Autobiography of Mary E Wilson (21) – Another Daughter And A Move To Trumbull – 1946

1946

We still had to plan to get Mary Jean out of the city but now I was pregnant with my third child. In September, I gave birth to a lovely baby girl whom we called Beverly Joan and we now had three lovely children and felt blessed.

I joined Eastern Star at this time with Polly Griffin. Mary Jane was still under doctor Edgar’s care and still taking her  shots to keep her asthma under control (sometimes).

We bought land in Trumbull which is a suburb of Bridgeport. It was a farming community so our next ambition was to get our children out of the city and into the country, but all our money was tied up in an old two-family house we had bought. So now our goal was to really work harder to fix up the house as a step to get our little daughter out of the city and into the country.

The Griffin’s had left our apartment downstairs and we now rented to Bill and Gladys Cleary. She was a real nice girl and her mother a lovely lady but Bill, who worked with Archie, was a “kook”.

Alec had married Geraldine McDonald who had come to Bridgeport from Pennsylvania to do war work in the G.E., which is where she met Alec. Alec married Jerry and they lived with mother Wilson but she hated Jerry because she was a Catholic. Their life was very difficult while they lived with her and Jerry was very unhappy. Alec and Jerry finally built next to us and mother Wilson lived with them. I think she helped them financially from dad Wilson’s insurance in return for a  home with them. Things were a little different now because she was living in their home.

We knew our house on Edwin Street was the stepping stone to a new home on Laurel Street in Trumbull. I was really superstitious about the house on Edwin Street. The first thing we had done was to cut down a rope noose where a man had hung himself in the attic.

Archie’s ulcer attacks became worse when we moved there. He hemorrhaged and was very ill. He had just taken a new job in the Bridgeport Hardware Manufacturing Company when he became ill. The company was really very generous and paid his salary even though he was a new employee.

I blamed Mary Jean’s asthma on the house because Archie was gutting the second floor, the walls were all plaster and we created too much dust for a young child. I put wet sheets at the entrance of her room so it would curtail the plaster dust.

Archie’s dad was dying of cancer and our poor son suffered a terrible break in his arm and had to be hospitalized.

Peggy Lou, my brother’s daughter, had spent a week prior to Christmas with us so she could participate in the holiday activities. They lived in Newtown and she was a lonely little girl and loved to come and stay at our house and enjoy the companionship of her cousins. She became ill at our house and my brother took her home and she died the next morning, which was two days before Christmas, of spinal meningitis. The poor child was only six years old.

It just seemed everything bad happened in that house.

Next Sunday, we’ll read about the move to Trumbull and the family’s adjustment to country living.

Tomorrow, we’ll begin a week of letters from the spring of 1941, when Dan and Ced are working in Alaska and Lad is still in Venezuela.

Judy Guion

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Autobiography of Mary E Wilson (19) – The War – 1941

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Mary E. Wilson was born in England and came to America, to escape from a difficult family situation, in 1925, when she was a young girl. She had many challenges here also, but her bright outlook and disposition, along with her strength and character, helped her survive and find happiness with Archie Wilson. They were married in 1937 and at this point in her autobiography, World War II is upon them and they have two small children to care for.

There was a war going on in Europe at this time. Hitler was really taking over countries, interning Jews and bombing other countries.

Franklin D Roosevelt was our president and when the Japs bombed Pearl Harbor in December, 1941, we declared war on Japan and Germany. Men were drafted, food was rationed and we were given ration books for everything.

Factories became busy making arms for war and women were quickly hired to produce and work on planes. “Rosie the Riveter” was the nickname for the women working in the war plants.

Archie was not drafted because he was the only draftsman working in the Bridgeport Hardware Manufacturing Company. They made tools for the Army so that was considered war work.

We had no car because we lived near a bus route. Archie and my brother Arthur bought bikes.

I went into the hospital to have my second baby. We had planned, if it was a boy, to call him Allan John. During my stay in St. Vincent’s Hospital, my brother Arthur and Archie’s brother David came to see me. They complained about my choice of names for my baby son. they both flipped a coin and after a trip to the Sisters in the hospital, my son became David Arthur.

Mary Jane loved her baby brother. She was a happy three-year-old and the doctor was really helping her. She was so brave about her shots. As she got older she asked her dad to give her shots to get relief. I could never put a needle in her arm even though I practiced on an orange like Dr. Edgar told me.

We planted a “victory garden” on Rudy Murkette’s land in Lordship. We also built a chicken coop and raised chickens. With our garden produce and chickens and eggs we were able to manage, in spite of our limited food supplies, with our ration books.

People were only allowed two gallons of gas if you lived near a bus route and clothing was scarce. Thank God my mother was clever with the needle and was able to make over old clothes.

Archie finished our attic into three rooms and we rented to male war workers which gave us extra money.

My mother rented a large house in Bridgeport and she ran a boarding house for 12 male war workers and one woman.

The factories were busy but the turnover was great because the young men were drafted so quickly.

I used to take the bus with my two children and help my mother in her boarding house. She loved what she was doing and felt very important.

Our tenant, Bill Cleary, was the Air Raid Warden in our district and he was very difficult. He took his job very seriously. We had to have “blackout” curtains and drapes and I was continually reported to Air Raid headquarters because he said I was careless with my curtains.

The tension and insecurity was terrible but our family, thank God, was not affected because we had no one fighting in the war.

I worked with the Red Cross at night and helped in the old people’s hospital.

Tomorrow, we’ll find out what went on between 1942 and 1946. 

Next week, we start a series of letters written in the middle of 1945, while Grandpa is holding down the fort in Trumbull, CT. 

Judy Guion

Autobiography of Mary E Wilson (18) – Another Child – 1941

1941

In 1941, I was pregnant again. I had waited my three years and we both wanted another baby.

Archie was doing well in the G.E. but he had a terrible boss who made his life miserable (he later killed his wife in Stratford).

We were also having difficulty with Mary Jean and after taking her to several doctors, we found out she was suffering from bronchial asthma. Our poor little girl was so ill and we were advised to take her to Arizona but we discovered a lady doctor called Dr. Edgar from New Haven Hospital. She specialized in asthma and we had to take her for weekly shots which continued until she was in her late teens. She seemed to be allergic to almost everything but her worst allergy was smoke and dust.

We realized we had to get her out of the city and into the country, but when Mary Jean was a year old, Archie wanted to take a trip to Birchcliff in Canada where he lived as a boy before he came to the states. He made plans to make the trip with his father and two brothers. I knew they would not want a woman and baby with them so I decided to go to New Hampshire with my mother to visit with the David Webb family.

Uncle David was my Grandma Ellen’s brother and their brother Matthew was the first man to swim the English Channel. Uncle David ran a dairy farm with his wife Henrietta, his daughter and two sons.

We had a lovely visit with Uncle David, he was a hard-working, contented dairy farmer. His daughter, Henrietta, was married and had a baby girl the same age as Mary Jean. While we were there, Aunt Hetty came to visit, she was the mother of Uncle David’s wife. She sure was an energetic old lady and she lived in Philadelphia and she had another daughter who lived in Cape May, New Jersey.

I had visited the Cape May family when I was single and they were very aloof and cool towards my father. Aunt Hetty was the only person I knew who could tell my father what she really thought of him and her opinion of him was not very nice. She told my mother she was a fool to stay with him and I silently agreed with her.

The following year Archie wanted to make another trip to Birchcliff with his brothers. I protested and we had our first real argument. We did not talk to each other for a week. Needless to say he did not go to Canada.

Next week we’ll be jumping forward to 1945  with Grandpa keeping everyone informed about the lives of their siblings and friends.

Judy Guion

 

 

Autobiography of Mary E Wilson (17) – Their First House – 1939

(Please look at Thursday’s post, https://greatestgenerationlessons.wordpress.com/2017/04/27/trumbull-a-page-from-the-book-of-trumbull-personalities-july-1943-2/,  for some additional information on the Rev. Elijah Guion, the Episcopal Priest at St. Paul’s, in New Orleans, during the Civil War.)

 

 

1939

Archie, at this time, decided that $17 a month rent was too much to pay out so we sold our car for $350 and used the money as a down payment on an old two-family house at 68 Edwin Street in Bridgeport. The house was a mess and needed so much work done on it. This was the same house I had rented when I kept house for my two brothers.

Our mortgage was with the Home Owner’s Loan Corporation and our first job was to clean up the first floor so we could rent it. The first tenant was Polly Griffin’s younger brother but he really causes problems because he was a heavy drinker and not dependable.

Archie really should have continued his education with the Bridgeport Engineering School but he chose to work on the house. His foremost ambition seemed to be to make a comfortable home for us. He worked long, hard hours after work on the second floor which we had for our home. We worked very hard but were very proud of the results.

Our neighbors were Millie and Joe Stumpf and we became very good friends. Millie and I had been in the hospital when we had our babies at the same time. The children were the same age and became good playmates.

Tomorrow, more on the story of Archie and Mary’s early married life.

On Monday, I’ll begin posting letters from 1945. Dan and Paulette are married but can’t see each other as often as they’d like. Grandpa continues to keep everyone informed about life fro the Guion menage.

Judy Guion

Autobiography of Mary E Wilson (16) – The Newlyweds – 1937-1938

Mary E Wilson

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Judy Guion

Autobiography of Mary E Wilson (15) – Planning a Wedding – 1936-1937

1936

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

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

October, 1937

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Judy Guion

Autobiography of Mary E Wilson (13-2) – Mary Meets Archie Wilson – 1935

Mary E. Wilson

We really had a marvelous time in New York and somehow Archie managed to be able to drive me home alone in his car. I don’t know how he arranged it but we did not get home until 4 AM. The Perkins were furious because they stayed right with us on our drive home. I hate to mention what my mother said when I arrived home. She made it her business to call Mrs. Perkins to find out if she had really been with us in New York. I was very angry, I was 24 years old and we have been closely escorted even though we were in separate cars.

But Archie and I talked on our way home. He hated his wife and was waiting for his divorce to be finalized. He worked in New Haven for the Shell Oil Company. He lived with his parents and two brothers on Bond Street across from the G. E.. Archie was born in Scotland but had lived in Canada prior to moving to the states.

We started to see each other for a few minutes at the G.E. gates while I was en route to work and I also saw him at dances. He started attending church at St. Luke’s so we smiled at each other from a distance. Fred was not stupid, he knew what was going on, so he told my brother, Arthur. I was not dating Fred anymore but Arthur told me I should not see Archie but he did not tell my mother. We finally did start to date very discreetly with the help of Francis, Celso, my two brothers, and Archie’s two brothers.

It was evident by now we were in love with each other and we started to plan a life together when he got a divorce.

Alec, Archie’s younger brother, would come to the house to take me horseback riding. He was so handsome, he reminded me of Tyrone Power and my mother told me I was robbing the cradle because he was so young. Alec and I truly became good friends and we both loved horseback riding and I really think Archie encouraged Alec to take me out while he was working.

In spite of Archie’s impatience waiting for his divorce to become final, we really had a nice courtship. I would take a day off and we would spend it at the beach. Archie’s good friend,  Bill, and we would double date, but Bill would have to come to the house to get me.

Archie and Bill both worked for the Shell Company and I often wondered what Bill’s girlfriend thought about it all.

My mother thought Bill was really nice and I really think she was having hopes again for her spinster daughter because by now I was 25 years old.

Next weekend, we’ll find out what 1936 and 1937 have in store for Mary. Will she marry Archie or will they have to continue to wait?

On Monday, I’ll start a week of letters written in 1941. Lad, Dan, Ced and Dick are all very concerned about the draft and what it will mean for each of them.

Judy Guion