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.
Dave (front, left) next to Gwen Stanley
DAVE – I remember just a few scenes from my early years in Trumbull. When my Mother was alive, I remember one time she had to walk all the way down to the bridge with me to get me to go off to school, and even then I didn’t want to go. That stuck with me all my life. I never liked school. It wasn’t until I got to college that I began to realize that I finally found something I can enjoy, but that’s another matter.
I have always said that my brothers and sister were a bit different than me. I was always quicker to enjoy a risqué joke, or worse. The rest of them fell under the influence of Mother, what I call the Victorian Peabody attitude, and my father was a little bit looser. To me he was always both mother and father, and whatever I am is probably more influenced by him rather than the others.
When I was a kid, I had quite a temper. It was a real nice combination. I had a temper and I was a crybaby.
My problem, aside from Dick, my biggest problem when I was a kid was keeping different groups of friends apart from one another. I had lots of friends when I was a kid, no real close friends, but they were diverse. When I was playing with one and one of the others showed up, I had a problem because the two of them didn’t get along.
DICK – Dave was argumentative; he loved to argue with Dad … with anybody. I used to tease the hell out of him because he would react. I used to needle him just to make him lose his temper.
This view of the Big House in winter shows the screen porch Dave refers to.
DAVE – Don and Gwen (Stanley), my cousins from Aunt Anne, were here all the time. They’d plead and beg and finally their mother would give in and they would stay for a few days I don’t know how to explain it because the house, the Big House, has changed so much with renovations but there used to be a screen porch on the southeast corner of the house (Chiche’s formal dining room) and there was a window there that looked from the stairs out onto that porch. Don and Gwen were there and Dick and I were talking, talking, talking, talking, talking. We had been warned on two or three occasions to quiet down and go to sleep. If Dick has told this story it will be a different version than mine because what happened was the last one to speak, when the last warning came, was me. So, I was sent upstairs away from the rest of them and as I went up the stairs, I kicked at the window to warn them that I was going to cause trouble for them. Anybody else and everybody else will tell you that I kicked in the window on purpose, but at any rate, I never bought that story. It was a warning. I kicked it to warn them but I broke it. The next thing I knew, my father came charging up the stairs, gave me a good spanking and sent me to bed. When I got into bed, I began to feel something sticky down around my right foot. I was already crying and upset, and when I checked it, I had cut my foot on the glass, which made me feel still more hurt and angry, and suffering such a terrible injustice. I was probably nine or ten when that happened, maybe eight, well it had to be after my mother had died and I was seven when she died.
I never liked school. I started at Center School. That wasn’t too bad. The family name meant something in the immediate vicinity of Trumbull Center. We had a Principal there whose name was Carson and I thought he treated me fairly. I didn’t know if he was trying to make points with my father or what. We had a court (in school) and whenever there was some kind of infringement, the culprit was dragged before the court. For some stupid reason, Mr. Carson decided that I should be the prosecutor. I was never very good at it but I made it through.
I remember one day, Dick and I used to fight all the time and he did or said something that made me annoyed and I picked up a box of matches … Now a box of matches was probably one hundred little wooden matches in a very thin wood box. Anyway, I picked up the box and threw it at him. Unfortunately my aim was good that day and I hit him in the forehead. He started to bleed. Again, I don’t remember what happened after that but I’m sure it wasn’t anything good for me.
Tomorrow I will be starting Lad’s written record of his Voyage to Venezuela.
On Sunday, I will be posting another of My Ancestors, this time, more about my mother, Marian Dunlap Irwin.
On Monday, I will begin a week of letters written in 1943, a time when all five of Grandpa’s sons are working for Uncle Sam and Lad and Marian’s wedding is real close.