The Beginning (45) – Childhood Memories of Trumbull – Driving With Ced and Lad

 

                                         Packard and Mack

CED – I’m one of those who brag about the fact that I’ve been driving cars since I was about ten years old.  I got my license – Mother died on June twenty-ninth, and on June first, that same year, I turned sixteen.  I think I got my license on the second.  At that time I had driven quite a few miles with a driver next to me – quite a few miles without, and much more off road then on.  I used to drive on that road along the cemetery.  When they put the cemetery in, there was about a four foot drop to the road.  At the very end of it the drop-off was less and you could turn a car around where it was shallow and come back about halfway on the ledge to the gate.  We had a 1927 Packard Touring car.  I guess this was when Lad was working at Well’s Garage and he was making a little money there.  He saw the 1929 Packard Touring car – it was a beauty – and he asked Dad if he could trade in the old Packard and my Dad told him, “OK”.  We didn’t like that because that was his (Lad’s) car.  Well anyway, I had the car.  This one day I drove up that road, I guess I didn’t have my license yet, I’m not sure.  I was trying to turn around up there and I didn’t have enough room.  I got the front wheel over the bank.  When it went over the bank, it lifted the back end of the car on the right side.  “Oh, no”, I thought.  It was about a foot lower than the other end.  “Oh, brother, so this is it.”  I don’t remember how I got it off the bank; maybe I used a jack and pried it over.  I couldn’t go back and I knew I had to get it the rest of the way over.  I finally got it over the hill and onto the road.

Dad took us down to Baltimore in one of the cars – it must have been one of the Packards – to the Fair of the Iron Horse, this was the heyday of railroading.  They put on a beautiful show.  Dad drove us down and I know we had two flat tires, one going down and one on the way back.  It was a wonderful show.  They had all the old steam engines, the Sturbridge, and the Tom Thumb, they were the originals.  We sat in covered bleachers, and there was a huge stage, with water beyond the stage.  The old locomotives came in and people got out of the coaches, boats came in and out – it was wonderful.  The people wore period costumes.  We probably went in the early twenties, Dan, Lad and I – Dad always did things with us.  Dick and Dave weren’t in the group, they were born later.  I had the big privilege of seeing a very similar show at the Chicago World’s Fair (in 1934).

I guess we used Aunt Betty’s car sometimes because my Dad and Aunt Betty were very close.  Aunt Betty used to buy a new Buick every year and we used it a lot.

LAD – I was driving to Bridgeport (Connecticut) to see Anita Brown.  It was apparently past dark and I was heading south on Main Street.  The Chestnut Hill bus was going slower than I was.  I think he may have just been starting up after a stop, I don’t remember, but in any case, there was nothing coming so I saw an opportunity to pass him.  All of a sudden, my headlights picked up two reflections just a little above my hood.  I didn’t know what it was at first but then I realized it was a horse and buggy.  I pulled over tight against the bus … I was pushing hard against the bus.  The bus driver had seen the horse and buggy the same time I did.  Neither of us could stop fast but we tried and we stopped right together.  Neither vehicle was scratched but I hit the wagon.  I missed the horse but hit the wagon’s left front wheel and completely messed up the wagon.  The older fellow, who was driving, somehow got hold of his daughter and she came.  I remember her telling him, “I told you over and over not to put the lantern between your feet to keep warm.”  There were no charges filed against any of us.

Tomorrow and Friday, more Childhood Memories of Trumbull.

Judy Guion

Advertisements

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 Beginning (43) – Childhood Memories of Trumbull – Smoking and Other Shenanigans

 

Trap Door on the Barn

 

The Maple Tree on the left with the Summer Porch to the left of the house

It was called the Summer Porch because the Maple Tree provided lots of shade and there was always a breeze there 

CED: – At the Trumbull House, one of the things we used to do, one of the high points, had to do with the little trap door over the barn.  We would open the door, tie a rope to the beam at the top of the barn, run it down and tie it to the big Maple outside beside the Summer Terrace.  We used to have a wheel on it, it would go out the door and hang from the wheel.  We’d slide all the way down and get off by the Maple tree.  A pretty fast ride, too.

Possible location of the tree and swing going “almost over the road”.

We had a swing on the upper end of the property, near the stone pillars.  We would take hold of the rope, take a run and then swing out almost over the road.  Don Stanley fell off it and broke his arm.  His father never really forgave us.

LAD – I don’t remember much about any trouble I got into.  Dick and Ced used to get into trouble.  Mother would get a call from the police, or Constable, as they were called at the time.  What their problems were I don’t remember, but they did get into trouble … Mother had to go get them a few times.

Long before we moved to Trumbull, there was a dam on the Pequonnock River, flooding all the property where the stone house is now, right up to the cemetery.  There was a mill there, run by water which came down through a tunnel.  The tunnel was about three feet by three feet and it came out of a sheer wall.  It was probably a drop of eight or ten feet to the ground.  We kids used to play there quite often; we had a lot of imagination.

I don’t know if Mother smoked as a youngster, but she must have been smoking then because I think I took two of her cigarettes.  Art Christie and I went up and crawled through the tunnel and sat at the edge with our legs hanging over the edge and smoked cigarettes.  Who should come along but Mom!  She crawled through the tunnel and gave us quite a lecture.  It was probably a few years before I started smoking, but Mom smoked with me when I first started.  Then she quit, but I didn’t.

CED – We smoked corn silk and cigarettes here and there.  Art Christie was the oldest, your father (Lad) was next, then Dan and me, the four of us.  I like to presume, and it’s probably true, that Art Christie got the idea.  I guess my Mother wasn’t home.  I don’t know how we did it or how we got to it; but anyway, we got money out of Mother’s pocketbook.  We went to Kurtz is – Mother smoked – most of her sisters smoked – of course in those days you didn’t think anything about it.  Anyway, we went to Kurtz’s and said we were buying some cigarettes for our Mother.  We bought a pack of cigarettes, I don’t remember the brand.  Right about where the cemetery gate was, there was a carriage road.  There was a fence at the end, and a field beyond, which was probably Harold Beech’s field.  But right at the gate there had been, at one time, a mill.  They had dammed up the Pequonnock River; they had a dam there, probably four feet high and four feet wide.  They had a big stone wall that pretty much went all the way to the cemetery.  Near that wall, there was a big, square hole, I guess that’s where they had the mill wheel, but that space was a perfect place to go to smoke cigarettes.  We sat at the front of that square and we started smoking.  We had a whole pack of cigarettes and we wanted to enjoy them.  Well we were merrily smoking away and Dan said, “I think I’ll go home.”  He got right up and left.  We suspected that he was getting sick, he was.  Art and Lad and I hoped he wasn’t going to make a fuss.  I guess we talked about it and decided it was time to stop smoking, so we did.  We thought maybe we ought to go down to the brook, pick up some poles and pretend to be fishing in case Mother came looking for us.  So we did.  We went down to the brook and were playing along the side of the brook, and pretending we were fishing.  I don’t know if we could have made that stick, but anyway, sure enough, about ten, fifteen or twenty minutes later, here comes Mother and gulp, gulp, gulp.  She came up to us and said, “What are you doing?”  “Uh, we’re fishing,” we answered.  “Well”, she replied, “Dan tells me you were smoking.”  What could we do?  “You know your father and I both smoke”, she said.  “I don’t like it that you boys smoke, but why don’t you just come home and smoke if you want to smoke.”  Not one of us wanted to smoke again until we were eighteen or twenty.  Not one of us.  Now, if that isn’t  psychology, good psychology … Without even being punished.

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

Judy Guion

Trumbull – Dear Halloween Pranksters (1) – News From Ced – October 31, 1943

 

The boys almost made 100% this week with three out of four writing home, a banner week for Grandpa. With his usual thoroughness, Grandpa reports what each letter contained, making sure that everyone is well informed.

Alfred Duryee Guion - (Grandpa) - in the Alcove where he typed his letters

Alfred Duryee Guion – (Grandpa) – in the Alcove where he typed his letters

Trumbull, Conn.

October 31, 1943

Dear Halloween pranksters:

This is one time, Dick, I won’t have to get you out of the clink for hurling stones through windows at Pinebrook (Country Club in Trumbull, where Dick had many “adventures” with his friends). Ah, those were the happy days! Dave tells me some of the boys started to pay a visit to Boggild’s,  but according to rumor, they had paid one of the town cop’s a little something extra to be on hand. Anyway, as soon as they approached, all the lights flashed on in the house, and the boys beat a strategic retreat. That is all the seasonal excitement I have to report.

                    Dave Guion

The Trumbull Rangers, of which Dave is President, and who incidentally are doing quite an elaborate job of fixing up, as a clubroom, the space I gave them in the barn, have been playing the surrounding teams in football matches lately. Today was their big game of the season – in Yale-Harvard or Army-Navy tradition – with Black Rock. The Rangers lost 18 to 0.

George Laufer is reported to be in England somewhere near London and is trying to get in touch with Dan through the Red Cross. London papers please copy.

If Dick had come through with the letter home last week it would have made the score 100%. It might be interesting, especially as Trumbull news is pretty well covered by the above few paragraphs, to dip into these various letters, constituting myself as sort of a distributing news center.

                                Ced Guion

Taking them in order of their arrival, lets tune in on Anchorage first. Ced reports there have been several frosts but no real freeze ups yet (Oct. 17). He got some good Kodachrome shots at Chickaloon the previous Sunday, including some of the Indians there. The old chief was dressed in hobo-like attire and sported a pair of dilapidated glasses which were held on one side in the conventional manner but on the other with a piece of string looped over his ear. To cooperate in the picture taking, he turned up his collar, adjusted his frayed coat, struck a distinguished pose, hardly befitting his attire and beaming expectantly, said “One like this too, maybe?”

Ced’s Buick is undergoing a thorough engine job which has kept him pretty busy. He is still living with George and hopes to continue there until early in December, when apparently, he loads up his dogsled and starts mushing for Trumbull.

                Carl Wayne

Should (at this point Carl came in for a visit and two hours have passed in conversation about his job in the Merchant Marine.) He expects to start next week on this trip but is hoping that he will be home before Ced leaves again for Alaska. He asked me the following questions which I was unable to answer, and which others will be asking. When does Ced start and how long a leave of absence can he obtain, and when is he starting back? How will he come, from Alaska by plane to Seattle, thence by train, and make the return trip the same way? By the way, what is the fare by plane from Anchorage to Seattle for ordinary people? (I suppose you get a”trade discount” being in the business.)

How exciting it is to think that it will only be a month more before Ced starts. Carl is so anxious to see him, and Mrs. Ives, too. Then there are the Wardens and Jean who have heard so much about him but have never met him, and Arnold and many others, some of whom are scattered all over the globe, to say nothing of “the family”. Should any of you desire to write to Ced, his address is P.O.  Box 822, Anchorage.

 

Tomorrow, the rest of this letter.

On Saturday, more of Lad’s Voyage to Venezuela., when the Venezuelan Government gets involved .

On Sunday, more about Marian’s Ancestors.

Judy Guion

Trumbull – Dear Members of the General Staff (2) – Notes to Dan, Lad and Marian and Ced – October 24, 1943

This is the second half of Grandpa’s weekly letter as Lad and Marian’s wedding draws nearer.

And as for you, Dan, old thing, you are not the only one that sends birthday greetings tardily. It was only yesterday that a homely brown box left on its way to merry England, via APO New York. How soon it will reach you is one of the mysteries of life, but let’s hope it will reach you before Christmas. If it speaks to you, if anything could, of the love and respect and esteem and high hopes the sender enclosed with it, it will have accomplished it’s purpose.

     Lad and Marian – Pomona, CA

Lad, to you and Marian both, these letters to you henceforth will be intended. In fact, if you have been in circumstances where any

of my former letters have been preserved, might I suggest Marian, (if she cares to), read them with the thought in this manner of becoming somewhat acquainted with your newly to be acquired Dad. I do not share the feeling I know some folks do, that letters are highly personal and are not to be shared with other than the party receiving them. I have no quarrel with those that do feel this way, but, except where really personal and confidential thoughts are put on paper, I like to share the news, if any, with those interested. So, Marian, your interesting letter received this week has been enjoyed not only by me but by  Aunt Betty and Dave and Jean. It will be interesting to see if all my boys wives get along together as well as my boys do among themselves. Perhaps this is too much to expect, this is not to be taken as a disparaging remark about my daughters-in-law, so much as it is the realization that few brothers, to my knowledge and observation, got along so cordially as my five boys with their entirely differing personalities.

Ced Guion

Ced and Lad: I don’t recall whether in my last letter I mentioned that I had come across a very interesting book on the theory of airplane mechanics put out by General Motors which I thought you would like to look over. Anyway, I have asked that a copy be sent you so, if and when it comes, you will know why. It did not seem the sort of thing that would interest Dick, in spite of the fact that this is the branch of service in which he serves, but if I am wrong, just let me know, Dick, old boy. Maybe this will serve as an excuse for writing me one of those rare epistles you occasionally favor us with.

Ced, the other day a tall chap with a mustache came into the office with the job for us to do. He is with a Bridgeport undertaker and asked if I were your father. He said he had been to high school with you and asked me to remember him to you when I wrote. His name is Ed Bachman. Does one ask if business is good under the circumstances?

I haven’t yet had time to hear from any of you since I sent along the news of Lad’s latest attack on the Citadel of a maiden’s heart. No matter where he goes he seems to attract the ladies. Soon after reaching Venezuela, he was chased by a reckless cow and now in California Cupid pierces him with a dart. I declare, he ain’t safe nowhere. With this bit of philosophy I had better bring this weekly Chronicle to a close. Happy Halloween to you all.

DAD

Tomorrow Lad’s writes to tell Grandpa a bit about his intended bride.On Thursday and Friday, another letter from Grandpa with all the “news that fit to print”.

Judy Guion

The Beginning (42) – Childhood Memories of Trumbull – The Helen Log Book (7)

Following are the last pages of the Helen Log Book. They recount, briefly, a trip to Fishers Island, off the Connecticut shore near the mouth of the Thames River near Groton and Stonington.

DICK: “We spent a couple of summers on Fishers Island in Long Island Sound with the Burnham’s”.

The Burnham’s were neighbors of Grandpa and Grandma  when they lived on Larchmont Drive. in Mount Vernon.  They had a cottage on Fishers Island.  I suspect that the entire family went to the Burnham’s cottage on Fishers Island, especially since Dick has memories of spending time there.  Grandma would drive with the three younger children and Grandpa and the boys would use the Helen as their mode of transportation.

 

 

 

Trip to Conn.  Camp during 1931 occurs here.

Trip to L.  I.  In 1932 comes next.  Neither were written up.

Fishers Island Trip – Aug. 1933

Sat. – Aug. 5

Commodore not well.  Crew had packed the night before.  Got off to late start at 11:00.  Weather fair – sea not rough.  Had bad motor knock develop before reaching New Haven due to oil loss.  Bilge needed care every couple of hours.  Cut way out to center of Sound. Passed Faulkner’s Island going strong.  Hit bad squall off about Cornfield Point.  Trip not very eventful – night navigation as we approached the Island.  Guns heard from Island.  Turned into West Harbor in high spirits.  Found a light missing but found dock at Burnham’s about 10:20.

Sun. Aug. 6 –

Helen tried to sink, water up to carburetor in morning.

Mon. to Sat. night – spent time trying to repair Helen’s leaks.  Prepared for return trip Sunday.

Sunday – Aug. 13 –

Fog – steady wind from S.W. Helen doesn’t leak badly.  Got off quite late at 12:05.  Cut across close to Connecticut shore, followed it from Pt. to Pt. Sea rather rough.  Fog lifting, wind increasing.  Motor running perfectly.  Waves getting big at Sachem’s Head.  So large that we chugged up one side, slid down other.  If we took them head on we would have been swamped.  Tide now against us.  Finally reaching New Haven but took interminable time in passing it.  Getting dark as we neared Stratford Pt.  Waves going down a bit.  Just inside the Milford breakwater the motor, getting wet, fired only on 2 cylinders, and with tide against us we “trickled” along to arrive at French’s Dock at 10:30, too late to intercept Mr. Burnham who stopped to see if we had yet arrived.

Commodore, well this time, had acquired a most beautiful beer nose, with a two-cheek accompaniment.

This empty envelope (found in the inside cover of the Log Book), addressed to “The GuionClan”, c/o R B Burnham, Box 413, Fishers Island, NY, dated August 8, 1933, leads me to believe that Grandpa might have gone to Fishers Island with the older boys in the Helen, the first weekend, went back to work in Bridgeport (he had his own printing and advertising company) and then returned to join the family for the following weekend and the trip home with the older boys in The Helen.

This is the Return Address from the envelope.

 

The story of the Helen in the Log Book comes to an end.  It sounds to me as though the Helen provided, on at least four occasions, great memories and wonderful bonding time between Grandpa and his three oldest sons.

Ced provides the last chapter of the Helen and the Guion family.

“Arnold Gibson’s father, stepfather actually, was an old seagoing man.  I guess he had been in the Navy.  He had a Sea Scout troop and Dad said, “You know this boat is getting beyond us.  Why don’t we give it to the Sea Scouts and maybe they can get some fun out of it.”  He gave it to them and I don’t know what they did with it.”

My hope is that you have enjoyed reading about the adventures and mis-adventures of Grandpa, Lad, Dan and Ced during the years they owned The Helen.  I believe that memories fade and we may, without realizing it, fill in blank spaces from a different memory.  We continue to retain the new memory and that is the only thing that continues to exist.  Lad, Ced, Dick and Dave all have a few memories of The Helen.  Although each memory does not exactly match the Log Book, which was recorded at the actual time of the event by an adult, the essence of their memories ring true.

Tomorrow, the government of Venezuela joins in the paper chase prior to Lad entering their country as an alien.

On Sunday, more about Marian (Irwin) Guion’s ancestors.

Judy Guion

The Beginning (41) – Childhood Memories of Trumbull – The Helen Log Book (6)

Following is the transcription of the last two days of this momentous trip Grandpa and the three older boys took up the Connecticut River.  Enjoy.

 

 

Saturday –

Up at 7.  Whether still cloudy.  Breakfast at 8.  Broke camp at 9.  Anchor up and away at 10.  Stopped Middletown for supplies at 11.  Away again for a non-stop run at 11:45.  Motor running perfectly, lunch on board.  Slight shower.  Alfred steering in oil skins… Looks like ad for Scott’s Emulsion.  Shower clears and sun comes out.  Stop at Essex late in the afternoon for gas and water.  Motor averaging about 6 m.p.h.  Saybrook Bridge seems to be _____ as we draw inside of it the motor goes dead.  We find a spark plug points are fouled.  Alfred cleans these with knife and we are off again.  Round the point at Saybrook again at 5:10.  Motor is missing a bit, but we keep on until we round Hammonaset Point and camp for the night on shore.  In spite of temperamental motor we completed our longest single run at dusk, dropping anchor at 7:40, total of 46 miles, in approximately 9 hours with stops.

Sunday –

We were all awake and ready to get up a little after 6, but the blankets were wet with dew and the sun did not get over our sandbank until about 6:30.  Alfred went out to the Helen to clean spark points while I shaved.  Weather a bit overcast, water calm.  Up anchor and away at 9:10.  Breakfast on board.  Motor working ok.  After leaving Sachem’s Head we decided to do some real navigation and strike out into the Sound heading for Stratford Point, proceeding by dead reckoning, using the small compass we have along.

Tomorrow, a quick mention of two trips that never made it into the Log Book and then the record of a trip to Fisher’s Island.

On Saturday, more of Lad’s trip to Venezuela and the Red Tape he had to go through before he ever set foot on the Grace Line Ship.

On Sunday, more information about Marian’s Ancestors.

Judy Guion