Memories of Arla Mary (Peabody) Guion (7) – 1922 – 1925

 

Arla Mary Peabody Guion with her first five children - Dan, Lad, Ced, Dick and Biss

Arla Mary Peabody Guion with her first five children – Dan, Lad, Ced, Dick and Biss

In 1922, during a family vacation, Arla found out about a house in Trumbull, built in 1756, went to see it and fell in love with it. She eventually had her way and the family moved in to their new house in December of 1922. The story continues in Grandpa’s autobiography:

Meanwhile, I was having serious commuting troubles. Each winter the trains were frequently late. This, together with the antagonistic attitude of my immediate boss at the office, made my frequent, late arrivals at work increasingly disagreeable incidents. Also, the seven mile auto ride to and from Trumbull in all kinds of weather, the 2 1/2 to 3 hour train ride to Grand Central followed by a crowded subway ride to the Battery, and this twice a day, not only was physically exhausting but also necessitated my leaving home early and arriving home late. There seemed only one sensible alternative – to seek employment in Bridgeport. A letter campaign from New York to Bridgeport manufacturers proving unfruitful after months of vain effort, in desperation I resolved to take drastic measures. With five little ones to feed and clothe I simply had to get a job, so, burning all bridges behind me, I quit my New York job cold to wage an all-out on-site search to find something in Bridgeport. To make this step was one of the most difficult decisions of my life, but within two weeks I became Assistant Advertising Manager of the Bridgeport Brass Company and a few months later, Advertising Manager, which job I held until I left to start an advertising agency of my own.

In Trumbull we became interested in local activities. A local volunteer fire company was started in which I was a charter member. To raise money to buy firefighting equipment we ran annual carnivals which were successful for many years, and which the old Waverley Electric Car played a part.

Arla’s children shared a few memories of her in their recorded childhood memories.

LAD – I don’t have many memories of my mother. I remember that she was involved with the Women’s Club, and was very, very well-liked by everybody. We always had a lot of visitors. She was very outgoing and friendly and quite pretty. She was very active in the community. Other than the fact that Mom was involved in the community a great deal, she was a good mother. We all like her very much, got along with her.

CED – I don’t believe Mother had a single enemy in Trumbull. She was President of the Women’s Community Club, and she was very, very good to the family. She had practically all of our aunts and some of our uncles living with us in Trumbull at various times. We had a big house and most of them lived in New York City. When they had vacations and when we had holidays, they’d all come up on the train from New York. Sometimes they would drive – it would take them about four hours on the Post Road. I remember those trips too. Traffic was all over the place, stop and go, stop and go.

I always said that I knew one person in town that my Mother didn’t like. This woman had two sons who were friends with us. I don’t believe that the woman ever knew that my mother didn’t like her because this woman was very critical of other people and that bothered my mother.

My Mother was very active in town, she was very public spirited. She helped plant flowers on the green, that sort of thing.

Our house was the center for the local population. All the kids our age congregated in our house because of everything, and my mother, of course. She was very pro-social, in her own life and in ours. She was a wonderful woman. We were really one big happy family and we really had fun growing up. Arnold Gibson was part of the group; he was more a part of the family group. He was very fond of our family, and spent a lot of time with us. Arnold was devoted to my mother, too. Everybody that knew her loved her.

DICK – One of my earliest memories is Mom at the front Dutch door, talking to someone from the Red Cross. I was standing next to her and she was running her hand through my hair… It was heaven.

BISS – Dick and I were sitting on the radiator in the back bathroom and it was so cold there was frost on the window. We take one of the pieces of our Erector Set, putting it in a hole of the oil heater to heat it up and touch the frost on the window. At one point I leaned over a little too far, fell down on top of the oil burner and tipped it over. I had always been taught that if there’s a fire you run out and close the door… which I did. Dick was still on the radiator in back of the fire, and then the fire started up the curtain. I screamed for Mother and evidently she heard the panic in my voice and she responded immediately. As soon as she got upstairs and realized what was happening, she yelled for Lad to bring the fire extinguisher. As she got to the top of the stairs and started walking towards the bathroom, her very flimsy gown caught on fire and I remember she put it out. Mother then took the rug from the hallway and threw it on the fire and put the fire out, but the door was scorched where the flames had licked at it.

Dick, Dan, Ced, Lsd and Biss

Dick, Dan, Ced, Lad and Biss

Tomorrow, I’ll begin a week of letters written in the beginning of 1944.

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Memories of Arla Mary (Peabody) Guion (6) – How We Came to Trumbull – 1922

 

In last week’s “Memories of Arla Mary (Peabody) Guion”, we learned about the very early years of the marriage of Alfred D Guion and Arla Peabody, including some early memories from the children. This week we will learn how Arla played a major part in the decision to move to Trumbull.

The Old Homestead

The Trumbull House

A.D. – And now having recorded some of the events in the first two decades of my life spent in the state of New York, let us look further east to Connecticut, were up to the present time, two or more decades have seen the childhood, youth and adulthood of most of my children and their families.

How did we come to settle in Trumbull? Almost purely by chance. And it all happened because of a vacation spent at my brother-in-law’s summer camp in Connecticut. One day, Fred Stanley, who had married my wife’s sister Anne, told us he had rented a little shack in the woods near Sandy Hook, Connecticut, on the Housatonic River, and as he could use it only part of the time, he asked if my family would be interested in occupying it for a couple of weeks. We were, and one summer morning we loaded up the old Franklin with beds, mattresses, clothing and food, and with five children and two adults, escorted by Fred to show us the way, we started merrily on our adventure.

Approaching Danbury, the most awful bangs, rattles and clanking left no doubt that something was seriously wrong with my car. Luckily, a Franklin repair service was located nearby and here we learned that a main bearing had burned out, which would take a couple of days to repair. By dint of persuasion, seeing our plight, the headman finally consented to put all hands to work to try to finish the job by nightfall. Fred was to go on to the camp with the children in his car and Arla and I would stay with the Franklin until repairs were completed. While I watched the mechanics at work, Arla spent several hours chatting with the proprietor’s wife, who, she told me afterward, painted a glowing picture of an old house they owned in a small country place called Trumbull, too far away for them to live in while conducting a business in Danbury, but evidently a dream of a home. She must’ve been a good saleswoman because Arla was so enthusiastic from the description given that when vacation time was over and I had to get back to work, she persuaded Fred to drive over to the place. It was a case of love at first sight and nothing would do but I must see it too and discover what an ideal place it would be for the children. I, too, was pleased with it.

It was obviously out of the question as a practical proposition because, with the job in the lower part of New York City and a Connecticut home 7 miles from the nearest railroad station at Bridgeport, itself 55 miles from Grand Central Station, only a madman would give the matter a moment’s consideration. She reluctantly agreed and the subject was abandoned, in my mind at least. As it has often been said, it is unwise to underestimate the power of a woman. Returning home from work several weeks later I found her, one afternoon, busily sketching at a table covered with several sheets of paper, and, upon inquiry, was told that she was figuring how our present furniture would fit in the Trumbull house. Seeing how serious she was, there followed several weeks of weighing arguments pro and con, ending in the decision that, for the children’s sake, I would take the chance and try commuting between Bridgeport and New York.

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 broke to a large storage tank in the cellar,and 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 and 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.

In Tomorrow’s “Memories of Arla Mary (Peabody) Guion”, I’ll share some of the early memories the children have of their mother in the Trumbull house. On Monday, I’ll begin a week of letters written in 1945.

Monday through Thursday, one 4-page-letter from Grandpa, On Friday, one from Lad.

Judy Guion

Venezuelan Adventure – Lad’s First Trip into the Bush (2) – January 30, 1939

 

This is the second half of a long, detailed letter from Lad to family and friends in Trumbull about his activities between January 20th and January 30th, 1939.

Image result for "Camionette" vehicle

This is an older model Citroen Camionette. I don’t know the year but it

gives you an idea of the vehicle Lad is writing about.

Tues: –

After a good breakfast we left on the mules for the truck at 6:05.  It was too dark to cross the river safely before that.  We turned the truck around and in crossing a stream about 1 ½ miles from camp we got stuck.  Sand in the bank kept us from going forward, and a large rock prohibited us from backing up.  Finally we all got out by climbing over the front fender to the shore and Manuel, with the aid of a crowbar, succeeded in removing the rock.  Then in backing and going forward successively to get into position, the transmission case almost exploded, and parts went all over the sand on the river bottom.  That left the truck in the river and no way to get it out under it’s own power. T.H. Jr. and E. K.  went to La Cruz on the mules to get a truck or a pair of oxen and Manuel went back to camp to get some Peons to cut down the bank to make it easier to pull the truck out.  I stayed with the truck to watch the things.  Around there things not watched just seemed to disappear.  I learned from the Natives that the nearest place to buy parts was Coro and that a bus left La Cruz at 9:30 every other day and this was one of the days. T.H. Jr. and also found that out and when he returned he came back with the bus.  Around there the buses were trucks and the seats were made by placing the cargo so as to form some sort of a seat.  Also, the gas, which had been stored in a 50 gallon drum, had leaked out so that there was no gas in La Cruz and the driver would have had to wait until a truck or car came through with a few gallons to spare.  That may have been two or three days or a week, so we killed 3 birds with one stone.  The bus pulled the truck out of the river, we gave him some gasoline, and he took us to Coro for about 1/3 usual price.  But that’s getting ahead of myself.  We gave him the gas after he had pulled us to La Cruz and then he had to go San Luis for cargo and would stop by for us on the way back. Coro was in the opposite direction.  We put the car in a hotel yard and put everything we didn’t absolutely need in a room, E.K. went to camp and got some food, and we waited until 2:10 for the bus.  Our seats were made of bales of tobacco and were not very comfortable but served the purpose.

During the whole trip we stopped about every two hours at a private home or a hotel which served coffee and native refreshments but only E.K. took much relish in eating at these places.  About 10:00 P.M. we came to a hotel called San Maria and we were told that we would stop there for the night and get an early start.

Wed. –

T.H. Jr. woke the driver up at 1:30 A.M. and by 2:05 we were on our way again.  The stars were very bright since the moon had set, and T.H. pointed out the Southern Cross to me.  It was not as I had pictured it but it looked like this:-

We could also see the North Star and the Big Dipper.  The road was not much better than the one we had come over and we could not sleep.  We got into Coro at 6:00 A.M. and just got everything in the hotel when the lights went out.  In most of the cities they only have electricity during the hours of darkness, and as soon as the first streaks of daylight begin to show in the East, off go the generators.  The Hotel Occidental, although native, did wonderfully well and after cleaning up we had a rather nice breakfast.  After the stores opened we went our devious ways. T.H. and E. K. about their business with the State Presidente, Manuel off for a good time until noon and I, after the necessary parts for the Camionette.  About 11:00, upon returning to the hotel with the parts, I found some letters to be mailed for T.H. and then returned again and had a short nap till the Chiefs return.  Had lunch and then The Two went off on business and I took another short nap.  The bus was to leave for La Cruz at 2:30 and at 4:00 P.M. along it came.  About 7:00 we had some crackers and cheese and about 10:00 we again stopped at San Maria for the night.

Thurs.:-

Although T.H. Jr. had everyone up at 3:30 it was 5:00 before we finally started.  Of course, for breakfast we had had our usual coffee and as many cigarettes as we wished to smoke.  En route, we had some more cheese and crackers and pulled into La Cruz about 12:30 Noon.  Manuel and I started immediately to put in the new transmission and T.H. Jr. with E. K. and two mules went to the Camp.  In about 2 hrs.  lunch arrived from Camp and we stopped work long enough to eat, and then on again.  Everything went fine and about 6:30 I left Manuel pack the truck, eat and sleep in the truck, and I went to the Camp on the mule sent back for me.  I had a late supper and went to bed. T.H. was already in bed.

Fri.: –

Was awakened by violent shaking by T.H. Jr. at 4:00 and with full stomachs we left camp at 5:00 in spite of the darkness, using flashlights to light the trail for the mules.  We had left Jim Pierce there but was taking a fellow, Carl Nelson, back to Caracas with us.  No trouble at all and about 7:00 I took the wheel because we were to drive all the way through to Carora and Manuel, who knew the road was to drive after it got dark.  We had a few crackers about noon and later on stopped for beer.  Oh, yes.  Down here, even in Caracas, the tap water is not good to drink so during the duration of the trip we had to drink beer.  Because of the alcoholic content there are no harmful germs in it and it also furnishes quite a bit of nourishment, to my surprise.  I’m getting to the point where I can drink it like a man.  About 5:00 Manuel took over the wheel and going over the last range of mountains he hit a rock and bent the steering apparatus.  It had to be taken out and straightened and we had to work fast to finish before dark.  Not having the proper tools for straightening the post with us, we had to take the outside pipe off and leave everything loose to allow for the few bands we could not straighten and then we proceeded.  After getting into the flat country again Manuel drove so fast that he broke the center bolt in the rear spring and the body shifted enough to drag on the tire and we spent about an hour trying to fix it temporarily to finish our run to Carora which was only about 25 Kilos. more.  As we drove on, each bump shifted a spring leaf until it finally began to drag on the brake drum but we continued on and by the time we got to Carora, 5:00 A.M., it was making enough noise for you to hear, but you were probably all in bed and asleep.  At least I hope so.  We went to bed immediately with orders not to be awakened before 9:00 the following morning.

Sat.: –

At 9:15 I had breakfast and then went to the garage to help Manuel repair the spring.  I forgot to tell you that on the way to Carora from Caracas a stone had rubbed along the bottom of the car and had punctured the gas tank.  Therefore, after getting Manuel busy on the spring, I took out the gas tank and after repairing it, put it back and then helped with the spring.  Just as we finished the spring, Dan walked up.  I had been told that I wouldn’t see him for another month, so it was quite a surprise.  We went back to the hotel, had lunch at 3:00 and then spent the rest of the day chatting and swapping experiences.  He looks very well, better than he did in Trumbull, but you have seen a picture of him so you know.  He can converse with the natives fairly well, and gave me a few pointers that will help a great deal.  As we were to start for Caracas Sun. morning at 4:00 and Dan had to return to his camp, we said goodbye about 9:00 P.M. and retired.

Sun.: –

With our usual native breakfast behind us we left at 4:30.  Manuel, in the Camionette with the luggage, and T.H. Jr., Nelson and myself driving in the car.  Just before daylight we had a tire blowout on the car and it pulled the car off the dirt road into a 3 foot washout on the right shoulder.  This sudden stop bent the axle very badly but by using the Camionette and rope we were able to bend tie-rod enough to compensate for the bent axle and we only took about one and ½ hours.  About 11:00 we arrived in Barquisimeto and had a very good breakfast at a German Hotel.  Manuel stayed there to buy the 1939 plates for the cars and we continued on.  We drove into Valencia before it got dark and since we were all tired, decided to stay there for the night.  After a good supper at another German Hotel, we went to bed.

Mon.: –

Since Caracas was only about 200 Kilos. further we didn’t get up until 8:00 and we left the Hotel about 9:30 after having a flat fixed.  The remainder of the trip was very uneventful except that with the bent axle, we had a little trouble going around the curves thru the mountains and a little more trouble trying to make the turns here in Caracas.  All the roads here are narrower than the narrowest street I can think of anywhere except a few I saw up in Canada.  We came directly to the Hotel Aleman and they had room for the three of us so Mr. Human is here now also.  That finishes the trip and this paper too, so instead of using another sheet, I’ll bid you all adieu.  Remember me to everyone.

Good luck to all,

Laddie

Tomorrow and Sunday, more Memories of Arla Mary (Peabody) Guion.

Judy Guion

Venezuelan Adventure (4) – Lad’s First Trip into the Bush (1) – January 30, 1939

 

January 30, 1939

Caracas, Venez.

Dear Families of “G’s” and “M’s” –

Because of the lengthy description the trip will require, I have decided to send it by regular mail.  I will give it quite complete, by memory (?), day by day.

Fri. Jan. 20

Mr. Human gave orders to Jim Pierce and myself to leave at 4:00 A. M. (If you don’t know Jim, he was the man Mr. Human went to La Guayra to meet) (an awfully nice fellow and a very good draftsman). At 3:00, the alarm I had set disturbed my slumber, and I went in the next room to wake Jim.  Boy does he sleep!  He finally responded and I went back to shave and dress.  At 3:30 my womanly intuition told me that I had better go back and see if Jim were up.  He was asleep again and this time he woke up a little bit easier and I stayed there till he was out of bed.  By 3:55 we had our bags and my tools out in front of the Aleman and then we had to wait until 4:20 for Manuel and then we had to go about 4 blocks to get the cook who was from Trinidad and was to go to Carora with us.  He was going to assist Simon, the cook in Dan’s Camp (known as Rudolph’s Camp, Bill Rudolph is in charge of the camp).  Howard was still in bed when we got there and we had another 10 min. wait.  When we got to the Majestic at 4:45 Mr. Human was still in bed, I’m pretty sure, but he won’t admit it.  We woke the doorman, and in a few minutes the lights went on in T. H’s room and about 15 min. later, down came his luggage.  Then he came down and we left for our trip to the bush at 5:10.  How would you all like to have been along?  On the outskirts of Caracas we stopped to have coffee, it is impossible to get breakfast in the hotels before 7:00, and that with a cigarette completed our first breakfast.  Manuel, as usual, drove like hell, and at 9:00 we had a good breakfast (orange juice, Quaker Oats, ham, eggs, rolls, coffee and more cigs.) and continued.  The Station Wagon (Camionette) in Carora needed some parts and in Caracas they had told us to get them in Puerto-Cabello, and since that would only be about 40 mins. out of our way, we went there.  After an hour’s search, the parts were found and we went back to the road to Carora.  In this country, to go from one state to another or into and out of large cities, one has to get permission from the authorities located at strategic points and in most cases, because we are Americans (Del Norte, they are also, but del sud) we just slow down and they motion us on.  As we turned toward Carora they stopped us and after a few questions, with answers course, they let us proceed.  As we went, the road gradually got worse.  So gradually that one does not realize it except that the speedometer gradually came down from 90 or 100 (Kilometers of course, 60 or 70 m.p.h.) to around 20, much slower of course thru big holes, mud and rivers.  About 3:00 we came to a town of perhaps 2 or 3 hundred occupants, and had a meal (?)  in a native hotel.  Then on again over a road that would be considered impassable in the States, but is the only road here running east and west over the Andes Mountains and is a National Highway.  The town roads are unfit to walk on.  Even the mules are apt to have trouble.  We got into Carora about 8:30 and there we met Bill Rudolph and had supper.  Jim and I did a little exploring there while B. R. and T. H. Jr. discussed the business and about 11:00 we all turned in.

This is one of the big work trucks that Lad was hired to keep running.

Image result for "Camionette" vehicle

This is an older Citroen Camionette.

Sat:-

Since we could take the car no further then Carora we had to fix the Camionette before we could proceed.  We could not get breakfast before 7:00 A. M. so I slept until 6:45.  Then with a full stomach I began the first bit of repairing down here.  Among many minor things we had to put in a new steering mechanism, rear engine mountings and adjust the brakes.  It was a 1938 De Luxe model but sounds and looks like a 1928, even though it has not yet been 10,000 miles.  Mr. Human came down in what I thought was about 2 hrs.  and told me that if I didn’t hurry back to the hotel I would have to go without lunch so I did.  (hurry back). By about 4:30 the truck was finished and I returned to the Hotel del Comercio to clean up and have dinner.  That evening we listened to American Music, which sounded awfully good but brought back memories, on the radio there, and then went to bed fairly early, about 8:30.

Sun.

Had coffee and cigarettes and left for the bush at 4:00 A. M. Mr. Human had food so when it got light enough to see easily we had breakfast on the go and began to feel better.  Cigarettes don’t offer much food value.  The roads began to get even worse, and worser, but not worstest as we found out later in the day.  About 10 we started to climb over mountains. 6 ranges altogether and I will give you a general description of the roads with Cedric’s help.  Cecilia can also give you a description of some of the best sections.  Just ask her about the first time we were out in “Whimpy”.  And believe it or not, Babe, that stretch is as good, if not better, than the best sections of the road through these mountains.  Cedric can describe the road from Park St. over to Long Hill.  That road will give you an idea of the not so good stretches and the worstest sections would involve too much writing to describe.  Ask me about them sometime and I will try to make you believe what I tell you of them.  We cleared the last range and hit a road like the one to the reservoir, only more washouts, just before sunset.  This road seemed like a godsend after what we had been through and we could get the car up to 10 or 12 M. P. H.  Every once in a while and made comparatively good time.  We had eaten lunch and dinner en route and about 10:00 P. M. we stopped at a town called Paraiso to spend the few hours we could spare, sleeping.  This was the first hotel of the kind I had seen.  I have seen more since.  The complete furnishings for the room consisted of an orange crate, a miniature kerosene lantern, a picture of Jesus Christ and a number of pegs upon which we string as many native hammocks as desired.  These are woven from native material and some are quite highly colored.  They are about 5 ft. long and 4 or 41/2 ft. wide; are hung very loosely, sometimes nearly touching the dirt or cobblestone floor, and one lies with his head at one end and on either edge and his feet directly opposite.  Believe it or not, they are quite comfortable.  It took me half an hour or so to get used to the thing, but it got to be 3:30 before I knew it.

Mon.-

Good morning!  Left Paraiso at about 4:00 after our usual early morning breakfast and got into La Cruz about 8:00.  Inquired about the location of the Karnopp Camp (Edward Karnopp is in charge of the camp on the Churuguara road to Coro) and learned that it was only about 1 league or 5 kilos.  We got a native guide to take us and proceeded.  At 9:15 we came into the camp after taking the Camionette as far as it would go, walking about ¾ of a mile and then using a mule to cross the stream.  The camp was about 200 ft. from the other side of the stream.  There we had an excellent breakfast, one of the best since I left home, and prepared to spend the rest of the day there.  Mr. Human went with E. K.  to look over the line and Jim, who was to stay there, took a nap in his tent, and I, who am T. H. Jr’s secretary, right-hand man, and whatnot, sat down to straighten out accounts.  The gasoline out there in the bush is sold from any kind of cans or bottles they can procure and sometimes it takes half an hour to fill the tank.  It is Shell gasoline.  The luncheon was excellent and during the afternoon we went for a walk and then took a swim and cleaned up in the river.  However we saw no crocodiles but the men claimed that there are some small ones in it. T.H.Jr. and E.K.  returned in time for supper and had decided to go into Coro the following morning leaving camp at 4:00.  With that in mind, we all retired about 9:00.

Tomorrow, the rest of this very long, descriptive letter from Lad to the folks back home telling them about his first trip into the Bush.

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 (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