don’t know which one I told it to and Aunt Anne hasn’t had a chance to see them so she is going to go tonight and someone has to stay with Don and Gwen so I am going to. If there weren’t all those reasons – besides the reason that there is school tomorrow – why perhaps I would consider going tonight for it is the biggest night. Well I have to eat now so I will finish it after supper. Aunt Anne is getting ready to go to the dog races so I am afraid I won’t be able to write a letter to Dave or have time to steam the envelope open either so this will have to go separately – if it does go with the bunch you will know it is because I had time.

Love,

Biss

Monday evening

7:03 PM

Dear Dave:

It was Uncle Burton’s birthday for you know his birthday comes on April Fools’ Day. Did you meet Sewell Nelson while you were down here? Well he goes to military school now and at present is home on vacation. He has to go back to the school tomorrow. Well, of course, he knows all about the signals and since he has been home on his vacation we have been playing firing squad. Yesterday I was a bad man and I had to be killed. They marched me to the front of the house and shot me. I landed a little too hard and got a headache and full of sand spurs.

It was so much fun though that they marched me out into the alley (so I could have a soft spot to land) and asked me what my last request was. “I regret that I have but one life to give for my country” was my answer. They then shot me. We tired of that soon so I started marching with the rest. Bill Garlington came along to take me to church but I didn’t feel like stopping so I let him wait while I finished playing. We went by the porch where Aunt Anne was sitting and she asked me if I had seen Bill – she was quite disgusted that I would leave a guest standing doing nothing while I finished playing.

I turned around and was talking to her when Sewell – the commander – said “Halt, one, two”. I was turning back as he said that but hadn’t been listening so I kept on walking and banged right square into Donald’s gun. < The gun went off because I saw stars and it cut my eyebrow off so that today I have only one eye – the other is the size of a football.> Where those marks are I began to use my imagination. To tell you what really happened – I banged into the stick (Don’s gun) which was on his shoulder, I mean, over his shoulder and I hit my eyebrow. It’s quite sore today although it doesn’t show one speck. I’m glad I didn’t get a black eye for everyone in school would be asking me who I had a fight with. I’m going to steam the envelope open – ask Dick how it is done – because I have time. Aunt Anne is getting ready to go so I had better hurry up – don’t forget to answer this letter – tell Dick not to forget to answer his either.

Love,

Biss

Tomorrow, another post about Elizabeth’s Adventure in St. Petersburg, Florida.

Judy Guion