Early Years – Memories of Elizabeth Westlin (Guion) Zabel (2) – 1922 – 1964

SOL - Very Young Biss with broken arm

Elizabeth Westlin (Guion) Zabel, right after she broke her arm

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

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

For some reason or other, I thought the doctors and nurses lived at the hospital.  There was a school across the street and you could see the kids playing outside.  I thought those were the children of the doctors and nurses.  You could hear their voices, you know, playing out there.

I had to go to the bathroom and I held it and held it.  I kept watching the door and waiting for Mother to come.  It was getting worse and worse.  I was afraid I was going to wet my bed.  I was wiggling and squirming, and I finally saw her coming.  I thought, “Oh, good, and I told her, “I have to go to the bathroom.”  She said, “Well, why didn’t you tell one of the nurses?”  I said, “I couldn’t do that!”

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

Next weekend, I will continue the Early Years with Memories of Elizabeth Westlin (Guion) Zabel.

Tomorrow, I will move on to 1944. All five of Grandpa’s sons are in the service of Uncle Sam. 

Judy Guion

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Early Years – Memories of Elizabeth Westlin (Guion) Zabel (1) – 1919 – 1964

The only memory I have of Larchmont is a vague picture of the living room.  It had a fireplace and it seems to me a piano (probably the Player Piano that Grandpa bought for their first apartment, in 1913) or something, but I’m not sure.  My impression is of hardwood floors but I can’t remember what the furniture looked like.  I was four when we left there.

Guion kids - Daniels Farm Road (dirt) - about 1925

A very early picture of the children playing near the steps, which were not complete yet, probably taken in 1923, because Biss broke her arm when she was five. Left to right: Lad, Ced, Biss and Dick.

I probably enjoyed the move from Larchmont because this was a nice house, with a lot of yard, lawn and stuff, lots of corners to hide in.  I slept in the study for a while, upstairs, in other words, the bedroom in the apartment.  The doorway went through and I think that was the original room I slept in, but I’m not sure.  I know Dick and I slept in the big room that the little room came into.  It was probably the first place I stayed.  It had twin beds.

I think the first memory I have of the Trumbull house is being sent to the store at the corner (Kurtz’s Grocery Store) and when I came out of the store, I didn’t know how to get back home.  There was a street that went straight, which wasn’t the right street.  I started down there but I knew that was wrong so I turned around and came back.  I could be wrong but my impression was that Daniels Farm Road was a dirt road, but I’m not sure.  I know that there were no streetlights or anything. (The road was dirt and it was a couple of years before electricity was installed on that road) Anyway, I found my way home.

Trumbull House - 2018 - Maple Tree and Summer Porch

The steep driveway up to the house

Trumbull House - 2018 -Front View with Stpes to Front Door

The front steps with steps and landings, steps and landings, steps and landings

I remember this steep Hill I had to climb all the time.  That was true until I got quite older.  That steep hill was the driveway … or you could use the front steps which had steps and landings, steps and landings, steps and landings.  The front door was used quite a bit.  The salesman would come to that door.  So any time anyone was selling anything, they came up the front stairs.

We were all close in age.  Between your father (Lad) and Dick, there was one and a half years between each one of us.  Then there was five years between Dick and Dave.  Lad was in April, Dan was in October, Ced was in June, I was in January and Dick was in August.  So there was just about a year and a half between us.

Tomorrow, more of the Early Years and the Memories of Elizabeth Westlin (Guion) Zabel.

Judy Guion

Early Years – Memories of Cedric Duryee Guion (7) – 1924 – 1945

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. 

These are the memories of Cedric Duryee Guion, Grandma and Grandpa’s third child and third son.

Blog - The Island

The Island

When we first went to the Island, probably about 1924 or 1925, there was nothing on it at all.  We’d take a tent.  My Dad would load up the big old touring car.  To begin with, we used a canoe and a rowboat to get out to the Island.  Later, Lad and his buddies built the barge that was hand-built in Trumbull.  It was 15 or 16 feet long, it had a square bow and a flat bottom.  It was always nice to have when you are moving your stuff out to the Island.  Then the guys started getting motorboats, outboards, a lot handier to go here and there.

Spring Island - Transportation @ 1960s - Utility Barge, rowboat (Lad)

The Barge

The barge was used to move the Cook Cabin.  Lad and some of his friends went to the mainland and bought a garage.  They sawed it in half, put it on the barge and brought it to the Island.  They made it into the kitchen shack.

The Island belonged to the Heurlin’s and they let us use it.  We used it long before we bought it.  Through Rusty, we met his family.  His mother and father came over from Sweden, his father spoke with a strong accent.  He was a Custom’s Agent in Boston.  They were a nice couple, they lived in Wakefield, Massachusetts, in a nice house.

Rusty Heurlin gave my mother a painting – it was a rather famous one – he was very fond of her.  He was younger then my Mother and Father by a little.  We did a lot with him – we’d go hiking with him.  He made quite a name for himself.  All his life he lived by sponging.  He was so charismatic that he could get away with it.  He walked out of school, he took Art lessons, he was a hobo for a while.  The only thing that really interested him was painting.  He spent all his life painting beautiful pictures.  He was a good artist but he didn’t make any money at it.  He knew all the artists in Westport – Red Heurlin – they knew Red Heurlin and they loved him.  He loved dogs, oh, he loved dogs with a passion.  There are a lot of his paintings around Fairbanks, Alaska, at the University of Alaska, in banks and in hospitals.  They’re mostly outdoor scenes, some have to do with the early settlers, the Russians.  Colcord Heurlin – he always signed C. Heurlin.

One painting did more to make him famous than anything else he did.  Rusty made friends, he lived with me for a time in Anchorage.  He made pictures.  He made a mural, he filled the whole wall with it, for one of the bars in town, a whole Hawaiian scene.  He used to drink quite heavily at times.  I’d come home at three or four o’clock in the morning and he’d be painting.  We lived with an old Norwegian guy named George, he slept in the upstairs room, you had to climb up a ladder. I worked for the airline there, mostly Bush piloting – scheduled passenger service came later – but most of the time I was there, it was all Bush pilot’s.  Rusty and I would go down to George’s living room, George was a bachelor.  Rusty would paint in that living room until three or four in the morning.  During the day he’d go out partying up and down the street.  They called it the longest bar in Alaska – that was Main St. in Anchorage.

Tomorrow, more of the Early Years with the last portion of the Memories of Cedric Duryee Guion. Next weekend, I will begin the Memories of Elizabeth Westlin (Guion) Zabel.

Judy Guion

Early Years – Memories of Cedric Duryee Guion (6) – 1922 – 1942

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. 

These are the memories of Cedric Duryee Guion, Grandma and Grandpa’s third child and third son.

SOL - Young Ced on Porch

Cedric Duryee Guion

As you go across the bridge from Stratford to Milford on the Post Road, on the left are some buildings at the end of the bridge.  There is a dock down below on the Housatonic River.  Just below the bridge on the Stratford side, there were some fishermen’s homes.  One of the fishermen had a boat for sale.  Dad never liked to buy new stuff.  He bought this boat.  It was about 21 feet long with a round cowling.  It had an old motor, a one-lunger that went putt, putt, putt. it was in nice shape, nice looking, a nice bow, but it was pretty old.  That’s why they sold it, but Dad knew that.  We named it The Helen.

Very soon after we got this boat, Dad decided it needed to be dressed up a bit.  He got some lumber and he got someone else to do it, and they made a canvas top.  It came up from the two ends and fastened in the middle and somehow, you could walk around in it.  At the same time, he put in a Ford Marine Conversion engine which was a lot heavier than the original one.  It made the boat lower in the back.  He also decked over the whole back, with cabinets for storage.  It was pretty high-sided and very seaworthy.

Dad, Lad, Dan and I decided we’d take a trip out the Housatonic River and up the coast to Milford.  We were going to go to Hartford and it would take a couple of days.  We started out – we had found out that we had a problem and we had done some caulking on it.  It wasn’t quite watertight.  There was a little storm over Long Island Sound and just about the time we got to the Connecticut River, a real storm came up with high waves.  We had a rough time of it, we really bounced around quite a bit and we were low on gas.  It had gotten fairly calm and I guess the storm was over.  We pulled over to get some gas and decided we’d stay overnight.  We had kind of a rough trip.  We pulled across the river to the other side where there was a beach and some houses.  We anchored out, put the canvas over us, made up the beds and went to sleep.  I was the first one awake the next morning.  The sun was out and it was quite nice.  There was a small space between the canvas and the gunwale, and I was lying there with my head at gunwale height, looking outside.  All of a sudden I realized there was water just a few inches below the gunwale.  I yelled for everyone to get up.  “Hey, guys, we’re sinking.”  Dad had the seats made up as beds so we lifted one and the water was right up there.  Anyway, we bailed and bailed real fast and we finally got the thing so we had plenty of free board, but my mother had baked us a beautiful cake.  It was sitting in salt water.  They don’t float well and they don’t taste good after being in salt water.

We had some friends named Burnham who had lived sort of caddy-corner to us on Lansdowne Drive in Larchmont.  They had a cottage on Fisher’s Island in Long Island Sound.  We started out to visit the Burnham’s in The Helen.  It took us 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 problem we had with the boat.  Rufus said, “Yea, he lives right around the corner.”  He got him to come over and look at the boat.  It was light enough so that we could pull it up on shore 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?”

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’ve happened about six times.  We’d go over there, drag it up on shore and dump it out.  Dad got tired of this after a while.

Arnold Gibson’s father, step-father actually, was an old sea-going 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 a week of letters written in 1940. Lad is working in Venezuela and Dan and Ced are driving to Anchorage, Alaska, for jobs.  

Judy Guion

Early Years – Memories of Cedric Duryee Guion (5) – 1922 – 1940

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. 

These are the memories of Cedric Duryee Guion, Grandma and Grandpa’s third child and third son.

CDG - Ced - 1939

Cedric Duryee Guion

I am 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 – my mother died on June 29th and on June 1st, that same year, I turned sixteen.  I think I got my license on the 2nd.  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 4 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 Wells Garage and he was making a little money there.  He saw 1929 Packard Touring car – it was a beauty – and he asked my 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.

Lad worked at the Well’s Garage, the Well’s Bus Line.  He was their Maintenance man for years.  Later he ran two different gas stations in town.  The first was the Mobile Station, next to Kurtz’s Store.  The second was the Atlantic Station after it opened.

We had an old Waverley electric car in the barn.  Dick, poor Dick, got all excited about the war effort.  He thought, “Well gee, here’s this old junk and it’s pretty well shot.”  The Fire Department was looking for scrap metal.  Dick was very patriotic and he thought he’d give them the Waverley, and at the same time, help the war effort.

We still have a series of pictures of the old Waverley in the backyard.  Rusty and some of his friends, my mother and my aunts, all dressed up in these beautiful costumes from the 1800’s that were in good condition in the attic.  They all dressed up in these clothes we took pictures of them in the Waverley.  Rusty pretended to be the groom and Aunt Dorothy was the bride.  Rusty had this stovepipe hat on and all the ladies were all dressed up.  Of course, the Waverley didn’t have any tires on it but it looked nice.

Tomorrow, more of the Early Years as we continue with the Memories of Cedric Duryee Guion.

Judy Guion

Early Years – Memories of Cedric Duryee Guion (4) – 1922 – 1940

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. 

These are the memories of Cedric Duryee Guion, Grandma and Grandpa’s third child and third son.

SOL - Young Ced on Porch

Cedric Duryee Guion

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

We used to play the piano.  We had a player piano, we got it from Aunt Anne, she had it in New Rochelle and they didn’t use it anymore so we got it. (Actually, Grandpa bought it in 1913, the year he and Grandma Arla got married, and I have the original Sales receipt.)

The Young People’s Group in the church was led by Doug and Emily Chandler.  Long after Chandler left, we kept on with the Chandler Chorus.  The only two people who ever directed the Chandler Chorus were Doug Chandler and Laura Brewster.  He was good, very good with young people.  There must have been seventeen or eighteen kids.  He played the piano beautifully and we’d have these meetings once a week.  He played really jazzy music for us, too.  He was very fond of music, good music, and started the Chandler Chorus.  We had everywhere from ten-year-olds to sixty-year-olds, maybe higher.  Maybe not ten-year-olds, but we had young people.  We sang quite frequently.  We went all over the place, up to Shelton.  We were good.  In fact that’s where Fannie and I met. (Ced is referring to
Fannie Pike, from Stratford, who he married years later.)

Anyway, then there was this young group, as I said, our house was the center of activity all over town.  It drew practically everyone in the town of Trumbull.  Mother said every Tuesday night we could have an Open House for all the young people.  We would play the piano, and we’d sing.  We just had a ball, and then we’d have cookies and cocoa or something.  That was so much fun.

Dad took us down to Baltimore in one of the cars – must have been one of the Packard’s – 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 war period costumes.  We probably went in the early 20s.  Dan, Lad and I – D’s’sad 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.

Tomorrow I will post a week of letters written in 1944, when all of the boys are in service to Uncle Sam. Grandpa is holding down the fort at the Old Homestead and acting as a Clearing House for news from – and to – all of his sons.

Judy Guion

Early Years – Memories of Cedric Duryee Guion (3) – 1922 – 1940

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. 

These are the memories of Cedric Duryee Guion, Grandma and Grandpa’s third child and third son.

SOL - Young Ced on Porch

Cedric Duryee Guion

We smoked corn silk and cigarettes here and there.  Art Christie was the oldest, your father 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’s – 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 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 enjoyed 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, which 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 we were playing along the side of the Brook, 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.”  Not one of us wanted to smoke again until we were eighteen or twenty.  Not one of us.  Now, if that is in psychology, good psychology … Without even being punished.

Tomorrow, more Early Years with the Memories of Cedric Duryee Guion.

Judy Guion

Early Years – Memories of Cedric Duryee Guion (1) – 1917 – 1922

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. 

These are the memories of Cedric Duryee Guion, Grandma and Grandpa’s third child and third son.

Cedric Duryee Guion

Cedric Duryee Guion

I don’t remember much about the Larchmont house on Lansdowne Drive. I do remember the milk was delivered by a milkman with a horse and buggy. Lansdowne drive was on the heel and at the bottom was a Creek. One day the horse and wagon went down the hill faster than usual – they went bouncing down the Hill. I don’t remember if the horse went in the broke or not. I was pretty young at the time, about four maybe. I don’t believe my Mother had a single enemy in Trumbull. She was President of the Women’s Community Cub, and she was very, very good to her family.

I don’t believe my Mother had a single enemy in Trumbull. She was President of the Women’s Community Club, and she was very, very good to the family. She had practically all of our aunts and some of our uncles living with us in Trumbull at various times. We had a big house and most of them lived in New York City. When they had vacations and when we had holidays, they’d all come up on the train from New York. Sometimes they would drive – it would take them about four hours on the Post Road. I remember those trips too. Traffic was all over the place, stop and go, stop and go.

I always said that I knew one person in town that my mother didn’t like. I don’t believe that the woman ever knew that my mother didn’t like her because she was… I can’t gossip.. She was very critical of other people and that bothered my Mother.

My Mother was very active in town, she was very public-spirited. She helped plant flowers on the green, that sort of thing.

Our house was the center for the local population. All the kids our age congregated at our house because of everything, and my mother course. She was very pro-social, in her own life and in ours. She was a wonderful woman.

We were really one big happy family and we really had fun growing up. Arnold Gibson was part of the group; he was more a part of the family group. He was very fond of our family, and spent a lot of time with us. Arnold was devoted to my mother, too. Everybody that knew her loved her.

Tomorrow, more of the Early Years with the Memories of Cedric Duryee Guion.

Judy Guion

Early Years – Memories of Alfred Peabody Guion (8) – 1938-1942

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. 

I am beginning with the Memories of my Father, Alfred Peabody Guion, the oldest, and will continue each weekend with his Memories. Then I will share the Memories of his siblings, oldest to youngest.

Lad in Venezuela

Alfred Peabody Guion (Lad)

I got into the oil business in Venezuela through my uncle, Ted Human.  He was a civil engineer and saw an ad in the business paper that requested workers for Venezuela.  He applied for a job with a company called Interamerica, Inc. He got the job and asked Dan, also a civil engineer, to come down and help him.  He also asked me if I’d go along as a mechanic to maintain the company trucks.  We were going to build a road from Caracas to Columbia (Maracaibo), which would go across the top of Venezuela.  Barquisiemeto was the name of the town in Venezuela. Dan left with Uncle Ted (in October, 1938) but I had to buy tools, equipment and other stuff that I would need.  By the time I had everything ready and had arranged transportation, it was the end of December, 1938. I left from New York City on a Grace Line ship on December 26, 1938.  I was at sea on New Year’s Eve.  We had a rather bad storm going across to the port of Caracas and most of the passengers got sick, I was one of the few that didn’t get sick.  I was still able to get around although the ship was pitching rather badly.  After that they put balance wheels or gyroscopes in those boats.  They really helped a great deal.  It didn’t stop the pitching but it did stop the yawing.

I worked for Interamerica, Inc. for a couple of months but I wasn’t getting paid.  Neither were the other guys.  Uncle Ted found out that the pictures sent to the Venezuelan officials showed the road we had built was actually just smoothed out sand, not cement.  He got pretty upset about that because it wasn’t a real road.  He and Dan had done the surveying and figured the angles and the grades, and then instead of pouring cement, they just leveled off the sand.

Ted was injured in a car accident and returned to the United States.  I guess Dan wasn’t interested in staying after that.  Ted had introduced me to a fellow and I had worked on his vehicles.  I was able to get a job with him at Sacony-Vacuum and I worked for them for two years. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Vacuum_Oil_Company

While Uncle Ted was in Venezuela, he had a chauffeur named Manuel.  There are going to Caracas down a road and came to a river with a bridge across it.  Many of the bridges in Venezuela are two lanes wide but only one side of the bridge is finished with planking.  Manuel was going a bit fast and he was going up a slight hill and because there was a piece of equipment on the road, he didn’t realize that the other side of the bridge had the planking.  Manuel tried to get over to the left far enough but wasn’t successful.  The car went over the bank and into the river.  Uncle Ted got hurt quite badly.  Aunt Helen ((Peabody) Human) came down from the US and took him back to a New York City hospital.  Although he lived for a few years after that, he was in very poor health.

After working in Venezuela for two and half years, the company (Socony-Vacuum) required that I take two months off and go to a temperate climate.  They didn’t care where, just that I had to be out of the tropical climate.  So I went home.  Just before our ship landed in New York City, an announcement came over the P A system that some government employees would be coming on board.  When they arrived, they asked everyone for their passport.  They told me that I wouldn’t get my passport back.  I went to Trumbull and shortly thereafter, got my conscription notice, classifying me 1-A. Because of my draft status, I had trouble finding a job.  I figured that if I signed up, then I could pick which branch of the service I went into.  I went to New York City and tried to get into the Navy and the Air Force but I was rejected because of my eyesight.  It was finally able to get a job at the Producto Machine Company (in Bridgeport).  They made machines and dies.  It was a fairly nice plant, it was considered pretty good equipment.  In December, the Japanese bombed Pearl Harbor and shortly after that I got a notice to report for duty.  I was able to get a deferment because of my job but by April, 1942, I had been reclassified 1-A. I received a notice to report for duty in May.  Two days later I got a letter from the Navy saying they had lowered their eyesight requirements and I was now eligible.  I tried to talk the Army out of it, but was unsuccessful.  So I went into the Army.

Tomorrow, I will begin posting letters written in the middle of April, 1944.

Judy Guion

Early Years – Memories of Alfred Peabody Guion (7) – 1922-1938

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. 

I am beginning with the Memories of my Father, Alfred Peabody Guion, the oldest, and will continue each weekend with his Memories. Then I will share the Memories of his siblings, oldest to youngest.

 

APG - Art Mantle, Biss and Lad -1930s

Art Mantle, Biss (Elizabeth Guion) and Lad (Alfred Peabody Guion)

The gasoline engine training is something that I picked up on my own.  I used to work for Steve Kascak, who owned a garage. (Lad started working for Steve Kascak during the summers when he was fourteen years old) He wasn’t enthusiastic about my work because he always said, if it’s not broken, don’t fix it.”  But I was always making it better, even if it wasn’t broken.  I worked for him for a couple of years. 

Dan and I both applied for and got into the CCC (Civilian Conservation Corps) because Dad was badly in debt.  His wife, my mother (Arla Mary (Peabody) Guion), had developed cancer and spent a lot of time in Bridgeport Hospital.  At Bridgeport Hospital they made a very bad error with an intravenous feeding … one of the nurses had put a saline solution in, and Mom went to a hospital in Pennsylvania, where her cousin, Randolph Nowt, was a doctor.  She was in the hospital for quite a while.  All of that is very vague in my mind.  Helen ((Peabody) Human) and Dorothy (Peabody), her sisters, were in Trumbull taking care of us kids.  They were very restrictive as far as letting us know anything about Mother.  So, we know very little about what was going on or anything else.

Because of all the expenses of Mother’s illness and death, Dad was in considerable debt. Dan and I joined the CCC and send him money.  Both of us had assigned him to get the money we were paid.  I don’t know what it was, maybe seventy dollars a month or something like that.  I was in Niantic, a town just outside of New London and Dan was in Willimantic.  I was maybe 75 or 85 miles from home.  There were three or four of us from the Bridgeport area at the camp.  I could frequently get a ride from one of the fellows who had a car, but it was always a lot of trouble trying to arrange transportation to get there on time and to go home on weekends.  So I decided, after talking it over with Dad, to buy a motorcycle to get me back and forth.  I used the motorcycle for a couple of summers, and then the CCC Camp was over.  It was a 1925 Harley-Davidson, model 74.  One of the fellows across the street, Erwin Laufer, bought a motorcycle and we used to ride together.  He had what was known as a 45 Harley, and we raced a couple of times.  I had one cylinder and he had two, but both machines almost stayed together, even at top speed, so we never decided who had the advantage.  That didn’t last too long.  I went to Venezuela and then the war came along.

I came very close to having an accident (on my motorcycle) once on my way to visit Rusty (Heurlin) in Westport, Connecticut.  I went around a fairly sharp corner and there was a lot of gravel, the machine started to slide but it didn’t go far enough.

I did have an accident with my motorcycle.  I don’t remember when, but it was later, maybe a year or two.  I was going to Bridgeport.  Where  White Plains Road and Nichols Avenue meet, there is a fairly sharp corner.  I was going too fast and didn’t make that turn.  On the far side, the left side of the road, there was a terrace.  I guess there was a house on top of the hill.  I hit the terrace section instead of making that corner.  I was going so fast that the bike went onto the terrace, then into the air and I fell off.  I could see the bike coming down. I thought for sure it was going to hit me, but it didn’t.  I went to Venezuela soon after that and a fellow named Nelson Sperling took the motorcycle.  He was a reckless fellow and that was the end of the motorcycle.

Tomorrow, more of the Early Years and the Memories of Alfred Peabody Guion.

Judy Guion