2017 A to Z: Letter T… All About Me

2017 A to Z: Letter T…

I thought I’d change the on-going 52 stories this year to an A to Z of 26 stories of  “All About Me”.  I plan to post bi-monthly, but I’m not holding myself to a certain time frame other than completing by year end. Originally I was going to do the “All About Me” for the 30 Day -April A to Z, but thought I might get just a wee bit long-winded, so I’m giving myself a longer time frame. Hopefully, by the time I reach letter Z, I will have written all I can remember about “me.” If you so feel inclined, why not join me in your own “A to Z” of All about Me!



Letter T is for… Teaberry Shuffle, Typing, Trains, Time Travel, Travel, Television, Taxes, and Tornado

Teaberry Shuffle:


Anyone remember the Teaberry Shuffle from the Teaberry gum commercial of the 1960’s? Are you humming it now? My girlfriend Janet and I could never just walk down the sidewalk… we always did the Teaberry Shuffle at every corner! I secretly tried it the other day, and I felt like my mother… not so coordinated anymore! Now I know how my mother felt when she tried to follow along with us, but had lost her coordination! I can still do it in my mind… that’s all that matters… right?

It’s been a long time since I’ve chewed a stick of Teaberry gum, think that would help me shuffle along more coordinated? You don’t have to answer that!



I loved typing class in high school… maybe so because it was another gadget! Long before high school, I already had been typing… not sure if I hunted and pecked or had already learned on my own. My typewriter had been a Christmas present one year, and actually, the only present under the tree that I didn’t already know what was inside. I was very bad at peeking inside my wrapped gifts ahead of time, but mama fooled me on that one! I didn’t even know it was my present, as it had Daddy’s name on it… more on that in Letter X blog post!

Even today, I continue to type… but only on my computer keyboard. I would never get my blog posts finished if I still hunted and pecked, especially on this typewriter! Often at work, the manager has asked me to type up reports for him… it took him just way too long. Why is it that people are amazed when they watch someone click away on a keyboard… is it mesmerizing? I’ve had people stand behind me and comment… “how do you type so fast?”


I have always enjoyed watching and hearing a train go by…. something about hearing the train’s swooshing sound and who doesn’t love the sound from the engineer’s whistle …. as he announces he’s coming through. It’s amazing how far those sounds carry, as often when we are sitting by the beach, I can softly hear the train whistle as they pass through West Haven.

Mama tells me I was fascinated by trains as a small child and always begged to ride. Maybe because the train tracks sat just across from the single side of the main street in Union Point, and I frequently saw them pass by. There was only one side to downtown Union Point; anytime you were uptown, you were treated to hearing and seeing the trains.

During the 50’s when I lived in Union Point, there was still a train station and people rode the train, but the station has now been razed and only freight trains pass by.

Train Depot in Union Point, Georgia

Finally, after begging to ride the train every time I saw it, Granddaddy McKinley took me and Grandmama to Greensboro (8 miles away), and put us on the train to ride back to Union Point; he then drove back to Union Point to pick us up. Probably by the time we settled in our seats… we had arrived in Union Point, but to a small child of five… it made my day!


Just to the left was where the Union Point train depot once was before it was torn down. The tracks are now only used as commercial tracks.

The longest train ride I ever took was when I belonged to the Rainbow Girls; an affiliate of the men’s’ Mason organization. Now, why did I join the Rainbow Girls? For the train ride of course! The girls took a yearly trip to Atlanta to shop at Rich’s Department store, and you rode on the Nancy Hanks train out of Macon… and it was a shopping trip not to be missed!

The train rides to Atlanta were awesome… walking through the cars, eating in the dining car, sometimes… it was kind of pricey! The best part was the ride home… showing off what you bought! I always bought a new John Romaine purse and there was nothing better than changing to a new purse… deciding where everything would go. And what else did my new purse need…. a girl needed new makeup! I have no memory of ever buying clothes there, but I do remember all the purses and makeup I bought… you can see where my priorities were!

train tracks mystery figure

I still swear that this figure was not there when I took this photo… I was quite surprised when I saw it on the computer at home!

Even today, I enjoy looking down train tracks when I pass over and I’m always looking for interesting train tracks to photograph. While in Jewett City at a flea market, I stepped onto the tracks to take a photo of the long length of tracks… and was I surprised when I looked at it on my computer screen. I didn’t see anything through the viewfinder upon taking it, but way down… there was a figure walking. It was eerie… and spooky at the same time!

Time Travel:


I might not have thought about time travel as a kid… but who knows maybe I did…. as I was a daydreamer! I sure do think about it now, and always find myself wishing I could time warp back to talk to my ancestors… but more so, to time travel back to talk to my father. I have so many questions on his life, that have gone unanswered. If only, I had been interested in family history back then, I could have gotten all my questions answered! The biggest question I have is about his Navy career and time on the U. S. Blue Ridge at Bikini Atoll! If only…

I don’t remember Daddy talking about his Navy days… why didn’t he? I hear so many stories on how a father never talks about military days… and that causes us to piece together possible stories by researching journals and histories, written by others, who were in the same areas. I write down many stories my husband tells me on his Air Force days… maybe one day our children will find them of interest, and won’t have to wish for that time-travel trip.


My biggest 1st travel trip was when I married and we drove up the East Coast from Georgia to Connecticut. To a young 19-year old who had never been further than North Carolina, and had never been North… it was a big travel trip!

Until recently, I traveled back and forth to Georgia by flying, but since my husband retired, we now drive to Georgia. Driving down on I-95 was out of the question, but after discovering a truck route almost parallel to 95 on the other side… well, driving down isn’t so bad.

When you drive I-95, you see nothing, but driving I 80, 81, and 85 into Georgia, we see farms, fields of cows, battlefields and so many interesting sights. On our last trip home to Ct., I discovered that we could travel Rt. 11 in Virginia, and even crossing into Pennsylvania… letting us really see the country… off the interstate! It follows along I-81 so closely that you often still see it for the most part, but you’re traveling at a different speed and actually seeing what’s in those towns we’ve passed by so often.

Passing through Staunton, Virginia recently, we discovered the Woodrow Wilson Presidential Museum and discovered several new antique stores along the way. We even passed a creek called “Naked Creek“… hubby had to do a turnaround for that photo!

It’s often the quaint out-of-the-way places that we find the most interesting. And sometimes it’s just nice to be off the highway with the drone of cars and trucks constantly churning in your ear.

Even when not leaving the small state of Connecticut, hubby and I often travel up one side of our state and down the other… all in just one day! We have discovered so many interesting places and always discovering something new when we travel the backroads… which is where we find the most unusual discoveries!


I grew up with television in my house… never do I remember not having one! My father was a TV repairman, so there was never a reason to not have a TV. In fact, we had the first color Television, in our house, in Union Point. Don’t ask me what I remember watching though… as I don’t remember watching any early TV.

What I do remember most about television is that we had no remote control… I was the remote control, more specifically I was daddy’s remote control! Often it was impossible to even watch TV if Daddy was in the room, as he’d often stand by it for what seemed like hours… him fiddling with the fine tuner trying to make it clearer. Heck, by the time he finished, the program was over. Maybe he was OCD about that television tuner!

televisions FIX

The many faces of Television… Daddy would have loved the changes!

Television has come a long way since daddy was fiddling with that tuner. Now everyone has a remote control, heck they have more remotes than they can even keep up with. We have 4 or 5 in the box… one for the TV, one for the satellite, one for the DVD player, one to operate the Fire Stick, and one we can’t find…that turns on the Apple TV. More remotes than we need… why can’t you program just “one” to operate them all? No, the manufacturers want to drive you crazy with them all!

And look at how just the shape of the TV’s have changed… I grew up with the television screens inside of consoles or small portables; many were even large pieces of furniture. Those TV’s were huge… and heavy, taking up so much room. Eventually, the consoles were pushed aside for the next style of TV sets… portable TV’s not inside of consoles and they kept getting bigger and bigger. Now they are flat screens and it’s nothing for someone to have a 60 inch  or even larger in their living room.

tv off air signal

Only if you’re old enough, will you remember this on the TV screen… and when it appeared… after midnight… it meant time to turn the TV off for the night!

Daddy would love all these gadgets… never having to fiddle with that tuner again, and never having to get up to change the channel… and no antennae on the roof! Now we have all of these great television gadgets, and to go along with them are the expensive cable bills.  Antenna’s on the roof…. meant TV was free! We should have just kept it simple… kept the antennae… and no cable bill!


Taxes was a word I never even thought about as a child… what child thinks about taxes… sales tax would have been the only thing I ever paid, and I’m sure I never even gave that a second thought!

Today is another thing… you work, and they seem to tax you to death. Federal tax, city tax, state tax and any other tax they can find to add on. Just look at your monthly bills and check out all the taxes they’ve thrown in… especially on your phone bills. That’s what they call “taxing you to death” – and – “squeezing every penny out of you!

I recently retired in June (2017) and it was scary to see all the taxes they took out of my last paycheck of the buy-out… it was enough to scare the pants off me…. they could have left me just a little more of that pie!


But the worst part is, every April…. April 15th to be exact… is “tax day“! Why does it have to come one day before my birthday? Even though I usually receive a refund check, I still procrastinate in doing my income taxes! I never did the 1040 form on paper…. always had someone else do that for me… it intimidated me immensely! Several years ago, I finally stepped up to filing it online with tax software. While I don’t really have a problem doing it now, I sure did on my first attempt. For hours I sat in front of my computer…. banging my head… and walked away with a pounding headache… but I did it!

In growing up, Daddy always did our taxes… just him and the 1040 form in longhand. Numbers were his thing, he never had a problem putting the pencil to paper. I guess I didn’t inherit my math skills from him, but he’d be proud of me at how I’ve advanced to finally saying… yes, I can do my taxes!


I have remembrances of tornadoes when I was small and if there were any bad ones, I guess Mama never talked about them as surely I would remember. About the only time I remember paying attention to tornadoes was when hubby and I were heading out of Georgia to come home to CT. That was the last time we smoked, as I had bought a pack of cigarettes to keep us busy on the drive… trying to keep ahead of the tornado sightings. We also had just discovered Pringles in Georgia and between munching on them and smoking…well it kept me sane on that drive. Cigarettes were thrown in the dumpster when we arrived back home.

While my mother was living back on the farm in Siloam, she had a tornado come down the road and lay a tree across the front enclosed porch. She told me it had sounded like a freight train coming and scared her to death… and she crawled up under the mattress. After it was all over, she called her first cousin Kenneth McKinley and told him she was dead. He laughed and said, “well you’re talking to me.” He came over with his chainsaw and cut a path down to the farm so she could get out.

While living in New Haven in 1989, Steve was cooking steaks out on the grill amidst a terrific rain and windstorm… and at one time the wind pretty much even slammed the door out of his hand. After enjoying our steak dinner, we later learned that a tornado had touched down in Hamden (next town over) and did considerable damage. There had been bad weather all around us, but we had just thought it was only a bad storm. It was pretty scary afterward to learn that all that happened around us and we never even knew!


Want to read more, then click… 2017: A to Z… All About Me!

© 2017, copyright Jeanne Bryan Insalaco; all rights reserved

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2017 A to Z: Letter S… All About Me

2017 A to Z: Letter S…

I thought I’d change the on-going 52 stories this year to an A to Z of 26 stories of  “All About Me”.  I plan to post bi-monthly, but I’m not holding myself to a certain time frame other than completing by year end. Originally I was going to do the “All About Me” for the 30 Day -April A to Z, but thought I might get just a wee bit long-winded, so I’m giving myself a longer time frame. Hopefully, by the time I reach letter Z, I will have written all I can remember about “me.” If you so feel inclined, why not join me in your own “A to Z” of All about Me!



Letter S is for… Siloam, Sun, Summer, School, Soap Opera’s, Sewing, Shopping, Seashore, Swing Set, Sing, Shower vs Bath, Sneakers, and Smoking


Siloam, Georgia is a small southern town where my mother was born in 1930… in a log cabin, on a straw mattress… delivered by a midwife; a town dear in my heart. I spent so much time at my grandparent’s farm, just outside of town… off Syrup Mill Crossing. Many Friday evenings after daddy came home from work, we headed there… mama would have us all packed and ready to go. It was about a two-hour drive and we usually arrived after dark, around 9 o’clock.

Granddaddy’s farm is where I have so many fond memories… spending weekends there was time spent rambling through the barns, just up the walking path… teasing the bull in the back forty, letting his Fox Hounds loose every chance that came my way, and feeding the barn mice by grinding the corn cobs through the sheller. It was awesome there at the farm… even having no friends to play with! I had my own BB gun there, and often was yelled at by Granddaddy whenever he heard me “pinging” his cast iron farm bell… but I couldn’t resist! I have that very bell today that I pinged!

Siloam 1996 FIX

In this small town, there wasn’t even a traffic light, and still not one today… only a blinking caution light. Siloam was mostly a one-sided line of brick stores, with a couple single ones just across the road. On the corner was my cousin’s general store, a place where Grandmama spent her time visiting with cousin Ulma O’Neil McKinley. Next door was Johnson’s Pharmacy… a place I frequented when I was there; I bought lots of comic books there and an ice cream or two, and I could just put it on granddaddy’s tab! The third store down was another general store, more old-style with the large pot belly stove in the back, and large oak and glass counters and cases filled with all types of goodies to ponder over. The floorboards were oak, worn through the years, and very creaky; as far as I can remember this store remained the same until it eventually closed. Just next door was a smaller attached building… no place I ever went in, but mama said it was the Doctor’s office. It probably had belonged to Dr. Lewis, who delivered mama, along with the help of his midwife, Mrs. Credille.

Siloam filling station FIX

David Conley’s filling station in Siloam where Granddaddy McKinley spent his Saturday afternoons!

Just across the side street next to cousin McKinley’s general store, was the filling station where granddaddy hung out, especially on Saturday afternoons. I always knew where to find him… he never changed his pattern of where he frequented. Granddaddy could be found inside, usually sitting around on an upturned Coca Cola wooden case… arguing politics or who’s dogs had been in the lead on the Friday night fox hunt.

johnson pharmacy

Johnson’s Pharmacy, built in 1904… was just to the left of Bank of Siloam… which eventually became the general store of Lawson & Ulma McKinley. Above the pharmacy was Siloam Theatre where movies were shown. Mama said they entered through a side door entrance. When this picture was taken the other general store hadn’t been built. (The bank safe still stands in the general store) Photo Courtesy of: The Georgia Digital Archives

Sadly today, that short line of brick storefronts have dwindled down to the last two on the right side of the photo above, and Johnson’s pharmacy is almost fallen in now… the roof is gone and just this year (2017), the front windows are now boarded up. Last year I was able to look through those windows.


Who thought about the sun when they were small, you just went outside to play if the sun was out! It was more on my mind when I was a teenager, especially in the summertime… as I just wanted to sunbathe!


Feeding Tiki when he came to visit

While I never wear a bathing suit now, and if I did… it would be a one-piece and probably with no one around! As a teenager, I couldn’t wait to go shopping for a new bathing suit every Spring. While I never bought any skimpy bikini’s, or neither did the other girls, we all bought two-piece suits; I always bought more than one. If I wasn’t laying on Grandmama’s quilt in the backyard, I was at the pool at The Perry Country Club. When we lived on Hillcrest, I often laid out on the back cement deck and if Tiki was around, he’d swing through the trees to come say hello… and look for food! (Tiki was a squirrel monkey who belonged to a neighbor around the corner)

jeanne slip rock

Me sitting on one of the large rocks at Slip Rock

When I visited mama, after she moved back to the farm, we always went to Slip Rock or Jernigan’s Bridge to lay out on the big smooth flat rocks by the water. Greene County is known for the huge rocks out in the farm fields and often large flat rocks are found near river banks. There was even a place locally called Flat Rock, and when mama was young many people went there to picnic; it is since long closed to the public. When we ride through Connecticut today, I’m amazed to find big rocks just like in Georgia; you don’t really see them unless you are out in the country and more upstate.

Siloam big rock

One of the older big rocks in Siloam… it’s still there but from the road change, it is no longer so close to the road.


Summers were the best when I was young… last days of school meant summer vacation! And what was one of my favorite things to do in the summer… play school! What was wrong with me, I had just gotten out of school? A few girls in my neighborhood would gather every morning… and we’d plan our summer school-day, but now we were the teachers! The local high school was just around the corner from me when I lived on Smoak Avenue and our favorite activity was scouring the dumpster after school closed… they threw out awesome stuff, or at least we thought so!The dumpsters were where we found all the supplies for our summer school games… it supplied us with papers, pencils, books, even class photos that hadn’t been purchased; one year I even found a class ring! Mama eventually found the owner and it was returned.

The dumpsters were where we found all the supplies for our summer school games… it supplied us with papers, pencils, books, even class photos that hadn’t been purchased; one year I even found a class ring! Mama eventually found the owner and it was returned. Summers were the best for bike riding, and I spent hours on my bike with all the neighborhood kids. We rode mostly in the late afternoon after the heat of the day was over… it gets pretty hot in Georgia! Sometimes we even transformed our bikes into horses… throwing a rope around the handlebars and “bingo” you have a horse. We’d chase each other on those “horses” until we tired or called in for supper. Yes, in the South, we call dinner… supper!

Summers were the best for bike riding, and I spent hours on my bike with all the neighborhood kids. We rode mostly in the late afternoon after the heat of the day was over… it gets pretty hot in Georgia! Sometimes we even transformed our bikes into horses… throwing a rope around the handlebars and “bingo” you have a horse. We’d chase each other on those “horses” until we tired or called in for supper. Yes, in the South, we call dinner… supper!

Nighttime in the summer was reserved for certain games, and most often played in my front yard as Mama would sit on the front steps and be the caller of “Mother May I”, Simon Says,  or “Red Light.” When total darkness came, the “can” came out for “Kick the Can” and we played until our names were called to come home. This was a time way before beepers or cell phones…. we had mothers who yelled “Loud” …. you were never out of earshot of her, and better not be! My mother never called my name, but instead blew Granddaddy’s fox horn… I knew that sound, along with everyone else… and it meant I better be getting myself home!There was a Mimosa Tree in the neighbor’s yard and that tree was our source for crafting; the seeds from the Mimosa pods were what we used for stringing necklaces… all for free; there were no craft stores to run to like today. Whatever we made, was usually with things found, nothing was bought specifically for crafting… it was just what you had or thought of.

There was a Mimosa Tree in the neighbor’s yard and that tree was our source for crafting; the seeds from the Mimosa pods were what we used for stringing necklaces… all for free; there were no craft stores to run to like today. Whatever we made, was usually with things found, nothing was bought specifically for crafting… it was just what you had or thought of.

imageGranddaddy McKinley’s Fox Horn

There was a Mimosa Tree in the neighbor’s yard and that tree was our source for crafting; the seeds from the Mimosa pods were what we used for stringing necklaces… all for free; there were no craft stores to run to like today. Whatever we made, was usually with things found, nothing was bought specifically for crafting… it was just what you had or thought of.


Summer reading was….. Nancy Drew!

If no one was around, I often grabbed one of Grandmama’s quilts… we had plenty, and I’d head out under a shade tree with my Nancy Drew or Bobbsey Twins books. Later, after I outgrew those choices, I went to the library for books. I read lots in the summer, always striving to complete my summer reading certificate. And at my age now, I’m back to reading Nancy Drew again, and planning on writing on Nancy on the 2018 A to Z!

fullsizerender-3My summers were filled with bike riding, swimming, reading, skating, playing kick the can, and often on Friday nights… Mama took us all to The Dairy Queen! They were indeed “fun” summers!


I went through 1st grade to 12th in Perry… from Perry Elementary for grades 1 through fourth, then Perry Junior High for grades 5 through 8th… then on to Perry High School for my last four years.

perryPerry Grammar School – Grades 1 – 4

My first-grade teacher was Mrs. Couey, and she was pretty strict compared to the first-grade teachers I’ve met with my children; I think she and mama had a few altercations over issues in the beginning! My first days were spent dreaming out the window, wanting to go out and play… sitting at my desk listening to directions wasn’t what I wanted to do. Eventually, I settled in and became accustomed to being there all day. By the time second grade came with Mrs. Pierce, my very favorite teacher, I had become accustomed to school…. finally! While I probably wasn’t teachers pet in first grade…. I was Mrs. Pierce’s pet in second grade.

I remember an old-fashioned Coke machine that sat the side hallway near her class and we often were allowed to buy a coke if we had a nickel. That’s the only place I ever saw a soda machine in school. Third grade was Mrs. Ryals… and school was getting to be more work than play… like second grade had been. In fourth grade I remember mama having another run-in with my teacher Mrs. Scarborough; it involved a math test I had brought home. My father was a math whiz, and in looking over the test he noticed one of my answers was right, but she had marked it wrong. Mama went in with my test to question her the next morning, but I don’t think she really wanted to admit she had marked it wrong. I’m sure mama had a few words on that and my grade was changed. I didn’t jive too well with her in fourth grade.

Perry Junior High SchoolPerry Junior High School – Grades 5 – 8

It was a big thing when I went to Junior High… changing classes was something I had looked forward to! It was fun walking from class to class and no longer having just one teacher all day. We were growing up now and given more responsibility in keeping up with our backpack and books all day. The one thing I mostly remember in Junior High was the day President John F. Kennedy was assassinated, we were all ushered in the auditorium to watch the TVs. That was the first political event I  had known… little did I know of what else I would be subjected to in life!

No more treated like babies in junior high… gearing up now for high school… we should have just been content to enjoy life and not be in such a rush to get to high school, then graduation… as once you graduate… real life begins, and goes by way too fast!


Perry High School – Grades 9 -12

Going to high school was the final leg of school… ninth grade meant we were older now and almost of legal age to drive. I remember being so excited about going to ninth grade (freshman), even though we were “low man” on the totem pole… I was ecstatic to finally be there!

Once again… more changes, and as a freshman, I was just trying to fit in and not look so young. All we wanted now was to be a sophomore…. why…. so we weren’t low man on the totem pole anymore?

If I could go back in time… and wouldn’t we all, I’d tell myself… slow down, enjoy high school more and stop rushing through life. Everyone just wanted to hurry up and graduate… why? Now we all would like to just go back to simpler times, no bills, no responsibilities… just live and have fun… what were we thinking? I graduated in 1970, met my future husband on Halloween and married the following year.

Soap Opera’s:

Who didn’t watch soap opera’s in the summer… or at least watch once in awhile! While I didn’t watch the traditional ones like General Hospital on any regular basis, I”m sure I probably saw it a few times. What I ran home from school to watch often as a young girl was the campy vampire series called Dark Shadows! I still love it today, and even my husband watches it with me now. It’s so corny, but we enjoy discovering the many bloopers found in the background. I’m sure I fantasized of Barnabus biting me and turning me into a vampire… I think I had a very vivid imagination as a child.

Who didn’t watch soap opera’s in the summer… or at least watch once in awhile! While I didn’t watch the traditional ones like General Hospital on any regular basis, I”m sure I probably saw it a few times. What I ran home from school to watch often as a young girl was the campy vampire series called Dark Shadows! I still love it today, and even my husband watches it with me now. It’s so corny, but we enjoy discovering the many bloopers found in the background. I’m sure I fantasized of Barnabus biting me and turning me into a vampire… I think I had a very vivid imagination as a child.

darkshadows-booksheadI loved reading these… and have a complete set!!!

It wasn’t long after I married when I became hooked on the daytime soaps of General Hospital, One Life to Live, and All My Children. For years I watched them, and after buying our first VCR, I never missed a single one! They were very addictive, making me feel like I must watch them every day… never missing one single episode or else! All My Children and One Life to Life was canceled several years ago, but even though General Hospital still runs, I’ve moved on to watching other things; it just doesn’t hold my interest any longer. Do you still watch Soaps?


My introduction to sewing was first watching my mother sew… her sewing machine was always out… and in use. Until I was about twelve, she made all my clothes! In the summer Mama sewed for Barbie, and I’d visit her pretending she was a seamstress… she’d take orders for outfits for Barbie. I’d return later in the day with Barbie to pick up her new outfit! She even made clothes for my friends’ Barbies too… Mama was Barbie’s personal seamstress! I never realized I even had anything left that Mama sewed until recently when I went through my Barbie case again. See, that’s why you sometimes need to revisit things, as well as papers, ever so often… seeing with different eyes!

barbie skirtI was technically introduced to the sewing machine in Home Economics in Junior High School – wonder why Mama didn’t teach me to sew? Probably because I never wanted to learn! Sewing 101 taught me all about the sewing machine and my first project was an apron… where I learned how to gather and sew a ruffle. Not sure I could do it the right way now, but I always seem to figure out a way to sew what I want. I should re-learn how to use the different “feet” attachments for my machine. By the end of that sewing class, I even made a skirt complete with a zipper… another thing I need to learn how to do again but feel a little intimidated.

While I wasn’t over-fond of sewing, and still aren’t, I do know my way around a sewing machine. In high school came Sewing 102 in Home Economics… where I made my first dress, a simple A-Line style dress – it was green. I think I hated sewing when young because I didn’t like sewing zippers. It was boring to take the time to baste the zipper in before sewing;  I think that was my last zipper I sewed!

While I wasn’t over-fond of sewing, and still aren’t, I do know my way around a sewing machine. In high school came Sewing 102 in Home Economics… where I made my first dress, a simple A-Line style dress – it was green. I think I hated sewing when young because I didn’t like sewing zippers. It was boring to take the time to baste the zipper in before sewing;  I think that was my last zipper I sewed!

That was the end of my sewing until I married and bought my first sewing machine, a Kenmore from Sears… and I still have it! It was nothing fancy, no special gadgets, just a plain simple sewing machine, but it was perfect for me until I walked through Sears one day and discovered one that made all the fancy embroidery stitches with just the change of a “cam.” I’m sure I was slightly talked into it by the salesman… and I’ve hardly ever used those cams. Even today if I want to use one, I have to go and dig out the manual to remind myself of settings and how to use it.

Raggedy dressedFIXI made these Raggedy Ann dolls for my daughter in law one Christmas; she had mentioned earlier in the year how she’d love to have a pair.

My mother learned on a Singer pedal machine and still had it when I was young… that pedal sewing machine made all my clothes and Barbie’s clothes. One day she traded it to a man for a more updated machine that was electric; always regretted it, saying her old Singer had been the best sewer!

Before my daughter was born I sewed quite often, even selling at craft fairs. I made applique wall hangings, dolls, and hand sewn felt ornaments… all sewed by hand – no glue! More on the felt ornaments on letter X for Xmas.

Wall Hangings I sold at craft fairs


Sheep wall hanging and shirt that was Melissa’s!


Elephant Garland and bib for Melissa

I sewed a few outfits for Melissa… even made sunsuits, bonnets and a watermelon hat that is still even used today on her girls, and looks just as new. Sometimes I look back at things I sewed and wonder how I even did that.


Bib top and pants with flower appliques

While my daughter hasn’t taken any interest in sewing, as of yet… she did sew two Statue of Liberty outfits for a college project once… and did very well for having no sewing experience.

My last sewing projects came when the grandchildren arrived. I designed a “new” crib ensemble for their “old” baby portable crib. I sewed a quilt with matching crib bumpers, and even crib sheets… Yes, I learned how to make a fitted sheet! It wasn’t really difficult once I understood how to make the pattern… I was very proud of myself!

crib McKinley FIX

I outfitted this little crib twice for all five granddaughters! This one was sewed for McKinley and Grace. It could be somewhat considered a family heirloom now; there is a story in this little crib… Stay tuned!

Ella in cribFIX

I sewed this set for Ella, Ana and Nina… All five babies used the little yellow baby crib that both Stephen and Melissa slept in for their first few months before the big crib. (Ella in crib) 


As a teenager, I loved to shop… what girl didn’t? Today, I hate shopping… at least in a box store; I usually only shop online! Very seldom do they not have my size or color and my feet never hurt after my shopping bag is full!

Until I had my driver’s license, I mostly shopped with my mother, unless I shopped downtown in Perry… in my favorite store of Tot’s to Teen’s… where I bought almost all my jeans and tops.

Shopping trips to Rich’s Department Store in Atlanta were one of my favorite things to do as a teenager. Those trips, taking the train with the Rainbow Girl’s, was so much fun! But it was coming home on the train, going through all your bags and showing everyone what you bought, and looking at what they bought… was just the best! So much fun and memories to ponder back on!


I loved the seashore as a kid… who didn’t! No one had pools like today, so when you went to the shore, it was exciting! Swiming in the ocean or walking along the shore collecting shells wasn’t every day… like it is for me since moving to Connecticut. Today, I can walk the shore every day, if I choose to, but as a kid, it was something I only did when we went on vacation to Florida.

I’m only about fifteen minutes away from the seashore in West Haven now… where my husband grew up. He had access to their beaches anytime he wanted and often went there with friends.

Today, I take the granddaughters there to walk the shore and they always come home with more shells than needed. While they aren’t pretty shells like I often found in Florida, the girls don’t seem to mind… they just enjoy picking them up! Most of the prettiest shells I ever found was at a place in Florida called Alligator Point… FYI, there were no alligators! Its name comes from the beach looking like an alligator from an aerial view.

Alligator Point was the only beach I ever found real “sand dollars.” While daddy fished, Mama and I walked the beach hunting shells, and upon returning home she’d often turn all those shells into projects. She even made a bird bath once by cementing shells on a pedestal all the way up, and adding a bowl on the top for the birds to bathe in.

These seashore photos were actually at Daytona Beach – you can easily tell by noticing the cars in the background on the shore!

The Miami or Daytona seashore  was mostly where we spent riding the waves rather than picking up shells. They had awesome waves and I enjoyed riding them back to shore in my tube… under Mama’s watchful eye! She always warned me how the waves could pull me under very quickly;  never letting me out of her eyesight! I have memories of staying at a house on the beach in Miami; somewhat like a bed a breakfast. I loved the breakfast the woman served of homemade cinnamon buns.

Swing Set:

Every kid had one, but for the life of me, I just can’t picture one in my yard in Union Point, which I doubt… and if I did, I really have no memory of it. I’ll ask Mama! If I had one, it seems like it would have been in Perry as we moved there when I was around five… but I cannot picture it anywhere in the yard either! In my mind, I can see my backyard there… I see the playhouse butted up against the back of the house where my room was… I see the tree house in the Holly tree on the edge of the yard bordering the Peavy’s next door… I see the two Pecan trees in the backyard… great for climbing, but I just can’t see a swing set there at all! (Those Pecan trees still loom back there)

Maybe I never asked for a swing set as I kept myself busy reading, playing yard games and riding my bike… once I learned how! I also had a tire swing at Granddaddy McKinley’s farm and spent my afternoons amusing myself with that when there.


Do I sing – or Can I sing… Hmm, that would be a NO! Have I? Well sometimes if I’m the only one in the car or in the house… definitely when no one is around! Can my daughter sing… Yes! I never knew she could sing until I heard a recording she made. She has a very nice voice… not quite sure where she inherited those genes from.

I love hearing all my grandchildren sing… they all have nice voices and it amazes me at such young ages how they remember the words to their favorite songs, and they are always willing to sing!

Frozen is one of the first movies I remember Ella learning the words to and just recently McKinley surprised me singing a song from the movie Moana, and singing it very well. In as much as I love children’s movies myself, that one never grabbed my interest so I missed it on the big screen. After watching it recently, it’s become one of my favorites for its songs. I enjoy playing it on TV while I”m working… just to listen to the music.

As Ella and McKinley are the oldest of my five granddaughters, they are the only two, so far, that has remembered all the words to songs. McKinley isn’t shy with a microphone, as I found out at her Pre-K graduation when she was given the microphone to lead the Pledge of Allegiance… and she remembered all the words! It was a proud moment watching her recite the pledge with her hand over her heart! Her teachers have said she always helps the younger kids in learning it and teaching them which hand to put over their heart.

Shower vs Bath:

I was never a “shower” girl in growing up… it was always a bath. I don’t even remember my parents taking showers either. Even after I married, I still took baths, unlike my husband, who always took showers… never… ever a bath!

For years I took longggg baths, often bubble baths until I hurt my left knee digging up a lilac bush. It then became difficult to get up out of the bath, although I can… but why struggle. It just wasn’t enjoyable to take those long baths any longer. Plus, I had spent way too much time in there… hours on the phone or reading… it had become my library!

I enjoy my short showers now vs those long baths before… and now that I write… more time is needed to write my blog posts. When I think about how long I actually spent on my baths, I can’t believe all the time I wasted every evening, but I had more time to read books like… my Anne Rice Novels, Lestat the Vampire and more, all the Harry Potter’s… if only I had gotten back into Nancy Drew then.


I never remember wearing sneakers as a child or even a teenager. The only shoes I have memories of wearing are flip-flops, penny loafers, and BeBops, also known as saddle shoes… or so my mother says. Flip Flops were my shoes of summer… doesn’t every Southern girl grow up with them? If I wasn’t wearing them, I was barefoot!

Being a child of the South, I went barefoot all the time in the summer until I stepped on a sandspur… then I went running for my flip flops! And if you don’t know what sandspur s are… they are similar to cactus spines and once one sticks in your foot, it definitely puts a hurt on you!


Believe it or not, but I never smoked until after graduating high school. Having asthma as a young child, my mother always harped on me about smoking…. so I guess it sunk in, but then you grow up and suddenly want to fit in with everyone!

Both of my parents smoked for as long as I can remember, although my mother gave it up cold turkey over forty years ago. My father probably began smoking as early as eight years… and never really gave it up. Every morning was a cigarette… and being a Southerner, a beer chaser accompanied. I remember mama always having a cigarette sitting on the side as she sewed.

I only smoked for a few months before meeting my husband… who also smoked. What guy in the service didn’t smoke? He never smoked before going in the Air Force, but quickly learned that if you didn’t smoke… whenever the guys were given “smoke breaks”…. you had to stand at attention! He soon began smoking to join in on their smoke breaks! So it seemed that the service actually encouraged guys to smoke… and almost everyone smoked. I’d be curious to know today, if they still give smoke breaks and what percentage of service guys smoke?

We both continued to smoke after we married until I became pregnant… the cigarettes made me so nauseous that I immediately gave them up! And then… I asked hubby to give them up because it was like kissing an “ashtray”… he gave them up Cold Turkey! I can still see him tossing his pack in the dumpster on the way into our apartment at Rolling Ridge.

There was only one time when we both fell “off the wagon” … so to speak! We had driven to Georgia in our 1973 Volkswagon and in leaving to come home, there were tornado warnings… which pretty much followed us up the coast. I was a wreck… constantly listening to the radio to keep track of where tornadoes were sighted! I think that was the trip we also discovered “Pringles” in the grocery store before leaving and bought several cans for the trip home! So it was Pringles and cigarettes all the way back to CT., and just like when hubby went cold turkey… we both tossed our cigarettes in the dumpster on the way into our apartment, and never puffed another one!

My son never smoked as far as I know, but my daughter did… and I bugged her constantly until she finally quit after a few years. While in high school, all the kids bought “loosies” at the local convenient stores near the school. That really ticked me off that the stores sold them loose to the kids, and even though I wanted to do something about it… I felt I’d be fighting a losing battle; how could I prove it? I often annoyed her when I found her cigarette pack, as I’d take them out and put them back in upside down! Finally, she quit, and I hope she never picks up that habit again! I know I have tried one or two through the years when upset over something, and after just one puff, I was like… “what am I doing, how can anyone smoke these things… my throat was burning!

And before I end the smoking stories, there is a tune running through my head by Tex Williams (1948) called “Smoke, Smoke, Smoke that Cigarette.” Ever hear it? Head on over to YouTube… it’s there!


Want to read more, then click… 2017: A to Z… All About Me!

© 2017, copyright Jeanne Bryan Insalaco; all rights reserved

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Foods: Family Recipes and Memories – Fall Corn Chowder

Fall Corn Chowder

My fall corn chowder was created after trying another recipe but adapting it to my taste and my way. In as I have only made it in the fall… hence the name Fall Corn Chowder. I’m not a soup person in the summer, but once fall comes I’m looking to simmer a pot of soup on the stove. I love corn but had never had a corn chowder before and after eating it just once…. well I knew it was going to become a family favorite! I’m posting the original recipe at the end in case you’d like to add the optional ingredients I chose to leave out, so do check out the original recipe link at the end of my recipe.

corn chowder

Fall Corn Chowder



8 ears fresh corn – I use either white or sugar and butter for a sweet taste: cut kernels off cob and scrape cob (opt.) for the extra goodness

3 Tbsp butter... a bit more never hurts

5  or 6 slices bacon – cut into bite size pieces: I use my kitchen scissors (so much easier)

1 cup half and half – can also use 3/4 cup light cream and dilute with milk to make 1 cup

1 medium Vidalia onion chopped small (1 cup abt) Can substitute yellow onion

1 clove garlic, minced tiny (if you want more… feel free)

1/4 cup all-purpose flour – be sure and cook the flour as specified in directions

5 cups water… sometimes you might need a bit more – judge (I best chicken stock would add extra flavor)

1 lb potatoes – cut into bite-size pieces: I used new potatoes and added more!

Salt and pepper to taste – season along as it cooks

Optional at the end – shredded cheddar cheese sprinkled in your bowl.

The cut kernels  –  and the onions and bacon simmering in pot


Prep corn before beginning: Hubby always shucks the corn for me… what a timesaver! If you have a deep baking pan (4×12 abt) you can use it to cut your corn kernels off the cob. If you’ve never cut kernels off the cob before…. be careful with that sharp knife… you don’t want a visit to the ER! After slicing down the cob with my sharpest knife, I also scrape the cob with a big tablespoon to save all the sweet pulp. Being from the South, I know how to cut kernels and scrape a corn cob, but if you’ve never done it before you might want to give the video a peek. I chose America’s Test Kitchen for the cutting part to show you, although it’s not how I do it… it looks like a good way for a beginner.  It’s not hard, so don’t let it intimidate you! (You don’t have to scrape the corn cobs as I did, so don’t stress yourself out over it)

I have always cut my kernels off the old fashioned way…. very tiring process… until recently when I purchased a corn cutter from Pampered Chef: it works fantastic! I’ve also seen a new one over on YouTube called OXO Corn Peeler… and it works just as good, so if you’re interested in buying one I’m suggesting these… or just go the old-fashioned route like me; I was too lazy this morning to go searching for mine.

After corn is cut… the biggest part is over!

Place butter in a large 5-quart pot over low heat and allow to slowly melt, don’t burn. Add the chopped onions and bacon and begin cooking, stirring frequently so the bacon and onions don’t burn… stir until the bacon just begins to brown a bit on the edges. It takes about 10 – 15 minutes or so. Now add in your flour and minced garlic and cook about 1 – 2 minutes… stir constantly. When stirring flour into a recipe, it must be cooked a minute or so… otherwise, your recipe will have a flour taste… flour must always be cooked!

Pour in 5 cups water, while whisking, then bring the mixture to a quick boil. Continue to stir now with a wooden spoon, adding the corn kernels and potatoes and then turn down to a simmer. Add salt and pepper to taste, but you’ll have to adjust it along the way, and also at the end… as any cook knows! I like to simmer the chowder until my potatoes are cooked… and you’ll know when they are cooked, about 20-25 minutes or so.


Remove about 2 1/2 cups of the chowder to a blender and blend until smooth. I often just use my hand blender in a deep mixing bowl. Pour the mixture back into your chowder and stir well with wooden spoon. I tend to let my soup simmer on my lowest setting so I cook it longer than the 20-25 minutes I mentioned above. There’s no set rule, just how you’d like to make it. I think the flavors meld together more by simmering longer.Turn heat off now, as you are going to pour in your half and

Once you’ve decided “chowder” is ready…. turn the heat off and let it sit for about 10-15 minutes before you pour in the “final” ingredient of half and half... you don’t want it to curdle! Slowly pour in the half and half, while continuing to stir… you want to temper it into the hot soup. If you aren’t in a rush… let it sit for awhile so there is no chance of having it curdle while adding the half and half. After all that hard work, you don’t want to ruin it at the end!

The original recipe called for 1 Tblsp. honey, but in my first batch I made, I omitted several of the ingredients called for like honey, thyme, bay leaf and chives, but if these are ingredients you like, then add, check out the original recipe… Summer Corn Chowder.

I never hesitate to use creative license in changing up a recipe and turning it into my own, either adding new ingredients… or omitting what I don’t like… or cooking it differently. My husband always questions me on that saying, “but it calls for it,” and my answer is always, “but I don’t like it and I’m not adding it!” He just walks away shaking his head. While he will follow, or try to follow a recipe… me, I’m not afraid to leave ingredients out; but that only applies to cooking, not baking. Baking is more concise and certain ingredients need to be in proportion with others for the final outcome to be eatable! Soup doesn’t really apply to those guidelines!

My husband was always a baker, baking cakes…. After his retirement, I began working full-time, and slowly taught him how to cook all his favorites. Dinner was always waiting for me when I arrived home! Reading my cookbook was a challenge for him in the beginning and I’d receive calls during the day asking, “what does opt. mean, or what does pot. mean?” I thought everyone knew that opt. was the abbreviation for optional! And who doesn’t know that pot. means potatoes! LOL….  Well, he didn’t!

Take a moment and sit down and look through your recipe’s… and laugh at all your scribbles that probably only you can decipher. I make so many notes on my recipe pages as to what worked, and what didn’t, or which pan cooked it better in… or even who’s favorite recipe it is. A cookbook filled with scribbles and food splatters are truly an heirloom and my daughter has already laid claim to mine!

I’d love to hear from you if you make this, but do hurry along as corn season is dwindling fast. If you add the optional ingredients I didn’t, let me hear how you liked them!


Click to read more Family Foods and Recipes

© 2017, copyright Jeanne Bryan Insalaco; all rights reserved

Posted in Daily Writings and funnies..., Foods: Family Recipes and Memories | Tagged , , , | 8 Comments

Savin Rock… Now and Then: Bishop’s Colonnade

Savin Rock… Now and Then

Bishop’s Colonnade

colonnade panorama

Through the re-creation idea of James Holt, in placing these structures of where they once stood long ago in West Haven’s Savin Rock, to now in today’s time; also, credit to Marc Friedland in the sharing of his vast photograph collection and knowledge.

I hope to breathe life in these photographs through story form – of where these structures once were at Savin Rock, sometimes known as “Connecticut’s Coney Island.” Savin Rock is a place I heard stories of when I first came to West Haven… a place my husband was able to somewhat enjoy throughout his boyhood, but not in all its glory of what it once had been.

Savin Rock is a place that holds dear memories to many… of times once enjoyed and not forgotten!

Bishop’s Colonnade

Collonade Now

Bishop’s Colonnade once stood in the area where the boardwalk dancing takes place today. The “No Lifeguard on Duty” sign marks the spot. An unidentified man stands, unaware he’s been made famous… standing as if staring at the building! Photo Credit: James Holt

hotel bishop adBishop was already a prominent businessman in the New Haven area owning Bishop’s Hotel which promoted Savin Rock by offering his hotel as “the place” to stay and enjoy the local seashore. New Haven was known world-famous as a center of learning because of Yale University, but it was Bishop’s Colonnade where the elite and sea-shore vacationers came to eat.

hotel bishop

What a deal! A room for $2.00, including a bath!

Being a family researcher, the first names of Sherlock and Yale greatly intrigued me…. did his father attend Yale University… and so named his son? Where did his father’s name of Sherlock come from, and his middle name of Hubbard… was he related to the large Hubbard family of West Haven? Sadly, I found no mention of him or his father attending Yale University, but the name Yale must have had a deep impact on his father for some reason.

Bishop’s father, Sherlock Hubbard Bishop (1817-1901), was born in North Haven, CT. to parents Benajah and Sarah Bishop; he married Mary Jane Domkee ( 1830-1934) in 1852. Yale D. Bishop (1870-1944) must have inherited his business sense from his father, who was a carriage manufacturer with a business at one time in Derby, but later moved it to New Haven. I can only assume the Bishop’s ran in the same circles as the Wilcox’s, as Fannie M. Bishop, sister to Yale, married Frank Wilcox. I did find that Yale also managed Wilcox’s restaurant for a short time before opening the Colonnade.

Yale Densmore Bishop married Inas M. (unk) in 1906 and had three sons, Wade D. (1907), Yale Jr. (1908), and Charles W. (1910). Between 1910 and 1920 Yale and Inas divorced… that solves the mystery of why she wasn’t listed in his obituary.

By most accounts, I found that Yale D. Bishop built his spectacular and unusual Colonnade in 1904, but I also read conflicting dates on the opening through several newspaper clippings. While it’s possible to assume that the actual building began in 1904 and opened a few years later, but we might also assume that it was whoever gave information to the newspapers and took guesses. The opening of Bishop’s Colonnade was always a spectacular opening… and generally opened on Decoration Day, near Memorial Day and remained open through Labor Day; like anything seasonal, its success depended on the weather.

In building the Colonnade, Bishop designed the structure of a middle central rotunda with several wide-spread lofty columns across each side… extending to the right and left of the main entrance. It was the open middle where the patrons entered the restaurant… being open, allowed for light, cool breezes off the water and magnificent views of the bright lights of White City and the band concerts in the park.

colonnade 1904

The front of the building on Beach Street was extremely spectacular, stretching out over 360 feet along the street. If you can imagine how long a football field is at 300 feet, then picture that sitting along the boardwalk now, which was once Beach Street. The entire restaurant was located in the back area and built out on pilings completely over the water. Besides the buildings square footage, the land area stretched out to over 460 feet, which allowed for the extra space needed to park all the automobiles and carriages that came daily.

colonnade over water 1906An open kitchen was built at the rear of the central structure, and with glass partitions added between the colonnades of the front pillars, it made for two long dining halls on each side. Bishop prided himself on having a spotlessly white kitchen, and by having it open, his patrons could view every detail of the cooking and every department connected to it. (In as many times as I’ve read, and reread how the kitchen was constructed, I still find it hard to imagine an open kitchen in those times. Being this is written on an establishment existing over 100 years ago… there are no living persons today who witnessed it to give us an actual account.)

The only dish I found mentioned that was served at the Colonnade was a seafood dish called “Crab Meat Tokyo”… ironically invented by one of their Italian chefs. It was served in a small brown beanpot and consisted of crab meat with a Mongol sauce… which is a combination of tomato and pea soup. While it doesn’t sound appetizing to me, it seemed to have been quite popular as it was mentioned in a newspaper clipping.

Yale dinner JUNE 04 1915

One of the menus listed from a Yale Alumni Reunion… you can easily tell no women were in attendance with the listing of cigars. Yale was strictly male until 1969, although in 1892 they admitted women to their graduate schools. I’m actually surprised that it remained an all-male school up to 1969!

The seating capacity was on average of 550 patrons daily with 50 waiters in attendance; even more was brought in on Sunday and holidays, often it took 90 to 100 waiters to accommodate serving on those days. The Colonnade was built in anticipation of serving large groups of diners, and Yale University alumni soon became their frequent guests in holding their yearly reunions at Bishop’s Colonnade… which was proclaimed to be the best restaurant between New York City and Boston. At that time, there were few places, even in the New Haven area, which could accommodate large groups of patrons at one sitting. The Colonnade quickly became known to be able to handle as many as 1,000 diners at one time. Bishop even built a pier similar to the Wilcox pier next door, and frequently used by the Yalies because they could easily travel from their yacht club further up the harbor… making it more accessible and convenient to dock behind the restaurant.

A newspaper account in September of 1913 wrote that it had been their most successful season in the history of its operation. It was noted that over 150,000 patrons passed through their doors and over 18,000 cars were parked by attendants… arriving from every state. That’s quite a drove of people in attendance to a business which is only open for a short four months out of the year.

colonnade postcard

From the many postcards found of Bishop’s Colonnade, the newspaper accounts were true when they wrote about the stream of carriages and cars found there on the weekends… especially true during holidays such as Memorial Day and Fourth of July, when over 500 automobiles could easily be counted. The cars were packed so tightly on both sides of Beach Street that often people couldn’t even pass between them. I can just picture attendants parking all those cars…. so tight that only they could somewhat get in and out… bringing them to the front when the patrons were ready to leave.

Sunday’s seemed to be the day for more locals to dine as it was noted that you could pretty much find an automobile from every town in Connecticut as well as out-of-state plates.

postcard colonnade

These women and men were sitting in the grove area across from the Colonnade… in about the same area of where the grove is today.

As prominent as the Colonnade was, I don’t imagine you could walk in off the street without a reservation, and if you were from out-of-town, this was where you wanted to dine. Most people reserved their tables in specific locations, such as facing the park if you wanted to enjoy the lights and sounds coming from White City… or on the waters edge if you wanted to enjoy the cool sea breeze while dining… or more central inside if you were there for the nightly music of Marcossano’s Italian orchestra, which seemed to be the main attraction.

colonnade postcard color

A postcard showing the bright white Colonnade and the Wilcox Pier; This must have been an early postcard before his pier was built.

Bishop AD Jul 15 1911 Hartford Courant

Marcosano and his Italian Orchestra was the main attraction nightly

Through newspaper articles, I found accounts of what was purchased in their best season … just by reading the quantities, you easily get a feel of just how busy the Colonnade really was.

Served in a Season at Bishop’s Colonnade

  • 17 ½ tons Bluefish

  • 833 bushels steamer clams

  • 16 ¼ tons Lobster

  • 164,800 rolls and biscuits

  • 5961 loaves bread

  • 40,000 eggs

  • 8,750 pounds butter

After reading the newspaper accounts of all bought, I immediately wondered…. who sold them their eggs and butter? Was it a local dairy? If so, they must have had quite an immense dairy herd to supply the milk, and the cream that was churned into butter… and supplying all those eggs sure kept the hens busy. The bakers must have arrived quite early every morning to mix the dough to make all the fresh bread, rolls and biscuits served daily. Wagons probably lined up out front every morning to make all the fresh deliveries needed for every day; and picture the local fisherman arriving early at his dock every morning to unload a fresh catch of lobsters, clams, and bluefish. I’d like to know the count of kitchen help needed to process and cook all that food daily!

Before opening in 1914, Bishop redecorated the interior and installed hundreds of incandescent bulbs. He strived for everything white and bright, wanting the extra lights to turn the interior into a dazzling white to compete with White City. He was meticulous in details, from the interior decorations to every food dish that left the kitchen; he believed that everything reflected on him personally.

Another holiday the Colonnade celebrated was Mardi Gras… but it was celebrated as one of their last gala evenings before closing in September, and held the week before Labor Day. What first confused me was that Mardi Gras in New Orleans is celebrated generally the second week of February, the day before Ash Wednesday, but at the Colonnade, it was a celebration of the ending of summer. It usually began on a Tuesday with a week-long event of nightly parades of decorated automobiles, monster parades of floats and ending with huge firework displays on Labor Day… all to celebrate their closing until the following Memorial Day opening. Reservations were most definitely needed, and the best spots for that week were near the glass front windows to view the nightly parades.

On January 17, 1920, the 18th Amendment outlawed the manufacture, sale, and transportation of liquor; all business who served liquor last year… could no longer serve. The era of “prohibition” changed the life of the park… those who came to drink and dine probably found other places behind locked doors to now drink and dine. The Colonnade quickly lost business in that season, soon becoming one of the less popular hot-spots to dine… and drink. It wasn’t just Savin Rock Park affected, the entire United States had officially become a “dry” country! Little did their patrons realize that the summer of 1919 was going to be their last dining experience there! It wasn’t until 1933 when prohibition was repealed and legal liquor once again flowed through the restaurants and bars in Savin Rock Park.

Bishop burns

Bishop’s Colonnade burns on January 4, 1921

The Colonnade’s end came on January 4, 1921, just one year after prohibition went into effect … it was said to be of a  mysterious fire which quickly razed the entire restaurant; six firemen were injured in fighting it. The Colonnade and pier were now gone! While many rebuilt fire ravished businesses, no plans were ever mentioned of rebuilding the Colonnade. The word “mysterious” seemed to have sent a message of what really happened; prohibition closed many businesses. The pier seemed to have been the only part of the Colonnade which remained after the fire, but it was completely demolished in the hurricane of 1938.

Yale D Bishop Dies at 74 in Wallingford Ct Sept 27 1943

Yale D. Bishop died at his summer home in Wallingford, Ct. in 1944, and was buried in the family plot in Oak Grove Cemetery, West Haven.

Yale D Bishop Estate

Yale D. Bishop left an inventory estate of property value over $127,817; many antique pieces were also listed in his probate file, as he had been an enthusiastic collector through the years. 


Want to read more, click…. Savin Rock… Now and Then

© 2017, copyright Jeanne Bryan Insalaco; all rights reserved

Posted in Daily Writings and funnies..., Savin Rock | Tagged , , | Leave a comment

Savin Rock… Now and Then: Death Valley Funny House

Savin Rock: Now and Then

Through the re-creation idea of James Holt,, in placing these structures of where they once stood long ago in West Haven’s Savin Rock, to now in today’s time; also, credit to Marc Friedland in the sharing of his vast photograph collection and knowledge.

I hope to breathe life in these photographs through story form – of where these structures once were at Savin Rock, sometimes known as “Connecticut’s Coney Island.” Savin Rock is a place I heard stories of when I first came to West Haven… a place my husband was able to somewhat enjoy throughout his boyhood, but not in all its glory of what it once had been.

Savin Rock is a place that holds dear memories to many… of times once enjoyed and not forgotten!

Death Valley Funny House

new Death Valley top

It was in 1937 when the Death Valley Fun House first appeared on Beach Street in the upper part of the Grove, at Savin Rock, in West Haven, CT. The dastardly Skull and Crossbones loomed high above, but that only lasted about a year before being removed, due to many thinking it was too sinister looking for a fun house. In 1938 the facade was redone and Harold Hartman, the “chief of maintenance” at Savin Rock, was sent to Messmore Theatrical Products, a theater prop company in New York City, to pick up the new attraction…. Laughing Sal.

The Death Valley Fun House was actually built by Savin Rock carpenters from blueprints bought from the Philadelphia Toboggan Company. The PTC company is still in business today and have been selling amusement rides since 1904, although mostly only wooden coasters sold today. If you’ve ridden the Boulder Dash Coaster at Lake Compounce, you’ve ridden a PTC ride.

Death Valley Laughing Lady

Today in 2017, this is the site where you would find The Death Valley Funny House… with kids still playing there! Photo Credit: James Holt

While I found no actual money figure listed for the purchase of Savin Rock’s Sal, I did find that in 1940 another laughing Sal was bought for $360 dollars… so give or take a few dollars, that would be the about going price of when she was purchased. In regards to what a Sal would go for today, in good working condition… one was sold in 2004 for $50,000! Quite a profit, but that reflects as to how many who didn’t survive from 1938?

When I came to Connecticut in 1971, after marrying a Westie, I was intrigued with all the stories I heard about Savin Rock. My husband’s mother and siblings told me many story after story, and Steve’s uncle, Johnny Cambino…. more well-known as King Cambo… even raced at West Haven Speedway. I’ve heard so many stories through my forty-six years of marriage, that at times, I often feel like I was there!

One of the first attractions, that peaked my interest, was the many stories of the “famous” Laughing Lady. Anytime she was mentioned at Grandma Minnie’s kitchen table, you’d hear her famous “ohhh”, and she’d tell you how she loved listening to her laugh. Grandma Minnie’s daughter, Catherine, often told me how her father would pile all the kids in the car on Sunday afternoons and go to Savin Rock for ice cream… and park near the laughing lady just so “mama” could listen. From all the stories I’ve heard, it seems Grandma Minnie was one of the only ones, who loved to listen to that voice!

laughing Lady

The famous Laughing Lady!

Many cousins have said how they didn’t even like riding past the park, as her voice echoed out as they drove by; it was that cackling voice that you heard over everything else… often scaring the young as well as the old. While I never was able to hear the original “laughing lady“… I was treated to seeing and hearing her several years ago when a rented “Sal” was brought to the Grove for a Savin Rock Festival; and yes, I could hear her pretty much all over the park! It was told that she was guarded 24 hours a day by the local WHPD to ensure her safety and locked up in a cell at night for safe keeping!

New Death Valley

The skull and crossbones were removed a year later and the glass case with The Laughing Lady replaced it

The front of the “New” Death Valley Funny House in 1938 now had a glass outer box waiting to house their new attraction…. and Harold installed Laughing Sal on the waiting platform he’d built just for her. Paper mache “Sal” stood about 6′ 10″… a big lady often referred to as fat… and always smiling, showing her toothless grin! A record player sat under the platform to play the 78’s that echoed her laugh throughout the park; a stack of records playing over and over. What everyone must have thought when she was first turned on!

Sal was mechanically structured… she didn’t just stand there glaring at you, she bounced around in a polka dot dress, moving back and forward, and waving her arms while the record played to echo that famous “laugh” all throughout the park.

Whenever you walked by, who couldn’t resist a look up at the “fat” lady with the orange hair, large floppy hat, polka dot dress, and the space between her teeth… who laughed continuously from early morning… into the wee hours of the next day when the park began shutting down.

From asking, badgering my husband constant questions of what was inside… “The laugh followed you into a darkened hallway of faces that lit up, laughing at you as you walked into a mirrored fun house room and maze. From there you walked into the “tilt room” where you couldn’t walk straight across… the slanted floor made you struggle to even walk. Often jets of air blew up at you, and if the girls wore a dress, it was a constant struggle in keeping their dresses from flying up, in every step they took!

In reading the memories of Harold Harman… “As you walked into the main area, there was a skeleton that slid down a pole, almost coming directly at you… but always unexpected; you often heard the shrieks of the girls as he flew toward them. At the same time of the skeleton flying toward you, a horn blasted to make you again jump and yell. You exited Death Valley by riding out on a magic carpet type conveyor… back outside to hearing “Laughing Sal”…. still laughing at you!

The only time the “laughing lady” stood silent, as frozen in time, was in the deep of winter when snow blanketed the park. For a few months, the rides were closed, the midway attractions boarded up and the voice of the park wasn’t heard. If there were tracks through the park, they were of kids trampling through the snow… and wishing for summer to hurry up. To some, that was the best sleeping times of the year… to others, they anxiously awaited those sounds to start up once again.

laughing lady voice Frank cosenza

The voice of the Laughing Lady

While everyone always thought “Laffing Sal’s” voice was a woman, and the “one” original record may have been when she was first purchased in 1938… but most likely the voice you remember was of Frank Cosenza. He and his partner, Joe Marcucci, were a comedy team around the New Haven area and often performed a skit about the laughing lady; it was because of that skit, that Frank was asked to record Sal’s famous laugh when the original record began wearing out.

So Where is the Laughing Lady today….

Hartman reported that in 1966 when the park finally closed, the orange-haired lady with the famous red polka dot dress and combat boots… was stolen! I’m sure there were many clamoring to buy pieces of Savin Rock, either for themselves, other amusement parks or to re-sell as a piece of history. There are several stories passed through the years on her quick disappearance…. and I’m sure everyone has heard them! The one I found most often was of how a traveling antique dealer from New Hampshire spirited her away in the middle of the night. Sounds like a case for Nancy Drew! Whether she was secretly sold or stolen… we will never know… unless you happen to come upon her in some supposedly, out of the way, New Hampshire bar… where it’s been rumored she has been seen.

In 1971, The Hartford Courant ran this story

Laughing Lady Found AUG 22 1971 Hartford CourantThe article reads: The “laughing lady” of Savin Rock has found a new home in Westbrook after years in exile as a misplaced person. She still wears a warm smile, but she no longer brings chuckles by her uproarious laughter. Grinning broadly from the back shelf of the Westbrook antique shop, her new owner, Al Schultz, claims people have recognized her immediately. 

She has not changed since her life of fame in a high glass box at the entrance to a Savin Rock funhouse of distorted mirrors and slanting rooms of spine-tingling chills.  Too many, she was a distinct personality in her own right. Homey, with one tooth missing, her long brown hair was fashionably curled and she wore the latest wide-brimmed hat covered with red poppies. 

Folks recall her arms moved up and down and her head nodded from side to side to accompany her bold, risque laughter. Although her clothing is new, it is copied from her original lace jacket, mesh gloves, and red beads. She stands a busty three feet tall on shorty squatty legs with only her carved wooden pointed shoes visible beneath a quaint checkered dress. 

Made by paper mache, her face is slightly pocked and florid. Her painted blue eyes are smeared as if tears have caused the paint to run. The new owner said he bought her at Dean Mitchell’s auction at the North Haven Grange. She had been advertised for two weeks and many Savin Rock collectors were eager to buy her. A date is burned into the wood inside her hollow body, which reads “11-21-22”  Savin Rock West Haven, Connecticut.

Carl Giannotti, executive director of the West Haven Redevelopment Agency, recalls her fondly. “She arrived, as nearly as I can remember somewhere in the thirties when the fun house was built near Wilcox’s Pier,” he said. Sam Applebaum and Dick Guerrera, known as Dick Gray, the local fight promoter, built the funhouse, which was torn down July 15, 1968, in the second phase of reconstruction.

At that time, the Laughing Lady was removed as the personal property of the owner, Mr. Levere, who owned between 15 to 20 acres of Savin Rock, according to Giannotti. Levere’s son, a West Haven attorney, expressed surprise that the Laughing Lady had turned up in Westbrook. Believing her to be built by The Philadelphia Toboggan Company, Edwin Levere said as far as he knew, “she had been sold to an amusement operator, and was in an out-of-state amusement park.” “Not For Sale.”

Whatever her past history has been, her new owner is sure of one thing. “She isn’t For Sale”, he says firmly. In fact, he is planning to give her a well-deserved place of honor as a focal point in a new antique museum he hopes one day to build. “You’d be surprised at the number of persons who see her and the stories she brings to mind,” he says adjusting her bonnet. “Yes Sir, she’s quite a lady.”

On many older black and white shows, if you listen close enough… you’ll hear that famous “laughing lady” voice, as she was a regular in many movies and sitcoms which featured amusement parks. While I’m not going to list every show a “laughing sal” has been featured, and there is a list online… I will say there is an episode of Perry Mason… The Case of the Laughing Lady… how ironic in that so-named episode! I actually rewound it back a few times just to hear her laugh again and again…. just because! My husband is a big Perry Mason fan, so it’s not usual to find it playing on our TV. Hmm, maybe Perry Mason could team up with Nancy Drew and find our Laughing Lady!laugh lady bike park FIXThe “Laughing Lady” immortalized at the Savin Rock Bike Park


What words today bring to mind in describing that famous laugh… “cackle, scary, petrifying, frightening, terrifying, loud? If you need a laugh fix… head over to the Savin Rock Museum to hear that famous laugh made famous in Savin Rock. If you’ve never been to the museum, you’re in for a treat… and a walk back in time as to what once was on the boardwalk, that you walk today.


Want to read more, click….  Savin Rock… Now and Then

© 2017, copyright Jeanne Bryan Insalaco; all rights reserved



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Weekend Weathervanes: Yale Weathervanes Post 2: Davenport College

Weekend Weathervanes

Post 2: Yale Davenport College

Now I know what to do with those photos – “thanks” to Heather Wilkinson Rojo at Nutfield Genealogy; she blogs Weekly Wednesday Weathervanes  in New Hampshire.  Please check out her page and enjoy the many unusual weathervane photos and often be entertained with a history lesson. It’s amazing at what you can encounter in your travels  – You Just Need To Look Up!

 DSC_0794 FIXDavenport College

Davenport College, located at 248 York St., and named for John Davenport, is one of the fourteen residential colleges of Yale University. A double weathervane atop Davenport is a banner flag with an arrow, and below a circle weathervane, also with an arrow. It was designed by James Gamble Rogers and completed in 1933 in both a Gothic and Georgian style. Its front sandstone facade faces York Street and is constructed in a Gothic detail; the remaining inner facade is built in a red-brick Georgian style, more matching of the colonial era.


The front  is depicted in sandstone – Gothic style

davenport_back viewFIX

The rear of Davenport facing the inner courtyard built in the red-brick Georgian style; the Harkness Tower is in the background.


I enjoy discovering the architecture at Yale – Love the unicorns!


The one thing that frustrates me is “locked” gates


     Notable Alumni of Davenport college

  • George H. W. Bush, 41st President of the United States
  • George W. Bush, 1968, 43rd President of the United States
  • Barbara Bush, daughter of President George W. Bush
  • William F. Buckley, Jr., prominent conservative columnist
  • Ben Carson, 1973, neurosurgeon and 2016 Republican presidential candidate


Want to read more, click…. Weekend Weathervanes:

© 2017, copyright Jeanne Bryan Insalaco; all rights reserved

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Weekend Weathervanes: Yale Weathervanes Post 1: Sterling Library

Yale Weathervanes

Post 1: Sterling Library

sterling name FIX.jpg

Now I know what to do with those photos – “thanks” to Heather Wilkinson Rojo at Nutfield Genealogy; she blogs Weekly Wednesday Weathervanes  in New Hampshire.  Please check out her page and enjoy the many unusual weathervane photos and often be entertained with a history lesson. It’s amazing at what you can encounter in your travels – You Just Need To Look Up!

sterling in colorFIX

 Post 1: Sterling Library

The magnificent Sterling Library is located in the heart of what’s known as the “Central Campus” of Yale. It can be seen from surrounding roads around Yale and until you exit your car and begin walking, you will drive in circles trying to find it. It is one of Yale’s more prominent buildings, and also the largest of all the Yale libraries. It’s quite awesome to stand in the courtyard and look at this structure and imagine how this building was built back in 1930, compared as to how it would be built today.

sterling bwFIX

The first weathervane that catches your eye over Sterling Library has been perched there since 1930. America’s famous blacksmith Samuel Yellin forged this owl with its elaborate garniture to hover over Sterling Library at Yale University in New Haven, Connecticut

sterling color2 FIX

Photo showing both weathervanes – the owl and medieval banner flag

There are two weather vanes adorning the top of Sterling Library… this one appears to be a medieval banner and I’ve featured it in color and black and white to feature a more gothic look.

Sterling library was designed by architect James Gamble Rogers (Yale Class of 1889) and named for its benefactor, John William Sterling (Yale Class of 1864). There are over 4 million volumes on 16 floors of book stacks, and unless you are on a Yale tour, you aren’t granted public access. I have yet to take one of those Yale tours, but it is on my list… I so want to walk inside this spectacular structure.

The design of the Sterling library is of the Collegiate Gothic style, as most Yale buildings are; it most resembles a European Gothic cathedral with its 60-foot ceilings, cloisters, clerestory style windows, side chapels and its circulation desk in the style of an alter. There are over 3,300 stained glass windows throughout… all designed by artist G. Owen Bonawit.

sterling close from streetFIX

sterling from streetFIX

If you ever find yourself in New Haven, Connecticut, don’t pass the opportunity to view the Sterling library in person. As you walk on Elm or along the backside of Elm near the famous Grove Cemetery on Grove Street… just look up… the “owl” will be watching You!

Directions: From the New Haven Green or Phelps Gate on Old Campus, take College Street north to Elm Street. Make a left onto Elm Street. Go past Grace Hopper (formally Calhoun College) and Berkeley College (on your right). At High Street, turn right and follow the cement pathway.  The Women’s Table sculpture will be on your right and Sterling Memorial Library will be to the left. Only Yale-led tours are allowed to enter the building.


Want to read more, click…. Weekend Weathervanes:

© 2017, copyright Jeanne Bryan Insalaco; all rights reserved

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Family Stories: True or False

Family Stories: True or False

It’s the family stories that often draws me in… sometimes you can only read so much of pedigrees and census counts. The family stories passed down through generations build the character of the family, but sometimes those stories are like the end of the “telephone game.” Remember playing that in school… one person whispers a few lines in someone’s ear and it’s whispered around in a circle to return back to the originator. It’s completely transformed from what you originally said!

My mother has been my biggest source of “family stories” and at times I’ve questioned a few, such as…

When I first began tracing my family lines, it was Mama’s maiden line of McKinley who I heard the most stories on. She often told me over and over… how Aunt Lena (McKinley) Van Dusen traced the family line and discovered that three brothers came over from Scotland/Ireland; one went North, one went mid-West and one went South. And guess which one we originated from… naturally the one who went South. While it sounded like an awesome story, it was like grasping at straws and I wondered exactly how much Aunt Lena even researched. While she was a very smart woman… if she had researched, it seems like I would have seen information and documents at some point in my life. If only I had been interested in family research on those weekend visits to her home in Atlanta, I would have known the truth. FALSE

And the tale of the three McKinley brothers also always turned to… did you know that Aunt Lena also said that we are related to President William McKinley?  If that had turned out to be true… well, it sure would have made my “McKinley” research a little easier! And if you’re wondering… YES, I researched President McKinley’s line and I could not connect him in Ohio to my line in Mecklenburg, North Carolina. While I don’t give a definite “NO”… as of now… new information turns up every day! Who knows, maybe I am descended from the McKinley brother who went South! There are possibilities that my Robert McKinley, who was the first of my direct line in Mecklenburg, had brothers…  didn’t everyone back then have brothers, and as I haven’t found his as of yet… well there is hope. Those records to prove such brothers might just appear one day… if not for me, maybe telling these tales will keep the possibility alive for future researchers.

My McKinley lines began in Charlotte, Mecklenburg County, North Carolina… with uncovering our lines there beginning with a Robert (1710/20 – 1775) and Elizabeth (Freeman: 1717-1783) McKinley in the area by at least early 1740’s. They are buried in Steele Creek Cemetery, along with my line of William (1743-1815) and Margaret (unk:1740-1806) McKinley. Their son, William McKinley (1779-1854) married to Sarah Beaty (1778-1860) is my line coming into Putnam County, Georgia. My McKinley line continues in Georgia, while my brick wall remains in Mecklenburg County, N.C; it has remained bricked up for many researchers on this surname.

Another story my mother has insisted on from the very beginning is her mother’s “Askew” line… and she still insists, and I know better than to argue with Mama!

My grandmother, Ola Askew McKinley was always said to have had Indian bloodlines… even having features that many remarked as “high cheekbones”, “dark hair” and prominent features. Mama talked about how her mother was really blood-related, rather than just through marriage to her step mother-in-law, Nancy Josephine (1882-1978 “Minnie”) Askew… mostly known as Miss Bay. It took me a few years to somewhat discover that it was actually true! (No one has “yet” to explain why she was always referred only as “Miss Bay.”)

It was the discovery of another “McKinley” researcher, who shared an Askew pedigree chart found in a drawer of “loose papers” at the Georgia Archives, that helped to further the truth. I’ve always wondered, why papers are listed as “loose” paper… why not file them? This pedigree chart could easily have been identified and listed? It definitely was a “big” find for my line as my grandmother’s father, Samuel Askew, along with his parents was also on that chart.

As I studied the pedigree charts, darkening the family lines so the families were more identifiable… there was Miss Bay, and further up the ladder, it showed how she and my grandmother, Ola Askew McKinley connected. I finally found a family tale to be TRUE!  

Family of John Askew of Goochland County, Virginia

Askew pedigree chart_0002 edited in paint FIXAskew pedigree chart_0003 edited in paint[5227]FIXThe Red line depicts my Grandmamma, Ola Askew McKinley, to William Askew & (1) Mary Gerald. The Blue line depicts the line of Nancy J. Askew (Miss Bay), my cousin Lyn’s line to William Askew & (2) Ann Reid. Two wives – Two lines – Two connected cousins! 

My grandmother Ola was actually the 1st cousin, once removed of Miss Bay… who was also my grandfather, Edgar T. McKinley’s, step mother…. such a twisted relationship! Besides being Grandmamma’s 1st cousin, once removed, she was also her step mother in-law. My mother had always said, she thought there was a connection, but never exactly what the connection really was.

Another tale passed by my mother was… when visiting her step-grandmother and grandpa on Sunday afternoons, she, along with Aunt Aretta (daughter of Miss Bay and grandpa Edgar “Lawson” McKinley) and granddaughter, Margret McKinley (daughter of Earle & Grace McKinley), would sit in the parlor and look through the shoebox of old photographs with the stereoscope; my grandfather was a step brother to Earle McKinley. Mama often talked about how much fun they had with that shoebox of pictures and the stereoscope…. whether they were family or not! It was the first time she had ever seen a viewer like that or those type of photographs.


A stereoscope is a device for viewing a pair of separate images, depicting left-eye and right-eye views of the same scene, and view as a single three-dimensional image.  Stereo cards enjoyed much popularity from the 1850s to the 1930s as a home entertainment medium. The stereoscope, or stereo viewer as some called them, was first invented and patented in 1838 by Sir Charles Wheatstone, but it was the later version, created by Oliver Wendell Holmes, that seemed to be the most popular of the two… why I’m not really sure. The viewer worked by the left and right eye viewing the same scene as a single three-dimensional image and was the first home entertainment; popular from the 1850’s through the late 1930’s. As my mother was born in 1930, the viewer was still entertaining younger children well into the 1940’s.

In trying to piece this story together of who was in those photographs and tintypes, my cousin, Lyn (McKinley) Smallwood discovered this tintype her mother had… not ever realizing it was even a tintype until later noticing the frayed paper frame. Lynn also remembered her mother talking about spending time at her grandmother’s with the cousins and my mother…. and being curious about the photographs in the shoebox.

I can see why my mother lays claim to Indian heritage from looking at this photograph of Cicily Evans Askew below, but Cicily was Miss Bay’s grandmother or great-grandmother… no relation to our Askew direct line. But… Mama still insists today that we have Indian ancestry in our lines… even though mine and her DNA say differently… but who’s going to argue with my mother… Not Me!

Cicily Evans Askew FIX

This was the only tin-type Lyn’s mother remembered, that had been somewhat identified. No names were written on the backs of any, and even today most have not been identified and are slowly fading away. It was told that this tin-type was either Miss Bay’s grandmother or great grandmother; while the woman in the tin-type has an Indian appearance… she is not in my Askew descendant line which my mother always laid claim to. Another family tale proved False for my line, but Cicily Evans Askew does fall in my cousin Lyn’s ancestry… so it’s a True for her line.

In turning to the tales on my Bryan side…. not too many to trace, as I never had the chance to talk to my father about such stories. While I have heard that William Jennings Bryan was of relation to my Bryans, I never had luck in pairing him with my Bryan lines… I’ve had no success in documenting my Bryan lines out of Georgia! False!

Another Bryan tale, not coming from my immediate Bryan lines but through the research of Thelma Nelson who began researching our Bryan lines during the 1940’s. She had contact with many lines, and maybe the “tales” were fresher then and hadn’t become “gossip tales” as some have through the years. It was said by many older generations to her that Berrian C. Bryan (1823-1923) and his daughters spoke of their Aunt Rebecca Bryan. That Rebecca Bryan, sister of B. C. Bryan’s father, James Bryan, married Ransom Cain… so there was actually an Aunt Rebecca; were they referring to her? It was also spoken that this Aunt Rebecca connected to the Boone’s… and doesn’t everyone want to connect back to Daniel Boone? The BOONE family genealogy is very well-documented, and I’ve never been able to connect my Bryan line to them or to the also well-known Morgan Bryan.

Another mention of Aunt Rebecca was that she was “the” Rebecca Ann Bryan (1739-1813) who married the pioneer Daniel Boone. Could she have been a sister of our earliest John Bryan married to a Nancy (unk). Rebecca Bryan Boone was born near Winchester, VA., and the daughter of Joseph Bryan, Sr., but her mother is not clearly known… it may either be Hester Hampton or Alice (Aylee) Linville. But again, it’s just a tale, as no Bryan researcher has been able to lay claim to this Boone relationship… it’s just the tale that was told through the daughters of Berrian C. Bryan. I have not been able to track my Bryan line out of Lumpkin/Habersham/Franklin counties of Georgia… we all know they came into Georgia from somewhere, and many who ended up in Georgia, had traveled from Virginia to the Carolina’s. Maybe one day, that “one” record I need to prove this … might show!

We are well documented from Berrian C. Bryan to James Bryan to John Bryan… then the Brickwall stands firm! There are some holes unfilled in Morgan Bryan’s later lines…. so somewhere, there could be a link! But have I found it yet, along with the many other Bryan researchers… NO!

So, “listen” and “take the time” to research those family tales… as even if only one weighs out as truth in the end…. better one than naught!


For more Family Stories, click Here

© 2017, copyright Jeanne Bryan Insalaco; all rights reserved

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Savin Rock… Now and Then: Peter Franke’s Fun House

Savin Rock… Now and Then

Peter Franke’s Fun House

Through the re-creation idea of James Holt,, in placing these structures of where they once stood long ago in West Haven’s Savin Rock, to now in today’s time; also, credit to Marc Friedland in the sharing of his vast photograph collection and knowledge.

I hope to breathe life in these photographs through story form – of where these structures once were at Savin Rock, sometimes known as “Connecticut’s Coney Island.” Savin Rock is a place I heard stories of when I first came to West Haven… a place my husband was able to somewhat enjoy throughout his boyhood, but not in all its glory of what it once had been.

Savin Rock is a place that holds dear memories to many… of times once enjoyed and not forgotten!

Peter Franke’s Fun House

Franks Fun House in Now times

Visualize Peter Franke’s Fun House in its present-day location along the boardwalk near the grove house where the police station is located. Photo Credit: James Holt

Many people today never had the chance to experience Savin Rock but grew up on the stories they heard from their parents and grandparents. I fell in love with the ambiance of Savin Rock from all the stories I heard moving here in 1971, marrying a guy from West Haven. I’ve heard so many stories on Savin Rock, that at times I feel like I’ve walked down Beach Street and slid down that slide at Peter Franke’s.

Peter Franke’s Fun House Now (left) and Then.  Phototransformation Courtesy of James Holt

map of savin rock 1 FIX

Blueprint of Savin Rock showing the location of Peter Franke’s Fun House

Peter Franke was born Aug. 16, 1889, in Nettuno, Italy and immigrated to this country in 1904 with his parents; he was fifteen years old. The Franke family made its way to West Haven somehow, or either Peter came on his own as I didn’t find him listed any earlier than the 1930 census; he had married Mary Uriano in 1929.

spinning wheel Peter Franke middle right FIX

Peter Franke on the famous “spinning wheel”… in center right

Peter Franke’s surname upon immigration was “Franchi”… and somehow like many other name changes of our ancestors, his name was changed for various reasons… either for a better American status or because of misinterpretations entering America. My husband’s grandfather’s name was changed that way… it transposed from Gambino to Cambino.

In 1930 Peter and Mary Franke were living at 46 Summer Street in West Haven… they rented; the census listed Peter as a concessionaire owner and he was a naturalized citizen.

In 1940, Peter and Mary still lived at 46 Summer Street, but now owned their home. It seems the”popcorn” business was doing well for him. The census listed his home value as $2000; he only worked 20 weeks in 1939, and was unemployed for 26 weeks. The 1940 census listed two children, Anthony, age 17 and Lucille, age 8; Peter was now 51 and Mary was 45. The last listing I found for the Frank family in West Haven was in 1952.

It seems during WWII, Peter was required to register with the “Old Man’s Draft” as it was called. When the United States entered World War II, the new Selective Service Act required “all” men between the ages of 18 and 64 to “register” for the draft; it was held on April 27, 1942. Imagine that happening today… how many of you would be registering now?

Franks at summer and Beach

Imagine “Peter Franke’s Fun House” still on Beach Street today as you stroll by… Photo transformation courtesy of James Holt

Having very little education, as most in those days, he was an entrepreneur, working hard to open his 1st popcorn stand in 1918, in the “then” White City; starting a business of preparing and packaging his soon-to-be famous popcorn. It was Peter’s quality of popcorn, along with his personality that earned him enough to later open the 2nd stand on Beach Street. He must not have squandered his money, as he later opened, even more, stands throughout Savin Rock selling his original “Honey Boy” popcorn. He was quite ingenious enough to even invent and patent the machine which he used to cut the popcorn in its well known “block” shape… which most who frequented Savin Rock if only for a short time, will remember!

The “Fun House” was located on the corner of Summer and Beach… just near the Kiddy Rides

Before Peter Franke turned the famous “Fun House” at 555 Beach Street into his own in 1945/46, the building previously was The Wilcox’s Theatre, showing silent pictures. It was later listed as “the old skating rink”, still owned by the Wilcox Family when Peter purchased it directly from the Wilcox estate. The real name was American Arena Roller Skating Rink, and was listed at 555 Beach Street, which eventually turned into Peter Franke’s Fun House. By 1948 Franke’s “Honey Boy” popcorn was listed in the city directory as a business, with the Surf Club parking lot listed at 583 Beach… just next door.

inside Fun House FIX

Peter Franke had a blank slate with the “old skating rink” – and he had a vision of how he wanted his Fun House to look.

Peter Franke 3 FIX

Peter Franke’s Fun House – Biggest – Best in New England

In walking into the Fun House, you first walked through a narrow hallway, possibly with arrows on the sidewalls directing you… even though it was a short walk, it was your first acquaintance in the “Fun House“… the zig-zag floors making you walk funny, then a little dip of a wave floor to continue keeping you off balance before entering the main open room. Hubby also thought there might have been jets of air around as you walked… but these are memories of over 60 plus years. We all remember differently, and like he tells me… “it wasn’t like I could go there all the time, money wasn’t freely given to kids for that.”

top of fun house FIX

The Pop-Corn King!

Anytime you walked by Peter Franke’s… you smelled popcorn about the time you heard the woman in the popcorn booth calling out… “get your honey popcorn here!” Packages of colored popcorn in blocks of white, yellow or pink were lined up on the counter… so what was your favorite?

Walking inside was the same experience for everyone… first hearing the sounds of screams and shrieks of excitement… anxious to ride everything at once… popcorn smells all around… whistles and bells signaling you that it was time to jump on the spinning disc… and if you’d been in there more than once, you knew what the sounds meant… and feeling anxious to do everything at once!

skirt blower FIX

The well remembered “skirt blower”

Most of the times you went, it was either in the summer as a kid, or later on with a date. And if you were on a date, the girl could have possibly worn a poodle skirt… then the “skirt blower” poofed up her skirt when she walked over the air spot. Think of the image Marilyn Monroe made popular in that white skirt!

control room Al Nachand FIX

Al Nachand was the “behind the scenes” guy who blew air up unsuspecting girls dresses. He was Franke’s eye in the sky!

Once past that short walkway and inside, and depending on what you wanted to do… you had your choice of either sliding down the tall slides, the crazy mirrors, the rolling barrel, or the spinning disk… have I forgotten any? One site mentioned an attacking gorilla, but hubby didn’t have a memory of that! If you remember, let me hear from you!

spinning disk fun House FIX

Heading up the stairs for the “tall slides” seemed to be where everyone wanted to go first – the “spinning disk” was off to the side. The back stairs shown are most likely to the exit.

My husband’s favorite first stop inside was always one of the “tall slides”… double slides from the top of the building… so after grabbing a burlap bag, he began the long climb up the stairs, all the way up to the top square cupola of windows… and at nighttime, you could view the lighted park, but only for a quick minute before you’d hear someone yelling at you to move on. He remembers two big humps coming down, with the first one usually making you leave the slide, while the third small one toward the bottom slowed you down; if you didn’t keep your hands on the bag, you ran the risk of a friction burn… you learned quickly! Eventually, you slid into the left burlap bags against the wall…  like a cushion. There were no time limits, you could slide all day if you wanted… just the small price of maybe 50 cents to get in.

double slides at Fun House

These double slides are similar to how they were remembered inside the Fun House… walking up one long flight of stairs with your burlap bag in hand. It was a quick ride to the bottom, where you had to scramble out of the way of the riders coming right behind you! I’m sure there were some pile ups…. some planned and some not.

Photos were taken in front of the crazy mirrors inside Peter Franke’s. Photos courtesy of Marc Friedland

The “room of mirrors” was probably fun for a few times, but how many times can you look at yourself fat…. skinny…. stretched tall…. or all wavy! It was probably more entertaining to the younger kids. I remember rooms of mirrors like that at carnivals and there were times I thought I’d never even get out of the room.

Inside another area of the great room was the “spinning disc”… jump on and try to find your inner sense of gravity to stay on…. if not, you were flung off into others that couldn’t stay in the center. It doesn’t sound logical to me that you could stay on for any length of time as there didn’t seem to be anything to hang onto. I’m picturing arms and legs flying all over… wonder how many kids got smacked in the mouth?

in barrel FIX

The “Rolling Barrel”

The “rolling barrel” was just another walk and fall as you made your way through the barrel. Once you went through enough times, you learned quickly how to maneuver yourself through without falling. It didn’t lead anywhere, just out into the room… everything was situated in that one great room.

Being a “southerner”, transplanted to West Haven when I married in 1971, I’ve relied on badgering my husband for his memories, thumbing through that famous “blue book” by Gil Johnson and Bennet W. Dorman, and reading comments in piecing together this story on Peter Franke’s Fun House.

Peter Franke died June 16, 1958

In 1966, Peter Franke’s was still standing… all closed and boarded up. If only I had arrived in West Haven a few years earlier, I could have seen it with my own eyes! I’m sure kids snuck in there and enjoyed a few “free” last slides before being discovered. I can’t blame them… I would have too! As the “statute of limitations” has run out now… feel free to comment below if you were one of those kids!


Want to Read More… Savin Rock: Now and Then

© 2017, copyright Jeanne Bryan Insalaco; all rights reserved

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Weekend Weathervanes: Fife ‘n Drum Weathervane… Kent, Connecticut

Weekend Weathervanes

Now I know what to do with those photos – “thanks” to Heather Wilkinson Rojo at Nutfield Genealogy; she blogs Weekly Wednesday Weathervanes  in New Hampshire.  Please check out her page and enjoy the many unusual weathervane photos and often be entertained with a history lesson. It’s amazing at what you can encounter in your travels – You Just Need To Look Up!

Fife ‘n Drum Weathervane


This unusual weathervane sits atop the Fife ‘n Drum Restaurant in Kent, Connecticut on Rt. 7. I’m still not quite sure what it’s supposed to be… but my first thought was a “knight” from King Arthurs Court…  continue reading and you’ll discover its true identity!

The Fife ‘n Drum Restaurant opened in 1973 by renowned pianist Dolph Traymon from New York City. When first opened, Kent was another one of those sleepy New England villages with just one traffic light… rolling up the sidewalks at 6 p.m; even today, there is still only one traffic light. Reminds me of the Southern towns I grew up in. Yes, I”m a transplanted Southerner… now traveling the back roads of Connecticut… looking for weathervanes!

After contacting the owners of The Fife ‘n Drum Restaurant and Inn ….

The weathervane was purchased about ten years ago… bought from the artist, Peter Kirkiles, of South Kent while displayed at the Eric Sloane & Kent Iron Furnace Museum in Kent, formally known as the Sloane Stanley Museum. The weathervane was displayed there in an exhibit featuring the works of artist Peter Kirkiles. I plan on visiting both his studio and the Sloane Museum in the future.

As you read my perspective on what I thought the weathervane structure actually was, well my idea was far from what it actually is…. and now that I’ve been told… I clearly see it! What I took as a helmet is actually an artist’s bucket holding paint brushes and tools! The Sloane museum also mentioned how his studio was often strewn with jars of brushes and tools… I”m quickly learning how this weathervane idea came to be.

Peter Kirkil, creator of the Sloane weathervane… “The weathervane is sort of an homage to Eric Sloane… as my work has been inspired by The Eric Sloane Museum, and I’m honored to have my weathervane atop my favorite local restaurant.”

DSC_0424 FIX

Located on RT.  7, Kent, Ct., in the heart of the Litchfield Hills

On any given Sunday we’ve driven though, the small cafe’s with outside seating is never empty, and often you’ll find several bikers stopping for food and rest before continuing their ride north up RT. 7.


If you catch a glimpse in the right direction, with the sky focused behind it… you will notice it! If you look in the direction of the trees, it hides. That causes me to often miss many weathervanes!

The Fife ‘n Drum Restaurant sits across from the Kent Green and just north of the railroad tracks; only freight trains run through now… one in the morning and one early evening. Kent is also not far from the Appalachian Trail, and often you’ll find thru-hikers stopping to enjoy food and rest in the early mornings here.


If you enjoy a good book sale like I do… stop and enjoy browsing the thousands of books offered on most Sunday’s at the local library; browsing starts around 11 a.m. Sad to report I haven’t found any Nancy Drew books there… as of yet!


Want to read more, click…. Weekend Weathervanes:

© 2017, copyright Jeanne Bryan Insalaco; all rights reserved


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