Trumbull – Dear Alumni of Trumbull University (1) – Spineless Jelly Fish – October 3, 1943

 

Trumbull, Conn., Oct. 3, 1943

Dear Alumni of Trumbull University:

Greetings from your Alma  Mater, the entire faculty, and the balance of the student body which has dwindled considerably since you occupied the various dormitories, and in sooth bodes well to be still further depleted in view of the fact that Young David completed his 18th semester recently and immediately hied him over to ye old Towne Halle where Clerk H. Plumb duly registered him with Uncle Sam. Rumor has it that before the dawn of another New Year’s Day, he too will be in the armed services of the United States. Of course I have hopes that by the time he is actually inducted and through training the bloody part of the war will be on the way out, although I am also conscious of the fact that, if present rumors become fact, honorable discharges will be issued first to those who have served longest, have families, are incapacitated or are more essential in peace-time activities, leaving the opposite numbers to continue on for policing work in occupied countries, etc., So that, speaking personally, the Guion Co. may be deprived of its principal employee for some time to come. Anyhoo, will hope for a class reunion in the not very distant future, with the flag flying from the top of the pole. We are certainly having some good “old Glory” news reports lately. For instance, recent headlines in the Bridgeport paper, “White Russian Cities Blasted by Red Pilots Makes Nazis Blue”.

The political pot is beginning to boil hereabouts. McLevy is of course again a candidate for mayor of Bridgeport. To oppose him on the Republican ticket is the proprietor of Slim’s Diner. Ferguson is up again for First Selectman of Fairfield but the Republican ranks in his town are wide open, his own Town Committee opposing him, and asking electors to vote for the Democratic nominee. At that, however, things are mild compared to what they will be next year when the national election is held, and while on the subject, you may as well have my opinion for what it may be worth on what it is all about, so that when you are asked to cast your ballot you may know how at least one elector feels about matters. The question is not Republican vs Democrat, not Roosevelt vs Wilkie, or what have you, not liberals vs conservatives, not new deal vs good deal, not capital vs labor, not isolationist vs interventionist, but rather Federal Government planning of our daily lives from cradle to grave, which the present administration in Washington stands for, vs the good old American way of life based on being on one’s own and depending on individual resourcefulness in making ends meet and thus calling out the best in us to meet conditions when the job seems impossible – – the spirit epitomized by the saying: “the difficult we do at once, the impossible takes a bit longer”. The New Deal provisions for old age dependency, no job, WPA leaf-raking jobs, sick benefits, while all very alluring in providing freedom from fear, is ennervating, laziness-breeding and is more apt to develop a nation of spineless jelly dish. There is something to be said for “coming up the hard way”. Someday the war will end and we will have to pick ourselves up and go on our interrupted way. If we cut out all these present artificial restraints and rely on our own resourcefulness which we are showing we can do, we will have come through the fire like a finely tempered blade, but I don’t think we can do this under the Roosevelt theory of government. There you have what to my mind is the main issue – – mollycoddlers vs moulders of our own destiny. That is the way we have grown during our short history and I don’t want to live to see the day when the paternalism at Washington will shield us from all harm and guide us from cradle to grave and do our thinking and planning for us. We are not members of a governmental harem.

Tomorrow, I’ll post the rest of this letter, and I’ll finish off the week with another letter from Grandpa to Lad and one to all the boys (except Dave, who is still home, but has registered with Uncle Sam).

Judy Guion 

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The Beginning (28) – Childhood Memories of the Children – Young Lad and Driving

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.

Art Mantle, Biss (Elizabeth Guion) and Lad

LAD – When I was eight, Dad took Dan, Ced and I, possibly Biss, for a walk up behind our property, past the cemetery.  There was a slightly sloping hill on the lot, and all of us were rolling down the hill, including Dad.  When he got up he said there was something wrong with his eyes, some dirt or something, so we went home.  His eye got worse and more bloodshot and it began to hurt more so Mother told him he should go see the doctor.  He was reluctant but finally consented.  I asked him if I could go and he said yes.  When he got to the doctors, the doctor told him that a piece of stubble had apparently pierced his eye.  He sewed it up and when Dad came out he could only see out of one eye, and that was blurred and watery.  He asked me if I could steer the car for him.  So I sat on his lap and steered the car, told him when to put on the brakes.  He did the shifting and used the clutch, but from that time on, I was very interested in driving.  I was only eight!

BISS – When Lad was twelve or fourteen, I don’t remember when, he and Ced and Dan and Dad went for a walk.  Dad’s eye got cut with a blade of grass or something.  So Lad drove him to the hospital, even though he was under the age, too.  Of course, Dad couldn’t drive because he couldn’t see.  So Lad drove him to the hospital and back after they took care of him.

AUTHOR’S NOTE: since Lad remembers sitting on Grandpa’s lap, he was probably closer to eight rather than twelve or fourteen.

LAD – By the time I was twelve, I was able to drive a car by myself.  I talked my mother into letting me drive to Kurtz’s store.  We had a 1925 Packard, and at that time, the road was so narrow that when I got to the junction of White Plains Road and Daniels Farm Road, there wasn’t much room to maneuver a car, so I went on down to Reservoir Avenue to turn around.  On the way back, I saw a car coming towards me.  It was Sheriff Stanley Boughton.  He looked at me, turned around and accosted me in the store.  He asked me if I had license to drive, and I guess I said, “No”.  He then asked me if my mother knew I was driving.  When I said, “Yes”, he told me to take the car home and leave it there … But I didn’t.  I never got into trouble after that until much later.  After I got my license I was driving up in the Newtown area and apparently I was driving too fast.  I got stopped for speeding.  Nothing ever came of it because my Dad was the Justice of the Peace and, at that time, First Selectman of Trumbull.

DICK – One time Lad took the Packard touring car, he was quite impressed with its power and high gear.  He started it rolling and slipped the clutch to get it started and went for a drive to Kurtz’s store.  Johnny Austin was the town cop.  He went to see Dad.  “You’d better talk to your boy … I couldn’t catch him and it’s a good thing I didn’t.”

AUTHOR’S NOTE: We will never know if Lad and Dick were talking about the same incident or two different instances.  I do know that my Dad’s love of cars started very early in his life.

Tomorrow, another excerpt from San Jose, California to the Lewis family back in New York. On Sunday, I will continue the story of Lad and Marian during and after World War II.

Judy Guion 

The Beginning (27) – Memories of the Children – Lad’s Memories of School

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.

          Alfred (Lad) Peabody Guion

LAD – When we started grammar school in Trumbull, we had Emma Linley as a teacher.  She and my mother were quite friendly.  In fact, she would take me to the Linley’s house, which was in Nichols, and I’d play with the older brother, Bill.  Later on, when I could ride a bicycle, I used to go there by myself.

We went to grammar school in the house that the Sirene’s bought.  There were two buildings.  The one Dan and I went to was divided into two rooms, first through third grade on one side, fourth through sixth grade on the other side.  The seventh and eighth graders were in the other building.  The two buildings were parallel to White Plains Road with their entrances facing each other.  The town moved that other building to the center of town and made it into a firehouse.  That was quite a project because they had to have the electric company people and the telephone company people going along with the building.  They would take down the wires, and after the building went by, they would put them back up.  I guess I went to Sirene’s house for about three years.

Dan and I started school together in Trumbull.  I was sent back.  I was in second grade in Larchmont but when I got to Trumbull, I was sent back into the first grade and Dan and I started together.  We went right together until seventh or eighth … Dan was more of a scholar than I.  He skipped seventh grade, I think.  I must have skipped a grade (or two) because we didn’t graduate at the same time.  I went to high school first and then Dan came.

When we first moved to Trumbull, I met Art Christie, who was a year or two older than I, but we were pals, we played together all the time.  Later, he went to school in what became the firehouse.  I never got to go to that building, because in 1925, they built Center School, so we went there.  The kids who were in the other building, the old firehouse, went to high school.  They went to Congress High School in Bridgeport, not Central High School.

        Alfred Peabody Guion (Lad)

At Christmas time, when I was in sixth grade, the teachers selected Bill Hennigan and I to go out and get a Christmas tree.  I was a Boy Scout so I had a little hatchet available.  Bill and I went out and found the tree we thought would be satisfactory and cut it down.  I don’t know how it happened, but maybe we were trimming limbs or something at the bottom, but the Axe slipped and hit my knee.  I had quite a bad cut on my knee.  I don’t remember the details now, but they must have bandaged it and took me home or sent me home or something.  It cleared up all right.  Then the next year, Bill and I were selected to go out and get the tree again.  They told me to be careful, and I was, but I cut my knee again.  For the third year, we didn’t do that.

Tomorrow and for the rest of the week, I will be posting more memories the children have about growing up in Trumbull.

Judy Guion

Trumbull – Dear Sheiks (1) – Local Weather and a Memory – August 13, 1944

GUION OASIS

Trumbull Desert

Principal products – dates

(This one is August 13, 1944)

pp pic 1

Dear Sheiks:

Prevailing temperature for the past week was 95°. Still no rain. Laufer’s corn has dried up on the stalk – – no tomatoes, beans, peas or other fresh vegetables we used to look forward to serving newly gathered from his farm as a special delicacy to regale the pallets of our favored guests (Aunt Elsie is now with us for her vacation week). I have not had to use the lawnmower for over six weeks. There is a touch of green in the grass only beneath the shade trees – – the “lawn” is just a patch of bare, brown, dead grass. The brook is as nearly dry as I have ever seen it. However, due to the new reservoir, there is as yet no scarcity in the city water supply. Victory Gardens hereabouts are sorry looking affairs – – reminders of what might have been. We now call them “Defeat Gardens”. One redeeming feature is that it has been too dry for any mosquitoes to hatch out so one can sit on the porch evenings without slapping. (Jean has just walked into the room with a nice tall glass of cold grape juice, and gee, does it taste good.) A nice long ocean voyage would go well just now.

And speaking of ocean voyages, a wounded Negro soldier was about to be landed from a hospital ship just reaching port. A medical officer asked if he had any personal belongings to be taken ashore. He shook his head. “What, no souvenirs from the fighting front?” “Captain,” said the boy, “Ah ain’t got no souvenirs. All ah want to take home from dis here war is just a faint recollection”.

And apropos of recollections and Dan’s reference in his last letter to putting his French into use, reminds me of our famous trip into the Gaspé country when I went up to one of the farmhouses to see if I could wrangle some fresh eggs. They couldn’t understand my English and I couldn’t understand their French. I finally made with my hands what I thought was the shape of an egg. With a gleam of understanding the girl rushed into the kitchen and brought me back a spoon. In desperation I imitated the sound of a hen and pretended to break an egg on the edge of a frying pan. “Oui. Oui”. ouf, ouf she said and proudly brought forth some eggs. So then I learned that the French for eggs was ouf.

The rest of the week will be devoted to this letter Grandpa writes to his boys scattered from Alaska to California to Brazil to Missouri to France. Each portion is a little shorter than usual but that is the way the natural breaks occurred.  

Judy Guion

Trumbull – To The Guion Horticultural Experiment Stations (2) – September 26, 1943

This is the second-half of a letter from Grandpa to his sons, scattered around the world. His creativity is very evident in this letter. Enjoy.

And now we get down to the produce from up Knick Arm way as garnered by Farmer Ced — the homeless Homo sapien. He is still living in the same place to be sure,

Cedric (Ced) Duryee Guion

Cedric (Ced) Duryee Guion

while it is being made ready to rent, and seeking other accommodations. A one-room cabin, 10 x 12, with one faucet, no drain or sink but completely furnished with one bed, chair, closet and stove, outside Chic Sale privileges, at $35 per month. He has a prospect out near the airport but the decision is held up for some legal nature. If this does not come through soon he says he may try to buy the house that Jack and Ellen Austin used to own, the same place he and Rusty contemplated renting a while ago. His letter says the price is $100 but I’m wondering if one 0 was not omitted.

For Dan and Dick’s benefit, please note: a boy has been born to Chuck and Florence. Another (2nd) is due soon to Ed and Mary Glennon. Art Woodley has just gotten married and has bought him, what Ced considers, the nicest house in Anchorage. He also visited (Ced, I mean) Rusty at Wasilla for a weekend recently and is enthusiastic in his praises of the wonderful place he has.

I am truly grateful to you, old son, for your kind words on the occasion of my passing of another milestone. The years have a habit of inexorably passing on, and as I have remarked in times past, it is a matter of inestimable satisfaction that all my heirs, without a single exception, have turned out to be the kind of children that gladden a parents heart. Each of you is so different and yet each has so many endearing qualities that bind you so tight in the affections of your old Dad that when I get thinking about you all I feel quite wealthy. I shall keep eyes open for the “token” you say is following on the heels of your letter, and appreciate very much the thought.

David Peabody Guion (Dave)

David Peabody Guion
(Dave)

Dave’s birthday we will celebrate next Sunday. He seems to think, that judging from what has happened to others that reach their 18th birthday, he will not be permitted to finish school but will be in the Army by November. The “last full measure of devotion” referred to by Abe Lincoln will be complete as far as Uncle Sam and me is concerned. (Ced, for all practical purposes, is just as “taken” as the rest of you). The cheering aspect of the whole thing is the way things are going for the allies. As Shakespeare once remarked “Now is the winter of our discontent turned glorious summer”. I hope Adolph, within a few months, will see that his vacation at Berchtesgaden is about over and he can go back to paper hanging, although personally I should just as well drop the paper part.

With this clever quip which came to me like a flash, thus demonstrating that in spite of advancing years my mind is as brilliant and wit as scintillating as ever, I shall close with the reminder that with the receipt of this letter you now owe a reply to

Your loving

DAD

Tomorrow, we’ll have a quick note from Lad in California. The second letter, posted on Friday, gives quite a bit more details.

On Saturday more of the adventure experienced by John Jackson Lewis and his views of California. On Sunday, the story of Lad and Marian after their marriage continues throughout the rest of the war.

Judy Guion

The Beginning (22) – Reminiscences of Alfred D Guion (1884 – 1964) – Childhood Memories of Larchmont Gardens

The following memories are quotes from “Reminiscences of Alfred D.  Guion, written in 1960 while he was on a four-months “around the world” freighter trip. 

At this point I will begin adding the memories of the children as they were growing up.

Lad and Dan

A.D. – We had chosen our lot in Larchmont primarily to be “out in the country”, but the place was growing rapidly and became a thickly settled community.  It was getting difficult to find sleeping accommodations for frequent guests, five children and their parents.  Then, too, the boys were active little tykes, and like children the world over, frequently got into trouble, like rooting up vegetables in the neighbor’s garden, running around his house carrying a raw carrot leaving a yellow streak on his new paint.  If my neighbor had boiled over and said some harsh things I would have felt better, but he took it to good-naturedly so that I felt doubly worse.  We had, from time to time, offers from those interested in buying the house for considerably more than it had cost us, and all these were contributory causes for looking for a larger place further out in the country.

LAD – I think he had a garden in the backyard with green beans growing.  Dan and I each took 2 or 3 green beans and walked around and around his house, with the beans rubbing on the house, wearing them down until they got short.  Then we would throw them away and get some more beans.  So Roger (Bachelder) was kind of upset about that.

When we moved in, there were two houses on Lansdowne Drive, ours and another one at the top of the hill.  When we left in 1922, there were probably eight or ten houses.

I don’t know why but my father started calling me Lad and gradually it got to be my nickname.

A.D. – Before anything definite materialized along these lines, however, an epidemic of chickenpox turned the Guion ménage into an amateur hospital, and to make it even harder for head nurse Arla, Dad also got the bug. While it seems a laughing matter to relate, don’t let anyone tell you it is any fun for an adult to have chickenpox.

Lad

LAD – When I started school in Larchmont, either kindergarten or first grade, I went to school in a horse-drawn sleigh in the winter.  I just remember being awfully cold.  In the warmer months, mother drove me to school.  Dan may have started school there; he was only a year and half behind me.

Once in a while, we had to walk home from school.  I went across the street from the school and there was a fire hydrant on the corner.  Just for the fun of it, I jumped over the hydrant.  Well, for some reason or other, there was a short in the power somewhere and I got an awful shock.  I’ve never forgotten it and I’m always cautious when I come to a hydrant.

CED

CED – I don’t remember much about the Larchmont house on Lansdowne Drive.  I do remember the milk was delivered by milkman with a horse and buggy. Lansdowne Drive was on a hill 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 brook or not.  I was pretty young at the time, about four, maybe.

BISS (Elizabeth)

BISS – 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 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.

Tomorrow I’ll continue this with the story of how the Guion family ended up in Trumbull, Connecticut.

I will finish out the week with more stories of their early years in Trumbull.

Judy Guion

My Ancestors (33d) – Alfred Peabody Guion – Camp Santa Anita and Marian Irwin – 1943

(1) Alfred Peabody Guion; (2) Judith Anne Guion.

      Alfred Peabody Guion (Lad)

My Dad, Alfred Peabody Guion, was inducted into the Army in May, 1942.  He was sent to Aberdeen, Maryland, for 13 weeks of basic training, then 8 weeks of N.C.O. School, 3 more weeks of Teacher Training  and 11 weeks of training for  Diesel Engine Instructor, Ordinance School.

He was then sent to Flint, Michigan, for 3 weeks of training on the maintenance of G. M.  2-cycle Diesel Engine Model 2071 at the Wolverine plant.

Now that he had been thoroughly trained, he was sent to Santa Anita, California, which was still being prepared for Army use.

Excerpt from a letter home,  January 9, 1943, from Camp Santa Anita:

“The camp here – contrary to what its name implies – is far from comfortable.  No sheets or pillowcases, no heat (yes, we need heat), no hot water and no organization as yet.  It is still very much in the process of being renovated (after the Japs) and built.  In a couple of months it will, in all probability, be much better.”

At this point he was reunited with three other men who had gone through the same training in Aberdeen. The four, (Al (Alfred or Lad to family), Art Lind, Vic _____ and Vince _____, worked and socialized together.

He spent 7 months there as an instructor of Diesel Engine Theory and 4 months as an Instructor of Automotive Electricity and Engine Tune-up. During this span of time, he met Marian Irwin at the Hospitality Center in South Pasadena. She was the Executive Director of the South Pasadena Camp Fire Girls.

Excerpt from a letter home, April 8, 1942, from the Hospitality Center of South Pasadena:

“Again too many days have gone by, but they have all been full.  Even April 3rd, (Lad’s birthday). I got a letter from you on the eventful day – thanks.  It went by as usual, but the bunch of us were invited to a party in my honor at the home of one of the girls I have met here.  In fact, she is so much like Babe (Lad’s girlfriend in Trumbull) that I have difficulty now and then in calling her Marian.  She is not quite as pretty as Babe but resembles her in almost every other way.  Even to occupations.  Well, anyhow, the party went off fine and about 2 a.m. on Sunday we decided to go to a swing-shift dance at the Casa Manana and had a good time.  Got in camp at 6 Sun. morning.”

                    Lad and Marian, So. Pasadena, CA

Lad and Marian continued to spend quite a bit of time with each other.  In September, Lad returned to Trumbull on a furlough, then returned to Camp Santa Anita.

Excerpt from letter dated September 22, 1943 written from South Pasadena:

“Arrived in L.A. at 4:10 A.M. and, so help me, Marian was there to meet me.  In fact I’m writing this at her house and this is her pen and ink.”

Excerpt from letter written at the end of September, 1943, from the Hospitality Center of South Pasadena:

                              Lad Guion and Marian Irwin – 1943

“Dear Dad:- Since I arrived things have progressed rapidly.  I have had a complete reversal of more or less personal ideas, and Marian has consented to be my wife.  I never thought I was capable of such strong emotions, but they are certainly present.  When I have had a chance to calm down and think more clearly, I’ll right again and give you more in detail.  Lots of love, Lad    P.S. I personally think that she can top Jean without a great deal of trouble —”

 

Next Sunday I will continue Lad and Marian’s story with their wedding and numerous Army re-locations before Lad shipped out for France.

Tomorrow, I’ll begin with five more sections of the Beginning – Reminiscences of Alfred D Guion.

Judy Guion