The Beginning (44) – Childhood Memories of Trumbull – More Shenanigans

 

Planting a garden in the back yard – back row: Dorothy Peabody (Arla’s youngest sister), Biss, Lad, Dan, Ced, Dick and Grandpa. Front row: Donald Stanley and Dave, circa 1928.

CED – A bunch of us would walk over to Pinewood Lake, you know, it was all forested pine trees.  We would play in the tops of those trees.  We would go from one tree to the next.

DICK – One time, Lad, myself, Dan, Gib (Arnold Gibson) and Nellie Sperling (Nelson Sperling) went to Pinewood Country Club.  They had planted lots of pine trees to hold the soil.  We climbed a tree and moved from tree to tree.  Every once in a while you would hear a crack, thump, “ugh”, as someone fell out of his tree.

One time, me and a couple of my delinquent friends did some malicious mischief (at Center School).  We broke some windows.  Charlie Hall ran across the stage with a stick and broke all the stage lights … Pop … Pop … Pop … Pop.

LAD – I do remember I used to ride one of the horses we had frequently, possibly every day or two, to go up to a house on the top of the second hill beyond Middlebrook School.  There was a girl living there that I really liked.  In fact, Bill Hennigan and I liked this girl very much.  Ruth Moy was her name.  I used to go up there on a horse and invariably, Mother would call and say, “Send Alfred home, it’s time for supper.”

CED – in Trumbull, I went to the old Don Serene’s house, which was a school.  It had two rooms with a sliding door between them.  The first, second and third grades were in one room, the fourth, fifth and sixth grades were in the other.  The teachers were two sisters, one in each room.  Ms. Hawkins taught in the second building.  That was the building that was moved.  They put a basement under it and made some minor changes and made a firehouse out of it.  We had outhouses outside – one for the boys and one for the girls.  We had a water cooler, a 10-gallon jug with a push button on the bottom, no ice, and a wood stove.  Both buildings had a wood stove – we kids used to get the wood for it.

When they opened Center School, I was in the fourth grade.  It had four rooms upstairs and four rooms downstairs.  It was shaped like a square.

BISS – At Center School I fell in love with the Principal, very much and I couldn’t wait for the eighth grade to come so I could be with her.  She retired to get married, either one or two years before that.  I was in the sixth or seventh grade when she retired to get married.  I was always mad at her, because I wasn’t able to have her as a teacher.

LAD – We started high school in Congress High on Congress Avenue (in Bridgeport).  We went there for two years maybe, then they closed the school and made it into a Junior High.  All of the high school kids moved across the street to Central High.  Years later, some of the Trumbull kids went to Harding High, some to Central High and some went to Bassick High School.

BISS – When I was twelve or thirteen, Mother sent me to Kurtz’s Store to get some groceries. We had always charged it, so when I got to the counter I said, “Put it on our charge.”  He said, “Go home and tell your mother and your father that we can no longer carry them on the charge.  They will have to pay cash from now on.”  I felt like I wanted the earth to open up and swallow me.  I know it took Dad from then until 1954 before he could get out of debt and put a gravestone at Mother’s Grave.  (Since Biss was born in January 1919, this would have been in 1931 or 1932.  Her mother, Arla Mary (Peabody) Guion, passed away June 29, 1933.  She had been severely sick for quite a while before that.)

For the rest of the week I will be posting more Childhood Memories of Trumbull.

Judy Guion

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The Beginning (43) – Childhood Memories of Trumbull – Smoking and Other Shenanigans

 

Trap Door on the Barn

 

The Maple Tree on the left with the Summer Porch to the left of the house

It was called the Summer Porch because the Maple Tree provided lots of shade and there was always a breeze there 

CED: – At the Trumbull House, one of the things we used to do, one of the high points, had to do with the little trap door over the barn.  We would open the door, tie a rope to the beam at the top of the barn, run it down and tie it to the big Maple outside beside the Summer Terrace.  We used to have a wheel on it, it would go out the door and hang from the wheel.  We’d slide all the way down and get off by the Maple tree.  A pretty fast ride, too.

Possible location of the tree and swing going “almost over the road”.

We had a swing on the upper end of the property, near the stone pillars.  We would take hold of the rope, take a run and then swing out almost over the road.  Don Stanley fell off it and broke his arm.  His father never really forgave us.

LAD – I don’t remember much about any trouble I got into.  Dick and Ced used to get into trouble.  Mother would get a call from the police, or Constable, as they were called at the time.  What their problems were I don’t remember, but they did get into trouble … Mother had to go get them a few times.

Long before we moved to Trumbull, there was a dam on the Pequonnock River, flooding all the property where the stone house is now, right up to the cemetery.  There was a mill there, run by water which came down through a tunnel.  The tunnel was about three feet by three feet and it came out of a sheer wall.  It was probably a drop of eight or ten feet to the ground.  We kids used to play there quite often; we had a lot of imagination.

I don’t know if Mother smoked as a youngster, but she must have been smoking then because I think I took two of her cigarettes.  Art Christie and I went up and crawled through the tunnel and sat at the edge with our legs hanging over the edge and smoked cigarettes.  Who should come along but Mom!  She crawled through the tunnel and gave us quite a lecture.  It was probably a few years before I started smoking, but Mom smoked with me when I first started.  Then she quit, but I didn’t.

CED – We smoked corn silk and cigarettes here and there.  Art Christie was the oldest, your father (Lad) was next, then Dan and me, the four of us.  I like to presume, and it’s probably true, that Art Christie got the idea.  I guess my Mother wasn’t home.  I don’t know how we did it or how we got to it; but anyway, we got money out of Mother’s pocketbook.  We went to Kurtz is – Mother smoked – most of her sisters smoked – of course in those days you didn’t think anything about it.  Anyway, we went to Kurtz’s and said we were buying some cigarettes for our Mother.  We bought a pack of cigarettes, I don’t remember the brand.  Right about where the cemetery gate was, there was a carriage road.  There was a fence at the end, and a field beyond, which was probably Harold Beech’s field.  But right at the gate there had been, at one time, a mill.  They had dammed up the Pequonnock River; they had a dam there, probably four feet high and four feet wide.  They had a big stone wall that pretty much went all the way to the cemetery.  Near that wall, there was a big, square hole, I guess that’s where they had the mill wheel, but that space was a perfect place to go to smoke cigarettes.  We sat at the front of that square and we started smoking.  We had a whole pack of cigarettes and we wanted to enjoy them.  Well we were merrily smoking away and Dan said, “I think I’ll go home.”  He got right up and left.  We suspected that he was getting sick, he was.  Art and Lad and I hoped he wasn’t going to make a fuss.  I guess we talked about it and decided it was time to stop smoking, so we did.  We thought maybe we ought to go down to the brook, pick up some poles and pretend to be fishing in case Mother came looking for us.  So we did.  We went down to the brook and were playing along the side of the brook, and pretending we were fishing.  I don’t know if we could have made that stick, but anyway, sure enough, about ten, fifteen or twenty minutes later, here comes Mother and gulp, gulp, gulp.  She came up to us and said, “What are you doing?”  “Uh, we’re fishing,” we answered.  “Well”, she replied, “Dan tells me you were smoking.”  What could we do?  “You know your father and I both smoke”, she said.  “I don’t like it that you boys smoke, but why don’t you just come home and smoke if you want to smoke.”  Not one of us wanted to smoke again until we were eighteen or twenty.  Not one of us.  Now, if that isn’t  psychology, good psychology … Without even being punished.

For the rest of the week I will be posting more Childhood Memories of Trumbull.

Judy Guion

The Beginning (42) – Childhood Memories of Trumbull – The Helen Log Book (7)

Following are the last pages of the Helen Log Book. They recount, briefly, a trip to Fishers Island, off the Connecticut shore near the mouth of the Thames River near Groton and Stonington.

DICK: “We spent a couple of summers on Fishers Island in Long Island Sound with the Burnham’s”.

The Burnham’s were neighbors of Grandpa and Grandma  when they lived on Larchmont Drive. in Mount Vernon.  They had a cottage on Fishers Island.  I suspect that the entire family went to the Burnham’s cottage on Fishers Island, especially since Dick has memories of spending time there.  Grandma would drive with the three younger children and Grandpa and the boys would use the Helen as their mode of transportation.

 

 

 

Trip to Conn.  Camp during 1931 occurs here.

Trip to L.  I.  In 1932 comes next.  Neither were written up.

Fishers Island Trip – Aug. 1933

Sat. – Aug. 5

Commodore not well.  Crew had packed the night before.  Got off to late start at 11:00.  Weather fair – sea not rough.  Had bad motor knock develop before reaching New Haven due to oil loss.  Bilge needed care every couple of hours.  Cut way out to center of Sound. Passed Faulkner’s Island going strong.  Hit bad squall off about Cornfield Point.  Trip not very eventful – night navigation as we approached the Island.  Guns heard from Island.  Turned into West Harbor in high spirits.  Found a light missing but found dock at Burnham’s about 10:20.

Sun. Aug. 6 –

Helen tried to sink, water up to carburetor in morning.

Mon. to Sat. night – spent time trying to repair Helen’s leaks.  Prepared for return trip Sunday.

Sunday – Aug. 13 –

Fog – steady wind from S.W. Helen doesn’t leak badly.  Got off quite late at 12:05.  Cut across close to Connecticut shore, followed it from Pt. to Pt. Sea rather rough.  Fog lifting, wind increasing.  Motor running perfectly.  Waves getting big at Sachem’s Head.  So large that we chugged up one side, slid down other.  If we took them head on we would have been swamped.  Tide now against us.  Finally reaching New Haven but took interminable time in passing it.  Getting dark as we neared Stratford Pt.  Waves going down a bit.  Just inside the Milford breakwater the motor, getting wet, fired only on 2 cylinders, and with tide against us we “trickled” along to arrive at French’s Dock at 10:30, too late to intercept Mr. Burnham who stopped to see if we had yet arrived.

Commodore, well this time, had acquired a most beautiful beer nose, with a two-cheek accompaniment.

This empty envelope (found in the inside cover of the Log Book), addressed to “The GuionClan”, c/o R B Burnham, Box 413, Fishers Island, NY, dated August 8, 1933, leads me to believe that Grandpa might have gone to Fishers Island with the older boys in the Helen, the first weekend, went back to work in Bridgeport (he had his own printing and advertising company) and then returned to join the family for the following weekend and the trip home with the older boys in The Helen.

This is the Return Address from the envelope.

 

The story of the Helen in the Log Book comes to an end.  It sounds to me as though the Helen provided, on at least four occasions, great memories and wonderful bonding time between Grandpa and his three oldest sons.

Ced provides the last chapter of the Helen and the Guion family.

“Arnold Gibson’s father, stepfather actually, was an old seagoing man.  I guess he had been in the Navy.  He had a Sea Scout troop and Dad said, “You know this boat is getting beyond us.  Why don’t we give it to the Sea Scouts and maybe they can get some fun out of it.”  He gave it to them and I don’t know what they did with it.”

My hope is that you have enjoyed reading about the adventures and mis-adventures of Grandpa, Lad, Dan and Ced during the years they owned The Helen.  I believe that memories fade and we may, without realizing it, fill in blank spaces from a different memory.  We continue to retain the new memory and that is the only thing that continues to exist.  Lad, Ced, Dick and Dave all have a few memories of The Helen.  Although each memory does not exactly match the Log Book, which was recorded at the actual time of the event by an adult, the essence of their memories ring true.

Tomorrow, the government of Venezuela joins in the paper chase prior to Lad entering their country as an alien.

On Sunday, more about Marian (Irwin) Guion’s ancestors.

Judy Guion

The Beginning (41) – Childhood Memories of Trumbull – The Helen Log Book (6)

Following is the transcription of the last two days of this momentous trip Grandpa and the three older boys took up the Connecticut River.  Enjoy.

 

 

Saturday –

Up at 7.  Whether still cloudy.  Breakfast at 8.  Broke camp at 9.  Anchor up and away at 10.  Stopped Middletown for supplies at 11.  Away again for a non-stop run at 11:45.  Motor running perfectly, lunch on board.  Slight shower.  Alfred steering in oil skins… Looks like ad for Scott’s Emulsion.  Shower clears and sun comes out.  Stop at Essex late in the afternoon for gas and water.  Motor averaging about 6 m.p.h.  Saybrook Bridge seems to be _____ as we draw inside of it the motor goes dead.  We find a spark plug points are fouled.  Alfred cleans these with knife and we are off again.  Round the point at Saybrook again at 5:10.  Motor is missing a bit, but we keep on until we round Hammonaset Point and camp for the night on shore.  In spite of temperamental motor we completed our longest single run at dusk, dropping anchor at 7:40, total of 46 miles, in approximately 9 hours with stops.

Sunday –

We were all awake and ready to get up a little after 6, but the blankets were wet with dew and the sun did not get over our sandbank until about 6:30.  Alfred went out to the Helen to clean spark points while I shaved.  Weather a bit overcast, water calm.  Up anchor and away at 9:10.  Breakfast on board.  Motor working ok.  After leaving Sachem’s Head we decided to do some real navigation and strike out into the Sound heading for Stratford Point, proceeding by dead reckoning, using the small compass we have along.

Tomorrow, a quick mention of two trips that never made it into the Log Book and then the record of a trip to Fisher’s Island.

On Saturday, more of Lad’s trip to Venezuela and the Red Tape he had to go through before he ever set foot on the Grace Line Ship.

On Sunday, more information about Marian’s Ancestors.

Judy Guion

The Beginning (40) – Childhood Memories of Trumbull – The Helen Log Book (5)

Following is the transcription of the sixth and seventh days of this momentous trip Grandpa and the three older boys took up the Connecticut River. I will continue to post entries from the Helen Log Book for the rest of the week, just to keep the story together. Enjoy.

 

 

 

Thursday –

After arising a little before 9 we had a flapjack breakfast, highly flavored with gasoline, bought some apples and corn from a passing farmer and cleaned.

Alfred and Ced started for Middletown for the machine shop.

We learned that the property on which we were camping was owned by L. C. Tryon, R.&.D. 1, so Glastonbury, Conn.  (See his son, Raymond).  The boys came back early in the afternoon.  The little part for the engine cost $10.50.  Weather cloudy with occasional showers, so we decided to get engine all fixed up today and start early tomorrow.  Had a marshmallow roast and retired – I in the tent and the boys in a sand bed they had hollowed out near an old stump.  About 11 PM a bad shower came up and the boys stumbled in the tent with their beds.

Friday –

Weather is still very threatening – cloudy with frequent showers.  The boys voted to stay all day if weather did not clear up.  The morning was spent doing stunts, Alfred giving a very realistic imitation of Nelly diving. (Nelson Sperling, a friend from Trumbull) a game of follow the leader (Dan) and later acquaintance with three boys from Georgia in a camp further up the river.  We played cards and during the game Mr.  Tryon called and told us his price for land was $125 for 100 feet of shore front.  Boys very anxious for me to buy, but gave no definite answer pending Mother’s desire.  Retired at 9 with intention of starting tomorrow early, rain or shine.  Showers during night – Dan slept out with waterproof canvas over him.  Rest of us in tent.

Tomorrow, the final entries for this trip.

On Friday, the story of a trip to Fisher’s Island, one that Dave included in his memories.

Judy Guion

The Beginning (39) – Childhood Memories of Trumbull – The Helen Log Book (4)

Following is the transcription of the third and fourth days of this momentous trip Grandpa and the three older boys took up the Connecticut River. I will continue to post entries from the Helen Log Book for the rest of the week, just to keep the story together. Enjoy.

This picture shows Grandpa and Lad in the back and Ced in front of Grandpa. Dan may have been taking the picture.This is probably close to their age during their trips in The Helen.

 

 

Wednesday –

Appalling discovery – our rowboat is gone!  At first we thought it had been stolen, but later we decided the tide had come up further than we had thought it would, the beach being quite flat, and while we had pulled the boat quite a distance up on the beach, we had not tied it.  The wind and tide combined had evidently done the trick.  The gloom was deep but we all took it philosophically.  Alfred and Daddy started off for Middletown with broken parts, leaving Dan and Ced to hold down camp.

We finally located a machine shop that could make the needed part and after spending the day waiting for it to be completed, we learned it would not be finished until Thursday, so we returned to camp for the night.

No boys!  There was a crazy note from Dan pinned up on the tent.  We finally discovered them in hiding and then greatly to our surprise and joy, learned that Ced had located the rowboat among some rocks downstream about half a mile and Ced and Dan had reached it by swimming the river – paddled it back.  After a hot dog supper we all crawled in our beds, tired but happy.

For the rest of the week I will continue the exploits of Grandpa, Lad, Dan and Ced on The Helen.

Judy Guion

The Beginning (38) – Childhood Memories of Trumbull – The Helen Log Book (3)

Following is the transcription of the third and fourth days of this momentous trip Grandpa and the three older boys took up the Connecticut River. I will continue to post entries from the Helen Log Book for the rest of the week, just to keep the story together. Enjoy.

 

 

 

 

Monday –

When we woke up at about 8 o’clock this morning through a combination of an ______ alarm clock from Daddy, a sneeze from Ced and a couple of woodpeckers tapping, it was 8 o’clock on a beautiful, clear, sunshiny day.

Dan and Alfred went in for a swim, Dad shaved.  Bacon and eggs for breakfast. Ced and Alfred got Helen from her nights harboring while Dan and Dad broke camp.  After landing we got away to discover Dan had left his handkerchief to dry on the rocks. Ced resolved this and we left 18 Mile River at 10:30.  The only casualty today was a skin cut  caused from a kickback of engine while Alfred was starting it.  At 10:40 we entered the Conn. River again.  At  11:45 we stopped at East Haddam for bread and water.  Off again at 12:07 saw a house on west side of river that would make a good family camp.  Lunch of sandwiches at 1:30, reaching Middletown at 2:12 or about 20 miles in 3 hrs.

Left at 2:30.  Gas line clogged.  Cleaned out in about ½ hour and away again at 3:10.  Later the sky clouded over and a shower came up. Ced donned the “oilers” and Dan and he piloted the boat while Alfred and Dad sat under the canvas cover and tried to keep the rain from leaking in with only partial success.  In half to three quarters of an hour the rain stopped, the sun came out again and we all resumed our proper stations.

At 6:10 we reached Hartford but continued on about a mile or so above Hartford for the night on a flat, sandy island, after running Helen up into a narrow, muddy channel.  After supper consisting of beef stew, canned chicken, sundry sandwiches and oranges we retired. Ced and Daddy slept in the tent, Dan and Alfred outside.

Tuesday –

Most of the day was spent on our island, waterproofing the canvas cover and cleaning out oil caps and gas line and cleaning up generally.  In the meantime we had made inquiries and found it would not be wise to attempt to go up the river, which because of lack of rain, was low, but would head for the Sound instead and if we time, go down to Norwalk to see the Kirchers.

We left Hartford at 3:30 after stopping for gas, overtook the Standard Oil tanker we had passed the previous day on way up and left ahead of her until we got just above Gildersleeve Island when the engine went dead, the make-and-break mechanism having broken.  Luckily we were directly opposite an ideal camping place on a sandy, wooded Knoll overlooking the river, approached by a sandy, wide beach.  Here we anchored Helen and pitched tent.

While we were anchoring a canoe approached propelled by an inboard motor and the owner warned us to anchor Helen far enough off shore so that the wash from the Hartford boat would not damage her.  He also informed us how to get to Middletown where repairs could be obtained.  Dan not feeling so well, so after eating a light supper he retired early, sleeping in the tent with Daddy while Ced and Alfred hollowed out a bed in the sand.  During the night a fog came up but this was blown away toward morning by a breeze.

For the rest of the week I will continue the exploits of Grandpa, Lad, Dan and Ced on The Helen.

Judy Guion