Trumbull – Dear Lad, Marian, Dan and Dick (1) – Details of Ced’s Trip Back to Alaska – December, 1943

Trumbull, Conn., Dec. 12, 1943

Dear Lad, Marian, Dan and Dick:

A letter from Ced:  “ Dec. 2, Seward, Alaska, aboard S.S. ALASKA. Well, I’m on the way. Don’t expect me till I get there tho. It may take me all month the way people talk. I’m set to get to Seattle via the above, but from there ?????  The previous plans fell through as passage out of Juneau couldn’t be booked until Jan. 10th. I may still go up from Seattle to Vancouver to take the C. P. (Canadian Pacific) east, but I’ll decide that after talking to various agents in Seattle. I’ll take anything on rail or by air that will get me East, and even a bus if it comes down to that. I guess one of the railroads will have an empty seat before very long.   The last two weeks have been hectic, what with trying to dispose, loan or otherwise get rid of all my stuff and in collecting clothes, etc., for this trip. Restrictions have been relaxed considerably and all I had to do was to get a permit to depart and return from and to the Territory of Alaska, and on the boat we only need to check our cameras, electric razors, flashlights, binoculars, etc. Baggage isn’t checked otherwise. Seward is sure lots prettier with its post-fire construction. They have very modern fireproof buildings attractively designed. Food is somewhat cheaper and of better quality than that obtainable in Anchorage restaurants. We had a swell trip down in the train today and apparently there are a good many pleasant people making the trip south– many of them friends and acquaintances from Anchorage. My ”cell mate” is a fellow from Anchorage Market whom I’d seen but never had met. He is pleasant seeming and will probably be a good travel companion. He has been up here for 13 years running and hasn’t seen his wife in all that time. The S. S. ALASKA is somewhat smaller than the McKINLEY, but is not too bad a boat. Our stateroom is at the tail end and will probably be plenty rough if we get into any kind of a swell on the Gulf. The McKINLEY, incidentally, is now aground in the Aleutians and has been for over a year. It is gradually disintegrating if it has not already succumbed to the Aleutian storms. Dan and I had a peach of a trip on the poor old boat and I shed a sincere tear for her as she fades out of the picture of picturesque Alaskan transportation. Saw Rusty last week and of course he wanted to be remembered to everyone. I had Thanksgiving dinner with the Morgans and friends at Chuck’s and Florence’s apartment. Keep a candle burning for me. Bon nuit, Ced”. That we will, Ced, old son, and we will fervently hope it won’t have to be a leftover Christmas tree candle, either.

Dan has made the headlines again. A copy of the London ARC bulletin shows on the front page a picture of Dan pointing out to two buddies the stone decorations on the entrance to the service club he so eloquently described in a recent letter. His letter says he is nursing a cold which stubbornly hangs on (Steer shy of that fine germ, Dan, which we are told is quite prevalent in England these days), is restive under what seems rather foolish censorship rules, and ends:  “I have been naughty again. I left my carbine cocked, which is very wrong when the gun is not being used. To emphasize the importance of my offense I have been restricted to quarters for two nights– which interfered with my educational progress at night school, besides bruising my delicate pride.” Cheer up, Dan, maybe the extra sleep will kill the cold.

I’ll be posting the rest of this letter tomorrow. It includes a discussion of mail service and news from Lad and Marian.

Judy Guion

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Special Picture # 269 – Rusty Heurlin – Somewhere in Alaska

 

Rusty Heurlin – taken in Alaska @ 1945

 

Here’s looking at you………. cock-eyed

 

Tomorrow, another Special Picture.

On Monday I’ll begin posting a week of letters written in 1942.Dan has been drafted and is at Basic Training. Lad and Dick are both working at Producto in Bridgeport, anxious about their own status in the draft. Dave is in high school and keeping Grandpa company at the old Homestead in Trumbull.

Judy Guion

 

Trumbull – Dear Lone One (2) – Maybe I Didn’t Raise My Boy To Be A Soldier – December, 1941

Page 2 of 12/7/41

If you haven’t written already and told me the answers, let me know if you are going to occupy the room all alone, paying the full rent yourself or are going to share it with someone else to help reduce expenses. Of course we have been speculating here as to whether you, too, would not pull up stakes and head for the East. Dan ventured the thought that if it was lack of funds that prevented you, it would be a simple matter to sell the car for enough for your fare home. And of course you know that your Dad would consider he had never spent money in a better cause or more willingly than in sending you the wherewithal to make the trip home. Just a cable with the word “Funds” would bring quick results.

Your letter was very interesting even apart from the fact of hearing from you and the news about Dick’s sudden decision. The difficulty of water supplies in a ground frozen country had never occurred to me until your clear explanation of how it was done brought up the subject.

The news in this neck of the woods is sunk into insignificance by the world news. Dan has been considerably worried ever since he has been home regarding his draft status. We have all felt that there has been this thing on his mind, so last week he decided to find out where he stood, having received a few days previously notification to proceed to Hartford for a physical examination. He phoned to the Draft Board and was told that the Alaska Board, who apparently still has jurisdiction, had refused to grant deferment and that he was slated to be called sometime in January. Of course he passed his physical examination O. K. So, soon after I welcome back into the fold a returnee from Alaska in I lose another. Maybe I didn’t raise my boy to be a soldier, in the words of the old song, but apparently it makes little difference.

Today is our really first cold day – – the first day that we could actually feel winter had arrived. I don’t know that the temperature was so low although before sunup it was below 32°, but there was a strong wind that blew what cold there was around in a rather reckless manner.

Aunt Betty is practically herself again except that she has to take things a little bit easy and has not yet fully recovered the use of her arm. Even this is coming along slowly however.

Oh, I almost forgot. I did order one thing sent to you for Christmas. It was from Sears Roebuck, so if a package arrives from Seattle that you didn’t order just imagine a “Merry Christmas” sign on it from Dad and Aunt Betty.

Good night, old son, and very best wishes, from your old

DAD

Tomorrow, one more letter from Grandpa to Ced. With the other boys home, there are no letters to quote but Grandpa continues to let Ced know what is going on in the family.

On Saturday and Sunday, I’ll post more from the Autobiography of Mary E Wilson.

Judy Guion

Trumbull – Gentle Readers (1) – Lad’s HOME – August, 1945

Trumbull, Conn., Aug. 20, 1945

Gentle Reader:

The old boy must be slipping. Here it is Monday night and his Sunday letter isn’t written yet. Oh, of course there’s a reason. Guess what – – – LAD’S HOME ! Yes, he snook in on us Thursday night at about 10 o’clock. Aunt Betty had gone up to bed, Marian was in the kitchen indicting her daily missive to the absent Lad, and I was in my chair in the alcove just about ready to put out the light and go upstairs. I heard the back door open followed by some queer noises, but paid no attention to it as the young folks in the apartment drop in occasionally. Then Marian yelled for me and I came in to find prize package # 1 in all its glory. It put a definite end to the mental gymnastics Marian and I have been practicing since we read in the paper the announcement of part of Lad’s Bn. having landed, trying to figure out if so, when he would phone. Ever since Sunday I have slept with the door open and the sleep alerted ear attuned to the phone eill. Early in the evening when ring 2 (We had a Party Line at the time and the Guion residence was two rings.) came up, either Marian or I would rush expectantly to grab the receiver and each time experience a corresponding let-down. They almost had me fooled Tuesday. At 2:20 AM I awoke with ring 2 making the signal, and grabbing my flashlight so I could hurry down the stairs in one hand, I threw off the bed close with the other and made a flying start for the stairs. THIS IS IT, says I. It couldn’t be anything else at this time of night. Halfway down the stairs my pajama pants fell off, almost tripping me up in my haste (darn these stretchy elastic waistbands when they get old). Anyhow, I bunched them up and continued my headlong flight. A man’s voice said, “I’m phoning for a friend of mine” (Lad of course, it flashed across my mind) (who wants to get married!” Oh boy, what a let-down. I’ve heard of a fellow losing his shirt for a friend but never one losing his pajama bottoms for a friend of someone who wants to get married. From that time on I gave up expecting to hear from Lad so his arrival was all the more a surprise. He looks fine / hasn’t changed a bit as far as I can see. No evidence of deeper lines of mental stress or worry, weight about the same. Just the same old Lad that went away one and a half years ago.

But to get back to my reason for this letter being a day late. Burr Davis, Lad’s godfather, who has a summer cottage at Candlewood Lake, had invited Marian to visit them, and as this was to be Mr. Davis’s last weekend there, Lad invited us all to hop in his car and make it a family visit. We did and had a very enjoyable time, but alas it was too late when we got home to start a letter, and while I fully intended to make up for it during the day at the office, I just didn’t get the opportunity. So, here we are back to beginning. Who will be the next to upset the smooth tenor of our ways by returning home unexpectedly? Dan? Mebbe. I am waiting to hear what his next letter may have to say on this subject. Then perhaps Dick may be next although in view of the fact Jean has just joined him, it is Lad’s guess that this procedure would not have been permitted if they didn’t foresee the men being down there for a year longer. However a letter today from Jean reveals that she was practically on her way when the peace news came through. Maybe this would be a great time to quote her letter:

“Surprise, I’m here. Arrived at one (noon) on the 16th.  Dick didn’t know I was due that day so he didn’t meet me. They had quite a job locating him but when his assistant found him and told him I was here all he could say was, “Are you kidding?” He was quite worried because the officer here told him that all the wives orders had been canceled because of the end of the war. He was sure I wouldn’t be able to come. I wasn’t supposed to leave Miami until Thursday, but when I checked in to

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the Army hotel Tuesday morning, they started rushing me through briefing classes and my last typhoid shot. They told me late in the afternoon that I would be leaving about 6:30 that night. We were out at the airport at seven when the news of the Jap surrender was announced. We took off at eight in a C-47–the same one they flew Gen. Mark Clark back to the US in. We were very lucky to get such a nice one, as most of the planes were just plain transport ships with bucket seats and very uncomfortable. There were seven girls, one child and myself, +5 crew members. Our first stop was Puerto Rico, 2:30 A.M. Wednesday. They gave us breakfast and we sat around in the post lounge waiting for a minor repair to be made until 4:30 A.M. We flew until noon when we stopped at British Guiana. There we were treated like Queens–met us in the staff cars, took us to a restroom to get cleaned up, then to the officer’s mess hall for lunch and from there to a cottage where we took showers and slept until 6 PM, then dinner, after which two officers took us to the officers club for a highball. We took off at eight P. M. Our next stop was at Belem, Brazil, at four A.M. Thursday. After breakfast we took off again, arriving at Natal at 10:45 A.M. Everyone but me and the crew got off—I was the only passenger back to Forteleza.

Dick couldn’t get the house he wanted but he got a cute place in a very nice section, about the same size as the other place, four rooms, bath and a separate servants home on the side. So, we have a garden. Dick is having the yard all fixed up. The man starts work at seven A. M. And works until about 4:34 P.M. for $.50 a day. Can you imagine working in the hot sun for that? I can’t either. It is spring here now. I don’t know what the temperature is but it’s just comfortable and there is always a strong breeze. Dick looks wonderful. He says he’s lost some weight the past week, though, worrying about me and trying to get the house cleaned up. He even bought a table cover for our dining room table.”

Dick adds a P. S. “I want to thank you for having taken such good care of Jean, Dad. I’m happier now than I have been since I was drafted. I don’t mean to insinuate that I was happy they drafted me. She’s the difference between existing and living. My love to all. Dick”.

So we see that maybe if Jean had been a few hours later in getting started, orders might have come through for cancellation. Incidentally, this might cause Lad to revise his opinion that allowing the wives to go down probably means Dick will be there for some time yet. Would like to know what the prospects are as they look to you down there, Dick. Do take some snapshots of the house and send them home as we are all eager to see what the Guion Brazilian home looks like.

Tomorrow I’ll be posting the rest of this letter, and after that, another 5-page letter I’ll squeeze into 3 posts. Enjoy.

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

Trumbull – Dear Boy Backsliders (1) – October, 1941

Trumbull, Conn., October 18, 1941

Dear boy backsliders (but dear nevertheless):

Judy_0003This is getting to be a very one-sided correspondence. Do you realize that I haven’t heard from either of you since Dan left? That was, what? Sept. 18th? Just a month today, if so. Dan says: “That just shows what happens without ?????????????????????me there to keep them lined up in the matter of letter writing regularly.” I think Aunt Betty is getting a bit concerned because every night when I come home she asks if I have heard from the boys yet. I do hope there will be something in the mailbox tomorrow. You didn’t even fill in my questionnaire which would be a simple thing to do and would only take a few minutes. I will even send you a stamped, addressed envelope if that will help. I hate to start in every letter in this vein but it is a matter quite close to my heart and I do wish you both would exert a little willpower and grab off a few spare ten minutes here and there so that so long an interval will not elapse. Why don’t each of you make it a rule to write every other week, even if it is only a few lines. Surely this will not be a hardship. If I should stop writing for a month (which I don’t intend to do) wouldn’t you get the least bit anxious? Or wouldn’t you? Someday I suppose you will sit down and write, “Cut out this letter complaint. You ought to have learned by this time it does not accomplish any results anyway.” So be it, and I’ll go on with what meager news there is.

?????????????????Aunt Betty is coming along finely. All this week she has been down in the kitchen the better part of the day. Miss Pack, the visiting nurse, comes in the morning, gets Aunt Betty fixed up and down stairs for lunch. I have brought the nickel pipe armchair in the kitchen and she spends most of the afternoon and that until we get home at night. She then has supper with us after which I take her up to bed. She is gradually, but definitely, getting back the use of her hand. The doctor did not come at all this week. The nurse tells her she is making real progress.

Mrs. Warden and her new baby are back from the hospital. Paul has changed the location of the stove to the other side of the mantel. Dan is working at a machine in the Producto Co., which requires his constant dipping his hand in kerosene which has resulted in sort of a skin burn similar in its result to sunburn in that the skin peels from his hands. There is a rumor that he will be given another job this next Tuesday. He has now a driver’s license and in consequence, he planned to go to New York this afternoon for his trunk. His first intention was to take my car but he finally persuaded Lad to drive down in his car with Cecilia (Mullins, Lad’s girlfriend) and Dan with Barbara (Plumb, Dan’s girlfriend) and after getting the trunk loaded on, I suppose they will have supper somewhere and make a night of it – – possibly taking in some show. I have recommended Fantasia ( http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0032455/ ). They started from here about 2:30 in order to make this possible and still have Cecelia in the party (The Mullins were planning on a 3 o’clock dinner today) we invited Cecelia over here to dinner.

In the town the drive for the ambulance fund is on. Saturday night’s paper reported the collection of $800 of the $3000 goal. The drive ends next Wednesday and they are counting on doing quite a bit of soliciting today, so I’m waiting to see what total will be reported tomorrow night. I composed and processed the letter which was sent out in advance of calls and naturally I am interested in what results they bring.

Last night, Dan and Dave and the gang went bowling in Long Hill.

Tomorrow I’ll post the rest of this lettr, including more news from Trumbull, to Ced and Dick, both still in Alaska.

Over the weekend, more from the Autobiography of Nary E Wilson.

Judy Guion