|Carmine Guica on the left|
Thursday, November 24, 2016
Remembering Carmine Guica
As Coordinator for CHS, my first project with Carmine was working on his autobiography, “The Story of My Life Carmine Guica.” I asked him for pictures, particularly of his war experience and he promptly handed me a stack of photographs of girls that he referred to as his “pen pals.” His sister Emma told me at his book signing that he liked the gals and they liked him.
Born in Providence, R.I. on April 1921, Carmine’s family moved to a small farm on Tarbell Hill Rd (Cavendish) in 1922. He described his childhood with warmth and affection of a bygone era. “ I am what is part of “The Great Generation” that grew up in Depression days. We never had much if any money, but we always had plenty to eat and we had a good home. We three boys, Frank, myself and Vince, we worked hard and played hard. We some times didn’t mind as we should of but when we made any money we always turned it over to our folks as we never needed much money perhaps a dime to see a western as Gene Autry was about that time in the mid-thirties.....We would hitch-hike to Ludlow, about nine miles away....Every one was a farmer and life was slower.
In 1939, Carmine joined the VT National Guard. We knew that war would be upon us, and we wanted to make sure were ready for it.
When WWII came, Carmine and his two brothers, Vincent and Frank, enlisted and were stationed in the Pacific. Carmine was in some of the highest attacked areas-Guam, Philippines, Okinawa and Iwo Jima. He described how they lived two to a Foxhole, taking turns staying up at night in his autobiography, “We were on the beaches where we set up our anti-air craft guns. Most of the fighting was back in the hills. The action we saw most was firing at the Jap planes. They never bombed us too much as their greatest target would be the ships. When we had an alert, all personal were called-cooks, clerks, and KPs. [Carmine was a cook.]. ...We used to go on the hill where the refuges were and talk to them. They spoke English well and they used to tell us how strict they had to live under the Japanese rule. I did get very sick there for a few days. Just about every one was affected. They said it was Dengue Fever or something like that. The Engineers made fresh water for us from the salty ocean water. There sure was a lot of deep mud on Guam. After we got our kitchen set up the engineers also made ice that they delivered to us every day. We did get a lot of Spam. There were so many ways we served it....For fresh meat we had a lot of goat meat from Australia.”
The war played a prominent role in Carmine’s life, and it was through an Army buddy that he met his wife Carmela. They were married from 1948 until her passing in 2000.
Like many of the other veterans, he was in the reserves after the war. Carmine worked for Gay Brothers Woolen Mill, Kennwood Mills and eventually GE, where he retired from in 1984. I retired a little early as I figured Carmela was alone so much and we were going to enjoy ourselves, which we did.
A self-taught historian and genealogist, Carmine spent many hours researching Cavendish history and genealogy, whether it was with a metal detector checking out cellar holes, or spending countless hours with Carmela in the library studying old newspapers, maps and records. He was adamant about the importance of history.
For the Cavendish Bicentennial he wrote Now there are some people in Town that may say, ‘What can I do for our Bicentennial,’ if, nothing else buy a good book for our Library, autograph it and date it, also take pictures, especially of the elderly people and old buildings, preferable use black and white films [which] are cheaper and cost less to develop, and they seem to hold better for longer time. Please identify and date them, (use pencil) so that in another 100 or 100 years a “Historian and Genealogist” will not have such a hard time of it as I’m having.
The list of organizations Carmine was involved with was lengthy- The Grange, The Crown Point Road Association and CHS to name a few. He was chairman of the Cavendish Bicentennial, involved in reunions for his much loved Tarbell Hill School, and he served on the town’s Ancient Roads Committee. Well into his 80s, you could find Carmine with his friend Paul Kingsbury in the mountains as a hiking trail steward.
For over 15 years he donated food every month to the Black River Good Neighbor (BRGN). During a sudden snowstorm, Carmine’s car slid off the road. His biggest concern was not for himself, but rather that the food he had just bought be taken to BRGN as soon as possible.
Carmine loved Carmela. Even though the cemetery would be closed, as long as there wasn’t snow on the ground, he would visit her weekly, even it meant hoping over the chain . Whether he was conducting a cemetery tour, or helping someone research their family, if he was at the Cavendish Village Cemetery, he made sure every one visited Carmela.
One of his favorite songs, which he listened on the jukebox during WWII, was When My Blue Moon Turns to Gold.
When my blue moon turns to gold again
When the rainbow turns the clouds away
When my blue moon turns to gold again
You'll be back in my arms to stay
In spite of a significant hearing loss and limited opportunities for formal education, Carmine’s passion for life long learning was astounding. Consequently, his contributions to Cavendish and its history, is enormous and many generations to come will benefit from his research and his generosity of spirit. He will be greatly missed.
Our condolences to his family and his many friends.
CHS does have copies of Carmine’s autobiography in stock. To order, send a check to CHS for $15 plus $5 shipping and handling to CHS, PO Box 472, Cavendish VT 05142.