Trumbull – Questions And Gripes – April, 1940

This is the second half of a letter written by Grandpa to his oldest son, Lad, (my Dad) who is working in Venezuela as a trouble-shooter mechanic.

Page 2 of R-72

Some letters ago I was venturesome enough to suggest that your company in its prodigal spending of money might find it profitable to install a two-way radio system in the trucks and other transportation equipment so that they could keep in constant touch with headquarters. You did not comment on this suggestion, as I recall it, leaving me to wonder whether it was so stupendous a thought that you were absolutely knocked speechless by the brilliance of the concept or whether you thought it was so punk it did not deserve even mention. If the latter, you may have some reason on your side in accordance with a clipping from today’s paper which I am enclosing, on which, while apparently a workable idea, will only set the city of Hartford back $100,000. Whether this would be an economical expenditure, even for you folks, I very much doubt, but at least it is interesting to see that someone is working my idea out for you.

One of the questions I have asked twice, I think, that you have not answered (another gripe on the way) is one about how the battery is holding out that you took with you to operate your electric razor. I happened to think of it today because right at this moment I have two days growth of beard on my face, and I got to wondering if like Dan, you have gotten tired of shaving regularly and had decided to raise a beard or mustache, or maybe a goatee, and from that I got to thinking that you have not gotten personal in your letters of late enough to mention anything about your personal appearance, whether you are sunburned or not, whether you weigh any more than you did before and are filling out (you’re too young yet to have any development of the waistline), whether the food there agrees with you or whether the grease, that Dan got so much of that he is turning his nose up at fried things, has also, like it did to you in Caracas, a tendency to upset your stomach. I am anxious to see these photos of you so that I can see for myself how you look.

Lad Guion and Jim Pierce in Camp in Venezuela

Lad Guion and Jim Pierce in Camp in Venezuela

Just by way of checkup when you write next time would you tell me if the three magazines I subscribe to for you are still arriving regularly.

I heard the other day that Carl’s father has not really fully recovered from his accident, and also due to the fact that the big estate in New Jersey where he has been working has been closed, the Wangs are planning to return to Trumbull. The problem is how will Carl be able to persuade strangers that a Wayne is the son of a Wang?

Here’s another gripe for you (I can’t think of any more news so I have to fill up the rest of the page torturing you). What have you done, if anything, about the money InterAmerica still owes you, or rather did you finally write to Maxy and tell him that if he would pay you the balance you would deduct from the amount owing the value of the tools that you bought in the US. I probably will get you sore keeping at you, but it is for your own advantage getting this thing cleaned up so InterAmerica will not have any claim against you and you will have the extra money to you spend on payments on the car, airplane tickets to Trinidad, etc.

One other thing I asked you once which don’t recall your answering was what you did with your extra cash? In one of your recent letters you mentioned getting some money from your trunk. Isn’t there some safe or bank substitute at the camp where money can be left in safekeeping? Do you have to keep things like this and jewelry locked up or is there no likelihood of things being stolen from your camp?

Now are you good and mad? If so, it’s time to say good night, from

Dad

Tomorrow in the Autobiography of Alfred Duryee Guion we’ll find out about Grandpa’s first job after leaving high school in his second year and and when he first noticed Arla Peabody, the woman who would become his wife and the mother of his six children.

On Sunday, we’ll read Ced’s first long letter to his Dad, written from Grandma Peabody’s house where he tells us of the first few days of his great adventure.

Next week I’ll be posting letters written in February of 1941, when we’ll check in on Dan and Ced in Alaska and Lad in Venezuela.

Judy Guion

Autobiography of Alfred Duryee Guion – Dell Avenue and a Colt (13)

Alfred Duryee Guion in front of the Dell Avenue house about 1902

Alfred Duryee Guion in front of the Dell Avenue house about 1902

At Dell Avenue

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. It may have been the fact that my mother had to live very economically that the value of the dollar was early impressed on my growing mind and the advantage of the savings account became important. My mother paid me $.10 a day for cleaning ashes from the furnace and stoking it in the winter time, and once a week rolling the ash barrel from the cellar door at the back of the house to the curb in front for the ash man to collect. I took great pride in watching my savings account grow which enabled me eventually to acquire the thing I treasured even more than a new bike — a Colt .22 repeating rifle.

For several years I had pestered by mother for permission to buy a rifle of some sort but she firmly refused, saying I was too young. My best friend and pal, a boy of my own age named Ted Utz, had the same desire and eagerly we sent for and pored over catalogs of all the manufacturers of firearms in the country. One could buy in a hardware store at that time a cheap inaccurate single shot cal. German rifle called a Flobert, which we spurned. The King of them all was the Colt, so when I reached the age of 16 set by my mother as O.K., I sent the $18 for it and spent many happy days with my pal hunting squirrels.

We liked to get out to the woods at daybreak, but Ted was a sound sleeper, so on the night before a hunt when he went to bed he tied a string to his big toe and hung the string out of the second-story window of his room, so that I could pull the same soon after daybreak when I arrived and so did not have to disturb his family to waken him.

I wore my first pair of long pants on Easter Sunday. I can distinctly recall on my walk from home to Sunday school on that morning the feeling of certainty that in every house I passed someone was peeking out of the window to stare at my new pants. Besides I had spilled egg on them at breakfast.

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

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

With my mother lived my three aunts and small sister, so I early felt my importance as the only “man” in the family. With my father gone it was up to me to take care of my mother and this developed into a serious responsibility, resulting in several years in succession in my using my savings to take my mother on a two-week vacation to various summer resorts as my father had done.

One summer’s vacation I spent in Maine. A school boy friend, Arthur Morris, had become a Minister and was assigned to a little church in an isolated fishing village just above Bar Harbor, called Steuben. After leaving the train at Bangor, a little single-track branch line seemed to have had its winding track laid so as to curve around larger trees in its path through the thick woods. I was told that a big bull Moose the day before had angrily bucked the locomotive. It killed the moose but also stopped the train.

Arthur had sort of been adopted by a typical hearty, New England, independent but kindhearted middle-aged widow, known to everyone as Aunt Ada, at whose house we lived. It was rumored that Art was eventually to be her heir, but I later lost track of both. Letters to them whenever answered and I never knew what happened to either.

Tomorrow, we have a special “Tribute to a Hero”. His act of bravery, without thinking of himself, saved his plane and his comrades.

On Monday, I’ll start posting letters written in February of 1944. We’ll find out what has been going on with the newlyweds, Lad and Marian Guion, and check in with the rest of the boys, scattered around the world, and with Grandpa, holding down the fort in Trumbull.

Judy Guion

Trumbull – Dick’s Plans For Alaska – Feb., 1941

Alfred Peabody Guion (Lad) in Venezuela

Alfred Peabody Guion (Lad) in Venezuela

R-113      February 2, 1941

Dear Lad:

There are two big events in the offing. One is Dick’s leaving for Alaska next month and the other your homecoming in June. Already in imagination I have met you several times as a Grace Line boat pulls in, and I hope it won’t be messed up as it was when Dan arrived home and we were not there on time.

I got your interesting letter last Wednesday at the office, the one written January 20 telling me of the interesting New Year’s party, and enclosing the draft of the letter to the F-M (Fairbanks-Morse) people and your comments on job opportunities in Venezuela. I have rewritten the letter of application as I would suggest your sending it and have also commented on it on a separate sheet enclosed in this envelope.

You saved the most interesting news to the last, I notice, that telling of the raise to $225 a month. I’ll bet I am more thrilled at this evidence of your material advancement and this recognition of you worth than you are. Even CONGRATULATIONS in capital letters doesn’t do proper justice to the occasion. And in this connection you say that you would like to have me so arrange your funds that you may have cash on hand to (1) outfit yourself again and (2) for spending money. I will so arrange, but if you can give me some idea within $100 just what your idea is of these amounts it will make it a bit easier for me to arrange it without feeling I may be holding too much out that might otherwise be invested profitably for your advantage.

I will also take care of the McGraw bill for trade papers and in this connection I have filched about $30 from your account for Christmas gifts. I hope this will not seem too much.

The Alaskan branch of the family is quite insistent that Dick catch the first boat for Alaska in the spring which according to Ced’s last letter sails from Seattle on March 20. They base this on the fact, aside from the fact that they want their car to use as soon as possible, that the housing shortage up there even now is acute and with the influx of new folks in the spring lured by the promise of jobs due to government building activity, the chances are that latecomers may not only find it difficult and expensive to find living quarters but may also miss out on jobs that will be available to the early comers. For this reason, now that the car has been bought, Dick plans to start somewhere around March 1, depending somewhat on what further dope we get from Anchorage. Dick is quite disappointed that he will not see you, so he “can really get acquainted with his big brother” and has been trying to talk me into taking a two or three months vacation when you get home so that you and Dave and myself can take a trip to Alaska. Of course, the time away from my business and the expense is my problem and is dismissed with a wave of the hand.

As to the reference to Sylvia. “Who is Sylvia?” You ask in the words of Olie Speaks song. Back last year sometime I wrote that I had a visit from my two cousins, daughters of my father’s sister (another child in the same family is my lame cousin Guion Kilbourne of whom you have probably heard me speak. His father was an Army surgeon who knew Gen. Custer), one of whom had married an English army officer and had spent many years in India. Her husband had died, leaving her with one child, a daughter just about your age, named Sylvia. They were staying with an old sweetheart of hers that she didn’t marry, who lived in Norwalk and had driven up to see me. Later I wrote that Sylvia’s mother had died very suddenly and Dick and Dave and I went to the funeral. Later I wrote that Sylvia had landed a job take care of too little English refugee children on a big estate on Long Island.

You are correct in assuming that it was Charlie Hall with whom Dick had gone riding. It was Dick who was driving when they sideswiped another car, doing about $5 worth of damage which Dick had to pay for.

Ted (Human) at present is working on some engineering work for the US government at the Brooklyn Navy Yard. Helen wrote me a week or so ago that they have moved to Brooklyn.

The letter B instead of R as a prefix to letter 106 is just a bit of temperament exhibited by my typewriter. It gets cranky at times and although I clearly pressed the R key, in a contrary spirit it has at times made a B impression. You’ll have to overlook these little peccadilloes, whatever they are. It is a variety of the same disease that affects your machine on the ½ character.

Ethel Bushey

Ethel Bushey

Carl’s plans are up in the air again regarding his marriage plans (to Ethel Bushey). They had already decided to go through with their plans anyway and get hitched on February 22, and had made reservations on a boat sailing for Haiti a few days later. Early this week however Carl got a summons from the draft board telling him he would be called for duty and was to report on the 19th. If the second physical exam at that time passed him he would not return to Trumbull but would immediately go on to camp for training. He saw the local draft board head, who told him that if he had gotten in touch with him and informed him of the circumstances within five days after his first notice some weeks ago he might have been able to put Carl on the deferred list, in fact they considered him a borderline case anyway on account of his eyes and teeth, and that possibly the Dr. would reject him on the second exam on the 19th. Not to know definitely however until that time would make it very unwise for Carl to go through with his present marriage plans and he accordingly canceled his steamboat reservations. Today he tells me that

"The Good Times" - 1939 Arnold Gibson (Gibby), Charlie Kurtz and Carl Wayne The Red Horse Station

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

three of the boys called for the 14th had been rejected and he is therefore to take the place of one of them and go up for his examination on the 14th. If he is accepted, he will not of course be married until later, if rejected he can be married but will have to wait two weeks for the next sailing on the cruise he wants to take. To complicate matters still further, his arrangement and lease with Kurtz expires in June, and he has just received word from the Socony people that they will finance him if Kurtz will sell the station. The whole thing is quite a mess. I will of course keep you posted as to developments.

DAD

Tomorrow, I’ll finish out the week with a letter written the same evening to Dan and Ced in Alaska.

On Saturday, the next installment in the Autobiography of Alfred Duryee Guion.

On Sunday, I still hope to begin Ced’s “Coming of Age” trip to Chicago and Wisconsin to connect with his mother’s family.

Judy Guion

Friends – Alaskan Possibilities – Jan., 1941

The Roamer

Trumbull, Ct.

Jan. 30th, 1941

Dear Laddie,

Thanks for the birthday and Christmas letters which I certainly should have answered long ago. You see I hear the news from you

Lad in Venezuela

Lad in Venezuela

through your Dad, and I’m so damned careless that I don’t write myself. It seemed great to hear your _____ of Nomad and our good times together. I sure hope there will be more such trips.

As you must know Dick is to buy a car for Ced and Dan and drive it to Seattle. Alta and I were all set to tow our trailer out with it and go to Anchorage too (with the roamer). I could do that by June but Dick now must leave by March 1, so I’ll be $200 short and as I don’t know where I could borrow it, I’m afraid a great opportunity is lost, as jobs there won’t last forever. I may go alone and send for Alta and perhaps the trailer later. I even thought, as you expect to be home in the spring, you might like to drive Alta and Roamer to Seattle in the summer, at my expense of course. Or you might want to go to Alaska too.

Of course my dream and wish is that, if you are not returning to S.A. or not going for several months, you might like to go to Alaska with me in the summer or fall as we planned before you went to Venezuela. I think that this would be wonderful, and that you would enjoy traveling with us in the trailer, which is pretty nifty even after a marsh buggy. All this probably sounds wild to you, but I’m dead serious. You might let me know how crazy I sound to you.

Arnold Gibson

Arnold Gibson

Nomad is still going strong and my canoe is all rebuilt.

I understand your sufferings to uphold the white man’s prestige with women, women everywhere, but not a one to _____, or is there perhaps just one?

Please answer about Alaska,

Gibby

 

Tomorrow, I’ll be posting a letter from A.D. Guion, Purchasing Agent, regarding the purchase of a 1937 Buick.

I’ll finish out the week with long letters to Lad, and Dan and Ced, all dated Feb. 2, 1941.

On Saturday, We’ll go back to the Autobiography of Alfred D. Guion and I hope to start Ced’s trip to Chicago and the upper mid-west in his search to find his mother’s family. If I don’t get the material organized, I’ll do another picture gallery.

Judy Guion

Friends – Birthday Greetings From The Two “Jeeps” – April, 1940

April 3rd , 1940

4:30 PM

Hello, Laddie:

Well it is almost 6 months since we last had any word from you, and as this is your birthday and we are thinking very much of you, we could not withstand the temptation to write and see if you would answer. (Will prayer help?)

Incidentally, do you remember a family or rather a young married couple, by the name of Stanley, who used to live in New Haven. They were queer people who used to entertain people at the oddest hours, and they used to go on picnics with a Miss Mullins and a Mr. A.P. Guion. We were talking to them just the other day and they were wondering if we had heard from Mr. Guion, they had not heard since last November 10th  and were wondering whether it was by chance or by choice.

Seriously, we have wondered whether you were tired of writing to people in a faraway place, or if you have written to us and we had never received your letter. We look forward to hearing from you so much that we had to take the chance that you still cared about hearing from your old “Jeeps”. If we never receive an answer to this letter we will know that you do not care to hear from us.

Winter is finally subsided and now we have a beautiful, even if a little belated, spring. People are out raking up leaves and getting their gardens ready to plant. Even I have the urge to plant flowers so spring must really be here, for I have never had the urge since we have been in New Haven, before.

As I sit here writing to you, for the Stanley family, I am remembering two birth days ago when we had you here with us, and your smiling face is still here with us, right on the radio. We sincerely hope that before too many years, or months, go by, we may again have the pleasure of having you in our family circle again. Those were grand days, and days that Rusty and I never tire of talking about, undoubtedly we bore everyone else with our forever harking back to your being in the states, but some day perhaps, if we hope hard enough, our friendship circle will be complete.

Christmas seems very far in the past right now, but did you have a nice holiday? Our Christmas was a very happy one and everyone on this side of the border seems to be on the upgrade again.

Babe has been up for a weekend or two this winter, but at this writing we have not seen her in about six weeks. She undoubtedly has a lot going on and New Haven is a long way off when you are having a good time at home.

It would be better than anything, if you might come home in time to help us celebrate our fifth wedding anniversary next year. Perhaps we can hope for that, even if you do not come back to stay you could come home on leave, or something.

We were glad to hear that you had escaped, even if it was by a very narrow margin, the dreaded malaria. Your description of your trip and the beach is very good, in fact I have a fair picture of the place in my mind.

Triaga Venado - Guario - April, 1940

Triaga Venado – Guario – April, 1940

This is one of the new photos. I wish I knew the story behind this snake, but I don’t. I’m also pretty sure Lad must have written about it but I haven’t come across that letter. I think it’s the kind of story that Larry and Russ would have enjoyed.

What have you been doing? You usually have had some very exciting or interesting piece of news in your letters and we just wait to hear from you about them. We are learning a great deal from your letters, about the country that you are at present living in. In fact I think your letters bound in book form would make for very interesting reading. There is an idea for what it is worth.

I will have to close this now, and please write to us unless you don’t want to hear or bother to write to us. I hope you do however, as you are still very dear to us.

Until the time, when I hope we will hear from you then, God be with you,

Love from the two “Jeeps”

Larry and Russ

I don’t know what the reference to the two “Jeeps” is, but if I find out, I’ll let you know.

Tomorrow, I’ll be posting “Then and Now” pictures of the Dell Avenue house that Grandpa moved in to after his father died and they had to sell the Lincoln Avenue house.

On Sunday, I’ll be posting a collection of pictures of the four Peabody sisters, Arla being the oldest. Her sisters played a significant role in the lives of Arla’s children after her death, and that connection continued until their deaths. They even kept in contact with me and I had several visits with them.

Next week, we’ll begin in January of 1941 and see what news we have from Grandpa, Ced and Dan in Alaska and Lad, who is still in Venezuela, but looking forward to coming home.

Judy Guion

Trumbull – Lad and Marian’s Army Life – Marian writes to Ced – Jan., 1944

Lad and Marian have been married for about six weeks. They celebrated Christmas on Dec. 21 because Lad was sent to Texarkana, leaving Marian back in South Pasadena, CA. She plans on moving to join him as soon as possible.

Lad and Marian Guion's wedding - Nov. 14, 1943 - close-up with hat and coursage

Saturday 1/1/1944

Dear Ced –

How wonderful it must be to be home again, after three years isn’t it? I know that it has been grand for your Dad to ???????????????????????????????????????have you home, particularly at this time of year, and we envy you the good time you must have. But not too much, however, we certainly deserve it.

Lad and I enjoyed your telegram and letter so very much. It is going to be a grand day for me when I can meet all of you in person, for lad has spoken of you so many times that I feel as though I’ve gotten a partial start toward knowing you. And your friendly letter helped, too.

Your letter mentioned that you would like to have suggestions for a wedding gift for us. If you haven’t got anything yet, may we have a range check on that request until we know a little more definitely what our future plans are to be? I haven’t the slightest idea what Texarkana is like but I imagine that when (and if) I go to join lad, that I will put our things in boxes and send them home for mother to keep until after the war. At that time will be able to make our plans a little more definite. Thanks, though, for your offer and good wishes. All of you have made me feel so much “at home” that I feel as though I’ve known you for years. Best of luck to you, Ced, on your trip back to Alaska. Hope it won’t be so long next time before we see you again. Write to us occasionally, if we liked long enough for a letter from way up there to catch up to us!

Very sincerely,

Marian
Tomorrow, we’ll have a letter from Grandpa and will finish out the week with another letter from Marian to Grandpa and another letter from Grandpa to his scattered flock in Alaska, California, London, Brazil and Texarkana. He just keeps using more carbon paper and making more copies !

Judy Guion

Trumbull – The Book of Fort Dix by Roger Batchelder – Jan., 1941

Last Friday, in a post titled Trumbull – Miscellaneous News Flashes – (1)  Jan., 1941, the following was included. I apologize because the link was not the one for the current book Grandpa was talking about. It was for another book, written by the same Roger Batchelder, in 1918..

Roger Batchelder sent me his photo in full Captain’s uniform and informs me he is writing a book, with the approval of the war department on Fort Dix (in New Jersey) to combat the rumors of neglect at the government camps which he says have subversive instigation. He promises to send me an autographed copy of the first edition off the press.

This is the only link I could find and I don’t know if this is the book Grandpa has mentioned:

1918 Camp Dix By Roger Batchelder
http://books.google.com/books?id=hN9AAAAAIAAJ&printsec=frontcover&dq=camp+dix&cd=1#v=onepage&q=&f=false

While sorting through another box of Grandpa’s papers I haven’t seen, I found the following:

The Book of Fort Dix - Roger Batchelder -(Cover)

The Book of Fort Dix - Roger Batchelder (Title Page)

The inscription reads:

To “Al” Guion –

One of the few real soldiers and friends

Roger

April 20, 1941

NYC

The Foreword reads in part:

“To those of you who are participating in the formation of America’s greatest army, might be looked upon as “settlers” in the newly created camps throughout the nation, this book should prove a most valuable and pleasant remembrance.

Captain Batchelder, the editor and compiler of this excellent collection of photographs, is thoroughly qualified to prepare such a book. He saw service as an enlisted man in the Mexican border in 1916, was a lieutenant in infantry during the world war and now holds a commission as a captain of infantry and the reserve core. He published similar books during the world war and is also the author of a book on the Mexican border service.”

The Book of Fort Dix - Note from Roger - 1941

 

There was also a personal note folded inside the book. Dated April 20, 1941, it reads:

Dear Al:

I am honestly bewildered that you didn’t get a Dix book. You are at the top of a short list.

Devens and Edwards are in process of publication; and Livingstone and Claiborne, La., are in the offing. You will get all of them, and in shorter order than the first one.

In another fortnight, I shall be through with the next, and probably final books; then I am thinking of return to the Service.

Want to call me up, meanwhile, and asked me out for the night? I can tell your liens all about five key camps in the country, going back, in contrast, to the Mexican border of 1916, and the world war.

My very best, old timer, and hope you like the book.

Roger

Now you have a more complete and accurate understanding of what Grandpa was writing about in that letter.

The rest of the week will include letters from Jan,1944. Two are from Marian and two are from Grandpa.

Do you know of someone who enjoys history, family life and stories or World War II information? Why not share this site with them?

Judy Guion

Autobiography of Mary E. Wilson – Trumbull – 1948

Mary E. Wilson

Mary E. Wilson

1948

When we finally moved from Edwin Street and followed the moving truck, I never looked back. I had a feeling of utter relief to be out of that house. As I stated before, everything seemed to change drastically in our favor. Mary Jane and Archie’s health seemed to improve so much. The children were able to play in clean air and lovely surroundings.

When I enrolled the children in school, Mary Jean seemed to adjust beautifully but David had to repeat his school year. Thank God for Mrs. George because she really helped David, who was not a good student, to adjust to a new town. It did not take David long to adjust to his country living. One of his closest friends was Charlie Heimann, the Kurtz children, and when the Pencoff’s moved next door with three boys, they all had a great time.

We only had a $3000 mortgage on the Laurel Street house so the Edwin Street house had paved the way to Trumbull as we had planned, plus Archie’s hard work. Archie’s brother had bought the lot next to us and finally built a house. He moved in with Jerry, my sister-in-law, their three-year-old son, and Archie’s mother.

Beverly was only two years old and I remember tying a 20 foot rope around her waist because we had an electric fence at the back of our property. Mr. Laufer was a farmer with cows, which fascinated Beverly.

We became active in community projects and also in the Congregational church because I did not have a driver’s license.

There was a river near the house so the children were able to swim nearby. We were very busy. Archie had a garden and we bought shrubs for landscaping. We wanted to do so much to improve the house. I remember how thrilled I was about the thermostat. We had never lived in a home with central heating. To be able to control the heat with the turn of a knob never ceased to amaze me.

We now needed extra money so I took a night job at Briarwood Farms restaurant in Bridgeport. We really wanted to furnish  the Laurel Street home. We also wanted to build a garage. I did not go to work until 6:00 in the evening but with Archie working on the property after work, I realize now that my Mary Jean really had the responsibility of meals, homework, etc. for her brother and sister. Beverly could be defiant but David was more even-natured. As a very small boy his favorite expression was “I love all bodies”. I think that, of all my children, David was the most good-natured. When he was a baby he developed pneumonia and we almost lost him. Thank God sulfur drugs had been discovered and used and I am positive it saved his life. He had a severe break in his arm as a three-year-old but mostly he was a very healthy child. Beverly was spoiled rotten and I think at my age, which was now 37 years old, it was easier to give in to her rather than argue with her. She was a strong willed girl and her brother and sister gave into her all the time. There were eight years between Beverly and Mary Jean and David was caught between two sisters. They were all good children and except for Mary Jane’s asthma, they were all healthy and I am sure they were very happy in Trumbull.

We had only been in our new home two weeks when Mary Jean, playing by the river, got a fishhook in her eye. The boy who did it was a neighbor’s son. The Minister from the Congregational church witnessed the accident and had the sense to cut the line rather than pull out the hook. We rushed her to the hospital and Dr. Sim’s operated and her eyeball required stitches, but thank God he saved her eye. She was in the hospital 10 days. She was home only two weeks when they all came down with chickenpox.

Next Sunday I’ll post the rest of 1948 with more informati9on about Archie and Mary’s life in Trumbull with their three children.

Tomorrow, I’ll be posting a correction and for the rest of the week, we’ll be reading letters from 1944, when the boys are in the Army. Lad has just been sent to Texarkana, Dan is stationed in London, Ced is still in Alaska and Dick is in Brazil. Grandpa is still writing his weekly missives trying to keep his sons as close to home as possible.

Judy Guion

Autobiography of Mary E. Wilson – A Very Bad House – 1942 – 1946 and 1946

Mary E. Wilson

Mary E. Wilson

1942

In August, 1942, David was a year old and Archie’s dad, who had been very ill with cancer for over a year, died. I was heartbroken as he was such a nice, kind person and we always got along so well. He was only 67 years old and he suffered so much prior to his death. My two children were too young to remember their grandfather. I wish they could have known him.

Archie’s brother, David, had married Mildred Lucky a few months before his death.

1945

The war finally ended in 1945 and the jubilation and happiness of the Americans was indescribable. Everyone celebrated.

I felt so sad for all the wives and mothers who have lost thousands of young men during this second war in my lifetime. The United States had been attacked by the enemy but in Europe and Britain it was devastating. Our men came home but soon hard times started to take effect because there was not enough work for everyone.

Archie had never, during the war, made a lot of money, because his plant had not manufactured war arms. They had made maintenance tools but he always was able to keep a steady job.

1946

We still had to plan to get Mary Jean out of the city but now I was pregnant with my third child. In September, I gave birth to a lovely baby girl whom we called Beverly Joan and we now had three lovely children and felt blessed.

I joined Eastern Star at this time with Polly Griffin. Mary Jane was still under doctor Edgar’s care and still taking her  shots to keep her asthma under control (sometimes).

We bought land in Trumbull which is a suburb of Bridgeport. It was a farming community so our next ambition was to get our children out of the city and into the country, but all our money was tied up in an old two-family house we had bought. So now our goal was to really work harder to fix up the house as a step to get our little daughter out of the city and into the country.

The Griffin’s had left our apartment downstairs and we now rented to Bill and Gladys Cleary. She was a real nice girl and her mother a lovely lady but Bill, who worked with Archie, was a “kook”.

Alec had married Geraldine McDonald who had come to Bridgeport from Pennsylvania to do war work in the G.E., which is where she met Alec. Alec married Jerry and they lived with mother Wilson but she hated Jerry because she was a Catholic. Their life was very difficult while they lived with her and Jerry was very unhappy. Alec and Jerry finally built next to us and mother Wilson lived with them. I think she helped them financially from dad Wilson’s insurance in return for a  home with them. Things were a little different now because she was living in their home.

We knew our house on Edwin Street was the stepping stone to a new home on Laurel Street in Trumbull. I was really superstitious about the house on Edwin Street. The first thing we had done was to cut down a rope noose where a man had hung himself in the attic.

Archie’s ulcer attacks became worse when we moved there. He hemorrhaged and was very ill. He had just taken a new job in the Bridgeport Hardware Manufacturing Company when he became ill. The company was really very generous and paid his salary even though he was a new employee.

I blamed Mary Jean’s asthma on the house because Archie was gutting the second floor, the walls were all plaster and we created too much dust for a young child. I put wet sheets at the entrance of her room so it would curtail the plaster dust.

Archie’s dad was dying of cancer and our poor son suffered a terrible break in his arm and had to be hospitalized.

Peggy Lou, my brother’s daughter, had spent a week prior to Christmas with us so she could participate in the holiday activities. They lived in Newtown and she was a lonely little girl and loved to come and stay at our house and enjoy the companionship of her cousins. She became ill at our house and my brother took her home and she died the next morning, which was two days before Christmas, of spinal meningitis. The poor child was only six years old.

It just seemed everything bad happened in that house.

Next Sunday, we’ll read about the move to Trumbull and the family’s adjustment to country living.

Tomorrow, we’ll begin a week of letters from the spring of 1941, when Dan and Ced are working in Alaska and Lad is still in Venezuela.

Judy Guion

Autobiography of Alfred Duryee Guion – Uncle Eddie (9)

Alfred Duryee Guion, my Grandfather and the author of most of the letters I post, wrote his autobiography while on an around-the-world tramp steamer cruise, at the age of 75. He had plenty of time sailing slowly from port to port, to look back on his life and put it down on paper for future generations.

Alfred D. Guion - Lincoln Avenue House

Alfred D. Guion – Lincoln Avenue House

The story of my boyhood would not be complete if I failed to mention my sister’s and my favorite cousins and playmates – the Duryees – Adele, Nan and Dudley. Dud was my own age, the girls a few years older. Adele, who was three or four years my senior seemed at my age to be old. Their father, whom I called Uncle Eddie, was my mother’s cousin and although he had perfectly good and respectable parents, he turned out to be the black sheep of the family. Alcohol was the cause.

In these days we would have regarded his failure as a disease and taken medical means to correct it, but at that time no such charitable view was taken. My mother, who always saw the best in everyone, claimed that he was always gentlemanly when sober and had perfect table manners. Before he had started downhill he had met and married a charming girl named Mary Blakelock. My folks were very fond of her and so was I. She had beautiful brown eyes, a nice complexion, a jolly disposition and got along with her drunken husband as best she could while the children were little. But personal abuse, the bad example and squandering on drink the money his wife earned finally resulted in her leaving him and bringing up her family alone.

On the oldest girl, Adele, fell the principal task of bringing up the younger ones while her mother worked during the day. And to the great credit of them all, the children turned out well. It was probably this early example of the curse of drink and my father’s strong feeling against saloons that I grew up with the feeling that they were dens of iniquity, and even to this day I feel ill at ease whenever I go into a place where there is a bar.

The last time I saw Uncle Eddie was on 42nd Street, New York, where he was marching up and down with a sign strapped high above his shoulders announcing the opening of a new restaurant. Such folks were called “sandwich men”. This form of advertising is no longer used unless it is by “pickets” in front of a plant where a strike is going on.

This reminds me of an incident which happened to me years later one night when I had been working overtime at my office in downtown New York and had boarded a subway train for Grand Central station. I was the only passenger in the car with the exception of a very seedy looking bum, much the worse for drink, who sidled up to me and started a conversation. He asked what my business was and when I replied “advertising”, his face lighted up and he said he was in the advertising business to, adding, “But ain’t it hell when the wind blows”.

If you are enjoying these stories of days gone by, why not share them with a friend. They might trigger a happy memory for them to share with their family. I believe that it is the traditions and stories a family shares that hold them together.

Judy Guion