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.
Alfred Duryee Guion (Grandpa) holding Alfred Peabody Guion after his Christening.
I was born in New York City in 1914, then I lived in Yonkers for short time. When I was about one, we moved to 91 Dell Street in Mount Vernon, New York.
My mother, Arla (Mary Peabody), was nineteen years old when I was born and she was the oldest Peabody girl. Burton was ahead of her. Then there was Arla, Helen, Kemper, Anne, Dorothy and Laurence. There were seven of them.
By the time I was three, I was quite interested in mechanical things. I remember taking an alarm clock, taking it all apart and putting it back together, but I had one gear left over when I finished. It didn’t keep very good time. It was fast. I never could find out where that year went.
We had a woman who did the cooking and took care of the house. One of the things we had in the kitchen was a dish washer that was hand operated. It had a big handle on it and we pushed and pulled, and I remember liking it, I enjoyed doing that.
I don’t know why my father started calling me Lad and gradually it got to be my nickname.
I don’t remember much about my Dad in Mount Vernon or Larchmont. He was always busy working.
Alfred Peabody Guion and Daniel Beck Guion
When I was five, Dad and Mom were building a house in Larchmont. They had a contractor build it and it was on Lansdowne Drive in Larchmont Gardens. I accompanied them, well, maybe three or four times when they went out to look at it. Mom told the carpenters what she wanted changed. She was quite conscious about what she wanted.
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.
It took four days for the workers to build our garage. The neighbors put theirs up in one day. Later, a strong wind came up and blew down the neighbors garage but ours stood strong. Roger Batchelder was that kind of guy.
I think he had a garden in the backyard with green beans growing. Dan and I each took two or three green beans and we walked around and around his house, with the beans rubbing on the house, wearing them down until they got short. Then we threw them away and got some more beans. So Roger was kind of upset about that.
Alfred Peabody Guion, about 8 or 9 at the Trumbull House
When we first arrived in Trumbull, the house had been unoccupied for a while; there was an awful lot of cleaning and fixing up to do. We had cows, chickens and pigs, but we didn’t have any horses at that time. We got the horses later. In the cottage, there was a fellow named Parks, who was living there with his wife. They helped Dad and Mom with the Big House. His wife did the cleaning and he did the outside work.
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 Plain’s 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 lines, 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 we 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 grade … Dan was more of a scholar that 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.
Dick, Dan, Ced, Lad and Biss with Mack circa 1924
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 sloped 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 would 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.
Alfred Peabody Guion (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 Watson. He looked at me, turned around and accosted me in the store. He asked me if I had a 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.
Another time, I was driving to Bridgeport (Connecticut) to see Anita Brown. It was apparently passed dark and I was heading south on Main Street. The Chestnut Hill bus was going slower than I was. I think he may have just been starting up after a stop, I don’t remember, but in any case, there was nothing coming so I saw an opportunity to pass him. All of a sudden, my headlights picked up two reflections from a little above my hood. I didn’t know what it was at first then I realized it was a horse and buggy. I pulled over tight against the bus … I was pushing hard against the bus. The bus driver had seen the horse and buggy the same time I did. Neither of us could stop fast but we tried and we stopped right together. Neither vehicle was scratched but I hit the wagon. I missed the horse but hit the wagon’s left front wheel and completely messed up the wagon. The older fellow, who was driving, somehow got hold of his daughter and she came. I remember her telling him, “I’ve told you over and over not to put the lantern between your feet to keep warm.” There were no charges filed against any of us.
We didn’t have much in the way of toys, as I recall. Earlier, when we had the animals, we had to go scare the chickens off their nests and get the eggs. Bill Parks got the milk for us, although I did try milking once, to see what it was like. He also slaughtered the pigs. I don’t remember what we did with them – we probably had some of the meat. Whether dad sold it or gave it away or whatever happened, I don’t remember. We didn’t have the animals for long. Dad and Mom were not farmers; they were both city people, although we did have a garden in Larchmont and in Trumbull. Dad took care of it and then the kids did it, but that didn’t last very long, I guess.
Tomorrow, more of the Early Years and the Memories of Alfred Peabody Guion (Lad).