After my Uncle Dan (Daniel Beck Guion) passed away in 1997, I realized that first-hand accounts of this particular “Slice of Life” would only continue to diminish over time. I needed to record the memories of my Aunt Biss and her brothers and share them with the family. This culminated in the idea of a Blog so that I could share these memories with anyone who would be interested in the personal histories of some members of The Greatest Generation.
Over a period of several years, whenever possible, I recorded the memories of my Dad and his siblings.
In July of 2004, I sat down with my Uncle Dave and recorded his memories. With the other siblings, the memories were recorded in a somewhat chronological order, but with Dave, after a few early memories, he went right to his Senior year in high school when he made the decision to enlist in the Army. The conversation continued through his service, from Basic Training and his posts in Okinawa and the Philippines until he came home after World War II was over. I then led him back with questions about his childhood. I will present his memories as they were recorded.
David Peabody Guion and Richard Peabody Guion with Mack after a big snow storm in 1940
This is a continuation of some of Dave’s memories surrounding sports and the Island.
We had one fellow, of course this was during the war, we had one fellow who usually was the pitcher and he so badly wanted to go into the Air Force. Whenever a plane flew over, he would stand there holding the ball until the plane got almost out of sight, then he’d resume the game. It was kind of like commercial breaks, I guess.
Unfortunately, this same fellow – three years before that – was up at the Trumbull Reservoir. There was a cliff up there and he and a couple of other fellows were at the bottom of this Cliff when some kids from Bridgeport – I say this because kids from Bridgeport were bad – either accidentally or on purpose threw or kicked a rock off the top of the cliff and it hit this kid in the head, so he had a metal plate in his head. When it came time for him to go into the service, he wanted to fly and of course, they wouldn’t let him. So he left in the Navy. I got a letter from him when I was in Okinawa and it had been written maybe two or three days before that, so I said, “My God, he’s got to be here.” As soon I got a chance I went down to the Harbormaster and found out that his ship had just left, so I missed him.
Back to athletics. In Trumbull, behind McKenzie’s (Drug Store) and a bunch of other stores, there used to be an open lot and we used to play football and baseball there. We had a team called the Trumbull Rangers. We would play basketball and — I say we — THEY would play basketball, football and baseball. (I believe Dave filled the role of Organizer and Manager) We had a regular club and I was the President. I wasn’t worth a darn as an athlete so … Besides, we used to meet in the barn at the Big House. I became the President. That ran for several years. We played other Trumbull teams, we played Bridgeport teams. For a lot of years we never got together. Now, (in 2004) on the first Wednesday of the month, we get together.
One of my earliest memories of the Island was running around naked. There were no buildings on the Island when we went up there, there was a tent. We put up a tent and that was it.
(At this point, the Island was owned by Rusty Heurlin’s parents. Rusty was introduced to the family through Fred Stanley, (married and divorced from Grandma Arla’s younger sister, Anne (Peabody) Stanley), who know Rusty from the group of artists who hung out in Westport, Connecticut)
Here’s a couple of little stories. When I was a kid, I remember it was the first time I was up there (the Island in New Hampshire) – in the first place, it was a two-day trip to get up there – we used to leave, driving up to Rusty’s parent’s house (in Wakefield, Massachusetts), stay overnight, then drive up the rest of the way. Rusty had a couple of friends who were at the Island one time I was up there. We had spaghetti for supper that night. About sometime around two or three o’clock I no longer had that spaghetti. I don’t know what they had put in it, but something made me sick.
Red Hill from the Big Flat Rock on the Island
One guy’s name was Eustis and Rusty used to call him Useless. I don’t remember the other guy’s name. (I told Uncle Dave: His name was Sully and he was called Silly, at least according to Aunt Biss.) (Dave replied:) Rusty is the last one in the world to call someone else silly. I remember one time he decided to make himself a meal. So he got a piece of bread and he proceeded to put anything and everything that was edible on top of that piece of bread and ate the whole thing, stood out on the rock The Big Flat Rock near Bathtub Landing) and belched loud enough so people on Red Hill could hear him, I’m sure. He was a character, a funny guy.
Tomorrow I will start posting letters written in December 0f 1942.