2017 A to Z: Letter O…

2017 A to Z: Letter O…

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 wee…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 O is for… Owls, Out in the Country, Oceans, and Operations


One afternoon after leaving granddaddy McKinley’s farm, daddy suddenly stopped the car in the middle of the road… there was a baby owl sitting in the road on Syrup Mill Crossing Road. No mama owl was around, or she would have most definitely swooped down attacking us when we got out of the car. Possibly another predator bird could have dropped him?

Daddy grabbed a blanket from the car and dropped it over him so he could easily pick him up… we couldn’t leave him there for the vultures already swarming overhead.

After arriving at Granddaddy Bryan’s house, they built him a cage and I brought him home. I don’t remember how long I kept him, but I don’t believe he lived very long. I found it very exciting to see a live owl up close – who has an owl for a pet?

 Where was my camera???

Out in the Country….

Granddaddy  McKinley lived out in the country…. down a long dusty dirt road. It was my favorite place to visit and even though my mother sold the farm many years ago, I still enjoy riding down that dirt road to ride by the old farmhouse.

Just last year I was allowed another walk inside the farmhouse as it’s being restored for the owner’s son… it was such a treat! No matter how it changes, in my mind, I”ll always see it just like I remember! Grandmama’s corner cabinet that granddaddy built for her was still there… one more look. So happy to hear the new owners love it too, and will be keeping it in their house! I even left with a couple of my grandmother’s kitchen wooden cabinet doors… now to decide how I can re-purpose them. Any ideas? Please be sure and send them my way!

Granddaddy McKinley built this corner cabinet for grandmama to store her canned veggies from the family garden. Happy it’s being saved! The two kitchen cabinet doors are from grandmama’s kitchen – the new owners offered them to me; it meant more than I can ever say!

Spending time out in the country allowed me to experience things I couldn’t do in the city… like shooting my BB gun, playing doodlebug in the sand under the car shed, teasing the Bull in the backfield, exploring the barns, chasing the feral kittens, catching fireflies in a jar, whistling to the BobWhite Quail in the evening while sitting on the back stoop with granddaddy, swinging on the front porch swing and if Grandmama had a jar of blackberry jam on the counter… I made sure it came home with me.


It was always exciting when we went on vacation to Florida and waiting for that first view of the ocean. I have so many memories of crowning that last hill and looking down to see the ocean and beaches ahead… just waiting for me.

My first Ocean experience was in Miami, Florida where we often vacationed… often staying at a bed and breakfast right on the beach. My days were spent playing in the ocean and riding the waves on my float… and picking up shells.

Our other beach we frequented was in Panama City…. with their great white beaches and water so clear. I could walk out up to my knees and still able to see my toes in the sand. Sprinkled along the beach were small colored shells called periwinkles – those were favorites of mine to hunt for.

Where I live in Connecticut today, I can easily see the ocean every day and often sit on the boardwalk or walk along the shore looking for shells or sea glass…  becoming almost nonexistent lately. It’s very peaceful to sit on the beach watching the waves roll in, but look out when hurricane season hits – the waves show anger – and go wherever they want to go… No stopping water!


The beach we enjoy every day!

Living on the East Coast, I still haven’t seen any oceans other than the Atlantic and some of the Gulf of Mexico near Miami. I know I need to branch out and see another ocean, but right now I’m stuck on the East Coast!


I’ve been fortunate to have stayed off the operating table, but I did have my tonsils out when I was about five years old. Mama said I cried so much about not wanting to ride on the gurney, that the orderly actually carried me to the operation room.,, my feet almost dragging the floor as he was very short…  or I was very tall!

Let’s hope I stay off the table… as I still do not want to ride on one of those gurneys!


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 N… All About Me

2017 A to Z: Letter N …

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 N is for New York, The New Perry Hotel, Nicknames, Navy, Neighbors, Novel and NaNoWriMo…

New York:

As a small child mama told me I always talked about New York and wanted to go there… I also wanted to live somewhere it snowed! Never in my wildest dreams did I ever think I’d live anywhere but Perry, Georgia… but look what happened!

My first trip to NYC was on a family bus trip to visit Ellis Island, that I planned. I had my husband’s grandparents names placed on The Wall at Ellis Island and we traveled there as a family to view The Wall of Names. This was my first up-close experience of seeing the city as we rode through on the bus. Seeing Ellis Island and The Statue of Liberty was awesome that day… and as we rode over on the Liberty Belle I was reminded of how my husband’s grandparents arrived at Ellis Island in the early 1900’s… seeing the view of the statue and surrounded by a language they didn’t know… English. We were surrounded that day by many different languages on the boat that we didn’t understand and crowded like cattle on the boat.

Steve often told me through the years how it wasn’t safe in the city, but after Mayor Giuliani cleaned up the Times Square Theater District, it changed there. That first trip to Lady Liberty was one of our many trips into the city to see several musicals. My all-time favorite still remains…. Phantom of the Opera.


A few of the Broadway shows we’ve seen in NYC – Phantom of the Opera is still my favorite… I’ve seen it several times!

After 911,  which was the scariest moment I’ve ever experienced… we stayed away from New York and I’m still not as confident going now…times have changed. Recently we took a trip and decided to ride one of those touristy double-decker sightseeing buses… the very ones I used to laugh at when it rode by me. I loved it!!! It gave us more of an opportunity to see architecture, and sights we’ve never seen from the sidewalk… and it saved us a lot of walking; my feet thanked me for that! Guess who sat right behind us on the bus? A woman from Vidalia, Georgia; I enjoyed listening to her accent throughout the trip, and we had a nice chat.

Even though those buses are a hop on – hop off… since we started late, we decided to just ride that day; I’m definitely doing it again on another city loop, but starting earlier. I’d like to go back and check the cemetery we rode by… yep a cemetery right in the heart of Manhatten at Broadway and Wall… the cemetery faces the gate. We happened to stop right next to it, and I so wanted to hop off the bus and go exploring. The Trinity Churchyard is definitely on my list to go back to visit; Trinity Church was once the tallest building in Manhatten when it was completed in 1846. Most of the stones there date back to the 17th century, and the most notable buried there is Alexander Hamilton. This cemetery is the only active cemetery in Manhatten and is listed on the National Register of Historic Places.

nyc cem

Trinity Church Cemetery in NYC – I took photo on bus tour

Hopefully, I’ll get back to the city soon and check out the other loops on those touristy buses, maybe even a night one. I need to make myself a checklist of the sights I want to see… but remember how big the city is! I do want to see and walk the High-Line toward South SeaPort and maybe even ride the boat that circles Manhattan. The High-Line was once a freight line elevated above the streets on Manhattan’s West Side. This historic freight line had now been turned into a public park you walk. It runs from Gansevoort Street in the Meatpacking District to West 34th Street; between 10th and 12th Avenues. I could see the line, but it was way too cold on our ride to brave walking up there.

The New Perry Hotel:.

The New Perry Hotel is the most well-known fixture in my hometown; widely known to the tourists who frequented it yearly on their way to Florida; Perry is known as the “Crossroads of Georgia.


The New Perry Hotel

I knew several girls who waitressed in the white table clothed restaurant housed inside, but I already had my fill of waitressing… no interest for me in doing that again!

When I married, daddy took Steve and me for dinner there to celebrate our marriage. That was the first time I ever remember eating there, but it wasn’t my last. On one of my trips to Perry I took mama and my kids there for lunch and on another trip with my mother and Steve, we stopped in for lunch. The dining room looked smaller than I had remembered, but still complete with their famous white linens and napkins.

The hotel has changed hands a few times over the years and just a few years ago I was saddened to hear it was closing for good…. everything inside was being sold at a tag sale. I so wanted to go, and would have enjoyed walking through and possibly buying a piece of my history; I secretly wanted those white linen tablecloths and napkins! It’s now been sold again and I hear it might be revived. I’m keeping my fingers crossed! It’s just too much of a landmark to remain closed and cave to decay. Hopefully, I’ll be able to eat there once again!


The only nickname I can think of that I had when I was small was given to me by my granddaddy McKinley… he called me Poot! The only reason I can think of was… well maybe I pooted a lot! LOL… Mama tells me that I recited this little poem at Sunday School one day… “I had a little dog named Jack, that I tied to the railroad track… the train came along and went toot toot and the little dog went poot poot.” I proudly told them my granddaddy taught it to me… I don’t think they were impressed!

My husband gave me the nickname Babe and signed all his cards to me with that name; even today he’ll come out with it and surprise me.

My father was called “Fats” by his best friend Henry Sisson… but he wasn’t fat! Daddy was always very thin as a kid and through his Navy years… maybe that was why! I always thought it strange as a kid because I hadn’t seen photos of him in the Navy so never knew he was skinny; he had a beer belly when I began hearing him called Fats, so I just thought it was because he was…..!

Mama’s nickname came about because she had a CB radio in her car… she was known as the 1 Angel. Many friends just began calling her by that name even when she wasn’t on the CB, so it just stuck. When her grandchildren came along, I asked her what she wanted to be called…. she immediately said, “definitely not grannie or grandma… they can call me Angel.” The name of Angel has stuck, it just wouldn’t seem right to call her by any other name. I call her Mama, and if I say just Ma…. she gives me a dirty look and tells me, “I”m not your Ma, I’m your Mama…. get it right!”


SCAN0587 (2 FIX

Harold “Clayton” Bryan

1928 – 1983

My father served in the U. S. Navy from 1945 – 1949. I never was fortunate to have had the hindsight to ask him about his service days… only learning second-hand from my mother, his records, and my research. Oh, If only I could go back for just one day!!!

The highlight of his career I’ve discovered was that he was at Bikini Atoll for the atomic bomb blasts… stationed on the U.S.S. Blueridge. My post Anchors Aweigh documents his time there.

My father wanted to join the Navy just like his brother and uncles, and he wanted to join so bad that somehow he acquired a “fake” ID and joined the Navy at age 15. After his age was discovered, his father was called to bring him home until he reached the age of 16 and then joined with his parents signature. But I’m told he then called his father and said he didn’t want to stay and wanted to come home… his father told him No!

I recently found a newspaper clipping in the  Macon Telegraph of Daddy signing up at the Naval recruiting station.. I’m not sure why he’s referred to as an “Atlantan”… wish he was here to ask!

Bryan joining Navy Macon Telegraph Sept 5 1945 Wed

September 5th, 1945 clipping from the Macon, GA. Telegraph


Having neighbors and actually knowing them is how it was when I grew up. We knew all the neighbors on Binns St. in Union Point and most of them on Smoak Ave.; it was a long street. Many of the kids spent time at my house because mama took up time and played games with us. It was a real family neighborhood there… those type neighborhoods are gone now. When we moved across town to Hillcrest Avenue, we only knew the immediate families near us, but after moving to Oakridge… I remember knowing no one, but I was older then.

Times were safer when I was small! Neighbors looked out for each other and their children. It wasn’t unusual on Binns St. for someone to walk by and take me for ice cream if I was in the yard – never even asking or telling mama. My mother was very protective but never worried that anything would happen to me when I was in our yard.

Steve & I have lived in our house for over 30 years… and while we know a few close proximity neighbors, it’s often just to wave hello. No talks at the fence, no inviting each over for coffee or backyard BBQ’s… times have changed! Mama tells me I’m not sociable, she talks to everyone! Maybe if I worked outside in the yard, I’d have those conversations, but gardening is not my thing! I do enjoy my flowers that bloom and I used to do a little gardening, but other interests have taken over now. I’m looking forward to the Bee Balm blooming soon and my Ola Lily that I brought from Georgia; that Lily originally came from the Siloam Farm. At this writing, the Honeysuckle on the fence is in full bloom, and I am enjoying the smell blowing in my bedroom window every night.


I have always had the dream of publishing a book…. Probably the first book I contemplated publishing was the cookbooks I made years ago using Microsoft Publisher. The first one, “Cooking Family Memories,” was compiled of recipes and memories of my Southern Foods, although I did add a few of our Italian favorites; by that time I was cooking both flavors! After months of writing and editing, I printed all 200 plus pages and bound the cookbooks at the local Staples. The family kept me busy printing and binding as it seemed everyone wanted one. While I never made any money on them, only charging for my supplies and binding costs, I enjoyed sharing it with everyone. It makes me feel good when someone says, “I still use your cookbook today”... then comes, “when are you going to make another one?

My second cookbook came about after hubby’s Uncle Frankie (Cambino) looked through it and said, “but what about our family recipes?“… meaning their Italian family recipes! I soon was busy gathering those old family recipes, memories and photos to create a new cookbook – Italiano Famiglia Recipes; and again after much editing, I printed and bound copies for everyone. I keep both of them today in a digital PDF format for easy sharing on our family Facebook group page.

I hope to create a third recipe book as both of my children are now married and have blended new recipes into their family. I will put this on my “To Do” list! My original cookbook was the easiest as the memories were mine…. acquiring memories from others are not so easy.

Back to Novel writing…

I have always wanted to still write that great novel… but in order to write… you need an idea! While in Georgia a few years ago, that “idea” finally came to me – and it’s set in my favorite house in Georgia… a 1905 Greek Revival Southern abandoned house; a house I become obsessed, infatuated with several years ago. More on my house later!

NaNoWriMo: (National November Writing Month)

NaNoWriMoShortly after returning from an October trip to Georgia in 2014, a NaNoWriMo writing challenge appeared on my Facebook page. It caught my eye and I clicked to learn more… boy was that a mistake!  I was first puzzled as to what it actually was and how it worked, but intrigued as it might be just what I needed to finally begin my novel! I had the idea… and hundreds of written words… so was this my opportunity to tie it together?

The purpose of this challenge was to commit to writing 50,000 words during the month of November! It was to only be a draft, not worrying about spelling, punctuation, or any perfect order…. to just write, putting ideas on paper. Editing would come much later… and sadly my editing has not come yet! But I have printed out my 70 pages of written words and I plan on committing myself to putting that story in order, maybe it could just be a short novella? But the plan is to finally write that story… just for me if nothing else!

It’s a story set in my favorite house, the Nolan House… with a twist on genealogy – while tying a story, somewhat into my own family… with many whimsical ideas!

I wrote every day in November, writing a few hundred words or more a day, and many days I really had to push myself! 50,000 words seemed like a LOT of words to reach, but I was diligent in writing daily and I can proudly say that I exceeded my goal with 50, 459 words… and even received a certificate! Yah!!!

writing certif

A few teasers from My novel” “Behind the Wall” …

“Well, it seems that this old house, for some reason, seems to have a problem keeping an owner, but maybe I shouldn’t be telling you that. My company has sold this house several times, but it seems no one ever makes a go with it… for whatever reason they end up re-selling, saying it’s just not for them,” said Jack from Bowden’s Real Estate.

“How can this be? Why would a picture of my great-great grandmother be in that house? Steve will never believe this! I can’t believe I’m looking through my great-great grandmother’s photo album.” Rebecca thought all this was pretty eerie, and actually had goosebumps just thinking about what she was seeing… these same pictures in this album were hanging on the walls of that house! How could this be? Rebecca sat there stunned – not believing what she had just discovered… who will ever believe this?

Nolan Home:

Nolan Fix

The Nolan Home in Madison, Georgia

This is the Greek Revival house I refer to in my novel-in-progress… it’s actually the Nolan home in Madison, Georgia, a cotton plantation house built in 1905 and surrounded by over 3000 acres. This is the very house where my idea of “Behind the Wall” was born.

I’m not sure how I became so infatuated and obsessed with this house, but it draws me to stop every time we drive by. I have no memory of ever seeing anyone living there – it’s always sat empty.  Stopping to take photos of us sitting on the front steps has become somewhat of a family tradition now… and it just doesn’t feel right if we don’t stop for that visit! I should bring a few Southern “Mint Julep’s” to enjoy on those steps – now that would make a great Photo Op while wearing one of those wide-brimmed Southern hats! I think I’ll put mama in charge of finding our hats!

Me on steps Nolan house 2010FIX

Sitting on the steps of my house…. wishful thinking!

And Yes I have even snuck inside a couple of times… kinda eery as I always felt like someone was watching and I’m always waiting for a tap on the shoulder…  from the local police!

This Nolan house is quite popular I’ve discovered from my research of several years ago… and I was just a little upset knowing that were so many others just as obsessive over it as I am; I never thought I’d have to share it with anyone! I’m just a little possessive over my house!

I discovered that this house still remains in the Nolan family, but they have no interest in selling. Hopefully one day I’ll ride by and find that it’s being restored, but for now, I’ll just enjoy adding more photos to my growing collection every year.


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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Weekend Weathervanes: I Spy a Grasshopper

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!

Weekend Weathervanes

I Spy a Grasshopper


High above a family’s barn in Andover, CT. I spied this brass grasshopper… again another weathervane that hubby turned around for. I’m fortunate that he never minds my request for a photo turn-around and stop!


The title hubby suggested for my post was “When you snatch the pebble from my hand grasshopper, it will be time for you to leave.” Do you know where that quote is from?   Leave me your answer in comments!

hopper barnFIX

I would love to know how this family chose their “grasshopper” weathervane, but it’s only left to my imagination? We saw so many on our ride today… mostly eagles and horses, with a few whales thrown in for good measure… but it was this unusual grasshopper who made my blog!


Want to read more, click…. Weekend Weathervanes:

© 2017, copyright Jeanne Bryan Insalaco; all rights reserved

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2017 A to Z: Letter L… All About Me

2017 A to Z: Letter L …

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 L is for… Lemon Pie, Library, Letters, and Lightning  

 Lemon Pie:

The only dessert I remember mama ever made was Lemon Pie… Mama was a cook, not a baker! I have no clue as to how or why she only made this one dessert, but Lemon Pie it was… no chocolate cake, no chocolate chip cookies, no other desserts. This was normal to me!


Lemon Pie at Mama’s!

At holidays we often had other desserts in the house because her customers brought them to the beauty shop, where she worked. The candy that sticks in my head was the Divinity brought in by one of her customers. I remember trying to make it years ago, but not sure if I even remember what it’s supposed to taste like. I may have to give it another try soon.

Mama’s Lemon Pie consists of only 4 ingredients – eggs, lemon juice, condensed milk and graham crackers. I cheat a bit on the graham crust… using a pre-made instead of making my own like mama did. Mama reminded me that the one she made tasted better than the store-bought… guess I’ll have to give it another try!

Neither my husband or son ever took a liking to this pie, but that was OK with my daughter and myself… we didn’t mind “not” sharing! Many times we’d sit together with just the pie dish and two forks – sharing and watching who was eating the most!

If I’ve made you hungry, I’m sharing my recipe!

Mama’s Lemon Pie

  • 3 egg yolks (separate eggs, hold whites separately)
  • 1 can sweetened condensed milk (I use 2 cans if I use the larger graham crust)
  • 1/2 cup Lemon Juice ( add more to taste if using larger crust)
  • 1 graham cracker crust 9-inch or the larger one
  • lemon zest – can add some to pie mixture on top afterward; optional

Mix all together in one bowl and pour into unbaked bought crust. Bake 350 oven for about 15 minutes, until set; if it begins to crack on top – it’s overdone. If using the larger crust with 2 cans of condensed milk, maybe 5 minutes more.

Graham Cracker Crust:

  • 1 1/4 cups graham crackers crushed
  • 2 Tablespoons sugar
  • 5 Tablespoons melted butter

Mix all together well and pat in pie dish. Bake 350 oven for about 7 minutes. If you buy a pre-made crust – omit this step. Pour mixture in after first baking and then bake again according to the recipe.

Many people add meringue topping… while I don’t, I’m including a recipe for you.


  • 2 or 3 egg whites (no yellow flecks or it’ll never whip)
  • 1/4 tsp cream of tartar (if you don’t have it, no problem)
  • 4 tablespoons sugar (superfine works better, but reg. is ok)

Beat all ingredients with mixer together until peaks form; they whip better if at room temperature; quickly drop onto the top of lemon pie before baking. The peaks will lightly brown as pie cooks. To make meringue, best to use a dry glass or metal bowl – don’t use plastic. I’ve also found that chilling the bowl and beaters help the meringue to whip better; whisking by hand will not result in a fluffy meringue.

I’ve never been fond of meringue, or maybe I was too lazy to take that extra step. I want my pie to hurry up out of the oven! This pie tastes good warm, but it’s very rich tasting; we mostly eat it cold, but I always have a slice right out of the oven. In asking mama where she learned this recipe, she didn’t remember, but I’m glad she discovered it!

Whenever I go to mama’s I usually make a couple of Lemon pies while there, and I always leave one in the fridge before I leave. She never has a problem finishing it!


As I began reading more, I soon discovered the library in town; although I hated using the card catalog and searching the shelf for the book using the Dewey Decimal System. Our Perry library was in the basement of the county courthouse.

court house perry ga

Perry, was home to the Houston County Courthouse and our library was housed in the basement level. I always entered through the side doors to walk down to the library.

I don’t remember any specific books that were mandatory reading in school… wonder why that is? My husband remembers a few of his required reading, but I just have no memory of not one single one. About the only classic, I remember reading was The Lord of the Flies… maybe that was one of my required reading books I wrote a report on. Summertime was mostly my fun reading time and I never missed out on joining the Summer Reading Library Club… quickly reading to fill up my card to receive a certificate.

perry library in courthouse

The front desk of the Perry Library in the county courthouse. Mrs. Beavers was the librarian when I went and she was always at the desk… eager to help you find your book or place a star on your summer reading certificate.

My favorite reading material was the autobiographies of all the presidents, inventors and whatever else caught my eye while browsing. I still hadn’t forgotten Nancy Drew, but they were my personal collection of books at home. Mama also enjoyed reading and she usually read whatever I checked out at the library.

Nothing was better than a summer afternoon laying on a quilt, watching the clouds roll by, as I took a journey through my books.


I suppose I must have loved writing letters as a child… I had several pen pals from Hawaii, Canada, England, and Vietnam. I still have those letters today, tucked away in my scrapbooks.


My “Scrapbooks” filled with silly memories…

In Hawaii, I wrote to several girls and even found one of them on Facebook a few years ago. She was so surprised to hear from me… 50 years later! We caught each other up on our lives and even though she wasn’t able to share my original letters back with me, I shared hers. She was excited to show them to her grandchildren so they could see what she wrote and thought about when she was eight years old. Too bad her mom cleaned out her closet when she left home…. my letters went bye-bye! I can’t remember how I came to have pen-pals in Hawaii… I think it was probably through the schools.

As I became a teenager I advanced to “boy” penpals… writing to one in Canada and England. From re-reading some of the letters, it seems I even found penpals for my girlfriends to write to also – his friends. I think I found them through my teen magazines, advertising for pen pals.

By the time I was sixteen, I was still letter writing, but now I’d advanced to older guys – a GI in Vietnam. He picked my letter from a pile of letters – girls looking to write to a service guy. Robert lived in Alabama… maybe he picked me as I was a Southern girl; he nicknamed me Peaches because I was from Georgia.


Letters from my Vietnam GI penpal!

Being lonely over there, he seemed to have fallen in love with me, but I never had those feelings for him. Robert was a K-9 dog handler in Vietnam and very sad when he had to leave his best friend, his German shepherd, behind when he came home. He came to visit me a couple of times after returning to the states… I think hoping for a relationship, but it wasn’t my feelings so I had to break off the continuation of letter writing. I do wonder today what happened to him and hope he had a meaningful life.


Our Letters!

My last letter writing adventure was to my husband while he was stationed in Maine and later in Thailand. At least I was smart enough to have saved all those letters! One day my granddaughters or even great-granddaughters might be blogging them. Maybe I better re-read through them before handing them off to my daughter… who has laid claim to those boxed letters!


I’ve never been a fan of thunder and lightning when I’m alone, but if I have company then it’s all ok! I know that thunder can’t hurt me, but I’ll jump sometimes when a really big one comes out of nowhere… sounding like a strike in bowling!

Lightning is awesome to watch… the sky lights up with streaks running through and sometimes seeming to almost hit the ground. Watching it at the beach is really cool as often the lightning runs down to the water… or at least it looks like. Don’t worry, I’m always safe in my car, but what I wouldn’t give to be able to sit on the beach and watch. Lightning always draws me to grab my camera, but I still haven’t mastered the settings fast enough to take that shot. Usually, by the time I’ve finally found my settings, the lightning is gone… I’m too slow!

Mama told me that Granddaddy McKinley loved lightning and whenever a good storm came up, he’d sit out on the front porch in the swing… swinging and singing “You are my Sunshine.”

I’m so jealous of those awesome lightning shots I see online… maybe one day I’ll learn and remember the setting… to finally get my shot!


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

© 2017, copyright Jeanne Bryan Insalaco; all rights reserved

Posted in 2017: A to Z - All About Me, Daily Writings and funnies... | Tagged , , , | 6 Comments

2017 A to Z: Letter M… All About Me

2017 A to Z: Letter M …

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 M is for… Mama’s Meatloaf, Mac & Cheese, music, magazines, memories, Mama, and marriage

Mama’s Meatloaf:

My mama’s meatloaf is like none other I’ve ever had, and hubby loves it! He loves everything Southern, guess that’s why he married a Southern girl! Mama’s secret ingredient in her meatloaf is oatmeal – so whoever said meatloaf isn’t healthy! In as I’m planning a post on her recipe, I’ll save the “meat” for that post, and you can read it HERE.

My husband has learned to make it also, making it just as good as I do. There’s no specific recipe you have to follow exactly, it’s more or less just knowing what ingredients to use and adding in coordination with the amount of hamburger meat using.

Mac & Cheese: 

I’m a child born and raised in the South – so why didn’t I ever eat Mac & Cheese as a child? I have no answer for that!

I never remember mama making it from scratch, but she did serve it…. frozen! I can still visualize those small pie tins of mac & cheese that sat between her and daddy’s plate at supper. Why didn’t I eat it? I’m going to have to ask her that one. Was I that picky of a child? Did I even try it before turning up my nose?

I sure do wish I had a dish of it right now. Maybe if I “wiggle” my nose…. it might appear! If not, I just might have to make a dish next week.


I’ve tried many musical instruments through the years… beginning with the flute in second grade. Everyone in the class had a flute which we carried in a brown cloth case with our names written on the front; I still have mine in that same case.

Music class began in second grade…. on music day, we marched over to the small building where music class was held – all carrying our flutes. I remember walking there in single file with our teacher, Mrs. Pierce, leading us.

My Song Flute

I soon progressed from flute lessons to piano lessons, with the use of a piano given to me from one of Mama’s friends; it was an older upright which Mama painted green. I’m lucky it wasn’t painted black… she painted everything!

My music teacher lived on Hwy 441 just out of town, and also where I took my lessons; my piano recitals were held in her living room. I remember sitting at the piano there while the metronome clicked back and forth emitting beats for me to keep time to.

The only recital that has stuck with me today was when I played the Greensleeves. When I hear this song today, I’m always taken back to memories of playing it at my piano recital.


Greensleeves… My piano recital piece

Whenever I practiced at home my Chihuahua, Teddy Bear, sat at my feet… and howled; he hated my piano playing! Mama tells me I hated to practice and often would begin wheezing to get out of practice; guess I used my asthma to my advantage. I didn’t take lessons for many years, but now wish I had continued so I could play today.

After moving across town from Smoak Ave. to Hillcrest, I suddenly wanted to play the accordion; not sure how that came to be and Mama doesn’t remember either. Wherever I took lessons, I borrowed an instrument to use until I decided whether I liked it or not…. I didn’t last long with the accordion, it was too heavy and awkward for me. I don’t remember knowing anyone who played or even seeing one before… so where did I get the idea to play it?

I soon moved onto a new instrument – the guitar; Daddy bought me a guitar at a local pawn store. It was a really nice one, but I think it was just too big for me. I did take several lessons…. somewhere, but I found it very difficult to move my fingers in following the chords… the chords just never flowed fluently for me and I ended up with callouses on my fingers. Watching someone play looks so easy…. believe me it’s not!

I guess I’m just not musically inclined!


I’ve always had a pile of magazines …… somewhere hiding in my room. Just the other day I went through a large stack of magazines in my decluttering; kept with intention of reading but never got around to… it’s too hard to read now unless I have my reading glasses handy.

Mama often brought home magazines from the senior center for me to look at when I came home – I loved that! At nighttime I’d read through, ripping out recipes… that I never made! But it kept me busy and I enjoyed reading all my Southern favorites while there. When I stayed with mama while she was in the hospital in Athens, I’d scour all the floor waiting rooms at nighttime for reading magazines… I had quickly learned that many people donated their magazines to the hospital. I’d then head back to her room with an armful of my favorite Southern Living magazines; next evening I’d return them as I hunted for more.

My favorite teenage reading magazines!

As a teenager, my magazine choices were Tiger Beat, 16 Mag, and Teen Beat. They were where I found all my favorite movie photos that hung on my bulletin board in my room on Hillcrest Avenue. Many of those very photos I saved are still in my scrapbooks today.

Jeanne in room Hilcrest Avenue

Me in front of my bulletin board with movie photos!


While I have written many memories in my A to Z, there are many things I just don’t seem to remember and I don’t understand why! I’m an only child, so I had very little family around at holidays… is that why? My husband has many memories of holidays like Easter, Thanksgiving, and Christmas, while I basically have none! I remember no Easter, Thanksgiving or Christmas dinners – why is that? My mother has many memories from being a small child on the farm with her brother… I remember nothing as a small child and it puzzles me as to why? Sometimes I think… do I even remember the things I do because my mother has told me about my childhood… or do I really remember?

Whether I truly remember… or remember all that my mother has told me, these memories are written for my children and grandchildren to enjoy one day.


Being an only child, it was always just my mother and me; she kept me very close to her. There was no getting away with too much with My Mother, she was always one step ahead of me… I remember sticking my tongue out at her once after she shut the door, and she quickly opened it back telling me that I better not ever stick my tongue out at her again. I bet she did that to her mother, so she knew!

Mama and Me

The one drawback to being an only child…. caused mama to be very protective of me. If I was a few minutes late on my curfew – she was waiting at the door almost in tears. It was frustrating, but I had no older siblings to have already broken the ice with her.

She spent a lot of time with me and my friends at night, playing games with us on the stoop… telling ghost stories and taking us to the Dairy Queen for ice cream on Friday nights. She never left anyone out, piling us all in the backseat of her car – no seat belts needed back then.

My parents divorced the year I graduated in 1970 and I remained with my father to finish school and graduate; I ended up staying with daddy as I didn’t want to leave my friends. Mama needed to care for her father, so she moved back to the farm to care for him. It was a small rural farming community… I didn’t want to live on a farm – I was too much a city girl at heart. I loved my grandfather’s farm and had spent a lot of time there as a child… but as a teenager, it wasn’t where I wanted to be all the time. I spent time with my mother, but living with my father afforded me more freedom, and as a teenager, I liked that.

My mother and I are quite close, and I call her almost every night to chat and check in on her. Several years ago I began keeping a journal of those nightly chats because she’d often tell me family stories or just funny stories, and I needed a way to document them. Soon after beginning my blog, I decided to blog them and if interested they can be read here at Conversations with Mama and more .

Often when I visit it takes time for us to get back in sync with each other in person… caused by not living near each other. We are both strong-willed women, independent and always wanting things our way. Sometimes that causes a conflict… she wants it one way being the mother and thinking its the best way, and me, a grown woman… wanting it now my way as an adult…. no longer a child. Mama still thinks of me as her little girl… I guess I’m the same way with my own daughter. I never realized how strong willed we all are, until my son-in-law pointed it out when he was with all four of us… my mother, me, my daughter and granddaughter. He says he could never live with all of us McKinley women under one roof!

4 generations

The 4 McKinley generations!


As a little girl, you’re always thinking about who you will fall in love with and marry. Never in my wildest romantic dreams did I ever think I would marry a Connecticut Yankee! And I never even knew anyone who was Italian! Don’t laugh… I remember first seeing an Italian airman hanging out at Shoney’s – where we all cruised at night – and all the girls wanted to meet him; he was an oddity to us!

And who did I marry… and Italian Connecticut Yankee who came all the way to Georgia to fall in love with a Southern Irish, Scottish, Welch, English, and probably even more nationalities girl!

We met on Halloween night at the Sandpiper Club in Warner Robins, Georgia. I often went there, even though I was underage and “technically” not allowed in, but the cop at the door checking Id’s knew I didn’t drink and he’d pass me in; there were several of us he allowed in. That night I came dressed as a “fairy princess,” wearing my old prom dress. Although I never saw my hubby that night in the club, he saw me; I won 1st prize and a case of beer – which someone else had to claim for me.

I didn’t meet my soon-to-be husband that night until after I changed back into street clothes and headed over to his house for a party. All I knew was that there were 4 Air Force guys living there and one wanted to meet me. I literally tripped over him when I walked in – and that’s where I stayed the rest of the night after he caught me when I fell. Did I trip, or did he trip me on purpose… Hmm, whatever it was, I think it was love at first sight – 46 years later and still inseparable!

No sooner than when just getting to know each other, he threw me a curveball one night – he was being transferred to Loring AFB in Maine! Within only a few days, he was packing to leave – I was devastated, but no one says NO to Uncle Sam. He often reminds me that GI stands for “Government Issue.”

So many thoughts ran through my head – does he really love me like he said – will he call – will he write – will I ever see him again? Maine might as well been across the ocean – I’d never be able to go there. I had only known Steve for a short two months before he left in December just before Christmas.

He spent Christmas with his family in Connecticut before arriving at Loring AFB in January, and it wasn’t long before he began calling and writing to me. Once he arrived at the base, he called me nightly. A friend showed him how to call through the base lines, so it never cost him a penny. It was on one of those nightly phone calls when he asked me to marry him. I said Yes, but Daddy was quick to tell me I was crazy! Daddy had never met Steve! Why… guess we just never thought about… thinking I had plenty of time as we dated more.

It wasn’t long after him asking me to marry him, when he sprung another surprise on me – he was now being shipped to Thailand for a year! This was beginning to be too much to bear… my thoughts ran to… would there even be a wedding? I didn’t have time to think about Thailand before he told me that he wanted to marry me before leaving and that I would stay with his parents in Connecticut while he was gone. My head was spinning! I was just 18, never been further than N.C., and now I was going to Connecticut… too far past the Mason-Dixon line!

I guess I didn’t have many hesitations as I soon quit my job against my father’s wishes. He had a more clear head than I had at the moment… he was like, “do you really love him, what if he doesn’t come?” I had none of those thoughts!

Before I knew it, Steve appeared on my doorstep one early May morning… I was so nervous seeing him again. Within a couple of days, we headed to Aikens, S.C. to get married… my bright idea! I thought that since we didn’t have time to really plan a wedding, and have both parents attend, that we would marry by ourselves. Was I really thinking clear… but that’s what we did!

I had been told that there were no blood tests in S.C., so that meant no waiting and Aiken’s was where everyone went if they eloped. There were no blood tests, but they did require us to wait 24 hours… he still reminds me how I knew all about getting married!

Finally on May 5th, 1971, we climbed the stairs to the Justice of Peace’s office to be married. As we walked up, we met an older woman on the stairs who smiled at us and said, “you’re going to be married this morning?” I hardly heard a word during our ceremony as I giggled through it all. It just felt so silly to me, and I couldn’t wait for the I Do’s to be over, and I could run out of there.


Daddy took us out to eat to celebrate our marriage at The New Perry Hotel when we arrived back that evening. I think it was my first time ever eating there; although it was one of the most popular restaurants in town, I always considered it mostly for the tourists as it was inside the hotel.

We only had a couple of days left in Georgia before heading to Connecticut and I soon began packing and trying to figure what would fit in Steve’s 1965 Pontiac LeMans. Reflecting back now, I think about all that I left without a second thought. I left my 69 fastback Mustang – Big Mistake! I left all my music… all my albums of Elvis, Herman and the Hermits, Sonny & Cher, The Monkees, Paul Revere and the Raiders and the Beatles… I did bring my 45’s! I also left my awesome flip-open record player where I had played all that great music. I never even gave a second thought about so many things – I was a newlywed! I wonder if those diaries I threw in my trash can were still there when I left… I could have saved them if only I had thought!

Daddy cooked us and our friends a catfish dinner on our last night; Steve was amazed at how he went fishing just that morning and caught so many. I bet daddy had a special fishing spot, as it was his favorite sport. I remember going fishing with him a few times… the last time was when I threw his pole in the water. We were fishing under a bridge and I saw a snake swim by… that was it for me! I threw the pole in and scrambled up the bank to jump in the car. He never took me fishing again! Steve reminds me that we devoured all the catfish and hushpuppies that night and it was one of the best fish dinners he’d had while in Georgia.

The next morning I said goodbye to Perry as we headed to Connecticut, looking to enjoy a honeymoon along the way. One of our favorite places we stayed at was a cottage in South Hill, Virginia; each room was an individual knotty-pine cabin with a claw foot tub. I might just have to see if those cabins still exist and make a return visit.

It still saddens me today that I wasn’t able to give Daddy a hug and kiss that morning we left. He had left before I got up that morning… I was puzzled! He called me before I left to say he had to go somewhere and wouldn’t make it back before I left. I found out later from his friends that he took it really hard when I left… it helped me to understand why he didn’t, couldn’t say goodbye. What I wouldn’t give for that hug right now….


Daddy and Me… and that 69 Mustang I left!

It’s all history now – 46 years later – still in love and that’s what counts!


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: Mama’s Meatloaf

Foods, Family Recipes, and Memories:

Mama’s Meatloaf


Meatloaf… a staple food of the South and definitely not cooked the same way in the North! Hubby made this one – note all the bacon he piled on top!

Mama’s Meatloaf Ingredients:

  • 1 1/2 pounds ground beef (I usually use 80/20%)
  • 1 small to medium Vidalia onion – chopped – feel free to use more
  • 2 slices American Cheese – torn in pieces
  • 1/4 cup Ketchup (remember I love Ketchup)
  • 1/2 cup oatmeal or a smidge more… (it’s a judge thing)
  • 2 eggs
  • salt & pepper
  • bacon slices (optional)


The Meatloaf Ingredients…

I mix all my ingredients usually in the same dish I bake in – saves on dishwashing. Spray first with Pam, then dump all ingredients in. Just like mama, I mix all together with my hands and form into a meatloaf shape. Hubby works completely different from me, he preps all his ingredients in measuring bowls… me I just chop and throw right in!

If you make more than one, you can cook them both in the same dish. Sometimes I add chopped potatoes and carrots around the loaves and surround them with water to cook veggies. Near the end of baking time, I’ve even added peas or beans. I learned that from the mother of my husband’s best friend. We had stopped over and when she took her meatloaf out of the oven with the veggies on the side…. it looked and smelled so good. I didn’t refuse an invite to eat! There is no set rules for making meatloaf and how to cook it! Every family has their own specialty! Let me hear yours!!!

After forming your meatloaf, lay slices of bacon on top if you are a fan of bacon… like we are in our house. Hubby likes lots of bacon on top as you can tell by the picture above! Sometimes I even add a few squirts of ketchup on top of the bacon. I recently read about sprinkling brown sugar on top of the bacon…. Hmm, might just have to give that a try in the future.

I have never gone by an exact recipe for Mama’s Meatloaf… it all depends on how much ground beef I’m using, then judge other ingredients by that. Often I make extra so I can freeze one for another day. I like the end slice… extra crunchy… and I’ll make smaller loaves just so there are more crunchy ends for me. I’ve seen where some form their meatloaf mixture into large meatballs and cook in muffin tins so there is extra crunch all around; I haven’t tried that yet, but I plan too!

When you have two grandparents with farms, you have plenty of vegetables in the summer; we always left with a bag full of everything! Mama never bought vegetables in the store, all our fresh corn, potatoes, sweet potatoes, string beans, black-eyed peas, butter beans, okra, and even peanuts came from there; I never left without a watermelon either, as granddaddy Bryan had the best watermelon patch, growing both red and yellow melons. He always had one waiting for me by the back porch… first thing I looked for when we ’rounded the back corner of the driveway.

What did mama usually serve on the side with meatloaf…. a big bowl of the best tasting “creamed potatoes” you’d ever sink a fork in; Mama never called them mashed potatoes! They were always so smooth and creamy, no lumps…. guess that’s why she called them creamed potatoes. In the South, “creamed potatoes” go with everything! Mama never called them Irish potatoes, she would say Iced potatoes…. not sure why or how that pronunciation came to be…. but I’d definitely lose the battle in trying to correct her!

When I moved to Connecticut, I quickly learned that all meatloaf is not created equal! No one made meatloaf like Mama’s, they made it more like a meatball mixture… guess that was the Italian way! All their food was so new to me and my Southern taste buds didn’t jive with those Northern foods for a long time. But I have to say that now after 46 years here, my taste buds have changed and I love Italian food and cook the specialty holiday dishes quite well; the family has told me often through the years that I cook them as well as they do, if not better…. now that’s a compliment! I’ve never forgotten my Southern food favorites, and when I’m home, I hunt them down… and I’m never satisfied until I’ve eaten them all!

My mother-in-law made meatloaf quite often, but I learned quickly that she never made it twice the same way… she also had no recipe! It was usually whatever she had at the moment, as to what went into her ground beef. It was good, but not Mama’s!

Hope you’ve enjoyed my “meatloaf” story, memories and recipe… now let me hear yours!


Want to read more on Foods, click here…. Foods: Family Recipes and Memories

© 2017, copyright Jeanne Bryan Insalaco; all rights reserved

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2017 A to Z: Letter K… All About Me

2017 A to Z: Letter K…

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 K is for… Knitting and Ketchup


I never knitted as a child… and only saw my mother crochet, making those fad items like poodle bottle covers and toilet-roll doll covers. Mama told me that she knitted as a child, making squares that one of her teachers sewed together for the servicemen. She even made her own knitting needles from sticks.


My Vera Bradley bag (found at a flea market) has been re-purposed as my knitting bag. I love the zippered pouches to hold all my knitting supplies; so easy to keep with me and have all, or at least most, of my knitting needles. Believe me, you will end up with lots of knitting supplies and gadgets needed!

It was my mother-in-law who I credit with teaching me how to knit and crochet when I lived with them while hubby was stationed in Thailand. I must have picked it up pretty quickly and I never remember having any problems in reading a pattern. I’ve never understood how people say that they can’t read directions, as it was never hard for me; there were times when some directions were difficult to understand, but by reading and re-reading I was finally able to understand what they meant.

In today’s world of having the internet at your fingertips, whenever I had a problem with a pattern, it was easy enough to turn to YouTube for help. It’s amazing at all the videos offered to teach you how to do anything and everything. Even my husband searches out “how to’s” on there, and he already knows how to do pretty much anything.


knitting bowl


Knitting bowl hubby made me – the artwork for the yarn to slide through miraculously looks like the letter J!

Just last year I discovered wooden knitting bowls and after watching videos on how to make them, my husband and I began searching for wooden bowls at tags sales; he researched on youtube, and came up with a plan. Before I knew it, I had my knitting bowl…. as soon as my daughter saw it, “I want one.” The latest one will be going to my daughter-in-law. I even made my daughter a mini one for her desk at work!

mini knitting bowl

My daughter’s “mini knitting bowl”

My daughter-in-law is also now learning and I hope all of my granddaughters will eventually learn. After all, I have lots and lots of knitting needles to pass along. I gave Ella, my oldest granddaughter, a pair of needles for her 7th birthday this year, but I think she’s going to have to grow into them. It takes time for the younger ones to grasp the concept of how to maneuver the needles between your fingers. If you’ve ever watched someone new trying to hold needles and yarn at the same time, you know what I mean! You can never start them too early on the knitting addiction… eventually, they will grasp the concept and soon be knitting their own hats!

I’ve always remembered the verse below after watching Martha Stewart teach children how to knit by using this verse. Hopefully, it will help my granddaughters learn to knit.

“In through the front door, run around the back, peek through the window, off jumps Jack.”


I know it’s a funny topic, but I was quite fanatical about which brand of ketchup I’d eat as a child – and it was only Hunt’s! Mama could never understand why I’d only eat that brand and often try to fool me by putting another brand in my Hunt’s bottle… but she never fooled me; I always knew the difference!

In as much as I loved ketchup on everything…. I hated tomatoes, but they were mama’s favorite, and she usually served sliced tomatoes with dinner and especially loved them with breakfast. Even today she will order sliced tomatoes with breakfast, which I think is more of a Southern thing. Mama says I ate ketchup on my scrambled eggs when I was young, and now I cringe if I see someone doing that… and absolutely hate the smell of it! It just doesn’t seem right!

I do put ketchup on lots of things, just not eggs. I can’t eat steak without it… I know that’s a sin…  but I do it anyway! My hamburgers are ketchup only, and who doesn’t eat french fries without dunking in ketchup? I know I’m a funny duck as I don’t indulge in mustard or mayonnaise…. but, Ketchup is my only condiment!

It was those sliced tomatoes that mama loved so much that gave away who Santa was. It clicked for me when she had me leave them out for him… wouldn’t Santa rather have a cookie?


Funny how now, my choice in ketchup has changed to Heinz only now…

I guess I outgrew the Hunts brand of taste.

Maybe I like the 57 varieties they include in every jar!



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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Weekend Weathervanes: Firehouses

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!

Weekend Weathervanes: Firehouses

Sharing a few of my recent Firehouse Weathervanes…


While on a CT. back road heading to a cousin’s house… look what we found. Hubby had to do a turn-around for a photo!


Hotchkissville fire fix

Hotchkissville, CT. Fire Company… all volunteer



hat vane fix

Brass fire hat and horn atop the Hotchkissville fire department


A day of Antiquing along the coast in Clinton, Ct.


telescope weathervaneClinton Firehouse fix

Love the spyglass!



telescope weathervane firehouse Clintonfix

Clinton, CT. Firehouse at 35 E. Main Street



A Georgia Fireman Weathervane in Winder, Georgia


winder weather fix

Winder Fire Station No. 1 on North Broad St. in Winder, GA



winder firestationfix

Winder Fire House proudly displaying their fireman weathervane!



Want to read more, click…. Weekend Weathervanes:

© 2017, copyright Jeanne Bryan Insalaco; all rights reserved

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Weekend Weathervanes: The Newtown Bee

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!


Weekend Weathervanes:

The Newtown Bee


There’s a giant BEE buzzing in Newtown!!!

We travel through Newtown, CT. on many Sunday mornings as we head to The Elephant Trunk in New Milford… our favorite flea market… and not until today did I glance up to catch sight of a huge bumblebee weathervane hovering over The Newtown Bee. As it was too early for photos, I made a mental note to stop on our trip home; it actually took another trip later in the week, on a better day, for my photos.

The giant bumblebee weathervane makes quite an impressive sight as it hovers over the red house… offices of The Newtown Bee; they also publish Antiques and The Arts Weekly which we read quite faithfully when we frequented auctions.


The Newtown Bee Publishing Company

The copper bumblebee perched on the cupola above The Newtown Bee office at 5 Church Hill Road was installed on July 23, 1974; designed and created in the metalwork studio of John Hallock, Bethlehem, CT.


Another famous landmark!

John Hallock, well known as a restorer of antique metal sculpture is said to be able to reproduce anything asked of him, specializing in sheet metal and copper; making anything new – look old.

Within only a year of flight above The Newtown Bee, in February 1975, the town “Bee” was stolen off the cupola. It was found about ten days later, but not intact. The Bee was discovered in several pieces in a nearby pond where the thieves discarded it. Mr. Hallock was called in to repair the weathervane and soon restored it to the cupola where it happily began spinning its wings again in the wind.

The Bee happily flew above their offices for almost 19 years before Mr. Hallock was called in once again in 2004 to repair another vandalism. The famous “Bee” wasn’t completely taken but had lost both wings, one of its antennae, and one of its six legs. One of the missing parts was actually recovered on site, the antenna was found in the gutter on the Bee building.

There was a question on whether an inside home should be found for their “bee” after the last vandalize attempt, but later it was decided to return the Bee to its landmark perch… where it’s been safely spinning in the wind ever since.

If you’re traveling through Newtown, keep your eyes up, you just might catch sight of their famous BEE!


Want to read more, click…. Weekend Weathervanes:

© 2017, copyright Jeanne Bryan Insalaco; all rights reserved

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2017 A to Z: Letter J… All About Me

2017 A to Z: Letter J… All About Me

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 J is for Jeanne, jokes, Journal, Jobs, Jukebox and Jeans…



By U.S. Army – Yank, the Army Weekly, Public Domain, at Wikimedia.

My mother often told me that I was named after her favorite movie actress, Jeanne Crain, a popular actress of the 1940’s. The movies she most remembered was “Leave Her to Heaven and State Fair”… appearing in over fifty well-known movies throughout the 40’s. Mama always thought she was so pretty with her long dark hair and after I was born, and she saw my dark hair, she decided to name me after her; even spelling and pronouncing my name the same way. Many people try to add an “i” to the spelling of my name before the last e…. saying that if there’s no “i” then it’s pronounced as Jean. When I spell it for them I say specifically…. Jeanne… no “i.”

Many times even when they pronounced my last name wrong in school, it irritated me and I wouldn’t answer “present” in class. I was sent to the principal’s office once for that… my teacher said I was being precocious! Doesn’t everyone want their name pronounced and spelled correctly? For the most part, the teachers pronounced my first name correctly, but if they wrote it, the spelling was always wrong.

I’m not as concerned with the spelling and pronunciation of my name today, as I once was! It’s no longer a battle I need to pick, but it does amaze me at how many people still can’t spell Jeanne, it’s not an odd name, or at least I don’t think so. Don’t laugh, but many people always spell it as Genie…. then I say, “no I’m not the one who pops out of the bottle.”


While I’ve never been a big joke person, at least in the telling part. I’m just a person who’s comfortable being in the spotlight…. I’m a more behind the scenes person, that’s why my camera is always in my hand… I take the photos! But my mother, on the other hand, likes the limelight and she used to be a big joke teller when she worked. That was her thing… telling jokes as she cut and styled their hair. And she never forgot a joke… daddy often joked that she had the mind of an elephant and if you didn’t want something to not be known, then don’t tell her! LOL, I think that more reflected on him not wanting her to know things!

I’m terrible at remembering jokes and more so in getting the punch line correct, which is a big deal, but I haven’t forgotten mama’s favorite joke that one of her clients, an 80plus-year-old woman, told as mama washed her hair, and the joke goes… “what do you call a one-eyed sex maniac?” The woman covered one eye! Mama said she fell over laughing as she hadn’t expected that coming from her. Recently I reminded mama of that joke in preparation for this post, but I had to remind her… slightly…. of how it went, but once I did, well she enjoyed it all over again and said, “I’m going to tell that down at the senior center tomorrow.”


My first form of journaling was diaries, those little books with keys. Didn’t we all have them? I remember writing on those small lined pages designated for the days of the week, although there wasn’t much room to elaborate. Hmmm, what did I write? I suppose all about my favorite Nancy Drew books or school until I began writing about boys. Whatever I wrote, I didn’t want my soon-to-be husband to read before I married so I threw them in the trash. I can still see those diaries lying there… why didn’t I have second thoughts and pick them up. If I could go back in time, I would tell myself, “what are you crazy, pick those diaries up…. you will want to read them one day and laugh at what you thought was so important.”

My granddaughter Ella is becoming quite the reader and writer as she heads into second grade; maybe she’s inherited those genes from me and will continue in my footsteps. I plan on buying her one of those diaries with the little keys, but she might need to keep hers locked as she has two younger sisters… who could have prying eyes soon. I’ll be sure to tell her to never throw them away, that one day she will enjoy re-reading through those pages, or maybe even her granddaughter might.

As an adult, I’ve kept journals, but as I write more on my blog…. I haven’t cracked them open in a long time. I should, as they are words in my own handwriting, not written words that just appear on paper, with no direct connection back to me. I started journals for my children several years ago, but I found it difficult to try and start at the beginning and I soon began rambling to them… not in any order. I don’t think they will mind! I’ve also bought journals to write to the grandchildren… I need to become more diligent in writing in them.


My first job was before I was even of legal age to work, and most likely because the owner knew my mother. I worked on Saturdays at the local restaurant in town called “The Coffee Cup”. It sat on the corner of the main street of town and just down the street from where my mother worked at Claire’s Beauty Shop. I was the Chief “Coffee Cup” dishwasher at the counter… LOL! Besides washing, I poured coffee for whoever wanted a refill, I think coffee was five cents a cup with free refills. What a bargain compared to the two and three dollar coffees we buy today… with no free refills! I was cheap help at 50 cents an hour, plus tips. Too bad I don’t have any vivid memory of what I made in tips.

coffee cup
The Coffee Cup Restaurant

When I turned 16, I landed my first real job as a waitress at Risher’s Restaurant in Perry. Did I have any experience as a waitress, absolutely not… but I bluffed my way in. My first day began on a busy summer Friday night and my first table was a group of boys from Ohio. The first obstacle for me was their drink orders…. simple drinks had me baffled as they asked what type of pop did we have? Whenever anyone asked me for something I didn’t know, I responded with “we’re all out”, or “we don’t carry that“. Finally, they came back with, “you don’t have Coke?” I was like, “oh yea we have Coke.” They had a field day with me after that, teasing me over everything, and I was probably loving the attention! Hope they left me a big tip! Whenever I wanted a soda, we just said, “I’ll have a Coke.”

rishers restaurant

Rishers Restaurant

In the South, we only drink sweet “iced” tea, but I was soon thrown again by another drink order when a tourist couple ordered tea. I knew something was wrong when they looked puzzled at me as I sat two glasses of sweet tea on the table. I soon returned with two coffee cups and tea bags, after the girls in the kitchen showed me how to make that “other ” tea! I don’t think I lasted more than a couple of weeks there… waiting tables was not for me!

Perry was a small town with a big tourist crowd, as it was about mid-way through Georgia… a stopping point on the way to Florida. Tourists often walked the streets in the evening as they headed to the local restaurants.

My next job was still in town at an older clothing store called Johnson’s. I don’t remember working any day except for Saturdays, and it wasn’t a fun job. Johnson’s was a family owned business selling mostly clothes and shoes. Mr. and Mrs. Johnson didn’t allow us girls to chat, chew gum or play around… they were very strict! I remember hiding behind counters, out of eyesight, to chat or chew my gum in order to not be seen. I waited on customers and folded clothes to lay on the square oak tables that covered the floor.

In my senior year, a big-box drugstore called Eckard’s came to town and I was hired as their Cosmetologist… a fancy title I had for someone in charge of the makeup and cologne counter. I kept that job for over a year until I married and left Perry.

After I married, I lived in Connecticut with my in-laws while my husband was in Thailand; after a few months of settling in, I looked for a job. Without any prior experience in billing, I was hired at Grand Light & Supply in New Haven as a billing clerk. I was fast at typing, so all I needed to learn was how to operate the billing machine and what to type on the bills; it was simple enough to operate and I enjoyed working there.

Having a southern accent while living in the North… always made work interesting. I was constantly asked where I was from, and then they’d always want me to talk so they could hear my accent. Lunchtime was never boring as I often went downtown with the girls for lunch, sometimes one of the salesmen would even go with us… and that meant wine at lunch. I remember one lunch where we had more than one or two glasses of wine and could hardly type by the time we got back to work. It was an interesting afternoon trying to keep our composure.

After leaving Grand Light, I didn’t work for several years until I went to work for Stop and Shop Supermarket in 1981, where I worked until  June 2nd of this year (2017). Never in my wildest dreams did I ever think I’d work anywhere for 36 years! All I can think of now is where did those years go. I first began there when my son turned 5 and went to kindergarten; my daughter was only three. Now, they both are married and I have five beautiful granddaughters.

Why did I put an application in…. well my husband had just been laid off at Electric Boat and home sick with bronchitis… so sick he couldn’t even go to the employment office to apply; yes there was a time when you actually had to go there in person. Today it’s all done over the phone, they don’t even want you coming to their office. On a lark that morning, while grocery shopping, I filled out an employment application… and the rest is history!

Upon returning home that day, hubby told me “Stop and Shop called, they want to see you today for an interview.” I was like… “what“… I didn’t really want to go to work! I trudged back to the store and met with the store manager, Harry Theis, who hired me immediately. Funny how he tried hiring me for the very job I left today. Back in the day, it was called “hydra” – today it’s called “file maintenance”, which is more politically correct. No one has ever been able to explain the name of hydra to me!

In questioning the store manager of what exactly was this hydra job, his words were… “oh you just walk around and look at numbers on the tags,” I was like, “that’s ok, I think I’d rather just be a cashier.” Funny how even today, the managers still have no clue about what hydra, aka “file maintenance” really is. He also tried to give me a meat wrapping job, but when I learned the room stays at 32 degrees, I declined that also!

While I advanced in jobs at Stop & Shop, I never thought I’d ever, in my wildest dreams, work anywhere for 36 years… especially since I’d only put my application in on a lark. But as of June 2nd, this year (2017) I have a new job… it’s called Retirement! My last day and days leading up to it have left me with mixed feelings. While I’m happy to be free of a daily commitment, and free to be able to go places whenever we want… I’m also fearful of losing my steady paycheck, medical, the safety of a job and friends that I spent my days with. It’s been hectic setting up that scary “Medicare” and I’ve definitely procrastinated with it along the way… I guess I was hoping my fairy godmother would swoop in and set it up for me… well that didn’t happen!

With Stop and Shop, my job history ends… will there be a new job in my future? Only the job of doing what I want… when I want…. and if I want! Hubby has already said he will be keeping me busy, and off the couch!


I’ve always loved music and if there was a jukebox around, and I had a quarter… I played it! You sometimes today will still find a jukebox, usually in a retro diner or specialty restaurant, but the music is now supplied by CD’s, not 45’s I knew, or the 78’s from my mother’s era, and none of my bubblegum music is ever on there. I’m sure I went through lots of quarters at Lake Joy Skating rink on their jukebox…. nothing better than skating to your favorite tunes!

One of my favorite jukeboxes was the table-top ones… they were the best; nothing like having your own personal jukebox at the table. I loved flipping the panels back and forth while looking for favorite songs.

vintage Table Top Jukebox

Steve and I always wanted to buy a jukebox, but then the next question always was… “where do we put it?” But we still wanted one, especially one of the older Rockola’s like we saw on the Happy Days show. We have always been a fan of everything old and vintage!


Even after I married in 1971, they were still around, but have slowly disappeared. The last place I played one was at The Elm Diner in West Haven, where we faithfully ate breakfast on weekends. But like everything else… remodels take away old and bring in new, and new isn’t always good. Sadly all those table top jukeboxes are gone today, but if your lucky enough to find a new 50’s style diner… you just might be able to enjoy a little music at your table. Be sure and bring lots of quarters!


I don’t really remember wearing jeans as a young child… so what did I wear? Well, I’m sure it was only shorts in the summer, but what did I wear in the winter? I know I only wore dresses to school – no pants were allowed until I was in High School… imagine that! Mama told me that she sometimes dressed me in overalls when I was small… probably when we lived in Union Point. I never remember wearing them and I haven’t found any photos to prove that!

I never wore the typical “blue jeans” as a teenager, but I do remember having jeans in colors like pink, green and yellow. The pink ones were always my favorite and I still had them when I married… keeping them for years when they no longer fit. Don’t we always keep pants that don’t fit, because we liked them so much… and always hoping that they will fit again! Finally, I parted with them – it was hard!

Today my daily wardrobe consists of blue jeans… it’s always easy what I’m wearing for the day… jeans and a shirt. Take me out of my jeans and I’m uncomfortable! Tell me I have to get dressed up – I’m miserable… and then there are the shoes… sneakers just work better for me. Put my feet in a shoe and I end up having trouble walking. I know… I’m a funny duck! Since I’m no longer working, maybe I’ll try a pair of sandals or even my old favorites – Dr. Scholls!



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

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