The following are some of the memories of their mother that I recorded during interviews with five of Arla’s children. The death of my Uncle Dan was the catalyst for these interviews.
BISS – When I was five, Lad and George Brellsford, and I think Dan, were on the fence behind the grape arbor. They were picking
grapes, sitting on the fence and picking grapes. I came over and I wanted to climb up on the fence too, because the grapes were much nicer on the top than they were on the bottom. They told me I could pick them from the bottom… so I climbed up on the fence. When I got to the top, I fell over into Dan Ward’s field, and evidently, my elbow hit a rock, because every single solitary bone was broken, so it was just hanging loose. George looked over and said “Hey Al, your sister broke her arm.” I can remember my arm spinning. I was trying to get up as I was afraid Dan Ward was going to come with his shotgun and shoot me if I didn’t get over on my side of the fence. And of course, I couldn’t do it. So anyway, they picked me up and took me into the house. Mother wasn’t home and I was lying in the living room, on the couch. I don’t remember any pain; I was probably in shock because I don’t remember any pain at all. I guess Mrs. Parks called Mother, wherever she was, Mother and Dad, and they came home. Evidently, Rusty (Heurlin) was there but I don’t remember Rusty. They told me that he carried me in his arms, cradled me in his arms all the way to the hospital so that I wouldn’t get jiggled. I can’t remember that at all. When we got to the hospital, the doctor was going to cut my dress off and I was not about to let them cut my dress off because it would kill my dress. My Mother said, “But I can sew it back together”, and I said, “But it won’t be the same. You can’t do that.” Obviously they cut it off.
DAVE – I remember just a few scenes from my early years in Trumbull. When my Mother was alive, I remember one time she had to walk all the way down to the bridge with me to get me to go off to school, and even then I didn’t want to go. That stuck with me all my life. I never liked school. It wasn’t until I got to college that I began to realize that I finally found something I could enjoy, but that’s another matter.
DICK – One time I rode our pony Gracie down the railroad tracks. Heading
back to the barn, I lost my footing and one leg got caught, which held me as she galloped home. I can still hear mother saying, “Whoa. Whoa!”
LAD – I do remember I used to ride one of the horses we had frequently, possibly every day or two, to go up to a house on the top of the hill beyond Middlebrook School. There was a girl living there that I really liked. In fact, Bill Hennigan and I liked this girl very much. I used to go up there on the horse and invariably, my Mother would call and say, “Send Alfred home, it’s time for supper.”
LAD – Long before we moved to Trumbull there was a damn on the Pequonnock
River, flooding all the property where the stone house is now, right up the cemetery. There was a mill there, run by water which came down through a tunnel. The tunnel was about 3′ x 3′ and it came out of a sheer wall. It was probably a drop of eight or ten feet to the ground. We kids used to play there quite often; we had a lot of imagination. I don’t know if Mother smoked as a youngster, but she must’ve been smoking then because I think I took two of her cigarettes. Art Christie and I went up and crawled through the tunnel and sat at the edge with our legs hanging over the edge and smoked cigarettes. Who should come along but Mother! She crawled through the tunnel and gave us quite a lecture. It was probably a few years before I started smoking, but Mom smoked with me when I first started. Then she quit, but I didn’t
CED – We smoked corn silk and cigarettes here and there. Art Christie was the oldest, your father was next, then Dan and me, the four of us. I guess Mother wasn’t home. I don’t know how we did it or how we got it; but anyway, we got money out of
Mother’s pocketbook. We went to Kurtz’s – Mother smoked – most of her sisters smoked – of course in those days you didn’t think anything about it. Anyway, we went to Kurtz’s and said we were buying some cigarettes for our mother. We bought a pack of cigarettes, I don’t remember the brand. Right at the gate there had been, at one time, a mill. They had a big stone wall that pretty much went all the way to the cemetery. Near that wall, there was a big square hole, I guess that’s where they had the mill wheel, but that space was a perfect place to go to smoke cigarettes. We sat at the front of that square and we started smoking. We had a whole pack of cigarettes and we wanted to enjoy them. Well we were merrily smoking away and Dan said, “I think I’ll go home.” He got right up and left. We suspected that he was getting sick, which he was. Art and Lad and I hoped he wasn’t going to make a fuss. I guess we talked about it and decided it was time to stop smoking, so we did. We thought maybe we ought to go down to the brook, pick up some poles and pretend to be fishing in case Mother came looking for us. So we did. We went down to the brook and were playing along the side of the brook, and pretending we were fishing. I don’t know if we could have made that stick, but anyway, sure enough, about 10 or 20 minutes later, here comes Mother and gulp, gulp, gulp. She came up to us and said, “What are you doing?” “Uh, we’re fishing,” we answered. “Well”, she replied, “Dan tells me you were smoking.” What could we do? “You know your father and I both smoke”, she said. “I don’t like it that you boys smoke, but why don’t you just come home and smoke if you want to smoke.” Not one of us wanted to smoke again until we were 18 or 20. Not one of us. Now, if that is in psychology, good psychology… without even being punished.
DAVE – I’ve always said that my brothers and sister were of little bit different than me. I was always quicker to enjoy a risqué joke, or worse. The rest of them fell under the influence of my Mother, what I call the Victorian Peabody attitude, and my Father was a little bit looser. To me he was always both mother and father, and whatever I am is probably more influenced by him rather than the others.
Tomorrow, I’ll be posting the rest of Grandpa’s letter written in November 1939. It’s quite a long story of the trials and tribulations he faced one evening with his car, trying to get home.
On Monday will move forward to 1940 when Dan and Ced are in Alaska and Lad is still in Venezuela. We’ll spend a few days there before jumping forward to the fall of 1943.