Dear Reader – The End of an Era (6) – Memorable Events (2) – The True Meaning of Christmas – December, 1945

The following event occurred on Christmas morning in 1945. The family was gathered in the living room and the youngest members, Butch and Marty (Bissie’s boys, six and four respectively), were helping Grandpa distribute gifts.

In a letter written on December 0, 1945, Grandpa recounts one of three high spots that touched his heart.

Butch (Raymond Zabel Jr.) and Marty (Martin Zabel) a few years after the event recorded here.

The second high spot is a bit difficult to get over to you in the way it hit me. You would have had to be here, seeing the sequence of events that led up to it, observed the lordly, yet gracious manner in which the deed was done, the expression of voice, and of face, in fact all those intangibles that lose so much in the telling. It illustrated for me the true spirit of Christmas, innocently and unconsciously symbolized by the youngest of us all. Following the old custom, Butch and Marty, some days ago, had dictated to Elizabeth a letter to Santa Claus in which a formidably long list of gifts wanted by each of them was duly recorded. As the great day drew nearer, perhaps warned by their mother that they might not expect to receive everything on their list, they began to be a bit fearful that they would not get enough presents, but when the Day came and one after one presents from the big pile under the tree were labeled Marty or Butch, it must have dawned on Marty that his erstwhile fears were indeed unnecessary. At least he was thoroughly enjoying himself, stopping quite frequently in his job of handing me packages to unwrap his own, keeping up meanwhile a running comment on events, not noticing or caring whether anyone heard him or not. During one spot when a particularly frequent run of gifts bore his name, he said, half to himself, “I guess I’m getting too many presents. I’ll give some to Butch”, and tearing off the gift wrapping of an attractive picture book he had just received, he unconcertedly, but with a kingly grace and nonchalance, yet with a conscious knowledge that he was bestowing something of real value, he carelessly passed the book to Butch and went on with the business of the day. It was all so matter of fact I don’t believe he really remembers even now that he did anything to give his Grandpa and perhaps, others that may have noticed it, such an big kick.

Tomorrow I will begin posting a week of letters written in 1944.

Judy Guion

Special Picture (# 349) – Christmas, 1939

ADG - Christmas - 1939 - photo by Dan

This photo was taken at Christmas (1939) when Lad was in Venezuela but Dan had been home from there for about six months. He is the one taking the picture.

Back row: Dick, Ced and Dave, front row: Grandpa, Aunt Betty (Lizzie Duryee, Grandpa’s Aunt) and Elsie May Guion (Grandpa’s sister.

Tomorrow and for the rest of the week, I will be posting letters written to Lad. Monday and Tuesday a letter from Aunt Helen (Peabody) Human. On Wednesday, a letter regarding the purchase of a Fifteen Year Investment Contract by Grandpa for Lad. On Thursday and Friday, a letter from Grandpa to his oldest son so far from home.

Judy Guion

Army Life – Pop, Old Boy – Lad Writes About Christmas, 1944 – May 6, 1945

Lad is currently in Marseilles, near the southern coast of France, with his Battalion.

 

Alfred Pebody Guion

6 May 1945

Pop – Old Boy !-

How are you honestly feeling? I’ve had a cold which I got some time last week, but it is diminishing in severity each day, and today I feel better than yesterday. In about a few days (that’s pinning it down, isn’t it?) it should be nearly gone. Maybe all gone.

Received a letter from Dan last night which he wrote on 19 Apr. so possibly by now you’ve already heard from him. Just in case, I think I’ll send the letter on and if you don’t want it you may give it to Marian. This week has been very much like one in March. Snow, rain and cold wind. A little sun. The first couple of days we had snow but since then, rain.

No letters from you this week, so I’ll probably get a couple during the coming week.

You remember, of course, the Ardennes break-through on Dec. 17th. That was a big factor in effecting our Christmas Cheer. Plans had been made for a party and a few of the fellows had made arrangements to eat with French families around here. At the time it happened, of course, we couldn’t write about it, and afterward, I decided to wait a while before telling it. Sometime after the break, paratroops landed in our vicinity, and all festivities were canceled, even to the point of limiting the consumption of alcoholic beverages, which you can understand, I think, and that condition existed until after New Year’s Day. The most probable time of attack, naturally, was Christmas Eve or December 25th. Therefore, although we were outwardly cheerful, there was an undercurrent of strain and depression which killed all happiness during that time. I think most of us feel that Christmas – 1944, never arrived, in the modern sense of the word. I’m regretful, but happy, that an attack never materialized. But we were ready. It’s time to eat dinner, and I’ll have to check the generators before I go so – – keep your chin up, Dad, and take care of yourself. Until the next – “au revoir”.

Lad

Tomorrow and Sunday, more from Dave’s World War II Army Adventure.

Judy Guion

Trumbull – Christmas at the Trumbull House – 1947

 

Christmas at the Trumbull House, 1947

Merry Christmas from my family to yours:

(Clockwise) Dan, Ced (in upper left corner), Zeke Zabel, Anne (Peabody) Stanley, Lad’s chair (he was taking the pictures), Marian Guion, Grandpa.

(Clockwise) baby Cedric, Paulette Guion (Mrs. Dan), Helen (Peabody) Human, Elizabeth (Biss) (Guion) Zabel, Dorothy Peabody, Dave, Elinor Guion (Mrs. Dave), Raymond (Butch) Zabel Jr., Marty Zabel, Ced (again).

 

 

Judith and Douglas Guion, Lad and Marian’s twins.

Missing: Arla Guion (Dan and Paulette’s oldest daughter), Gregory (Lad and Marian’s third child) and Dick and Jean Guion.

 

Open you heart at Christmas

And not just for one day

Open your heart at Christmas

Let this beautiful feeling stay.

 

For caring, generosity and love,

We treasure through the year.

Don’t wait until Christmas

To share it with those you hold dear.

M. Carne

 

Tomorrow and Friday I will be posting another letter from Grandpa to his family scattered around the world in January of 1945.

Judy Guion

Trumbull – Dear Boys – New Years Eve – Round-Robin Letter – December 31, 1944

 

MIG - Marian and Jean bringing in Christmas Tree - 1944

Marian (Mrs. Lad) and Jean (Mrs. Dick)

New Year’s Eve, 1944 at Trumbull, Conn.

Dear Boys:

It is somewhat like old times here tonight, principally due to the fact that we have a surprise visit from Uncle Ted, Helen and Dorothy, who arrived here about noon time, so that with Jean and Marian, the old dining room table was occupied almost like it used to be. Zeke and Elizabeth and the two youngsters came in later, and Dave, of course, representing the Army, and Aunt Betty representing herself, made up the family circle. So you see we are sending the old year out in good style, tempered as always with thoughts of you boys in the background.

The girls were busy last night getting ready for their New Year’s Eve hen party tonight. They have fixed up most temptingly luscious cookies and cakes and all evidence point to an enjoyable evening in prospect.

Ted tells me he has more or less been marking time until the big boys in the government and the big financial interests get set on their Bolivian project. He expects to have a talk soon with the contracting engineer at which time he will know whether he will go to South America to start work at once or not.

Incidentally Lad, Ted says the Ven. Pete. (Venezuela Petroleum) is going along in fine shape. They are building a refinery of their own, are developing their own port facilities and things look very bright for the future. He advises holding on to the stock. And, he also suggests, that with an idea he has reposing in the back of his mind, it would be a mighty good stunt, likely to bear big future dividends for you, if you would occasionally drop a postcard showing that you still remember them, to Frank O’Connor and Mr. Kunhardt, c/o Venez. Pete. in Caracas, and in fact any of the other big boys you know at Soc. V. (Socony-Vacuum Oil Company).

Dorothy tells me that on Christmas Day they sent you a round robin from the New York Peabodys, which I trust you have already received. If opportunity presents, I shall try to get some of our guests to add some message to this letter just to vary the monotony of another letter from Pop.

Addition by one-fingered Ted – who ain’t dead (yet)  came up to Trumbull with Helen and Dothoraty (Spelling ok)   enjoyed seeying the  “HUSKIES” now known as Dad’s grand kind (and they are grand) (Biss’s two boys, Butch and Marty Zabel) also admired the two beauties (Marian and Jean, Grandpa’s daughters-in-law) – who prepared such a fine dinner. Probably won’t find them here when you return if Ziegfield sees them. Hope this finds all well –

            Aunt Helen (Peabody) Human

To all of you, here, there and yon, may I add my good wishes and tell you that we are having a grand time up here in Trumbull….we haven’t been here for ages. And Dave (home on furlough) is here too, so at least we are seeing one of you. Marian and Jean have done themselves proud with a delicious dinner and completing preparations for a decidedly feminine party they are having tonight. To you who are married to them, you are very lucky….but they are too. We’re staying overnight so we are having a real spree and enjoying it just loads. Donald Stanley is due to get home tomorrow, I believe….so will be seeing him soon. He hasn’t been around since last May or about that time. I just finished reading a lot of letters from Dan, Ced and Lad. To-day it really seems as though we have all been to-gether. Lots of love. Aunt Helen.

                  Aunt Dorothy Peabody

Page 2    1231/44

Here is Aunt Dorothy en route to Los Angeles – – the idea being to distribute the population evenly, – – since California has given Marian to Trumbull, I return westward to balance the California population! Aunt Helen and Uncle Ted seem to have pretty much covered the ground on today’s doings so I can only add ditto to their comments on our delicious dinner and charming hostesses – – all three of them – – Marian, Jean, and Aunt Betty. I very much enjoyed seeing the transformation which Marian has made in the back bedroom with the beautiful sailing ships. It is truly lovely – – as Dave says, “When I look around I think I must be in the wrong house!” Not meaning that the Trumbull house hasn’t always been a lovely place – – but the feminine influence got him, I guess. That back bedroom has never seen organdy ruffles before, I’m sure! We all wish you all were with us on this eve of the New Year – – and you are, in fact, very close in our thoughts and in our hearts. All my love to you – – Aunt Dorothy.

Do I daresay “Happy New Year”, fellows? It seems that that spectacular time of the year has rolled around again, but I haven’t gotten into the right spirit. (Or should I say “Spirits”) Anyway, we can certainly hope for a wonderful new year, and perhaps if we wish hard enough, we can also have a high old party here in Trumbull this time next year. In the meantime, have as nice a time as you can, and remember that the best celebration we can ever have will be when all of you are home again. Until then, best of luck and good wishes from….. Marian

“A Very Happy New Year”, boys. And let’s all hope and pray that next year at this time we will all be here in this house to wish each other a happy 1946. All my best wishes to you all…. Jean

(Note by the editor) Dave is out with Bob Jennings, so is not available to finish this round robin sort of letter.

Dan makes us all happy by writing on December 13th “a few words of assurance”. He says he has met a pleasant family in the nearby city of — and my frequent visits there keep me amused in my spare moments, and soon after this V-mail letter arrived we had another written December 2nd on a New Year’s greeting card, as follows: “To indicate how completely we are out of touch with the rest of the world we breezed blithely through both Franklin’s and Tradition’s Thanksgiving without knowing it until too late to celebrate. Intellectually I am atrophying at an alarming rate. I don’t suppose the Fates cut me out from a provincial pattern. At any rate I miss Paris deeply, often thinking how poor by comparison are the opportunities here for meeting and speaking to French people. The boys on the job here seem to be content to sit around playing cards every night. I hope we can finish this job soon. And the war too.”

Marian has just had a letter from Lad and is quite thrilled. His address is the same except that his APO number has been changed to 667 with cable address “Sans Origin”. For your information, Lad, Marian, whom you hope is “not unhappier then she need be”, is a continual ray of sunshine, and is making this a very happy household with Jean. They have just finished doing some marvelous cooking of cakes and cookies, and I think I shall dub them the “sunshine baker’s” with apologies to the Sunshine Baking Company of Long Island City or wherever it is.

In a few hours now it will be a new year. How I hope it will bring you all back safe and sound, with Peace in Europe at least. With all my heart I am wishing each of you a happy New Year. Dad

This concludes the letters I have from 1944. Tomorrow I’ll begin with the first letter of 1945 and then spend two days on the second letter.

Judy Guion

Dear Cedric – A Christmas Card From the Peabodys – December 18, 1944

 

CDG - Envelope from Christmas Card from Helen Human (front) - Dec., 1944

CDG - Envelope from Christmas card from Helen human (back) - Dec., 1944

CDG - Christmas card from Helen Human (front), Dec., 1944

CDG - Christmas card message from Helen Human (inside) - Dec., 1944

CDG - Christmas card from Helen Human (back) - Dec., 1944

12/18/1944

Dear Cedric  —

Indirectly we’ve heard from you several times since we saw you last Christmas time. We always enjoy those carbons your dad sends out.

No one is no more as much surprised as we are to still be here. Ted expected to be in Bolivia weeks and weeks ago.

When are we going to see you again. Love from all of us

Aunt Helen and Uncle Ted

Our best to Rusty too.

 

 

And Dear Cedric  —

I just don’t know where my good intentions go ! Every time one of dad’s long “round-Robins” arrives, I say to myself, “I must write Cedric and Lad and Dave and Dick. And the first thing I know another letter has arrived from dad and I am saying the whole thing again  ! I never even thanked you for bringing down that wonderful load of wood last winter – and we did enjoy it so much !

Right now I am getting ready for a trip to Los Angeles ! I am just as surprised as you are ! It was all very unexpected and I am still trying to catch my heart. After I get there I’ll write you a real letter. In the meantime all my love – Aunt Dorothy

Tomorrow, and Wednesday, a letter from Grandpa to his boys. Thursday and Friday I’ll post the first letter of 1945.

Judy Guion 

 

Trumbull – To My Dear Little Boys (4) – A Poem About Stocking Stuffer Jokes – December 25, 1944

Grandpa got quite creative this year while filling Christmas Stockings. Each person got a joking gift to go along with this poem he composed.

ADG - Poem About Christmas Stocking Gifts - Dec. 1944

Aunt Betty, once known as “Aunt Lizzie”

Keeps warm through the day while she’s busy

But at night, as a treat

And to warm her cold feet

Here’s some coal, which will make her toes frizzie.

*****

Here’s Elsie from New York’s great shop

She daily is kept “on the hop”

But without paper or string

She can’t do a thing

Take this, so your business won’t flop.

*****

Here’s our prize from the far Golden West

California has sent us her best

Though out there, as you know,

They don’t have much snow

So right here she ends her long quest.

*****

Now Jean is the star girl from Hubble

She’s afraid she’ll get round like a bubble

So a mirror will show

As you girls too will know

When her chin shows up signs of its double.

*****

And there is Dave, our young soldier from Crowder

Whose memory for hats takes a powder

Here’s a string for your thumb

To remind you, by gum

That your memory should be getting stouter.

*****

Little Biss is as lean as a poll

One would think she had been on the dole

So to her goes some fat

With the fond hope that that

Will make her get round like a roll.

*****

There was a young fellow named ZEKE

Who keeps Singer’s production at peak

He can turn out a screw

That is equaled by few

He does a month’s work in a week.

*****

Key to Christmas Jokes in stockings: Aunt Betty – piece of coal; Elsie – a paper ba;, Marian – artificial snow; Jean – pocket mirror; Dave – piece of string; Biss – piece of suet; Zeke – old coupling.

Tomorrow and Sunday I will continue the St. Petersburg Adventure about Biss living in Florida with her Aunt Anne (Peabody) Stanley and Anne’s two children.

Judy Guion

Trumbull – To My Dear Little Boys (3) – Christmas Day – December 25, 1944

 

ADG - Grandpa about 1945 or 1946 near a tree in winter

Page 3    12/24/44

Now the Christmas is all over. What a Christmas! Marian and Jean have spent hours and hours preparing the presents and decorations and tree. The presents were done up each with a different color wrapping and the name of the recipient spelled out with gummed letters, some in a single color, others with each letter a different color, with  ribbon ends all curled up or gummed strips of colored paper gaily decorating the box and gummed stars appearing scattered over the box. Under a beautifully shaped tree, with the usual lights and not too many trimmings, the whole ensemble made a striking appearance when the rather small clan gathered. Of course we spoke of each of you and recalled many instances which took place at former Christmases. Now our stomachs are very full and we are not very ambitious to do anything – you know how we feel!

Hello there, fellows! It is nice to know that even tho’ you are scattered practically over God’s green earth, with the help of the well-known  A.P.O. and the Alaskan Airways, we are able to send to you a small part of our Christmas celebration. Purely a vicarious participation on your part, but you know darn well that we were thinking of every one of you all day long, and wishing, of course, that you could have been with us. But just watch us make up for lost time when all of you do get home! In the meantime, rest assured that Santa hasn’t forgotten how to maneuver the intricate Guion chimney, and managed to leave more than a goodly share of gifts for every one of us. And in his usual discerning fashion he managed to leave “just exactly what I wanted!” Of course, the very obvious lists of “what I want Santa to bring me”, which have been lying around in very conspicuous spots for the last three weeks might have had something to do with his selection, but we won’t let him know that we suspect anything quite so obvious as that. The weatherman, naturally, had to be a little contrary. He very grudgingly gave us a White Christmas, but due to the fact that is been raining since very early this morning, the white part looks slightly moth-eaten. But who are we to complain! Besides it’s a darn sight more snow than we have ever had in California! (You might know that I would have to bring that in somehow – – – the California part, I mean). Nevertheless, we have no complaints to offer at all – – it really was a very wonderful Christmas (except for that very definite defect which I mentioned earlier in this paragraph but which we are trying our best to ignore! You can see how well we are succeeding!) Anyway, the very best of holiday greetings to each and every one of you (with a special emphasis on Lad’s, of course). Best of luck. We hope to see you soon …. As always, Marian

Above, you have heard from Elsie and Marian. Jean has gone to her Mother’s or we would have her contribution also. Well as you may have surmised it is now Christmas evening and the days hectic doings have been succeeded by comparative quiet. “The tumult and the shouting dies, the captains and the Kings depart. Still stands Thine ancient sacrifice, A humble and a contrite heart”. And I may add, a hopeful heart that next year may see my brood gathered around this here old rooster. Thanks to the daughters-in-law, not only was this Christmas particularly enjoyable (under the circumstances), but in my own case, it was attended with much less stress and rush and responsibility than in many years past, leaving me in a mental frame of mind to enjoy the peace (what there is left of it on earth) that is symbolic of the season. Peace be with you soon, sons.

DAD

Tomorrow, the final segment of this holiday letter featuring a poem written by Grandpa about the small stocking gifts for the family.

Judy Guion

Trumbull – To My Dear Little Boys (2) – Christmas Greetings – December 24, 1944

 

Trumbull House in winter - (cropped) - 1940

Page 2   12/24/44

As usual, Christmas cards have been arriving with their various messages, some of which I shall quote below:

From the Burnham’s – (17 E. 84th St., N.Y.C.) Love to all the Guion’s where ever they are from all the Burnham crew at sea on the Pacific and Mediterranean and Harlem River!

From Brita: (Rusty’s sister) (Bagshaw, Milhouse, Bedgord Village, N.Y.) Aren’t you ever up this way? I’d just love to see any of you that could come – – any time. And I’d like to know how each and every one of you are. My love to everyone.

Mrs. Ives: A very Merry Christmas to you. I, too, wish all your boys were home at this time of year.

From Rudolf Noer’s wife: In lieu of a word from Rudolf himself, let me say that his unit was transferred from Italy to France in August and that they are in or near Dijon. He is well but holds out no hopes for being home in the near future, as once I had thought he might be. Best wishes. Anita.

The Chandlers: Are the Guion’s still covering the face of the earth? And are you still covering the Trumbull waterfront? We are still living in hopes of seeing you again. What a host of good memories come with Christmas! We are about the same – – just a year older – – a very little wiser. Please be the connection again between us and your boys and Elizabeth. And I hear that there are more daughters-in-law, and of course they are o.k. Emily and Douglas Chandler. Courage for today. Faith for tomorrow. Happiness always.

Of particular interest to Ced: from Nan and Stan Osborn. Love from all of us to all of you. I am terribly tired and worn out taking care of mother but will feel better in a few days when Connie will be home.

Christmas greetings also from the following: Harold Latour, Mrs. Beebe, Peggy (Sanford), the Mortensen’s, Corinne Flaniken, Gwyneth, Ethel and Carl, Virginia and Roy Rowland, Astrid, Axel and Florence Larson, Helen Plumb, Mildred and Stacy, Mrs. Munson and the Draz’s, Uncle Burton and a note from Dorothy (Peabody, Grandma Arla’s youngest sister) with the news that she expects to take a trip to Los Angeles and is going to try to get up to Trumbull before the first of the year to see us all.

From Elsie M. Guion – Well, here I am again and glad I am to be here at the scene of so many good times and each time the same and each time different – this time again the boys represented by one, Dave. Last year by Ced, and next year?

A young chap came into the Shop the other day and said to me he guessed I didn’t know him but his name was Dan Rowland and he was asking news about Dan Guion. So I told him all I knew about Dan as well as the other boys. He was not in uniform, said he was classified 4-F which he regretted, said he was working in New York in an advertising concern. He sent a Hello to Dan which I said I would relay in this Weekly Letter.

We have just finished a successful Holiday business. For months we had been trying to get some help in the Shop as there was more work in the Shop than the two of us could do, and we were getting desperate when a nice young girl appeared before Mrs. Burlinggame one morning and asked where the Shirley Shop was, that they had advertised for help. Mrs. B. told her and said if she didn’t connect with them to come back. In five minutes flat she was back and the next morning she was working for us. Two days later another young girl came in and said she had casually mentioned to her friend that you would like to get a Christmas job and her friend said to come see us, and the next morning she was working with us too. So it worked out fine and they did a swell job for us.

Fkrmck,epx;503kforlcvksdjvd,    This is Susan’s (Susan Warden, the youngest child of the young couple renting the apartment) Merry Christmas to you!

Tomorrow I’ll be posting the happenings of Christmas day and on Friday, a poem written by Grandpa to go along with small stocking gifts.

Judy Guion

 

Trumbull – To My Dear Little Boys (1) – Christmas Preparations – December 24, 1944

 

MIG - Marian and Jean bringing in Christmas Tree - 1944

Marian (Mrs. Lad) and Jean (Mrs. Dick)

Trumbull, Coon.,  Christmas Eve, 1944

To my dear little boys:

My, what memories this day stirs in the dusty attic of the past! The visions of little Alfred, Dan, Ced, Biss, Dick and even baby Dave, with their eyes big and wide with anticipation, romping in to open the stockings and later, all athrill stealing downstairs to see the glittering tree with its candle light softly shining on the piles of mysterious looking packages and boxes, or that time in the attic, when I rigged up some sort of affair behind the curtain with strings attached to your presents. Marty and Butch were here this afternoon, and for a moment, I recaptured that old time spirit, when, with delighted gurgles and shouts, they hung up their stockings in anticipation of Santa Claus’ visit tomorrow. I am looking forward to the time when this war interlude ends and I may, perhaps, watch you boys play the role of Santa Claus for your own little tots.

While it is far from ideal with you boys so far from home, my native optimism rises to the challenge and I realize it could be lots worse. Speaking selfishly, if Aunt Betty and I alone had to go through tomorrow, it would not be much of a “merry” Christmas, but with the girls here with their enthusiasm and energy, it begins to take on much of the old time feeling, and to the climax, DAVE CAME HOME THURSDAY and stays until New Year’s Day. Then too, the weather is doing its part, for we have had the first real snowstorm of the season, and Marian is thrilled. And as an added dividend of cheer, a V-mail letter from Dan arrived yesterday, written on December 13th, reporting all well with him. And today Aunt Elsie arrived on the scene so it begins to take on a real holiday atmosphere.

Perhaps your Constitution is strong enough to stand an account of just how things are progressing on this day before Christmas, 1944. Marian and Jean were up betimes this morning, all prepared for a visit to the woods to find some Christmas greens. Their first thought was to go up along the old railroad tracks but they finally decided to go over to the woods in back of Mantle’s. Fortunately, they ran across Walter and he showed them just where to find some ground pine, Princess pine, hemlock branches, long needle pine and Laurel, which they have used in most tastefully decorating the house. I think it is as attractive as it has ever been. Dave started for church but because he could not get the Buick up the slippery driveways, my Buick had been left until late yesterday out in front of Laufer’s, but with no gas in the tank we had a little trouble getting the car started so as to get gas, enabling me to go to Bridgeport for a wedding which was scheduled for noon today. As the girls were busy with their decorating job I started the dinner, got my wedding out of the way. Then dinner. While Aunt Betty was washing the dishes, Zeke and Biss and the two youngsters arrived, then Bob Shattuck to see Dave, then Carl, and while all this was going on, the phone rang to announce that Aunt Elsie was at the station in Bridgeport, so Dave and Aunt Betty went down to fetch our  Yuletide guest.

Tomorrow’s post will be Christmas Greetings to the family, Thursday will be events of Christmas Day and on Friday, a special poem with messages and stocking gifts for most of the family.

Judy Guion