Trumbull – A Double-Header Birthday Celebration (4) – Aug., 1940

I’m home from Rehab and will be posting letters again. This week, the letters are written in August of 1940, Grandpa’s letter is a real long one so I’ll be posting it over four days and them I’ll be posting a letter from Biss to her older brother Ced in Alaska.

The remarks in my letter to Dan about his stock certificate also apply to your Fairbanks-Morse stock, so I have enclosed for you also, a blank for you to sign opposite the X also. Don’t fill it in anywhere else. No date. Just your signature as indicated.

Blog - Lad in Venezuela walking in field (cropped)Your August 4th letter arrived with news of the new plane, the cutting of your force and arrival of new equipment at Pariaguan. If I remember correctly, Chris is going to leave soon. Will that mean you will be in charge? Are they still drilling on the old wells or have they started new drillings? Ced writes a description of the planes he has to service in his new job but it is too long to copy. In fact I think the only way for me to keep you informed of the many interesting items discussed is to send you the letters themselves, but they seem to be so much in demand from interested friends that I don’t like to send them on a two months journey.

A letter from Rusty just received commenting on a letter he received from Ced, says: “It was my dream for many years to have my father see Alaska with me. I hope you will be able to see a great part of it in the near future — also that Alfred will chuck his job down there in Hell and go to Anchorage for a little cooling off, or why not all of us move right in on the Alaskans and settle down there for good? I swear I’ll never put in another summer in this land of suffocation again. Best to Laddie when you write him and tell him to start his packing for a country where there are no snakes or crocodiles messing around your feet and you don’t spent most of the day scratching lice or getting drunk to forget what a miserable wretch you are.”

I don’t recall whether in my last letter I mentioned that Arnold told me he had sent back your watch which you and asked him to have fixed, that the cost was $6 and that you had said something about my taking care of your finances and that he should apply to me for payment. While I had not heard anything from you on the subject I took it for granted it was all right and drew a check to his order for six dollars, as he said he was planning to go on a vacation around September 1st and wanted to get some things with the money before that.

Aunt Betty has just asked me to remember her to all you boys and to say that she intended to write you sooner or later.

The letter from Fred Chion to Dan says that Inter-America seems to be all washed up, but that due to a stroke of fortune in Max’s absence, Dick Wiberly was able to work things so that all the men got paid in full for their back salary and had left the company. Most of them are thinking of forming a company to do surveys down there. Chion has already had a couple of offers so intends to stick around a while to see what happens. He states it looks as though under no circumstances would Max get another job down there. I guess those tools are yours and there is little chance now of your getting cash in return for turning them back, even if you wanted to, which I sometimes doubt.

I just received notification from the John Hancock Life Insurance Company that they have left to accumulate to your account in accordance with standing instructions, an annual dividend on your policy of $3.90. This notification I have filed with your policy in the safe deposit vault.

Dick’s camera supplies amounted to a little over $11. He MAY write thanking you, but in any event he seems much pleased with his gifts. I have not decided on the projector yet. I tried out both the Bell and Howell and the Eastman and while the former has a slight edge on the B&H as far as quietness of operation goes, I do not think it is worth double the price asked. I am thinking of seeing what allowance I can get in turning in our old camera and projector in the 16 mm size to apply against the purchase price of the new projector or perhaps exchange them for a new 8 mm camera so that we can both be standardized on that one size. I am told I can have the few pictures we have on the 16 mm films copied on the smaller size, so we need not lose the benefit of pictures already taken on the old camera.

Ced writes he received his first pay covering a period of approximately 2 weeks, amounting to $76.80 which included some overtime. He says Dodge, Packard and Oldsmobile are the most popular cars there in the order named. Chevrolets and Fords are almost nonexistent. GMC and Dodge are the most popular trucks.


Tomorrow, I’ll be posting a letter from Biss to her older brother Ced in Alaska.

I’ll be posting Special Pictures on Saturday and Sunday and next week, I’ll be posting letters from 1941.

Judy Guion



Trumbull – David P. Guion & Co. – Jan, 1940

Blog Timeline - 1934-1940

This is the second half of the letter Grandpa wrote to Lad, in Venezuela, that I started yesterday. I’ve also included a letter from the David P. Guion & Co.

I am glad to have you tell me about your needs. I should think that in addition to the diary and photo album and developing

Alfred Peabody Guion

Alfred Peabody Guion

outfit would also like to have a scrapbook. I shall see what I can find along these lines and see if some arrangement cannot be devised so that they could be sent down to you without having to have duty paid on them. Maybe some arrangement can be made with the Sukkot Eve vacuum New York office when someone is going from here down to Caracas, to take them along as excess baggage. It’s worth a trial anyway. I expect within the next week or so to go to New York where I can pick up what I want along this line to better damage than I can in Bridgeport, where I have looked around to some extent and Ken adds the same time visit 26 Broadway and see what arrangements can be made also for transportation. Will write you later when I learn more.

Your account of the Venezuelan method of armies conscription is one of the most interesting, ridiculous and altogether impossible and unbelievable things I have heard. It takes its place along with your account of the hotel accommodations in Caracas, the bug storm and the condition of roads as my own private collection of “believe it or not it’s”. There are certainly some queer things and people in the world and you have to get off the beaten path and live among strange people for a while before you have the opportunity to really experience the things that, if you read about in a book, you would say were due to the author’s fertile imagination.

Your remarks about the pilot not being able to communicate with anyone for help in case of a forced landing, together with things you have written from time to time regarding being stuck out in the wilds with a flat tire and no spares and others being stranded miles from anywhere, where it involves several days delay to get straightened out, with the consequent it expands when drilling operations are held up, brings up something I’ve been thinking about to ask you. It is this. Isn’t there some inexpensive shortwave installation that is commercially possible to install on trucks and planes so that two-way communication can be maintained between camp headquarters and trucks on the road so that in case of breakdowns the word can be got back quickly, much as an S.O.S. On board ship is used. The police cars in various cities have such arrangements but whether the excessive expense or some practical difficulty would prevent an installation of this sort, I of course am unable to say, but unless you know it is and all wet idea it might be a suggestion you could make to Mr. Starr that would, if it did nothing else, show him you are interested in the good of the camp.

In another week or so I will be eagerly looking for that collection of photos that you are sending by regular mail. I hope you have dated them and put captions on the back.

Continued cold, but clear with all, as been the order of the days for about two weeks steady now, but the weatherman at last promises higher temperatures for next week. Both Dave and Dick have colds but seemed to be getting them under control. Dan is home again and intends to go to New York soon to see what he can stir up. No further word has reached him regarding the engineering society’s offer regarding the Venezuelan job. Elizabeth’s baby is getting cuter daily. He smiles and Goebbels in a carefree way and seems to be enjoying the life. He brings back memories of my own babies, as far back as 27 years ago.

I finally received a reply from the security vacuum New York office signed by a Mr. Boynton, supervisor of employment, stating that they had checked with the producing department, and learned what I have of course since learned, that you were in good health and that they have learned of no delay in receipt of mail from Pariaguan. “Foolish pa”, I can hear you say.

Well, that’s about all I can think of to say, and as Jack Benny is on in a few minutes and I want to hear the same program that you may be listing to the same time (this seems some way to bring you a bit nearer) I will call it quits. Here is a letter from Dave, which hasn’t much news but is enclosed anyway.

Hasta luego,


 January 28, 1940

Dear Sir:

due to a holding of the mail (or some other foolish excuse) that David P. Guion & Co. letters have not reached you as they should have.

David P. Guion & Co.,  Jan, 1940

David P. Guion & Co.,
Jan, 1940

I hope that because of these wrongdoings of my friend and colleague, Mr. Farley, I shall not lose one of my most active consumers (or what have you ).


David P. Guion


How’m idoin. Enclosed youwill find a bit of very important news.


I would hate to have you not get any letter from Dad so I will stop here.


Trumbull – A Geography Lesson and a Promotion – Nov., 1940

This week, Grandpa has received an interesting letter from Lad, but don’t get your hopes up. I haven’t seen this letter and am afraid it disappeared a long time ago. We’ll just have to be satisfied with the short references to it in Grandpa’s letters.

November 10, 1940

1934 - 1940 Timeline

1934 – 1940 Timeline

Dear Lad:

I have just examining the map after reading in your last letter that you visited Cubagua and will be much interested in

Alfred Duryee Guion

Alfred Duryee Guion

reading your account of the trip when you get around to finishing it. If it is not already been sent by the time you get this, here are some of the things I hope you will cover: purpose of the trip, business or vacation, and how it came about. Route taken from Pariaguan. Instead of motoring to Maturin, as you did en route to Trinidad, I suppose this time you went by way of Aragua and Hareelena, thence by concrete road to Cumana. All this, of course, on the assumption that you went either in your own car or another and not a plane. According to the map there are three steamship lines that run from Guanta and Cumania to Porlamar but it does not show any stops at Cubagua, so maybe after all it was a plane trip. And, by the way, will you please locate for me the exact location of Guanta so that I can find it on the map?

Alfred (Lad) Peabody Guion

Alfred (Lad) Peabody Guion

The second news item IS sumpin’. I have expected this for some time, and I suppose you would have too, but to have it finally come through and to know definitely that you have fallen heir to Chris’s job and that you are now heading up repairs and transportation is mighty pleasing. Does that mean an increase in pay, too? Is it only a temporary job until Chris returns from his vacation or will they give him something else to do and keep you on that permanently? Or at least until your time is up in May? Of course you know I want to present you my little fatherly nosegay with all the other good luck horseshoes and floral bouquets you merit on your forward step. (Hold on for Jack Benny). Do you see Fred Chion occasionally?

We are still having typical autumn weather here. Clear cool days. No snow yet. I have not started the furnace yet; in fact, it was not until yesterday that I finally got it in running shape. The only thing remaining now is to cement up the cracks where the smoke stack enters the brick chimney, and get some coal.

Schedule for 7.17.2013

Do you suppose I can get a Christmas gift to you this year under the “Sample, of no commercial value” ruling and if so, please tell me what would be most acceptable to you. And if you can answer this query by return mail, it might be possible to get something off to you in time to arrive before December 25.

Dear Ced:

Last Monday, in the same mail bringing Lad’s letter, I also received yours (without date) but postmarked October 26th, telling me about your first piloting lesson. Tomorrow I hope I will receive another from you or Dan or both of you, telling me about Dan’s birthday and also about registering for the draft.

Tuesday, hoping there would be some good election news, I took Dave and Dick to New York (Times Square) to view the returns. Don Whitney went with us. Needless to say, the results of the voting marred what might have been a very enjoyable celebration. Some of the sting and disappointment and general dis-heartedness was relieved by your letter and Lad’s of the day before, but I hate to think of four more years of the Raw Deal. Nobody wants to shoot Santa Claus and I suppose some 10 millions of those who voted for F D R were those who have received handouts or hold jobs in the inflated boards and commissions, that would be pared down if someone with less recklessness in the spending of the taxpayers money for other than defense purposes, came into office.

This is the first half of the letter written on Nov. 10th, 1940. I’ll be posting the rest of it tomorrow. Sometimes, Grandpa does go on and on.

Judy Guion

Friends – Cars and Mountains – Jan, 1940

Arnold "Gibby" Gibson

Arnold “Gibby” Gibson

The following letter to Lad is from his best friend, Arnold Gibson, who was almost a part of the family, he was at the house so often. He tells Lad about a two-month trip around New England.

Jan, 4, 1940

Dear Laddie,

My card made a bum start, but I hope it finally reached you.

Well I’m fairly familiar with your doings via your letters to your Dad. I go over and get him to read some of them now and then. However a lot has happened around here that may be news to you.

Anne Holt was married in September and has a nice little cottage on a pond over between Nichols and Shelton.

My folks have moved over to a place near the river between Shelton and Stratford, and I am boarding at Pratt’s. Alta and I became engaged

Alta Pratt

Alta Pratt

this New Year’s.

Last summer I worked a couple of months with contractors on the Merritt Parkway at good pay, and so saved enough for a nice trip up into Maine and Canada. I worked in the woods first, and then on the wagon rock drills and bulldozers. By the way, the Parkway is now open from N.Y. to Nichols, so it’s a cinch to drive to the city.

This spring I got a nearly new, slightly damaged canoe, which I repaired and made a rack on Nomad for, so with the Buxtel (2-speed) rear end, new oil pump, fog, reverse, cab and clearance lights, and numerous other new improvements, old Nomad was in great shape for her trip.

We (Alta and I) took off at around noon one day after a couple of false starts due to a lost knife, and a leaky oil line, and spent two months around New England stopping at various relative’s homes and American Youth Hostels. You may have heard of the latter. It is a fine organization of several million persons to further travel in the great outdoors, and provide “Hostels” with proper accommodations (rough and ready ones) and chaperones at convenient overnight stops. It is also international.

We had a great trip all in all, with many minor adventures and only a few mishaps. Nomad performed nobly with only a broken front spring and relapsed generator to her discredit in 2,400 miles. Oh yes, she has the speedometer now to.

I worked for Ruby for two weeks and also cleared the lines around the piece of land I have up there. I had to dig up an “oldest resident” to help find the ancient markers, and do the rest with compass and axe as the deed was written in terms of long dead persons. What a time!

We really swarmed all over Mount Katahdin this time, spending four days at it. You remember the little Chimney Pond in the bottom of the gulf we looked into from the summit? Well, on its shore are a cabin and some shelters operated by one Mr. Dudley, who is certainly a real character, and what yarns he spins by the fire at night! There were around six or eight people there and the women and food all were kept in the cabin at night, as several bears, one monster, came messing around every night, and we got a swell chance to watch them.

We fell in with a couple of fellows from Boston, and after much debate, borrowed Dudley’s Alpine rope, and climbed the Chimney Trail, which is really just a gulley which runs up the nearly perpendicular head wall for around 4000 feet, and contains, among other hazards, ice and three nearly impossible choke stones (boulders) ! The 4000 feet (and return from the top by an easy(?) Trail) took all day, and in one place we hoisted Alta 40 feet up an overhang, but when it was done we were really proud of ourselves.

The Island

The Island

We visited Rusty’s Island in our canoe and had a great time in general in spite of much rain, and even snow (in the middle of September in Canada), and got home with only one flat.

Three days after we got home I went to work at the Stanley Works. I run a machine which cuts steel up into strips for razor blades. The work is steady and the pay pretty good, but it is pretty dull.

Babe still has not gotten her new Ford that was promised for December 15th.

Have you heard about Cedric’s ’33 Plymouth then he got in N. Y. for $50? I did a very complete motor overhaul on it, and it runs fine except that I can’t get quite as much oil pressure as I would like, in spite of new gears and main and  rod bearings.

I just did a valve and carbon job on my Packard and she runs like new. Well almost. For extremely cold starts as low battery I have a hot shot battery and master (Ford) coil independent of the regular system.

Laddie, I’d like to hear about the various conveyances you people use, and the engines you work on, and all that sort of thing. And when do you think you may be home again?

I had Spring Replacement put to front springs in your Packard the other day.

Let me hear from you!

Your friend,


Tomorrow, another letter to Lad from another friend, then on Saturday, another Tribute to Arla, and on Sunday, the next installment of Mary E. Wilson’s Autobiography when she arrives at Ellis Island.

Next week we’ll be checking in on Dan and Ced, in Alaska, to find out what is going on in their lives and the lives of the rest of the Guion Clan.

Judy Guion

Trumbull – New Office And A Thrilling Airplane Wreck – Sept, 1940

1934 - 1940 Timeline

1934 – 1940 Timeline

We have jumped forward to 1940 and Lad is still in Venezuela working for the Socony-Vacuum Oil Company. Dan and Ced have driven to Seattle sand then taken a boat to Anchorage, Alaska four months ago to make their fortune. They  were able to get jobs that they thoroughly enjoy very quickly.

September 21, 1940

Dear Lad, Dan and Ced:

The hour is late, I am a bit weary and there is little news, so this will be a short letter. It is late and I am weary because, ever since I got through with the dinner dishes, I have been outside lugging wood from the barn to the cellar window near the oil barrels. Mr. Burr, Harry and Dick have been sawing off the trees which were cut down and piled by the barn door. I should say that by dark three quarters of the logs were sawed and piled near the window. Dave, who has been to a Boy Scout Camporee since last night, got home late this afternoon and joined in helping me with the wheelbarrow and piling. My back muscles, not used to this sort of work, are feeling the strain.

Alfred Duryee Guion

Alfred Duryee Guion

This week promises to be a busy one for I shall try to move in my car, piecemeal, the smaller stuff that I can manage alone from the old to the new office. The address is 871 Main St. It is on the same side of the street as the Bridgeport People’s Savings Bank. Next to the bank building is the Bridgeport Land and Title Company, then my building, the ground and second floors of which are occupied by lawyers, then comes the vacant lot where I shall park my car and then the old Park Theater building. We occupy the entire third floor, a space approximately 50 feet long and 18 feet wide, windows front and back, steam heat furnished. The entrance is at the back on the third floor and I shall have an office partitioned off near the door, leaving the front part for working space. Along one side wall, shelves and bins will be built for paper, cuts, magazines, supplies, etc. There is a toilet and sink at the rear. I have a three year lease at $25 a month, including heat. I have been paying $50 in the old place. My rent in the Security Building was $150. Paper and supplies will be delivered in the basement and will be carted by hand, in small lots, upstairs. Phone number will remain the same, occupancy as of October 1.

If you get a chance to see a movie called “Foreign Correspondent”, don’t miss it. It has the most thrilling airplane wreck I have ever seen in movies. And speaking of cinemas, I passed a theater yesterday whose display sign read “My love came back – babies for sale”.

What are you Alaskans going to do about winter clothes? You had both  better send me your chest measurements so that I can pick up woolen sweaters, etc., as I see some that look good.

Again last week I received letters from all three of you. Lad’s was a single sheet written in longhand announcing the moving of his camp to the location of the active wells. From Ced, a nice, newsy letter with welcome suggestions for books, some sage advice on car purchases and an entirely unnecessary apology for not doing more on my birthday, which if you read my last letter, you will realize is not so, and Dan, a very welcome letter to my office discussing seriously several important topics which I shall want to write him about at more length later.

Benny Slawson and Skippy Wildman have enlisted in the Army and Bill Kallsten in the Navy. A “dark horse” named Bailey has been nominated as first Selectman on the Republican ticket, with Les Whitney as second. I am out. Davis has been re-nominated by the Democrats. All day yesterday I was in the Town Hall making voters. Of the 460 names on the To Be Made list, 227 appeared, of which number 86 declared themselves as Republicans and 12 Democrats. Helen (Plumb, Town Clerk) tells me you will be unable to vote in town elections but she has sent absentee ballots to you all for the national and state elections. It cost her $.75 to send Lad’s.

Now for a bath and to bed, with lots of love to you all. By the way, it’s Dave’s birthday on the 30th.


Tomorrow, I’ll be posting the first half of a three page letter. The first half contains local news news about family and friends and the second half is comprised of individual letters to each of his sons about things that are of particular interest to them, including a piece of “Grandpa’s Wisdom” on Ced’s position as a conscientious objector.

If you know of anyone who might enjoy the exploits of some 20-something boys out in the world, why not share this blog address? They might really appreciate it.

Judy Guion

Trumbull – Friend Sexton and Dan’s Surprise – July 9, 1939 (2 of 2)

Lad has been in Venezuela for about 6 months, Dan has come back to Trumbull, and Lad is the only son away from home at this point. Grandpa continues to write every week and this letter gives us some insight as to one of the reasons he does it. 

This is the second half of a very long letter. The first half was posted yesterday.

Dan broke the record last week. He sent me an airmail letter. I quote from it in case Dan is not able to get down to Pariaguan.  “My little meeting with Maxudian was highly amusing. It was the opposite of what I expected, instead of a lion I found a lamb whose psychology was “I need your help. Will you let me down?” Of course I was not prepared for such tactics, so I agreed to stay for three weeks more on his verbal promise to pay  salary and transportation home  I heard his side of the whole story which I took with the usual mental grain of salt. He claims he has connections with the president, Contreras, and no matter what dirt is slung against the fair name of InterAmerica, new contracts are forthcoming.

I believe this part of his story, because he has supplied evidence that he has censored personally the outgoing mail, including a letter I had sent to the Engineering Society in New York which was never received! Be careful what you write was his advice.” What surprises me, if this is true, is not that he should do this but that he should admit having done so.

Still another surprise was in store for me, for a day or so after receiving this airmail letter I had another letter in Dan’s handwriting  bearing a US stamp and post marked New York City July 5, which startled me for an instant into wondering if Dan had put one over and was actually in New York. However, the letter stated that it was being mailed in New York by a Fred Chion, one of the boys he had been working with in Venezuela, whom Max had sent to New York to line up some more workers to go down to Venezuela and complete the work. Dan’s principal anxiety seemed to be whether I had received the check he had sent, which, as you know, from my last letter, was received.

I at once wrote to Chion at his New York address which Dan had given me and asked him to come up to see me. Much to my surprise, he did just that and this morning he and his wife and little girl appeared. They stayed for about an hour and we all, with Ted, chatted about Max and Dan and the job. Chion expects to sail on his return trip on July 21 and will take his family with him. He says Max expects another good-sized payment from the government on July 15, so if you have not already put in your claim for the final payment you better get busy at once. Ted is cabling is lawyer in Caracas today so he may be included in the distribution of funds.

Blog - Venezuela Camp Map - 1939

Well here it is nearing the bottom of page 3 I haven’t said a word yet about your VERY interesting letter with the plot map of the camp. This makes everything you have written about and will write about, I hope, very much more easily followed. As you say, with a few photographs I get a fairly clear picture of the whole business. You have the advantage because as I write of things here you can supply the details in your minds eye having seen them, but I have only my imagination on which to draw, and this gives a pretty wide latitude.

I see you have not yet found a new ribbon for your typewriter, and as long as it doesn’t fade out altogether I can still make the grade. Of course, if the worst comes, you can use a piece of carbon paper and send me the carbon copy instead of the original. Oh, by the way, the man Barbara referred to is one Martin Williams.

In a few minutes now I will be listening to Charlie McCarthy and it is somehow a thought to make you feel a little nearer to know that you will probably be listening to the same words and laughing at the same remarks as we are. After the Manhattan Merry-Go-Round I also keep on the same station to listen to the album a familiar music, which is to my mind exceptionally good, but maybe they do not include this on the rebroadcast. I will enclose with this letter the radio page of the Post for whatever good it may do you in trying to get other night programs during the week.

Your account of rescuing the drilling rig from the mud and your ride on the brakeless truck was quite thrilling. I should think, judging from your own experience as a boss, Mr. Leander would be pleased to realize he has someone who, when faced with an emergency during his absence, can show good judgment and initiative (particularly when it works out satisfactorily).

Am very anxious to hear whether Dan gets down to see you or not, and whether he takes the marsh buggy or the new plane, or if neither of these are in operation whether he will abandon his intention due to time, or try to make the camp in some other manner. The map you drew did not include where the new landing field is to be located. When you answer this please supply this fact and I will note it on your map.

It is a coincidence that when I opened the new package of cereal yesterday out dropped the enclosed picture of the Beechcraft airplane. Apparently from all the parking spaces provided, a good many of you folks must have automobiles. You show three, one near the old garage, one near the new and one in front of your “apartment”.                                          Blog - Plan for Lad's July, Aug and Sept payments - 1939

I wanted to say again how much yours and Dan’s checks helped out. It was a regular bracer, and has made me feel much better, because while one knows it is foolish to let these things bother one, you can’t help thinking of it and wondering what in manner you can get by. I feel as mean as hell taking advantage of your good nature and generosity, but I have planned for three months ahead on just how I am going to spend the checks you send me, and all of them at that to the full amount. I think that by that time I will be pretty well caught up on all but Kurtz, and thereafter I shall plan on spending only a part of your check, the balance will be invested in various securities that seem to me to be safe and profitable.

I think I shall send you a schedule of my intentions, and as. after all, it is your money, I will appreciate your comments on whether or not you approve of the suggestions before I finally put them into effect. The part that bothers me the most is that I have provided in a purely selfish way for myself. I can’t get myself into thinking that this will serve as a rousing good birthday present from my absent son, but just the same it does seem to be rubbing it in a little bit.

It is a regular hot humid July day. Aunt Helen has been laid up today because the kitchen stool fell over the other day and cracked her on the big toe. Is twice its normal size but is better today. Ted and she both renew their promise to write, and asked me to so inform you.

So long, old scout.

I was surprised by how my grandfather was feeling about the money the boys were sending home to help their father. He even went so far as to send my father his plans for “Lad’s money” and noted that he would wait for Lad’s approval before he actually spent it. He also feels selfish about using some of that money for himself, although I’ll bet he hasn’t spent any money on himself for a long time…. and it’s his birthday, for crying out loud. I’ll bet that if my father was home, he would have gladly spent that and more for his father’s birthday.

The detail in Lad’s map of the camp is exactly what I would have expected from my father. I was rather surprised that it wasn’t to scale, though. I actually have to keep reminding myself that he’s only 25 years old. Sometimes he seems much older and more responsible than his age would require. That’s probably because he was the oldest of 6 children and felt the weight of his Mother’s death on his father as well.

Judy Guion

Life in Venezuela – Lad – In the Beginning… (2 of 5)

This is the second letter recently discovered, written shortly after my father, Lad, arrived in Venezuela. You can read about his trip to Caracas in previous posts – Life in Venezuela (Part 6) On the Road to Caracas (published 10.06.12012) and Life in Venezuela (Part 7) Caracas (published on 10.20.2012).

Caracas, Venezuela

January 31, 1939

Hotel Aleman

Dear Family:

I am back in Caracas again, none the worse for the trip to the “bush”, as the men out here call it. Because a description of the trip will require too much paper, I am writing an

Alfred (Lad) Peabody Guion

Alfred (Lad) Peabody Guion

account which will be sent by regular mail. I had a good time but have decided that Caracas is not such a bad place after all. In fact I think it’s the best damn place I’ve ever been. I will write a letter to Cecelia so you need not show this to her, but the account of the trip I would like her to see. I saw Dan, of which there will be more in the trip account, and he was well. I received your letters and one from Helen Plumb, so I shall try to see her while she is in Caracas. Thanks.

Tell Dave that even though the trip down here was smooth enough, the trip to Coro would have made anyone seasick, and as yet, I have staved off the ill effects. Also, I hope his sled works all right.

The country around Caracas is quite smooth and nice if compared with the inland topography of Venezuela and the Andes Mountains. Some of the sights are very pretty but would not show well with the camera and would not be believed unless seen, but, of course, you all have seen the toy tunnels for trains. They are very true representatives of some of the mountains and some are worse, steeper and far more rugged. In some places they look just as if it were a relief map on a very large scale. Some of the short grades are so steep on the road that we had to get out to help the trucks make them. This only happened on two or three, but these looked about the same grade as one would find around the edges of ta sandpit. I’ll go on now to the trip so too-dle-doo until –



Caracas, Venezuela

February 12, 1939

Dear Dad:

Enclosed I hope you found a couple of sheets from the New York Times Magazine section. This paper reached here about last Tuesday and in looking through it I saw this article on Venezuela. It is not a very interesting or detailed account but it is true in the statements that are made. The picture of Caracas is really only a small section of it and since most the dwellings (90%) are one-story affairs and its population is 136,000, nearly equal to that of Bridgeport, it nearly covers the whole valley in which it is located. The picture shows a small part of the center and only office buildings are located in this section. The people all live outside the center of the business district and the more wealthy ones live in very nice districts. While I have been here I have noticed a lot of new modernistic homes that were not here at first and there are more going up all the time. Even the stores in a few cases have been remodeled in the six weeks I have been in the “bush” and there seems to be a trend toward a general cleanup throughout the whole city. They’re doing a great deal of patterning after the stores in the states as far as I can see. The picture of the woman is one of the common type of woman peon and is not to be found generally in Caracas. The real ladies in Caracas are not seen as a general rule except on Sundays at the bullfights or at the racetrack. During the week they stay at home, I guess.

Mr. Human left for Carora (Dam’s Camp) today and with him went your letters, and a few notes and articles from me. He is expecting to be back here on Tuesday, so long before you receive this he will have returned.

The Fair people are kicking that they have me on their payroll when they did not request me, so I guess shall be sent out to the “Bush” with Dan in Rudolph’s Camp for a month or two. That won’t make me too mad anyway, and I can learn Spanish out there quicker than here, I believe.

I do not remember whether I told you that I was in bed or not but I seem to have had some sort of stomach trouble but I felt really all right today so I got up for lunch and had been up since. I was attacked with very acute pains in my stomach and intestines which would last for only a few seconds, 20 or 30 at most,  and then peace and solitude for sometimes 20 or 30 minutes and then pains again. Just about the time T. H. had decided to call a doctor the pains started to diminish and now they have completely disappeared.

Money matters seem to be getting  nearer and nearer to being straightened out and T. H. slept quite well for the first time since I have been here, the night before last. I believe there was a phone call from New York shortly before we sat down to supper and I know that he seemed to be in a lighter frame of mind for the rest of the evening. That was also when he decided to go to Carora. Cheer up Dad, I don’t think it will be long now. Lots of luck … and



Dear Ced:

Let me hear from you about your trip and how your old “new car” is behaving.

I don’t remember whether I told you that the oil I found to be the best was Conoco and probably Cliff Wells can get it for you if you so desire. Even with a little off, perhaps.

The battery is an extra-large Shepherd and if you take it around to them once or twice a month they will service it for you free of charge and in that way, if anything happens to it, they will have no kick about improper service. The guarantee is not expired as yet, I believe.

If you sell the car make sure to get plenty for it, if sold fully equipped. The extras on the car could not be replaced for less than about $75 or more so it would not pay to give them away. These include: heater, radio, carburetor, Mallory coil and condenser, Briggs clarifier, trip safety light, and fog light. That is all I can recall, there may be more.

You probably say the radio is no good but I was told by supposedly one of the best in Bridgeport that it is the car and not the radio. He had taken it out and it had played very well giving some of the newer sets excellent competition. He also said that if the Mallory were taken off it would improve the reception about 60%. By the way, I believe the old coil and condenser are down in the toolbox on the workbench in the cellar.

What have you been doing? What has the town been doing, etc.? I hope the world is treating you squarely, if not fairly, and that you will get good service out of “Packy”.

Remember me to all and if you behave yourself, the Lord will find it out someday. So long now.


In his attached letter to his brother Ced, Lad shows his attention to detail – to the point of telling Ced where he had left the old coil and condenser in the cellar. I am continually surprised by these small details are perfect examples of how they are all trying to live an ordinary life. I really appreciate all the comments you leave, telling me your stories and memories because they provide a fuller picture of the time.

I’ve included links to two articles I’ve had published in New Inceptions Magazine, an e-magazine. Issue 1 tells the story of my grandfather, AD Guion discovering his true love in an instant. Issue 2 tells of spirited bidding at an auction between my grandfather and Mrs, Vanderbilt.

Issue 1     Click Here

Issue 2     Click Here

I hope you enjoy them.

Judy Guion

Lad – Army Life – Flint Michigan Ordnance School

1942 is drawing to a close and Grandpa takes some time to reflect on the situation for each of his children at this point in time. In Lad’s next letter home, he explains why he hasn’t had a chance to write and let his father know that he arrived in Flint, Michigan. I can imagine the worry Grandpa must be feeling but he’s probably blaming poor service on the part of the postal service.

Sunday, November 22, 1942

Dear snails:

One winter day, a snail started to climb a cherry tree. “Ho, ho,” laughed the grasshopper, “there aren’t any cherries up there”. “No”, replied the snail, “but there will be when I get there”.

What this opening remark has to do with letters that do not arrive I haven’t the least idea, but I thought I would start in that way anyhow, leaving it up to you to find a moral there in you can.

Lad has been home all this week on a furlough, thoroughly overhauling his car, grinding valves, relining the brakes, changing tires, etc., to get ready for his trip to Flint and from there to the sunny clime of California. Thus the West claims another of my boys – – and I am devoutly hoping the Southwest will release him to return to the paternal roof of Trumbull sooner than the Northwest has seen fit to send my other stalwart son home to his boyhood haunts.

With Thanksgiving in the offing I suppose it behooves me to take store of my present blessings rather than sighing for the things that might have been – for after all the latter would be a species of selfishness born out of self pity.

After all, Laddie is doing the sort of thing he is interested in and doing it so well that the chances are his value will be greater to Uncle Sam than if he were sent to the fighting areas.

Ced may have some heart aches he manfully keeps to himself for his letters never reflect anything but a poignantly cheerful spirit. He is doing the sort of thing he is interested in, is learning to fly and so far has not been drafted.

Dan, thank the Lord, is still near enough to get home frequently and he, too, seems to be fairly content as long as they give him opportunity to satisfy his thirst for knowledge.

Dick will probably not get into the service until after the first of the year, after which will follow a period of training, and as I have not changed my opinion that the war will be over as far as any real fighting is concerned by this time next year, I think the training experience will do him a lot more good than otherwise.

By September of next year Dave will be of drafting age but the good news from all the fighting fronts of late leads me to hope that he, too, will arrive not with too little but too late. Elizabeth we see frequently, with her two interesting little sons.

So, while I am not expecting either Dan or Lad home for the traditional Thanksgiving celebration my three absent sons will be absent in flash only.

Bedtime draws nigh and with no further items of note to record I’ll say goodbye for another week, hoping that the post office will be kind and bring another message right soon to your          DAD

Cpl. A. P. Guion

Ordnance School

Flint Station

Flint, Michigan

Dec. 8, 1942

Dear Dad;-

Arrived here O.K. Due to the fact that Flint is such a friendly town and so full of really pretty girls that this is the first time I’ve had a free moment. I should really be ashamed of myself for not taking time to write earlier, but I really have had such a good time, and so thoroughly enjoyed every moment that I can’t honestly say that I am. But I’ll try to be better in the future.

Well, here is the story. Vic and I left Aberdeen as scheduled on Wednesday at 1:30 PM and drove through plenty of snow and exceedingly high winds (practically a blizzard) over the Pennsylvania Turnpike to Pittsburgh. Due to snow and ice we had to drive with extreme caution, and got to Pittsburgh about 2 AM. Stayed in Hotel Henery until about 11:30 Thursday morning, and started again.

Again no trouble and we made pretty good time, despite snow and ice. We ate supper about 200 miles out of Flint and continued on. We got into Flint about 11:30 Thursday evening. Couldn’t find a decent room so we stayed in a third class hotel and even at that, we really slept.

Friday noon we went to the Armory (where we are staying) and discovered that if we checked in then, we would have to stand an 11 PM bed check, so we went to the “Y”.  No room there but the girl at the desk (a really beautiful blonde) said that her mother had a room she was renting and that it was empty.

We went up there and the room was fine. The best part was that she would not accept anything. We not only spent Friday and Saturday nights there, but had a wonderful supper Saturday night and an invitation to a formal dinner given for the men in the service. It was rather exclusive and there we met Flint, Michigan, and boy, girls galore.

And since that time I’ve had more fun than I have ever had in my life. And I really mean that. It is wonderful here. I’ve met more beautiful girls here than I ever thought existed. And everyone is very friendly. If we did not have to stay at the Armory, the stay here would not cost us a cent. In fact we’ve turned down about six invitations for suppers, because we can’t make them, in four days.

Next weekend is all accounted for and the following. There are all kinds of dances – most of them for “higher society”. The “Y” girl, Elizabeth Dehanne (Dutch) is of this set, and Vic Bredenhoeft and I fitted in perfectly. Since then –WOW – I just can’t imagine anything better. More later.

Because the Armory wasn’t clean this morning, everyone has been confined to quarters tonight. That’s how come this letter, since I had a date with a good-looking nurse, and the lights go out at 10 PM. That’s 7 min. and I still have to get into bad. Therefore, adios –


Flint, Mich. Deisel Mechanics Training - 1942

Flint, Mich. Diesel Mechanics Training – 1942

Lad seems to be able to keep up with his training, even with the distraction of so many pretty girls, because he does graduate and is sent to Santa Anita, California. There is an Officer’s Candidate School there and he’s looking forward to warmer winter weather. All in all, things are looking up for him.

Random Memories of Elizabeth Westlin Guion (1 of 6)

My Aunt Biss (Elizabeth) was the only girl in a house full of boys. Her strength of conviction comes through in these random memories she recorded with me when she traveled on the Erie Canal with my late husband and me. She was much more willing to talk than any of her brothers and had lots of stories.

Elizabeth Westlin Guion (Biss)

Elizabeth Westlin Guion (Biss)

The only memory I have of Larchmont is a vague picture of the living room. It had a fireplace and it seems to me a piano or something. My impression is of hardwood floors but I can’t remember what the furniture looked like. I was four when we left there.

I probably enjoyed the move to Trumbull from Larchmont because this was a nice big house, with a lot of yard, lawn and stuff, lots of corners to hide in. I slept in the study for a while, upstairs, the bedroom in the apartment. I know Dick and I slept in the big room that the little room came into. It had twin beds.

I think the first memory I have of the Trumbull house is being sent to the store at the corner and when I came out of the store, I didn’t know how to get back home. There was a street that went straight, which wasn’t the right street. I started down there but I knew that was wrong so I turned around and came back. I believe Daniels Farm Road was a dirt road. I know that there were no streetlights or anything. Anyway, I found my way home and I remember this steep hill I had to climb all the time. That was true until I got quite older. That steep hill was the driveway, or you could use the front steps which had steps and landings, steps and landings, steps and landings. The front door was used quite a bit. The salesmen would come to that door. So any time anyone was selling anything, they came up the front steps.

We were all close in age. Between your father (Lad) and Dick, there was one and a half years between each one of us. Then there was five years between Dick and Dave. Lad was in April, Dan was in October, Ced was in June, I was in January, and Dick was in August. So there was just about a year and a half between us

When I was five, Lad and George Brellsford and I think, Dan, were on the fence behind the grape arbor. They were picking grapes, sitting on the fence and picking grapes.

Elizabeth Westlin Guion, at 5, with her broken arm

Elizabeth Westlin Guion, at 5, with her broken arm

I came over and I wanted to climb up on the fence too, because the grapes were much nicer on the top than they were on the bottom. They told me I could pick them from the bottom so I climbed up on the fence. When I got to the top, I fell over into Dan Ward’s field, and evidently my elbow hit a rock because every single solitary bone was broken, so it was just hanging loose. George looked over and said “Hey Al, your sister broke her arm.” I was trying to get up because I was afraid Dan Ward was going to come with his gun and shoot me if I didn’t get over on my side of the fence. And of course, I couldn’t do it. So anyway, they picked me up and took me into the house. Mother wasn’t home and I was lying in the living room, on the couch. I don’t remember any pain; I was probably in shock because I don’t remember any pain at all. I guess Mrs. Parks called mother, wherever she was, Mother and Dad, and they came home. Evidently Rusty was there but I don’t remember Rusty. They told me that he carried me in his arms, cradled me in his arms all the way to the hospital so I wouldn’t get jiggled. I can’t remember that at all.

When we got to the hospital, the doctor was going to cut my dress off and I was not about to let them cut my dress off because it would kill my dress. Mother said “But I can sew it back together” and I said “But it won’t be the same. You can’t do that”. Obviously they cut it off and then the nurses made the biggest mistake they ever made. They said “Don’t look at the light”, so I had to look at the light to see why I wasn’t supposed to look at the light. I can remember two nurses holding my head down so I couldn’t. I was moving and squirming so I could finally get to see that light. Anyway, they set my arm and I think I spent one day in the hospital, I don’t think I spent more than that.

For some reason or other, I thought the doctors and nurses lived at the hospital. There was a school across the street and you could see the kids playing outside. I thought those were the children of the doctors and nurses. You could hear their voices, you know, playing out there.

I can remember them giving me ice cream. Rusty gave me a little letter (I had it for years, but I don’t know, it’s probably got lost in some of the moving). It said “Here are two nickels for you to spend any way you want”  and it had two nickels in it. Then they gave me ice cream, which was a big treat, so I enjoyed that hospital stay, I felt like a little Queen, you know with everyone waiting on me. I got a teddy bear, it was really something special.

I used to climb trees. If my brothers went up three branches, I had to go up four, just to show them that I was just as good as they were.

I started school in Trumbull in the house that the Sirene’s bought, which was originally a two room school. It was at the top of the hill just before Kascak’s garage, on the left-hand side, the same side as the gas station. It looked like a house even though it was a schoolhouse. I think I spent my first second and maybe third year there, while they were building Center School. I loved that one, the original, because the brook was running right behind it. There was a great big rock that went down to the brook and I’ve always loved rocks for some reason or other. I always look at the rocks as I’m coming up the Thruway, you know, all those different colored rocks, I love that. Anyway, there was this big rock and I’d sit out there at recess. I guess some of the boys went skinny dipping in the brook and they’d be late coming back in.

In the first grade, I swore in school and the teacher washed my mouth out with soap. The soap was so sweet, so I went home and washed my mouth out again. I don’t know what kind of soap it was, but it left a very sweet taste, it didn’t while you were doing it, but afterwards it did.

Back in the first school, I think I was in second grade, I guess I was a Jumping Jack. I just couldn’t sit still. I never did like school anyway and I couldn’t sit still. I forget what it was she said, but the teacher said something about a Jumping Jack and then told me to “sit still.” I can remember that. I don’t remember what punishment she gave or what threat she gave me but I do remember her putting me on the carpet for not being able to sit still.

Another time, when Dick was in first grade and I was in second, he hurt himself and I had to take him home. It was about a mile and a half, a pretty good distance.

One thing I remember about Center School was that I’d wait for the first bell to ring and then I’d cut across the back lots because it was close by the brook and I’d get to school on time.

I’ll be posting random memories of five of the six children every once in a while. I find that they take me back to a time I can only imagine , although I can see much of it in my mind, having grown up in the same town and in the same house that they did.  I spent my grammar school days in Center School  and knew the Sirene’s house, because we would visit the Sirene’s, friends of the family, for picnics. I took all this for granted but I now realize how fortunate our family is, and I’m happy to share our story with you.

Do you have favorite stories of your childhood? Share them with somebody this holiday season. Memories hold us together.

Judy Guion

Life in Venezuela – The Sequel to the Fiasco in the Rio Burere

As we find out very quickly, “The best laid plans ….” quite often are all for naught.


December 5, 1938

Gente mia,

The sequel to last night’s letter follows so closely that it will probably arrive with the same mail, some few days before Christmas.

Mr. Human, Mr. Myers and I rose early this morning, expecting to make the necessary purchases for camp, then leaving for Carora, Mr. Human going to Barquisimeto with the plans, Mr. Myers and I by hired truck to the mired “Cambion”, scene of yesterday’s fiasco.

We left Carora at 10 AM, mas y menos and tried the better branch of the road to Burere. A body of water soon put a stop to our plans in that direction, so we tried the other road, the road, incidentally on which I had trudged the night before. It was a futile alternative, so back to where we came from and made arrangements for a mule train to take us to the “Cambion” manana.

What will transpire then, I cannot say, perhaps we shall find the truck buried under a fresh river, perhaps we shall extricate it without further trouble, but at any rate, we leave Carora for camp tomorrow. Most of our camp peons came to town with me, so that we all must get back if work is to continue.

Mr. Myers and I shall attend the cinema in a few minutes and I shall delay sealing this letter until manana, in order that I may add a few more words.

To date I have received only for personal letters, two from El Mayor, one from Barbara and one from that scarlet scourge of Southern Trumbull, Redmond The Red.

When Mr. Human returns from Caracas in about 10 days he will bring muchos cotas de malla, yo espero. Translating my Spanish is good experience for Dick.

I still hope to see Wills favorite “bus driver” (his brother, Lad) in these here hills before Christmas.

El teatro is bueno for such a town as Carora. It is an open air affair over the lower section, but the balcony, which has the more expensive sitio, has a roof. I should have liked to have had rain while the show was in progress. It would have been quite an experience. The night is muy claro con la luna lleno. There was so much light, in fact, (from the moon), that it was a bit difficult to see the picture. The talking was in English but it might as well have been Arabic with the sound system they have.

The picture was ”Bosambo”, a British film starring Paul Robeson in an African thriller. The film broke about five times.

This is probably the last letter from me before Christmas. I wish to be with you in person as well as in spirit. Season’s Greetings to all.

Merry Christmas.


The third and final letter in this series is written just two days after the last one. We still don’t know the final disposition of the “Cambion” in the Rio Burere, but perhaps that mystery will be solved in a future letter.

December 7, 1938

Amigos mios,

This sequel of the sequel of the famous Carora trip arrives post haste, mas y menos. On Tuesday morning Bill Myers and I set out from Carora with three mule carts and about

Dan in Venezuela - 1938

Dan in Venezuela – 1938

12 of our peons. It was quite a sight. We arrived at the water-ford ere long, and were able to get the three carts across after swapping mules in midstream. Bill got a snapshot of the mired cart. I shall ask him for a print of it. We experienced no more trouble until we arrived at the truck. The river had risen, due to rains further west, and had soaked the motor. It was impossible to get the truck out, so we carried the supplies by hand across the river, and it was quite a sight to see the naked or half-naked men with bundles on their heads walking across the river! On the camp side of the river was another truck owned by a fellow who has been unable to get to Carora. We arranged with him to transplant our men and supplies to the truck terminal near the Rio Camarura. The driver had two or three of his cronies with him, and they stopped very often to fill the steaming radiator, or to pick up somebody’s lost sombrero, or to get some refreshment at a casa, and at every stop the driver quaffed deeply of a potent native brew called cucoy, and with every drink his voice became more robust – he was not a 97 pound weakling – and his actions, including his driving, followed suit. By some miracle, the motor did not give out and we arrived at 5 PM at the terminal. We stayed there overnight, and came on by horses to camp today, arriving in the rain at 11 AM.

Everything seems to be going better now. We have an extra man, Bill Myers, and, although Dr. Boshnakian is leaving for the other camp, Mr. Human plans to be here for a while, and everything will be straightened out.

I spent a fairly restful time in Carora in spite of the truck worries, and from now on I hope to have an occasional Sunday to myself.

We plan to move camp again in a few days which will take us many more miles from Carora. It won’t be so very long now when we will start using Cabimas for a supply base.

We have a shotgun in camp now, and a fishing line, too. Perhaps it will mean fresh meat once in a while.

I look forward as much as ever to my return to Trumbull, but I don’t begrudge one moment of my time and experiences down here. I’ve learned enough already about a multitude of things to equal a year of study. My Spanish, surveying, mustache, goatee, hair etc. are coming along as well as can be expected.

This letter will get to Carora via a peon who is taking a letter to our agent at Carora, instructing him to get our truck out of El Rio Burere. I don’t dare say when the next letter will go. Until then, Merry Christmas once more.


 This letter helps explain why there are fewer letters from Dan, but I’ll be posting them as we continue to follow the lives of Lad and Dan and their adventures in Venezuela while still in their mid-twenties. Does their confidence and fearlessness amaze you as much as it amazes me? I felt pretty confident moving 70 miles from home to go to college, but couldn’t imagine going to such a primitive location to take part in building a road through the wilds of a foreign country.

  Can you think of anyone who might enjoy reading these stories? Please share the link with them and encourage them to leave a comment as well. Your feedback helps me improve my posts emensely.

Click Here to visit my website. You can also follow me on Facebook, Linkedin and Twitter.

Judy Guion