The Beginning (28) – Childhood Memories of the Children – Young Lad and Driving

At this point Grandpa’s “Reminiscences of Alfred D Guion” has ended  and the rest of this story will be the memories of the children as they were growing up.

Art Mantle, Biss (Elizabeth Guion) and Lad

LAD – When I was eight, Dad took Dan, Ced and I, possibly Biss, for a walk up behind our property, past the cemetery.  There was a slightly sloping hill on the lot, and all of us were rolling down the hill, including Dad.  When he got up he said there was something wrong with his eyes, some dirt or something, so we went home.  His eye got worse and more bloodshot and it began to hurt more so Mother told him he should go see the doctor.  He was reluctant but finally consented.  I asked him if I could go and he said yes.  When he got to the doctors, the doctor told him that a piece of stubble had apparently pierced his eye.  He sewed it up and when Dad came out he could only see out of one eye, and that was blurred and watery.  He asked me if I could steer the car for him.  So I sat on his lap and steered the car, told him when to put on the brakes.  He did the shifting and used the clutch, but from that time on, I was very interested in driving.  I was only eight!

BISS – When Lad was twelve or fourteen, I don’t remember when, he and Ced and Dan and Dad went for a walk.  Dad’s eye got cut with a blade of grass or something.  So Lad drove him to the hospital, even though he was under the age, too.  Of course, Dad couldn’t drive because he couldn’t see.  So Lad drove him to the hospital and back after they took care of him.

AUTHOR’S NOTE: since Lad remembers sitting on Grandpa’s lap, he was probably closer to eight rather than twelve or fourteen.

LAD – By the time I was twelve, I was able to drive a car by myself.  I talked my mother into letting me drive to Kurtz’s store.  We had a 1925 Packard, and at that time, the road was so narrow that when I got to the junction of White Plains Road and Daniels Farm Road, there wasn’t much room to maneuver a car, so I went on down to Reservoir Avenue to turn around.  On the way back, I saw a car coming towards me.  It was Sheriff Stanley Boughton.  He looked at me, turned around and accosted me in the store.  He asked me if I had license to drive, and I guess I said, “No”.  He then asked me if my mother knew I was driving.  When I said, “Yes”, he told me to take the car home and leave it there … But I didn’t.  I never got into trouble after that until much later.  After I got my license I was driving up in the Newtown area and apparently I was driving too fast.  I got stopped for speeding.  Nothing ever came of it because my Dad was the Justice of the Peace and, at that time, First Selectman of Trumbull.

DICK – One time Lad took the Packard touring car, he was quite impressed with its power and high gear.  He started it rolling and slipped the clutch to get it started and went for a drive to Kurtz’s store.  Johnny Austin was the town cop.  He went to see Dad.  “You’d better talk to your boy … I couldn’t catch him and it’s a good thing I didn’t.”

AUTHOR’S NOTE: We will never know if Lad and Dick were talking about the same incident or two different instances.  I do know that my Dad’s love of cars started very early in his life.

Tomorrow, another excerpt from San Jose, California to the Lewis family back in New York. On Sunday, I will continue the story of Lad and Marian during and after World War II.

Judy Guion 

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The Beginning (23) – Reminiscences of Alfred D Guion (1884 – 1964) – Moving to Trumbull

The following memories are quotes from “Reminiscences of Alfred D.  Guion”, written in 1960 while he was on a four-months “around the world” freighter trip. 

At this point I will begin adding the memories of the children as they were growing up.

The Trumbull House – circa 1928

(This picture is preserved on a 4″ x 4″ glass slide)

A.D. – And now having recorded some of the events in the first two decades of my life spent in the state of New York, let us look further east to Connecticut, where up to the present time, two or more decades have seen the childhood, youth and adulthood of most of my children and their families.

How did we come to settle in Trumbull?  Almost purely by chance.  And it all happened because of a few weeks vacation spent at my brother-in-law’s summer camp in Connecticut.  One day Fred Stanley, who had married my wife’s sister Anne, told us he had rented a little shack in the woods near Sandy Hook, Connecticut, on the Housatonic River, and as he could use it only part of the time, he asked if my family would be interested in occupying it for a couple of weeks.  We were, and one summer morning we loaded up the old Franklin with beds, mattresses, clothing and food and with five children and two adults, escorted by Fred to show us the way, we started merrily on our adventure.  Approaching  Danbury, the most awful bangs, rattles and clanking left no doubt that something was seriously wrong with my car.  Luckily a Franklin repair service was located nearby and here we learned that a main bearing had burned out, which would take a couple of days to repair.  By dint of persuasion, seeing our plight, the headman finally consented to put all hands to work to try to finish the job by nightfall.  Fred was to go onto the camp with the children in his car and Arla and I would stay with the Franklin until repairs were completed.  While I watched the mechanics at work, Arla spent several hours chatting with the proprietor’s wife, who, she told me afterwards, painted a glowing picture of an old house they owned in a small country place called Trumbull, too far away for them to drive in while conducting a business in Danbury, but evidently a dream of a home.  She must have been a good saleswoman because Arla was so enthusiastic from the description given that when vacation time was over and I had to get back to work, she persuaded Fred to drive over to the place.  It was a case of love at first sight and nothing would do but I must see it too and discover what an ideal place it would be for the children.  I, too, was pleased with it

It was obviously out of the question as a practical proposition because, with a job in the lower part of New York City and a Connecticut home seven miles from the nearest railroad station at Bridgeport, itself fifty-five miles from Grand Central Station, only a madman would give the matter a moment’s consideration.  She reluctantly agreed and the subject was abandoned, in my mind, at least.  As it has often been said, it is unwise to underestimate the power of a woman.  Returning home from work several weeks later, I found her one afternoon busily sketching at a table covered with several sheets of paper, and on inquiry, was told that she was figuring out how our present furniture would fit in the Trumbull house.  Seeing how serious she was, there followed several weeks of weighing arguments pro and con, ending in the decision that, for the children’s sake, I would take the chance and try commuting between Bridgeport and New York.

Tomorrow and Friday, early memories of living in Trumbull. 

Judy Guion

Trumbull – Dear Convalescents (1) – Extracts From Dan and Ced – July 16, 1944

 

This letter from Grandpa to his scattered flock contains excerpts from letters he has received in the last week. It is quite a collection and it will take two days to finish the letter. Enjoy.

 

Trumbull, Conn., July 16, 1944

Dear Convalescents:

As your medical advisor I am recommending this week a full dose of extract of Guion, consisting of vitamins DBG, CDG, MIG a substitute for APG, (at the moment unobtainable) and DPG, to be taken with a little water, before, after or between meals.

Extract of DBG. (Daniel Beck Guion) (July 3, London) Gone completely is the idyllic lull about which I wrote so enthusiastically a few weeks past, and in its place has come a period which keeps us too much on our mettle to indulge in languid philosophy. Now we are engulfed in a realism which focuses war in sharp, unmistakable images, exciting… significant… decisive. The none too subtle curtain of the sensor must set as a haze filter to your perception, but one day soon I shall entertain you all with tall tales of “what Dan did in the war” – – and I promise it won’t be too boring. Thoroughly hail and equally hearty, Dan

 

Extract of CDG: (Cedric Duryee Guion) Anchorage almanac. Weather today clear, Sun rises before I get up, sun sets about bedtime. Hours of darkness, practically none. Temperature, good for swimming. Hospitalization notice: One 37 Buick seriously ill of spinal meningitis and requiring extensive surgery for return to active health. Medicines unobtainable in Alaska due to shortage of equipment as of war necessities. An emergency requisition has been placed requesting necessary herbs and tonics. The transmission, after a long and quarrelsome disturbance, accompanied by groans of pain for the last three months, finally had a hemorrhage and was partially paralyzed. Low, second and reverse suffered complete collapse of the motovaty nerves and left poor high badly overburdened, thus affecting composure of chauffer. While injury seemed trivial at first, treatment proved unobtainable and a major catastrophe developed. Patient was unavoidably retired from active service and in lieu of treatment, it was determined that further long-standing elements must be treated and so the heart was removed for observation and repairs. Tragically enough, this disclosed more faults that required unobtainable replacements. Now patient is interned in isolation ward until Pistons, transmission parts and other odds and ends can be obtained. Another birthday come and and gone with a very pleased recipient of gifts from home. McDonald’s had a little supper party with cake and candles. My burns (ha ha) have nearly disappeared (all signs of them, I mean). They turned out not half as bad as the other ones did, and I lost only three days work. I finished my course, took the CAA test and made an average of 86 which was up near the top of those grades received by the other students. Now I just need flying time and lots more of it. Can’t you picture me up high in the sky peeking around behind a cirrus cloud to see if the dew point is anywhere near the base of the cloud, or flying blind into the side of the next mountain only to discover I’d forgotten to correct for easterly deviation, and neglecting at the same time to consider the wind drift. Ah. Me, I wonder if I’ll ever get to use any of your laboriously gleaned aeronautical knowledge. Incidentally, if you want to get a good education in meteorology, as it is affected by weather, and get it in an easy to take form, get the book “STORM” from Mrs. Ives, or from the library. It has humor, pathos, drama, suspense and human interest all woven around the birth, growth and passing of a storm and its effects on men and their puny works.

Tomorrow, I’ll be posting the middle section of this letter with excerpts from Ced and Marian. On Wednesday, excerpts from  Dave along with Grandpa’s usual home town news. On Thursday and Friday, another letter from Grandpa.

Judy Guion

Trumbull – Dear Sons – News From Dan – August 25, 1946

Trumbull, Conn., August 25, 1946.

Dear Sons:

Well, hay fever (or something) has caught up with me at last. In other words right now I’m feeling pretty low and such is my frame of mind at present that I’m not even enthusiastic about taking off for New Hampshire, which act I promised myself to do a long time ago as a ruse to foil my faithful little annual visitor. If I can get up ambition enough to take off this week you will hear from me next from the Lake.

Dan’s letter, which arrived this week, luckily furnishes substance for this screed, as otherwise not much in the way of interest would arise from the present state of my mind; Dan encloses two interesting snaps of Chiche (Paulette) and the baby, and writes: “It has been quite some time since I last wrote, during which time I have been to Nancy, where Chiche came to spend a week with me, and to Metz where Chiche and I found a hotel with bedbugs, to Longuyon to survey another cemetery, to Calais for the long-awaited baptism which was celebrated quite successfully, albeit somewhat less bibulous than is usual in France, to Languyon again to finish the job, to Paris and Versailles, to Calais for a week’s leave where we were alone for the better part of a week, the rest of the family being away, also on vacation, to Liege (where you found me this morning) enroute to Holland where two more cemeteries will be put on the map. Also during this long period without word from me I have decided (and abandoned the idea) to buy a Jeep. Once again we are planning to come home in the fall, but I have not yet ironed out the details. Speaking of ironing, the G.E. iron arrived, but being 1,000 watts is a little too powerful for Calaisian fuses although the voltage is O.K. I have taken three movies (8 mm) of Chiche and Arla and some of the family. Please continue to send me cigarettes. I shall be needing extra money before we sail to fill out my currency control book which keeps track of American dollars to which each American is entitled. I have credit for $500 for which I have no French francs to convert. I have several additional photos of Chiche and Arla, some in 3rd dimension color. I shall send them to you if I can pry them loose from Calais. That is all for now except we think of you all more and more — and Arla is wonderful. It’s Love. Dan”

I’ll start in sending cigarettes to you again, Dan. Probably five boxes of 10 cartons each, weekly, beginning next week. This will be a total of 500 packages in all which at $1 a pack should give you the requisite $500. Perish the thought, but if you don’t come home this fall, send me the proceeds and I’ll simply have to hop on one of these reconverted liners and visit you. Speaking of photos (and we were certainly delighted to get the two you sent) I am enclosing, with Lad and Marian’s cooperation, some recent views of our two little tykes. They continue to gain and had to have their formula increased just recently, both in quantity and strength. A card from Jean says: The Gibsons are leaving today (19th) so this will be the last mail for a few days. We are looking forward to seeing you soon. The weather has been pretty awful — not too much rain but cloudy and cold.”

Well, another Trumbull Fireman’s Carnival has passed into history. I must be getting old. I didn’t even go down there one night. It wouldn’t seem the same with Bob Peterson gone. Things are running along about the same here, except that we have been exceptionally busy at the office. I really ought not to go away and leave Dave to handle it alone but he says he likes it (bless his heart) and maybe in my present state I wouldn’t be much help anyway.

Sincerely yours,

DAD

Tomorrow, a letter from Ced and on Friday, a letter from Dave to “Mr. Guion”, (his father and my Grandpa) who finally made it to New Hampshire.

Judy Guion

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

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

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