Venezuelan Adventure (27) – Dear Dad – Matador in Training – April 25, 1939


Alfred Peabody Guion in Venezuela in                            1939


Lad has been kept quite busy repairing vehicles destroyed by the roads in Venezuela, but on a rare afternoon, he decides to take a walk. It became quite an adventure.

Dear Dad,

The day before I left New York, Aunt Elsie gave me a little diary for 1939. I have studiously entered in it something that has happened each day and under Thursday, April 19th, I entered “damn near killed by cow”. Here is the story:

After lunch, since I was tired of resting, reading, writing etc., I went for a walk. I headed out and had gone about 2 km when I saw three mules, over a slight rise ahead of me, running faster than I have ever seen mules go before and each was carrying a rider, two men and a small boy. The men were yelling and waving their machetes as though trying to attract my attention and the boy was crying.

Following them was a cow with her head down, apparently trying to catch them. Incidentally all the cows and bulls here have long sharp horns. Following the cow were two men attempting to catch the cow with lassos. As the cow came closer to me she altered her course and headed for me. I got a little frightened and looked for some means of escape.

The road was fenced with barbed wire on each side so I had two alternatives: to out run the cow or get over a fence, and the latter seems more probable. The left-hand fence looked newer and stronger so I headed for that. The cow continued to run towards me so over the fence I went. As I have described it, it sounds as though I took my time, but you should have seen it. That cow was coming fast. So fast, in fact, that before I hit the ground on the other side the cow hit the post I was using as a support to help me over.

I was so frightened and shaky when I landed that I just lay on the ground for 10 or 15 seconds and then I began to feel as though I were scratched a little. I got up and discovered that my shirt was torn beyond repair and that my pants had a rip from the right knee down. My right arm was scratched and my right hand was bleeding profusely.

Of course I’m afraid of contagious diseases down here, mostly of tetanus, so I headed for the camp as fast as I could. The Doctor is a kind, gentle sort of man and washed my arm and hand with alcohol. Then he swabbed on iodine by the paintbrush full, and after these two treatments I felt slightly faint. Fresh air helped however and then he bandaged them.

My ring finger was ripped open on both sides from the ring to the tip of my finger, my” pinky” was cut on the inside and between my thumb and first finger the skin was cut.

I took the last of the bandages off yesterday but as you can see, writing is still not as easy as it should be and I can’t bend my finger too much. That, I believe, is the only news that has occurred since I wrote you last week and at this point I am speechless.

Best wishes and luck to all,

Chico (Spanish for Lad)

I have never been chased by a cow or a bull, but reading my father’s description, I can see it all happening as if I was there. I’m sure my grandfather was thrilled to read of two more things (cows, tetanus) to worry about. My father stayed in Venezuela for two and a half years and I’m sure my grandfather had some restless nights, knowing that he was so far from home.

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

Are you enjoying these stories? Feel free to share my Blog with others who might have stories of their own to share. Telling stories is one very good way to connect with others.

Judy Guion


Venezuelan Adventure (26) – Oiga, Hermano or Hey, Brother – April 23, 1939

We are going back in time to April of 1939 when both Lad and Dan are in Venezuela.  Lad is working for the Socony-Vacuum Oil Company, where he will be maintaining the diesel engines for their pumps.  Dan is still out at a camp in the field with no supervision or food.  He is still employed by Inter-America, Inc. but management is struggling. 

Daniel Beck Guion

La Concepcion

Rio Misoa

April 23.

Oiga Hermano, (Hey, Brother)

Your letter has proven to be the high point of inter-Americas fiasco.  It served to crystallize my decision asi:

With my recently-acquired draft for $290 I shall wend my way to the Cuidao of Maracaibo, not later than May 31, which is my latest ultimatum.  I shall take the necessary clothes, go to Caracas, see the Co. lawyer, proceed to Pariaguan (at your invitation which I await), visit briefly, back to Maracaibo, pick up bag and baggage, embark for Panama, buy clothes in Panama, sail for New York or travel north via Central America and Mexico, quien sabe? (who knows.?)

The new camp is located about 7 kms. below Primera Sabana on the same river which is called Rio Sicare,and Rio Misoa as it progresses from Ande to Ande Maracaibo-wards.  Those few kilometers made a lot of difference in temperature and tropical vegetation, it being too, too, warm aqui (here).  We are able to swim in a pool of the river close at hand which helps plenty.

My new address will be on the back flap of this envelope if Dick Wiberly keeps his promise.  He is taking this letter with him when he goes to Maracaibo to establish headquarters.  Please answer immediately, since I do not expect to be here much longer.  Let me know if a visit to Pariaguan is feasible and if so, how to get there: bus?  Co. car? etc.

In spite of my elation at your success and my draft for $290, time is beginning to drip like cold honey from a spoon.  Having made up my mind to leave, time has done a tricky little reverse which makes yesterday seem like tomorrow.

Tambien, (Also) in the last six months I have seen so little of civilization that I will be lost in Caracas’s Plaza Bolivar.

In your excitement you failed to acquaint me with the photograph situation.  What happened to the photos you took at Primera Sabana and Quelbrada Totuche camp?  I cannot find the negatives or the positives.

Enclosed is a letter which came for you.  Of course I didn’t read it.  The address on the envelope was (words cut off on this copy) New Haven.

Until Presently,


Tomorrow, Wednesday and Thursday, I will post a 3-page letter from Grandpa, on Friday, a letter from Lad to his father.

Judy Guion

Venezuelan Adventure (25) – Dear Guion: – A Conclusion For Lad – April 21, 1939



EDIFICIO PRINCIPAL                                                                 COMPANIA ANONIMA                                                                     APARTADO 1706

Capital: Bs. 800.000.00


April 21, 1939

Dear Guion:

I have today forwarded a draft for $249.70 to your father in Trumbull, Connecticut, in accordance with your instructions.  The duplicate copy of the draft and the bank statement covering the purchase of the draft are attached.  As indicated in this statement, the check I received from Inter-America was for Bolivares 798.50, which was converted at the rate of Bs..3.19 to the dollar.

I hope that you like your new job and your associates and that you are not being overworked.

Please convey my best regards to Jook Wardlaw, and tell him to drop me a line when he gets time.

Sincerely yours,


F. A. O’Connor





No. 1031

CARACAS, ______Abril 18___________ de 193 __9__

This is the part the copier would not scan.


It is not easy to notice everything but the name “Alfred P.” was erased and “A.D.” written in.

To the right of the name, the amount is $ 249.70 but at the bottom, the amount is 797.50.

The original amount was $798.50, reduced to 797.50 because of “Estampillas of $1.00.

#249.70 converted to 2020 dollars would be $4,631.07. Just imagine being owed that much back pay.

As Lad instructed, his back pay was to be sent to Grandpa.




Now, at least one of Grandpa’s sons has been paid. Hopefully we will find out if Dan gets his back pay also.


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

Judy Guion


Trumbull – Dear Conquistadores (2) – Other News (And Gossip) From Home – April 16, 1939

This is the conclusion of a letter I began posting yesterday with lots of local news. Grandpa’s point is to make the boys feel closer to home even though they are very far from home.


There is not much in the way of news that occurs to me to mention.  Yesterday was the opening of the fishing season and we had the usual number of cars parked adjacent to the old Pequonnock, but I saw very few fish.  I heard that Mr. Walter Miller had lost his job which he has held for so many years with Logan Brothers, but I have not heard whether it is true and if so, the details.

The telephone booth is now re-papered and repainted and looks quite respectable.  I took the three boys (Ced, Dick and Dave) to Poli’s yesterday afternoon to see Wuthering Heights, ( but did not like it very much.  I understand the Gibsons have been notified to move because they have not been able to pay their rent, Skipper having lost his job and the unemployment checks not arriving regularly.  Arnold (Gibson, Lad’s best friend from Trumbull)  is not working.  He is trying to make arrangements with Reyom to share the cottage with him, but this I think will not come to pass.  I have not said anything about the office lately because there is nothing worthy of comment that is happening.  Business is still shy and diffident.  My weekly stipend is still $15.  This week it was $12, but at least we are keeping a step ahead of the sheriff.  There does not seem to be the spring pick-up which was expected in April, possibly because the war prospects in Europe keep everyone uncertain as to what is going to happen.  Personally I don’t think things will come to the breaking point.

Wednesday P. M.

Ced, Aunt Helen and yours truly arose at the unholy hour of 5 A. M. Monday and started the little old Willys off to New York to meet incoming Ste. Paula.  She docked at nine o’clock and there was Ted on the deck, in spite of the fact that we had tentatively arranged for an ambulance and deck chair should they be necessary.  He walked down the gang plank with Mr. Pierce and certainly looked a lot better than we had expected him after all that has happened.  After the baggage had been inspected by the customs officials, Ced and I started back again and the Humans took a taxi to their hotel where they expected to stay until Tuesday.  We stopped at Westport where Rusty (Huerlin, a close family friend, who would be come a very well-known artist of Alaskan life and history) was keeping house all alone, Bruce and Alice being away on a pleasure trip.  Judy, the young imp they have adopted, tried to drown a little puppy dog in the rain barrel, thrown a stone at the brand-new car of some friends visiting the Lee’s and a few days ago had pissed down the register.  She’s an awful cute little thing, as you may surmise.  The last time she visited Trumbull with Rusty and Bruce she kicked Dick in the face and gave him a black eye.  Rusty does not know when he will return to Alaska but sees no reason why Ced should not start next month.  Rusty has written to his mining friends about a job or Ced and expects to hear from them within a week or so.  He feels sure Ced can get some sort of a job there on Rusty’s recommendation.

Ted and Helen arrived in Trumbull late yesterday afternoon, and Ted went right to bed.  Doctor Laszlo called today.  Ted likes him and is going to the Bridgeport Hospital for a thorough checkup which will take from 5 to 7 days and probably will not be in shape to look for a job for the next month or so.

This is the letter received from the Socony-Vacuum Oil Company that came with the following map.


A.  D.  Guion,

First Selectman

Town of Trumbull


Dear Sir:

Replying to your letter of April 13 in regard to the location of our Camp at Pariaguan in Eastern Venezuela where your son is located, this town is in the planes country about midway between the Orinoco River and the Caribbean C.  It is about 19 miles south of the city of Barcelona which is on the north coast and about an equal distance northwest of the city ofCiudad Bolivar which is a port on the Oronoco River.  Pariaguan is on the main road connecting Ciudad Bolivar with the City of Caracas which is in north central Venezuela in which is the capital of the country.

We are transmitting here with a map of than is Layla, prepared by Mr. C.  C.  McDormand who has an oil scouting service in that country.  A red arrow points to the town of Pariaguan.

Yours very truly,

J.  C.  Case

Clyde D.  Adams


Producing Department



Pariaguan is in the lower left-hand corner of the map, located along the dotted line, and marked with a #.

Monday I received the short letter from Lad.  I immediately wrote to the Socony people in New York and today received a map showing the location of their oil camps including Pariaguan.  I also received a letter from Mr. Travieso Paul which practically contains the same news as that given by Mr. McMillan.  He says: “Out of the first payment we will hand to your son Alfred P.,  as agreed with him, the amount equivalent of 50% of his past due salaries, the balance to be paid out of the next money received from the Government.  Regarding your son, Daniel B.,  Who is at present at the field, I can only report that I am prepared to forward to him out of the expected second payment and about the latter part of this week a draft for $291.67 on account of his accumulated salaries” Apparently things are beginning to break.

Daniel Beck Guion and fellow workers in the wilds of northern Venezuela

Ced received a letter from Dan yesterday and today I saw three snapshots Dan had sent to Bar (Barbara Plumb, Dan’s girlfriend).  I have written to get a list of colleges giving courses in geology, and at present among the Eastern colleges, Yale, Harvard and Columbia all seem to stack up pretty high on this subject, perhaps Yale at the top.  Colorado School of Mines ranks top for mining mineralogy courses.  Brown, at Providence, and Colgate, at Hamilton, NY, also rank high in this subject.  If you, Dan, could possibly get some temporary work at a good salary down there for two or three months and still get home in time to make arrangements for college entrance, the $500.  or so thus acquired might make it possible for you to complete your college work with what you get from Inter-America without worrying about where funds were coming from.  Ted is quite enthusiastic and hopeful about the future of both of you boys, which feelings, I naturally share.  Ted told me to tell you, Dan, that if any of you men go to Caracas you can get fixed up fairly quickly on the salary by getting a lawyer who hates Max, named Manuel Matienzo, to handle your case.  Be sure to employ an interpreter, no matter how good your Spanish is.  You can get his address from McMillan.


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

Judy Guion

Venezuelan Adventure (24) – Dear A.D. and Familia (2) – April 16, 1939

This is the second half of the letter I  posted yesterday. Lad has written to Grandpa and other family members about his trip from Caracas to Pariaguan, the closest town to the Socony-Vacuum Oil Company camp he will be working at.


To the right and left all I can see are palm trees rearing their uncombed, bushy heads above the surrounding scrub pine.  Now and then, a bird I have never seen before, flies up from the bushes along the roadside and we have to use the horn continually to scare the mules, cows and goats off the road.  As I look ahead, the road tapers off on the top of a slight rise, we are traveling east and the sun shines through a cloud that seems to be just above the level of the rise.  Oh no!  Now I can see a black dot on the road.  It is another truck or car.  In about 3 or 4 mins.  I can see that it is another truck like ours.  Since the road is narrow we will both have to look for a place to pull off the road and the first to find such a place does so.  There is one a couple of hundred feet ahead of us.  The driver pushes on the brake as hard as he can, shifts the truck into low gear with a terrific clashing and grinding of gears, let’s out the clutch and pulls on the emergency brake.  Did he say he was only carrying 5 tons?  I wonder.  We almost have to go by the pull-off, but not quite.  The other truck is just as heavily loaded if not worse, and goes creeping by.  Again we are off.  First that terrible bumping and bouncing gradually developing into a steady rumble, you can hardly talk.  For that reason we say very little.  Now why is the driver slowing down?  Oh, a bridge ahead.  The sign says not over 4000 kilos, and we creep on.  It is made of wood and is held together with a very elaborate method of using wire.  As we proceed it creaks and groans, but holds us up.  I looked down the dry riverbed and see an enormous stone standing there.  No!  It’s a tree stump.  It must be 10 feet in diameter.  We are off the bridge and again trying to gain speed.  We must be going up that rise I had noticed, because we can’t seem to get more than about 28 or 30 K.P.H.  It is terribly bumpy at that speed and the truck sounds like millions of tin cans tied to a vibrating machine, but if we go slower it gets worse, unless we slow down to about 3 or 4 K.P.H.  and then we would never get to the top.  Now the top is near enough so I see it.  I wonder what there will be on the other side  ————–

Notice the squiggly lines – this is Lad’s rendition of the road to Pariaguan.

Ah!  What a pretty view.  Nothing but slightly rolling country for literally hundreds of miles.  Hardly worth looking at. ( My mind having nothing more to do, is just wandering around till we top the next rise) Boy!  That IS pretty.  The town.  not more than 15 or 20 houses, most of them very white in the bright sun, but at least signs of civilization.  That means we have breakfast.  It is some time between 9 and 10 and there are lots more stopping also.  We have cheese, a steak or chicken, black beans, more coffee.  Of course the pigs and chickens are rather annoying, especially when one of the latter flies onto the table and tries to eat some of the food, but if you try to forget them and don’t look at what you eat, you can get along quite well.  It is discouraging though to find a fly or ants or what ever else there are, in the food, and also sand or mud  that has fallen from the walls or roof.  The drinking water is about the color of the Housatonic River, so I always have beer.  And then we pay an equivalent of 75 cents or more plus $.32 for each bottle of beer, and on again.  I hope that gave you a little idea of the native life here, but that is only the parts that are not too terrible.  The stops for meals took about an hour, because the driver, who was a big, fat, ugly, dirty, slob, sat around and rested.  We stopped for lunch about 3 and then stopped again for supper and the night, at about 9:30.  This time we slept in a native home which was worse than the hotel-store place.  Everybody slept in one room, men, women, children, guests and guestees.  The last to turn in stands the door in place and braces it there with a pole and blows out the lamp.  There may or may not be any ventilation and since it was minus in this home along about 1 or 2, the odor in the room was getting rather bad, but everyone else slept on.  I didn’t do much sleeping.

Friday morning, after getting some fresh air, I felt better again, and we started on.  We only had about 110 kilometers more to go but the first 70 were so bad that it took us until about 2 P.M. to cover them. Wed. and Thurs. we had done about 200 each day.  The last 40 into Pariaguan were over the S-V road and we got into Pariaguan at 5:00, including a 70 min.  stop for a meal and two 20 min.  stops for drinks.  It was terribly hot.  Since the labor laws down here state that no one may work more than eight hours per day, under any circumstances, it was too late to unload the truck, so I cleaned up in a hotel in Pariaguan and had supper and then went to call on the chief of camp.  Mr. Starr lives in the town because his house at the camp is not finished.  He took me to the camp, introduced me to the camp’s super.,  and told me to see him Sat. morning in his office.  I was given an American bed in camp Bunk-house No. 5 and had a perfect night’s sleep.

Sat. I got up with the rest of the camp at about 5:30, had breakfast (served from 6 to 7) and looked about the camp.  I saw Mr. Starr about 8:30 when he came in and am to have charge of the night garage crew (4:00 to 12:00) for ten days at 17 Bs.  per day to see if they want me and if I want to stay.  If so, the contract will be made out then. I’m afraid it won’t be more than about  $150.00, and if I can get a contract for only one year, I can see if there is any chance for my getting into a better position, and getting something out of it.  By the end of that time I will also have a great deal more experience and perhaps will not want to stay with S-V any longer.  Well, so much for that.  If I accept the contract here I will be put on what is called the “Dollar Payroll” and the money will be sent to you.

Mail leaves here once a week, on Thursday, so this will be here four days longer anyway.  Mail coming in comes from the Caracas office in a car and there is no address here so you will have to use Apt. 246 Caracas.

I think I will enjoy it here quite well.  The men, in general, seem to be very nice and don’t say much against the camp-life.  The food is very good and the place is clean.  It is not as much all sand as I was told, but it is hot as hell when the wind dies down, which thank goodness, very seldom happens.

Well, Dad, after I know the men and personnel better, I will tell you something of the life here, but, right now, I know very little about it.

Give my love to everyone and also my new address.  I think this is going to be fine.



Tomorrow and Friday,  I will post a letter from Grandpa to his Conquistadores.

Judy Guion

Venezuelan Adventure (24) – Dear A. D. and Familia (1) – April 16, 1939


Pariaguan vicinity is the cluster in the lower left-hand corner, Pariaguan is marked with a # along the dotted line.


Sun., Apr. 16, 1939

Rec’d. Apr. 25

Dear A.  D.  and Familia:–

Since I last wrote a few interesting things have happened.

As planned, I left Caracas, Wed.  at 4 A.M. and drove or rather rode in a truck with a cargo of building material, parts and supplies for the  S.-V camp here.  That first day there was nothing of much interest and along toward 3 or 4 P.M. we had passed through all the coastal range of mountains and had emerged into a section of Venez.  even flatter than Florida, which, if you remember, is slightly rolling.  The vegetation resembles that of Fla. even to the short, stunted evergreen (mostly grey) and the unattended fires.  As it got dark I could always see, on the horizon somewhere, a dull red glow.  It was really quite a beautiful scene.  However, one bad feature, the road was quite poor.  About 10 P.M. I began to see the 7 or 8 lights of a town far ahead. When we got there about 20 minutes later, it turned out to be a store, hotel, gas-station combination, which is found frequently here, boasting one of those home-lighting plants, more than the capacity number of bulbs, about four houses and one cross street.  We spent the first night there and since I was the only Americano and had nothing to say, I was obliged to accept the whims or fancies of the driver.  The place was dirty and no sleeping facilities except rings on which to hang your own chinchorro, a native hammock, and, as luck would have it, T.H. had given me one, just for the novelty of bringing it home.  Needless to say, it came in handy.

Thursday we were up at the first sign of dawn and were on the road again with a cup of coffee inside, before 6.  All morning long, except for stopped in a wayside house (?)  for fruit, we saw what could have been the same road that we had come over the night before, only that we began to come to a slightly rolling country.  I am going back mentally now and take you along with me as I remember it: –

We get up as it is just beginning to get light enough so that we can make out objects on the ground.  We have slept under a thatched roof or a porch of the store.  Before we can get our shoes on it is light enough to read what hundreds of people have written on the whitewashed mud walls of the store.  Incidentally, I have nearly been floored (or rather grounded) twice by the pigs, goats, hens and dogs looking for anything that may have been thrown on the floor after they had retired the evening before, such as orange and banana skins, scraps of food left on the plates from late diners, etc. By the time we have our shoes on, which was all we had removed for the night, arranged our clothes, put on a sweater, because it’s quite cool, and gone around behind this store or truck or any other suitable object, for our regular morning duty, the sun is beginning to show over on the eastern horizon.  Then we fold our blanket, if you happen to have one with you, and the chinchorro and throw them into the truck or bag or however you carry it.  By this time the odor of coffee is in the air.  If you are vain and foolish enough, you ask for some water to clean up a little with, and the Señora looks at you in surprise – “Agua? No hey.”  So you comb your hair as best you can and wipe what dirt and dust you can from your face and hands with your handkerchief and take the proffered cup of coffee.  As you put the saucer down and try to let go of it, your hand sticks from countless hands having held the saucer before you, not only this morning, yesterday and the day before, etc.  If it has rained recently and there is plenty of water, the cup and saucer will probably be clean enough so that you will not be able to feel the dirt.  Then, tipping the cup to wash this stains from yesterday off, and sterilize the part our lips will touch, we gulp it down.  The coffee has been made by boiling so that there are no germs in it, and it is served so hot that the cup has been sterilized.  The coffee is so strong that your hair stands up, so that the time spent combing it was useless, and so thick, that, like a thin syrup, it leaves the inside of the cup a very dark brown, which gradually drains down the sides to the bottom.  By the time the coffee has been downed, the sun has been up about 15 or 20 minutes and it is about 5:45.  We pay la Señora about 50 cents for the coffee and the use of the two rings, climb into the truck and start.  Within five minutes after we have gone, the rest of the cars and trucks, if there were any, have also left.  The truck is a 2 1/2 ton 1939 Ford with 4,000 kilos of cargo on it (nearly 5 tons) and although it has plenty of power in first and second, by the time we have used third and gotten up to thirty K.P.M. and shifted to high, we have gone nearly half a mile (1 K).

The roads are just one long washboard with holes here and there the driver might be able to miss 2 or 3 kilo if he is alert and not too lazy to turn the wheels.  By the time we have gone 2 or 3 ks.  Our speed has gotten up around 50 or 60 k.P.H.  And the truck no longer seems to be falling apart, but has just settled down for the long run, vibrating like a reducing machine, and leaping in the air now and then as the driver fails to miss one of the holes.  The paint on the truck is nice and clean, but perhaps Dusty, but the front fenders have been replaced by makeshift ones and although the speedometer still works and only shows 5 or 6 thousand Ks, each time we hit a bump, it sounds as though it had been 10 times as far with no care.

Tomorrow I will post the second half of this letter from my father, Lad, to his father and other family members about his trip from Caracas to the camp at Pariaguan. 

Judy Guion





Venezuelan Adventure (23) – Request For Map of Pariaguan – April 13, 1939


During the coming week, I will be posting letters written in April of 1939.  Both Lad and Dan are in Venezuela where Lad has just started a job with the Socony-Vacuum Oil Company to maintain their diesel pumping equipment.  Dan in out in the northern wilds of Venezuela at a camp run by Inter-America , which has been hired by the Venezuelan Government to build a road between Caracas and Maracaibo.  At the beginning of April, Grandpa sent several letters to Venezuelan Government Officials which he hoped would set off a firestorm which would result in both of his sons being paid the monies owed to them for their work.


April 13, 1939

Socony Vacuum Oil Company,

1 Broadway

New York City


My son, Alfred P.  Guion, writes from Caracas, Venezuela, that he has been employed by your Company, and is ordered to your camp located at a place called Pariaguan.

I have been endeavoring to locate this place on the maps which I have available but it does not seem to be shown.

It occurred to me that you might possibly have printed maps for your own use which you might be willing to send to an interested father.  Failing this, if you can give me some idea of the location of the camp it will be much appreciated.

Yours very truly,


Alfred D.  Guion

First Selectman



I do not know where this map came from but in an earlier letter, Lad writes that Pariaguan “is about 500 miles south east of Caracas, way inland, and fairly close to the Orinoco River.  The town of any importance nearest the camp is Ciudad Bolivar, and this is about 160 miles further south east and on the River”. 


Tomorrow and Wednesday I will be posting a long letter from Lad and on Thursday and Friday, a letter from Grandpa to his Conquistadors.

Judy Guion


Trumbull – Dear Boys (en masse) (2) – Notes to Each Son – April 12, 1939


Daniel Beck Guion

Page 3 of R-16

Dear Dan:

This will acknowledge yours of March 17th, written from Totouche and received here on April 4th, the day after I mailed my last letter to you..

It looks to me as if I know more of what is happening down there than you do, mainly because Lad is so dependable and regular about keeping us posted by airmail, 3 or 4  days after writing we know what is doing.  Probably by the time you get this note you will know that Lad is now working for the Socony-Vacuum people and expects to be sent to their camp at Pariaguan.  He himself does not yet know where it is or what kind of mechanical work he is expected to do, nor does he mention the salary he is to receive.  His last letter states he also has not yet been paid by I A.  Ted has sailed for home and expects to arrive in New York next Monday via Grace Line.

I also have your two letters enclosing the engineering reports which of course I shall keep for you.  These both arrived on February 1st. The report of the New York office being closed was not true.

I was very much interested to read of your finally finding the thing you wanted to do and that you intend to come back in the fall to study geology.  Would you like to have me get any information for you as to colleges, courses of study, etc.  Just say the word and I’ll perform.  It would be nice if you could get all that is coming to you from I A and starting May 1st, work for this other firm in Venezuela until say, September, so that you would have earned enough to carry you right through college without worrying anymore about paying for it.

Helen Plumb showed me your letter and the photo of the Phantom snake.  If you have any more films developed, why not send the prints along to file in the scrapbook.  It would be livened up considerably with a few illustrations scattered here and there through the text matter.

I am glad the way things are going is not getting you down.  Your philosophy is right: get all you can out of the thing while you can.  You are doing your job, or at least are there to do whatever you may be asked to do, and if they don’t ask you to do anything, you can’t be blamed for that.  I’m glad you are sticking at the Camp, because if those higher up were looking for some excuse to fire employees or refuse to pay them, the fact that you quitted the camp without leave might furnish the required pretext.  Therefore, if this other job pans out at all I should grab it quick, not only because Inter-America will probably fold up anyway, but because you will be getting presumably a higher rate, and will be paid promptly, but will be building up your educational reserve fund, and most of all, will be giving you some additional experience which will be valuable both from the standpoint of increasing your knowledge and experience, but will, in the eyes of your future employers, be an advantage.

Alfred Peabody Guion (Lad)

Thursday P?M?

Dear Lad:

Aunt Anne ((Peabody) Stanley, with her two children, Don and Gwen) has been up and gone.  She has purchased a new Plymouth which she has had Carl (Wayne, a friend of Lad’s) Simonize for her.

I received on April 11th your letter written April 5th, containing some very interesting news regarding the Diesel installations and the new job.  I had hoped another letter would arrive today giving the details, but maybe it will be in tomorrow.  You did not say how much they are paying you, nor did you tell us one item of news which both Aunt Helen ((Peabody) Human, sister of Arla Mary (Peabody) Guion, my Grandma) and myself were hoping you would mention and that was whether Max (Mr. Maxidian, President of Inter-America, the company that brought Lad and Dan to Venezuela in the first place) actually sailed on Monday as he was expected to do.  We wondered if it were so hot for him down there with your vivid picture of jail life before us, that he had decided even Tom Dewey’s treatment would be preferable and had skipped.  But we don’t KNOW.

You don’t need to hesitate about cashing the draft because Monday the checks from the State came through, which I endorsed with your name and deposited to my account in the bank, so that makes us all straight on that transaction.  I have also taken care of your insurance premium — paid it today as a matter of fact.  Doctor Clark has just written asking for payment, which of course I have been unable to take care of.  With this, the loan, the amount owing at Reads and Meigs (two Department stores in Bridgeport) and certain other incidentals, I am afraid the total bill will amount to about $300, plus or minus.  I am hoping that back salaries will be forthcoming before May 15th when taxes are due.

Ted (Human, the uncle that was hired by Inter-America to over-see the construction of a road from Caracas to Maracaibo, and brought his nephews along) has written he will have to go to the hospital when he gets back as his liver is very wrong yet.  Aunt Helen is trying to decide whether to call for him at the boat with an ambulance or whether to take him to a hospital in New York, New Rochelle or Bridgeport.

Am much pleased to know you are settled in a new job and hope it will be the kind of work you like and one in which you can show what sort of specimens we produce in little old Conn., USA.

Auf wiedersehn.


Tomorrow and Sunday I will be posting more letters from the World War II Army Adventures of my Uncle Dave, Grandpa’s youngest son (18 years old). 

Judy Guion

Venezuelan Adventure (22) – Note From Uncle Ted Human (1) – April 5, 1939

Today I’m posting a few quick items that transpired in the beginning of April, 1939.  The first two are notes to lad from his Uncle Ted Human regarding the job offer from Socony-Vacuum Oil Co. the second is the final accounting of what is owed to lad and the third is a quick note from lad “Guion’s All” giving them a little information about Pariaguan, Venezuela, the location he is being sent to by his new employer.

Apr 5

Dear Lad: — Am worried about you as you wire to telegraph — Am leaving a letter for you with Mr. Exner.  It’s important S.O. (Hartman) have job for you — please relieve my mind and send me a wireless (charge it to me) saying Theodore Human, Steamboat Santa Paula Okay — Lad —



April 5

Dear Lad

Please wireless me Okay S.S. Santa Paula as I’m terribly worried about you. Pierce got a bad deal from Company.

It may be well for you to put your affairs in hands of Manuel Matienzo, Meyer’s lawyer after seeing Am. Consul.

Socony has job for you – see Hartman immediately — He rooms at Hotel Royal. —  Ted



Amount Due Alfred P.  Guion

                                                                   Dec. 30, 3, ‘ 38                       @ $5.00                          $  10.00

                                                                   Jan, Feb, Mar. 1939            @ 150.00                             450.00

                                                                   April 1-10                                @ 5.00                                50.00

Expense Account Rendered (Bs 132.60)                          42.29


$ 552.29

Hotel Bill – Tools

Fare to N.Y. waived on payment in full, as listed above.

Payable in U.S. Currency or Bridgeport, Conn.  Draft.

Manuel Matienzo

Res. 29975





April 11, 1939

Rec’d. 6/17/39

Dear Guion’s All: –

Just a short note since time gallops on and I am to leave for the Soc. – Vac.  Camp tomorrow at A.  M.  I have succeeded in locating Pariaguan on the map, after an extensive, exhausting search.  It is about 500 miles south-east of Caracas, way inland, and fairly close to the Orinoco River. ( The town of any importance nearest the camp is Ciudad Bolivar, and this is about 160 miles further south-east and on the River.  Now, if you can find the camp location in less than half an hour you are better than I, and I had an8′ x 16′ map, too.

My new address is this time is c/o Socony-Vacuum Oil Co., Apt. 224, Caracas.  When I reached camp I may find a different address, but I truly doubt it.

That’s about all the news I have at present except that since I am leaving Caracas, I cashed the draft.  I’ll write at the first moment I can.

Love to all,


P.S. Please give everyone the new address.  Thanks.

Tomorrow and Friday I will be posting a rather long letter with two pages to both boys and then separate letters to each son. 

Judy Guion














Venezuelan Adventure (21) – Latest News From Caracas, Venezuela – April 5, 1939



Apt. 1869

Apr. 5, 1939

Rec’d Apr. 11

Dear Dad:


Enclosed you will find the information asked for, but I will not cash the draft until I hear that you have received the checks.  In fact, I believe that I will have to endorse them before you can cash them yourself.  In following through this letter you will realize why I don’t need the money instantly.  However – thank you ever-so-much for your kind thoughts.

While I was writing the last sentence the dinner bell rang, so now, with a nicely filled abdomen, I shall relate the happenings of late.

My last letter to you I mailed Thursday, Mar. 30, I believe.  At any rate that was the day before things began to start.  During the early part of the week, Mon. or Tues., I had made a visit to the Soc.-Vac. Oil Co. (Socony-Vacuum Oil Co.) at the request of Mr. Christopher, of Ven. Pet., (Venezuela Petroleum Co.) but they had already sent a request to The States and said I would have to wait for another week till they received an answer.  When I told this to T.H., he, as I had already decided, said I had better forget the whole thing.  So I forgot the matter, although I made a note of it in my little book,  to call again on Apr. 3 or 4.  So much for that.

Well, Fri. was a busy day for T.H. and myself.  Rudolph was out so we were not afraid to talk out loud and after raking Max and he  over the coals and leaving them in Hell, we cleaned out both of T.H.’s trunks and packed most of his clothes.  Things he didn’t need further, he gave to me.  We spent most of the day on that and talking about everything or anything and then, late in the day, a phone call came for me.  It was Mr. Capuccio, the Fairbanks-Morse man, and he wanted to know if I could go to Puerto Cabello and start the Diesel-Electric plant they had sold.  The engine had been set up but not piped for water or oil, and the alternator had not been wired to the D.  C.  Generator (for exciting the fields of the alt.) or to the control card. Capuccio would send along an electrician.  Of course I accepted.

I left Fri. night in the electrician’s car and stayed in Maracay.  Sat morning we got to the plant.  It is about ten Ks. before one gets to Puerto Cabello and is the base camp of Christiani and Nielsen, a Danish construction firm.  They are to build a railroad from Cabello to a town further west called Palmasoro.  (45 Ks, + or -).  The plumber was a German but could talk English fairly well so while I checked the engine, oil, water, loose bolts etc., he connected the necessary pipes and the electrician started the wiring.  After working about 3 1/2 hours I had the engine running so I let it continue and helped the electrician.  When it came to wiring the generator to the alternator, we could find absolutely no instructions.  Since it was a 3-phase job, I knew practically nothing about it and the electrician knew very little more so we tried to call Caracas but could not get through.  During the late afternoon we tried a number of times but were unsuccessful.  Between calls we were completing the wiring of some of the new cottages..  Sun. morning and afternoon we completed the wiring but still had not been able to reach Caracas.  I was to leave. Sun. afternoon but because the alt. was not working I could not put any load on the engine for the final adjustments and test.  Monday morning the electrician had to go to Maracay and he said he would get Capuccio somehow.

While waiting for someone to come, I got to talking with one of the men in charge of the camp.  Through him, I met the “Big Shot” and in conversation, finally led him to ask me if I would like to work for them.  I asked for $250.00 and all expenses and they said NO.  They would like to have me very much but at $125.00.  There, I said “no”, not yet, and told him the whole set-up of the possibilities.  I said that if I got nothing else I might consider $150.00 and he told me to write any time and I could have the job.

All day Monday, Apr. 3, I was busy just fooling around with the engine, taking things apart and reassembling and having a grand time.  I had completely forgotten my birthday (Lad’s 25th). Tues. about 9:00 two more electricians from Caracas showed up.  One from U.S. By 12:30, after I was worn out starting and stopping the engine (it is hand starting) while they tried all possible connections, there was still no power.  I noticed that one of their blueprints had different connections for counterclockwise than for clockwise and suggested that maybe they didn’t pay any attention to the fact.  They hadn’t.  By one o’clock we had power.  It was four by the time they had completed all the soldering and I had the motor set to my satisfaction.  It was so late then that we decided to stay until darkness and watch the job for an hour or so under actual load conditions.

We drove to Puerto Cabello to spend the two hours and returned in time to warm up the unit before throwing on the load.  Everything went fine and about 7:45 we left.  We stayed in Maracay again and came to Caracas this morning.  When I got here, T.H. was all excited.  I came in at 11:30 and at 12:30 he was to leave for the Santa Paula at La Guayra (for his trip back to the U.S.).  Jim Pierce, if you remember him, had also quit the Co. and practically ran for the S. V. (Socony-Vacuum) office.  There they knew nothing of the job except that it was in the mechanical end and I am to go out there on the first car or truck they send to the camp.  I didn’t find Pariaguan on the map but I went there.  I will notify you of the address after/when I find out what it will be.

Then I came back, reported to Mr. Capuccio and he paid me Bs. (Bolivars) $100.00 for the 4 1/2 days.  Only about $7.15 per day which is about $.75 more than living expenses, but I hope Int. Inc. (Inter-America Inc.) will pay for the hotel.  They should because they have not paid me yet so I haven’t quit as far as I’m concerned.  I intend to see a second lawyer tomorrow, who has nothing to do with the Co.

When I returned to the hotel again about 5:30, I found two letters.  One written Mar. 28 sending your “damn inexpensive” birthday present, which I really enjoyed, and the second with a really nice birthday present jointly from The State and from you.  Thank you again.  Then about 20 minutes ago I got a third enclosing the letters to the Gov’t officials, which are just what T.H. wanted as far as I know.  Technically they are correct and I think that even T.H. could not have done better as to the wording of his ideas, than you have done.  Since April 6,7,8,9 are holidays here, Easter is apparently a grand celebration, there will be nothing more until next Monday, the 10th.  Then the fun should begin.

And that, Dad, just about covers everything of importance to the present time, except that, as you probably know now, T.H. arrives in N.Y. on Apr. 17 on the Santa Paula at Pier 57 (at foot of W. 15th) sometime in the morning.  Due to the holidays this may not leave here until next week but I hope it does.  I am fine.

My love to all, and the Packard,


Tomorrow, Matunza and a quick not from Lad  to Guions all. on Thursday and Friday, a letter from Grandpa to both boys and individual letters to each. 

Judy Guion