Trumbull – Gentle Readers (2) – News From Jean in Brazil – August 20, 1945

jean-on-lawn-1945

Jean (Mortensen) Guion (Mrs. Richard)

However a letter from Jean reveals that she was practically on her way when the peace news came through. Maybe this would be a great time to quote her letter:

“Surprise, I’m here. Arrived at one (noon) on the 16th.  Dick didn’t know I was due that day so he didn’t meet me. They had quite a job locating him but when his assistant found him and told him I was here all he could say was, “Are you kidding?” He was quite worried because the officer here told him that all the wives orders had been canceled because of the end of the war. He was sure I wouldn’t be able to come. I wasn’t supposed to leave Miami until Thursday, but when I checked in to

page 2   8/20/45

the Army hotel Tuesday morning, they started rushing me through briefing classes and my last typhoid shot. They told me late in the afternoon that I would be leaving about 6:30 that night. We were out at the airport at seven when the news of the Jap surrender was announced. We took off at eight in a C-47–the same one they flew Gen. Mark Clark back to the US in. We were very lucky to get such a nice one, as most of the planes were just plain transport ships with bucket seats and very uncomfortable. There were seven girls, one child and myself, +5 crew members. Our first stop was Puerto Rico, 2:30 A.M. Wednesday. They gave us breakfast and we sat around in the post lounge waiting for a minor repair to be made until 4:30 A.M. We flew until noon when we stopped at British Guiana. There we were treated like Queens–met us in the staff cars, took us to a restroom to get cleaned up, then to the officer’s mess hall for lunch and from there to a cottage where we took showers and slept until 6 PM, then dinner, after which two officers took us to the officers club for a highball. We took off at eight P. M. Our next stop was at Belem, Brazil, at four A.M. Thursday. After breakfast we took off again, arriving at Natal at 10:45 A.M. Everyone but me and the crew got off—I was the only passenger back to Forteleza.

rpg-dick-in-uniform-without-mustache-1945

Richard Peabody Guion

Dick couldn’t get the house he wanted but he got a cute place in a very nice section, about the same size as the other place, four rooms, bath and a separate servants home on the side. So, we have a garden. Dick is having the yard all fixed up. The man starts work at seven A. M. And works until about 4:34 P.M. for $.50 a day. Can you imagine working in the hot sun for that? I can’t either. It is spring here now. I don’t know what the temperature is but it’s just comfortable and there is always a strong breeze. Dick looks wonderful. He says he’s lost some weight the past week, though, worrying about me and trying to get the house cleaned up. He even bought a table cover for our dining room table.”

Dick adds a  P. S. “I want to thank you for having taken such good care of Jean, Dad. I’m happier now than I have been since I was drafted. I don’t mean to insinuate that I was happy they drafted me. She’s the difference between existing and living. My love to all. Dick”.

So we see that maybe if Jean had been a few hours later in getting started, orders might have come through for cancellation. Incidentally, this might cause Lad to revise his opinion that allowing the wives to go down probably means Dick will be there for some time yet. Would like to know what the prospects are as they look to you down there, Dick. Do take some snapshots of the house and send them home as we are all eager to see what the Guion Brazilian home looks like.

Tomorrow I’ll be posting the rest of this letter.

Judy Guion

Trumbull – Dear Victors (2) – Paulette’s Father Writes To Grandpa – August 19, 1945

This is the second half of the letter I posted yesterday,  written by Grandpa to members of the family, near and far.

Page 2    8/19/45

Dan has just forwarded to me a letter written by Paulette’s father last June, which is such a friendly message and so courteously written in English that I thought you would all be pleased to read it.

Paulette’s Step-Father and her Mother, Maurice Senechal and Julienne (DeClercq) (Van Laere) Senechal.

Dear Sir and friend:

Since a long time I intended to write you but I was nearly shamefully of having so much my English language forgotten. 31 years past I went in England for the last time and I had rarely the opportunity to maintain myself and refresh my vocabulary. Therefore I beg you to excuse me. I hope that you will even though understand me. At first, I wish to say you very sincerely and cordially, you may and you must be the proudest father (proud in the good sense), only when considering the most precious qualities of intelligence, of education and chiefly of heart, of your son Daniel. The most loving son will be surely the most loving husband. As for his future, we are not disquieted, and confidingly,  we canfide the happiness of Paulette to Daniel without the least fear. Since the first day when making his acquaintance, a current of sympathy, the largest, the warmest, the most heartily, streamed between us. It was soon a real affection and he has become for us a new son which we love alike our other children. Paulette has communicated us your letters and those of her future sisters. I should not know to explain you how much we have happily been affected when reading. We are sure that Paulette shall find, landing in the U.S., the most cordial and affectionate welcome in her new family. I care particularly about not to forget to thank you all for the splendid gifts that you have offered to Paulette and for those that we have ourselves received. Paulette has truly a new Dad who loves her well. You are too kind. How to thank you enough? We would fix the date of marriage to the 4th August next, at Calais. Do you agree this date? Daniel will be intermediate between us for fixing it. I halt and I ask you for saying lovely things to your family, and shaking heartily your hand, I am, yours truly and affectionately, Maurice Senechal.

Carl has quit the Merchant Marine and is looking around for some business of his own, possibly in the Marine field. Mr. Gibson has opened up a gas station near the Merritt Parkway at Oronoque, Conn. My hay fever has started. Happy birthday to Dick and the hope that Jean was able to be with him to suitably celebrate the day. It is Elsie’s birthday on the 22nd.

Lad and Marian Guion, 1943

                        Marian (Irwin) Guion

And that’s about all my excited brain can think of to say at present. Anyhow, I don’t want to write half as much as I want to hear from you all with your reaction to the big news and your ideas about homecoming. I took a part holiday Wednesday and all day Thursday celebrating by taking Marian and Aunt Betty for an all day auto ride visiting the Lees and the Kirchers. It was a beautiful, sunshiny day and we all enjoyed it. When the news broke in Trumbull it was recognized by the blowing of the fire siren, peeling of the church bell, tooting of auto horns with sundry yippeeees and bangs, with Marian, in between times, jumping up and down and clapping her hands in ecstasy. However, if Lad’s voice comes over the phone within the next few hours, her past actions will be mild compared to what will happen then. I hope, I hope, I hope. Well, we shall see. In any event, it won’t be long now when some of you will make this old place live again.

DAD

Trumbull – Dear Victors – A Very Busy Week – August 19, 1945

For this week, we will stay in 1945 so I can post the letters that I could not find last week — those that were written August 19th and August 20th, telling of Lad’s return to the U.S. and other momentous news.

Trumbull, Conn.,  Aug. 19, 1945

Dear Victors:

Since my last letter to you (only a week ago as time is reckoned but judged by events, a long era ago), so many things have happened here that it seems as though the Jap surrender happened a long time ago. Already millions of dollars worth of war contracts have been canceled by the Government among Bridgeport plants, thousands of employees here have already been laid off, among them the young folks living in the apartment, who have already made arrangements to vacate next week. Marian is quitting Sikorsky Sept. 1st, unless—-ah, that is something !! Today’s paper brings news that yesterday there arrived in New York a transport caring a bunch of boys that sailed from Marseille, France on August 7th en route to the Philippines via Panama and Hawaii, who were diverted to the U.S., among which was the 142nd  O.B.A.M. This is Lad’s outfit and, in view of the fact mentioned in one of Dan’s recent letters, that upon Lad’s return from Calais he had missed sailing with his outfit, it looks very much as though Lad might be on the August 7th sailing, and may now be in Camp Kilmer, N.J., coming home on a 30-day furlough. So, we are all alerted here for a phone call either today or tomorrow from Lad telling us he is on his way home. Anyway, we have our fingers crossed.

Marian has already announced she will not go to work tomorrow, just in case. Jean wrote Marian it was not out of reason to expect that tomorrow (Monday) she would actually be in Brazil, as last Tuesday she was to move into the Government hotel to be processed, briefed and have her last typhoid shot.

Dan wrote hastily just a few days before VJ day asking me to send Paulette some clothes she had picked out from the Sears Roebuck catalog and Dave on Aug. 6th wrote:  “I’m convinced more and more each day that we will all be home a lot sooner than a lot of people think. To let up would be disastrous, of course, but I can’t see that it can take much longer. You should see the airpower on this one island that has been ours for only a short time.”

Nothing new here. Our job here has slowed way down— what’s next— who knows? Incidentally, a postal from Ted Human from Bahama says he will be back soon in New York as the road award will be delayed for months.

Dan, as soon as I got your letter, I stopped at the Sears store on Fairfield Ave., they told me not one of the dresses Paulette had on the list was any longer in stock, as this was a catalog issued in the spring and they were all sold out. They suggested I wait until the fall catalog was out about Sept. 15th, with the new offerings. Meantime, Marian is going to look around among other Bridgeport stores to see if she can find something along the line of those items Paulette has selected. As for the missing camera part, I will try to find it, but not knowing just what to look for, I am rather handicapped in my quest. Meantime, I am breathlessly awaiting news from all of you boys as to what definite news, if any, you may have had regarding your return to the U.S.A.

Aunt Elsie is here with us today, and I shall have to leave in a few minutes to take her to the Station. By the way, all gas rationing is off and you’d be surprised how many cars are on the road again. All you do now is drive in a gas station, and like old days, just say “Fill ‘er up”, only the rush has been too much for many gas stations and they quickly run out of their supply. I hope too, that before long, the quality of gas will be considerably better. Both tire and food rationing is easing up, and blue points for canned fruit and vegetables has been discontinued. Meat, butter and sugar is still rationed. By the first of the year we are promised many things that we have not been able to obtain for years. Peace has come with a bang, and it is good, always.

Tomorrow I will post the rest of this letter. On Wednesday, Thursday and Friday, another letter from Grandpa filled with more news.

Judy Guion

Trumbull – Dear Bachelors and Benedicts (1) – Dave Sent To Manila – September 2, 1945

Same old Trumbull, but a new Sept. 2nd, 1945.

otherwise known as VJ Day

Dear Benedicts and Bachelors:

Well, the dawn of a tomorrow is at last a reality, and the “land of the rising Sun” is indeed facing a new day. When you read this however, the event will have passed on into history, and so fast is the pace these days that new events may have already crowded it into the background. There are great days ahead. Huxley once said that the most difficult time in which we live, but also the most rewarding, was in those occasional dark valleys between two peaks of vision when one system had lost its grip on men’s minds and the new system was not yet crystallized. Which seems to describe this present generation. Maybe that is why having lived through the recent dread days there is such a thrill in anticipating the days ahead which you boys, in the strength of your manhood, are facing. History shows us that man’s eternal struggle towards the heights has often been retarded and even halted, but never turned back. Problems the world is now facing will be solved. Nations will find their souls, a new and better world will emerge. You boys are truly at the threshold of great things I truly believe. So much for that, now let’s get down to earth.

Lad, of course, is the big fact still in our conscious thoughts. He and Marian, with the help of the Buick, seem to find plenty doing in these here parts. Yesterday morning we gave Elizabeth a few hours breathing spell by kidnapping Butch and Marty for an auto trip to Bronx Zoo. After returning, they went to a dance in Candlewood Lake as guests of Burr Davis and tonight they are having supper with George Knapp. Elsie just arrived so tomorrow promises also to be not without incident.

And turning to the Quotes Dept., we also have some interesting items there. Dave writes from Manila: “You are no more surprised to find I’m here than I am to be here. It all happened so suddenly that it’s still hard to believe. I’ll take it from the beginning and follow through. On August 23rd I was told that I had been taken off the old five-man team, and Friday afternoon I was told to pack my stuff and be ready to leave Okinawa by 5 AM Saturday morning. I got only one hour sleep Friday night. In the morning we went up to Kadena Airport, boarded a C-46 Commando transport and in 5 ½ hours found myself in Manila. It was my first real plane ride and I felt a little sick-ish from nervous tension. As soon as the plane started to move up the runway, I lost all fear and became intent on watching the ground below fade away. All of a sudden it just became a big thrill. I acted like a kid on his first train ride. I glued my nose to the window until I couldn’t see Okinawa anymore. Then every once in a while I’d look out to see if we might not pass over an island. Then in almost no time I began seeing the northernmost of the Philippine Islands. I watched every one of them fade away in the distance far below. Finally we got to Luzon. I was sitting up forward near the navigator’s position and by way of conversation, I said: “This is my first time”. I could tell he knew it anyway because of my eagerness to see everything below. When he finished a plot on his map he handed it to me and asked if I’d like to follow our progress as we went along. We were flying at about 8500 feet and the coastline looked just like the map. I could see the rivers and inlets and bulges along the coastline just as they were on the map. We passed over Lingayen Gulf where the American Navy had come in to retake Luzon. Then we cut inland and finally landed at Nichols Field about 6 miles outside Manila.

After waiting for about two hours (spent that time in a canteen gaping at comparatively beautiful Philippine women) we got on the truck and started towards Manila. We passed through what was once a beautiful residential district. There were remains of large and magnificent homes. We passed a ballpark that I had seen in the newsreel. The movie showed American boys cleaning the Japs out of the bleachers and an American tank pitching shells from the pitcher’s box. Now it was just a quiet, torn up mess. We passed well-to-do Philippines living like the ignorant “Okies”. When we entered Manila we saw large public buildings, half rubble and half gutted concrete frames. Manila seems to be about the size of Bridgeport, possibly larger. Can you picture the Klein Auditorium strewn all over Fairfield Avenue, the stage alone standing? Or Central High with the facade all bashed in and the rest of the school gutted, the City Trust Building reduced to four or five stories, City Hall just a pile of bricks? You can’t imagine how heartbreaking it is or how lucky we were this war turned out as it did. The City Hall here was built in 1939. You can see it was a beautiful structure but now it is full of shell and Bomb holes. The people are trying to keep their businesses going but they don’t have much to do it with. You can see where there was once a beautiful nightclub. It is now a makeshift affair with a makeshift band looking like a sideshow at Coney Island. That about explains the whole city – – just a bunch of concessions on the sidewalks of a gutted ghost-city. http://rogue.ph/18-photos-that-show-manila-before-and-after-world-war-ii/

The following quote is from an interview I had with Dave about his childhood memories and growing up in Trumbull:

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

But anyhow,  between the time of 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’re shipping me out in a plane to Manila. The pilot spent about 20 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’d see a room with curtains on the windows. That was MacArthur’s headquarters. So he had curtains on his windows and the Filipinos  were watching dead bodies float down the river.

I would say I was in Manila probably six months. I came home in May, 1946.

I’ll tell you more next time. The address will do for the time being until we can find out a little more. Dave

For the rest of the week I’ll be posting the rest of this long letter, including a very interesting letter from Ced.

Judy Guion

World War II Army Adventure (127) Dear Gang – April 9, 1946

DPG - Dave in uniform

David Peabody Guion

Manila, P.I.

April 9, 1946

Rec’d. 4/16/46

Dear Gang –

Yep, still here.  Rumors still say we are to leave here April 13 – but the Gen. Heinzelman still hasn’t arrived.  I have three letters here which I shall answer.  The first is one written on Feb. 6 and send to Dan by mistake.  As this is all about the office, I’ll wait till I get home before I answer it.  I was glad to get a report on how things are shaping up, though.  The second was written on St. Patrick’s Day.  It contained little news but was nevertheless important.  A letter is a letter – even if it’s a short one.  I hope you all enjoyed yourselves in New York with the Stanley’s.  Wish I’d been there.

This third letter quotes a letter of mine in which I tell of being relieved of duty.  This one, I presume, is to be the last I received.  It was written March 24 and said that you are sending a copy to Aunt Dorothy in case I didn’t get it here.  By the way, thank you for Aunt Dorothy’s new address.  She sure does get around.  I probably wouldn’t have been able to find her if I hadn’t gotten this letter.  This brings me to your predictions on my arrival date in Trumbull.  The day before I received your letter, I set a date in my mind – a goal so to speak.  Figuring on leaving here Saturday (the 13th), and taking seventeen days across the Pacific (April 30), seven days across the country (May 7), three days in Fort Devens (the 10th) and one day to get home (May 11 – say 3:30 or 4:oo P.M.), my guess would be the same day as Lad’s.  The only trouble is that with this plan I’m allowing no time for the inevitable delays in Army transportation.  I’m figuring on no time in Calif. And I don’t think seven days ‘cross country is particularly slow for an Army troop train.  If I leave Saturday, though, I most certainly should be home sometime during the week of May 12 to 18.

My thanks to Lad for any and all work done at the office. I know you’ve been up to your neck, Dad, and I guess you had real need for the help.  Anything Lad does now will make it easier for me, too – so “Thanks, again, Lad.”

It looks to me as if Dan is having as much trouble getting to England as I am having trying to find a ship with my bunk on it.  I hope Dan’s nerves aren’t taking the beating mine are.  I’ll have had three weeks in the Depot next Saturday.  The usual wait is three to five days.  And to top it all off there’s no shoulder to cry on.

Guess this does it for this time.  When I get definite news that I’m leaving Saturday I may not have time to write – but I’ll try to say something even if it’s just – “I’m leaving”.  So – “till we meet again” –

Dave

Tomorrow I will begin posting a week of letters written in nineteen forty-five.  On Monday I’ll post a quick V-Mail from Lad to Dan.  The rest of the week will be devoted to a five-page letter from Grandpa to Benedicts and Bachelors. Judy Guion

World War II Army Adventure (126) – Dear Dad – Neglecting to Write – April 5, 1946

My Uncle Dave is getting impatient to get back to Trumbull.  This letter explains his frustration.

World War II Army Adventure (126) Dear Dad - Neglecting to Write - April 5, 1946

Manila, P.I.

April 5, 1946

Rec’d. Apr. 15

Dear Dad –

I’m truly sorry for neglecting to write at such an important time.  I left for the Depot on schedule just as I wrote.   But there wasn’t room for me on the boats that were here at the time.  I’ve been waiting at the Depot ever since.  As things stand now, I will leave here sometime around the middle of the month, getting into Frisco the first week in May.  I should be home around the middle of May.

The ship I’ll probably sail on is the General Heinzelman.  It’s arrival in Manila and it’s estimated time of arrival in the states is not yet definitely known because of storms in the Pacific.  But you can be pretty sure of seeing me is sometime between the fifteenth and twentieth of May.

I am well and unhappy – this business of waiting three weeks for a ship isn’t easy.

Don’t be surprised if I’m a little thin when I get home – hot weather never did agree with me, and I had fourteen straight months of it.  But it’s nothing that a little of your cooking won’t fix up in a short time.

See you soon –

Dave

P.S. Written in a hurry – hope you can read it.

Tomorrow I will be posting another letter from Dave to the Gang in Trumbull. 

Judy Guion

Trumbull – Dear Friends, Roamers and Countrymen (3) – News From Marian And Dan Paints A Picture – September 10, 1944

Marian Irwin

Marian Dunlap Irwin

And now some late news from Marian. “Practically a week since I’ve been here in the fair city of Jackson – – and high time that I got a letter written to you. On the last day of our trip we had tire trouble – – not too bad, really, and considering the roads we went over I’m surprised we didn’t have more. One of the trailer tires went out and we had to use the spare for the car, but as it was the last day of the trip I didn’t mind too much – – I was sure we could limp in for the last hundred miles and we did. We stopped by the Camp to see if we could reach the fellows by phone to tell them we had arrived safely, and while I was waiting in the Provost Marshal’s office for the message to be put through, the fellows arrived at the gate ready to go out for the evening. We really timed that meeting well and Lad, wonderful person that he is, had already found a place for me to stay, so I didn’t have any house hunting problems the very first night. We are looking now, however, for an apartment, but they are few and far between. I have plenty of time during the day, however, and if the weather were just a little cooler it would help a lot. It is awfully hot and very humid and the nights don’t cool it off at all. There are thundershowers quite frequently and they help a little. Lad’s present training set-up consists of night classes – – he is to do part of the instructing – – so I might be able to see him just on weekends. I’m waiting to see what Lad’s hours are going to be before I look for a job. It will help if I have something to do and also keep my mind off the foul weather. Two letters from Ced last week – – one written in March which failed to reach us at Pomona. He mentions a package we were supposed to have received, which we are tracing.

Daniel Beck Guion

And another letter from La France. “It is early morning in a coastal town, and I am sitting by a window of a second rate hotel near the waterfront. A dismal rain accentuates the drab grayness of the narrow street – four stories down. Most of the windows up and down the street are still shuttered tight from last night but slowly the place is becoming alive. Across the way, the door of a stenographer’s school is opened. One of the American soldiers greets the young lady who has appeared by saying, “Bon jour” in rather bad French. The girl looks up and smiles. “Cigarettes?” questions the soldier, holding up a package for her to see. She nods, still smiling. He tosses the package down. It lands in the street in front of the door. She runs out, picks it up, says “Thank you” in equally poor English, waves goodbye and disappears into the building. A few men pass by dressed in faded blue trousers and shirts, wearing dark blue berets. They are on their way to work – – perhaps to work for the Americans who have recently arrived. They seem quite oblivious of the rain as they pause in front of a shop to exchange a few words with the proprietor who is loitering in his doorway beneath a bedraggled French flag. A few more shutters are thrown open and I can see a woman shaking out the blankets of her bed. Down the street in the direction of the docks is a hotel with a gaping hole which reveals a mass of charred beams, rubble and a bed half hanging over the edge of the remaining foundation. The destruction has been wrought perhaps by the blowing up of the harbor installations, but more probably, by an American bomb before Jerry pulled out. Back up the street the woman has finished making the bed and is standing just inside the window fixing her hair. There is electricity in town but many of the houses must wait until the wires are repaired before they can have lights again. I hear above the drizzle of the rain a sudden splash on the pavement. Someone up the street has emptied a basin of water out of the window. All this I have just seen in the rain. But yesterday noon it was quite different – – the soldiers were forming a “chow” line; the street was alive with khaki, the rattling of mess kits, the voices of many children who played or watched nearby or even canvassed the line for “souvenirs”, bonbons, chewing gum, insignia, pocket knives, etc. A small girl stood near the rinsing pan, insistent that each passing soldier should permit her to dip his mess kit into the hot water and hopeful, of course, that she would be rewarded occasionally. Older folks stood in doorways looking on with amused tolerance.”

Dan         And that’s all this week. DAD

Tomorrow, a Birthday Poem written by Grandpa.

Judy Guion

Trumbull – Dear Offspring of a Small Explosion – Advice From Grandpa – September 3, 1944

Alfred Duryee Guion (Grandpa)

Trumbull, Conn., September 3, 1944

Dear “Offspring of a Small Explosion”:

Well, why not? That’s the definition of “pop”, isn’t it, and anyway there is justification in the term due to the fact that I have just been sneezing away at accelerated tempo by reason of the fact I have been wandering through fields and brush for the last hour on a child hunt. Sometime late this morning Skipper and Susan disappeared and not having shown up by 2 PM, their mother scoured the immediate vicinity by car and “mother calls”, which proving ineffectual, the neighbors gradually joined in the search, still to no avail. Finally Kit decided to call the police, and being just a big Boy Scout at heart, I decided to brave the naughty pollen and put in my little two cents worth of searching. I chose for my particular territory Reynolds sandpit and thence both sides of the stream and neighboring woodland from there down as far as Levy’s. After an hour the pollen definitely won and here I am jabbing downwards between teardrops with an occasional sneeze for punctuation. However it was a vicarious sacrifice on my part for I learned after returning home that a few minutes after I had left, the two children came nonchalantly strolling in, having been spending the time in a study of animal life watching the horse in Reynold’s barn. If Sue grows up to be a second Rosa Bonheur I shall feel reconciled to the price.

You will be cussing me, I suppose for a bothersome hair shirt, but here goes for another whack at the desirability of knowing where you want to go so that you can set an intelligent course for your goal – – this time it is an editorial from the Bridgeport Post: “It is characteristic of youth to live for the moment, grabbing the fleeting hours with little thought of the morrow. But the theory that life is brief at best and that it is up to the liver to have the best time he can while he may, is not a fancy confined to youth. Among the world’s most dismal failures are those whose schooling, skill, mental power and discipline of will were all invested for a short life and a gay one (My friend, Roger comes to mind). Therefore, one of the best tests of maturity is the capacity of looking far ahead and of realizing that “the road passes on through the long afternoon and stretches away in the night”. Paradoxically, shortsighted people discover that life is not short, but long, much too long. For the day’s work they have insufficient training, capital or experience. For the fullest enjoyment of the sunset of the years they have insufficient health and nerve – force. So, in life planning, as in other issues, the longest way ‘round is often the shortest way home.”

Dan-uniform (2)

Daniel Beck Guion

Personally, I think this view is a bit too austere, but I do sincerely believe that while we can and should snatch enjoyment from life as we go along, there is nothing to prevent us at the same time knowing where we are headed for and having our fun while traveling this particular road. Dan, for instance, seems to have the capacity of getting a great kick out of whatever he is doing, as witnessed the last V-mail letter which has just arrived from “somewhere in France”. And by the way, note his new address. Co. A. 660th Engr. Topo. Bn., Hq. Communications Zone (Forward European Theatre of Operations) APO 887 C/o PM, New York, N. Y. He writes: “Observe our new address! Terse, eh? Mail service is abominable these days, but the war makes up for it. I am finding less and less leisure time as you no doubt are well aware. I am constantly exposed to what I consider to be the greatest enjoyment of life, i.e., the observance of (and participation in) exotic customs, habits, sites and languages. However heretic it might seem, I am almost disappointed to realize that the war is nearly over! It is amazing how quickly one can lose contact with the past. I have no idea what goes on in the U.S. — the latest songs — movies, politics, business trends — even London seems distant now. The other day I was talking to a couple of WACS. I was shocked and disappointed in the way they talked. After becoming accustomed to the English girls the American girls seem vulgar – loud. I realize those WACS were average Americans but I cannot help feeling that those of us who have been in Europe for a year or so will find America a bit difficult at first — and wonderful, too.”

(Query – am I to give thought to the possibility of having an English, or possibly French, daughter-in-law?)

Carl was over here just before dinner time and he read Dan’s letter. His experience with the English girls is at variance with Dan’s. His months leave is up tomorrow and he now goes down for another assignment – – where or on what kind of ship is of course unknown. He told me of meeting a Capt. John Trunk in Cartagena, Colombia, S.A., which he thought Ced might be interested in hearing about. It seems the captain is associated with a branch of Socony-Vacuum known as the Andean National Corporation and is a flying instructor. Carl went out with him to the airport and looked over their 12-seater seaplane.

Alfred Peabody Guion (my Dad)

Both sides of the APG branch have been heard from, and when you realize that Marion wrote en route, from Kansas, and Lad from a place where he says “perspiration is running off me as I write worse than it did in South America, and that is H O T”, it really means they made a big effort to keep us posted, and by the same token it is very much appreciated. Lad’s trip was attended by a hot box on his train, causing a couple of hours delay until they could transfer to another car. They were en route from Monday to Thursday. After diligent search, Lad finally located a place in Jackson which is about 19 miles south of his camp at Flora. Lad hopes his stay will not last more than five or six weeks as the combination of humidity and hot sun makes it extremely uncomfortable. He also speaks of receiving an absentee ballot from Helen Plumb, which I asked be done in the case of each of you (except infant Dave). He’ll love that infant part. Naturally, I haven’t heard from him, and incidentally Marian, if you had been able to stop at his camp you would not have found him as he was out on a hike.

Marian Dunlap (Irwin) Guion (my Mom)

Marian says the trip as far is Wakeeny, Kansas, from which she wrote, was accomplished without more than the necessity at the start of having to have a couple of small part replacements. There is someone with her because she says “we”, but I don’t know whether one or two are along beside herself. “We have been through some beautiful country. The Salt Lake desert was very hot and dry but the past two days have been cool and comfortable. In fact this morning we were downright cold. We were going through the Rockies and at one time were at an elevation of 11,315 feet.

Your insurance, Ced and Lad, is due this month and I shall, of course, take care of the premium as usual.

And that’s about all, except that Aunt Betty and Jean send their best, being wafted on to you on a couple of sneezes from

DAD

Incidentally, according to the radio, today is the 1000 day of the war.

For the rest of the week, I will post a long letter from Grandpa to his scattered flock.

Judy Guion.

Trumbull – Dear Ralfred – I Have Forgotten The Unpleasantness – August 7, 1939

Dan had been home in Trumbull for about a week and he writes to Lad of his thoughts and activities since his homecoming.

                    Lad in Venezuela

Trumbull, otro vez

Aug. 7

Dear Ralfred,

Although I have been home for no more than one week, I look back on Venezuela with mellow kindness!  Already I have forgotten the unpleasantness of hot weather, plaga, and filth.  I have just finished reading the scrap-book, and regret more than ever that I was unable to get to Pariaguan.

Lad with Martin and Flor Williams in Trumbull after Lad’s return in 1942

I noticed a statement made about some friend of Barbara who works with SV. (Socony-Vacuum Oil Co.)  He is the same fellow whom I asked you to look up — Martin Williams.  He was one of the first men at Pariaguan, and knew the Camp when it was nothing more than a few dilapidated huts.  Last summer he broke his leg, and came to Caracas, where he has been since.  He is a geologist, rather young (in his twenties) and has been working in your Caracas offices since his accident.  I looked him up while I was in Caracas last month, and learned that he was coming to the states for his vacation during the end of July and first of August.  I shall try to see him again before he leaves, and perhaps I can send your dental floss (which has stayed with me since I first arrived in Caracas) and any other odds and ends which occurred to me.  He tells me that he often sends things out to Pariaguan at the request of the men, and as long as he stays in Caracas, I am sure he would be glad to send you anything you might need.

On my foray to the Llanos I reached a point called Palenque, and, in all probability, could have reached Valle de la Pascua, but from there on would have been quite a gamble.  The Caracas office, although it was completely civil, did not give me much assistance.  I don’t believe that they know much about conditions outside of Caracas.

I am again in a position to give you advice on sailing procedure when you start home.  The Grace Line schedule at present runs from NY to Curaçao to La Guaira to Puerto Cabello to Barranquilla  to Panama, then back to La Guaira to Panama to NY. From La Guaira to NY direct costs $160. From La Guaria to Panama to NY costs a lot more, but from Puerto Cabello to Panama to NY costs only $10 more than from La Guaira to NY ($170).  In other words, from Puerto Cabrillo to Panama and back to La Guaira costs only ten dollars if you continue on to NY.  By the time you are ready to come home, however, they might be back on their old schedule.  Don’t by clothes in Panama.  You can get better quality and cheaper right in Bridgeport, believe it or not.  The things to buy in Panama are alligator goods, perfumes, liquors, ivory, silks.  The proper price is about half what they ask if they think you are a tourist.  If you can convince them that you are working in Panama, the store-keepers will cut prices amazingly.  Ivory is often nothing better than celluloid.  If the store-keeper allows you to hold a match to the ivory, the chances are that it is bone, rather than celluloid!  I don’t know how to tell pure ivory.  I have been told that it is cold to the touch, but I really don’t know.  For gifts, buy alligator leather belts, cigarette cases, watch fobs, hand-bags, wallets etc., imported soaps and perfumes from France or England, silks from Japan.

Tomorrow I will post the rest of this letter with his impressions of USA and local news. 

Judy Guion

Trumbull – Dear Soloist (2) – The Report Continues – August 6, 1939

Grandpa, Dick Ced, Biss (Elizabeth), Dave, Zeke (Raymond Zabel, Biss’s husband, holding Grandpa’s first grandchild, Raymond Zabel, Jr. and Dan.

CHAP 111 (Grandpa duplicated CHAP 111) – INTERAMERICA: Max (Yervant Maxudian, owner and President of Interamerica, Inc) failed to keep his promise about paying the two month’s salary before Dan sailed, claiming that the “the friend” who had promised to loan Max the money to pay Dan, was out of town, but he did give him a draft which was  to be presented at the New York office, for this two month’s pay, which however Dan was not to present to Mr. McCarter until he had been notified that the funds were there to meet it.  He did get $160 in cash for his fare home.  I am of course very skeptical about the outcome, but Dan, while holding no brief for Max, does feel that Max is intending to pay them back salaries and that his side of the story, divorced from Ted’s bitter prejudice, makes Max not as bad as he has been painted.  From what Dan says, the rumpus started by complaints from “the Senator from Conn” is the thing that is worrying  Maxy most right now, and I intend to keep him worrying along that line until the whole business is cleared up.  Max feels very friendly towards Dan and the way I think we ought to play it is that Dan, working in Maxis interest, is doing his best to get me to call off the dogs but I am one of these pig-headed father’s and refused to be satisfied, and Dan can do nothing with me on that basis.  We will have to wait and see how it works out.

CHAP IV – FUTURE PLANS: While I have a number of college catalogs for Dan to look over, I think his mind is pretty well made up to go to Alaska University in the fall.  Meantime he has already made application for a summer job with Fuller & Co. so that he can earn something during the next month or so and will not have to draw on what funds he has left from his first check.  He is spending a great deal of his time, quite naturally, at Plumbs (The home of his girlfriend, Barbara Plumb).

Oh, I must tell you.  Anticipating that Dan would want some room to unpack and show his souvenirs, I told him to take the spare room next to the bathroom.  Snake skins and other things were spread all over as he unpacked, with all the bunch that had been down to meet him sitting around on floor and bed, etc., when in strolled Mack (the family pet dog). a big snakeskin was near the door and Mack unconcernedly walked up to it and sniffed it.  Just one sniff and you would have thought he was shot.  He jumped back so hard and so fast that he bumped his head on the table, and was quite jumpy for a few minutes until he discovered they would not do him harm.

Dan was not seasick on the way home although for a couple of days the sea was rough enough to make him feel somewhat squeamish.  There was not a very interesting bunch of people on board, mostly old folks.  It seems Santa Paula developed some engine trouble at the beginning of the trip which they figured would make her late on her landing schedule, but they later decided to omit the stop entirely at Cape Hatien, so that she really reached New York Monday night and lay out in the harbor until Tuesday morning, which accounts for the fact that he docked earlier than usual.

Tomorrow I will post the rest of this letter, containing news of family and personal comments to Lad.

Judy Guion