Trumbull – The Traveling Clan – Aug, 1943

Blog Timeline - 1941-1943

We continue the story of the Traveling Guions in 1943. Both Dan and Dick are apparently overseas, Lad is coming home on furlough and Grandpa’s sister, Elsie, has come up from New York to celebrate her birthday.

Trumbull Conn.

August 22, 1943

Dear Travelers all:

There is something that tells me that now two of the Guion clan “have sailed the ocean blue”, and while no evidence has yet reached us that they arrived on foreign shores, the absence of all word from Dick and Dan over so long a period seems to tell its own story, as for us back here —

A life on the ocean wave,

A home on the rolling deep,

Where the scattered waters rave

And the winds their revels keep.

Like an eagle caged, I pine

On this dull, unchanging shore.

Oh, give me the flashing brine,

The spray and the tempests roar.

I suppose it’s not permissible for the folks back home to know just where Uncle Sam has ordered you boys to be stationed, whether in Sylvia’s native land, or Woolard’s birthplace or the land of Kathryn Wharton’s ancestors, but where ever it be, I hope you arrived safely without excitement more than enough to make the journey interesting.

This seems to be the travelingest family! A letter from Lad, and a right welcome one to, reveals that his furlough has at last been verified and unless something unforeseen occurs, he starts on Friday, September 3rd  and comes by train, arriving four days or so later. He has to be back on September 17th, which doesn’t give him a chance to get fed up too much on home routine. He gives some interesting routine that fills his days, and how he does fling time about. Why, years mean absolutely nothing to him. Imagine being on duty since 1730! You’d think the generals like Washington or Grant or Pershing would see that a fellow got a better break than that. It positively makes me feel old to think of a son of mine serving that long at a stretch. Oh, well, if things keep up at their present pace, the war will be over before so very long (I’m still holding out to my original guess that 1943 will see the end of the European struggle), and by that time maybe the Japs will have seen the wisdom of sneaking away from other places besides Kiska.

Marian Irwin - 1942

Marian Irwin – 1942

Thanks Lad, for the picture of Marian. Too bad she can’t get a furlough too and pay a visit to Connecticut.

And Dave, too, is fixin’ to do some land traveling. He had a brainstorm the other day and for the past week has been busy with plans on dolling up the old Waverley electric, putting in a motorcycle motor, locating, if possible, some old model T tires, etc. Privately, I have my doubts but Harry Burr and Arnold (Gibson) think it is possible to make it run. Anyway it will keep him out of mischief and enlarge his knowledge of mechanics. He plans to travel with it to Westport when it is in running condition and call on James Melton who has an exact replica, if pictures published in the Sunday papers are to be believed.

It’s almost 3 weeks since any word has come from traveler Ced. Maybe he’s miffed because for the last several weeks letters have been addressed to him as Dangerous Dan McGraw Guion, Fearless Fosdick Guion, Little Orphan Ceddie, Invisible Scarlet O’Neil Guion, etc., which may give Alaskan postal authorities just an inkling of what we think of him back home. Of course, again, I may have him completely baffled and nonplussed at his failure to think of any names quite so clever to get back at me with, but shucks, Ced, don’t let that stop you.

And now dear children, I have quite a pleasant surprise for you. As you know, August 22nd  is Elsie’s birthday (Incidentally Ced, I never have any trouble remembering your PO Box number on this account). She is making a personal appearance. It gives me great pleasure to introduce …..MISS GUION.

Thank you, thank you, Maestro Guion and howdy Lad, Dan, Ced and Dick. To make this an extra special occasion for myself, I came up Friday night and caught the 10:30 bus. No, I’m not celebrating my birthday anymore! But my brother did in his usual, expansive style.

My home life remains the same as usual – going back and forth to the Shop. I suppose I’m doing my bit by staying on the job, but I’d feel better if the commodities we deal in and were vital to the war effort. I’d feel better if I was riveting something or working on airplanes with the possibility of being sent overseas to do something there or preparing to work overseas in the postwar period. I hate to think of the war coming and going without my having put my finger into the war itself somewhere or somehow.

I’m still at the Tudor and trying to get along on less and less – what with increasing taxes and the increasing cost of food. Restaurant food is so high and the quality so correspondingly low that we try to eat home as much as possible but the heat of summer makes it impossible to keep perishable things without ice. A young woman comes to us every day and helps us until about 7:30 P.M. she comes at 5:00 P.M., after her daytime job in an architect’s office. On Sunday she goes to New Jersey and on Monday brings us nice ripe tomatoes, string beans, squash, etc. Not all at once, of course. But we enjoy the fresh vegetables. It’s a rare treat.

Just now Aunt Betty and I and Smoky took a walk up to the ol’ swimmin’ hole. It looks deserted – weeds are overgrown all around, there’s not too much water running on account of little rain lately, and it looks forgotten. Smoky barked a cow out of her afternoon nap, splashed in the water several times and was the only one to show real activity.

Well, here’s wishing you and you and you and you the best of good fortune in the days ahead. I wish I were on the seas going places. So long,

Elsie

Jean has been spending the last few days at Fairfield Beach with Barbara and some other girls. I think the cottage is owned by Helen Berger. Anyway, she is one of the party. Jean lives in hourly anticipation of hearing from Dick. I had definite instructions to call her anytime of the day or night if word should come from her M.P. (Married partner), but to date this has not been necessary.

Things go on here in the regular routine. Everything, both inside and outside the house, remains about the same. Meantime, Ced, the little blue boats in your room continue to sail on their interminable journeys to unnamed ports, awaiting the day when you will, to the haven of Trumbull from distant Alaska appear, and plop will go the anchor for a bit of shore leave. Until that time, keeping the beacon light burning bright will be the job of your old lighthouse keeper (and cook),

DAD

I won’t make you wait. We’ll stay right here in August and September, 1943, until Lad had come and gone on his furlough. Come back tomorrow for more of this special time in Trumbull.

Judy Guion

Trumbull – Decoration Day – May 30, 1943

This weekend, some family members and two neighbors join Grandpa and his household for a Sunday dinner outside to celebrate Decoration Day, known as Memorial Day now. The weather is beautiful and Grandpa waxes poetic about his “Little Flowers” away from home.

May 30, 1943 at Trumbull, Conn.

Alfred Duryee Guion

Alfred Duryee Guion

Dear Decorations:

Surely that’s an appropriate salutation for today’s letter. And how are all of Daddies Little Flowers?

Excuse, please. This is me – – your Aunt Dee – – I feel like a brute since your Dad had to get out of his comfortable chair so I could take my turn at the typewriter. And when I say take my turn it sounds easy. But this is work! – – Not writing you (Daddy’s Little Flowers), that is a delight – – but doing it on this machine. Doubtless you have all taken a “turn” yourselves,, one time or another, and you will understand what I mean. And in case you don’t – – I mean this particular machine isn’t streamlined. Catch? (in case you haven’t seen your cousin Gweneth in the last couple of years you may not know that that is one of her favorite expressions.) By the way, Donald is back on these shores from his maiden voyage – why, please, do they call a man’s trip his maiden voyage? Unless it might have something to do with Donald’s stay in Ireland –for details of which please contact him yourself. Anyway, he said the girls in Ireland were alright! I’d better stop and give Dad a chance — much love to you all – – I think of you often – – and we all missed you muchly today. Your ears must have burned plenty for you and your far-flung stations took a good bit of our conversation time. Love again to all – – and my best to Jean (if Dick dares let her read what Donald has to say about traveling.) Aunt Dee

Hi ho, it’s me again. I was just developing the flower thoughts when Dorothy volunteered to add bits of variety to the weekly bugle, for of course you know there is the bugle plant. Yes, we really have quite a little family garden. There is Lad who stays up dancing until all hours of the night – my Night Blooming Cereus; and Dan used to be so good about going to bed early nights (used to be, I said) and up bright and early – our Morning Glory; Ced in the far North typifies Snow on the Mountain; Dick with his leading towards jazz bands is our Red Hot Poker, and Jean with her 17 pairs of shoes, well, what more appropriate than Lady Slipper. Of course, given time, I could work up something about the Honesty Plant, the Forget-Me-Not for those that don’t write and the Angels Trumpet for those that do, and if I felt mean I could bring in the Lily somewhere. As it is I’ll end this little digression by admitting that I am very happy to have so many son flowers.

The weather has been grand and glorious both yesterday and today. Elsie and Dorothy both trained up from New York, Elizabeth and her two mischiefs came over for dinner, which we held out under the old half apple tree, in which we were joined by Mrs. Ives, who we called away from a weeding job in her Victory Garden, and Mrs. Warden. Paul has just purchased an 18 foot sailboat which he and Dave brought up here on Walter Mantle’s trailer for repainting. Carl is rushing repairs to his boat so that it will be in good shape for sale as he has just received word from Uncle Sam to report Tuesday. He hurt his finger a while ago and has had it bandaged for a couple of weeks so that may possibly delay his induction. It is pretty near time for young Carl to put in an appearance, so it may work out that instead of Carl missing seeing his new baby by a foot he will make it hand-ily. Joke.

Dan has written quite regularly once a week lately, and we did so hope he might be able to get home this weekend. Jean, too, has been faithful and conscientious about writing. Her letter this week says that Dick has been moved to another hotel preparatory to leaving for Indiana or Ohio.

Love,

DAD

Tomorrow, we’ll go back to 1935 and see what Boss has been up to in St Petersburg, Fla.

Judy Guion

Alaska to Venezuela – Running Into Art – 1940

It is the end of July, 1940, and Dan and Ced have been in Alaska for almost 2 months. Fortunately, they found jobs immediately, but have now found jobs that are much closer to what they had wanted. Ced is working at the Woodley airfield and Dan is working at the military air base.

The following letter is from Dan to his older brother Lad, still in Venezuela. It’s longer than my usual posts, but Dan is such a colorful writer that I decided it wouldn’t be fair to make you wait for the “rest of the story”.

Anchorage

July 28

Hermanito Mio,

Here I be where you might have been, well there you are where I might of been, and opposite sides of the continent, at that! I suppose you never appreciate the present…. Even the future or the past seems more important. At least, that is how it seems to me. Here I am in Alaska, sort of wishing I were home or in South America. When I was home I was wishing to be either in Alaska or South America. When I was in Venezuela I was wishing I were home or in Alaska! And apparently I am not getting over it! I often think of Venezuela with nostalgic yearning. The few times we spent together crop up in my memory now and then…. The first time in Carora, when Carl Nelson was on his way out…. That time you came out to Totuche with news of Ted’s accident…. And later, when you picked me up on the way to Carora, with a bar of chocolate and ”Bush”, and the meal of cheese and crackers in a café…. and the pounding on the door of the hotel Commercio to wake up the mozo who slept just inside the door…. Alas! You appreciate such things only in perspective.

The present soon becomes the past, so it seems most important to make the most of it. The only news you have heard of our present (Ced’s and mine) has come to you, indirectly, through Dad. Naturally the reports have been colored by his point of view.

Here is mine!

We drove, neither loitering nor hurrying, to Seattle in what was not a very interesting trip to make. Uncle Sam’s USA seems rather drab after the exotic atmosphere of Latin America. We saw the plains and the Badlands and the mountains, but for the most part they were very much what I had expected them to be. Further, living in a car is not a very restful experience, so I was glad to get to Seattle and find a few days on my hands in which I could relax. There is a nightclub on Second Avenue called “MUSIC”. It is a beer and dance joint with no cover, no minimum, an orchestra, two floor shows nightly, and the large percentage of sailors on shore leave.

I was sitting at a table, brazenly sipping a glass of beer and watching the dance. One of the sailors who drift past looked just like Art Mantle! I had heard, just before leaving home, that Art was in Honolulu. Further, I knew that most of his time in the states was spent in San Diego. So I figured it must be a coincidence that a sailor looking like Art, was in Seattle. The dance ended, and that sailor walked over to his table, nodding of greeting to one of his buddies sitting near me. I leaned over, saying, “Pardon me, but what is the name of the fellow who just waved to you?” “Claude Mantle”, was the startling reply. “God!” I muttered, “I know him well!” Then, rising, I picked up my glass of beer and walked over to Art’s table. There were two girls there, one of them just staring off into space, the other, the one Art had been dancing with, was listening to something Art was confiding to her.

Art Mantle, Biss and Lad Guion

Art Mantle, Biss and Lad Guion

“I guess you know me, Art!”  I said mysteriously.

“No I don’t”, he replied truculently.

“Yes you do”, I continued, unabashed.

“The hell I do”, he growled, giving me a hostile stare.

I was a trifle discomfited by this time, thinking I must have changed considerably since I had seen him last. “Ced and I are on our way to Alaska”, I said pleasantly. A look of puzzlement and bewilderment turned to consternation. “Jesus Christ!” He stood up. “I ought to be shot!” He grasped my hand. “Jesus, Dan, I didn’t know you. I ought to be taken out and shot!” He stared at me, worried lest I resent his earlier attitude. He turned to the girl at the table. “Can you imagine that?” He asked her “This is an old pal of mine. He is a good egg. He’s not like you.” She ignored him. He turned to me again. “Christ, Dan, I was just going to take a sock at you!” He laughed a little.

Art was quite put out about the whole thing, admitting that he had been drinking too much beer, and taking time out, now and then, to insult the girl at the table, he asked about everybody, particularly Biss and Zeke, expressing surprise and annoyance to think that they, of all people, had been married. He gave me some lurid stories of the lives the sailors lead, and later we went to the YMCA hotel where Ced and I were staying, to waken Ced out of a sound sleep. We talked until nearly 12:30, then went back to the ”MUSIC”, had another beer and parted.

***********

The boat trip was perfect. There were several young people on the boat who we happened to click with, and we organized what we called “the family”. We visited ports on shore together, Ketchikan, Juneau, Cordova – – and at Valdez the family disintegrated, most of them leaving for other destinations.

Ced and I arrived in Seward on July 2, and came by train to Anchorage. We had a hell of a time finding lodgings, since many of the Alaskans to come into town to celebrate the fourth, and many newly arrived “Cheechakos” had come up from the States (“outside”) to get jobs at the new Army air base under construction. I left Ced guarding the baggage on Main Street while I went from hotel to rooming house, searching in vain for rooms.

At length I approached Dennis rooms, as announced by a sign over the door. I knocked. The door, after a bit, swung open, and a frowzy girl, clad flimsily in a pair of girls overalls, smiled up at me. “Have you any rooms?” I asked. “Rooms? We have no rooms!” She paused, then added, “only girls!” “I beg your pardon”, I apologized. “I’m looking for rooms.”

*************

We searched for Mr. Stohl, and found him soon. Ced asked if he had heard from Rusty that we were coming. “Did Heurlin tell you to come up here?” He questioned rather brusquely. “Yes”, we told him. “Well, I am full at the mine. But you boys won’t have any trouble finding work”. We thanked him, and left.

After trying several places, we learned that the railroad was shorthanded because all its employees had found more lucrative employment at the airbase. The airbase office told us that they were employing only Alaskans. So we decided to wait until after the fourth, then if we still could find no work, we would work for the railroad.

On July 5 both Ced and I found temporary jobs, Ced at a gas station, I at a grocery store. After a week Ced landed a job at the airport as Assistant Mechanic, where he hopes to learn aviation from the ground up, literally! In the meantime, by persistently haunting the office of the Army air base, I was permitted to fill out an application, and, after further high pressuring, I was hired as level man on a survey crew.

I’ll probably stick to this job until the work is done for the summer, because I am being paid well, $1.15 per hour, 52 hour week. It amounts to about $59 weekly, which is more money than I have ever earned. Ced and I are living cheaper than seems possible in a booming town where prices are high. I figured that I shall spend about $15 per week for expenses. Whether I shall go to school this fall at Fairbanks, or work all winter, or return “outside”, I do not know. It depends, of course, on circumstances.

*************

Rusty has not told us when he will come to Alaska. I have written to Jim Shields, asking him to come up and join the boom. He has always wanted to go to Alaska. He and I used to discuss the possibilities by the hour in Totuche and Bobare.

*************

I have been disappointed in many ways in Alaska, mostly because it is not sufficiently different from “outside” to be interesting. I make an exception of the scenery. I suppose that by comparison with South America it seems to commonplace. I wish, and even hope, that I might get down to see you before you leave Venezuela permanently (if you ever do).

Whether you “have time” or not, I insist that you escribame pronto y mucho. Se puede enviar cartas por avion o por correo ordinario. No importa. Y ahora, yo espero,

Dan

Tell me, was it worth the extra 500 words?

Tomorrow, we’ll have another Guest Post from gpcox. I think you’ll gain a new perspective with this one. Send the link to your friends so they can enjoy it too.

Judy Guion