Life in Alaska – Dear Marian and Al – Ced’s Take On His Niece And Nephew – July 25, 1946

 

Douglas Alfred and Judith Anne – summer, 1946

CEDRIC D. GUION

P.O. Box 822

Anchorage, Alaska

July 25th

Thursday evening

Dear Marian and Al,

The crowd collected instantaneously as it always does, and one old lady in a rather dirty pair of slacks and the foul stench of stale liquor on her breath, elbowed her way toward the man sprawled grotesquely on the post office steps where he had fallen. Someone had run for a doctor and another man had tried to keep the crowd back while he wiped the forehead of the victim. The old lady finally worked into a good vantage point, not without receiving several sour glares, remarked to anyone who cared to listen, “Geese, he don’t look like he was sick, does he?” To which someone else replied, “Probably ain’t as sick as you, lady”. This last brought an ominous rumble from the old woman, but she thought better of more banter, and contented herself with studying the victim again. “He got a letter clutched in his hand “, she remarked, “maybe he got bad news”. About this time the figure of the man stirred and his eyes flickered, then opened, and he sluggishly raised himself on his elbow while the man who’d been wiping his head helped him to rise, and finally got him to his feet. The victim looked around at the crowd and flushed deeply. It was very embarrassing to be stared at by so many people, and he wasn’t too pleased with his public spectacle. It had all happened so suddenly that he had been caught off guard; he had stopped in to get his mail, and received a letter from his folks across the continent, and while that was a weekly occurrence, the news it contained was such, that as he sauntered from the post office, opening the letter and glancing at its contents, he was so shocked that his mind had gone blank, and the next thing he knew was this moment of awakening with a pain-racked body. While the news was very good, it still had this startling aspect – the man had become an uncle, not of a niece alone, or a nephew, but both at once! Well, the crowd, disappointed at nothing more gruesome than a case of fainting, quickly dispersed, a few well-meaning souls hanging on embarrassingly to offer help if it seemed needed, but as the man’s mind cleared, he started off down the street, first thanking the doctor, who had arrived, and assuring him that he was quite well. As the old lady departed she was heard to muse, “What in the hell was wrong with that guy?”

Now it seems that this young man has recovered his equilibrium sufficiently to address this selfsame missile to his brother and sister-in-law, jointly guilty of this great event, and in the same joy which they no doubt feel, he wishes to congratulate them on their dual role in the appearance of dual offspring. I am tempted to ask, “How did you do it?”, but will think better of it, and content myself with the pleasure of knowing that I have more relatives. Wish I were there to say hello to all the A.P. Guions.

This is probably the first letter I have addressed to you since way back when you were in California, but I don’t feel that we don’t correspond, as Dad keeps us up on the family doings so completely and efficiently. Nevertheless, I am ashamed of my correspondence record in general, and hope that time will cure this bad habit of omission.

Have Dad, Jean and Dick left for the island? I could really drink in a little bit of “Winnipesaukee (sp?) myself about now. I would have about two weeks vacation with pay, and what a treat it would be. The distance is a little prohibitive and probably I’ll wait till next summer when I should have four weeks added up with pay, and possibly a little sick leave to add in.

Will you tell Dad, or yourselves, to take care of mailing the package of color slides which were mentioned in a previous letter home? They are supposed to be mailed to Miss Margaret Pirkey. Saybrook, Ill. They should be sent express, and as soon as possible, as she will be leaving there about the 20th of August to return to Anchorage. It was too, too stupid of me to forget to include the address last time.

Enclosed is a bunch of odds and ends which might be of interest to one and all. In haste as usual.

Written with my new pen –

Thanks, Dad – it works fine.

Ced

Tomorrow another segment of the Diary and Journal of John Jackson Lewis about his Voyage to California – 1851.

On Sunday, another of My Ancestors.

Judy Guion

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Life in Alaska (2) – Ced Writes to Grandpa – June 26, 1946

(Letter from Ced to Grandpa

page 2, June 26, 1946)

Dan and Ced with new Buick delivered by Dick, 1941 

  In spite of all my efforts to counteract the trend, old father time is creeping up on Old faithful (his Buick, the one Grandpa bought in 1941 and Dick personally delivered to Dan and Ced in Anchorage), and aided by my indifference of late, I am afraid it is fast becoming mortal. These Alaskan highways are just too much for even a good car. I still hold fleeting hopes of finding a corrective rejuvenator, but without the finances or time, the old girl is sinking rapidly, tho’ she still holds her head high and pretends virility. I am still debating about performing more necessary surgery. With cars so scarce and so high, I still believe that inroads against senility can be made. Time alone will answer my questions, and in the interim, if you all in Trumbull will put in a good word for her in your devotional services, we may pull her through to a more glorious sunset.

I am in the midst of very similar activities as above on another long suffering and even more ancient member of our Alaskan family. Poor ailing Ben (his alarm clock), still faithfully clucking away in its ceaseless passing of time, was the object of much commendation and praise last week, but the inspection it received at the time was too much for it’s ailing heart, (prompted no doubt by my not to gentle handling and it’s being held in other than face down position) and now I have placed it under a complete rejuvenation program of my own, which I have some reason to believe might be successful. Pirkey’s clock is here as stand in, but it makes so da_n much noise! Big Ben is the quietest running alarm clock I ever heard. Funny thing is that I really have no need for an alarm anymore. I go to bed after work (around 5 A.M.) and of course waking up around 1 or 2 in the afternoon requires very little encouragement from external sources.

P.N.A. is still trying to get into long pants and still waiting for the C.A.B. (Civil Aeronautics Board) to- (what’s that poem about Roosevelt, and riding to the promised land?) What I am trying to say is they haven’t yet decided who will run the Seattle run.

I am enclosing an article about the new source of power for the city of Anchorage for the next two years. This will alleviate the terrible shortages which have caused terrific curtailment of power, affecting restaurants, hospitals and industry, as well as heatless homes, cold dinners in midwinter, etc. The city has also voted for and obtained a city manager at long last. Yours truly did his part to achieve this last by voting yes.

I’m doing some flying, and hope for a commercial license before fall. What after that? — Your guess is as good as mine.

Aunt Betty – Thanks for the card and enclosure, I am still holding the latter till I find something worthy of your thoughts for myself. Maybe a super necktie with the advantage of being a birthday necktie, which pleases both the giver and receiver. My very best love to you, and to all the others in the habitat de la Guion.

Ced

Other items of interest

The draft board has reclassified me 1-A, (silly people)

Some of the fellows out at P.N.A. are trying to form a union (more silly people, but they may succeed and if so, will get a closed shop). Maybe I’ll have to join if it is half reasonable, otherwise I’d go find another job. – Who knows?

Till next time then.

Oh yes, my vision is still 20-20, but I will probably have a permanent scar on my left eye corner. My eyes will perhaps give me a little trouble – tire more easily, etc.

Ced

The rest of the week will be filled with letters from Grandpa about the news in Trumbull.

Judy Guion

Life in Alaska (1) – Ced Writes to Grandpa – June 26, 1946

 

CEDRIC D. GUION

P. O. Box 822

ANCHORAGE, ALASKA

June 26th, 1946

Dear Dad:

I still haven’t taken my A test, and still am holding up everything for it. I have been sloughing off badly in all other activities, and if something doesn’t iron out soon I will have to go prospecting or homesteading. Getting more money than I ever have, and yet I have never been more short of spare cash. The good part of it all is that I am paying off a few big debts which are getting smaller at a good clip. When they are paid off I should be sitting pretty.

Enclosed are two checks, one for the June payment on loan at the North End Bank, the other to carry my insurance at John Hancock for another quarter.

Well, since I last wrote you much water has spilled. I am now living in a small apartment with Chuck Halgrimson, another P. N. A. employee, and doing our own cooking here. So far it is working out fine, and the future seems good, except that Pirkey, who had the apartment before she left for Chicago for the summer vacation, may be back for next school season, and will want the apartment back. By that time we may find another apartment and continue on as we are. We are paying $50 per month for a living room-bedroom, kitchen, and bath. The rent is reasonable up here, but back there the charge would be about $35 post war inflation price. We are still lucky to get it at that price here. It is small but comfortable. Furniture was included, but we moved the bed out and put up Dan’s and my double bunks. The stove is a three burner hot point electric range with oven. Refrigeration is ingeniously achieved by putting perishables in the bathtub and letting a stream of water from the cold water faucet run through a big bowl, which in turn cools all the various items in their individual and sundry jars, cans, etc.

Speaking of Pirkey – She is back in Chicago with no pictures of Alaska to speak of, and I told her I would ask you to gather up the Alaskan slides and express them out to her for her to show to her friends in Chicago. I hope that this will meet with your approval, and I am sure she will take good care of them. She has done so much for me that I felt it was one way of giving favor in return. When she is finished with them she promised to return them to you at Trumbull – (be sure to enclose return address). I should have requested this the first of the month, but as you already know, I am not as prompt at that sort of thing as I should ought to of be.

Thanks, Dad, for the filters. They were as always highly cherished, and they arrived last week in good condition. As far as anything else is concerned, I can suggest nothing which would be required. I do appreciate your generosity, but let me suggest that you be generous to yourself this once, buy a few cartons of cigarettes (earmarked with my name if you like) and deposit them in the “had to see Paris” fund. You owe it to yourself, and it will do you good to make the pilgrimage to the ancestral nation. In case you find it impossible to take the boat, why not try the airways? I don’t believe they are too much more than the boats, but you can find that out yourself. They have the advantage of no tipping at least. (I mean in a money gift sense) and a much shorter time in transit. Maybe you could make one way boat, the other plane, although in that case you might lose the round-trip rate. Well, bon voyage, and happy landings.

Tomorrow, the rest of the letter from Ced to Grandpa with more news from Alaska. The rest of the week will be filled with letters from Grandpa.

Judy Guion

Life in Alaska – Dear Grande Pierre and all le Habitat de Guion (2) – May 17, 1946

Around the first of the month the company asked me to go on days to turn out the old floats for the Travelair at Merrill field. I was the only one who had worked on floats before, and so was the appointee. I started in by testing the floats, found some leaks had developed in the two years the floats have been idle and so enlisted additional help in the person of Art Dawe, one of our sheet metal men, in patching the bad portions. It was on Saturday the 11th, a week ago today, that we were working on this project

page two    May 18th

 very industriously, I inside the float, Art outside. In drilling and hammering on the surface there were particles of aluminum and other small objects floating about in the air and a good deal of it found its way into my eyes. I gave it only passing thot, as every day in Anchorage one’s eyes are continually assaulted by flying dust stirred up by passing cars and the whims of the winds. However, on the way in after work at night I felt an obstinate particle in my right eye. At home I stood before a mirror and observed a fine, shiny piece of material, square on the eyeball. I took a piece of tissue, moistened the tip of a twisted point, and deftly lifted the particle from my inflamed eye. Finding some Murine, I put a few drops in each eye, and went on about my business, forgetting the whole affair 15 or 20 minutes later when both eyes felt normal. I visited the Thorsen’s till about 1 a.m., then went home and read in bed and (tsk,tsk) till nearly 3. My eyes became a little watery, but seemed not exceptionally so under the circumstances. However I crawled under the covers and turned out the light. When I shut my eyes they both seemed suddenly painful, but I figured they were just rebelling against all the misuses of the day and night. I went to work Sunday, but from the moment I arose the light was nearly unbearable, but I soon realized that the left eye was the sensitive one, the right only sympathetic. By covering the left eye I was able to drive a little, but got anyone riding with me to do it if possible. All day on the floats they bothered me, and outdoors the strain was terrific. I decided that if the condition wasn’t improved Monday morning that I would stay off work and visit a doctor. The rest you already know, except that I didn’t mention that Dr. Romig found a small foreign body in the left eye which he removed with a knife. This particle was dug in right on the edge of the cornea, and as it was so serious, he had me eating penicillin and dropping it in my eyes also. Yesterday he sent me to Dr. Shepherd, and with the aid of the eye machine Dr. Shepherd discovered that there was some sediment left on the right cornea from the piece I had removed, and that was what he removed last night. Now there is a diminishing  ulcer on the left eye, and as I said before, all should be as good as ever within two weeks. In the meantime I am to see the doctor every two days until he knows all danger from the ulcer is over. Did I ever tell you about my operation?          I failed to find Dan’s address, so will forward the package to you for re-mailing along with a package for Dave which he never received, and which was returned to me last Wednesday. My apologies to you, Dave, but as you see, it was no fault of mine.

May 20th

          Probably better skip the refrigerator, as I have too many expenses already. The end of this month I am going into a small apartment with Chuck Halgrimson, one of the hangar fellows. There is no refrigerator in the apartment, but will get along sans that item.

Saw Romig this morning, he says my eyes are coming fine. Now it is time to go to work, so until the next chance, Adieu.

Am sending a package containing Dave’s bundle, and also the gift for the little French girl. Will you please address the package and send it on to France, letting me know the bill.

Ced

Love to A Betty, Jean and Marian

Hello Dave and Greetings to the old married stinkers.

Also included in this letter were two articles about travel over the Alaskan Highway and a poem about Helicopter Pilots called THE STUMP*JUMPERS LAMENT.

Tomorrow I’ll post more Special Pictures of the Trumbull House – Then and Now.

On Sunday, more about My Ancestors.

Judy Guion

Life in Alaska – Dear Grande Pierre and all le Habitat de Guion (1) – May 17, 1946

 

CEDRIC D. GUION

P. O. Box 822

ANCHORAGE, ALASKA

May 17, 1946

4:35 p.m.

Dear Grande pierre and all le habitat de Guion

Received the news of Danielle yesterday, and can imagine what excitement it must have caused back in quiet Trumbull. I’ll guess that there was much supper table talk on the night the cable was received, oui?

I made a trip into a cute little shop in Anchorage today, and purchased a bit of frillery for our new relative. I expect I’ll mail it tomorrow if I can find the address to which it should be mailed. I’m dying to meet the three Frenchies, and share the suspense along with the rest of you while we wait to hear when they will arrive at the feet of Miss Liberty down battery way.

May 18th

          The doctor says I can go to work tonight. No doubt you are now learning what killed the dog. You see, he removed the patch from my right eye this afternoon. It seemed necessary to have it covered as long as the operation had been performed. The right eye being bad was a surprise to all of us, as everyone thot it was only my left eye which was affected. The operation (the last one) was performed by a specialist on the post, as the local city doctor was a little worried about the left eye upon which he had operated last Monday. He sent me to Dr. Shepherd at the post hospital for observation and advice. Dr. Shepherd seemed to think my left eye was progressing OK, but discovered the trouble in the right eye. Now, as I type, my left eye is doing most of the work is I can’t even see the letters on the keyboard with my right eye. There is a slight ulcer in the left eye, but if all goes well it should clear up within two weeks. When the pupil in the right eye becomes normal again the vision should be good. Right now it is about the size of a large pea due to the fact that Dr. Shepherd used a solution to dilate it last night, just before he operated. Of course all this is rather expensive, but I will probably come out fairly well, as the insurance is supposed to cover all doctor bills and a percentage of the lost salary (about 60%, less the wages for the first and last day lost.) The cost of medicine (now up to $12) will have to be borne by myself I suppose. Really I am very fortunate I’m told. There is only one specialist in the territory, Dr. Shepherd, and he has out at the station hospital, the only eye exploration machine in the territory, and it is one of very few in the U.S.

I have been off work since last Monday. I worked Sunday but was very miserable doing it. Of course I should explain that I was working days all last week, and therein lies the tale.

Tomorrow, the tale of how this all came about.

On Saturday, I will begin a new series, the Diary of John Jackson Lewis from January 28, 1851 to March 11, 1851 and his story, Journal of a Voyage to California, during those same dates.  

Judy Guion

Trumbull – Dear Off Spring (4) – Local News From Grandpa – March 3, 1946

Alfred Duryee Guion (Grandpa)

Page 4   3/3/46

My watch says 10:25 (I am reminded of one fellow I work with who says the only thing a watch says is “Tick-tock”), so I’d better quit this pounding so as to not disturb others in the house who are probably turning in. I have done a little skiing and a little flying and will tell you more later!

Next day, 7:15 P. M. Went out in the plane Saturday with the schoolteacher from Barrow, “Pirkey”. We flew over to Big Lake and landed there on the snow-covered ice, only to find that the ice was flooded with water about 10 inches deep with another 10 inches of heavy snow on top of that. The outlook wasn’t good, especially with one wearing oxfords and a topcoat. I pulled a duffel bag out of the baggage compartment and by tramping lightly with one foot there was a firm enough crust on top to hold my weight on top of this heavy bag and I gradually worked the ship around toward a footpath which was about 25 feet away, tramping and moving the bag as I got the ship around. Fortunately there were two good Samaritans staying in a cabin nearby and they came out and each pushed on a wing. In this manner the ship finally reached the path and we took off along this path, one of the skis slipping off to one side or the other till we got quite a little speed. These fellows had snowshoes and were able to push lots easier than I could. On the way back to Anchorage we flew low and hunted out some moose. Some were lying down, others feeding and still others walking out in the open stretches. Once we landed on the small lake and tried to get some pictures of them but they skedaddled as soon as we landed and we didn’t see any of them until we took off again.

Rendezvous Week is here and all the men are supposed to have beards. Mine is again flush as are about half the other men’s. The women are complaining — but who cares. There will be big ski events, skating events, a Queen of Alaska chosen and a car raffled off. Should be a gala affair from all appearances, and after the smoke settles I will write more about it if there is much to write about. Love to all. Ced.

Thanks for the check, Ced. They arrived on the second and I had already taken care of the bank payment but they will restore the balance so if you cannot conveniently get the April check to me before the first of the month, I can bridge the gap without inconvenience. Your description of your new ships is a good selling document — at least it makes me want to make a trip in one of them — particularly if the pilot or co-pilot happened to be a near relation of mine. By the way, did you receive my letter in which I mentioned finding your old log? Yes, we were all very much interested in following the account of the Yukon rescue work. Hope Fitz will yet turn up O.K.

Pete Linsley is home again. He is divorced from his wife who I hear “did he wrong”. He has been out with Barbara (Plumb, Dan;s old girlfriend) several times recently. Jack Fillman is now the father of the baby boy. Red (Sirene) and his wife stopped in a few minutes today. He is now working in an architect’s firm in N.Y. All of us here are well and happy and hope you are the same. And that, dear children, is about all that your news monger has found to distribute today, so ta ta until next Sunday when we will take up the tangled threads of our story a new, hoping you will each have something to add to the common fund. Goodbye and good luck.

DAD

Trumbull – Dear Veterans – Quick Note From Ced – January, 1946

Trumbull, Conn., January 6, 1946.

Dear Veterans: (yes, that includes Ced, who has earned the title

by his recent flight to Alaska)

Even if the laws of compensation did not indicate that a 7-page letter one week should be followed by a skimpy one the next week, the fact remains that the holiday let-down leaves little happening to make news. The only quotation is a letter from Ced written Dec, 27th from Fairbanks, Alaska: “Just one more hop and I’m home in Anchorage. Spent last two days in Northway just over from the Canadian border on the Alaskan side. Landed they are about 3:55 p.m., after dark and as I taxied up toward the CAA building I aimed between two field boundary lights and headed for the station. Just as I went between those two lights there came a jolt and something flew past the right side of the ship, the engine weazed weakly and quit. Right between those two lights the Army had placed a marker made of light wood, painted to show in the daytime but virtually invisible at night. Well, of all places to put it they had it right where I wanted to taxi. It shattered the propeller but otherwise did no serious damage. I had to wait, tho, until noon today to get a new propeller from Fairbanks flown in. I haven’t done anything yet about fixing the blame but when I get back to Anchorage I’m going to look into the situation and see if I have any grounds for collecting damages. I’m afraid it’s useless altho I don’t feel it was my fault at all– negligent placing of the marker as far as I can see. Cost will be approx. $35 for the new prop. Was at Teslin on Christmas Eve and got in on a wonderful turkey dinner with all the fixins.  Paid a $1.15 per gallon of gas at Watson Lake. Saw a P-80 jet job take off at White Horse. They make a terrific roar — sounds like a huge blower running full speed. He went from W.H. (White Horse) to Fairbanks in 1/3 the time it took me to go from W.H. to Northway, which is about half as far. Fairbanks checked the speed at 368 mph elapsed time. Expect to get an early start in the morning, weather permitting, and should be in Anchorage by noon time. Will write and tell you about the whole trip later on– one of those now-it-can-be-told reports. Fairbanks is pretty much a hole in the wall and once again Alaskan prices have hit me square between the eyes. Paid one dollar for an ordinary roast beef dinner in a mediocre café tonight. Some difference from Canada where one rarely has to pay over 50-60 for a darn good meal and at low value Canadian money at that. One cashes $20 travelers check and gets back $22 Canadian. Try and change it back and you get $8.50 for a $10 Canadian.”

Today as you may recall is Elizabeth’s birthday and they all came over to dinner. In fact, they have just left. Jean was not feeling too well, had a headache and cold and did not feel equal to coming down for dinner. She is feeling a bit better now, however.

Ced. Thanks for your pleasant surprise Christmas gift from Great Falls. I’m looking forward to that account you promise because I really feel it was an unusual accomplishment. I still get a thrill every time I think of it and a buoyant feeling of relief at your safe arrival and in such good condition as regards both you physically and the plane materially.

Dan. It’s about time we had a report about your married life and all the things you have been doing, to say nothing of comments on some of the news I have been dishing out to you for several months past with nary a peep from you in comment. Let’s know what you think of the Island idea, where you spent Christmas, the details of your work, news of Paulette, Homecoming arrangements (if any, yet), receipt of packages, what places you have visited, etc.

Happy 1946 to you all.                            Dad.

I will devote the rest of the week to another letter from Grandpa.

Judy Guion