Trumbull – Dear Alumni of Trumbull University (1) – Spineless Jelly Fish – October 3, 1943

 

Trumbull, Conn., Oct. 3, 1943

Dear Alumni of Trumbull University:

Greetings from your Alma  Mater, the entire faculty, and the balance of the student body which has dwindled considerably since you occupied the various dormitories, and in sooth bodes well to be still further depleted in view of the fact that Young David completed his 18th semester recently and immediately hied him over to ye old Towne Halle where Clerk H. Plumb duly registered him with Uncle Sam. Rumor has it that before the dawn of another New Year’s Day, he too will be in the armed services of the United States. Of course I have hopes that by the time he is actually inducted and through training the bloody part of the war will be on the way out, although I am also conscious of the fact that, if present rumors become fact, honorable discharges will be issued first to those who have served longest, have families, are incapacitated or are more essential in peace-time activities, leaving the opposite numbers to continue on for policing work in occupied countries, etc., So that, speaking personally, the Guion Co. may be deprived of its principal employee for some time to come. Anyhoo, will hope for a class reunion in the not very distant future, with the flag flying from the top of the pole. We are certainly having some good “old Glory” news reports lately. For instance, recent headlines in the Bridgeport paper, “White Russian Cities Blasted by Red Pilots Makes Nazis Blue”.

The political pot is beginning to boil hereabouts. McLevy is of course again a candidate for mayor of Bridgeport. To oppose him on the Republican ticket is the proprietor of Slim’s Diner. Ferguson is up again for First Selectman of Fairfield but the Republican ranks in his town are wide open, his own Town Committee opposing him, and asking electors to vote for the Democratic nominee. At that, however, things are mild compared to what they will be next year when the national election is held, and while on the subject, you may as well have my opinion for what it may be worth on what it is all about, so that when you are asked to cast your ballot you may know how at least one elector feels about matters. The question is not Republican vs Democrat, not Roosevelt vs Wilkie, or what have you, not liberals vs conservatives, not new deal vs good deal, not capital vs labor, not isolationist vs interventionist, but rather Federal Government planning of our daily lives from cradle to grave, which the present administration in Washington stands for, vs the good old American way of life based on being on one’s own and depending on individual resourcefulness in making ends meet and thus calling out the best in us to meet conditions when the job seems impossible – – the spirit epitomized by the saying: “the difficult we do at once, the impossible takes a bit longer”. The New Deal provisions for old age dependency, no job, WPA leaf-raking jobs, sick benefits, while all very alluring in providing freedom from fear, is ennervating, laziness-breeding and is more apt to develop a nation of spineless jelly dish. There is something to be said for “coming up the hard way”. Someday the war will end and we will have to pick ourselves up and go on our interrupted way. If we cut out all these present artificial restraints and rely on our own resourcefulness which we are showing we can do, we will have come through the fire like a finely tempered blade, but I don’t think we can do this under the Roosevelt theory of government. There you have what to my mind is the main issue – – mollycoddlers vs moulders of our own destiny. That is the way we have grown during our short history and I don’t want to live to see the day when the paternalism at Washington will shield us from all harm and guide us from cradle to grave and do our thinking and planning for us. We are not members of a governmental harem.

Tomorrow, I’ll post the rest of this letter, and I’ll finish off the week with another letter from Grandpa to Lad and one to all the boys (except Dave, who is still home, but has registered with Uncle Sam).

Judy Guion 

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My Ancestors (33h) – Alfred P Guion – Marriage and World War II (3) – Lad to France and Marian to Trumbull

(1) Alfred Peabody Guion; (2) Judith Anne Guion.

 

From Life history of Alfred  P. Guion:

Nov. 1944 – shipped over

Marian drove the Buick with the trailer in tow from Jackson, Mississippi, to Trumbull, Connecticut, where she planned to live with Grandpa, get a job and wait for Lad’s return.  We know Marian was still in Jackson on November 1st and grandpas letter of November 12th tells us she is in Trumbull.

“Yesterday was not only Armistice Day but also Marian’s birthday, and following the usual custom, we celebrated it today.  Elizabeth, who came to dinner with her two boys, was able to get through her butcher a nice ham, quite a rarity these days, and that with some of Burrough’s cider of sainted memory, baked sweet potatoes, cauliflower, topped off with Guion’s celebrated prune whip, was followed with the opening of gifts amid the soft glow of candlelight — in the dining room of course.  Lad had sent me a bottle of Marian’s favorite perfume earlier in the week and this happened to be the last gift she opened which topped off things with an unexpectedly pleasant surprise for her.

Yesterday Lad wrote from “somewhere in the United States”, and was unable to give the slightest inkling of what is planned, but at least it is clear he did not sail Tuesday…”

Excerpt from Grandpa’s letter written November 19, 1944:

“From a significant lack of any definite word from Lad, we are all pretty sure he is now on the high seas or has already arrived at his destination, whatever that may be….. We are pretty sure he will go to the European sector rather than the Pacific, but even that is merely conjecture and a rationalization from what few facts we have.”

Excerpt from Grandpas letter written November 26, 1944:

”It was a real Thanksgiving week for us here in the main as far as letters from you boys were concerned.  Lad was the only one we did not hear from and that wasn’t his fault.  From “somewhere in France” the following very welcome message arrived: “Roughing it again!  A good excuse to write a letter!  I am sitting on an Army cot in an abandoned Nazi barracks, somewhere in France.  The pale light of a kerosene lamp acts as a monitor to my flailing pencil.  In the corner, a wood stove adds its pungency to the heavy odor of kerosene fumes, while a group of the boys are playing cribbage on an improvised table in the center of the room.  On the door Jerry has left “Conchita”,a  hard looking  Spanish beauty, smoking a cigarette and staring impersonally toward the doorknob.  Standing beside the stove is a burlap sack, plump with coke which we found near an abandoned gun site.  It will keep the chill from our slumber about 2 o’clock in the morning.  After I have such finished writing this letter I shall pay a visit to the café half a kilometer down the road.  We shall sit in the kitchen talking to the proprietress whose husband is a prisoner of the Germans.  We shall sip a glass of rather innocuous beer and lament the departure of more exciting spirits which accompanied Jerry back to Germany.”

From Life history of Alfred  P. Guion:

Langres, France:  6 months – operator – 1000 kva Diesel-Electric power plant.

Marseilles, France: 10 weeks –

While Lad’s Batallion was in Marseilles, he was able to obtain a weekend pass to Paris.  His brother Dan was getting married in Calais, sixty miles north of Paris.  Lad had been told that he was not allowed to go further north than Paris.  He took a train to Paris, left his duffel bag in a room at the hospitality center, slipped a comb and toothbrush in his pocket and headed north.  Very quickly he discovered the local train had too many stops and was moving much slower than regular street traffic, so he got off the train and started to hitchhike.  A British soldier on a motorcycle stopped and asked where he was going.  When Lad told him Calais the soldier said he would take him and actually dropped him off in front of the pharmacy that Paulette’s father owned.  Lad spent a long weekend getting reacquainted with his brother and getting to know his new sister-in-law and her family.  There is actually quite a bit more to this story but that will unfold in my regular blog posts.

From Life history of Alfred  P. Guion:

Aug., 1945 – returned to U.S.

Trumbull, Conn., – 7 weeks – recuperation furlough

Aberdeen,Md., – 7 weeks – waiting for discharge orders.

Fort Meade, Md. – 3 days – DISCHARGE

Next Sunday I will attempt to give a very condensed version of Lad and Marian’s married life in Trumbull, including the birth of their children.  Tomorrow I will begin posting a week of letters written in 1943 when all 5 sons are serving Uncle Sam in one way or another.  Judy Guion

Voyage to California (41) – John Jackson Lewis – January to March, 1851

(1) John Jackson Lewis, (2) Edith May (Lewis) Rider, (3) Marian Faith (Rider) Irwin, (4) Marian Dunlap (Irwin) Guion, (5) Judith Anne Guion.

The following are transcriptions of John Jackson Lewis’s diary and journal of his voyage to California in 1851. He was travelling  from New York to visit his older brother William in San Jose.

Following is the rest of a letter dated San Jose, March 30, 1851.

We have potatoes, peas, turnips, radishes, cabbage, lettuce, onions and tomatoes, the last four of my own sewing, all up, and more planted.  I got my seeds through, I think, without their taking any injury from saltwater or tropical weather.  The onion, tomato, and cabbage seeds at any rate have proved their generative powers. xxxxxxx

After the accounts received at home of cash being required for all moneyed transactions, I have been surprised to find money one of the scarcest articles in the country.  People have to trust and take pay in trade, much more than in Chester County.  I have been also surprised to find that in this Valley of San Jose, which has been represented to raise such enormous crops of potatoes, the very few that we get to eat cost 10 cents per pound.  Other vegetables we don’t get at all.  I suppose the fact is, the demand for them exceeded the supply, and they have all been cleared out.  The potatoes used here now are brought from San Francisco, and are brought there I suppose from the Sandwich Islands.  Flour and cornmeal cost 10 cents a pound at the stores in the Pueblo, rice 20, sperm candles 10 cents each.  Beef costs 12 ½ cents per pound.  A full-grown hog is worth here from 75 dollars to 100 dollars, nearly as much as a pair of oxen.  These are worth from 125 to 250 dollars.  Birds are very numerous here: most numerous perhaps are the wild geese.  These settle down on the plains in flocks which might be counted by acres.  A large flock settled down for several evenings, within a mile or two of our house.  I twice attempted to steal upon them in the night, but did not succeed in finding them.  I also tried once about daylight, and another time on horseback, but they all proved “wild goose chases”.  I got one or two shots at them, but at too great a distance to kill any. xxxxxx

Our fare consists of bread, molasses, fresh beef, tea and coffee, with occasional variations of rice, potatoes, dried apples, boiled pork, and pickles.  Potatoes and rice however our rarities.  I hope to see vegetables of our own raising on the table before many months have passed away.

Tomorrow, more of the story of Lad and Marian during and following World War II.

On Monday, I will be posting a week of letters written in 1943.

Judy Guion

 

My Ancestors (33g)- Alfred Peabody Guion – Marriage and World War II (2)

(1) Alfred Peabody Guion; (2) Judith Anne Guion.

Lad and Marian in the Irwin’s back yard, 1944

Excerpt from a letter to Grandpa from Marian, written on a Monday, with a note in Grandpa’s writing: Pomona, Calif 7/10/44:

“Wish I could report some definite plans that the “Roving Guions” have made, but so far everything is still very much up in the air.  We might be here 2 days, 2 weeks or even 2 months – we just don’t know.”

Excerpt from a letter written by Marian on Monday (Grandpa’s handwriting: Post marked 8/7/44.)

“I know that the minute I put down in writing the fact that “we thought we were going to stay here for a while” the Army would change our minds for us….. Lad is supposed to leave here Wednesday or Thursday for Flora, Mississippi, and I am going to drive the car and meet him there – or rather at Jackson, Mississippi, for there is not much more than the Army Post at Flora.”

Excerpt from a letter written by Marian on Monday, 8/14/44:

“Yes – Here we are again.  Still sitting in Pomona wondering what we’re going to do next.  Evidently there was too much publicity regarding the current move of the 142nd Battalion (practically everyone in Pomona knew about it!)  Or maybe they were unable to get a troop train – or maybe just because.  Anyway, we haven’t gone yet, altho’ we are practically completely packed, and have gotten our gas coupons.”

NOTICE OF CHANGE OF ADDRESS, dated August 16, 1944, with an address for Flora, Mississippi.

Excerpt from a letter to Grandpa from Marian, written Saturday night from Wakeeny, Kansas (Grandpa wrote 8/28/44):

“Something tells me that this letter should be a clever epistle, containing references to cross-country pioneering etc. etc., but I’m afraid I don’t have the time or energy to think of something suitable.  But I do want you to know that so far we have had a pretty good trip, we are making good time, the car and trailer are holding together, and that I am getting nearer and nearer to Jackson, Miss.  (Hallelujah !!!!  It can’t be too soon for me)”

From Life history of Alfred  P.  Guion:

Flora, Miss. – 9 weeks – Instructor, Automotive electricity;

1 week – designing plan for overseas base shop

Excerpt from a letter to Grandpa written on a Wednesday (Grandpa’s note: Jackson, 9/14/44):

“We’ve moved again, but not out of Jackson.  Our new “home” is very much nicer than the 1st 1, and we have kitchen privileges, so we don’t have to eat out.  And from what we’ve sampled of Southern cooking, we are just as glad!  Somewhere along the way I’ve been sadly misinformed about Southern cooking.  (That’s not the only a dissolution – I imagined sitting on a porch, sipping mint juleps and sniffing magnolias and honeysuckle! something is definitely wrong! Mississippi is as dry as can be, and beer is a poor substitute for a mint juleps!”

Excerpt from a letter Marian has written to Ced on it Tuesday, ( I checked the calendar and believe it was written October 2, 1944):

“We had a very pleasant weekend this last week.  (Sounds peculiar, but you know what I mean!)  After various telegrams 2 and fro, we finally made connections and were able to spend most of the weekend in Little Rock, Ark., with Dave.  He had gotten a 3-day pass from Camp Crowder, and lad had gotten a weekend pass, so as Little Rock was practically the middle point from Camp to Camp, we drove up and Dave came down on the bus……  – Now I’ve had the pleasure of meeting the 3 of the Guion boys two more to go.”

Excerpt from a letter from Marian to Grandpa on a Thursday (Grandpa wrote Jackson, 10/26/44):

“The Battalion has been issued new clothes, and they have been given until Nov. 1st to dispose of their cars, but it seems to me we went through this routine once before at Pomona, and look how long it took us to get out of there!  Nevertheless, we are re–arranging and packing as much as we can, so that I can leave here on a moments notice.  We haven’t the slightest idea which P.O.E. the fellows will be sent to, but in case it is New York, or its vicinity, I’d like to be around there as quickly as I can get there, in case Lad has a chance to get away for even a few hours.”

WESTERN UNION TELEGRAM to Grandpa dated Oct. 31, 44:

HOLD CHECK FOR MARIAN CAN YOU WIRE $35.00 IMMEDIATELY TO MARIAN I GUION 303 LONGINO JACKSON MISS FOR TRIP TO TRUMBULL DEPARTURE THIRD.

LAD MARIAN

Excerpt from another letter to Grandpa from Marian on a Wednesday (grandpa writes Jackson,11/1):

“All the wives are supposed to have gone home, and no more private cars on the post.  But lad took the car today, anyway.  He’s going to park it outside the gate, so that I can pick it up if he gets restricted……  Just to be on the safe side however, we packed the trailer last night, so that it will only take me a few minutes to put the last minute things into the car and be on my way home.

Incidentally, Dad, I’m really looking forward to living there at Trumbull.  It seems to me to be the best place of all, other than actually being with Lad, and think of the extra nice company I’ll have…..

I’m leaving here tomorrow or Friday, at the very latest.  When Lad comes home tonight, he’ll know a little more about their coming restriction, I think, so that he’ll have an idea whether or not he will be able to get home tomorrow night.  If he can all stay until Friday, but I’m pretty certain I’ll leave then.  So if everything goes according to schedule, I should be home sometime Sunday, probably late in the evening.”

Note added to the end of this letter by Lad:

“Marion is a wonderful girl, Dad, so please take care of her for me.  My happiness, and practically my life, is wrapped up in her.  I know you will, tho’, even without my asking.”

From Life history of Alfred P.  Guion:

Nov, 1944 – shipped over

 

Voyage to California (40) – John Jackson Lewis – January to March, 1851

(1) John Jackson Lewis, (2) Edith May (Lewis) Rider, (3) Marian Faith (Rider) Irwin, (4) Marian Dunlap (Irwin) Guion, (5) Judith Anne Guion.

The following are transcriptions of John Jackson Lewis’s diary and journal of his voyage to California in 1851. He was travelling  from New York to visit his older brother William in San Jose.

Excerpts from a letter dated San José, March 30, 1851

The day before yesterday I saw a coyota, the first live one that I have seen.  The Texan tells me that they are precisely the same as the prairie wolf of our Western States; so as you have a description of them in Godman’s Natural History, I need not attempt it.  At any rate this one was too far off for me to give a very accurate description of him.  The creek which passes between here and the Pueblo, I suppose derives its name from this animal.  The term “creek”, when applied to this stream, implies something very different from what we are accustomed to see at home.  The stream of water at present, is somewhere near the size of that at the bottom of our meadow in New Garden, but the bed of the stream is another affair.  I have seen none of it as yet, except so far as I could see up and down from the place where we cross it in going to or from town, that I think I can safely say that it is from 50 to 250 yards wide, and from 10 to 25 or 30 feet deep in different parts of it; a deep gulch dug out of the plain, and the dirt all gone somewhere, forming a channel which when full, would contain a fully as much water as the Christiana Creek at Wilmington.  This channel was full last “rainy season”, this one there has not been rain enough to raise the streams.  From the depth of the channel, the stream is useless for the purpose of irrigation, unless pumps are resorted to.  At the time I came here, tho’ nominally the rainy season, the ground was hard and dry, cracking in some places, and the grass beginning to die.  Since that time we have had several fine showers, and the prospect is much more encouraging.  I suppose from what I have heard that more rain has fallen since my arrival, then in all the former part of the winter.  Wasn’t it a lucky thing for the Californians that I came?  When it rains here in the Valley, it frequently snows on the mountains.  We can see considerable bodies of snow to-day cresting the mountains on either side of us.  The altitude of these mountains is not sufficient to retain the snow for any considerable length of time; – it generally vanishes in a day or two.  We have heavy frosts nearly every morning, and the air is rather keen.  After the sun gets up a short distance, it becomes warm and pleasant, and this continues until the latter part of the day, when the wind rises, and by evening becomes quite disagreeably cool. This is the usual state of the weather, but on days immediately preceding a rain it is frequently calm all day.  I suppose this may be accounted for in this way.  The regular winds are from the North West; the winds which produce rain are from the opposite direction.  The countercurrents produce an equilibrium, which lasts sometimes a day or two before the South East finally prevails.  Take the weather altogether it is much more pleasant than in the same month at home.  The ground don’t freeze; the grass grows, the flowers bloom on injured.

I will post the rest of this section next Saturday.

Tomorrow, the second half of Army Life, Marriage and the Army, about Lad and Marian Guion’s travels shortly after they were married and before Lad is shipped overseas.

On Monday, I’ll begin posting more of “The Beginning”, Reminiscences of Alfred D Guion, the story of his early life, marriage, the birth of the children and the early years living in Trumbull, Connecticut.

Judy Guion

Trumbull – Dear Sheiks (3) – News From Dave – August 13, 1944

This is the next section of a letter written by Grandpa to the boys away from home.

From Dave:

Next Saturday – – the 12th – – we will all move from this company over to some company in the 34th Battalion. And then on Monday we will go out to the field for our final phase of training. CPX (command post exercises) is a sort of small scale maneuvers. The boys in cook school go out there and cook for us. Signal center clerks run signal centers. Radio boys completing their course run radios. Field linemen set out and maintain their wires. Poll linemen do likewise. The same is true for the teletype operators, motor mechanics, chauffeurs, truck drivers, engineers and anyone else I might not have mentioned. This final phase of training is three weeks long – – three weeks of Missouri woods, ticks, chiggers, rattlers and various other species that don’t hold too much interest in my mind, but I think it will be fun and anything would be better than school. You see, after I got back here from my furlough, although I still liked signal center clerk, I felt as though I knew all that they had to teach me in school (conceited) and I still feel that this last four weeks has been a waste of time. After CPX – – who knows? All I can do is to make a few wild guesses which would be based upon nothing but the Army’s ceaseless rumors – – which are more prevalent than ever before right now. The most likely thing that will happen is that they ship us out of here to a port of embarkation (maybe Reynolds in Pennsylvania, but more likely Beal in California) where we will be prepared to get on a boat and “see the world through the carbine gun sites”. If this is the case I may get a delay–en-route, and I may not – – who can tell? The other night I was on guard duty when a sergeant came out of his barracks with another man and called me over to him. He told me he had seen this man come into his barracks and pick up the sergeants pants. We questioned the fellow and he told us that he had moved into the company that morning and as he wasn’t thinking, due to the fact that he had had a few drinks in Neecho — he got in the wrong barracks. His story was very impressive and the Sgt. told me to let him go. The culprit left and I once again started walking my post. On an impulse, as I passed the barracks where the accused claimed to actually live, I decided to take a peek in to see if he were in bed. I went in to see and much to my dismay found that he wasn’t in there. I went back and told the Sgt. about it and then when I got to the guardhouse I told the Corporal of the Guard about it. The next day I found out that he was a crook and doing pretty well in the business throughout the whole post. For the offense which I committed (not turning him in) they could have court-martialed me – – not a pretty thought. As yet the culprit has not been located again.”

This sort of thing seems to be rather prevalent in this man’s Army. When I visited Lad in Aberdeen they had just had an incident of the same sort; and both Lad and Dick have lost valuable personal belongings. They should have a Sherlock Holmes detachment connected with each battalion.

Tomorrow, the final portion of this letter.

Judy Guion

Trumbull – Dear Sheiks (2) – A Note From Marian – August 13, 1944

This is the second section of a letter from Grandpa to his boys – wherever they are.

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Now for some extracts:

Marian writes: “I knew that the minute I put down in writing the fact that we thought we were going to stay here for a while, the Army would change our minds for us. Maybe I’ll learn some day that I’ll never know what the Army is planning from one minute to the next. Lad is supposed to leave here Wednesday or Thursday for Flora, Mississippi. I am going to drive the car and meet him there – – or rather at Jackson, Mississippi, for there is not much more than the Army post at Flora. Jackson is about 20 miles away from the post, and as it is the capital of Mississippi, it can’t be too awful. Some people must live there. But every report we’ve gotten so far from those who have and have not been there says that Flora is nothing more than a h___ hole in the very worst degree. Not very encouraging, is it, but if we get there expecting the very worst we might be pleasantly surprised. I hope so, anyway.

Whether this is to be a training center or a staging area or both, we don’t know. Last month the “Battalion” was very “hot” and practically on its way overseas, but things cooled down considerably and we heard that another battalion had been sent across instead. So, as usual, we don’t know very much about what we are doing, but are hoping for the best. It looks as though I am going to have to postpone my very muchly anticipated return visit to Trumbull. May I have a rain – check, however, so that I may arrive at a later date? The only bright spot in the idea of Lad’s going overseas is the prospect of being with you again – and not just because of the snow, either! Perhaps I’ll be a little late, but I might show up yet. We are not sure of Lad’s new address. As soon as we know it, we will send you a card. Although we expect to move from Pomona on Wednesday or Thursday, don’t be too sure of it. Our next letter might come from Pomona, because knowing the Army as we do, I am not leaving here until I know for sure that the fellows are on the train and actually on their way. Mother’s operation was very successful (for cataract) already she can see 50% better than before and the doctor hopes that in three months time when she gets her glasses, she will be able to see 100% better. I’m still planning to stop at Orinda on my way to Flora although I won’t be able to spend very much time there.”

Many years ago while on a lecture tour for the Bridgeport Brass Company, I went to Jackson, Mississippi and was not very much impressed with the country. As I recall it, the country was flat and uninteresting. There was of course a large Negro population  which made a portion of the town seem squalid and dirty. It was also very hot which is to be expected. I don’t know Flora but I think you are right in not expecting too much. Incidentally, I am holding this letter until I know where to send it, which applies also to the package I had all ready to ship to Lad. That was great news about your Mother, Marian, and I know how glad she will be to SEE you. And you don’t need any rain check for Trumbull. You are down in the records as one of the charter members.

Thursday and Friday I will post the last two portions of this letter.

Judy Guion