Nancy Drew: A Walk Down Memory Lane

Nancy Drew: A Walk Down Memory Lane

As published in  “The Sleuth“… The Nancy Drew Fanzine

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When memories were asked for in the “Nancy Drew Book Fans” Facebook group, I wrote a short story… then forgot about it until I recently opened my latest July/August 2018 Sleuth Fanzine.

As a young girl of age nine, I began reading Nancy Drew and begging my mother for the newest book on every shopping trip to K-Mart. I can still see all the books there in the far corner of the store where their book section was… me standing there for the longest in deciding which book would come home with me… and probably still there until Mama dragged me to the checkout. If only I could have seen into the future, I surely would have snapped photos to one day show myself those very books.

Me as Nancy Drew 1

I coveted my books… lining them up neatly on the bookshelf in my room on Smoak Avenue in Perry, Georgia; never wanting anyone to borrow. I remember being a little jealous of a cousin we visited often, as she always seemed to have more books than I did… and she didn’t like anyone to touch or borrow her books either. When we spent the weekend with the family, my eyes were always scanning the titles and wishing they were mine… wanting to hold and touch them. I’m sure I begged mama for a new book upon leaving as Nancy Drew was always on my mind.

I’ve always been partial to The Secret of the Old Clock… maybe because there were many antiques in our house and I knew that family heirlooms were treasured. When I discovered a copy again, I couldn’t wait to reread it… but on this read, it was the original version, not the revised of which I had only read as a young girl; I never knew there were two versions. Imagine all the just jacket books I could have gathered in the 60’s… I’m sure they were still hiding in attics at that time.

Most of my reading was done in the summer… school was out and what else was there to do in the summer than to lay on a quilt under the hot afternoon sun; just lying outside on grandmama’s quilt while reading and watching the clouds roll back by! If you’ve never laid out in the summer and watched the clouds… well you have surely missed out on a fun afternoon! But it’s never too late to give it a try!

As I fell back in love with Nancy again… now in retirement, I began wondering when and how did I outgrow Nancy… and where did all my books disappear to? I can only surmise that I let go of Nancy when we moved from Smoak Ave. to Hillcrest Ave. and music flowed into my life; Nancy quickly took a backseat to Peter Noone of Herman’s Hermits, Paul Revere and the Raiders and The Beatles. As I don’t remember packing my things to move, I can only surmise that since I wasn’t reading anymore, that “someone” made that decision as to what was coming… and what was going,… sniff, sniff; I can only hope they found a good home!

I’m sure my love of Nancy came from hearing my mother talk of how she had often read her… she was a big Nancy Drew reader in the late 1930’s. Mama grew up with Nancy, literally… as she was born in April of 1930… the very month and year Nancy Drew made her debut into the literary world!

My grandfather either couldn’t or wouldn’t buy her Nancy Drew books, but she had a friend in town who’s grandmother always bought her granddaughter the newest book… and her friend June never refused in letting her borrow them. My grandfather was a hard-working farmer and probably didn’t see those books as worthy when the money could be better spent on food. When I asked mama about the dust jackets, she said… “Oh I always took the jackets off when I borrowed, I didn’t want to damage them.” (She had no memories of paying any attention to the artwork on the dust jackets, she only wanted to read the stories inside.) Mama often read “Nancy” way into the night until finishing… the stories pull her into the teen’s detective life, keeping her intrigued until finishing; often returning it the next day for another one.

The school libraries, mama remembered,  weren’t carrying Nancy Drew in their libraries at that time, so unless you were lucky enough to be able to buy them, or have a generous friend like June, you only dreamed about the teen detective! Reading Nancy Drew gave my mother hopes and dreams of what she could be and do… and she wanted to be a detective just like Nancy! She and her best friend, Willie Mae, often talked about becoming detectives who could follow cheating husbands… not sure why or how that was thought of at a young age… maybe she’d read too many glamour detective magazines.

Often times today, I’ll call mama “Nancy Drew” because of all the stories she’s told me of her life on the farm and her daredevil events… and sometimes just because of being too nosey. She was quite the vivacious young girl, never backing down from anyone and inquisitive about anything and everything that came her way. She has been my source for many stories I’ve written on her life and I’ve written all about our conversations HERE.

I tried to encourage my daughter to read Nancy… but I fought a lost cause! Whenever I found the yellow spine books at tag sales, the ones I so loved and remembered… I’d quickly scoop them up, but the stories never grabbed her! I think she read one, The Secret of the Old Clock, as I found her name written inside. She told me later, that she just couldn’t get interested in the stories… but I don’t think she was a reader either… she was a Barbie girl! She eventually packed her books up and for years I often wondered what happened to them… hoping they were still somewhere in the basement. This past year, my husband came upstairs one afternoon with a box marked “Melissa’s books“… my heart skipped a beat and I quickly opened that box to discover them. I was so excited that you’d have thought I just won the lottery! They definitely were a prize to me, and I quickly added them to my collection.

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Granddaughter Ella’s bookcase

Last year I began buying Nancy Drew’s for my oldest granddaughter Ella (age 7), who was just beginning to read… me so wanting her to grow up with Nancy Drew! In my searches, I found both the “yellow spines” and the newer “flashlights”… which were new to me, as I hadn’t known about them. I soon decided that the newer flashlight editions were better suited for her, as I was quickly falling back in love with my yellow spines and the art covers I so remembered… and didn’t want to part with them… again!

I quickly began re-building my collection back and adding more volumes than I even remembered; also now adding the artsy dust jacket early editions that I never even knew of… I am now so addicted to the early art covers! Being a blogger, I’ve blogged several posts on Nancy Drew as well as in April (2018) when I blogged daily on an A to Z blog challenge… “All About Nancy Drew.” I’ve also had such fun in joining the many Facebook groups on Nancy Drew (who knew), meeting up with other book fans, just like me, and learning more than I ever knew about our beloved sleuth!

Recently my daughter asked for a collection of Nancy Drew’s for her bookshelves, so I passed all her books to her, and adding in more, except for that very first one with her name written inside; I’ll just hold onto that one for now! She has two daughters, McKinley, and Grace whom I constantly talk to about Nancy Drew… hoping to spark an interest in them reading one day.

I love how they now have books like Nancy Drew and the Clue Crew and Nancy Crew “Clue Book” with a young Nancy solving mysteries at age eight… now engaging the girls to read about Nancy at their age.

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In looking at my granddaughter Ella’s book library in her room, Nancy battles with so many authors for book space! At present, she’s interested in magic, and Harry Potter is being talked about… I’ll be sending her my copies. Whether she reads Nancy Drew or not, I know she enjoys the vintage “artsy” covers and maybe one day… she’ll read them and remember me, her crazy grandmother (GiGi) who still reads Nancy Drew!

And always when in a dilemma… think WWNDD!

…And if you don’t know what that stands for…  just google it!

magnificator ThanksForReadingClick for more … Nancy Drew stories or to read my A to Z: 2018 – All About Nancy Drew

© 2018, copyright Jeanne Bryan Insalaco; all rights reserved

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Family Stories: Gather Those Stories

Family Stories: Gather Those Stories…. plus more

I don’t live near my mother, so for many, many years I’ve called her daily… listening to her daily activities and in between, often hearing bits and pieces of stories. My mom is always full of stories, from her young years, way into her teenage years and beyond! I journaled many of those stories on a blog titled “Down on the Farm“… which is a work still in progress, as I catch up adding them online. Those phone calls led me to begin journaling our phone conversations, which I titled… Conversations with Mom, A few years ago, I began sharing them on my blog.

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In talking to mama, almost daily or nightly, I often learned little tidbits that I had never heard before… and new blog posts came to light like “Just When I Thought I Knew it All.” While she only had a few details to share with me… I went in search of more information to piece the story together… of how it all happened. Even reconstructing a family recipe, which had never been recorded, led me to a story on Sweet Potato Cobbler.

When I first began researching the family history, my father and grandparents were no longer around to ask information of, or hear their stories… and I still have so many questions for them that have gone unanswered… like, how did both sets of grandparents meet? Often back then in rural communities, they met at church or local dances or even through family members. They didn’t travel far, so usually within 10 to 15 miles, they met their spouse. My grandparents grew up in the days of horse and buggy but soon moved into the early A and T models. Mama said for many years his old buggy sat in the barn, as well as the A and T model cars… but one day he finally sold them; she remembers him getting $15 dollars for one of the cars. Yikes! She and her brother used them as their playscape for years as the cars sat under the car shed! Unfortunately, I never had the chance to see them, but I did play under that car shed… the sandy floor was perfect for doodle-bugging!

In 2014 I joined a challenge to write 52 Ancestor Stories in 52 Weeks, began by Amy Johnson Crow … and currently still running. I only did it the first year, and while I’d love to again… it was a whirlwind year of every week, researching, writing, editing, editing again and finally publishing at weeks end. I think I lost that entire year of my life, but I ended up with 52 fabulous family stories which resulted in a continual blogging lifestyle. I do believe, that having a blog has tremendously helped me to continue my research and blog, and I have met some awesome bloggers, of which I’ve learned and grown from. If you’re interested in writing your family stories, I can’t encourage you enough to check out Amy’s site and jump in on this year’s challenge. It’s never too late to begin!

I had so many questions for my father after discovering that he had actually been at the bomb blasts at Bikini Atoll. While I’d heard from my mother that he jumped in radioactive water while in the Navy, which resulted in him losing his teeth at an early age… that’s all I’d heard, never enough to make me inquire. Hearing that never interested me enough as a young girl to inquire as to why was the water radioactive! Once I began researching Bikini Atoll, I was quickly pulled in… it was fascinating to know that my father was onboard the USS Blueridge while all three blasts took place. I can only imagine what he saw! If only he had told me!

If you are new to researching, I “strongly” suggest that you reach out to your grandparents and parents. If they aren’t available, are their siblings living? That’s who I turned to for much of my early information… my granddaddy Bryan’s siblings were all still living, so I called and wrote letters to them asking question after question. It was my great aunt who gave me the largest amount of info, maybe because after her mother died, she took over the running of the family household. Besides the information they offered, I also acquired new photographs, that might have been lost forever if I hadn’t begun my early searching. I’ll never forget the day when a letter arrived from Uncle Gordon Bryan (great-uncle), inside was a small photograph and a note… you should have this photograph. It was my grandfather with his brother and they were standing at a table chopping BBQ. If you knew my grandaddy, Paul Bryan, you knew how well known he was in the community and family for cooking BBQ. I had always wished for a photograph of him with something to do with BBQ… now I was doing the happy dance, as I finally had one.

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Grandaddy Bryan with brother Clyde… doing what they loved best… chopping BBQ!

Many of the early names places were given to me incorrectly spelled, so that took much research in deciphering them, but they gave me the first places to start. In my case, I was pointed to the mountain town of Dahlonega, Georgia. Little did I know that… that this small gold mining community of Dahlonega was where my ancestors finally settled to live for hundreds of years, and many are still scattered all over Lumpkin County in the Blueridge Mountains.

As I had never heard of this town before, much less been there… but let me backtrack a bit. I had been there, as a young girl of probably 5 for a Bryan reunion! When I mentioned the town to my mother… she was like… “we all went up there once for a Bryan family reunion, even my parents (McKinley) came. I can still hear my father saying as we drove, “where are the cemeteries up here, I haven’t seen one yet.” And that was the first thing he asked when we finally arrived and was quickly told, “we don’t have a need for them.

Through my research, I soon discovered, that they seemed to have lived very long lives up there in those Blue Ridge Mountains. My 3rd great grandfather, Berrian Clark Bryan, lived there until the age of 99 years old… dying just a few months short of turning 100. I recently had a cousin, Ila Stargel Sewell Jones, born in Dahlonega, Georgia who passed away at the age of 114 years young! She also held the record of being the oldest living person in the state of Georgia and the 2nd oldest living person in the entire United States… only being the second by a few days. I had the honor of meeting Ila in the 1990’s and she was instrumental in helping me discover where my 3rd great grandfather’s log cabin stood; it is now long gone, we did find the area where it once stood, near Cane Creek… and also later discovered a few ghosts in Cane Creek Church.

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One of my ghostly images which was featured in the local Dahlonega Nugget newspaper!

It was through a letter written to Ila’s sister, as to how we met; discovery was through the family stories we both had submitted for the Lumpkin County, Georgia history book. Actually, Ila wrote me back, instead of her sister… and being the spunky woman she was, she said, “I’m writing you back as I know the most information on the Bryan’s.” You can read all about what she told me through the links highlighted above on her name. I treasured Ila’s letters as she told me all about the Civil War grandfather we both shared… her grandfather and my 3rd great-grandfather. I have preserved Ila’s letters in print and shared her actual hand-written letters back to her granddaughter.

Never overlook writing a letter to someone or even a letter to a local newspaper asking for information. A letter to the editor in Greensboro, Georgia gave me much general information about an area of which I was searching. A local woman wrote me much of her family history as well as the area, which helped me greatly to add to more stories.

If you aren’t a writer, pick up the phone and call… just be prepared with a list of questions and have paper and pencil nearby. Never call “cold turkey”… you need to be prepared to lead them with questions. Don’t call and lead with, “hey, tell me everything you know about the family.” That won’t result in very much information, as most often they are going to tell you, “I don’t really remember anything.” They really do remember, you just need to get them talking, then slowly ask questions about specific areas or people… and don’t try and do it all in one conversation… people often become bored with talking, but they will enjoy repeated phone calls on another day. If you aren’t good at scribbling notes and being able to later decipher those scribbles, then maybe record the conversation; always ask if they are ok with you recording them. If they are local, even better as you can visit in person… often they talk more easily one on one.

Through the years, I think I have written my mother’s entire life of stories, but every once in a while, she’ll surprise me with a new tidbit of info, and I’m like, “you’ve never told me that before”… and my brain quickly begins gathering enough info to create a story. If I hadn’t begun writing our conversations through the years I would have forgotten so many of the great pieces of her life and even mine. It’s also not just the stories I have now… I have insights into her daily activities, pattern changes, and just talk. It’s always fun to talk to mom, and it’s a way for me to know that she’s ok every night, and home safe in her house.

So gather your pencil and paper, write those letters, call those grandparents, or better still visit with them. Ask to see their photo albums… ask who’s in those pictures and pencil the names on the back, as often they might be the only ones who remember those faces. Ask if they have old family letters saved… and they might just be willing to share them. My mother broke my heart when she told me how her parents had saved all their correspondence for years in the family trunk…. but she later threw them all out after I begged for the stamps. Being a new stamp collector, I was only interested in the stamps! I still have all those stamps, but I missed the boat in the real value… those letters held all the family gossip! Mama saved a few letters and the V-Mail letters written from her brother Leroy McKinley, which I blogged on.

People wrote letters back then, back before the telephone became a feature in every home. Earlier on my grandfather’s farm, the only way to call the neighbors was the use of the farm bell. When someone rang that cast-iron bell, that stood on every farm… it signaled an emergency and the neighbors came. I am very lucky to have my granddaddy Edgar T. McKinley’s farm bell, which had been given to him by his father, Edgar Lawson McKinley. And the story was told that he had been given it by his father, Hugh Lawson McKinley…. and it had been brought to Georgia from their land in Mecklenburg County, North Carolina. Now if only that bell could talk!

Granddaddy McKinley’s farm bell in my yard!

After you’ve gathered as much information through the family… you are now ready to begin searching online, visiting courthouses, the old family home and the land, family cemeteries… so much fun visiting the older cemeteries. Even my husband doesn’t mind coming, he likes to compare the dates to see how long people lived. The most awesome cemetery I ever visited, which held no family relatives of mine was the St. Bernard Cemetery in New Haven, CT. I had gone to photograph a Civil War Monument and graves for The Honor Roll project I participate in yearly. I quickly began to ooh and aah at the gravestones when I saw that these Irish gravestones also included the town names of from where they were born in Ireland. I was like WOW… I wish I had relatives here, I’d so be doing the Happy Dance!

Hope I’ve interested you to get busy, write those letters, call your relatives and begin your search to learn “your” family stories and history! Feel free to ask me any questions and do come back and let me know what you’ve discovered!

Now, go write that letter and make that call!

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Want to read more, then click… Family Stories here and over Here.

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Weekend Weathervanes: The Dollar Sign

Weekend Weathervanes

It’s a Dollar Sign!

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!

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The Dollar Sign Weathervane

Two in a week, first the Dime, now the Dollar… Surely I’m closing in on the Quarter, Nickle and Penny Banks!

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The Savings Institute in East Hampton, CT. sports the Dollar Sign Weathervane

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$ for Savings!

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Want to read more, click…. Weekend Weathervanes:

© 2018, copyright Jeanne Bryan Insalaco; all rights reserved

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Weekend Weathervanes: It’s a Dime

Weekend Weathervanes

It’s a Dime!

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!

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It’s a Dime… now I need the rest of the change!

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As many times as I’ve been in Taftville, CT., across from the Ponemah Mill (seen behind bank) I never noticed this weathervane… but again, I can’t even remember if this bank was there. But I noticed it on this trip! How appropriate the weathervane to the bank, now to find the Nickle, Quarter and Penny Banks!

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If you find my missing “change” banks… do drop me a line!

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Want to read more, click…. Weekend Weathervanes:

© 2018, copyright Jeanne Bryan Insalaco; all rights reserved

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Family Recipes & Memories: Fried Squash Patties

Family Recipes & Memories

Fried Squash Patties

There were many foods I never ate in growing up… and these were never served on our family table. Probably… because my grandparents didn’t grow them! Both of my grandparents had farms, so whenever we visited we came home with bags of fresh vegetables. I have no memory of my mother ever buying veggies at the supermarket! I see many “Southern” recipes now for squash, so why didn’t my mama cook it? She loves squash casserole now, but as she doesn’t cook anymore… I need not ask! She’ll just tell me, “well, help yourself to my kitchen!

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Aunt Linda’s Squash Patties

When I married into an Italian family, I was introduced to many varieties of foods and dishes that I had never even heard of. Often, in the beginning, I turned up my nose to them as they sounded like something that might have been cooked on Mars… but I’ve slowly, after 47 years, to have come around to them!

This recipe was not one in my recipe box… as I soon discovered when cousin Joe called me looking for the recipe… he had misplaced his! I turned my house upside down in trying to locate this recipe and couldn’t understand why I never had written it in one of the two family cookbooks, Cooking Family Memories or Italian Famiglia Recipes I had written. I was truly perplexed!

I created these two family cookbooks to document family recipes and memories

Cousin Joe (Burgarella) later called to tell me that it actually wasn’t me who had given him the recipe… Whew! Big relief off my shoulders… now I could stop searching! But then I thought… so why did I never have this recipe… maybe because I usually made either squash flower patties or the squash/pepperoni quiche. Ok, now I feel a little better! This recipe had been given to him by Aunt Linda Cambino… note to self, call Linda asap in the morning!

I quickly called Aunt Linda for the recipe, and while we chatted, she told me that after I posted hubby’s photos of the squash/pepperoni quiche last week, that she made it just this morning. Everyone has suddenly gotten in the squash cooking mood! My mother-in-law, Celia used to make the squash quiche all summer long… at least until it ran out from dad’s garden. It was almost a weekly feature in the house, along with dad’s favorite of squash and eggs for a summer evening meal! While she was known throughout the family as making it the best… it’s her son (my hubby) who makes it the best now. He’s so precise in cutting up the squash and pepperoni to perfect uniform pieces… you could probably measure each one and they’d all be the same size!

Back to the recipe…

Aunt Linda’s Squash Patties

  • 1 medium squash diced small (mine was about 2 cups)
  • 4 eggs
  • 1 cup Bisquick (if the batter is too loose, add a little more, but not too thick)
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking powder
  • salt & pepper to your liking 
  • garlic powder – a few sprinkles and then maybe another sprinkle
  • 1/2 cup grating cheese… and then a bit more for good measure
  • Parsley – I sprinkled a few shakes in the batter (optional)

Beat eggs in bowl, then stir in Bisquick, baking powder, and rest of ingredients; I stirred squash in last. While you don’t want the batter overly stiff, you also don’t want it too loose… so find your happy medium. I did add about 1/4 cup more Bisquick in the beginning, but remember I did have 2 cups diced squash… so judge by that.

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Heat your pan… naturally, I used my cast iron pan. Linda told me that she only used enough oil as if you were frying an egg, as she makes hers like an omelet… folding one side over. I chose to make mine the size of dollar pancakes and not flip over like an egg omelet. I kept just the bottom of the pan covered lightly in oil… but it’s your choice! As I got down to the bottom of my batter, I added a tablespoon more of Bisquick as the bottom batter had become more liquidy… even though I had kept stirring. Drain well on paper towels. (If making a larger batch, Aunt Linda suggests using your electric pan, so you sit at the table while you fry.) Believe it or not… but I actually have a cast-iron electric fry pan, but I’d only use it outside… as it is so… so heavy to pick up!

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I know you’re wanting one right now… well, they’re still warm on my counter!

I chose to sprinkle mine with grating cheese before eating… Oh so yummy! That’s a trick my father-in-law taught me when he cooked fried eggplant. It definitely made it taste so much better… Yes, dad, I was thinking of you when I made these and how you’d be wanting the first one!

This is a dish that always reminds me it’s summer… finally! Oh, and the heat has been reminding me also!

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© 2018, copyright Jeanne Bryan Insalaco; all rights reserved

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2018: A to Z: All About Nancy Drew Synopsis

2018: A to Z

All About Nancy Drew… Synopsis of Letter Catagories

Z glassIn 2016 I learned of the first annual April A to Z… it immediately intrigued me and I began racking my brain for a theme. After much reading, and thinking… I finally came up with the theme of Southern Foods and Memories… it said to write what you know! When April of 2017 rolled around, I decided to share Conversations with Mama to the world… the best of my on-going blog post that has generated from nightly talks to my mother. It’s now 2018 and as Nancy Drew has been on my mind… since I began re-building my collection back… well, I hope you will join me in celebrating All About Nancy Drew during the April A to Z Blog Hop!

Thought I’d make it easier for me in remembering the A to Z categories I wrote on, and for everyone to find and read their favorites categories!

A: A is for… All About Me and Nancy Drew, Artwork, and Automobiles

B: B is for Books and Birthday

C: C is for… Chapters, Characters, Clues, Collecting, Clothing, and Conventions

D: D is for… Drew, Differences, and Dangers

E:  E is for… End Papers, Endings, Expert, Eavesdropping, Ezines, Errors, and Estates/Mansions

F: F is for… Favorites, Foods, Finds, Fans, and Facebook Groups

G: G is for… Ghostwriters, Games, Gifts (Nancy Received), Graveyards, and Genealogy

H: H is for… Happy Birthday Nancy, Home of Nancy Drew, Haunted Houses, and Holidays

I: I is for… Internet, Identity, Inscriptions, and Illustrations

J: J is for… Jewelry, and JFYI…Just For Your Information on Nancy Drew

K: K… is for Carolyn Keene, Kidnappings, and Knitting

L: L is for Letters, Lasts, Look Ups, Lakes, Love, and Library

M: M is for Movies, Memories, Mentions, Merchandising, Mama, and My Little Nancy Drew

N: N is for Nancy Drew and Nancy’s Rules

O: O is for… Out of Time, On My  Shelf, and Oh My!

P: P is for… Publisher, Plots, Places and Planning a Nancy Drew Party

Q: Q is for… Quotes and Questions

R: R is for… Revisions “vs” Originals

S: S is for Signatures, Spines, Sleuthing Party, Storylines, and Superstitions

T: T is for… Travel, TV Series, Trivia, and Taboo

U: U is for… Unusual Finds, Urban Dictionary, Unlikely Events Happening to Nancy, Undressing, Unconscious, Unraveling Mysteries, and Underground Tunnels/Caves

V: V is for… Villains and Video Games

W: W is for… Warnings, Where is River Heights, Writings, War, and Why do I Collect Nancy Drew?

X: X is for… X marks the spot, There’s an X in Hoax, X Words found throughout Nancy Drew stories, and Crossword Puzzle (pun on X), and eXtra’s

Y: Y is for… YOU might be Nancy Drew if, Years, and Yes I Made It

Z: Z is for Zippity Doo Dah… I’m Done!

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2018: A to Z – All About Nancy Drew

© 2018, copyright Jeanne Bryan Insalaco; all rights reserved

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Nancy Drew: I Visited Books on Bay

Nancy Drew:

I visited “Books on Bay”

If you’ve arrived at this page, and wondering… “what does Nancy Drew have to do with Books on Bay.” Well, this awesome bookstore is the Mecca of bookshelves filled with Nancy Drew books… and other children series books.

“Books on Bay”

Hubby and I arrived in, Savannah, Georgia somewhat unplanned, in leaving Georgia on hubby’s birthday (June 16th)… heading home to CT. As we hadn’t had a chance to explore anywhere while visiting my mother, we decided to swing further South and stop in Savannah. We arrived to find a super crowded city, full of awesome architecture and moss hanging trees.

While I secretly had my own agenda in visiting Savannah, I was planing to spend a night and take hubby on the dolphin cruise that Dolphin Magic offered at the river piers. While I did make reservations, I ended up canceling later as I couldn’t find a room for the night unless I was willing to pay almost four times of what we usually pay for a room when traveling. I later learned that a convention was in town, which had caused the prices to skyrocket…  so visiting the dolphins wasn’t going to happen on this trip, but I’m already planning another trip in the fall when its much cooler; it was like walking around inside a sauna that day… I knew it’d be hard for us to enjoy! While Dolphin Magic advertised free cancellations within 24 hours, they were awesome and graciously offered to cancel… even though I had just made them… less than 24 hours away.

After circling several blocks in the downtown historical area, trying to find Books on Bay… while actually, we had already driven by several times without even knowing it. I had my GPS set for 224 West Bay St., and although it kept telling me “arrived“… I was lost! After pulling in a parking area hubby finally found… one of almost “impossible” parking spaces… and quickly parked. While I had almost been on the verge of saying goodbye to Savannah for another day, I called the bookstore once again.

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I finally found it!

With my second call, I told them that I was finally parked, and gave them my location of where I was… I was quickly told… “stay right there, I’ll send my mother out to show you where we are, she’ll be wearing a red apron.” I immediately knew who he was talking about, and said: “Ok, I know what your mom, Betsy, looks like… I’ll be standing in the lot looking for her.” I exited the car and scoured the area looking for the red apron… I soon saw her walking out toward the sidewalk and quickly waved to her. We walked toward each other, hugged, and chatted all the way back to the store.

Books on Bay is nestled among shops inside a parking area, just up above River Street and across from the actual West Bay Street. If you find The Indigo hotel, stand with your back to it and look directly across to a parking area! I had been super close all along!

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My first Oh, Oh, Oh…. Nancy Drew Books!

I was so excited to finally find it and see the name “Books on Bay” as we walked over… finally I had arrived! Even though I’ve seen photos of the inside areas of the store on the Nancy Drew Book Fans Facebook group, I wasn’t truly prepared for all I saw when walking in… especially the glass-front desk with piles and piles of Nancy Drew yellow spines… teasing me behind the glass as I walked by. I suddenly felt like a kid in a candy store, and I wanted to just go behind that desk and touch them all!

Being so overwhelmed, as was hubby, I didn’t know where to go first, but Betsy quickly took me under her wing and guided me back to the Nancy Drew “Mecca” area and introduced me to another Facebook member, Joe Driskell, who had arrived earlier that morning by train.

Did I say there were “lots” of books there!

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As I looked up to the tippy top of the tall bookshelves… there they were… a complete 56 volume set of yellow spine Nancy Drew’s. It was awesome to actually see a full set in one place! Good thing they were on the top shelf and out of my reach!

Even though I had a list of what I have and what I needed to complete my 56 full set, I didn’t want to pull my eyes away from the books too long. But as my time was limited, I soon began looking for the volumes that I actually didn’t have vs the volumes I hoped to upgrade to one day. After finding 2 yellow spines I needed, I moved over to the earlier dust jacket section. I immediately wanted to scoop them all up, but I refrained myself and added 2 more to my pile of books hubby was politely keeping watch over for me… I didn’t dare lay them down as someone might have scooped them up when I wasn’t looking.

As I continued to peruse more books, Betsy appeared back to check on Joe and I and brought another Nancy Drew fan to introduce… a super cute 7 1/2-year-old named Aubrey. It was also her first time visiting and the youngest Nancy Drew fan to ever visit. Betsy quickly corraled us all for a group photo in front of the famous Nancy Drew wall of books.

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Betsy rounded us up for a group shot in front of the “mecca” wall of Nancy Drew!

In making my way up toward the front area to check out, I stopped to view The Haunted Showboat painting prominently displayed on the fireplace mantle, with a yellow spine Nancy Drew book sitting alongside. It was another reason I had wanted to stop on this trip, as I knew it was on temporary loan from collector Michael Gauwitz, who just happened to also purchase the newly auctioned The Secret in the Old Attic. Oh, I can’t wait to go see that one if it comes to Books on Bay! Thank You Michael for sharing your art!!!

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My purse I made fit perfectly for shopping at Books on Bay!

When I began reading Nancy Drew, around the age of nine years old, I never knew anything about the who, the where, and the how that went into the creation of the books. I only thought about when could I buy my next new book… and all my books were bought “new” at stores; I have no memory of checking any out of the library. Never did I give a thought about all that went into the actual writing… much less book cover designs, such as the actual paintings they were created from.

It was only after I began buying Nancy Drew books for my granddaughter Ella, did I fall down the rabbit hole of rediscovering my love for Nancy Drew. In reconnecting back again, I soon became more interested in the who, the where and the how of all Nancy Drew. I wanted to discover all the who’s… especially, such as who wrote the stories, who painted the book covers… where were all the places Nancy visited… and how did Nancy solve all those mysteries! Suddenly a light bulb clicked… I would write my April A to Z on Nancy Drew. My 2018: A to Z “All About Nancy Drew” was quickly born. Even though I was over 6 months away from the April challenge… I knew I would need every last bit of that time to fully research Nancy Drew… and I’ll still never know it all, but it certainly gave me a great head start!

My Nancy Drew A to Z notebook soon filled up quickly with notes, history and more ideas on writing prompts that soon caused me to even questioned myself… could I even do this? I began to eat, sleep and drink All About Nancy Drew, and it was during that search when I learned about Books on Bay… dreaming that one day I would visit!

Back to Books on Bay…

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I left Books on Bay with two new yellow spines, leaving me only a couple short of now having all 56… and two more to add to my dust jacket collection!

After several more photos… and one with The Haunted Showboat, it was sadly time to pay, say my goodbyes and head home…. secretly against my will; I would never qualm about being locked in overnight there! Actually hubby took my books to pay for, giving me a few more moments of looking time!

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The Haunted Showboat painting!

While my 1st visit was super exciting, I’ll be much more prepared on my next visit… having a more detailed printed list of my wants and needs! My 1st trip was actually all about meeting Betsy and seeing the inside of her store with my own eyes!

Thank You, “Betsy” and “Books on Bay” for an awesome visit…

I’ll be back!

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Click for more … Nancy Drew stories or to read my A to Z: 2018 – All About Nancy Drew

© 2018, copyright Jeanne Bryan Insalaco; all rights reserved

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Family Stories: Playing the game – Monopoly!

Family Stories

Playing the game… Monopoly!

While reading a recent story in Reminence magazine, I asked hubby… “so what are your Monopoly stories?” Me… I never even remember playing the game as a child!

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Steve: “I spent two weeks at my grandmother’s (Nonni) house in Shelton during the summer when they lived at 107 Kneen St. My aunts still lived at home, so there was always someone to spend time with and always… game partnes. I’ve never forgotten the old Monopoly gameboard at their house… complete with wooden hotels and even wooden playing pieces, no metal car, shoe or thimble; the year 1936 was written on the box. From the first time I was allowed to play with it, I knew I wanted that game, and often asked to take it home; even being an older game, the board and all the pieces were still like new… they kept everything in great condition.

One summer, they finally relented in letting me have the Monopoly game and I brought it home. While I always kept my things in good condition… my brother never took care of anything. I was completely the opposite, and am still the same way today. In as we shared a room in growing up until I was fourteen, it was hard to keep my things away from prying eyes… and hands. Even later after having my own room never stopped him from destroying things, especially after I left for the Air Force; he took possession of most everything while I was gone.

The record jackets with the artist’s pictures on them were the best!

I returned home from the Air Force to find most of my favorite 45 record jackets with the pictures of the artist on them… now with holes cut in the center so he could see the record name… those jackets were works of art… but now no more! My brother never cared about putting the records back in the correct jacket! Most of those 45’s had once belonged to Dolly… somehow I had talked her out of her entire collection! While I still have most of those records today… the holes cut out of them still tick me off!

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A game board with all wooden pieces… just like the one they gave me!

We never played games when my grandparents lived on the farm, but after moving to First Avenue, my uncles went through a phase of board games… Monopoly mostly, and always for money. Sometimes they played the game of Life, but Monopoly was more of a challenge… often playing back to back games on the weekends.

After my grandparents moved to First Avenue, to a house alongside Long Island Sound… Monopoly became “the” game. My uncles, Freddie, Johnny, and Frankie always enjoyed playing games… but never without money on the table… never playing games for fun. They usually played with my mother Celia, while the other sisters, Nancy and Catherine, were busy with housework; their youngest sister, Dolly… closest to my age… played games with me. Dolly and I knew, if we played our cards right (pun), we could serve them coffee and they’d throw us some change! Dolly and I were always ingenious at making money… off of them! Serving them coffee when they played games, and later, after they left the living room… scouring the sofa and chairs which often yielded our pocket change, fallen out of their pockets. I only had an allowance of $2.00 weekly, so I had to work at other jobs for money… returning bottles to the corner store was also a favorite of mine.

Often in the summer, they played games outside on the table under grandpa’s grape arbor, but after Freddie brought home a “real” card table one day, they began playing in the cellar. They put a pull-down light over the center making it resemble a real gambling table… which it soon turned out to be! Every Saturday, you’d find my uncles, and my mother, downstairs… with dollars on the table… and Dolly and I serving coffee… hoping for money from the “kitty.”

One game I specifically remember about Monopoly was the afternoon Johnny lost… he jumped up and grabbed the board off the table… hotel pieces went flying… and before you knew it… he’d ripped off a corner of the boardgame and tossed it and the board on the floor! Johnny never liked losing! That was the first and last Monopoly game ever played on the card table… it was all cards after that!

I quickly retrieved that game… even with its missing corner… as the board was almost brand new… only seeing a few games. My uncles were older, with jobs, and able to buy a new game… while my access to having money was limited. I”m sure they went through several Monopoly games during their phase of playing board games.

Dolly and I soon came up with a plan for that game board after I found a piece of cardboard, almost matching the board thickness… Dolly spent the afternoon drawing on it to match the board. We were excited… now having an “almost” new game… at least to us! I’m sure we began playing a game right away when finished… to us it was just like we’d opened up a new game, as we’d also salvaged all the pieces that went flying. My favorite playing piece was always the metal car… zooming around the board!”

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© 2018, copyright Jeanne Bryan Insalaco; all rights reserved

Posted in Daily Writings and funnies..., Family Stories | Tagged , , , | 12 Comments

Nancy Drew: My Mother was Nancy Drew

Nancy Drew:

My Mother was Nancy Drew… well almost!

My Mother was Nancy Drew!

Mama (left) with best friend Willie Mae Sisson

My mother, Helen Rebecca Bryan (McKinley) was a big fan of Nancy Drew, being born the same month (April) and year (1930) as Nancy Drew was first published! Before 1940, mama was reading every copy of Nancy Drew she managed to lay her hands on… often daydreaming about living Nancy’s life… wanting to be a detective just like Nancy… but of a different type of detective from Nancy… wanting to be a private eye chasing cheating husbands!

Mama grew up on a Southern farm in Siloam, Georgia… a small town just South East of Atlanta. Even though she never personally owned not one Nancy Drew book, she managed to read several through the generosity of her friend June Boswell, who lived in town. June’s grandmother bought her every new book and she never hesitated in loaning them to mama. When I asked her about what she remembered of the colorful dust jackets, she said… “I never even knew there were dust jackets as I only took the tweed book to borrow. Often I’d read it overnight, staying up late… I just couldn’t put it down until I finished… that meant I could return it the next day to borrow another. I loved following Nancy’s escapades and pretending I was right there alongside her.”

I’m sure mama wished she was old enough to have a roadster and flit about on the back country dirt roads chasing villains! Actually, her father had an old T-Model sitting under the car shed when she was the young girl reading Nancy Drew… maybe she even pretended to drive and chase those cheating husbands!

Through the stories mama read, she patterned herself after Nancy… a girl who did more like what boys did and wanted nothing to do with girl duties in the home. Nancy never swept the floors or washed dishes, and she definitely didn’t have to lug in buckets of water… which was my mother’s chore on the farm; she so hated filling those water buckets every day… lining them up on the porch, just outside the kitchen.

Those books gave mama a glimpse of what all a girl could do, but what she mostly remembers today from those books, was how much they made her want to be a detective! She and Willie Mae both wanted to be girl detectives… and I bet they would have put their sleuthing skills to good use!

Mama climbed trees, followed her father to the fields, and hunted with her brother. She was a tomboy… fighting with the boys as well as girls. She wanted nothing to do with housework and never wanted to stay in the house with her mother… lest she’d be put to work sweeping the floors or churning butter… another chore she hated!

When mama and best friend, Willie Mae, were young… they were a force to be reckoned with and always had each other’s back… just like Bess and George would have had for Nancy! While mama never walked away from a fight, Nancy never walked away from a mystery! Mama wanted to solve mysteries like Nancy, but there weren’t many mysteries to solve on the farm except maybe the oddities like who was going to collect the eggs or why hadn’t her brother milked the cows yet? But she often day-dreamed about solving a mystery!

Probably the biggest mystery to solve between her and Willie Mae was… “who was going to wear which dress?” That could easily turn into quite a tussle on the ground! It was always either a dress or a boy that had them wrestling to decide the outcome! They both were the same “skinny” size and often both always wanted to wear the same dress… at the same time. Sometimes it took a few roll-around’s on the ground to make that decision! Then it was get up and continue the friendship… just like nothing happened.

Those two girls had been “besties” from the very first day of kindergarten… where they both had looked at each other, saying… “I don’t think I’m going to like it here.” They’ve stuck together through thick and thin through the years, and when serious dating came on the scene, they ended up with boyfriends who also were best friends… they married and continued being close while both raising only daughters.

Mama didn’t live the easy life that Nancy Drew led… she grew up on a small farm… the daughter of a hard-working farmer, sweating daily under the hot sun to make a living. Nancy Drew, on the other hand, was the daughter of a very prominent lawyer, and their household had a housekeeper… Nancy never had to lug any water buckets. Two different households and lifestyles, but two girls who could somehow relate to each other!

Even though they both led such different lives, mama was just as fearless as Nancy Drew. Her father liked the strong girl in her… she followed him as he plowed, helped him string barb-wire fencing, was able to shoot, and quite the expert in climbing trees and champion of “riding the pines.” I bet Nancy Drew never climbed a pine seedling, zipping her coat around the tree trunk for a ride! That was entertainment on a farm!

Sometimes today when mama reminisces about her and Willie Mae’s escapades, they remind me of Thelma and Louise, or should that be Nancy, Bess and George! I’ve never forgotten the story of how one night after work, they decided, on the spur of the moment, to go to Florida… this would have been at midnight! They went home, packed a bag, and definitely a bathing suit… just like Nancy, never going anywhere without it! The funny part I’ve remembered all these years is of the return trip… after loading their suitcases, Willie Mae locked her purse in the trunk. Just like Nancy Drew would have said, or done… mama quickly opened her purse and said, “I bet one of my keys will open it.” She fished out her keys and within a minute or two, she had that trunk open! It left Willie Mae’s uncle standing there flabbergasted and shaking his head, saying, “a girl after my own heart, and a girl who knows how to handle her keys.”

While both of those “Nancy Drew wannabees married best friends, they both also later divorced those best friends; even now living a couple of hours away, they never lost touch. After I graduated from high school, mama moved back to the farm to care for her father… she and Willie Mae were once back together again… working, gallivanting, and living life together… always having each other’s back! Willie Mae was Bess and George wrapped up into one!

The one thing Nancy and my mother didn’t share was the style of clothing they wore… while Nancy wore more girly clothes with accessories, mama was more conservative. The first time she saw an airman wearing a one-piece flight jumpsuit… she most definitely wanted one! There were no such patterns for a woman at that time, but that didn’t stop mama… as she had sewed her clothes all her life. Daddy’s Navy whites were long gone soon after leaving the Navy… as mama wanted white slacks! She often re-designed a pattern to suit her style, and it wasn’t the silly frilly frocks that Bess might have worn… but I bet George would have definitely liked one of those jumpsuits! She eventually made herself a jumpsuit by taking two patterns and piecing them together to make a one-piece suit. The very first time she wore it… every woman wanted one and wanted to know where she’d bought it. If she had a business head back then, she might have patterned it, making a fortune. We often laugh about that now! Today she could have gone on Shark Tank to make a deal… they would have loved her!

At age 88, some of mama’s spunk has gotten away from her, especially after a recent fall in early April when she broke two ribs, but she’s entertaining physical therapy with a few stories and often tells me she can still take me down! I don’t think I’ll challenge her… I just might lose!

No matter what, she’s my Nancy Drew!

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Click for more … Nancy Drew stories or to read my A to Z: 2018 – All About Nancy Drew

© 2018, copyright Jeanne Bryan Insalaco; all rights reserved

Posted in Daily Writings and funnies..., Nancy Drew | Tagged , , , | 6 Comments

Family Stories: Dear Uncle Leroy

Family Stories… Dear Uncle Leroy

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Dear Uncle Leroy:

On this Memorial Day (May 27, 2018) I’m writing to “Thank You” for your service during WWII, where at the young age of 19, you gave your life for this great country of the United States. A life that should not have been lost to parents Edgar and Ola McKinley… their one and “only” son and “only” brother to my mother Helen Rebecca McKinley.

What would life have held for you if you had returned home safely from the war? You often wrote home in your letters of how you looked forward to helping your father plow the fields once again when you came home. Funny how often the very thing you once disliked doing, became the very thing you dreamed of coming home and once doing again. I’m sure your letters gave grandmamma and granddaddy much comfort as they read your words… words of how you dreamed of home and helping them on the farm. It seems the young boy they saw off on the train had grown quickly into a man, now thinking of his parents… while he himself is surrounded daily by war! Funny how being away from home somehow changes a person… you have seemingly realized that life at home wasn’t so bad after all… as you sat around with the guys talking about home.

You wrote of no sadness while being surrounded by the cold, snow and war… writing often about home and how you should have done more for your parents in growing up. Your main chore had been the evening milking of the dairy cows… while often making your father angry when you squirted milk to the waiting mouth of Clark Gabel… your large golden kitty who perched himself in just the right spot… waiting for a drink. Your father always yelled… “that cat gets more milk than what goes in the pail.

Life would have been so much different for everyone if you had returned… as you probably would have taken over the running of granddaddy’s farm, especially after he became sick. Granddaddy so loved that farm and I know it pained him when he had to leave it to come live with us… it wasn’t where he wanted to be. Possibly grandmama wouldn’t have shut her mind off… like she did when she learned of your death, and my mother wouldn’t have grown up an only child, she would have had her older brother to lean on.. and still calling her “sis.”

Mama has always said that while you were grandmama’s favorite… she was her daddy’s favorite. I’m sure you both were loved the same, but somehow one always gets along better with one parent than the other. Mama didn’t like hanging around under her mother so much… as she’d put her to work in the house… and she so hated that. She enjoyed being outside with her father… never asking her to do any work… willing to listen to her all day as she looked at the Sears and Roebuck catalog… talking about all the pretty dresses, of which he’d always reply, “yes, that’s nice.” If she tried to show her mother the pretty dresses, she only cried!

Those letters you wrote home to your mother, my grandmother… she not only read them once, she read them over and over to herself and carried them in the pockets of her apron,.. never wanting anyone to hold them. They meant more to her than you could ever know… they were her lifeline to you, her only son… and on that day when the news came… she shut herself off to the world, lost forever to her husband and daughter and me, her only grandchild. I only knew her in body, never in mind… never to fully have the grandmother and grandchild relationship… she slowly slipped away from us… slipping into another world that took her pain away.

If only you had come home Uncle Leroy… how things would have changed, but things did change in America for you gave your life to make our country a better place… and although I do think of you often, so wishing I could have had conversations with you and heard your stories. On Memorial Day, I always say a special prayer for you, knowing you are once again somewhere on the farm plowing with granddaddy and grandmama is in the kitchen baking your favorite jam cake!

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Memorial Day, once called Decoration Day, is a federal holiday for remembering those who died while serving in the armed forces; a holiday currently observed on the last Monday in May. The practice of decorating soldier’s graves with flowers began even before the Civil War, but today the graves of those who lost their lives during the war are decorated with small flags.

While you celebrate Memorial Day with friends and family this year, take a few minutes to think of the true meaning of the day… a day to honor those who fought for the freedom of the United States… so you may live free!

Fatalities from U.S. Wars and Conflicts

American Revolution (1775-1783) 4,435
War of 1812 (1812-1815) 2,260
Mexican War (1846-1848) 13,283
Civil War (1861-1865) 620,000
Spanish-American War (1898-1902) 385
World War I (1917-1918) 116,516
World War II (1941-1945) 405,399
Korean War (1950-1953) 36,574
Vietnam War (1964-1975) 58,220
Gulf War (1990-1991) 383
Afghanistan War (2001-present) 2,381
Iraq War (2003-2012) 4,500

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© 2017, copyright Jeanne Bryan Insalaco; all rights reserved

 

 

 

 

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