Early Memories of Trumbull (18) – Biss Learns to Drive and Lad Has an Accident

Art Mantle, Biss Guion, Lad Guion c. 1933

   Art Mantle, Biss and Lad Guion – @ 1933

CED – Lad worked at the Well’s garage, the Well’s Bus Line. He was their maintenance man for years. Later he ran two different gas stations in town. The first was the Mobile station, next to Kurtz’s store. The second was the Atlantic station after it opened.

DAVE – One more thought when your father, Al, had a gas station in Trumbull. I don’t have witnesses but I think Ced told the story. Somebody came in one day, knowing what a great diagnostician your father was, came in and said, “You hear that? Something is wrong with my car. Can you hear that noise?” Your father, without saying a word, turned around and walked away. “Well, what is this? Here I am, asking a question, and the guy ignores me and just walks away!” He was about ready to take off when your father comes back and says “I think the problem is………”, but he never told the guy he was going off to think about what to say.

BISS – I guess Lad taught me how to drive. We had an old Franklin Touring car, I fell out of the back seat of that one. We had a Durrant and a Dodge. The Durrant – I’m not sure if the Durrant was Lad’s car later or what. I can remember a Durrant, I think it was a family car, and then, of course, we had the Packard. Lad was looking through it and discovered a hidden bottom, it must have been a rum runner’s car back in the prohibition days. The Packard was by far the best. Of course, none of them had windows like they have today. You had to snap on the side curtains, you know, if it rained or something.

I started driving when I was 12 years old. We had that lot in the back of the house. Well, that was mowed down, in other words, it was a lot at that time, and we had a racetrack around it. So I started out with a model T, and then there was the old Oldsmobile truck, so I got that.

I can remember one day, I had a flat tire. Axel Larsson was the gardener at that time because mother was always sick so she had to have somebody to take care of us kids. Astrid and Axel and their daughter Florence moved into the cottage, the Little House. Astrid was the housekeeper and Axel was the gardener. He was the one who did all the stone work around the house; he built the fireplace and did the stones lining the driveway. Anyway, the tire was flat on the truck and I was looking for a jack or something to jack it up with so I could change the tire. Axel said, “What seems to be the problem here?” I said, “I’m looking for something to jack it up with.” So he said, “Well, get that concrete block over there and when I lift the truck, you just slide it under.” So he did. He lifted the back of the truck up and I slid it under. He was a blacksmith, and he used the hammers all the time so he was really burly up on top, even though he was kind of short. When we moved to Stratford, his blacksmith shop was about two blocks away. I used to take the boys down there so we could watch Axel at work. But anyway, he fixed the flat and then I drove around the track. That’s where I learned to drive, in the backyard.

DICK – The first time Lad got his motorcycle, he would ride around the house…. the side along the porch, down a ramp to the lawn and around the house again, and then jump off.

I remember when Lad first got his motorcycle, Ced wanted to learn how to ride. So, in the back field, Ced was riding along the chain-link fence. The handle kept hitting the fence and turning the handlebars.

We were going to New York City to visit my mother’s family and it worked out that I could go with Lad on the motorcycle. Riding on the Merritt Parkway he took his hands off the handlebars and that impressed me.

LAD – I came very close to having an accident once on my way to visit Rusty (Heurlin) in Westport, Connecticut. I went around a fairly sharp corner and there was a lot of gravel, the machine started to slide but it didn’t go far enough.

I did have an accident with my motorcycle. I don’t remember when, but it was later, maybe a year or two. I was going to Bridgeport. Where White Plains Road and Nichols Avenue meet, there is a fairly sharp corner. I was going too fast and didn’t make the turn. On the far side, the left side of the road, there was a Terrace. I guess there was a house on top of the hill. I hit the terraced section instead of making that corner. I was going so fast that the bike went up on the terrace, then into the air and I fell off. I could see the bike coming down. I thought for sure it was going to hit me, but it didn’t. I went to Venezuela soon after that and a fellow named Nelson Sperling took the motorcycle. He was a reckless fellow and that was the end of the motorcycle.

Tomorrow I’ll be posting more of the early memories of Trumbull and stories the children shared about each other.

On Monday, I’ll begin a week of letters written in 1941. Lad will be coming home soon after working in Venezuela for two and a half years. Dick has just delivered a car to Dan and Ced, In Alaska, and is going to stay for a while. Dave and Grandpa hold down the fort in Trumbull.

Judy Guion


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