This weekend, I’ll be continuing the early years of my Grandfather, Alfred Duryee Guion. His father has passed away in his early 40’s and this precipitated a drastic change in their style of living. Grandpa is adjusting.
At Dell Avenue
As Lincoln Avenue was the home of my childhood and boyhood, 71 Dell Ave., Mount Vernon was the home of my youth and early married life. There I emerged from high school, started a business, married and began bringing up a family. It may have been the fact that my mother had to live very economically that the value of the dollar was early impressed on my growing mind and the advantage of the savings account became important. My mother paid me $.10 a day for cleaning ashes from the furnace and stoking it in the winter time, and once a week rolling the ash barrel from the cellar door at the back of the house to the curb in front for the ash man to collect. I took great pride in watching my savings account grow which enabled me eventually to acquire the thing I treasured even more than a new bike — a Colt .22 repeating rifle.
For several years I had pestered by mother for permission to buy a rifle of some sort but she firmly refused, saying I was too young. My best friend and pal, a boy of my own age named Ted Utz, had the same desire and eagerly we sent for and pored over catalogs of all the manufacturers of firearms in the country. One could buy in a hardware store at that time a cheap inaccurate single shot cal. German rifle called a Flobert, which we spurned. The King of them all was the Colt, so when I reached the age of 16 set by my mother as O.K., I sent the $18 for it and spent many happy days with my pal hunting squirrels.
We liked to get out to the woods at daybreak, but Ted was a sound sleeper, so on the night before a hunt when he went to bed he tied a string to his big toe and hung the string out of the second-story window of his room, so that I could pull the same soon after daybreak when I arrived and so did not have to disturb his family to waken him.
I wore my first pair of long pants on Easter Sunday. I can distinctly recall on my walk from home to Sunday school on that morning the feeling of certainty that in every house I passed someone was peeking out of the window to stare at my new pants. Besides I had spilled egg on them at breakfast.
With my mother lived my three aunts and small sister, so I early felt my importance as the only “man” in the family. With my father gone it was up to me to take care of my mother and this developed into a serious responsibility, resulting in several years in succession in my using my savings to take my mother on a two-week vacation to various summer resorts as my father had done.
One summer’s vacation I spent in Maine. A school boy friend, Arthur Morris, had become a Minister and was assigned to a little church in an isolated fishing village just above Bar Harbor, called Steuben. After leaving the train at Bangor, a little single-track branch line seemed to have had its winding track laid so as to curve around larger trees in its path through the thick woods. I was told that a big bull Moose the day before had angrily bucked the locomotive. It killed the moose but also stopped the train.
Arthur had sort of been adopted by a typical hearty, New England, independent but kindhearted middle-aged widow, known to everyone as Aunt Ada, at whose house we lived. It was rumored that Art was eventually to be her heir, but I later lost track of both. Letters to them whenever answered and I never knew what happened to either.
Tomorrow, I’ll post the story of how Spot entered the family and a High School Race.
On Monday, I’ll be posting letters from 1942. Dan has been drafted in the Army iu January, Lad has just gone in in May, both Ced and Dick are worried about their prospects of avoiding the draft. Dave is in High School and living with Grandpa in Trumbull.