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

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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

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

The Beginning (35) – Childhood Memories of Trumbull – The Helen (2)

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.

CED: We had some friends named Burnham who lived sort of kitty corner to us on Larchmont Drive (in Mount Vernon, New York).  They had a cottage on Fishers Island.  We started out to go see the Burnham’s.  It took about an hour or so to get there.  When we got there, Dad talked to Rufus Burnham.  Dad was very interested in sailboats and asked Rufus if there was anyone on the island who could help us with this boat.  Rufus said, “Yeah, he lives just around the corner.”  We got him to come over and look at the boat.  It was light enough so that we could pull it up and turn it over.  He stood there, puffing on his pipe and looking at the hull of the boat — finally he said, “You came from the Connecticut shore in this?”

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

DAVE: I have a Log Book someplace that I should give to you, Judy.  It’s the trip, a couple of trips maybe, with the boat that Dad named the Helen.  Now, most boats seemed to enjoy themselves lying on top of the water.  Helen seemed to enjoy it most when she was on the bottom, on solid land, even though she was covered by water.  My father would get some more phone calls, “Come down and bail out your boat” or “Come down and somehow raise it up”.  It was forever sinking.  It was probably something like the infamous African Queen, probably not nearly as big but to me it was big.  It was kind of rounded like a tug boat.  It had an engine but it was not a steam engine like the African Queen but had some kind of engine in the back.  It was kind of fun for the older boys.  I don’t know what happened to the Helen but my guess is that if you drained the Housatonic River, you would probably find her.

CED: We kept the boat tied at a place (on the Housatonic River) and one day the owner called and said, “This is Mr. French.  Your boat sunk.”  It must have happened about six times.  We would go over there, drag it up on shore and dump it out.  Dad got tired of this after a while.

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.

 

Tomorrow, I will begin posting what I can read of the Log Book. This should be interesting since I have not read it.

Judy Guion

Honoring All Servicemen and Women – Especially My Dad and Uncles – 1942-1946

This post first appeared on my Blog February 12, 2013. It was part of a series of Guest Posts written by gpcox  concerning areas of interest during the War. 

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I’m pleased to present this Guest Post from gpcox addressing how the Technical and Ground Forces all worked together to create success in their endeavors, which ultimately won the war. Without cooperation between all seven departments, nothing could have been accomplished.

As readers of my blog, pacificparatrooper.wordpress.com are aware, my father, Everett “Smitty” Smith was a sharpshooter trained as a paratrooper and gliderman with the 11th Airborne Division in WWII, this put him in the Ground Force.  But, neither he nor the rest of the soldiers would have gotten very far without the Technical services as each department of the Army worked to support the other.  Should one fail in the chain, a devastating domino effect might hinder or stop the rest.

The Technical Services of the Army Service Force during WWII was comprised of seven departments: The Corps of Engineers, The Signal Corps, Ordnance Dept., Quartermaster Corps, Chemical Corps, Medical Corps and as of 1942 the Transportation Corps.  These operated either behind the scenes or in unison with the 91 divisions of Ground Forces that were designated as: infantry, armored mountain, cavalry and airborne.  In this article I hope to explain how the Guion brothers you have come to know on this site aided soldiers like my father.

Alfred (Lad) Guion in California

Alfred (Lad) Guion was a sergeant, Chief of Section, with the Ordnance Department.  He was an instructor in California and Texas and then on assignment in France.  The technicians, both automotive mechanics and small arms experts worked diligently to solve the problems which had not been foreseen in Aberdeen or Flora.  Equipment was fiercely battered and the need for repairs was imperative; supply problems alone kept these men busy.  Ernie Pyle once wrote, “This is not a war of ammunition, tanks, guns and trucks alone.  It is a war of replenishing spare parts to keep them in combat…”  The smallest nut or bolt missing could keep a G.I. from accomplishing his task.  In the Third Army alone, maintenance crews put back into action more guns and vehicles than were lost by four entire armies in one month.  According to Lt. Gen. Levin Campbell, Jr., “Collectively they [Ordnance Crews] turned out a mechanical and technical superiority for American troops which no other Army in the history of the world has ever equaled.”  Therefore, as you can see, I have not exaggerated my praise of their contributions.

Daniel Beck Guion (Dan)

 

Army Map Service

Daniel Guion was a Field Surveyor and as such would be required to record field data, prepare sketches, determine angles for targets and/or develop accurate maps.  Without these men, the soldiers would be unable to acquaint themselves with the terrain the enemy was in and ammunition would be wasted while attempting to target enemy fortifications.  Engineers used the surveyor’s knowledge to construct roads and airfields.  Although photogrammetry was being used for aerial maps, accuracy still required points on the ground and creating grids.

Richard (Dick) Guion was a linguist and acted as a liaison with Brazil.  Many are unaware of that country’s involvement, but Dick’s fluency in Portuguese and Spanish was very useful to the U.S. government.  Brazil originally dealt with both the Axis and Allied powers, but declared war against the Axis on 22 August 1942.  The United States built air bases to support aerial runs over North Africa as well as the China-Burma-India Theater.  The Brazilians also sent 25,000 men to fight fascism under the command of the Fifth Army and their air force flew American P-47 Thunderbolts.  One of the main reasons that Brazil entered the war was the diplomatic actions of the American liaisons.  The country was an important strategic point for the Allies and was considered “The Springboard for Victory” for the fighting troops in North Africa.  This was one more service working behind the scenes and whose efforts saved countless lives.

 

Radioman - WWII

Dave Guion was in the Signal Corps and very adept in Morse Code, radar and trained as a radioman.  His primary mission would be to provide communication for the scattered elements of an operation and headquarters.  To keep everyone coordinated as to the on-going events as they unfolded.  There would be equipment with a command company, field operations and headquarters.  Whether it was a stationary complex or mobile radio, each unit found contact essential.  The maintenance of this equipment was their responsibility.  When you read in my blog of smoke and wig-wag signals, it was these men indicating the proper target for a jump or bomb; whatever was needed.  By 1942, signal communications had expanded into large networks of telephone, teletype, radio and messenger services that produced results 24/7 wherever the battles raged or lines formed.  They dug holes, laid wire, planted poles and repaired damaged areas of wire.  It would not have fared well for the fighting units to be without these men.

Cedric (Ced) Duryee Guion

 

Airplane Mechanic - WWII

Cedric Guion was an airplane mechanic in Alaska.  As a bush pilot, he was capable of locating downed planes and bringing them in for repairs.  As of 22 May 1942, Intelligence knew Japan was about to attack Midway and the Aleutian Islands.  Within ten days, Kiska and Attu were occupied by the enemy.  Ced’s position was crucial.  The air war increasingly grew well into 1943.  After consistent air and naval bombardment, the U.S. and Canadian troops finally found the Aleutians deserted by Japan.  Although he remained a civilian employee, he operated on a military airfield.  His technical expertise kept the American pilots in the air which was their essential mission.

There was also the Medical Corps, the 221st operated with the 11th Airborne Division and other positions of the technical branch, but perhaps we will discussed them at a future date.  For right now, I sincerely hope you enjoy both this blog  and mine.  Thank you for taking the time to read.

References and photos:

U.S. Army, “The Pacific War” by John Davison, National WWII Museum, HyperWar Federal Records, fold3.com and numerous Technical Service Associations

I am continually surprised by the detail and research that gpcox does before posting on pacificparatrooper.wordpress.com and guest posting on my blog. Please leave a comment and let us know what you think of this post and previous posts by gpcox.

Tomorrow, I will begin posting another week of the early childhood memories of Grandma and Grandpa Guion’s children in a series I call “The Beginning”. 

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