Autobiography of Mary E Wilson – The Newlyweds – 1937-1938

Mary E Wilson

We returned to our lovely apartment. Archie had to go to work on Monday. He had just started a new job in the General Electric in the drafting department but I took the whole week off. I really wanted to show my new husband what a good cook I was but poor Archie came down with a bad ulcer attack. I had to learn how to cook all over again because he had to go on a special diet for ulcers.

We had only been married a week when my mother fell at work and was taken to the hospital. That took a lot of joy out of being newly married because I went from work to my mother’s house to cook and clean for Doris and Arthur then to the hospital at night to see my mother.

When she finally came home, I did the same thing and did not realize I was neglecting my new husband. We had our first quarrel because Archie said Doris was 15 and Arthur could do more to help out. He said they were taking advantage of me. I realized he was right. I helped my mother but insisted they do more to help around the house until she was well again.

Our first Christmas came so soon after we married that we did not have much money but were able to buy gifts for everyone.

English people love Christmas and traditions run deep and they make a lot of it. This year we included Archie’s parents and brothers and they loved it. The boys ate most of my mother’s Christmas cake and plum pudding to her horror – the cake is supposed to be relished in small portions.

We were both working in the G.E.. I quit Dr. Nastri but Archie got a promotion in the drafting department as a designer on small electric appliances. The General Electric was very slow at this time so they made a new rule that husband and wife could not both hold jobs because the plant was slow.

I knew by now I was pregnant and it was important that Archie keep his job so I resigned. I had worked in the G.E. for over 12 years.

Things were getting rough so we moved into a cheaper flat on Williston Street in Bridgeport for $17 a month, no bathroom and no hot water. Archie made the cheap little flat look pretty comfortable.

We were invited to Archie’s parent’s home for supper during the summer and I ate my first clams. Alec and I were the only two who would eat them. I really enjoyed them because I had never tasted them before. We both became desperately ill from food poisoning and I was only a month away from my baby’s birth. I was rushed to the hospital. Dr. Heedger was so angry because I had been so stupid.

I had a rough delivery giving birth to a breech birth baby girl. My poor baby was so scarred from the instruments and I was so ill I stayed almost 3 weeks in the hospital. Dr. Heedger said I could not have any more babies for at least three years. Careful manipulation of my poor baby’s head while she was in the hospital made it possible for us to bring home a beautiful baby girl. Archie was really delighted as his family had been all boys and the little girl was really welcomed. Archie’s brothers could not keep their hands off her. It was amusing to watch two young men carefully handling a little girl as if she was a doll.

Archie and I were so happy. After all, I was 27 and he was almost 30 so we were mature enough to enjoy parenthood. I always thanked God there had been no children from Archie’s first marriage.

She really was a beautiful, good-natured baby and it was at this time that Archie became interested in photography.

Ed Swartz worked in the G.E. with Archie and he taught Archie a lot and Mary Jean was used as a model and she was a well photographed little girl. She was named after me and Archie’s mother and our baby girl was a joy to us.

Tomorrow I’ll be posting letters written in 1943. Lad is in California and he has become quite interested in a particular woman. Grandpa keeps the rest of the family informed about what everyone else is doing.

Judy Guion

Autobiography of Mary E Wilson – Planning a Wedding – 1936-1937


          Archie and I were quietly planning our marriage but it was difficult to deceive my mother.

Arthur, Doris, my mother, and myself were all home but Arthur was dating a pretty girl who worked as a waitress where my mother worked at the D. M. Read Company. My mother introduced them and they seemed to hit a it off perfectly.

October, 1937

          I will never forget that day in October, 1937. It was on a Saturday morning and I was not working. Archie came to the house, which was unusual, his divorce had finally become finalized and he was a free man.

I had just gotten out of a hot tub and I was as red as a lobster and he had bought me an engagement ring the same day he got his divorce. I was so happy but now I had to tell my mother.

How do you explain to your mother that you are suddenly engaged to be married? But I did tell her and her only comment was, “If he can’t get along with one woman, what makes you think he can make you happy?”

I was now 26 years old, very much in love and determined to marry Archie. We saw no reason to wait and planned our wedding for December 10, 1937, so we had a busy two months to plan our wedding.

Archie had saved money because now he was the manager of the Shell Station so he was able to completely furnish our lovely rent on Fifth Street in Bridgeport, and it was all paid for. We had a ball picking everything for our apartment together.

I decided to have a traditional wedding, white dress, veil, the works. My mother seemed to be angry and even though she was a great seamstress, refused to take any active interest in my wedding.

My first disappointment was that I could not be married in the Episcopal Church because Archie was a divorced man. I decided on the Methodist Episcopal Church on Stratford Avenue in Bridgeport and Fred’s dad asked if he could play the organ at our wedding. Alex was Archie’s best friend and Celso was my matron of honor. Jim gave me away and Arthur, David, Doris and Shirley were the attendants at our wedding.

My mother finally had a change of heart and planned the reception at our house, made me a wedding cake, and was great and gave us a nice wedding and reception.

We only had a weekend honeymoon so we went to the Hotel Commodore in New York City on the train. I never remember such a cold weekend. The weather was awful. I guess being newly married and very much in love, the weather was not important.

Tomorrow, I’ll be posting more about the changes that happen quickly in the lives of Archie and Mary Wilson. 

On Monday I’ll begin a week of letters written in 1943. The story of Lad and Marian is progressing and Grandpa keeps everyone informed.

Judy Guion

Autobiography of Mary E Wilson (10) – Working Two Jobs – 1931

Mary E. Wilson

Mary is rather happy with her life at this point. She’s going to school, working and has begun dating.


          I was almost 20 when my mother finally decided to divorce my father. He had tried to commit suicide twice and tried to kill my mother once. I realize now my father was a really disturbed man and really should have been in a military hospital years ago. Being a British soldier and because he would not become a citizen of America, he could not qualify for any help in this country. So this time we got together enough money to send my father back to England. He hated this “G.D.” country – “.

My mother, at this time, took a job as an English nanny for the three children of a family in Fairfield. She really loved this job and my father did not know where she was. She loved the freedom and luxuries that came with her job.

We had taken a rent on 68 Edwin Street in Bridgeport where I kept house for my two brothers. So again, I was in charge of our house and my two brothers, worked all day in the G.E. , and cleaned and cooked for us. My mother did not come home at all because she was afraid of my father’s violent moods. Suddenly my father decided he would not return to England without my mother and began yelling again how he hated the “G. damned country” and insisted that he and my mother, minus my brothers and me, go back to England and make a new start in Britain. He could not find out where my mother was and became abusive with my brothers and me.

The police came because somewhere he had gotten a gun and started to threaten us. The outcome of this was the he spent two days in jail before he finally consented to return to England alone. My brother Arthur and myself took him to New York on the sailing date and we stayed right on the dock until the ship out of New York harbor. We did not hear from you for years but when England went into World War II we heard he enlisted again with the R.A.F. as a cook on the ground crew in London. I remember he sent me a tea cozy with the R.A.F. emblem on it but I did not answer his letter.

Later, I found out he had died in Egham in Surry, England, in February 1951. The vicar at St. Jude’s Church wrote me and said he had full military honors because he served in two wars and there was no one at his funeral. I thought that was very sad because he had a large family in England. My mother visited England in her late 60s and put a stone on his grave and paid for perpetual care. It seems so sad that a man’s life ended like that but I blame the war that ruined his life when he was so young.

My mother finally returned home and we moved to a rent on Read Street. I was then 20 years old and met a Swedish boy at Quilty’s Dance Hall. We finally, after six months, became engaged. Boris was a very ambitious man but he and my mother clashed from the very beginning. They were two strong-willed people who really disliked each other. When Boris brought me books to learn how to speak Swedish and started to take me to the Swedish church, my mother had a fit.

I was now working two jobs – the G.E. and for Dr. Nastri. Boris changed his job and took a position in the N. E. Optical Company which was next door to Dr. Nastri’s office. We went to night high school together. I took a course in nursing and he wanted to improve his English.

I had one very close girlfriend, Celso, and we both worked in the G.E. and I really loved her. She fell in love with my brother. Jim and she finally ran away and got married. I was delighted because now I really had a sister.

By this time, my uncle Ernest has served his time with the Coast Guard, married an Indian girl, they had one daughter, Doris. Francis, his wife, died in her middle 30’s so Uncle Ernest came to live with us with his daughter, Doris, who was two years old. He finally met and married another woman called Mildred. She was the typical mean stepmother and when Doris was five years old, she ran away looking for my mother but she did not realize she was in Boston; she was finally found. They moved back to Bridgeport and after another beating from Mildred she ran away again. She was missing for 24 hours. After the police found her and Dr. Charles Nichols had examined her, they turned her over to juvenile court and Judge Bert turned Doris over to my mother as her legal guardian.

So now we had another mouth to feed plus Jim and Celso. Jim was unemployed and Celso was pregnant. My mother then got a rent and bought furniture at a dollar down and a dollar a week at Leventhal’s. Jim finally got work in the garage and things calmed down waiting for their baby to come.

Next weekend, we’ll see what Mary is doing in 1932. Does her life continue as it is now or are there changes again?

Tomorrow I’ll begin posting letters written in 1943. Lad continues to train mechanics for the Army in Santa Anita and spend time with Marian Irwin when he ca,We’ll have news of other family members also.

Judy Guion

Autobiography of Mary E Wilson (9) – Making Friends – 1930

At this point in time, Mary seems to be very happy. We’ll find out tomorrow if it lasts for quite a while or is just a fleeting moment.



I took an extended course in nursing so that kept me busy four nights a week. Dr Sprague commended me on my efforts and advised me to go into training. I loved nursing but realized that this course would be the only chance I would have in my nursing career. My mother still dominated my life.

We did so much moving, or “flitting”, as the English people called it. When my father worked, we moved into a nice flat. When he lost his job we moved into a cheaper one. It seems as though, at that time, we were “flitted” on an average of twice a year. One flat on Asylum Street had no direct electricity because we used gas mantles. It seemed as though in all those years, I had never had my own room. I always slept on a couch in the living room.

At this time, I was not feeling well so my mother insisted I go to a doctor and he said I was run down and anemic, and insisted I drink two glasses of port wine a day. It is amazing that I did not become a ”wino”. I do remember I had to hide the bottle so my father would not find it.

I had become acquainted with a group of girls and we started our own club. We called it the “Stitch and Chatter Club”. We did very little stitching but we really did have a good time with each other and we remained close for a lot of years. None of us at this time had boyfriends, so we attended dances together, joined the Y.W.C.A., attended dance class and gymnastics.

I realized that this was the happiest time of my life..a a carefree, nice part of my life. Celso, Ruth, Irene, Myrtle, Alberta and I were friends even during our married lives, when we were all raising children.

Jim now had a steady job in a garage as a mechanic and Arthur was a lace weaver.

When I was 18, I started dating, but I was very wary of boys. I think I was shy and insecure and a little nervous of American boys.

My mother seemed to dominate the whole family. All events such as Christmas, Easter and birthdays were planned by my mother. The whole clan was always at our house for any event at all.

Tomorrow, the next chapter in the continuing story of Mary E Wilson and her new life in America.

Check out the new addition to an earlier post when Mary arrives at Ellis Island. Her granddaughter and great-grandchildren just went to visit Ellis Island and see what they found.…w-york-city-1925/

If you’re enjoying these stories, why not share them with a friend or two. They might appreciate it.

Judy Hardy

Ced’s Coming of Age Adventure (10) – Uncle Kenneth Peabody’s Farm in Star Prairie, Wisconsin – July 1934

The following pictures are of Uncle Kenneth’s farm (Arla’s Uncle, her father’s brother, Ced’s Great-uncle) in Star Prairie, Wisconsin. Ced traveled to the farm after his four days at the Chicago World’s Fair. I believe these pictures were taken when Ced and his older brother, Dan, were on their way to Alaska in 1940. The last one, showing Muriel as a young girl, was definitely taken at that time because she was only 7 months old when Ced made his first stop there. I don’t think things have changed much in the years since Ced’s first visit.

CDG - M.B.Peabody Cottage - 1934

MB Peabody’s Cottage

CDG - Paul - Uncle Kenneth Peabody's Bull, Star Prairie, Wisc. - 1934

Paul, Uncle Kenneth Peabody’s Bull

CDG - Stanley's Team - (son of Douglas Peabody) - 1934

Stanley’s Team (son of Douglas Peabody)

(Douglas is another of Arla’s Uncles)

CDG - Uncle Kenneth Peabody, Aunt Nora, Allan, Joyce and Muriel c. 1942

Allan, Uncle Kenneth, Joyce, Aunt Nora, 

Muriel in front

Tomorrow I’ll start a week of letters from 1945. Dan’s wedding is on everyone’s mind but it hasn’t happened yet.

Judy Guion

Friends – Martin and Flor Williams From Venezuela (2) – July, 1941

Martin and Flor Williams - Trumbull

Martin and Flor Williams visit Trumbull

And now that I have answered most of the points in your letter I will try to give you some of the news around here.

The Ensconatus have been moved to the Siegfus’s house pending move to Cantaura, where they will set up housekeeping again. The house has been given to the Poleo family (you remember him, the radio technician, no?). His wife is very pretty and very simpatica, and their baby girl (about six months) is the most darling thing you ever saw. Although naturally we miss the Ensconatus, I can’t say I’m not so pleased also with our new neighbors; they are very nice indeed. Anita Ensconatus was operated on for appendicitis on Tuesday the 15th, as far as we know to date, is doing nicely.

Frank Borgon, Andy, the Wardlaw’s, Bob Ross, Gutke, Howard and I can’t think who else right at the minute, have left. The Wardlaw’s and Bob will return, thank goodness. The Frost’s arrived and are temporarily installed in the Grubbs house (By the way, Grubbs left for good, and I can’t say I’m not glad). I believe the plan is for them to stay there until the company builds another small house on our row. How long this will take, however, is, well…., you know how those things are.

De la Torre is back from vacation, and Sanchez Martinez has therefore returned to Guario.

The Baiz’s will be terminated on August 5. Maruja came out before they knew about it, but in view of the fact that they will be leaving so soon, Emy has remained in Caracas. Socially I like them tremendously, especially Lucinda, but medically I think this move has been expected for a long time. They will be replaced by a Dr. Delfin Aroila, surgeon, who, I understand, has his own x-ray machine, etc. etc., and if things turn out as the company plans, he will perform operations locally, thus eliminating the necessity of sending everybody suffering from the slightest ailment to Caracas. Let’s hope he’s good.

The Baiz’s leaving will make a big gap in the social season, but then you can imagine that pretty well, can’t you?

John Sheldon, Mr. Sheldon’s oldest boy, is spending some time here in the field. He has been at Guario for about 2 1/2 weeks and I believe he came in here today, although I haven’t seen him yet. The 23rd of this month is his birthday and we have invited him over to dinner, as well as the Pet. Eng. with whom he has been working in Guario. Can you imagine Gruver at our table? Do you think the house, our dishes, and glassware and stand such a tornado? Let’s hope so.

And talking about birthdays and dinners, Claire has invited us over for dinner the 31st, and I think that’s very sweet of her.

Well, Al, something tells me I have taken up enough of your time; I can only hope that I have not bored you; that I haven’t forgotten any bit of news that might be of interest to you.

I believe Sieck will be leaving soon, for good. It’s too bad, he’s such a nice boy.

I don’t know if I mentioned in my last that there was a possibility of our going in September. Well, it’s very doubtful, but what we would like to do is the following. Martin has already ordered a car, with the specifications of the cars the company buys, so that we can travel over these roads safely, to be delivered to his father on August 25th. This can be done whether we go or not, but should we be able to get away, our plan would be to leave here August 29th, catch the clipper of the first of September to Miami, and have Martin’s father meet us there with the car. Do all our tropical shopping down south, visit the Williams’s who have moved to Florida, and then drive north. We would take you in, spent some time in Maine, and if possible go as far West as Minnesota to see the Wrights. This is so far a beautiful dream, after my conversation with Cosh not long ago when he was out here (for just a few hours, as usual) it would seem that it might not work. However, we can enjoy ourselves planning in the meantime, don’t you think?

Well, now I will sign off before you faint.

Give our very best to all who may be interested, and for yourself receive our very very best wishes for a happy future.

Martin and Flor

P.S. Frank Le Ray should have landed in La Guaria the 16th, according to the letter we received from him recently. Although we haven’t heard from Bishop on the subject, rumor has it that he was on the same boat as Frank. We hope so, that’s at least two of our good friends returned.

Since this picture was taken at the Trumbull House, my guess is that Martin and Flor were able to take the trip as planned, although I’m not sure of the date.

Tomorrow i’ll be posting letters from Biss to her Dad from St. Petersburg, Florida where she id staying with her Aunt and two cousins.

Judy Guion