Trumbull – Friends, Roamers and Countrymen (2) – From Jackson to a French Coastal City – 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

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Army Life – Dear Dad – Marian’s Arrival in Jackson, Mississippi – September 4, 1944

 

MIG - letter to Grandpa after arrival at Jackson, Miss., Sept, 1944

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Monday

Dear Dad: –

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 one for the car on the trailer, but as long as it was the last day of our trip, I didn’t mind so much. I was sure that we could limp in for the last hundred miles, and we did. We got our signals mixed and came into Jackson a different way than we had planned, so we stopped by the camp to see if we could reach the fellows by phone so that they would know we had arrived safely. 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 very few and far between. But I have plenty of time during the day to hunt, and if the weather were just a little cooler, it would help a lot. We certainly can’t say very much for the weather down here. It is awfully hot and very, very humid, and the nights don’t cool it off at all. They do get thundershowers quite frequently, though, 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 the weekends. So far he has gotten out of camp every night, but he has to be back there by 1 AM. We think that after the training program gets going, these rules might be changed – we hope! Lad probably told you about the camp set up here. If it weren’t for so many trivial rules and regulations it wouldn’t be a bad place. But as long as we are in the Army we take what is handed us without too much griping or fussing. It doesn’t do too much good, anyway, but it sometimes helps a little.

I’m waiting to see what Lad’s hours are going to be before I see about a job, but it will help during the week if I can have something to do. And maybe it will keep my mind off the foul weather.

On the way here, we drove right past the main gate of Camp Crowder, and I wished that I had had time to stop to see Dave. I wasn’t too presentable, but thought maybe he would excuse me. However, we were a little late so I didn’t stop – maybe it was just as well I didn’t as Dave was out on maneuvers then so I couldn’t have seen him anyway.

We received a letter from Ced last week, in fact, two of them. One was written in March sometime and failed to reach us at Pomona. He mentioned a package we were supposed to have received, so we have started tracing the missing link. Maybe it will turn up the way the picture did.

It’s almost time to meet Lad for dinner downtown so I’d better close – until next time.

All our love,

Lad and Marian

For the rest of this week, I’ll be posting a long letter from Grandpa to family members far from home.

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.

Tomorrow I’ll post a letter from Marian to Grandpa from Jackson, Mississippi. Wednesday, Thursday and Friday, another letter from Grandpa.

Judy Guion. 

Voyage to Venezuela (4) – Trip on Grace Line Ship, S.S. Santa Rosa – December, 1938 – January, 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.

The following are documents my Dad had to obtain and/or deliver before he even set foot on the ship that would carry him to Venezuela. Dan had gone through this same process in September and October of 1938.

Here are some documents regarding Lad’s trip on a Grace Line ship, the S. S. Santa Rosa, from New York to Curacao, Venezuela, in 1939.

SUMMARY OF EXPENSE ACCOUNT, TOOLS ORDERED, ETC.

 

 

S.S. Santa Rosa Passenger List – cover

 

SS Santa Rose Passenger Booklet – inside first page

 

GRACE LINE Passenger Statement

 

Various forms and receipts from the S. S. Santa Rosa

 

Curacao coast with message to Grandpa on back

 

MESSAGE: “Dear Gang:- Making our well. Fine weather all the way. On to Curacao tonight. More from there. Laddie”

 

Curacao Harbor

 

Native District of Curacao

Next week I’ll be posting forms that were filled out or filed after Lad reached Curacao, along with a picture of Lad in Curacao in his light weight tropical suit, as suggested.

Tomorrow more information on Marian’s Ancestors.

Next week, a week of letters written in 1944. All five sons are helping the war effort, four are in the Army and our one, Conscientious Objector, is working on a Military base in Alaska. as an airplane mechanic and retriever of downed planes in the Bush.

Judy Guion

 

 

 

 

 

The Beginning (42) – Childhood Memories of Trumbull – The Helen Log Book (7)

Following are the last pages of the Helen Log Book. They recount, briefly, a trip to Fishers Island, off the Connecticut shore near the mouth of the Thames River near Groton and Stonington.

DICK: “We spent a couple of summers on Fishers Island in Long Island Sound with the Burnham’s”.

The Burnham’s were neighbors of Grandpa and Grandma  when they lived on Larchmont Drive. in Mount Vernon.  They had a cottage on Fishers Island.  I suspect that the entire family went to the Burnham’s cottage on Fishers Island, especially since Dick has memories of spending time there.  Grandma would drive with the three younger children and Grandpa and the boys would use the Helen as their mode of transportation.

 

 

 

Trip to Conn.  Camp during 1931 occurs here.

Trip to L.  I.  In 1932 comes next.  Neither were written up.

Fishers Island Trip – Aug. 1933

Sat. – Aug. 5

Commodore not well.  Crew had packed the night before.  Got off to late start at 11:00.  Weather fair – sea not rough.  Had bad motor knock develop before reaching New Haven due to oil loss.  Bilge needed care every couple of hours.  Cut way out to center of Sound. Passed Faulkner’s Island going strong.  Hit bad squall off about Cornfield Point.  Trip not very eventful – night navigation as we approached the Island.  Guns heard from Island.  Turned into West Harbor in high spirits.  Found a light missing but found dock at Burnham’s about 10:20.

Sun. Aug. 6 –

Helen tried to sink, water up to carburetor in morning.

Mon. to Sat. night – spent time trying to repair Helen’s leaks.  Prepared for return trip Sunday.

Sunday – Aug. 13 –

Fog – steady wind from S.W. Helen doesn’t leak badly.  Got off quite late at 12:05.  Cut across close to Connecticut shore, followed it from Pt. to Pt. Sea rather rough.  Fog lifting, wind increasing.  Motor running perfectly.  Waves getting big at Sachem’s Head.  So large that we chugged up one side, slid down other.  If we took them head on we would have been swamped.  Tide now against us.  Finally reaching New Haven but took interminable time in passing it.  Getting dark as we neared Stratford Pt.  Waves going down a bit.  Just inside the Milford breakwater the motor, getting wet, fired only on 2 cylinders, and with tide against us we “trickled” along to arrive at French’s Dock at 10:30, too late to intercept Mr. Burnham who stopped to see if we had yet arrived.

Commodore, well this time, had acquired a most beautiful beer nose, with a two-cheek accompaniment.

This empty envelope (found in the inside cover of the Log Book), addressed to “The GuionClan”, c/o R B Burnham, Box 413, Fishers Island, NY, dated August 8, 1933, leads me to believe that Grandpa might have gone to Fishers Island with the older boys in the Helen, the first weekend, went back to work in Bridgeport (he had his own printing and advertising company) and then returned to join the family for the following weekend and the trip home with the older boys in The Helen.

This is the Return Address from the envelope.

 

The story of the Helen in the Log Book comes to an end.  It sounds to me as though the Helen provided, on at least four occasions, great memories and wonderful bonding time between Grandpa and his three oldest sons.

Ced provides the last chapter of the Helen and the Guion family.

“Arnold Gibson’s father, stepfather actually, was an old seagoing man.  I guess he had been in the Navy.  He had a Sea Scout troop and Dad said, “You know this boat is getting beyond us.  Why don’t we give it to the Sea Scouts and maybe they can get some fun out of it.”  He gave it to them and I don’t know what they did with it.”

My hope is that you have enjoyed reading about the adventures and mis-adventures of Grandpa, Lad, Dan and Ced during the years they owned The Helen.  I believe that memories fade and we may, without realizing it, fill in blank spaces from a different memory.  We continue to retain the new memory and that is the only thing that continues to exist.  Lad, Ced, Dick and Dave all have a few memories of The Helen.  Although each memory does not exactly match the Log Book, which was recorded at the actual time of the event by an adult, the essence of their memories ring true.

Tomorrow, the government of Venezuela joins in the paper chase prior to Lad entering their country as an alien.

On Sunday, more about Marian (Irwin) Guion’s ancestors.

Judy Guion

The Beginning (41) – Childhood Memories of Trumbull – The Helen Log Book (6)

Following is the transcription of the last two days of this momentous trip Grandpa and the three older boys took up the Connecticut River.  Enjoy.

 

 

Saturday –

Up at 7.  Whether still cloudy.  Breakfast at 8.  Broke camp at 9.  Anchor up and away at 10.  Stopped Middletown for supplies at 11.  Away again for a non-stop run at 11:45.  Motor running perfectly, lunch on board.  Slight shower.  Alfred steering in oil skins… Looks like ad for Scott’s Emulsion.  Shower clears and sun comes out.  Stop at Essex late in the afternoon for gas and water.  Motor averaging about 6 m.p.h.  Saybrook Bridge seems to be _____ as we draw inside of it the motor goes dead.  We find a spark plug points are fouled.  Alfred cleans these with knife and we are off again.  Round the point at Saybrook again at 5:10.  Motor is missing a bit, but we keep on until we round Hammonaset Point and camp for the night on shore.  In spite of temperamental motor we completed our longest single run at dusk, dropping anchor at 7:40, total of 46 miles, in approximately 9 hours with stops.

Sunday –

We were all awake and ready to get up a little after 6, but the blankets were wet with dew and the sun did not get over our sandbank until about 6:30.  Alfred went out to the Helen to clean spark points while I shaved.  Weather a bit overcast, water calm.  Up anchor and away at 9:10.  Breakfast on board.  Motor working ok.  After leaving Sachem’s Head we decided to do some real navigation and strike out into the Sound heading for Stratford Point, proceeding by dead reckoning, using the small compass we have along.

Tomorrow, a quick mention of two trips that never made it into the Log Book and then the record of a trip to Fisher’s Island.

On Saturday, more of Lad’s trip to Venezuela and the Red Tape he had to go through before he ever set foot on the Grace Line Ship.

On Sunday, more information about Marian’s Ancestors.

Judy Guion

The Beginning (40) – Childhood Memories of Trumbull – The Helen Log Book (5)

Following is the transcription of the sixth and seventh days of this momentous trip Grandpa and the three older boys took up the Connecticut River. I will continue to post entries from the Helen Log Book for the rest of the week, just to keep the story together. Enjoy.

 

 

 

Thursday –

After arising a little before 9 we had a flapjack breakfast, highly flavored with gasoline, bought some apples and corn from a passing farmer and cleaned.

Alfred and Ced started for Middletown for the machine shop.

We learned that the property on which we were camping was owned by L. C. Tryon, R.&.D. 1, so Glastonbury, Conn.  (See his son, Raymond).  The boys came back early in the afternoon.  The little part for the engine cost $10.50.  Weather cloudy with occasional showers, so we decided to get engine all fixed up today and start early tomorrow.  Had a marshmallow roast and retired – I in the tent and the boys in a sand bed they had hollowed out near an old stump.  About 11 PM a bad shower came up and the boys stumbled in the tent with their beds.

Friday –

Weather is still very threatening – cloudy with frequent showers.  The boys voted to stay all day if weather did not clear up.  The morning was spent doing stunts, Alfred giving a very realistic imitation of Nelly diving. (Nelson Sperling, a friend from Trumbull) a game of follow the leader (Dan) and later acquaintance with three boys from Georgia in a camp further up the river.  We played cards and during the game Mr.  Tryon called and told us his price for land was $125 for 100 feet of shore front.  Boys very anxious for me to buy, but gave no definite answer pending Mother’s desire.  Retired at 9 with intention of starting tomorrow early, rain or shine.  Showers during night – Dan slept out with waterproof canvas over him.  Rest of us in tent.

Tomorrow, the final entries for this trip.

On Friday, the story of a trip to Fisher’s Island, one that Dave included in his memories.

Judy Guion