Trumbull – Dear Absentees – Ced Misses His Party – June, 1943

This weekly missive from Grandpa catches up on the doings of all his children, Lad (California), Dan (Pennsylvania), Ced (Alaska) and Dick (just left Miami Beach for Indiana), all in the service of their country. Ced’s (Alaska) birthday is June 1st, and his family remembers, as Grandpa mentions in his usual tongue-in-cheek manner. Elizabeth (Biss) is married with two sons, Butch(4) and Marty (2).

Trumbull, Conn.      June 6, 1943

Dear Absentees:

With all this talk about the naughtiness of absenteeism, it seems to me it’s about time some of you stay-away-from-homer’s would take the lesson to heart and come back

Alfred (Lad) Guion in California

Alfred (Lad) Guion in California

once in a while and help me mow the lawn. But there is this — after working my fingers to the bone and staying up until the small hours of the morning sewing on your pinafore’s, you up and away, leaving me to shovel snow in winter and chase moths out of your clothes in summer, which reminds me, Lad, to report the sad news that even after what I thought was sufficient precaution those pesky little insects did get one pair of your gray pants and ate some ventilation holes in them. Unless they come with a blowtorch next time, however, I don’t think mama moth will lay any more eggs in your clothes this time.

Daniel (Dan) Beck Guion

Daniel (Dan) Beck Guion

Dan and his General don’t hit it off very well, it seems. He didn’t get home this week either end of the slice of Grandpa’s pie I have been saving for him now for five weeks is beginning to look a little green around the gills. Three more weeks of this delay and we will have to make it into a pudding. Anyway, he keeps me posted regularly once a week which is a lot better than neither hearing from him or seeing him. As the old saying goes, “It’s a long lane that has no ash barrel”, and sooner or later he’ll nonchalantly drop in and ask how the crops are coming. Which reminds me: instead of taking my daily walk, I have been grasping a hoe these mornings and aiding Mr. Laufer hoeing potatoes.

No letters from either Lad or Ced this week, but Jean (Dick’s wife) sent two excellent snapshots which I was very glad to get, and says in the letter accompanying them that Dick has finally departed for Indiana along with the husbands of the two other girls Jean has been living with in Miami Beach. As soon as they learn more definitely as to destination, the three of them will pack up their duds and will trail their fleeing husbands to their lairs, their present plans being to make the trip by bus for economy’s sake.

Your youngest brother, in company with two girls and Howard Mehigan spent yesterday in New York, devoting most of their time to Radio City. Elizabeth reports Marty will

Elizabeth (Biss) Guion Zabel

Elizabeth (Biss) Guion Zabel

have to have his tonsils out. Next Sunday she plans to have Marty baptized at the Trumbull church. In order to have it “take” she has had his head shaved so that he looks positively bald.

We have had lately some of the rare June days immortalized by the poets, some of them have been pretty hot in Bridgeport, but the shade trees in Trumbull make the house delightfully cool, as perhaps you may recall from the long-ago days when you used to live here. Both Aunt Betty (Duryee, Grandpa’s Aunt) and Grandma (Peabody, his Mother-in-Law) seem to be thriving and enjoying themselves. As usual they asked to be remembered to you all. We celebrated Ced’s birthday by burning incense before his picture, discussing all his faults and eating a good dinner on his behalf, but somehow or other it didn’t go over so big with the main guest absent.

As by now you must have discovered there is not much news to write about, so there is no use my bluffing any longer. Moreover my bathtub beckons, so I’ll toddle off to my trundle bed and dream of my pretty toys — boys.

Hasta luego and buenos notches, as usual, from

DAD

Tomorrow, another letter from Grandpa, reporting news from Trumbull for his sons in far off places.

Saturday and Sunday I’ll post two more segments of the Autobiography of Mary E Wilson.

Judy Guion

Trumbull – Dear Decorations – May, 1943

This weekend, some family members and two neighbors join Grandpa and his household for a Sunday dinner outside to celebrate Decoration Day, known as Memorial Day now. The weather is beautiful and Grandpa waxes poetic about his “Little Flowers” away from home.

Alfred Duryee Guion

May 30, 1943 at Trumbull, Conn.

Dear Decorations:

Surely that’s an appropriate salutation for today’s letter. And how are all of Daddies Little Flowers?

Excuse, please. This is me – – your Aunt Dee – – I feel like a brute since your Dad had to get out of his comfortable chair so I could take my turn at the typewriter. And when I say take my turn it sounds easy. But this is work! – – Not writing you (Daddy’s Little Flowers), that is a delight – – but doing it on this machine. Doubtless you have all taken a “turn” yourselves,, one time or another, and you will understand what I mean. And in case you don’t – – I mean this particular machine isn’t streamlined. Catch? (in case you haven’t seen your cousin Gweneth in the last couple of years you may not know that that is one of her favorite expressions.) By the way, Donald is back on these shores from his maiden voyage – why, please, do they call a man’s trip his maiden voyage? Unless it might have something to do with Donald’s stay in Ireland –for details of which please contact him yourself. Anyway, he said the girls in Ireland were alright! I’d better stop and give Dad a chance — much love to you all – – I think of you often – – and we all missed you muchly today. Your ears must have burned plenty for you and your far-flung stations took a good bit of our conversation time. Love again to all – – and my best to Jean (if Dick dares let her read what Donald has to say about traveling.) Aunt Dee

Hi ho, it’s me again. I was just developing the flower thoughts when Dorothy volunteered to add bits of variety to the weekly bugle, for of course you know there is the bugle plant. Yes, we really have quite a little family garden. There is Lad who stays up dancing until all hours of the night – my Night Blooming Cereus; and Dan used to be so good about going to bed early nights (used to be, I said) and up bright and early – our Morning Glory; Ced in the far North typifies Snow on the Mountain; Dick with his leading towards jazz bands is our Red Hot Poker, and Jean with her 17 pairs of shoes, well, what more appropriate than Lady Slipper. Of course, given time, I could work up something about the Honesty Plant, the Forget-Me-Not for those that don’t write and the Angels Trumpet for those that do, and if I felt mean I could bring in the Lily somewhere. As it is I’ll end this little digression by admitting that I am very happy to have so many son flowers.

The weather has been grand and glorious both yesterday and today. Elsie and Dorothy both trained up from New York, Elizabeth and her two mischiefs came over for dinner, which we held out under the old half apple tree, in which we were joined by Mrs. Ives, who we called away from a weeding job in her Victory Garden, and Mrs. Warden. Paul has just purchased an 18 foot sailboat which he and Dave brought up here on Walter Mantle’s trailer for repainting. Carl is rushing repairs to his boat so that it will be in good shape for sale as he has just received word from Uncle Sam to report Tuesday. He hurt his finger a while ago and has had it bandaged for a couple of weeks so that may possibly delay his induction. It is pretty near time for young Carl to put in an appearance, so it may work out that instead of Carl missing seeing his new baby by a foot he will make it hand-ily. Joke.

Dan has written quite regularly once a week lately, and we did so hope he might be able to get home this weekend. Jean, too, has been faithful and conscientious about writing. Her letter this week says that Dick has been moved to another hotel preparatory to leaving for Indiana or Ohio.

Love,

DAD

Two more letters from Grandpa will finish off the week.

On the weekend, more of the Autobiography of Mary E Wilson.

Judy Guion

Trumbull – Fair Blossoms of my Fading Years – May, 1943

The time is getting closer for both Dan and Dick to be shipped overseas but as Jean says, “It could be weeks or months” until it happens. Grandpa is  surely missing his sons and all the work they used to do around the old homestead. At least with two venerable ladies living there, he doesn’t have to deal with fixing the meals and cleaning up after dinner.

The Old Homestead

Trumbull, Conn.   May 23, 1943

Fair blossoms of my fading years:

That reminds me of the story. Prof. Huxley once gave his class in biology the question: “What is a lobster?”, to which one student replied: “a lobster is a red fish that moves backwards”. The good professor retorted that that was a very good answer except for three points: first, a lobster wasn’t red; second, it wasn’t a fish; and third, it didn’t move backwards. None of you are fair (Jean, you’re out of this), you are not blossoms, and I am not fading – – but why go on? “Years” is the only thing left and I have plenty of them.

(There were) three ingredients for the correspondence melting pot this week. Jean (substituting for Dick, as usual) says there is no further news about Dick being shipped, but they have started to crate their supplies for shipment which doesn’t sound very good, but you never can tell. It may be weeks or months before they are shipped. I’d give anything if Dick and I could be in Trumbull right now. If I had my choice between Trumbull and Florida, I’d take Trumbull. It’s so nice and peaceful and everyone is so friendly. Florida is all right but it’s getting too warm for me. (Later) Dick came home Saturday night and told us they were being shipped to another camp. All Miami Beach has to be evacuated to make room for the wounded soldiers from Africa (Just the soldiers have to leave). They are going either to Toledo, Ohio, or Indianapolis, Indiana. So I guess I’ll be moving again but I don’t mind. I like to travel. We wives decided we would stay here until we hear from our husbands which probably won’t be until the end of the month. I started working today at Sears Roebuck, Electrical Appliance Department.

Dan writes: a new company is being formed to fill out the new battalion of which we are a part. There are vague promises of intensive training for overseas service. As a consequence we are reminded that AWOL offenses are now equivalent to desertion. Papers and furloughs will ultimately be granted “to finish up personal affairs at home”, which means that I must wait my turn. I don’t know when that will be.” Well, Dan, whenever it comes, we’ll have the soup kettle on the fire. It used to be an old family custom, if you recall, to have a family get-together on Decoration Day, so if you can get leave for next Sunday, it will be in the best Guion tradition. Incidentally, a later letter to Barbara (Plumb) gives Dan’s address now as: Co, A, Spec. Eng. Topo. Bn., Lancaster, Pa, so change your address books.

A letter from the family’s only Sergeant (Lad) says camp regulations are becoming stiffer with fewer passes for shorter periods. Weather is perfect. He may get a furlough in July or August.

No word this week from the midget of the tundra but he wrote a nice long newsy letter last week so I can’t kick until next week.

Not much local color to report. Flowerbeds and storm windows have occupied my attention yesterday afternoon and today. Have had the lawnmower sharpened but the rain every day last week has made the grass look as bad as Dave’s need for a haircut. The two venerable ladies send their love (by request). They both have numerous bloodless scrapes over who shall do the dishes while insisting the other sits down, etc. I seldom have to referee – – just let them fight it out by themselves because I know it will end in a draw and leave them free to start all over again after the next meal. Until next time,

Your loving           DAD

Tomorrow’s post will mark the end of May, 1943, or Decoration Day, as it was called back then, and then we’ll check up on Biss in St Petersburg (1935), Lad in Venezuela (1939)  and the boys in Alaska (1940). I promise that it will be easier keeping track of everyone once we get to 1942. Would love to read your thoughts on this blog.

Judy Guion

Trumbull – News of The Army Boys and Ced – May, 1943

 We are almost to the middle of the year and the war had engulfed just about all of Grandpa’s sons. No news from Lad who is in Santa Anita training mechanics for the Army and gadding about with a group of friends, including a special person by the name of Marian. Both Dan and Dick are still receiving training but expect to be moving further afield soon.There is quite a bit of news from Ced, Even thought he is not in the Army, he is doing airplane maintenance on Army airplanes stationed near Anchorage. He continues to get deferments because of his job. Dave is the only son still home with Grandpa.

Trumbull, Conn.   May 16, 1943

Alfred D. Guion

To whom it may concern:

Swindled again! Dan did not show up. Just wait until I see that general. Will I give him a piece of my mind. Roast lamb, Grandma’s gravy and homemade rhubarb pie, too. But there, I won’t make it any worse for Dan because he was probably (I hope) just as disappointed as we were. Anyway the weather wasn’t very good, and we still have it to look forward to – – just a natural born optimist.

Usually I do not refer to war news in these letters but the dispatches have been so good this week that they merit some notice. Hitler must be having second thoughts about what he has started.

Still no definite word as to when Dick or Dan move into more active duty. In spite of the word officially given that Dam’s outfit is “going overseas on hazardous duties” I question the hazardous part because it seems to me it is contrary to all Army practices to take a bunch of men who have been highly trained in a special branch and stick them into duties entirely foreign to their training. Dan’s detail is strictly a surveying outfit and while I can imagine many instances where newly won territory would need to be surveyed, they would hardly be used until there was a small chance of the district being retaken, and while I suppose there would always be the chance of a stray bomber coming over, the use of the word hazardous in this connection would be only relative. As for Dick it does not seen within the realm of probability that there would be need of M. P.’s anywhere near front line combat zones. Jean writes asking me to send her Social Security card on to her so that she can capture a job down there, so it does not seem as though she expects Dick to leave so very soon.

A generously long letter from Ced starts out with the same wholehearted approval both Dan and Lad have expressed of grandmother’s coming to stay here. He mentions a busy Easter season singing in the church cantata – – the same one Dan helped with – – (The last 7 words of Christ), the possibility of Woodley enlarging and building a new hangar if a visit he is now making to Washington is successful, a report from Rusty on the progress of his Alaskan tour with the governor, and the fact that he guessed from 5 to 28 days off the beam as to the date of ice breakup in the Nenana River.

It is such a relief not to have to spend all Sunday morning getting dinner. Today I spent most of the day trying to get the barn straightened out and cleaned up. There is still much to do but I made a good start anyway. The lilacs are almost out – – one more sunshiny day will do it. Everything looks fresh and green and clean. Dave cut the grass for the first time this season yesterday.

There does not seem to be much more news of moment that I can recall. Maybe because I am a bit weary with all my unusual physical exertions, so I’ll close with the usual wish expressed by Aunt Betty and Grandma to be remembered to you all.

As ever,

DAD

For the rest of the week I’ll continue to post letters from Grandpa to his sons, scattered all across the country.

Judy Guion

Autobiography of Mary E Wilson (4) My Father Returns – 1925

Mary E. Wilson

Mary Ellum 

The story of Mary Ellum Wilson continues in her own words. She has written her memories of her childhood in England during the first quarter of the last century.

1925

GRANTHAM

There was no news of my father’s whereabouts so my Grandmother arranged to have my brothers live with other family members and I lived with her.

So, another phase in my life started. I was now fourteen and my cousin Qweenie lived with my grandparents who had brought her up. She was the pianist for the London Symphony Orchestra. She had never married and she made me feel like Cinderella, as she was very spiteful and resented me living with them. She practiced on the piano daily and my Grandma adored her. Qweenie was the lady. She played the piano and was the one who made my life miserable. I hated her.

My Grandmother ran a little food store from her house and across the street there was a business which chopped wood into “faggots” for burning in fireplaces. They also sold bags of coal. My Grandmother taught me how to prepare food for the workers in the mill.

I still attended school and loved it. I saw my brothers and they seemed very happy with their living arrangements. My mother sent money regularly but would not return to England. I remember she sent money for shoes for me. Grandma used most of the money and bought Qweenie a beautiful pair of high button shoes and I had to wear ugly black ankle shoes bought with what was left of my mother’s money.

My father finally returned to Grantham. Only God knew where he had been all that time. My Grandmother welcomed him like a prodigal son and did not even question him as to where he had been. He did not even ask me how we have managed when he disappeared. My Grandmother put all the blame on my mother for our problems. Uncle Bill came to the store and had a fight with my father about his desertion of us. The aftermath of the fight was that my Grandma had a stroke and almost died.

My Aunt Sarah Jane came down from London and immediately sent me to live with Aunt Ruth and my cousin, Phyllis. I really loved living with them and they were so kind to me but they all hated my mother over the desertion of her three children. My Aunt Ruth worked in a hospital and with an extra mouth to feed, it must have been hard for her but she never complained. Phyllis was a few years older than I but she was my friend and I could confide in her. I was just beginning to feel a little secure when Aunt Ruth had a man come live with her so I was sent back to my Grandparent’s house to live.

After school I would work in the store. My Grandma had recovered from the stroke but was partially paralyzed from the waist down. She had a couch in the store and I sure got used to ducking because anything I did that displeased her would cause her to throw anything within her reach.

Looking back, I realized how unhealthy it was to have an old lady lying in a food store, who did not trust anyone and was angry all the time. She adored my father and blamed my mother for all his weaknesses and misery.

Tomorrow, we’ll begin reading the reactions to their engagement from those closest to Lad and Marian. This will continue throughout the week.

Judy Guion

Autobiography of Mary E Wilson (3) – Difficult Years – 1920 – 1924

This is the next installment of the Autobiography of Mary E. Wilson, the mother of a friend since childhood. She was born in England and spent many tumultuous years during the First World War. Those stories are told in previous posts. In 1923, her mother sails for America and the children led a difficult life.

Mary E. Wilson with

Arthur, Mary and Jim Ellum

1920-1924

BISHOP AUCKLAND

During 1920, my Grandmother Greenhill and Uncle Ernest came to stay with us. Uncle Ernest was a very spoiled teenager and planned to stay with us prior to going to America to join other family members.

We were very crowded in our row house on Blue Row but we had more to eat because Grandma gave my mother money for their room and board. It did not last long because Ernest was caught trying to “caress” me and mother really beat him up and told them to leave. They went back to Leeds to wait for their sailing date for America.

I was now nine years old and doing very well in school. I was obsessed at that early age with the idea of becoming a nurse when I grew up. I think in my young life I had seen so much of death, illness and miserable poverty that I really wanted to help people.

In 1922, my mother received a letter from Uncle Ernest. My Grandmother Greenhill was dying of cancer and she wanted to see my mother before she died. They all donated money for her fare to America and she was thrilled to be able to get away from the drudgery of her life in England.

In December of 1923, my mother sailed for America and I was left to care for my two younger brothers and a bad tempered, drunken father. I was frightened.

We had no Christmas in 1923, I guess I had no access to any money. After my mother left, my father started to drink more and we learned very quickly to keep out of his way.

My mother had been in America for a few months when she took out her naturalization papers to become a citizen of the United States. She was commended by the judge for loyalty. She had borrowed money for our fares to America. She refused to return to England to what you referred to as “a life of drudgery and hopeless ambitions”. I have often wondered about her loyalty to her children when the judge was admiring her loyalty to her new country.

My Grandmother had died and my mother was working in the Stratfield Hotel in Bridgeport, Connecticut. She finally sent money to my father for our passage but he immediately deserted us and disappeared. My mother sent money to a local food store to pay for our food and rent. I was so frightened and often very hungry and felt so sorry for my little brothers. I remember vividly my brothers and I eating raw turnips from the farmer’s field because we were so hungry.

The school board finally notified my Grandma Ellum in Grantham about our problem and she came to Bishop Auckland, sold all our home furnishings and we all went to Grantham to live with her and Grandfather Ellum. He was a kind, gentle man and used to be a Baptist minister but was completely dominated by my Grandma.

We’ll continue the story tomorrow with the next installment and still more moves for young Mary and her brothers, Jim and Arthur.

Trumbull – Dear Boy Backsliders (2) – October, 1941

Page 2    10/18

Things at the office are still hectic and are adding to my stock of gray hair. George’s sister comes in after school afternoons to take care of what mimeographing jobs have come in and Dave does the same in an effort to take care of the multi-graphing jobs. George comes in when asked to do so at night, when we get in a jam and Miss Denes comes in once a week to take care of bookkeeping and billing. I have another new girl, a Mrs. Papineau, who spends most of her time on the graphotype trying to catch up on an accumulation of Addressograph work, but she is rather slow. I got a letter from a man named Hoffman last week who says he understands letter shop work and I have asked him to call Monday. In consequence of all this, I don’t get home to get the supper started until about six, which makes it 7:30 or eight before we are through. This sort of spoils the evening for the boys, which bothers me, although they put a cheerful face on the whole affair. I am also concerned about Dave not having sufficient time for homework after working all afternoon at the office, having no time for recreation unless he neglects his studies. Added to all this, I don’t hear from you boys in a month (there he goes again) and you have a resume of a worried father’s problems. Offsetting this, Aunt Betty sets so good an example of cheerfulness under all circumstances that we all get by cheerfully and in good spirits. However, don’t let that stop your letters home. (I think it was Cato in ancient Rome who, in speaking in the Senate on any or all subjects, always ended with the words, “Carthage must be destroyed”). Get it?

Zeke, I understand, is working nights now and earns $80 a week. (And the hunting season has just started also)

Charlie Kurtz and Jess Woodhull were here this afternoon trying to sell me on the idea of having the attic floors insulated, claiming it will

Richard (Dick) Guion

make an unbelievable difference in the ease of heating the house. They measured up the place and will give me an estimate. Dan has just purchased a new projector for his kodascope stills, claiming it is a birthday present to himself from Dan. It certainly has a wonderful set of Alaskan views, sunsets, etc. and they make a very interesting evening showing.

I forgot to tell you in last week’s letter, Dick, that your Annapolis friend, I learned from his parents, has been in an Army hospital for several months, having been in an automobile accident after enlisting, which resulted in a fractured skull. He is getting along all right now.

There comes a point in every letter when one runs out of news and one sits and drums with his fingers on the table thinking, trying to think of something else to say. I have now reached that point and drum as I will, nothing seems to materialize, so even though the page is not full up, circumstances force me to bring this dark and haunting epistle to a close. Summing it all up, there is one thought I want to leave with you (there he goes again), and that thought I shall not put in words but shall leave in your fertile imagination to guess.

DAD

Tomorrow I’ll be continuing the story of Mary E Wilson as she wrote it. Quite an interesting story.

Next week, I’ll be posting letters written in 1943 as the relationship between Lad and Marian continues to develop.

Judy Guion