My Grandpa continues the story of his boyhood with a lesson learned at an early age.
Alfred Duryee Guion with their dog and his sister, Elsie
Lincoln Avenue House
If this is to be a truthful account of my boyhood, I now come to an incident of which I am heartily ashamed.
I believe this is the grade school he attended. Why else would he have taken this picture?
It happened early in my grammar school days. I was rather a reserved, quiet type who did not enter readily into the rougher sports and for that reason was not generally popular. There was an aggressive, rather bullying type of youngster, taller and heavier than I, who evidently took a dislike to me and made things rather rough. Being of a sensitive nature, this bothered me and instead of shrugging the matter off as some youngsters might, it built up day by day until it must have shown in my attitude. It came to a climax one noon recess over a game of marbles or some other trifling thing, resulting in Emil informing me, as the noon bell rang, that he would wait for me and “get me” when school got out that afternoon. Frankly, I was afraid and when the closing bell rang I hung back and tried to think of some question to ask the teacher to delay matters. It was no use and as I finally went out the door there was Emil with a gang of ten or twelve jeering boys. I panicked. I had three or four schoolbooks strapped together and heaving them in Emil’s face, I started to run toward home, which was about four blocks away. Off I went with Emil and the yelling band after me – a fox with hounds in full cry behind.
Sometime during the chase I came to my senses. It might have been pride; shame for the cowardly way I was acting or realizing how far I had fallen from the ideals my family had preached; the fact that running would do no good; that sooner or later I’d have to fight anyway. Perhaps it was a combination of all, though none very clear-cut. The net result was that I decided to quit running then and there and fight to the last ditch even if they had to carry me home on a stretcher.
Grandpa’s house on Lincoln Avenue
So I stopped on the lawn of Chivvis’ house right across the street from mine and faced my foe. The boys all gathered around in a circle to watch Emil knock the tar out of me. And I guess he did. I know afterwards I had a bloody nose and a black eye. But now I was determined no power on earth could make me quit. On and on we slugged it out – it seems for hours – and whenever I got knocked down, which was frequently, and one of the boys would ask me if I’d had enough, I replied “No!”, and went after Emil again. I don’t know how many times this happened but often enough so that after a while the boys saw no more sport in the thing – just a dogged determination on the part of one badly beaten kid to refuse to give up. We both finally became so weak that neither of us could punch anymore and upon my still refusing to admit I was licked, the boys forcibly separated us and he and his gang went their way, and I, with one or two whose sympathy I had belatedly won, went to my home, someone having restored my books. Next day at school Emil and I shook hands. He admitted he had me all wrong and I told him I was very sorry for the cowardly act of throwing my books at him. From that day on Emil and I were very good friends and continued so for a number of years until he died in his early youth, the cause unknown to me.
Tomorrow, Grandpa tells us about a pivotal point in his life when things change forever.
On Monday, I’ll begin a week of letters written in 1941. Lad is in Venezuela, Dan and Ced are in Alaska and Dick will be joining them soon. Grandpa and Dave will be holding down the fort in Trumbull.