Special Picture # 27 – Mary Ellum Wilson – 1916

I’m going to continue with Special Pictures for the next few weeks because I’m having my knees replaced in July.After Rehab, I can probably get back to blogging but I just don’t have the time or the energy to do it now. I hope you continue to enjoy the pictures.


ellum 008

This is a picture of Mary Ellum Wilson , probably taken about 1915 or 1916, at about the time she begins her autobiography in England.  

Judy Guion


Autobiography of Alfred Duryee Guion – Early Memories of Trumbull – (1) – (23)

Trumbull House - Grandpa and kids - 1928 (2) Little Driveway view - 1928

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 six 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 lent, 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 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 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 a 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 that 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 not been occupied 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.

????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????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.

Trumbull House - Grandpa and kids - 1928 (2) Steps and Landings, steps and landings - @1928

Front – Don Stanley, Dave, Biss, Gwen Stanley

Middle – Dick, Ced, Aunt Dorothy

Back – Grandpa, Lad

I think the first memory I have of the Trumbull house is being sent to the store at the corner 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 salesman 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 Lad and Dick, there was one half years between each one of us. Then there were 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.

I’ll continue with more early childhood memories next Saturday.

Tomorrow, we’ll discover Ced’s plans after Chicago and begin to meet some of Arla’s family.

Next week, we’ll be reading letters written in anticipation of Lad’s return to the United States after being in Venezuela for to and a half years.

Judy Guion

Autobiography of Alfred Duryee Guion – A Home Of Our Own (21)

At this point, Alfred and Arla have started a family and so I will begin to include early childhood memories of the children in (attempted) chronological order.

Alfred Duryee Guion

Alfred Duryee Guion

A.D. After I had been with the Celluloid Company for about five years my boss was offered and accepted a job with a large die manufacturer recently grown to huge proportions because of 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 Aniline & 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 a 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 an attitude.

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 one of the first “redi-cut” homes on the market and with the help of my father-in-law, (Kemper Peabody) who was construction superintendent on the New York Central, aided by one of his workmen on this 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 Burnham’s and Batchelder’s 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 @ 1923


LAD : When I was five, Dad and Mom were building a house in Larchmont. They had a contractor build it and it was on Landsdown 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, 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.

Alfred Duryee Guion

Alfred Duryee Guion

A.D. : With the exception of Dave, our youngest, who was born in the 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 shoe blacking and proceeded to paint Ced’s face with it. You can imagine his Aunt Dorothy’s shocked surprise when she glanced in and saw our baby son suddenly changed. 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 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 was done and the child was shortly playing as usual.

Next week we’ll have more memories and stories of life in the Larchmont house.

Tomorrow I’ll be posting more thoughts from a teenager’s viewpoint on the Chicago World’s Fair in 1934.

Next week we’ll move back to 1940 to an earlier time when Lad was the only son living and working away from home and Grandpa has quite a bit of advice to give.

Judy Guion

Autobiography of Alfred Duryee Guion (20)

At this point, Alfred and Arla have started a family and so I will begin to include early childhood memories of the children in (attempted) chronological order.

LAD – I was born in New York City in 1914 then I lived in Yonkers for a short time. When I was one, we

Alfred (Lad) Peabody Guion

Alfred (Lad) Peabody Guion

moved to 91 Dell Ave. in Mount Vernon, New York. By the time I was three, I was quite interested in mechanical things. I remember taking an alarm clock, taking it all apart and putting it back together, but I had one gear left over when I finished. It didn’t keep very good time. It was fast. I never could find out where that gear went.   My mother, Arla, was 19 years old when I was born and she was the oldest Peabody girl. Burton was ahead of her. Then there was Arla, Helen, Kemper, Anne, Dorothy and Lawrence. There were seven of them.   I remember I went shopping with Dad’s mother (Ella Duryee Guion, Mrs. Alfred Beck Guion), my grandmother, and I was taller than she was. She went grocery shopping and she took me with her on the trolley because I could help her. I just remember I was taller than she was and I helped her carry the groceries.   We had a woman who did the cooking and took care of the house. One of the things we had in the kitchen was a dishwasher that was hand operated. It had a big handle on it and we pushed and pulled, and I remember liking it, I enjoyed doing that.   I don’t remember much about my Dad in Mount Vernon or Larchmont. He was always busy working.   CED – In about 1918 or 1919, Dad bought a new Franklin touring car and my mother used to drive Dad

Cedric Duryee Guion

Cedric Duryee Guion

down to the station and he’d go in to New York City where he worked. Then she’d come back home. She’d go back and get him later. One day, she backed up to turn around after the train had pulled out, and ran up on a hydrant. The wheels of the Franklin were about 20 or 21 inches. She got out of the car and there it sat upon the hydrant, all out of shape. She stood there and looked at it, she said everything was skewed, the doors, the frame…. And that was a wooden frame of course. She had to get help to get it off there. We moved up to Trumbull in that car. I guess Dad decided to sell it shortly after we moved to Trumbull.

Lad @ 1923


LAD – Every year Dad had a couple of weeks of vacation and he would take us up to Sandy Hook, Connecticut on Lake Zoar and we would stay in a cabin. I don’t remember much about it but probably Dan, Ced and I were playing out in the yard in the area around the cabin. There was a nice place where branches were above us, and below them, it was pretty open. We were crawling around in there and later that day, I started to itch. For three or four days I was swollen pretty badly with poison ivy. I’ve had problems ever since. Many summers, I got poison ivy. The first summer out here in California, working for the Frouge Construction Company, I was driving a tractor to clear some land. I didn’t realize that it was poison ivy I was driving through, and tearing up. It didn’t affect me too much, just my arms and hands. By that time, I knew how to take care of it anyway.   On some summer vacations, Dad would take us to a place called Foster’s Rond, in Massachusetts, which either belonged to Rusty Heurlin’s family or they had an interest in it. Rusty took us there the first time and we went a couple of times after that. That’s where Dan and I found out that a canoe isn’t very stable. We went out on Foster’s Rond in the canoe and I don’t remember what we were doing, but one of us stood up and stepped a little to the side and it tipped right over. It was a nice warm pond and we didn’t have any problems.

Alfred Duryee Guion

Alfred Duryee Guion

A.D. – Only one incident during this time caused me alarm. With the arrival of children I felt it wise to take additional life insurance but was turned down by the examining doctor because of a “heart murmur”. I applied at a different company and was given a rated-up policy. The incident caused me considerable concern under the circumstances and I went to our old family doctor to learn how serious the condition was. He checked and told me he found nothing to worry about, and then said something that I have repeated to others several times since to the effect that it is a good thing when a young person learns that his physical condition necessitates his being careful in following the ancient Greek motto of “moderation in all things” because he is apt to live much longer than the person who boasts: “I’m perfectly healthy, never had a sick day in my life. I can do anything.” For that is the person whose excesses frequently lead him to overdo with  disastrous results. A few years later I applied again for life insurance and because of my previous ejection was given an extra careful examination. This time things were entirely normal. Even the company giving me the rated up policy found no trace of a heart murmur and canceled the overcharge premium.   Things had not been going so well financially with the Century Company, and because of my combined advertising experience and college training, I secured a better paying job in sales promotion work with the Celluloid Company under a fine man as my boss. I was with this concern for about five years. One event stands out in my memory connected this time. The First World War was being fought to “make the world safe for democracy” in the words of President Woodrow Wilson.    Employees of the Celluloid Company had been issued nightsticks and been trained in their use if emergencies arose. The size of my family had increased and the number of babies I had to support gave me a low rating on the draft call.

A.D. Guion's Registration Card - WWI

A.D. Guion’s Draft Registration Card

The war finally drew to a close and then one day that those who did not live through it, can never appreciate, there occurred what came to be known as the” false armistice”. Word came from overseas that the war was over. The whole country went unrestrained and completely mad. Men, women and children of all ages and degrees completely forgot themselves in a wild disregard of convention and completely lost themselves in the fervor of the moment. With bells of all churches wildly ringing, auto horns blowing, sirens on fire trucks screeching, steam ships in the harbor sounding off and people wildly shouting in the streets, everyone for the moment went berserk. I went down the company elevator to the street and as soon as I stepped outside the door some man I had never seen before or since grabbed my hand and shook it heartily. Over in Washington Square a few steps away was a statue of Garibaldi. In front of it a shabbily dressed Italian with his arms raised in the air and tears streaming down his cheeks, was making an impassioned speech to Garibaldi in Italian. No one was paying the slightest bit of attention to him – just he and Garibaldi having a heart to heart talk.

Tomorrow, I’ll be posting some more pictures of the 1934 Chicago World’s Fair and Ced’s comments on what he saw.

Autobiography of Alfred Duryee Guion – The Nativity Play (18)

Grandpa has been working during the day and going to school at night to earn his Bachelor of Commercial Science Degree. School is now behind him and he can begin to contemplate the next stage in his life. Little did he realize that the next stage would ambush him !!

Arla Peabody as The Virgin Mary

Arla Peabody as The Virgin Mary

Then one Christmas season the church or Sunday school staged a religious play with a Nativity scene and Arla Peabody was chosen to play the part of the Virgin Mary. She wore a soft white scarf over her head and carried a doll for the infant Christ. That night as I watched her holding the child with tender contentment and a placid dreamy look in her soft brown eyes, something inside me suddenly exploded. I had read about “love at first sight”, but this wasn’t first sight. Here was a girl I had known and seen for several years, but apparently I had not seen her at all. This couldn’t be the same girl! Had I been blind? Here was the most enchanting person anywhere in the world. I didn’t know what had happened to me. I was in a daze. The room was crowded with people I knew but I didn’t see anyone else. I didn’t speak to anyone else. I didn’t dare speak to her: she was too far above me. Somehow I found my hat and groped my way out the door and on my way home. It may have been cold outside. I didn’t know. All I could think of on my way home was how I could be worthy of even speaking to her. One moment I would be hugging myself with the thought that I knew her and perhaps she would notice me, the next moment I was in the depths of despair knowing that everyone who had ever seen her must have appreciated what I had been too blind to see and that I would stand a poor chance when such a wonderful girl had so many potential husbands to choose from. I prayed to God for help in making her love me. Never in my life, before or since, have I felt so overwhelmed as I did then. I knew how St. Paul had felt on the road to Damascus when a bright light transformed him. In a word, quite suddenly I was head over heels in love with Arla Peabody. She didn’t know it and I was afraid to tell her because she might not reciprocate and then life would just be a blank. The thing to do was to woo her with every wile I could command, fearful all the while that someone else would win her heart first. It was a far from happy time for me and I am afraid I must have seemed a bit strange to all who knew.

I got the nerve a few weeks later to ask my mother timidly what she thought of her and was immensely gratified when she answered favorably. I suppose like lovers the world over before and since, things followed a regular pattern but it was a long time before I could believe anyone since the world began could love a girl as I loved her, simply because there had never been anyone as perfect as she. I suppose she knew how I felt long before I told her. I used to make up all kinds of excuses to visit her home, using her brothers and sisters who were all likable youngsters as reasons on matters concerning church, choir, Sunday school, etc. The more I saw her in her home and noticed the tactful and gentle way in which she handled her little brothers and sisters, the willing help she gave her mother around the house, the dependence and trust her mother showed her, all convinced me, aside from viewing her with a lover’s eye, that she would be an ideal wife and mother, and in this, as was afterwards proven, I was right.

Some nights even when I knew her whole family would be in bed I would walk my dog Spot the long distance over to her house just so I could look at the place where she lived. There was only one girl I would ever want as long as I lived I was a “one girl man” and would so remain all of my days.

Tomorrow we’ll continue exploring the Chicago World’s Fair with Ced as he stops in Chicago in his trip to North Dakota and Wisconsin.

Next week I’ll be posting letters written in the spring of 1049, when Lad is working in Venezuela and Dan and Ced are contemplating a trip to Alaska to see if they can make their fortune.

Judy Guion

Autobiography of Alfred Duryee Guion – A Job Offer From A Rockefeller (17)

Alfred Duryee Guion

Alfred Duryee Guion

My Grandpa has been writing of his early years in the job market and his attempts to get ahead. Bidding against Mrs. Vanderbilt at an auction to gain a set of Sheraton chairs culminated in being fired from his job in the office of Archer Huntington, nephew of Collis Huntington, millionaire. That episode reminded him of another story.

This leads me to another episode which happened a few years later during my senior year at  N.Y.U., and which, if followed through, might have made a considerable difference in my life – one of those “opportunity knocks once” things.

My college instructor in accounting, Mr. Wildman, I personally loved very much. One evening he asked me to stay after class and then told me a friend of his, Private Secretary to John D Rockefeller Jr., had asked him to recommend someone for the job of Private Secretary to John D. Sr., and he, Wildman, had thought of me and asked if I might be interested. Here was a glamorous opportunity worth looking into, so I told him I’d like to learn more about it. J.D. Jr.’s secretary was a quite pleasant middle-aged gentleman who invited me to lunch and in a private room. He told me he had been given the responsibility of selecting a man for the job and anyone Mr. Wildman recommended was O.K. with him; that there seemed no reason why I could not be the one if I wanted the job. He felt it only fair to me, however, to outline both the good and the bad features before I gave him a final decision. He pointed out that the old man had retired from active business and consequently I would not have the opportunity that under other circumstances would bring me into contact with prominent business personages. If, he said, Mr. Rockefeller took a personal liking to you, you need never worry about your future for the rest of your life. On the other hand, no matter how satisfactory your work might be, if you did not click with him personally you  might as well seek another job. The old man spent four months a year in Cleveland, four in Lakewood, New Jersey, and four in New York City. You would be at his beck and call night and day in each of these places. There would be little opportunity for visits home and of course, while he had his personal servants, as far as your liberty, you would practically be a high-class valet. I could name any salary I chose within reason. The amount was of little concern. I need not decide at once. It was best to think it over, seek advice from others and let him know within a reasonable time what my decision was. The job was mine if I wanted it. What a chance in a lifetime! I was elated, but two disturbing thoughts gave me pause. I had recently had an unfortunate experience with a millionaire and was a bit wary of the breed. Furthermore, I had just fallen in love with “the most wonderful girl in the world”, and the prospect of not seeing her except at long intervals was an almost unthinkable barrier. The “high-class valet” prospect and surrendering my chance of wooing my lady love combined to make me decide “no”. I told him while I deeply appreciated the honor of even being considered for the job, I felt I would not be content in such a position. Mr. R. Sr. lived for many years more and I have often wondered what course my life would have taken if I had said “Yes”. On the whole, I have no regrets.

A short time later I joined the Century Publishing Company, on the advertising staff of St. Nicholas Magazine. Up to this time I had thought that someday when the right girl came along I should probably get married but the during these years I had never really fallen in love, perhaps because my standards of what an ideal wife should be were pretty high and I had not met anyone yet to seriously challenge that standard, although the young Peabody girl was frequently in my thoughts.

Next week we’ll read the story of a Nativity play at church and how it changed my grandfather’s life – and subsequently, mine.

Tomorrow, I’ll have the next installment of Ced’s Coming of Age Adventure and his visit to the Chicago World’s Fair.

On Monday, I’ll start posting letters written in the spring of 1941. Dick is looking forward to a trip to deliver a car to his brothers, Dan and Ced, in Alaska and Lad is looking forward to his return home after two and a half years living in Venezuela.

If you find any of these stories interesting, why not share this link with a friend or two who might also enjoy the stories of a family during the 1940’s?

Judy Guion

Autobiography of Alfred Duryee Guion – High School and The Race (14)



One day I acquired from our washerwoman a little half breed Fox terrier pup which I named Spot. He was a bright little fellow and I taught him many tricks; rollover, play dead, chase his tail, not touch the most tempting morsel held in front of him until I gave permission, bag, shake hands, speak, come to heal, stay put until I called, etc. He was quite a show off and one day I dressed him up a little jacket and pants like a monkey, with a little hat, got out an old hand organ of my father’s that played music roles, and with myself dressed as an organ grinder, called on several neighbors who did not recognize us at first and seemed to derive much amusement from the performance until Spot’s pants fell down and we were recognized.

I now attended high school which was a long walk from our house and sometimes when I started late I would have to run part of the way to get there on time. (They didn’t take children to school on buses in those days). Possibly it was this occasional spurt of running that gave me the idea, furthered by reading of the marathon runners in Greek history. Possibly the metals I had won for distance running at Sunday school picnics had encouraged the idea.

However, I was never very active in athletics and reticent about pushing myself forward, so it wasn’t until our high school talent scout, spurred by the upcoming intercity high school athletic meet to which all of the surrounding towns sent their best contestants, persuaded me to train for a mile race. From then on I ran back and forth from high school until I felt in top condition. The great day came – the biggest event of the school year – and while nervous and none to confident,

I lined up with the contestants from eight other schools in the county. BANG! went the starting gun and we were off. I don’t recall how many laps it took to equal a mile, but my strategy for the first few was to merely keep up with the majority and save my reserve powers for the final laps. This I did and finally found only one runner ahead of me. I put all I had into it but my utmost brought me in second. However there seemed to be some controversy among the judges until it was officially announced that I was the winner, the other fellow having cut a corner on one of the laps.

This caused a bitter argument between the two top schools involved, Mt. Vernon running about neck and neck in total points with its nearest competitor and on the decision of this race hung the balance and my role therefore assumed undue import. Anyway my schoolmates in their enthusiasm hoisted me on their shoulders and, being the hero of the day, escorted me all the way home.

I was understandably quite proud of the gold medal awarded me and was bitterly disappointed when wearing it as a watch fob to a dance a few days later, it was either lost or stolen. I suspected the latter because some of the folks from the rrival school were also present and in spite of the thorough search of the dance Hall that night and subsequent ads in the local paper offering a reward for its return, nothing came of it. I don’t think my name have yet been engraved on it.

Later a vague rumor reached me that the boy who had lost out was seen wearing the medal but this was never verified. To have achieved success in a field of which I never expected either by temperament or ability to shine and have nothing to prove that it wasn’t just a fantasy was deeply disappointing and to some extent illogically disgusted me with high school and everything connected with it.

Alfred Duryee Guion at the Dell Avenue house

Alfred Duryee Guion at the Dell Avenue house

Then too, I did not get top marks in all my subjects, and this hurt my pride. I was very good in English, history and German; so-so in math; and terrible in drawing; fair in biology. Also I became more and more obsessed with the idea that my duty and responsibility was to get out and earn my own keep instead of continuing to be a burden financially to my mother; thus I would sooner be able to feel I was really helping to support my mother as it was my duty to do.

I had no one with whom I felt I could discuss so personal a matter (at such times as these a boy misses not having a father to advise him), so I finally put up to my mother the idea of quitting high school and going to work. I wish now that she had firmly said, “No, finish high school first”  but instead she told me to do what I thought best.

One is sometimes asked: “What would you do differently if you had your life to do over again?” And as I look back now this decision to quit school, an idea halfheartedly opposed by my school principal (or maybe I was so convinced this was the right choice that I paid no heed to his advice), was mistake number one, and a decision I was afterwards to regret.

So I quit school in my second year and through a friend in the church started work as an office boy at four dollars a week in a small insurance company in New York. After paying for my railway commuting ticket, car fare from Grand Central to the Nassau Street offices and lunches, I don’t imagine my contribution was of material financial aid to the family but at least my conscience was satisfied and I WAS self supporting.

Tomorrow I’ll be posting the first note written by Ced as he begins a hitchhiking adventure to Chicago, North Dakota and Wisconsin. He had just lost his Mother to a long illness and felt the loss deeply. I believe he was searching for her by returning to the area where she had spent her childhood and by meeting her brothers and other relatives.

Next week I’ll be posting letters written during April of 1940. Lad is working in Venezuela amd Dan and Ced are still in Trumbull but thinking about going to Alaska to find jobs to help with the financial burden that weighs heavily on Grandpa.

Judy Guion

Mary E. Wilson Autobiography – Departing England – 1925

Mary's Mom and Dad

Mary’s Mom and Dad

Mary’s mother had sent money from America to their father to pay for passage for her children but Mary’s father had spent the money on other things. Mary’s mother, Hezabinda, tries again, but this time she sends the money directly to a Travel Agency. It looks like Mary and her brothers, Jim and Arthur, might actually make it to America this time.


Meanwhile, my Mother had accumulated more money for our passage again but she sent it to a travel agency this time. My father was furious and very angry because my mother had not trusted him with the money. He seemed willing to go to America but my Mother had tried to get us to America without him. We had our passport pictures taken again and we were vaccinated. My brothers were so excited but I had mixed feelings because I was so hurt. Our Mother had left us and would not return home. I felt she did not love me and she had been away so long.

My wardrobe was awful and my brothers had only the English type of clothing. When the time came for us to embark for America, I was really frightened. Grand-da went with us to the railroad station and he quietly gave me some money for myself before we got on the train.

En route we stopped at Uncle Dick and Aunt Isabel’s house. She was such a beautiful woman and what thrilled me was that she had been a dancer and actress before she married Uncle Dick. They had three children but I was so envious of them because they all seemed so happy together. Aunt Isabel danced for us and I thought she was so pretty and dainty – so unlike the average mother.

Why were Uncle Dick and Uncle George so different from my father? I did not know that they were not in the war like my father.

We proceeded to Southhampton where we took a room near where the boat was docked. My father decided he wanted to go out for a while and I think I started to yell bloody murder. All I could think of was my father had in his possession my Mother’s $100 “lending money”. The landlord came and wanted to speak to my father because we were too noisy. I got a slap across the face but he did stay in the room until morning.

The next day, we boarded the President Harding, which was an American ship and finally we were on our way to America. The second day of our voyage, our father left us and “camped in” with a large Irish family and we did not see him until the day we landed in New York.

It was November and it sure was cold and we did not have the right kind of clothing. The sea was so rough that I was so seasick I felt I wanted to die. There was a stewardess who evidently felt sorry for me. She washed my hair and really cared for me and brought me food that I could keep down.

My brothers were natural sailors and explored every inch of the ship and had a marvelous time. For once they were getting enough to eat. We had what we called Thanksgiving dinner and I did not know what it meant because I did not know anything about American history and customs.

Next Sunday, Mary tells us of her experience landing at Ellis Island . It is quite a story.

Tomorrow, I’ll post a wrap-up of the Guion Family happenings in 1939. On Tuesday, we have another special Guest Post from gpcox, http://pacificparatrooper.wordpress.com, all about sports during the war years. For the rest of the week, we’ll find out what is going on in January, 1940.

Mary E. Wilson Autobiography – 1915-1916

Every Sunday for quite a while, I’ll be posting the autobiography of Mary E. Wilson, the mother of a childhood friend, who was born in England about the same time as my Father and Uncles, and didn’t come to this country until 1925. It gives us a totally different perspective, that of a female living in England during the same time that my Grandfather’s family was growing in Mt. Vernon, NY and Trumbull, CT.






I recall the panic I felt when I was dragged out of my bed and pushed under a large beer barrel. I was told by my mother, Hezabinda Greenhill Ellum, as she pushed my younger brother

Mary, Jim and Arthur Ellum @ 1915

Mary, Jim and Arthur Ellum @ 1915

Jim in with me, to be a brave girl and to put my arms around my brother to keep him quiet. I found out later that the village of Doncaster had been bombed by a Zeppelin and it was en route to Bishop Auckland in the County of Durham where we lived.

It was the year 1915, and although I did not understand, we were at war with Germany. The beer barrels were my mother’s idea of an air raid shelter, as she held my baby brother, Arthur, under another barrel.

Bishop Auckland was bombed that night but the Zeppelin was brought down by a single R.A.F. pilot who was later cited for bravery and given a medal of honor. I remember my horror when daylight came and I saw that the graveyard had been bombed.

Bishop Auckland in 1915 was populated with old man, women and children because all able-bodied men were in Europe fighting in the war. My father was with the British Territorial’s in the far east and he wrote to us about the “big heads in the sand”, which I later realized referred to the Sphinx in Egypt.

Food was very scarce and I remember as a five-year-old going to the marketplace to buy “specked” fruit which was actually overripe fruit. My mother did all the “fine” laundry for the teachers in a private girl’s school. The headmistress was called Elexadria Fisher and I used to deliver the packages of laundry in a baby pram to the school, returning home with more soiled laundry and the money for the laundry I had delivered.

Army pay was very small and the money my mother made helped a little. She used to take us into town twice a month to pick up my father’s military pay and that was the day we ate pea soup and bread cubes in a soup kitchen. My mother thought she was giving us a treat but I looked longingly at the delicious smelling meat pies in a stall in the marketplace in Bishop Auckland. To this day I hate and despise pea soup.

1916 LEEDS


In 1916, we all moved to Leeds in Yorkshire and lived with our grandparents, my mother’s parents. My grandfather, Adam Greenhill, was such a kind, gentle man and I adored him. My own father was very vague in my mind and I scarcely remember him.

My brother Arthur, was born after my father went away to war and he did not see his son until Arthur was four years old.

My Grand-da worked as an engineer for the railroad and he was able to get my mother a job on the railroad as a conductor. My grandmother took care of us while my mother worked. We were enrolled in school in Leeds and one thing I vividly remember is the awful noise made by the children because we all wore wooden clogs in school – the same kind used in Holland. We had to remove them when we were in our classroom.

Life was difficult. I think my grandmother resented us. Food was scarce and we saw  little of my mother. I was responsible for keeping my two little brothers quiet and out of mischief. I was young myself and there was only three years and four months between myself and my youngest brother.

Tomorrow, we’ll move to 1943 and spend the week there, with a detour on Tuesday for a Guest Post from gpcox, writer of the blog pacificparatroopers.wordpress.com, who shares Hollywood’s contribution to the war effort. I think you’ll find in this post interesting things you didn’t know.

Judy Guion