The Beginning – Reminiscences of Alfred D. Guion (12) – 1884 – 1964

The following memories are quotes from “Reminiscences of Alfred D.  Guion, written in 1960 while he was on a four-months “around the world” freighter trip.

Alfred Duryee Guion

I was understandably quite proud of the gold medal awarded me and was bitterly disappointed when wearing it as a watch fob to a dance a few days later, it was either lost or stolen.  I suspected the latter because some of the folks from arrival school were also present and in spite of the thorough search of the dance Hall that night and subsequent ads in the local paper offering a reward for its return, nothing came of it.  I don’t think my name have yet been engraved on it.  Later, a vague rumor reached me that the boy who had lost out was seen wearing the metal but this was never verified.  To have achieved success in the field in which I never expected either by temperament or ability to shine and have nothing to prove that it wasn’t just a fantasy was deeply disappointing and to some extent illogically disgusted me with high school and everything connected with it.  Then too, I did not get top marks in all of my subjects, and this hurt my pride.  I was very good in English, History and German; so-so in Math; and terrible in drawing; fair in Biology.  Also I became more and more obsessed with the idea that my duty and responsibility was to get out and earn my own keep instead of continuing to be a burden financially to my mother; thus I would sooner be able to feel I was really helping to support my mother as it was my duty to do.

I had no one with whom I felt I could discuss so personal a matter (at times such as these a boy misses not having a father to advise him), so I finally put up to my mother the idea of quitting high school and going to work.  I wish now that she had said firmly, “No, finish high school first”, but instead she told me to do what I thought best.

One is sometimes asked: “what would you do differently if you had your life to do over again?”  And as I look back now this decision to quit school, an idea half-heartedly opposed by my school principal (or maybe I was convinced this was the right choice and I paid no heed to his advice), was mistake # 1, and a decision I was afterwards to regret.  So I quit school in my second year and, through a friend in the Church, started work as an office boy at $4.00 a week in a small insurance company in New York.  After paying for my railroad commutation ticket, car fare from Grand Central to the Nassau Street office and lunches, I don’t imagine my contribution was of material financial aid to the family but at least my conscience was satisfied and I WAS self-supporting.

Tomorrow and for the rest of the week, I’ll continue the story of my Grandfather in his own words.

Judy Guion

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4 thoughts on “The Beginning – Reminiscences of Alfred D. Guion (12) – 1884 – 1964

  1. Grandpa’s quitting school was a surprising turn of events!

    • Judy Guion says:

      Liz – Grandpa felt the duty to help support his mother and sister. That was one of the values he lived by. It was the only way he could see it. That decision made his early working history harder than it should have been, but it made him strong.

      • After seeing in his letters how well-read, talented, and accomplished he was, I was surprised he’d left school. He was obviously well-educated.

        • Judy Guion says:

          Liz – He was a voracious reader. He read 4 newspapers regularly. He asked questions all the time. If he heard about something he didn’t understand, he did research, wrote letters to people who understood it and was constantly searching for more information.

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