Elizabeth’s Adventure in St. Petersburg Florida (7) – Report Cards (1) – February 4, 1935

Biss in St. Petersburg, Florida. It seems as though she has stuffed all her letter writing for February into one envelope. It also looks like she skips around in who she writes to  and when, because these are not all in chronological order.  The pictures are of Aunt Anne’s children, Donald  and Gweneth Stanley, the ones Biss is helping with.

Don Stanley

Don Stanley

Gwen Stanley

Gwen Stanley

Sunday evening

5:39 PM

February 4, 1935

Dear Dad:

I’m awfully sorry I haven’t written sooner but I have been having exams so that I couldn’t have told my head from my feet – I can’t anyway. Each subject lasted for two hours. The first exam was from 8:30 to 10:30 and then the second from 10:30 to 12:30. Then we got out of school for the day. We had the last test Friday – they were more than tests – exams! I will send my report cards home for the first half of the year and you may keep them for we get new report cards for the second semester. As for the not newsy letter, I don’t do very much so I couldn’t very well tell about an incident that didn’t happen – but here is one. Today when I got my report card for history I was very much surprised to find I had gone up and one of the boys remarked that he must have been asleep when he marked mine. So during lunch I went to him and said “Mr. White, are you sure you weren’t sleeping when you made out my report card?” And he looked questioning for a moment and then he said “Oh! No, I wasn’t asleep but I thought for a long time before I put that mark down.” I then told him he was a lifesaver for that kept my average the same for I had gone down so far in French.

We had a new heater put in this morning and we are very thankful, for it is the first time in about a week that we have had warmth in the house for we have bad weather, cold snaps. I imagine you have been expecting and hoping for this letter for quite a while and are quite disappointed you haven’t received it sooner. I had to pay three cents on that letter so now we are even. If Mary Dolan happens to come up again tell her the great renowned Miss Lizzie is waiting very patiently to hear from her and her family but as yet has not gotten a note and as far as I know – is still waiting patiently with folded hands.

How is Rusty getting along? Has he had any work to amount to anything as yet? I am going to try to write Dan for he said he had to find work that I am hoping to catch him before he leaves. I will put two or three other notes in with this letter so I can once more begin hearing from different members of my writing family.

I hope you haven’t mentioned our guitar lessons to anyone yet. Please don’t. Don couldn’t take his lessons this afternoon because his teacher, Miss Bradley, is sick.

I have to go and do the dishes for the maid didn’t come this afternoon. Oh, that is right, of course. You didn’t know that we got a maid, for Aunt Anne felt that she couldn’t go on, for that work tired her so. I certainly am giving you enough news to make up for the last and for two or three in the future, besides. We all have had quite a mania for solitaire lately so Cedric’s cards are getting plenty of use. Have to go and do the dishes so finish this later.

Tuesday

Saturday I went to the dentist and had my teeth cleaned. The dentist said my teeth were very good and that I didn’t have a single cavity.

I didn’t take my geometry test today because I didn’t feel like it and I was tired. Mr. Mead told me to come in and do it tomorrow.

Gladys the maid didn’t come again tonight so we have to do dishes once more. You see we have the breakfast and lunch dishes for her to do so we have all the dishes of the day to do in the evening. She was supposed to do the wash today also and I’ll have to wait another day now before I can wear my white pants and my white suit. Well I want to write to the rest too so I’ll say goodbye for now.

Love,

Biss

P.S. I would write more only I am afraid it wouldn’t fit in with the rest of this letter.

Biss

Tomorrow, I’ll be posting more letters written from Biss to her Dad.

Judy Guion

Elizabeth’s Adventure in St. Petersburg, Florida (4) – Thanksgiving Was Awful (1) – December 5 and 6, 1934

This letter was supposed to post last Sunday. Instead, I posted the second half of this letter. This is the beginning of the letter. I apologize for the confusion.

Having had a New England Thanksgiving dinner her whole life, Biss can’t quite accept spending the day at the beach. It just doesn’t feel right!

Elizabeth Westlin Guion and Mack

Wednesday, 3:45

Study Hall

December 5, 1934

Dear Dick,

You forgot to tell me about the Shrine Circus your teacher took you to see. What is your teacher’s name? I am still in seventh period. I was half a minute late yesterday so I have to stay one whole hour. Isn’t that the dumbest luck? I have been writing all afternoon and my hand is tired. That is why my writing looks so funny.

What became of that hut out by the playhouse? What were your marks in school? Marks close Friday down here, I think.

Thanksgiving was awful! We went to see Mr. Bailey but I don’t like him and then he took us to the beach. I don’t like the beach either. I saw a peachy collie at the hotel where Mr. Bailey stays. Mr. Bailey is going to spend Christmas with us too. Darn it. If Alfred would come down, which he wants, it would be all right for us kids and I suppose we must make the best of it because he likes Aunt Anne. She is going to see if Uncle Fred won’t come down. I only have 5 minutes of my seventh period left. Aunt Anne is going to call for me and then we are going to the movies. Dave can tell you what one we are going to see. I am sorry my reply has been so tardy but it takes time to write to each one of you and answer your letters. I want to glance over your letter and it is at home – please don’t call me Bets. How was Dick and Mrs. Boyce. Methinks I better write to them.

Love,

Biss

&&&&&&&&&&&&&&&&&&&&&&&&&&&&&&&&&&&&&&&&&&&

Thursday, 4:20 PM

December 6, 1934

Dining room

Dear Dad:

You certainly wrote a letter and a half. I will try to answer it fully. Right now Don and Billy are out in back playing marbles. Billy is a little boy who lives across the street. Gwen is out riding on her bicycle. Aunt Anne is over in Tampa at the Farmer’s. She is going to stay overnight so I am chief cook and bottle washer.

I wished that I was home for Thanksgiving. It didn’t seem at all holiday-ish to me. We got up early – 8:15 AM – and got the work done and took baths. At about 10:45 AM we got into the car and drove over to Tampa to Mr. Bailey’s hotel. We arrived at 11:15 and got into our bathing suits.

Then we drove over to the Farmers and waited while Mrs. Farmer and Mr. Bailey got ready. We waited there for about 15 minutes then went down to pick up Mr. Farmer who had to work at his office for a while. We then went to Clearwater to swim. Mr. Farmer changed into his bathing suit there. No one went in until Mr. Farmer was ready for everyone was tired and wanted to rest.

We stayed there until 5:30. I stayed on the beach until 3:30 and then went to the car and took a nap. I don’t like salt water and I don’t like Mr. Bailey so I had more fun in the car.

We went back to the hotel to change and Mr. Bailey took Mr. and Mrs. Farmer home and they changed. They got back in about half an hour. We then ate dinner – which was pretty good considering where we ate it – down in the dining room of Mr. Bailey’s hotel. In the middle of the dinner an old man came in with a collie and stayed for a minute – that was the best part of the whole meal.

By then it was about 7:30 PM so Don and Gwen went to bed or at least lay down on Mr. Bailey’s bed. They all went up two stories and had a get together. I stayed until 10 then went down to the lobby where a girl was sitting. I talked to her for a few minutes and then a boy came and took her out – thank goodness.  At 11 Aunt Anne decided to stay over so we registered and went to bed.

Tomorrow, I will begin a week of letters written in May of 1942. Lad has just joined Dan in the service of Uncle Sam and Grandpa has fewer helpers in maintaining the Trumbull House. Lad writes home and tells the complete story of his induction process, from the Derby Train Station to Ft. Devens in Ayer, Massachusetts and then on to the Ordnance Proving Ground in Aberdeen, Maryland.

Judy Guion

Elizabeth’s Adventure in St. Petersburg, Florida (6) – My Birthday – January 16, 1935

It’s 1935 and on January 6th  Biss had her 16th birthday in St. Petersburg, Florida. She is living with her Aunt Anne (Peabody) Stanley and helping to care for her children, Don and Gwen. Christmas, 1934, has come and gone and Biss is back in school.

Elizabeth (Biss) Westlin Guion

Elizabeth (Biss) Westlin Guion

Wednesday afternoon

4:31 PM

January 16, 1935

Dear Dad:

I sent you a letter already saying I got the check and thanking you very much for it. It was a surprise to get it for I hadn’t expected an allowance for this month. I had a very nice birthday. I am sorry to say that Dan left two days ago (Monday) although I imagine you know that by now for I expect he has sent you a card.

I am glad Dick has improved in his school work. How about Dave? It is very nice that Paul (Warden, living in the apartment with his wife) has at last gotten a job.

We ate at the “Gypsy Inn” as a special treat on my birthday and after we got home they had a surprise ready for me by way of a special treat, ice cream and cake and plenty of presents. It was a double surprise, for I hadn’t expected a thing, seeing as how I had got one present last year and then to add to that by you coming down for this year. I didn’t see how I could get any.

Trip to St. Petersburg, Florida for Christmas, 1934

Back row: Ced, Dan, Lad, Dick, Grandpa, Front Row: Don Stanley, Gwen Stanley, Biss, Dave

I am glad (in a way) that they have been busy down at the office for that should certainly be a good sign if anything is. We took Dan about 5 miles beyond Brookesville. (Perhaps Dan (19 at the time) was hitchhiking but I am not sure where he was going. Maybe home to Trumbull?)

Well, I want to write a letter, I mean finish a letter I started Friday to Marie P. and send all three tonight, although they won’t go out until tomorrow, I don’t believe.

I will send a Coquina shell up in this letter to show you what they look like when fixed up.

Love,

Biss

P.S. Tell Alfred that I am hoping to hear from him,and also from Dick and Dave. I’m writing on the bed in leisurely fashion, that is why my writing isn’t very plain.

Biss

It sounds like Biss had a special surprise for the holidays.  I’m sure, with her birthday being January 6th, she probably got short-changed over the years.

Tomorrow, another letter from Biss to her Dad in Trumbull.

Judy Guion

Elizabeth’s Adventure in St. Petersburg, Florida (5) – Thanksgiving Was Awful (2) – December 6, 1934

This is the rest of the letter written to Grandpa on December 6th about a Thanksgiving Biss just could not enjoy. I’m sure she was homesick for Trumbull and was having a difficult time adjusting to this new life.

Art Mantle, Biss and Alfred (Lad) 

The next day we started for St. Pete at about 10 AM and we got back around 11. I drove about halfway. Then we changed into our bathing suits and went to St. Pete Beach. I stayed on the beach for about an hour then went up to the car and took a nap. We came home about six o’clock. I think we went into town for dinner.

The next day Mr. Bailey and the Farmers came and stayed overnight and we went to the beach the next day. I stayed for about three hours then got in the car and took a nap. In other words every weekend we go to the beach and I get into the car. That last one was a mistake. I got into the car and stayed for a half hour just thinking, when they came up after me and told me to come fishing with them. We fished for about two hours and caught eight fish.

Then we came back and ate on the beach. Mr. Bailey had brought some steaks. We didn’t cook the fish there because it was late and would take too much time to cook.

Is the furnace fixed? I gather that Alfred is the caretaker for the furnace?

I should think you would have saved some money by buying your overcoat now instead of dyeing your spring coat – seeing as you have to buy one anyway. That was like saving $.50 and spending a dollar. Aunt Anne does realize what you are up against because she’s up against the exact same thing.

She suggested $10 and I just added more and didn’t have room to explain the whole thing. That ten was for all my extra expenses including dental work. I have all the books I need at present. Later on I have to get another book for English and one for French.

I will see about the Chamber of Commerce – you know we have no phone, otherwise, I would have given you the number long ago.

Tonsillitis is catching so I don’t think it wise for David to play with her or else you’ll have another doctor bill on hand. It rained a few drops last evening. Cloudy half the day today.

School closes the 21st and opens the 7th. Don and Gwen like anything that Dick or Dave would – Anne – you know. I don’t know what I want although I would like a Hawaiian guitar, fairly good – if possible.

Love,

Biss

Tomorrow I will begin posting letters written in 1940. Lad is still in Venezuela, Dan is home and going to college, Ced is working and Dick and Dave are still in school. Elizabeth has been married for about a year and a half, and has a baby boy, Raymond, Jr., known as Butch to the family. 

Judy Guion

Elizabeth’s Adventure in St. Petersburg, Florida (3) – The Lion and Football – November 14, 1934

My Aunt Biss has been in St. Petersburg for about a month now and seems to be getting annoyed at the boys – and girls – who promised to write and haven’t. She starts her letter to Dick by trying to sound like a Southern Belle but gives up on that rather quickly. I guess it just wasn’t her style.

               Gwen Stanley

November 14th, 1934

Dear Dad,

I had too much ink on my pen. I ran out of paper so I had to buy this new paper so now I ain’t got no sense (cents) left. I am glad to hear that you will soon have your jury work over with although I suppose you will miss the money that you have been getting. I am glad Dick had a chance to go to the circus.  Gwen insists that there is a lion around here running loose because she heard it roar – it sounds to me like a cow in distress. She heard a dog yelp and has told everyone around here that it (the lion) ate the dog up because it stopped yelping.

Are all of you going down at once or into groups the way Mrs. Burnham suggested? I am sorry the well isn’t anymore, I thought it very picturesque and pretty. I’m sure if I had been at home I would’ve kicked up a big fuss so I think it’s just as well that I am down here.

Did it snow hard? I got a letter from Aunt Betty in answer to the one I sent her and have  written another one to her. I’ll have to look up the actors and actresses as I don’t know any. My brain isn’t working today anyway – which isn’t anything unusual. I have just finished giving my room its weekly cleaning and Aunt Anne now has the vacuum cleaner and is doing her room. As soon as I finish this letter I have to peel potatoes for the potato salad tonight.

I got your letter about 10 minutes ago, just before I finished my room. I sat down to answer it as soon as my room was finished and expect to have it start out for Trumbull in about an hour or an hour and a half. Tell Mr. Laufer to write to me and to tell Erwin to write to me. I got a letter from Si (Cy Linsley, a neighbor and friend) yesterday and I can’t think straight now – at least that’s what I told Si. I still think he is my favorite of the whole gang because he gets into so much mischief.

Love

Bissie

P.S. -I am going to the football game this afternoon. I hope we win.

Dear Dick – (Ricardo)

Ah have decided ta rest mah weary bones by sittin’ me down and writen ya a lettah. I pardoned ya pencil for I realize that may hap you haven’t any pen, Hey what? Or was it because you couldn’t find it? I’m very sorry you didn’t write sooner and I hope you will answer this one in record time. I am actually writing this the day after instead of the same day. I can imagine just how busy you have been lately. I didn’t cut on the dotted line like you asked me to but I showed the letter to him – what on earth took you 10 minutes between the time you wrote me and the time you wrote to Dan? I am sorry about your finger if you are but otherwise I didn’t worry. Has Ced built-up the snow house yet? I suppose you will help him with it – Dave too.

If you think I am nuts – I know you are NUTZ and seeing  as you demanded who won I won’t tell you !! So there— the score was Hillsboro: 13 and St. Petersburg: 7. We went to see another game but I don’t know what the score was. I just know that we lost. This Saturday we might go to see another game. Last night we were invited to tea by Cmdr. Berry of the Trenton – a cruiser (you know – next smallest to the battleship). He had a special motorboat sent over to get us and we ate in a little private dining room. I had both lemonade and tea. Gee, they were good – what crackers they served! Boy! Oh boy!! Oh Boy! Oh Boy! We also had cinnamon toast and little sandwiches. I’m writing this letter to you instead of doing my homework like I should be doing. I ran out of paper (writing) so I am using this school paper for you. I am in sixth period (study). Ask Mary if she got my letter and if she did, give her a bawling out for me. Show her this part of the letter or the whole thing if you want to.

Love,

Bissie

P.S. – I noticed you had a great deal of trouble with your P.S.’s. Tell Art (possibly Art Mantle), Irv (Irv Zabel brother of the man Aunt Biss married), Irwin (Irwin Laufer, neighbor across the street and a motorcycle pal of Lad’s), Eddie (don’t know who this is), Nellie (Nelson Sperling) and Elliot (don’t know who this is either) that they are either afraid of me or are bashful. Also tell them that they promised faithfully to write to me – before I left they told me that. So tell them I am still waiting patiently and getting gray-haired while waiting. Tell the girls to write again too.

Biss

Tomorrow, another letter about Bissie’s life in St. Petersburg. She seems to be adjusting quite well. We’ll be checking in on her every weekend.

Judy Guion

Elizabeth’s Adventure in St. Petersburg, Florida (2) – Biss Leaves Trumbull – October, 1934

My Aunt Biss was 14 years old when her mother died and she took it rather hard. Her father talked it over with her Peabody Aunts and it was decided that she would go to St. Petersburg, Florida, to live with her Aunt Anne (Peabody) Stanley and help and with Anne’s two children, Donald and Gweneth. In her first letter home to her Dad, she also enclosed separate letters for her brothers.

      Elizabeth (Biss) Westlin Guion

October 16, 1934

Dear Dad,

I promised myself I would write until nine o’clock tonight and then go to bed because I am quite tired. I am going to start high school tomorrow morning and the hours are even longer than I am used to, 8:30 to 3:30, with an hour for each period. We have no gym down here though. At least they didn’t put it down on my card. We have a cute little cottage about seven blocks away from the school. It is quite a way from the noise of the city and yet it is quite close to the city. The name of the school is the million-dollar school because it cost $1 million to build it.

Gee, what meals they served on the boat. You will most likely hear me rave about them for the rest of my life. After we mailed the letter in Charleston, we went into the heart of the city and I bought this pen for a quarter and I swear it is almost as nice as my old dollar one (but not quite).

I imagine the household is being run much better than it has been for a long time.

I think you have to pay for all your school things down here. I won’t know until tomorrow. I know Don and Gwen had to pay for their school supplies and they go to the same school. I think I have spent most of my money on stamps. Well, goodbye until next week. I don’t think I can write before then.

Love,

Biss

Dear Ced,

Well, that bet still holds good. I can’t get credit for the first four weeks but I bet I will still beat you by the time the end of the year comes. I’ll know my marks before you for we get out early – in fact I expect to get home before you get out of school. The school here is only two stories high but it is awfully long.

Oh, I was shown the engine room on the ship. I couldn’t go in but they let us look in. They have Turbine motors.

I think the highest point in Florida is only 300 miles (she means 300 feet) above sea level. On the way to St. Petersburg from Jacksonville we went along a straight stretch for 10 miles at least and another place at least 8 miles, not even the slightest curve! Gee, it got tiresome after a while because everything is so low and flat. Everything (I mean vegetables) is stubbed in growth.

While I told Dad I wasn’t going to write after nine o’clock and it is now 9:30 so I think I will leave Dick’s and Dave’s letters until tomorrow. You see, I thought perhaps you would like to get separate letters for once

Love,

Bissie

Dear Dave,

Well, how is the world treating you these days? Are they still just as cruel? I suppose you have had about 10 colds so you could stay out of school, haven’t you?

No license is required for driving down here so when I get home you won’t have to be afraid to go out riding with me. I haven’t driven as yet but Aunt Anne is going to let me before many more days have passed.

Bootsy loves the South just like the rest of the Stanley’s. There are sand burrs down here and they are found all over the ground. When you go barefooted, they are like burrs, only twice as small and three times as sharp. We can’t go barefooted unless we are on the beach, although in the lower grades down here, quite a few of the children go barefoot.

There are a lot of boys down here who wear ankle socks. I told you that because you used to call it too sissyish. There are two boats from the Navy anchored out in the bay where we went swimming. They were there when we first arrived. It seems to me that everywhere you look you see at least one sailor, only there are usually four or five sailors going around together.

Have you found a new girlfriend yet? I think it is about time you changed again. It looks as though it is going to rain and boy, when it rains, it pours. Harder than rains we get up there in Trumbull.

Has anyone played the piano since I left or has it gotten rusty from disuse? If you can’t understand any words I feel sure Dad or someone will explain them to you.

Love,

Biss

Dear Dick,

I am in sixth period on my first day of school. It is a study hall and I haven’t any books as yet because we have to buy them down here.

I had plenty to say to you last night but I’ll be darned if I can think of a single thing to say to you now.

How are you getting along in school? Have you been absent from it yet? Oh, describe Trumbull to me. Have the leaves finished falling yet and have you had any snow at all? It’s pretty hot down here, in fact it’s too hot. I think I would rather be up there where it is cool.

If you see Mary Dolan tell her I will write to her and her family as soon as I can but right now I have to catch up on my schoolwork. I don’t have too very much because I can’t make up the first four weeks, although I will be able to pass. I am writing this on the sly. In each class we have, we are allowed a 5 minute period in which we are allowed to talk. We are in the middle of it.

If you can use any of my things this winter, go for it, but please be careful not to ruin anything. My ski suit is in the Cedar closet in Mother’s room.

They allow gum chewing in this school! I went swimming yesterday and have begun to get a tan already.

Love,

Biss

P.S. Give my love to the boys – George, Jim etc.

Each weekend, I’ll be posting more of Aunt Biss’s letters home to her Father and her brothers written during the year she was in Florida. We’ll have the perspective from a teenaged girl, dealing with living away from her home and family, and also adjusting to the death of her mother. Her reference to “the household being run much better than it has in a long time” is a direct reference to the fact that she was expected to take over that role and she didn’t want to and wasn’t prepared to, either.

This time period was especially hard on my Grandfather, who had recently lost “the love of his life” to a long fight with cancer, his two oldest sons were working at CCC Camps during the week to help support the family and his only daughter was living in Florida and he was trying to cope with the whole situation.

Judy Guion

Elizabeth’s Adventure in St. Petersburg, Florida (1) – An Introduction – 1934

EWG - Biss and Mack - 1933

Elizabeth Westlin Guion

My husband, Don, and I invited my Aunt Biss to join us for a mid-week cruise on the Erie Canal while Don and I were working at the New York State Fair in Syracuse, New York. We spent four days cruising and visiting local sites of interest. While we cruised, Aunt Biss and I spent many hours sitting at the small eating table in our cabin cruiser with a recorder between us. I asked her all kinds of questions about her childhood, growing up with five brothers, the games they played, about school, friends and other memories she had of growing up in Trumbull.

I would like to introduce her with  her own words to give you a better picture of who she was.

SOL - Very Young Biss with broken arm

Elizabeth Westlin Guion, at 5, with her broken arm

“When I was five, Lad and George Brellsford, and I think Dan, were on the fence behind the grape arbor.  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 out because I was afraid Don 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.”

“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 can remember the Plumtree (in the backyard) because, I was maybe five years old, the car was parked in their.  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 Plumtree.  And of course, I got into trouble for that.  I was always getting into trouble.”

BSOL - Biss on front steps

Elizabeth – (Biss)

“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 wash my mouth out again.  I don’t know what kind of soap it was, but it left a very sweet taste.”

“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.”

“Dick (about a year and a half younger than Biss, but closest in age. The older boys, Lad, Dan and Ced, were always together.) and I were cleaning up the playroom which was the living room and the little apartment.  We used to put chairs in a line and that would be our train.  Anyway, Dick and I decided that it would please Mother and we’d 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’d burn them.  What else do you do with paper?  So we did, and of course, since the toybox 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, and it was so cold that there was frost on the window.  We 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 to 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 got 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.”

“At one point, (one of) my brothers had cut down some rhubarb 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’d say, “The money is in my pants pocket.”  And I’d 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 one 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’m sure he knew that I was taking.”

(When I was older) we would climb out the window onto the roof of the laundry room and jump off the edge to get down.  I would go to bed and then climb out the window and go meet the guys.”

Tomorrow, I will post Biss’s first letter to Grandpa and additional letters to her brothers.

Judy Guion 

Trumbull – Dear Reader – The End of an Era (4) – Memorable Event (1) – Fires

I will be posting about memorable events at the Trumbull House for the next few weeks. I hope you enjoy the stories. In this post, Biss shares her memories of three fires that occurred in the house – two that she and Dick started.

EWGZ - Biss and Mack, 1933

Biss (Elizabeth Westlin Guion) and their dog, Mack

BISS – Dick and I were cleaning up the playroom which was the living room in the little apartment.  We used to put chairs in a line and that would be our train.  We had lots of fun in there, too.  Anyway, Dick and I decided that it would please Mother and we cleaned 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 toybox 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.

The second fire happened in the winter and we had one of those oil burners with holes on top to keep the bathroom warm.  Dick and I were sitting on the radiator in the back bathroom, and it was so cold that there was frost on the window.  We would 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 curtain.  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 got out that way and opened the door.  Mother had on a very filmy dress on 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.

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 go 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 drifting across the street, 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 on to White Plains Rd. 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 had 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 and the operator 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’ve gone up fast because it was such an old, dry house.

Trumbull – Dear Reader – The End of an Era (3) – July 21, 2021

The Trumbull House has been sold.  From what I understand, the new owner plans to create nine one room Studio Apartments in the main house, two more apartments in the barn and to add on to the Little House to form a home for his family.

I will be devoting at least the next few weekends – maybe many more – to a Memorial of the house that has been an anchor for my family for almost 100 years and to the people who made it a HOME.

I find it especially hard to decide what to post because I have been writing about this house and the people who lived there, daily, for almost 9 years. Do I want to focus on the individuals – special events – everyday events – pictures – I just cannot decide which direction to choose. This weekend I am going to focus on pictures of the six chidren who spent their childhood there – Lad, my Dad (Alfred Peabody); Dan (Daniel Beck); Ced (Cedric Duryee); Biss (Elizabeth Westlin); Dick (Richard Peabody) and Dave (David Peabody).

Last weekend I posted the earliest pictures taken of the children. This weekend, I will post some more pictures of them through the years in Trumbull.

Lad @ 1922

                            Lad @ 1923

SOL - Dick, Dan, Ced, Lad & Biss with their dog

                                       Dick, Dan, Ced, Lad and Biss @ 1925

It appears that Patsy, their dog, has found something that interests all of the children.

Guion Kids on side porch - @ 1928

Guion children on side porch about 1928

Dan, Dave, Lad, Dick, Ced, Biss

Guion kids as adults - posed as 1928 photo - 1992

This picture is out of order but it was taken at our Family Reunion in 1992. They posed in the approximate position of the 1928 photo above. This was the last time all six children were together.

Standing – Lad, Seated – Dan, Dave, Dick, Ced and Biss.

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

This picture was probably taken in the spring of 1929.

Back row: Grandpa and Lad; Middle row: Dick, Ced, Aunt Dorothy

Front row: Don Stanley (cousin), Dave, Biss, Gwen Stanley (cousin)

Tomorrow I will post more about the Trumbull House.

Judy Guion

Trumbull – Dear Lad (2) – Good Investment – November 5, 1939

ADG - Grandpa with Smokey in yard - near Thanksgiving, 1945

Grandpa with Mack on the side yard

Page 2 of R-48

Your reference to the pilot, Dave Duryea was quite interesting. I wonder if he is not some relation. My mother was a Duryee or Duryea as it was sometimes spelled. Her father, Joseph Duryee was one of several brothers, Abraham, Isaac, Jacob (twins) Joseph, my grandfather and William. Abraham was a noted general in the Civil War, head of the Duryee Zouaves and commander of the famous 7th Regiment of New York. Perhaps that will give enough of the family background to enable him to identify the family if he knows the family history. The family originally was Long Island Dutch and before that were French Huguenots.

Your comments on the prospects of taking Mr. Leander’s place versus being a diesel man are interesting. I think your idea of playing along for a while to see what happens is a good idea. It may be if the new man is a veteran or expert diesel man and you, more or less, come in contact with him, one of two things will happen. You will have an opportunity to learn something from him that will increase your knowledge or he will soon learn your value and knowledge in this field, and if the work increases so that he will need an assistant, he will want you and you will be in line for advancement in this field, as you now are in the transportation and garage line.

It is now 7:45. The electricity in all the vicinity is still absent. My one candle is burning low and I don’t know how much more of this letter I can write under the circumstances, but there is one topic I want to cover before the candle fails entirely. Perhaps you remember Bob Shedden. He is now selling a form of investment known as Investors Syndicate. He told me about it. I had heard it before and knew it was a good thing. I told him I would take out, in your name, a share or whatever they call it, which will cost about $130 a year and which at the end of 15 years yields a good income, which in the meantime is entirely safe. It is a combination of all the best features of Building and Loan, insurance and investment combined. I have asked him to write you about the details and have you sign the necessary papers, but I have definitely told him to go ahead. I will take care of the payment out of the money you send home. I don’t approve of putting all funds in one thing, putting all your eggs in one basket, as the saying goes. So with the home building and loan card, for which I have received duly signed by you, and this Investors Syndicate, we have a good diversification in, but will yield a good income in time, be safe and still leave some funds to be invested in some other form of investment that will be worthwhile.

I brought Elizabeth home from St. Vincent’s Hospital on Monday. The baby (Raymond Zabel, Jr., Biss (Elizabeth (Guion) Zabel) and Zeke Zabel’s son) is a cute little tyke and seems to be good and doesn’t cry much. Well boy, this is about all that little candle will permit me to do tonight. Until next week, then old Laddie, my very best hopes and wishes and love from your one and only    DAD

I know about the 7th Regiment of New York but I’ll do some additional research and do at least one post about that. It’s quite an interesting story.

Tomorrow and Sunday, more Special Pictures.

Judy Guion