Memories of Arla Mary (Peabody) Guion (1) – 1892 – 1933

How many times has one small event set off a series of events that end up changing your life, your country or your world? Can you think of a decision you made that changed the direction of your life?

In the Guion family living in Trumbull, the one event that changed everyone’s life forever was the death of my Grandmother,  Arla Mary Peabody Guion. She married Grandpa when she was 18 and he was 29 and they were blessed with five sons and a daughter, but let’s return to the beginning.

My grandfather, Alfred Duryee Guion, left school at the age of 16, after his father had passed away, to go out into the world and earn some money to help support his mother and younger sister. After several positions as a clerk, a stenographer, Private Secretary and positions in advertising, he joined the Century Publishing Company on the Advertising staff of St. Nicholas Magazine. As he writes in his autobiography:

                          Alfred Duryee Guion @ 1913

Up to this time, I had thought that someday, when the right girl came along, I should probably get married. but during these years, I had never

really fallen in love, perhaps because my standards of what an ideal wife should be were pretty high and I had not met anyone yet to seriously challenge that standard, although the young Peabody girl was frequently in my thoughts.

                 Arla Peabody as The Virgin Mary

Then one Christmas season the church or Sunday school staged a religious play with the Nativity scene and Arla Peabody was chosen to play the part of the Virgin Mary. She wore a soft white scarf over her head and carried a doll for the Infant Christ. That night as I watched her holding the child with tender contentment and a placid, dreamy look in her soft brown eyes, something inside me suddenly exploded.

I had read about “love at first sight”, but this wasn’t first sight. Here was a girl I had known and seen for several years, but apparently I had not seen her at all. This couldn’t be the same girl! Had I been blind? Here was the most enchanting person anywhere in the world. I didn’t know what had happened to me. I was in a daze. The room was crowded with people I knew but I didn’t see anyone else. I didn’t speak to anyone else. I didn’t dare speak to her: she was too far above me.

Somehow I found my hat and groped my way out the door and on my way home. It may have been cold outside. I didn’t know. All I could think of on my way home was how I could be worthy of even speaking to her. One moment I would be hugging myself at the thought that I knew her and perhaps she would notice me, the next moment I was in the depths of despair knowing that everyone who had ever seen her must have appreciated what I had been too blind to see and that I would stand a poor chance when such a wonderful girl had so many potential husbands to choose from. I prayed to God for help in making her love me. Never in my life, before or since, have I felt so overwhelmed as I did then.

                      Arla Mary Peabody c. 1911

I knew how St. Paul had felt on the road to Damascus when a bright light transformed him. In a word, quite suddenly, I was head over heels in love with Arla Peabody. She didn’t know it and I was afraid to tell her because she might not reciprocate and then life would just be a blank. The thing to do was to woo her with every wile I could command, fearful all the while that someone else would win her heart first. It was a far from happy time for me and I am afraid I must have seemed a bit strange to all who knew me.

My plan is to post  segments  of this story every Saturday and Sunday. Material will come from my grandfather’s autobiography, written in 1960 as he traveled around the world at a very leisurely pace on a freighter, the recorded memories of his children and letters of condolence written by their many, many friends after Arla’s death.

Judy Guion

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Special Pictures # 340 – Spot and His Antics

From Reminiscences of Alfred Duryee Guion comes the following quote:

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

Spot

 

Elsie May Duryee, Grandpa’s sister, with Spot.

 

Spot standing on hind legs

 

Spot with Elsie May Guion

 

Elsie and a friend with Spot

 

I believe Spot may have been a great companion for Grandpa after his father passed away. It seems that he always had a dog.

This coming week I will be posting letters written in late 1943. Ced is coming home for a visit which has everyone excited, especially Grandpa. He has not seen family members since June of 1940. Lad and Marian have been married for only about a month and the Army still has a surprise for them.

Judy Guion

Special Photo # 339 – Grandpa’s Pictures of Dell Avenue House – circa 1901

These two pictures are among about seventy-five negatives I found in the pages of his Mother’s (Ella D(uryee Guion)  Prayer Book. I believe they are pictures taken by Grandpa as a young teen with a camera much like the Brownie Camera which was my first camera.It is visible in the last picture, his “selfie” taken in the mid-1990’s.

 

Front view of the Dell Avenue house

 

Dell Avenue House in 2013 – front porch has been enclosed)

 

Side view of the Dell Avenue House

 

Front and side view of the Dell Avenue house in 2013

 

Alfred Duryee Guion self portrait – circa 1995

Starting tomorrow I will post a week of random memories that are not in chronological order and need to be moved to a more appropriate place in this collection of Childhood Memories .

Judy Guion

 

The Beginning (19)- Reminiscences of Alfred Duryee Guion – 1884 – 1964

 

The following memories are quotes from “Reminiscences of Alfred D.  Guion, written in 1960 while he was on a four-months “around the world” freighter trip. 

 

At this point I will begin adding the memories of the children as they were growing up

The house on Landsowne Dr. in Larchmont Gardens, Mount  Vernon, New York

LAD – I was born in New York City in 1914 then I lived i.n Yonkers for a short time.  When I was about one, we moved to 91 Dell Ave. in Mount Vernon, New York.  By the time I was three, I was quite interested in mechanical things.  I remember taking an alarm clock, taking it all apart and putting it back together, but I had one gear left over when I finished.  It didn’t keep very good time.  It was fast.  I never could find out where that gear went.

My mother, Arla, was 19 years old when I was born and she was the oldest Peabody girl.  Burton was ahead of her.  Then there was Arla, Helen, Kemper, Anne, Dorothy and Lawrence.  There were seven of them.

I remember I went shopping with Dad’s mother (Ella Duryee Guion – Mrs. Alfred Beck Guion), my grandmother, and I was taller than she was.  She went grocery shopping and she took me with her on the trolley because I could help her.  I just remember I was taller than she was and I helped her carry the groceries.

We had a black woman who did the cooking and took care of the house.  One of the things we had in the kitchen was a dishwasher that was hand operated.  It had a big handle on it and we pushed and pulled, and I remember liking it, I enjoyed doing that.

I don’t remember much about my Dad in Mount Vernon or Larchmont.  He was always busy working.

CED – in about 1918 or 1919, Dad bought a new Franklin touring car.  My mother used to drive Dad down to the station and he’d go into New York City where he worked.  Then she’d come back home.  She would go back and get him later.  One day, she backed up to turn around after the train had pulled out, and ran up on a hydrant.  The wheels of the Franklin were about 20 or 21 inches.  She got out of the car and there it sat up on the hydrant, all out of shape.  She stood there and looked at it, she said everything was skewed, the doors, the frame ,,, and that was a wooden frame of course.  She had to get help to get it off there.  We moved up to Trumbull in that car.  I guess Dad decided to sell it shortly after we moved to Trumbull

LAD – Every year Dad had a couple of weeks of vacation and he would take us up to Sandy Hook, Connecticut, on Lake Zoar, and we would stay in the cabin.  I don’t remember much about it but probably Dan, Ced and I were playing out in the yard in the area around the cabin.  There was a nice place where the branches were above us, and below them, it was pretty open.  We were crawling around in there and later that day, I started to itch.  For three or four days I was swollen pretty badly with poison ivy.  I’ve had problems ever since.  Many summers, I get poison ivy.  The first summer out here in California, working for the Frouge Construction Company, I was driving a tractor to clear some land.  I didn’t realize that it was poison oak I was driving through and tearing up.  It didn’t affect me too much, just my arms and hands.  By that time, I knew how to take care of it anyway.

On some summer vacations, Dad would take us to a place called Foster’s Pond, in (Andover) Massachusetts, which either belonged to Rusty Heurlin’s family or they had an interest in it.  Rusty took us there the first time and we went a couple of times after that.  That’s where Dan and I found out that a canoe isn’t very stable.  We went out on Foster’s Pond in the canoe and I don’t remember what we were doing, but one of us stood up and stepped a little to the side and it tipped right over.  It was a nice warm pond and we didn’t have any problems.

Tomorrow, I’ll finish this week with a post from Reminiscences of Alfred Duyee Guion. I’ll continue the story in three weeks.

On Saturday, another excerpt from a letter written by John Jackson Lewis about his Voyage to California.

On Sunday, the next segment of My Ancestor, Alfred Peabody Guion, my Dad.

Judy Guion

My Ancestors (33a) – Alfred Peabody Guion – 1914 – 2003

Last June I  read about a Challenge, 52 Ancestors in 52 Weeks, and I was intrigued. I decided to take up the challenge. Some Ancestors may take more than one week, but I still intend to write about 52 Ancestors. I hope you enjoy reading about My Ancestors as much as I am looking forward to researching and writing about them.

(1) Alfred Peabody Guion; (2) Judith Anne Guion

Alfred Duryee Guion and Alfred Peabody Guion – July 26, 1914

I must admit that this post has been the hardest to write so far.  I have so much material in trying to decide how to present it and keep it interesting has been difficult.  It will probably end up being a combination of chronological events, childhood memories, quotes from letters during World War II and some of my memories about my Dad.  I will probably be taking 3 or 4 Sundays to finish the story of my Father.

Quotes from my Dad’s childhood memories –

I was born in New York City in 1914, then I lived in Yonkers (Grandpa states they lived in the Bronx) for a short time.  When I was about one, we moved to 91 Dell Ave. in Mount Vernon, NY.  By the time I was 3, I was quite interested in mechanical things.  I remember taking an alarm clock, taking it all apart and putting it back together, but I had one gear left over when I finished.  It didn’t keep very good time.  It was fast.  I never could find out where that gear went.

Alfred Peabody Guion – July 26, 1914

Residences:

April, 1914 to ?,  1915 –  Bronx, N.Y.

1915 to 1919 – Dell Avenue, Mount Vernon, N.Y.

1919 to September, 1921 – Larchmont Gardens, Mount Vernon, N.Y.

Alfred Peabody Guion and Daniel Beck Guion – circa 1920

Quotes from my Dad’s childhood memories –

When I was 5, Dad and Mom were building a house in Larchmont.  They had a contractor build it and it was on Lansdowne Drive in Larchmont Gardens.  I accompanied them, well, maybe three or four times, when they went out to look at it.  Mom told the carpenters what she wanted changed.  She was quite conscious about what she wanted.

I think we had a garden in the backyard with green beans growing.  Dan and I each took 2 or 3 green beans and we walked around and around his (their neighbor, Roger Batchelder) house, with the beans rubbing on the house, wearing them down until they cut short.  Then we’d throw them away and get some more beans.  So Roger was kind of upset about that.

When I started school in Larchmont, either kindergarten or 1st grade, (It was kindergarten) I went to school in a horse-drawn sleigh in the winter.  I just remember being awfully cold.  In the warmer months, Mother drove me to school.  Dan may have started school there; he was only a year and a half behind me.

.  While we were in Larchmont, we went on vacation to Sandy Hook, Connecticut, Camp-A-While, it was called.  In fact, that’s where we were going the day the old Franklin gave out.  One of the bearings, one of the connecting rod bearings let go and Dad found a Franklin garage in Danbury.  The owner of the garage was working on the car, fixing it, and his wife was talking to Mother.  I don’t know how it happened – Mother may have been asking her questions about the area.  Apparently, Mother liked that area of Connecticut.  The wife told Mother about a house they owned in Trumbull.  We went to look at it and before long, we bought the house.

Next Sunday I will continue the story of Alfred Peabody Guion, my Dad.

Starting tomorrow,we jump back to the early 1900’s with excerpts from Reminiscences of Alfred Duryee Guion, as Grandpa tells his story in his own words.

Judy Guion

My Ancestor – Alfred Duryee Guion – 1884 – 1964

Last June I  read about a Challenge, 52 Ancestors in 52 Weeks, and I was intrigued. I decided to take up the challenge. Some Ancestors may take more than one week, but I still intend to write about 52 Ancestors. I hope you enjoy reading about My Ancestors as much as I am looking forward to researching and writing about them.

(1) Alfred Duryee Guion; (2) Alfred Peabody Guion; (3) Judith Anne Guion

 

Alfred Duryee Guion

Alfred Beck Guion

Ella (Duryee) Guion

Excerpts From Reminiscences of Alfred D Guion:

In 1884, the year I was born, that part of Fifth Ave., New York City, where my parents lived, was “uptown” which meant somewhere above 59th St.

                   Alfred Duryee and Elsie May Guion about 1895

From the time I was 3 years old until I was married, we lived in Mount Vernon, a small suburb some 13 miles from Grand Central.  My only sister Elsie was born there in a house on 11th Avenue.  Soon thereafter we moved into a brand-new house which my father had built in a newer part of town known as Chester Hill.  Here I spent most of my childhood.

My father worked for a brokerage firm in Wall Street and was quite conscientious, so much so that in years of panic (today we would call it depression) losses of his clients, as well, I suspect, as of his own, worried him to the extent of bringing on heart trouble.  He died in his 40’s from angina pectoris, leaving a heavily mortgaged home and comparatively little life insurance.  A Masonic friend of my father’s kindly stepped in and negotiated sale of the Lincoln Avenue house for a  smaller house on Dell Avenue, with a small cash surplus.  It entailed a considerably lower standard of living.

fr: Ella Duryee Guion, Elsie Guion; back: Alfred Duryee Guion, Aunt Mary and Aunt Lillian

After my grandfather died, my aunts, Mary, Lillian and Lizzie (who preferred to be called Aunt Betty) came to live with us and helped share in living expenses.

The interval between moving out of the Lincoln Avenue house and carpentry work on the renovated Dell Avenue house was finished, we spent in a rented house, and while there I contracted Scarlet Fever.  The house of course was quarantined and my patient mother was my nurse.

As Lincoln Avenue was the home of my childhood and boyhood, 71 Dell Ave., Mount Vernon, was the home of my youth and early married life. There I emerged from High School, started a business, married and began bringing up a family.

In my sophomore year of High School I became more and more obsessed with the idea that my duty and responsibility was to get out and earn my own keep instead of continuing to be a burden financially to my mother; thus I would sooner be able to feel I was really helping to support my mother as it was my duty to do.  I finally put up to my mother the idea of quitting high school and going to work.

Excerpt form Grandpa’s Resume:

I don’t recall what here I first started into work as an office boy at the Bankers Life Insurance Company on my first job at 4 dollars a week, but I do know that in May, 1903 I was working there at 31 Nassau St., New York City.

At the end of May 1903, I took a job across the street with a much larger company, the Mutual Life Insurance Company.

The next year I took the job as stenographer in the purchasing Department of the American Smelting and Refining Company, controlled by the seven Guggenheim brothers.

On October 30 I left Smelting to take a job with the estate of C.  P.  Huntington.  It was while there I bid on a set of Sheraton furniture for my boss in competition with Mrs. Vanderbilt.

I was fired from there with a month’s salary in advance and a week later landed a job with Saint Nicholas magazine.

           Arla Mary Peabody

             Alfred Duryee Guion

 

   Certificate of Marriage, Alfred Duryee Guion and Arla Mary Peabody

Grandpa holding Dan and Grandma holding Alfred (Lad).

During the six years I was with the Century Publishing Company, I was married and two little boys (Alfred and Daniel) arrived to make our hearts glad and worry their mother by riding kiddy cars down Darling Avenue Hill.

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

On February 19, 1917, I left to take a better job with the Celluloid Company, and Ced and Elizabeth put in an appearance.  This was during the great world war.  I was exempted from the draft because of my family but I did join a home defense league and drilled with a club to protect the building from possible rioters.

My boss left Celluloid Company and went to a bigger job with the National Aneline and Chemical Company, and persuaded me to come with him.  In 1920 Dick was born and we moved to Trumbull, soon after which I left National and in the fall of 1923 I joined the Bridgeport Brass Company.

In March 1928, I left to start my own company, Guion Advertising in Bridgeport, Connecticut.

For a much more detailed report of Grandpa’s life, check out my posts in the category “The Beginning”, published every third week on my blog.

Tomorrow, I’ll begin a week of letters from 1944. All five brothers are serving Uncle Sam, all around the world, and Grandpa tries to keep them well- informed of all the goings-on of siblings and friends.

Judy Guion

The Beginning – Reminiscences of Alfred D. Guion (15) – 1884 – 1964

The following memories are quotes from “Reminiscences of Alfred D.  Guion, written in 1960 while he was on a four-months “around the world” freighter trip.

            Alfred Duryee Guion

Also about this time I left the Smelting Company and took another stenographic job at a higher salary with the Estate of Collis P.  Huntington, one of the country’s great railroad builders.  His adopted son, Archer M.  Huntington, also a millionaire, used the office for his headquarters.  One day I was called into the manager’s private office and told that Archer M.  wanted me to go down that morning to the American Art Gallery’s auction sale and purchase, in my own name, a set of fine Sheraton chairs which were to be put up for sale, and for which purpose he gave me a thousand dollars in cash.  I had never had as much money as this in my possession nor indeed had I ever attended so glamorous an auction sale and felt the responsibility deeply.  I asked the office manager what I should do if the bidding should go higher but all he would say was: “You are to buy the furniture.”  I was still troubled in mind, and Mr. Archer having just come in, I decided in spite of the fact he was a very pompous individual not in the habit of discussing his business with clerks and in fact treating me and all my fellow employees as dirt beneath his feet, that I would do the unheard-of thing and approach him direct.  I told him I had been given a thousand dollars to buy the chairs and asked what I should do if I had to bid higher, a fatal error.  He glared at me and angrily replied, “Buy the furniture.”  And that was that.

On the way down to the auction gallery I decided to play it cagily and, as he didn’t want his name to appear in the transaction, I decided to let the low bidders and dealers, if there were any (there were), starte and when they had dropped out come in when there would be less competition.

When the set was put up for bids I followed this plan and joined in when it reached about $500.00.  Soon just a lady and myself were the sole bidders and every time one of us raised the amount by fifty dollars the other would immediately counter with another fifty.  We see-sawed back and forth until, with a firm voice and nonchalant air (I hope) but was dry mouth and butterflies in my stomach, I boldly said one thousand dollars and she promptly said “one thousand, fifty”.  I was over my head already and might as well sink as swim so I came right back with eleven hundred dollars.  She glared at me, threw up her hands and quit.  “Sold” said the auctioneer, “name please”.  After the sale was over I went up to the desk, lay down my thousand dollars in bills and told the cashier I’d send the balance later, which was all right with him.  As instructed, I gave him Mr. Huntington’s Fifth Avenue address where the chairs were to be delivered and returned to the office.  When I reported the price I had had to bid the office manager seemed not a bit concerned and I went back to my routine office work.

The following Saturday in my pay envelope was an additional two weeks salary “in advance” accompanied with a little note reading, “Mr. Huntington thinks you would do better elsewhere.”  I asked the manager the reason for my dismissal, pointing out I had never before been fired from a job, and while I didn’t doubt I could find other employment, it would help me if I knew what I had done wrong in this case to guard against making the same mistake again.  “Mr. Huntington thinks you would do better elsewhere” was the only answer I could get and to this day I don’t know why I was fired.

The N.Y. Times on the following day under “Auction News” contained an item which read: “Spirited bidding on a set of Sheraton furniture took place between Mr. A.D. Guion and Mrs. Vanderbilt.”

On Saturday, John Jackson Lewis arrives in San Francisco and continues the story of his Voyage to California in 1851.

On Sunday, I will continue the series on My Ancestors with an entry about grandpa, Alfred D.  Guion.

Judy Guion