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 

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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

The Brginning (26) – Reminiscences of Alfred D Guion (1884 – 1964) – Talking About Arla (Peabody) Guion

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.

 

                           Arla Mary Peabody Guion – portrait

A.D. – In Trumbull, we became interested in local activities.  A local volunteer fire company was started in which I was a charter member.  To raise money to buy firefighting equipment we ran annual carnivals which were successful for many years, and in which the old Waverley Electric car played a part.

CED – 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 1900’s that were in good condition in the attic.  They all dressed up in these clothes and 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.

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 car 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.

A.D. – I became Justice of the Peace, and Judge of the local traffic court.  Later, for two terms, I served as the town’s First Selectman, during which time we celebrated the 300th anniversary of the town and also saw an old mine property converted into a public park.  Arla became President of the Women’s Community Club, and was active in the Parent Teachers and other civic affairs, especially where common sense and sympathetic help was needed.

LAD – I don’t have many memories of my mother.  I remember that she was involved in the Women’s Club, and was very, very well-liked by everybody.  We always had a lot of visitors.  She was very outgoing and friendly and quite pretty.  She was very active in the community.  Other than the fact that Mom was involved in the community a great deal, she was a good mother.  We all liked her very much, got along with her.

CED – 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.  This woman had two sons, one of them was my age and he was my best friend.  I always liked Dick.  His older brother was about your father’s (Lad’s) age and he got us in trouble a couple of times.  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.

LAD – 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, of 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 that 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 knew that he loved her.

For the rest of the week, I’ll continue posting more memories of growing up in Trumbull.

Judy Guion

 

The Beginning (24) – Reminiscences of Alfred D Guion (1884 – 1964) – Early Years in Trumbull

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, Ced, Biss and Dick playing at the Trumbull house in 1925.

A.D. – The Larchmont house was sold for considerably more than it cost and the Trumbull property bought for considerably less than the proceeds from the Larchmont property.  We moved in one late December day.  There was a furnace of sorts heating a potentially good hot water heating system.  Water was pumped from a nearby brook to a large storage tank in the cellar.  No lights, as a storage battery system in the barn had frozen, so we celebrated our first Christmas with candlelight under rather primitive conditions.  Early the following year the local power company installed electric lights but heating and water supply still furnished problems.  There were 6 fireplaces to supplement the furnace and firewood was plentiful.  With foot-valve troubles at the brook end of the water supply, water pipes freezing, frequent pump failures, it became necessary at times to draw water from the three wells on the property until some years later, when city water mains furnished adequate supplies.

At one edge of the property a small cottage once served as an office for a long vanished paper mill.  This cottage was let, rent-free, to various couples in return for the man’s help in his spare time in taking care of the grounds and the woman’s aid in helping Arla with the housework.  Over the years we had many and sundry types of individuals in the cottage, all of which would make an interesting story in itself.  Perhaps some of my children might be persuaded to record some of the highlights of these days, details of which are now rather confused and hazy in retrospect.

We inherited some scraggly chickens with the place but these were soon abandoned.  A small pony cart and harness and an early vintage Waverley Electric auto were also found in the barn, which later led to the acquisition of a pony for the children, a gentle little goat named Geneva, and Airedale dog, Patsy, and later, when my sister came to live with us, she brought a high-spirited Bridle horse, Nador, who, one day broke loose, ran down the railroad tracks, broke her leg and had to be shot

DICK – Aunt Dorothy had a wild stallion named Nador.  He threw Lad and Dan.

A.D. – The children attended a little one room school heated with the potbelly stove, in traditional country style.

LAD – While we were in Larchmont, we went on vacation to Sandy Hook, Connecticut, Camp-A-While, it was called.  In fact, that’s where we were going the day the old Franklin gave out.  One of the bearings, one of the connecting Rod bearings let go and Dad found a Franklin garage in Danbury.  The owner of the garage was working on the car, fixing it, and his wife was talking to Mother.  I don’t know how it happened – Mother may have been asking her questions about the area.  Apparently, Mother liked the area of Connecticut, I don’t know.  The wife told Mother about a house they owned in Trumbull.  We went to look at it and before long, we bought the 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, 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.

Tomorrow, more early memories from the children about their early years in Trumbull.

Judy Guion

The Beginning (25) – Reminiscences of Alfred D. Guion (1884 – 1964) – More Early Memories of Trumbull

Alfred Duryee Guion

 

BISS – 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 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.  Anyway, I found my way home and 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 salesmen 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.

DAVE – Somewhere along the line, have any of my siblings mentioned that there was about a year and a half between each one of them and five years between Dick and I?  I just wanted to make sure.

A.D. – Meanwhile, I was having serious commuting troubles.  Each winter the trains were frequently late, which, together with the antagonistic attitude of my immediate boss at the office, made my frequent late arrivals at work increasingly disagreeable incidents.  Also the seven mile auto ride to and from Trumbull in all kinds of weather, the two and a half to three hour train ride to Grand Central followed by a crowded subway ride to the Battery, and this twice a day, not only was physically exhausting but also necessitated my leaving home early and arriving home late.  There seemed only one sensible alternative – to seek employment in Bridgeport. A letter campaign from New York to Bridgeport manufacturers proving unfruitful after months of vain effort, in desperation I resolved on drastic measures.  With five little ones to feed and clothe I simply had to get a job, so burning all bridges behind me, I quit my New York job cold to wage an all-out on-the-job search to find something in Bridgeport.  To make this step was one of the most difficult decisions of my life, but within two weeks I became Assistant Advertising Manager of the Bridgeport Brass Company, and a few months later, Advertising Manager, which job I held until I left to start an advertising agency of my own.

DAVE – You have to realize that back in those days, only the lowest of the low would swear or cuss or use bad words of any sort, so what would have been shocking in those days, is absolutely nothing today.  My father was Advertising Manager of the Brass Company and Bridgeport Brass Company had two plants.  The one that was on East Main Street had a great big sign on top that said Bridgeport Brass Company.  I don’t know how it fell under Dad’s responsibility, but at any rate, he got a frantic call one night, “You’ve got to come down to the plant.  We’ve got a big problem.  People are calling in – – – blah blah blah.”  It seems that the B and the R in the Brass had failed so what they had was a big sign that said Bridgeport Ass Company.  This was an incredible thing.  Dad managed to square it away by making a few phone calls to the electricians and they quickly found the problem and fixed it.

I will continue with more memories about their early years in Trumbull from the children in three weeks.

Tomorrow I’ll be posting another excerpt from a letter written by John Jackson Lewis to friends and family back in the states.  He writes more about his trip to San Jose to visit his brother. 

On Sunday, I will post more about Lad and Marian’s early married life during World War II.

Judy Guion

The Beginning (23) – Reminiscences of Alfred D Guion (1884 – 1964) – Moving to Trumbull

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.

The Trumbull House – circa 1928

(This picture is preserved on a 4″ x 4″ glass slide)

A.D. – And now having recorded some of the events in the first two decades of my life spent in the state of New York, let us look further east to Connecticut, where up to the present time, two or more decades have seen the childhood, youth and adulthood of most of my children and their families.

How did we come to settle in Trumbull?  Almost purely by chance.  And it all happened because of a few weeks vacation spent at my brother-in-law’s summer camp in Connecticut.  One day Fred Stanley, who had married my wife’s sister Anne, told us he had rented a little shack in the woods near Sandy Hook, Connecticut, on the Housatonic River, and as he could use it only part of the time, he asked if my family would be interested in occupying it for a couple of weeks.  We were, and one summer morning we loaded up the old Franklin with beds, mattresses, clothing and food and with five children and two adults, escorted by Fred to show us the way, we started merrily on our adventure.  Approaching  Danbury, the most awful bangs, rattles and clanking left no doubt that something was seriously wrong with my car.  Luckily a Franklin repair service was located nearby and here we learned that a main bearing had burned out, which would take a couple of days to repair.  By dint of persuasion, seeing our plight, the headman finally consented to put all hands to work to try to finish the job by nightfall.  Fred was to go onto the camp with the children in his car and Arla and I would stay with the Franklin until repairs were completed.  While I watched the mechanics at work, Arla spent several hours chatting with the proprietor’s wife, who, she told me afterwards, painted a glowing picture of an old house they owned in a small country place called Trumbull, too far away for them to drive in while conducting a business in Danbury, but evidently a dream of a home.  She must have been a good saleswoman because Arla was so enthusiastic from the description given that when vacation time was over and I had to get back to work, she persuaded Fred to drive over to the place.  It was a case of love at first sight and nothing would do but I must see it too and discover what an ideal place it would be for the children.  I, too, was pleased with it

It was obviously out of the question as a practical proposition because, with a job in the lower part of New York City and a Connecticut home seven miles from the nearest railroad station at Bridgeport, itself fifty-five miles from Grand Central Station, only a madman would give the matter a moment’s consideration.  She reluctantly agreed and the subject was abandoned, in my mind, at least.  As it has often been said, it is unwise to underestimate the power of a woman.  Returning home from work several weeks later, I found her one afternoon busily sketching at a table covered with several sheets of paper, and on inquiry, was told that she was figuring out how our present furniture would fit in the Trumbull house.  Seeing how serious she was, there followed several weeks of weighing arguments pro and con, ending in the decision that, for the children’s sake, I would take the chance and try commuting between Bridgeport and New York.

Tomorrow and Friday, early memories of living in Trumbull. 

Judy Guion

The Beginning – Reminiscences of Alfred D Guion (1884 – 1964) – 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.

 

Alfred Duryee with Daniel in his lap, Arla (Peabody) with Lad in her lap

A.D. – After I had been with the Celluloid Company for about 5 years, my boss was a offered and accepted a job with a large die manufacturer recently grown to huge proportions because the dies, which up to the opening of hostilities, had been a German monopoly.  Mr. Abbott, shortly afterwards, offered me the job of Assistant Advertising Manager of the National Aneline & Chemical Company, which I accepted.  My senior, the Advertising Manager, was a sneering, sarcastic individual who evidently resented my being assigned as his assistant, which did not make for very harmonious relations between us and created the sort of atmosphere in which I found it difficult to do my best creative work.  However, the salary was generous and my growing family made it unwise for me to take too independent and attitude.

The house on Landsowne Dr. in Larchmont Gardens, Larchmont, New York

It seemed about time also for my increasing brood to have a home of their own.  We finally decided on a lot in Larchmont Gardens, and with the money I had saved, I bought 1 of the firstt “Redi-cut” homes on the market and with the help of my father-in-law, who was Construction Superintendent on the N. Y.  Central, aided by one of his workmen on his free days, the house was erected.  The garage to hold the Franklin car, I built myself with the aid of friends and neighbors on weekends and holidays, in sort of an old-time building bee fashion.  My two nearest neighbors, the Burnhams and Batchelders, became lifelong friends.  My brother-in-law, Fred Stanley, on one of these weekend parties, brought along a fellow artist, Rusty Heurlin, who at once won all hearts by his personality and was responsible for many happy times.  He is one of Alaska’s leading artists of Arctic life.  The children all loved him and he was always a welcome guest and cherished friend.

Lad – 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.

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 neighbor’s garage but ours stood strong.  Roger Batchelder was that kind of a guy.

Rusty Heurlin was introduced into the family by Fred Stanley, (Aunt) Anne’s husband.  They were both artists, so it was through Fred Stanley, who married Anne Peabody, that he became acquainted with the Peabody clan.  Later, he met Dad.  We were kids, still living in Larchmont, so I was under five and the other kids were younger.

Cedric Duryee Guion

A.D. – With the exception of Dave, our youngest, who was born in Bridgeport Hospital, all our children spent their early years in Larchmont.  Dan was a mischievous little imp.  I recall one time when baby Cedric was taking his afternoon nap on the screened porch; Dan procured a bottle of shellacking and proceeded to paint Ced’s face with it.  You can imagine his Aunt Dorothy’s shocking surprise when she glanced in and saw our baby son suddenly changed into a Negro.  On another occasion, I walked into the kitchen and found Dan seated on the floor by the refrigerator busily breaking eggs on the linoleum.  Lad, early, showed an interest in mechanical things and was always quite a help in fixing things around the house.

On one summer’s day Arla and I motored to Mount Vernon to visit Mother Guion, leaving the children in care of their Aunt Anne. Ced, who was playing on the window seat in his upstairs nursery, somehow loosened the window screen and both he and it fell to the ground below, Ced landing on his head in the flower bed. Anne at once phoned us and I recall breaking all speed laws and safety regulations speeding back to Larchmont.  Apparently no harm resulted and in a short time the youngster was playing as usual.

Tomorrow I will continue the story of the Guion children in Larchmont Gardens.

Judy Guion