The following is an article that I believe was published in The Bridgeport Post some time in October, 1939, just before the town elections.
The Bridgeport Post
BY Don Quaintance
15 years ago, if someone had suggested to Alfred D Guion, that he enter the political arena, he would have laughed, shrugged, and labeled the suggestor a wag. At that time he
was Advertising Director of a big industrial concern.
But today, he plays his role of leader to Trumbull’s 5000 citizens with the skill born of true executive ability.
Trumbull can thank the depression for Guion. For if business conditions in the advertising field had been better than they were, he would still be plotting nationwide advertising campaigns, working far into the night, with no time for the mundane tasks of a New England town selectmen.
Guion has been in the advertising business most of his life. He spent six years of it as Advertising Manager of the Bridgeport Brass Company, and also held executive jobs with Allied Chemical, the Celluloid Company of New York and Century Company Publishers.
His entrance into the field of public service was inspired, he says, by the late Mrs. Guion, the former Arla Peabody of Mount Vernon, New York. Those who knew her can readily understand since the Sales Manager’s wife was devoted to the community in which she lived. An ardent worker for civic improvements, she never tired of doing things for other people – little kindnesses, in addition to large-scale organizing for new roads, Social Service and better local government.
There are many who remember Arla Guion and her work, her friendliness. She took care of her own home and was interested in work that made for the betterment of
Trumbull. In addition to that she inspired a career. Those who get to know the First Selectman, regard him as an all-around booster. He never knocks. As a matter of fact, he is rather inclined to be indulgent, deplores, for instance, the town’s self-separation into Trumbull – Nichols – Long Hill. He thinks it should be all one, and becomes very unhappy at the “feeling” between the sections which crops out at intervals.
According to Guion, there should be no “cross the railroad tracks. If that’s going to be the case”, he says,” let’s tear up the railroad tracks.”
Guion’s political ideology is predominately Republican, although locally, he says, politics shouldn’t mean a thing.” He knows his people so well, who serves a small
community, that It’s always the individual work of the man that counts, rather than his politics,” he maintains.
“In a community minded town liked Trumbull, for instance, political questions affecting the state or nation have no place. The only local interest should be the common welfare. Because of this belief Guion has more than once discussed the prospect of a change in the form of Trumbull’s town government, from the unwieldy town meeting system to a nonpartisan, businesslike town managership. “There should be no selfish axes to grind, and the nonpartisan governments should take an interest in such things as education and the religious activities instead of some of the things they do now”.
Guion proves beyond a doubt that he is a square shooter where, regardless of his political following, he makes open declarations of where he stands. “I’m convinced that Trumbull could get a good deal more for its taxes than most critics would be willing to admit” – redeeming it with,” and that’s what we are constantly striving to do.”
Alfred Duryee Guion was born September 11, 1884, son of Alfred Beck and Ella (Duryee) Guion in the city of New York. He went to Mount Vernon high school and took a B.S.C. at the NYU School of Commerce, Accounts and Finance in 1912.
Mr. Guion has six children, five of them boys; Alfred, Daniel, Cedric, Richard and David; and the sixth, a girl, Elizabeth.
He was employed in various corporations in New York from 1912 to 1921, throughout the war period and was associated with the Bridgeport Brass Company during the next decade. In 1929, he formed his own Corporation, the Alfred D Guion and Company Advertising Agency and has been President and Director since.
He has served as Justice of the Peace since 1928 and was assistant prosecutor of the town court in 1934-5.
He is a member of Delta Sigma Phi fraternity, is a Mason and a member of the Algonquin Club.
True, he has an impressive business and public service record, but the private life of Mr. Guion is much more intriguing.
His hobby, to begin with, is cooking. Like many other business executives of today, he is an expert chef. Along these lines, he likes home life and has five sons and one daughter. His “oldest boy” is in charge of the mechanical equipment on an oil well in Venezuela. Another son, has been building a road through the jungles of Central America, is now visiting his father in Trumbull, and will continue college work in geology in the fall.
The first Selectman of this landlocked town likes water and boating. He has often dreamed of owning a yacht, just like most of the other people in town. If he had the money, that’s what he might do.
He likes dogs. He has one at home called “Mack”, short for Mackenzie, the son of an Alaskan malamute brought by a friend from the Mackenzie River in Alaska.
He loves to read ancient history, mysteries and sea stories. He says it permits him to relax.
Best known of Guion’s social activities, of course, are those which take him out among his neighbors. Primary among these is interest in young people. He is a member of the national and local Boy Scout councils and an executive board member of Pomperaug Council.
He is vitally interested in promoting the activity of young people in Trumbull. He thinks more young folks should be interested in government. “They’ll be running the show tomorrow”, he says.
Guion likes the youngsters and they like Guion. It’s not supposed to be known, of course, but rarely do they approach him for a favor to ask that he is not granted with alacrity. Locally, the First Selectman favors bipartisan boards and commissions, which in many towns, have found constant opposition from the parties in political power.
The “hecklers” rap him in print and speech, he usually refrains from defending his actions, believing in the old adage “Don’t chase a lie, let it alone and it will run itself to death.”
Grandpa was defeated this time after serving for two years. He has very mixed feelings which he explores more in tomorrow’s post.
You speak of meeting a relative who is a descendent of Rev.Elijha Guion and Clara de los Dolores de beck Guion. They are my great great grandparents also. “Cousin Ernest” was his great uncle has me confused. He must be descended from Herbert, Ernest’s brother. I was well acquainted with Ernest’s other siblings Josephine and Edward. My mother knew Ernest also, even in later years. Our line goes from Elizabeth Guion & Alanson Randol, Mary B Randol Bunnell Hunkin, Marion Bunnell York, to me Barbara (Bunnell York Sargent) Johnson.
Barbara – I would love to have a chat with you and compare notes. Please send me an email at firstname.lastname@example.org and I’ll give you my phone number or you can give me yours and I’ll call you.
Rev. Elijah and Clara are my great-great-grandparents. I am a descendant of their 9th child, Alfred Beck. Alfred Beck’s son, Alfred Duryee Guion, my grandfather, is the author of most of the letters on this blog.
Looking forward to hearing from you.
What a wonderful article to have about your family. It is quite the biography…and we got to find out a lot about Arla as well. What a treasure!
Sorry for the duplicate. My computer froze as I was posting this and I thought it didn’t make it through.
No problem. I’ve done it myself !!!
Mrs. P. – We know so little about Arla because Grandpa didn’t talk about her very much and her children were young and/or didn’t talk about her much either. I do have about 35 letters of condolence that I will begin posting now that Biss is no longer in St Petersburg. We may find out more through them.
Looking forward to them.
Please see comment below.
What a beautiful article! It tells so much about your grandfather and his wife Arla, whom we knew so little about. What a treasure to have this for the family.
It’s a true pleasure meeting your Mr. Guion; a person that’s motivated by his heart and an unselfish conscience. I wish his motivation could be cloned into everyone’s DNA by noon today.
NO ULTERIOR MOTIVE – Now that would be something! It’s interesting, because, through my blog, I’ve been connected with a fourth cousin. We are both great-great grandchildren of the Rev. Elijah Guion 2nd and Clara Maria de los Delores Marina de Beck Guion. (You can read her story in the Archives under Family Geneaogy). His extended family was based near San Francisco, CA and a great-uncle, Ernest Jerome Hopkins, writes in “Colonial Origins of the California Guions”, in the introduction:
“What I mainly gathered, in some intangible way, was this: that there was something quite special about being a Guion, something significant; you couldn’t put your finger on it, but it was there. It wasn’t a matter of ancestry — they never spoke of that; it wasn’t social snobbery, and it certainly wasn’t wealth. It was something that went back to New Orleans, and the War between the States, and beyond that further still.”
Biss wrote in her next to last letter, “I feel sure that I will be able to make the grade – because – “I’m a Guion”.
My cousins and I talk about “being a Guion”, and it isn’t by birth, just because you were born with the last name of Guion, doesn’t mean you are automatically “a Guion”.
It must be something in the attitude and integrity of the person, but I can’t describe it either. I just know it’s there.
Very impressive, it’s no wonder we all enjoy his letters (and attention to detail) so much. The article of your grandfather helps to explain why you are such a capable woman.
gpcox – Thank you for your compliment – but my Grandfather, living in an apartment of the house I grew up in, had a great influence on my upbringing, so he and his ancestors should have the credit. (Note the above response)
That’s a real treasure of an article. I like your grandfather’s approach to local government.
Gallivanta – Grandpa was a deep thinker. He didn’t come to a decision quickly but weighed all sides of the question before making decisions. Perhaps my second book will be titled, “A Slice of Life – Grandpa’s Wisdom” The letters are filled with advice for his sons sand their future plans, after this ugly interlude.
That sounds like an excellent title for a book.
Thank you, Gallivanta. I’ll let you know when I begin writing, although I’ve already started gathering ,material.