Autobiography of Mary E Wilson – 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 – 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 (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

Autobiography of Mary E. Wilson (1) – Mary Meets Archie Wilson – 1935

Mary E. Wilson

1935

          I was now 24 years old and my mother was beginning to worry I was not going to get married. It was at this time I had gone to a dance at the Ritz Ballroom with Francis and I met a good-looking man who asked me to dance. He was with Herbert Perkins, the brother of Ted. Herb formally introduced us and his name was Archie Wilson. I think we were attracted to each other the moment we met. We danced every dance together that night and a very popular dance tune at the time was “When I Grow Too Old to Dream”. He took me home. I really don’t know who took Francis home, maybe Herbie but Archie was cute.

I remember telling my mother about a nice young man I met and as usual my mother asked, “What is his nationality?”, “What is his religion?”, And, “What did he do for a living?”. I had not asked and did not know.

I thought about him often. I had to go to a Sunday school meeting at Mrs. Saul’s house and believe it or not she was discussing her godchild and saying how sorry she was for him. He and his wife had separated and they were getting a divorce. She was referring to Archie, he had been married less than a year. I felt really disappointed but figured you can’t win them all but we had seemed to be mutually attracted to each other.

I started to see him in charge and as I said he was friendly with the Perkins’. I saw him again and the dance but did not go home with him. He was a nice person and I loved dancing with him. He seemed to be showing up at places I attended. I very discreetly started to question Fred about him but he said nothing nice about Archie.

About two or three weeks later Archie was waiting for me outside of the G. E. gates and he asked me to accompany him to a Shell Company dance at the Commodore Hotel in New York. He carefully explained we would be well chaperoned by Mrs. Perkins, Ted and Herbie, her sons, and their dates. I accepted the date but did not tell my mother about Archie’s marital problems. I remember I splurged on a beautiful white coat with a rhinestone belt and silver shoes. I really felt elegant but a little uneasy about dating a married man even with plenty of chaperones.

I sensed that Mrs. Perkins did not approve because she knew I dated Fred and she was friendly with the Williams’s. I had spoken to Fred about a week before and he had given me an ultimatum… I refused to go with RT to New York for we were through seeing each other. I decided to go to New York with Archie.

Tomorrow, I’ll continue the story of Mary and Archie.

I interviewed my Dad and some of his siblings to have a record of their childhood memories. Dave told me about his trip from Okinawa to Manila. I have updated the post from earlier this week. You can use this link to read his memories of that fateful trip. https://greatestgenerationlessons.wordpress.com/2017/04/12/trumbull-dear-benedicts-and-bachelors-dave-sent-to-manila-september-1945/

Next week, I’ll be posting letters from 1941. Lad is working at Producto in Bridgeport. Dan has left Alaska and is back in Trumbull. Ced and Dick remain in Anchorage, but the Trumbull house is filling up.

Judy Guion

Trumbull – Gentle Readers (1) – Lad’s HOME – August, 1945

Trumbull, Conn., Aug. 20, 1945

Gentle Reader:

The old boy must be slipping. Here it is Monday night and his Sunday letter isn’t written yet. Oh, of course there’s a reason. Guess what – – – LAD’S HOME ! Yes, he snook in on us Thursday night at about 10 o’clock. Aunt Betty had gone up to bed, Marian was in the kitchen indicting her daily missive to the absent Lad, and I was in my chair in the alcove just about ready to put out the light and go upstairs. I heard the back door open followed by some queer noises, but paid no attention to it as the young folks in the apartment drop in occasionally. Then Marian yelled for me and I came in to find prize package # 1 in all its glory. It put a definite end to the mental gymnastics Marian and I have been practicing since we read in the paper the announcement of part of Lad’s Bn. having landed, trying to figure out if so, when he would phone. Ever since Sunday I have slept with the door open and the sleep alerted ear attuned to the phone eill. Early in the evening when ring 2 (We had a Party Line at the time and the Guion residence was two rings.) came up, either Marian or I would rush expectantly to grab the receiver and each time experience a corresponding let-down. They almost had me fooled Tuesday. At 2:20 AM I awoke with ring 2 making the signal, and grabbing my flashlight so I could hurry down the stairs in one hand, I threw off the bed close with the other and made a flying start for the stairs. THIS IS IT, says I. It couldn’t be anything else at this time of night. Halfway down the stairs my pajama pants fell off, almost tripping me up in my haste (darn these stretchy elastic waistbands when they get old). Anyhow, I bunched them up and continued my headlong flight. A man’s voice said, “I’m phoning for a friend of mine” (Lad of course, it flashed across my mind) (who wants to get married!” Oh boy, what a let-down. I’ve heard of a fellow losing his shirt for a friend but never one losing his pajama bottoms for a friend of someone who wants to get married. From that time on I gave up expecting to hear from Lad so his arrival was all the more a surprise. He looks fine / hasn’t changed a bit as far as I can see. No evidence of deeper lines of mental stress or worry, weight about the same. Just the same old Lad that went away one and a half years ago.

But to get back to my reason for this letter being a day late. Burr Davis, Lad’s godfather, who has a summer cottage at Candlewood Lake, had invited Marian to visit them, and as this was to be Mr. Davis’s last weekend there, Lad invited us all to hop in his car and make it a family visit. We did and had a very enjoyable time, but alas it was too late when we got home to start a letter, and while I fully intended to make up for it during the day at the office, I just didn’t get the opportunity. So, here we are back to beginning. Who will be the next to upset the smooth tenor of our ways by returning home unexpectedly? Dan? Mebbe. I am waiting to hear what his next letter may have to say on this subject. Then perhaps Dick may be next although in view of the fact Jean has just joined him, it is Lad’s guess that this procedure would not have been permitted if they didn’t foresee the men being down there for a year longer. However a letter today from Jean reveals that she was practically on her way when the peace news came through. Maybe this would be a great time to quote her letter:

“Surprise, I’m here. Arrived at one (noon) on the 16th.  Dick didn’t know I was due that day so he didn’t meet me. They had quite a job locating him but when his assistant found him and told him I was here all he could say was, “Are you kidding?” He was quite worried because the officer here told him that all the wives orders had been canceled because of the end of the war. He was sure I wouldn’t be able to come. I wasn’t supposed to leave Miami until Thursday, but when I checked in to

page 2   8/20/45

the Army hotel Tuesday morning, they started rushing me through briefing classes and my last typhoid shot. They told me late in the afternoon that I would be leaving about 6:30 that night. We were out at the airport at seven when the news of the Jap surrender was announced. We took off at eight in a C-47–the same one they flew Gen. Mark Clark back to the US in. We were very lucky to get such a nice one, as most of the planes were just plain transport ships with bucket seats and very uncomfortable. There were seven girls, one child and myself, +5 crew members. Our first stop was Puerto Rico, 2:30 A.M. Wednesday. They gave us breakfast and we sat around in the post lounge waiting for a minor repair to be made until 4:30 A.M. We flew until noon when we stopped at British Guiana. There we were treated like Queens–met us in the staff cars, took us to a restroom to get cleaned up, then to the officer’s mess hall for lunch and from there to a cottage where we took showers and slept until 6 PM, then dinner, after which two officers took us to the officers club for a highball. We took off at eight P. M. Our next stop was at Belem, Brazil, at four A.M. Thursday. After breakfast we took off again, arriving at Natal at 10:45 A.M. Everyone but me and the crew got off—I was the only passenger back to Forteleza.

Dick couldn’t get the house he wanted but he got a cute place in a very nice section, about the same size as the other place, four rooms, bath and a separate servants home on the side. So, we have a garden. Dick is having the yard all fixed up. The man starts work at seven A. M. And works until about 4:34 P.M. for $.50 a day. Can you imagine working in the hot sun for that? I can’t either. It is spring here now. I don’t know what the temperature is but it’s just comfortable and there is always a strong breeze. Dick looks wonderful. He says he’s lost some weight the past week, though, worrying about me and trying to get the house cleaned up. He even bought a table cover for our dining room table.”

Dick adds a P. S. “I want to thank you for having taken such good care of Jean, Dad. I’m happier now than I have been since I was drafted. I don’t mean to insinuate that I was happy they drafted me. She’s the difference between existing and living. My love to all. Dick”.

So we see that maybe if Jean had been a few hours later in getting started, orders might have come through for cancellation. Incidentally, this might cause Lad to revise his opinion that allowing the wives to go down probably means Dick will be there for some time yet. Would like to know what the prospects are as they look to you down there, Dick. Do take some snapshots of the house and send them home as we are all eager to see what the Guion Brazilian home looks like.

Tomorrow I’ll be posting the rest of this letter, and after that, another 5-page letter I’ll squeeze into 3 posts. Enjoy.

Judy Guion

Autobiography of Mary E Wilson (12) – A Double Life – 1933-1934

Mary E. Wilson

Not much has changed in Mary’s life so this is a rather short post. She seems quite happy with everything.

1933 – 1934

          My life at this time was quiet, nothing exciting was happening. Life was amiable at home. Doris was a good girl but willful.

My mother had decided that now that I was 22, I could keep half of my earnings. Three other girls and myself decided to take up horseback riding. I loved it and went two or three times a week.

I still dated Fred but I dated other young men to. I love going to the Ritz Ballroom and also danced and Quilty’s and Pleasure Beach Dance Hall. Fred did not like to dance and he worked nights every other week so it worked out just fine.

At this time, Dr. Nasti’s wife died and they had only been married a year. We had a rough time at the office because I could not depend on him to keep his appointments. For almost a year he had a bad time then he met a former girlfriend and they started going out and married.

I still had my part-time work in the G.E. but they were becoming very uneasy because there were more rumblings in Europe. I had a good job in but loved working for Dr. Nastri so I worked longer hours and was able to keep both jobs. I had no time for night school but I was happy doing my thing.

Somehow I felt I was leading a dual life. Two weeks I dated Fred and kept very reserved and had quiet times with him and his older friends playing bridge, etc. The other two weeks I hung around Francis and other friends, did a lot of dancing, horseback riding, picnics, swimming parties and also participated in exercise clubs but we did have fun times.

Celso was still my best friend and my nephew Jimmy had grown into a beautiful boy. My mother adored her first grandchild and spoiled him rotten.

Starting tomorrow and for the next of the week, I’ll be posting letters written in 1945. Dan is married but Paulette cannot come to Trumbull because of travel restrictions. Grandpa keeps everyone in the family aware of what’s happening to the rest of the family.

Judy Guion

 

 

Autobiography of Mary E Wilson (11) – A Broken Engagement – 1932

1932

          I was now 21 and Bob (Boris) had given me an engagement ring and a “hope chest”. My mother and Bob tolerated each other but there was no love between them.

Celso gave birth to a lovely baby boy but she had a very difficult pregnancy and never could have any more children.

I still worked for the G.E. as well as Dr. Nastri and also continued night high school. Boris went to school with me but he finally made one big mistake which made me very angry and hurt. He persuaded his parents to let him take over the second floor of their home in Devon, Connecticut. He really did a beautiful job of remodeling and furnishing it but I did not know anything about these plans. His brother and his family were visiting from Texas and Boris announced what he had done. He said when we married we would live upstairs and he would help his parents financially.

I was shocked because we did not planned any of this together. He took me upstairs with his family to show us the results of his work and purchases. He did not even notice my shock and amazement but I then realized during our married life I would never be allowed to make any suggestions or discussions. He would do it all himself. I guess that was the Swedish custom.

I did not doubt he would be a hard-working, good husband but he would not be a generous one because he was too ambitious and frugal. They were all talking in the living room of the  house so I quietly left, leaving a note for Boris breaking our engagement. I took a bus from Devon but by the time I had reached my home he was waiting for him. He accused me of humiliating him in front of his family but I realized I did not love him and I felt I needed more out of a marriage than he could give me. I did not want to exchange a dominating mother for a dominating husband.

Boris was so angry he quit his job at Medical Opticians in the building where I work for Dr. Nastri and moved to Norwalk, Connecticut, where he lived with Celso’s sister. His poor mother was such a timid lady but she came to my house as she sure wanted me to marry Boris.

I had been dating Boris for two years and even though I was relieved we had parted, I was lonely.

I was attending St. Luke’s church and had joined the choir and started teaching Sunday school for teenaged girls.

My brother Arthur introduced me to a young man, Fred Williams. He was a lace weaver like my brother and Fred’s dad was the organist in the church I attended. We began dating but he was almost 12 years older than me and again my mother became critical. Fred’s dad was great and we got along just fine because he really liked me. Fred’s mother was very unfriendly because my mother was a divorced woman and the two women disliked each other.

Fred and I had a lot of fun but Fred was very reserved and his mother thought he could do better than me. Fred and I used to date with Ted Perkins and my friend, Helen Koger.

My mother worked in the D.N. Read Company and Arthur, Doris and I were living at home but she still ruled the roost.

Bert Harbor had been hanging around all these years as a family friend and he asked my mother to marry him. She refused. I think she made a mistake.

Tomorrow I’ll continue the story of Mary E Wilson and her social life. Next week, I’ll be posting letters from 1945. Dan and Paulette are married but because ships are used to move troops, civilians cannot get a ticket and Paulette cannot get to Trumbull. 

Judy Guion