Early Years – Memories of Alfred Peabody Guion (5) – The Helen – 1922-1938

After my Uncle Dan (Daniel Beck Guion) passed away in 1997, I realized that first-hand accounts of this particular “Slice of Life” would only continue to diminish over time. I needed to record the memories of my Aunt Biss and her brothers and share them with the family. This culminated in the idea of a Blog so that I could share these memories with anyone who would be interested in the personal histories of some members of The Greatest Generation.

Over a period of several years, whenever possible, I recorded the memories of my Dad and his siblings. 

I am beginning with the Memories of my Father, Alfred Peabody Guion, the oldest, and will continue each weekend with his Memories. Then I will share the Memories of his siblings, oldest to youngest.

Dick, Dan, Ced, Lad and Biss with Mack c. 1924

           Dick, Dan, Ced, Lad and Biss with Mack c. 1924

I think I was about nine when we got The Helen.  We got her in the mid-20’s. The thing I remember most about The Helen was having to caulk it, every seam.  It was a would boat and a lot of caulking had come out.  It had been up on land for quite a while.  So we had to caulk it and then seal it with something, I don’t remember now.  We kept her on the Housatonic River at a place called French’s Marine or something like that.  Who is right near the Boston Post Road Bridge.  We capture there all the time we had her.  Every year we Hall her out after the thought each spring, and I’d caulk the thing from underneath.  I got pretty good at it.  If you put too much in, it would push the boards apart but it had to be enough to keep the boat from leaking.  I don’t remember how many years, but I think we had her for about five or six years.

A year or two after we got The Helen, Dad had the engine taken out of it and he put in a Ford engine, model T And.  That was a lot heavier than the one cylinder that we had in the boat, it wrote down closer to the water at the stern of the boat.  It is still referred to as a fan tail.  So the back sloped up and the faster we went, the lower in the water it got.  With that Ford engine, we could run the boat fast enough so that the stern would be below water.  You had to be careful not to open the throttle too much.  The back of the boat was decked over in the front was decked over with just an open cockpit in the middle.  But it was big enough so we could sleep for in there.

The first major trip Dad wanted to take (in The Helen) was up the Connecticut River.  We started out and someplace off of New Haven one of the ropes fell off the bow and wound around the propeller.  We were not feeling too well anyway, it was rough weather.  We found out afterwards that there had been warnings and we weren’t even supposed to be out there.  I think Dan and I were feeling pretty seasick, but we had to do something.  We couldn’t do anything with a rope wrapped around the propeller, it wouldn’t go.  So I dove down in the water and my seasickness disappeared almost immediately.  So that’s what happened any time I got sick after that, I’d always dive into the water and get rid of it.  It worked, it worked for me anyway.  We finally got up to Essex, up to the River, and it was getting late, so we pulled into a bay, had supper and we went to bed.  Mother didn’t come with us, maybe she did I don’t remember.  In any case, she wasn’t there when we were sleeping that night.  I don’t remember who it was, maybe me or Dan or someone got out of the bunk and stepped into water.  So we started investigating and there was a lot of water in the boat and the boat was way down in the water.  So we bailed and pumped and got the water out.  We found out the leak was in the packing gland on the propeller shaft.  I don’t know if we could do anything about it at the time or not, but I do know Dad had to go to work.  He left us and he was going to get some part for the boat, I don’t remember what part it was, but it took a week to get the part before we solved the problem.  I don’t think we went any further up the river, we just came home again.

Tomorrow, more of the Early Years with Memories of Alfred Peabody Guion.

Judy Guion


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