Trumbull – Dear Boys (1) – Lad Is Driving to California – January 3, 1943

Grandpa begins 1943 with a 3-pager, a page each to Lad, Dan and Ced, the only boys away from home at this time.

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TRUMBULL, Conn., Jan. 3, 1943.

Dear Boys:

Notice the date? No erasures, which means that I hit it right the first time this year I have written the date, indicating mental acuteness in spite of advancing years, war weariness, income tax woes, offspring uncertainties or what have you. Just to start the new year right, I shall write each of you a letter, trying not to duplicate on material so that you may each have the doubtful, clandestine satisfaction of snooping into the other fellow’s letter when he’s not around to see what you are doing.

Dear Lad:

Well, that’s a nice way to end the old year! And how hard-hearted of you. Here I have been saving pennies all the year, even robbing baby David’s piggy bank in order to have enough funds to purchase bourbon, Scotch, Irish and gin to go on a little binge all by myself to properly usher in the new year when you have to spoil it all by wiring me on Dec. 31, as follows: “No news was good news. Radiator trouble. Send $30 care Western Union, Tulsa, Okla.” As you did not specify whether the radiator in trouble was the cars or yours, my imagination is left full play. What became (stern voice) of all the alcohol you once had in the radiator? I only hope you will not be reduced to eating sterno with a spoon. However, as you may now have learned (I hope), I duly dispatched to the 30 simoleons with what was intended to be a cheery New Year’s greeting, hoping your head would have cleared sufficiently by that time to be able to read the message without seeing it double. By the way, as an extra precaution to aid in proper identification, I requested they ask your army number, and in less you see some reason why this is not a good idea, I think I shall follow this procedure in the future with any of you boys who ask for funds by wire. A bi-product of your message was the news that you were on your way, and quite possibly you have already arrived at your destination as these words are being written. If you don’t have another attack of girl trouble in as virulent a form as the epidemic that hit you at Flint, perhaps we may hear a bit more of the growth and progress of Corp. Guion. At present, I am sorry to say I cannot reply to any of your unanswered letters. Since Christmas, when Dan staged a bout with old man Barleycorn and used the alcove divan as a first aid dressing station, he has been back in the clutches of the Army, and speaking of clutches, he and Barbara, so the latter informed me, have decided to become dis-engaged, arriving at the decision by mutual agreement. I had a nice letter from Ethel in which she expresses regret that she sort of moved out on us without warning, due primarily to the tremendous task of getting the whole outfit moved so far and so quickly. She says: “We like it so much here and everyone is well and happy. You know how six people eat and there is no domestic help here. We just can’t wait for things to be so you can all come and visit us.” A letter from Roger Batchelder says he is out of the Army and in the Reserve. He says he made the slightest mistake of remarking to the adjutant (a 1st Lieut. who went to the Academy), “Pardon, sir, but when I was carrying a rifle around, you were in diapers”. He told the general about it, resulting in three weeks leave with pay and transferred to the Reserves. I imagine he had a few under his belt when that happened. Some people never learn. He said the only notification of Austin’s death came to him when a hotel clerk showed him the obit in a newspaper.

Dad.

Tomorrow, a letter addressed to Dan and on Wednesday, a letter addressed to Ced. Thursday and Friday, another letter from Grandpa to all his boys away from home.

Judy Guion

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Guest Post – It Was Hard To Keep The Good Times Rollin’ by GPCox

 

Today’s Guest Post from gpcox continues the theme of transportation started last month with information about cars and trucks. This post expands transportation to include the variety of ways to travel in the 1940’s. Settle back and enjoy a unique look at this period of our history.

"The Good Times" - 1939

Kurtz’s Gas Station – Arnold Gibson, Charlie Kurtz and Carl Wayne

filling up in Trumbull

Columnist Marquis Childs said after Pearl Harbor: “Nothing will ever be the same.”  Thirty-five years later he added: “It never has and never will be.”

Since it appears that many of our readers enjoyed the previous guest post concerning the auto industry during the World War II era, I decided to remain on that same train of thought this month. (Yes, the pun was intended.)  I managed to discover quite a lot of information.

We need to remember that in 1941 as much as 40% of U.S. families lived below the poverty level, approximately 8 million worked for less than minimum wage and another 8 million were unemployed.  The median income was about $2,000 per year.  The government, in virtually fighting two separate wars, entered into civilian lives by raising taxes, rationing, controlling prices and allotting jobs.

Once the war began, truck convoys became commonplace and train depots burst into arenas of activity.  The movement was not entirely servicemen as women began to migrate into towns and communities near the military bases and jobs when they entered the workforce.  Judy Guion’s Aunt Jean did just that by going to Florida to be near her husband Dick.  Minorities headed for higher paying positions in defense plants and shipyards.

Used car lot - 1940's

Used car lot – 1940’s

The greatest annoyance to civilians was the fact that new automobiles were no longer being produced.  The public’s status symbol and route to financial and social activities had been curtailed and this caused boot-leg markets to spring up selling tires and taking their chances with the law.  The La Salle Motor Company in Indiana was the first firm to be cited by the government.  The Office of Price Administration would regulate everything from soup and shoes to nuts and bolts and was responsible for all domestic rationing.  J. Edgar Hoover issued warnings about car thefts; alerting owners to be wary of where they parked their cars, especially during evening hours.  In Southwest Harbor, Maine, reports of gasoline siphoning were a constant problem.

The use of taxicabs grew throughout the world in the early part of the 20th century.  In the 1940’s, the taximeter was developed and the new two-way radio was a great improvement over the old callboxes.  DeSotos, Packards and the GM “General” were the common vehicles utilized for this purpose.

Streetcars were heavily used in the 1930’s, but companies began to fail as gasoline buses (”trackless trolleys”) took their place.  The most prominent name was the

Greyhound Bus 1940's

Greyhound Bus 1940’s

Greyhound.  In 1936, they introduced their “Super Coach” for family travel and it was so well received that within four years, they opened a chain of restaurants called “Post House.”  When war began, they became a major carrier of the troops heading to the east and west coasts.  Since nearly 40% of their workforce was eventually drafted, women were offered training as bus drivers.  Local buses where often late and overcrowded, having standing room only.  A person was often unable to keep a reliable daily schedule due to the situation.

Delta Airlines ad - 1940's

Delta Airlines ad – 1940’s

Air travel was certainly difficult with a war in progress and the airlines did not have the systems they have now.  Case in point:  the Hoover Airport (where the Pentagon building is now), had a major highway running smack through it.  When a plane took off or landed, the red traffic light was switched on to halt car and truck movement.

Trains were the dominate mode of transportation since the transcontinental was completed in 1869 and up until just before the war era,when cars and trucks became predominate.  The massive movement around the country pressed heavily on the antiquated railroad network.  Most of the system had been built in the decades following the Civil War.  Accounts of disastrous train wrecks appeared due to the necessity to overwork them, such as the one at Frankfort Junction in Philadelphia.  Upon rounding a curve, a bearing gave way and the seventh car shot vertically into the air.  The velocity of the car caused it to drag seven other cars with it off the tracks.  Eighty bodies were found in one car alone.  The Office of Defense Transportation urged people to only travel on “slack days” and take one-day vacations.  The Director stated, “Needless passenger movement is getting to the point where it is embarrassing the war effort.”  One rail line that came out of Saint Louis, called the “Jeffersonian,” had only reserved seating, but people continued to line up in the aisles.  One woman, traveling from Kalamazoo to a defense job remembered sitting on her suitcase the entire trip.  In Tallahassee, Florida, a man recalled signs everywhere reading: “Is this trip necessary?”

The Southern Pacific depot in San Luis Obispo was an old, neglected building occupied with more mice than people – until the war.  The station became the busiest place in town with a sign over the doorway: “Due to wartime priorities, all train travel must be booked five days in advance.”

1940's Bike ad

1940’s Bike ad

In congested areas, such as N.Y.C., vendors began to spring up to rent out bicycles.  In fact, the summer of 1942, when the gas pumps went dry, drivers followed a gas truck to its delivery point, (as many as 350 would line up) so the bicycle business erupted.  In California, the state that received the least restrictions, bikes were in such high demand that a certificate of necessity was required for a purchase.  When walking became more important, leather for shoes became scarce and shoe rationing went into effect in February of 1943.  In the U.S., three pairs per year was the quota and in England it was only one.  By 1944, the U.S. civilian ration was dropped to two pair.

The old saying, “Let the good times roll” proved difficult and often the stories seem to be from another world rather than another decade.

Sources: American Library; KC Library; Greyhound.com; “Americans Remember the Home Front”; by Roy Hoopes; “1940s”, by Louise Gerdes; “Let the Good Times Roll”, by Paul Casdorph; encyclopedia.com; enotes.com; JalopyJournal.com

Do you have stories you remember or were told?  How would  you deal with this lifestyle?  Tell us what you think about this.

Thanks.  gpcox

I really enjoyed having gpcox, pacificparatrooper.wordpress.com , do these Guest Posts. The research is outstanding and I always learn little-known facts. 

Tomorrow I’ll begin posting a week of letters written in 1946. Both Lad and Dick are home in Trumbull with their wives, Ced remains in Alaska, Dan and Paulette await the arrival of their little-one-to- be in France before they will be allowed to travel home to Trumbull and Dave is anxiously awaiting his chance to return home from Manila.

Judy Guion

Guest Post – When Making A Car Was Illegal – GPCox

 

This is the latest Guest Post from gpcox all about the vehicles in service during World War II and a little about what the American Family had to sacrifice back home.

When Making a Car Was Illegal

After Pearl Harbor, President Roosevelt ordered all car manufacturers to cease the production of private automobiles and convert the factories to produce military

Utility Truck

Utility Truck

vehicles, weaponry, airplane engines, parts, etc.  But, this would not put an end to man’s love affair with the automobile.  A car manual became priceless to a private owner and a truck manual was an absolute necessity for a farmer or businessman.  With the rationing of gasoline in the U.S., the “National Victory Speed” was 35 mph and driving clubs were encouraged. (Our modern day car-pools).

Automobiles were produced in massive quantities before the Great Depression and this brought the price down considerably.  Then, the stock market crashed and many people were unable to afford the fuel for the cars they already owned.  There were some that removed the engines from their vehicles and had a horse pull them.  These were nicknamed “Bennett Buggies” in some areas.

FDR gave a long-winded speech on 28 April 1942 called the “Call for Sacrifice,” where he stated, “…Not all of us have the privilege of fighting our enemies in distant parts of the world.  Not all of us can have the privilege of working in a munitions factory or a shipyard, or on the farms or in oil fields or mines…  There is one front where everyone is in action and that is right here at home and that is the privilege of denial.”  (Can any of us even imagine what would eventuate from a statement like that today?)  It was not until June that civilian truck production ceased, except some tightly government controlled heavy trucks produced during 1944 by GMC.

A quote from the Random Memories of Cedric Duryee Guion – “We had a 1927 Packard Touring car. I guess this was when Lad was working at Well’s Garage and he was making a little money there. He saw a 1929 Packard Touring car – it was a beauty – and he asked my Dad if he could trade in the old Packard and my Dad told him “OK”. We didn’t like that because then it was Lad’s car. I think that’s the Packard with the hidden compartment that Lad found while cleaning it out. We figured it must have belonged to some rum-runners”

Packard

Packard

Packard was known as a “company of premier luxury cars.”  In 1937, they introduced their first 6-cylinder engine since 1928 – right in time for the ’29 Depression, so they designed the “110” model in 1940-41 to serve as taxi cabs.  With the onset of war, air plane engines, such as the Merlin that powered the P-51 Mustang fighter were produced.  Many American and British PT boats were equipped with the Packard 1350-, 1400-, and 1500 horsepower V-12 marine engines.  During this era, the company also produced ambulances and other military vehicles.  All in all, 60,000 combined engines were built by Packard.

GMC had produced nearly 584,000 multi-drive vehicles for use in WWII, the first of which was the amphibious 6×6 “Ducks.”  These were sent to the Army for island landings

1943 "Duck"

1943 “Duck”

and river crossings.  Over 21,000 of these unique vehicles were produced.  GMC also built the first 2 ½ ton 6×6 trucks powered by a 270 cid engine which became the famous “workhorse” of the Army.

The Ford Corporation during 1942-45 built approximately 8,600 of the Consolidated B-24 Liberator bombers.  They also produced aircraft engines, M-4 tanks, spare parts

WWII Jeep Ambulance

WWII Jeep Ambulance

and the ever-famous Jeep.  In England, the Dagenham plant built the Ford military trucks, Bren-gun carriers and more than 30,000 super-charged V-12 engines for the Mosquito and Lancaster bombers.

The transportation department of the U.S. Army performed monumental feats during WWII.  They moved tons of food, weapons, equipment and men despite gasoline, oil and lubricants being in short supply.  If one delves deeper into this research, we find that Congress was not always willing to loosen the government’s purse strings.  As I have mentioned previously on my site, http://pacificparatrooper.wordpress.com, Europe received the majority of the supplies since their slogan at the time was, “Europe First.” (But, even the ETO had shortages.)  I have two specific reports stating that my father’s unit, the 11th Airborne Division while fighting in the Pacific, could not reach the city of Manila before the Sixth Army due to the lack of trucks.  (We once again see why the Technical Forces were so important to the Ground Forces.)( See Guest Post – gpcox –   Technical and Ground Force Coordination, published here Feb. 12, 2013)

Since the first automobile sputtered down the street and caught up to a horse, men have defined themselves by their vehicles, showing their cars off with pride and affection.  They wash them, wax them and individualize them.  It becomes an extension of himself – whereas a woman does the same routine for her home.

The ever-reliable car manual during the WWII era was a lifeline keeping farmers connected to markets, businessmen to their offices and factory workers to their jobs.  What you had, you were forced to maintain or learn to do without.  Just try to picture it – a world without rent-a-cars or gas stations at every intersection, no leasing contracts for new cars, no power windows or GPS or Blue Tooth… What do you see?

Judy and I enjoy these guest posts and want to hear how this situation affected your family or give us suggestions for future articles.

Research & Photo Resources:

Military History Online

Internet History Sourcebooks

Ford Corp./history

History of Packard

From the Great Depression to WWII

Wikipedia

Classic Car History

Fine Art America

Lopez Transport 1941

Surrey Vintage Vehicle Society

GMC Trucks

Please leave a comment and let us know what you think of these Guest Posts. Tomorrow, I’ll begin a week of letters from 1944. All five sons are in the service of Uncle Sam. Grandpa is holdong down the fort with Jean, Dick’s wife, and Aunt Betty, his mother’s sister.

Judy Guion

Army Life – Dear Dad – The News Has Come And Gone – November 3, 1942

 

Alfred (Lad) Guion in California

Nov. 3, 1942

Dear Dad: –

The news has come, and gone, – – – just like that. Here is the way it happened. We were asked to form for “chow” earlier yesterday in order to hear some announcements. They were in connection with the California shipment, of course. I was supposed to leave last night for California, with a very short stop in Trumbull. Then, before we were dismissed, a fellow came running from the Co. C headquarters with an order which stated that the order for Shipment of A. P. Guion was hereby revoked, and it also stated that new orders were to be issued sometime soon. I expect that they might come out before the week is out, but I hope not. It seems that the Army has decided to improve upon my knowledge in general or particular and is sending me to some school. My impression is that it will be either the G. M. Diesel School in Flint, Mich., or the Ford School in Dearborn. But there is nothing official in any of my ideas, so it is really up in the air at present. I was told however, that at the termination of my studies on November 21st or 22nd, I would go directly from the school to California. The departure date is again up in the air.

This new arrangement rather changed some of my plans, and now I don’t know just what to do about the car. The fellows who were to go with me had to find other means of going, and although I felt rather guilty about promising that I would take them and then having to refuse, I really could not do anything about it at all. It was something completely out of hand. Again, I meet up with something within me which says, “Never make a promise”.  (1) There are always so many unpredictable things which can occur during the time that the promise is made and the actual time of carrying it out. I think that if I get a chance to come home this weekend, I shall bring the car along, and then leave it there until something definite comes along and I can really see just what I can do. This uncertainty is sort of getting a little under my skin. I may be easy-going and all that, but I still like to know, in my own mind, just what I am going to do if I get the chance.

If there was more to this letter, I don’t have it. There isn’t even a signature, so it makes me wonder. Your guess is as good as mine.

(1) My Father took this lesson very seriously. I don’t believe he ever made a promise after that. When he was teaching me to drive, I’d ask him before dinner if we could go driving afterward, and he say, “We’ll see.” As we were finishing dinner, I’d ask again, “Can we go driving now?” He  would say, “We’ll wait and see.” He would sit down and read the paper and then he’d ask, “Judy, do you want to go driving now?” I probably replied rather sarcastically, “Of course. I’ve been asking you all evening!” Now I understand something that drove me crazy as a teen.

Tomorrow, more Special Pictures of the Trumbull House – Then and Now. On Sunday, another Guest Post by GPCox about making a car.

Judy Guion

Trumbull – Dear Flesh and Blood (1) – An Apology And A Job Well Done – November 1, 1942

 

AD Guion Letterhead, business cards and membership cards

AD Guion Letterhead, business cards and membership cards

Trumbull, Conn., Nov. 1, 1942

Dear Flesh and Blood:

One of the first objects of this letter indicted on the first day of November is to offer atonement for having slipped up on what has been an unbroken two-year chain of weekly letters. Last Sunday my typewriter was silent. In the so-called Morning Service of the Episcopal Church, which was so large a part of my youth, there is what is called a General Confession which reads as follows: “We have erred and strayed from the ways like lost sheep; we have done those things which we ought not to have done and have left undone those things which we ought to have done and there is no health in us.” “So let it be with Caesar.”

The reason for this lapse, which the charitably inclined might label “extenuating circumstances”, lies in the fact that Sunday marked the culmination of a week of unceasing effort to turn out with a sadly crippled force of workers, sufficient multi-graph letters to help elect a Republican governor for the great little Commonwealth of Connecticut. Saturday, far into the night, witnessed Dave and his father busily working, Sunday morning Dave and Dick went to the office to add their bit while I stayed home to get a birthday dinner in celebration of my son Daniel’s natal anniversary, after which I immediately left for the office to continue again into the night the work which was to see the final touch in the production of the letter campaign. In the true Guion tradition, we finished the job and next Tuesday will, I hope, witness a favorable result to our efforts. As Lad and Dan were both home on that occasion, they probably did not greatly miss the non-receipt of the weekly letter, so perhaps this apology should point more in the direction of Alaska then southward.

Lad was again home this weekend but Dan, I learned through a letter received by Barbara, that Dan and a surveying crew have been transferred for the next few weeks to temporary headquarters at Spring Grove, Pa., where they have a job to be done. Pretty name, isn’t it? Reminds me of the song-story of the prit-ty little rabbit and the hunter and the three trees, there and there and there.

There is still no definite word as to when Lad leaves for the west, but that he is to leave is pretty well assured in his own mind. He has sought and secured permission to drive his car to the coast, being allowed mileage, and intends to take along with him at least two and possibly more fellow travelers from Aberdeen. To that end he has just bought from Arnold four new tires so that he should have no difficulty on that score in duplicating the adventure of the Willys.

I wish there were some secret potion or amulet or magic word that could induce Ced to make more frequent visits to the typewriter, sort of a letter cathartic. Reminds me of the story of Goldstein who joined the Marines but turned out to be pretty much of a dud as a soldier. Finally he was shipped to the Solomons. Perhaps the name helped some but it wasn’t long before stirring details reached home of his bravery, decorations he had received, etc. They finally asked his captain what caused the transformation. Said the captain, “I gave him a Tommy gun, a couple of revolvers, six hand grenades, a cutlass, a knife, strapped a torpedo on his back, sent him out to the front line and said, “Now Goldstein, you’re in business for yourself”.

Tomorrow, I’ll post the rest of this letter. On Friday, another letter from Lad concerning his plans for California.

 

Judy Guion

Army Life – Dear Dad, Aunt Betty, Dave, Dick, etc. – Lad is an Acting Corporal – August, 1942

 

APG - APG at D_____ ______ a_____, 25 June, 1945

APG - Lad to Grandpa - Acting Corporal - Aug., 1942

Aug. 16, ‘42

Dear Dad, Aunt Betty, Dave, Dick, etc.: –

I am now and acting Corporal, so address my letters as such in the future. It happened this way. Yesterday, being Saturday, we had our usual review and inspection. That was finished about 11:00 A.M. and we were told to turn in our equipment as soon as possible and have our bags ready for transferring at 1:00 P.M. (1300 o’clock) at 1300 we fell out and were assigned to various of the Technical or Basic camps or Battalions I was assigned to Co. C., 2nd Battalion. I got there with my duffel about 1400. It was only about five or six blocks so I made two trips. I reported to the 1st Sergeant and was assigned to the 4th Platoon and he told me to get my corporal stripes. So that is how it is. Since I arrived here after 1200 on Sat. the Co. clerk had left and I could not have a new pass made out, so I can’t leave the post until Monday, anyway, when the clerk will be able to type one for me. As to next weekend, I can’t say definitely as yet. I’ll try to let you know by Sat.

My car registration is in the little pocket below the dashboard at the right of the front seat. If those ration books are definitely marked as to when or what date each coupon is good for, will you please use the coupon yourself or put the gasoline in my car?

We have had rain every day this week and I don’t think this afternoon will be an exception. My love to all –

Lad

Trumbull – The President is Preparing a Statement (1) – January, 1946

 

Alfred Duryee Guion – (Grandpa) – in the Alcove where he typed his letters

Trumbull, Conn., January 20, 1946

Dear Ced:

The President is preparing a statement as to the state of the nation, so why shouldn’t I do the same as to the state of Trumbull, or thereabouts, for your information. Anyway, here goes:

Weather: So far it has been an exceptionally cold winter. We have burned coal and wood at an unprecedented rate and still haven’t been able to keep the house warm, and incidentally I am disappointed in the new furnace which is not doing as good a job as I expected it would. Last night the thermometer outside the kitchen window went down to zero and with it there was a rather high wind. Of course this brought with it corresponding car troubles. For instance, my car, halfway to Bridgeport the other morning, steamed up in spite of the fact it started without any trouble in the barn. Evidently I had not put in enough anti–freeze. Last night Jean and Dick visited the Mortenson’s in Stratford, and on starting home about midnight Dick ran down his battery trying to get it started. A few minutes after finally starting however, the radiator boiled over— so they stayed all night at the Mortenson’s. This morning, Lad started out with his car to their rescue and his Buick refused to percolate so he left it at the bottom of the drive and got mine, which fortunately did its stuff. Paper says continued cold and it is now starting to snow.

Supplies: I suppose Dan will laugh at this and remark “we ain’t seen nothing””, but it is hardly any easier to obtain food, clothes and other supplies now as it was during the war. For weeks now we have been unable to obtain any butter at all, and some days we have not even been able to get oleo. There are no points on meat but meat itself is very scarce, little variety and of poor quality. With meat strike impending it promises to be even worse. The men’s shirt counters at Read’s and Howland’s are absolutely bare. Lines blocks long form whenever a store announces a small stalk of hosiery for sale. The girls say women are now buying white stockings and dyeing them. As for Zerox, Prestone, etc., none of the service stations seem able to get out a small quantity which is immediately sold out to a waiting list. Returning servicemen are complaining about the difficulty of obtaining civilian clothes. Elizabeth has had an order in for months for a telephone, and even carpenters have to make round after round to all the lumber yards to get a few boards to make repairs on houses, and so it goes.

Strikes: Of course much of the shortage of autos, electrical appliances, etc. are due to strikes. Even the G.E. (General Electric), which for 27 years has had no trouble, is tied up and the plant is closed down. So is Bryant’s, Yale and Towne in Stamford. It’s an ill wind that blows nobody good, so they say. Anyway, I had the first order from G.E. I’ve had in a long time when one of their men came in the other day and asked me to run off some payroll forms which he couldn’t get past the picket line in his plant to turn out.

Aeronautics: The local papers are full of the crash of the big Eastern Air Line plane near Cheshire, Conn., in which 17 lost their lives. It makes quite a contrast to Ced’s safe arrival in Anchorage after his long trip in his little plane. Incidentally, Lad showed last night some movies of your take off which had just arrived. They were not too good, which of course was disappointing. Lad said that while he used his light meter he evidently did not allow enough light for the type of film he was using.

For the rst ofthe week, I’ll be posting sections of this 5-page letter, written to Dan and Paulette, Ced and Dave.

Judy Guion