At this point, Alfred and Arla have started a family and so I will begin to include early childhood memories of the children in (attempted) chronological order.
LAD – I was born in New York City in 1914 then I lived in Yonkers for a short time. When I was one, we
moved to 91 Dell Ave. in Mount Vernon, New York. By the time I was three, I was quite interested in mechanical things. I remember taking an alarm clock, taking it all apart and putting it back together, but I had one gear left over when I finished. It didn’t keep very good time. It was fast. I never could find out where that gear went. My mother, Arla, was 19 years old when I was born and she was the oldest Peabody girl. Burton was ahead of her. Then there was Arla, Helen, Kemper, Anne, Dorothy and Lawrence. There were seven of them. I remember I went shopping with Dad’s mother (Ella Duryee Guion, Mrs. Alfred Beck Guion), my grandmother, and I was taller than she was. She went grocery shopping and she took me with her on the trolley because I could help her. I just remember I was taller than she was and I helped her carry the groceries. We had a woman who did the cooking and took care of the house. One of the things we had in the kitchen was a dishwasher that was hand operated. It had a big handle on it and we pushed and pulled, and I remember liking it, I enjoyed doing that. I don’t remember much about my Dad in Mount Vernon or Larchmont. He was always busy working.
CED – In about 1918 or 1919, Dad bought a new Franklin touring car and my mother used to drive Dad
down to the station and he’d go in to New York City where he worked. Then she’d come back home. She’d go back and get him later. One day, she backed up to turn around after the train had pulled out, and ran up on a hydrant. The wheels of the Franklin were about 20 or 21 inches. She got out of the car and there it sat upon the hydrant, all out of shape. She stood there and looked at it, she said everything was skewed, the doors, the frame…. And that was a wooden frame of course. She had to get help to get it off there. We moved up to Trumbull in that car. I guess Dad decided to sell it shortly after we moved to Trumbull.
LAD – Every year Dad had a couple of weeks of vacation and he would take us up to Sandy Hook, Connecticut on Lake Zoar and we would stay in a cabin. I don’t remember much about it but probably Dan, Ced and I were playing out in the yard in the area around the cabin. There was a nice place where branches were above us, and below them, it was pretty open. We were crawling around in there and later that day, I started to itch. For three or four days I was swollen pretty badly with poison ivy. I’ve had problems ever since. Many summers, I got poison ivy. The first summer out here in California, working for the Frouge Construction Company, I was driving a tractor to clear some land. I didn’t realize that it was poison ivy I was driving through, and tearing up. It didn’t affect me too much, just my arms and hands. By that time, I knew how to take care of it anyway. On some summer vacations, Dad would take us to a place called Foster’s Rond, in Massachusetts, which either belonged to Rusty Heurlin’s family or they had an interest in it. Rusty took us there the first time and we went a couple of times after that. That’s where Dan and I found out that a canoe isn’t very stable. We went out on Foster’s Rond in the canoe and I don’t remember what we were doing, but one of us stood up and stepped a little to the side and it tipped right over. It was a nice warm pond and we didn’t have any problems.
A.D. – Only one incident during this time caused me alarm. With the arrival of children I felt it wise to take additional life insurance but was turned down by the examining doctor because of a “heart murmur”. I applied at a different company and was given a rated-up policy. The incident caused me considerable concern under the circumstances and I went to our old family doctor to learn how serious the condition was. He checked and told me he found nothing to worry about, and then said something that I have repeated to others several times since to the effect that it is a good thing when a young person learns that his physical condition necessitates his being careful in following the ancient Greek motto of “moderation in all things” because he is apt to live much longer than the person who boasts: “I’m perfectly healthy, never had a sick day in my life. I can do anything.” For that is the person whose excesses frequently lead him to overdo with disastrous results. A few years later I applied again for life insurance and because of my previous ejection was given an extra careful examination. This time things were entirely normal. Even the company giving me the rated up policy found no trace of a heart murmur and canceled the overcharge premium. Things had not been going so well financially with the Century Company, and because of my combined advertising experience and college training, I secured a better paying job in sales promotion work with the Celluloid Company under a fine man as my boss. I was with this concern for about five years. One event stands out in my memory connected this time. The First World War was being fought to “make the world safe for democracy” in the words of President Woodrow Wilson. Employees of the Celluloid Company had been issued nightsticks and been trained in their use if emergencies arose. The size of my family had increased and the number of babies I had to support gave me a low rating on the draft call.
A.D. Guion’s Draft Registration Card
The war finally drew to a close and then one day that those who did not live through it, can never appreciate, there occurred what came to be known as the” false armistice”. Word came from overseas that the war was over. The whole country went unrestrained and completely mad. Men, women and children of all ages and degrees completely forgot themselves in a wild disregard of convention and completely lost themselves in the fervor of the moment. With bells of all churches wildly ringing, auto horns blowing, sirens on fire trucks screeching, steam ships in the harbor sounding off and people wildly shouting in the streets, everyone for the moment went berserk. I went down the company elevator to the street and as soon as I stepped outside the door some man I had never seen before or since grabbed my hand and shook it heartily. Over in Washington Square a few steps away was a statue of Garibaldi. In front of it a shabbily dressed Italian with his arms raised in the air and tears streaming down his cheeks, was making an impassioned speech to Garibaldi in Italian. No one was paying the slightest bit of attention to him – just he and Garibaldi having a heart to heart talk.
Tomorrow, I’ll be posting the story of their first home in Larchmont Gardens. This will include some memories of Lad.
Next week, I’ll be posting letters written in 1945, as the entire family gets excited about the upcoming wedding of Dan and Paulette in France.