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.
In July of 2004, I sat down with my Uncle Dave and recorded his memories. With the other siblings, the memories were recorded in a somewhat chronological order, but with Dave, after a few early memories, he went right to his Senior year in high school when he made the decision to enlist in the Army. The conversation continued through his service, from Basic Training and his posts in Okinawa and the Philippines until he came home after World War II was over. I then led him back with questions about his childhood. I will present his memories as they were recorded.
David Peabody Guion in 1940
My mother and father used to enjoy having parties and when they got to know Rusty, he was always welcome at their parties because he was a lot of fun. Invariably, now this was when I was very small, he would take me into the other room and show me a nickel. Now, a nickel in those days was probably like two dollars today. He’d say, “Now, if you go into the other room and say what I tell you to say, I’ll give you this nickel.” Then he’d tell me what to say and I’d walk into the room and stand in the middle of all the crowd, and I’d say, “Daddy’s car is a piece of junk!” And I get my nickel – and daddy’s car was a piece of junk.
We had a Dodge Coupe, it had for a heater a little opening that had a cover on it. When you removed the cover, the heat from the exhaust pipe would come up and heat you – yeah, some heat! It had a space, probably a foot wide, that ran behind the front seat, and whenever we went someplace, that was my spot. Of course, today, you would get thrown in jail, not just arrested, but thrown in jail, for having a kid riding up there, with no seatbelt on.
Later on, when my kids were young, when we went to the Island, I would put a piece of plywood on the back seat and they would be there. I used to get going pretty fast, you know, up near Lebanon, New Hampshire, where nobody was around. I used to get up to about 80 miles an hour with the kids in the back. Of course, I was only thinking about the fact that there were no cars around. It never occurred to me that I might hit a deer or a moose.
Where did I learned to drive? I guess I never did. I don’t remember. I don’t think it was in the back lot. I remember a game the older boys used to play. Someone would stand on the running board (if you don’t know what a running board is, look it up) and stick their bottom out. There had to be a little bit of teamwork between the driver and the person on the running board, and they would try to see how close they could come to a tree without getting their bottom ripped off. That’s all I remember about it.
Here’s a story and that I’ll bet nobody else has told. You have to realize that back in those days, only the lowest of the low would swear or cuss or use bad words of any sort so what would have been shocking in those days is absolutely nothing today. My father was Advertising Manager of the Brass Company and Bridgeport Brass had to plants. The one that was on East Main Street had a great big sign on top that said BRIDGEPORT BRASS COMPLANY. I don’t know how it fell under Dad’s responsibility, but at any rate, he got a frantic call one night. “You’ve got to come down to the plant. We’ve got a big problem. People are calling in – – – blah, blah, blah. It seems that the B and the R in the BRASS had failed so what they had was a big sign that said BRIDGEPORT ASS COMPANY. This was an incredible thing. Dad managed to square it away by making a few phone calls to the electricians and they quickly found the problem and fixed it.
I remember Rusty picked on Dick a lot. I don’t know why. I guess Dick was at the age, fifteen, sixteen, seventeen, and Rusty didn’t have much patience. Rusty was a man’s man. He wasn’t too much for kids. I just remember he picked on Dick a lot which should have been very joyful in my life, but I don’t remember. I just remember feeling sorry for Dick.
Tomorrow, the conclusion of the Early Years with the Memories of David Peabody Guion.