Special Pictures – Relaxing at Camps in Venezuela – 1939 – 1941

Alfred Peabody Guion, know to family as Lad, worked for Interamerica, Inc. and the Socony-Vacuum Oil Company, which became part of Mobil Oil Company, while he was in Venezuela. He began work repairing and maintaining the Diesel oil pumps at one of their camps. He was such a great diagnostician that he was promoted to the position of a trouble-shooter, and moved from one camp to another, to repair and maintain pumps that the regular maintenance man could not handle.  

Alfred Peabody Guion relaxing at the swimming hole at a Camp in Venezuela

The “Swimming Hole” at  Anzoategui Camp, Venezuela in 1940

The “Swimming Hole” at San Tome Camp, Venezuela, in 1940

Another view of the “Swimming Hole” at San Tome Camp, Venezuela, in 1940

Tomorrow, more Special Pictures.

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

Venezuelan Adventure – American Consulate Requests Registration of all Foreigners – February 28, 1940

This letter explains it all. I just do not know where it was sent or how Grandpa got a copy.


APG - American Consulate in Venezuela - request to register - February, 1940

Tomorrow and for the rest of the week, a letter from Grandpa to Lad with the latest news and shenanigans at the Old Homestead in Trumbull.

Judy Guion

Venezuelan Adventure – Memo to the Camp at Pariaguan – October 10, 1939

Socony-Vacuum Camp

Pariguan, Estado Anzoategui

October 10th, 1939

To: All Members of the Club Committee –

Mr. J. Allen, Chairman

Mr. A. Guion

Mr. J. Wardlow

Mr. de la torre

Dear Fellow Club Members –

The Executive Committee is pleased to announce your appointment as members of the “Club House Committee” with tenure of office from the present until January 1st, 1940.

The function of the “Club House Committee” is to see that the Club House and equipment there in is properly attended to at all times.  This does not include actual financial operations of the bar.

Will you kindly hold a meeting at an early date and cooperate with Mr. Starr in the construction of the bar and put up as soon as possible an adequate bulletin board.

Police powers of the Club House are also passed on to your Committee.

The Executive Committee shall be glad to cooperate with you at all times.

Yours very truly


Henry F.  Schweer

N. P. Dutton

R. RE. Jones

R. N. Ross


Tomorrow and Sunday I will be posting letters from Dave’s World War II Army Adventure. 

Judy Guion

Venezuelan Adventure (33) – Directions For Unit # 83 – September 7th and 9th, 1939

We are sending a 4 speed box via a hired truck to San Joaquin this morning.  He will also carry a mechanic from here to make the installation and return the old box here.  Kindly see that this man gets the box and correctly.  He is a new man and we do not know how much work he can do without supervision.

Mr. Grant brought the chofer in from # 83 with the advice that Mr. Langdon said I was to do what ever I wanted with him as he ripped the box out of # 83.  He claims that he was operating this unit without brakes and that Mr. Langdon new of this condition.

Please get together the whole story regarding this and send it into us as we do not want to stick our neck out with the Labor Board here.

If the man was operating this unit without brakes and Mr. Langdon new of this condition we have to handle the situation of this man’s further employment with the company in a slightly different way than usual.

Please ask Mr. Langdon to forward a story with every man that he sends in here for us to take care of.  We had a similar case some time ago and it cost us something to straighten out.


C. T. Leander

P. S. This transmission I believe is interchangeable with the one in # 83 with the exception of the top.  If the top of # 83 is in good condition simply transfer it to this box and install.  If the top is damaged, install the box and send the top over here and we will see what we can do with it.

                                                                                                                        C. T. L.




I am sending you a clutch plate and disc, to water pumps and two pts. of brake fluid

Send back all the parts removed from this truck by the first available transportation.

If the Pressure Plate is not burned out do not use the new one as we are short of them.


C. T. Leander


Tomorrow and on Sunday I will post two more letters from Dave who has been transferred to Manila.

Judy Guion

Venezuelan Adventure – Memos from Leander About Trouble Shooter Jobs – August 13, 1939

Here are two Inter-Office Memos from C. T. Leander, Lad’s Direct Boss, with the Socony-Vacuum Oil Company. Both deal with Trouble Shooter Jobs assigned to Lad. This promotion gives Lad the flexibility of moving from Camp to Camp, wherever he is needed and the Camp Mechanics cannot deal with the problem. This was an ideal opportunity to see more of Venezuela and the workings of the Company.

Mr. Starr reports that the battery in the above unit is continually down.  I am therefore sending you a 1939 generator, cut out and also another battery.

Before replacing any of the above parts check the starting motor on this unit and all of the wiring below the chassis.

When the unit was in here last it was found that the starting motor was very dirty with the results that every time it was in use the load was so high that it pulled the battery down.  This may again be the trouble.  In any case all removed parts should be sent back here for repair.

The warehouse not having a generator with the two fan belt pulley it was necessary for me to send you the one pulley type.  All you have to do to use this is install the pulley from the old generator.

Altho the steering knuckle for #40 was ordered by wire for air express shipment it has not arrived as yet.  As soon as it gets in will get it out to you.

C. T. Leander.

I understand from the local Jefe Civil that the motor in the Chevrolet Chingo that is owned by him has serious motor trouble.

He has obtained from somewhere a Chevrolet motor and has asked us to look it over here in the shop.  We gave it a quick once over to make sure that it had six pistons etc.  By the first available transportation to Altimira we are going to send this motor there for him.

He will have it installed by his own man and I wish that you would arrange if possible to see that they install it so that he can get his truck out of the way.

I have just explained to his man here that we are not responsible for the job of installing the motor but that we are asking you to look it over and see that they get it in the right way.

We naturally do not want to offend the Jefe Civil and therefore if you can arrange to see that it goes together correctly please do so.

If necessary leave Camaro with him until you see that the thing is going to be completed OK.

C. T. Leander.

Tomorrow and Friday I will post another letter to Lad from his Father in Trumbull.

Judy  Guion

Trumbull – Uncle Ted Adds Fuel To The Fire – July 7, 1939

Trumbull, Conn

July 7, 1939

Dear Mr. Aguenevere, (I believe this is Uncle Ted’s attorney in Caracas, handling Uncle Ted’s attempts to get paid back wages from Interamerica. Uncle Ted Human is married to Helen (Peabody), the sister of Grandma Arla (Peabody) Guion )

Since writing you on the 24th of June, (a letter from Uncle Ted to his lawyer in Caracas, which I do not have) Mr. A. D. Guion of Trumbull rec’d a letter from his son Daniel – (now in Caracas) stating that in a conversation with Maxudian (Yervant Maxudian, President and owner of Interamerica, Inc., the company that hired Uncle Ted, Lad and Dan to help build a road for the Venezuelan Government from Caracas to Maracaibo)– Mr. Maxudian said – quote “He (Maxudian)  claims he has high connections with Pres. Contreras and no matter what dirt is slung against the fair name of Inter-america, new contracts are forthcoming.  He (Maxudian) supplied evidence that he has personally censored the outgoing mail, including a letter I (Dan) sent to the Engineering Soc’y. in N.Y., which was never received.  Be careful what you write, was his advice” end quote. Mr. Guion will probably act direct on his son’s letter through Washington sources.  Am simply furnishing this for your advice.

Mr. McCarten, Vice President of Interamerica, tried to obtain some Engrs (Engineers) through the Soc’y here and was turned down.

Yours very truly,

Theo. Human, Jr.

Venezuela Adventure (35) – Peabodys and Duryees – Dear Laddie – Aunt Betty Writes to Lad – June 20, 1939

Letter From Aunt Betty (Duryee) on letterhead from her shop, The Crest Novelty Shop, in Grand Central Station







Dear Laddie,

Now my fountain pen just refuses to write – although I have been so kind to it, bathing it in nice cold water and putting in a new supply of ink in it – it’s little ______ but it still will not write.  I will have to take it to a dealer and find out what is the matter with its insides.  All this is to ask you to forgive the lead pencil which gives better service.

Last week Wednesday, June 14th, Dad called on the telephone and said that as Ted and Helen were in New York City there was room, and said he would drive down and take me up to Trumbull if I would like to go..  Now I don’t have to tell you that I said YES.  Well he and Dave came for me about three o’clock and I was “Johnny on the spot”, right ready with both feet.  It was a beautiful day, just one of those that only come in June, and I did enjoy the ride up and was so glad to see all of those of the family that were home, no need to say that I missed you and Dan.  It was interesting to hear all about you and Dan and all the unpleasant disappointments you both have had to put up with, but when you realize the adventures, the seeing of another part of the world and the lasting experiences, it seems to me quite worthwhile because you both are young and it will all be an experience for good for the rest of your lives.  One cannot pass through anything like that without learning many good lessons.  I was first thrilled with your letters, and laughed and cried over some of them.  Finally thinking of you losing your job, you should take up writing as a profession.  Your descriptions of Animals, Trees, Places and Journeys were such that I felt I was right there and conceived with my mind’s eye just how it all was.  I laughed so at the ride in the truck were you were served coffee?  In such a dirty cup that it stuck to your hands, now you know I could realize that was no laughing matter to you at the time, but the way you described it was very funny.

I am so glad that you have found another job with more reliable people and not such hard work with promise of better pay.  Will be glad to see Dan when he arrives here.

Love to you and here’s all the best wishes for good health, happiness and plenty of success.


Aunt Betty

During the rest of the week I will be posting a letter from Grandpa to Lad, addressed “Dear Oil Baron. 

Judy Guion

Venezuelan Adventure (34) – Dear Gusher Guion – Dan Writes to Lad – June 20, 1939

Daniel Beck Guion


June 20

Dear Gusher Guion,

I regret not having written sooner but I had not yet decided the exact course to follow.

We have abandoned the Carora-Cabinas location and are working from Barquisimeto to Siguisigue.

At about the same time that Interamerica abandoned the old line, I (and Jim) abandoned Interamerica. We went to Maracaibo, disported ourselves for a week, then drove in the Co. truck from Cabinas to Barquisimeto via Coro.  In Barquisimeto we talked to our erstwhile proxy who prevailed upon us to stay for the month of June, promising a clean record and return passage in exchange.  It is only a promise, of course, but I am planning to leave for Caracas on the 2nd of July.

Please let me know if it is possible or not to see you either in Caracas or in Pariaguan during the first week in July.

If you are sure you have time to answer by letter, my address is Bobare, Estado Lara.  If time is too short, there is a telegraph office here in Bobare.

If you can get to Caracas for a day or so, bueno.  If not, I shall try to dash down to Pariaguan, weather and roads etc. permitting.  If you can come to Caracas, please bring my wrist watch and any other thing you might want to send home.

I shall leave Bobare on July 1, and if you want to get in touch with me after that, wire the Consul in Caracas.

Here’s to the 4th of July.


Tomorrow I shall post a letter to lad from Aunt Betty.  On Wednesday, Thursday and Friday I will post a letter from Grandpa to Lad. 

Judy Guion