In the continuing saga of the Guion Family, we travel back in time to the early years in Trumbull. Lad, the oldest, was eight when they moved to Trumbull, Biss was about three and Dick not quite two. These are some of the memories they shared with me during recording sessions.
BISS – I used to climb trees. If my brothers went up three branches, I had to go up four, just to show them that I was just as good as they were.
I started school in Trumbull in the house that the Sirene’s bought, which was originally a two room school. It was at the top of the hill just before Kascak’s garage, on the left-hand side, the same side as the gas station. It looked like a house even though it was a schoolhouse. I think I spent my first, second, and maybe third year there, while they were building Center School. I loved that one, the original, because the brook was running right behind it. There was a great big rock that went down to the Brook and I’ve always loved rocks, for some reason or other. I always look at them as I’m coming up the Thruway, you know all those different colored rocks… I loved that. Anyway, there was this big rock and we’d sit out there at recess. I guess some of the boys went skinny dipping in the brook and they would be late coming back in.
We always came home for lunch and one day I climbed the Maple tree right behind where the old dollhouse was. There was a Plum tree there, the dollhouse and the sand bed was there. I can remember the Plum tree because, I was maybe five years old, and the car was parked in there. I climbed in the car to play, driving or something and I must have hit a gear and put it in neutral, because it ran down and hit the Plum tree. And of course I got into trouble for that. I was always getting into trouble.
In the first or second grade, I swore in school and the teacher washed my mouth out with soap. The soap was so sweet, so I went home and washed my mouth out again. I don’t know what kind of soap it was, but it left a very sweet taste, it didn’t while you were doing it, but afterwards it did.
Back in the first school, I think I was in second grade, I was a Jumping Jack. I just couldn’t sit still. I never did like school anyway and I couldn’t sit still. I forget what it was she said, but the teacher said something about a Jumping Jack and then, “Sit still.” I can remember that. I don’t remember what punishment she did or what threat she gave me but I do remember her putting me up on the mat for not being able to sit still.
One day, Ced was going to give me a ride to school on the handlebars of his bike. We got down to Sunset Avenue and a car was coming out of there. Ced panicked and I went down. I got my face scraped in the tar on the side of the road. We had to go back home to get my wounds taken care of, so we started back. A truck came along, a big Mack truck, and the driver asked if we wanted a ride, so we said, “Sure.” I was sitting in the middle and I was all ready to grab that brake if he went beyond Kurtz’s store because I didn’t know if he was trying to kidnap us or what. I was watching that brake and of course he let us off at Kurtz’s corner and we went home. Mother washed the cuts with alcohol…. Talk about the screaming mee-mees!
Another time, when Dick was in first grade and I was in second, he hurt himself and I had to take him home. It was about a mile and a half, a pretty good distance.
One thing I remember about Center School was that I’d wait for the first bell to ring and then I’d cut across the lots because it was that close by the Brook and I’d get to school on time.
My favorite game was Caddy. You got a stick and put a point on either end. You had a paddle and you hit the pointed end and it made the small stick go up and then you hit it with the paddle. I don’t remember where it was supposed to go or anything. I think it was how far you could hit it but I don’t remember what the exact rules were. My brothers probably could remember but I can’t, but I enjoyed that Caddy a lot.
DICK – One of my earliest memories is Mom at the front Dutch door, talking to someone from the Red Cross. I was standing next to her and she was running her hand through my hair…. It was heaven.
I spent most of my time with Dad. He was full of information and enthusiasm. He’d say, “Want to take a walk? I want to show you something.” After we walking a while, he’d say, “s-h-u-s-h, s-h-u-s-h. Now lie down and crawl forward.” And we’d see fox cubs. There was always interesting things in the field in back of the house.
I went to White Plains School for one year. I started at Center School in second grade.
Nelson Sperling tied a rope to a big Hickory Nut tree on the side driveway, near the steps. We’d take off from the steps, swing out in a big circle and come back to land. The neighborhood kids couldn’t do it so well.
One time I rode our pony Gracie down the railroad tracks. Heading back to the barn, I lost my footing and one leg got caught, which held me as she galloped home. I can still hear Mother saying, “whoa, whoa.”
We also had a little cart that was pulled by a goat.
At Christmas time, we’d drive down Noble Avenue and look at the Christmas decorations.
We had a circus horse named Goldie, and while she was cropping grass, I would lie down on her back. When I’d had enough, I’d slide off her back. I didn’t realize that it might annoy her. The last time I did it, she kicked me.
Tomorrow, I’ll begin a week of letters written in 1941. Dick is delivering a car to Anchorage, Alaska, for Dan and Ced. Lad is getting closer to coming home after about two and a half years in Venezuela. Grandpa continues his Clearing House of Family Information by writing letters, with carbons, to four of his five sons away from home.