CED – Very soon after we got this boat, Dad decided it needed to be dressed up a bit. He got some lumber and he got someone else to do it, and they made a canvas top. It came from the two ends and fastened in the middle somehow, you could walk around in it. At the same time, he put in a Ford Marine conversion engine which was a lot heavier than the original one. It made the boat lower in the back. He also decked over the whole back, with cabinets for storage. It was pretty high sided and very seaworthy.
Dad, Lad, Dan and I decided we would take a trip out the Housatonic and up the coast to Milford. We are going to go to Hartford and it would take a couple of days. We started out – we had found out that we had a problem and we had done some caulking on it. It wasn’t quite watertight. There was a little storm over Long Island Sound and just about the time we got to the Connecticut River, a real storm came up with high waves. We had a rough time of it, we really bounced around quite a bit and we were low on gas. It had gotten fairly calm, I guess the storm was over. We pulled over to get some gas and decided we’d stay overnight. We had had kind of a rough trip. We pulled across the River to the other side where there was a beach and some houses. We anchored out, put the canvas over us, made up the beds and went to sleep. I was the first one awake the next morning. The sun was out and it was quite nice. There was a small space between the canvas and the gunwale, and I was lying there with my head at gunwale height, looking outside. All of a sudden I realized there was water just a few inches below the gunwale. I yelled for everyone to get up. “Hey, guys, were thinking.” Dad had the seats made up as beds so we lifted one and the water was right up there. Anyway, we bailed and bailed real fast and we finally got the thing so that we had plenty of free board, but my mother had baked us a beautiful cake. It was sitting in salt water. It didn’t float well and it didn’t taste good after being in salt water.
We had some friends named Burnham who had lived sort of caddy corner to us on Larchmont Drive. They had a cottage on Fishers Island. We started out to go to see the Burnham’s. It took about an hour or so to get there. When we got there, Dad talked to Rufus Burnham. Dad was very interested in sailboats and asked Rufus if there was anyone on the island who could help us with this a boat. Rufus said, “Yeah, he lives just around the corner.” We got him to come over and look at the boat. It was light enough so that we could pull it up and turn it over. He stood there, puffing on his pipe and looking at the hull of the boat – finally he said, “?You came from the Connecticut shore in this?”
DICK – We spent a couple of summers on Fishers Island in Long Island Sound with the Burnham’s.
DAVE – I have a log book someplace that I should give to you, Judy. It’s the trip, a couple of trips maybe, with the boat that Dad named The Helen. Now, most boats seemed to enjoy themselves lying on top of the water. Helen seemed to enjoy it most when she was on the bottom, on solid land, even though she was covered by water. My father would get more phone calls, “Come down and bail out your boat.” Or “Come down and somehow raise it up.” It was forever sinking. It was probably something like the infamous African Queen, probably not nearly as big but to me it was big. It was kind of rounded like a tug boat. It had an engine but it was not a steam engine like the African Queen but had some kind of engine in the back. It was kind of fun for the older boys. I don’t know what happened to the Helen but my guess is that if you drained the Housatonic River, you would probably find it.
CED – We kept the boat tied at a place on the Housatonic River and one day the owner called and said, “This is Mr. French. Your boat sunk.” It must’ve happened about six times. We would go over there, drag it up on shore and dump it out. Dad got tired of this after a while.
Arnold Gibson’s father, stepfather actually, was an old seagoing man. I guess he been in the Navy. He had a Sea Scout troop and Dad said, “?you know this boat is getting beyond us. Why don’t we give it to the Sea Scouts and maybe they can get some fun out of it.” He gave it to them and I don’t know what they did with it.
Tomorrow, more stories of the early memories of Trumbull from the Guion children.
On Monday, we’ll begin a series of letters written in 1945. The entire family is anxiously awaiting news of the marriage plans unfolding in France.