Life in Alaska – Ced – The Perfect Job, July, 1940

1934 - 1940 Timeline

1934 – 1940 Timeline

In an attempt to help you keep track of where everyone is at the time of each letter, I’ve created the Timeline above. Please let me know if it helps.I do realize that it is sometimes quite confusing.

The following letter is from Ced to his older brother, Lad, who is still in Venezuela. It was included in the same envelope as Dan’s letter dated the day before.  Both boys have been in Alaska for about 6 weeks and found jobs very quickly. It didn’t take them long to find jobs that were better suited to their plans. Dan is working as a surveyor at the military airfield and Ced is working at an airline transport company.

Monday – July 29, 1940

9:35 PM our time

3:35 AM New York time (Daylight Savings)

Dear Alfred:

I have been intending to write to you for a long time and it seems as though I finally got around to it. I won’t be sure until it’s in the mailbox however.

Cedric Duryee Guion

Cedric Duryee Guion

I suppose you must feel that I am either a lousy correspondent or just a terribly dis-interested person as concerns you – rest assured, it’s undoubtedly the former. I can’t begin to tell you how I appreciate all you have done for Dad and also the rest of us. I know that your help has been invaluable to Dad and he, I’m sure, is very grateful. As concerns myself – ahem – I wanted thank you for the birthday gift of the bag which Dad got for me with your money. Even coming as it does, within two days of two months late, it is none the less sincere. It (the gift) came in very handy on the trip out and I’m afraid I would have been hopelessly short of luggage if it hadn’t been with me. Golly, it’s hot to write. Dan and I sit in our room sweltering with the window and door wide open, just imagine, this in Alaska. The paper says there has been a heat wave in the eastern states too, so I don’t feel so badly.

Just took time out to read Dan’s letter to you so that I wouldn’t duplicate. I agree with him in his disappointment in Alaska, but perhaps I enjoyed the trip out a little better than he, though at times it did get monotonous. At present, I’m in the middle of writing a trip history and when it’s finished, I will send you a copy.

It occurs to me that you might be interested in my work at the airport. Mr. Woodley runs an airline which operates commercial planes for hire. He was one of the four concerns in the commercial flying business upon whom I called on the first day out looking for work. The reason being that I have decided, pretty definitely, to get into aviation (on the top side I hope) and concluded that work in any capacity at the airport would help me get on the “inside”. Mr. Woodley was the last one I contacted as he had been out the first three times I tried to get him. When I finally did get to see him, instead of being the gruff, executive type I had expected to find, he was friendly and reminded me somewhat of Uncle Fred, though not in appearance. He knew Rusty when I asked him if he had known him and when I told him where I was from he was quite interested and said he had come from Boston. He said he would look around and see what he could find and I left, hopeful, but not expecting. The next day I found work at Glover’s gas station and the day after started in there. I told Mr. Woodley I was working but still hoping to get out on the airport. This second visit, I suppose, convinced him I was interested and two days later I was walking to work when he drove up in his car (39 Packard 6) and hailed me. He said I could go to work as soon as I wanted to. I told him I’d see Mr. Glover and let him know that noon. (I of course did see Art Glover, and did let him know the answer was “YES”.) He told me the work wasn’t much – gassing planes, cleaning them inside and out and being a general handyman. So far the job has been just that. My pay is $.60 an hour which is what I was making at the Tilo Company when I left, but Art Woodley told me it would be increasing if I did all right. Soooo,

The company has three pilots: Art himself and two others, a girl and two men in the office, a large hangar at the airport, and old shed at the Lake where they have two ramps for planes on pontoons, a ‘39 panel GMC and a ‘40 station wagon GMC, two planes on wheels – one undergoing complete repairs in the hangar and two on floats or pontoons. All six place and pilot Travelaires with Whirlwind engines, weighing under 400 pounds and developing 310 hp, and one eight place, pilot and copilot, Stinson tri-motor with Lycoming engines and retractable landing gear. The Travelaire‘s are around 10 years old and the Stinson eight. The Stinson is a sweetheart. The seats are overstuffed and pivot; a card table, large map of the US, reading lights, a fan, sick berth and small lavatory and sink are part of its equipment. It will cruise at 150 to 160 miles per hour and what an instrument panel! It has about 30 dials and 35 or 40 switches and about as many telltale lights. The only thing is that it doesn’t get used very often as it is so costly to operate. It hasn’t left the ground since I have been here (two weeks).

The country up here is particularly hard on cars because of rough roads, very dusty and about two thirds of all the cars are Packard‘s – almost no Fords, Chevrolets, Plymouth’s, Buicks and practically all Dodge GMC’s.

It’s bedtime now. Best of luck to you, and I’ll send you that trip report.

Ced

Please let me know if the Timeline helps. Tomorrow, we’ll be going back to Trumbull and see what Grandpa has been up to… or in to… as the case may be.

Judy Guion

Trumbull – News of the Army Boys and Ced – May, 1943

The next three posts will all be dated may of 1943. Then we jump back to 1935 and check-in on Biss who is nearing the end of first day in St. Petersburg.

Trumbull, Conn.

Alfred D. Guion

Alfred D. Guion

May 16, 1943

To whom it may concern:

Swindled again! Dan did not show up. Just wait until I see that general. Will I give him a piece of my mind. Roast lamb, Grandma’s gravy and homemade rhubarb pie, too. But there, I won’t make it any worse for Dan because he was probably (I hope) just as disappointed as we were. Anyway the weather wasn’t very good, and we still have it to look forward to – – just a natural born optimist.

Usually I do not refer to war news in these letters but the dispatches have been so good this week that they merit some notice. Hitler must be having second thoughts about what he has started.

Still no definite word as to when Dick or Dan move into more active duty. In spite of the word officially given that Dam’s outfit is “going overseas on hazardous duties” I question the hazardous part because it seems to me it is contrary to all Army practices to take a bunch of men who have been highly trained in a special branch and stick them into duties entirely foreign to their training. Dan’s detail is strictly a surveying outfit and while I can imagine many instances where newly won territory would need to be surveyed, they would hardly be used until there was a small chance of the district being retaken, and while I suppose there would always be the chance of a stray bomber coming over, the use of the word hazardous in this connection would be only relative. As for Dick it does not seen within the realm of probability that there would be needed of M. P.’s anywhere near frontline combat zones. Jean writes asking me to send her Social Security card on to her so that she can capture a job down there, so it does not seem as though she expects Dick to leave so very soon.

A generously long letter from Ced starts out with the same wholehearted approval both Dan and Lad have expressed of grandmother’s coming to stay here. He mentions a busy Easter season singing in the church cantata – – the same one Dan helped with – – (The last 7 words of Christ), the possibility of Woodley enlarging and building a new hangar if a visit he is now making to Washington is successful, a report from Rusty on the progress of his Alaskan tour with the governor, and the fact that he guessed from 5 to 28 days off the beam as to the date of ice breakup in the Nenana River.

It is such a relief not to have to spend all Sunday morning getting dinner. Today I spent most of the day trying to get the barn straightened out and cleaned up. There is still much to do but I made a good start anyway. The lilacs are almost out – – one more sunshiny day will do it. Everything looks fresh and green and clean. Dave cut the grass for the first time this season yesterday.

There does not seem to be much more news of moment that I can recall. Maybe because I am a bit weary with all my unusual physical exertions, so I’ll close with the usual wish expressed by Aunt Betty and Grandma to be remembered to you all.

As ever,

DAD

For FREE copies of New Inceptions Magazine, an e-magazine, with several articles and stories based on letters and memories of my family, prior to and during World War II, you can click the following links.

Issue 1   Click Here

Issue 2   Click Here

Issue 3   Click Here

Judy Guion

Life in Alaska – Dan and Ced – Happiness Reigns in our Little Domicile – 1940 (1)

The last we heard from Dan and Ced, they were on a boat headed for Fairbanks, Alaska. My grandfather is getting frustrated because he hasn’t heard from them. In this letter he passes on information in his weekly letter to Lad, in Venezuela, along with the cartoon below. 

Blog - Lad wooing a blonde - 1940

My grandfather has pasted Lad’s face in this cartoon and at the bottom, has scrawled: “Lad, This is July 21st – The last letter I received from you was dated June 24th.    DAD”

Trumbull, Conn.

July 28, 1940

Dear Lad:

I was glad to get your letter this week, even though it was only a short note to let me know that you are on the job.

I am sending the last letter I got from Ced a week or so ago, and one just received from Dan, which may be more satisfactory than trying to rehash what they say. Please

Alfred Peabody Guion in Venezuela in 1939

Alfred Peabody Guion in Venezuela in 1939

return them in the next letter you send after receiving this.

Elizabeth informs me that probably in January sometime I may be a second grandpa.

Yesterday afternoon Dave accompanied Zeke on a fishing trip to the reservoir and rowed the boat for him. Zeke caught two small pickerel and Dave a full-grown healthy sunburn.

I fear this week’s letter is not very exciting, but at least it will keep up the weekly schedule.

It’s too hot to write anyway.

DAD

Dear Dan:

(And of course, Ced) I was naturally delighted to get your letter with its report of definite progress. And right at the beginning I may as well give you the findings on the difference in mail time between regular and airmail. Both the letter and the postal were dated July 13th, both were postmarked Anchorage July 15, 11 AM. The airmail letter reached me on July 24, the postal in the afternoon mail of July 27. If you can figure this one out, you are a better than I, Gungha Din.

Daniel (Dan) Beck Guion

Daniel (Dan) Beck Guion

By the way, how is it that while you write on Hotel Anchorage stationary you head your letter Hotel Hopkins? I can assume from that evidence that you failed to arrange with the brother and his two sisters that you met on the boat, for the room they had available and are now booked at the Hopkins. Please don’t forget we are hungry for details, little things that may not seem to be important in the way of news, that are interesting to those at home or following your doings day by day with much interest. By the time you get this you will undoubtedly have received all the letters which I wrote while you were en route, all of which were returned to me here and re-forwarded to Alaska, as well as my regular weekly letters which I have mailed each Monday since you have arrived – the last by airmail. And I think I shall follow your example and spend the necessary 6 cents for each letter hereafter to go by airmail on the assumption that they will soon get the schedule worked out so that the time in transit will be considerably shortened.

I understand from Barbara that she has heard from you and she told me that you have landed a good job with the airfield company. Is it Woodley, the same place that Ced was working for, or another outfit? I suppose I’ll hear all about it in due time, so why bother to ask the question, you say? Well, only to emphasize the fact that (1) we are gluttons for punishment when it comes to its deciphering Ced’s scrawl and your sometimes cryptic utterances, and (2) while your imagination and knowledge can supply the home background for a lot of things, I don’t need to write because you already know them. Your environment, details of your hotel room, characteristics of the people you meet and work with, your amusements, kind of work you do, financial matters and nosiness in general is what you must paint on an entirely blank page.

Just one other word, before I finish with the subject. With two such diverse personalities as you boys possess, it doesn’t do a bit of good to get yourself into thinking that because one fellow has written the other fellow needn’t. I’ll be willing to bet if you both sat down at the same time and wrote about the same subjects the letters would be entirely different and cover entirely different details. It’s just like asking two artists to paint a picture of the same person or the same scene. How identical do you think they would be? And we’re the ones back home here who lose out because each of you takes it for granted that the other fellow has told all the news. At the risk of making you mad I’ll refer once again to my pet peeve, I don’t know a single detail yet about the disposal of my dear little Willys, except that she’s sold. Why, where, to whom, how much? I had a faithful serving man, he taught me all I knew. His name is where and why and what and when and how and who – and how much. Oh dear, you’ll say, that’s the penalty of having folks at home who care so much, they get nosy and insistent and bothersome and won’t let us live our lives without being checked up on all the time. Damn. Well so much for that.

Got a letter from Lad this week – just a word to say that he was still on deck and things were going on about the same with nothing of any importance to report.  Maybe he might get a bit of inspiration from what I have written you two above. It’s the little details that make letters interesting, like Lad’s description of Caracas’s best hotel in which he explained the plumbing, etc., or to use another example, like Rusty’s description of people or incidents where he gets in the little intimate expressions or anecdotes.

Business is practically dead. Friday afternoon we did not have a single order in the place and it being insufferably hot, I sent Miss Denis home (George was on vacation) and followed a few hours later myself. Don’t laugh, you fellows that are pulling down the big money, but I don’t know how much longer my $18 a week will continue on this basis. I am thinking seriously of moving to a new location where the rent will be only $25 a month instead of $50.

DAD

The second half of this post is an Excerpt from Ced’s letter to his father. He gives quite a description of the place they are staying and an update on the work situation. Enjoy.

Judy Guion