Family Stories: Naming Patterns – Nicknames

Family Stories

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Favorite Name – Naming Patterns – Nicknames

In searching for popular names of 1900, it seems my husband’s family was covered in the use of names such as… John, Joseph, Frank, Mary, Fred, Margaret, Rose, Joe, Frank, Catherine, Josephine, Andrew, Michael, Pauline, Johnnie, Stephen, Nancy, Rosie, Jimmie, Nicholas, Steve, Celia, and Cecelia.

My favorite names in my husband’s family was always his grandmothers’ names… Domenica and Giacinta. I hinted a few times of using those names for my grandchildren, but that didn’t get me anywhere!

The name “Domenica” is a Spanish baby name, meaning as born on Sunday, although Grandma Minnie was born on a Tuesday, and named after her father’s mother, Domenica DeCuore; it is also the Italian feminine form of Dominic and an alternate form of the French name Dominique. I never learned her actual name until I began writing and researching the family history… I had only known her as Grandma Minnie… she was Minnie to everyone, although on her marriage certificate, her name was written as Michela… confused… well, so was I.

Italian Naming Patterns

  • A first-born son is named after his paternal grandfather..
  • A second son born is named after his maternal grandfather.
  • A third, born son would be named after his father.
  • The first female is named after her paternal grandmother.
  • The second female is named after her maternal grandmother.
  • The third female is named after her mother.

Subsequent children born into the family were usually named after favorite aunts and uncles, or even deceased relatives. You’ll often find a child in the family with a deceased sibling of the same name. In the DeTulio family, there was a daughter, Antoinette, born in 1910, who only lived a short six months. In 1911, another daughter was born and her mother Giulia (Julia) renamed her Antoinette… after the deceased daughter. (I was told this by Mary D. Pompone)

Naming Patterns were a family tradition in most Italian households and in looking through the families of Cambino, DeTulio, and Insalaco… I’ve written who was named for whom!

Giovanni & Guilia DeTulio

Giovanni Americanized into John and Giulia into Julia

DiTullio transformed into DeTullio and later DeTulio

  • Giuseppe DeTulio – named after his paternal grandfather, Giuseppe DiTullio
  • Domenica DeTulio – named after her paternal grandmother, Domenica DeCuore
  • Antoinette DeTulio – b. 1910, d. 1910
  • Antoinette DeTulio – b. 1911, named after her deceased sister.
  • Carmela DeTulio
  • Rosa DeTulio
  • Michael DeTulio
  • Maria DeTulio
  • Nicholas DeTulio
  • Andrew DeTulio
  • Lucia DeTulio – named after her mother’s sister Lucia Catalano
  • Josephine DeTulio

Guilia’s parents were Giovanni and Theresa Catalano, but yet none of the children received those names; I only found two siblings for Giulia… Giovanni Jr., and Lucia. I have no siblings for Giovanni DeTulio, so possibly the rest of the family was named for them.

John and Julia mostly spoke Italian in the home and their children grew up learning both English at school, and Italian at home. John probably spoke more English in working outside the home, as he needed to communicate with others. From all told to me, Julia spoke mostly Italian, with very few words in English… which made it hard for the great-grandchildren to have conversation with her, but I’m sure she was able to communicate with them by her daughters translating.

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Giuseppe Gambino / Cambino and Domenica DeTulio

Giuseppe became Joseph & Joe – Domenica became Michela & Minnie

Gambino transformed into Cambino

Giuseppe’s siblings were… Francesco, Maria Cristina, Salvatore, and Annunziata,

  • Catherine
  • Frederick Joseph named after his paternal grandfather Federico Gambino
  • Cecelia
  • John – named after his maternal grandfather Giovanni DeTulio
  • Frank named after his paternal uncle Francesco Gambino
  • Nancy named after her paternal aunt, Annunziata (Nunzia) Gambino
  • Antoinette named after her maternal aunt Antoinette DeTulio

Joe and Minnie spoke mostly English in their home… Minnie speaking more Italian as that had been her primary language in her home, but Joe was insistent that his children learn and only speak English. He wanted them to be more American and not associate in the customs and language of Italy. Later in life, his children wished just the opposite… wishing that they had learned Italian in the home and could speak both languages instead of only knowing English.

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Stefano Insalaco and Giacinta DiRosa

Stefano transformed into Stephen and Steve, but I never heard any name for Giacinta other than “Mama.”

  • Louise Rosario Insalaco – named after her paternal grandmother Louisa M. Cacciato
  • Anthony – named after his paternal grandfather Antonio F. Insalaco
  • Stephen Joseph Insalaco – named after his paternal grandfather Stefano Insalaco and also his maternal grandfather Stefano DiRosa
  • Maria A. Insalaco – named after her maternal grandmother Maria Stincone
  • Thomas Insalaco
  • Virginia Rosalie Insalaco
  • Peter Paul Insalaco named after his maternal great-grandfather Pietro Stincone
  • Ruth Insalaco
  • Martha Insalaco

As more second-generation were born in America, the custom of Italian naming patterns soon disappeared as they wanted their children to be more associated with being American and born here. Italian was not usually spoken in the Insalaco household… Giacinta often reverted to speaking more Italian, but was quickly prompted by her daughters to “speak English Mama“. I always enjoyed hearing her speak Italian, but they encouraged her to speak English.

NICKNAMES

Cambino

Giuseppe Americanized his name quickly into Joseph and Joe, and later all the children, even Minnie referred to him as “the old man“, but only when he wasn’t around; it’s also said friends referred to him as such also. My husband remembers that when he was young, he’d heard his grandfather called that so often, that he thought it really was his name.

So many Cambino family members ended up with nicknames… “Cecelia” morphed to just Celia, but her brothers preferred to call her “york” or “yawk” and sometimes “yatti”. “Antoinette” became “Dolly” because it was said that she didn’t like to play with dolls. Her brother Freddie often teased her by calling her “dreep“. The boys Frank, Fred and John Cambino transformed to Frankie, Johnny, and Freddie. After Johnny began racing at Savin Rock’s West Haven Speedway, he became known as “King Cambo“, “King” and “Big John.” Later when Johnny Jr. was born, he soon became known as “little Johnny”… who does that anymore to their children? Even as they are all grown now, it’s hard to refrain from saying “little”… when calling them by name.

Daughter, Nancy Cambino never seemed to have had a nickname, but when her niece Nancy Cambino was born, daughter of Johnny and Maggie, the baby quickly became “little Nancy.” It worked the same way with Dolly’s son, Joseph Burgarello… he was called “little Joey“, as his father was known as “Joe, Joey, and Joey Bags“.

Catherine, was always Catherine… mostly no nickname, but I have heard some call her Cat. Her husband, James Donahue, was known as Jimmy and Jim, and Uncle Gee by his nephews and nieces on his side of the family. Sister Nancy married Gennaro Cavallaro, who was known by the American version of Gene. Their son, Paul, escaped the “little”, as his middle name was Gene, but their son, Paul, quickly became known as “little Paul”, but he’s now outgrown that now as he has a “little Paul” to carry that title on now.

DeTulio

In the DeTulio family, we have Michael DeTulio, who became known as “Mikie” and “O’Toole”, Josephine was shortened to “JoJo”, Rosaria DeTulio became Rose, Rosie, and later “Roseburg” or “the bird” because of her married name Burzynski. Antoinette was most often called by her given name but sometimes was called “Antoine”. Antoinette married James Carbone, who was called “Jimmy Brown”… a name he was called from his boxing name; one son Joseph “Johnny” Carbone somehow acquired the nickname of “Johhnycakes”… no one has yet figured out who nicknamed him or why… might we assume he loved johnnycakes? When Lucy DeTulio married Frank Romano, they became known as “Lulu and Rummy.” I’ve never heard anyone refer to their brother Andrew other than his given name, but he was also called Uncle Andy. Their brother Nicholas became Nicky to everyone, Carmela was shortened to Carmel and Mary was always known as Mary, no nickname! What’s most remembered about Mary is… her cooking!

Insalaco

The Insalaco family didn’t seem to have nicknames as the Cambino and DeTulio families had. My father in law, Stephen, was mostly called Steve and later more as Stef. His sister, Maria, was called Mary and his brother Antonio went by Tony. His sisters, Louise, Virginia, and Ruthie, were always called by their given names.

My husband, Steve Insalaco, was called “beans” or “string bean” by his uncles… why… because, as a young boy, he was thin as a bean pole; his son followed in that same trait and uncle Frankie often called him “little beans.” If you weren’t named after a family member, you escaped the “little” in your name. My husband called our son Stephen “little man”, and our daughter Melissa, “sunshine“… not quite sure why, but it flowed with her name.

If I’ve missed any of the family nicknames… please let me know so I might add to the story.

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© 2020, copyright Jeanne Bryan Insalaco; all rights reserved

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Family Stories: If I Invited You to Dinner

Family Stories

If I Invited You to Dinner…

johnny carving turkey

Uncle Johnny (Cambino) carving the Thanksgiving turkey!

While pondering a post on “inviting you to dinner“… nothing jumped out at me… until I came across a package of saved notes and scribbled stories I’d saved… and had almost threw out in cleaning. Even though I had written stories from those papers… I hadn’t found the courage yet to toss! As I sat down to look through the package, once more before trashing, it wasn’t long into my “looking”…. when those notes talked to me and gave me my “inviting you to dinner” story. Things “Do” talk to you… take the time to listen!

notesfix

The notes and scribbles

My “dinner invitation” is extended to all in our Cambino/DeTulio/Insalaco family… those who have told me their stories… and those scribbled notes of their stories are what I’m sharing with you around my table. They told them to me, now they are dining at my table, to tell them to you!

dinner table

Dinner is served!

I’d like to first introduce my mother-in-law, Cecelia (Cambino) Insalaco… why is she first to tell her story at the table? Well, all who knew Celia… knows, that if she’s not first to tell her stories, then we’ll hear later how someone took her seat at the table and how she should have been first! That was always her words… especially in a card game!

Celia: “When I was small I remember only having kerosene lamps for light at the farm – there was no electricity there when we were young. Mama often took our clothes to wash at Daddy’s barber shop on Washington Avenue, because there, he had electricity.”

“During the Flood of 1938, my father (Joseph Cambino), closed his barber shop early that day to pick me up at school… I was only ten years old, but I remember him coming to bring me home… it was so rainy and windy. Many of the roads were already flooded, but he found a way to get us home. My father and I were a lot alike… I could always talk to him.”

“I have many memories of listening to the radio with my mother and sisters – we all listened to the 15-minute soap serial “As The World Turns; it was Mama’s favorite show, and later when it came on TV, she continued watching for years.”

“My father had an older car with a rumble seat, where I loved to ride when he took us to Savin Rock. He often took us on Sunday afternoons to get ice cream and Mama would sit in the car listening to the laugh of the “laughing lady” at the Death Valley funhouse. I remember always crying whenever he made me ride the “flying horses” on the carousel. Why I was afraid, I don’t know, but I’d cry whenever they made me climb up on those painted horses that went up and down. I wonder where they all ended up… probably worth a lot of money now.”

“When I first married in 1947, we lived in a cold-water flat on Water St. in New Haven; it was a small apartment. I remember hearing the fish, ice and rag man making their calls as they came around to the apartments. You knew they were coming when you heard their words in various Italian dialects sing out as they walked through the neighborhoods.”

put and take game

After every holiday meal, Grandma Minnie brought out the “put and take” dice for a family game! I”m sure the dice are still rolling around their table in heaven!

One of the most colorful characters at my table today is Uncle Johnny Cambino… and he’s never without stories!

Johnny: “I remember everything that happened to me when I was young! I was about four or five when I fell into the spring well near our farm. I don’t know what I was trying to get, but I leaned over… and fell in. I was half under the water with just the ‘tips’ of my hands hanging over the edge when Mama found me. How she knew where I was, I’ll never know, except just chalking it up to a mother’s instinct. But suddenly she had missed me around the house and ran all the way down to the spring to see my fingers hanging over the edge. They told me later how she jumped in to rescue me, and then they had to rescue her. After she brought me back to the house, my grandmother held me upside down so all the water I had swallowed, drained out. Mama told me later that she thought about the spring when I was missing because I always went with her to fill the water pails.”

“I always liked water – and I loved to swim at Lake Phipps. I’d often climb a tree near the edge of the bank, probably up about 50-75 feet, and dive right into the water. I wasn’t afraid of anything! One time the limb bounced me too close to the edge and I landed more on the bank than the water.”

“We had a tree at the farm called “The Tarzan Tree”… so named after going to the circus and watching too many Tarzan movies. Frankie and I hung a thick rope on that tree, which was right under the big rocks… we’d swing the rope out, and when it came back, we grabbed it to swing to the next tree… just like we’d seen on TV and at the circus. One day I swung out and the rope broke, and down I went on the rocks. Boy did that hurt! When I went home Mama and my grandmother used one of their home remedies on me – no one ran to the Dr. back then… and they didn’t dare tell my father either. Mama got plenty of eggs, and cracked them to separate the whites… then she took a white bed-sheet, tore it in strips and dipped them in the beaten egg whites. She wrapped the strips all around my wrists, and after drying, they were hard as a rock; an old remedy for a cast. When my father came home, he was told that the cow had kicked me; they never told him what really happened. If he knew I’d fallen from the Tarzan Tree, I would have gotten a beating,.. broken wrists or not… that was just how it was!”

“Another one of the many beatings that came my way, was the time I came home late one Friday night. I had been at Savin Rock watching the midgets race… and they had finished late that night. About midnight, I heard the fire trucks and soon saw billowing smoke and fire rising up, just down the road. I walked down to see what was going on and saw that the Virginia Reel roller coaster was on fire. I knew I wasn’t going home then – I wanted to watch! It was a huge fire, with the fire burning high up into the sky. I got home about two in the morning that night, and when I walked in… the “old man” was waiting for me! I knew I’d get a beating when I got home, but I was used to them, and what a beating I got, but I didn’t care – it was worth watching that fire burn!”

“I pulled a kid once from under the ice at Eddie Voss’s pond. He fell through the ice and I just reached in and grabbed him. If I hadn’t caught hold of him the first time, I would never have found him; I don’t remember how I even happened to be there that day.”

“My brother, Frank, and I always arm wrestled everyone in the neighborhood; no one ever beat us… my arms were big… everyone told me I had ‘Popeye’ arms! If you look at the old pictures of me in the race cars you can see how big they actually were. It was a lot of hard work pulling on those steering wheels.”

“Frankie and I had two pet black crows on the farm. We took them out of a nest when they were young and raised them. When they were older they lived outside, and I’d open the pantry window and yell ‘caw, caw’ – and those two birds came flying right inside. I fed them raw chopped meat – they could eat a pound of meat in no time… gobbling it right up! My bird’s name was ‘Nigal’ (Nick)… I don’t remember what Frank’s was called. One day his didn’t come home, then later mine disappeared… maybe they went off to start their own family.”

“Daddy had many chickens on the farm. The old man had to cut their beaks straight across, making them flat, because they pecked the eggs with their pointed beaks and was breaking them – he solved that. The ‘old man’ was tough! My father knew everything about farming.”

“I stopped at Flo’s Pet Shop in Milford one day and saw a spider monkey, and I thought he was the cutest thing I’d ever seen… I bought him for ‘fifty dollars.’ In the early 50’s that was a lot of money! I named him Squeaks and kept him in the garage where my racing car was kept. I had a kerosene stove in the garage that I burned in the winter to keep him warm; I spent a lot of money on heat for him. Sometimes I’d find Squeaks in the morning shivering with blue lips if the stove went out at night, so Jennie Downs made him a little coat to wear; we even took him to the race track a couple of times. As he got older, he developed rheumatism in one of his legs and would drag it along when he walked. A few years later the neighbor’s dog, a German shepherd, grabbed and killed him. I don’t remember how long I had him, but it was quite a while.”

Aunt Catherine (Cambino-Donahue) is next at the table, and while she’s never been flamboyant like her siblings… being often the quieter one… she did tell me stories.

Catherine: “I’ll never forget when my sister, Nancy, was almost run over by Ralph Camputaro’s ice trunk. Nancy had gone to the back of the truck to get ice chips while he delivered inside. Our driveway was on a hill, and as she stood behind the truck it began rolling. In looking out the window, I saw the truck rolling backward with Nancy holding onto the back bumper… and I started yelling that the truck was rolling over Nancy. Ralph ran out and caught the truck just in time, but that didn’t save me from getting a beating from my father when he heard… he said I should have been watching her.”

“I was just seventeen when I went to work at Winchester after graduation, but I soon walked out after they went on strike during the war; later I went to work at the Armstrong Rubber Company. One day there were a few men washing windows outside our building, and one of the women I worked with told them that I wanted my windows washed at home, but it wasn’t true. Later, one of the men called me, and after a few calls, he asked me for a date – his name was Jim Donahue. Jimmy had recently moved to Hamden from Maine and was staying with his brother when he had gotten a job as a window washer at Armstrong.”

“Two years later Jimmy and I married and moved into a trailer on Beach St; we had bought it for 800 hundred dollars on sale… paying way more than it was worth. We lived across from the beach in the only trailer park there and many are still there today… even though they had then said we all had to sell and leave. We sold our trailer about 4 years later for 200 hundred dollars… the couch I left was worth more than the money we sold the trailer for. While living there, we had no toilet in the trailer and had to use the bathroom across the street at the beach. Jimmy later built me an outside type shower, and eventually brought running water inside the trailer.”

“One summer, while living in the trailer park, a woman lived next door to us who was called the “elephant woman.” She was part of the freak show at Savin Rock and had skin that looked like elephant skin. I always thought it was fake because her hands looked so nice and when I mentioned that once, she said, “oh I just peel that skin off!”

I’m sure Aunt Mary (DeTulio-Pompone) is sitting next to Catherine and most likely there is a plate of creme puffs on the table… a signature dish of Aunt Mary’s.

Mary: “My sister’s, JoJo and Lucy, often ‘borrowed’ my clothes – and usually without my knowledge! I had a red dress that Lucy loved to wear – and being a little ‘larger’ than I was – it always came back split under the arms. I was so mad – and one day I just ripped it up so she couldn’t wear it anymore; I had a lot of nice clothes. Every year I bought myself a new coat… one outfit I really loved was my yellow plaid suit and Panama hat; they were in style at the time. When I was old enough to work, I spent most of my money on clothes. I loved clothes… and often shopped at the nice stores downtown in New Haven for most of them.” (Maybe Aunt Mary wore her Panama hat to dinner)

“When we were young, my brother’s and sister’s often had singing contests on Saturday night at our house. I loved to sing and often sang at many events. As a young girl, I was an excellent swimmer too… my brother, Mikie, and I would swim at the reservoir all the time. I was never afraid to swim anywhere when I was young.”

“I worked at Brewster’s in New Haven – a shirt factory on Franklin Street. I’d get up at three in the morning to get there for my five o’clock shift, and during the war, I worked at an airplane factory… working inside a caged area giving out parts to the employees.”

The last of the Cambino brothers, Frankie, was also another great storyteller. Just recently we came across a video my son made several years ago and were treated to hearing jokes and the song he loved to sing… Smoke, Smoke, Smoke that Cigarette!

Frankie: “I built several things from Popular Mechanic magazines when I was young. Once I even made a deep-sea diving helmet… it was a helmet attached to a hot water bottle which held the air, with a snorkel mask worn under the helmet. My brother, Johnny, and I went out in the rowboat to test it. Johnny put on the helmet and tied heavy chains around his body to weigh himself down… I had a pump in the boat that I pumped up and down really fast to supply him with air. Johnny went down about 20 feet… stayed  a while, and suddenly came shooting up fast because he’d run out of air. I later went out with a friend to try it again, and he also tied the heavy chains around himself. They weighed him down so much that he almost drowned trying to get back to the surface. Another project was a robot ashtray that stood about three feet high and had two light bulbs for eyes; you put your cigarette out in his hand, and its eyes lit up. I also built a wooden donkey that held a pack of cigarettes – when you lifted the tail, a cigarette came out the back end. If only we had pictures!”

“I was at Voss’s pond one cold winter afternoon when one of the boys fell through the ice… I quickly reached down with my hand… he grabbed on and I pulled him up. I should have gotten a medal for that, but no one ever said anything.” (When Frankie told us this, we laughed as he and Johnny both had the same “remembrance”… so who really was the hero… or did they both save someone different?)

“My father was a barber in the Army… maybe even trained there, as when he came out of service, he was already a barber; it wasn’t long afterward when he opened a barbershop. He always wanted me to become a barber, but after discovering that I’d have to go to Hartford every day to school, I told him “no way.” After he closed his barber shop on Washington Avenue, I wanted the barber pole he had on the front of the store, but somebody stole it before I went there.”

“We all gambled in the family, but not my father. One day I asked him why he didn’t gamble and he said, “there was a statue on the green in the town I lived in, in Italy. The statue of the man wore just a barrel and there was a sign that read “Look at me now – I always won!” He told me and Johnny that… was why he never gambled!”

“I remember going to Bridgeport once with Georgie Greco to a gambling game. We went to this place with a heavy door… he knocked on the door – a little window opened on the door, and Georgie gave a code that allowed us to enter. You could throw the bones (dice) there and gamble with cards, but while sitting at a table, the cops came. They had a battering ram that busted through that large heavy door we had just entered through. Before they got inside, the dice was flushed down the toilet and gambling items were hid above the drop ceiling; they told everyone to say that we were playing pinochle. After the cops swarmed in they called us in the office one by one. I told them I was just playing a game of pinochle with friends. They made me empty my pockets – I had eighty dollars on me… they took all my money. Later they called the paddy wagon and hauled us all in. The bail bondsmen came the next morning and as he was paying our bail, he said to us on the side – “big game on tonight!”

“After I got home the next morning, the old man asked why I didn’t come home last night… and I just told him I had been out with the guys. It didn’t matter that I wasn’t a young boy anymore, he would have beat me if he’d known. I remember one beating he gave me with a doubled-up wire coat hanger… I scrambled up a tree to get away from him.”

“I wish I had pictures of all the things I’ve built through my life like you (Jeanne)… you take pictures of everything. I also built a beauty of a speedboat once – and almost died in it while out near the breakers. There was a young boy with me and it took all my might to get us back in… as the boat bounced against the waves while taking on water. I really thought I was going to die that day.”

“When I went into the Army I put down construction as what I wanted. Eventually, they sent me to school and I was given a diploma from the Army Engineer Core. Before I shipped out, we waited in boot camp daily to hear our names called. Every day they called names and shipped out guys. There was a war going on when I went in, but before I went to Korea, the war ended. Going to the front lines with a gun in my hand was not where I had really wanted to be. I remember walking down to the airport on base to watch the older bubble-top helicopters take off and land – and I so wanted to be able to fly one of them. Finally, my name was called and I left for Korea.”

“I soon became the assistant company carpenter while in Korea… even building a water tower there. After the company carpenter left, I became the head carpenter. I built the platoon leader a set of chairs with bent wood – they were beautiful! A commander came by one day and when he saw them he asked me to build him a set. I had a jacket full of medals by the time I left for home. I was a perfect marksman; I had always wanted to be a sniper while in the Army.” (I never saw any of Frankie’s medals… so wish I had asked him more about them)

One of my favorite storytellers who always had my ear was my father-in-law Steve Insalaco. I spent many hours listening to him tell me his stories… of his childhood, school, and serving in the Army Air-Core. I never tired of listening… often wishing I could have had those conversations with my own father.

Steve: “When I was about eight years old, and in the 3rd grade, I began working for the local family-owned Bogen’s Grocery Store – and I continued to work there until I was around seventeen. The store was very convenient to our house… located just next door. I stocked shelves and delivered groceries to many families in the area, making deliveries by foot or bicycle… later I used my car for deliveries. Most families tipped me five to fifteen cents for the delivery of their groceries. I often made about thirty cents a day and around $3.00 dollars a week in tips.”

“I rode my bicycle up Rt. 34 to Armor Meats (now Deerfield Meats) to pick up meat orders for the grocery store. At that time, Rt. 34 was only a one-sided road; both lanes were on one side, not separated like today. There were trolley tracks on the other side, which ran from Derby to New Haven. About 1940, they removed the tracks and built two lanes… now Rt. 34 has two lanes on each side.”

“I never graduated from high school because I was offered a full-time job around 1937 at the Sanford & Shelton Tack Co. on Canal St. – they made nails. Full-time jobs were hard to come by, and if you were lucky enough to find one, no matter what type of job it was, it usually meant quitting school to take it.”

“My family lived in several apartments throughout Shelton before buying their first house at 107 Kneen St. in 1942. While living there, my father was laid off from Bloomenthol’s. He began raising chickens and growing vegetables to sell as a source of income to feed the family. My mother, Giacinta, went to work to help supplement the family income. She found work at a shirt factory in Derby, where she ironed and packaged shirts… walking three miles back and forth to work every day.”

“I enlisted in the Army-Air Force on July 21, 1942, in Hartford, CT., and left on August 21, 1942, for boot camp at Fort Meyers, Tampa, Florida. The one thing I never forgot was my TI (Training Instructor) at boot camp and how he resembled the actor, Lee Marvin. When I first saw Lee Marvin on stage after I came home, I thought that he must have been my TI from boot camp… in remembering his voice and mannerisms; they were the same as the TI.” (Lee Marvin did not serve in the Army Air-Corp – he served in the Marines.)

I’m sure there are many other family members gathered around this table listening to their stories and telling more… what conversations we are missing out on! And whoever knew these characters… you know they’re still fussing and fighting over stories… as to who “really” said what!

I hope you have enjoyed my “invitation to dinner”… and because of it… they have now been able to tell you “their” stories… told to me, many years ago.

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Like to read more Family Stories, click over HERE.

© 2020, copyright Jeanne Bryan Insalaco; all rights reserved

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Family Stories: My Valentine

My Valentine

candy box

candy heart

A Valentine box and cards I saved! They don’t come in boxes anymore!

I found the “Valentine” prompt puzzling, as… what do I write about, but like all things… something comes along to jog you into the writing! Hubby brought up a raggedy plastic bag full of cards and letters he found in the cedar chest downstairs; he’s presently restoring the chest and that bag was among the things he pulled out. For a week, that bag sat on the floor in the living room… me ignoring it! Finally one night I picked it up, to finally go through and was surprised at my findings.

letters

“Our Love Letters”

My “Valentine” of almost 47 years, as of May 3rd… wrote many of those letters to me… first as a guy I’d known for only a few months, then a man I was going to marry and finally as my husband stationed in Thailand. It’s funny to look back at all the letters he wrote… when today the only thing he writes by hand is a grocery list… although he will peck away for a political post on Facebook! I’m the writer… he’s not much of a reader either!

I could have sat all night reading through those letters, but I only opened a few and laughed at my writings to him… how different they were from before and after we married. So mushy and lovey-dovey… surely one day my granddaughters will ooh and ahh over them or laugh hysterically at how mushy their grandparents were! Yes, girls… one time we were young!

Most of the cards I saved from my “Valentine” doesn’t even have a signature on them… his answer was always, “you know who they’re from, why do I have to sign it!” But there are a few signed “Love Always, Steve.”

To show you how smitten he was with me… when in Maine, he even sealed the envelope with a wax seal of “Love” on the envelopes. When I think back now, I have a hard time envisioning him shopping for that stamp and wax… and I so wish I could have a vision of him melting the wax and sealing those envelopes!

love seal

A couple of the envelopes still have the wax stamp intact on them, but most have deteriorated over the years and crumbled off.

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My other Valentine memory is my daughter’s wedding… she married the man of her dreams on Valentine day… Feb. 14, 2012… making such a beautiful bride! Until she met the man of her dreams… Valentines Day was never her favorite day, but today, it holds a much different meaning.

Melissa and Frank

Melissa (Insalaco) and Frank Gillon

Valentine Wedding – Feb. 14, 2012

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To read more Family Stories… click HERE

© 2020, copyright Jeanne Bryan Insalaco; all rights reserved

 

Posted in Daily Writings and funnies..., Family Stories | 3 Comments

Craft Junkie: Knitting FAAT Socks

Craft Junkie: Knitting FAAT Socks

Knitting at a time Canva

(FAAT…. Four (socks) at a Time)

Is your first question… why would you do that… or even want to? Well, anyone that really knows me, knows I like to challenge myself, even if it makes me crazy sometimes!

sock box begining

I dismantled the closest thing to me… the tissue box… just so I had a box to sit my yarn in… then hubby went looking for a tissue… and gave me a look, shaking his head!

Finally, after mastering to knit socks a couple of years ago… I’ve wanted to brave myself into trying the TAAT (two at a time) socks, but just never got around to it. So why did I tackle the even harder FAAT On… after seeing a post on my Facebook group, “Addicted to Sock Knitting“… where a fellow knitter, Renee Rockwood, posted her “12 at a time” socks… and I was like WOW… I want to do that! Actually, I wanted to rummage through my knitting drawer and start gathering yarn right that moment! (The Addicted to Sock Knitting group has over 28,000 knitters)

12 socks

Renee Rockwood’s YouTube can be found Here, and another video on the dreaded sock heel… that scares everyone in the beginning… can be found over Here. If interested in checking out her various yarns, they are Here... and Renee can be found on Instagram over Here!

Immediately I clicked over to Renee’s YouTube video… in as I wanted to start right that minute… but then reality kicked in… and I thought maybe I should slowly work up to this… as I don’t like unfinished projects! But I know I can, and will tackle it in the near future… as soon as I finish my FAAT socks… which will give me lots of practice and confidence! If you’re feeling brave, Renee has began a 12 at a Time KAL Facebook Group… so let’s go knit socks!

After watching her videos, I came away with great ideas… especially the box she used to hold her 12 skeins of yarn… with no tangles! The one idea I’d pass on if you use the box, is… mark it “Front” and “Back” just to help you know which side you are working on… the “front” holds your working needle stitches (closest to you) and “back” will be your back needle stitches, which is the belly of your sock; The front stitches lay on top of your foot, while the back stitches are your belly underfoot and heel. Another suggestion is, to first turn your box to the back side when you first begin adding stitches to your needle (I’m right handed, so not sure if left handle knitters would work different). I enjoy knitting “toe up” mainly, so I load stitches by holding my two needles together in my right hand, with the points facing left; I use Judy’s Magic Cast on for starting my toe.

The reason I mention to load your needles with the “back” of the box facing you, is so when you turn the box back to the “front” side, your needle points will face to your right… now you are ready to begin… yarn is in correct working order. The stitches you knit when your box is turned to the back is your heel stitches… and knitting magic loop makes it so much easier in keeping stitches organized. Renee credits Crafty Delemma with the original idea of using the box, check her on YouTube over Here for more ideas.

sock box

I finally found a shoebox with lots of room and partitioned it into four sections… all I needed at the moment! Notice my working needles are facing to the right – this is the way they should face when the front of the box faces you.

sock box 1

This is how my box looks when the back is facing me… but notice my needles are still facing right. It’s mysterious, but if you lay your knitting needles down, exactly as you are holding them when finishing a row … and rotate the front of the box around, with the back of the box now facing you… they will be in the correct working order and your yarn won’t be twisted…well once in awhile you might have to correct your yarn, but I found it was my mistake in the way I moved it. On the Crafty Delemma YouTube video she shows you how to flip your socks when turning the box to keep your yarns on the working side.

If you’re wondering why I mentioned above as to where to face your box when loading your needles… well after a couple of rows, I confused myself when the back of the box faced me when I was ready to start a new row… and suddenly I thought I had finished the row, but I was facing the back side of my box. Have I confused you? I hope not, but until you set up your box with dividers for your yarns and begin, you might not be able to follow me! Heck, sometimes I can’t even follow me!

In practice for knitting 12 socks at a time… I’m beginning with 4 socks at a time!

My first to-do, was setting up my working yarn box as Renee showed in her video. I only had to make two dividers for my 4 socks… so that was easy! Using a large shoebox worked perfect, but I ended up cutting the flip lid off as it was awkward in my lap when I turned it to the back and had the flip lid facing me. I added some duct tape around the top edge so my yarns didn’t rub on the cardboard edges and eventually I can imagine myself fully decorating this box! If you happen to have a nice size box with lid, that will work also… it’s all up to you!

For my first attempt at 4 at a time socks, I’m knitting just a plain vanilla sock… didn’t want any complicated patterns to muddle my mind and take me off track! I will admit that it is tedious and slow-going in adding each set of toe stitches… counting and recounting before going to the next toe… and trying to keep focused on which yarn goes to which needle. And in between all that, hubby walks in asking questions… which causes me to count loudly… which tells him… “Do Not talk to me“!

Finally after all stitches loaded… counted and recounted… I was ready to begin!

I casted on all 4 toe-up socks… patiently… casting on 16 stitches each side. I usually cast on 14, but it was suggested that it gives a nice fit, so I opted to try. I followed Braid and Tinker for their cast on of Judy’s Magic Cast on; she slowly explains it very well.

At a snail’s pace, I began knitting my way around… knitting one side, then the other, and I thought I’d never reach the end… of both rows. It soon became easier on subsequent rows… as I became more confident in what I was doing. The one part that was the trickiest in knitting toe up… was casting on more than one toe… and keeping everything in order; always be sure your cables aren’t twisted as you work. Another hint is to add a marker at the beginning, on the front side of your sock… just another help in the beginning. Once your socks begin to grow, you’ll be comfortable enough to always know exactly where you are!

Light was not on my side on my first day… the sun was setting and the inside light is never as good as daytime light, but I kept trudging along, as I was on a roll… even if it was a slow roll! Finally, after a few rows, I laid my needles in the box, checked off on my notes where I was, and closed the lid… tomorrow was another day!

If using a multicolored yarn and you want your socks to be twins… start at the same color of your pattern yarn from each ball. I haven’t brought myself yet to sort the coloring all out… especially when I often buy the large skeins which make two socks… too much work to unroll and reroll to find my starting points… I’m happy with sisters! Don’t you find it amusing at all the terminology used in knitting socks!

I’m anxious to complete these 4 socks… so I can brave the 12 socks at one time… I even bought longer (60-inch) circular knitting needles today as I think I’ll feel more comfortable in adding 8 more socks; I’m presently using a 40-inch circular needle and I can’t see adding 8 extra pairs of socks without fearing the one at the end might fall off… tragedy!

I began my 4 socks on January 21, 2020… and I’ll be posting updates along… so do check back!

Yarns Used:

  • On-Line: Neon – Color Two: 75% virgin wool and 25% polyamid
  • WYS: Pastels (West Yorkshire Spinners) Signature  75% wool and 25% nylon

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Update: I have since taken these four off my needles… only to redo my box and set up now for 12 socks to knit… I will create a new post after I knit a few rounds… if sanity permits!

If you’ve found my crafty sock post and you are a knitter… I’d love to hear your experiences in sock knitting, especially TAAT or even more… and if you are new to knitting I hope you will attempt your first sock and join the Facebook sock knitting groups mentioned above.

Happy Knitting

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To read more Craft Junkie posts… click HERE.

© 2020, copyright Jeanne Bryan Insalaco; all rights reserved

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2019: 52 Ancestors in 52 Weeks – Week 52 (Dec.23 – Dec. 31 ): YOU

2019: 52 Ancestors in 52 Weeks – Week 52 (Dec.23 – Dec. 31 ): YOU

I “first” joined Amy Johnson Crow’s 52 Ancestors in 52 Weeks on its “first” year in 2014… and what a whirlwind year that was… writing, editing and researching daily for 365 days! As much as I wanted to continue the following year, I found that I didn’t have the time to continue another year with that type of research… although I did continue blogging and writing stories at my own pace, which allowed me to write on other topics as well as family stories when ideas came my way… but I’ve often missed it. The first year were no specific weekly prompts like today… but I’m taking a different spin on them. There will be some posts on a specific ancestor, but most will be memories that spring from those prompts. Head over to 2014 52 Ancestors in 52 Weeks to read about my ancestors in the first years challenge.

If you’re new to genealogy, make your “first” stop to Amy’s website for genealogy ideas or even join in on this 52 Week challenge… you learn by doing… not procrastinating! There is no right or wrong… anything you do is a start!

Jeanne Easter

Even then… I closed my eyes, but I did have a slight smile!

“YOU”

I have written several posts on myself through the years…. Here,  and over Here and even Here. But if you are reading this post in my printed blog books…. I’ve pasted  some of my writing below! This will be an easy… and my last blog post in 52 Ancestors in 52 Weeks.  It’s been fun and I hope everyone who’s taken the time to stop in has enjoyed the reads… but I’m pooped! I hope everyone had a Merry Christmas and I’m wishing you all a Happy and Healthy New Year!

Getting to Know You:
Who Am I? Well if I don’t describe my outer looks, then I guess I’ll have to come up with other descriptions, so here goes. Happy and Thankful, for the most part, happy for my health, my husband, my children and my beautiful five granddaughters; I’m a genealogist; writer, at least I think so… I do have a published article that I wrote years ago. After two rejections in offering to Women’s World and Family Circle, (it wasn’t a fit for them they wrote), I sent it to Georgia Backroads magazine. They published and paid me; it’s titled Heirloom Recipes.

Mama always told me I should have been a lawyer as I tend to ask a thousand questions. I seriously looked into going to school for paralegal, but as I didn’t like driving in high traffic areas at that time, I scared myself into not attempting it. I should have pursued it…. maybe it would have helped me in becoming more self-assured. I can be nosey, well at times… bored easily with things… lazy at times… and often obsessive… especially when I have a writing project in mind, like my  A to Z in April on Nancy Drew… it quickly became all I wanted to work on at the moment. I’m actually shy, but also outgoing… how can that be? I really do feel I’m a somewhat shy person… when asked to do an interview on my photographing of war memorials, it sent me in a tailspin! I’m more a begin-the-scenes type, not someone who likes the center of attention! Crafty… I inherited those genes from my grandmother and mother, but my granddaddy McKinley was pretty crafty himself, especially when he crafted a sewing needle he needed to sew his cotton bags; I have enough craft supplies stocked to open my own store… that’s why I can never find anything when needed, and you know what that means… you go buy it again! What crafts have I ventured to learn and accomplish… well let’s see – knit, crochet, paint (wood items and paint by number), embroidery, wood burning, writing (is that a craft?), needlepoint, junk journaling, and rug hooking… and I’m sure I’ve forgotten a few.

What do “you” look like?… Brown hair (long as a teenager and still below my shoulders today); I’ve never been one to fuss and fix my hair. I remember that whenever I tried to use rollers as a teenager… I’d become very frustrated… often having a hissy fit throwing them at the back of my bedroom door. Even now when using the curling iron, there will be a slight curl at the end… but once I brush it lightly… no curl left! So I basically will always have straight hair.  I was always considered tall, 5ft. 6″ abt… but by today’s standards, I’m now average! As a child, I remember my grandmother Bryan telling me I had big bones… I hated that! Unfortunately, she never had anything nice to say about anyone, very negative! I always thought I was slightly heavy as a child and even teenager, but when I look back at those photos now, I like my look… and didn’t look fat! Funny how you perceive yourself at different times in your life. Even when my children were young, I thought I was heavy, but the pictures and home movies show me slim with long hair down past my backside! Sure, now I’m overweight and since retiring, it’s really going to be a struggle to keep the weight off… I’m not walking like I did at work. I used to look daily at my steps at work… they would be between 4 and 5 thousand steps a day; that sometimes meant almost 2 or more miles just walking around at work and climbing the stairs. I think I became slightly sidetracked here… maybe I accumulated some walking steps! So do you know what I look like? LOL

What do you enjoy?… Besides spending time with hubby watching Netflix, which has become our daily winter activity, I’d say my love is writing. Often the laptop can easily spend all day in my lap! As cold as it’s been lately, who wants to go outside! My loves are researching the family history, writing stories for my blog, joining blog writing challenges, knitting for my granddaughters, and spending time with them when possible. This past winter has had me knitting more than I have in a long time… the granddaughters have more hats and mittens than they can wear. Unfortunately my girls in Florida no longer need these type items… maybe I can knit them fingerless gloves for their cold mornings of 55 degrees!

Who inspires you?… My husband foremost inspires me as he’s so organized, never says “no” to anything asked of him, and is always there for me! He spoils me every day and I’d be terribly lost without him! I can’t name any other specific person, but there are many that inspire me to learn new things and visit different places. Granddaughter McKinley is always inspiring me (LOL) to knit her a new pair of mittens she has seen somewhere, or hinting that she can’t find hers; I always get a different story from her mother who says she’s become a good conniver in asking for what she wants! Granddaughter Ella might just be following in my footsteps in writing as she enjoys writing stories and has recently shared her story, “Sofia the First” with me in asking for editing help. Great job Ella!

What do you want to be doing that you are currently not?… I’d like to be losing weight, but I don’t see that drastically happening, especially during the winter… so I’ll settle for a few pounds off! I hope to travel more in the upcoming year and visit Maine, and I think Florida will be on my new places to visit soon also.

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Continue reading 2019: 52 Ancestors in 52 Weeks over HERE!

To read more Family Stories… click HERE.

© 2019, copyright Jeanne Bryan Insalaco; all rights reserved

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2019: 52 Ancestors in 52 Weeks – Week 51 (Dec.16 – Dec. 22 ): FUTURE

2019: 52 Ancestors in 52 Weeks – Week 51 (Dec.16 – Dec. 22 ): FUTURE

I “first” joined Amy Johnson Crow’s 52 Ancestors in 52 Weeks on its “first” year in 2014… and what a whirlwind year that was… writing, editing and researching daily for 365 days! As much as I wanted to continue the following year, I found that I didn’t have the time to continue another year with that type of research… although I did continue blogging and writing stories at my own pace, which allowed me to write on other topics as well as family stories when ideas came my way… but I’ve often missed it. The first year were no specific weekly prompts like today… but I’m taking a different spin on them. There will be some posts on a specific ancestor, but most will be memories that spring from those prompts. Head over to 2014 52 Ancestors in 52 Weeks to read about my ancestors in the first years challenge.

If you’re new to genealogy, make your “first” stop to Amy’s website for genealogy ideas or even join in on this 52 Week challenge… you learn by doing… not procrastinating! There is no right or wrong… anything you do is a start!

My “future” researchers!

“FUTURE”

What does the “Future” hold for me in my research… only time will tell… but instead of a post, I’ve chosen to write a letter to my now and “future” grandchildren!

Dear granddaughters Ella, McKinley, Ana, Nina and Grace and all that may follow one day… many years from now.

I began my research in the early 90’s, at a time when computers had just come into almost everyone’s household… but things still were not nearly as accessible as they are today. I began with paper and pencil in writing out my family group sheets… who does that today… but I still enjoy writing out notes when researching. There’s something about putting information on paper that makes it sink more into the brain and helps you to really see it in perspective.

At this time in my life, I feel I have brought our two family lines of “Bryan” and McKinley” as far as I’m going to… but not to say I won’t pick up the research again. I’ve often laid it aside for other things, and then received that unexpected email… peeking my interest and bringing me back into researching.

I have many memories of walking through cemeteries, often with my children in tow, as I looked for gravesites…. and I’ve even dragged my husband in several also. He’s never complained as I think he enjoyed the aspect of reading the tombstones and dates and feeling good at enjoying life longer than many there. I’ve even trampled through cemeteries for reasons other than searching out my own ancestors.

Thinking and looking at all of the family papers, photographs and stories I’ve gathered over the years, often overwhelms me at times… and one day, if you dare to delve into those boxes… I’m sure you’ll shake your head; hopefully if it’s been saved!

Through much letter writing in my early research, I was very lucky to have made contact with two researchers… one on each of my main lines. They had began their research in the early 70’s… and were lucky enough to also have met even earlier researchers. It was through them that I furthered my own research much quicker than I probably would have.

Sometimes I wonder if saving my years of research for my future descendants will become a blessing or curse! While I enjoy looking through the many books I’ve assembled… will they? I’ve often wondered if I should pull out all the family photographed that are in those books… but being in there, along with the pages of words, better tells their story.

I do have to tell you that I had fun and enjoyed the research…. discovering towns where they lived and even finding their homesites. It was the mountain town of Dahlonega, Georgia which I enjoyed discovering the most… and since visiting so often, well I almost feel like I belong there… as my roots go back to 1834 when my Bryan’s first settled in that area.

My one roadblock in those Georgia mountains, is my Bryan line of John and Nancy (unknown) Bryan… parents of James Bryan (1791-18??) who settled there to raise his family. If there is one thing I ask of my “future” descendants… “continue on with this line in discovering from where John Bryan came from…. who is parents were… and finally I hope you discover my mysterious Nancy’s maiden name, which has been a continued roadblock for me, along with many other Bryan researchers.”

What puzzles so many Bryan researchers is “why” did our John Bryan suddenly appear with Nancy… and in the same areas as several other Bryan’s… how no one has been able to connect the dots of how the Bryan’s and Boone’s have been linked together through the years in so many areas; that is also another “future” hope I have… so I’m leaving that in the hands of my little “future” researchers!

While I have numerous “future” requests…. I’m sure you’ll discover them when you unpack and delve into my many years of research… so now it’s in your hands!

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Continue reading 2019: 52 Ancestors in 52 Weeks over HERE!

To read more Family Stories… click HERE.

© 2019, copyright Jeanne Bryan Insalaco; all rights reserved

Posted in 2019: 52 Ancestors in 52 Weeks, Daily Writings and funnies... | Tagged , , | Leave a comment

2019: 52 Ancestors in 52 Weeks – Week 50 (Dec.9 – Dec. 15 ): TRADITION

2019: 52 Ancestors in 52 Weeks – Week 50 (Dec.9 – Dec. 15 ): TRADITION

I “first” joined Amy Johnson Crow’s 52 Ancestors in 52 Weeks on its “first” year in 2014… and what a whirlwind year that was… writing, editing and researching daily for 365 days! As much as I wanted to continue the following year, I found that I didn’t have the time to continue another year with that type of research… although I did continue blogging and writing stories at my own pace, which allowed me to write on other topics as well as family stories when ideas came my way… but I’ve often missed it. The first year were no specific weekly prompts like today… but I’m taking a different spin on them. There will be some posts on a specific ancestor, but most will be memories that spring from those prompts. Head over to 2014 52 Ancestors in 52 Weeks to read about my ancestors in the first years challenge.

If you’re new to genealogy, make your “first” stop to Amy’s website for genealogy ideas or even join in on this 52 Week challenge… you learn by doing… not procrastinating! There is no right or wrong… anything you do is a start!

I don’t seem to have any memories of family traditions growing up other than a few family reunions and summer BBQ’s where my grandfather cooked his famous barbeque and brunswick stew. There are no memories of special Christmas foods or any holiday traditions.. why do memories escape me? When I think of family traditions, I think of my husband’s family and all the memories they’ve given me for the past 48 years… and that is what I write.

I married into an Italian family full of traditions and a love for holidays!

My first glimpse into family traditions began on Christmas Eve with their traditional holiday foods. An Italian Christmas Eve is like none other… beginning with the serving of the 7 Fishes. While I never understood in the beginning of why 7… the more I read and learned on Italian traditions, I discovered it was because of the  Roman Catholic Church… seven are the sacraments, the days of the Creation, as well as the deadly sins. Hence seven courses! There were many foods in the beginning that I wouldn’t touch… and today there’s still a couple like baccala and eel, but there are many more that are now my favorites like the Christmas Eve crab sauce, stuffed shrimp, fried calamari, and fried smelts, and Grandma Minnie’s cold broccoli salad… no one made it better!

rose-seafood-xmas-fix

My daughter in law with one of the seafood dishes

Both of my husband’s grandparents were Italian… but both had very different Italian traditions and foods. His mother’s side was from southern Italy which is where the Christmas Eve 7 fish dinner is more traditional… his father’s side was from Sicily and never served any of the fish dinner on Christmas Eve. Their tradition on Christmas Eve was Nonni’s homemade pizza… which everyone truly loved.

My husband’s Christmas Eve from a young boy was in visiting both grandparents homes on that one night. The first stop that evening was always at his father’s family home where Nonni would have been in the kitchen all day making dough for the family pizzas that night. I was lucky enough to have enjoyed many years of those family pizza’s… and enjoying them!

After all the family arrived at Nonni’s and enjoyed pizza, you’d soon hear the bells of Santa coming from the cellar stairs and know he had arrived. There were still small cousins when we married and we enjoyed watching them run and scamper to wait for Santa to appear in the living room with his “huge” red sack! I remember my own kids being part of that group later on and how excited they were as their names were called by Santa. It was fun for the adults to look around at all the uncles in the room to see who had disappeared earlier that evening to change into the home-made Santa suit. It was a fun tradition and I hope my children haven’t forgotten those fun holidays.

Even after packing the many presents from Santa at one grandmother’s house… we headed off yet again… to enjoy another Christmas Eve at Grandma Minnies. Both households had large families… which meant several aunts and uncles and even more cousins. I remember being very overwhelmed with so much family when I married my husband… and many times in the beginning it was often difficult to even keep track of names and which family they belonged to; I was an only child and seldom had contact with my cousins… many I’ve never met.

Christmas Eve at Grandma Minnie’s was by far the loudest and most crowded… and the most fun. We often arrived after their dinner of the Seven Fishes… but later as I learned to eat more of the fish dishes, we began eating there on Christmas Eve. If you’ve never eaten an Italian holiday meal… it’s one meal after another. Once the main food dishes have cleared, the table is replenished with fruits and nuts and always the gallon of wine on the table.

I remember always eyeing the cookie table… it was like being at a wedding… no one arrived without a dish of cookies… just looking at the cookie dishes, I knew who baked. As my mother never baked cookies…. this is where I learned about baking. My mother in law was a great cook and baker and taught me how to bake many of the family cookies that have become my favorites over the years. Read about the Cookie Bakers HERE!

cookies

Cherrywinks… my favorite Christmas cookie! Recipe found Here.

Easter was another holiday where I learned about traditions… the family “ham pie”, “Easter breads”, “rice pie”, “wheat pie”… pies that I never heard of! For several years, I wanted no part of these pies… not even tasting them. It took years of watching my mother in law bake before I slowly began tasting… and soon creating a taste for; it was probably the “ham pie” that I first liked and learned to cook. Baking ham pie was quite a task to take… as it often began the day before… in cutting up the ham… which seemed to be my father in laws job. He also was called upon in rolling out her pepper dough… I can still hear her calling to him to come and help as she couldn’t roll it… or want to roll it out!

cookboos two

Family cookbooks that I’ve created. It makes me feel good in knowing that many families still refer to my cookbooks yearly in baking their traditional foods… such as the Christmas Seafood Sauce, Ham Pie, Grandma Minnie’s Easter Bread and the many cookie recipes like my favorites of Cherrywinks, Anginettes and Butter Balls.

Written recipes for these holiday dishes were never there… my mother in law always called her mother to inquire about measurements every holiday; Grandma Minnie never wrote a recipe down, they were all in her head… and she never forgot! Finally one year I made it my job to watch Grandma Minnie make pies… measuring ingredients to finally create those recipes. Even today, whenever I make “ham pie”, I still hear Grandma Minnie say… “always use an odd amount of eggs”... and I don’t dare use anything but! Writing those recipes pushed me to later create my two family cookbooks of those recipes, memories and photos. Many of our family recipes can be found Here!

crib McKinley FIX

Miss Grace was the last of the grandchildren to occupy this little crib… hopefully there will be great grandchildren who will one day lay inside!

Little did I know when I bought this small wooden crib in 1976 at a tag sale for five dollars… that I would create a tradition of it also being used for my grandchildren. When my first granddaughter Ella arrived, I offered it to my son and daughter in law and they were excited to use it. After cleaning it up, and buying a new mattress to fit, I sewed crib sheets to fit, as well as making bumper padding and a quilt to match. Who knew I could make a crib sheet… and it actually wasn’t that hard; I was quite pleased with myself in accomplishing that. After much search for the fabric to make a quilt, I drew up patterns and dragged out my sewing machine to make it all happen!

From the first year I began sewing felt ornaments, I’ve continued to make a new design every year of an ornament for the grandchildren… with many being knitted now.

My 2019 Christmas ornament was a knitted mitten showing their age. They were quite intricate in following detailed graphs to create the artwork and list their age.

Knitted ornaments of sweaters and mittens in past years

Traditions come in so many shapes and sizes…. from foods to family events to even crafts made yearly!

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Continue reading 2019: 52 Ancestors in 52 Weeks over HERE!

To read more Family Stories… click HERE.

© 2019, copyright Jeanne Bryan Insalaco; all rights reserved

Posted in 2019: 52 Ancestors in 52 Weeks, Daily Writings and funnies..., Family Stories | Tagged , | Leave a comment

2019: 52 Ancestors in 52 Weeks – Week 49 (Dec.2 – Dec. 8 ): CRAFT

2019: 52 Ancestors in 52 Weeks – Week 49 (Dec.2 – Dec. 8 ): CRAFT

I “first” joined Amy Johnson Crow’s 52 Ancestors in 52 Weeks on its “first” year in 2014… and what a whirlwind year that was… writing, editing and researching daily for 365 days! As much as I wanted to continue the following year, I found that I didn’t have the time to continue another year with that type of research… although I did continue blogging and writing stories at my own pace, which allowed me to write on other topics as well as family stories when ideas came my way… but I’ve often missed it. The first year were no specific weekly prompts like today… but I’m taking a different spin on them. There will be some posts on a specific ancestor, but most will be memories that spring from those prompts. Head over to 2014 52 Ancestors in 52 Weeks to read about my ancestors in the first years challenge.

If you’re new to genealogy, make your “first” stop to Amy’s website for genealogy ideas or even join in on this 52 Week challenge… you learn by doing… not procrastinating! There is no right or wrong… anything you do is a start!

I’ve crafted ever since I was small… my mother tells me I could be content all day with only a shoebox full of paper and a pair of scissors… who knows what I made! I do remember making potholders with those well-known looms and stretchy yarns, and my grandchildren enjoy making them today… some things don’t change.

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Granddaughters enjoy making potholders!

When my children were small, and I was a stay-at-home mom I began more serious crafting… even selling at summer craft fairs. What started me was an article in Woman’s Day magazine that showed Christmas felt ornaments… and I so wanted to make them! Once I began, they quickly snowballed into me making them by the dozen…  as everyone wanted to buy; I often worked late in the night in sewing them. Besides the hand-stitched ornaments, I also sewed applique wall hangings, dolls, wood painted items, and several crocheted items. All my felt ornaments were hand-sewn… no gluing involved as I’ve never liked to glue any of my handmade items. Even today, I’ll still grab my needle and thread to sew, rather than taking the easy way out of gluing. My love of sewing felt Christmas ornaments continue today and I’ll write on that in a future “tradition” prompt.

A few of my felt crafted ornaments over the years!

If “crafts” are in your DNA… then I credit my grandmother, Ola (Askew) McKinley in passing that craft gene to me. She was a true artist in her quilting… as that was her love. She couldn’t just sit, as mama often says… she always had her piece basket closeby. Evenings, after all chores were done, she sat and pieced quilts… and all hand sewing with needle and thread… and only by oil lamps. Quilting is something I always wanted to do, and while I made a few quilted items on a smaller scale… I never tackled large quilts like she made. Mama remembers seeing stacks of quilts sitting in the back bedroom…. but often it was the more worn ones on the bed at night… as grandmama didn’t want to use her new ones. While I have a couple of them… what happened to them all? I don’t know how many crocheted bedspreads she might have made, but I do have the pineapple design spread she made. This one must have taken many evenings to finish as it was crocheted with fine cotton thread, not yarn like we often use today. It can be seen over HERE.

Two quilts I have of my grandmothers… the “wedding ring” quilt is one of two she made for her children when they married, and the “flower garden” quilt was always one of her favorites to sew. If only those quilts could talk… the tales they’d tell!

My grandmother crafted only by sight and the handling of the item she wanted to sew or crochet. She couldn’t follow any written pattern if there was even one in those times… she only had to look at a quilt or a crocheted doily… then go home and recreate it; that’s a true crafter! While I have recreated some items from only seeing it, either in person or online… it’s a timely process.

My mother in dresses she sewed for herself and the many dresses she made for me through the years. One of my favorites has always been the family photo of the one she embroidered the Mexican hats on… if only it had been saved!

My mother was a crafter in different ways… while she didn’t sew quilts, never having the “want” to… she did have the want to sew clothes… even sewing her own clothes, and making her own patterns. She continued to always make her clothes and even mine… until as a pre-teen when I begged for “store-bought” clothes. Even though she no longer sewed for me, it never stopped her in sewing for herself and still designing clothes how she wanted them. When we lived in Perry, near the Air Base, she admired the jumpsuits the Air Force guys wore, but there were no patterns for jumpsuits for women; that didn’t stop her! It didn’t take long, before she had twisted two patterns into one and she soon was wearing her own designed jumpsuits… and often asked where she’d bought them. Today she says… “I should have patented them as later patterns appeared for them.”

A few Barbie items… mama sewed the two skirts and the leopard stole!

As a young girl in Barbie phase, mama sewed for her also… early mornings my friends and I would take Barbie to visit her seamstress and ask for skirts or dresses, and then return later to pick up Barbies new clothes. Inside my Barbie case today are still a few items that mama actually sewed.

My crafting today is mostly knitting, and the five granddaughters keep me busy. Although now that three of my girls live in Florida, they don’t seem to need all the hats and mittens that’s needed in CT. Funny how most of my knitting is always for others, as I very seldom knit anything for myself.

Many of my crafts have been blogged over the years… links posted at the end of article. While all my crafts were mostly made at home, my wooden craft painted items were created during my classes. Once a week, I’d pack up my two painting totes and off to class I’d go. In as much as I’ve never been a fan of taking classes… for some reason, which escapes me at the moment, I took wood painting classes.

If you asked my husband about my crafts… he’d quickly say “they are all over the house!” And often they are…  I can’t be separated too far from them. I’ll never forget the time it took me over a year to find my “knitting bag” of needles… and finally hubby discovered them in a basket that “he” had moved to the back porch. Now, I keep them closeby! Nothing worse than having to spend days and weeks looking for your needles!

I went through many crafting phases over the years… from sewing dolls, wall hangings, painting on wood, even clothes for my daughter, but today when asked to remake my famous Raggedy Ann dolls again… I cringe at the thought of cutting, pinning and sewing! The last time I made Raggedy Ann was several Christmases ago, when I sewed them for my daughter in law!

I made both my father and father in law appliqued aprons for “father’s day”. I picked the grilling guy for daddy as he enjoyed cooking on the grill and my father in law was well known for his pizza making!

When I married, it was my mother in law who taught me how to crochet and later knit. Teaching me the basic stitches… and pushing me to read directions to further my learning. My mother did crochet, as I remember her making those famous 60’s toilet roll cover dolls and the poodle “bottle covers”, but she made them like her mother would have… by “not” reading any directions. Me… I’d rather have a written pattern…cutting out the trial and error, as that so frustrates me… and wastes too much time! I often hear today from others how they can’t read or follow a pattern, but for the most part, I don’t have a problem in following patterns, but there are times! Luckily we have You-Tube today to help out in those times!

If you’d like to read and see more of my crafts click on links below…

Craft Junkie

Friday Night Heirlooms

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Continue reading 2019: 52 Ancestors in 52 Weeks over HERE!

To read more Family Stories… click HERE.

© 2019, copyright Jeanne Bryan Insalaco; all rights reserved

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2019: 52 Ancestors in 52 Weeks – Week 48 (Nov. 25 – Nov. 31): THIEF

2019: 52 Ancestors in 52 Weeks – Week 48 (Nov. 25 – Nov. 31): THIEF

I “first” joined Amy Johnson Crow’s 52 Ancestors in 52 Weeks on its “first” year in 2014… and what a whirlwind year that was… writing, editing and researching daily for 365 days! As much as I wanted to continue the following year, I found that I didn’t have the time to continue another year with that type of research… although I did continue blogging and writing stories at my own pace, which allowed me to write on other topics as well as family stories when ideas came my way… but I’ve often missed it. The first year were no specific weekly prompts like today… but I’m taking a different spin on them. There will be some posts on a specific ancestor, but most will be memories that spring from those prompts. Head over to 2014 52 Ancestors in 52 Weeks to read about my ancestors in the first years challenge.

If you’re new to genealogy, make your “first” stop to Amy’s website for genealogy ideas or even join in on this 52 Week challenge… you learn by doing… not procrastinating! There is no right or wrong… anything you do is a start!

THIEF

“THIEF”

While pondering this 48th week prompt of “Thief”… nothing was jumping out at me… did I not have any thieves in my family? So what gave me my idea… a package of saved notes and scribbled stories I’d saved… and almost threw out in cleaning. Even though I’d written stories from those papers… I hadn’t found the courage yet to toss! As I sat down to look through the package, once more before trashing, it wasn’t long into my “looking”…. when those notes talked to me and gave me my story… I was the “thief” as I had stole my husband’s family stories to preserve! Things “Do” talk to you… take the time to listen!

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The notes and scribbles

My years of stealing stories came from listening to the many stories told to me by my husband’s family… the Cambino/DeTulio/Insalaco Families… the family who shared their stories with me… and this week, those scribbled notes of those stories told to me around the holiday table… are what I’m sharing with you around my table. I am a thief… a thief of stories!

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Thieved stories learned around the table!

I’d like to first introduce my mother-in-law, Cecelia (Cambino) Insalaco… why is she first to tell her story at the table? Well, all who knew Celia… knows, that if she’s not first to tell her stories, then we’ll hear later how someone took her seat at the table and how she should have been first! That was always her words, especially in a card game!

Celia: “When I was small I remember only having kerosene lamps for light at the farm – there was no electricity there when we were young. Mama often took our clothes to wash at Daddy’s barber shop on Washington Avenue, because there, he had electricity.”

“During the Flood of 1938, my father (Joseph Cambino), closed his barber shop early that day to pick me up at school… I was only ten years old, but I remember him coming to bring me home… it was so rainy and windy. Many of the roads were already flooded, but he found a way to get us home. My father and I were a lot alike… I could always talk to him.”

“I have many memories of listening to the radio with my mother and sisters – we all listened to the 15-minute soap serial “As The World Turns; it was Mama’s favorite show, and later when it came on TV, she continued watching for years.”

“My father had an older car with a rumble seat, where I loved to ride when he took us to Savin Rock. He often took us on Sunday afternoons to get ice cream and Mama would sit in the car listening to the laugh of the “laughing lady” at the Death Valley funhouse. I remember always crying whenever he made me ride the “flying horses” on the carousel. Why I was afraid, I don’t know, but I’d cry whenever they made me climb up on those painted horses that went up and down. I wonder where they all are today, probably worth a lot of money now.”

“When I first married in 1947, we lived in a cold-water flat on Water St. in New Haven; it was a small apartment. I remember hearing the fish, ice and rag man making their calls as they came around to the apartments. You knew they were coming when you heard their words in various Italian dialects sing out as they walked through the neighborhoods.”

put and take game

After every holiday meal, Grandma Minnie brought out the “put and take” dice for a family game! I”m sure the dice are still rolling around their table!

One of the most colorful characters at my table today is Uncle Johnny Cambino… and he was never without a story!

Johnny: “I remember everything that happened to me when I was young! I was about four or five when I fell into the spring well near our farm. I don’t know what I was trying to get, but I leaned over… and fell in. I was half under the water with just the ‘tips’ of my hands hanging on the edge when Mama found me. How she knew where I was, I’ll never know, except just chalking it up to a mother’s instinct. But suddenly she had missed me around the house and ran all the way down to the spring to see my fingers hanging over the edge. They told me later how she jumped in to rescue me, and then they had to help pull her out. After she got me back to the house, my grandmother held me upside down so all the water I had swallowed, would drain out. Mama told me later that she had thought about the spring when I was missing because I always went with her to fill the water pails.”

“I always liked water – and I loved to swim at Lake Phipps. I’d often climb a tree near the edge of the bank, probably up about 50-75 feet, and dive right into the water. I wasn’t afraid of anything! One time the limb bounced me too close to the edge and I landed more on the bank than the water.”

“We had a tree at the farm called “The Tarzan Tree”… so named after going to the circus and watching too many Tarzan movies. Frankie and I hung a thick rope on that tree, which was right under the big rocks… we’d swing the rope out, and when it came back, we grabbed it to swing to the next tree; just like we’d seen on TV and at the circus. One day I swung out and the rope broke, and down I went on the rocks. Boy did that hurt! When I went home Mama and my grandmother used one of their home remedies on me – no one ran to the Dr. back then… and they didn’t dare tell my father either. Mama got plenty of eggs, and cracked them to separate the whites… then she took a white bed-sheet, tore it in strips and dipped them in the beaten egg whites. She wrapped the strips all around my wrists, and after drying, they were hard as a rock; an old remedy for a cast. When my father came home, he was told that the cow had kicked me; they never told him what really happened. If he knew I’d fallen from the Tarzan Tree, I would have gotten a beating,.. broken wrists or not. That was just how it was!”

“Another one of the many beatings that came my way, was the time I came home late one Friday night. I had been at Savin Rock watching the midgets race… they had finished late that night. About midnight, I heard the fire trucks and soon saw billowing smoke and fire rising up, just down the road. I walked down to see what was going on and saw that the Virginia Reel roller coaster was on fire. I knew I wasn’t going home then – I wanted to watch! It was a huge fire, with the fire burning high up into the sky. I got home about two in the morning that night, and when I walked in… the “old man” was waiting for me! I knew I’d get a beating when I got home, but I was used to them, and what a beating I got, but I didn’t care – it was worth watching that fire burn!”

“I pulled a kid once from under the ice at Eddie Voss’s pond. He fell through the ice and I just reached in and grabbed him. If I hadn’t caught hold of him the first time, I would never have found him; I don’t remember how I even happened to be there that day.

“My brother, Frank, and I always arm wrestled everyone in the neighborhood; no one ever beat us… my arms were big… everyone told me I had ‘Popeye’ arms! If you look at the old pictures of me in the race cars you can see how big they actually were. It was a lot of hard work pulling on those steering wheels.”

“Frankie and I had two pet black crows on the farm. We took them out of a nest when they were young and raised them. When they were older they lived outside, and I’d open the pantry window and yell ‘caw, caw’ – and those two birds came flying right inside. I fed them raw chopped meat – they could eat a pound of meat in no time… gobbling it right up! My bird’s name was ‘Nigal’ (Nick)… I don’t remember what Frank’s was called. One day his didn’t come home, then later mine disappeared… maybe they went off to start their own family.”

“Daddy had many chickens on the farm. The old man had to cut their beaks straight across, making them flat, because they pecked the eggs with their pointed beaks and was breaking them – he solved that. The ‘old man’ was tough! My father knew everything about farming.”

“I stopped at Flo’s Pet Shop in Milford one day and saw a spider monkey, and I thought he was the cutest thing I’d ever seen… I bought him for ‘fifty dollars.’ In the early 50’s that was a lot of money! I named him Squeaks and kept him in the garage where my racing car was kept. I had a kerosene stove in the garage that I burned in the winter to keep him warm; I spent a lot of money on heat for him. Sometimes I’d find Squeaks in the morning shivering with blue lips if the stove went out at night, so Jennie Downs made him a little coat to wear; we even took him to the race track a couple of times. As he got older, he developed rheumatism in one of his legs and would drag it along when he walked. A few years later the neighbor’s dog, a German shepherd, grabbed and killed him. I don’t remember how long I had him, but it was quite awhile.”

Aunt Catherine (Cambino-Donahue) is next at the table, and while she’s never been flamboyant like her siblings… being often the quieter one… she did tell me stories.

Catherine: “I’ll never forget when my sister, Nancy, was almost run over by Ralph Camputaro’s ice trunk. Nancy had gone to the back of the truck to get ice chips while he delivered inside. Our driveway was on a hill, and as she stood behind the truck, it began rolling. In looking out the window, I saw the truck rolling backward with Nancy holding onto the back bumper… and I started yelling that the truck was rolling over Nancy. Ralph ran out and caught the truck just in time, but that didn’t save me from getting a beating from my father when he heard… he said I should have been watching her.”

“I was just seventeen when I went to work at Winchester after graduation, but I soon walked out after they went on strike during the war. Later I went to work at the Armstrong Rubber Company. One day there were a few men washing windows outside of our building, and one of the women I worked with told them that I wanted my windows washed at home, but it wasn’t true. Later, one of the men called me, and after a few calls, he asked me for a date – his name was Jim Donahue. Jimmy had recently moved to the area from Maine and was staying with cousins when he had gotten a job as a window washer there.”

“Two years later Jimmy and I married and moved into a trailer on Beach St.; we had bought it for 800 hundred dollars on sale… paying way more than it was worth. We lived across from the beach in the only trailer park there and it’s still there today… even though they had then said we all had to sell and leave. We sold our trailer about 4 years later for 200 hundred dollars… the couch I left was worth more than the money we sold the trailer for. While living there, we had no toilet in the trailer and had to use the bathroom across the street at the beach. Jimmy later built me an outside type shower, and brought running water inside the trailer.”

“One summer, while living in the trailer park, a woman lived next door to us who was called the “elephant woman.” She was part of the freak show at Savin Rock and had skin that looked like elephant skin. I always thought it was fake because her hands looked so nice and when I mentioned that once, she said, “oh I just peel that skin off!”

I’m sure Aunt Mary (DeTulio-Pompone) is sitting next to Catherine and most likely there is a plate of creme puffs on the table; a signature dish of Aunt Mary’s.

Mary: “My sister’s, JoJo and Lucy, often ‘borrowed’ my clothes – and usually without my knowledge! I had a red dress that Lucy loved to wear – and being a little ‘larger’ than I was – it always came back split under the arms. I was so mad – and one day I just ripped it up so she couldn’t wear it anymore; I had a lot of nice clothes. Every year I bought myself a new coat… and one outfit I really loved was my yellow plaid suit and Panama hat; they were in style at the time. When I was old enough to work, I spent most of my money on clothes. I loved clothes… and often shopped at the nice stores downtown in New Haven for most of them.” (Maybe Aunt Mary wore her Panama hat to dinner)

“When we were young, my brother’s and sister’s often had singing contests on Saturday night at our house. I loved to sing and often sang at many events. As a young girl, I was an excellent swimmer too… my brother, Mikie, and I would swim at the reservoir all the time. I was never afraid to swim anywhere when I was young.”

“I worked at Brewster’s in New Haven – a shirt factory on Franklin Street. I’d get up at three in the morning to get there for my five o’clock shift, and during the war, I worked at an airplane factory… working inside a caged area giving out parts to the employees.”

The last of the Cambino brothers, Frankie, was also another great storyteller. Just recently we came across a video my son made several years ago and were treated to hearing jokes and the song he loved to sing called Smoke, Smoke, Smoke that Cigarette.

Frankie: “I built several things from Popular Mechanic magazines when I was young. Once I even made a deep-sea diving helmet… it was a helmet attached to a hot water bottle which held the air; a snorkel mask was worn under the helmet. My brother, Johnny, and I went out in the rowboat to test it. Johnny put on the helmet and tied heavy chains around his body to weigh himself down… I had a pump in the boat that I pumped up and down really fast to supply him with air. Johnny went down about 20 feet… stayed awhile and then came shooting up fast because he’d run out of air. I later went out with a friend to try it again, and he also tied the heavy chains around himself. They weighed him down so much that he almost drowned trying to get back to the surface. Another project was a robot ashtray that stood about three feet high and had two light bulbs for eyes. When you put your cigarette out in his hand, its eyes lit up. I also built a wooden donkey that held a pack of cigarettes – when you lifted the tail, a cigarette came out the back end. If only we had pictures!”

“I was at Voss’s pond one cold winter afternoon when one of the boys fell through the ice… I quickly reached down with my hand… he grabbed on and I pulled him up. I should have gotten a medal for that, but no one ever said anything.” (When Frankie told us this, we laughed as he and Johnny both had the same “remembrance”… so who really was the hero… or did they both save someone different?)

“My father was a barber in the Army… maybe even trained there, as when he came out of service, he was already a barber; it wasn’t long afterward when he opened a barbershop. He always wanted me to become a barber, but when I discovered that I’d have to go to Hartford every day to school, I told him “no way.” After he closed his barber shop on Washington Avenue, I wanted the barber pole he had on the front of the store, but somebody stole it before I went there.”

“We all gambled in the family, but not my father. One day I asked him why he didn’t gamble and he said, “there was a statue on the green in the town I lived in, in Italy. The statue of the man wore just a barrel and there was a sign that read “Look at me now – I always won!” He told me and Johnny that… and that’s why he never gambled!”

“I remember going to Bridgeport once with Georgie Greco for some gambling. We went to this place with a heavy door. He knocked on the door – a little window opened on the door, and Georgie gave a code that allowed us to enter. You could throw the bones (dice) there and gamble with cards, but while sitting at a table, the cops came. They had a battering ram that busted through that large heavy door we had entered through. Before they’d got inside, the dice was flushed down the toilet and gambling items were hid above the drop ceiling; they told everyone to say that we were playing pinochle. After the cops swarmed in they called us in the office one by one. I told them I was just playing a game of pinochle with friends. They made me empty my pickets – I had eighty dollars on me; they took all my money. Later they called the paddy wagon and hauled us all in. The bail bondsmen came the next morning and as he was paying our bail, he said to us on the side – “big game on tonight!”

“After I got home the next morning, the old man asked why I didn’t come home last night. I just told him I had been out with the guys. It didn’t matter that I wasn’t a young boy anymore, he would have beat me if he’d known. I remember one beating he gave me with a doubled-up wire coat hanger. I scrambled up a tree to get away from him.”

“I wish I had pictures of all the things I’ve built through my life like you (Jeanne), you take pictures of everything. I also built a beauty of a speedboat once – and almost died in it while out near the breakers. There was a young boy with me and it took all my might to get us back in as the boat bounced against the waves while taking on water. I really thought I was going to die that day.”

“When I went into the Army I put down construction as what I wanted to do. Eventually, they sent me to school and I was given a diploma from the Army Engineer Core. Before I shipped out, we waited in boot camp daily to hear our names called. Every day they called names and shipped out guys. There was a war going on when I went in, but before I went to Korea, the war ended. Going to the front lines with a gun in my hand was not where I had really wanted to be. I remember walking down to the airport on base to watch the older bubble-top helicopters take off and land – and I so wanted to be able to fly one of them. Finally, my name was called and I left for Korea.”

“I soon became the assistant company carpenter while in Korea; even building a water tower there. After the company carpenter left, I then became the head carpenter. I built the platoon leader a set of chairs with bent wood – they were beautiful! A commander came by one day and when he saw them he asked me to build him a set. I had a jacket full of medals by the time I left for home. I was a perfect marksman there; I had always wanted to be a sniper while in the Army.”

One of my favorite storytellers who always had my ear was my father-in-law Steve Insalaco. I spent many hours listening to him tell me his stories… of his childhood, school, and serving in the Army Air-Core. I never tired of listening… often wishing I could have had those conversations with my own father.

Steve: “When I was about eight years old, and in the 3rd grade, I began working for the local family-owned Bogen’s Grocery Store – and I continued to work there until I was around seventeen. The store was very convenient to our house… located just next door. I stocked shelves and delivered groceries to many families in the area, making deliveries by foot or bicycle; later I used my car for deliveries. Most families tipped me five to fifteen cents for the delivery of their groceries. I often made about thirty cents a day and around $3.00 dollars a week in tips.”

“I also rode my bicycle up Rt. 34 to Armor Meats (now Deerfield Meats) to pick up meat orders for the grocery store. At that time, Rt. 34 was only a one-sided road; both lanes were on one side, not separated like today. There were trolley tracks on the other side, which ran from Derby to New Haven. About 1940, they removed the tracks and built two lanes; now Rt. 34 has two lanes on each side.”

“I never graduated from high school because I was offered a full-time job around 1937 at the Sanford & Shelton Tack Co. on Canal St. – they made nails. Full-time jobs were hard to come by, and if you were lucky enough to find one, no matter what type of job it was, it usually meant having to quit school to take it.”

“My family lived in several apartments in Shelton before buying their first house at 107 Kneen St. in 1942. While living there, my father was laid off from Bloomenthol’s. He began raising chickens and growing vegetables to sell as a source of income to feed the family. My mother, Giacinta, went to work to help supplement the family income. She found work at a shirt factory in Derby, where she ironed and packaged shirts… walking three miles back and forth to work every day.”

“I enlisted in the Army-Air Force on July 21, 1942, in Hartford, CT., and left on August 21, 1942, for boot camp at Fort Meyers, Tampa, Florida. The one thing I never forgot was my TI (Training Instructor) at boot camp and how he resembled the actor, Lee Marvin. When I first saw Lee Marvin on stage after I came home, I thought that he might have been my TI from boot camp… in remembering his voice and mannerisms; they were the same as the TI.” (Lee Marvin did not serve in the Army Air-Corp – he served in the Marines.)

I’m sure there are many other family members gathered around this table listening to their stories and telling more… what conversations we are missing out on! And whoever knew them, you know they’re still fussing and fighting over stories… as to who “really” said what!

I hope you have enjoyed my take on “Thief”… and because of it… they have now been able to tell you “their” stories I stole… preserved now for many years.

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Continue reading 2019: 52 Ancestors in 52 Weeks over HERE!

To read more Family Stories… click HERE.

© 2019, copyright Jeanne Bryan Insalaco; all rights reserved

Posted in 2019: 52 Ancestors in 52 Weeks, Daily Writings and funnies..., Family Stories | Tagged , , | 2 Comments

2019: 52 Ancestors in 52 Weeks – Week 47 (Nov. 18 – Nov. 24): Soldier

2019: 52 Ancestors in 52 Weeks – Week 47 (Nov. 18 – Nov. 24): Soldier

I “first” joined Amy Johnson Crow’s 52 Ancestors in 52 Weeks on its “first” year in 2014… and what a whirlwind year that was… writing, editing and researching daily for 365 days! As much as I wanted to continue the following year, I found that I didn’t have the time to continue another year with that type of research… although I did continue blogging and writing stories at my own pace, which allowed me to write on other topics as well as family stories when ideas came my way… but I’ve often missed it. The first year were no specific weekly prompts like today… but I’m taking a different spin on them. There will be some posts on a specific ancestor, but most will be memories that spring from those prompts. Head over to 2014 52 Ancestors in 52 Weeks to read about my ancestors in the first years challenge.

If you’re new to genealogy, make your “first” stop to Amy’s website for genealogy ideas or even join in on this 52 Week challenge… you learn by doing… not procrastinating! There is no right or wrong… anything you do is a start!

soldier

“SOLDIER”

I’ve always known that there were many military members in my family… from my father, Harold Clayton Bryan who served in the Navy… to my grandfather Edgar T. McKinley – Army; great-grandfather Joseph T. Sharp (Army-Cavalry)… great-great-great Berrien C. Bryan (Army)… with many uncles serving in both Army and Navy. There has only been one family member who was killed in the war… Edgar “Leroy” McKinley (Army WWII)… my mother’s only brother.

My husband, Steve Insalaco, served in the US Air Force… his father, Steve Joseph Insalaco (Army WWII)… his grandfather Giuseppe Cambino (Army WWI)… his grandfather Stefano Insalaco, served in the Italian Army before coming to America.

For “Soldier”… I’m focusing on my husband’s grandfather’s.

My husband’s family came here in the early part of the twentieth century as immigrants from Italy.

The three family lines that immigrated from Italy to the United States:

  • Stefano Insalaco (Stephen Insalaco) – March 13, 1909 / April 9, 1920
  • Giuseppe Gambino (Joseph Cambino) – May 27, 1913
  • Giovanni DeTullio (John DeTulio) – Aug. 02, 1906 / April 22, 1909 (Giulia Catalano -DeTulio

Giovanni DeTullio (John DeTulio)

1930 DeTulio censusFIX

DeTullio/DeTulio, 1930 Census

John DeTullio first came to New Haven, CT. in 1906, and continued to live in the “Little Italy” area at addresses of 2 Olive St., and 5, 15, 42, and 45 Warren St. He worked in various jobs, with the first one found working for Star Line Co. (N.H.S.C.) as a dock hand at Belle Dock (record found on the 1918 WWI Registration Card). Later he found work at a local New Haven lumber company… DeForest & Hotchkiss at 115 Water St. John seemed to always work near his home as he didn’t drive.

1917 CT Military Census

In the 1917 military census, John was listed as married, living at 5 Warren St., could not drive, was not a citizen, and had never served in the military; his occupation was listed as a stableman.

The 1930 Census, shows that John and wife, Julia (Giulia) were living at 2 Olive Street, with their nine children, Antoinette, Carmela, Rosa, Michael, Nicholas, Maria, Andrew, Lucy, and Josephine; the children’s ages varied from 2 months to 19 years of age. At this time they rented, paying $21 dollars a month. Neither John or Julia were listed as able to read and write, but all children of school age were listed as able to. Their language spoken was Italian… and from accounts, I’ve heard it was always their dominant language used in their home. Several of their grandchildren that did know their grandparents, told me how they never had much communication with their grandparents as they didn’t speak Italian. The one odd question on this census to me was “did they own a radio?”… it was noted that “yes” they did.

By the time the 1940 Census was taken, the family had moved from 2 Olive St. to 42 Warren St., which was just around the corner… still remaining in the Italian area of New Haven. The family rented there at $16 dollars a month. I was told that he often moved the family to less expensive rents through the years, and on Warren St., much family lived there; as far as I’ve found he never bought, only rented. By 1951, Julia, widow of John DeTulio, was living at 55 Carlisle St. in New Haven with son Nicholas. (I’m not sure if she rented or owned)

DeTullio / DeTulio Through the years

Detulio census 1

Detulio census 2

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Giuseppe Gambino (Joseph Cambino) – May 27, 1913

Giuseppe arrived in the United States as a young man, age eighteen, on May 27, 1913. As jobs were scarce, it pushed him to quickly join the Army in WWI on July 20, 1917. That may have been his best choice, as he came out of the Army as a barber. We are not sure if he knew barbering before entering, but it was told to me by sons Johnny and Frank, that he came out of the Army as a Barber; it was told he cut hair while in the Army.

Cambino ship Clip

Giuseppe Gambino (Cambino) arrived May 27, 1913

Even though I found Giuseppe’s destination listed on the ship manifest at Ellis Island for 178 Frank St. in New Haven, ct., I never found him actually listed in the city directory until 1920, after returning from WWI; he was listed as a barber at 668 Washington Ave., West Haven, with a residence now of 178 Frank St.; previously listed there was a Thomas Foormichella and Grava Angelo. He may have boarded with them and his name never given; they were boarding houses on Frank St.

1930 Cambino Census1930FIX

1930 Census: Joseph Cambino and family

On the 1930 census, Joseph was now married, working of his own accord at his barber shop (Buddy’s Barber Shop) on Washington Ave. in West Haven… but living at 294 York St.; he owned this home with a value of $6000, and 3 children were living at home… Catherine, Fred, and Celia. Joseph was listed as able to read and write and speak English, which was their primary language spoken in the home; all the children spoke and read English. I was told that he never spoke in Italian… only wanting his children to speak English… he wanted them to be American. Joseph also owned a radio, and from his grandson, Steve, he enjoyed listening to his radio while working in the barbershop; he kept one on a shelf in the shop that was always on. They also had one on a shelf in their kitchen at home and it’s the very one that we have today in our kitchen.

radio

Grandpa Joe Cambino’s radio.

Joseph Cambino came here at the youngest age (18) of my husband’s grandparents… coming here as a single man… and the only one to own a business… and buy a house at an early age. He operated his own business by age 25, never rented except for when he first arrived… and bought three houses during his lifetime. He and his wife, Minnie (Domenica) lived in a small back room in the building of the barber shop, but within a year or two, he bought his first house on York St.in West Haven, Ct. (It seems Giuseppe Cambino was the most prosperous of my husband’s immigrant grandparents.)

Gambino / Cambino Through the Years

Cambino year listing

Cambino year listing 2

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Stefano Insalaco (Stephen Insalaco) – March 13, 1909 / April 9, 1920

Stephen Insalaco entered the United States more than once as a single man, but it wasn’t until 1920 did he return as a married man with his family, daughter Louise, and son Anthony. It’s told he was ordered to serve in the Italian army before being allowed to leave with his family.

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Insalaco, 1930 Census

Stefano first came in 1909 with his brother, Gaetano… both listing their destination as N.Y., with an address of 3 Monroe St.  It was told to me that he didn’t remain long in the United States before returning to Italy. He returned soon to Italy, but it was also said that he went to Argentina to work on laying train tracks; I was never able to find anything on those trips. But I do know that he returned to Italy, and remained there to serve in their Army… by their demands. Before returning with his family, he once again came to live with cousins in Willimantic and worked in the Willimantic Thread mills.

By 1920, he returned, for the final time, to the United States… bringing his wife, Giacinta, and two children, Louise, age 2 and Anthony, age 2 months. Their destination was to cousins in Willimantic, CT., where work was promised in the Willimantic Thread Mill as a weaver; he had worked there on a previous trip.

The 1930 Census finds Stephen and Giacinta have moved their family to Shelton, Ct. where’s he has found work at Bloomenthols, also a textile mill. They rented for $15 dollars monthly at 131 Oak. St… both were listed as able to read and write… and six children were living at home; no radio was owned.

They made a few moves during the 1940’s but was found at 346 Coram Ave. in 1940. His occupation had remained as a weaver, but now renting at a price of $18 dollars a month. It was noted that he did not work at all in 1939 and their other income was “zero;” with 9 children at home, not sure how he supported them all. It was told to me that at one time, Giancinta took in laundry and later worked at a local shirt factory folding shirts. I’m sure there was some income coming in as my father-in-law always talked about how he worked at a local grocery store delivering groceries from age 8, to help support the family. After leaving Coram Avenue, they bought their first house on Kneen Street.

Insalaco Through the Years

Insalaco listings 1

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Only two out of my husband’s three grandparents who immigrated here bought houses. It seems the one (Joseph Cambino) who came here at the youngest age of 18, and single… worked himself up the ladder at a quicker pace. Was it because he acquired an occupation of a barber in the Army? However it happened, he worked for himself, quickly owning his own business.

If I hadn’t already gathered information on his grandparents, I would have discovered much information through the census… such as year of immigration, marital status, where immigrated from, residences, children, age at marriage, and property owned.

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