Trumbull – Dear Alumni of Trumbull University (1) – Spineless Jelly Fish – October 3, 1943

 

Trumbull, Conn., Oct. 3, 1943

Dear Alumni of Trumbull University:

Greetings from your Alma  Mater, the entire faculty, and the balance of the student body which has dwindled considerably since you occupied the various dormitories, and in sooth bodes well to be still further depleted in view of the fact that Young David completed his 18th semester recently and immediately hied him over to ye old Towne Halle where Clerk H. Plumb duly registered him with Uncle Sam. Rumor has it that before the dawn of another New Year’s Day, he too will be in the armed services of the United States. Of course I have hopes that by the time he is actually inducted and through training the bloody part of the war will be on the way out, although I am also conscious of the fact that, if present rumors become fact, honorable discharges will be issued first to those who have served longest, have families, are incapacitated or are more essential in peace-time activities, leaving the opposite numbers to continue on for policing work in occupied countries, etc., So that, speaking personally, the Guion Co. may be deprived of its principal employee for some time to come. Anyhoo, will hope for a class reunion in the not very distant future, with the flag flying from the top of the pole. We are certainly having some good “old Glory” news reports lately. For instance, recent headlines in the Bridgeport paper, “White Russian Cities Blasted by Red Pilots Makes Nazis Blue”.

The political pot is beginning to boil hereabouts. McLevy is of course again a candidate for mayor of Bridgeport. To oppose him on the Republican ticket is the proprietor of Slim’s Diner. Ferguson is up again for First Selectman of Fairfield but the Republican ranks in his town are wide open, his own Town Committee opposing him, and asking electors to vote for the Democratic nominee. At that, however, things are mild compared to what they will be next year when the national election is held, and while on the subject, you may as well have my opinion for what it may be worth on what it is all about, so that when you are asked to cast your ballot you may know how at least one elector feels about matters. The question is not Republican vs Democrat, not Roosevelt vs Wilkie, or what have you, not liberals vs conservatives, not new deal vs good deal, not capital vs labor, not isolationist vs interventionist, but rather Federal Government planning of our daily lives from cradle to grave, which the present administration in Washington stands for, vs the good old American way of life based on being on one’s own and depending on individual resourcefulness in making ends meet and thus calling out the best in us to meet conditions when the job seems impossible – – the spirit epitomized by the saying: “the difficult we do at once, the impossible takes a bit longer”. The New Deal provisions for old age dependency, no job, WPA leaf-raking jobs, sick benefits, while all very alluring in providing freedom from fear, is ennervating, laziness-breeding and is more apt to develop a nation of spineless jelly dish. There is something to be said for “coming up the hard way”. Someday the war will end and we will have to pick ourselves up and go on our interrupted way. If we cut out all these present artificial restraints and rely on our own resourcefulness which we are showing we can do, we will have come through the fire like a finely tempered blade, but I don’t think we can do this under the Roosevelt theory of government. There you have what to my mind is the main issue – – mollycoddlers vs moulders of our own destiny. That is the way we have grown during our short history and I don’t want to live to see the day when the paternalism at Washington will shield us from all harm and guide us from cradle to grave and do our thinking and planning for us. We are not members of a governmental harem.

Tomorrow, I’ll post the rest of this letter, and I’ll finish off the week with another letter from Grandpa to Lad and one to all the boys (except Dave, who is still home, but has registered with Uncle Sam).

Judy Guion 

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The Beginning (28) – Childhood Memories of the Children – Young Lad and Driving

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.

Art Mantle, Biss (Elizabeth Guion) and Lad

LAD – When I was eight, Dad took Dan, Ced and I, possibly Biss, for a walk up behind our property, past the cemetery.  There was a slightly sloping hill on the lot, and all of us were rolling down the hill, including Dad.  When he got up he said there was something wrong with his eyes, some dirt or something, so we went home.  His eye got worse and more bloodshot and it began to hurt more so Mother told him he should go see the doctor.  He was reluctant but finally consented.  I asked him if I could go and he said yes.  When he got to the doctors, the doctor told him that a piece of stubble had apparently pierced his eye.  He sewed it up and when Dad came out he could only see out of one eye, and that was blurred and watery.  He asked me if I could steer the car for him.  So I sat on his lap and steered the car, told him when to put on the brakes.  He did the shifting and used the clutch, but from that time on, I was very interested in driving.  I was only eight!

BISS – When Lad was twelve or fourteen, I don’t remember when, he and Ced and Dan and Dad went for a walk.  Dad’s eye got cut with a blade of grass or something.  So Lad drove him to the hospital, even though he was under the age, too.  Of course, Dad couldn’t drive because he couldn’t see.  So Lad drove him to the hospital and back after they took care of him.

AUTHOR’S NOTE: since Lad remembers sitting on Grandpa’s lap, he was probably closer to eight rather than twelve or fourteen.

LAD – By the time I was twelve, I was able to drive a car by myself.  I talked my mother into letting me drive to Kurtz’s store.  We had a 1925 Packard, and at that time, the road was so narrow that when I got to the junction of White Plains Road and Daniels Farm Road, there wasn’t much room to maneuver a car, so I went on down to Reservoir Avenue to turn around.  On the way back, I saw a car coming towards me.  It was Sheriff Stanley Boughton.  He looked at me, turned around and accosted me in the store.  He asked me if I had license to drive, and I guess I said, “No”.  He then asked me if my mother knew I was driving.  When I said, “Yes”, he told me to take the car home and leave it there … But I didn’t.  I never got into trouble after that until much later.  After I got my license I was driving up in the Newtown area and apparently I was driving too fast.  I got stopped for speeding.  Nothing ever came of it because my Dad was the Justice of the Peace and, at that time, First Selectman of Trumbull.

DICK – One time Lad took the Packard touring car, he was quite impressed with its power and high gear.  He started it rolling and slipped the clutch to get it started and went for a drive to Kurtz’s store.  Johnny Austin was the town cop.  He went to see Dad.  “You’d better talk to your boy … I couldn’t catch him and it’s a good thing I didn’t.”

AUTHOR’S NOTE: We will never know if Lad and Dick were talking about the same incident or two different instances.  I do know that my Dad’s love of cars started very early in his life.

Tomorrow, another excerpt from San Jose, California to the Lewis family back in New York. On Sunday, I will continue the story of Lad and Marian during and after World War II.

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 Brginning (26) – Reminiscences of Alfred D Guion (1884 – 1964) – Talking About Arla (Peabody) Guion

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.

 

                           Arla Mary Peabody Guion – portrait

A.D. – 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 in which the old Waverley Electric car played a part.

CED – We still have a series of pictures of the old Waverley in the backyard.  Rusty and some of his friends, my mother and my Aunts, all dressed up in these beautiful costumes from the 1900’s that were in good condition in the attic.  They all dressed up in these clothes and we took pictures of them in the Waverley.  Rusty pretended to be the groom and Aunt Dorothy was the bride.  Rusty had this stovepipe hat on and all the ladies were all dressed up.  Of course, the Waverley didn’t have any tires on it, but it looked nice.

We had an old Waverley Electric car in the barn.  Dick, poor Dick, got all excited about the war effort.  He thought, “Well, gee, here’s this old junk car and it’s pretty well shot.”  The fire department was looking for scrap metal.  Dick was very patriotic and he thought he’d give them the Waverley, and at the same time, help the war effort.

A.D. – I became Justice of the Peace, and Judge of the local traffic court.  Later, for two terms, I served as the town’s First Selectman, during which time we celebrated the 300th anniversary of the town and also saw an old mine property converted into a public park.  Arla became President of the Women’s Community Club, and was active in the Parent Teachers and other civic affairs, especially where common sense and sympathetic help was needed.

LAD – I don’t have many memories of my mother.  I remember that she was involved in 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 liked her very much, got along with her.

CED – I don’t believe my 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, one of them was my age and he was my best friend.  I always liked Dick.  His older brother was about your father’s (Lad’s) age and he got us in trouble a couple of times.  I don’t believe that the woman ever knew that my mother didn’t like her because she was … I can’t gossip … She was very critical of other people and that bothered my mother.

LAD – 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 at 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 that 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 knew that he loved her.

For the rest of the week, I’ll continue posting more memories of growing up in Trumbull.

Judy Guion

 

Trumbull – Dear Sheiks (4) – A Note From Elsie Duryee – August 13, 1944

This is the final segment of a letter written by Grandpa to his sons scattered around the world.

Elsie May Guion, summer, 1946

And now here is a rather pleasant surprise – – the “outside viewpoint” in these weekly letters which has been absent for some time. I have the honor to present a veteran of the last war, an ex-Red–Cross worker, Miss E. M. Guion:

Hello, Folks! – a la Mickey Mouse. New York got too “hot” for me so I ran out on it for a week until the heat is off, and now I’m in hiding in Trumbull. When I arrived at the door last night, there, right on the mat before the door, was a hand-lettered welcome to me from the Guions, in stunning great big black letters. I felt really welcome.

Speaking above of me as a veteran of the last war, I am thinking that if Dan should somehow get to St. Nazaire, he might walk along the waterfront where there are dwelling houses and in one of them I lived for about three months while working at base hospital # 1 just outside the city. It was one morning in December, I remember, when the maid of the house came to bring a picture of hot water and as she closed the window she said she couldn’t understand why Americans wanted to keep the windows open all night. All this to say that if Dan gets to St. Nazaire, he might see if anything has happened to that row of little houses. I enjoyed my work there and had fun too.

The shop in New York is getting along. We serve many servicemen and when they buy things we absorb the tax ourselves – and 20% and 1% sometimes loom big, but that’s our bit that we can do for those who are doing so much for us. Well, so long and victory soon. From Elsie.

And that about brings us to the end of the page, with the usual goodbye and good luck, from                                      DAD

Tomorrow, another excerpt from a letter written by John Jackson Lewis about his Voyage to Caifornia and what he finds there. On Sunday, I will continue the story of Lad and Marian Guion as Uncle Sam moves Lad hither and yon before sending him to France.  

Judy Guion

Trumbull – Dear Sheiks (3) – News From Dave – August 13, 1944

This is the next section of a letter written by Grandpa to the boys away from home.

From Dave:

Next Saturday – – the 12th – – we will all move from this company over to some company in the 34th Battalion. And then on Monday we will go out to the field for our final phase of training. CPX (command post exercises) is a sort of small scale maneuvers. The boys in cook school go out there and cook for us. Signal center clerks run signal centers. Radio boys completing their course run radios. Field linemen set out and maintain their wires. Poll linemen do likewise. The same is true for the teletype operators, motor mechanics, chauffeurs, truck drivers, engineers and anyone else I might not have mentioned. This final phase of training is three weeks long – – three weeks of Missouri woods, ticks, chiggers, rattlers and various other species that don’t hold too much interest in my mind, but I think it will be fun and anything would be better than school. You see, after I got back here from my furlough, although I still liked signal center clerk, I felt as though I knew all that they had to teach me in school (conceited) and I still feel that this last four weeks has been a waste of time. After CPX – – who knows? All I can do is to make a few wild guesses which would be based upon nothing but the Army’s ceaseless rumors – – which are more prevalent than ever before right now. The most likely thing that will happen is that they ship us out of here to a port of embarkation (maybe Reynolds in Pennsylvania, but more likely Beal in California) where we will be prepared to get on a boat and “see the world through the carbine gun sites”. If this is the case I may get a delay–en-route, and I may not – – who can tell? The other night I was on guard duty when a sergeant came out of his barracks with another man and called me over to him. He told me he had seen this man come into his barracks and pick up the sergeants pants. We questioned the fellow and he told us that he had moved into the company that morning and as he wasn’t thinking, due to the fact that he had had a few drinks in Neecho — he got in the wrong barracks. His story was very impressive and the Sgt. told me to let him go. The culprit left and I once again started walking my post. On an impulse, as I passed the barracks where the accused claimed to actually live, I decided to take a peek in to see if he were in bed. I went in to see and much to my dismay found that he wasn’t in there. I went back and told the Sgt. about it and then when I got to the guardhouse I told the Corporal of the Guard about it. The next day I found out that he was a crook and doing pretty well in the business throughout the whole post. For the offense which I committed (not turning him in) they could have court-martialed me – – not a pretty thought. As yet the culprit has not been located again.”

This sort of thing seems to be rather prevalent in this man’s Army. When I visited Lad in Aberdeen they had just had an incident of the same sort; and both Lad and Dick have lost valuable personal belongings. They should have a Sherlock Holmes detachment connected with each battalion.

Tomorrow, the final portion of this letter.

Judy Guion

Trumbull – Dear Sheiks (2) – A Note From Marian – August 13, 1944

This is the second section of a letter from Grandpa to his boys – wherever they are.

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Now for some extracts:

Marian writes: “I knew that the minute I put down in writing the fact that we thought we were going to stay here for a while, the Army would change our minds for us. Maybe I’ll learn some day that I’ll never know what the Army is planning from one minute to the next. Lad is supposed to leave here Wednesday or Thursday for Flora, Mississippi. I am going to drive the car and meet him there – – or rather at Jackson, Mississippi, for there is not much more than the Army post at Flora. Jackson is about 20 miles away from the post, and as it is the capital of Mississippi, it can’t be too awful. Some people must live there. But every report we’ve gotten so far from those who have and have not been there says that Flora is nothing more than a h___ hole in the very worst degree. Not very encouraging, is it, but if we get there expecting the very worst we might be pleasantly surprised. I hope so, anyway.

Whether this is to be a training center or a staging area or both, we don’t know. Last month the “Battalion” was very “hot” and practically on its way overseas, but things cooled down considerably and we heard that another battalion had been sent across instead. So, as usual, we don’t know very much about what we are doing, but are hoping for the best. It looks as though I am going to have to postpone my very muchly anticipated return visit to Trumbull. May I have a rain – check, however, so that I may arrive at a later date? The only bright spot in the idea of Lad’s going overseas is the prospect of being with you again – and not just because of the snow, either! Perhaps I’ll be a little late, but I might show up yet. We are not sure of Lad’s new address. As soon as we know it, we will send you a card. Although we expect to move from Pomona on Wednesday or Thursday, don’t be too sure of it. Our next letter might come from Pomona, because knowing the Army as we do, I am not leaving here until I know for sure that the fellows are on the train and actually on their way. Mother’s operation was very successful (for cataract) already she can see 50% better than before and the doctor hopes that in three months time when she gets her glasses, she will be able to see 100% better. I’m still planning to stop at Orinda on my way to Flora although I won’t be able to spend very much time there.”

Many years ago while on a lecture tour for the Bridgeport Brass Company, I went to Jackson, Mississippi and was not very much impressed with the country. As I recall it, the country was flat and uninteresting. There was of course a large Negro population  which made a portion of the town seem squalid and dirty. It was also very hot which is to be expected. I don’t know Flora but I think you are right in not expecting too much. Incidentally, I am holding this letter until I know where to send it, which applies also to the package I had all ready to ship to Lad. That was great news about your Mother, Marian, and I know how glad she will be to SEE you. And you don’t need any rain check for Trumbull. You are down in the records as one of the charter members.

Thursday and Friday I will post the last two portions of this letter.

Judy Guion