Tuesday, April 29, 2008

the guytons

The following letter was sent to me from my aunt, Mrs. Jennie Llew Guyton, back in April of 1998. It’s a wonderful telling. Last year, Jennie Llew sent me my uncle Guytie's (Clarence Lee Guyton) service hat, as well as his discharge from the United States Army... I have the hat in a prominent place in my studio downstairs. I was just a child when he died, but I remember my uncle Guytie. I wish that I had a picture of him to share with you. This is a long letter Jennie Llew and I didn’t omit a word of it. This post might be a bit much for those who are not related, but to those who are, this is filled with plenty of interesting family history.

Dr. Clarence Lee Guyton, Jr came to Cheraw when I was in high school. He practiced medicine there and later, when I was at Columbia College, he moved to Monroe, N.C. (25 miles from Charlotte).
The surgeon at the Ellen Fitzgerald Hospital there in Monroe had cancer and realizing he couldn’t live long, came to Cheraw to ask Guytie to come take over for him. He had heard that Guytie had had training in surgery. So Guytie moved there. All this was during the Depression – the early 30’s. While there a year or so, we were married, in October 1935, in our church in Cheraw.
Later when the hospital became embroiled in politics, which Guytie couldn’t stand, we moved down to Chesterfield, S.C. (12 miles from Cheraw) – Guytie opened a practice there and I enjoyed the little town 0 near home. I did lots of singing n the churches and for women’s afternoon club meetings and civic affairs.
But 00 Dr. Wyman (South Carolina State Health Commissioner) came to Chesterfield and begged Guytie to join the South Carolina Department of Health – and he did. They assigned him the position of Medical Director for Colleton County and we lived in Walterboro, SC, a nice town only 40 miles from Charleston. We loved it. Guytie enjoyed the work and I drove around to the country schools with him when he went to vaccinate the school children. I took the crippled children once a week to clinics at the Charleston hospitals. I did loads of singing there, too, and we made many good friends.
Guytie did such good work there and was so highly respected. The state senator wrote Dr. Wyman who was considering moving us to Columbia. He gave him a glowing recommendation – unbeknownst to Guytie. Later a letter came from Dr. Wyman, asking Guytie to move to Columbia to establish the first Cancer Control Division of the South Carolina Department of Health.

So- we moved to Columbia, lived here a year, then, the state sent him to Boston to study cancer at Harvard. Since the medical part of Harvard is in Boston (near the hospitals, of course, and the rest of Harvard is across the Charles River over in Cambridge (naturally, we lived in Boston near the medical school. We were there a full school year and had not been there but a few weeks when I discovered that the New England Conservatory of Music was only seven blocks down the street, towards downtown Boston. I immediately enrolled and studied there that year – two lessons per week and had access to the practice rooms, which I used most every day except when I was attending functions such as “The Harvard Dames”, an organization of graduate student’s wives (who) received special invitations and faculty wives.
Guytie received his masters in Public Health degree there in May – on top of his B.S. from College of Charleston, Medical degree from Medical College of South Carolina and internships in New York City at Bellevue Hospital and a hospital on Staten Island (Seaside, I think it was called back then). Guytie also interned at Florence Infirmary, Florence, SC before coming to Cheraw. This was, of course, his early training. He graduated from Bailey Military Institute in Greenwood, SC (no longer in existence) before his father, also and M.D. and for whom he was named, sent him to College of Charleston. We stayed for the elaborate graduation at Harvard – I felt like we were at Oxford University instead of the United States. It was all in Latin!
We came back home to Columbia in May and lived in Singley Apartments and were there almost a year when we bought a house on Trenholm Road. Before we bought the house, the Japanese bombed Pearl Harbor (December 1941). Ainsworth was at University of South Carolina as a senior and Murdoch had graduated and was working for T.V.A.
Guytie received his commission as a Captain and, despite this, bought the house on Trenholm Road, right off of Gervais – thinking we’d have a place to store our furniture and, if all went well, we’d have a home to come back to after the war. He was stationed at first at Fort Jackson - then was sent to Carlisle, PA., the army training ground for medics. Later we were stationed in Salina, Kansas, almost the geographical center of the United States. Brrrrr! (I thought Boston was cold, but Kansas was bitter, and different! It was while there that Guytie was promoted to Major.
After Kansas, Guytie was assigned to Washington, DC to the Surgeon General’s Office which, at that time, was in downtown Washington. We rented a room out near Walter Reed Hospital. They soon sent Guytie to Walter Reed where he took a course in tropical medicine and received his degree – another one! We attended that graduation ceremony, also. Then, off to Florida for more training – for 2-3 weeks. I went home (Cheraw) and stayed during this time. Then, he was stationed in New Orleans – After arriving there, he called me and told me to get on the train in Hamlet, NC (18 miles over the line into NC from Cheraw) and come on to New Orleans. I got ready immediately for I know he’d gotten orders to go to the Pacific Theater of Operations.
I stood up all the way – the train was so jammed with soldiers and mothers with babies, etc. Couldn’t bend legs to even sit on a suit-case! There were air-conditioning and heaters back then but not in homes till 1950’s. The air conditioner on the train was broken! Terrible trip! I prayed with every revolution of the wheels that Guytie wouldn’t have to go. And, when I fell off the train, exhausted, he said, “I don’t have to go. My orders have been changed. We’re going back to Washington, DC!!!
We went back to Washington and Guytie was assigned again to the Surgeon General’s Office which was still downtown. We went back out where we’d rented before. Guytie found out about apartments (new) being built to house Army & Navy officers and their families over in Alexandria, VA., we looked at them and rented one. By this time Guytie had been promoted to Lieutenant Colonel. They moved the Surgeon General’s Office to the Pentagon which was more convenient to where we lived. Murdoch was sent home from overseas first and found our apartment in the night one night; there, later, when Ainsworth came home on his crippled ship (Murdoch came on the Queen Mary), he came to our apartment too. They were glad to be almost home and back in the USA. And we were glad they were back in one piece in the USA.
Rutha was visiting us when peace was declared – and Guytie and Rutha and I went to the wrought iron fence of the White House for the big celebration. It was interesting being in Washington during that time and especially, with news popping all the time. You see, we were there when Roosevelt died down at Warm Springs, GA and, of course, when Truman took over and dropped the BOMB that ended the whole mess!
After the war, we moved back to Columbia where Guytie resumed his work with the Department of Health. He headed several agencies of it and later was made Assistant Medical Director for the South Carolina State Department of Health. We had sold the Trenholm Road house during the war and rented and apartment again at the Singley.
In December of 1960 we moved to 322 Wateree Avenue into our new house. Guytie had a heart condition but enjoyed his new home for four years till he died in October 1964. A fountain was erected in his memory and is in front of the present State Health Department building on Bull Street here in Columbia.
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