Friends – Cars and Mountains – Jan, 1940

Arnold "Gibby" Gibson

Arnold “Gibby” Gibson

The following letter to Lad is from his best friend, Arnold Gibson, who was almost a part of the family, he was at the house so often. He tells Lad about a two-month trip around New England.

Jan, 4, 1940

Dear Laddie,

My card made a bum start, but I hope it finally reached you.

Well I’m fairly familiar with your doings via your letters to your Dad. I go over and get him to read some of them now and then. However a lot has happened around here that may be news to you.

Anne Holt was married in September and has a nice little cottage on a pond over between Nichols and Shelton.

My folks have moved over to a place near the river between Shelton and Stratford, and I am boarding at Pratt’s. Alta and I became engaged

Alta Pratt

Alta Pratt

this New Year’s.

Last summer I worked a couple of months with contractors on the Merritt Parkway at good pay, and so saved enough for a nice trip up into Maine and Canada. I worked in the woods first, and then on the wagon rock drills and bulldozers. By the way, the Parkway is now open from N.Y. to Nichols, so it’s a cinch to drive to the city.

This spring I got a nearly new, slightly damaged canoe, which I repaired and made a rack on Nomad for, so with the Buxtel (2-speed) rear end, new oil pump, fog, reverse, cab and clearance lights, and numerous other new improvements, old Nomad was in great shape for her trip.

We (Alta and I) took off at around noon one day after a couple of false starts due to a lost knife, and a leaky oil line, and spent two months around New England stopping at various relative’s homes and American Youth Hostels. You may have heard of the latter. It is a fine organization of several million persons to further travel in the great outdoors, and provide “Hostels” with proper accommodations (rough and ready ones) and chaperones at convenient overnight stops. It is also international.

We had a great trip all in all, with many minor adventures and only a few mishaps. Nomad performed nobly with only a broken front spring and relapsed generator to her discredit in 2,400 miles. Oh yes, she has the speedometer now to.

I worked for Ruby for two weeks and also cleared the lines around the piece of land I have up there. I had to dig up an “oldest resident” to help find the ancient markers, and do the rest with compass and axe as the deed was written in terms of long dead persons. What a time!

We really swarmed all over Mount Katahdin this time, spending four days at it. You remember the little Chimney Pond in the bottom of the gulf we looked into from the summit? Well, on its shore are a cabin and some shelters operated by one Mr. Dudley, who is certainly a real character, and what yarns he spins by the fire at night! There were around six or eight people there and the women and food all were kept in the cabin at night, as several bears, one monster, came messing around every night, and we got a swell chance to watch them.

We fell in with a couple of fellows from Boston, and after much debate, borrowed Dudley’s Alpine rope, and climbed the Chimney Trail, which is really just a gulley which runs up the nearly perpendicular head wall for around 4000 feet, and contains, among other hazards, ice and three nearly impossible choke stones (boulders) ! The 4000 feet (and return from the top by an easy(?) Trail) took all day, and in one place we hoisted Alta 40 feet up an overhang, but when it was done we were really proud of ourselves.

The Island

The Island

We visited Rusty’s Island in our canoe and had a great time in general in spite of much rain, and even snow (in the middle of September in Canada), and got home with only one flat.

Three days after we got home I went to work at the Stanley Works. I run a machine which cuts steel up into strips for razor blades. The work is steady and the pay pretty good, but it is pretty dull.

Babe still has not gotten her new Ford that was promised for December 15th.

Have you heard about Cedric’s ’33 Plymouth then he got in N. Y. for $50? I did a very complete motor overhaul on it, and it runs fine except that I can’t get quite as much oil pressure as I would like, in spite of new gears and main and  rod bearings.

I just did a valve and carbon job on my Packard and she runs like new. Well almost. For extremely cold starts as low battery I have a hot shot battery and master (Ford) coil independent of the regular system.

Laddie, I’d like to hear about the various conveyances you people use, and the engines you work on, and all that sort of thing. And when do you think you may be home again?

I had Spring Replacement put to front springs in your Packard the other day.

Let me hear from you!

Your friend,


Tomorrow, another letter to Lad from another friend, then on Saturday, another Tribute to Arla, and on Sunday, the next installment of Mary E. Wilson’s Autobiography when she arrives at Ellis Island.

Next week we’ll be checking in on Dan and Ced, in Alaska, to find out what is going on in their lives and the lives of the rest of the Guion Clan.

Judy Guion


Trumbull – Oil Speculation and Properly Sober, Sept, 1939

1934 - 1940 Timeline

1934 – 1940 Timeline

It’s 1939 and Lad has been working in Venezuela for about nine months. Grandpa is thrilled because he has finally gotten a letter from Lad, and a long one at that. I don’t have that letter but Grandpa gives us an idea of what Lad has been up to since we last heard from him.

September 3, 1939

Dear Adolph:

You and Hitler have one thing in common as far as I am concerned and that is the faculty of keeping the other fellow guessing. For three weeks, up to a couple of days ago, I had not heard from you and was beginning to wonder what it was all about. However, as I write on this sunny Sunday afternoon, with war clouds gathering darkly in Europe, and read over again your short letter in lead pencil written August 15 from Iguana # 2, I think I have discovered the reason for the delay. Enclosed you will find the envelope in which the letter came. You will note that the extra postage represented by the stamps on the back were not canceled, due to the fact that probably some careless postal clerk only glanced at stamps on the front, figured there was not enough postage for airmail and sent it by regular mail. You therefore have three good stamps to use over again. I hope this means that someday soon I will be likely to get two letters during one week.

I suppose that with radio what it is today you are receiving foreign news as quickly as we get it here. There is not much use therefore in my commenting on the situation because it is hourly changing so rapidly that two weeks hence, when you receive this, the foreign lineup will be entirely different. There is one aspect regarding this war situation however, as far as you are concerned, that gives rise to some interesting speculations. Oil products are a very important war commodity, and while the US may adopt measures in the interests of neutrality that will prevent American companies from directly selling oil and its derivatives two nations at war, your company is producing oil in a foreign country and some way may be found to supply the undoubted demand for oil from the fighting nations that will cause a great increase in demand for production, which in turn, I should surmise, would step up your activities in drilling, which in turn might mean that those already engaged in this work, who have had some experience, would be given additional opportunities to forge rapidly ahead. There is another phase of the thing which has interesting speculations for you. If greatly

Alfred Peabody Guion (Lad) in Venezuela

Alfred Peabody Guion (Lad) in Venezuela

increased gallonage of oil is to be shipped abroad there must be a correspondingly greater number of tankers to carry it, and if these new tankers are powered by diesel engines,there might well be an increased demand for men with diesel engineering experience. This, of course, is a longer range proposition, and it may be the war will not last long enough to permit the building of enough tankers in time to make the demand for diesel operators acute. I confess I don’t altogether like the idea of a boy of mine on board a ship during wartime carrying so important a war material and so naturally a target for enemy subs.

If the war does last and the nation’s production of machinery and metal products is speeded up, I assume that as before, New England and specifically Bridgeport, would have another boom, which will be good while it lasts, no matter what may happen afterwards. In this case I may be able to climb back a little bit from an income standpoint and not have to depend so much on the generosity of my loyal sons even though I appreciate the willingness and the great spirit that is back of it all.

For three days now Mr. Smithson has been working here, taking off old wallpaper and applying a fresh coat of paint. The upper and lower hall ceilings are being painted white and the side walls a very light green. Tomorrow we will tackle the living room and the music room and will paint these walls a light creamy tan.

Aunt Anne says Grandma is getting along very well. Larry and Marian are spending Larry’s vacation time in Vermont with the baby, of course, at Munson’s, and will probably be back shortly after Labor Day (which is tomorrow).

Aunt Betty is sitting on the sofa in the living room as I sit in my big chair, looking over your scrapbook. She just asked me to give you her love. She says she wrote you a letter some time ago but if you replied to it, she never received it.

The Trumbull Fireman’s Carnival ended last night. We went down for a short time. There was not much of a crowd for Saturday night. I don’t know who won the Chevrolet car but I heard it was someone from Southbury. Dan Ced and Dick went down to New York last night to have a fling at the big city. They went to a nightclub, but evidently all remained properly sober. Don Whitney and Redd and another chap from Westport went with them. Rusty, from all reports, is back in Wakefield with his folks. Ced has a new kind of work at the Tilo Plant, night work at that. It has something to do with heating up the tar and asphalt in huge kettles to prepare the mixture for the next day’s run. At present he does not get more money but that is likely to come later.

Dan got a letter from McCarter this week telling him he could put through his check for collection as the money was now on hand. I therefore started the check through the bank Friday and we’ll see what happens. If this gets through all right there is the balance of his pay still due which he will have to wrangle out of Maxy in some way. Am anxious to know what you did about collecting your back wages and what you did about the tools. I am also looking forward to hearing about your trip to Ciudad Bolivar, and what you think of the Orinoco. Saw Mr. Page again yesterday. He asked to be remembered to you and said he thought Marie would be getting married within the next six months. Yesterday’s paper carried the announcement of the death of William Vincent Judge, after a short illness.

Just a few minutes ago a man drove up in an auto and asked if Dan were home, and then if Mr. Human were here. He said he was Myers who had just arrived from Caracas. I immediately telephoned Dan, who was at Plumb’s (you might have guessed it) and for the last 20 minutes they have been chatting about affairs at InterAmerica. Myers plans to see Uncle Ted tomorrow and then start war against Maxy, or perhaps I might say, will join up with the reinforcements. He says that Benedict and Nelson are both back in the states now. He is going back in a few weeks on another job which will take him either to Caracas or to Pariaguan with a construction company, so you may run across him sooner or later. And that’s about all I can scratch up, in the way of news right now. So, toodle do and don’t forget to write more and oftener.


Tomorrow we’ll have another post from Trumbull with some interesting tales of what has been going on there during the past week. We’ll then check up on the boys in Alaska during 1940. I hope the timeline is helping you keep track of where everyone is at the time of each letter so you aren’t totally confused.

Judy Guion