This is a continuation of a series I have composed including my Grandfather’s Reminiscences and the memories of his children.
Alfred Beck Guion
Lincoln Avenue House
Alfred Duryee Guion and Elsie May Guion
My father, who insisted on having the best regardless of expense, was quite proud of this house. He had an architect design it. My grandfather, being in the lumber business, was able to procure exceptional lumber for its construction so that each of the rooms was finished differently, one in cherry, one in black walnut, one in quartered oak, one in circassian walnut, etc., all selected for their beautiful graining. On the ground floor was what we called the “round room” in which even the windowpanes were curved glass. The maid’s room on the top floor was necessary because in those days it was customary to a higher a maid.
The house was situated on the corner of Lincoln and Fulton Avenues. At the time we moved there it was one of the few houses in the neighborhood, although Mr. Primrose, a famous minstrel of those days, lived about a block away. Lincoln Avenue was a dirt road and Fulton Avenue existed only on the map. Our house was at the end of the stagecoach line from the railroad station and on cold winter days the floor of the stage was covered with straw for warmth. Carson was the name of the driver and was drunk practically every night, much to my father’s disgust.
A few years later and English family named Chivvis built a house on the opposite corner similar architecturally to ours. Partitioned off in their cellar was a room for an old retired sailor known as “Uncle Charlie”, a crotchety old fellow and quite moody although occasionally he sang sea chanties and told us some interesting yarns. “Us” refers to me and Freddie Chivvis, a boy of my own age whom I never liked very much.
Another neighboring family, also English, was named Watkins. I recall them quite distinctly because they were always so proper and stiff. The family consisted of an aged mother, about the size and shape and always dressed exactly like the pictures of England’s Queen Victoria, who was then still living, two elderly daughters, a middle-aged son, a big mastiff named “Gillid” and the nasty, snappy, ill-natured little cur named “Whoppy”, made up the rest of the family. They went to our church until the son, who was the church Treasurer, absconded with the funds.
We owned a good-sized lot by the side of our house where a group of my boy friends gathered after school to play association football, tag, prisoner’s base, red Rrover, etc.
For a few months I attended a private school run by a couple of old maids, later being one of the first pupils attending the opening of the new grammar school. Revisiting it in later years, I marveled how the big doors had shrunk in size, and the doorknob, which I had remembered as up so high as to be difficult to reach, had now been lowered considerably.
In 2013, my cousin and I were able to take a road trip to Mount Vernon and find this house. Most of the distinctive features have been removed or covered up but here are some pictures I was able to take.
This was an extraordinary experience, being able to see my grandfather as a young boy walking in the front door and actually stepping on those tiles.
Tomorrow, I’ll continue my grandfather’s Reminiscences. On Monday, I’ll be posting letters written in 1941. Family and Friends are looking forward to Lad’s return from Venezuela. Dick is going to Alaska to deliver a car to Dan and Ced.