Autobiography of Mary E Wilson (8) – 1929

Mary E. Wilson has been working at the General Electric plant in Bridgeport, Connecticut, for two years and is feeling pretty good about her life. Then the Depression hit and Mary has to face another disappointment, but she is growing up and developing her own social life.


The depression came and things were getting rough. I still worked at General Electric part time but took another part-time job with a chiropodist. Between the two jobs, I made out pretty well but my Mother demanded all my money and she gave me two dollars allowance a week. I also took a course in Swedish massage and I used to go to ladies homes to work on them.

I really felt wealthy because I saved the money they gave me and put it in the Morris Plan Bank. I believe I was able to save $100 and I kept the money a secret from my Mother which I suppose was deceitful. When the crash came, I lost my precious savings when the bank failed. I felt I was being punished for trying to deceive my Mother.

In the meantime, my Father had started to drink heavily and could not keep a job. He accused my mother of having an affair, which was stupid, because my Mother did not like men. She was so independent.

Both of my brothers were taken out of school and sent to trade schools. Eventually, Jim got a job in the garage and Arthur was apprenticed to a man to learn how to become a lace weaver. It would take four years. I think I was jealous because they were both given a chance to learn a trade and I was stuck in the factory.

An event happened which I will always remember. Charles Lindbergh flew his “Spirit of St. Louis” across the Atlantic Ocean to France. I think every woman was in love with him because of his courage and bravery. I think I read every article written about him. In later years his son was kidnapped by Bruno Hauptman who was later electrocuted for the death of Lindbergh’s son.

Work at General Electric was very hard but I had become used to it. I assembled rubber plugs to extension cords. In addition, I became very active with the group who represented the factory workers in any gripes they had. I also was active in a gym group who met every day after work. It was a diversion after a hard day at work.

I met a nice English boy who was my very first boyfriend. He was a year older than I was and he would come to visit me every day on our lunch break and bring me a Milky Way candy bar. He had no money either because his parents took all of his money, too. We seemed to have fun doing simple things.

Later, I met a young man who was a foreman at General Electric. I dated him for almost a year. He was a nice boy and got along great with my family but I was only 18 at that time and he wanted to get married right away. Mother really got upset. My Father would not work and she needed my money. Jim had a part-time job in the garage and Arthur was still in trade school. I guess I was really not in love with him, so it was easier to end my relationship with him than fight with my mother all the time.

Next week, I’ll be posting developments in Mary’s life during 1930 when she considers making a change.

This coming week, I’ll post letters written in 1941. Both Lad and Dan are concerned about their draft status, Lad in Trumbull and Dan in Alaska. Ced and Dick, also in Alaska, are not quite as concerned as yet.

Judy Guion


Trumbull – Lad’s Sailing Date Postponed (2) – April, 1941

Page 2 of R – 127

APG - The Gang at the Clubhouse in Pariaguan - 1940

“The Gang” on the steps of the Clubhouse in Pariaguan, Venezuela

Dear Lad:

That was a very powerful, high explosive, air torpedoes you dropped on our unsuspecting head and if you must have the truth, you made a direct hit. There wasn’t even time to get to an air raid shelter and we are just now getting our breath back.

In my buffeting about the world, receiving, as most of us do during the course of a lifetime, a share of good and bad, I have learned to try to turn the slings and darts of outraged fortune about so that I can see some of the good mixed in with the bad (if you don’t mind a mixed simile). So, pending receipt of your letter which will explain more in detail what is behind the postponed return, let’s see what we can salvage from the wreckage.

The first thing that occurs to me is that there is that much less danger of your being called in the draft. There is a chance that when you register (within five days of landing, I think you said) you might be assigned a number which has already been called which would mean that you would be done out of your vacation and would have to report at once. There’s been some talk in the newspapers, although I have since heard it was shelved, that about July 1 they will change the draft ages to 18 instead of 21 and 28 or possibly 25 instead of 35 on the upper limit. No immediate prospect any way of seeing how you would look in a uniform.

Number 2 concerns your income tax. The rate for this year, after Congress gets through trying to raise 3 1/2 billion dollars, is going to be pretty stiff, particularly for unmarried folks.By June 1 half of the year will be gone and as long as you are in a foreign country you are not subject to the tax, so you will be that much to the good anyhow.

Three, it will give me a chance to accumulate in your savings account a sum more nearly what you said you would like to have available when you get home, which would not be so easy if you arrived in New York on May 1.

Four, it will give you an opportunity to get busy with all zeal and go after a diesel job hard, which you can do much better, from a physiological standpoint, writing from Socony-Vacuum Oil Company in Venezuela, then you could as a private citizen in Trumbull. Please write me a detailed account as to just what you have done along this line, what results, if any, have been secured, and if I can do anything here to help you speed up the work. Some time ago I sent you a list of the leading diesel manufacturers. Did you write to them all? If not, do you want me to write to them from here? If so, send me a sufficient number of SV letterheads and envelopes and the approved form of letter and we will multi-graph and mail it from Bridgeport.

In this connection I spoke to Ted a while ago and told him what you were interested in doing and he said that with his influence you could get a rating with the Engineering Society, with his help very easily, and this, it seems to me, would be a big help as with your listing on their books, they could probably refer you to many good jobs that you would not otherwise hear about. If the idea looks good why not write to Ted, care of Engineering Societies, N.Y.C. and asked him how you can enroll and put yourself in line for the sort of job you want.

I am eager to hear about the El Callao trip and also what happened on your birthday, if anything.

Have been working outside of the flowerbeds all day today and am now ready to go to bed, so good night until next week.


This is a joke Grandpa included with this letter, one in the letter mailed to Alaska and another mailed to Venezuela.

The hotel Astor hired a new bus driver and instructed him to go to the depot and announce in a loud voice as incoming trains were discharging passengers: “FREE BUS TO HOTEL ASTOR”. On his way to the depot on the occasion of his first trip he kept repeating to himself, “Free bus to Hotel Astor” until he had memorized it perfectly.

Upon arriving at the depot, however, he became confused and began to shout:

Free Hotel to Buster Aster

Free Ass to Hotel Buster

Freeze Your Ass at Hotel Astor

Squeeze Your Butt at Hotel Faster

I mean, bust your ass at the Hotel freezer.

Oh Hell, take a trolley car.

Trumbull – Lad’s Sailing Date Postponed (1) – April, 1941

R-127  April 27, 1941

Dear Alaskans:

Lad writes in the letter received Monday: It looks as though my sailing date has been postponed, but I have told the company that under no circumstances do I want to stay later than July 1. Chris is going to Caracas tomorrow and will probably bring back more definite news. I’ll let you know by the next mail, I hope, just how things stand. I have completed my trip to El Callao and had a wonderful time. Brought back some gold nuggets and a few trinkets. Full details will follow. I’m fine and hope you are the same.

Lad - LAD bracelet in gold

I believe this ID bracelet with the name LAD on the front and


was made either on this trip to

El Callao or shortly thereafter. 

You can see two gold nuggets in the bracelet and I wear it every day.

As you may surmise I am quite disappointed that there are some compensating factors which I will outline in my letter. Lad.

On the same day Lad wrote the aforesaid letter I received your delightful letters, Dan and Dick, written on the same day. (What I mean to say is that both you boys and Lad wrote on the same day, the 16th, although it took five days longer for mail to come from Alaska than from Venezuela). There is something radically wrong about the mail service to Alaska in view of Dick’s statement that no letters have been received for two weeks. You can definitely count on my mailing you letters without fail every Monday, come Hell or high water, so the fault is not at this end. Your letter, Dan, was all the more appreciated because it is the first word from you boys that Dick arrived, the car is not a total wreck, etc., although as I wrote last week I heard through secondhand sources that Dick had arrived, gotten a job and presumably the car had reached you also. I will confess that my nerves were a bit on edge and have been for over a month on account of the car because all of Dick’s letters were quite discouraging about its condition and I felt the responsibility quite deeply. Day by day I was expecting word from one of you telling me my well-intentioned spending of your $400 was not a total flop and as weeks passed and I heard of letters being received by lady friends and not a word to me about Dick, his job or the car, I was beginning to wonder if you were so disappointed that you didn’t have the heart to write, so you will see that your reassuring words have lifted quite a weight from my conscience, although I would still like to have more details as to just what is wrong, how much it will cost to fix up, etc.

Am glad you liked the contents of my trinket box. I am surprised that the South American book made a hit. I begged it for you from the travel Bureau of the Bridgeport City Trust Company. I am looking forward with pleasure to the colored films from Rochester. Lad has just had two S. A. films delivered from the same place which as yet I have not had time to run off. And now to you, Dick: with all the time you have on your hands I will very much appreciate your squeezing in a letter or two in between those you sent to Jean, telling me about yourself, the little everyday details, your impression of things, you’re getting a job, things that seem trivial and uninteresting every day details but which will help to let us at home see new things through your eyes. Your account, for instance, of the weather balloon procedure was very interesting, but there must be hundreds of impressions about your trip, Anchorage, the people you meet, etc., that would also furnish material for inexhaustible letters. I miss you quite a bit. I would like to have some of those heart-to-heart talks by letter. So don’t pass up your old Dad just because you can be sure of him, come what may.

Tomorrow, I’ll post the second page of this letter, addressed to Lad. I’ll be posting more letters from Grandpa to his boys for the rest of the week.

Judy Guion

Life In Venezuela – A Job Offer For Lad – April, 1941

Lad has been in Venezuela for two years and four months and is entitled to a vacation in weeks. He intends to return to Trumbull during that time. He is undecided as to his plans after he reaches the United States. This letter is an offer from the company he works for.

Blog - Lad in Venezuela walking in field (cropped)

Anzoategui Canp

April 24, 1941

Mr. A. P. Guion


Dear Mr. Guion:

In a recent conversation you informed the undersigned that upon the expiry of the foreign vacation to which you are now entitled you thought that on account of the improved conditions in the United States it would not be worth your while to return to Venezuela for a salary of less than $300 per month. This would represent an increase over your present salary of $75 per month and over $100 per month over your salary rate as of December, 1940.

We have talked this matter over and do not think you will be surprised to learn that such an increase has been considered to be out of the question. We are, however, prepared to offer you a salary of $250 per month, which would be effective on the date of your return from vacation, and we are furthermore willing to give you a period of 30 days counting from the commencement of your vacation to consider this offer. Should we not hear from you by the end of that period we shall take it for granted that you do not intend to return and shall proceed to look for someone to take over your duties in our Pariaguan Garage.

We take this opportunity of advising you that it will be convenient to the company for you to commence your vacation towards the end of next month and hope this arrangement will also be suitable to you.

Kindly acknowledge receipt of this letter.

Yours Very Truly,

Blog - Lad's vacation - JH Wardlow's signature

J. H. Wardlow


Cc Mr. H. O. Fry

Mr. W. R. Cosh

Mr. C. T. Leander

For the rest of the week I’ll be posting letters from Grandpa to his four sons, Lad in Venezuela and Dan, Ced and Dick in Alaska.

Judy Guion

Trumbull – Dear Old Reliable – July, 1941 (2)

This is the second portion of the letter written by grandpa Ced while he was in Alaska with Dan and Dick.

For government purposes I was compiling the other day a list of the various jobs in which I have worked, and following a conversation I had one evening with Dick, in which I related the episode of being offered a job as a private Secretary of John D. Rockefeller, Sr., in which narrative he seemed to be interested, it occurred to me it might be one means of completing this page by recording this succession of jobs for your perusal.


I don’t recall what year I first started into work as an office boy for the Bankers Life Insurance Company on my first job at four dollars a week but I do know that in May 1903 I was working there at 31 Nassau St., New York City. Here with the assistance of the boss’s stenographer I started to learn shorthand. As I look back on it now it was a mistake not to go to a good school where they knew how to teach because eventually I had to do just that and had to unlearn what I had learned wrong. At the end of May 1903 I took a job across the street with a much larger company, the Mutual Life Insurance Company. The next year I took the job as stenographer in the purchasing Department of the American Smelting and Refining Company, controlled by the seven Guggenheim brothers, one of whom died the other day and left his fortune to four Follies beauties. It is rather noteworthy that during this time I placed many orders for machinery and mining equipment for the Kennecott Mines and the Copper River and Northwestern Railway and other Alaskan properties. On October 30 I left Smelting to take a job with the estate of C. P. Huntington. It was while there I bid on a set of Sheraton furniture for my boss in competition with Mrs. Vanderbilt. I was fired from there with a month’s salary in advance and a week later landed a job with St. Nicholas magazine. During the six years I was with the Century Company, I was married and two little boys arrived to make our hearts glad and worry their mother by riding kiddie cars down Darling Avenue hill. On February 19, 1917, I left to take a better job with the Celluloid Company, and Ced and Elizabeth put in an appearance. This was during the great world war. I was exempted from the draft because of my family but I did join a home defense league and drilled with a club to protect the building from possible rioters. My boss left Celluloid Company and went to a bigger job with the National Aniline and Chemical Company, and persuaded me to come with him. In 1920 Dick was born and we moved to Trumbull, soon after which I left National and in the fall of 1923 joined the Bridgeport Brass Company. In March 1928 I left to start my own company, from which time to the present you know what happened without my relating it here.

The last part of this letter will appear tomorrow.

I’ll finish out the week with another two-part letter from Grandpa to his Alaskan sons  

Judy Guion