These are the memories of my Father and his siblings, recorded over several years. When my Uncle Dan passed away, I realized that I had better get started recording the memories of Dan’s siblings before they were also gone. I was able to have two recording sessions with my Father, Lad in California; two with Uncle Ced in New Hampshire, a three-day cruise in our boat with Aunt Biss; one session with Uncle Dave in Stratford, CT and one hand-written session (I forgot my tape recorder going up to the Island in New Hampshire, where Uncle Dick lived) with Uncle Dick. I transcribed them once exactly as they were spoken, again removing the ums, ahs, half sentences started over, etc. I then produced a final copy that was easier to read, but it still needs work getting the chronological order correct. Memories are not recorded with a date stamp. I created 75 binders for family members which include all three translations, pages and pages of photos and memorabilia and the actual recording. Now family members can actually heat their ancestors speaking. It was my first project with all the material my Father saved for me and a true Labor of Love. I hope you enjoy these memories of A Slice of Life at a different time and place.
Trap Door on the Barn
The Maple Tree on the left with the Summer Porch to the left of the house
It was called the Summer Porch because the Maple Tree provided lots of shade and there was always a breeze there
CED: – At the Trumbull House, one of the things we used to do, one of the high points, had to do with the little trap door over the barn. We would open the door, tie a rope to the beam at the top of the barn, run it down and tie it to the big Maple outside beside the Summer Terrace. We used to have a wheel on it, it would go out the door and hang from the wheel. We’d slide all the way down and get off by the Maple tree. A pretty fast ride, too.
Possible location of the tree and swing going “almost over the road”.
We had a swing on the upper end of the property, near the stone pillars. We would take hold of the rope, take a run and then swing out almost over the road. Don Stanley fell off it and broke his arm. His father never really forgave us.
LAD – I don’t remember much about any trouble I got into. Dick and Ced used to get into trouble. Mother would get a call from the police, or Constable, as they were called at the time. What their problems were I don’t remember, but they did get into trouble … Mother had to go get them a few times.
Long before we moved to Trumbull, there was a dam on the Pequonnock River, flooding all the property where the stone house is now, right up to the cemetery. There was a mill there, run by water which came down through a tunnel. The tunnel was about three feet by three feet and it came out of a sheer wall. It was probably a drop of eight or ten feet to the ground. We kids used to play there quite often; we had a lot of imagination.
I don’t know if Mother smoked as a youngster, but she must have been smoking then because I think I took two of her cigarettes. Art Christie and I went up and crawled through the tunnel and sat at the edge with our legs hanging over the edge and smoked cigarettes. Who should come along but Mom! She crawled through the tunnel and gave us quite a lecture. It was probably a few years before I started smoking, but Mom smoked with me when I first started. Then she quit, but I didn’t.
CED – We smoked corn silk and cigarettes here and there. Art Christie was the oldest, your father (Lad) was next, then Dan and me, the four of us. I like to presume, and it’s probably true, that Art Christie got the idea. I guess my Mother wasn’t home. I don’t know how we did it or how we got to it; but anyway, we got money out of Mother’s pocketbook. We went to Kurtz is – Mother smoked – most of her sisters smoked – of course in those days you didn’t think anything about it. Anyway, we went to Kurtz’s and said we were buying some cigarettes for our Mother. We bought a pack of cigarettes, I don’t remember the brand. Right about where the cemetery gate was, there was a carriage road. There was a fence at the end, and a field beyond, which was probably Harold Beech’s field. But right at the gate there had been, at one time, a mill. They had dammed up the Pequonnock River; they had a dam there, probably four feet high and four feet wide. They had a big stone wall that pretty much went all the way to the cemetery. Near that wall, there was a big, square hole, I guess that’s where they had the mill wheel, but that space was a perfect place to go to smoke cigarettes. We sat at the front of that square and we started smoking. We had a whole pack of cigarettes and we wanted to enjoy them. Well we were merrily smoking away and Dan said, “I think I’ll go home.” He got right up and left. We suspected that he was getting sick, he was. Art and Lad and I hoped he wasn’t going to make a fuss. I guess we talked about it and decided it was time to stop smoking, so we did. We thought maybe we ought to go down to the brook, pick up some poles and pretend to be fishing in case Mother came looking for us. So we did. We went down to the brook and were playing along the side of the brook, and pretending we were fishing. I don’t know if we could have made that stick, but anyway, sure enough, about ten, fifteen or twenty minutes later, here comes Mother and gulp, gulp, gulp. She came up to us and said, “What are you doing?” “Uh, we’re fishing,” we answered. “Well”, she replied, “Dan tells me you were smoking.” What could we do? “You know your father and I both smoke”, she said. “I don’t like it that you boys smoke, but why don’t you just come home and smoke if you want to smoke.” Not one of us wanted to smoke again until we were eighteen or twenty. Not one of us. Now, if that isn’t psychology, good psychology … Without even being punished.
For the rest of the week I will be posting more Childhood Memories of Trumbull.