The Beginning (44) – Childhood Memories of Trumbull – More Shenanigans


Planting a garden in the back yard – back row: Dorothy Peabody (Arla’s youngest sister), Biss, Lad, Dan, Ced, Dick and Grandpa. Front row: Donald Stanley and Dave, circa 1928.

CED – A bunch of us would walk over to Pinewood Lake, you know, it was all forested pine trees.  We would play in the tops of those trees.  We would go from one tree to the next.

DICK – One time, Lad, myself, Dan, Gib (Arnold Gibson) and Nellie Sperling (Nelson Sperling) went to Pinewood Country Club.  They had planted lots of pine trees to hold the soil.  We climbed a tree and moved from tree to tree.  Every once in a while you would hear a crack, thump, “ugh”, as someone fell out of his tree.

One time, me and a couple of my delinquent friends did some malicious mischief (at Center School).  We broke some windows.  Charlie Hall ran across the stage with a stick and broke all the stage lights … Pop … Pop … Pop … Pop.

LAD – I do remember I used to ride one of the horses we had frequently, possibly every day or two, to go up to a house on the top of the second hill beyond Middlebrook School.  There was a girl living there that I really liked.  In fact, Bill Hennigan and I liked this girl very much.  Ruth Moy was her name.  I used to go up there on a horse and invariably, Mother would call and say, “Send Alfred home, it’s time for supper.”

CED – in Trumbull, I went to the old Don Serene’s house, which was a school.  It had two rooms with a sliding door between them.  The first, second and third grades were in one room, the fourth, fifth and sixth grades were in the other.  The teachers were two sisters, one in each room.  Ms. Hawkins taught in the second building.  That was the building that was moved.  They put a basement under it and made some minor changes and made a firehouse out of it.  We had outhouses outside – one for the boys and one for the girls.  We had a water cooler, a 10-gallon jug with a push button on the bottom, no ice, and a wood stove.  Both buildings had a wood stove – we kids used to get the wood for it.

When they opened Center School, I was in the fourth grade.  It had four rooms upstairs and four rooms downstairs.  It was shaped like a square.

BISS – At Center School I fell in love with the Principal, very much and I couldn’t wait for the eighth grade to come so I could be with her.  She retired to get married, either one or two years before that.  I was in the sixth or seventh grade when she retired to get married.  I was always mad at her, because I wasn’t able to have her as a teacher.

LAD – We started high school in Congress High on Congress Avenue (in Bridgeport).  We went there for two years maybe, then they closed the school and made it into a Junior High.  All of the high school kids moved across the street to Central High.  Years later, some of the Trumbull kids went to Harding High, some to Central High and some went to Bassick High School.

BISS – When I was twelve or thirteen, Mother sent me to Kurtz’s Store to get some groceries. We had always charged it, so when I got to the counter I said, “Put it on our charge.”  He said, “Go home and tell your mother and your father that we can no longer carry them on the charge.  They will have to pay cash from now on.”  I felt like I wanted the earth to open up and swallow me.  I know it took Dad from then until 1954 before he could get out of debt and put a gravestone at Mother’s Grave.  (Since Biss was born in January 1919, this would have been in 1931 or 1932.  Her mother, Arla Mary (Peabody) Guion, passed away June 29, 1933.  She had been severely sick for quite a while before that.)

For the rest of the week I will be posting more Childhood Memories of Trumbull.

Judy Guion


The Brginning (33) – Childhood Memories of Trumbull – Memories From Dave, Biss and Lad

At this point Grandpa’s “Reminiscences of Alfred D Guion” has ended  and the rest of this story will be the memories of the children as they were growing up.

    Daniel (Dan), David (Dave), Alfred (Lad), Richard (Dick), Cedric (Ced)                     and Elizabeth (Biss) on the porch in Trumbull, CT

DAVE: Did any of my siblings mention that we used to grow a little bit of mint across the front of the barn?  My Dad really liked rhubarb and we grew a rhubarb patch.

BISS: At one point, my brothers … evidently someone had cut down some rhubarb and when Dad got home, he was angry.  He asked, “Who did this?” and they all said, “Biss did it.”  I didn’t, but I got spanked for it anyway.

In grammar school, I was taking tap dancing lessons and Dad would always forget to give me the money.  I would have to go in and wake him up before I went to school.  He would say, “The money is in my pants pocket.”  And I would open his wallet and there would be all this money, so instead of taking one dollar, I would take two.  I guess this went on for about three weeks.  One morning Dad said, “Sister, do you take any more money out of my wallet than the dollar?”  I said, “Oh no, not me.”  Then I realized that he knew right down to the penny, how much he had, so I stopped taking it.  I am sure he knew that I was taking it.

A train went through town.  There were freight trains that would stop and deliver stuff to Kurtz’s Store.  Then there was the Toonerville Trolley, which was a passenger train that went once in the morning to Bridgeport (Connecticut) and came back once in the evening.  Dad used to take the train to work and then come back on it.

When we played, we would have water fights.  We would also climb up on the roof and then we’d jump off the edge to get down, which I did.  I would go to bed and then climb out the window and go meet the guys.

One day, Lad had a pump and he put it over a soda bottle, to pump air into the soda bottle to see what would happen.  Naturally, the thing exploded and it cut his artery.  Of course Biss had been playing doctor or nurse or something and had taken all the gauze and stuff so there was nothing around for the emergency, so I was in trouble again.  I can remember the blood spurting out, you know, through the thing and they wanted to bandage it to keep the blood in a little bit, but there weren’t any bandages left.

LAD: We didn’t have much in the way of toys, as I recall.  Earlier, when we had the animals, we had to go scare the chickens off their nests and get the eggs.  Bill Parks got the milk for us, although I did try milking once, to see what it was like.  He also slaughtered the pigs.  I don’t remember what we did with them – we probably had some of the meat.  Whether Dad sold it or gave it away or whatever happened, I don’t remember.  We didn’t have the animals for long.  Dad and Mom were not farmers; they were both city people, although we did have a garden in Larchmont and in Trumbull.  Dad took care of it and then the kids did it, that didn’t last very long, I guess.

Tomorrow, I’ll continue the description of the area around San Jose written by John Jackson Lewis.

On Sunday, the first part of a two-part tribute to My Ancestors, Lad and Marian Guion.

Judy Guion

The Beginning (32) – Childhood Memories of Trumbull – Three Fires

At this point Grandpa’s “Reminiscences of Alfred D Guion” has ended  and the rest of this story will be the memories of the children as they were growing up.

               Elizabeth – (Biss)

    Richard (Dick) Peabody Guion

BISS: Dick and I were cleaning up the playroom which was the living room in the little apartment.  At that time there was no kitchen in that part of the house, and that was our playroom.  We used to put chairs in a line and that would be our train.  We had a lot of fun in there, too.  Anyway, Dick and I decided it would please Mother and we would clean up the room.  We had a wooden toy box where we put all our toys.  There was so much paper and stuff around that we decided to take the toys out and put the papers in there, like a wastepaper basket, and we would burn them.  What else do you do with paper?  So we did, and of course, since the toy box was right under the window, the curtains caught fire.  Dick and I got scared and ran into the kitchen, got quart bottles and filled them with water.  I’d run in and pour it on the fire and Dick would do the same thing.  We kept running back and forth, but the fire kept getting bigger.  Mrs. Parks, the housekeeper, happened to come in there and she put out the fire.

I think the second fire happened in the winter and we had one of those oil burners with holes on top to heat the bathroom.  Dick and I were sitting on the radiator in the back bathroom, the bathroom in Dave and Ellie’s apartment, and it was so cold there was frost on the window.  We’d take one of the pieces of our Erector Set, put it in a hole to heat it up and touch the frost on the window.  At one point, I leaned over a little too far, fell down on top of the oil burner and tipped it over.  I had always been taught that if there’s a fire you run out and close the door … which I did.  Dick was still on the radiator in back of the fire, and then the fire started up the curtains.  I screamed for Mother and evidently she heard the panic in my voice and she responded immediately.  As soon as she got upstairs and realized what was happening, she yelled for Lad to bring the fire extinguisher.  As she got to the top of the stairs and started walking towards the bathroom, the door opened and Dick walked out.  I put my hands on my hips and said, “How did you get out of there?”  As if he had a lot of nerve to get out by himself.  He explained that he had crawled between the bathtub and the fire and get out that way and opened the door.  Mother had on a very flimsy gown and that caught on fire and I remember she put it out.  Mother then took the rug from the hallway and threw it on the fire and put the fire out but the door was scorched where the flames had licked at it.

      Elizabeth (Biss) Westlin Guion

(When Biss was in high school) Lad was living in the attic and he used an oil stove for heat.  He lit the stove and then came downstairs to light the oil stove in the kitchen.  I was sitting out in the backyard with my boyfriend.  Lad noticed that the lights began to flicker, go up and down, so he dashed upstairs and when he opened the attic door, all he could see was an orange glow.  He knew the place was on fire so he ran down and called the fire department.  I heard the siren and said to Vinny, “Let’s go to the fire.”  As we drove down the little driveway, I could see a haze of smoke between Laufer’s house (across the street) and ours, sort of drifting across, but I didn’t think too much about it.  We parked in a driveway near the firehouse so no matter which way the truck went, we could follow it.  It turned right onto White Plains Road and I said, “If that fire truck turns at Kurtz’s Corner, then it’s my house.”  So, by the time we got to Kurtz’s Corner, the fire truck was going up the driveway.  I said, “I knew it, I knew it.”  When we got to the house, I dashed inside and got Vinny’s picture, mother’s picture and a clock that Vinny had given me.  I had everything I needed, so the rest of the house could burn down.  I didn’t care.  Now Dad was giving a talk at the Algonquin Club so I decided I better call Dad and let him know that he better not come home tonight because he might not have a house to come home to!  I called the operator and she said, “He’s giving a talk right now.  Is it important?”  I said, “Yeah, I think so.”  Dad came to the phone and said, “What did you call me for.  I was in the middle of a talk.  It better be important.”  I said, “I just wanted to tell you that the house is on fire and you’d better stay in a hotel down there tonight.”  You know, perfectly calm, as if there was nothing to it.  Of course, within twenty minutes Dad came up the driveway.  In the meantime, Ethel Bushey had come and she asked me if I had gotten my clothes.  “Clothes?”  I asked.  “No, what for?”  She said, “At least you will have something to wear.  So she made me go upstairs and get my clothes. I put them on the lawn.  After the fire was out I was furious that I had to put them all back.  I was furious because I didn’t give a hoot about my clothes.  I had what I needed.  There was a lot of water damage but the only part that burned was up in the attic itself.  If it had started in the cellar, I’m sure it would have gone up fast because it was such an old, dry house.

Tomorrow, more Childhood Memories of the children in Trumbull.

Judy Guion

The Beginning (31) – Childhood Memoreis of Trumbull – Biss and Dick

At this point Grandpa’s “Reminiscences of Alfred D Guion” has ended  and the rest of this story will be the memories of the children as they were growing up.

             Elizabeth Westlin Guion (Biss)


           Richard Peabody Guion (Dick)

BISS: My favorite game was Caddy.  You got a stick and put a point on either end.  You had a paddle and you hit the pointed end and it made the small stick go up and then you hit it with the paddle.  I don’t remember where it was supposed to go or anything.  I think it was how far you could hit it but I don’t remember what the exact rules were.  My brothers probably could remember, but I can’t, but I enjoyed that Caddy a lot.

DICK: I spent most of my time with Dad.  He was full of information and enthusiasm.  He’d say, “Want to take a walk?  I want to show you something.”  After walking a while, he’d say, “Sh-h-h-h, now lie down and crawl forward.’  And we’d see Fox cubs.  There was always interesting things in the field in back of the house.

I went to White Plains School for one year.  I started at Center School in second grade.  In eighth grade, I went to Edison School.  I went to Whittier Junior High School for a year, and then went to Bassick High School in Bridgeport.

Nelson Sperling tied a rope to a big Hickory Nut tree on the side driveway, near the steps.  We would take off from the steps, swing out in a big circle and come back to land.  The neighborhood kids couldn’t do it so well.

One time I rode our pony, Gracie, down the railroad tracks.  Heading back to the barn, I lost my footing and one leg got caught, held me as she galloped home.  I can still hear Mother saying, “Whoa, whoa!”

We also had a little cart that was pulled by a goat.

At Christmas time, we’d drive down Noble Avenue and look at the Christmas decorations.

We had a circus horse named Goldie, and while she was cropping grass, I would lie down on her back.  When I’d had enough I’d slide off her back.  I didn’t realize that it might annoy her.  The last time I did it, she kicked me.

BISS: I remember Dad always brought his work home with him and had to sit at the desk in the upper hallway.  Beyond the staircase there was a space and he had a desk there, and he always worked there.  Dick and I would be in bed, we’d be talking and he yelled in to us to keep quiet.  So we’d keep quiet … for maybe thirty seconds or a minute, and then start talking again.  He’d say, “I told you children to go to sleep, now keep quiet.”  So we kept quiet for thirty seconds, a minute maybe, and we’d start talking again.  So he’d say, “The next time you talk I’m coming in and spanking you.”  So we waited maybe a minute this time, and started talking again.  Well, boom, boom, boom, boom.  He came in and I was the closest to the door, so he spanked me and spanked me and spanked me, and of course, I was too proud, I wasn’t going to cry.  He could spank me until Doomsday and I wasn’t going to cry.  I guess his hand got sore after a while, I don’t know, but anyway, he went to Dick.  The first time he hit Dick, Dick started wailing, so Dad only gave him a couple of whacks, or something.  When Dad walked out of the room I said, “You big baby, what did you cry for?”  He said, “But Biss, he stopped spanking me.”  I said, “I still wouldn’t cry.”

Tomorrow and Friday, more early childhood memories of Trumbull from recordings I made with five of the six children.

Judy Guion

The Beginning (30) – Childhood Memories of Trumbull – Memories of School From Biss

At this point Grandpa’s “Reminiscences of Alfred D Guion” has ended  and the rest of this story will be the memories of the children as they were growing up.

BISS – I used to climb the trees and if my brothers went up three branches, I had to go up four, just to show them that I was just as good as they were.

I started school in Trumbull in the house that the Sirene’s bought, which was originally a two room school.  It was at the top of the hill just before Kascak’s Garage, on the left-hand side, the same side as the gas station.  It looked like a house even though it was a schoolhouse.  I think I spent my first, second and third years there, while they were building Center School.  I loved that one, the original, because the brook was running right behind it.  There was a great big rock that went down to the brook and I always loved rocks, for some reason or other.  I have a love affair with rocks.  I always look at them as I’m coming up the Thruway, you know, all those different colored rocks … I love them.  Anyway, there was this big rock and we’d sit out there at recess.  I guess some of the boys went skinny dipping in the brook and they would be late coming back.

We always came home for lunch and one day I climbed to the Maple right behind where the old dollhouse was.  There was a Plum tree there, the dollhouse and the sandbox was there.  It was just this side of where the parking lot is now.  I can remember the Plum tree because, I was maybe five years old, the car was parked in there.  I climbed in the car to play, driving or something, and I must have hit a gear or something and put it into neutral, because it ran down and hit the Plum tree.  And of course, I got into trouble for that.  I was always getting into trouble.

In the first or second grade, I swore in school and the teacher washed my mouth out with soap.  The soap was so sweet, so I went home and washed my mouth out again.  I don’t know what kind of soap it was, but it left a very sweet taste, it didn’t while you were doing it, but afterwards it did.

Back in the first school, I think I was in second grade.  I was a jumping jack.  I just couldn’t sit still.  I never did like school anyway and I couldn’t sit still.  I forget what it was she said, but the teacher said something about a jumping jack and then, “Sit still.”  I can remember that.  I don’t remember what punishment she did or what threat she gave me but I do remember her putting me up on the mat for not being able to sit still.

One day, Ced was going to give me a ride to school on the handlebars of his bike.  He got down to Sunset Avenue and a car was coming out of there. Ced panicked and I went down.  I got my face scraped in the tar on the side of the road.  We had to go back home to get my wounds taken care of, so we started back.  A truck came along, a big Mack truck and the driver asked if we wanted a ride, so we said, “Sure.”  I was sitting in the middle and I was all ready to grab the brake if he went beyond Kurtz’s Store because I didn’t know if he was trying to kidnap us or what.  I was watching that brake and of course he let us off at Kurtz’s Corner and we went home.  Mother washed the cuts with alcohol … Talk about the screaming mee-mee’s

Another time, when Dick was in first grade and I was in second, he hurt himself and I had to take him home.  It was about a mile and a half, a pretty good distance.

One thing I remember about Center School was that I would wait for the first bell to ring and then I would cut across the lots because it was that close to the brook and I’d get to school on time.

I will continue these memories for the rest of the week.

Judy Guion

The Beginning (29) – Childhood Memories of the Children – Biss and a Broken Arm

At this point Grandpa’s “Reminiscences of Alfred D Guion” has ended  and the rest of this story will be the memories of the children as they were growing up.

     Elizabeth Westlin Guion (Biss) at 5, with her broken                       arm


BISS: When I was five, Lad and George Brellsford, and I think Dan, were on the fence behind the grape arbor, which was to the left of the incinerator.  They were picking grapes, sitting on the fence and picking grapes.  I came over and I wanted to climb up on the fence too because the grapes were much nicer on the top than they were on the bottom.  They told me I could pick them from the bottom, so I climbed up on the fence.  When I got to the top, I fell over into Dan Ward’s field, and evidently, my elbow hit a rock, because every single solitary bone was broken, so it was just hanging loose.  George looked over and said, “Hey Al, your sister broke her arm.”  I can remember my arm spinning just as fast as it could spin.  I was trying to get up because I was afraid Dan Ward was going to come with his gun and shoot me if I didn’t get over on my side of the fence.  And of course, I couldn’t do it.  So anyway, they picked me up and took me into the house.  Mother wasn’t home and I was lying in the living room, on the couch.  I don’t remember any pain; I was probably in shock because I don’t remember any pain at all.  I guess Mrs. Parks called Mother, wherever she was, Mother and Dad, and they came home.  Evidently, Rusty (Heurlin) was there, but I don’t remember Rusty.  They told me that he carried me in his arms, cradled me in his arms all the way to the hospital so that I wouldn’t get jiggled.  I can’t remember that at all.

When we got to the hospital, the doctor was going to cut my dress off and I was not about to let them cut my dress off because it would kill my dress.  Mother said, “But I can sew it back together”, and I said, “But it won’t be the same. You can’t do that.”  Obviously they cut it off and then the nurses made the biggest mistake they ever made.  They said, “Don’t look at the light”, so I had to look at the light to see why I wasn’t supposed to look at the light.  I can remember two nurses holding my head down so I couldn’t.  I was moving and squirming so I could finally get to see that light.  Anyway, they set my arm and I think I spent one day in the hospital, I don’t think I spent more than that.

For some reason or other, I thought the doctors and nurses lived at the hospital.  There was a school across the street and you could see the kids playing outside.  I thought those were the children of the doctors and nurses.  You could hear their voices, you know, playing out there.  I had to go to the bathroom and I held it and held it.  I kept watching the door and waiting for Mother to come.  It was getting worse and worse.  I was afraid I was going to wet my bed.  I was wiggling and squirming, and I finally saw her coming.  I thought, oh good, and I told her, “I have to go to the bathroom.”  She said, “Well, why didn’t you tell one of the nurses?”  I said, “I can’t do that!”

I can remember them giving me ice cream.  Rusty gave me a little letter (I had it for years, but I don’t know, it probably got lost in some of the moving).  It said, “Here are two nickels for you to spend any way you want”, or something like that, and it had two nickels in it.  Then they gave me ice cream.  It was a big treat so I enjoyed that hospital stay, outside of having to go to the bathroom.  I felt like a little Queen, you know, with everyone waiting on me.  I got a Teddy Bear ….  It was really something special.  I should break my arm every week.

For the rest of the week, I will continue sharing childhood memories of the children.

Judy Guion

Family – Dear Ced – Biss Writes to Ced in Alaska – July 10, 1043


Elizabeth (Biss) Guion Zabel

This is a detail of the monogram in the corner of Bissie’s writing paper.

The internal white area is actually cut out. (How fancy is this?) I’m sure Grandpa designed and printed it. Writing paper was a usual gift from him.

9:39 P.M.


Dear Ced: –

          I wrote to you just one week and one day ago at 11:55 P.M. while Barby (Barbara Plumb) was taking a bath and setting her hair. I wrote it on paper from a  pad which I keep on top of the radio. Everything went along fine until I folded it to put in an envelope at which time it cracked and fell apart in my hands. Sooo this time I am doing everything Emily Post style in pen and on the proper paper. I told you of Ethel’s baby which was news at the time but no longer is.

          Zeke went up to Kenotia fishing last weekend so Dot M. (Mackenzie)  and Lois H. (Henaghan) came down to spend the night (Sat.) with me. We had a grand time and Sun. Morning I picked up Aunt Elsie at the station and went to Dad’s for dinner. Aunt Dorothy was there too. Grandma hasn’t been feeling very well this past week so Aunt  D. came up again this weekend. Barby has joined the Waacs or Wacs – whichever spelling you prefer altho’ Wacs is the proper spelling now – and expects to leave at the end of this month. Edna and Frank Heigelmann had a baby boy and so did Johnny and Dot H. (Heigelmann). Bill Henaghan and his wife expect to have their third child at the end of this month also. I guess it’s my turn now. Helen S. and Bill are expecting one next January. Anna Rakowski ( one of the younger girls) died this morning. Barby saw Dick Christie  (A close friend of Lad’s) and they had their first wedding anniversary last Sunday. Donald Whitney’s wife had to come home – either here or to her own home – because all of the service wives had to leave. I told Barby I wish you would come home and marry her because I had my heart set on her being my sister and Dan – damn him – put the kibosh on it.  (Dan and Barbara had been engaged but made a mutual decision to end it) Maybe I’ll get her to marry Irv (Irvin Zabel, Zeke’s brother) – Heaven forbid. When she read that she said I sounded very insulting.

          Someday I’ll sit down and write you a whole letter about the children and their antics. I am listening to Scheherazade on the radio while I am writing this so if I am incoherent in spots it is because I get to interested in the story – it is pretty good. I called up Barby to let her know it was on because she likes the story and the musical background  very much. Zeke is going fishing with Frank tonight and they have just come in from catching nightcrawlers – you know big worms – they are talking too so I’m really getting into a muddle. Now to get down to business – the birthdays are as follows: Marty – Jan. 25th; Zeke is May 12th; Butch is October 20th; Biss is Jan. 6th; and Ced is June 1st. – is that enough birthdays  for you or should I continue?

          Dave has an infection in his leg and Dr. Z. doesn’t know what or why it is but he told Dave to keep his leg in the air – it is improving so I guess it wasn’t anything serious. I am finishing your letter at the same time the story is finishing. How is the food situation up there? Is it as bad as down here? You made us all homesick for old times when you mentioned driving  for a picnic – our battery is going sour from lack of use – speaking of tires – we need one too – but so far have been unsuccessful because our tire has to be vulcanized and Zeke says it is too expensive so they won’t give him the other tire he needs until that one is done. No more room so good-bye for now. Love, Biss

P.S. I hope you will write even tho’ I didn’t as often as I should. I got the bracelet and show it off every once in a while.  Biss

On Saturday the next Diary and Journal entry of John Jackson Lewis on his Voyage to California.

On Sunday, another post entitled My Ancestors. This one is about my great-grandfather, Alfred Beck Guion. He was the ninth child and fifth son of Elijag and Clara Maria de los Dolores Marina de Beck Guion. He was also the father of Grandpa.

Judy Guion