For the next few weekends, I’ll be posting Special Pictures. These are photos that do not pertain directly to the letters I’m posting but are unique and interesting so I want to share them. Enjoy.
Rusty Heurlin, taken in Alaska
For the next few weekends, I’ll be posting Special Pictures. These are photos that do not pertain directly to the letters I’m posting but are unique and interesting so I want to share them. Enjoy.
Rusty Heurlin, taken in Alaska
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
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.
Trumbull, Conn., Aug. 20, 1945
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
page 2 8/20/45
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.
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
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.
For the rest of the week I’ll continue to post letters from Grandpa to his sons, scattered all across the country.
Trumbull, Conn., October 18, 1941
Dear boy backsliders (but dear nevertheless):
This 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.
This is the continuation of Ced’s long letter I started yesterday.
As to flying, perhaps you could find me an airplane cheap. Seriously, the more I think of it, the more I think it would be smarter for me to buy one instead of paying rental on planes here. The cheapest I can fly for is $7.50 an hour and I need at least 150 hours more. That makes $1125 and nothing to show for it but the flying time and experience. The Army is releasing some of the small ships which they used for observation purposes. If I could get an Aeronca Chief or a Taylorcraft or some such thing, I might be money ahead. I think the Army is selling them for around $750 as is. Most need repairs but some need very little. My thought is that if I could get one of these, spend a few dollars on repairs and licensing, I would not only get my flying time a little cheaper but would have something material out of it. As for purchasing wherewithal I would have to scrape up the cash somehow, as the Army, I don’t think, would like a time payment plan. If Dan would permit me, I might sell the car and use that money toward a plane paying him back on time. The biggest hitch is finding the plane as I think I could promote the money. Perhaps the fellows in the apartment could steer you onto something. There were also some good buys on the civilian market, but they are probably not quite as much for the money. If something were available back there, I could perhaps take time off, home to Trumbull on a flying trip, and fly the ship back up here. Then next time I wanted to go to Trumbull, it would be just a matter of packing up the plane and get going. This is perhaps all a pipe dream but I’m enjoying it and if you happen to run across something let me know, post haste. In the meantime I am looking around for whatever I can see and paying from $7.50 to $10 an hour. A plane similar to those I mentioned, in this country, would run from $2500 to $4000, which is slightly beyond my means. Ask Marian if she could get me a helicopter for $25 down and the rest when they catch me.
I must finish that trip history before I forget that I went on it. I’ll try to include another installment in the next issue. Dave’s moccasins will be on the way soon. I haven’t been able to get them yet but I think this coming week will turn the tide. Now as regards the much discussed touring, all arrangements at Trumbull should be comparatively simple. There should be someone interested in renting the house in the event you care to leave on an extended vacation after the war. They should be willing to take over the apartment care if the rent was reasonable, and of course Dave and Aunt Betty would either stay there or moving to other quarters, whichever seemed the most adaptable to all concerned. At any rate, it seems to me that a trip such as you mention would be a swell one to take and maybe things can be worked out so that I can start from here and join you somewhere along the road. Perhaps I would fly on ahead and spied out a trail for you in case the highway was too bad. Seriously, it would be fun to start by car from here and go all the way down through the U.S., stopping at the national parks and wonders which Aunt Betty and Aunt Elsie have raved about, and continuing on through Central America. Wouldn’t a house trailer be a good investment on a trip such as that? Maybe the roads wouldn’t be good enough to take a heavy trailer over, but if they were, and from what I’ve heard of trailers or tourists, it would be a most enjoyable way to go and perhaps as inexpensive as any other way and less than most. We could
page 3 of Ced’s letter
carry a tent for extra sleeping and use the trailer as a cook shack and base camp. Of course, it would be most enjoyable and a WOW of a trip if the whole caboodle clan Guion and spouses could gather together enough rolling stock and equipment to make the trip together, and I for one would be for it, but I suppose that due to circumstances beyond our control, that would be difficult to manage. However it is something to think about and to work for. Well, I sure have wandered about in this letter and romanced plenty.
Now let’s get down to facts again. Art Woodley is again in the states to see about new planes, new routes, etc. All planes are now running again. Thursday of this coming week, the fishing season closes and again we have that mad rush evacuating the fisherman. At least we are better situated to handle the rush then we have been for a long time.
Latest rumor, unconfirmed, is that Rusty is coming back to Anchorage to live. Walter Stoll told me that John Manders had a letter from Rusty to that effect. I have not written him lately nor have I heard from him for five or six weeks. The city of Anchorage has finally oiled many of the streets to keep down the dust, a move which I have felt necessary since Dan and I arrived here in 1940. There is an amusement park at the east end of town opening soon. It consists of a merry-go-round and an airplane loop-the-loop. There are now some 90 odd licenses in the city for the dispensing of retail and wholesale liquor. Whoops, my dear, what a fair city we have, hic, hic. The community hall has been converted into a hospital for venereal diseases, which are on the sharp increase hereabouts.
The successor to Gen. Buckner, Gen. Mittlestedt, has threatened to call “off-limits” many places in Anchorage if the condition isn’t cleared up quickly. So much for the dirt. To Jean, bon voyage and a pleasant landing. Marian, I hope such joy as Jean is experiencing will soon be yours. To Aunt Betty I promise a letter in the near future. Till then, to all a good night.
Tomorrow, Grandpa gives us the complete letter from Lad, who is somewhere in Southern France. On Thursday, letters from Dan and Dick and on Friday, a letter from Dave and Grandpa’s comments.
Grandpa hit the jackpot this week. He received letters from all five sons and he is thrilled to share the entire letters in this 6-page missive to all family members. I will be posting this one letter for the entire week. Enjoy catching up on the activities of each son away from Trumbull and the Homestead.
Copy of a letter from Ced, postmarked July 24th and addressed to M. Alfredeau de Guion, Baux 7, Trumbull, Conn.
The ski club scheduled a hike and picnic for today (Sunday) but the weather was stinko this morning, consequently the trip was called off. Lad has been doing such a wonderful job of writing and answering your letters that he puts me to shame. So in humility I shall attempt in part to make recompense. To Lad you say he is probably hardest hit by being situated as he is. Reasoning is good and I think you are perhaps right. I hope, whatever happens, that he will find it not too depressing (witness Dave’s glowing account of the beauties of Okinawa). There is always the assurance that each day is one nearer to home, no matter how you look at it. Dan – – ah, there’s a fellow – – our Monsieur Guion. I keep telling all the girls at the office that I’ll write him and Paulette one fine day – – weather sure MUST be stinko – – and for sure I will. I should also take up French but time is so scarce. Perhaps by now Chiche and Dan are probably hitched. I hope so, at any rate, as it must be heartbreaking to have to keep putting off such an important thing in one’s life. How I would like to have been there to witness the ceremony and properly welcome the bride and groom – – wouldn’t we all.
Dave mentions my flying down to Okinawa on a visit. What does he think is going to happen when I fly over Paramushiro? Of course the Japs don’t give much opposition in the air anymore, but if a poor little puddle-jumper such as I happened along, I’m afraid my gas might be so low at that point that I’d have to stop for more, and while it might be fun to steal some Jap gas, it would be a little foolhardy, don’t you think? I’d sure like to be able to do just that tho, Dave.
Cedric Duryee Guion (Ced)
Now you wonder about my future plans. They are not too definite yet but I hope to get a commercial pilot’s license. If I stay in the flying game it will be as a pilot – – of that I am quite sure. Flying is becoming safer every day and I don’t expect to get into trouble. I wish you were up here this afternoon and I’d take you up for a spin. Should we get into trouble, I expect I could land almost anywhere with little or no scratches. The plane might suffer considerable damage but occupants would be comparatively safe. For the present I am sitting tight awaiting developments up here. I’m afraid this will not satisfy your requests for information, but we have this in common. I am just about as set on what to do as the proverbial tumbleweed, which puts me in exactly the same category as yourself concerning my plans.
To Jean and Dick it must be a lovely world just at the moment. I am interested in Dick’s answer to your question as to whether or not he is still expecting to come to Alaska. It might be that I could do something for him in the event he is still serious about it. As to your plans for Dave at the office, I suspect he is going to stoop to a little subversive activity to prolong the war. Certainly the easy life of a soldier stalking through swamps, sleeping on tree stumps, guns firing near misses now and then, nasty officers asking and requiring the impossible, would be a picnic beside the task of upholding a schedule such as you line up. Just because you lean to the Superman-style is no reason you must expect it from your youngest son. Dave’s letter about being in Okinawa was a little worrisome for a while but he came through with flying colors. Incidentally, neither he nor you seem to have realized that Gen. Simon Bolivar Buckner, killed just a few days before the end of the Okinawa campaign, was commanding general of the Alaska Defense activities, stationed here at Fort Richardson from 1940 through 1944. He was credited with saving Alaska from the Japs, owned land here on which he intended to build and it was here he planned to live after the war. He resided in a house in Anchorage for some time prior to the outbreak of hostilities, along with his wife and family. Rusty has been
Page 2 of Ced’s letter
at several parties at which he was a guest and knew him quite well. I never met him but have seen him many times on the street and at civic and Army gatherings. Dave’s mention of having seen him a few days before his death interested me, and more so, the remarks on his popularity. While here in Alaska he was quite well-liked, both in and out of Army circles. I suppose there were many who didn’t like him but the vast majority seemed quite taken with him. He was a heavy drinker but held it well.
Tomorrow I’ll post the rest of Ced’s very long letter (two and a half typed pages from Grandpa. I don’t have Ced’s original). Letters from the other sons will appear later in the week.
FOR GREAT CONTENT WITH PASSION
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