Autobiography of Mary E Wilson – Mary E Wilson’s Photo Album – 1917 – 1957

Mary E. Wilson’s Photo Album

Mary, Jim and Arthur

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Arthur, Mary and Jim

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Mary

Mary’s Mother and Father

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Arthur, Mary, her Father and Jim

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Mary with unidentified young girl

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Archie and Mary

Mary and Archie

 

 

 

 

 

The Wilson family about 1957

Top – Mary Jean, Archie and Beverly Joan

Bottom – Mary and David Arthur

It has been an honor to share Mary E. Wilson’s Autobiography with you. I hope you enjoyed this life story of a strong woman, the man in her life and how they overcame daunting situations to achieve all that they had hoped for.

Autobigraphy of Mary E Wilson (23) Only in America – 1948 and Conclusion

Mary and Archie Wilson with their children about 1957.

Back – Mary Jean and Beverly Joan

Front – Mary and David Arthur

1948

So our initiation to rural living was hectic but everything turned out OK. Looking back on those years, Archie and I were very busy but we were very happy because we were able to give our children a healthier, happier life than we had.

Mary Jean’s asthma attacks were less severe and she was now able to go into Bridgeport alone to get her shots. She was an even-natured, shy girl even though most of the neighborhood children were boys. She sure could hold her own on the baseball field when she played with them.

David was really an outdoors boy and loved fishing, hiking and swimming in the river near the house. He helped his dad with the garden but his greatest pal was his collie dog, Lassie. How those two used to roam the woods!

Beverly was lucky because she had little girls her own age, went to a Catholic preschool, and her best friends were Elena Bonitati and the Guion family.

I was involved in the usual things when you have small children: den mother, brownies, Girl Scouts, and teaching Sunday school. I became active in the P.T.A. putting on dinners, yard sales and concerts.

I still worked nights at Briarwood’s but I finally got a job at the Trumbull hot lunch program. The children did not even realize I worked because my working hours were the same as their school hours and I had all summer off with them.

I finally got my driving license much to Archie’s displeasure. I guess he did not approve of women drivers.

We joined Grace Church in Long Hill. We were Episcopal, so decided that the children should continue as such. I became active in church activities and renewed our friendship with the James Flahertys, whom we had known in St. Luke’s when we were young.

Archie worked hard on the Laurel Street house. He had a huge vegetable garden and seemed content and happy. He was also active in the Masonic order and I in Eastern Star. It seemed we had all adjusted to our new home and country living.

Archie and I felt very fortunate and blessed to have been able to accomplish what we did. We came to America as immigrants: Archie from Scotland and Canada and I from England. We both had similar backgrounds and a lot in common which I think helped our marriage to be such a happy one. We both had worked hard together and our goal had been to make a living better for our children and ourselves.

We had never had much money but we realized an ambition that only in America could it be possible.

It has been an honor to share Mary E. Wilson’s Autobiography with you. I hope you enjoyed this life story of a strong woman, the man in her life and how they overcame daunting situations to achieve all that they had hoped for.

Autobiography of Mary E Wilson (22) – Life in Trumbull – 1948

Mary and Archie Wilson with their children about 1957.

Back – Mary Jean and Beverly Joan

Front – Mary and David Arthur

1948

When we finally moved from Edwin Street and followed the moving truck, I never looked back. I had a feeling of utter relief to be out of that house. As I stated before, everything seemed to change drastically in our favor. Mary Jane and Archie’s health seemed to improve so much. The children were able to play in clean air and lovely surroundings.

When I enrolled the children in school, Mary Jean seemed to adjust beautifully but David had to repeat his school year. Thank God for Mrs. George because she really helped David, who was not a good student, to adjust to a new town. It did not take David long to adjust to his country living. One of his closest friends was Charlie Heimann, the Kurtz children, and when the Pencoff’s moved next door with three boys, they all had a great time.

We only had a $3000 mortgage on the Laurel Street house so the Edwin Street house had paved the way to Trumbull as we had planned, plus Archie’s hard work. Archie’s brother had bought the lot next to us and finally built a house. He moved in with Jerry, my sister-in-law, their three-year-old son, and Archie’s mother.

Beverly was only two years old and I remember tying a 20 foot rope around her waist because we had an electric fence at the back of our property. Mr. Laufer was a farmer with cows, which fascinated Beverly.

We became active in community projects and also in the Congregational church because I did not have a driver’s license.

There was a river near the house so the children were able to swim nearby. We were very busy. Archie had a garden and we bought shrubs for landscaping. We wanted to do so much to improve the house. I remember how thrilled I was about the thermostat. We had never lived in a home with central heating. To be able to control the heat with the turn of a knob never ceased to amaze me.

We now needed extra money so I took a night job at Briarwood Farms restaurant in Bridgeport. We really wanted to furnish  the Laurel Street home. We also wanted to build a garage. I did not go to work until 6:00 in the evening but with Archie working on the property after work, I realize now that my Mary Jean really had the responsibility of meals, homework, etc. for her brother and sister. Beverly could be defiant but David was more even-natured. As a very small boy his favorite expression was “I love all bodies”. I think that, of all my children, David was the most good-natured. When he was a baby he developed pneumonia and we almost lost him. Thank God sulfur drugs had been discovered and used and I am positive it saved his life. He had a severe break in his arm as a three-year-old but mostly he was a very healthy child. Beverly was spoiled rotten and I think at my age, which was now 37 years old, it was easier to give in to her rather than argue with her. She was a strong willed girl and her brother and sister gave into her all the time. There were eight years between Beverly and Mary Jean and David was caught between two sisters. They were all good children and except for Mary Jane’s asthma, they were all healthy and I am sure they were very happy in Trumbull.

We had only been in our new home two weeks when Mary Jean, playing by the river, got a fishhook in her eye. The boy who did it was a neighbor’s son. The Minister from the Congregational church witnessed the accident and had the sense to cut the line rather than pull out the hook. We rushed her to the hospital and Dr. Sim’s operated and her eyeball required stitches, but thank God he saved her eye. She was in the hospital 10 days. She was home only two weeks when they all came down with chickenpox.

Next Saturday I’ll post the rest of 1948 with more information about Archie and Mary’s life in Trumbull with their three children. On Sunday I’ll post Mary E Wilson;s Photo Album.

Tomorrow, I’ll begin a week of letters written in 1943. Life is picking up speed for Lad and Marian.

Judy Guion

Autobiography of Mary E Wilson (21) – Another Daughter And A Move To Trumbull – 1946

1946

We still had to plan to get Mary Jean out of the city but now I was pregnant with my third child. In September, I gave birth to a lovely baby girl whom we called Beverly Joan and we now had three lovely children and felt blessed.

I joined Eastern Star at this time with Polly Griffin. Mary Jane was still under doctor Edgar’s care and still taking her  shots to keep her asthma under control (sometimes).

We bought land in Trumbull which is a suburb of Bridgeport. It was a farming community so our next ambition was to get our children out of the city and into the country, but all our money was tied up in an old two-family house we had bought. So now our goal was to really work harder to fix up the house as a step to get our little daughter out of the city and into the country.

The Griffin’s had left our apartment downstairs and we now rented to Bill and Gladys Cleary. She was a real nice girl and her mother a lovely lady but Bill, who worked with Archie, was a “kook”.

Alec had married Geraldine McDonald who had come to Bridgeport from Pennsylvania to do war work in the G.E., which is where she met Alec. Alec married Jerry and they lived with mother Wilson but she hated Jerry because she was a Catholic. Their life was very difficult while they lived with her and Jerry was very unhappy. Alec and Jerry finally built next to us and mother Wilson lived with them. I think she helped them financially from dad Wilson’s insurance in return for a  home with them. Things were a little different now because she was living in their home.

We knew our house on Edwin Street was the stepping stone to a new home on Laurel Street in Trumbull. I was really superstitious about the house on Edwin Street. The first thing we had done was to cut down a rope noose where a man had hung himself in the attic.

Archie’s ulcer attacks became worse when we moved there. He hemorrhaged and was very ill. He had just taken a new job in the Bridgeport Hardware Manufacturing Company when he became ill. The company was really very generous and paid his salary even though he was a new employee.

I blamed Mary Jean’s asthma on the house because Archie was gutting the second floor, the walls were all plaster and we created too much dust for a young child. I put wet sheets at the entrance of her room so it would curtail the plaster dust.

Archie’s dad was dying of cancer and our poor son suffered a terrible break in his arm and had to be hospitalized.

Peggy Lou, my brother’s daughter, had spent a week prior to Christmas with us so she could participate in the holiday activities. They lived in Newtown and she was a lonely little girl and loved to come and stay at our house and enjoy the companionship of her cousins. She became ill at our house and my brother took her home and she died the next morning, which was two days before Christmas, of spinal meningitis. The poor child was only six years old.

It just seemed everything bad happened in that house.

Next Sunday, we’ll read about the move to Trumbull and the family’s adjustment to country living.

Tomorrow, we’ll begin a week of letters from the spring of 1941, when Dan and Ced are working in Alaska and Lad is still in Venezuela.

Judy Guion

Autobiography of Mary E Wilson (20) – The End of the War – 1942 and 1945

1942

In August, 1942, David was a year old and Archie’s dad, who had been very ill with cancer for over a year, died. I was heartbroken as he was such a nice, kind person and we always got along so well. He was only 67 years old and he suffered so much prior to his death. My two children were too young to remember their grandfather. I wish they could have known him.

Archie’s brother, David, had married Mildred Lucky a few months before his death.

1945

The war finally ended in 1945 and the jubilation and happiness of the Americans was indescribable. Everyone celebrated.

I felt so sad for all the wives and mothers who have lost thousands of young men during this second war in my lifetime. The United States had been attacked by the enemy but in Europe and Britain it was devastating. Our men came home but soon hard times started to take effect because there was not enough work for everyone.

Archie had never, during the war, made a lot of money, because his plant had not manufactured war arms. They had made maintenance tools but he always was able to keep a steady job.

Tomorrow, we go back to 1941 when the boys were wondering what would happen to them regarding the draft.Both Lad and Dan are in Trumbull, awaiting decisions and working. Ced and Dick are in Alaska, also waiting for further developments.

Judy Guion

Autobiography of Mary E Wilson (19) – The War – 1941

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Mary E. Wilson was born in England and came to America, to escape from a difficult family situation, in 1925, when she was a young girl. She had many challenges here also, but her bright outlook and disposition, along with her strength and character, helped her survive and find happiness with Archie Wilson. They were married in 1937 and at this point in her autobiography, World War II is upon them and they have two small children to care for.

There was a war going on in Europe at this time. Hitler was really taking over countries, interning Jews and bombing other countries.

Franklin D Roosevelt was our president and when the Japs bombed Pearl Harbor in December, 1941, we declared war on Japan and Germany. Men were drafted, food was rationed and we were given ration books for everything.

Factories became busy making arms for war and women were quickly hired to produce and work on planes. “Rosie the Riveter” was the nickname for the women working in the war plants.

Archie was not drafted because he was the only draftsman working in the Bridgeport Hardware Manufacturing Company. They made tools for the Army so that was considered war work.

We had no car because we lived near a bus route. Archie and my brother Arthur bought bikes.

I went into the hospital to have my second baby. We had planned, if it was a boy, to call him Allan John. During my stay in St. Vincent’s Hospital, my brother Arthur and Archie’s brother David came to see me. They complained about my choice of names for my baby son. they both flipped a coin and after a trip to the Sisters in the hospital, my son became David Arthur.

Mary Jane loved her baby brother. She was a happy three-year-old and the doctor was really helping her. She was so brave about her shots. As she got older she asked her dad to give her shots to get relief. I could never put a needle in her arm even though I practiced on an orange like Dr. Edgar told me.

We planted a “victory garden” on Rudy Murkette’s land in Lordship. We also built a chicken coop and raised chickens. With our garden produce and chickens and eggs we were able to manage, in spite of our limited food supplies, with our ration books.

People were only allowed two gallons of gas if you lived near a bus route and clothing was scarce. Thank God my mother was clever with the needle and was able to make over old clothes.

Archie finished our attic into three rooms and we rented to male war workers which gave us extra money.

My mother rented a large house in Bridgeport and she ran a boarding house for 12 male war workers and one woman.

The factories were busy but the turnover was great because the young men were drafted so quickly.

I used to take the bus with my two children and help my mother in her boarding house. She loved what she was doing and felt very important.

Our tenant, Bill Cleary, was the Air Raid Warden in our district and he was very difficult. He took his job very seriously. We had to have “blackout” curtains and drapes and I was continually reported to Air Raid headquarters because he said I was careless with my curtains.

The tension and insecurity was terrible but our family, thank God, was not affected because we had no one fighting in the war.

I worked with the Red Cross at night and helped in the old people’s hospital.

Tomorrow, we’ll find out what went on between 1942 and 1946. 

Next week, we start a series of letters written in the middle of 1945, while Grandpa is holding down the fort in Trumbull, CT. 

Judy Guion

Autobiography of Mary E Wilson (18) – Another Child – 1941

1941

In 1941, I was pregnant again. I had waited my three years and we both wanted another baby.

Archie was doing well in the G.E. but he had a terrible boss who made his life miserable (he later killed his wife in Stratford).

We were also having difficulty with Mary Jean and after taking her to several doctors, we found out she was suffering from bronchial asthma. Our poor little girl was so ill and we were advised to take her to Arizona but we discovered a lady doctor called Dr. Edgar from New Haven Hospital. She specialized in asthma and we had to take her for weekly shots which continued until she was in her late teens. She seemed to be allergic to almost everything but her worst allergy was smoke and dust.

We realized we had to get her out of the city and into the country, but when Mary Jean was a year old, Archie wanted to take a trip to Birchcliff in Canada where he lived as a boy before he came to the states. He made plans to make the trip with his father and two brothers. I knew they would not want a woman and baby with them so I decided to go to New Hampshire with my mother to visit with the David Webb family.

Uncle David was my Grandma Ellen’s brother and their brother Matthew was the first man to swim the English Channel. Uncle David ran a dairy farm with his wife Henrietta, his daughter and two sons.

We had a lovely visit with Uncle David, he was a hard-working, contented dairy farmer. His daughter, Henrietta, was married and had a baby girl the same age as Mary Jean. While we were there, Aunt Hetty came to visit, she was the mother of Uncle David’s wife. She sure was an energetic old lady and she lived in Philadelphia and she had another daughter who lived in Cape May, New Jersey.

I had visited the Cape May family when I was single and they were very aloof and cool towards my father. Aunt Hetty was the only person I knew who could tell my father what she really thought of him and her opinion of him was not very nice. She told my mother she was a fool to stay with him and I silently agreed with her.

The following year Archie wanted to make another trip to Birchcliff with his brothers. I protested and we had our first real argument. We did not talk to each other for a week. Needless to say he did not go to Canada.

Next week we’ll be jumping forward to 1945  with Grandpa keeping everyone informed about the lives of their siblings and friends.

Judy Guion