Voyage to Venezuela (13) – Trip to Caracas – January, 1939

 

Alfred P Guion (Lad)

The trip to Caracas was an adventure in itself.  Our car was a large Lincoln of about 1931 vintage but to all outward appearances was in good shape, and was well polished.  It was a touring style body, the top was up and showed no signs of ever having been lowered.  The three of us, Frank Da Cosa, Paul Burkhart and myself rode in back, I in the middle.  I think that that was as good a location as any because I could look out either side with equal ease.  We wound around through the narrow streets of La Guayra for quite a few minutes, having to stop now and then to let a truck that was coming toward us pass, since the roads were too narrow for two large vehicles to pass at the same time in places and on other narrower streets, only one-way traffic was allowed.  It seems as if the bottom of the mountains are the border of the town for as we started up the first incline the houses were no more and after about one mile there were practically no signs of habitation along the right-of-way.

The road was about fourteen feet wide and seemed to go continually upward, winding and twisting like a snake, dipping only now and then to cross a little gully or stream and then on up again.  The turns were apt to be very sharp and our driver apparently thought nothing of them because he would only slow down sufficiently to be sure that the car would stay on the road.  The tires screamed on almost every turn and instead of looking at the scenery we were forced to spend more time watching the road in order to brace ourselves for the next turn.  What little I saw of the scenery however was very pretty.  Now and then the road went up parallel to the sea and with the clear blue sky above, the deeper blue water below and the brilliant green trees and grass between us and the stretch of sand that shone like a river in the bright sunlight, was something that I shall remember for quite a long time.  Now and then the road passed over a quebrada, as they are called, and if there were not too many trees I could look down for hundreds of feet to a deep chasm whose sides were so steep that only grass could get a foothold.  In other places the pavement was washed away or the road partly covered by a landslide and in these places the driver did slow down and once or twice he seemed to be sort of feeling his way across.  At one exceptionally sharp turn there is a monument erected as a memory to drive carefully.  It is an actual car that was wrecked quite badly on this turn, and is mounted on a cement pillar were all who pass cannot help but see it.  If one were to go straight instead of making the curve, or rather, turn, he would go down a steep embankment that is not far from perpendicular from many, many feet.  I doubt that one could live through it.  As we got higher and higher, we could see more and more hills behind this

On the very first page of Life in Venezuela by Alfred  P Guion, Lad writes:

“ Although I am starting off with every intention of bringing this little article, or whatever, to a close, it may never reach this ultimate end.”  Well, this is the end of his epistle.

I have a few letters written by Dan in late 1938 to the family and next Saturday, I will post a portion of one of them. It covers his trip from Curacao and his impressions of Caracas.

On the very first page of Life in Venezuela by Alfred  P Guion, Lad writes:

    “ Although I am starting off with every intention of bringing this little article, or whatever, to a close, it may never reach this ultimate end.”  Well, this is the end of his epistle.

I have a few letters written by Dan in late 1938 to the family and next Saturday, I will post a portion of one of them. It covers his trip from Curacao and his impressions of Caracas.

Tomorrow, I will post the last of the Bradford, Lewis, Rider and Irwin Ancestors. On Monday I will begin a week of The Beginning – Childhood Memories of Trumbull. 

Judy Guion

 

 

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Voyage to Venezuela (12) – The Adventure of Landing at La Guayra – January 4, 1939

This is the  beginning of a series of posts concerning Lad’s Voyage to Venezuela, taking a similar route as John Jackson Lewis during the first portion of his journey, about 88 years later. Lad and Dan had been hired by their Uncle Ted Human (husband of Helen (Peabody) Human), Aunt Helen, sister of Arla Mary (Peabody) Guion, Grandpa’s wife who had passed away in 1933 after a long illness. This is Lad’s version of the adventure he was taking and the same trip Dan had taken earlier in the year, traveling with Ted Human to South America.

 

The Harbor  at Curacao, January 3, 1939

Native  Quarters at Curacao – January 3, 1939

Wednesday, January 5, 1939, (actually, Wednesday was January 4th in 1939) was a beautiful day, quite well advanced, by the time I rose from my bed.  We were just outside the La Guayra harbor waiting for the Pilot to come aboard to guide us into the harbor.  With him would also come the Officials to check our passports and issue the landing papers.  While I was eating breakfast the small tender arrived and we proceeded into the harbor.  There were ships at the dock so we were able to tie up at the wharf with no trouble at all.  While the ship was being made ready for passengers to disembark, the Customs men were busily checking all passports of those intending to stay in Venezuela.  After studying the little red book for a few minutes they would ask a couple of questions through the interpreter, fill out a sheet in Spanish, which had to be signed by the person himself, and then with almost a tone of greed they asked for 10 Bolivars.  This seemed to be the thing that they were most interested in and after that you were told that you would get your passport back in the Customs House on shore.  The landing papers were given out at the Purser’s Office and we were allowed to leave the ship.  It was eleven o’clock when I got to the long gray galvanized sheet iron building that was the Office and storage room of the Customs Dep’t. and in Venezuela there is a two-hour lunch period which starts at eleven in some towns and in others at noon.  La Guayra starts its lunch hours at eleven so immediately after reaching the building everyone was chased out in the place was locked up while the men went out for lunch.  Naturally, the wise thing for me to do was to go out and eat also, but where?  Out in front of the office I met two men who had come down on the Santa Rosa with me and one of them had spent a number of years in Venezuela and knew where to eat, so we asked him to be our host and he did a nice job of it.  Had lunch at a famous seaside restaurant in La Guayra, of which I have forgotten the name, and drove around a little, seeing parts of the city.  It was all interesting and new to me and at the time, I didn’t notice particularly the dirt and filth that I saw on a call to La Guayra after I had spent a few months in Venez.

At 1:00 we all came back to the Customs Office and found out that before getting our passports we would have to call at another administration building and give some more information concerning how long we were intending to stay in Venezuela, our address, for whom we were working and 5 Bolivars more.  For this last we were given a receipt and told to go back to the Customs Office for the passport.  Arriving back there we were told that we would have to wait because there were a few other people in front of us.  They were terribly slow, and spent more time talking than working.  As our baggage was inspected and passed as O.K. the “jefe” put on a sticker with no regards as to how it would look, with a very messy and sticky glue.  Then it was taken to the car or whatever means of transportation one had, and packed for the trip to wherever.

I am getting a little ahead though.  On board the room Steward had a carton of cigarettes, and offered them to me at a substantial savings, and in answer to my question, told me that if the seal were broken they would pass the Customs.  Therefore I opened each pack and put them in my trunk in a conspicuous place.  However the official must have liked Chesterfield’s for when he saw them he smiled and removed five of the remaining eight, but tobacco, which is definitely taboo, he did not take after I told him that it was all I had with me.  It was a one-pound tin of Briggs about one-third empty.  Everything else that I had went through with no questions.  Our host, Frank DaCosa, had hired a car with our permission, for the three of us and all our luggage was strapped onto the trunk rack on back and by four we were ready to leave La Guayra.

At this point a man who had been hanging around quite closely handed each of us a slip of paper that had all the symptoms of a bill and from Frank I learned that it was one for the unasked for assistance that we had gotten in taking our luggage from the Customs house to the car and for watching it in the locked building during the noon hour.  It amounted to 15 Bolivars, which was ridiculous, but had to be paid in order to avoid a scene.  Therefore by the time we had finally left La Guayra I had paid a total of Bolivars 30, without counting my meal or the charge for the taxi to Caracas.

Tomorrow, more about my Bradford Ancestors.

Next week,  I will begin posting more Childhood Memories of Trumbull.

Judy Guion

Voyage to Venezuela (11)- Day Five on the Santa Rosa and Onshore in Curacao – January 3, 1939

This is the  beginning of a series of posts concerning Lad’s Voyage to Venezuela, taking a similar route as John Jackson Lewis during the first portion of his journey, about 88 years later. Lad and Dan had been hired by their Uncle Ted Human (husband of Helen (Peabody) Human), Aunt Helen, sister of Arla Mary (Peabody) Guion, Grandpa’s wife who had passed away in 1933 after a long illness. This is Lad’s version of the adventure he was taking and the same trip Dan had taken earlier in the year, traveling with Ted Human to South America.

Lad wearing the suit he bought in Curacao

 

We were a little ahead of schedule due to the exceptionally fine weather and sea Tuesday Morning so that even though I got up at 6, the Island was only a few miles away, having been cited about four A. M. Being Dutch, it is a free port so there was no rigamaroll in landing and by ten we had navigated the very beautiful, winding channel with its picturesque brightly colored houses and lovely green foliage, and were in cars heading for the center of the only town on the Island, Curaçao.  While on the boat watching the shores gliding by I had spoken to a girl beside me at the rail and she told me that she and her mother and father were Venezuelans and had been in the States for the past nineteen years, she having gone there at the age of nine months.  They seemed to be rather nice people so on shore I stayed with them.  After wandering around the city for a couple of hours, Mr. and Mrs. Baptista were getting tired so they returned to the ship but the girl, Gabriella, and I wanted to see more so we stayed and continued our meanderings.  All articles were quite cheap since import duty is charged for goods coming into the Dutch West Indies and because of that reason I bought a linen suit for use in Caracas.  The material was a very fine and the suit only cost about half as much as it would have cost in the States.  At home I had worn a hat on only one or two occasions so I had no hat with me and being ignorant of the customs of the tropics, and also believing a hat necessary, I bought a cork helmet.  I have been sorry ever since that I let Briella, as I later came to know her, persuade me to buy it.  I believe that I have worn it no more than a total of two hours although it has been with me constantly.  We found no place on the Island that looked inviting enough to eat in so we went without lunch and saw quite a bit of the town before returning to the ship at about four-thirty.

The sailing time was set for six and we both wanted to change our clothes and be on deck to see the way the ship was warped away from the dock and maneuvered around in the small inland harbor in order to proceed on its way. By six we were on deck again but preparations for leaving were nowhere near completed and since supper was served at seven we went below to get ready for supper.  After supper they were still loading so we played a few games of Ping-Pong and waited about the decks watching the loading of the cargo. Twenty-two new cars had been unloaded and they were loading coffee and sugar into the space vacated.  By ten o’clock in the evening everything had been loaded and the gang-plank was hauled up the side and made fast.  The portholes were closed and the hatches sealed and battened down and we threw off the last line about ten-thirty.  To my surprise, all the maneuvering was done under her own power and therefore it took nearly an hour and a half to turn and get out of the narrow channel.  Then the Pilot left and we proceeded under the direction of the Captain for La Guayra and the end of my first sea voyage.  As the lights of the Island were fading in the distance, Briella and I went below, knowing that the coming day would bring the final preparations for leaving the ship, including the Venezuelan Customs Officials.

Tomorrow another post about My Ancestors, Elishe Bradford and his wife Bathsheba Brock.

Next week, I will begin another week of Childhood Memories of Trumbull.

Judy Guion

Voyage to Venezuela (10) – Day Four on the Santa Rosa – January 2, 1939

This is the  beginning of a series of posts concerning Lad’s Voyage to Venezuela, taking a similar route as John Jackson Lewis during the first portion of his journey, about 88 years later. Lad and Dan had been hired by their Uncle Ted Human (husband of Helen (Peabody) Human, Aunt Helen), sister of Arla Mary (Peabody) Guion, Grandpa’s wife who had passed away in 1933 after a long illness. This is Lad’s version of the adventure he was taking and the same trip Dan had taken earlier in the year, traveling with Ted Human to South America.

         Alfred Peabody Guion (Lad)

Monday morning I woke up with the warm, fresh sea breeze blowing into the room and discovered that, Jimmie, my room Steward, had opened the port hole earlier in the morning because the wind was so warm.  The exhilaration of that breeze was wonderful and it only took me a few minutes to dress and get out onto the deck.  Everything seemed wonderful.  The breakfast was good, the people were friendly, I had not been seasick at all and the sea had been smooth, even while we had passed Cape Hatteras, which is always the roughest part of the trip.  That morning, after spending an hour wandering about in meeting and talking to many new people, I asked for permission to go down to the engine room.  I was told that after the ship left Puerto Cabello there would be a conducted trip down below, but after explaining that I would leave the ship at La Guayra, the stop previous to Puerto Cabello, I was taken to meet the chief engineer, and when I had explained the circumstances he was very friendly and helpful and referred me to one of the assistants.  He took me down to the bowels of the ship and I spent another very pleasant hour or so asking questions and seeing how a modern steam turbine engine and the oil heated steam furnaces work.  It was quite enlightening and everything was fairly clean, but even with my coat off it was very warm.  Then, since I still had some time before dinner, I went up to the control and radio rooms and talked with a radio operator.  I could not get onto the bridge, however, because of very strict laws made by the owners.

After lunch and a game of Shuffle-board, I was beginning to get a little bit tired of waiting for the ship to land at La Guayra and as the day passed I found myself wishing more and more that I were already on Land.  That evening there was another movie – Walt Disney’s “Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs” – which I had seen previously but thoroughly enjoyed seeing again.  Then afterward, another dance and since on the morrow we were to land at Curaçao, a Dutch West Indies Island, I retired fairly early so I would be on hand to see the Island as it came into sight.

Tomorrow I will post what little I have found about Joseph Bradford amd his family. I may also post information about his son, Elishe Bradford. J

udy Guion

Voyage to Venezuela (9)- Day Three on the Santa Rosa – January 1, 1939

This is the  beginning of a series of posts concerning Lad’s Voyage to Venezuela, taking a similar route as John Jackson Lewis during the first portion of his journey, about 88 years later. Lad and Dan had been hired by their Uncle Ted Human (husband of Helen (Peabody) Human, Aunt Helen), sister of Arla Mary (Peabody) Guion, Grandpa’s wife who had passed away in 1933 after a long illness. This is Lad’s version of the adventure he was taking and the same trip Dan had taken earlier in the year, traveling with Ted Human to South America.

               Alfred (Lad) Peabody Guion

          Sunday morning, Jan. 1, 1939, I presume, dawned as usual but I certainly did not see it.  When I finally arrived at the dining-room at twelve-thirty the hall was practically empty and everyone was eating in comparative silence.  That afternoon there was very little activity above on the decks, and I presume most of the passengers were below, nursing big heads and the other ailments that follow over-indulgence.  I spent a couple of hours at the bow of the ship watching the water gracefully roll away from the prow in a slow sweeping wave and watching the Porpoises and Flying-Fish that seemed to keep ahead of the ship effortlessly.  The strong breeze that blew from the Port Bow was beginning to show the first signs of warmer climates and I thoroughly enjoyed those few minutes that in actuality, were hours.  When I returned to the Club Room I noticed a number of people busily engaged in watching something going on on the rear deck below and naturally I went to see what was causing such intent watching.  There, in the swimming pool, where three of the deck hands with long brushes, rubber boots, which apparently afforded rather poor footing on the slowly rolling tile bottom, water and plenty of soap.  They were getting the pool in condition for the warmer weather that was expected on the following day.  We all had many laughs as the men now and then would go sliding across the pool bottom as the ship rolled a little further than usual and before they had finished each of them had fallen at least once.

          Supper was also a quiet affair although about half of the passengers were there, and the Cruise Director, during the meal, announced that a dance would be held in the Club Room that evening.  The first few dances were rather sad affairs, but as the evening wore on, they became more lively and when the band tried to stop playing at twelve, there was such a cry for more that they finally consented to play on ‘til one.  I did no dancing but thoroughly enjoyed watching and listening to the music.  That night was the first time that the wind really began to get warm and after the dance I spent half an hour or so wandering about the decks and watching the sky and stars, which were beautiful, and wishing that there were more of those I had left behind with me then to also enjoy that first wonderful southern night.  I retired that night full of the expectations of the warm weather that the following day would bring.

Tomorrow, more of My Ancestors.

On Monday I will begin a week of letters written in 1943 with Lad and Marian’s wedding imminent.

Judy Guion

Voyage to Venezuela (8) – Day Two on the Santa Rosa – January 31, 1938

This is the  beginning of a series of posts concerning Lad’s Voyage to Venezuela, taking a similar route as John Jackson Lewis during the first portion of his journey, about 88 years later. Lad and Dan had been hired by their Uncle Ted Human (husband of Helen (Peabody) Human, Aunt Helen), sister of Arla Mary (Peabody) Guion, Grandpa’s wife who had passed away in 1933 after a long illness. This is Lad’s version of the adventure he was taking and the same trip Dan had taken earlier in the year, traveling with Ted Human to South America.

Saturday, which was the 31st, I spent in meeting and talking to people that seemed to be doing the same thing, reading in the lounge and doing a little writing.  That evening there was to be a welcoming dinner and for the first time I realized that I really did not have the type of clothes with me that the largest percent of the people on board were going to wear for the supper.  I nearly decided to have my dinner sent to my room when I met a fellow who was coming down to the Socony-Vacuum Oil Co. camp in Pariaguan, who was in the same fix that I was, so we decided that we might as well go and departed to our respective rooms to don our best clothes.

We met again before supper and went in together and although a few people seemed to regret that we were not dressed in “tales”, it wasn’t so terribly embarrassing after all.  After the supper, there was a movie, a new picture that had not yet been released, and then everyone went to the Club Room for the New Year’s Eve party that was to be held.  As is usually the case with New Year’s Eve parties, by 12:00 the majority of those present were under the weather and immediately after the toasts to a better and happier New Year, the room became exceptionally quiet and more than one person was helped to his room.  Since the sea had been smooth all day and was still smooth, those who blamed the rolling of the ship for their difficulty in navigating from the bar to the tables looked a little foolish to me.  I retired at about 3:00 A.M.

Tomorrow, more information about some of Marian’s ancestors.

Next week I will continue the story of the children’s early memories of Trumbull.

Judy Guion

Voyage to Venezuela (7) – The Santa Rosa Sets Sail – December 30,1938

This is the  beginning of a series of posts concerning Lad’s Voyage to Venezuela, taking a similar route as John Jackson Lewis during the first portion of his journey, about 88 years later. Lad and Dan had been hired by their Uncle Ted Human (husband of Helen (Peabody) Human, Aunt Helen), sister of Arla Mary (Peabody) Guion, Grandpa’s wife who had passed away in 1933 after a long illness. This is Lad’s version of the adventure he was taking and the same trip Dan had taken earlier in the year, traveling with Ted Human to South America.

 

Alfred Peabody Guion (Lad),                      1938

          By 9 A.M., with Dad, Ced, Dick, Dave, Rusty and myself in Dad’s little Willys, plus all my baggage, we left Trumbull.  It was a rather dreary day and not too warm, but I had left my winter over-code at home knowing that it would not be necessary in Venezuela. By 11:40 my baggage and I had been checked on board and with the rest, I made a quick tour of the Santa Rosa, my home for the next 5 days.  By noon my excitement was mounting to almost heretofore unprecedented heights, and I found myself wishing that they would hurry up and blow the whistle that would signify the casting-off of the mooring lines and the beginning of a venture that was absolutely new and foreign to me.  Along with the intense internal excitement however, there were underlying currents of quandary and fear that I presume practically everyone feels as he enters upon a new undertaking that he does not thoroughly understand, or has never experienced previously.  The minutes dragged like ours and finally at 10 minutes past 12 the long expected whistle nearly scared me out of my close.  There was a rush for the gang-plank, but not as fast as I had pictured people leaving a boat before departure and then paper streamers that had been passed out by 1 of the Stewards began flying in the wind between the ship and the dock.  In only a few minutes there were hundreds of gaily colored paper ribbons forming the last concrete connections between friends that, as the ship backed away from her birth, would be broken, and perhaps never reunited again.  I was a little depressed as these thoughts passed through my mind, but in a few minutes the experiences and new things I would see displaced them and I set about attempting to find a way to get to the upper deck where there were less people and I would be able to get to the rail.  I was unsuccessful and returned to the Embarkation Deck where I looked over the heads or shoulders of those in front of me waving fair-well to Dad and the rest on the dock.  By 12:30 she was headed for the Statue of Liberty and with the final clangs of her engine-room bells, the Santa Roosevelt left New York Harbor, headed for South America.

           That afternoon I spent in familiarizing myself with the ship and asking questions as to where I ate in the location of different rooms on board, and then I spent a few hours in the Club Room for retiring early.

Next Saturday, Day 2 of Lad’s Voyage to Venezuela.

Tomorrow, a few more of Marian (Irwin) Guion’s ancestors.

Next week, letters written in 1944, when all five sons are scattered around the world helping to make the World Safe.

Judy Guion