Trumbull – Dear Dave (2) – A Birthday Letter – Grandpa’s Advice – September 23, 1945

There is just one other thought that I want to get out of my system. Since your last letter I have been thinking of Sgt. Hamm (who caused the death of Dave’s good friend, Bernie, by kicking an unexploded “dud” while a group of men were walking during a break) and I’ve come to the conclusion that I’m sorry for him. Some folks are so built that they have to learn things the hard way. (Remember that icy morning in the car when Dick was driving and I warned him he had better go slower and we hit a tree at Beardsley Park, and later Dick had the moral courage or sense of fairness or good sportsmanship or whatever you want to call it that is typical of Dick, to own up he’d been wrong?) The Sgt., I warrant, has learned a bitter lesson. He would give anything to have a chance to live that moment over again. How do you think he feels inside? How would you feel if you had impulsively done a foolish thing with so fatal a result? Maybe he, too, saw the Christmas tree photo. (Bernie with his wife and child in front of the Christmas Tree that Bernie always carried with him)  What do you suppose his thoughts are when he is alone or when he sees you or Bernie’s other buddies looking at him? His own conscience is far worse a hell than anything you can say or do to make him feel his guilt. You say you’ll never forgive him. I know you don’t mean that as it sounds. Right now he needs a friend more than you need the satisfaction of knowing the mental agony he’s going through, no matter how bold a face he may put on for the benefit of his pride. Isn’t this a good place to apply the Golden Rule? We all make mistakes – – some, like this one, are irrevocable and carry a lifetime of regret. That’s punishment enough, don’t you think? Let’s be tolerant. You can’t bring the dead back but you can extend a helping hand to the living. He’ll never need understanding or forgiveness more than he does right now. Right?

Well, things look increasingly better for you to be getting home much earlier than the Christmas of 1946 that you have set as the deadline. It’s too much to expect you home for this Christmas, but who knows but what you may see the lilacs blossoming this spring. Anyway, we can hope. There was no letter from you last week but you’ve been so good about writing that this doesn’t bother me.

As for your letter putting in very convincing terms the reasons why you boys should be sent home soon, this idea has made so much progress nationwide, since you wrote, that it almost seems superfluous to send it. The enclosed newspaper clippings day by day will give you the way we at home here feel about it. I read the other day that so many letters similar to yours had been received that a special department in the war office had been established for the sole purpose of opening and reading letters to Congressman on this subject. Perhaps it will be better to wait a few weeks to see what comes out of this, and then, if more fuel is needed for the fire, you can send your letter on then, when it will perhaps have even more effect than it would now when so many others dilute the force of one more.

Well, happy birthday, old son, keep well and come home soon to

Your affectionate,

DAD

Tomorrow and Sunday, I’ll be posting more from The End of an Era.

Judy Guion

Trumbull – Dear Lumbermen At Large (4) – Dave’s Birthday Greeting to Grandpa – September 17, 1944

David Peabody Guion

September 11, 1944

Dear Dad:

You usually write each of us a special letter each time our individual birthdays roll around. So I said to myself: Why not follow in your good father’s footsteps, and do the same for him? So, here I am.

I thought of this day many times during the last month and a half, but never once in that time – – I’m ashamed to admit it – – did I think of sending something home to you. I had thought of telephoning you or sending a telegram, but never once did I think of sending a box of cigars or something else as a reminder to you of how proud I am to be able to have you for my father. In view of the fact that I had already written you that I may be home, I decided that to phone you would be a bad policy because your first thought on hearing my voice would probably be that I am at the Bridgeport R.R. Station. This thought would probably come to you before I could explain that I am still in Crowder; and that – pardon my conceit – – would only be a disappointment rather than glad tidings. I may send you a telegram yet – – I don’t know. At any rate, I’ll send the letter.

Since coming back from CPX I thought time and time again that I may be able to bounce in on you on September 11th, but Saturday I finally abandoned all hope because I would have had to leave Saturday night to make it.

I hope this birthday is a happy one, but I KNOW next year’s WILL BE a happy one. By that time at least part of your scattered family will be home under the shaded roof of our old house – – business will be much improved with the Bridgeport war plants once again turning or turned back to fluorescent lamps, brass fixtures, rivets for peace time use and organizations and clubs once again throwing their anniversary parties and the like, without being hampered by gas or food shortages. They’ll all turn back to the Guion Advertising Company for their ads, business letters and announcements. There’ll be the old customers and there’ll be new ones in a better and bigger Bridgeport. Right now it may seem like a dream but by Sept. 11, 1945, it will be far more than a dream.

Maybe by that time I won’t have to be telling my buddies about the business I’m going back to, about all my brothers who are scattered all over the world, about my father who pulled his small company through the hard times and who, in spite of losing his wife, brought all of us up so he could be proud of us. Maybe I won’t have to lie on my Army cot and wish I were home with my father who brought me up just the way a kid would like to be brought up – always advising, seldom laying down the law, letting me think things out for myself, hardening me to the world, being a brother rather than a Lord over me. Maybe I can be back appreciating it rather than just remembering what used to be.

I started this letter and it was going to be a “happy birthday” letter, but it has turned out to be a letter of hope and thankfulness. I AM thankful, Dad, and I always will be – – and maybe that will make you happier knowing it’s true, then just having me say in a lot of words HAPPY BIRTHDAY, DAD. I hope so, anyway. Love, DAVE

Tomorrow, Grandpa’s One-Act Play, entitled “Bolivaring with the Guions”. This is an imaginary look into the future.

Judy Guion

World War II Army Adventure (110) – Dear Dad – Wishing You A Very Happy Birthday – September 1, 1945

Grandpa’s birthday was September 11th and I am amazed that this letter made it from Manila to Trumbull before the actual day. I am sure that Grandpa felt a burst of pride in raising a son who could write this sort of letter to his father.

DPG - Dave in uniform

David Peabody Guion

September 1, 1945

Rec’d 9/8

Der Dad –

I’m back again, but it’s only a short note to wish you a very Happy Birthday with many, many more and happier ones to come.

The more I think of my good fortune in having such a kind and loving father, the more I feel that I can never come anywhere near to repaying you for all you’ve done for me – and the rest of us.

As you’ve mentioned yourself, you had to be both Mother and Father to me.  As far as I’m concerned you’ve filled the shoes very nicely and I don’t feel that I’ve missed too much in losing my Mother so young.  There have been times when I’ve missed a Mother’s care, but when I think back on those times I find they were when you weren’t near.

We had our arguments and misunderstandings, Dad, but most of them have been at the office where I’ve still got lots to learn.  Sometimes I get to thinking of the things I’ve done and said to you and I feel pretty awful inside and wonder how you ever forgave me.  But you did, and in doing so I may have profited more than if you hadn’t.

If you will recall our discussion – I think it was the night we were coming home from the graduation exercises at Edison School the same year I graduated from Center School – on the way parents treat their children, I think you will remember that I said I had often thought of the things I could talk over with you that the other kids couldn’t talk about with their parents.  It meant an awful lot to me and I’ll never forget it.  It gave me a feeling of pride that I knew the other kids couldn’t feel.

Mother, before she passed away, asked you to take care of all of us – I’m sure that she would be satisfied with the job you’ve done.  I only wish that if I were ever in your shoes that I could do as well.

These are all the things that you probably know I feel, but I think they should be put down in writing – just to make it official.  Why I waited this long to put down in writing all this, I don’t know – but now, on your birthday – is as good a time as any.

Again, Happy Birthday and Lots of Love,

Dave

Tomorrow I will post another letter from Dave to Grandpa written a few days after this one. Censorship of mail has been stopped which gives Dave a chance to say some things which, until now, he’s been afraid to mention.  It’s

Judy Guion

Trumbull – Friends, Roamers and Countrymen (4) Grandpa’s Birthday Poem – September 10, 1944

I thought I had scheduled this for Friday, the 12th, but I have just discovered that I didn’t.

Grandpa always believed it was better to give rather than receive, so every year on his birthday, he presented his children with gifts to commemorate HIS birthday. This year, he wrote a poem about this practice.

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September 11, 1944

YADHTRIB

This is a topsy-turvy world

As most folks will agree

The up-side-down-ness of it all

Has much affected me

And Lad, who braves S. A.’s hot belt

And liked it hot and dusty

Now finds old Flora’s torrid heat

Makes him feel short and crusty

And Dan, who recently declared

Amid the big guns boom

From his own individual view

The war may end too soon

And Ced, too, finds things all awry

Up where the salmon run

He says he often can and

Does read by the midnight sun

Of course there’s Dick and Dave and Biss

Who are topsy-turvy too

But why go on and show them up

When all I want to do

Is show “how come” I get this way

And prove some still believe

At birthday time it is more fun

To give than to receive

So on this bright “September morn”

I send these trinkets few

And nudely say I’m glad to know

That I belong to you.

In pencil, Grandpa has circled “trinkets few” and made a note: Coming to you under separate cover. ADG

Tomorrow I will post the last out-of-order letter from Dave from Okinawa. 

Judy Guion

Trumbull – Dear Sons Of A H.F. Father (1) – Chiggers And Ticks – August 20, 1944

Trumbull, Conn.. August 29th, 1944

Dear Sons of a H.F. father:

As you may have guessed, the H.F. stands for hey–feverish, and the date stands for the opening of the sneeze season. I wonder if they grow ragweed in Alaska, Normandie, Southern California or Brazil. I suspect they do in Missouri, along with the chiggers, etc., that Dave so feelingly  mentions in his letters.

Elsie May Guion, summer, 1946

Elsie May Duryee, Grandpa’s sister

Today has been Elsie’s birthday week. Visits to three different beaches, two movies, a picnic, and auto ride and a couple of restaurant meals marked the occasion. The high spot for our honored guest seems to have been sleeping out on the screened porch, lulled to sleep each night with the cricket chorus, punctuated now it again by Smoky’s challenge to neighbor dog’s nocturnal visits. But it is all over now as we boosted her on the train, bag and baggage, at the New Haven station this afternoon, accompanied by several hundred service men.

The mail review department reports a letter from Don Sirene which says his outfit has everything packed, ready to start on a three weeks bivouac “so we can develop calluses on the right places”, and with Jean (nee) Hughes and Jane (nee) Mantle in mind, he comments: “Won’t be long before the wailing of new taxpayers echoes all over the town as their mothers try to get more ’flags’ on the clothesline than the girl next door. The town will look like the Jap Navy flying all its distress signals.”

Dorothy (Peabody) writes: “Helen (nee Peabody) and Ted (Human) are still staying with me, Anne (Peabody Stanley)  and Gwyneth are back at 10 Perry St., after a sojourn in Vermont during which Gwyneth graduated from high school, and I am still with the same newspaper outfit. Gwyneth has started her first job and seems very happy about it. She is working with the Russian division of the Badger Co. here in New York City.

David Peabody Guion

Dave, after a fiery first paragraph calling me down for calling him down for letting two weeks go by without a letter, and pointing out the example set by his brothers, who don’t write for months at a time, or “at least one of them – with all apologies to Jean”, finally admits that it does at least show that I miss his letters. He further adds: By the time you get this letter I probably will have helped two or three chiggers or ticks (or both) to go on living. I understand that they like good virgin northern blood (I don’t know where he gets that virgin business) – blood that hasn’t yet felt the bite of other chiggers. But I’ve got them fooled because I’m already in the league. The other night we went on a hike and I supplied about five chiggers with their livelihood for a couple of more days. We leave for CPX early tomorrow morning and stay in the field for three weeks. We’ll live in tents or out in the open with a mattress of Missouri rocks. Then we’ll hike the 13 miles into camp and immediately go through the infiltration course. This is where you crawl on your stomach for 100 yards (which is a long way, if you don’t think so, try it sometime) loaded down with nothing but a full field pack, gas mask and a carbine. Of course you could get the full benefit of all this if you didn’t have live machine gun fire going over your head and land mines going off beside you every few seconds. It’s really loads of fun. My new address is   Co. B, 33rd Sig Trg. Bn.

The second half of this letter will be posted tomorrow.

Judy Guion

Trumbull – Dear YOU: (3) – News From Aunt Elsie Guion – May 20, 1945

Elsie May Guion, summer, 1946

Elsie May Guion

page 3      5/20/45

Going back to the beginning, Lad, it’s quite remarkable at times what “weight” one word will have. We get so used to saying “Fine” in answer to the ofttimes meaningless question, “How are you?”, whether we are feeling fine or not – – much as we say “Good morning”, although it may be raining like the Dickens outside – – that the insertion of the word “honestly” in your opening paragraph makes what would otherwise be almost a banal remark take on real meaning, much as a drop of powerful die in a glass of pure water immediately colors the whole content. I think you really mean it, so here goes. Aside from the slowing up of normal physical activities which always comes with persons who pass the sixtymark, reminding them that they cannot do the things they did when in their thirties with as much dash and elan as then, I cannot honestly make any complaints. Dr. Laszlo looked me over a few months ago and said he could find no organic troubles and that I was probably good for 10 or 15 years yet unless I started to worry or tried to beat an auto at its own game. Several months ago, while out for a morning bracer, I slipped while crossing a stone wall and turned my ankle. It still bothers me, particularly going down stairs, but it is ever so gradually getting better. That’s the only blot on my escutsheon I have to report at the present writing. Thanks for the interest, and also for your report on your own condition.

Aunt Elsie’s varicose ulcer is still slowly improving but still has not returned to normal yet. Today was a beautiful, almost June-like day and she was out for a while taking a sun bath. The girls also were “busybodies” literally today. They got an early morning start on a big wash which the weather, for several Saturdays past, prevented their doing at that time. Then preparing dinner, sewing, weeding the garden, ironing, letter writing (and then I go to bed and I don’t know what happens after that until the midnight creak of the loose board inside my door tells me that fellow Morpheus is around again.)

But back to our star boarder. I quote: “What do you know! Elsie M. Guion is still at the Guion Estate. I did my best to get away and let the family get back to normalcy, but, I’ll blame it on the doctor – – he wouldn’t let me go. Now I’m glad because it’s given me the privilege of knowing better daughters-in-law #1 and #2. I’ve expressed my feelings about Jean in a letter to Dick and will take this opportunity to tell Lad and others how fortunate I am, and more to the point, how fortunate Lad is to know Marian. She’s “out of this world”, as the saying goes. She’s nice, friendly, loves fun and I don’t believe there is anything she can’t do. Lad, you are lucky the Army sent you to California to meet Marian. And knowing Lad, Marian thinks she’s lucky too, and she’ll realize it more and more as they have fun together through life. And the rest of the family share their luck doubly in knowing both. That’s all. E.M.G.

Yesterday, Mr. Pack, from across the street, brought over his brother, a captain of Engineers, who had just come back on furlough from Brazil and expected to go back again Tuesday. He helped build the base where Dick is and said he would look Dick up when he got back to that base if it were at all possible.

Still no letter from Ced. And his birthday draws nearer fast. Ced, old scout, (I refused to say “bean”), unless you don’t like the idea of a ring, please go to some Anchorage jeweler, get the size of ring for your middle or little finger, whichever you prefer, send the said size on to me and in due course, but not by June 1st, we shall try to see that a suitable remembrance from your doting father eventually reaches you. Who knows but what said ring might contain gold taken from the very land in which you abide! If you don’t like the idea much, please send me some substitute idea I can consider as a flash of inspiration for a suitable birthday gift – – and make it good – – and make it snappy. By the way, Dick and Dave, your birthdays too will eventually arrive. What do YOU want as a remembrance from your admiring   DAD?

Tomorrow I’ll post a letter from Lad, who is in southern France.

Judy Guion

Trumbull – Dear Members of the General Staff – Chores and Birthday Wishes – October, 1943

Today’s letter is filled with the weekly minutiae of daily life on the Home Front. Just Grandpa keeping his boys informed of the weekly happenings in and around Trumbull and the Old Homestead.

Trumbull Conn.

October 24th, 1943

Dear Members of the General Staff:

While you war lords plan we’re next to axe the Axis, we of the WPA at home go about our job of raking leaves, sawing wood, etc., looking to the day when you come home, medals glittering on your manly breasts, and demand the various freedoms which you have fought so valiantly to achieve. Meanwhile, as the seasons roll around, I miss you each in a practical sense. Right now for instance, the wood sawing and chopping sure goes very much more slowly than it did when you axe wielders were around. Today, some of the eight and 10 foot lengths of Locust that were split and piled up on the west side of the barn, yielded grudgingly to my comparative puny efforts. I have let the leaf raking slide entirely, as being of less import than other more essential jobs, but soon must tackle the storm windows. Sunday is the only full day I have to do anything around the house, and that is spoiled by having to spend most of the morning getting dinner. For a while, when Grandma was here, I did get things accomplished on Sundays, as the long morning was mine to work steadily at a given job, but as Aunt Betty practically get supper every night, she certainly ought not to do more than she now does in helping with the Sunday dinner. And of course every afternoon I have a date with the typewriter, so Sunday is pretty well shot. Dave, with his numerous religious and social activities, doesn’t have time to even wash the dishes, and I haven’t the heart to say anything about it as there is no telling how soon he will be taking the trip up to the Shelton railway station in the early hours of the morning following in the foot-steps of his older brothers.

Daniel Beck Guion - (Dan)

Daniel Beck Guion – (Dan)

Up to the last moment, I thought the week past would go down in the records as one during which no word from any of my ”furriners” was received, but at the 11th hour, so to speak, I came home from Bridgeport yesterday (Saturday), after tying two folks in the knot of matrimony, to find a special delivery letter from Dan (of late he has been sending V-mail letters which arrived in record time). I don’t mean special delivery. I should have said airmail. Anyway, said letter contained the most generous money order and best birthday wishes. So, here I sit smoking one of the cigars Lad gave me for a gift, holding down papers with the ivory paperweight Ced dispatched from Alaska, and between pauses to try to think of something interesting to write, entertaining visions of all the good things I will supply myself with out of Dan’s largess. In moments of leisure I often wonder, out of all the fathers there are, how many are blessed with the number and quality of sons that have fallen to my lucky lot — each of you so different in personality and yet each with many qualities that make a secret feeling of pride and thankfulness steal softly into my inner consciousness, and when things tend to go wrong, stand as a bulwark to put new courage and purpose into life. And with that thought comes invariably another regarding how proud Mother would also be of her boys. While I promised her I would carry on as best I could with the job of holding the family together and bringing them up as she would like them to be, I realize in all humility that it is not so much me as it is your own innate characteristics, some of which of course you inherited jointly from both of us, but most of which you alone are responsible for. But, shucks, let Papa nurse his little prides  — it won’t do him any harm.

And as for you, Dan, old thing, you are not the only one that sends birthday greetings tardily. It was only yesterday that a homely brown box left on its way to merry England, via APO New York. How soon it will reach you is one of the mysteries of life, but let’s hope it will reach you before Christmas. If it speaks to you, if anything could, of the love and respect and esteem and high hopes the sender enclosed with it, it will have accomplished it’s purpose.

Lad, to you and Marian both, these letters to you henceforth will be intended. In fact, if you have been in circumstances where any

Lad and Marian - Pomona, CA

Lad and Marian – Pomona, CA

of my former letters have been preserved, might I suggest Marian, (if she cares to), read them with the thought in this manner of becoming somewhat acquainted with your newly to be acquired Dad. I do not share the feeling I know some folks do, that letters are highly personal and are not to be shared with other than the party receiving them. I have no quarrel with those that do feel this way, but, except where really personal and confidential thoughts are put on paper, I like to share the news, if any, with those interested. So, Marian, your interesting letter received this week has been enjoyed not only by me but by  Aunt Betty and Dave and Jean. It will be interesting to see if all my boys wives get along together as well as my boys do among themselves. Perhaps this is too much to expect, this is not to be taken as a disparaging remark about my daughters-in-law, so much as it is the realization that few brothers, to my knowledge and observation, got along so cordially as my five boys with their entirely differing personalities.

Ced in Alaska

Ced in Alaska

Ced and Lad: I don’t recall whether in my last letter I mentioned that I had come across a very interesting book on the theory of airplane mechanics put out by General Motors which I thought you would like to look over. Anyway, I have asked that a copy be sent you so, if and when it comes, you will know why. It did not seem the sort of thing that would interest Dick, in spite of the fact that this is the branch of service in which he serves, but if I am wrong, just let me know, Dick, old boy. Maybe this will serve as an excuse for writing me one of those rare epistles you occasionally favor us with.

Ced, the other day a tall chap with a mustache came into the office with the job for us to do. He is with a Bridgeport undertaker and asked if I were your father. He said he had been to high school with you and asked me to remember him to you when I wrote. His name is Ed Bachman. Does one ask if business is good under the circumstances?

I haven’t yet had time to hear from any of you since I sent along the news of Lad’s latest attack on the Citadel of a maiden’s heart. No matter where he goes he seems to attract the ladies. Soon after reaching Venezuela, he was chased by a reckless cow and now in California Cupid pierces him with a dart. I declare, he ain’t safe nowhere. With this bit of philosophy I had better bring this weekly Chronicle to a close. Happy Halloween to you all.

DAD

Tomorrow and Sunday, more Special Pictures.

On Monday I’ll start a week of letters written in 1945. Dan is still in france but out of the Army. He and Paulette try to see each other as often as his work will allow.

Judy Guion

Trumbull – Dear Partners in Crime (4) – Aug., 1940

I suppose you donors would like to know how I am going to spend all my birthday money. Well, I need a new pair of house slippers, a new electric stove for my bathroom that won’t blacken the walls, a new pair of shoes, a raincoat. (I think I can get along without a new suit although this will be the second year I haven’t bought a suit — last September I bought a new overcoat as Lad’s gift) and I would like to get some clothes suitable for taking walks in the woods that will keep me warm and dry during fall and winter. I am certainly grateful to you boys, that with all your young plans and hopes and ambitions, still have a thought for the old man’s comfort. The spirit is all the more appreciated because I have not done half the things for you youngsters I would like to have done if things had been different.
Lad in VenezuelaAnd you, Lad, I don’t really feel right about using any of the funds you sent home for myself. The several hundreds of dollars you gave last year for

Dan, Ced and car

my use and the house and the $50 you send every month is in all fairness, enough. It is really your contribution that has been keeping us going this last year. That, and Ced’s payments, were the only things that made it possible for me to make the grade. I hope business will pick up next year so things will be better — enough at least to make up for the $10 a month I will forfeit with the loss of the Second Selectman’s job. So, if you don’t mind, I’ll take the will for the deed and not take advantage of your generous offer. My conscience would be clearer. And, Ced, that’s much the way I feel about you. I certainly would feel mighty cheap if you had sent any of last month’s check home under the circumstances. You did just the right thing in keeping it for flying club expenses. You, Dan, haven’t told me what your future plans, if you have yet formulated any, are; but if you were going to the University of Alaska you’ll need to save for that, which makes your generous remittance doubly unselfish. All in all, I’ve got a pretty fine bunch of boys and I’m just a wee bit proud of them.

Dick, at the present time, is causing me a bit of concern. He did mop the floor this morning, but that’s about the extent of his work contribution. He is out late every night and all day Saturday, sleeps late Sunday morning and is out again after Sunday dinner. Dave was so disgusted that he has taken on the job of washing dishes every night besides doing much every afternoon towards getting the supper started. Right now, Dick seems not to have much interest in the home or in doing anything to keep it going smoothly. When Dave took over the dishwashing Dick was supposed to take care of the laundry but that wasn’t done last week either. Maybe this is just a temporary phase of adolescence and will pass, but right now it is annoying. I am not saying anything, just giving him a lot of rope, hoping his native good sense will come to the rescue. We shall see.

Tomorrow I’ll be posting the last section of this letter from Grandpa to his boys. This has been packed full of news and information.

On Saturday and Sunday, I’ll be posting Special Pictures.

On Monday, we’ll move forward to 1941 when Dan and Ced have been in Alaska for over a year and Lad has returned from Venezuela.

Judy Guion