Trumbull – Friend Sexton and Dan’s Surprise – July 9, 1939 (2 of 2)

Lad has been in Venezuela for about 6 months, Dan has come back to Trumbull, and Lad is the only son away from home at this point. Grandpa continues to write every week and this letter gives us some insight as to one of the reasons he does it. 

This is the second half of a very long letter. The first half was posted yesterday.

Dan broke the record last week. He sent me an airmail letter. I quote from it in case Dan is not able to get down to Pariaguan.  “My little meeting with Maxudian was highly amusing. It was the opposite of what I expected, instead of a lion I found a lamb whose psychology was “I need your help. Will you let me down?” Of course I was not prepared for such tactics, so I agreed to stay for three weeks more on his verbal promise to pay  salary and transportation home  I heard his side of the whole story which I took with the usual mental grain of salt. He claims he has connections with the president, Contreras, and no matter what dirt is slung against the fair name of InterAmerica, new contracts are forthcoming.

I believe this part of his story, because he has supplied evidence that he has censored personally the outgoing mail, including a letter I had sent to the Engineering Society in New York which was never received! Be careful what you write was his advice.” What surprises me, if this is true, is not that he should do this but that he should admit having done so.

Still another surprise was in store for me, for a day or so after receiving this airmail letter I had another letter in Dan’s handwriting  bearing a US stamp and post marked New York City July 5, which startled me for an instant into wondering if Dan had put one over and was actually in New York. However, the letter stated that it was being mailed in New York by a Fred Chion, one of the boys he had been working with in Venezuela, whom Max had sent to New York to line up some more workers to go down to Venezuela and complete the work. Dan’s principal anxiety seemed to be whether I had received the check he had sent, which, as you know, from my last letter, was received.

I at once wrote to Chion at his New York address which Dan had given me and asked him to come up to see me. Much to my surprise, he did just that and this morning he and his wife and little girl appeared. They stayed for about an hour and we all, with Ted, chatted about Max and Dan and the job. Chion expects to sail on his return trip on July 21 and will take his family with him. He says Max expects another good-sized payment from the government on July 15, so if you have not already put in your claim for the final payment you better get busy at once. Ted is cabling is lawyer in Caracas today so he may be included in the distribution of funds.

Blog - Venezuela Camp Map - 1939

Well here it is nearing the bottom of page 3 I haven’t said a word yet about your VERY interesting letter with the plot map of the camp. This makes everything you have written about and will write about, I hope, very much more easily followed. As you say, with a few photographs I get a fairly clear picture of the whole business. You have the advantage because as I write of things here you can supply the details in your minds eye having seen them, but I have only my imagination on which to draw, and this gives a pretty wide latitude.

I see you have not yet found a new ribbon for your typewriter, and as long as it doesn’t fade out altogether I can still make the grade. Of course, if the worst comes, you can use a piece of carbon paper and send me the carbon copy instead of the original. Oh, by the way, the man Barbara referred to is one Martin Williams.

In a few minutes now I will be listening to Charlie McCarthy and it is somehow a thought to make you feel a little nearer to know that you will probably be listening to the same words and laughing at the same remarks as we are. After the Manhattan Merry-Go-Round I also keep on the same station to listen to the album a familiar music, which is to my mind exceptionally good, but maybe they do not include this on the rebroadcast. I will enclose with this letter the radio page of the Post for whatever good it may do you in trying to get other night programs during the week.

Your account of rescuing the drilling rig from the mud and your ride on the brakeless truck was quite thrilling. I should think, judging from your own experience as a boss, Mr. Leander would be pleased to realize he has someone who, when faced with an emergency during his absence, can show good judgment and initiative (particularly when it works out satisfactorily).

Am very anxious to hear whether Dan gets down to see you or not, and whether he takes the marsh buggy or the new plane, or if neither of these are in operation whether he will abandon his intention due to time, or try to make the camp in some other manner. The map you drew did not include where the new landing field is to be located. When you answer this please supply this fact and I will note it on your map.

It is a coincidence that when I opened the new package of cereal yesterday out dropped the enclosed picture of the Beechcraft airplane. Apparently from all the parking spaces provided, a good many of you folks must have automobiles. You show three, one near the old garage, one near the new and one in front of your “apartment”.                                          Blog - Plan for Lad's July, Aug and Sept payments - 1939

I wanted to say again how much yours and Dan’s checks helped out. It was a regular bracer, and has made me feel much better, because while one knows it is foolish to let these things bother one, you can’t help thinking of it and wondering what in manner you can get by. I feel as mean as hell taking advantage of your good nature and generosity, but I have planned for three months ahead on just how I am going to spend the checks you send me, and all of them at that to the full amount. I think that by that time I will be pretty well caught up on all but Kurtz, and thereafter I shall plan on spending only a part of your check, the balance will be invested in various securities that seem to me to be safe and profitable.

I think I shall send you a schedule of my intentions, and as. after all, it is your money, I will appreciate your comments on whether or not you approve of the suggestions before I finally put them into effect. The part that bothers me the most is that I have provided in a purely selfish way for myself. I can’t get myself into thinking that this will serve as a rousing good birthday present from my absent son, but just the same it does seem to be rubbing it in a little bit.

It is a regular hot humid July day. Aunt Helen has been laid up today because the kitchen stool fell over the other day and cracked her on the big toe. Is twice its normal size but is better today. Ted and she both renew their promise to write, and asked me to so inform you.

So long, old scout.

I was surprised by how my grandfather was feeling about the money the boys were sending home to help their father. He even went so far as to send my father his plans for “Lad’s money” and noted that he would wait for Lad’s approval before he actually spent it. He also feels selfish about using some of that money for himself, although I’ll bet he hasn’t spent any money on himself for a long time…. and it’s his birthday, for crying out loud. I’ll bet that if my father was home, he would have gladly spent that and more for his father’s birthday.

The detail in Lad’s map of the camp is exactly what I would have expected from my father. I was rather surprised that it wasn’t to scale, though. I actually have to keep reminding myself that he’s only 25 years old. Sometimes he seems much older and more responsible than his age would require. That’s probably because he was the oldest of 6 children and felt the weight of his Mother’s death on his father as well.

Judy Guion


Trumbull – “I Am A Backslider”

At this point, Lad is the only son away from home so the next few postings from Trumbull will include quite a bit about him.

May 29, 1940

Dear Lad:

For the second week in succession I am a backslider. Here it is Wednesday eventide and I am just starting in to write you last Sunday’s letter. Aunt Betty

Alfred D. Guion

Alfred D. Guion

came up for the weekend and having expressed a desire to see the pink Dogwood in Greenfield Hills and having a nice new Packard to take her in, after dinner Sunday we donned our best bid and tucker and we all tried out the car in that direction. No, I am wrong, that was Saturday afternoon.

Sunday, after dinner dishes were washed, we loaded up with the car trunk full of lilacs and started to take Aunt Betty home, making stops en route at Larry’s, Kempers, and Grandma’s. Ethel and Larry were out of town but we saw all the rest who asked to be remembered to you. You must be getting better in your correspondence, by the way, because both Ethel and your lady friend at the cleaners mentioned having received letters from you. Aunt Helen says, however, you haven’t answered the letters she wrote you.

Well, after leaving New Rochelle, we took Aunt Betty to Mount Vernon and after giving Mrs. Seipp some lilacs nothing would do but we must all come in and have supper – – “just a cup of tea” – –  which consisted of a bowl of soup, hot biscuits, hot turkey sandwich with gravy and generous helpings of rich fruitcake. By the time we reached home it was bedtime (incidentally, Ced discovered the borrowed Packard had picked up a nail somewhere and had developed a flat) and I decided to postpone writing you until Monday night.

So, with supper out of the way, I came in here to the alcove, and I just inserted paper into the machine, when a tap on the window caused me to look up and there was Bruce Lee. He explained he had been up in New England on business and was not expected home until late so decided to stop off and have a chat. You know Bruce. He got started on the war and while I got a yes or no in edgewise once in a while, he pretty well occupied the time with a monologue until nearly 11.

So, says I to myself, the letter will have to go to Tuesday, but it must be written then without fail, failing to recall that an important town meeting was called for that night to decide on the budget, being an adjourned meeting from the fortnight previously. It was after 12 before the meeting was over, which brings us at one jump to the present time with almost a page 2/3 completed. Progress, I’ll say.

Received your note telling me all about little Kay. It must’ve been quite an ordeal. I can remember going through a similar experience with you at the time

Alfred (Lad) Peabody Guion

Alfred (Lad) Peabody Guion

of the infantile paralysis epidemic when we called Dr. Hubbard, a specialist on the disease, and learned much to our relief that you did not have it. That was in Dell Avenue, the time your little squeaky voice piped up in the middle of the night, “toot, toot, all aboard”.

I think I told you I sent the $3.00 check to Mr. Hadley and received a very nice acknowledgement which I will try to remember to enclose. Like most folks who know you, he likes you and also pays your family a nice compliment.

I mentioned the other day to the Vice President of an oil refinery catalog that I am using to advertise the Jelliff products that you were with the Socony-Vacuum people and he told me he frequently saw, in New York, one of your bosses, a Mickey somebody, and would mention you to him the next time they met.

The stock market is all shot to pieces in view of the war news. It certainly looks pretty serious for the allies but there seems to be nothing we can do about it. F. D. R., after having run the country into a tremendous debt with his crack-brained experiments, is now proposing to spend billions more for planes, etc. By the way, there is enclosed an interesting account of a talk with Mr. Ford about the number of planes we could produce.

A man came into the office the other day and asked us to mimeograph a sheet giving his experience, etc., in business, with the idea of looking for another job. He told George he had just been let go by the Standard Oil Co. here, the reason being that while the company was not saying anything about it publicly, the company had lost so many tankers through German sub attacks that they were curtailing expenses by cutting down on their personnel. Whether this is actually true or merely his alibi for being fired I do not know.

Tomorrow is a holiday of course. I think I shall stay at home and get the house in some sort of shape. It just occurs to me that Kurtz’s is closed all day tomorrow. I may not be able to mail this letter to you until Friday and possibly by that time I may have another letter from you and perhaps a regular check from the company. Will this be the last check I will receive from them or have you decided to stay with Soconey-Vacuum? Have you made any more definite plans for your trip to Caracas?

Take a few hours off someday soon and write me a letter in which you let down your hair because after all the most interesting things are what you are planning and thinking as well as what you’re actually doing in the physical sense.

Imagine some asterisks inserted here to mark a pause to listen to Charlie McCarthy, Vera Vague and Dr. Dafoe. By the way, if we can imagine this character”#” on my typewriter to substitute for an asterisk for a moment, I will try to remember a little verse I heard the other day, to wit:

Mary donned her brand-new skates,

around the pond to frisk,

now wasn’t this a mad bold chance,

her little #

My clock says 10:30 and I am getting sleepy after my late hours last night, so I’ll bring a mental night cap to you and shuffle off to my little old bed.

As always,


8057 So. Carpenter St.

Chicago, Ill.

May 22, 1940

Mr. Guion

Trumbull, Conn.

Dear Sir:

Thank you kindly for your check for $3.00 which I received several days ago.

I had the pleasure of rooming with your son while employed by Socony-Vacuum in Pariaguan. I enjoyed knowing Alfred and will tell you as you no doubt already know – you have a fine young man for a son. He is highly respected not only by his employers but also by all the men in camp. He must have had a fine home life and family to be as he is today.

Thank you again.


Herbert D. Hadley

I loved the little poem Grandpa added to this letter. He did that sort of thing often, enclosing newspaper clippings, articles from magazines, quotes from the Bible, other world figures, an occasional scene from a play – adapted to the people and times – anything to break up the regular letter.

To read the most recent article I’ve had published in New Inceptions Magazine, where Grandpa says “No” to John D. Rockefeller,

Click Here.

Judy Guion

Life in Venezuela – Lad – June, 1939 – Where’s Dan?

It has been a while since we last heard from Venezuela. It is the middle of !939, Lad has left the employ of Inter-America and has started working for Socony-Vacuum Oil Company in Caracas. Dan is making plans to leave for home whether he has been paid or not because he doesn’t want to continue working for Maxudian with no real prospect of payment.

Trumbull Conn.

June 25, 1939

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

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

Dear Oil Baron:

I learned from your letter to Reyom which arrived with your bug letter that you have signed a two-year contract, which Uncle Ted feels is one of the best things you could have done. I hate to think of one phase of the matter – – that of not seeing you for that length of time, but you can’t keep your cake and eat it too, and as this seems to be something which will work out to your advantage, I am all for it. Good luck, and more of it.

No word from Dan last week. Barbara has received the last letter received which was dated June 1 and in which Dan had tentatively planned to sail for home on a Grace Line boat on June 22, which would bring him to New York about July 3. He said something about possibly visiting you, but I don’t see how he could possibly do so and keep this time schedule unless he could make a flying aero trip to Pariaguan and back, which would probably be impossible unless the airplane route you expected MIGHT be intuited as an actuality (and this I doubt or you would have said something about it in your last letter). With three weeks before him at the time he expressed these intentions there is ample opportunity for many changes of plans, so I am waiting with unusual interest for the receipt of his next letter to hear further news.

We all went down to Dave’s graduation from 8th Grade last Thursday and saw him handed his diploma. This week practically marks the end of school both for Dick and Dave. Wednesday Grandma tells me Kemper is coming to get her, bag and baggage, to take up her residence in New Rochelle. No plans have been made as to what we will do in the way of meals after that time. Ted and Helen have said nothing about going, which complicates the problem somewhat, as, were we alone, we could act differently than we can with them here.

By the way, pretty soon you had better be getting a new typewriter ribbon as your letters are getting a bit faint for us to read without glasses under a high-power bulb.

Uncle Ted has not received any further news from his legal claims, but through the efforts I have been making, I received a letter from Sen. Maloney of Conn. enclosing a letter written personally by Cordell Hull in which he says he has taken the matter of your claim and Dan’s up with the American Consul in Caracas, so it looks as though some real attention might be paid to the matter when Hull himself gets after the matter.

(As I look back over what I write and see some of the mistakes and hitting wrong keys, I marvel at your forbearance in not even mentioning the lousy typewriting I regularly send you)

Last night there was another hot town meeting in which friend Sexton again attacked the First Selectman (Grandpa) on the matter of the truck purchase, inspite of the fact I had, a few days before, put an article in the paper explaining just what the whole thing was about. The enclosed clippings will tell you the story. The vote they took empowering the Board of Selectmen to hire an auditor to make the audit is foolish, for because, without an authorization for the town to spend the money required, which was not authorized, it would be illegal for me to enter into any contract to have the work done, so I don’t see that their vote amounts to anything. However, we will see what the next move will be as the Taxpayers League are behind the thing and must realize that truth also.

The town is busy oiling roads. Thursday a chain holding the drag we were hauling behind the town truck to smooth or “hone” the road after oiling, snapped and broke old Mr. Cooper’s leg. He was taken to the hospital in the town ambulance, Mr. Bradley doing the driving as no constable could be located. I am making arrangements to have Nat Hayward’s car equipped with a radio and asking the Bridgeport police to extend their radio shortwave broadcasting to Trumbull, as they have to other surrounding towns.

Uncle Ted has just come in and knowing I was writing to you asked me to say that you want to drop a line to the American Consul, Mr. McMillin, and tell him if you have not yet been paid, to intervene for you and ask if he cannot do something to see that you are paid your back salary. Just a short note is all that is necessary. Of course you needn’t say anything about my letter from Mr. Hull. Uncle Ted says he expects to write to you himself shortly.

Alfred Peabody Guion (Lad) in Venezuela

Alfred Peabody Guion (Lad) in Venezuela

Oh, lest I forget, I have mailed you two books which you may keep down there to start a town library or lend to any of the other boys who may enjoy them. I will send others from time to time which also need not be returned. A couple of magazines, I hope, will also be arriving regularly pretty soon.

In one of your previous letters you said something about having given instructions that part of your salary was to be sent home. I have received no check from Socony-Vacuum to date, which I suppose is because they have been paying you in cash up to the present in view of the fact you have not signed a contract. I merely mention this in case you had made other arrangements and might possibly expect I had been getting checks from Socony-Vacuum in New York and had not mentioned receiving them. As next month I have to pay interest on the mortgage and the last half of the year’s tax, I may not be able to do much for Dr. Clark for a month or so.

Well, since I finished writing the last paragraph I have listened to Charlie McCarthy, and since I cannot find anything more to write about I may as well sign off. You might ask a few questions as they occur to you now and then which will make it a bit easier to make my letters more interesting. I sometimes feel they are just a bunch of tripe, but at least it lets you know some of the commonplace things that are happening back in the old corral, and is evidence, if you need any, that we are still thinking of you. Good night, old snoozer. We’ll be waiting for your letter today or tomorrow to find out what’s happened since your last.


Maybe the next post from Venezuela will tell us what’s going on with Dan. We haven’t heard directly from him in a while. I admit, sometimes I wish I had the extra time to read ahead and get my questions answered NOW.

Do you know someone who grew up during this time period? Maybe they would enjoy reading about the goings-on of another family during the same time and you could share my blog address with them. It’s also very easy to have these posts delivered right to your inbox. All you have to do is scroll down about half way and on the left, you’ll see a “FOLLOW THIS BLOG VIA EMAIL” sign. Just click on it and enter your email address – that’s all you have to do – and you’ll get each post delivered directly to you.

Judy Guion