It’s 1939 and Lad has been working in Venezuela for about nine months. Grandpa is thrilled because he has finally gotten a letter from Lad, and a long one at that. I don’t have that letter but Grandpa gives us an idea of what Lad has been up to since we last heard from him.
September 3, 1939
You and Hitler have one thing in common as far as I am concerned and that is the faculty of keeping the other fellow guessing. For three weeks, up to a couple of days ago, I had not heard from you and was beginning to wonder what it was all about. However, as I write on this sunny Sunday afternoon, with war clouds gathering darkly in Europe, and read over again your short letter in lead pencil written August 15 from Iguana # 2, I think I have discovered the reason for the delay. Enclosed you will find the envelope in which the letter came. You will note that the extra postage represented by the stamps on the back were not canceled, due to the fact that probably some careless postal clerk only glanced at stamps on the front, figured there was not enough postage for airmail and sent it by regular mail. You therefore have three good stamps to use over again. I hope this means that someday soon I will be likely to get two letters during one week.
I suppose that with radio what it is today you are receiving foreign news as quickly as we get it here. There is not much use therefore in my commenting on the situation because it is hourly changing so rapidly that two weeks hence, when you receive this, the foreign lineup will be entirely different. There is one aspect regarding this war situation however, as far as you are concerned, that gives rise to some interesting speculations. Oil products are a very important war commodity, and while the US may adopt measures in the interests of neutrality that will prevent American companies from directly selling oil and its derivatives two nations at war, your company is producing oil in a foreign country and some way may be found to supply the undoubted demand for oil from the fighting nations that will cause a great increase in demand for production, which in turn, I should surmise, would step up your activities in drilling, which in turn might mean that those already engaged in this work, who have had some experience, would be given additional opportunities to forge rapidly ahead. There is another phase of the thing which has interesting speculations for you. If greatly
increased gallonage of oil is to be shipped abroad there must be a correspondingly greater number of tankers to carry it, and if these new tankers are powered by diesel engines,there might well be an increased demand for men with diesel engineering experience. This, of course, is a longer range proposition, and it may be the war will not last long enough to permit the building of enough tankers in time to make the demand for diesel operators acute. I confess I don’t altogether like the idea of a boy of mine on board a ship during wartime carrying so important a war material and so naturally a target for enemy subs.
If the war does last and the nation’s production of machinery and metal products is speeded up, I assume that as before, New England and specifically Bridgeport, would have another boom, which will be good while it lasts, no matter what may happen afterwards. In this case I may be able to climb back a little bit from an income standpoint and not have to depend so much on the generosity of my loyal sons even though I appreciate the willingness and the great spirit that is back of it all.
For three days now Mr. Smithson has been working here, taking off old wallpaper and applying a fresh coat of paint. The upper and lower hall ceilings are being painted white and the side walls a very light green. Tomorrow we will tackle the living room and the music room and will paint these walls a light creamy tan.
Aunt Anne says Grandma is getting along very well. Larry and Marian are spending Larry’s vacation time in Vermont with the baby, of course, at Munson’s, and will probably be back shortly after Labor Day (which is tomorrow).
Aunt Betty is sitting on the sofa in the living room as I sit in my big chair, looking over your scrapbook. She just asked me to give you her love. She says she wrote you a letter some time ago but if you replied to it, she never received it.
The Trumbull Fireman’s Carnival ended last night. We went down for a short time. There was not much of a crowd for Saturday night. I don’t know who won the Chevrolet car but I heard it was someone from Southbury. Dan Ced and Dick went down to New York last night to have a fling at the big city. They went to a nightclub, but evidently all remained properly sober. Don Whitney and Redd and another chap from Westport went with them. Rusty, from all reports, is back in Wakefield with his folks. Ced has a new kind of work at the Tilo Plant, night work at that. It has something to do with heating up the tar and asphalt in huge kettles to prepare the mixture for the next day’s run. At present he does not get more money but that is likely to come later.
Dan got a letter from McCarter this week telling him he could put through his check for collection as the money was now on hand. I therefore started the check through the bank Friday and we’ll see what happens. If this gets through all right there is the balance of his pay still due which he will have to wrangle out of Maxy in some way. Am anxious to know what you did about collecting your back wages and what you did about the tools. I am also looking forward to hearing about your trip to Ciudad Bolivar, and what you think of the Orinoco. Saw Mr. Page again yesterday. He asked to be remembered to you and said he thought Marie would be getting married within the next six months. Yesterday’s paper carried the announcement of the death of William Vincent Judge, after a short illness.
Just a few minutes ago a man drove up in an auto and asked if Dan were home, and then if Mr. Human were here. He said he was Myers who had just arrived from Caracas. I immediately telephoned Dan, who was at Plumb’s (you might have guessed it) and for the last 20 minutes they have been chatting about affairs at InterAmerica. Myers plans to see Uncle Ted tomorrow and then start war against Maxy, or perhaps I might say, will join up with the reinforcements. He says that Benedict and Nelson are both back in the states now. He is going back in a few weeks on another job which will take him either to Caracas or to Pariaguan with a construction company, so you may run across him sooner or later. And that’s about all I can scratch up, in the way of news right now. So, toodle do and don’t forget to write more and oftener.
Tomorrow we’ll have another post from Trumbull with some interesting tales of what has been going on there during the past week. We’ll then check up on the boys in Alaska during 1940. I hope the timeline is helping you keep track of where everyone is at the time of each letter so you aren’t totally confused.