Trumbull – A Tribute To Arla – 1933

Arla Mary Peabody

Arla Mary Peabody

Grandpa’s wife, Arla, passed away at the age of 42 from a prolonged battle with, what we believe, was cancer. She left 6 children, the oldest, Lad, my father, who was 19 and the youngest, Dave, who was 7 at the time. She left a void that would never be filled, especially as Grandpa and the older boys struggled to earn enough money to support the household and repay the tremendous outstanding debts occurred by Arla’s illness.

These are a few of the letters of condolence received by Grandpa after Arla’s death. They provide a glimpse of Arla as a friend in addition to the view we have had as a wife and mother.

July 13th, 1933.

Dear Al:

First of all… can’t tell you how utterly surprised at how terribly sorry I was to hear the news of Mrs. Guion’s death. Al, old timer, there is mighty little a person can say to a friend in cases like this, but certainly you have my deepest and sincerest sympathy.

Maybe, Al – the saying is true – that those whom the Gods will bless… they first chastise… let us hope so… everything is for the best. Knowing you..and knowing what Mrs. Guion meant to you, I also can realize what this loss means and if there is absolutely anything under the sun that I can do…ask me for it, Al. Friends are people who will share your troubles and if possible lighten burdens….please count me among them.

Words are so damn futile, Al…and you have the capacity of being so understanding and such a damn good friend that you will know that what I don’t say means more than what I do try to say so clumsily.

Now…congratulations on the Forsberg Mfg. Co’s account…good for you. I am sending your letter right along to GHQ and asking for full and prompt cooperation. I know I will get it…it may be a little slow because, although Hector is NOT a deserving Democrat, still the present administration seems to think that he is good and has saddled on him work pertaining to about six people. It means about 24 1/2 hours of labor a day–but it also means promotion.

Hector will, I know, see that fullest information is sent along and I am going to ask him to either send it to me or send it right along to you. All I hope is that it will be the dope you want and can use.

Things up here are slow…but faster than they would be in Bridgeport for me, so I am content. I hope to be home about the end of September and will certainly drop in to say hello…who knows but by that time you may have so many accounts that you can use a would-be advertising chappy. I have hopes of lining up a good account in Ansonia and maybe one in New Haven.

I may lose out by not being on the ground…still I am pretty sure that they are not set to go ahead before fall.

My address up here, Al, is:

% Station WNBF,

Arlington Hotel,

Binghamton, N.Y.

and I shall be very glad to hear from you…and better yet, if I can be of any service to you.

My very best to all the staff…and continued success to you, old timer.

Sincerely,

Happy

P.S. mistakes in spelling – typograph, etc. are to be blamed on the heat – it is hotter than the well-known place.

H.

%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%

4136-76th Street

Jackson Heights, L.I., N.Y.

July 17, 1933

Dear Al,

There is little that I can say in the hope of softening your grief, but it may be some small consolation for you to hear that not only do I deeply sympathize with you but that I feel that I have lost a friend whom I shall never forget.

It has not been my good fortune to spend many hours with you and Arla in the years I have known you, but I have nevertheless, counted you as cherished friends, because of the beauty of your feelings towards each other, your children and your friends. I have been in very few homes that are endowed with the joy of living to the extent that yours has been, and I have always felt that the pleasure of visiting you was a rare treat that resulted from the unusual amount of human kindness in both of you.

Arla has left you a wonderful legacy – the memory of her, her spirit in your children and your character, which grew in harmony with her’s. Those are not little things, although in the sorrow of the present, they may seem small recompense for your loss.

Harold La Tour

Tomorrow, we’ll see what has been happening in Mary’s life during 1930. Does she pursue a nursing career? 

Next week, we’ll jump forward to the fall of 1940 when Dan and Ced are in Alaska and Lad continues to work in Venezuela. We’ll catch up on what is going on in Trumbull, in the Guion house and in the town.

Judy Guion

Trumbull – Birthday Letter to 31324665 – August, 1943

Blog Timeline - 1941-1943

Trumbull Conn.

August 15, 1943

Dear 31324665:

THAT, dear children, may be just a number to you, but translated into Uncle Sam Army language it spells Richard Procrastinator Guion, the

Richard (Dick) Peabody Guion

Richard (Dick) Peabody Guion

middle name having been earned at birth and as far as correspondence to the home front is concerned, has been reaffirmed weekly since that time with an i\Ivory Soap score – 99 and 44/100 pure, (In view of my chosen profession I just have to get in these little advertising ideas in my correspondence, you know).

Is that, you may well ask, the approved method of having a letter addressed to one? No, NO, perish the thought! It isn’t even in spite of that fact. But by this time you may have guessed. In just a few days now we will celebrate a birthday but it will be a party without the main guest. We can’t even send him greetings, much less a gift because we don’t know in what corner of the globe he is hiding from Adolph. So we have unanimously adopted the theme song for the occasion: ”I Can’t Give You Anything But Love, Baby”. Of course there is lots of that from each and all of us, although we know full well it won’t buy baby a new pair of pants.

What a lot of accumulated celebration we will have to celebrate when this mess is finally settled. Now, there’s a thought. What is your prescription for a suitable method of rendering due honor to the occasion? How about that auto trip down to Mexico and Central America with enough cars to accommodate the whole family, with Lad and Dan as official interpreters? Ced could entertain and charm the natives with imitations of Bradley Kincaid, Dick and Jean might do a rumba or two, Dave would probably make a beeline for the best looking native girls, while I could profitably employ my time sniffing the native flora to see if it produces I hay fever sneeze.

Incidentally, I read recently an article on how nearly completed this Pan-American road was south of Mexico City, and ran across the following incident: the advanced survey party sometimes encountered situations for which neither engineering texts nor guidebooks had any solution. The disappearing surveyor’s stakes are a good example. In the rural sections, clear, straight-grained, sawed wood is in great demand to patch chairs, to reinforce plows and for 1000 other purposes. The surveyor’s stakes of clean new wood, 1 1/2 in. square by 14 inches long, driven into the ground 100 feet apart to mark the route of the highway, were a treasure trove to the country people who pulled up at night all the stakes placed during the day. Both U.S. and native engineers explained often and at length that the markers were necessary. The people listened, nodded, and the next morning the stakes were gone again. After all, if the yanqui senores valued the little pieces of wood so highly, why would they stick them in the ground and go away and leave them? Gringo foolishness. Finally one of the engineers hit upon the simple idea of nailing a short piece to each stake just below the top at right angles, making a cross. Not a stake disappeared from that day until the end of the survey.

Jean has a new name for me – “Marryin’ Sam”. This week, one marriage at my office, the week before, two; the week before that also two. It all came about in this way. I usually have my ad in the yellow section in the back of the Bridgeport phone directory. A few weeks ago when the salesman called for a renewal for the new edition, I happened to notice that in the New Haven directory several names appeared under the heading “Justice of The Peace”. I told him they could include my name under that heading in Bridgeport, thinking of course, the other Bridgeport “justices” would be included, but when the darn thing appeared a few weeks ago, low, like Abou Ben Adam (May his tribe increase) my name not only led all the rest, but, believe it or not, it was the only name under that heading in the yellow section. So, if the angle of incidence maintains (I have to get these engineering boys into thinking their Dad is not a back number) I may accumulate enough fees to pay the expenses on that Central American tour above referred to.

And speaking of marriages, this week, at the Trumbull Church, Jacqueline French was united in holy wedlock to Mr. John J. Schwarz, son of the Bridgeport lumber dealer. No wisecracks now about little chips off the old block, etc.

I want an answer from someone, Dan or Dick, regarding the Chevrolet out in back. I think it belongs to Dan although Dick may have made some arrangement with Dan about it. Anyway, it is not doing anyone any good standing out unused month after month. I have asked Harry Burr to give me a figure on how much it will cost to fix it up in running condition, and then, depending on the owner’s wishes, I will try to sell it or keep it against the time you boys return and want a car to run around in (and they are getting very scarce now in the East). Please, one of you write me about it.

Dave and some of the boys that forgather in the Clubhouse in the barn have an idea they can fix the old Waverley Electric car up to run either by battery or with a motorcycle motor and have been busy today working on it. I am adopting a “show me” attitude on whether they can accomplish their purpose or not.

For some years now, we have been needing a feminine touch around these here diggins’ and it looks very much as though Jean is the answer to this long felt need. She spent most of the day improving the appearance of the music room, with a bit of help from me, and the result is something to write away about. So we are profiting by Jean’s homemaking instinct, and this is fair warning now that the rest of you will have a high standard to match in presenting me with any other daughters in law.

The supper call is about to sound, so I’ll bring this peculiar birthday letter to a close with many good wishes to my boy “who wears a pair of silver wings”, with many happy returns of the day from all of us and most earnest hope that next August 19th there will be no empty chairs around the table as we sit down to celebrate the occasion. So, Dick old son, here’s more love than you know from your old

DAD

Lad’s Army Life – Trip to Aberdeen Proving Grounds (1)

It’s May 1942 and Lad has just been inducted into the Army. He had been appointed as a leader and his Dad figured he probably would be busy and that the absence of a father would relieve him of one additional burden, so he said goodbye as the empty train pulled into the station. He didn’t know for sure but the plan was for the boys to go to Hartford for their final physical exam then to camp Devens and parts unknown. Lad shares the details of what, where, and when with his Dad in this first communication allowed.

May 18, 1942

Dear Dad:

Thursday – We left Derby on time and stopped at Ansonia. Here a second car was filled, and after a stop at Waterbury a third car was filled. Our next stop was Hartford. Here we detrained and walked about two blocks to the Induction Center. There were so many of us that the complete inspection was not over until 2:45 PM. The actual inspection per person was not more than 30 or 35 minutes, if that much.

At 3 PM the 88 who had passed the examinations, out of 169, were put into a separate car and in a few minutes a train coupled onto the car and we were off. The train

Alfred Peabody Guion (Lad)

traveled to Worcester, Massachusetts where we were switched back and forth, and ended up on a track going in the opposite direction.

Our next stop Ayer, Massachusetts there is no platform of any kind. The tracks run through the backyard of camp Devens. Here with our baggage we were again given a short march and after a little discussion concerning behavior in the camp we were issued raincoats and a barracks bay, another hike to Company B, first Battalion, and we were issued blankets. Then came supper, bed making instructions and at that point, we were more than glad to turn in at 9 PM.

Friday – We rose at 5:45 AM, policed the barracks and fell out for breakfast. Immediately after that we were taken to Q.M.C. and issued our uniforms. What a system! It takes about four or 5 min. from the time you start, stark naked, until you emerge at the other end very well fitted from the skin out, with six complete uniforms and two complete changes of everything else.

Then came and aptitude test – lunch – and a private interview. Back to the theater to be shown a film on the evil side of sex, a couple of short welcome speeches – supper – a couple of fallout calls to advise  some of the men that they were leaving early Saturday morning and then to bed.

Saturday – Up at 5;45 and out for reveille where 10 fellows and myself were told we would be ready to leave at 7:15 AM. A rush to breakfast, again to the medical section for immunizations and a vaccination, back again for clothes and we fell out for the trip to wherever it was. We were marched out to the same lot at which we detrained when we first arrived and here we were told to wait for further orders.

We waited until 8:30 and then were assembled and marched back to the road again, a distance of a couple of hundred yards, and were put on a truck. By truck we were taken a few miles to Fitchburg where we again waited and at 9:20 the train pulled in. At the rear was a special car and we were loaded into this.

By now we numbered 88. A sergeant was in charge. He would give us no information as to where we were going, not even if it was going to be a long trip. However, spirits undaunted, we had a good time. At Greenfield, Massachusetts we were shunted again and changed direction the of travel from West to South. Our next stop was at Springfield, Massachusetts where we were put onto a siding and taken into the station for lunch.

After lunch we boarded the car again and in a couple of minutes another train backed up and again we were off. We stopped at Hartford, New Haven, Bridgeport, Stamford, and Pennsylvania station. We were ordered not to mail anything or make phone calls until we arrived at our destination, so I could not write anything to you.

During our half hour stop in Penn station, a Pennsylvania engine was put on in place of the New Haven, while we ate a box lunch. And then began a  real ride. On the New Haven railroad we had made good time, with only a few stops, but the track was quite rough and I don’t think we traveled better than 45 or 50 mph.

The first stop on the new leg was at Newark, New Jersey, and then began a fast nonstop trip. The only times he slowed down below 75 mph were when we switched from the local track to the express or vice versa. Our next stop was Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, then Wilmington, Delaware and then Aberdeen, Maryland.

Here, to our surprise, we all got off and were taken by truck, in the rain, to our present location: The Ordnance Training Center, Aberdeen Proving Ground, Maryland. We were issued blankets, assigned to barracks and were glad to go to bed even though it was only 9:30 PM.

Sunday – We had nothing to do, and also, being in quarantine for two weeks, we could do nothing. I acquainted myself as well as I could with our limited grounds and made a few purchases at the PX, which we are lucky enough to have within the grounds and again retired.

Monday – We began our training and learned marching fundamentals. Today, Tuesday, we heard from a few of the big shots on the duties of the Ordnance Department, and this afternoon, more drilling. Just now we are having an inspection of all equipment issued to us. And so I’ll end for today. And believe me, we are all glad to hit the hay at 9:00 PM when the lights go out.

(TO BE CONTINUED)

This is typical of the type of letter Grandpa would receive from Lad… very detailed and meticulous. Believe it or not, I took out quite a few even more minor details – like how he figured they slowed down to about 75 mph by figuring the mile posts were going by about every 44 or 45 seconds. This was the first 6 pages, there are 5 more, but never having been in the Military, I find the structure and the process fascinating, even though it also means hurry-up-and-wait. I will try not to give you too many of these detailed letters, but his description of the hotel in Caracas was very life-like.