Trumbull – Dear Awayoffs (1) – A Trip to New Rochelle – November, 1941

Trumbull, Conn., Nov. 15, 1941

Dear Awayoffs:

Not five minutes ago (it is now a few minutes after nine) we arrived home from a visit to New Rochelle, (New York). Dan had not seen any of the New Rochelle folks since he arrived home, so he decided that as the weather was good, we could, today, make the journey. Lad had been invited to Long Island for dinner, so after our own meal had been consumed, Dan picked up Barbara and then Zeke, Biss and the two kids and off we started, Dan, Barbara, and Aunt Betty in the front seat, Biss, Zeke and myself and the two kids in the back. Almost the entire length of the Hutchinson River Parkway below Portchester is torn up as they are widening it on both sides. Coming back they allow no northbound traffic until Portchester, so we followed the Old Post Road as far as that city.

Helen Human, Anne Stanley, Dorothy Peabody

          Our first stop was Kemper’s. We found that Kemp (Peabody) had been confined to his home the last week with the flu but was intending to go back to work for a short time tomorrow. Later, Burton (Peabody) arrived with Grandma (Peabody) and Aunt Dorothy (Peabody), and after a light tea and conversation of the same tint, we started back home. Dave did not go along with us as he had his Young People’s meeting to attend. We learned that Helen (Peabody Human, Mrs. Ted Human) had left Brownsville (Texas) and gone to Mexico City and had just left there in turn for a plane trip to Guatemala City. Larry (Peabody) and (his wife) Marion are in their new home but are having water trouble and will have to put in a driven well in case they are unable to get city water. Doesn’t that bring back recollections?

This morning about 8:30, I took Aunt Betty over to see Dr. Smith as the nurse thought it wise for her to have a check-up. The doctor said he thought she had made a remarkable recovery. He gave her a tonic to pep her up a bit and improve her appetite.

The C.I.O. has gotten into Producto and it is now a union shop. The wage rate has been raised but working hours reduced so that the boys do not earn any more but do work less hours. Lad thinks he may soon be transferred to a salary basis and given charge of their shipping department. He has just been transferred there from his old job and is being groomed for the new work as the man in charge at present has been ordered by his doctor to take a long rest. Dan has still heard nothing more about his draft status, either from Alaska or Conn., so he is working with the Sword of Damocles hanging over his head. If you don’t know what that is, ask Dick, as he seems to be more or less of a specialist in ancient Greek folk lore.

The ambulance drive went well over the top and they are now about to purchase a fine new gray Cadillac ambulance with all the latest equipment, such as red lights, sirens, stretchers, etc.

“The Good Times” – 1939
Arnold Gibson (Gibby), Charlie Kurtz and Carl Wayne
The Red Horse Station

This is Carl’s last day at the Socony station (at Kurtz’s store). He was moving his stuff today over to the new place and tomorrow Eb Joy takes over. He came in the office the other day and together we doped out a letter to go out to Trumbull folk urging them to buy Socony products.

Helen Burnham is up visiting Peggy. The boys went over to see her last night. Rufus, Louise and David are in Fort Pierce, Fla., where Rufus is managing an apartment house and writing magazine articles on the side. Helen is teaching in a girls school in Massachusetts. Eleanor is at college somewhere and Brad is going to Yale.

Tomorrow I’ll post the second half of this letter to Ced and Dick, the only Guion’s away from home at this point. Both Lad (from Venezuela) and Dan (from Alaska) have returned to Trumbull. On Thursday, two post cards from Aunt Helen (Peabody) Human. On Friday, one more letter from Grandpa to wrap up November.

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 – Dear Offspring – Messages and Sundry Answers – August, 1945

Trumbull House in summer

Trumbull, Conn., August 5, 1945

Dear Offspring:

Well, we hit the jack-pot this week. The wheel stopped on the right number – – five it was. So I’ve just spent this Sunday afternoon and evening copying letters for your enjoyment from every single one of you.  (These letters were posted during the week of February 27th – March 3rd)  In consequence, my typewriter finger is kinder frayed and weak but I’ll try to dash off a few more lines before it fails entirely.

First, about Jean. She got off alright Thursday from LaGuardia field. Marian went down with her, as did also Pa and Ma Mortensen. Aunt Elsie (Duryee, Grandpa’s Aunt) joined them at Grand Central and all went over to see Jean take off. She wired she had arrived safely and perhaps tomorrow we shall get more details by letter.

Still no definite word about Dan’s leap off the dock. There is a neck and neck race on as to whether Dan will come through first with an account of the nuptials or Lad will furnish his version. Marian has received letters from Lad written before and ten days after but the one in between, with the real dope, has not yet arrived. Here’s hoping.

To come back to Jean. Monday before she left we were able to obtain some meat and had over for dinner, Mrs. Ives and a friend who was staying with her, Ethel, Southworth’s (Ted and Marge) and Watson from the apartment, and altogether it was a very pleasant party.

Now messages and sundry answers. Lad. No, Bissie never got back her pocketbook or its contents. Ethel says Carl is not enjoying his course at all. He is doubtful of passing as it is given at high pressure and has much mathematics, in which he does not like and always had trouble with in school. Dan. As you have probably already heard, the Army is said to have decided not to lower the point total for the present, which leaves you in the same spot as Lad, except that he evidently is not going to get a furlough in the states. If there is any justice in things however, it seems to me that the boys who are sent to the Pacific without first coming home should be the first to be sent back after the Japs fold up. Ced. The boys in the apartment are going to keep their eyes and ears open and if they hear of a plane that looks suitable, will let you know at once. Dick. Don’t want to rub it in at all, but we had corn on the cob for dinner today and Aunt Betty recalled how you once had consumed 14 ears at one sitting. Dave. The young folks, who are here now, are planning some sort of a blowout here next Saturday to present Vichiola with some sort of gift. He is home from the Pacific and may be discharged. I will see what I can do about lining up a used camera although everything in this line is scarcer than butterflie’s eyebrows.

There are probably a dozen other things I will think about tomorrow that I might have included in this letter but right now I’m sort of washed up on ideas – – probably the shock of hearing from you all within so short a space of time has sort of unseated my mentality for the moment (I hope). Anyway, I am willing to undergo the same sort of thing again. In time I might even get used to it. Try it and see.

In a happy fog,

Dad

Autobiography of Mary E Wilson (6) – Arriving in New York City – 1925

Mary E. Wilson, her father and brothers Jim and Arthur

Mary E. Wilson, her father and brothers Jim and Arthur

At last Mary sees the Statue of Liberty but she still had the ordeal of Ellis Island.

ARRIVAL IN NEW YORK

ELLIS ISLAND – 1925

After nine days, we arrived in New York City. I could see the Statue of Liberty. We had traveled in “steerage” and, being below deck with no windows in our room, coupled with the vivid recollection of being pushed under a beer barrel as a child during World War I, I would suffer from claustrophobia for the rest of my life.

I really thought that now that we had arrived it would be routine getting off the boat and being with my Mother but another nightmare was just beginning. We were taken to Ellis Island where my brothers and father were taken to one building and I to another. I was terrified because I was told to strip. They tagged and tied our clothing and it was put on a conveyor to be sterilized.

I remember crying and a lady, who I think was Polish, took me into her arms and hugged me. She was a large woman and spoke no English but her kindness reassured me and made me feel less frightened. I stayed with her during my whole stay on Ellis Island. We were on the Island for seven hours because, as I later found out, my father had spent the $100 “landing money” while we were on the ship.

My Mother was in New York City waiting for us and when she found out what was causing the delay, she was able to borrow the money from her friend Bert Harbor, who was also a friend of the Greenhill family. He had accompanied her to New York to get us.

When we were finally allowed to leave Ellis Island, a ferry took us to New York City. I saw my Mother from the boat as we were landing and she really had changed during her years in America. The reunion was very strange for all of us. She seemed to be so stylish and different and I felt like a waif.

We drove to Bridgeport, Connecticut, where my mother had rented a flat on Hallet Street. Mother had put a couch for me on the sun porch and my brothers had their own room. I thought it was a lovely apartment but I heard my parents quarreling in their room and I truly felt miserable and uneasy.

My Mother insisted I have my hair “bobbed” because that was the style in America but I hated it and let my hair grow long again.

Tomorrow I’ll begin letters describing Dan’s Wedding to Paulette, from several different perspectives.

Judy Guion

 

Autobiography of Mary E Wilson (5) – Leaving England – 1925

Mary's Mom and Dad

Mary’s Mother and Father

Mary’s mother had sent money from America to their father to pay for passage for her children but Mary’s father had spent the money on other things. Mary’s mother, Hezabinda, tries again, but this time she sends the money directly to a Travel Agency. It looks like Mary and her brothers, Jim and Arthur, might actually make it to America this time.

DEPARTING ENGLAND

Meanwhile, my Mother had accumulated more money for our passage again but she sent it to a travel agency this time. My father was furious and very angry because my mother had not trusted him with the money. He seemed willing to go to America but my Mother had tried to get us to America without him. We had our passport pictures taken again and we were vaccinated. My brothers were so excited but I had mixed feelings because I was so hurt. Our Mother had left us and would not return home. I felt she did not love me and she had been away so long.

My wardrobe was awful and my brothers had only the English type of clothing. When the time came for us to embark for America, I was really frightened. Grand-da went with us to the railroad station and he quietly gave me some money for myself before we got on the train.

En route we stopped at Uncle Dick and Aunt Isabel’s house. She was such a beautiful woman and what thrilled me was that she had been a dancer and actress before she married Uncle Dick. They had three children but I was so envious of them because they all seemed so happy together. Aunt Isabel danced for us and I thought she was so pretty and dainty – so unlike the average mother.

Why were Uncle Dick and Uncle George so different from my father? I did not know that they were not in the war like my father.

We proceeded to Southhampton where we took a room near where the boat was docked. My father decided he wanted to go out for a while and I think I started to yell bloody murder. All I could think of was my father had in his possession my Mother’s $100 “lending money”. The landlord came and wanted to speak to my father because we were too noisy. I got a slap across the face but he did stay in the room until morning.

The next day, we boarded the President Harding, which was an American ship and finally we were on our way to America. The second day of our voyage, our father left us and “camped in” with a large Irish family and we did not see him until the day we landed in New York.

It was November and it sure was cold and we did not have the right kind of clothing. The sea was so rough that I was so seasick I felt I wanted to die. There was a stewardess who evidently felt sorry for me. She washed my hair and really cared for me and brought me food that I could keep down.

My brothers were natural sailors and explored every inch of the ship and had a marvelous time. For once they were getting enough to eat. We had what we called Thanksgiving dinner and I did not know what it meant because I did not know anything about American history and customs.

Next Sunday, Mary tells us of her experience landing at Ellis Island . It is quite a story.

Trumbull – Dear Absentees – Ced Misses His Party – June, 1943

This weekly missive from Grandpa catches up on the doings of all his children, Lad (California), Dan (Pennsylvania), Ced (Alaska) and Dick (just left Miami Beach for Indiana), all in the service of their country. Ced’s (Alaska) birthday is June 1st, and his family remembers, as Grandpa mentions in his usual tongue-in-cheek manner. Elizabeth (Biss) is married with two sons, Butch(4) and Marty (2).

Trumbull, Conn.      June 6, 1943

Dear Absentees:

With all this talk about the naughtiness of absenteeism, it seems to me it’s about time some of you stay-away-from-homer’s would take the lesson to heart and come back

Alfred (Lad) Guion in California

Alfred (Lad) Guion in California

once in a while and help me mow the lawn. But there is this — after working my fingers to the bone and staying up until the small hours of the morning sewing on your pinafore’s, you up and away, leaving me to shovel snow in winter and chase moths out of your clothes in summer, which reminds me, Lad, to report the sad news that even after what I thought was sufficient precaution those pesky little insects did get one pair of your gray pants and ate some ventilation holes in them. Unless they come with a blowtorch next time, however, I don’t think mama moth will lay any more eggs in your clothes this time.

Daniel (Dan) Beck Guion

Daniel (Dan) Beck Guion

Dan and his General don’t hit it off very well, it seems. He didn’t get home this week either end of the slice of Grandpa’s pie I have been saving for him now for five weeks is beginning to look a little green around the gills. Three more weeks of this delay and we will have to make it into a pudding. Anyway, he keeps me posted regularly once a week which is a lot better than neither hearing from him or seeing him. As the old saying goes, “It’s a long lane that has no ash barrel”, and sooner or later he’ll nonchalantly drop in and ask how the crops are coming. Which reminds me: instead of taking my daily walk, I have been grasping a hoe these mornings and aiding Mr. Laufer hoeing potatoes.

No letters from either Lad or Ced this week, but Jean (Dick’s wife) sent two excellent snapshots which I was very glad to get, and says in the letter accompanying them that Dick has finally departed for Indiana along with the husbands of the two other girls Jean has been living with in Miami Beach. As soon as they learn more definitely as to destination, the three of them will pack up their duds and will trail their fleeing husbands to their lairs, their present plans being to make the trip by bus for economy’s sake.

Your youngest brother, in company with two girls and Howard Mehigan spent yesterday in New York, devoting most of their time to Radio City. Elizabeth reports Marty will

Elizabeth (Biss) Guion Zabel

Elizabeth (Biss) Guion Zabel

have to have his tonsils out. Next Sunday she plans to have Marty baptized at the Trumbull church. In order to have it “take” she has had his head shaved so that he looks positively bald.

We have had lately some of the rare June days immortalized by the poets, some of them have been pretty hot in Bridgeport, but the shade trees in Trumbull make the house delightfully cool, as perhaps you may recall from the long-ago days when you used to live here. Both Aunt Betty (Duryee, Grandpa’s Aunt) and Grandma (Peabody, his Mother-in-Law) seem to be thriving and enjoying themselves. As usual they asked to be remembered to you all. We celebrated Ced’s birthday by burning incense before his picture, discussing all his faults and eating a good dinner on his behalf, but somehow or other it didn’t go over so big with the main guest absent.

As by now you must have discovered there is not much news to write about, so there is no use my bluffing any longer. Moreover my bathtub beckons, so I’ll toddle off to my trundle bed and dream of my pretty toys — boys.

Hasta luego and buenos notches, as usual, from

DAD

Tomorrow, another letter from Grandpa, reporting news from Trumbull for his sons in far off places.

Saturday and Sunday I’ll post two more segments of the Autobiography of Mary E Wilson.

Judy Guion

Trumbull (1) – Dan is Married – July, 1945

Trumbull, Conn., July 29, 1945

Dear Boys:

Well, there’s news this week, sure enough. Dan’s married. Yes sir, it happened on July 17th. Incidentally, we were celebrating Jean’s birthday at the time also. A V- mail from Lad, received yesterday, brought the glad news and also informed us that he was able to be present. That’s about all. He said he would write details later. Haven’t yet heard from the new bride and groom but the news was not a complete surprise because early this week I received a July letter from Dan, as follows:  “At last, the good news. The marriage will take place at Calais the 17th of July. It has been a long and difficult struggle, compromising between the demands of the Army (to get married as soon as possible), and the requests from Calais (to wait until August 4th). The final critical score is keeping me on edge, because my 76 points may prove to be too few. Since we have been placed in Category II (Pacific bound) you can readily imagine that I am more than mildly interested in the final score. With a wife in Calais, the hills of China would not prove exceptionally attractive.”

So, my hearties, we now have a new sister and daughter and of course the big thing to look forward to now is the gathering of the clan when we can all get acquainted. You might tell Paulette, Dan, that I have written and will enclose a few letters to her, kind of gradually creeping up on this acquaintance business, so she can get “eased” into the family without too great a shock. It will probably be shock enough to find out the sort of chap she is hitched up with, as soon as she gets the rice combed out of her hair. It was tremendous good news to learn that Lad had been able to be there for the wedding. He sort of represented the rest of us who would have liked to be there but couldn’t. I hope tomorrow’s mail will bring either a letter from you or Lad, giving us more details then he could compress in a short note. From what he says, he is practically on his way, but where to or when or from where is one of those things. I think I shall prepare and send out to relatives and friends a semi-formal notice of the event of Dan’s marriage and would like to have you send me Dan, as soon as convenient, a list of names and addresses of any friends you would like to have receive a copy.

jean-on-lawn-1945

Jean Guion

Now for a few random notes before we come to the quotes dept. These are busy and exciting days for Jean. In the first place, she was about due for a nervous breakdown last week when she learned that she had to have a passport, although instructions from the government failed to mention the fact, and that obtaining it might be a matter of months. However, by telephoning to various bureaus in Washington she got things started and hopes to have it before she leaves Miami. Another cause for worry was the fact that returning soldiers, both discharged and enroute to the Pacific, has so taxed already inadequate railroad facilities, that the authorities have shut down on reservations for civilians, and in order to reach Miami on time, she will have to fly from N. Y. to Miami and has already, through Aunt Elsie, made reservations on a plane from LaGuardia Field Tuesday next, July 31st. Just as a nerve soother, the papers announced today that an army Mitchell bomber had crashed into the 79th floor of the Empire State Building in a blinding fog, 913 feet above ground, setting fire to the building and killing 13 people, also sending two elevators crashing down 80 floors. Firemen earned their pay dragging hose up 80 flights of stairs to fight the fire.

I’ll spend the rest of this week with three more pages from this letter. Dave did have quite a bit to say.

Judy Guion