Alfred Duryee Guion – The Beginning (10) – Our Church And My Father’s Death

In this post, Grandpa tells us of the point in his life when things were forever changed. His childhood ends and his young adulthood begins, even though he was only in his second year of high school.

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I believe this is the Church of the Ascension in Mount Vernon, NY.  Again, it looks like a church and why else would he take this picture?

Our church, the Church of the Ascension in Mount Vernon, early occupied an important place in my life. Both parents were active workers, my father as a vestryman and my mother as a member of the Ladies Aid and other church societies, and of course we children attended Sunday School regularly. From this same church my father was buried with a big Masonic funeral, later my mother, and here also I was married and most of my children were baptized.

The big church event of the year from my boyish standpoint was the annual Sunday school picnic. On the day appointed, mother put up a box lunch, took along some blankets, extra jackets and sweaters, and we all assembled at the church where trolley cars, in sufficient number, were waiting to transport the whole group to some seaside vacation resort, usually not more than an hour’s ride away. Games of all sorts were played, sack races, three-legged races, high and broad jumps and regular foot races. From one of these I proudly brought home a bronze medal for winning a foot race. Then, tired but happy, the trolley took us home.

I had measles in 1893 at the age of nine. I remember the year distinctly because, while I was in bed, the postman delivered copy of Harper’s Young People, which I preferred to Youth’s Companion, and on the front cover was an interesting illustration and story about the Chicago World’s Fair, then in full swing in Chicago. I was tired of staying in bed and this was something interesting to occupy my mind, but Mother mercilessly pulled down the window shades in spite of violent protests, so that it was too dark to read, which she said had to be because “it was bad for my eyes” until I recovered from the measles.

The interval between moving out of the Lincoln Avenue house and carpentry work on the renovated Dell Avenue house was finished, we spent in a rented house, and while there I contracted Scarlet Fever. The day before I was sick enough to have a doctor, I felt extremely tired and listless and that night I had a horrible dream. The facts themselves were not so bad but the realism was terrifying. I was on a very large globe, the surface of which was so slippery I continually fell down each time I started to stand up. No matter how many times I tried it was no use and the prospect of never being able to regain a standing position was horrifying.

The house, of course, was quarantined and my patient mother was my nurse. The only aftereffects, which sometimes are quite serious following the disease, were, in my case, severe earaches, which apparently left no permanent injury. Even now at age 75 my hearing is normal.

While I failed to realize it at the time, my father’s death put an end to carefree boyhood days and made me take a more serious view of life. The idea gradually grew in my mind that as the only “man” in the family, it was my duty to do what I could do to support it. Soon I was to leave my childhood spent in the old Lincoln Avenue house to start a new chapter in the Dell Avenue house where I spent my teens and early manhood. How little any one event, large as it looms at the time, really matters much when viewed from the long stretch of a person’s years.

Tomorrow, I’ll begin a week of letters written in 1941. Lad is working for the Socony-Vacuum Oil Company. Dan and Ced are in Alaska and Dick will be travelling there soon to deliver a car and stay with his brothers for a while.

Next weekend I’ll continue the story of my Grandpa, in his own words, writing about his first  job in New York City.

Why don’t you tell your friends about this fascinating “Slice of Life”?

Judy Guion


2 thoughts on “Alfred Duryee Guion – The Beginning (10) – Our Church And My Father’s Death

  1. jaggh53163 says:

    Mrs. P. – That dream had a very strong impact on the person Grandpa became.

  2. Mrs. P says:

    Imagine a dream so terrifying that one would remember the exact details of it more than fifty years later and write it in one’s memoirs.

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