Army Life – Lad Writes From Aberdeen Hospital – June, 1942

 

Aberdeen Hospital – June 18

Dear Dad – etc.: –

Boy, am I soft. One night on bivouac and I got sick. A second night and I’m sent to the hospital. Here is the story. As you may remember, I had a slight cold when I left home. The first night in Devens (Ft. Devens, Massachusetts) didn’t help much and since then I have been going so hard that I have not had a chance to get enough rest. And anyway, Aberdeen is rather a humid place. Well, one day, my cold would be pretty good and then the next it would be worse, and I figured that if I could hold out until my first five weeks were up, I’d be able to get a little rest or even go to the hospital and get well cured.

We left Aberdeen Sunday morning as planned and got to our camp location about 10:30 A. M., attended a conglomerate service and started clearing land for tent locations. Went to eat and returned to finish cleaning. Pitched tents and prepared everything for the evening. Went for a swim in the bay and dressed for supper. Ate and had the evening to ourselves. I went down and sat on the beach until sundown and retired.

Monday – after a cold sleepless night on damp ground – most of the Co. had some sort of cold, some of their’s worse than mine. After calisthenics and breakfast, Co. A, & B attended a lecture ending with one on map reading and then a treasure hunt. I had no ambition and did not even come in 15th. Then lunch and Co. A & B started clearing the campgrounds where C & D had left off. Here I got a good dose of poison ivy. Since we had no water except in the bay and chlorinated drinking water, in order to clean up we had to swim so I went in again. Afterward, I really felt better. Then retreat, supper, a rifle check and another free evening. Watched a ballgame and saw Co. B lose to Co. A., then I retired.

Slept fine but got up Tuesday feeling lousy, and with a sore throat and chills. Had my throat painted and went on with regular work. By noon the chills were worse and I reported to the First Aid tent. Then I was told to pack my stuff and be ready to sail back at 2:30 with the mail boat. We left at 3:00. Got to A.P.G. (Aberdeen Proving Ground) at 5:00 and ate supper. Reported to hospital at 7:30 and was assigned to a bed (No. 18) in Ward 15. Was given enough medicine to kill everything I ever had or will have (except poison ivy) and went to bed.

Wed. I felt better but stayed in bed and slept most of the day. Given med. three times per day.

Today, my throat is quite sore, but I feel better otherwise than I have since I entered the Army. I think that with a little rest, I’ll be tip-top again.

Well, that is up to the present. For the future – – – I don’t even think that I’ll be released from here to make it home this weekend, but I’m still hoping. Nothing further as yet on my immediate future.

I’ve not received any mail, because it came out to the camp on the same boat that took me back, and it was not distributed until after I had gone. However, I should get some sometime today.

You had better not expect me home this weekend. More later – – my love to Aunt Betty and the rest.

Lad

For the rest of the week, I’ll be posting a letter from Grandpa to Dan and Lad, the only boys in Uncle Sam’s service right now, then another from Lad and a final letter from Grandpa.

Judy Guion

 

 

 

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Army Life – Letter From Marian to the Guion Clan – Lad Sent to Texarkana – December, 1943

Marian (Irwin) Guion

Tuesday

December 21, 1943

Dear Dad, Aunt Betty, Jean, Dave and anyone else of the Guion clan who is present —

Last Wednesday Uncle Sam gave us a Christmas present that we find rather hard to take. Lad has been transferred from Camp Santa Anita to Texarkana, and he left this morning to drive there in the Buick. It isn’t an embarkation depot (Thank God) but as far as we know now, he is in a cadre that are being organized and trained for overseas duty. This shouldn’t happen right away, however, ‘cause it’s supposed to take from 6 to 8 months to get the company ready for overseas work. He is going to wire you his new address (the one I have may not be right) and will probably be able to explain a little more in detail just exactly what the setup really is. For the present, until he sees what the post is like and what housing conditions are, I am going to stay here. As soon as he can find a room, a tent or a packing box, I’m going to join him! We should be used to this business of being anywhere we can- after all, we’d only been in the apartment 12 days, so we shouldn’t be too much in a rut, and too used to domestic life. Somehow, we haven’t quite been able to see the funny side of the situation as yet, altho’ we should be able to very soon. Everything has been so perfect and so wonderful so far, that we are sure everything will be all right in the very near future.

In the meantime, we try not to think about the time we are separated, and are looking forward to the day when I can meet him in Texarkana.

Somehow, we hated to take time out to finish our Christmas cards (we are making them this year), but I’ll get them out to everyone even if they don’t arrive until the 4th of July! Our Christmas box to you also, was delayed a little, so we’re not too sure it will arrive in time for Christmas. However, we know you’ll understand, and we want you to know that the lateness of arrival in no way dims our Christmas wishes for you.

I find that I’m not as good a soldier’s wife as I thought I was so I’m trying to get a reservation home. I’ll know tomorrow morning whether it’s possible or not, but I rather think I will get there.

Lad and I had a wonderful Christmas celebration last night. We had our tree and gifts then, and although it wasn’t quite the way we had planned, at least we celebrated our first Christmas together, in spite of the fact that it was a little earlier than is customary.

I seem to have rambled on quite a bit. I hope you won’t feel that I am too blue or depressed. You do know of course, how disappointed we both are, but we have known all along that it might happen this way and that we would just have to take it and no questions asked. It’s particularly hard for Lad, though. They did the same thing to him last year and moved him just at Christmas time. I guess, however, that Uncle Sam can’t afford to be sentimental, and as his nieces and nephews, we all have to take things as they come and be cheerful about it. It can’t last forever!

I sincerely promise that my next letter to you will be much more cheerful. With love to all of you–

Marian

P.S. We both enjoyed your Christmas box, Dad. You do things just the way I like – (specifically- the little Christmas tree, candy and raisins enclosed with the gifts), Lad took them with him to eat along the way. (The food, I mean – the gifts will be used in appropriate places)

M

We also got a chance to play your Christmas record, Dad. Enjoyed it very much —

Tomorrow and Sunday, more Special Pictures.

Next week I’ll be posting letters written in December of 1945. Some of the boys are home now but Grandpa waits anxiously for news of those far from home.

Judy Guion

Army Life – Lad’s Report of Life at Aberdeen Proving Grounds – May, 1942

 

APG - 2nd letter - Aberdeen Proving Grounds - Aberdeen Parade Ground Review - May, 1942

THE ORDNANCE TRAINING CENTER

ABERDEEN PROVING GROUNDS

MARYLAND

May 31, 1942

Dear Dad: –

Although it was hotter by 10° or 15° in Venezuela, I don’t think that I was ever more uncomfortable due to high humidity.Regardless of how little energy I use, even just using my brain, I perspire. It really is HOT.

Alfred Peabody Guion (Lad)

Alfred Peabody Guion (Lad)

Yesterday, according to custom, we all here in Aberdeen had a review. We went out on the Parade Grounds in our best uniforms, cartridge belts and Rifles at 11:30 and were there until a few minutes after 1:00. It was hot out there too and quite a number of the fellows passed out under the strain of standing at attention. However, I was not affected in the least. (I just refilled my pen.)

As luck would have it, our quarantine was called off early, and half of our Co. was allowed to leave camp. I was o
ne of those given a pass but I had a detail, night, at that, good old K.P. and could not use it. The next time passes are issued I’ll have a preference because I turned mine over to one of the other fellows. But it will not be this coming week since Co. B. is apparently going on to guard duty, and there will be no passes issued. The weekend of the 14th, if we do not go out on a bivouac, I’ll have a chance to come home, and will arrive in Bridgeport at the same time Dan did, since it will be the same train he took, I think. Somewhere in the neighborhood of 10:30 PM. However, I cannot know definitely until 4:30 on the afternoon of the day I come home so I cannot give you any further definite information. If I call you at Trumbull you will know I made it. If I don’t, you could be sure I didn’t make the pass. That’s rather a cruel way of putting it, but it’s the best I can do. We have been asked to write home frequently by the 1st Corps Area, but then they put so many restrictions on what we can say about interesting things that I have very little I can write about.

As long as information is only general it is OK to mention it. For example – I can tell you that Camp Rodman here is rather a nice place and is nicely situated as far as terrain is concerned, but I cannot give any definite information, like the number of men here or the size of the camp or how many rounds of ammunition we use for rifle practice or the number of rounds we carry on guard duty, etc.

But anyhow, I’ll answer, to the best of my ability, any questions you care to ask.

Well, Dad, if luck holds out, I may see you on the second weekend in June. If not then – “quien sabe”.

Lad

Tomorrow, another letter from Lad to the Home Folks.

I’ll post more Special Pictures on Saturday and Sunday.

Judy Guion

Trumbull – Occasional Report of the Guion Family – May, 1942

 

ADG - Occasional Report of the Guion Family as of May 31, 1942.

Occasional Report of the Guion Family

as of May 31, 1942.

LAD: Address – Private Alfred P. Guion

Co. “B”, 1 Bat’n, O.R.T.C.

Aberdeen Proving Grounds, Md.

Left the middle of May for Camp Ayer, Mass., thence to above address. He writes: From things that have been said at various places and by various people who should know, Ordnance work and the Ordnance Dept of the U.S. Army rates second to none – – not even the engineering core. Apparently eight men out of 1000 get far enough to make the necessary qualifications for this Dep’t., And then, to make things even better, of those picked men, 2 out of 1000 get a chance to qualify for an instructors rating and the Officers Training Course. I am among the latter few, and that really makes me feel good. I just hope that I can live up to the honor when my chance comes. I believe that if things go for me as they have been planned at present, I will be stationed here at Aberdeen Proving Grounds for six months or even for the duration. In any event, ordnance men are not trained to fight except as a means of self-protection, and the main idea, roughly, is to supply the men on the lines with ammunition and equipment for fighting. We are the men behind the men on the front. Apparently I have been picked to act as an instructor in automotive repair and maintenance.

DAN: – Address – Pvt. Daniel B. Guion

Co. “B”, 30th Engineers, U.S. Army,

Roanoke Rapids, So. Car.

Has just been granted a specialist Rating in surveying. Application is pending for admission to Officers Cadet School. He writes: Aside from the inanity of Army ritual and customs, I am disgracefully happy here – – that southern hospitality stuff is truer than your northern imagination could possibly conceive – – I still don’t believe it myself, even when it happens.

CED: – Address – Cedric D. Guion

P. O. Box 622,

Anchorage, Alaska

When last heard from (April 15th) was still a civilian employed as an airplane mechanic at Woodley Airways, Anchorage.

DICK: Recently rated Class “A” by local Draft board. Subject to call at any time after passing his physical. Sleeps home days and works night at Producto Machine Co.. (100% war work), Bridgeport.

DAVE: Still enduring “Life with Father”, relieved by occasional activities at my office, high school and Trumbull social affairs.

 

BISS: (and two sons) busy at work as housewife and mother – – both boys husky and growing. 142 Cornwall St., Stratford, Conn.

Aunt Betty and Dad – still carrying on at same old stand. Can be reached at P.O. Box 7, Trumbull, Conn., Telephone Bridgeport 4 – 2993, or better still, by a personal visit from…. Y O U.

Tomorrow, and Friday, two letters from Lad at the Ordnance Training Center, Aberdeen Proving Grounds, Maryland.

On Saturday and Sunday I’ll have more Special Pictures for you.

Why not share this “Slice of Life” blog with your friends. They might find this look into life in the 1940’s very interesting.

Judy Guion

Trumbull – Dear Captains of Industry (1) – The London Red Cross – November, 1943

 

This is the first half of a rather lengthy letter from Grandpa with many quotes from other letters he has received and some well-meaning fatherly advice. This post contains an interesting account of an American Red Cross Club outside of London and Dan’s thoughts about it.

Trumbull, Conn., Nov. 21, 1943

Dear Captains of Industry in

the Post-War World:

Well, the newlyweds are one week older today, and from all reports they started off in double harness in grand style. I know this from a night letter received early Monday morning. In spite of this most important happening in their own lives they still found time to send this message to the ancestral homestead: “Sorry you could not be here. We are in San Francisco and are leaving for Camp Santa Anita tomorrow. The wedding went beautifully and everyone is nice. Details following. Love to all” signed Marian and Lad.

This was followed a few days later by an announcement that Mr. and Mrs. Mowry A. Irwin announce the marriage of their daughter Marian to Mr. Alfred P. Guion, Army of the United States, on Sunday, the 14th of November, 1943 at Berkeley, California.

And that’s the story to date of the latest launching on the sea of matrimony. The port authorities at Trumbull are looking forward to the day when they will drop another in the harbor here. All hands will be piped on deck, the flag will be dipped, the big guns will fire their salute, the brass band will get into action, and a good time will be had by all. Speed the day! It can’t happen too soon for us.

Evidence keeps piling up that Lad, as usual, is showing rare good judgment, in his choice of a lifetime partner, this time. It has been my privilege to receive this week one of the nicest letters any father-in-law could receive from his son’s mother-in-law. (Incidentally, the stock mother-in-law jokes will have to retire in confusion in this instance). First her thoughtfulness in writing and the sensible understanding tone of her letter are revealed by her first two paragraphs: “Because you couldn’t be present to share in the happiness of Marian and Al on Sunday, but feeling sure that you would be interested, I’m taking the privilege of writing you. They can tell you about the wedding which I’m sure is just what they wanted — simple, happy and friendly, but with dignity, solemnity and beauty which I feel should accompany any marriage. Quite naturally, Mr. Irwin and I would have liked to become acquainted with your son before he walked down the aisle with our daughter as his wife. In normal times it would have been managed; but at present it was well nigh impossible. Really, I can honestly say to you that I retired Sunday night feeling absolutely sure that Marian was safe with the man of her choice. I had no qualms or worries whatever as to his treatment of her. Can any mother say more?” The letter follows with some intimate glimpses from a mother’s knowledge of her daughter and ends: “If any of you boys happen to be in our vicinity we’d enjoy having them get in touch with us, and we hope some time to have the pleasure of meeting you.” Aunt Betty summed it up by saying: “Evidently they are a very nice family!” Amen to that, Lad, and I’ll also be willing to bet Mrs. Irwin will never have cause to change her feelings towards you. And now, of course, we will be looking forward to letters from you or Marian or both telling us all about the main bout. I assume you couldn’t arrange time for even a short honeymoon, but that only means you will have that to look forward to.

A letter from Aunt Dorothy says Helen and Ted are coming north for a brief stay. Anne is staying with Dot and her mother temporarily, until Anne’s furniture arrives from Staunton. She has leased an apartment just a few blocks from Dorothy’s. Mother keeps pretty well but has her off days now and then.

Dave, by the way, received his notice to go to Shelton Tuesday for his physical exam.

Another interesting letter from Dan, and rather, as Shakespeare remarks, “to gild refined gold, to paint the lily, to throw perfume on the violet, to smooth the ice, or add another hue onto the rainbow, or with taper-light to seek the beauteous eye of heaven to garnish” I will simply quote: “Because it occupies such a prominent position in my mind today I am dedicating this letter to the American Red Cross. The clubs in London have been a catalyst to every “G. I.” who has come to London wanting to get the most out of his visit. Maps, accommodations, education, information, entertainment, all are the daily diet of the A. R. C. Considerable prejudice has been built up in the minds of most of us against the Red Cross for alleged acts of dubious character during the last war — selling cigarettes, stationary, etc., which had been donated for free distribution — so it has been quite a pleasant revelation to learn how unfair such a prejudice has become. I am not familiar with administrational set up over here. Apparently only a few of the workers are Americans. These few are regional Directors, generally men. But the majority of workers, paid or volunteer, are British women who do all in their power to help us in every way. They are a composite Travelers aid, shopping guide, nursemaid, companion (in a moral sense, of course!), entertainer, tour conductor, Encyclopedia, Dorothy Dix and hostess, all at the “beck and call” of any “G. I.” uniform. Rooms and meals are available at minimum charge. But nicest of all, a new A. R. C. Club has just been opened quite near the place in which we are stationed. It is rather different in atmosphere from the downtown London clubs — more like an exclusive U. S. O. Club in that there are no overnight facilities to attract the “Grand Central terminal” crowd that prevails in the regular London clubs (coming and going at all hours of the day and night, unkempt from travel — gas mask and musette bag drooping from weary shoulders as they “queue up” for lodgings. This local A. R. C. is housed in a building built by Christopher Wren for Queen Anne early in the 18th century. It is built on the site of an old palace, which causes it fairly to reek of atmosphere and tradition, despite the modern comforts that have been added for its present function. There is an open fireplace in virtually every room; library music room, dining room, information desk, all contribute notably to our comfort indoors, while spacious lawns, secluded bowers, gardens and aged walls lend an aura of romantic antiquity to the grounds around it. Glimpses of barges and boats can be caught through the trees that line the further edge of the lawn past which a river flows. By fortunate coincidence I am able to take advantage of this club during the daylight hours all this week because I have begun working on a “shift” job which changes hours periodically. The work I am doing is new and interesting, particularly by contrast to the stagnation I have been exposed to for such a long time.” Thanks Dan, for that masterly letter. I have an idea it will be read by a wider range of folks than those in the immediate neighborhood.

Tomorrow, I’ll post the second half of the letter with some well thought out advice from Grandpa to his sons, scattered around the world.

Judy Guion

Army Life – Dad – The Wedding (As Lad Described It) – November, 1943

 

Thurs., Nov. 18, ‘43

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Dad: –

This won’t be much of a letter because I’m not in much of a letter-writing mood — but I’ll try to give you a little something about which you are most anxious to hear. I’ll start after work last Friday. Things were rather slow at the section so about 2:00 (1400) I asked for permission to leave and it was granted. I cleaned up and got my pass and went into Arcadia to get the special ration of gas I had asked for. I had no trouble getting it and then I went back to camp and checked again to see if I had forgotten anything. Nothing showed up so I went to South Pasadena to get Marian. She was at the Irwin’s where she had been staying since the preceding Sunday when she had been ousted from de ‘ouse out. Her

Vern Eddington - Best Man

Vern Eddington – Best Man

landlady wanted the room for some friends of hers who were coming to California to live. So that also leaves us without an apartment and we are living in hotels or auto courts where ever we can find room. We are still hoping to have an apartment, though, by next week, and until such time, please use, for our mailing address: 2017 Edgewood Dr., South Pasadena, California — well, to go on. From the Irwin’s we went back to camp and got Junior (Vernon Eddington – Maryland) and started for Frisco, Oakland, Berkeley and Orinda. Junior and I, taking turns, drove the 415 miles in 10 hours arriving in Orinda at 0530.

After a couple of hours of rest Marian and I went into Berkeley and procured the license. A little last minute shopping took up the rest of the morning and we got back to Orinda about 1300. Saturday afternoon Mr. Irwin took us with him to get the last minute things and the cake and we ate supper at the Irwin’s. Following age-old traditions I had to sleep somewhere where I would not see the bride on her wedding day before starting up the aisle, so I went home with her brother Scrub (Homer, if you must) and his wife. Junior and I got to the Chapel about 30 min. early and were given the final instructions. At exactly 1330 the first strains of the edding March sounded and following about 4 feet behind Fred Stripp, the Minister, with Junior the same distance behind me, I walked onto the platform from the left. Mr. Stripp stopped at the center and I continued on around behind him, stopping about 4 feet to the right and in front of him at about 45° to the aisle down the center. By this time Marian was coming down from the rear on her father’s arm, preceded by her sister, the Matron of Honor and her mother. When Marian and her Dad came onto the platform he stopped and she continued on. As she came up beside me I turned to face Fred and took a couple of steps with Marian so that we were both about 2 feet from Fred. (He reminds me of Mr. Chandler). Marian coughed a couple of times and my knees shook so much my pants legs rippled, but after taking Marian’s hand in mine I calmed down right away and the rest went off very well. Even Fred commented on the self-assurance we both appeared to have during the whole service (He didn’t know from nothin’) which was very short, concise and beautifully worded and done. Everyone, even I, thought it was a wonderful ceremony, except that it was over too soon. We were outside the Chapel and I was meeting some of my new family by ten minutes to 2.

Wedding cake - 1943

Wedding cake – 1943

From there Junior drove us in my car to the Irwin’s where I met many more (48 in all) and the reception dinner (sandwiches, coffee and cake) was held. We took a number of pictures, all in color, and spent the entire afternoon. By about 6:30 all the guests had left and then Marian and I packed our stuff and went into San Francisco. We stayed at the Mark Hopkins Hotel, and had a wonderful evening. We had made arrangements to meet Junior in Berkeley at 3 PM Monday in order to start back early, so I didn’t see much of San Francisco. I did see the Bay Bridge, and it is very pretty as bridges go. We called Mother Irwin before we left and started about 3:30 for South Pasadena. We got in about 2:30, too late to go to anyone’s house, and not having an apartment ourselves, we put up at the Hotel Green in Pasadena. Tuesday at 0700 Junior and I had to be back at work so that ended our honeymoon. Marian wore a dark green suit that I think was the most perfect creation I have ever seen on any woman. She really looked wonderful. I’m really awfully sorry you weren’t here, but I’m glad I didn’t decide to wait until after the war. Marian is going to write in a couple of days so give my regards and love to all.

Laddie

Thursday and Friday I’ll be posting a long letter from Grandpa to Captains of Industry in the Post-war World. On Saturday and Sunday, more Special Pictures.

Judy Guion

Army Life – Lad’s First Letter Home (2) – Conclusion of Lad’s First Letter Home – May, 1942

 

Lad - 1943

Wed.

Due to the issue of rifles last night, I did not have time to complete this letter. And it looks as though I may not have time to finish it tonight. We are to have a lecture at 8 PM and that is only a short time distant. If anyone tells you that we are busy, just let it pass as an understatement. Boy, from 5:45 until 9:00, with the exception of about 30 minutes at noon and 1½ hours in the evening, we do not have time to even think for ourselves. To say nothing of heeding “Mother Nature”.

May 23

I was right. I could not finish it, and then since there was to be an inspection today, we spent all free time yesterday thoroughly cleaning the barracks. Outside and in. Then today for a diet we had drilling all morning, an inspection/review early in the afternoon, a rigid inspection later in the barracks, and then about 40 of us were marched a couple of miles to the infirmary, given two injections, and marched back again. Right now my right arm is so stiff that I have to use only my fingers and wrist to write. And incidentally, I don’t feel too hot. Oh! Yes. – Yesterday we were given our first rifle practice on an indoor range. I didn’t do too bad, but nowhere nearly as well as Dan.

From things that have been said at various places and by various people who should know. – Ordnance work and the Ordnance Department of the US Army rates second to none. Not even the Engineering Corps. Apparently, eight men out of 1000 get far enough to make the necessary qualifications for this department, and then, to make things even better, of those picked men, two out of 1000 get a chance to qualify for and Instructor’s rating and the Officer’s Training Course. I am among the latter few, and that really makes me feel good. I just hope that I can live up to the honor when my chance comes. I believe that if things go for me as they have been planned at present, I will be stationed here at Aberdeen Proving Grounds  (A.P.G.) (Lad’s initials – Alfred Peabody Guion) for six months or even for the duration. In any case, Ordnance men are not trained to fight except as a means of self-protection, and the main idea, roughly, is to supply the men on the lines with ammunition, and equipment for fighting. We are the men behind the men on the front. Apparently, I have been picked to act as an instructor in automotive repair and maintenance. Well, so much for Army Life, here. I received your letter O.K., but I’m afraid that it will not be as easy as you seem to think to write regularly for a few weeks anyway. I am busier than the proverbial bee. Time out.

Sunday –

Those injections plus a cold got me. I quit, planning to take a short rest, but the first thing I knew it was just 9 PM and the corporal was saying one minute before lights out, so I didn’t have time to write more.

Breakfast on Sundays is at 7:00 and then I spent the rest of the morning washing clothes and cleaning my equipment in general. Then, immediately after lunch we fell out with rifles and had an inspection of arms. Then, following this, we went on a hike of about 5 or 6 miles, with cartridge belt, first aid kit and leggins. We returned in time for supper and then – here I am.

Quarantine will be up one week from tomorrow night. Then, if I am lucky, I will be able to get a pass for the weekend.

However, in the meantime, I would appreciate very much your sending me 10 clothes hangers. Two of them, steel. It is impossible to get hangers here.

I heard from Babe (Cecelia Mullins, the girl he’s been dating back home) Sat. but have not received any other mail. And speaking of mail, can you give me Dan’s address?

APG - Aberdeen Proving Grounds insignia

How do you like the Ordnance Emblem? The department colors are yellow and crimson. The insignia is a flaming bomb.

In order to shorten the address you may use the abbreviations as shown below: – remember me to everyone and my love to Aunt Betty.

Pvt. ______(me)____

Co B – 1st Bn. – O.R.T.C.

Aberdeen Proving Grounds

Md.

Love —–

Lad

Tomorrow, another letter from Grandpa to his sons away from home. On Saturday and Sunday, more Special Pictures. Next week I’ll be posting letters written in 1943, just after Lad and Marian’s wedding.  

Judy Guion