Trumbull – Grandpa’s Natal Day – Sept, 1940

1934 - 1940 Timeline

1934 – 1940 Timeline

This is the first installment of a very long letter Grandpa writes to his sons, Dan and Ced in Alaska and Lad in Venezuela, following his birthday. This section covers all of the happenings involving Grandpa’s birthday – September 11 – when he turned 56. He has followed the strange custom of sending presents to his sons on HIS birthday, maybe his way of giving back.

September 15, 1940

Dear Partners in Crime:

Gosh, but you boys certainly did make me feel good on my natal day! It started before I was up on the morning of the 11th. I had my radio going as I lay in bed trying to

Alfred Duryee Guion

Alfred Duryee Guion

learn what had occurred in the intervening 12 hours in the way of war news and thus did not hear the phone ring, but long-legged Dick, clad in his pajamas and with sleep still in his eye, said Western Union wanted me on the phone. And this was the message: A nite letter from Anchorage Alaska for A.D. Guion. Congratulations to O D A. birthday greetings we joyously sand, to pop on whom we can always depend, to see to it we are always presented, with swell birthday gets – kinds not resented. The man who the deep in troubles steeped, has always thought just of our welfare replete. (Signed) Sourdoughs, Dan and Ced.”

This was getting off to a good start. With a warm glow in my heart I shaved (without cutting myself), H my usual frugal breakfast, started the old Plymouth, which quite surprisingly started without the usual trouble, sailed down the drive and made my first stop at the store. P.O. Box 7 was bursting with mail. Yes sir, believe it or not, letters awaited me from Aunt Betty, lad, Dan and Ced, all with birthday greetings right on the nose. (And this has no reference to hay fever).Aunt Betty the usual card with the usual dollar bill parked underneath the first sheet, lad with a nice letter accompanied by a blank check, as it were, to get me something for myself, Dan with a $25 money order together with a letter and verse, and Ced with a four-page letter willingly his entire bank balance here. Dick offered to blow me to the movies, which offer I could not accept because I had a job I had brought home from the office which had to be completed by the morrow and Dave donated his service in getting supper and also with a birthday greeting card. As soon as I poked my head in the office door George and Miss Denis burst out singing ”Happy Birthday To You” , and Mr. Coville dropped in during the day and left his solicitations and asked to be remembered to Dan. I splurged a bit on the supper which consisted of a thick, juicy beefsteak, delicious green asparagus (a frosted food), potatoes and apple pie à la mode. All in all, a most momentous day. My little contribution took the form of a box of writing paper each to the Alaskan contingent, a photo album to Lad, a waterproof, windproof jacket made of airplane cloth to Dick and a book of complete Gilbert and Sullivan operas for Dave. I hope the parcel post packages reach you “Outsiders” promptly and in good shape.

Lad in Venezuela

Lad in Venezuela

Lad’s three-page letter, just to hit the high spots, mentions the fact that because of high costs of everything done there, he is losing his perspective on the cost of things and the value of money, and sites as an instance, the fact that his watch, which Arnold had repaired here in Bridgeport for him cost six dollars, whereas down there it would have cost $16-$17 for the work. The smallest denomination in paper money down there is 20 bolivars (about 6.50). The movies he gets down there are two or three years old. He has seen Robin Hood and Juarez. It looks now as though at long last, some of the oil wells they have drilled our coming through in the Guario field and they are starting another —  the fourth  —  in the same location. His two years under contract with S.V. is up May 31st but that does not mean necessarily that he is coming home at that time. His boss, Chris, may be leaving early in November when his contract expires and Lad will probably get his job. Lad and the new airplane mechanic have struck up a friendship and he spends quite a bit of his spare time at the airport. He is thinking of the possibility of buying himself a small plane when he gets home and says they can be run more economically than even my little Willis that was.

Incidentally, both stock transfer blanks were received, duly signed. Thank you both.

Dan’s letter, enclosing the money order was a lollipaloosa. It starts:

Dan in Alaska

Dan in Alaska

Father dear, I sadly fear, this letter will come late.

But what the hell! You can’t foretell the vagaries of fate.

Uncle Sam don’t give a damn if ponies can’t express,

The tidings here, of luck and cheer, your natal day to bless.


Sing hey to oats and barley,

And give this cheque to Farley,

The old fifth wheel

To Frank’s new deal

Will cash it without parley.

After that it is up to you and may it bring you as much fun as it is bringing me to send it to you.

Well spoken, me lad. It will.    (Note by the editor)

He mentions going to Matanuska for the Colonist’s Fair on Labor Day and enjoyed himself in spite of the rain.

Ced in Alaska

Ced in Alaska

Ced’s long Labor Day letter was quite interesting. He gave quite a detailed account of his first ride over Anchorage and vicinity with the boss in one of their big 5 ton ships, which experience makes him all the more eager to learn to fly. This he has a chance of doing if one of the members of the local flying club gives up his membership as he is apt to do if present plans to leave Alaska materialize. This will cost said about $200 cash. They have invested member’s money in a jointly owned Aeronca Chief (four-cylinder, 65 h.p., air cooled, Continental engine, two passenger, dual control, a year-old). He related several interesting anecdotes of the dictator-like manner in which Col. Olson manages the affairs of the Alaskan R.R., and also on the crime situation. Because of the cost of prosecution, most murders are labeled suicides. Robbery is practically nonexistent. Cars are left by the roadside for two days with keys in the glove compartment, untouched; gasoline, in 50 gallon drums, left in airway ramps unguarded, is untouched; houses are seldom locked and the two banks in town have stored type plate glass windows, no bars.

I finally learned that the Willys brought about $190 on a forced sale, but under the circumstances they were facing, it was undoubtedly the wise thing to do. Both Dan and Ced are thinking of joining a ski club and also a singing group.

Tomorrow, the letter will continue with local news of boiling politics and what he plans on doing with his birthday money.

Judy Guion


Trumbull – August, 1940 – From the Tropics to Alaska

It’s August of 1940 and Lad  has been in Venezuela for about a year and a half, now working for the Socony-Vacuum Oil Company. Dan and Ced have been in Alaska for about 2 months, Dan working at an airbase and Ced working at Woodley’s Air Field. Biss is married and the mother of a son. Dick and Dave are still living at home, Dick has graduated from high school and Dave will be starting his freshman year in about a month. Grandpa is still writing letters and sending one copy to Venezuela and another to Alaska.

August 4, 1940

Dear Lad:

That WAS an interesting letter you wrote on the 22nd and the idea of my purchasing a good projector so that we can see here the colored movies you intend to take

Alfred Peabody Guion (Lad)

Alfred Peabody Guion (Lad)

with your new 8 mm movie camera, is based on a very generous thought and that is, you will not be able to see the results of your work. I made inquiries and find that that Bell and Howell is the best make and costs about $120. I also inquired about good used projectors and was informed that there have been so many forward strides made lately in the newer models that I’d be wasting your money to get any but the latest. I was told that “a new Ford is much better than an old Packard, because of the many improvements that new cars have, that even the best old cars did not have.” The same holds true for projectors. You have sufficient credit, even without the check from Socony-Vacuum which has just arrived, to take care of this, and while I think you want to save as much as you can, and I am planning to buy some additional stock for you, I will buy the projector after shopping around a bit. It would be good if Dan or Ced could also pick up an 8 mm movie camera and then we could have a regular picnic showing friends and relatives motion pictures of the Guion boys “From the Tropics to Alaska”.

If you move over to Guario, will that mean that you will give up your quarters where you are now located and find new ones at the new location? Who are the Senores Williams from Norwalk? I don’t recall you having mentioned them before. Where did you see Robin Hood? I suppose it is too soon yet for you to have received the brushless shaving cream I sent. You will, of course, let me know as soon as it arrives so that I can send you things from time to time if the system works out.

I am going to send your letter on to Dan and Ced, with the understanding they return it to me in their first return mailing. (Alaska please take note).

Dave is all hopped up about starting an amateur dramatic club, and the little son of a gun, without any prompting from me, went over and had a long talk with David’s which has resulted in the new recreation supervisor, loaned to the town by the WPA, becoming interested in getting the thing going. Our youngest son is going places.

Mr. Matthias just stopped in and was talking to me through the screen door in the alcove, where I am sitting at the typewriter conversing with you boys. He wants the Board of Selectmen to appoint him as one of the new assessors. The reasons he gives are first, that the town owes him something, and second, that he needs the money. Neither sounds very convincing to me.

I am enclosing some extracts from an interesting letter just received from Ced, in which I think you will be interested. By the way, the 19th is Dick’s birthday, and I will assume I have your permission to make a modest expenditure from your finds as a remembrance from you. This afternoon he and Dave and Donnie and Zeke are all up at Plumb’s playing tennis.



Dear Ced:

This has been a good week – – nice long letters from both you and Lad. Barbara happened to be here when your letter arrived, visiting Biss. She remarked that she

Cedric Duryee Guion

Cedric Duryee Guion

had been waiting for a letter to come from you so that she could find out what was really happening, Dan’s letters not being so strong on the matter-of-fact things. You have made a good start along that line, and, knowing how difficult it is sometimes to know what the other fellow really wants to know, suppose in commenting on your letter I asked a few additional questions as I go along. You are staying at Mrs. Walsh’s House and eating at Mrs. McCain’s. How far apart are they? How far are both of them from the airbase where Dan works and from Woodley’s where you work. As Dan takes his lunch to work I assume it is a bit too far to walk back and forth during the noon hour. Do they have buses running back and forth or do you both have to hoof it morning and evening or can you hitchhike? How about mosquitoes? Col. Weeks told me that when he was in Anchorage some years ago the mosquitoes on the River were sometimes so thick, it looked almost like a fog.

You say both Mrs. Walsh and Mrs. McCain have granted you credit until you are paid at the end of the month, “so funds therefore will hold out indefinitely.” I’d like to know more about that fund business. How much did you have left when you reached Seattle? How much did you sell the Willys for? How much was the fare from Seattle to Anchorage?

I am delighted at Dan having landed so lucrative a job. As I figure it, with one hour off for lunch, he works 7 1/2 hours or 48 1/2 hours a week, times 4 1/3 weeks in a month, at a $1.15, must bring him in about $250 a month which is even more than Lad is making, if you don’t figure in his board and keep, and that’s pretty good pay in anybody’s language these days. You do not say how many days a week you put in at the $.60 rate. I suppose they pay time and a half for overtime, and if you have a 44 hour week, you are not doing so bad yourself. There is one thing I am sure of that your boss will soon discover, which I should think, would be very important in airplane work and that is that whatever you do will be done right and carefully and finished. It may take you longer to do than the other fellow, but you can be more certain of the results. I’ll soon be expecting to hear that because of your dependability you will be given more responsible work at a higher rate. I’ll give Mr. Woodley about a month to get wise to the find he has made in his Conn. Yankee helper. Evidently the certificates and letters of recommendation were not needed by either of you in landing jobs.

And by the way, pardon me for not heading this letter “Dear Duke”.

The hot spell here has ended and the last two days have been pretty pleasant. I got a letter from Anna Heurlin this week giving “any friends of Cedric’s” permission to use the island any time or as long as they wish. I have written and thanked her on both your behalf and my own. Mr. Plumb is feeling better due to the change in weather principally. Tell Dan a dividend check for $4.50 on his Commonwealth Edison stock has been received and credited to his account. The old Plymouth is still running along although I had a flat in Bridgeport Friday, left front, and Carl had to put in a blowout patch. This month I will make the final payment to Sears and Roebuck on the Willys tires. See Lads letter for further small news, and write whenever you get the chance and feel like it.



I find it interesting that there isn’t any “real exciting” events to record this week, but Grandpa still manages to write two single-spaced letters to his sons.He’s just passing news from Venezuela to Alaska and from Alaska to Venezuela, the ultimate “Middleman”. He has no idea that he will continue doing this for another 6 years. I wonder if he’d have known, would he have taken on the job? I’d like to think that he would have.

For FREE copies of New Inceptions Magazine, an e-magazine, with several articles based my family letters , written prior to and during WWII, you can click the following links.

Issue 1   Click Here

Issue 2   Click Here

Issue 3   Click Here

Judy Guion