The total destruction of a house leads the weekly news from Trumbull to Venezuela this week. Grandpa follows up with news of family and friends, keeping Lad in the loop.
November 12, 1939
I think in my last letter I described to you how the storm caused the lights to go out. There is a sequel to the incident which did not develop until the following morning when the Trumbull fire siren woke us up about daylight. Then shortly after, a second alarm brought over the Long Hill apparatus. Later I learned what it was all about. The Levy’s had been up over the weekend and when they left, Mrs. Levy turned the regulator down to 40 so that the pipes would not freeze in the event of a cold snap. The theory is that when the current went off, the oil burner flame went out but the oil continued to flow and then when the current went on again and the spark ignited the excess oil. There being nobody home, it had time to get a good start, burning up through the cellar and then to the second floor and finally through the roof when the man living in the house opposite, on his way down to work, noticed the smoke and flames and turned in the alarm. By that time most of the inside of the house was completely gutted and many fine pieces of furniture destroyed. The grand piano had fallen down into the basement. The loss was estimated at about $10,000. Erwin Laufer had his baptism as a Constable doing traffic duty in the absence of the regular constables.
Trumbull now has a Police Commission consisting of Mr. Mahoney, the head at the district office of the John Hancock, in which company you have your policy, and who lives opposite Johnny Austin; Mr. Richard Brown of Nichols, and Howard Lane, Elvy Lane’s brother, who lives on Cedar Crest Road. The plan is to hold an examination soon, to be prepared by the state police department and those holding the highest marks will be appointed as regular salaried policeman for the town by the Police Commission.
Things at home here are running along about the same. My new grandson seems to be getting along nicely. Mack is getting heavier, and in spite of the fact that we’re trying to keep his diet down so he does not get too portly, he seems to be hungry most of the time. Dan usually leaves Sunday night and comes back from the University of Conn. at Storrs on Friday. Ced still has his unearthly hours of work when everybody else is asleep and he sleeps when the rest of us are awake. Dick and Dave are still going to high school. Dick has only three subjects and, according to his last report card, is doing very well. Dave, while he is studying very faithfully, is not making very good marks, particularly in Latin.
Dan and Barbara, Ced and Jane Mantle all went down to the horse show last night in Madison Square Garden. It was Barbara’s idea and the others did not think they would enjoy it very much, and perhaps for that reason, they had a pretty good time. Ced is all aroused right now about a new scheme that a fellow named Streit has proposed about a sort of United States of the world, in which all the democracies would pool their fighting forces and raw materials and currencies but maintaining their own internal forms of government. He saw the article first in LIFE and wrote a letter to them and I believe if a branch league of the proposed organization were started here, Ced would join it. He has just learned that Mrs. Hughes knows the author very well, having, in fact, going to school with him.
Just after dinner while Dan was washing the dishes, Ray Wang dropped in. He and his mother were up on a visit. His father is back at work again but is not feeling okay yet.
Last night Dick went to a party at Kascak’s and this morning, because the minister was away, was designated to assist the substitute minister in running the morning church service.
No letter arrived from you this past week so I am looking forward to two letters this week.
I have invited Aunt Betty up for Thanksgiving which occurs in Connecticut on the 30th, while in New York it is set for the 23rd.* I haven’t heard from Aunt Elsie and I have invited none of the New Rochelle folks, principally because of the lack of funds.
I haven’t heard yet whether Cecelia got her flowers and cigarettes, and you also have not told me whether you want me to renew your driver’s license and your P. S. license.
Ced has put up practically all the storm windows and yesterday afternoon Dan and Dick took all the accumulated ashes out of the cellar and spread them on the drive. We have not yet started the furnace, trying to get along as long as we can with the oil stoves and fireplaces. I have to get some coal some way and start the furnace for Thanksgiving on account of Aunt Betty. If I can weather the financial storm this first year, my hope is that business will pick up and enable us to get by. At present (with the $165 a month Selectman’s salary out), I am not quite able to cover monthly expenses with the income. This is the one thing that worries me more than anything else right now.
It occurs to me that every letter I write has this sour note in it, which is not pleasant for you, and I shall therefore cut out all references to financial difficulties in future letters. There is no use making you the safety valve when I have to blow off steam occasionally.
Have you heard anything recently as to how much of the road is completed that was supposed to connect North and South America? I believe it is entirely finished now as far as Mexico City, but I am wondering if a continuous highway has yet been constructed through Central America, and if it would be possible to drive down, say to Ciudad Boliva, with a fair chance of reaching one’s destination without chartering a marsh buggy.
Dave informs me that Cecelia told him the other day she had ordered a new Ford car. Probably you know all about this.
Election Day in Bridgeport resulted in McLevy going back again for a couple of years, which of course was expected. The voting, however, showed a tendency of not giving him such a large majority as in past years, both the Republican and Democratic votes coming up.
And that’s about all I can think of to keep you up with Trumbull doings. Any inquiries about things or people will have my best attention. Meantime, don’t overeat on turkey and plum pudding of Thanksgiving.
* Thanksgiving or Thanksgiving Day, currently celebrated on the fourth Thursday in November by federal legislation in 1941, has been an annual tradition in the United States by presidential proclamation since 1863 and by state legislation since the Founding Fathers of the United States.
Tomorrow, we’ll be continuing with more news from 1939. Share this blog with others you know who might enjoy this look back at history viewed by one particular family.
Wow, I hadn’t realized how far behind I’d gotten. I have been working a lot lately and haven’t had the time I used to have. Hopefully I’ll catch up soon.
I love your grandfather!
I think it is very interesting to have grown up in a town before policemen and then to see it evolve. Although, I am sure they were more of a resource for the town, not like our poor policemen of today who just can’t seem to get ahead of the criminals who seem to be always misbehaving.
Mrs. P. – My Grandfather happened to be in the right position, at the right time, because he was also involved with the formation of a Volunteer Fire Department and converting an old mine into a town park – or maybe those things happened because he was where he was. Who knows?
A lot of info here in this letter – good one. I researched Thanksgiving once, but forgot about how the date kept changing.
That was something I didn’t know about. I was surprised.