Voyage to Venezuela (13) – Trip to Caracas – January, 1939

 

Alfred P Guion (Lad)

The trip to Caracas was an adventure in itself.  Our car was a large Lincoln of about 1931 vintage but to all outward appearances was in good shape, and was well polished.  It was a touring style body, the top was up and showed no signs of ever having been lowered.  The three of us, Frank Da Cosa, Paul Burkhart and myself rode in back, I in the middle.  I think that that was as good a location as any because I could look out either side with equal ease.  We wound around through the narrow streets of La Guayra for quite a few minutes, having to stop now and then to let a truck that was coming toward us pass, since the roads were too narrow for two large vehicles to pass at the same time in places and on other narrower streets, only one-way traffic was allowed.  It seems as if the bottom of the mountains are the border of the town for as we started up the first incline the houses were no more and after about one mile there were practically no signs of habitation along the right-of-way.

The road was about fourteen feet wide and seemed to go continually upward, winding and twisting like a snake, dipping only now and then to cross a little gully or stream and then on up again.  The turns were apt to be very sharp and our driver apparently thought nothing of them because he would only slow down sufficiently to be sure that the car would stay on the road.  The tires screamed on almost every turn and instead of looking at the scenery we were forced to spend more time watching the road in order to brace ourselves for the next turn.  What little I saw of the scenery however was very pretty.  Now and then the road went up parallel to the sea and with the clear blue sky above, the deeper blue water below and the brilliant green trees and grass between us and the stretch of sand that shone like a river in the bright sunlight, was something that I shall remember for quite a long time.  Now and then the road passed over a quebrada, as they are called, and if there were not too many trees I could look down for hundreds of feet to a deep chasm whose sides were so steep that only grass could get a foothold.  In other places the pavement was washed away or the road partly covered by a landslide and in these places the driver did slow down and once or twice he seemed to be sort of feeling his way across.  At one exceptionally sharp turn there is a monument erected as a memory to drive carefully.  It is an actual car that was wrecked quite badly on this turn, and is mounted on a cement pillar were all who pass cannot help but see it.  If one were to go straight instead of making the curve, or rather, turn, he would go down a steep embankment that is not far from perpendicular from many, many feet.  I doubt that one could live through it.  As we got higher and higher, we could see more and more hills behind this

On the very first page of Life in Venezuela by Alfred  P Guion, Lad writes:

“ Although I am starting off with every intention of bringing this little article, or whatever, to a close, it may never reach this ultimate end.”  Well, this is the end of his epistle.

I have a few letters written by Dan in late 1938 to the family and next Saturday, I will post a portion of one of them. It covers his trip from Curacao and his impressions of Caracas.

On the very first page of Life in Venezuela by Alfred  P Guion, Lad writes:

    “ Although I am starting off with every intention of bringing this little article, or whatever, to a close, it may never reach this ultimate end.”  Well, this is the end of his epistle.

I have a few letters written by Dan in late 1938 to the family and next Saturday, I will post a portion of one of them. It covers his trip from Curacao and his impressions of Caracas.

Tomorrow, I will post the last of the Bradford, Lewis, Rider and Irwin Ancestors. On Monday I will begin a week of The Beginning – Childhood Memories of Trumbull. 

Judy Guion

 

 

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Trumbull – Dear Gang – The Great Guion Mystery – December 5, 1943

Trumbull, Conn., Dec. 5, 1943

Dear Gang:

Cedric Duryee Guion

The Great. Guion Mystery, unsolved to the present moment, is: “Has Ced left Anchorage en route home?” The last word from Alaska, as reported to you in a previous communication, was that our arctic explorer expected to leave for his long trip to Connecticut on December 3rd , and I have been anxiously, almost fearfully, looking for further word that would relieve the tension and let us know that nothing is intervened to prevent his leaving per schedule.

Dave has received notification that he is now class 1-A, and if rumors are to be given credence, he will leave Trumbull January 10th . The last hurdle he has yet to get over is his final physical exam. He is flirting with the idea of asking to join the Navy, probably because several of his buddies here have chosen that branch of the service, but this, I hope, will not happen.

Our guest for dinner today was Harold LaTour whom you older boys may remember. For a while he was salesman for an American concern in South America but is now with the Daily News in New York. He was one of Roger Bachelder’s college friends.

A review of incoming correspondence this week reveals the following:

A card announcing the arrival of Donald Robert Whitney, Jr., on November 25th , wait 8 pounds ten and a half ounces.

              Lad and Marian Guion – 1943

Another nice letter from Marian expressing the expectation of drinking a Thanksgiving toast to the “Guion clan and the fervent wish that another year will find us all together”. She also reports receiving a congratulatory telegram from Ced bemoaning the fact that he would not be around to tie tin cans to the car. It seems that the newlyweds waited so long before starting away for their home trip that all the guests got tired of waiting for them to leave, and in consequence, they escaped the horseplay that usually accompany affairs of this sort.

A letter from Dan enclosing signed registration certification which makes Dave happy in that he will now have about a month in which to drive around a car of his own (provided he can get it running). After a typical Danielesque description of English weather in lieu of the real news he hints he may write about, were it not for the limitations of censorship, he goes on to say his expected studies at Oxford or Cambridge have not yet materialized. He ends with the words: “Hurrah for Lad. I shall write to her personally.”

It is many weeks now, Dan, since a package of Rum and Maple, Kleenex, shampoo, etc. has been sent to you, but if I can secure anymore of that brand of tobacco (they told me it was not being made anymore and what I got was the last of their stock), I shall get off another shipment with the hope that sooner or later one of them might escape Hitler’s U-boats.

Thank you, Marian, for your welcome letter. I hope next time you or Lad write, you will be able to say that you have found a cozy little house or apartment. I’m going to miss you all here Christmas, but I hope Ced will be here to partly compensate. Jean and Dave anyway will save the day and I expect Bissie and her two hopefuls will be on hand. Jean is a way with her Aunt this week and visiting friends in New Milford.

Aunt Betty, Dave and Smoky all send their best, and as for me, you all know what to expect from                               DAD

Tomorrow, I will finish the week with another letter from Marian.

On Saturday, more on the Voyage to Venezuela in 1939. OnSunday, more of My Ancestors. Judy Guion 

Judy Guion

Voyage to Venezuela (12) – The Adventure of Landing at La Guayra – January 4, 1939

This is the  beginning of a series of posts concerning Lad’s Voyage to Venezuela, taking a similar route as John Jackson Lewis during the first portion of his journey, about 88 years later. Lad and Dan had been hired by their Uncle Ted Human (husband of Helen (Peabody) Human), Aunt Helen, sister of Arla Mary (Peabody) Guion, Grandpa’s wife who had passed away in 1933 after a long illness. This is Lad’s version of the adventure he was taking and the same trip Dan had taken earlier in the year, traveling with Ted Human to South America.

 

The Harbor  at Curacao, January 3, 1939

Native  Quarters at Curacao – January 3, 1939

Wednesday, January 5, 1939, (actually, Wednesday was January 4th in 1939) was a beautiful day, quite well advanced, by the time I rose from my bed.  We were just outside the La Guayra harbor waiting for the Pilot to come aboard to guide us into the harbor.  With him would also come the Officials to check our passports and issue the landing papers.  While I was eating breakfast the small tender arrived and we proceeded into the harbor.  There were ships at the dock so we were able to tie up at the wharf with no trouble at all.  While the ship was being made ready for passengers to disembark, the Customs men were busily checking all passports of those intending to stay in Venezuela.  After studying the little red book for a few minutes they would ask a couple of questions through the interpreter, fill out a sheet in Spanish, which had to be signed by the person himself, and then with almost a tone of greed they asked for 10 Bolivars.  This seemed to be the thing that they were most interested in and after that you were told that you would get your passport back in the Customs House on shore.  The landing papers were given out at the Purser’s Office and we were allowed to leave the ship.  It was eleven o’clock when I got to the long gray galvanized sheet iron building that was the Office and storage room of the Customs Dep’t. and in Venezuela there is a two-hour lunch period which starts at eleven in some towns and in others at noon.  La Guayra starts its lunch hours at eleven so immediately after reaching the building everyone was chased out in the place was locked up while the men went out for lunch.  Naturally, the wise thing for me to do was to go out and eat also, but where?  Out in front of the office I met two men who had come down on the Santa Rosa with me and one of them had spent a number of years in Venezuela and knew where to eat, so we asked him to be our host and he did a nice job of it.  Had lunch at a famous seaside restaurant in La Guayra, of which I have forgotten the name, and drove around a little, seeing parts of the city.  It was all interesting and new to me and at the time, I didn’t notice particularly the dirt and filth that I saw on a call to La Guayra after I had spent a few months in Venez.

At 1:00 we all came back to the Customs Office and found out that before getting our passports we would have to call at another administration building and give some more information concerning how long we were intending to stay in Venezuela, our address, for whom we were working and 5 Bolivars more.  For this last we were given a receipt and told to go back to the Customs Office for the passport.  Arriving back there we were told that we would have to wait because there were a few other people in front of us.  They were terribly slow, and spent more time talking than working.  As our baggage was inspected and passed as O.K. the “jefe” put on a sticker with no regards as to how it would look, with a very messy and sticky glue.  Then it was taken to the car or whatever means of transportation one had, and packed for the trip to wherever.

I am getting a little ahead though.  On board the room Steward had a carton of cigarettes, and offered them to me at a substantial savings, and in answer to my question, told me that if the seal were broken they would pass the Customs.  Therefore I opened each pack and put them in my trunk in a conspicuous place.  However the official must have liked Chesterfield’s for when he saw them he smiled and removed five of the remaining eight, but tobacco, which is definitely taboo, he did not take after I told him that it was all I had with me.  It was a one-pound tin of Briggs about one-third empty.  Everything else that I had went through with no questions.  Our host, Frank DaCosa, had hired a car with our permission, for the three of us and all our luggage was strapped onto the trunk rack on back and by four we were ready to leave La Guayra.

At this point a man who had been hanging around quite closely handed each of us a slip of paper that had all the symptoms of a bill and from Frank I learned that it was one for the unasked for assistance that we had gotten in taking our luggage from the Customs house to the car and for watching it in the locked building during the noon hour.  It amounted to 15 Bolivars, which was ridiculous, but had to be paid in order to avoid a scene.  Therefore by the time we had finally left La Guayra I had paid a total of Bolivars 30, without counting my meal or the charge for the taxi to Caracas.

Tomorrow, more about my Bradford Ancestors.

Next week,  I will begin posting more Childhood Memories of Trumbull.

Judy Guion

The Beginning (57) – Childhood Memories of Trumbull – End of the War For Dave

These are the memories of my Father and his siblings, recorded over several years. When my Uncle Dan passed away, I realized that I had better get started recording the memories of Dan’s siblings before they were also gone. I was able to have two recording sessions with my Father, Lad in California; two with Uncle Ced in New Hampshire, a three-day cruise in our boat with Aunt Biss; one session with Uncle Dave in Stratford, CT and one hand-written session (I forgot my tape recorder going up to the Island in New Hampshire, where Uncle Dick lived) with Uncle Dick. I transcribed them once exactly as they were spoken, again removing the ums, ahs, half sentences started over, etc. I then produced a final copy that was easier to read, but it still needs work getting the chronological order correct. Memories are not recorded with a date stamp. I created 75 binders for family members which include all three translations, pages and pages of photos and memorabilia and the actual recording. Now family members can actually heat their ancestors speaking. It was my first project with all the material my Father saved for me and a true Labor of Love. I hope you enjoy these memories of A Slice of Life at a different time and place.

David Peabody Guion

DAVE – On August 25th, I think, we were all watching a film in a kind of natural amphitheater and one of the guys was from Brooklyn and had a buddy, whowas also from Brooklyn, and I remember this just as if it were yesterday, he came running over – we had gotten some rumors that the Japs were going to quit – and this guy came running over and said, “The signing has been confoimed.”  I never forgot that.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Battle_of_Manila_(1945)

The time between August 25th and September 7th when they signed the Treaty, I left Okinawa and went down to Manila.  Here I am now – the war is over – all I have to do is go home and they are shipping me out in a plane to Manila.  The pilot spent about twenty minutes, maybe, trying to start one engine and I said to myself, “I’m going to die in the ocean and the war is over.”  Anyhow, we got to Manila.  That was quite a sight – buildings where the first floor was completely gone and five or six or seven stories would be on top of it, canted, all kinds of destruction.  If you went to the City Hall and looked up you would see a room with curtains on the windows.  That was MacArthur’s headquarters.  So he had curtains on his windows and the Philipinos were watching dead bodies float down the river.

I would say I was in Manila probably about six months.  It would have been August, September, October, November, December, January, February, March, eight months.  I came home in March 1946.  I got out of the service the day Chiche (Paulette) gave birth to Arla, Danielle, as the case may be. (Dan and Paulette’s daughter was named Danielle Arla Julien Andre Guion but the family always called her Arla.)

I had a friend who had a friend who was MacArthur’s driver, chauffeur, and this guy said that whenever MacArthur went in someplace, he’d always get one of those Oriental houses where there was a porch all the way around the building.  He’d have his staff come up and sit in chairs around the building.  He got up to the first staff member and he would say, “Give me your report.”  It might be a question, it might be a problem, or it might just be a report.  Then he would walk around the whole building, see the whole staff, each giving him these questions.  Then he would get in his car and tell his friends friend, “Drive me”.  They would drive around and pretty soon MacArthur would say, “OK”, let’s go back.”  Then he’d say, “you, — blah, blah, blah. You — blah, blah, blah.”  He went all around the whole building telling each one of his staff members what to do about his problem.  What a brain.  There shouldn’t be enough room in there for an ego, but there was.

Tomorrow, Day Six of Lad’s Voyage to Venezuela. He arrives in Guayra and writes of his experience.

On Sunday, more about My Bradford Ancestors, Caleb Rider and Hannah McFarland.

Judy Guion

 

 

The Beginning (54) – Childhood Memories of Trumbull – Lad and World War II

These are the memories of my Father and his siblings, recorded over several years. When my Uncle Dan passed away, I realized that I had better get started recording the memories of Dan’s siblings before they were also gone. I was able to have two recording sessions with my Father, Lad in California; two with Uncle Ced in New Hampshire, a three-day cruise in our boat with Aunt Biss; one session with Uncle Dave in Stratford, CT and one hand-written session (I forgot my tape recorder going up to the Island in New Hampshire, where Uncle Dick lived) with Uncle Dick. I transcribed them once exactly as they were spoken, again removing the ums, ahs, half sentences started over, etc. I then produced a final copy that was easier to read, but it still needs work getting the chronological order correct. Memories are not recorded with a date stamp. I created 75 binders for family members which include all three translations, pages and pages of photos and memorabilia and the actual recording. Now family members can actually heat their ancestors speaking. It was my first project with all the material my Father saved for me and a true Labor of Love. I hope you enjoy these memories of A Slice of Life at a different time and place.

 

LAD – After working in Venezuela for two and a half years, the company required that I take two months off and go to a temperate climate.  They didn’t care where, just that I had to be out of the tropical climate.  So I went home.  Just before the ship landed in New York City, an announcement came over the PA system that some government employees would be coming on board.  When they arrived, they asked everyone for their passport.  They told me that I wouldn’t get my passport back.  I went to Trumbull and shortly thereafter, got my conscription notice, classifying me 1-A.  Because of my draft status, I had trouble finding a job.  I figured that if I signed up, then I could pick which branch of the service I went into.  I went to New York City and tried to get into the Navy and the Air Force but I was rejected because of my eyesight.  I was finally able to get a job at the Producto Machine Company (in Bridgeport).  They made machines and dyes.  It was a fairly nice plant, it was considered pretty good equipment.  In December, the Japanese bombed Perl Harbor and shortly after I got a notice to report for duty.  I was able to get a deferment because of my job but by April, 1942, I had been reclassified 1-A.  I received a notice to report for duty in May. Two days later I got a letter from the Navy saying they had lowered their eyesight requirements and I was now eligible.  I tried to talk the Army out of it, but was unsuccessful.  So I went into the Army.

Dan and I were both in France in 1945.  I had been corresponding with Dan and I knew he was going to be married on a particular day in mid-summer.  I talked my Captain into a three-day pass but it was limited to Paris.  That was as far as I should go.  So I went to Paris and checked into the Hospitality Hotel.  I left my duffel bag there and put a little sack in my pocket with a toothbrush and that’s about it, I guess, maybe a comb too.  I decided to try to get to Calais (where Dan was to be married).  I didn’t know how far it was, maybe fifty or sixty miles from Paris, north of Paris, up on the coast.  I got a ticket on a train and the train went about five or six miles per hour for about ten or fifteen minutes, then it stopped.  It stood there for a long, long time, then it went a little further and it stopped again.  I was noticing that cars kept going by so I got off the train and hitchhiked.  I beat the train by a day.  I didn’t have much trouble hitchhiking.  An English soldier came along on a motorbike and asked me where I wanted to go.  I told him Calais.  He said, “That’s not far.  I’ll take you up there.”  So that’s how I made the last two-thirds of the trip to Calais.  I had no trouble finding the house; it was Chiche’s mother’s house, her mother and father’s house.  He was a pharmacist.  It was fairly late in the afternoon when I got there.  I stayed the night and the wedding was the next day.  As I recall, they were expecting me when I got there.  The third day, my pass was up but I didn’t hurry to get back.  I went back to Paris on the train, and this time, it went pretty well.  I grabbed all of my equipment out of the Hospitality Hotel and checked out.  I took the usual bus to go from Paris to Marseilles, but by this time, I was one day over my pass.  When I got back to camp there was nothing there, just damaged grass and fields.  Everything was gone!  I finally found an officer who was walking around and asked him what had happened.  He said that everybody had shipped out, Saturday, I guess it was, or Sunday.  I told him my name and he said, “Oh, yeah.  They tried to get a hold of you but the Hotel said they couldn’t find you.”  So he told me where to go and what to do.  I went to the location he told me about and they knew all about me.  There was another fellow there, Bob Mark.  I was with the 3019th and he was with the 3020th.  He had been left behind to gather all the equipment.  I said, “That’s what I’m supposed to do.”  So, Bob and I got together and found our equipment, we both belonged to the hundred and forty-ninth Battalion.  We got all the equipment rounded up, got it to the dock and finally were able to get a ship that would take it to Okinawa.  I think it took us close to a week to get everything ready and get aboard.  We started out but when we were about two hundred miles from the Panama Canal, the word on the PA system was that the US had dropped a bomb on Hiroshima.  We got the message in the afternoon, and the next morning the ship turned around, went back out to the Atlantic and up the coast to New York.

After I returned to New York I was stationed at Fort Dix.  I don’t know how many months, a couple or three months.  They didn’t know what to do with me.  I went home every weekend and came back on Monday.  Finally they said to me, “We don’t know what to do with you so you might as well go home and get discharged.”  So that’s what finally happened.

For the rest of the week I’ll be posting more Childhood Memories of Trumbull.

Judy Guion

Voyage to Venezuela (11)- Day Five on the Santa Rosa and Onshore in Curacao – January 3, 1939

This is the  beginning of a series of posts concerning Lad’s Voyage to Venezuela, taking a similar route as John Jackson Lewis during the first portion of his journey, about 88 years later. Lad and Dan had been hired by their Uncle Ted Human (husband of Helen (Peabody) Human), Aunt Helen, sister of Arla Mary (Peabody) Guion, Grandpa’s wife who had passed away in 1933 after a long illness. This is Lad’s version of the adventure he was taking and the same trip Dan had taken earlier in the year, traveling with Ted Human to South America.

Lad wearing the suit he bought in Curacao

 

We were a little ahead of schedule due to the exceptionally fine weather and sea Tuesday Morning so that even though I got up at 6, the Island was only a few miles away, having been cited about four A. M. Being Dutch, it is a free port so there was no rigamaroll in landing and by ten we had navigated the very beautiful, winding channel with its picturesque brightly colored houses and lovely green foliage, and were in cars heading for the center of the only town on the Island, Curaçao.  While on the boat watching the shores gliding by I had spoken to a girl beside me at the rail and she told me that she and her mother and father were Venezuelans and had been in the States for the past nineteen years, she having gone there at the age of nine months.  They seemed to be rather nice people so on shore I stayed with them.  After wandering around the city for a couple of hours, Mr. and Mrs. Baptista were getting tired so they returned to the ship but the girl, Gabriella, and I wanted to see more so we stayed and continued our meanderings.  All articles were quite cheap since import duty is charged for goods coming into the Dutch West Indies and because of that reason I bought a linen suit for use in Caracas.  The material was a very fine and the suit only cost about half as much as it would have cost in the States.  At home I had worn a hat on only one or two occasions so I had no hat with me and being ignorant of the customs of the tropics, and also believing a hat necessary, I bought a cork helmet.  I have been sorry ever since that I let Briella, as I later came to know her, persuade me to buy it.  I believe that I have worn it no more than a total of two hours although it has been with me constantly.  We found no place on the Island that looked inviting enough to eat in so we went without lunch and saw quite a bit of the town before returning to the ship at about four-thirty.

The sailing time was set for six and we both wanted to change our clothes and be on deck to see the way the ship was warped away from the dock and maneuvered around in the small inland harbor in order to proceed on its way. By six we were on deck again but preparations for leaving were nowhere near completed and since supper was served at seven we went below to get ready for supper.  After supper they were still loading so we played a few games of Ping-Pong and waited about the decks watching the loading of the cargo. Twenty-two new cars had been unloaded and they were loading coffee and sugar into the space vacated.  By ten o’clock in the evening everything had been loaded and the gang-plank was hauled up the side and made fast.  The portholes were closed and the hatches sealed and battened down and we threw off the last line about ten-thirty.  To my surprise, all the maneuvering was done under her own power and therefore it took nearly an hour and a half to turn and get out of the narrow channel.  Then the Pilot left and we proceeded under the direction of the Captain for La Guayra and the end of my first sea voyage.  As the lights of the Island were fading in the distance, Briella and I went below, knowing that the coming day would bring the final preparations for leaving the ship, including the Venezuelan Customs Officials.

Tomorrow another post about My Ancestors, Elishe Bradford and his wife Bathsheba Brock.

Next week, I will begin another week of Childhood Memories of Trumbull.

Judy Guion

Voyage to Venezuela (10) – Day Four on the Santa Rosa – January 2, 1939

This is the  beginning of a series of posts concerning Lad’s Voyage to Venezuela, taking a similar route as John Jackson Lewis during the first portion of his journey, about 88 years later. Lad and Dan had been hired by their Uncle Ted Human (husband of Helen (Peabody) Human, Aunt Helen), sister of Arla Mary (Peabody) Guion, Grandpa’s wife who had passed away in 1933 after a long illness. This is Lad’s version of the adventure he was taking and the same trip Dan had taken earlier in the year, traveling with Ted Human to South America.

         Alfred Peabody Guion (Lad)

Monday morning I woke up with the warm, fresh sea breeze blowing into the room and discovered that, Jimmie, my room Steward, had opened the port hole earlier in the morning because the wind was so warm.  The exhilaration of that breeze was wonderful and it only took me a few minutes to dress and get out onto the deck.  Everything seemed wonderful.  The breakfast was good, the people were friendly, I had not been seasick at all and the sea had been smooth, even while we had passed Cape Hatteras, which is always the roughest part of the trip.  That morning, after spending an hour wandering about in meeting and talking to many new people, I asked for permission to go down to the engine room.  I was told that after the ship left Puerto Cabello there would be a conducted trip down below, but after explaining that I would leave the ship at La Guayra, the stop previous to Puerto Cabello, I was taken to meet the chief engineer, and when I had explained the circumstances he was very friendly and helpful and referred me to one of the assistants.  He took me down to the bowels of the ship and I spent another very pleasant hour or so asking questions and seeing how a modern steam turbine engine and the oil heated steam furnaces work.  It was quite enlightening and everything was fairly clean, but even with my coat off it was very warm.  Then, since I still had some time before dinner, I went up to the control and radio rooms and talked with a radio operator.  I could not get onto the bridge, however, because of very strict laws made by the owners.

After lunch and a game of Shuffle-board, I was beginning to get a little bit tired of waiting for the ship to land at La Guayra and as the day passed I found myself wishing more and more that I were already on Land.  That evening there was another movie – Walt Disney’s “Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs” – which I had seen previously but thoroughly enjoyed seeing again.  Then afterward, another dance and since on the morrow we were to land at Curaçao, a Dutch West Indies Island, I retired fairly early so I would be on hand to see the Island as it came into sight.

Tomorrow I will post what little I have found about Joseph Bradford amd his family. I may also post information about his son, Elishe Bradford. J

udy Guion