Army Life – Dan Writes About the American Red Cross Club in London – March 27, 1944

The following article appeared in The Bridgeport Post, Bridgeport, Conn., on Monday, March 27, 1944.

 

Red Cross on Call for All Servicemen in London, Corp. Guion Tells Family

The American Red Cross in London is “a composite Travelers’ aid, shopping guide, nursemaid, companion, entertainer,  tour conductor, encyclopedia, Dorothy Dix and hostess, all at the beck and call of any G. I. in uniform”, according to Corp. Daniel B.  Guion, of Trumbull, now stationed in London.

“Because it occupies such a prominent place in my mind today, I am dedicating this letter to the ARC (American Red Cross)”, Corp. Guion recently wrote to his father, Alfred D. Guion, of Trumbull.

The clubs in London have been a Godsend to every American serviceman who has come to London,  wanting to get the most out of his visit, the Trumbull soldier continues. “Maps, accommodations, education, information, entertainment, all are the daily diet of the ARC.”

Rooms and meals, he says, are available at minimum cost. “But nicest of all, a new ARC club has just opened quite near the place rather different from the downtown London clubs, more like a USO in that there are no overnight facilities to attract the Grand Central Terminal crowd, that prevails in the regular clubs, coming and going at all hours of the day and night, unkempt from travel, gas masks and musette bags drooping from weary shoulders as they lineup for lodgings.”

This club, designed for men stationed in the area rather than for transient servicemen, appeals strongly to Corp. Guion’s sense of the historic and dramatic.

On Site of Old Palace

“This local ARC is housed in a building built by Christopher Wren for Queen Anne, in the early 18th century,” he explains.  “It is built on the site of an old palace,  which, causes it to fairly reek of atmosphere and tradition, despite the modern comforts that have been added for its present function.”

 

Great figures of Britain’s past, who have stopped there, or played their parts in the immediate vicinity, include 21 Kings, four queens, Chaucer, Woolsey, Sir Walter Raleigh, Francis Bacon, Spencer (“he read the Faery Queen to Queen Bess”) and Dean Swift.

Open Fireplace

“There is an open fireplace in virtually every room. Library, music room, dining room, information desk, all contribute notably to our comfort indoors, while spacious lawns, secluded bowers, gardens and aged walls lend an aura of romantic antiquity to the grounds around it. Glimpses of barges and boats can be caught through the trees that line the further edge of the lawn past which a river flows.

“By fortunate coincidence I am able to take advantage of this club during the daylight hours all this week, because I have begun working on a shift job which changes hours periodically.”

Corp. Guion is not new to world travel. As a U.S. government engineer, he traveled through a good bit of South America, spending some time working in Venezuela, and before entering service, was given an assignment in Alaska. He had his early education in Trumbull schools, attending Central High School, and was graduated from the University of Connecticut. He has been overseas with the U.S. Army for several months.

Mr. Guion, Sr.,  is an enthusiastic volunteer worker for the Trumbull branch, Bridgeport chapter, American Red Cross, which he serves as director of public information.

“We all know the Red Cross is doing a grand job, here and abroad.” he says. “But it gives an added boost to your morale to hear directly from your own boy how extremely well the organization is serving our men overseas.”

 

Tomorrow,, a letter from Jean (Mrs. Richard) to Ced in Alaska, and on Friday, a letter from Elizabeth (Biss) to Ced, one of her older brothers.

Judy Guion

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Army Life – Dear Dad – Southern California as seen from Arcadia, Pasadena, LA, Hollywood and Beverly Hills – January 9, 1943

It’s 1943 and we have followed Lad from home to Aberdeen Maryland for Ordnance Training School where he and his best friends, were chosen to have further training as  instructors of vehicle mechanics and maintenance, My father was sent to  Flint Michigan for a week of further training in diesel mechanics, while his buddies traveled to Santa Anita, California, their next destination, by various routes. After he completed his training, Lad drove on to Santa Anita, California by himself.  This is Lad’s first letter home.

Alfred (Lad) Guion in California

January 9, 1943

Dear Dad:

Well, even if you have not heard much of my progress across from Chicago, I’m here and according to my speedometer, 4200 miles have been successfully manipulated. Other than a bad condenser just outside of Pittsburgh on the Turnpike and a clogged radiator somewhere between Flint and Chicago, the car performed admirably.

The camp here – contrary to what it’s name implies – is far from comfortable. No sheets or pillowcases, no heat (yes, we need heat) , no hot water and no organization as yet. It is still very much in the process of being renovated and rebuilt after being used as a Japanese holding area. In a couple of months it will, in all probability, be much nicer.

Now, I’ll tell you a little about Southern California as seen from Arcadia, Pasadena, LA, Hollywood and Beverly Hills. Here is how things have gone. I got into Arcadia early on Monday the fourth and since I was not due to report until the seventh I just used my special orders to get into camp to leave some of my stuff and then went out again. While in camp, I looked for and found Art Lind and Vern Eddington  (both from Aberdeen and Flint) and tried to borrow some money from them. No luck but I learned where there were USO houses and left.

In Pasadena I found one, had breakfast and then cleaned up in a house maintained for servicemen for just that purpose. Then I went into Los Angeles. Not much doing there so I came back to Arcadia, left some clothes at the cleaners and again when into Pasadena. I spent the rest of the afternoon and evening dancing, playing bridge and snacking.

That night I spent in the car on the front seat. I discovered that when California is advertised – the land of sunshine or sunny California – they mention only the times when the sun is shining. During the day it is always quite warm but – – – the nights – – –. I have been told that antifreeze is not needed here, but observation and records show that the temperature during the early morning at this time of year usually drops to somewhere below 37° but never lower than 30°. Well, that is mighty cool when the days are so warm. There have been days when I have perspired as I drove along with the windows open.

Well, to get on with my narrative. Wednesday morning it was nearly noon and I went to the Y and cleaned up and then went into LA for lunch. I wandered around a little but it is too big to get very far on foot so I went back to the car and was just driving aimlessly toward camp went four soldiers asked me if I was going to Hollywood. I had not thought of that, so I said “Sure” and off we went.

At the USO there I talked with some of the hostesses and found out what I could about the town and then decided to go out to the Beverly Hills Hotel where there was another USO. I tried to get someone to go out with me and show me some of the prettier places and views, but was unsuccessful.

I went back to Hollywood to the Hollywood canteen and stayed there the rest of the night dancing and snacking (new word here in LA and vicinity) until the place closed at 12. With a fellow I met there, I went to the Palladium and did some more dancing to Tommy Dorsey, he really is very good.

That night I drove way up above the Beverly Hills residence section and again spent the night in the car. The view was gorgeous and I spent quite some time just sitting in the sun and looking. Then back to the Beverly Hills Hotel USO to clean up and eat. I spent the early afternoon there reading and talking with various women and soldiers and then went back to Hollywood and saw “Random Harvest” ( https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Random_Harvest_(film) )  ( https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6QmgB0zB2BY )which I enjoyed just as much as the book.

Then I went back to the Hollywood canteen until 12 and then to Florentine Gardens for more dancing. After a cup of coffee at about 2:30 I drove back to Arcadia. I had to report here on Friday but at that hour of the morning there was nothing doing so I slept, again in the car.

I reported yesterday morning and spent all afternoon getting arranged. The camp is in quarantine for the “Flu” so I did not go out yesterday evening but went to a show put on here at the post by a bunch of Hollywood stars. It was very good.

Today I spent all morning getting acquainted with the camp here and trying to get my car registered on the post. I ate just before starting this letter. So that brings the past week up to date. Oh no, one more thing. Tell Dick that if he heard Harry James on the Chesterfield Program Tuesday, I was one of those fellows doing the clapping after each piece. I rather enjoyed it, even though I don’t particularly like Harry James.

Well I still have more to do in order to complete the car registration so I think that I’ll be on my way now, and until the next letter I shall remain

Lad

I am well, still, and I’m hoping the quarantine will be lifted this afternoon. Give my love to Aunt Betty and the rest (and even the dog).

AG

I’ll finish out the week with three more letters from Grandpa.

Judy Guion

Guest Post – There’ll Be A Hot Time… by GPCox

In this Final-final Guest Post, GPCox explores the world of entertainment for the troops at home and away.  

USO Dance, Washington

USO Dance, Washington

 

Entertainment for troops at home also provided sources for a social life to the civilians and gave the war drive efforts an available stage.  The USO is usually the organization that comes to mind for most of us.  They had 59 companies going abroad to entertain, but they also provided amusement for those in the U.S.  Just about every city had a USO center for dancing, conversation, food and getting the opportunity to see celebrities.  The Red Cross would usually set themselves up in these centers and supply baskets of goodies free of charge to the troops.  They strove to become a home away from home for the men.  Today, in the Midwest, a group of volunteers re-enact the USO and WW2 era in parades, ceremonies and living history displays.

Washington D.C., San Francisco and NYC had a Pepsi Cola Canteen where anyone in uniform ate for free. They had a game room and showers.  A service center in

USO Center, Miss.

USO Center, Miss.

Georgetown catered to many of the wounded men coming out of Walter Reed and Bethesda Hospitals.  The civilians in the area became very close to the veterans and many kept up their contact years after the war ended.

Being in the National Defense Strategic Railway Route, the Pennsylvania RR depot at Dennison, Ohio doubled as a canteen.  During WWII, over 3,980 volunteers served the troops while the trains were being filled with water.  The Dennison Canteen from 9 March 1942 to 8 April 1946 never closed its doors, ran out of money or food – quite an accomplishment in itself.  The building that distributed meals, treats, magazines and Christmas packages is now a National Historic Landmark.

Outside of the USO centers, I believe the most famous was the Stage Door Canteen.  This was started by the American Theatre Wing in 1942 and ended in 1946.  Situated in

Stage Door Canteen

Stage Door Canteen

the basement of the 44th Street Theater in New York City, caterers and local merchants provided food and drinks while big name performers and service staff took charge of keeping the Canteen in operation, even during black-outs and curfews, for the numerous servicemen that passed through the city.

But, it wasn’t always the women entertaining the men – here in the photo; a sailor is seen enjoying giving Conga lessons at a dance held at the Hamilton Community House in Two Rivers, Wisconsin.  The National Park Ranger Station held dances

Boston Ranger Station

Boston Ranger Station

on the second floor of their building in Boston, Mass. And the Everett Covered Bridge Dance was held each July.  Many a blossoming romance evolved from the dance halls and this was not just true in the U.S.  In Australia they opened the Trocadero, which was a popular dance venue where the American soldiers introduced the locals to the Jitterbug and Jive.  Judy informed me that her father wrote in a letter dated, 23 March 1943: “Last Saturday, the three of us – Vic, Art and Al – went to L.A. to see “The

"This Is The Army"

“This Is The Army”

Rookie.”  It is a ‘scream,’ and we thoroughly enjoyed the whole production.  It is put on by the boys from Fort MacArthur, just south of L.A. proper and they seem to enjoy doing it as well as the audience enjoys seeing it.  It has been running since the latter part of 1942 and the house is still crowded at each performance.  It really is good.”  The Greatest Generation had imagination; “if you can’t entertain us – we’ll entertain ourselves,” seemed to be their motto.

Not everyone wanted to dance or attend church functions.  Neighbors, with their men overseas, created groups to play cards, swap recipes and tell stories.  One such group called themselves the ‘Dumbos,’ in Yankton, South Dakota.  As each man came home, he was required to take the whole group out to dinner.  Thankfully, all their men came home.  They then continued to meet monthly, a tradition that would last for over 35 years.

Special dispensation was given to the Ringling Bros. & Barnum & Bailey Circus to ride the rails during the war.  The government felt their travels to numerous cities helped to keep up the civilian morale.  The Thomas Carnival started in Lennox, South Dakota, to provide clean and safe entertainment for the people of that state and ended up providing midway fairs for 15 other states.  The rides, games and food concessions gave home front diversions from their 10-16 hour work days.

Harrisburg

Harrisburg

In Stanford, Texas they remember when the high school band played at the rodeo because the “Cowboy Band” members were mostly in the service.  Some of the women from here sang with Gene Autry when in 1941, NYC’s Madison Square Garden hosted Everett Colburn’s World Series Rodeo.  Soon afterward, Autry not only took over the NYC Garden, but the Boston Garden as well and continued the tradition for decades.

The war had put a damper on traveling, but the era was not all hardship.  Individual parties and family events went on, often as though there was no war at all.  Some were based on the war and would have a military theme whereby bringing a piece of scrap metal was the entry fee to a dance or a war bond was given as a holiday gift.  They did not have televisions, video games or cell phones.  People played games together, played instruments and visited friends and relatives.  They rolled bandages and wrote to their loved ones overseas.  There was always a movie theater in town to watch the newsreels and latest movies.

Children did real homework out of books and on paper.  Kids were seen everywhere playing hopscotch, Red Rover, Statues, RedLight-GreenLight, jacks, jump rope, dolls or they would read or just plain make up their own games.  I’m certain I’ve forgotten a number of the activities that went on – what do you remember?  I realize most of the states were not mentioned and I had very little data for countries outside the U.S., so let’s hear from all of you!  Allow Judy and me to learn your stories and that of your town, state or country.

Last, but definitely not least – the radio.  Big stars like Abbott and Costello continued touring the U.S., making movies and performing their skits for the wireless.

Abbott and Costello

Abbott and Costello

Resources:  Tom Brokaw’s “Greatest Generation”;  USO.org;  Westtexastribune.com;  Thomas Carnival.com; “Let the Good Times Roll” by Paul D. Casolorph; “Americans Remember the Home Front” by Roy Hoopes;  Wikianswers.com;  neohiocontradance.org;  StLaw.edu;  digicoll.library.wisc.edu; npr.org

If you enjoyed these Guest Posts by GPCox, you might also enjoy http://pacificparatrooper.wordpress.com , the story of the 11th Airborne written by gpcox. Be sure to check it out. Tomorrow I’ll begin posting letters written in 1942. Lad and Dan are both in Uncle Sam’s service, Ced is in Alaska, Dick and Dave are still in school in Trumbull.

Judy Guion

Guest Post – The Role of Sports: WW II by GPCox

 

GPCox  shares the role sports played during World War II in entertaining those left at home. Sports was a diversion from the everyday reports of how the war was progressing in the various fronts around the world.

By: gpcox http://pacificparatrooper.wordpress.com

Chesterfield ad

Chesterfield ad

The movies and newsreels of WWII provided information and diversion for many at the home front, but none could provide the escape and release of stress for the civilian as much as sports.

South Florida maintained a carnival atmosphere with the Hialeah Race Track and West Flagler Kennel Club, which took in $100,000 nightly – just to prove my point.  And, somehow, travel restrictions did not deter the action at Miami’s Tropical Park.  Horse racing went on, despite the war, in every country.  All in all, racing boomed as the 68thrunning of the Kentucky Derby went off with 100,000 in the crowd.  Unfortunately, this was the same day that 68 men had been taken by the Japanese at Bataan; they were all members of D Company, 192d Tank Battalion, out of Kentucky.

The war did not stop the golfers either as the tournaments and professional tours continued.  Sam Snead, fresh back from the Navy, played in the 1944 tourney; he came in second to Byron Nelson. (gpcox met Snead at the ‘Sail Inn’ in Delray Beach, FL when he would drop in for lunch after a game with friends.)

In boxing, Joe Louis started the idea of holding a sports event for the war effort.  He announced in 1942 that his profits from the bout against Buddy Blair would go to the Naval Relief fund.  The gate was $200,000 and Louis finished off his opponent in 2 minutes and 56 seconds.  Louis was drafted three days later.

Not to be outdone, a profitable pro-football contest was held between the National League All-Stars and the

Growing up during World War II

Growing up during World War II

Chicago Bears and these profits also went to the Naval Relief Fund.  The National Football League was forced to reduce to a 42 game season in 1943 due to all the draftees, but Coach George Halas brought home two championship titles for the Bears, 1940 & 1942; while Curly Lambeau’s Green Bay Packers won it in 1944.

As during most of WWII, 1943 in New Zealand had no Rugby International matches played, but the West Coast did retain the Northern Union Cup.  England and Australia were unable to hold their tennis championships, such as Wimbledon, for the extent of the war.

In 1942, the Rose Bowl was moved to Duke Stadium in North Carolina to avoid having large crowds converge anywhere on the west coast.  Dallas, Texas had 38,000 for the Cotton Bowl that year and 35,505 amassed in Miami for the Orange Bowl: Georgia Bulldogs 46 – Horned Frogs 40.  The annual Army-Navy game brought 66,000 to Baltimore’s Municipal Stadium in 1944, when Coach “Doc” Blanchard led the Army, not only to victory, but a perfect season.

Professional baseball was as hot as ever when 37,815 fans watched the American League Browns, in Sportsman Park, beat the New York Yankees for the pennant 1 October 1944.  This made the World Series an all-St. Louis affair against the Cardinals.  Truman was there watching as the Cardinals won their fifth world crown.  The Yankees won it in 1943 against the Cardinals.

As most people are aware, the baseball racial barrier was not broken until 1947 when Jackie Robinson walked out on the field, so during WWII there were two Negro leagues.  (As they were called back in the day.)  Out of Hometown, Pennsylvania, “Josh” Gibson and Walter Johnson dominated the games.  In the Washington Griffith Stadium, he had the long-ball hitter record of 563 feet, (Babe Ruth’s record was 550’) and a .541 batting average in 1943.

Rockford Peaches - 1944

Rockford Peaches – 1944

And, we cannot close this section of baseball without mentioning the AAGPBL – the All-American Professional Baseball League, also known as the “lipstick league.”  They were the “Girls of Summer” depicted in the newspapers as “Queens of Swat” and “Belles of the Ball Game.”  They referred to each other by nicknames like: ‘Jeep,’ ‘Flash,’ ‘Pepper’ and ‘Moe.”  The league premiered in 1943 and

Dorothy Kamenshak

Dorothy Kamenshak

would last for 12 years.  There were 545 female athletes that made up the ten teams and their popularity would eventually draw a million fans.  These women have been honored by the movie, “A League of Their Own” in 1992 and finally received tribute in the Cooperstown Hall of Fame in 1988.

Young adults (the word “teenager” was not really used back then), used sporting events as a gathering spot for camaraderie among friends and also to help fill the void of adult male influence that was prevalent in so many homes.  In the “Corn Belt,” basketball ranked as the number one sport, but there was also tennis, golf, a tumbling club, fencing and even Ping-Pong clubs.  High school games were even broadcasted on the radio.  The girls would join a Booster Club to be their school’s cheering squad and wearing their boyfriend’s sports jacket was a major status symbol.

Early 1940's - Risen (TX) Football

Early 1940’s – Risen (TX) Football

Not all sports were organized.  Boys played stick ball in the city streets and in the suburbs, a basketball hoop attached to a garage door attracted neighbors.  Church picnics and block parties always included a multitude of games and sports to occupy the younger set.  Communities were kept closely knit that way, like Kerry Corner, the Irish working-class neighborhood not far from Harvard yard.  They organized their own baseball and basketball games.  John “Lefty” Caulfield formed a baseball scholarship program before he enlisted in the Navy because it had done so much for him.  Those that returned from the war became part of the ROMEO Club, (Retired Old Men Eating Out), to maintain those childhood friendships.

Capt. Glen Miller preparing for performance at 1943 Yale Bowl

Capt. Glen Miller preparing for performance at 1943 Yale Bowl

Harry James, better known as a big band leader for the ‘Swing Era’ was also a one-time Detroit Tigers prospect.  He organized his own band into a team, complete with uniforms.  Louise Tobin, singer with many of the big bands, said, “The boys were hired first because they could play baseball; second for their instruments.”  Fellow musicians said you had to have a .300 average to get an audition with Harry.  The band’s manager added, “They carried more equipment for baseball than music…  Another bus on the road would probably be a band and we’d stop and play a game.”  Mr. James gave his all for baseball as captain, pitcher and the heaviest hitter.

For the home front, living during a world war was an experience no one of today’s generation has experienced.  Judy and I have attempted to portray both the hardships they lived through and some of the activities that helped them to endure and be molded into the “Greatest Generation.”  I’m certain I have missed at least a million or so stories out there that are related to the sports of the 40’s, so let’s hear some!!

A great big thank you to gpcox for the research needed to put together this post. I hope you enjoyed it.

Tomorrow, I’ll begin a week of letters written in 1946. Dave’s homecoming is getting closer and closer and so is the arrival of Grandpa’s third grandchild over in France. 

Judy Guion

Trumbull – Dear Boys – Below Zero Weather – December 20, 1942

Trumbull, Conn., December 20, 1942

Dear Boys:

For three days the thermometer in these here parts has consistently registered below zero weather. Day before yesterday it was 8 below, yesterday around the zero mark and today, early, it was 14 below, going up to 8 below at 8 o’clock, and when, during the day, it rose to 2 below, it seemed as though it were getting warm. Tonight is cold again but how far the mercury has sunk I don’t know. With furnace going full tilt, oil stoves alight and the alcove fireplace doing its bit, we have been fairly comfortable. Maybe we would be more comfortable in Alaska. Dick has been wearing his Davy Crockett coonskin cap and Barbara bemoans the fact that the moth got into her parka. I feel sorry for the poor guys who have oil burners and have been rationed on their fuel oil. Everyone around here is kicking at the discrimination shown by the bunglers in Washington against New England and the East. Democrats and Republicans alike, if their memory lasts that long, will be apt to register their protests in a very definite manner in November of ’44.

No further word from Lad or Ced, but a letter from Dan arrived holding out just a suggestion of hope that he may be able to get home for Christmas. We’re all keeping our fingers crossed.

I have been using the bus several days lately to get back and forth, due to a combination of gas rationing and difficulty starting the car in this cold weather. The office, too, due to fuel oil rationing, has been too cold to comfortably work in, and for two days the heat was off entirely during repairs. I don’t know what the situation will be tomorrow. Both Dick and Dave were home for a couple of days last week with colds. Dave still has a cough hanging on, but Aunt Betty and I seem to be inhospitable to the little germ.

I am afraid the season will lack some of its old time zest this year due to the absence of some very important sons, but maintenance of a smiling spirit seems to be indicated, which I have tried to capture in the attached effort, in lieu of a Christmas card, I am sending out to sundry friends and acquaintances (see sample attached). (The sample is not attached)

A Christmas box loaded with much goodwill but few articles of much intrinsic value, was sent off to Flint last week hoping it would reach Lad in time, but Dan’s slight remembrances are being retained here in the hope he will come in person to claim them. Ced’s box previously started on its long journey but I have little hope, judging from the delay in letter deliveries from Alaska, that it will reach him by the 25th.

Inspiration seems sadly lacking tonight, if you can miscall anything I write in these weekly efforts by that name, and as it is about time to snatch a bite to eat and try to warm up the bedsheets, it is perhaps just as well to quote the well-remembered lines, “Merry Christmas to all and to all a good night” from one, who in your childhood days, used to pose as

Santa Claus

Tomorrow, the last letter from 1942. It wraps up news from Lad and Ced, who were not home for Christmas, Christmas guests and festivities.

On Saturday, more Special Pictures of the Trumbull House, Then and Now.

On Sunday, another Guest Post from GPCox about the role Sports played for the home folks.

Judy Guion

Trumbull – Dear Foreign Legion – Lad Meets Flint, Michigan – December 13, 1942

 

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Trumbull, Conn., December 13, 1942

Pulchritudinous Al

Reticent Dan

Uncommunicative Ced

Dear Foreign Legion:

A real winter’s day here. The snow began last night and has been at it steadily all day – – those big, soft, fluffy flakes that pile high on bush and branch, putting a white cap on all familiar landmarks and a cloak of ermine on the ground itself.

My prospecting this week has unearthed only one nugget – – a letter from Flint, Mich., revealing Lad’s address as c/o Ordnance School, Flint Sec., Armory, 1101 Lewis St. It reveals no war secrets, but leaves one in no doubt as to Lad’s keen appreciation of feminine beauty. He says: “Due to the fact that Flint is such a friendly town and so full of really pretty girls that this is the first time I have had a free moment. I should really be ashamed of myself for not taking time to write earlier but I really have had such a good time and so thoroughly enjoyed every moment that I can’t honestly say that I am. But I’ll try to be better in the future.”

They left Aberdeen Wednesday P.M. arriving at Pittsburgh through a blizzard at 2 A.M. the following  morning. They started just before noon and reached Flint late that night. Seeking accommodations at the “Y”, a girl at the desk – – (a really beautiful blonde), told them her mother had an empty room. They spent Friday and Saturday nights there (no charge), and were invited to an exclusive formal dance Saturday night where they met Flint, Mich. “And boy, girls galore. And since that time I’ve had more fun that I have ever had in my life and I really mean that. It is wonderful here. I’ve met more beautiful girls here than I ever thought existed, and everyone is very friendly. If we did not have to stay at the Armory the stay here would not cost us a cent. In fact, we turned down about six invitations for suppers because we can’t make them in four days, and next week and the following is all accounted for. And all kinds of dances – – most of them for the better society. The “Y” girl, Elizabeth (Lee) Duhaune, is of this set. Since then – – wow – – I just can’t imagine anything better.”

It would seem from the above that Lad is not exactly homesick and is manfully doing his best not to be overcome with ennui. Flint may sound hard to you and me but it has certainly resulted in a spark or two for Lad.

Last week I finally succeeded in getting a box off to Ced with knick-nacks of one sort or another for his Christmas stocking but decided to wait for a reply to last October’s inquiry as to what he wanted before I bought him a serious gift. Of course it will reach him late but I’d rather that than send something not particularly desired.

No word from Dan except through Barbara. Apparently he is still at Red Lion. I don’t know whether to address letters to him there or at Lancaster.

Dave has been home most of the week with a cold but the rest of us are O.K.

DAD

Tomorrow another letter from Grandpa to his sons. On Friday, a longer post wrapping up the week and the year 1942.

Judy Guion

 

Guest Post – Hooray For Hollywood by GPCox

GPCox has done a fantastic job of research for this Guest Post. I learned quite a bit about the participation and personal sacrifices made by some very famous people. I think you’ll enjoy it.

Hollywood was aware of the threat of war long before Pearl Harbor.  The show biz paper “Variety” called the films

Abbott and Costello

Abbott and Costello

‘preparedness pix’ and by the end of 1940, there were 36 titles concerning the subject: “I Married a Nazi,” “Sergeant York” and “British Intelligence” were among them.  Non-Japanese oriental actors or Caucasians were hired to play the roles of Japanese villains, such as Peter Lorre as ‘Mr. Moto.’  War movies came out in the theatres as though popping off an assembly line.  Greer Garson seemed to save the entire British Army from Dunkirk in “Mrs. Minivier.”  Abbott and Costello continued their comedy routines in such films as “Keep’em Flying” and “Buck Privates.”  The home front craved to be entertained and listened to the comedy skits performed on radio, where the message was often ‘loose lips sink ships’.

The OWI had objections as to the content of some films, such as the youthful character ‘Andy Hardy’ that seemed oblivious that a war was being fought at all and the famous “Casablanca” that provided no message of purpose or example of U.S. patriotism.  Archibald MacLeish said that the theaters were “escapist and delusive.”  The OWI had no problem with radio programs such as “Amos & Andy” and “Fibber McGee and Molly,” both of which not only entertained the public, but got the war time messages out – loud and clear.  Singers were popping up not just in the radio shows.  Now the sweep of juke boxes was found in diners, taverns, barber shops and even gas stations.

 Shirley Temple serving the G.I.s

Shirley Temple serving the G.I.s

But, the actors and behind-the-scenes crews did far more for the war effort than the movies and radio shows.  The charismatic Clark Gable headed the Actor’s Committee for Stage, Screen & Radio and immediately began organizing tour groups to provide benefit performances for the Red Cross, Navy Relief Fund and many more.  Carole Lombard, actress and Gable’s wife, was killed during one of these tours and Dorothy Lamour (of the “Road to…” movies fame) finished her schedule of 10,000 miles to different defense plants and shipyards.  After recovering from a horrific bout of depression, Gable joined the Air Force.

The Hollywood Canteen was started by John Garfield and he made Bette Davis the President of the organization.

Hollywood Canteen

Hollywood Canteen

Hollywood Canteen

Hollywood Canteen

The actress converted a livery stable into the social center of Hollywood with the aid of studio workmen.  Hedy Lamarr, when asked to help out in the kitchen, replied that she couldn’t cook.  Davis put her to work washing dishes and Lamarr ended up meeting her future husband at the canteen.  Wikipedia lists 300 celebrities that contributed to the canteen’s success.

A movie was made in 1944 simply called, “Hollywood Canteen,” and was filled with a cast that played themselves.  To name only a few that appeared: Andrew Sisters, Jack Benny, Eddie Cantor, Sydney Greenstreet, Alan Hale, and Peter Lorre.

Glen Miller

Glen Miller

With all that Hollywood was doing for the war effort, General Lewis Hersey provided draft deferments, but many enlisted anyway.  Jimmy Stewart gained ten pounds so that he would pass the physical.  I have greatly shortened the list from www.jodavidsmeyer.com to give everyone an idea of their service.

Don Adams  (“Get Smart”) – USMC Guadalcanal

James Arness (“Gunsmoke”) –  U.S. Army – wounded at Anzio, Bronze Star & Purple Heart

James Arness

James Arness

Ernest Borgnine  (“McHale’s Navy”) – U.S. Navy, 12 years, joined before WWII

Mel Brooks  (Director, Producer, Actor) – U.S. Army, Battle of the Bulge

Julia Child  (Chef) – OSS service in Ceylon and China

Charles Durning (TV, movies & stage) – U.S. Army, Omaha Beach D-Day, 3 Purple Hearts & Silver Star

Glen Ford (movie star) – U.S. Navy Captain, remained in reserves after the war, retired after Vietnam

Lee Marvin (movie star) – USMC, Saipan

Gene Kelly

Gene Kelly

Gene Kelly (Dancer, movies & stage) – U.S. Naval Air Service

Johnny Carson

Johnny Carson

Johnny Carson (“Tonight Show”) – U.S. Navy Ensign

Ed McMahon (“Tonight Show”) – USMC captain, Corsair fighter pilot, also served in Korean War

Ed McMahon

Ed McMahon

Bea Arthur  (“Maude,” “Golden Girls”) – USMC SSgt.

Bea Arthur

Bea Arthur

During WWII, the Greatest Generation proved that all needed to work together, and the same goes today.  Judy and I want every story put down for posterity, so let us know your stories…

RESOURCES:  “Let the Good Times Roll” by Paul D. Casolorph; “Americans Remember the Home Front” by Roy Hoopes; Wikipedia; Hollywood Canteen.net, Internet Movie Database; otrcat.com; tumbler; midatlanticnostalgia convention.com

Do you have any memories of war movies or stories about entertainment during the War? Share them in your comments. Check out GPCox’s Blog, pacificicparatrooper.wordpress.com . On it, you’ll learn all about the Pacific Theater and the battles occurring in that part of the world.

Tomorrow, I’ll be posting letters written in 1944.All the boys are scattered around the world and doing their part to support Uncle Sam while Grandpa holds sown the fort at the old homestead in Trumbull.

Judy Guion