Random Memories of Cedric Duryee Guion (4 of 5)

After my Uncle Dan passed away, I realized that if I was going to record the memories of his siblings, I’d better get busy. Aunt Biss was the first. She joined my late husband Don and me on a cruise on the Erie Canal and I spent three days recording her stories. I was able to interview my father (Lad) and Uncle Ced on two occasions each and Uncle Dick and Uncle  Dave, once each. This is the fourth installment of Uncle Ced’s memories.

As you go across the bridge from Stratford to Milford on the Post Road, on the left of some buildings at the end of the bridge. There is a dock down below on the Housatonic River. Just below the bridge on the Stratford side there were some fishermen’s homes. One of the fishermen had a boat for sale. Dad never liked to buy new stuff. He bought this boat. It was about 21 feet long and a round cowling. It had an old motor, a one lunger, that went putt, putt, putt. It was in nice shape, nice looking, a nice bow, but it was pretty old. That’s why they sold it, but Dad knew that. We named it the “Helen”.

Very soon after we got this boat, Dad decided it needed to be dressed up a bit. He got some lumber and he got someone else to do it, and they made a canvas top. It came up from the two ends and fastened in the middle somehow, you could walk around in it. At the same time, he put in a Ford Marine conversion engine which was a lot heavier than the original one. It made the boat lower in the back. He also decked over the whole back, with cabinets for storage. It was pretty high sided and very seaworthy.

Dad, Lad, Dan and I decided we take a trip out the Housatonic and up the coast to Milford. We were going to go to Hartford and it would take a couple of days. We started out – we had found out that we had a problem and we had done some caulking on it. It wasn’t quite watertight. There was a little storm over Long Island Sound and just about the time we got to the Connecticut River a real storm came up with high waves. We had a rough time of it, we really bounced around quite a bit and we were low on gas. It had gotten fairly calm, I guess the storm was over. We pulled over to get some gas and decided we’d stay overnight. We had kind of a rough trip. We pulled across the River to the other side where there was the beach and some houses. We anchored out, put the canvas over us, made up the beds and went to sleep. I was the first one awake the next morning. The Sun was out and it was quite nice. There was a small space between the canvas and the gunwale, and I was lying there with my head at gunwale height, looking outside. All of a sudden I realized there was water just a few inches below the gunwale. I yelled for everyone to get up. “Hey, guys, were thinking.” Dad had the seats made up as beds so we lifted one and the water was right up there. Anyway, we bailed and bailed real fast and we finally got the thing so we had plenty of free board, but my mother had baked us a beautiful cake. It was sitting in salt water. They don’t float well and they don’t taste good after being in salt water.

We had some friends named Burnham who had lived sort of caddy corner to us on Lansdowne Road in Larchmont. They had a cottage on Fishers Island in Long Island Sound. We started out to visit the Burnham’s in the Helen. It took us about an hour or so to get there. When we got there, Dad talked to Rufus Burnham. Dad was very interested in sailboats and asked Rufus if there was anyone on the island who could help us with this problem we had with our about. Rufus said “Yeah, he lives right around the corner.” He got him to come over and look at the boat. It was light enough so that we could pull it up on shore and turn it over. He stood there, puffing on his pipe and looking at the hull of the boat. Finally, he said “You came from the Connecticut shore in this?”

We kept the boat tied up at place on the Housatonic River and one day the owner called and said “This is Mr. French. Your boat sank.” it must’ve happened about six times. We go over there, drag it up on shore and dump it out. Dad got tired of this after a while.

Arnold Gibson’s father, stepfather actually, was an old seagoing man. I guess he’d been in the Navy. He had a Sea Scout troop and Dad said “You know, this boat is getting beyond us. Why don’t we give it to the Sea Scouts and maybe they can get some fun out of it.” He gave it to them and I don’t know what they did with it.

The Island

The Island

When we first went to the Island, probably about 1924 or 25, there was nothing on it at all. We’d 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 a barge that 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 are moving your stuff out to the Island. Then the guys started getting motorboats, outboards, a lot handier to go here and there.

The barge was used to move the cook cabin. Lad and some of his friends went to the mainland and bought a one car garage. They sawed it in half, put it on the barge and brought it to the Island. They made it into the kitchen shack.

I will post other memories periodically.

For FREE copies of New Inceptions Magazine, an e-magazine, with several articles and stories based on letters and memories of my family, prior to and during World War II, you can click the following links.

Issue 1   Click Here

Issue 2   Click Here

Issue 3   Click Here

Judy Guion



Trumbull – Lad’s Best Friend

Arnold Gibson was Lad’s best friend and he joined the older boys on many adventures, including the trip to the Chicago World’s Fair. I think you’ll be able to figure out one of the reasons why they were best friends. They kept in touch with letters several times a year while Lad was in Venezuela.At this point, he’s been there for a year.

January 4, 1940                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                         Arnold Gibson

Dear Laddie,

My card made a bum start, but I hope it finally reached you.

Well, I’m fairly familiar with your doings via your letters to your Dad. I go over and get him to read some of them now and then. However, a lot has happened around here that may be news to you.

Anne Holt was married in September and has a nice little cottage on a pond over between Nichols and Shelton.

My folks have moved over to a place near the river between Shelton and Stratford, and I am boarding at Pratt’s. Alta and I became engaged this New Year’s.

Last summer I worked a couple of months with contractors on the Merritt Parkway at good pay, and so saved enough for a nice trip up into Maine and Canada. I worked in the woods first, and then on the wagon rock drills and bulldozers. By the way the Parkway is now open from New York to Nichols, so it’s a cinch to drive to the city.

This is spring I got a nearly new, slightly damaged canoe, which I repaired and made a rack on “Nomad” for, so with a two speed rear end, new oil pump, fog, reverse, cab, and clearance lights, and numerous other new improvements. “Old Nomad” was in great shape for the trip.

We (Alta and I) took off at around noon one day after a couple of false starts due to a lost knife, and a leaky oil line, and spent two months around New England stopping at various relative’s homes and American Youth Hostels. You may have heard of the latter, it is a fine organization of several million persons to further travel in the great outdoors, and provide Hostels with proper accommodations (rough and ready ones) and chaperones at convenient overnight stops. It is also international.

Well, we had a great trip, all in all, with many minor adventures and only a few mishaps.” Nomad” performed nobly with only a broken front spring and relapsed generator to her discredit in 2400 miles. Oh yes, she has the speedometer now too.

I worked for Ruby for two weeks and also cleared the lines around the piece of land I have up there. I had to dig up an “oldest resident” to help find the ancient markers, and do the rest with compass and axe as the deed was written in terms of long dead persons. What a time!

We really swarmed all over Mount Katahdin this time, spending four days at it. You remember the little Chimney Pond in the bottom of the gulf we looked into from the summit? Well, on its shore are a cabin and some shelters operated by one Mr. Dudley, who is certainly a real character, and what yarns he spins by the fire at night! There were around six or eight people there and the women and food were kept in the cabin at night, as several bears, one monster, came messing around every night, and we got a swell chance to watch them.

We fell in with a couple of fellows from Boston and after much debate borrowed Dudley’s Alpine rope, and climbed the Chimney Trail which is really just a gully which runs up the nearly perpendicular head wall for around 4000 feet, and contains among other hazards ice and three nearly impossible choke stones (boulders). The 4000 feet (and return) from the top by an easy(?) trail took all day, and in one place we hoisted Alta 40 feet up an overhang, but when it was done we were really proud of ourselves.

We visited Rusty’s Spring Island in our canoe and had a great time in general, in spite of much rain, and even snow (in the middle of September in Canada), and got home with only one flat.

Three days after we got home I went to work in the Stanley Works. I run a machine which cuts steel up into strips for razor blades. The work is steady and the pay pretty good, but it is pretty dull. Cecelia still has not gotten her new Ford that was promised for December 15.

Have you heard about Cedric’s ’33 Plymouth that he got in New York for $50? I did a very complete motor overhaul on it, and it runs fine except that I can’t get quite as much oil pressure as I would like in spite of new gears and main and a rod bearings.

I just did a valve and carbon job on my Packard and she runs like new. Well almost. For extremely cold starts or low battery, I have a hot shot battery and master coil (Ford) independent of the regular system.

Laddie, I’d like to hear about the various conveyances you people use, and the engines you work on, and all that sort of thing. And when do you think you may be home again? I had Spring Replacement put two front springs in your Packard the other day.

Let me hear from you!

Your friend


Did you figure it out? All that talk about vehicle maintenance gave it away, didn’t it. That was one love they shared. Arnold and Alta purchased, at some point a little island, very near Rusty’s island, which my family used from the mid-20’s and eventually bought.Learn more about that in my post “A Piece of Liquid Heaven” on 11.6.2012.

To check out my web page,    Click Here

Judy Guion