Trumbull – Saludos Amigos (1) – Happenings In and Around Trumbull – July 4, 1943

 

This week’s edition of the letter, with carbon copies for everyone, is filled with local news and news about what each of the boys are up to. Lad and Ced remain stationery, Dick is on the move and Dan is expecting to be shipped overseas any time now. He’s trying to get home for a visit before he leaves, but it doesn’t look too likely.

 

Trumbull, Conn.

July 4, 1943

Saludos Amigos:

I don’t know what this means, but it sounds like a friendly Spanish phrase and being the title of one of Walt Disney’s pictures, it ought to be good, hence appropriate in starting off a letter to all my young hopefuls.

Today I made a Nazi prophecy come true and opened a second front on the garbage incinerator. With Lad’s flamethrower I succeeded in reducing the enemies stores and ammunition dumps to a heap of ashes. The ruins are still smoldering as I write. The next problem is where to dispose of the remains. Steve Kascak will still accept them as a help to increasing his “waterfront”, but with gas doled out by the spoonful, I can’t make five or six trips with my car hauling the blasted stuff. Any suggestions anyone can think of to relieve the situation will be given due consideration.

We had company today for dinner. The extras were Dorothy (Peabody), Elsie (Guion, Grandpa’s sister), Biss (Elizabeth, Grandpa’s daughter) and her two young imps Butch (4) and Marty (2).. We played an unofficial game of find the fire tongs, or hammer for ringing the dinner gong, or the top to the brass teakettle that hangs on the stand in the dining room fireplace, or any other articles that are not nailed down, starting as soon as the firm of Marty and Butch get inside the outside screen door. Usual occupations cease and everyone turns to a combination of nursemaid and policemen — they usually go well together in real life, I am told. After everyone is thoroughly exhausted (except the children themselves) and the last farewells are said, we go round the house picking up things here and there and restoring them to their erstwhile resting place. It’s sort of an unorthodox method of getting things dusted.

On June 30 a little Wayne girl made her appearance at Bridgeport Hospital. Things I understand went very well and everybody is happy. Grandma (Peabody, mother of Arla (Pebody) Guion, Grandpa’s wife who passed away in 1933)  has not been feeling as well today but came down to dinner after having had her breakfast in bed served by daughter Dorothy. She feels better tonight. Elsie is up taking a nap, which is part of her Trumbull routine when she comes to visit. This time she plans to stay overnight. Dorothy asked me to send her best to all of you and tell you she thinks that you all frequently.

Among the correspondence this week is the letter from Pvt. Donald Sirene (Red, a good friend of Grandpa’s sons) from Camp Claiborne, Louisiana. He says he is working on the railroad, surveying — interesting work and keeps him from KP or other jobs below his dignity. “Girls down here get married young and don’t need any “literature” because they are rather prolific. I had a hot date with a three-year-old blonde, but had to break it because she got engaged, ah, me. I’ve seen those strange, hard cased animals called t armadillos, caught alligators and chased a cotton mouth – but not very far. You should see our Toonerville Trolley, as I call the G. I. railroad. The tracks were laid on soft clay (we have crews out all the time just hunting for the tracks.) Derailings are quite common. We have a novel way of being trained to face artillery fire. We were out in an open field, lining a curve (R.R.) when a sudden electrical storm jumped us. I saw trees within 500 feet of me blown up by lightning. At least four bolts struck within 1000 yards of us. Stumps were still burning two days later. Needless to say, I was glad to leave that spot.” signed Fatty Sirene

Tomorrow, the rest of the letter.

Judy Guion

 

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Trumbull – Dear Alaska, California, Indiana and Pennsylvania, GREETINGS – June 27, 1943

 

Every week Grandpa challenged himself to come up with a new and interesting salutation for his letters…. this is one of his better ones. He even includes Jean in there.

Trumbull, Conn.

June 27, 1943

To Alaska, California, Indiana & Pennsylvania, GREETINGS:

or we might say Dear CARD (+J) at CAPI: (Dear Ced, Alfred, Richard,  Dan (+ Jean) at California, Alaska, Pennsylvania, Indiana — Lad is in California, Dan is in Pennsylvania, Dick is in Indiana and Ced is in Alaska))

The driveway is not drifted high with snow, nor is a cold wintry blast howling against the storm windows, nor is a sleepy fire nodding and dozing over a few chunks of hardwood in the alcove fireplace. No, dear children, it is as hot as they come in Trumbull, although I do not doubt it may be even hotter other places (and I don’t mean what you are thinking, either). How we will be wishing for some of this excess heat during the fuel shortage promised for next winter by some of F.D.R.’s bright boys in Washington. How any responsible person can even be considering a fourth term for anyone who has bungled the domestic situation into the mess it is in now, is more than I can understand, with my limited intelligence. If it were necessary in order to win the war, we stay-at-homes would be glad to take it on the chin, but when we have coal strikes and rationing because some of the big boys want to play politics, it’s time we had a change of administration, whether we’re crossing streams or not. If you boys have a chance to vote next election I hope your memories will not be too short. By the way, the following comes to me by way of Alaska:

PLEDGE OF ALLEGIANCE TO THE DEMOCRATIC PARTY

I pledge allegiance to the Democratic Party and to the Roosevelt family,

for which it stands; one family, indivisible, with commissions and divorces for all.

Borne in to me as I sit here sweltering in the very faint breeze that timidly stirs through the open alcove door, are the distant shouts of children in the old swimming hole that you boys can readily recall, interspersed by the hum of airplane motors overhead. And speaking of swimming, Lad, after spending about half an hour searching all through the attic trying to find your trunk, I finally looked in your old room near the window, and there it was. In consequence, your bathing suit is now on its way to be wet for the first time in the Pacific Ocean. Don’t get mixed up with any Jap submarines in the process.

Now that you have read this far, you will probably have surmised there is not much news. Dave just told me Nellie (Nelson) Sperling is in the hospital, where or why, not know. Yesterday’s paper announced the marriage of Eddie Banas to a Ms. Margaret Moyer of Easton. For the first time in many months we had chicken for dinner today, raised locally by Earl Ward. There are none in any of the markets.

No letters arrived this week – – not even from Jean, so I just reread last week’s letters and look forward to next week. Dorothy will probably be up to Trumbull again next week (4th of July) and possibly Elsie, and if we are that fortunate, maybe Dan.

Ced, don’t forget to send me a list of items that you ordered from Montgomery-Ward, that they were unable to ship, as some of them I might be able to procure in Bridgeport for you. Jean, don’t you wish you had some of your summer dresses, or maybe shoes, with you there, instead of hanging up in your closet? Let me know if you want any of them sent on to you. And tell that husband of yours it’s about time he wrote me and told me he still loves me.

DAD

Tomorrow, another letter from Grandpa and on Friday, one from Lad.

Saturday and Sunday will continue the interesting story of Mary E Wilson, born in England but arriving at Ellis Island in 1925 and in the process of building a new life here.

Judy Guion

Trumbull – Dear Guions (2) – News About Family and Friends – June 19, 1943

This is the conclusion of the letter I started posting yesterday.

 

That description of the new plane, Ced, was so realistic I could almost believe I had seen it myself. We all enjoyed your letter immensely. Dan will have some interesting reading when he finally pops in.

I have just finished reading Fifty Years Below Zero by Brower that you recommended and found it, as you said, a very interesting account of far North Alaska. I will also appreciate very much receiving the Alaskan Sportsman when it arrives. Thanks also for the money order.You thanked me for sending the Buick parts and paid for them but you did not say that they had reached you. I would also like to know whether the several other packages I sent reached you, as they have been charged to my account at Read’s and of course if you didn’t get them I want to follow through. Aunt Betty also asks if you received the birthday card she mailed to you about two weeks before the happy day. With that new camera, I hope you will be able to send us some snapshots. These will be welcome adjuncts to your interesting letters. Just a word of advice, if you can get film up there now for your camera, take a homely man’s word for it, it would be well for you too lay in as large a supply as you can, because here in the East there are no more obtainable, and we are told there will be no more for civilian use until after the war. Biss did get your gift and has promised to write you and also send dates of Butch’s and Marty’s birthdates. You speak of having written another letter prior to this one after Rusty’s return. If you did I did not receive it and I am wondering if I get all the letters you send. I never got your account of the end of that rescue mission you were on and I would particularly like to have it. Many months ago I told you just where the present account I have ended, and if you save my old letters and can dig it up sometime I would like to learn how it all came out. Yesterday Carl came up and said he had had a very interesting note from you. He brought along a gift for you which he asked me to send the next time a package left here for Alaska. It was a pair of General Electric aviator boots, wired for heating. You can plug them into a battery on the plane or heat them up before you leave. They are supposed to keep hot for six hours. They are a part of the aviator’s electrically-heated suit made by G.E., so you have a start on it anyway. By the way, you haven’t mentioned anything lately about how you’re coming along with your flying, and I suppose nothing new has come to light on the draft matter.

A suggestion just occurs to me that all you correspondees might like to follow. Whenever I ask a question in my letters which calls for an answer or whenever, in reading over my weekly epistles, they remind you of something you want to mention when next you write, and then forget what it is when you finally get around to it, why not make a mark of some kind on the margin opposite the item in question and then when you come to write all you have to do is to look through the last two or three letters you have received, quickly glance at the margins and you will have the whole thing there without having to wade through all the stuff I write from week to week.

Well, as I have to play Peter Rabbit tomorrow and get over to Mr. McGregor’s garden, I’ll  pull down the curtain right here and bid you all a fond adieu (spelling all right on that one, Lad?)

DAD

P.S. to Lad: I did try to find that bathing suit this afternoon, but the attic was so intolerably hot and I was getting so thoroughly wet with honest sweat that I gave up my search until a bit cooler day. You’ll hear from it, however.

Tomorrow and for the rest of the week,, more letters from Grandpa to those near and far, trying to keep the family informed of each others lives.

Judy Guion

Trumbull – Dear Guions (1) – Father’s Day – June 19, 1943

Grandpa is just ending a family Father’s Day celebration – minus his four oldest sons – and even though it’s 10 PM, he still sits down to write his weekly missive to them.

Trumbull, Conn.

June 19, 1943

Dear Guions:

It is now nearly 10 PM, and I have been, since 3:30 this afternoon, trying to get started on this letter. Dorothy and Anne had come up last night and after dinner we sat on the cement Terrace and chatted, then they got ready to catch the five o’clock bus and found it didn’t leave until six on Sundays, and just as they got on the bus Elizabeth popped in with the children. They left about an hour ago (it is quite impossible to write with those two youngsters around), and just as I at last pulled out this machine, Dave arrived home, having been out all day with Paul and Carl and Walter to launch Paul’s new boat, and of course I had to hear about their adventures, so I am just now getting started.

First, the Aunts asked to be remembered to you. Don (Stanley, the son of Anne (Peabody) Stanley, Arla’s sister. He is in the Navy.)  is off again, no one knows where but it is possible this trip he is to bring home prisoners of war from North Africa. Elizabeth yesterday went to Edna Beebe’s wedding, I taking the children to be cared for meanwhile up at the Zabels. So much for the scanty news.

This was a 100% letter week – – Lad, Dan, Ced and Dick (by proxy) made it a bang up Father’s Day for me. Jean sent me a nice card, a box of Dan’s things arrived with some toilet articles and razor blades for me, the girls brought up some crullers and a coffee cake. Your letter, Jean, as always, was much appreciated. Of course we would be delighted to hear from Dick and learn a bit about his daily work, his accomplishments, trials, etc., and I do hope when you are not there to pinch hit for him he will not neglect to keep us informed. You have certainly been awfully good about keeping us informed as to how he is getting along.

Dan, your packages arrived safely and I liked your selection of toilet articles. Thanks, old boy. I took the batteries out of your radio, as requested. They are putting you through your paces, all right, and it all may prove a blessing in disguise, but we’ll be mighty glad to see you just the same when you get that July furlough.

By the way, if you fellows want to make the most acceptable Father’s Day gift, please send me, each of you, a snapshot or photo of some sort of yourself in uniform.

Lad, I had to renew the note again at the bank. It would clear up what has now become somewhat of a mystery, if you would explain just what the situation is on that remittance that never came, as unless I can offer the bank somewhat of an explanation, it puts me in rather an embarrassing position. Every time I see them I tell them I’m Marian Irwinexpecting daily to hear from you, and your last very sketchy reference leaves me up in the air as much as ever.

After so long a silence it was good to get your two-page letter to learn a bit about what you are doing. I was particularly interested in the nice things you had to say about Marian and hope someday you can wangle an extra snapshot from her and send it to us. How do you plan to spend your furlough when you get it? What is ”goldbricking”? Good luck to you and your staff rating affair. Of course I’ll see you through your vacation funds. Just let me know the amount and when you want it and the check will be forthcoming. It’s just as easy as that.

 

Marian Irwin

Tomorrow, I’ll post the rest of this letter.  For the rest of the week, two more letters from Grandpa to the four sons who are away from home serving Uncle Sam.

Judy Guion

 

My Ancestors (30d) – Rev. Elijah and Clara Maria de los Dolores Marina de Beck Guion – The First Two Daughters Marry – 1860’s

Last June I  read about a Challenge, 52 Ancestors in 52 Weeks, and I was intrigued. I decided to take up the challenge. Some Ancestors may take more than one week, but I still intend to write about 52 Ancestors. I hope you enjoy reading about My Ancestors as much as I am looking forward to researching and writing about them.

(1) Clara Maria de los Dolores Marina de Beck Guion; (2) Alfred Beck Guion; (3) Alfred Duryee Guion; (4) Alfred Peabody Guion; (5) Judith Anne Guion

All during the girlhood’s of my mother and aunts, the slavery issue was coming to a head.  New Orleans had the biggest and worst slave-market in the nation — the one that Lincoln saw as a young man, and never forgot — but here was one moral issue on which the Rev.  Elijah Guion sided with the South.  Northerner as he originally was, he took his Bible literally, and it happened that at the height of the pre-war controversy, an event occurred that made real history, and is part of our family story.

This was the publication, in the north, of a pamphlet by an Episcopal Bishop, entitled: “The Bible View of Slavery.”  It went through seven editions, was read throughout the Church, created a storm of controversy in the North, and was hailed with equal satisfaction in the South.  The Episcopal Church was the only  Protestant Church that didn’t split into a “North” and “South” church during the Civil War, and this pamphlet was the reason.  It was written by the Bishop of Vermont, who was the Rt. Rev.  John Henry Hopkins, DD., L1.D. — one of the most outstanding patristic scholars and polemical writers of the Episcopal Church, and its Presiding (Senior) Bishop during the last years of the war.  Bishop Hopkins was my grandfather.

This pamphlet (it still is to be found in old Southern libraries) amounted to a justification of slavery on Biblical grounds, while deprecating its cruelties and abuses.  It’s argument was simple and abundantly documented: slavery had been an institution in Biblical times; the Bible referred to it without condemnation; the Bible was the Word of God.  Here was the perfect “out” for Southern Episcopalians, who normally were kind to their slaves; in the North, of course, it created a storm, which the “Fighting Bishop” had undoubtedly expected and probably loved.  This doctrine, uttered by the outstanding polemist and perspective presiding Bishop of the Church, had a wider following even in the North then today’s history-books commonly recognize; and its result in the South was to hold the Episcopal Church together despite the war.  Bishop Hopkins became Senior or Presiding Bishop in 1865, and the culminating moment of his life was at the first post-war General Convention, when he welcomed the Southern delegates into the still-united Church.

The Rev Elijah Guion fully endorsed the Hopkins pamphlet and preached its doctrine at St. Paul’s.  In one other respect he offended his Confederate congregation, and his rigid adherence to ritual, whether doctrinal or inwardly pro-Union in its motivation, cost him his job about the time of Lincoln’s assassination, as shall be seen.  Meanwhile, a prime instance of his rigidity in his domestic capacity was causing trouble and in fact, real tragedy, at home.

This came about in connection with the engagement and marriage of my aunt Clara, eldest of the girls.  The French custom, by which marriages are arranged by the parents, existed to some extent in New Orleans; it appealed to Guion, who was a dominant man.  As Clara’s husband he selected his friend, Stephen Gay, a man of his own age, by no means Clara’s choice.  Gay had been married before and had a son, Harry, as old as his intended bride.  Clara was heartbroken; she resisted the marriage up to the moment of the ceremony.  My grandmother resisted it too, but Guion was adamant and for once she lost.  Guion performed the marriage ceremony himself.

Clara was dutiful; she bore Gay four children, two of whom, my cousins Florence and Eleanor, survived.  But it was an unhappy marriage and ended in Gay’s leaving, shortly before Eleanor was born.  By that time the Guions were in the West, and Clara rejoined them, her life wrecked.

I recall her, 20 years later, as a silent, sad-faced woman whose only consolation was religion.  Parental authority hadn’t worked.

Second to marry was Josephine; this was a love-match.

Up in Far-North Vermont, the thirteenth and the youngest child of Bishop Hopkins, Frederick Vincent, had studied science, especially geology, at the University of Vermont, from which he graduated in 1859.  Previously he had been educated at the Bishop’s Church school, at Rock Point,  near Burlington; like all Hopkinses, he had been trained in music, he had painting talent, and an inventive, inquiring mind.  He was perhaps 17 when the “Bible View of Slavery” was published; he shared that view, the more intensely because of the controversy that raged about the Bishop’s august head.  In 1861 the Civil War broke out; in New England the abolitionists were in full cry.  Rather than fight in a clause in which he religiously disbelieved, young Hopkins left his home, made his way to Pittsburgh, and proceeded to get him an open boat and float down the Ohio River, toward the South.

He floated down the Ohio and down the Mississippi too, landing months later at the waterfront of New Orleans, exhausted, starving and broke.  The details of that trip were never revealed — we know only the beginning and the end, must imagine the rest.  This was early in the war and the river still was open, but Vicksburg was fortified and he must have passed it somehow.  How he ate, lived, slept, survived at all, we do not know.  He made this trip alone.

He seemed to have had it in mind to take refuge with a clergyman named Hawley, a Vermonter and marital relative, who had a church in or near New Orleans.  This was stated by Hawley’s daughter, Mrs. Marion Canfield Hawley Swan, whom Ed and I knew in California years ago.  Hawley gave young Hopkins shelter and care, then sent him to the Rev. Mr. Guion, who received the fugitive into his home. — my mother, aged 19, petite and charming, and of rather Spanish appearance, was now the presiding daughter of the household, her elder sister having married.  On September 15, 1863, at the height of the war, Frederick Vincent Hopkins and Josephine Beck Guion were married.

This time, Guion didn’t oppose.  Apparently he helped the young man to obtain employment, first as a teacher of science in New Orleans, then as a geologist for the State of Louisiana, in which capacity he made the first geological survey of that state and published some still-remembered reports.  The couple moved to Baton Rouge, where in 1866 my eldest sister, Clara Leoline, was born.  My father became Professor of geology at the University of Louisiana.

Next Sunday, I’ll continue the story with how Rev. Elijah Guion lost his position at St. Paul’s in New Orleans and the marriages of his two remaining daughters.

Sources:

COLONIAL ORIGINS of the CALIFORNIA GUIONS, An Informal Genealogical Study by Ernest Jerome Hopkins, finished in 1952.

Next Sunday, I’ll continue the story of the Rev. Elijah, Clara and their large family in New Orleans.

Tomorrow and next week, I’ll continue the story of Grandpa, Alfred Duryee Guion, from the beginning with “Reminiscences of Alfred D. Guion,” written in 1960 while on a four-months “around the world” freighter trip.. This is his story, in his own words, beginning in the early 1880’s, when he was a child in Mount Vernon, New York. 

Judy Guion

Voyage to California (26) – John Jackson Lewis – January to March, 1851

(1) John Jackson Lewis, (2) Edith May (Lewis) Rider, (3) Marian Faith (Rider) Irwin, (4) Marian Dunlap (Irwin) Guion, (5) Judith Anne Guion.

The following are transcriptions of John Jackson Lewis’s diary and journal of his voyage to California in 1851. He was travelling  from New York to visit his older brother William in San Jose.

Diary

Cape St. Lucas in sight this morning, weather clear and cool so that a cloth coat could be borne very comfortably all day.  Nearest land at noon, Cape St. Lucas, distant 28 miles.  Distance sales 218 miles.

Journal

Weather clear again this morning, but cool enough to make a coat quite comfortable all day.  The wind is fresh, bracing and invigorating, and makes me feel more like myself again.  Cape St. Lucas has been in sight most of the day, distance at noon 28 miles.  Distance accomplished 218 miles.  Something new introduced into the steerage this evening: this was nothing less than a monte bank.  Some of the passengers and crew bet small sums, but, as is usual I suppose in such cases, the banker was the chief gainer, his process I suppose amounting to some $20 or $30 for the evening’s work.

I will continue this story next Saturday.

Tomorrow, I’ll be posting more information about the Rev. Elijah and Clara Guion and their daughter’s marriages. 

Next week, I will continue this story at the very beginning with Reminiscences of Alfred D. Guion, my Grandfather’s memories of growing up in Mount Vernon, New York in the 1880’s and 1890’s. 

Judy Guion

The Beginning – REMINISCENCES of Alfred D. Guion (5) – The Insides Sort of Erupted – 1890’s

 

Alfred D. Guion - Lincoln Avenue House

      Alfred D. Guion at the Lincoln Avenue House

          In the top drawer of my father’s dresser, where among other things he kept a pomade stick for his hair, brilliantine for his mustache, Orris root, etc., he had a small 22-cal. Chased pearl-handled revolver as well as a Harrington and Richards five shooter for safety sake because our house was on the outskirts of town and was occasionally visited by tramps looking for a handout. The fancy little firearm intrigued my boyish fancy and while I had been repeatedly told never to touch either of those revolvers, one day, when my idle hands found nothing else to do, my curiosity got the better of me and I decided to take it apart to see how it worked.

So down to the coal cellar, where I wouldn’t be observed, I went, with it and a screwdriver. I got the faceplate off without much trouble when suddenly something snapped and the insides sort of erupted. I had planned to take each part out carefully observing the order, so there would be no trouble in assembling them again, but this scattering of parts all over the place was a tragedy. What a hopeless feeling! I tried frantically to fit parts in again but it couldn’t even get the side plate back. Now, what to do?

I knew I was in for a good spanking. Disobedience did not set very well with “Papa”. I thought of not putting it back and hiding it somewhere but knew it would be missed and lying would only make matters worse. With shame and trembling I sought out my mother and told her the whole sad story. She decided the only thing to do was to wait until my father came home from the office that night and make a clean breast of things. What a long, fearsome afternoon that was! We children, Elsie and I, always rushed to the door with mother for the homecoming kiss as soon as we heard his key in the lock, but my greeting that night somehow lacked enthusiasm. Perhaps because my mother interceded I escaped a spanking that time, or perhaps they decided I had learned my lesson, which I had.

My parents did not believe in frequent or promiscuous spankings but we knew we would get one when we deserved it, and then not a slap or two, but pants taken down in my case, and the back of a hair brush vigorously applied enough times to create a healthy respect for the punishment. I recall one time I deserved it and so reported to my father some months later. I had done or said some minor thing which was wrong, in a fit of ill nature, and was warned if I did it again I’d get a spanking. Feeling ugly and defiant I deliberately did it again. Down came my britches, whack when the hairbrush, and I can remember the strange feeling of all the ugliness and ill-nature completely evaporating during the process. I knew I had deserved it and felt it had done me good. I often thought of this episode in bringing up my own children, and never since have agreed with those who think it is wrong to spank children under any circumstances. The old Bible admonition, “spare the rod and spoil the child” is still true.

Tomorrow, the next segment in the Voyage to California by John Jackson Lewis about his trip from New York City to San Jose in 1851.

On Sunday, more of the story of Rev. Elijah and Clara Maria de los Dolores Marina de Beck Guion and their family.

Next week, I’ll begin posting a week of letters written in 1943. Life is getting more interesting for Lad and Marian in California. 

Judy Guion