The Beginning (54) – Childhood Memories of Trumbull – Lad and World War II

These are the memories of my Father and his siblings, recorded over several years. When my Uncle Dan passed away, I realized that I had better get started recording the memories of Dan’s siblings before they were also gone. I was able to have two recording sessions with my Father, Lad in California; two with Uncle Ced in New Hampshire, a three-day cruise in our boat with Aunt Biss; one session with Uncle Dave in Stratford, CT and one hand-written session (I forgot my tape recorder going up to the Island in New Hampshire, where Uncle Dick lived) with Uncle Dick. I transcribed them once exactly as they were spoken, again removing the ums, ahs, half sentences started over, etc. I then produced a final copy that was easier to read, but it still needs work getting the chronological order correct. Memories are not recorded with a date stamp. I created 75 binders for family members which include all three translations, pages and pages of photos and memorabilia and the actual recording. Now family members can actually heat their ancestors speaking. It was my first project with all the material my Father saved for me and a true Labor of Love. I hope you enjoy these memories of A Slice of Life at a different time and place.

 

LAD – After working in Venezuela for two and a half years, the company required that I take two months off and go to a temperate climate.  They didn’t care where, just that I had to be out of the tropical climate.  So I went home.  Just before the ship landed in New York City, an announcement came over the PA system that some government employees would be coming on board.  When they arrived, they asked everyone for their passport.  They told me that I wouldn’t get my passport back.  I went to Trumbull and shortly thereafter, got my conscription notice, classifying me 1-A.  Because of my draft status, I had trouble finding a job.  I figured that if I signed up, then I could pick which branch of the service I went into.  I went to New York City and tried to get into the Navy and the Air Force but I was rejected because of my eyesight.  I was finally able to get a job at the Producto Machine Company (in Bridgeport).  They made machines and dyes.  It was a fairly nice plant, it was considered pretty good equipment.  In December, the Japanese bombed Perl Harbor and shortly after I got a notice to report for duty.  I was able to get a deferment because of my job but by April, 1942, I had been reclassified 1-A.  I received a notice to report for duty in May. Two days later I got a letter from the Navy saying they had lowered their eyesight requirements and I was now eligible.  I tried to talk the Army out of it, but was unsuccessful.  So I went into the Army.

Dan and I were both in France in 1945.  I had been corresponding with Dan and I knew he was going to be married on a particular day in mid-summer.  I talked my Captain into a three-day pass but it was limited to Paris.  That was as far as I should go.  So I went to Paris and checked into the Hospitality Hotel.  I left my duffel bag there and put a little sack in my pocket with a toothbrush and that’s about it, I guess, maybe a comb too.  I decided to try to get to Calais (where Dan was to be married).  I didn’t know how far it was, maybe fifty or sixty miles from Paris, north of Paris, up on the coast.  I got a ticket on a train and the train went about five or six miles per hour for about ten or fifteen minutes, then it stopped.  It stood there for a long, long time, then it went a little further and it stopped again.  I was noticing that cars kept going by so I got off the train and hitchhiked.  I beat the train by a day.  I didn’t have much trouble hitchhiking.  An English soldier came along on a motorbike and asked me where I wanted to go.  I told him Calais.  He said, “That’s not far.  I’ll take you up there.”  So that’s how I made the last two-thirds of the trip to Calais.  I had no trouble finding the house; it was Chiche’s mother’s house, her mother and father’s house.  He was a pharmacist.  It was fairly late in the afternoon when I got there.  I stayed the night and the wedding was the next day.  As I recall, they were expecting me when I got there.  The third day, my pass was up but I didn’t hurry to get back.  I went back to Paris on the train, and this time, it went pretty well.  I grabbed all of my equipment out of the Hospitality Hotel and checked out.  I took the usual bus to go from Paris to Marseilles, but by this time, I was one day over my pass.  When I got back to camp there was nothing there, just damaged grass and fields.  Everything was gone!  I finally found an officer who was walking around and asked him what had happened.  He said that everybody had shipped out, Saturday, I guess it was, or Sunday.  I told him my name and he said, “Oh, yeah.  They tried to get a hold of you but the Hotel said they couldn’t find you.”  So he told me where to go and what to do.  I went to the location he told me about and they knew all about me.  There was another fellow there, Bob Mark.  I was with the 3019th and he was with the 3020th.  He had been left behind to gather all the equipment.  I said, “That’s what I’m supposed to do.”  So, Bob and I got together and found our equipment, we both belonged to the hundred and forty-ninth Battalion.  We got all the equipment rounded up, got it to the dock and finally were able to get a ship that would take it to Okinawa.  I think it took us close to a week to get everything ready and get aboard.  We started out but when we were about two hundred miles from the Panama Canal, the word on the PA system was that the US had dropped a bomb on Hiroshima.  We got the message in the afternoon, and the next morning the ship turned around, went back out to the Atlantic and up the coast to New York.

After I returned to New York I was stationed at Fort Dix.  I don’t know how many months, a couple or three months.  They didn’t know what to do with me.  I went home every weekend and came back on Monday.  Finally they said to me, “We don’t know what to do with you so you might as well go home and get discharged.”  So that’s what finally happened.

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

Judy Guion

The Beginning (53) – Childhood Memories of Trumbull – Working in Venezuela – 1939 – 1941

These are the memories of my Father and his siblings, recorded over several years. When my Uncle Dan passed away, I realized that I had better get started recording the memories of Dan’s siblings before they were also gone. I was able to have two recording sessions with my Father, Lad in California; two with Uncle Ced in New Hampshire, a three-day cruise in our boat with Aunt Biss; one session with Uncle Dave in Stratford, CT and one hand-written session (I forgot my tape recorder going up to the Island in New Hampshire, where Uncle Dick lived) with Uncle Dick. I transcribed them once exactly as they were spoken, again removing the ums, ahs, half sentences started over, etc. I then produced a final copy that was easier to read, but it still needs work getting the chronological order correct. Memories are not recorded with a date stamp. I created 75 binders for family members which include all three translations, pages and pages of photos and memorabilia and the actual recording. Now family members can actually heat their ancestors speaking. It was my first project with all the material my Father saved for me and a true Labor of Love. I hope you enjoy these memories of A Slice of Life at a different time and place. 

Lad in Venezuela

Dan in Venezuela

LAD – I got into the oil business in Venezuela through my uncle, Ted Human. he was a civil engineer and saw an ad in the business paper that requested workers for Venezuela.  He applied for a job with a company called  Inter-America, Inc. he got the job and asked Dan, also a civil engineer, to come down and help him.  He also asked me if I’d go along as a mechanic to maintain the company trucks.  We were going to build a road from Caracas to Columbia, which would go across the top of Venezuela. Barquisimeto was the name of the town in Venezuela.Dan left with Uncle Ted (in October, 1938) but I had to buy tools, equipment and other stuff that I would need.  By the time I had everything ready and had arranged transportation, it was the end of December, 1938.  I left from New York City on a Grace Line ship on December 26 (actually he left on December 30th)1938.  I was at sea on New Year’s Eve.  We had a rather bad storm going across the port of Caracas and most of the passengers got sick, I was 1 of the few that didn’t get sick.  I was still able to get around although the ship was pitching rather badly.  After that, they put balance wheels or gyroscopes in those boats.  They really helped a great deal.  It didn’t stop the pitching, but it did stop the yawing.

I worked for Inter-America for a couple of months but I wasn’t getting paid.  Neither were the other guys.  Uncle Ted found out that the pictures sent to the Venezuelan officials showing the road we had built was actually just smoothed out sand, not cement.  He got pretty upset about that because it wasn’t a real road.  He and Dan had done the surveying and figured the angles and the grades, and then, instead of pouring cement, they just leveled off the sand.

Uncle Ted was injured in a car accident and returned to the United States.  I guess Dan wasn’t interested in staying after that.  Uncle Ted had introduced me to a fellow and I had worked on his vehicles.  I was able to get a job with him at Socony-Vacuum Oil Company and I worked for them for two years.

While Uncle Ted was in Venezuela, he had a chauffeur named Manuel.  They were going to Caracas down a road and came to a river with the bridge across it.  Many of the bridges in Venezuela are 2 lanes wide but only one side of the bridge is finished with planking.  Manuel was going a bit fast and he was going up a slight hill and because there was a piece of equipment on the road, he didn’t realize that the other side of the bridge had the planking.  Manuel tried to get over to the left far enough but wasn’t successful.  The car went over the bank and into the river.  Uncle Ted got hurt quite badly.  Aunt Helen came down from the US and took him back to a New York City hospital.  Although he lived for a few years after that, he was in very poor health.

Tomorrow and the rest of the week, more childhood Memories of Trumbull.

Judy Guion

The Beginning (52) – Childhood Memories of Trumbull – Friends

These are the memories of my Father and his siblings, recorded over several years. When my Uncle Dan passed away, I realized that I had better get started recording the memories of Dan’s siblings before they were also gone. I was able to have two recording sessions with my Father, Lad in California; two with Uncle Ced in New Hampshire, a three-day cruise in our boat with Aunt Biss; one session with Uncle Dave in Stratford, CT and one hand-written session (I forgot my tape recorder going up to the Island in New Hampshire, where Uncle Dick lived) with Uncle Dick. I transcribed them once exactly as they were spoken, again removing the ums, ahs, half sentences started over, etc. I then produced a final copy that was easier to read, but it still needs work getting the chronological order correct. Memories are not recorded with a date stamp. I created 75 binders for family members which include all three translations, pages and pages of photos and memorabilia and the actual recording. Now family members can actually heat their ancestors speaking. It was my first project with all the material my Father saved for me and a true Labor of Love. I hope you enjoy these memories of A Slice of Life at a different time and place. 

 

                                   “The Good Times” – 1939
            Arnold Gibson (Gibby), Charlie Kurtz and Carl Wayne
                                      The Red Horse Station

This picture was taken several years after Lad worked there, Carl Wayne had bought the station from the Kurtz family

CED – Lad worked at Well’s garage, the Well’s Bus Company.  He was there maintenance man for years.  Later he ran two different gas stations in town.  The first was the Mobile station, next to Kurtz’s store.  The second was the Atlantic station after it opened.

DAVE – One more thought when your father, Al, had a gas station in Trumbull.  I don’t have witnesses but I think Ced told the story.  Somebody came in one day, knowing what a great diagnostician your father was, came in and said, “You hear it?  Something is wrong with my car.  Can you hear that noise?”  Your father, without saying a word, turned around and walked away.  “Well, what is this?  Here I am, asking a question, and the guy ignores me and just walks away.”  He was about ready to take off when your father came back and he says, “I think the problem is …”, but he never told the guy he was going off to think about what to say.

BISS – I would not repeat anything about my teenage years.

Dan and Lad used to be competitive with the girls; they always seemed to like the same girls.  There would be in upheaval because she would pick one or the other.  It might have been Adele O’Brien that they both liked.  She was another pretty girl.  Jimmy, her brother, was in my class and Adele was older.  I think both Lad and Dan took a shine to her.  I think it was the most serious difference of opinion; apparently they both liked her, so neither of them married her.

“The Gang” on the  Summer Porch at the Trumbull House – 1938

Front row, L to R: Edna Traphagen, Tessie Mikita, Edna Bebee, Jane Mantle, Richard Christie, Dave Guion, Dan Guion,

Back row: Peg Bebee, Lois Henigan, Helen Smith, Bill Slausen, Arnold Gibson. Barbara Plumb, Lad Guion, Ethel Bushey, Pete Linsley, Doris Christie 

There were a whole bunch of us that were friends and hung around together.  There was Ethel Bushey, Doris Christie, Jane Mantle, Barbie Plumb and Jean Hughes.  Some of the guys we hung around with were Zeke (Raymond Zabel, her eventual husband) Zeke’s brother Erv, Fred Karn and his brothers Earl and Al, and Rudy Mahulka.  At this time Zeke lived up on Daniels Farm Road and I guess they were playing with guns.  Anyway, Rudy shot the gun and the bullet hit a tree and ricocheted and hit his sister.  I guess the bullet was lodged too close to her heart; anyway, they couldn’t operate on it.  I think it was about five years later when she died from the gunshot wound.  Indirectly, the gunshot wound was the cause of her death.  She was another pretty girl.

Some of the other people who hung around with us were Art Christie and George Brelsford.  When Zeke’s family moved down onto Park Street, it was George Brelsford’s family that bought their house.  Then George moved away and I never heard from him again.  But there was Art Christie, Dick Christie went more with Ced, he was the younger brother, then there was Floyd Smith who was an acquaintance.

Tomorrow, Lad’s third day on the Santa Roas as he heads to Venezuela.

On Sunday, more of My Ancestors.

Judy Guion

The Beginning (51) – Childhood Memories of Trumbull – Assorted Memories

These are the memories of my Father and his siblings, recorded over several years. When my Uncle Dan passed away, I realized that I had better get started recording the memories of Dan’s siblings before they were also gone. I was able to have two recording sessions with my Father, Lad in California; two with Uncle Ced in New Hampshire, a three-day cruise in our boat with Aunt Biss; one session with Uncle Dave in Stratford, CT and one hand-written session (I forgot my tape recorder going up to the Island in New Hampshire, where Uncle Dick lived) with Uncle Dick. I transcribed them once exactly as they were spoken, again removing the ums, ahs, half sentences started over, etc. I then produced a final copy that was easier to read, but it still needs work getting the chronological order correct. Memories are not recorded with a date stamp. I created 75 binders for family members which include all three translations, pages and pages of photos and memorabilia and the actual recording. Now family members can actually heat their ancestors speaking. It was my first project with all the material my Father saved for me and a true Labor of Love. I hope you enjoy these memories of A Slice of Life at a different time and place. 

The Beginning (51) – Childhood Memories of Trumbull – Assorted Memories

Dick – Lad did some wrestling for a while – he was extremely proficient – he could beat guys older and heavier than he was.

Lad and Gibby (Arnold Gibson) had an old Model T Ford.  They would tie a rope to the differential, tie a tire on ten or fifteen feet back, and ride it like a surfboard or sled.

CED – We used to play the piano.  We had a player piano, we got it from Aunt Anne, she had it in New Rochelle and they didn’t use it anymore so we got it.

DAVE – The big draw was the player piano.  Each one of us, as we got to a certain age, would have people over and we would stand around the piano, play a few songs and sing to them, sing to the music.

Grandpa, Ced and Dick (not sure if Dave was there) visited the Chandlers after they moved to Maryland.

CED – The young people’s group in church was led by Doug and Emily Chandler.  Long after Chandler left, we kept on with the Chandler Chorus.  The only two people who ever directed the Chandler Chorus were Doug Chandler and Laura Brewster.  He was good, very good with young people.  There must have been seventeen or eighteen kids in the group.  He played the piano beautifully and we would have these meetings once a week.  He played really jazzy music for us, too.  He was very fond of music, good music, and started the Chandler Chorus.  We had everywhere from ten-year-olds to sixty-year-olds, maybe higher.  Maybe not ten-year-olds, but we had young people.  We sang quite frequently.  We went all over the place, up to Shelton.  We were good.  In fact, that’s where Fannie and I met.

Anyway, then there was this young group, as I said, our house was the center of activity all over town.  It drew practically everyone in the town of Trumbull.  Mother said every Tuesday night we could have an Open House for all the young people.  We would play the piano and we would sing.  We just had a ball, and then we would have cookies and cocoa or something.  That was so much fun.

DICK – Dad, Ced, Dave and I went on a trip to the Gaspé Peninsula in Québec.  At Lewis we crossed over and went up the south side.  Dad got violently sick from rancid bacon.  At Cape Bon Homie there is a high, steep precipice – about two hundred feet high.  At the top, we all lay down on our bellies and inched forward to the edge.  Nearby, we had found some rotten logs – one of us would throw one over the edge and the rest of us would watch.  It was fascinating watching it fall – almost in slow motion.

Art Mantle, Biss and Lad with the Model T

DAVE – Where did I learn to drive?  I guess I never did.  I don’t remember.  I don’t think it was in the back lot.  I remember a game the older boys used to play.  Someone would stand on the running board (if you don’t know what a running board is, look it up) and stick their bottom out.  There had to be a little bit of teamwork between the driver and the person on the running board, and they would try to see how close they could come to a tree without hitting their butt.  That’s all I remember about it.

Tomorrow I will finish off the week with one more Childhood Memories of Trumbull.

On Saturday, Day Three for Lad on his Voyage to Venezuela.

Judy Guion

The Beginning (50) – Childhood Memories of Trumbull – Specific Memories From Dave

 

           Dave Guion

DAVE – Dick, Ced and I, when I could get them to drag me along … there was a whole gang that used to do things together.  I couldn’t understand why they did not want me along all the time.  Now, I don’t know how they put up with me at all, anytime.  I used to go and do things with them.  Sometimes we would go for a walk in the woods, we would go to Helen and Barbara Plumb’s house and play tennis. One of the fellows that was part of that gang was a guy by the name of Don Sirene.  His father was an architect and he lived in the house that my older siblings went to school in.  I remember one day, we were at his house, and we were having hot chocolate.  I guess it was Don Sirene who was sitting right across from Dick.  Somebody said something funny and Dick had a mouth full of chocolate.  Whether it was Don or someone else, I don’t remember, but whoever it was across from Dick got really sprayed.  Dick couldn’t hold it in.

As far as games are concerned, I was the consummate athlete.  The sandlot game was really an unorganized game when I was a kid.  In a sandlot game, a bunch of kids would get together and decide who would get to be captains.  One of them would throw the bat in a vertical position to the other captain, he would grab it and then they would put hand over hand until they reached the top of the bat, and that was the guy, whoever was the last to touch the bat, he was the one who would pick first.  He would pick the best player, probably, and then the other captain would pick somebody and they would go back and forth like that until it got to me.  I always managed to be the last one picked because I couldn’t hit, I couldn’t catch, and no one wanted me as a ballplayer.  When it came to football, I was too light and I was too scared, so I was never a football player.  I never learned to ice skate until, after I was married, my wife taught me how to ice skate.  So, you can see, I was the consummate athlete.

slightly older Dave Guion

In Trumbull, behind McKenzie’s (Drug Store) and a bunch of other stores, there used to be an open lot and we used to play football and baseball there.  We had a team called the Trumbull Rangers.  We would play basketball and – I say we – they would play basketball, football and baseball.  We had a regular club and I was the President.  I wasn’t worth a darn as an athlete so … besides, we used to meet in the barn at the Big House.  I became the President.  That ran for several years.  We played other Trumbull teams, we played Bridgeport teams.  For a lot of years we never got together.  Now, on the first Wednesday of the month, we get together.

We had one fellow, of course this was during the war, we had one fellow who usually was the pitcher and he so badly wanted to go into the Air Force.  Whenever a plane flew over, he would stand there holding the ball until the plane got almost out of sight, then he would resume the game.  It was kind of like a commercial break, I guess.

Unfortunately, the same fellow – three years before that – was up at the Trumbull Reservoir.  There was a cliff up there and he and a couple of other fellows were at the bottom of this cliff.  Some kids from Bridgeport – I say this because kids from Bridgeport were bad, either accidentally or on purpose, threw or kicked a rock off the top of the cliff and it hit this kid in the head, so he had a metal plate in his head.  When it came time for him to go into the service, he wanted to fly and of course, they would not let him.  So he left in the Navy.

Dave after going into the service at 18

I got a letter from him when I was in Okinawa and it had been written maybe two or three days before that, so I said, “My God, he’s got to be here.”  As soon as I got a chance I went down to the harbormaster and found out that his ship had just left, so I missed him.

Thursday and Friday, more Memories of Trumbull.

Judy Guion

 

 

The Beginning (49) – Childhood Memories of Trumbull – Memories of the Island

These are the memories of my Father and his siblings, recorded over several years. When my Uncle Dan passed away, I realized that I had better get started recording the memories of Dan’s siblings before they were also gone. I was able to have two recording sessions with my Father, Lad in California; two with Uncle Ced in New Hampshire, a three-day cruise in our boat with Aunt Biss; one session with Uncle Dave in Stratford, CT and one hand-written session (I forgot my tape recorder going up to the Island in New Hampshire, where Uncle Dick lived) with Uncle Dick. I transcribed them once exactly as they were spoken, again removing the ums, ahs, half sentences started over, etc. I then produced a final copy that was easier to read, but it still needs work getting the chronological order correct. Memories are not recorded with a date stamp. I created 75 binders for family members which include all three translations, pages and pages of photos and memorabilia and the actual recording. Now family members can actually heat their ancestors speaking. It was my first project with all the material my Father saved for me and a true Labor of Love. I hope you enjoy these memories of A Slice of Life at a different time and place. 

CED – The Island belonged to the Heurlins (Rusty Huerlin’s parents) and they let us use it.  We used it long before we bought it.  Through Rusty, we met his family.  His mother and father came over from Sweden, his father spoke with a strong accent.  He was a Customs Agent in Boston.  They were a nice couple, they lived in Wakefield, Massachusetts, in a nice house.

The barge on the left

When we first went to the Island, probably about 1924 or 1925, there was nothing on it at all.  We would take a tent.  My Dad would load up the big old touring car.  To begin with, we used a canoe and a rowboat to get out to the Island.  Later, Lad and his buddies built the barge, which was hand-built in Trumbull.  It was 15 or 16 feet long, it had a square bow and a flat bottom.  It was always nice to have when you were moving your stuff out to the Island.  Then the guys started getting motorboats, outboards, a lot handier to go here and there.

BISS – My first recollection of the Island was when I was twelve or thirteen, somewhere along there.  At that time, Rusty (Heurlin) or is family owned the island.  He took us kids up there, and of course, there was nothing on the Island.  I picked a rock to sleep on.  It was probably the big, flat rock near Bathtub Rock.  That was my bed.

Current picture of about half of the Big Flat Rock

One night, Rusty and two guys from around the lake, named Eustis and Sully (we kid’s called them “useless” and “silly”) went to a house on the mainland where some Irish policemen were on vacation.  They were going to help them celebrate.  Rusty came back three sheets to the wind, oh, he was really out of it.  He staggered up the point.

DAVE – One of my earliest memories of the Island was running around naked.  There were no buildings on the Island when we went there, there was a tent.  We put up a tent and that was it

When I was a kid, I remember it was the first time I was up there – in the first place, it was a two-day trip to get up there – we used to leave, drive up to Rusty’s parents house, stay overnight, then drive up the rest of the way.  Rusty had a couple of friends who were at the Island one time I was up there.  We had spaghetti for supper that night.  By sometime around two or three o’clock I no longer had that spaghetti.  I don’t know what they had in it, but something made me sick.

One guy’s name was Eustis and Rusty used to call him Useless.  I don’t remember the other guy’s name.  Rusty is the last one in the world to call someone else silly.  I remember one time he decided to make himself a meal.  So he got a piece of bread and he proceeded to put anything and everything that was edible on top of that piece of bread and ate the whole thing, stood out on the rock and belched loud enough so people on Red Hill could hear him, I’m sure.  He was a character, a funny guy.

Red Hill taken from a Sunset Rock, right next to the Big Flat Rock.

I remember Rusty picked on Dick a lot.  I don’t know why.  I guess Dick was at that age,, fifteen, sixteen or seventeen, and Rusty didn’t have much patience.  Rusty was a man’s man.  He wasn’t too much for kids.  I just remember he picked on Dick a lot.  I just remember feeling sorry for Dick.

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

Judy Guion

The Beginning (48) Childhood Memories of Trumbull – Dick and Dave Remember

These are the memories of my Father and his siblings, recorded over several years. When my Uncle Dan passed away, I realized that I had better get started recording the memories of Dan’s siblings before they were also gone. I was able to have two recording sessions with my Father, Lad in California; two with Uncle Ced in New Hampshire, a three-day cruise in our boat with Aunt Biss; one session with Uncle Dave in Stratford, CT and one hand-written session (I forgot my tape recorder going up to the Island in New Hampshire, where Uncle Dick lived) with Uncle Dick. I transcribed them once exactly as they were spoken, again removing the ums, ahs, half sentences started over, etc. I then produced a final copy that was easier to read, but it still needs work getting the chronological order correct. Memories are not recorded with a date stamp. I created 75 binders for family members which include all three translations, pages and pages of photos and memorabilia and the actual recording. Now family members can actually heat their ancestors speaking. It was my first project with all the material my Father saved for me and a true Labor of Love. I hope you enjoy these memories of A Slice of Life at a different time and place. 

Back row: Grandpa and Lad,

Middle Row: Dick, Ced, (cousin) Dorothy Peabody;

Front row: Don Stanley, Dave, Biss and Gwen Stanley.

DICK – Ced  was a thorn in my side; he kept trying to make me a more refined person.

Once,  Ced spent his hard earned money to buy me a Tinker Toy truck.

DAVE – How did I get along with my siblings, aside from Dick?  That aside is because Dick used to push my buttons and get me going, on purpose.  Although I have to say,  he did me a big favor, because I have since learned to laugh at myself, to let things  – as people say  – roll off my back, and Dick would turn over in his grave if he knew this, but he was the one who set me on that path.  By the time I was eight or ten, Al, Lad, what ever  ….. by the way, if I had been nicknamed Lad, I would have put an end to it immediately.  But anyway, Al and Dan were already in the CCC camps, and I just didn’t have much of a relationship because of the distance in years

Mack

We had a dog, which came from Rusty, named Mack.  Mack was named after the Mackenzie River up in Alaska.  Rusty is a whole other story.  My main remembrance of Mack was one day, we were out playing in the yard and I had a stick.  I held it up in the air for him to go get it and he jammed his fang into my nail, and it  HURT.

I remember doing something to my sister one day and she threatened me with something and I said, “You can’t catch me” and took off and ran out into the yard.  I was making pretty good headway but she eventually caught up to me.  I don’t remember what she did to me, but I just remember that I got caught

My Mother and Father used to enjoy having parties and, when they got to know Rusty, he was always welcomed at their parties because he was a lot of fun. Invariably, now this was when I was very small, he would take me into the other room and show me a nickel.  Now, a nickel in those days was probably like two dollars today.  He’d say, “Now, if you go into the other room and say what I tell you to say, I will give you this nickel.”  Then he would tell me what to say and I would walk into the room and stand in the middle of all the crowd, and I wouldd say, “Daddy’s car is a piece of junk!” Then I would get my nickel – and Daddy’s car was a piece of junk.

We had a Dodge Coupe, it had for a heater a little opening that had a cover on it.  When you removed the cover, the heat from the exhaust pipe would come up and heat you  – yeah, some heat. It had a space, probably a foot wide, that ran behind the front seat, and whenever we went someplace, that was my spot.  Of course, today, you would get thrown in jail, not just arrested, but thrown in jail for having a kid riding up there, with no seatbelt on.

Tomorrow and for the rest of the week, more Childhood Memories of Trumbull,.

Judy Guion

The Beginning (47) – Childhood Memories of Trumbull – Memories From Dave

These are the memories of my Father and his siblings, recorded over several years. When my Uncle Dan passed away, I realized that I had better get started recording the memories of Dan’s siblings before they were also gone. I was able to have two recording sessions with my Father, Lad in California; two with Uncle Ced in New Hampshire, a three-day cruise in our boat with Aunt Biss; one session with Uncle Dave in Stratford, CT and one hand-written session (I forgot my tape recorder going up to the Island in New Hampshire, where Uncle Dick lived) with Uncle Dick. I transcribed them once exactly as they were spoken, again removing the ums, ahs, half sentences started over, etc. I then produced a final copy that was easier to read, but it still needs work getting the chronological order correct. Memories are not recorded with a date stamp. I created 75 binders for family members which include all three translations, pages and pages of photos and memorabilia and the actual recording. Now family members can actually heat their ancestors speaking. It was my first project with all the material my Father saved for me and a true Labor of Love. I hope you enjoy these memories of A Slice of Life at a different time and place. 

Dave (front, left) next to Gwen Stanley

DAVE – I remember just a few scenes from my early years in Trumbull.  When my Mother was alive, I remember one time she had to walk all the way down to the bridge with me to get me to go off to school, and even then I didn’t want to go.  That stuck with me all my life.  I never liked school.  It wasn’t until I got to college that I began to realize that I finally found something I can enjoy, but that’s another matter.

I have always said that my brothers and sister were a bit different than me.  I was always quicker to enjoy a risqué joke, or worse.  The rest of them fell under the influence of Mother, what I call the Victorian Peabody attitude, and my father was a little bit looser.  To me he was always both mother and father, and whatever I am is probably more influenced by him rather than the others.

When I was a kid, I had quite a temper.  It was a real nice combination.  I had a temper and I was a crybaby.

My problem, aside from Dick, my biggest problem when I was a kid was keeping different groups of friends apart from one another.  I had lots of friends when I was a kid, no real close friends, but they were diverse.  When I was playing with one and one of the others showed up, I had a problem because the two of them didn’t get along.

DICK – Dave was argumentative; he loved to argue with Dad … with anybody.  I used to tease the hell out of him because he would react.  I used to needle him just to make him lose his temper.

This view of the Big House in winter shows the screen porch Dave refers to.

DAVE – Don and Gwen (Stanley), my cousins from Aunt Anne, were here all the time.  They’d plead and beg and finally their mother would give in and they would stay for a few days I don’t know how to explain it because the house, the Big House, has changed so much with renovations but there used to be a screen porch on the southeast corner of the house (Chiche’s formal dining room) and there was a window there that looked from the stairs out onto that porch.  Don and Gwen were there and Dick and I were talking, talking, talking, talking, talking.  We had been warned on two or three occasions to quiet down and go to sleep.  If Dick has told this story it will be a different version than mine because what happened was the last one to speak, when the last warning came, was me.  So, I was sent upstairs away from the rest of them and as I went up the stairs, I kicked at the window to warn them that I was going to cause trouble for them.  Anybody else and everybody else will tell you that I kicked in the window on purpose, but at any rate, I never bought that story.  It was a warning.  I kicked it to warn them but I broke it.  The next thing I knew, my father came charging up the stairs, gave me a good spanking and sent me to bed.  When I got into bed, I began to feel something sticky down around my right foot.  I was already crying and upset, and when I checked it, I had cut my foot on the glass, which made me feel still more hurt and angry, and suffering such a terrible injustice.  I was probably nine or ten when that happened, maybe eight, well it had to be after my mother had died and I was seven when she died.

I never liked school.  I started at Center School.  That wasn’t too bad.  The family name meant something in the immediate vicinity of Trumbull Center.  We had a Principal there whose name was Carson and I thought he treated me fairly.  I didn’t know if he was trying to make points with my father or what.  We had a court (in school) and whenever there was some kind of infringement, the culprit was dragged before the court.  For some stupid reason, Mr. Carson decided that I should be the prosecutor.  I was never very good at it but I made it through.

I remember one day, Dick and I used to fight all the time and he did or said something that made me annoyed and I picked up a box of matches … Now a box of matches was probably one hundred little wooden matches in a very thin wood box.  Anyway, I picked up the box and threw it at him.  Unfortunately my aim was good that day and I hit him in the forehead.  He started to bleed.  Again, I don’t remember what happened after that but I’m sure it wasn’t anything good for me.

Tomorrow I will be starting Lad’s written record of his Voyage to Venezuela.

On Sunday, I will be posting another of My Ancestors, this time, more about my mother, Marian Dunlap Irwin. 

On Monday, I will begin a week of letters written in 1943, a time when all five of Grandpa’s sons are working for Uncle Sam and Lad and Marian’s wedding is real close.

Judy Guion

The Beginning (46) – Childhood Memories of Trumbull – Bissie and High School

These are the memories of my Father and his siblings, recorded over several years. When my Uncle Dan passed away, I realized that I had better get started recording the memories of Dan’s siblings before they were also gone. I was able to have two recording sessions with my Father, Lad in California; two with Uncle Ced in New Hampshire, a three-day cruise in our boat with Aunt Biss; one session with Uncle Dave in Stratford, CT and one hand-written session (I forgot my tape recorder going up to the Island in New Hampshire, where Uncle Dick lived) with Uncle Dick. I transcribed them once exactly as they were spoken, again removing the ums, ahs, half sentences started over, etc. I then produced a final copy that was easier to read, but it still needs work getting the chronological order correct. Memories are not recorded with a date stamp. I created 75 binders for family members which include all three translations, pages and pages of photos and memorabilia and the actual recording. Now family members can actually heat their ancestors speaking. It was my first project with all the material my Father saved for me and a true Labor of Love. I hope you enjoy these memories of A Slice of Life at a different time and place. 

Bissie and Mack

BISS – I started at Central High School in 1932, so it was the day after we got out of school that Mother died (June 29, 1933), freshman year.

Mother died when I was 14, and I hated school.  I’d hide in the closet every morning when Dad would make the rounds to make sure everybody was up and had gone to school.  I would hide in the closet and then after he had passed through, then I would come out.  I would have the whole day to myself.  I think I missed more school than I made.  Now Dad made a mistake because I needed a permission slip to go back to school.  He was supposed to tell why I stayed home.  He said it was none of their business.  “You write it and I’ll sign it”.  So I would write, “I stayed home with my father’s permission.”  And then he would sign his name.  So I just copied his name over and over until I got it down pat.  Then I would just write the thing and sign his name.  I would go to school only when I felt like going to school.  How I got through, I’ll never know.

I went to Central High School in Bridgeport my freshman year.  That was great.  I loved that school because they treated you like an adult, you were a grown-up, and you felt like you were really something.  Then the following year, they transferred us to Bassick High School, because they were going to make that into a Senior High and it was a Junior High at the time.  I hated that school intensely, because they still had monitors in the hall, you had to walk in a line and you couldn’t talk.  I mean, after being an adult in high school, I got this?

In my sophomore year, we were transferred to Bassick High School and I didn’t want to go because it was a new school and I didn’t like school anyway.  I liked Central and I wanted to go back there.  So, the first day of school, Dad wanted to know and I said, “No, I don’t have to go to school today because were starting a new school.”  He said, “You are going to school.”  So he took me.  He took Ced and I, he took us to school.  I told him my clothes weren’t ready and any other kind of excuse but he was adamant that we were going to school.  So he let us off in front of Central, maybe I told him I had to go to Central to get transferred, anyway, he let us out in front of Central and we walked through the hall and out the other side, and walked home.  We were walking up the railroad tracks and we met some friends on Reservoir Avenue who told us that Ruth Moy had just died.  So anyway, we were walking up the tracks and the train came along.  The engineer stopped and said, “Would you like a ride?”  We said, “Sure” and we climbed up into the cab and he let us off at Church Hill Road.  Boy. That was exciting for me.  I told everybody about it.

We never had an allowance, and I can remember, in high school, we would bring sandwiches to school.  All the other kids, with their allowances, would get ice cream and stuff.  My mouth would be watering as I wished that I could get one of those ice cream sandwiches.  Once in a while, Barbie Plumb would treat me and boy that was great.  That ice cream sandwich – when they put them in the freezer now, the cracker gets all soft.  I don’t like them that way.  I like the fresh ones with the crisp cookie and then the ice cream.

Tomorrow, more Childhood Memories of Trumbull.

Judy Guion

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

These are the memories of my Father and his siblings, recorded over several years. When my Uncle Dan passed away, I realized that I had better get started recording the memories of Dan’s siblings before they were also gone. I was able to have two recording sessions with my Father, Lad in California; two with Uncle Ced in New Hampshire, a three-day cruise in our boat with Aunt Biss; one session with Uncle Dave in Stratford, CT and one hand-written session (I forgot my tape recorder going up to the Island in New Hampshire, where Uncle Dick lived) with Uncle Dick. I transcribed them once exactly as they were spoken, again removing the ums, ahs, half sentences started over, etc. I then produced a final copy that was easier to read, but it still needs work getting the chronological order correct. Memories are not recorded with a date stamp. I created 75 binders for family members which include all three translations, pages and pages of photos and memorabilia and the actual recording. Now family members can actually heat their ancestors speaking. It was my first project with all the material my Father saved for me and a true Labor of Love. I hope you enjoy these memories of A Slice of Life at a different time and place. 

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