Alfred Duryee Guion – The Beginning – (24) I Quit My Job Cold

Grandpa and Arla have moved to Trumbull with five children and Grandpa is still working in New York City. He continues the story:

sol-alfred-duryee-guion-at-time-of-weddingA.D. – Meanwhile, I was having serious commuting problems. Each winter the trains were frequently late, which, together with the antagonistic attitude of my immediate boss at the office, made my frequent late arrivals at work increasingly disagreeable incidents. Also, the 7 mile auto ride to and from Trumbull in all kinds of weather, the 2 1/2 to 3 hour train ride to Grand Central, followed by a crowded subway ride to the battery, and this twice a day, not only was physically exhausting but also necessitated

Arla Mary Peabody Guion - portrait

Arla Mary Peabody Guion – portrait

my leaving home early and arriving home late. There seemed only one sensible alternative – to seek employment in Bridgeport. A letter campaign from New York to Bridgeport manufacturers proving unfruitful after months of vain effort, in desperation, I resolved on drastic measures. With five little ones to feed and clothe I simply had to get a job, so burning all bridges behind me, I quit my New York job cold to wage an all-out on-the-job search to find something in Bridgeport. To make this step was one of the most difficult decisions of my life, but within two weeks I became Assistant Advertising Manager of the Bridgeport Brass Company and a few months later, Advertising Manager, which job I held until I left to start an advertising agency of my own.

Dave

Dave

DAVE – 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 Company had to plants. The one that was on E. Main St. had a great big sign on top that said BRIDGEPORT BRASS COMPANY. 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 it – – – blah, blah, blah.” It seems that the B and the R in the BRASS had failed so that 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.

A.D. – in Trumbull we became interested in local activities. A local volunteer fire company was started in which I was a charter member. To raise money to buy firefighting equipment we ran annual carnivals which were successful for many years, and in which the old Waverley electric car played a part.

Cedric Duryee Guion

Cedric Duryee Guion

CED – we still have a series of pictures of the old Waverley in the backyard. Rusty and some of his friends, my mother and my aunts, all dressed up in these beautiful period costumes from the 1800’s that were in good condition in the attic. They all dressed up in these close and we took pictures of them in the Waverley. Rusty pretended to be the groom and Aunt Dorothy was the bride. Rusty had his stovepipe hat on and all the ladies were all dressed up. Of course, the Waverley didn’t have any tires on it but it looked nice.

We kept the Waverley electric car in the barn. Dick, poor Dick, got all excited about the war effort. He thought, “Well gee, here’s this old junk and it’s pretty well shot.” The fire Department was looking for scrap metal. Dick was very patriotic and he thought he’d give them the Waverley, and at the same time, help the war effort

A.D. – I became Justice of the Peace, and Judge of the local traffic court. Later, for two terms, I served as the town’s First Selectman, during which time we celebrated the 300th anniversary of the town and also saw an old mine property converted into a public park. Arla became President of the Women’s Community Club, and was active in the Parent Teachers and other civic affairs, especially where common sense and sympathetic help was needed.

Tomorrow, I’ll be posting letters reflecting life of two relatively nerw Army Recruits. Dan, who was drafted in January, is in training in Roanoke Rapids, North Carolina, but there are rumors flying that they will be moving soon. Lad is at the Aberdeen Proving Grounds , Aberdeen, Maryland, training in mechanics for the Army.

Judy Guion

Alfred Duryee Guion – The Beginning (23) – Early Memories Of Trumbull

Trumbull House - Grandpa and kids - 1928 (2) Little Driveway view - 1928

A.D. – The Larchmont house was sold for considerably more than it cost and the Trumbull property bought for considerably less than the proceeds from the Larchmont property. We moved in one late December day. There was a furnace of sorts heating a potentially good hot water heating system. Water was pumped from a nearby brook to a large storage tank in the cellar. No lights, as a storage battery system in the barn had frozen, so we celebrated our first Christmas with candlelight under rather primitive conditions. Early the following year the local power company installed electric lights but heating and water supply still furnished problems. There were six fireplaces to supplement the furnace and firewood was plentiful. With foot valve troubles at the brook end of the water supply, water pipes freezing, frequent pump failures, it became necessary at times to draw water from the three wells on the property until some years later when city water mains furnished adequate supplies.

At one edge of the property a small cottage once served as an office for a long vanished paper mill. This cottage was lent, rent-free, to various couples in return for the man’s help in his spare time in taking care of the grounds and the woman’s aid in helping Arla with the housework. Over years we had many and sundry types of individuals in the cottage, all of which would make an interesting story in itself. Perhaps some of my children might be persuaded to record some of the highlights of these days, details which are now rather confused and hazy in retrospect.

We inherited some scraggly chickens with the place but these were soon abandoned. A small pony cart and harness and an early vintage Waverley Electric auto were also found in the barn, which later led to the acquisition of a pony for the children, a gentle little goat named Geneva, and Airedale dog, Patsy, and later, when my sister came to live with us, she brought a high-spirited bridle horse, Nador, who one day broke loose, ran down the railroad tracks, broke her leg and had to be shot.

DICK – Aunt Dorothy had a wild stallion named Nador. He threw Lad and Dan.

A.D. – The children attended a little one room school heated with a potbelly stove, in traditional country style.

?????????????????LAD – While we were in Larchmont, we went on vacation to Sandy Hook, Connecticut, Camp-A-While, it was called. In fact, that’s where we were going the day the old Franklin gave out. One of the bearings, one of the connecting rod bearings let go and Dad found a Franklin garage in Danbury. The owner of the garage was working on the car, fixing it, and his wife was talking to Mother. I don’t know how it happened – Mother may have been asking her questions about the area. Apparently, Mother liked that area of Connecticut, I don’t know. The wife told Mother about a house they owned in Trumbull. We went to look at it and before long, we bought the house.

When we first arrived in Trumbull, the house had not been occupied for a while; there was an awful lot of cleaning and fixing up to do. We had cows, chickens, pigs, but we didn’t have any horses at that time. We got the horses later. In the cottage, there was a fellow named Parks, who was living there with his wife. They helped Dad and Mom with the Big House. His wife did the cleaning and he did the outside work.

????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????BISS – I probably enjoyed the move from Larchmont because this was a nice house, with a lot of yard, lawn and stuff, lots of corners to hide in. I slept in the study for a while, upstairs, in other words, the bedroom in the apartment. The doorway went through and I think that was the original room I slept in, but I’m not sure. I know Dick and I slept in the big room that the little room came into. It was probably the first place I stayed. It had twin beds.

Trumbull House - Grandpa and kids - 1928 (2) Steps and Landings, steps and landings - @1928

                                         Front – Don Stanley, Dave, Biss, Gwen Stanley

                                    Middle – Dick, Ced, Aunt Dorothy

                          Back – Grandpa, Lad

I think the first memory I have of the Trumbull house is being sent to the store at the corner and when I came out of the store, I didn’t know how to get back home. There was a street that went straight which wasn’t the right street. I started down there but I knew that was wrong so I turned around and came back. I could be wrong but my impression was that Daniels Farm Road was a dirt road, but I’m not sure. I know that there were no streetlights or anything. Anyway, I found my way home and I remember this steep hill I had to climb all the time. That was true until I got quite older. That steep hill was the driveway… Or you could use the front steps, which had steps and landings, steps and landings, steps and landings. The front door was used quite a bit. The salesman would come to that door. So any time anyone was selling anything, they came up the front stairs.

We were all close in age. Between Lad and Dick, there was one half years between each one of us. Then there were five years between Dick and Dave. Lad was in April, Dan was in October, Ced was in June, I was in January, and Dick was in August. So there was just about a year and a half between us.

Tomorrow, I’ll continue with more memories of early Trumbull.

On Monday, I’ll begin a week of letters from 1942. Dan entered the Army in January and Lad in June. At this point, they are both in training.

Judy Guion 

Alfred Duryee Guion – The Beginning (22) – How Did We Come To Settle In Trumbull?

Landsdown Dr. house

Alfred and Arla are the proud parents of five children and are looking for a house bigger than this one and further out in the country. Purely by chance, they were introduced to Trumbull, Connecticut and a particular house, and the rest, as  they say, is history.

A.D. – And now having recorded some of the events in the first two decades of my life spent in the state of New York, let us look further east to Connecticut, where, up to the present time, two or more decades have seen the childhood, youth and adulthood of most of my children and their families.

How did we come to settle in Trumbull? Almost purely by chance. And it all happened because of a vacation spent at my brother-in-law’s summer camp in Connecticut. One day, Fred Stanley, who had married my wife’s sister Anne, told us he had rented a little shack in the woods near Sandy Hook, Connecticut, on the Housatonic River, and as he could use it only part of the time, he asked if my family would be interested in occupying it for a couple of weeks. We were, and one summer morning we loaded up the old Franklin with beds, mattresses, clothing and food, and with five children and two adults, escorted by Fred to show us the way, we started merrily on our adventure. Approaching Danbury, the most awful bangs, rattles and clanking left no doubt that something was seriously wrong with my car. Luckily, a Franklin repair service was located nearby and here we learned that a main bearing had burned out, which would take a couple of days to repair. By dint of persuasion, seeing our plight, the headman finally consented to put all hands to work to try to finish the job by nightfall. Fred was to go on to the camp with the children in his car and Arla and I would stay with the Franklin until repairs were completed. While I watched the mechanics at work, Arla spent several hours chatting with proprietor’s wife, who, she told me afterward, painted a glowing picture of an old house they owned in a small country place called Trumbull, too far away for them to live in while conducting a business in Danbury, but evidently a dream of a home. She must’ve been a good saleswoman because Arla was so enthusiastic from the description given that when vacation time was over and I had to get back to work, she persuaded Fred to drive over to the place. It was a case of love at first sight and nothing would do but I must see it too and discover what an ideal place it would be for the children. I, too, was pleased with it.

It was obviously out of the question as a practical proposition because, with the job in the lower part of New York City and a Connecticut home 7 miles from the nearest railroad station at Bridgeport, itself 55 miles from Grand Central Station, only a madman would give the matter a moment’s consideration. She reluctantly agreed and the subject was abandoned, in my mind at least. As it has often been said, it is unwise to underestimate the power of a woman. Returning home from work several weeks later I found her, one afternoon, busily sketching at a table covered with several sheets of paper, and, upon inquiry, was told that she was figuring how our present furniture would fit in the Trumbull house. Seeing how serious she was, there followed several weeks of weighing arguments pro and con, ending in the decision that, for the children’s sake, I would take the chance and try commuting between Bridgeport and New York.

?????????????????LAD – While we were in Larchmont, we went on vacation to Sandy Hook, Connecticut, Camp-A-While, it was called. In fact, that’s where we were going the day the old Franklin gave out. One of the bearings, one of the connecting rod bearings let go and Dad found a Franklin garage in Danbury. The owner of the garage was working on the car, fixing it, and his wife was talking to Mother. I don’t know how it happened – Mother may have been asking her questions about the area. Apparently, Mother liked that area of Connecticut, I don’t know. The wife told Mother about a house they owned in Trumbull. We went to look at it and before long, we bought the house.

Tomorrow starts a week of letters written in 1941. Lad is expected to return to Trumbull after several years in Venezuela and Dick has headed north to deliver a car, and himself, to his brothers, Dan and Ced, in Anchorage, Alaska.

Judy Guion

Alfred Duryee Guion – The Beginning (21) – Early Larchmont Gardens Memories

In last week’s post, Grandpa and Arla had purchased a lot in Larchmont in a new development called Larchmont Gardens and built one of the first “redi-cut” houses on the market, with the help of Arla’s father, Kemper Peabody, a construction foreman for the New York Central Railroad. In this post, I’ve included some early memories of the older children.

ADG - holding Dan, Arla Peabody Guion with Lad in her lap - 1917

 

A.D. – We had chosen our lot in Larchmont primarily to be “out in the country”, but the place was growing rapidly and became a thickly settled community. It was getting difficult to find sleeping accommodations for frequent guests, five children and their parents. Then, too, the boys were active little tykes, and like children the world over, frequently got into trouble, like rooting up vegetables in neighbor’s garden, running around his house carrying a raw carrot leaving a yellow streak on his new paint. If my neighbor had boiled over and said some harsh things I would have felt better, but he took it too good-naturedly so that I felt doubly worse. We had, from time to time, offers from those interested in buying the house for considerably more than it had cost us, and all these were contributory causes for looking for a larger place further out in the country.

?????????????????LAD – I think our neighbor had a garden in the backyard with green beans growing. Dan and I each took two or three green beans and walked around and around his house, the beans rubbing on the house, wearing them down until they were short. Then we threw them away and got some more beans. So Roger (Batchelder) was kind of upset about that.

When we moved in, there were two houses on Lansdowne Drive, ours and another one at the top of the hill. When we left in 1922, they were probably eight or ten houses.

I don’t know why but my father started calling me Lad and gradually it got to be my nickname.

APG - Lad and Dan - Larchmont, NY - June, 1918

When I started school in Larchmont, either kindergarten or first grade, I went to school in a horse-drawn sleigh in the winter. I just remember it being awfully cold. In the warmer months, Mother drove me to school. Dan may have started school there, he was only a year and a half behind me.

Once in a while, we had to walk home from school. I went across the street from the school where there was a fire hydrant on the corner. Just for the fun of it, I jumped over the hydrant. Well, for some reason or other, there was a short in the power somewhere and I got an awful shock. I’ve never forgotten it so I’m always cautious when I come to a hydrant.

Cedric Duryee GuionCED – I don’t remember much about the Larchmont house on Lansdowne Drive. I do remember the milk was delivered by a milkman with a horse and buggy. Lansdowne drive was on the heel and at the bottom was a Creek. One day the horse and wagon went down the hill faster than usual – they went bouncing down the Hill. I don’t remember if the horse went in the broke or not. I was pretty young at the time, about four maybe.

????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????BISS – The only memory I have of Larchmont is a big picture of the living. It had a fireplace and it seems to me a piano or something, but I’m not sure. My impression is of hardwood floors but I can’t remember what the furniture looked like. I was four when we left there.

 

A.D. – Before anything definite materialized along these lines, however, and epidemic of chickenpox turned the Guion ménage into an amateur hospital, and to make it even harder for Head Nurse Arla, Dad also got the bug, while it seems a laughing matter to relate, don’t let anyone tell you it’s any fun for an adult to have chickenpox.

Tomorrow I’ll continue Grandpa’s story with the events leading up to the move to Trumbull.

On Monday, I’ll begin posting letters written in 1941. Lad is coming home after two and a half tears in Venezuela and Dick is delivering himself and a car to his brothers in Alaska.

Judu Guion

 

Alfred Duryee Guion – The Beginning (20) – A Home Of Their Own

At this point, Alfred and Arla have started a family and so I will begin to include early childhood memories of the children in (attempted) chronological order.

Alfred Duryee Guion

Alfred Duryee Guion

A.D. After I had been with the Celluloid Company for about five years my boss was offered and accepted a job with a large die manufacturer recently grown to huge proportions because of the dies, which, up to the opening of hostilities, had been a German monopoly. Mr. Abbott, shortly afterwards, offered me the job of Assistant Advertising Manager of the National Aniline & Chemical Company, which I accepted. My senior, the Advertising Manager, was a sneering, sarcastic individual who evidently resented my being assigned as his assistant, which did not make for very harmonious relations between us and created a sort of atmosphere in which I found it difficult to do my best creative work. However the salary was generous and my growing family made it unwise for me to take too independent an attitude.

It seemed about time also for my increasing brood to have a home of their own. We finally decided on a lot in Larchmont Gardens, and with the money I had saved I bought one of the first “redi-cut” homes on the market and with the help of my father-in-law, (Kemper Peabody) who was construction superintendent on the New York Central, aided by one of his workmen on this free days, the house was erected. The garage to hold the Franklin car, I built myself with the aid of friends and neighbors on weekends and holidays, in sort of an old-time building bee fashion. My two nearest neighbors, the Burnham’s and Batchelder’s became lifelong friends. My brother-in-law, Fred Stanley, on one of these weekend parties, brought along a fellow artist, Rusty Heurlin, who at once won all hearts by his personality and was responsible for many happy times. He is one of Alaska’s leading artists of Arctic life. The children all loved him and he was always a welcome guest and cherished friend.

Lad @ 1923

Lad

LAD : When I was five, Dad and Mom were building a house in Larchmont. They had a contractor build it and it was on Landsdown Drive in Larchmont Gardens. I accompanied them, well, maybe three or four times when they went out to look at it. Mom told the carpenters what she wanted changed. She was quite conscious about what she wanted.

It took four days for the workers to build our garage. The neighbors put theirs up in one day. Later, a strong wind came up and blew down the neighbor’s garage but ours stood strong. Roger Batchelder was that kind of a guy.

Rusty Heurlin was introduced into the family by Fred Stanley, Anne’s husband. They were both artists, so it was through Fred Stanley, who married Anne Peabody, that he became acquainted with the Peabody clan. Later, he met Dad. We were kids, still living in Larchmont, so I was under five and the other kids were younger.

Alfred Duryee Guion

Alfred Duryee Guion

A.D. : With the exception of Dave, our youngest, who was born in the Bridgeport hospital, all our children spent their early years in Larchmont. Dan was a mischievous little imp. I recall one time when baby Cedric was taking his afternoon nap on the screened porch; Dan procured a bottle of shoe blacking and proceeded to paint Ced’s face with it. You can imagine his Aunt Dorothy’s shocked surprise when she glanced in and saw our baby son suddenly changed. On another occasion I walked into the kitchen and found Dan seated on the floor by the refrigerator busily breaking eggs on the linoleum. Lad early showed interest in mechanical things and was always quite a help in fixing things around the house.

On one summer’s day Arla and I motored to Mount Vernon to visit Mother Guion, leaving the children in care of their Aunt Anne. Ced, who was playing on the window seat in his upstairs nursery, somehow loosened the window screen and both he and it fell to the ground below, Ced landing on his head in the flower bed. Anne at once phoned us and I recall breaking all speed laws and safety regulations speeding back to Larchmont. Apparently no harm was done and the child was shortly playing as usual.

Tomorrow, I’ll begin posting a week of letters written in 1945. The family is getting excited about Dan and Paulette’s wedding in France.

Judy Guion

Alfred Duryee Guion – The Beginning (19) – Early Memories of the Children

At this point, Alfred and Arla have started a family and so I will begin to include early childhood memories of the children in (attempted) chronological order.

LAD – I was born in New York City in 1914 then I lived in Yonkers for a short time. When I was one, we

Alfred (Lad) Peabody Guion

Alfred (Lad) Peabody Guion

moved to 91 Dell Ave. in Mount Vernon, New York. By the time I was three, I was quite interested in mechanical things. I remember taking an alarm clock, taking it all apart and putting it back together, but I had one gear left over when I finished. It didn’t keep very good time. It was fast. I never could find out where that gear went.   My mother, Arla, was 19 years old when I was born and she was the oldest Peabody girl. Burton was ahead of her. Then there was Arla, Helen, Kemper, Anne, Dorothy and Lawrence. There were seven of them.   I remember I went shopping with Dad’s mother (Ella Duryee Guion, Mrs. Alfred Beck Guion), my grandmother, and I was taller than she was. She went grocery shopping and she took me with her on the trolley because I could help her. I just remember I was taller than she was and I helped her carry the groceries.   We had a woman who did the cooking and took care of the house. One of the things we had in the kitchen was a dishwasher that was hand operated. It had a big handle on it and we pushed and pulled, and I remember liking it, I enjoyed doing that.   I don’t remember much about my Dad in Mount Vernon or Larchmont. He was always busy working.

CED – In about 1918 or 1919, Dad bought a new Franklin touring car and my mother used to drive Dad

Cedric Duryee Guion

Cedric Duryee Guion

down to the station and he’d go in to New York City where he worked. Then she’d come back home. She’d go back and get him later. One day, she backed up to turn around after the train had pulled out, and ran up on a hydrant. The wheels of the Franklin were about 20 or 21 inches. She got out of the car and there it sat upon the hydrant, all out of shape. She stood there and looked at it, she said everything was skewed, the doors, the frame…. And that was a wooden frame of course. She had to get help to get it off there. We moved up to Trumbull in that car. I guess Dad decided to sell it shortly after we moved to Trumbull.

Lad @ 1923

Lad

LAD – Every year Dad had a couple of weeks of vacation and he would take us up to Sandy Hook, Connecticut on Lake Zoar and we would stay in a cabin. I don’t remember much about it but probably Dan, Ced and I were playing out in the yard in the area around the cabin. There was a nice place where branches were above us, and below them, it was pretty open. We were crawling around in there and later that day, I started to itch. For three or four days I was swollen pretty badly with poison ivy. I’ve had problems ever since. Many summers, I got poison ivy. The first summer out here in California, working for the Frouge Construction Company, I was driving a tractor to clear some land. I didn’t realize that it was poison ivy I was driving through, and tearing up. It didn’t affect me too much, just my arms and hands. By that time, I knew how to take care of it anyway.   On some summer vacations, Dad would take us to a place called Foster’s Rond, in Massachusetts, which either belonged to Rusty Heurlin’s family or they had an interest in it. Rusty took us there the first time and we went a couple of times after that. That’s where Dan and I found out that a canoe isn’t very stable. We went out on Foster’s Rond in the canoe and I don’t remember what we were doing, but one of us stood up and stepped a little to the side and it tipped right over. It was a nice warm pond and we didn’t have any problems.

Alfred Duryee Guion

Alfred Duryee Guion

A.D. – Only one incident during this time caused me alarm. With the arrival of children I felt it wise to take additional life insurance but was turned down by the examining doctor because of a “heart murmur”. I applied at a different company and was given a rated-up policy. The incident caused me considerable concern under the circumstances and I went to our old family doctor to learn how serious the condition was. He checked and told me he found nothing to worry about, and then said something that I have repeated to others several times since to the effect that it is a good thing when a young person learns that his physical condition necessitates his being careful in following the ancient Greek motto of “moderation in all things” because he is apt to live much longer than the person who boasts: “I’m perfectly healthy, never had a sick day in my life. I can do anything.” For that is the person whose excesses frequently lead him to overdo with  disastrous results. A few years later I applied again for life insurance and because of my previous ejection was given an extra careful examination. This time things were entirely normal. Even the company giving me the rated up policy found no trace of a heart murmur and canceled the overcharge premium.   Things had not been going so well financially with the Century Company, and because of my combined advertising experience and college training, I secured a better paying job in sales promotion work with the Celluloid Company under a fine man as my boss. I was with this concern for about five years. One event stands out in my memory connected this time. The First World War was being fought to “make the world safe for democracy” in the words of President Woodrow Wilson.    Employees of the Celluloid Company had been issued nightsticks and been trained in their use if emergencies arose. The size of my family had increased and the number of babies I had to support gave me a low rating on the draft call.

A.D. Guion's Registration Card - WWI

A.D. Guion’s Draft Registration Card

The war finally drew to a close and then one day that those who did not live through it, can never appreciate, there occurred what came to be known as the” false armistice”. Word came from overseas that the war was over. The whole country went unrestrained and completely mad. Men, women and children of all ages and degrees completely forgot themselves in a wild disregard of convention and completely lost themselves in the fervor of the moment. With bells of all churches wildly ringing, auto horns blowing, sirens on fire trucks screeching, steam ships in the harbor sounding off and people wildly shouting in the streets, everyone for the moment went berserk. I went down the company elevator to the street and as soon as I stepped outside the door some man I had never seen before or since grabbed my hand and shook it heartily. Over in Washington Square a few steps away was a statue of Garibaldi. In front of it a shabbily dressed Italian with his arms raised in the air and tears streaming down his cheeks, was making an impassioned speech to Garibaldi in Italian. No one was paying the slightest bit of attention to him – just he and Garibaldi having a heart to heart talk.

Tomorrow, I’ll be posting the story of their first home in Larchmont Gardens. This will include some memories of Lad.

Next week, I’ll be posting letters written in 1945, as the entire family gets excited about the upcoming wedding of Dan and Paulette in France.

Judy Guion

Alfred Duryee Guion – The Beginning (18) – His Wedding And Honeymoon

Alfred Duryee Guion

Alfred Duryee Guion

Arla Mary Peabody

Arla Mary Peabody

Grandpa feels pretty secure about the way his life is headed and decided it’s time to take the next step  –  marriage and a family.

With the three years college ordeal behind me and the girl of my choice looking upon me with favor the future looked promising. Two main objects were to be achieved. I now had a promising job with a respectable company – St. Nicholas Magazine – and a definite incentive for making good. My job was to solicit advertising for this leading high-grade children’s magazine. It seemed a natural that children in better high-class homes and pedigreed pets belonged together, so I proposed starting a “Pet Department” in the magazine. The idea was approved and I was made “Manager”.

Of course nothing but the best in a diamond engagement ring was good enough for my girl, so on June 1st, seated side-by-side alone on the lower deck of an excursion boat then running to and from New York City I slipped the ring on her finger. It apparently came as no surprise and was evidently quite acceptable. For many years, when circumstances permitted, we celebrated June 1st by taking a boat ride of some sort.

Certificate of Marriage Alfred Duryee Guion Arla Mary Peabody

Certificate of Marriage
Alfred Duryee Guion
Arla Mary Peabody

On March 27, 1913, we were married at quite a large wedding at the Church of the Ascension in Mount Vernon, where we had many friends. Two ministers tied the knot- one newly called to the church was a famous author of boys books named Cyrus Townsend Brady  (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Cyrus_Townsend_Brady ), and the other its former Rector who had been superseded by Dr. Brady and under whose guidance we had grown up in the church, named Rev. Robert P. Kreitler.

Arla Peabody Guion on the Island in New Hampshire

         Arla Peabody Guion on her                                      honeymoon

We chose Bermuda for our honeymoon and there we spent a delightful two weeks, marred only by an accident Arla had on a bicycle caused by the fact that she was not familiar with the operation of the coaster brake with which the rental machine was equipped so she did not know how to slow speed at the end of a long downhill grade and chose crashing into a stone wall by the roadside in preference to smashing into a horse-drawn vehicle which was blocking the road. Outside of skinned hands when she was thrown over the handlebars onto the rough stone and a few bruises, no damage resulted, but the bike was pretty well smashed.

James McCreery and Company - 1913

James McCreery and Company – 1913

Gimbel Brothers - 1913

Gimbel Brothers – 1913

Back home again, we spent the first few days fixing up an apartment I had rented in the Bronx for my bride. With my savings we bought some substantial dining and living room “Craftsman” furniture, some of which is still in use some 47 years later, and there we lived for about a year, little Lad having arrived in the meantime to add to our happiness.

Arla Mary Peabody holding Alfred Peabody Guion (my father)

Arla Mary Peabody holding Alfred Peabody Guion
(my father)

Both Arla and my mother were very fond of each other, and both being easy to live with, we decided it was better for the new baby to get out of the big city so we moved back with my mother to Dell Avenue. Little Daniel soon joined the clan for several years things ran along uneventfully.

Tomorrow, I’ll begin posting letters written in 1942. Grandpa has only Dick and Dave at home with him. Ced is still in Alaska and both Dan and Lad have joined Uncle Sam’s Army. They are both in training, Dan in Roanoke Rapids, North Carolina and Lad in Aberdeen, Maryland.

Judy Guion

Alfred Duryee Guion – The Beginning (17) – The Nativity Play

Alfred Duryee Guion

A short time later I joined the Century Publishing Company, on the advertising staff of St. Nicholas Magazine. Up to this time I had thought that someday when the right girl came along I should probably get married but the during these years I had never really fallen in love, perhaps because my standards of what an ideal wife should be were pretty high and I had not met anyone yet to seriously challenge that standard, although the young Peabody girl was frequently in my thoughts.

Arla Peabody as The Virgin Mary

Arla Peabody as The Virgin Mary

Then one Christmas season the church or Sunday school staged a religious play with a Nativity scene and Arla Peabody was chosen to play the part of the Virgin Mary. She wore a soft white scarf over her head and carried a doll for the infant Christ. That night as I watched her holding the child with tender contentment and a placid dreamy look in her soft brown eyes, something inside me suddenly exploded. I had read about “love at first sight”, but this wasn’t first sight. Here was a girl I had known and seen for several years, but apparently I had not seen her at all. This couldn’t be the same girl! Had I been blind? Here was the most enchanting person anywhere in the world. I didn’t know what had happened to me. I was in a daze. The room was crowded with people I knew but I didn’t see anyone else. I didn’t speak to anyone else. I didn’t dare speak to her: she was too far above me. Somehow, I found my hat and groped my way out the door and on my way home. It may have been cold outside. I didn’t know. All I could think of on my way home was how I could be worthy of even speaking to her. One moment I would be hugging myself with the thought that I knew her and perhaps she would notice me, the next moment I was in the depths of despair knowing that everyone who had ever seen her must have appreciated what I had been too blind to see and that I would stand a poor chance when such a wonderful girl had so many potential husbands to choose from. I prayed to God for help in making her love me. Never in my life, or since, have I felt so overwhelmed as I did then. I knew how St. Paul had felt on the road to Damascus when a bright light transformed him. In a word, quite suddenly, I was head over heels in love with Arla Peabody. She didn’t know it and I was afraid to tell her because she might not reciprocate and then life would just be a blank. The thing to do was to woo her with every wile I could command, fearful all the while that someone else would win her heart first. It was a far from happy time for me and I am afraid I must have seemed a bit queer to all who knew me.

I got up nerve a few weeks later to ask my mother, timidly, what she thought of her and was immensely gratified when she answered favorably. I suppose like lovers the world over, before and since, things followed a regular pattern but it was a long time before I could believe anyone since the world began could love a girl as I loved her, simply because there never had been anyone as perfect as she. I suppose she knew how I felt long before I told her. I used to make up all kinds of excuses to visit her home, using her brothers and sisters who were all likable youngsters, as reasons, on matters concerning church, choir, Sunday school, etc. The more I saw her in her home and noticed the tactful and gentle way in which she handled her little brothers and sisters, the willing help she gave her mother around the house, the dependence and trust her mother showed her, all convinced me, aside from viewing her with a lover’s eye, that she would be an ideal wife and mother, and in this, as was afterwards proven, I was right.

Some nights even when I knew her whole family would be in bed, I would walk my dog Spot the long distance over to her house just so I could look at the place where she lived. There was only one girl I would ever want as long as I lived. I was a “one girl man” and would remain so all of my days.

Tomorrow, Grandpa tells us about their wedding and honeymoon in Bermuda. On Monday, I’ll begin posting letters written in  1942. Dan and Lad have both joined the Army, Ced is still in Alaska and Dick, Dave and Grandpa are keeping the home fires burning.

Why not share this “Slice of Life” with a friend or two? I’m sure you know someone who might be interested in the ordinary family life during the early war years.

Judy Guion

Alfred Duryee Guion – The Beginning (16) – A Job Offer For A Roosevelt

My Grandpa has been writing of his early years in the job market and his attempts to get ahead. Bidding against Mrs. Vanderbilt at an auction to gain a set of Sheraton chairs culminated in being fired from his job in the office of Archer Huntington, nephew of Collis Huntington, the millionaire. That episode reminded him of another story.

Alfred Duryee Guion

Alfred Duryee Guion

This leads me to another episode which happened a few years later during my senior year at  N.Y.U., and which, if followed through, might have made a considerable difference in my life – one of those “opportunity knocks once” things.

My college instructor in accounting, Mr. Wildman, I personally loved very much. One evening he asked me to stay after class and then told me a friend of his, Private Secretary to John D Rockefeller Jr., had asked him to recommend someone for the job of Private Secretary to John D. Sr., and he, Wildman, had thought of me and asked if I might be interested. Here was a glamorous opportunity worth looking into, so I told him I’d like to learn more about it.

J.D. Jr.’s secretary was a quite pleasant middle-aged gentleman who invited me to lunch and in a private room. He told me he had been given the responsibility of selecting a man for the job and anyone Mr. Wildman recommended was O.K. with him; that there seemed no reason why I could not be the one if I wanted the job. He felt it only fair to me, however, to outline both the good and the bad features before I gave him a final decision. He pointed out that the old man had retired from active business and consequently I would not have the opportunity that under other circumstances would bring me into contact with prominent business personages. If, he said, Mr. Rockefeller took a personal liking to you, you need never worry about your future for the rest of your life. On the other hand, no matter how satisfactory your work might be, if you did not click with him personally you  might as well seek another job. The old man spent four months a year in Cleveland, four in Lakewood, New Jersey, and four in New York City. You would be at his beck and call night and day in each of these places. There would be little opportunity for visits home and of course, while he had his personal servants, as far as your liberty, you would practically be a high-class valet. I could name any salary I chose within reason. The amount was of little concern. I need not decide at once. It was best to think it over, seek advice from others and let him know within a reasonable time what my decision was. The job was mine if I wanted it. What a chance in a lifetime!

I was elated, but two disturbing thoughts gave me pause. I had recently had an unfortunate experience with a millionaire and was a bit wary of the breed. Furthermore, I had just fallen in love with “the most wonderful girl in the world”, and the prospect of not seeing her except at long intervals was an almost unthinkable barrier. The “high-class valet” prospect and surrendering my chance of wooing my lady love combined to make me decide “no”. I told him while I deeply appreciated the honor of even being considered for the job, I felt I would not be content in such a position. Mr. R. Sr. lived for many years more and I have often wondered what course my life would have taken if I had said “Yes”. On the whole, I have no regrets.

A short time later I joined the Century Publishing Company, on the advertising staff of St. Nicholas Magazine. Up to this time I had thought that someday when the right girl came along I should probably get married but the during these years I had never really fallen in love, perhaps because my standards of what an ideal wife should be were pretty high and I had not met anyone yet to seriously challenge that standard, although the young Peabody girl was frequently in my thoughts.

I’ll be posting more of Grandpa’s story and when he knew that Arla Peabody was “The One” next weekend.

Tomorrow, we travel back in time to 1941 when Lad is working for the Socony-Vacuum Oil Company in Venezuela but is planning on coming home in May. Dan and Ced are in Anchorage, Alaska, awaiting the delivery of a car by their younger brother, Dick, who will be driving it from Trumbull to Seattle and then shipping the car, and himself, north. Grandpas and Dave will remain in Trumbull for the time being.

Judy Guion

 

Alfred Duryee Guion – The Beginning (15) The Auction

This is one of Grandpa’s stories that I enjoyed the most when I read it for the first time. What a “Slice of Life”.

Also about this time I left the Smelting Company and took another stenographic job at a higher salary with the estate of Collis P. Huntington, one of the countries great railroad builders. His adopted son, Archer M. Huntington, also a millionaire, used the office for his headquarters. One day I was called into the Manager’s private office and told that Archer M. wanted me to go down that morning to the American Art Gallery’s auction sale and purchase, in my own name a set of fine Sheraton chairs which were to be put up for sale, and for which purpose he gave me $1000 in cash. I had never had as much money as this in my possession nor indeed had I ever attended so glamorous an auction sale and felt the responsibility deeply. I asked the Office Manager what I should do if the bidding should go higher put all he would say was: “You are to buy the furniture.” I was still troubled in mind, and as Mr. Archer had just come in, I decided in spite of the fact he was a very pompous individual not in the habit of discussing his business with clerks and in fact treating me and all my fellow employees as dirt beneath his feet, that I would do the unheard-of thing and approach him direct. I told him I had been given $1000 to buy the chairs and asked what I should do if I had to bid higher, a fatal error. He glared at me and angrily replied, “Buy the furniture!” And that was that.

On the way down to the auction Gallery I decided to play it cagily, and, as he didn’t want his name to appear in the transaction, I decided to let the low bidders and dealers, if there were any (there were) , start it and when they had dropped out come in when there would be less competition.

When the set was put up for bid I followed this plan and joined in when it reached about $500. Soon just a lady and myself were the sole bidders and every time one of us raised the amount by fifty dollars, the other would immediately counter with another fifty. We seesawed back and forth until, with a firm voice and nonchalant air (I hoped) but with a dry mouth and butterflies in my stomach, I boldly said “One thousand dollars.” and she promptly said “One thousand, fifty.” I was over my head already and might as well sink as swim so I came right back with “Eleven hundred dollars.” She glared at me, threw up her hands and quit. “Sold” said the auctioneer, “Name please.” After the sale was over I went up to the desk, laid down my thousand dollars in bills and told the cashier I’d send the balance later, which was all right with him. As instructed, I gave him Mr. Huntington’s Fifth Avenue address where the chairs were to be delivered and returned to the office. When I reported the price I had had to bid the office manager seemed not a bit concerned and I went back to my routine office work.

The following Saturday in my pay envelope was an additional two weeks salary “in advance” accompanied with a little note reading “Mr. Huntington thinks you would do better elsewhere.” I asked the Manager the reason for my dismissal, pointing out that I had never before been fired from a job and while I didn’t doubt I could find other employment, it would help me if I knew what I had done wrong in this case to guard against making the same mistake again. “Mr. Huntington thinks you would do better elsewhere.” was the only answer I could get and to this day I don’t know why I was fired.

The New York Times, on the following day under “Auction News”, contained an item which read: “Spirited bidding on a set of Sheraton furniture took place between Mr. A.D. Guion and Mrs. Vanderbilt.”

This story reminds Grandpa of another brush with the elite of New York City and you can read about that tomorrow.

On Monday, I’ll be posting letters from 1941. Lad is still in Venezuela but is expecting to come home in May. Dick is getting ready to drive from Trumbull to Seattle and then deliver the car, and himself, to Anchorage, Alaska. He plans on getting a job and staying there with Dan and Ced. Dave and Grandpa will soon be  all that’s left in Trumbull.

Judy Guion