The Beginning (47) – Childhood Memories of Trumbull – Memories From Dave

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. 

Dave (front, left) next to Gwen Stanley

DAVE – I remember just a few scenes from my early years in Trumbull.  When my Mother was alive, I remember one time she had to walk all the way down to the bridge with me to get me to go off to school, and even then I didn’t want to go.  That stuck with me all my life.  I never liked school.  It wasn’t until I got to college that I began to realize that I finally found something I can enjoy, but that’s another matter.

I have always said that my brothers and sister were a bit different than me.  I was always quicker to enjoy a risqué joke, or worse.  The rest of them fell under the influence of Mother, what I call the Victorian Peabody attitude, and my father was a little bit looser.  To me he was always both mother and father, and whatever I am is probably more influenced by him rather than the others.

When I was a kid, I had quite a temper.  It was a real nice combination.  I had a temper and I was a crybaby.

My problem, aside from Dick, my biggest problem when I was a kid was keeping different groups of friends apart from one another.  I had lots of friends when I was a kid, no real close friends, but they were diverse.  When I was playing with one and one of the others showed up, I had a problem because the two of them didn’t get along.

DICK – Dave was argumentative; he loved to argue with Dad … with anybody.  I used to tease the hell out of him because he would react.  I used to needle him just to make him lose his temper.

This view of the Big House in winter shows the screen porch Dave refers to.

DAVE – Don and Gwen (Stanley), my cousins from Aunt Anne, were here all the time.  They’d plead and beg and finally their mother would give in and they would stay for a few days I don’t know how to explain it because the house, the Big House, has changed so much with renovations but there used to be a screen porch on the southeast corner of the house (Chiche’s formal dining room) and there was a window there that looked from the stairs out onto that porch.  Don and Gwen were there and Dick and I were talking, talking, talking, talking, talking.  We had been warned on two or three occasions to quiet down and go to sleep.  If Dick has told this story it will be a different version than mine because what happened was the last one to speak, when the last warning came, was me.  So, I was sent upstairs away from the rest of them and as I went up the stairs, I kicked at the window to warn them that I was going to cause trouble for them.  Anybody else and everybody else will tell you that I kicked in the window on purpose, but at any rate, I never bought that story.  It was a warning.  I kicked it to warn them but I broke it.  The next thing I knew, my father came charging up the stairs, gave me a good spanking and sent me to bed.  When I got into bed, I began to feel something sticky down around my right foot.  I was already crying and upset, and when I checked it, I had cut my foot on the glass, which made me feel still more hurt and angry, and suffering such a terrible injustice.  I was probably nine or ten when that happened, maybe eight, well it had to be after my mother had died and I was seven when she died.

I never liked school.  I started at Center School.  That wasn’t too bad.  The family name meant something in the immediate vicinity of Trumbull Center.  We had a Principal there whose name was Carson and I thought he treated me fairly.  I didn’t know if he was trying to make points with my father or what.  We had a court (in school) and whenever there was some kind of infringement, the culprit was dragged before the court.  For some stupid reason, Mr. Carson decided that I should be the prosecutor.  I was never very good at it but I made it through.

I remember one day, Dick and I used to fight all the time and he did or said something that made me annoyed and I picked up a box of matches … Now a box of matches was probably one hundred little wooden matches in a very thin wood box.  Anyway, I picked up the box and threw it at him.  Unfortunately my aim was good that day and I hit him in the forehead.  He started to bleed.  Again, I don’t remember what happened after that but I’m sure it wasn’t anything good for me.

Tomorrow I will be starting Lad’s written record of his Voyage to Venezuela.

On Sunday, I will be posting another of My Ancestors, this time, more about my mother, Marian Dunlap Irwin. 

On Monday, I will begin a week of letters written in 1943, a time when all five of Grandpa’s sons are working for Uncle Sam and Lad and Marian’s wedding is real close.

Judy Guion

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The Beginning (46) – Childhood Memories of Trumbull – Bissie and High School

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. 

Bissie and Mack

BISS – I started at Central High School in 1932, so it was the day after we got out of school that Mother died (June 29, 1933), freshman year.

Mother died when I was 14, and I hated school.  I’d hide in the closet every morning when Dad would make the rounds to make sure everybody was up and had gone to school.  I would hide in the closet and then after he had passed through, then I would come out.  I would have the whole day to myself.  I think I missed more school than I made.  Now Dad made a mistake because I needed a permission slip to go back to school.  He was supposed to tell why I stayed home.  He said it was none of their business.  “You write it and I’ll sign it”.  So I would write, “I stayed home with my father’s permission.”  And then he would sign his name.  So I just copied his name over and over until I got it down pat.  Then I would just write the thing and sign his name.  I would go to school only when I felt like going to school.  How I got through, I’ll never know.

I went to Central High School in Bridgeport my freshman year.  That was great.  I loved that school because they treated you like an adult, you were a grown-up, and you felt like you were really something.  Then the following year, they transferred us to Bassick High School, because they were going to make that into a Senior High and it was a Junior High at the time.  I hated that school intensely, because they still had monitors in the hall, you had to walk in a line and you couldn’t talk.  I mean, after being an adult in high school, I got this?

In my sophomore year, we were transferred to Bassick High School and I didn’t want to go because it was a new school and I didn’t like school anyway.  I liked Central and I wanted to go back there.  So, the first day of school, Dad wanted to know and I said, “No, I don’t have to go to school today because were starting a new school.”  He said, “You are going to school.”  So he took me.  He took Ced and I, he took us to school.  I told him my clothes weren’t ready and any other kind of excuse but he was adamant that we were going to school.  So he let us off in front of Central, maybe I told him I had to go to Central to get transferred, anyway, he let us out in front of Central and we walked through the hall and out the other side, and walked home.  We were walking up the railroad tracks and we met some friends on Reservoir Avenue who told us that Ruth Moy had just died.  So anyway, we were walking up the tracks and the train came along.  The engineer stopped and said, “Would you like a ride?”  We said, “Sure” and we climbed up into the cab and he let us off at Church Hill Road.  Boy. That was exciting for me.  I told everybody about it.

We never had an allowance, and I can remember, in high school, we would bring sandwiches to school.  All the other kids, with their allowances, would get ice cream and stuff.  My mouth would be watering as I wished that I could get one of those ice cream sandwiches.  Once in a while, Barbie Plumb would treat me and boy that was great.  That ice cream sandwich – when they put them in the freezer now, the cracker gets all soft.  I don’t like them that way.  I like the fresh ones with the crisp cookie and then the ice cream.

Tomorrow, more Childhood Memories of Trumbull.

Judy Guion

The Beginning (31) – Childhood Memoreis of Trumbull – Biss and Dick

At this point Grandpa’s “Reminiscences of Alfred D Guion” has ended  and the rest of this story will be the memories of the children as they were growing up.

             Elizabeth Westlin Guion (Biss)

 

           Richard Peabody Guion (Dick)

BISS: My favorite game was Caddy.  You got a stick and put a point on either end.  You had a paddle and you hit the pointed end and it made the small stick go up and then you hit it with the paddle.  I don’t remember where it was supposed to go or anything.  I think it was how far you could hit it but I don’t remember what the exact rules were.  My brothers probably could remember, but I can’t, but I enjoyed that Caddy a lot.

DICK: I spent most of my time with Dad.  He was full of information and enthusiasm.  He’d say, “Want to take a walk?  I want to show you something.”  After walking a while, he’d say, “Sh-h-h-h, now lie down and crawl forward.’  And we’d see Fox cubs.  There was always interesting things in the field in back of the house.

I went to White Plains School for one year.  I started at Center School in second grade.  In eighth grade, I went to Edison School.  I went to Whittier Junior High School for a year, and then went to Bassick High School in Bridgeport.

Nelson Sperling tied a rope to a big Hickory Nut tree on the side driveway, near the steps.  We would take off from the steps, swing out in a big circle and come back to land.  The neighborhood kids couldn’t do it so well.

One time I rode our pony, Gracie, down the railroad tracks.  Heading back to the barn, I lost my footing and one leg got caught, held me as she galloped home.  I can still hear Mother saying, “Whoa, whoa!”

We also had a little cart that was pulled by a goat.

At Christmas time, we’d drive down Noble Avenue and look at the Christmas decorations.

We had a circus horse named Goldie, and while she was cropping grass, I would lie down on her back.  When I’d had enough I’d slide off her back.  I didn’t realize that it might annoy her.  The last time I did it, she kicked me.

BISS: I remember Dad always brought his work home with him and had to sit at the desk in the upper hallway.  Beyond the staircase there was a space and he had a desk there, and he always worked there.  Dick and I would be in bed, we’d be talking and he yelled in to us to keep quiet.  So we’d keep quiet … for maybe thirty seconds or a minute, and then start talking again.  He’d say, “I told you children to go to sleep, now keep quiet.”  So we kept quiet for thirty seconds, a minute maybe, and we’d start talking again.  So he’d say, “The next time you talk I’m coming in and spanking you.”  So we waited maybe a minute this time, and started talking again.  Well, boom, boom, boom, boom.  He came in and I was the closest to the door, so he spanked me and spanked me and spanked me, and of course, I was too proud, I wasn’t going to cry.  He could spank me until Doomsday and I wasn’t going to cry.  I guess his hand got sore after a while, I don’t know, but anyway, he went to Dick.  The first time he hit Dick, Dick started wailing, so Dad only gave him a couple of whacks, or something.  When Dad walked out of the room I said, “You big baby, what did you cry for?”  He said, “But Biss, he stopped spanking me.”  I said, “I still wouldn’t cry.”

Tomorrow and Friday, more early childhood memories of Trumbull from recordings I made with five of the six children.

Judy Guion

The Beginning (30) – Childhood Memories of Trumbull – Memories of School From Biss

At this point Grandpa’s “Reminiscences of Alfred D Guion” has ended  and the rest of this story will be the memories of the children as they were growing up.

BISS – I used to climb the trees and if my brothers went up three branches, I had to go up four, just to show them that I was just as good as they were.

I started school in Trumbull in the house that the Sirene’s bought, which was originally a two room school.  It was at the top of the hill just before Kascak’s Garage, on the left-hand side, the same side as the gas station.  It looked like a house even though it was a schoolhouse.  I think I spent my first, second and third years there, while they were building Center School.  I loved that one, the original, because the brook was running right behind it.  There was a great big rock that went down to the brook and I always loved rocks, for some reason or other.  I have a love affair with rocks.  I always look at them as I’m coming up the Thruway, you know, all those different colored rocks … I love them.  Anyway, there was this big rock and we’d sit out there at recess.  I guess some of the boys went skinny dipping in the brook and they would be late coming back.

We always came home for lunch and one day I climbed to the Maple right behind where the old dollhouse was.  There was a Plum tree there, the dollhouse and the sandbox was there.  It was just this side of where the parking lot is now.  I can remember the Plum tree because, I was maybe five years old, the car was parked in there.  I climbed in the car to play, driving or something, and I must have hit a gear or something and put it into neutral, because it ran down and hit the Plum tree.  And of course, I got into trouble for that.  I was always getting into trouble.

In the first or second grade, I swore in school and the teacher washed my mouth out with soap.  The soap was so sweet, so I went home and washed my mouth out again.  I don’t know what kind of soap it was, but it left a very sweet taste, it didn’t while you were doing it, but afterwards it did.

Back in the first school, I think I was in second grade.  I was a jumping jack.  I just couldn’t sit still.  I never did like school anyway and I couldn’t sit still.  I forget what it was she said, but the teacher said something about a jumping jack and then, “Sit still.”  I can remember that.  I don’t remember what punishment she did or what threat she gave me but I do remember her putting me up on the mat for not being able to sit still.

One day, Ced was going to give me a ride to school on the handlebars of his bike.  He got down to Sunset Avenue and a car was coming out of there. Ced panicked and I went down.  I got my face scraped in the tar on the side of the road.  We had to go back home to get my wounds taken care of, so we started back.  A truck came along, a big Mack truck and the driver asked if we wanted a ride, so we said, “Sure.”  I was sitting in the middle and I was all ready to grab the brake if he went beyond Kurtz’s Store because I didn’t know if he was trying to kidnap us or what.  I was watching that brake and of course he let us off at Kurtz’s Corner and we went home.  Mother washed the cuts with alcohol … Talk about the screaming mee-mee’s

Another time, when Dick was in first grade and I was in second, he hurt himself and I had to take him home.  It was about a mile and a half, a pretty good distance.

One thing I remember about Center School was that I would wait for the first bell to ring and then I would cut across the lots because it was that close to the brook and I’d get to school on time.

I will continue these memories for the rest of the week.

Judy Guion

The Beginning (27) – Memories of the Children – Lad’s Memories of School

At this point Grandpa’s “Reminiscences of Alfred D Guion” has ended  and the rest of this story will be the memories of the children as they were growing up.

          Alfred (Lad) Peabody Guion

LAD – When we started grammar school in Trumbull, we had Emma Linley as a teacher.  She and my mother were quite friendly.  In fact, she would take me to the Linley’s house, which was in Nichols, and I’d play with the older brother, Bill.  Later on, when I could ride a bicycle, I used to go there by myself.

We went to grammar school in the house that the Sirene’s bought.  There were two buildings.  The one Dan and I went to was divided into two rooms, first through third grade on one side, fourth through sixth grade on the other side.  The seventh and eighth graders were in the other building.  The two buildings were parallel to White Plains Road with their entrances facing each other.  The town moved that other building to the center of town and made it into a firehouse.  That was quite a project because they had to have the electric company people and the telephone company people going along with the building.  They would take down the wires, and after the building went by, they would put them back up.  I guess I went to Sirene’s house for about three years.

Dan and I started school together in Trumbull.  I was sent back.  I was in second grade in Larchmont but when I got to Trumbull, I was sent back into the first grade and Dan and I started together.  We went right together until seventh or eighth … Dan was more of a scholar than I.  He skipped seventh grade, I think.  I must have skipped a grade (or two) because we didn’t graduate at the same time.  I went to high school first and then Dan came.

When we first moved to Trumbull, I met Art Christie, who was a year or two older than I, but we were pals, we played together all the time.  Later, he went to school in what became the firehouse.  I never got to go to that building, because in 1925, they built Center School, so we went there.  The kids who were in the other building, the old firehouse, went to high school.  They went to Congress High School in Bridgeport, not Central High School.

        Alfred Peabody Guion (Lad)

At Christmas time, when I was in sixth grade, the teachers selected Bill Hennigan and I to go out and get a Christmas tree.  I was a Boy Scout so I had a little hatchet available.  Bill and I went out and found the tree we thought would be satisfactory and cut it down.  I don’t know how it happened, but maybe we were trimming limbs or something at the bottom, but the Axe slipped and hit my knee.  I had quite a bad cut on my knee.  I don’t remember the details now, but they must have bandaged it and took me home or sent me home or something.  It cleared up all right.  Then the next year, Bill and I were selected to go out and get the tree again.  They told me to be careful, and I was, but I cut my knee again.  For the third year, we didn’t do that.

Tomorrow and for the rest of the week, I will be posting more memories the children have about growing up in Trumbull.

Judy Guion

The Beginning – REMINISCENCES of Alfred D Guion (8) – A Bloody Nose and a Black Eye – 1890’s

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.

                     The new Grammar School in Mount Vernon, NY

If this is to be a truthful account of my boyhood, I now come to an incident of which I am heartily ashamed.  It happened early in my grammar school days.  I was rather a reserved quiet type who did not enter readily into the rougher sports and for that reason was not generally popular.  There was an aggressive, rather bullying type of youngster, taller and heavier than I, who evidently took a dislike to me and made things rather rough.  Being of a sensitive nature, this bothered me and instead of shrugging the matter off as some youngsters might, it kept building up day by day until it must have shown in my attitude.  It came to a climax one noon recess over a game of marbles or some other trifling thing, resulting in Emil informing me as the noon bell rang that he would wait for me and “get me” when school got out that afternoon.

Frankly, I was afraid and when the closing bell rang, I hung back and tried to think of some question to ask the teacher to delay matters.  It was no use and as I finally went out the door there was Emil with a gang of ten or twelve cheering boys.  I panicked.  I had three or four schoolbooks strapped together and heaving them in Emil’s face, I started to run toward home, which was about four blocks away.  Off I went with Emil and the yelling band after me – a Fox with hounds in full cry behind.

Sometime during the chase I came to my senses.  It might have been pride; shame for the cowardly way I was acting; realizing how far I had fallen from the ideals my family had preached; the fact that running would do no good; that sooner or later I’d have to fight anyway.  Perhaps it was a combination of all, though none very clear-cut.  The net result was that I decided to quit running then and there and fight to the last ditch even if they had to carry me home on a stretcher.  So I stopped on the lawn of Chivvis’s house right across the street from mine and faced my foes.

The boys all gathered around in a circle to watch Emil knock the tar out of me.  And I guess he did.  I know afterwards I had a bloody nose and a black eye.  But now I was determined no power on earth could make me quit.  On and on we slugged it out – it seems for hours- and whenever I got knocked down, which was frequently, and one of the boys would ask me if I’d had enough, I replied, “No!”,  and went after Emil again.

I don’t know how many times this happened but often enough so that after a while the boys saw no more sport in the thing – just a dogged determination on the part of one badly beaten kid to refuse to give up.  We both finally became so weak that neither of us could punch anymore and upon my still refusing to admit I was licked, the boys forcibly separated us and he and his gang went their way and I, with one or two whose sympathy I had belatedly won, went to my home, someone having restored my books.

Next day at school Emil and I shook hands.  He admitted he had me all wrong and I told him I was sorry for the cowardly act of throwing my books at him.  From that day on, Emil and I were very good friends and continued so for a number of years until he died in his early youth, the cause unknown to me.

I’ll continue the week with more stories from Grandpa’s REMINISCENCES of Alfred D Guion.

Judy Guion

Trumbull – Dear High School Graduate (1) – Dave’s Graduation and News From Dan – June 25, 1944

David Peabody Guion – (Dave)

Trumbull, Conn., June 25th, 1944

Dear High School Graduate:

There are certain recurring events in the life and progress of my children that serve as steppingstones, aside from birthdays — such as turning you over to the Shelton draft board, and, what I have immediately in mind, graduation. I saw the youngest of my sons receive his diploma last night and it brought back memories of that same occasion for each of you. As far as I can recollect, however, the whole affair as managed the other night at Bassick (High School in Bridgeport, CT) was arranged and conducted in a more satisfactory manner than any of the previous ones — and that opinion has nothing to do with the fact that Dave had any part in it. To be sure he was one of three, out of a total of 26 who had joined the Armed Forces, who was on hand to receive his diploma, and thereby caused a little special ceremony to be enacted. Most of these affairs are too long. This was not. There was no tedious reading of each name and waiting for that person to come forward to receive his parchment to the accompaniment of reiterated and tiresome applause. Each received his diploma in silence as they walked out. All names were printed on the program given to each of the audience. Speeches were not overlong. The whole affair, with a very satisfying aftertaste, was ended by 9:30. So Dave became the “last of the Mohicans”.

Dave got home much earlier than we expected him. He walked into my office Monday, his army uniform plastered to his body by a naughty shower that hit him walking from the station. He looks about the same, healthy but with no additional weight. He seems much interested in the Signal Corps work and hopes, but is not banking on it, of getting a chance at O.C.S. He goes back Tuesday. Red Sirene is also home on furlough and he too goes back Tuesday. Jean’s (Mortensen, Dick’s wife) married brother, in the Marines, is also on furlough and he too goes back Tuesday.

        Daniel Beck Guion – (Dan)

I don’t suppose any of you have had the experience of a 300-pound object resting on your chest, but perhaps you can imagine the relief when he gets off. In that case you may have somewhat of an idea how I felt when I received a V-mail letter from London dated June 6th, as follows: “Today the war seems much nearer to its conclusion than only yesterday. For so long have we been working towards this day that it began to seem that it would never really happen — that it was just a distant “certainty” which we all took for granted — but never quite visualized! This morning I heard the first “rumor” third-hand, by word-of-mouth, ‘Allied paratroops have landed in France’. But false reports had already been spread days ago, and a glance out of the window at the streets of London failed to reveal any abnormality. No church bells, no horns blowing, just the normal traffic — both vehicular and pedestrian. London was characteristically undisturbed on the surface, but by noon-time when I went out to eat, I found that the newspapers had been sold out immediately and the invasion was the predominant topic of discussion. At the Red Cross Club I listened to the radio over which the BBC was broadcasting recordings of the opening stages. Later in the evening the radio was the center of interest. Never have I seen so many of the boys so interested in a news- cast. I suppose each of us realizes how, by a stroke of fate, we might have been one of the men going into France on ‘D’ Day! I am on duty tonight which prevents my finding out how London is spending the evening but I suspect there will be little hilarity because most of the people have friends and relatives in the invasion armies. The fall of Rome created hardly a ripple of excitement, and the staid BBC announced that item in its regular laconic fashion. The newspapers permitted themselves rather large headlines, but certainly not in the manner you could call sensational. I believe today marks the great speeding of the tempo that will carry this degenerate martian symphony to a brief but perhaps terrible coda. Then – peace! and home! and a convalescent world turning toward the healing sun of hope.”