2019: 52 Ancestors in 52 Weeks – Week 37 (Sept. 9 – 15): Mistake

2019: 52 Ancestors in 52 Weeks – Week 37 (Sept. 9 – 15): Mistake

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

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



Life is full of mistakes, and you’ve been told all your life… “learn from your mistakes.” But do you? For the most part, I’d say yes I have. I’ve often told my children that you have to make mistakes to fully learn from them. So what have I learned through my mistakes?

As a young child, you learn that when mama says wear your shoes… and you don’t, that you often are going to step on, or in something. You learn quickly that you don’t or shouldn’t ride your bike barefoot… if you value your toes, and those pedal bars certainly don’t feel good on bare feet.

Growing up in the South, I’ve always been a “barefoot” girl, for the most part. I think it’s just something about that part of the country where you go barefoot. My husband will strongly disagree on why anyone should go barefoot… as he believes it’s bad for your feet, giving you flat feet through the years. I think his biggest reason is… that there is too much to step on, like a piece of broken glass still hiding, just waiting for you… he always says, that if it’s there I’ll walk right by it, but it will always find his bare foot. He hardly ever goes without sneakers or slippers, and I can say with certainty that whenever he dares to walk somewhere in the house barefoot, either he stumps his toe or finds that lurking piece of glass… just waiting for him! And then I hear the words, “see I told you, whenever I don’t wear my slippers, I step on something.” So that’s his “mistake.”

In looking back, I made many mistakes in school… not paying attention was my biggest! I fought strongly against learning… always saying how I couldn’t understand… but now I think I made the mistake of actually just not want wanting to understand; learning that mistake came way after school. I pushed my children to pay more attention in school and not let them squirm out of things, as easily as I did… so maybe I did learn from my mistakes!

I can still hear my father telling me that I was making a “mistake” getting married so quickly… only knowing my husband for a short while… but I can definitely say that I made no mistake in marrying, as I’ve been happily married for 48 years… although he might not be so happy with me at times… as I can be slightly impatient, demanding  and can amass stacks of papers and books in researching… but he never complains! I do try to learn from my mistakes on the impatience and demanding faults, but….

While my parents never showed any interest in family history when I was a child, after I married, my mother wrote down all the family names she knew and how they were connected to me; she made no mistakes! While I wasn’t interested at the time in researching… make no mistake about it… I filed those papers away in a drawer for safe keeping!

The one mistake my mother made was in not saving the love letters she and daddy wrote to each other while he was in the Navy, and even after they married. What I wouldn’t give to be able to read their thoughts to each other. I won’t make that same mistake… as I have the letters that hubby and I wrote to each other before we married and while he was stationed in Thailand after we married.

Mistakes come in all shapes throughout life!

In my many hobbies of knitting, genealogy, and so many other crafts I’ve tackled over the years… there have been mistakes! Who doesn’t knit or crochet without making a mistake… but making them helps you to become a better knitter. No matter when I discover that I’ve made a mistake, I’m never satisfied until I’ve “frogged” (ripped out) it… and corrected that mistake! While some are content to let their “boo boo” go… it just drives me crazy… and no matter how long I have to sit there diligently studying how to correct it… I will make that correction! It might not leave me in the greatest of moods as I sit there counting stitches and rows… as hubby will attest to! Nothing gets me more crazy when I’m counting… when he begins asking or telling me something… then I become loud in my counting to let him know… That I’m Counting!

There are so many examples of “mistakes” that I’ve found through the years in researching my family history… with census records being probably the first place I’ve found mistakes… and there isn’t anyone who hasn’t found any. Probably the spelling of my ancestors surnames would be the biggest mistakes… but I can’t always blame the census enumerator, as they were only trying to spell the names as they heard them… and often people didn’t even know how to spell their own name… which certainly didn’t help!

Census Mistakes:

  • Name spellings
  • incorrect ages
  • parents born in wrong states
  • wrong info given; depending on who gave it to the census enumerator
  • families living in area, but never appearing on the census
  • census enumerators writing info incorrectly on census lines… logging family members in wrong families; check families next to yours

In my family, I’ve often had to play Nancy Drew in deciphering where my ancestors lived in a county, when they weren’t easily found. Often it was the spelling of the surname which stopped them from showing up easily enough. After learning from your early mistakes… you quickly learn how to search for them in a county by searching for their first names – or going page by page looking at all families – or searching for their neighbors, if known, as they might be nearby.

One family really puzzled me as to where their children actually lived…as the parents had listed all their children, married or not, as living in their household. What tipped me off to that, was when I also had found their married children living in another state, and raising a family. That mistake took me awhile to finally figure out where they actually were.

In my husband’s family, his grandfather’s Italian surname became changed over the years by his own mistake. I was surprised that it wasn’t changed at Ellis Island as so many were; the inspectors had a hard time spelling names and the people themselves, speaking no English, weren’t of much help. Luckily though, his surname of Gambino survived its spelling there, but later it somehow transformed into Cambino. I’ve always felt that he wanted to lose the mafia stigma associated with his surname in America… and was happy to have a more modern version of Cambino.

Another mistake I quickly learned to correct, was how I searched for married women on passenger ship lists as they sailed to America. Whether married or not, they traveled under their maiden names, as well as their children.

We all learn from our mistakes… at least we’re supposed to. A mistake is an error, a goof up… meaning you have researched something incorrectly, but mistakes have a lot of uses… as they actually are a teaching rule… as long as you pay attention and learn what went wrong!

Mistakes are good… they help you… just be sure you learn from them!


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

To read more Family Stories… click HERE.

© 2019, copyright Jeanne Bryan Insalaco; all rights reserved

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

2019: 52 Ancestors in 52 Weeks – Week 36 (Sept. 2 – 8): School Days

2019: 52 Ancestors in 52 Weeks – Week 36 (Sept. 2 – 8): School Days

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

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

School Days 36

School Days

School days for me was so very different than for my ancestors…

From my older relatives, I’ve heard tales of how they had to walk miles to school… rain or shine… and if you were lucky enough to ride a bus, you still walked to meet it. My great aunt Myrt Bryan Poss told me how her brothers often carried her across streams… they didn’t care if their shoes/feet got wet… probably one of those very brothers was my grandfather. Many times the boys didn’t even go to school if needed to work on the farms… that’s why so many never attended school past elementary school grades. If you lived in the mountains, it was often the snow that kept you from getting to school in the winter months. During the early days of school, it was only a one-house school where they all attended. Can you imagine attending school where all the grades were held in the very same room?

The 1930 census listed my grandfather, Paul P. Bryan and my grandmother, Evelyn Little as both being able to read and write… while the 1940 census listed their highest education completed as 5th grade. It wasn’t often that children during those years were even able to continue their schooling… as they were needed at home or either working to help support the family. My father in law often talked about how he worked at the local corner grocery at age eight to help the family… he delivered groceries on his bicycle… where tips were often five cents. He attended school, but quit before graduation because a full-time job opportunity came his way. As full time jobs were scarce, he said he couldn’t pass up the opportunity.

My father, Harold “Clayton” Bryan, had a better opportunity to graduate from high school, but he hated school… constantly skipping… and finally quitting at age 16; his father only eventually allowed him to quit by enlisting in the Navy. It was said, that after a few weeks, he begged his father to come for him, but he refused; daddy earn his GED while in the Navy. My father had actually enlisted in the Navy at age 15 with a fake birth certificate… but after a few weeks that were on to him.

The 1930 census listed my grandfather, Edgar T. McKinley and my grandmother, Ola Askew, as both being able to read and write. The 1940 census listed him as having a high education completed of 7th grade, while my grandmother was listed as completing only through the 6th. My mother always said that her father could never read or write well… grandmamma usually read everything to him. At night, she would open all the mail and read outloud them. I have seen her handwriting on letters, but mostly have only seen him write his name or fill out a check. Whether he actually finished through 7th grade, or could really read and write… he managed to buy a farm with 117 acres, and pay it off way ahead of schedule. He knew how to make and save money!

Memories of my mother’s school days

“I met my best friend, Willie Mae Walker, on day one in first grade. We both looked at each other and said, “I don’t think I’m going to like being here.” We have remained friends from that very first day of school, even marrying men who were best friends, although we later both divorced them.”

“I feel I grew up ignorant living on a farm… basically I only went to school and came home. I wasn’t allowed to stay after school and participate in sports or other activities – that would have meant Daddy had to come and get me – he wasn’t going to do that. I wasn’t a city kid – they were mostly the only ones who participated in activities. I was a poor farm kid!”

“In school, if anybody’s lunch was stolen, it always seemed to be mine. We never had loaf bread in our house, Daddy always said that it was like eating a wasp nest – too many holes. It seemed that everyone always wanted my lunch of biscuit and ham or sorghum syrup. I carried my lunch usually in a paper sack, and I always had to bring it home for mama to reuse again; I didn’t have a real lunch box like the city girls – I was a country girl. I  do remember Mama packing me chocolate milk – she probably put it in a mason jar.”

“I was sent to the principal’s office one morning from an incident on the bus coming to school. The bus driver wouldn’t make the boys roll up the windows and the air was ruining the girls hair on the bus, so I began singing the song, “John Jacob Jingle Hiemer Smith, his name is my name too. Whenever we go out, the people always shout, ‘There Goes John Jacob Jingle Hiemer Smith! As you sing the verses, each verse is suppose to become louder than the last. I sang it all the way to school and drove the bus driver crazy that morning and he sent me directly to Principal C.C. Wills office. When I told him I was sent there, and that I was Leroy McKinley’s sister, he just looked at me… he gave me ten cents and told me to go get myself a coke and sit down for awhile before going back to class. He had already had a run-in with my father over my brother, so he wasn’t going to do anything to me.”

“While attending Siloam Grammar School, Mr. Burke told the class to write a story. I never liked to write… but I wrote a story that he said was the best in the class; it wasn’t a long story, as I wrote it quickly. I can still remember him praising me on it, but to this day I can not remember that story… sure wish I’d kept it. That’s like the time you wrote a story  for school… about the window fan in our living room, and how we threw it in the dump after buying an air conditioner. You had liked the fan and how it made the house smell nice as it blew air in the house, circulating the smell of coffee in the morning. Then the fan was picked up out of the dump and painted green and went in someone else’s house, where it didn’t smell so good; you received an A on that story. I kept it for years and still even had it after I moved back to the farm, but later, I don’t know what happened to it. In the Siloam grammar school, everyone always said that I was Mr. Burke’s pet.”

“We never had “trick or treat” when I was young, but we always had Halloween parties at school. No one came in any type of costumes though, there wasn’t any money for that and we probably didn’t even know what a costume for Halloween was… we just came in regular clothes. It was a party that included your entire family… I remember my brother and parents attending with me. We bobbed for apples, had haunted houses to walk through, and often even the father’s bobbed for apples; I remember seeing my father bob for apples once. The mothers brought home-made cakes for the cakewalk, but my mother never made one… it was usually just certain mothers who baked them. Mama didn’t socialize with too many people, she was a loner. While the parents mostly stayed inside, the kids played out in the schoolyard until way after dark… then we’d hide and jump out from behind the bushes trying to scare everyone… yelling boo.”

“When I went to school in Siloam there was a small store not far from the school called Mr. Mooneyham’s. The owners lived next door to the store – which sat just across the cotton field, on the other side of the school. I remember how we took turns crawling through the cotton field on our hands and knees to go and buy penny candy for everyone. It was a really small one-room store where they sold candy and a few odds and ends. While one person went, the others sat at the edge of the school yard to wait. The one day that it was my turn, I found our principal, Mr. Burke, waiting for me when I returned. He didn’t do anything to me… he just told us girls to not do that anymore. If it had been the boys caught, they would probably have gotten paddled. One time Kendrick Lewis put a book in his pants before he was paddled, and then got in even more trouble. He was the doctor’s son… and we were very good friends.”

“Daddy and mama took me to town once to buy a special dress for a Valentine dance at school…. and I fell in love with a certain dress as soon as I saw it. The saleswoman encouraged me to try it on, even though I told her that my father wouldn’t buy it. She insisted I just try it on and let him see how pretty I looked. I guess I did try it on, along with the one they picked out for me – a plain dress with a sweetheart neck – which I didn’t like. When we returned home daddy handed me two boxes, and in opening them, I discovered that the dress I loved was inside one of them. I was so excited and couldn’t wait to wear my dress… so excited that my father had bought me that dress, and I was so proud of it. I wore it to school the next day, and I was nominated for Miss Valentine of our room – and won. I’m sure I thought it was all because of that dress.”

Early School Pics of me!

My memories of school days are not nearly as vivid… or remembered as my mothers.

From all my mother has told me, I wasn’t fond of school when I began first grade… getting in trouble on the very first day as I didn’t want to sit still in my seat… I wanted to go outside and play! While I don’t remember… my mother told me that she had a slight run-in with my first grade teacher, Mrs. Couey. As I found it difficult to stay put in my seat, she put her hands on me…. lifting my chin up with her hand telling me that I had better not leave my seat again. Mama went in the very next morning and had words with her…  that it better be the last time she put her hands on me… and if she has a problem with me in class to let her know… and if hands were needed… it would be mama’s; which would have been way worse as I probably would have gotten a switching! I think we all got along in class after that.

Being my father was very good in math, he was the one who always looked at my math homework… and on one occasion he discovered a test math problem marked incorrectly. Naturally, I couldn’t wait for the next morning to take that paper back to my fourth-grade teacher, Mrs. Scarborough, with a note from my father. She didn’t seem happy in having a parent correct her work, and didn’t want to relent right away, but she changed my grade on that paper.

It seems I could never get enough of school during the year, as once summer was there, I played school… but this time I was in charge! As I lived near the high school, we girls dumpster dived for all the good stuff to use for our school playing. We found old test papers, books, sometimes even photos that hadn’t sold and one summer I found a class ring; mama worked hard to find its owner, which she did… too bad I don’t remember whose it was. I can still visualize those summer school playing days.. spread all out on one of grandmama’s quilts… entertaining myself all day.

I looked forward to fifth-grade, as we moved across the street from Perry Elementary to Perry Junior High… that meant changing classes… a new thing for us and everyone looked forward to the change; we thought we were grown up now! It was four years there before I’d make the final change to Perry High School.

Junior High was my first taste of home economics… while I don’t remember any cooking specifics, I do remember sewing. My first sewing accomplishment was a gathered apron… wonder what happened to that as my mother never wore aprons; apron wearing seemed to have died out with my grandmother’s generation. We might have sewed a skirt that year also.


Perry Panthers… High School Motto

As a girl… school beginning meant shopping for new clothes, book bag, pencils and notebooks… and I’ve always loved paper and pens, and still do! I remember having several ink pens…. the ones that held colored ink filled cartridges. I also loved those pens that had four colored inks inside one pen… and recently was just given a new one. I’m still a collector today of various pens; office supplies at a tag sale often has me rummaging through. I almost choked in class from one of those regular Bic pens that had the small tab at the top of the ink barrel. My bad habit of biting on it to remove almost choked me when it popped down into my throat during class. Luckily I coughed hard enough to bring it up… and I don’t think I ever put those pen tops in my mouth again!

Once I begged mama to not sew my clothes anymore… it meant shopping in Macon for dresses. We were only allowed to wear dresses in school until about my sophomore year in high school… but then it was only pantsuits, no jeans. I never wore jeans like I do today, but I did have several colored pairs of jeans that I’d bought at Tots’ N Teens. That was all the girls favorite shopping store in downtown Perry. Even after marrying, I still kept a pair of those jeans… my favorite pink pair… keeping them for years even though they didn’t fit… always hoping they’d fit again, but that never happened; I eventually let them go!


All the girls favorite shopping store downtown!

High School began in 9th grade for me… and it was scary being the lowest grade among all the older students. The school seemed big, although it only had a few long hallways… but trying to scramble from one class to another, hallways often seemed difficult in the beginning, but eventually it became like second nature.

home economics class

I”m sure these are the very sewing machines I sewed my first dress on in Home Economics!

Home Economics was still offered in high school while I was there… now it’s gone from schools; it gave everyone a taste of cooking, sewing and general household know how’s. It was in high school that I remember making my first dress… learning how to put in a zipper… and I’ve never done it since but it’s on my bucket list to learn again. I remember my first sewing accomplishment was a green a-line dress… fitting down to just a couple of inches above my knees. It was quite a good feeling when I was able to wear something I’d sewn from start to finish. Too bad I didn’t save it… I’d like to see how well I sewed my first project. I don’t think I had a lot of interest in sewing clothes as all during elementary school, my mother had sewed all my school clothes… and in junior high I remember begging for store bought clothes… so guess I wasn’t going to go back to home-made clothes again. My mother pretty much always made her clothes as far as I can remember… often even making her own patterns.

Typing was another class I remember and liked in high school… I’ve always enjoyed typing… never hunt and peck for me! In the beginning class we only had plain typewriters but as we advanced into the second year, there were several electric ones that we all coveted to use. I liked typing so much that for one Christmas mama bought me a typewriter… and I still have it.

jeanne in library perry hsfix

I wasn’t much of a joiner in high school in the many clubs… but somehow I ended up in the Library Club… not sure how or why, but look… I’m in front of an electric typewriter? Hope they didn’t make me use the scary card catalogue drawers… never liked looking for books using that number method… too time consuming for me back in the day to concentrate on!

The classes I never wanted to take were algebra and biology… and actually didn’t take algebra. Math was always a weak subject for me… I don’t think I put much into it as I asked too many questions and didn’t want to accept the fact that you just do it a certain way… not questioning, just do it… but me, I always wanted to know why? Guess that’s why my mother always said I should have been a lawyer… always asking questions and questioning everyone over everything! Even today I still see no point of algebra or calculus… but I remember many in school who actually enjoyed those classes.


Who could figure this out… and why would you even want to?

I don’t think I was a very good student, but now feel that I could certainly have done better with more motivation; there was never talk of college in my home, although I did mention it to my father once and remember him telling me he wasn’t paying for me to party… guess he knew me! I’ve often wondered where my life would have taken me if I’ had attended college… but I never had any idea of what I wanted to do… and still don’t. If I had enjoyed writing and research like I do today… maybe I would have went into journalism. But all in all, I’m very happy I chose my route and a marriage to my best friend that has lasted 48 years and counting!

Biology was another “not” favorite subject of mine, and think I probably threw around the word “squeamish” in getting out of dissecting one of those poor frogs. I never took any advance Biology classes as they were given baby pigs to dissect… but there were many who loved those classes. When I think back, I’m not sure there were too many classes I loved… although I never hated going to school, I just didn’t have any favorite classes like others did. I also found history boring…. if only I had the love of family research back then… then I would have found my favorite subject, finally!

I never played and sports in school… and hated gym classes in both junior high and high school… but my parents and I went to almost all of the high school basketball games. We had great basketball players… winning the state championships almost every year. I remember everyone and their parents coming to the local and state games… basketball was very popular in my hometown.


My daughter, Melissa, is behind the girl on the left, wearing the striped dress, in the front row. This must be either her kindergarten or first grade photo.


Letter from Mayor Ben DiLieto of New Haven, Connecticut

While looking through the many saved items of my daughter, I thought I’d include this photo and letter that she received while in school. During Christmas in 1984, her school class visited the office of Mayor Ben DiLieto in New Haven. In January she received a photo of her class with him in the Mayor’s office and a letter personally signed. I always thought it very nice of him to have taken the time to send her class a photo, letter, and a pen… although I saved the photo and letter… the pen has escaped me… I’m sure she used it as he mentioned to do.

Stay tuned for Week 37: Mistake


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

To read more Family Stories… click HERE.

© 2019, copyright Jeanne Bryan Insalaco; all rights reserved

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

2019: 52 Ancestors in 52 Weeks – Week 35 (Aug. 26- Sept.01): At Work

2019: 52 Ancestors in 52 Weeks – Week 35 (Aug. 26- Sept.01): At Work

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

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

work (1)

At Work

Work was very different for my ancestors verses hubby’s… Mine worked mainly on farms in providing for their families… and pretty much all the men walked behind a plow everyday to feed those families and put a roof over their heads… while his family mostly worked in a business or a factory in providing for their families.

Every census, my ancestors occupations was always the same… Farmer, Farmer, Farmer!

My grandfather, Paul Bryan, was the only one of my ancestors who worked in a mill… although he also farmed, but farming wasn’t his main occupation until after retirement. He did enjoy walking behind his mule… but what I think he enjoyed most on those walks through the dirt, was waiting for his old mule to tire and stop… and that was his time to stop and light his cigar. There was always one in his overalls… just waiting! Granddaddy never went anywhere without a cigar hiding somewhere in a pocket.

In searching through the census, the only time he was without an occupation was at age 6 on the 1910 census. By 1920, times had changed… he was now 16 years old and listed as a laborer on the family farm; his father was also a farmer. In 1930, granddaddy was twenty-five years old… and married with two children… and working at the Union Point Manufacturing Mill; occupation was “picker” at the hosiery mill… and renting a house in the Mill Settlement South East Side for $4 a month. Their two boys were ages 2 and 5… not sure how my grandmother (Evelyn Little) managed to work, but in as there were three plant shifts, maybe they alternated; she was a “looper” at the mill. Possibly another family member might have kept the boys while she worked… as men in those days generally didn’t watch after the children.

Grandaddy Bryan made this walk every day up Binns St. to the mill!

By 1940, there were more workers in the family as grandmama’s half-sister, Louise Gosette, age 16, was now living with them. She worked at the hosiery mill, and also as a “looper”… working twenty-two weeks in 1939… making $77 in income for the year. Granddaddy still worked at the mill, but now his occupation was “machine fixer”, working 52 weeks and grossing $938 for the year. While it sounds like such a pittance compared to what we make today… he only paid $4 dollars a month for housing. Grandmamma was still working, but only worked 28 weeks… earning a yearly salary of $336 dollars.

On the 1940 census, my father (Clayton Bryan) was 11 years old and in the the fourth grade…  I’d been told how he hated school, and at that age I’m thinking he might have stayed back once… or even twice! It was always said how granddaddy would take him to school in the morning… to only return home… and find that he had beat him back home. I was surprised to learn how much he actually hated school as I’d always felt he was very smart… especially with numbers. Math was always my weakest subject but he was very proficient in it… doing our yearly income tax; numbers just went over my head, as I wasn’t interested! Daddy would be proud today to see that I prepare our yearly income tax… on a computer, but I still do it. Even though I do our taxes, I still procrastinate in beginning… I always cringe in punching in those numbers…. worrying, will I have to pay? Funny how some people just love numbers!

If the 1950 census was released, it would continue showing grandaddy and grandmamma working at the hosiery mill, but now both boys would be out of the household and married. My father would have already served 4 years in the Navy, where he finally earned his GED… married for three years, and working as a TV technician for Mr. English in Union Point… the very same town where he was born and he and mama now living. Daddy had worked in the electronics field in the Navy… and it became his speciality. He even repaired TV’s at home out of his father’s tool workshed as a side business… although mama said, he had a hard time collecting payments.

Daddy’s love of electronics is what later led him to work at WRAFB (Warner Robins AFB); I would arrive later in 1952. Years later, after I married, Daddy spent a summer in New Hampshire at a base working on special secret electronics for the Air Forces’ new planes…. and still teasing me about secrecy. It seemed whatever he did at the base was always under lock and key… and no matter how often I asked, I received the same answer, “It’s a secret.”

My mother (Helen McKinley) worked a few weeks at the mill after she married, but absolutely hated it. She didn’t return to the working field until I was about twelve. Mama took a cosmetology course to become a beautician… working at Perry Beauty Shop in Perry, Georgia. We had moved to Perry about 1957, just in enough time for me to begin 1st grade. I remember mama often talked about the long hours standing on her feet… hardly making anything. Too bad I can’t view the census years of her working to see what she actually brought home.

I remember my first job… under the table as I remember. I was about 14 years old… working at The Coffee Cup on Saturdays for 50 cents an hour, washing coffee cups at the counter. It was the local coffee hangout for the workers downtown… guess they went through a lot of coffee cups, as I remember a lot of cup washing; coffee was 5-cents a cup with free refills.

My later jobs were at Johnson’s Department Store, but only for a few weeks and later at Eckerd Drugs after I graduated; I have no memory of the hourly wage. I guess it was enough to keep me in gas money as I drove around all weekend in my 65 and 67 Mustang.

The longest employment record for me came after I married… my children were 6 and 3 when I went back to work. I hadn’t planned on going to work, but my husband was newly laid off, had bronchitis and unable to even get to the unemployment office; that was when you actually had to make an appearance at the unemployment office… no show up… no money! It was time for me to find a job… so when I went grocery shopping at Stop and Shop, on a lark, I filled out an application. No sooner upon returning home, hubby told me they had called and wanted to see me for an interview. I was immediately hired… staying with them for 36 years before retiring in 2017 (1981-2017). My beginning wage was $3.37 an hour… quite low compared to what I made upon retirement.

I’ll never forget my interview… as the very job I retired from (file maintenance) in 2017 was the very first job offered me… although it certainly wasn’t as detailed as to when I left. When I inquired as to what it entailed, the manager vaguely said, “oh you just walk around and look at these numbers on the shelf.” It definitely didn’t sound interesting at that time, so I asked, “what else do  you have?” I was then offered a meat wrapping job, but after hearing that I would be working in low 30 degree temps, I opted out of that one also. The store manager tried hard in not making me a cashier that day, but that’s the job I asked for. It wasn’t long before I was promoted to an assistant CDH (cash dept head), and later I worked in the cash office, learning how to balance out the days receipts… me who hates figures!

My last job with Stop and Shop had me right back to that very first file maintenance job… the very job that was first offered to me at my interview… and where I remained for over 25 years, going from part-time to eventually full-time. When I think back now as to how many changes transformed through that job… I wonder how I even managed to keep up! My original store was much smaller with only 8 front-end registers… later moving to a much larger store, having over 16  front-end registers, and the store itself almost doubled in size… it truly overwhelmed me! I often wondered how I’d manage to work such a large store, but I managed! I retired from Stop and Shop after spending 36 years with the company… from that one day when I left my application, never did I think I’d spend that much time with one company.

Stay tuned for Week 36: to be announced!


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

To read more Family Stories… click HERE.

© 2019, copyright Jeanne Bryan Insalaco; all rights reserved

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2019: 52 Ancestors in 52 Weeks – Week 34 (Aug. 19-25): Tragedy

2019: 52 Ancestors in 52 Weeks – Week 34 (Aug. 19-25): Tragedy

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

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

Naturally… “Tragedy” follows… “Comedy

Tragedy: A very sad event or situation, especially one involving death or suffering, tragedy of so many deaths in a family, a disastrous event, calamity, misfortune, and even laid off from work… but my Tragedy post is about hubby’s Uncle Freddie Cambino and tragedy that almost took everyone’s life on the USS Hinsdale!

Fred Joseph Cambino Served on the USS Hinsdale on that “tragic” night…

Asiatic-Pacific Campaigns
               Campaign and Dates                    Campaign and Dates
 Iwo Jima operation
Assault and occupation of Iwo Jima, 19 to 27      February 1945
Okinawa Gunto operation
Assault and occupation of Okinawa Gunto, 1 to 14 April 1945


Frederick “Freddie” Joseph Cambino was born on January 28, 1926… to parents of Joseph and Minnie Cambino (USN)

War was already in progress, and American boys were eager to join… to serve their country. Many, of legal age, quit school to join after the Pearl Harbor attack…. Freddie joined on February 13, 1943 in New Haven, CT… two years after Pearl Harbor. It was never told as to why he chose the Navy, as the family had men who had served in both the Army and the Navy… his father had served in the Army in WWI… his brothers Johnny and Frank also both chose the Army. My thoughts as to why he joined the Navy was because of his love for the water. Freddie enjoyed spending time on the water… whether clamming, fishing. or out in his boat… that was probably what led him to a life in the Navy.

Freddie entered service a short nine days later after enlistment on February 22, 1943!

His Naval records showed that he first headed to the United States Naval Training Center in Bainbridge… which was the training center at Port Deposit, Maryland. While he wasn’t far from home, I’m sure he knew he wasn’t home any longer after arriving by bus. As my husband has often told me… “once you join, you now belong to Uncle Sam… they are your mother and father, and will quickly remind you so much… anything you do, you will answer to your TI and higher ups.”

This Navy Center in Maryland had been recently activated in 1942, so Freddie was one of the first batch of new recruits to go through. Upon arrival he was given a battery of tests to determine his education and skill levels.

After tests determine the recruits’ skills, they are then trained in ordnance and gunnery, seamanship, fire fighting, physical training, and military drill. On Freddie’s paperwork, he wrote, “I’d like to go to trade school for aviation and become an aviation mechanic“. But like my husband says… “they put you where they want… no matter what you write “you’d” like!”

Halfway through boot camp, recruits had a “service week”, which generally included kitchen duty, peeling potatoes, mopping, picking up cigarette butts, etc. Recruits with desirable skills, such as typing, often ended up pounding an office typewriter rather than kitchen duties. I’m sure Freddie spent much time in that kitchen as I remember him  in the kitchen cooking whenever Steve and I visited on weekends… never did we visit without smelling a pot of sauce simmering on the stove; Freddie was usually sitting at the kitchen table whittling a new spoon or making something… and always with a smile on his face when we walked in. Steve remembers him talking about being a cook in the Navy, but he never talked about his real Navy days with us. If he cooked on that ship, then his shipmates ate well!

Recruits were trained in shipboard duties aboard the R.T.S. Commodore, a relatively large  actual “ship” built on dry land. The trainer was equipped with most of the facilities found on a real ship, including deck guns, pilot house davits, and mooring lines fastened to earth-bound bollards, so that crew members could learn casting off hawsers and other lines connecting the ship to its dock.

By the end of World War II, this center had trained over 244,277 recruits who transferred out to various ships and stations throughout the world.

Freddie first shipped out of Boston on the USS Lexington on March 31, 1944, as listed from the Navy muster rolls. He later debarked at San Francisco, California… and then soon embarked on the USS Hinsdale (APA-120) on Nov 30, 1944… headed to Okinawa.

uss Hinsdale

The USS Hinsdale was a Haskall-class attack transport ship of the US Navy… so named for Hinsdale County, Colorado; it was launched on July 22, 1944.

The Hinsdale sailed under the famous Golden Gate Bridge out into the warm waters of the Pacific, headed for Hawaii… first reaching Pearl Harbor on Dec. 12, 1944 with 175 passengers onboard. She next anchored at Kahului, Maui on Dec 27, 1944, where she picked up the 25th Marines, 4th Division… which consisted of 74 officers, and 1122 men. They headed to Saipan in early Feb. (1945) to join up with a fleet of ships headed toward the Japanese island for their first invasion; she encountered only calm seas and good weather as they proceeded onward to Iwo Jima.

Saipan is the largest island of the Northern Mariana Islands, a commonwealth of the United States in the western Pacific Ocean.

Freddie and his shipmates remained offshore for over a week in Iwo Jima, while embarking and disembarking troops… also serving as an auxiliary hospital ship. The Hinsdale only suffered one close call as they sat offshore; on the morning of Feb. 25, (1945) a projectile burst closeby and killed a Marine Captain on deck and wounded others.

On Feb. 27, (1945) the Hinsdale sailed for Iwo Jima… stopping again at Saipan for fuel… reaching Guam on March 3rd (1945) to disembark the casualties. After a brief rest at Guam, the Hinsdale returned to Saipan on March 9th and took on over 1,500 Marines and Sailors.

The Hinsdale transported the Marines to the Iwo Jima beach… the Marines went back and forth from beach to ship during the days of Feb. 20 – 25 until their mission was accomplished… securing the island.

Onto the next skirmish at Okinawa…

The Hinsdale left Saipan on March 27, (1945) to align themselves up with joint forces of over 1,213 ships… loaded with over one-half million troops… all headed to Okinawa.

As the USS Hinsdale approached the beachhead during the initial assault on Okinawa, “tragedy” struck on the early morning of April 1st… a suicide plane crashed into her portside, causing damage just above the waterline; it destroyed the engine room, killing all except for one man. It had been a low gray dawn that morning, which caused the plane to not be sighted early enough before it made an almost fatal assault on all aboard. As the bombs exploded, most of their machinery areas quickly flooded and all machinery inoperable except for emergency equipment. Their ship was immediately dead in the water!

Power failed instantly, leaving them with no lights, or even internal communications. Those sleeping in their bunks awoke quickly from the sounds of the bombs exploding, the boat shifting and lunging, and smoke quickly made its way throughout the boat. I can’t even imagine how anyone felt, either awake or woken… and now without communication, they all had to rely on what they had been taught! If Freddie was a cook on that ship, he probably was in the galley… suddenly without lights… now fighting his way onto the deck of the ship… knowing in his gut… that he was now fighting for his life and the life of his shipmates!

Sunday, April 1, 1945 was D-Day for Okinawa

Hinsdale ship with hole

USS Hinsdale (APA-120) showing Kamikaze damage inflicted 1 April 1945.

Freddie carried this photograph home with him… I found it crinkled in the photo album… maybe he’d always carried it in his wallet, but he brought it home… it was a memory of the night, reminding him of when he almost didn’t come home! Many family members remembered seeing this photo, but very few knew what happened, other than his ship had been hit.

The Marines were already on deck that early dark grey morning… waiting for transport when the Hinsdale was struck by the Kamikaze plane. It was the swift thinking by one man that morning, first clearing the men off topside…. then later shifted the marines from the Port side to the Starboard to counteract the almost fatal list to the Port side… otherwise the Hinsdale would have quickly took on water through that hole and their boat would have went down… causing even more tragedy that morning.

The hero that morning was First Class Metalsmith, Jame O. Perry. Petty Officer Perry had first spotted the Kamikaze plane and in the short time he had… he saved many lives by his quick actions! He was later given the Nambu pistol the Japanese pilot was carrying. It was never discovered exactly who the pilot was in the Kamikaze plane on that early April 1st morning. It’s only known that seven Type 3 fighters (Tony/Hein) of the Hiko 67 Sentai sortied toward Okinawa early that April morning.

There were many unsung heroes that morning, and Freddie was one of them… as that was the type of man he was. Despite the early morning hit, the sailors of the USS Hinsdale were still determined to carry out their job… the job of transporting the Marines to shore!

ship being towedThe USS Hinsdale was later towed to Kerama Retto by the rescue tug, USS ATR-80, where she remained… now serving as a receiving ship for survivors of other Kamikaze attacks. Later she was towed by the USS Leo in a slow convoy to Ulithi… after a long month of work there, she was now seaworthy to sail home; she finally arrived at the Brooklyn Navy Yard in July and received a complete overhaul.

The Hinsdale departed Brooklyn in November to carry out her final voyage… returning over a thousand troops from Japan to San Francisco, California. In late January of 1946, she sailed again for the East Coast, arriving in February to the Maritime Commission, where she was decommissioned in April… stricken from the Navy list in May and later sold for scrap in 1974.

Freddie returned from the Navy… not the same boy who left… never talking about what he experienced aboard his ship… and if he did to family members… they never talked either. It was only while researching the ships Freddie served on, did I learn exactly what happened aboard the USS Hinsdale! Much of what he saw and experienced onboard, remained with him. I had only heard that nothing was ever said to the family other than “my ship had been hit“! We can only surmise what went through his mind as he raced to save his life, and shipmates on that day,,, while the USS Hinsdale was struggling offshore the island of Okinawa.

USS Hinsdale: Haskell Class Attack Transport:

  • Laid down, 21 June 1944, as a Maritime Commission type (VC2-S-AP5) hull under Maritime Commission contract (MC hull MCV 30) at California Shipbuilding Corp., Wilmington, CA.
  • Launched, 22 July 1944
  • Completed and delivered to the Maritime Commission, 14 October 1944, and turned over to the US Navy
  • Commissioned USS Hinsdale (APA-120), 15 October 1944, CDR. Edward F. Beyer, USNR, in command
  • During WWII USS Hinsdale was assigned to Asiatic-Pacific Theater:
  • Following World War II USS Hinsdale was assigned to Occupation service in the Far East from 30 December 1945 to 6 January 1946
  • Decommissioned, 8 April 1946, at Norfolk Navy Yard, Portsmouth, VA.
  • Struck from the Naval Register, 1 May 1946
  • USS Hinsdale earned two battle stars for World War II service
  • Returned to the Maritime Commission, 12 April 1946, for lay up in the National Defense Reserve Fleet, James River Group, Lee Hall, VA.
  • Withdrawn from the James River Reserve Fleet, to Stockard Steamship Corp., 31 May 1955 (Repair Program) General Agency Agreement
  • Returned to the James River Reserve Fleet by Stockard Steamship Corp., 4 August 1955
  • Final Disposition, sold for scrapping, 16 July 1974, to B.V. Intershitra, Rotterdam, The Netherlands, (PD-X-980) for $731,150.00, withdrawn from the James River Reserve Fleet, 11 September 1974.

Kamikaze (suicide attacks) Japanese military culture descended from the Bushido code of the samurai “loyalty and honor until death”, where defeat or capture brought shame upon ones family and nation. It was better to die in a successful attack than to return unsuccessful, yet alive. It is by this, that even in field combat, the Japanese were known for impaling their own stomachs with their sword/bayonet when faced with the alternative of being put into a POW camp… even with possibility of living through the war to see their families again. It was this kamikaze attack and suicide for honor mentality that caught US soldiers most off-guard and came to be one of the biggest fears when facing a foe that apparently had nothing to lose by death.

I only wish I had known what Freddie went through while spending time with him… I would have liked to have known his story… if he had wished to remember!

On August 14, 1945, Japan surrendered unconditionally to the Allies, effectively ending World War II. Japan formally surrendered on September 2, 1945 aboard the U.S.S. Missouri… anchored in Tokyo Bay.

Stay tuned for Week 35: At Work


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

To read more Family Stories… click HERE.

© 2019, copyright Jeanne Bryan Insalaco; all rights reserved

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2019: 52 Ancestors in 52 Weeks – Week 33 (Aug. 12-18): Comedy

2019: 52 Ancestors in 52 Weeks – Week 33 (Aug. 12-18): Comedy

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

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



The “Comedy” prompt once again has me scratching my head… I first thought I had nothing on one individual for comedy… but between myself and hubby, I soon discovered that there were family members that might offer a few remembered comedy incidents… so in this post I’ve chosen to write comedy remembrances on both our family members!

I’m starting with my grandfather, Edgar Thomas McKinley… who my mother always said had a dry sense of humor… does that mean comedy? Some of  his shenanigans should have gotten him into trouble, but they somehow always seemed to escape… unharmed! Let’s begin with his days as a young hooligan… pranking his grandfather, Joseph Thomas Sharp, as he snoozed in his comfy chair on the porch. Granddaddy and his brother Joe often stuck matches in grandpa’s shoe while he slept… lighting, and quickly running away… giving grandpa Joe a hotfoot! I’m sure he shook his fists at those hooligans as he called them the “limbcats of the devil.” I searched out that phrase but came up empty, but I’m sure we can all surmise of what it meant!

Granddaddy just always had a bit of devilment in him… it seems in growing up. In as much as he loved my grandmother, he could just never resist a little humor… not sure it was always as funny to her, as it was too him. Any time she walked by, if he’d just struck a match for his cigarette… he couldn’t resist the urge to pop her leg with the still warm head of the matchstick! I’m not sure I would have just jumped as she did without resisting the urge to pay him back… but she jumped each time… and he chuckled each time! He loved her and would have fought the world to protect her… but he never tired in making her jump!

He never lost his dry humor, as mama called it, and while spending time in a veteran’s home, he had no problem in antagonizing the nurses there; it’s a miracle he didn’t get in trouble or actually hurt someone in his joking around. Him having a cane there was dangerous for them… as any nurse who walked by was fair game, and he thought nothing of taking the handle and hooking their leg. Mama always said, “it’s a miracle that he never broke their leg“! I’m sure it didn’t take long before they learned how to do a quick shuffle around Mr. McKinley’s chair… but that was his entertainment… and he always chuckled. No matter how many times mama told him he shouldn’t do that… he paid no attention!

I guess granddaddy was the only one in my family that joked around… as I don’t remember anyone else being comedic!

In hubby’s family, I would say Uncle Frank Cambino had comedy running through his veins… always having a joke to entertain… especially with the young kids… and he loved having them beg as to how it was done. Even if they’d seen the joke before, he always managed to twist it around in a different way to continue entertaining them. There was usually a deck of cards always within arms length… just begging to be used in a trick… and often, even us adults sat there befuddled… wanting to know how he did it.

One of my favorite stories and jokes he told was with a deck of cards about a bank robber… I believe he asked you to pick the card that the robber would steal…and as he told the story, cards shuffled from here to there… and everyone who reads this and has heard the story… you’ll remember what the robber stole, always ended up in his pocket! He amazed us all with this one… every single time!

I bet he learned his way around cards from his father, Joe Cambino… as my husband remembers grandpa showing and amazing him with a card trick when he was only five years old… and he’s never forgotten it. It begins with a deck of cards… put all the suits together in the same order of ace to king or king to ace… just be sure and do each one the same way; stack the suits on top of each other in the same order as you put them together… then cut the deck thirteen times. You can cut it 26 times also… just alway cut it in multiples of 13 times. Lay the cards out face down, one by one, in a circle of thirteen… you’ll discover that they will all lay back together in their own similar groups… with each group consisting of only one “number like” card, consisting of all suits… it will make you smile… and wonder! If you’ve cut them exactly 13 times and laid them out correctly in going around.. when you turn them over, they will all show in the same suit for every number. (Always remember where you laid the first card!)

Are you looking for a deck of cards yet?

Uncle Johnny (Cambino) was comedic… not necessarily in telling jokes, but just in general in his way of talking. He could tell a story… about almost anything… and make it funny! He seemed to always be happy, and enjoyed laughing! It was just his manner as he colored a story… which made you laugh… and always wanting to hear more!

A few of Uncle Jimmy’s puzzles… making them made him smile! The boomerangs he whittled and painted to give to all his favorite waitresses at The Outback… he enjoyed entertaining wherever he went!

And then there was Uncle Jimmy (Donahue), the lone Irishman, in hubby’s almost all Italian family. Now this man could tell a story… although it might take awhile to get around the bush… to get to the end, but it was repeatedly entertaining and funny! Uncle Jimmy always had something lurking in his pocket to entertain young and old alike. If the kids were around, he’d pull out a simple piece of string, and before you knew it, he had their attention. He never came without a new puzzle to amaze you with… and we still have a box full of them today, saved over the years. If he saw a puzzle somewhere… he came home and duplicated it, and then passed dozens around throughout the family. I’m sure whoever is reading here, still have many of these same puzzles tucked away in a drawer.

Uncle Jimmy’s daughter, Diane D. Taylor remembering her father’s comedy ways… “Anytime he would meet a little girl, he’d say “hello little boy”… or “hello little girl” to a boy… and they always got very indignant… which gave him a good chuckle out of it! He also enjoyed making little wooden gadgets and leaving them around in the train station and waiting rooms at the VA… just to watch people pick them up… play.. and become frustrated! (My father was a train conductor for Amtrak Railroad)

His rope tricks were especially entertaining… he’d pull out just a plain string from his pocket and begin looping his finger… you’d think he was tying a knot… then he’d have you loop it on your finger… yours always knotted… while his would come off straight… leaving you befuddled and wondering why his string wasn’t in a knot!” 

I’ll never forget my father saying… “Holy Bootfeet”… it was his words for holy cow or omg!” (Diane D. Taylor)

Even a slice of pie could become a funny moment with Uncle Jimmy. I often baked him his favorite… pecan pie… and he never failed to say after the first piece, “I think there’s something wrong with this pie, I need another slice.” Sometimes it took several slices to discover what was wrong with it! It was comical at its best!

My Son, Steve remembers… “Whenever Uncle Jimmy would first see me, he’d immediately say “how are you little girl?” Naturally I’d say, I’m a boy not a girl… and it would continue on and on, with him smiling and repeating it until one of us gave in. I remember him telling me that he ate milk and sugar sandwiches as a kid”… but I’m pretty sure today that he really didn’t, but as a kid… I probably made a face, thinking he did.”

In asking my husband what he remembered as funny on Uncle Jimmy… “I always thought it funny how he never ate sweets until after retirement… then he suddenly craved all sweets, never turning down anything! When I was young, he was too busy working and building things… everyone in the family had the “over the window cornices” to keep the curtains from gathering dust.”

Stay tuned for Week 34: Tragedy featuring… Uncle Freddie Cambino


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

© 2019, copyright Jeanne Bryan Insalaco; all rights reserved

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

2019: 52 Ancestors in 52 Weeks – Week 32 (Aug 5 – Aug 11): Sister

2019: 52 Ancestors in 52 Weeks – Week 32 (Aug 5 – Aug 11): Sister

Week 32_ Sisters

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

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

The McKinley “Sisters”

When I wrote a recent story for my 2019: 52 Ancestors in 52 Weeks: Large Family, it left me thinking… there’s more to the sisters than I wrote in that post… so I’m continuing here.

Charlie & Lena VanDusen and Emma & Charlie Murray 1930s[10283]

L. to R.: Charlie & Emma (McKinley) Murray, unknown woman, Lena (McKinley) & Charlie Van Dusen

What a classic picture… wonder who took this photograph, and why? It was always known that Aunt Emma took all the family photographs we are thankful to have today… so I bet it was her camera used for this classic shot! Charlie Murray was quite the looker here, as was Emma. Lena still looking stern to me, and Charlie Van Dusen was a tall and distinguished man. The entire lot of them remind me of a Bonnie and Clyde scene… Charlie Murray definitely has the gangster swag! As to the “mystery woman” with them in the photo… could it possibly be Charlie Murray’s mother or sister?

Sister No. 1


Lena C. McKinley Van Dusen

1886 – 1969

Lena (1886-1969) was born on August 4th, 1886 in the Militia District 107 area of Powelton, Hancock County, Georgia…. to parents of Edgar Lawson (1863-1944), and Rossie L. McKinley (1869-1902). She was the first child born in this family… and with Edgar being a dirt farmer… she was not the son needed to help on the farm. Their second child, also a girl, Cora, born 1888 and soon followed by a third daughter, Emma Mae, born 1892. As boys were needed on the farm… their first son, Joseph Lawson was finally born in 1894, followed by Edgar Thomas in 1895 (my grandfather), Richard Everett in 1896, Nevilla C. in 1898, and Lonnie in 1901. I guess as they seemed to be on a streak with boys… they just kept going!

RosieSharp McKinley frame Billy McKinley owns FIX

The sisters mother… Rossie Sharp McKinley (This photo in cast iron frame was shared by cousin Billy McKinley)

My grandfather, Edgar Thomas McKinley (1895 – 1972) was 8 years old when his mother Rossie L. Sharp died… and his oldest sister Lena was only a teenager at age sixteen. The responsibility of all her siblings had just fallen upon her shoulders… maybe that’s why she never had a family… having already felt as if she’d raised enough children. Lena soon became the mother in the family to him, along with the rest of the family… whether she wanted to or not! My mother always talked about how she raised him… and probably why she felt very close to him… visiting and spending two weeks on his farm every summer… even after she married. He also visited her and Charlie (Van Dusen) at their home in Grant Park in Atlanta… driving there by wagon and later by car. Mama remembers those long rides to visit Aunt Lena and spend the day… and how her father would tie the horse in the backyard while visiting… returning home in the same day. I can’t imagine a ride to Atlanta in a wagon… and all in one day. It seems that as soon as you arrived and had your coffee, that it’d be time to untie the horse for the ride home.

Family life changed in the McKinley household for all the sisters and brothers when their mother, Rosie L. (Sharp) died in 1902…. the following year after their brother Lonnie died in 1901. No one has ever said as to why either died, but it was mentioned how Rosie had been very sickly most her life.

I’m sure Lena did what she could for the family and her father Edgar Lawson McKinley, but this country-born girl left for the big city of Atlanta in 1908, and alone as far as I know; that’s the first year I found her living alone on the city census, and single. Lena was 21 years old, single, residing at 75 Rock St. and working as an operator at the Southern Bell Telegraph Company.

Lena had always been thought of as a strong-willed and smart woman… and the first of the family to leave home after her father remarried… as it was known in the family that Lena did not like her stepmother. Aunt Emma soon followed to live with Lena and also found employment at Southern Bell for a short time.

McKinley Lena Atlanta Directory 1908

Lena McKinley first found on Atlanta, Georgia city directory (1908)

Edgar Lawson McKinley remarried in 1908 to Nancy Josephine “Minnie” Askew and became an instant mother to all of Edgar’s children except for Lena… as she appeared on the 1908 city directory in Atlanta. She began in the very company that she would later retire from on September 30, 1942. I had heard that she’d worked there for over 40 years… working her way up from operator, to clerk and finally to supervisor… and well known in the company. As mama always said… “she was a very smart woman, and knowing well how to manage money. When she died she left her will to continue caring for her living brothers and sisters… and after the last one died, she left her estate to all her nieces, nephews and great nieces and great nephews.” 

Lena M VanDusen telephone card Fix2

Aunt Lena’s retirement card from Bell Telephone Company (1942)

Lena M VanDusen telephone card Fix

Lena was made a Life Member of Telephone Pioneers of America on November 7, 1945

Lena met Charles Leonard Van Dusen while living in Atlanta, and possibly while living in the boarding house on Rock St; maybe Charles also lived there. Sometime between 1910 and 1915, she married. Charles was from New York, rumored to be Canadian… not sure how he ended up in Atlanta, but somehow they met and married. I have not found their marriage license, but on the 1915 city directory, Lena was listed as married. Cousin Billy told me that the first car Lena and Charlie bought was a Hupmobile (1909-1939)… sure wish we had a photo of them alongside that car.

Lena Charles Van Dusen FIX

Charlie and Lena (McKinley) Van Dusen (photo taken posb by 1915)

Lena both Fix

This photo of Lena seems to have been taken around the same time as the one above… she is wearing the same glasses and has the same waves in her short hair. Possibly this photo might have been taken at the time of her wedding and possibly taken on their wedding day.

After my grandfather was discharged from the Army in 1918, he went to live with Lena in Atlanta and worked in her husband, Charlie Van Dusen’s, cabinet shop… where he learned carpentry. Granddaddy didn’t remain there very long… I guess dirt farming was too much in his blood. He returned home to Greene County where he met my grandmother, Ola Askew; they married in 1923.

Granddaddy and Lena remained close through the years… she visited his farm every summer, often staying over two weeks at a time. I think she enjoyed her summers of farm life… so different from the city life in Atlanta. She enjoyed pitching in to help my grandmother can the vegetables from her garden, or helping her brother on the farm. On one of those summer visits, she decided to cut a door into the dining room that my grandmother had wanted. When Lena set her head to doing something… there was no way it wasn’t going to get done. Lena was very close to my grandmother… her sister-in- law.

The story goes that my grandmother Ola (Askew) had been asking my grandfather to cut a doorway in the dining room for easier access to the back room. To reach it before, you had to go through their bedroom, into the front hallway, and then into the back room… but if a door was cut in the dining room, then you had immediate access into the back room from the dining room. As granddaddy hadn’t really wanted to, he had put it off… Lena quickly decided grandmamma was right… a door should be there… and she took it upon herself with a saw in hand… and cut the opening. Once she cut the doorway, there was no turning back. I was told that granddaddy finished the job. Lena knew how to motivate him… just start the project… and then he had no choice but to finish! I can just imagine the muttering my grandfather as he finished that door frame!

Lena was my mother’s favorite aunt and eagerly awaited her coming every summer for those two weeks. She looked up to her… being a strong female… so unlike her mother who was more passive. Lena even came for mama’s high school graduation in 1947, and sewed a white dress for mama to wear under her gown. Mama laughs about it now, but still says how she hated it because it was too big… everyone back then always wanted to make clothes too big for you… so you could grow into it… getting more wear time! Mama always had wanted her clothes to fit at the moment, not grow into! Lena made many dresses for my mother through the years… she seemed to have been quite the seamstress, even having a unique sewing caddy that she gave to my mother years later. Mama seemed to have followed in her footsteps in the sewing department… she made her own clothes and mine… until I began begging for store bought dresses. (I wrote about Aunt Lena’s sewing cabinet as an heirloom – see link above)

Lena asked my mother to come to Atlanta after she graduated and work at the telephone company for her… but by that time mama had already met my father, who was in the Navy… so her future was already set in place… marriage. Even though mama never left the farm to go live with Lena… she did stay with her for weeks at a time during the summers.

I wish I’d been older than the 8 year old young girl who only looked at Aunt Lena as that stern older woman who scared me. My mother often told me through the years how Aunt Lena was interested in the McKinley family history and talked about the three McKinley brothers who came over from Ireland… one went North, one went South and one went West… and we descended from the one who came South. While I’ve never been able to pinpoint any of that… but if the one who went West is related, then it would have probably been President William McKinley. What I wouldn’t give to go back and sit on Aunt Lena’s front porch with my pencil and paper… I’m sure I’d leave with some great stories!

Researching in those early years was very difficult, but did she really research… or only know the stories she’d heard through the years. Researching at that time meant traveling to courthouses and libraries and encountering people who didn’t even understand what genealogy was all about… they looked at it as… their work day was being interrupted!

From cousin Billy McKinley… “Lena was very intelligent and the family historian, telling stories that I only vaguely remember now of events from the 19th Century. She told about grandpa or uncle somebody or other who was in a prison camp at the end of the war and had to walk all the way back to Georgia. (Could that have been our grandfather Joseph T. Sharp or possibly Hugh Lawson McKinley?) Another story was about one of the grandpa’s that was out in a field plowing with a mule when a thunderstorm came up. A tree fell on him as he made his way back to the house, and the injury caused him to get pneumonia… dying shortly thereafter. She knew how many slaves everybody in the family had owned. She would say “Uncle So and So, he owned such and such number of slaves”… and then repeat that information about the rest of them. Aunt Emma later lived with us for a short time, and during that period she told my mother that Charlie Van Dusen was Canadian and had fled Canada due to some trouble concerning his taxes. I may not have this exactly right, but I think that Emma was living with Lena at a rooming house in Atlanta when they first moved there. Charlie either lived there too, or was hanging around to meet some ladies.”

“I went with my aunt Joanne once to visit the grave of Rossie Sharp McKinley in Powelton… we also visited a cousin who lived nearby; she was in her 90’s, but still sharp as a tack. She told us that Edgar Lawson couldn’t afford a gravestone when Rossie first died in 1902, but a couple years later he bought one and carried it to the cemetery in his horse and wagon to place on her grave. Upon telling my grandfather this, who also was a son of Edgar Lawson, he chuckled and said about the cousin… “Is she still fat?” “No she’s not fat.” He then said, “well she used to be fat.”(I laughed as I read that as it painted such a picture for me of my great uncle chuckling as he asked… and laughing to myself, that after all those years, he still remembered her, but as fat.)”

“Emma told me while living with us how she and Lena had to care for their baby brother Lonnie (b. 1901-d.1901) when he was born as their mother was sickly. She mentioned how they really didn’t know much about caring for a baby, but did the best they could. Maybe being there when he died shortly after his birth caused them to never want children of their own later in life… as it would be something you’d never forget.”

Lena McKinley Van Dusen with birthday cake (2)

Aunt Lena’s birthday! (Photo shared by Billy McKinley)

We often went to Aunt Lena’s house in Atlanta on weekends … she lived directly across from Grant Park… where the Grant Zoo, and the famous Civil War Cyclorama was. One of the first things she always told me was, “don’t go to the park by yourself, there are bad people down there.” Who listened when you saw a big swing set sitting there that was calling to you? It only took one time of me sneaking down there, and her pulling me back to her house, fussing all the way that I better not do that again… and I didn’t… as I was too terrified of what she would do next time! That was the era of  “switches” and the saying, spare the rod and spoil the child… and believe me my mama didn’t spare the rod!

Another place that I wasn’t supposed to sneak into was her living room… which was full of antiques… and not a thing out of place. While I didn’t plan on touching anything… and very afraid to do so… I often snuck in there. All of her antiques fascinated me and I wanted to see, but often, quicker than lightning, Aunt Lena discovered me, pulling me out and telling me that I shouldn’t be in places where I’d been told to not go! She felt children shouldn’t touch her things! I’m sure she kept her eyes on me when I came and hardly gave me a moment to sneak!

Mama says she never felt Lena was stern around her, but she knew that Lena didn’t like you to touch her things without asking. One funny trait Lena had was that when she went to bed at night, she sat her shoes up on the mantle… as she didn’t want anyone to step on her shoes. It’s kind of funny to think about… as who’s walking around your house at night! Maybe she thought ghosts were there?

I enjoyed taking baths at her house when we spent the weekend… she had a big claw foot bathtub… and so high that I had to step on a stool to get over the side. I’d never seen a tub like that before… and as I’ve never forgotten it… guess it left a lasting impression on me.

Besides the sewing cabinet (link above in story) Aunt Lena gave my mother… she also gave her a few crystal glasses and salt dishes… the salt dishes I remember being quite intrigued with. The one piece of jewelry she gave mama was a white platinum diamond brooch, which I also blogged about in Friday Heirlooms.

Lena McKinley obit

Lena McKinley Van Dusen died January 5th, 1969 in Atlanta, Georgia


Sister No. 2

Redone picture of Cora McKinley

Cora McKinley Beckum

1888 – 1910

Cora was born in January of 1888 in Powelton, Hancock County, Georgia. She has been the sister that very little has been known of. In 1900, she was 12 years old and living home with both parents, as her other sisters were… but things quickly changed for the sisters, after their baby brother, Lonnie, died in 1901, and soon after their mother died in 1902.

I found a marriage record for Cora in Baldwin County when she married Marshall Norwood Beckum on April 12, 1908… the same year her sister Lena left home… and the same year her father remarried… we might assume she married in Baldwin County as it was told that she had moved there and worked as a nurse.

In the 1910 census, Cora, was listed with her husband and new baby, Lucille, and now living in Powelton, Hancock County … next door to her father, step-mother and siblings. Living next door just makes me wonder even more as to why she married in Baldwin, or rather why she applied for the marriage license there… possibly because her husband was from there? Cora died shortly after her daughter was born from all I’ve heard in stories from my mother. I’ve yet to find anything online to date that, but she is not with Marshall in 1920. It’s been told that Cora’s death resulted from some type of fever and that she’s buried in Gum Hill Cemetery in White Plains,  Greene Co., Georgia. Being she was a nurse, possibly she contracted the fever at the hospital where she worked.

On the 1920 census, Marshall is now married to Evelyn “Evie” (Durden) and living in Midway, Baldwin Co., Ga, with children Myrtle Lucille, age 10, and Marshall, age 1. They were living next door to a Carlos Beckum, age 26… both Beckum’s were carpenters… and possible brothers.

Beckum Lucille marriage

It seems that at some point in 1910, Cora died and Marshall raised Myrtle Lucille Beckum by himself until he remarried a short time later… by 1919 Lucille had a sibling. I have not determined how Myrtle ended up marrying in Brattleboro, VT. but once she married, she moved around with her husband to Massachusetts and New York.

Sister No. 3


Emma Mae McKinley Murray

1892 – 1976

Emma Mae McKinley was born on April 4, 1892 in Powelton, Hancock County, Georgia. I’m sure my great grandfather wasn’t happy to have a third girl, but the two other sisters were probably thrilled. Within two years the boys soon began flowing into the family… finally making their father happy.

Emma Sharp Sister of Joseph T Sharp FIXemma sharp info note FIx

Emma Sharp – Emma’s mother’s (Rossie Sharp McKinley) sister. This note was found with the photo of Emma Sharp and tells that Emma Mae McKinley was named for her aunt; the photo was taken before Emma was born. (Photo shared by cousin Billy McKinley)

Emma McKinley glassesFix

Aunt Emma’s glasses sit next to her address stamp on her great niece, Cynthia McKinley Thrower’s bookcase today. Thank you for sharing with me Cynthia!

Emma was only ten years old when her mother, Rossie died in 1902… so tragic for a young child to lose their mother at such an early age; big sister Lena soon became mother to the family until she moved to Atlanta in 1908. Emma remained at home, even though the father remarried, but soon after the 1910 Census, she followed Lena to Atlanta and married Charles H. Murray on August 20th, 1911. She possibly lived with Lena and met Charlie through Lena or her soon to be husband Charlie Van Dusen… no one has ever said.

My mother always said that Emma worked with her sister Lena, but in checking the city directories and census, she seemed to never work, so possibly it was a short time until she married. Charlie was a bookkeeper at The Western Electric Company… he possibly made a good enough salary for her to stop work.

Emma and Lena McKinley Easter (2) FIX

Emma and Lena celebrating Easter… tell-tale basket sitting on floor! I believe this photo to be slightly older than the one below.

emma and Lena Fix

Emma and Lena (Feb. 1959) McKinley. As Lena has her coat on, I’m assuming she might be visiting Emma. Someone might have had a birthday, as Lena is holding a gift… but Emma was born in April and Lena in August.


Emma and Lena with their brother Richard McKinley

Many Sundays Aunt Emma and Uncle Charlie drove down to the farm to see her brother… my grandfather, Edgar T. McKinley; probably Lena and Charlie also went. Mama often has talked about the Sunday dinners at the farm… where everyone enjoyed putting their feet under her mothers table. Mama tells me how she’d sit out on the back stoop, while hoping the adults would leave her a piece of chicken. In those days, the children ate after the adults… eating what was left. One story mama remembered was how she snuck in her mother’s kitchen and put a chicken breast up in the cabinet… ensuring she had a piece for dinner. She got a switching for that… but she got her chicken! Mama said that often the children were lucky to even find a biscuit left, on some of those dinners if everyone came. When she thinks back now, she feels sorry for her mother, as it seemed she did all the work… cooking the dinner and cleaning up while everyone else enjoyed eating that meal.

Those Sunday dinners often had the men walking a little wobbly after they returned from a visit up to the barn with granddaddy… where they must have all had a few drinks from granddaddy’s hidden liquor stash… probably hidden under the corn crib. Mama always talked about his hidden stash that the local law often tried to find… but never did!

The one thing I have to thank Aunt Emma for is all the photographs she took of my mother and grandparents when she came. It seems she was the only one who had a camera and enjoyed taking photographs… much to mama’s dismay… as she hated being asked to pose… and smile!

ola and helen mckinley

Mama hasn’t forgotten this day when Aunt Emma took this photo as she sat by her mother Ola (Askew) McKinley… twisting and turning in that chair… always hoping that this was the last photo Aunt Emma would take for the day. I love it… Thank You Aunt Emma for making mama pose for those pictures!

Emma McKinley and charlie Murray FIX

Charlie and Emma (McKinley) Murray… photo looks to have been taken at Flat Rock in Siloam, Ga; possibly her younger brothers above… and  photo probably taken by her camera.

I don’t have many memories of Emma, but I do remember that she was more soft spoken and not as stern as Aunt Lena appeared to me as a young child. Why we didn’t visit her house when we visited at Aunt Lena’s… I’m not sure… but probably because mama was more close to Aunt Lena.

Emmas cameras Fix

Aunt Emma’s cameras… the very ones which took many of the photos I have today of my mother and grandparents… she never visited without her camera. Thank You Aunt Emma for taking all those photos!

My cousins Cynthia McKinley (Thrower) and Beverly McKinley Smoak have graciously shared several of the mementos they inherited after Emma’s death… they were younger, so didn’t really know Aunt Lena, but they spent much time with Aunt Emma; Emma lived with their family in her later years.

Photo Left: Edgar Lawson McKinley and Rossie Sharp McKinley – parents of Lena, Cora and Emma McKinley. Photo Right: Edgar Lawson McKinley and Nancy Josephine Askew; second wife of Edgar L. McKinley. She was more known as Miss Bay to everyone… but no one ever knew why. (Photos shared by Beverly M. Smoak)

Emma and Charlie, like Lena and her Charlie had no children in their marriage either. Both woman outlived their spouses and each lived alone, although they lived near each other…  both buried in Westview Abbey Mausoleum, Atlanta, Georgia with their husbands.

Stay tuned for Week 33: Comedy


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

To read more Family Stories… click HERE.

© 2019, copyright Jeanne Bryan Insalaco; all rights reserved

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2019: 52 Ancestors in 52 Weeks – Week 31 (July 29 – Aug 4): Brother

2019: 52 Ancestors in 52 Weeks – Week 31 (July 29 – Aug 4): Brother

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

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

Week 31_ Brother


As I have no brother’s on which to write… I’ve chosen to write on the brother’s of my mother-in-law, Cecelia C. Insalaco… she was fortunate to have had three brothers! This post is written from the memories of my husband and myself… all the younger memories of his uncles… “the brothers”… would be from him. In knowing all three… each one was very distinctive in their own way… very competitive… each sharing a closeness in growing up… and each always there for the other.

The Cambino Brothers


Freddie Cambino

Brother No. 1: Frederick “Freddie” Cambino was born on January 26, 1926, and the first to leave home in joining the Navy; another future post will cover his Navy years. My husband has many memories of his uncles and how he enjoyed following each of them as he grew up… and each having different interests. Freddie’s interest lay in building large model planes, archery, cars and the water, where he had boats… spending many early mornings… fishing, or digging for clams and eels… always keeping his mother supplied with fresh seafood to cook. Fried eels were a favorite on Christmas Eve… hubby remembers them well.

Freddie belonged to a local archery club, where often my husband tagged along; he enjoyed retrieving the arrows, while watching in awe as Freddie shot bullseye after bullseye… often splitting the arrows! As my husband had no older brothers…. his uncles were those older brothers to him… and he followed behind them in every step… always wanting to be just like them! Freddie had cars and motorcycles before any of the other brothers… hubby remembers how Freddie took him for many rides on his motorcycle… him riding on the gas tank… and they both always keeping it a secret!

A friend gave Freddie a speedboat after they moved to 1st Avenue in West Haven… and after spending a couple of years on repairs… it was finally seaworthy. Freddie never left the motor sitting on his boats in the water – salt water deteriorates the metal quickly –  he’d always carry the motor up the cement beach steps and sit in a wheelbarrow when not in use. It was never a two-man job in carrying any motor either, my uncles always carried them by themselves – they all were very strong!

One summer Uncle Freddie bet a friend that he could swim out to the breakers off the beach in West Haven; Freddie was a strong swimmer. My father and Uncle Johnny, his brother,  followed him out in the rowboat. Both men made the swim, but it was said that the other guy had a rope tied to himself and was pulled by the spotter in his boat.

My uncles were all musically talented… never having had a music lesson… it was all learned by ear. Freddie played the harmonica and guitar… Johnny played the accordion, piano, guitar and harmonica… Frankie played the piano, organ, guitar, accordion and harmonica. And if anyone ever asked who played the best – Johnny would pipe up quickly to say that he played the best!

As a young boy, I was in awe of everything Freddie did… he was always finding ways to make money. He brought home old cars to the farm to strip down… selling the parts to local junk yards or whomever; my grandpa even utilized many of the old car parts. When grandpa built his chicken coop he used the entire door panel with the window… from the cars Freddie had. I remember watching him roll the windows up and down with the hand crank on the door panel… and thinking how that was pretty neat.

My husband, Steve, and I often visited Uncle Freddie (Cambino) and his wife Helen when they were older. Most times we’d arrive to find Freddie in the kitchen, either making a pot of sauce, or sitting at the kitchen table carving a wooden spoon or building something. I have a small basket he carved out of a peach pit… Freddie was very talented. He had been a cook in the Navy…. once a cook, always a cook!

johnny cars

Johnny Cambino

Brother No. 2: Johnny Cambino was born on February 22, 1931… he and brother Frankie were only a year apart in age… very close, and very competitive through the years. I’ve heard several stories told by both… same story, but they each painted themself as the hero of the story. Hubby and I both laugh today when we remember those stories, and how they each remembered them differently!

Going to the movies on Saturday afternoons always gave Johnny and Frankie ideas… and after seeing Johnny Weissmuller as “Tarzan” it gave them this idea. The story goes… they came home and decided to swing from the big tree out back just like Tarzan did in the movie. They hung a rope on the old oak tree, and pretended to be “just like Tarzan”. One day Johnny swung out and the rope broke… down he went on the rocks underneath. His mother and grandmother quickly patched him up before his father came home. No one ran to the doctor back then, they often relied on home remedies. His grandmother cracked several eggs to seperate the whites, which she soaked strips of fabric in and wrapped around his wrists; after they dried, they were hard as a rock… an old remedy for a cast. When his father came home, he was told that the cow had kicked him. While they never told him what really happened, his father cut down the rope on the Tarzan Tree.

Tarzan treeFIX

The tree was always known afterward as the Tarzan Tree. Many of the things I heard about when I was older… was gone by the time I heard the stories… but the Tarzan Tree was still there by the pump house – no swinging rope though – grandpa had long cut it down.

The one story, that both Johnny and Frankie always told, was… “I pulled a kid from under the ice at Eddie Voss’s pond once. He’d fallen through the ice, and I just reached in and grabbed him, pulling him up to the surface. If I hadn’t caught onto him the first time, I would never have found him. I don’t remember how I even happened to be there that day.” Both my husband and I always laughed when we’d hear them each tell this same story… each being the hero! But that was ok… they’d always played the game of beating each other through the years… but they will always be heroes in our eyes! The one thing uncle Frankie mentioned about this story, that was different…  was that he wished he’d been recognized for saving the boys life… like maybe being presented with a medal or a certificate for saving his life.

Uncle Freddie, Johnny and Frankie were who I looked up to as a young boy – they were my idols! They were also close enough in age to even have been a brother. Whatever they did or wherever they went – I wanted to be and do the same!

Johnny always liked the water and loved to swim at Lake Phipps. One afternoon he climbed a tree, probably up about 50-75 ft. and dived off into the water. He wasn’t afraid of anything! One day the limb bounced him too close back to the edge and he landed more on the bank than in the water. He went home hurting that day, but never said anything as he knew he’d be scolded for even doing it.

Johnny bought the first TV set while still living at home – a black and white console television. Even though they were older than me, both Frankie and Johnny enjoyed watching cartoons with me on that set; they would close the blinds and curtains, making the living room all dark… and we’d sit there and watch cartoons all afternoon, Bugs Bunny was their favorite… probably why he was always mine too!

At Christmas Freddie and Johnny always brought home the biggest tree they could find. One Christmas the tree was so tall that it couldn’t even stand upright in the living room. And what did Johnny do – he just cut off the top of the tree – making it fit!

Every Xmas Eve Johnny would go to Chancey Brothers (A large store at Savin Rock) to buy Xmas gifts…and always on Xmas Eve, never any earlier. He’d go in and tell them to fill up a box with toys… never paying any attention to what they put in either… they just filled it up for him. I can still see Johnny walking in with that big box of toys. One Xmas Eve he handed his sister Dolly a paint by number set, and it turned out to be of a naked girl. I guess Dolly didn’t get a gift that year – and Uncle Frankie took possession of that gift. One Xmas he came with a huge Santa head that he hung on the front of the house – it was just a Santa face, but it was huge. You never knew what Johnny would come in with – this was before he married. He always bought the biggest of everything!

When I was around fourteen, I began working with Johnny doing carpentry. He usually brought a radio on the job, and always played the country stations. Even today, when I hear certain songs like, “From a Jack to a King,” I think of Johnny – it was one of his favorites.

Johnny let me drive all his cars when I turned fourteen and working with him. He said I wouldn’t get into any trouble if we were pulled over because he knew all the West Haven cops and most of the New Haven ones. He always told me “don’t worry about it, I’ll take care of everything.”

Uncle Johnny loved cars, but never bought a new car – I remember his black Pontiac Bonneville… he often let me drive it. That was the best car ever! I felt cool when I was with Johnny – it was like being with a celebrity. Whenever he entered a room, he was immediately acknowledged – he was well-known wherever he went.

Johnny was a carpenter by trade, often working with his brother Frankie. I worked with them both a few summers and learned a lot. Johnny didn’t strictly work all day though – he took his share of breaks… and always knew exactly what time his favorite meals were served around town at various restaurants. Everyday we’d stop at a certain diner to have his favorite – milkshakes. Wherever we went – Johnny knew everyone… it was like spending time with a celebrity… he was very well-known. Johnny always had a story to tell – and he could tell stories that kept you in stitches, long after they were finished.

Riding with my uncle was an experience. He’d say, “you’re safe in my hands, I can stop on a dime” – and I never doubted him! I’ve seen Johnny accomplish many things in his life – winning car races, tearing phone books in half with his bare hands – even running across the steeple of a roof like he was walking on air – he was very impressive. Johnny had arms like “Popeye” and he was just as strong.

I learned many things from Uncle Johnny! He lived life to the fullest, living his dream and passion of racing for many years. He began racing at Savin Rock Speedway as a young man of around eighteen… giving it up only when The Rock closed… but later making a come-back at the age of 62 – driving just as fierce as he did in his youth… beating many of the younger racers! One thing I admired about his racing was… he never threw the towel in… no matter what pole he started from, or where he was in the pack, even if at the end. He never gave up trying to win until the checkered flag was thrown. He always told me that he was never a quitter – he’d fight till the end.

It was a thrill for me as a young boy, telling my friends that Johnny was my uncle. He was well-known at Savin Rock and well liked. Even when he lost… he lost graciously with a smile. I always wanted to be there on Saturday nights when he raced. It was exciting as I stood at the fence rooting for him. He was known as “King Cams” driving the “Flying 5.” He was a Legend!

Johnny often said of the other car drivers, “if they can’t beat me, then they don’t deserve to be on the track.” And that came from him when he drove at an older age, against the young twenty-or-something ones. They hated having him on the track, calling him an old man, but he showed them; being beat by him was an insult to their driving ability.  Johnny often laughed about his beating them… he had more skill and knowledge about driving then they had of just being alive at that point.

Uncle Johnny was the strongest person I’ve ever known. His arms were really like the cartoon character Popeye; he told me he was very strong from the many years of pulling on the racing car steering wheel. I remember Uncle Johnny and Freddie arm wrestling all the time… they were both strong… no one could beat them. Johnny was my idol – I always wanted to do whatever he did. He’d arm wrestle me, giving me a head start, and then take me right down in a quick second. He never let me win… If I had won… it would have been honestly!

I was a strong arm wrestler in school… beating everyone there and in my neighborhood, but I never beat Uncle Johnny – even with the head start he’d give me – which was a tease… him knowing all along that he’d take me down quicker than I could imagine.

I’ll never forget the site of watching Johnny tear a large phonebook in half – ripping it with his bare hands… like it was nothing! But what really impressed me about his strength, was the day he picked up my 120 lb weight bar – lifting it over his head with one hand – like it was nothing! I was young, and I couldn’t even do that with two hands on the bar, but he just picked it up one-handed – and the bar never wavered. I couldn’t believe it!

When I enlisted in the Air Force… and right before I left, Johnny said, “when they give you a gun, never hit your target – always miss. If you can’t hit the target, they’ll never put a gun in your hand and send you to Vietnam. Never let them know exactly how much you do know.” And he was right, I never let them know what I really did know. I even flunked my truck driving test on purpose because I didn’t want to drive trucks and work on the flight line, but that didn’t stop them from giving me a truck license and putting me on the flight line. They do what they want with you – whether you like it or not. YOU belong to them!

Even though my uncles and my father are no longer around, I’ll never forget the things they taught me and the stories they told. I still hear their reminders in my mind everyday as I live my life – they will always be remembered!

Frankie colorized

Frank Cambino

Brother No. 3: Frank Cambino was born October 16, 1932; he and Johnny were more closer to my age than Freddie. I remember watching my favorite TV show “Superman” with Frankie in the evenings. They had a TV set before we did so I often went over to my grandparents house… they lived just next door. Frankie was funny to watch TV with – he’d tell you all about how things worked as you watched the show, or make fun of how they did tricks and stunts on the program – telling you it was a “crock” and it wasn’t really done like that. He’d say, “look there are the strings pulling Howdy Doody, you’re not suppose to see them.” Freddie liked to mostly watch movies, so I watched mostly the old classic’s with him, while it was more cartoons and TV series with Frankie.

Spending time at my grandparent’s farm on Sawmill Road and later First Avenue was the best of times; there was always plenty of family around to be entertained by. My three Uncle’s, Freddie, Johnny, and Frankie were usually into something – and I wanted to be right there – right alongside them. To a young boy, these ‘older,’ young men, were the ones to hang out with. You knew you would hear language, stories and jokes you wouldn’t hear in your own house. They were considered ‘cool’ by everyone!

Uncle Frankie enjoyed reading Popular Mechanics Magazine, and from one of the magazines he built a “diving tank helmet”…. actually it was a bucket used as a helmet so you could go under the water… like a diver with a tank; a tube was attached to a hot water bottle, which held the air. Whoever was in the boat was the one who pumped air into the tube. Frankie tested it out with my father and I in the boat once, but I don’t remember much more about it other then that.

Uncle Frankie said that he and his brother, Johnny, had first tested it. Johnny put on the helmet and tied heavy chains around his body to weigh himself down; a pump in the boat pumped air down to him. It was told that Johnny went down about 20 feet before shooting back up fast as he had run out of air. They tried it another time with a friend, and weighed him down so much that he almost drowned trying to get back to the surface. They could each tell that story… and have you in stitches as they told it!

Another project Frankie built was a robot ashtray; it stood about three feet high and had two light bulbs for eyes. When you put your cigarette out in its hand, his eyes lit up. He also built a wooden donkey that held a pack of cigarettes – when you lifted the tail, a cigarette came out the back end. Frankie loved Popular Mechanic magazines… I only wish I had thought to take pictures of all those projects he built… but who thought of things like that back then.

I also worked with Uncle Frankie doing carpentry when I was young – before I even had my license. I remember being amazed as I watched him and his friend, Frank Belbusti, bang nails. They’d set the nail, and with one swift pound of the hammer, the nail was completely in the wood. What power that took – they were all very strong!

Every summer Frankie built something for us to use on the water. I remember a floating raft he built one summer… we’d swim out and sit and dive off; usually the rowboat was tied up nearby. When my grandparents first moved to First Ave., we swam off the beach, even though some of it was pretty murky on the bottom… we’d walk out a little ways and then pick up our feet to miss that part… and swim out to the wooden raft or the rowboat.

Frankie, along with his brothers, was very musical… you’d often arrive on Christmas Eve to him either playing Christmas songs on the organ or guitar. One of the most funniest songs I ever heard him sing was “Smoke, Smoke, Smoke that Cigarette” by Tex Ritter… and if I happen to hear it today, Uncle Frankie immediately comes to mind. (You know you want to go look that up now on You Tube)

I’ve never tired of Uncle Frankie’s funny stories… and he always had a story to tell! If he didn’t have a story… you could count on him amazing you with one of his many card tricks. He especially enjoyed pulling out the card tricks whenever the kids were around…. teasing them so they would beg him to teach them!

My husband and I have both had many long conversations with Uncle Frankie through the years, and he always had a smile on his face… always enjoying to make everyone laugh… He is truly missed by all!

Stay tuned for Week 32: Sister


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

To read more Family Stories… click HERE.

© 2019, copyright Jeanne Bryan Insalaco; all rights reserved


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

Family Stories: Remembering the Families on Smoak Avenue

smoak ave map

Family Stories

Remembering the Families on

Smoak Avenue

smoak ave street

I moved to 1321 Smoak Avenue in Perry, Georgia with my parents when I was five years old… about 1957. We moved from Union Point, GA… when I had lived for the first five years of my life; Smoak Avenue would be home for about seven years… and was always a neighborhood alive with children.

Take a walk with me and my memories of Smoak Avenue…

1323: Jack W. Peavy: Let’s begin on my side of the street at the corner with Mr. Peavy and his daughter Jackie, who was about five years older than me. I never remember hearing my parents refer to him as Jack… it was always Mr. Peavy. I believe Jackie babysat me at times, but the memories are faint of that. What I do remember most about Jackie is how she teased me about my playhouse. It wasn’t more than a one-floor playhouse, but it was my hide-a-way up in the holly tree that sat on the line of our yards. She liked to tell me that it was her tree… and I’d run crying to my mother… telling her how Jackie said it was her tree. After one too many times… mama had had enough… she told me to go tell Jackie that if it was her tree… to dig it up and take it home. I’m sure I made a bee-line back out to tell her just that… and I think it finally ended the teasing! Catching up with Jackie on Facebook one day, we both mentioned the holly tree and she  laughed about how she’d often teased me about that tree!

1321 Smoak Ave

A recent photo of my house… it’s been sided and a new front door added… still looks like the same awnings we had. Seeing the tall trees still looming from the back yard… I’m assuming the tall pecan trees are still there. Mama tied a rope to her waist one day when she wanted to paint the trim on the outside of the window up top… she said the neighbors yelled to her that she was going to fall… but she painted that window!

1321: My home – The Bryan’s: My father had gotten a job at WRAFB in Warner Robins and bought our house on Smoak Avenue about 1957… we had been living in Union Point, Georgia… where I was born. Mama remembers that he bought the house before she even saw it… he began work on the base and lived there before moving us. It was a small two bedroom house, with a living room, dining room, small kitchen and an addition of a den, just off the kitchen. I still remember the kitchen table there… a small porcelain rectangular table, with drop down sides and drawers on both ends… which held the silverware. The kitchen window faced the street… great for mama to keep an eye on me. Not long after we moved in, mama bought me a chihuahua… supposedly they were good for children with asthma. My parents were Clayton and Helen Bryan… my mother worked at Perry Beauty Shop for Clara Dykes.

Besides a treehouse in my backyard, I also had a playhouse… which originally was just a large crate that daddy brought home from the base. Mama cut windows and doors and even made curtains… sadly no picture has ever surfaced; it sat under the back window of my bedroom. My windows faced the backyard and the side small area between our house and the Ogletree’s next door.

Just outside the back door of the den was a huge Ola Lilly that mama had brought from Union Point. There were two tall pecan trees in the backyard… we always had pecans. I’d climb and shake the tree limbs… helping them to fall. What I hated most about that backyard was how there always seemed to be “sandspurs” lurking there… and I always found them whenever I went barefoot, which was often; I never remember finding them anywhere else! Sandspurs are tiny pod-spurs of cactus hiding in the grass… and hurt like cactus spines!

Our chihuahua, Teddy Bear, thought the backyard only belonged to him… it was where he buried his bones, or one of mama’s leftover biscuits. I enjoyed teasing him and often dug them up as soon as he walked away; Teddy Bear usually only played that game a couple of times before chasing me… nipping at my heels. I also liked to tease him in the house as well, especially when he hid under the quilts at the end of the couch… he’d quickly chase me out of the den.

Riding bikes was very popular on Smoak Avenue for all the kids, and it was one of the first things I discovered when we moved there… discovering that they all rode bikes… but no one had training wheels like me! That was my first introduction into being laughed at, as I still rode a baby bike with training wheels. I did get revenge one day, as when they were riding and laughing at me, one of the girls, Pam Perkins, hit gravel and down she went… splitting her head open. It was my mother who picked her up and took her inside to patch her up. That was the end of the bullying over who could or couldn’t ride bikes. Mama took my training wheels off and within a few days of falling into every bush… I learned to ride that bike! They didn’t laugh anymore after that.

My mother interacted with all the neighborhood kids… even racing a few of the boys once… and beating them! She was Barbie’s seamstress to the girls… we’d go inside while she sewed and put our orders in…. returning later in the day for pickup. I still have two Barbie skirts she sewed, along with a couple of faux Barbie mink stoles.

Around the corner was the local tennis court, which was located in a small grass triangular park area; the high school tennis club often used it for practice, but in the summer it was our skating rink! I always loved to skate, and spent many mornings down there with my skate-key dangling around my neck.

1319: The Ogletree’s: Mrs. Joan Ogletree lived there with her daughters, Lisa and Julie, and son Bud… I think his name was Robert, but we only called him by his nickname. Lisa was my age, and Julie was a few years older. Out of all the kids on the street, I probably played with them the most…. maybe because they lived next door. My mother even babysat Bud for awhile until he was old  enough to go to school. It was often a problem when I came home from school and wanted a Coke… I’d have to spell it out so he wouldn’t know. He quickly learned what I spelled, and soon began yelling that he also wanted a COKE; having Bud in our house was like having a little brother. Bud liked to taunt me by standing in front of the TV set, waving his hands, so I couldn’t see… and of course I’d yell… mama would come and yell at both us us.

I remember how I loved to be invited for dinner at their house… as they never drink iced tea with their meals, they only drank Coke. There were always cases of Coke in the kitchen closet and I was so jealous of that. I liked the bottle tops, as there were prizes that were printed under the tops. As we very seldom had Cokes in our house, I’d bring a few bottle tops home from there when I ate dinner there. When mama found them in my room one day, she got really mad at me for taking them… telling me that I stole them… and making me return those bottle tops! A silly thing like that… I’ve never forgotten!

I loved those crazy Georgia rainstorms…. making it rain in one spot and not in the next, it was fun to run in and out of the rain from one yard to the other.

There was a wire fence that separated our backyards and in the summer we often camped out right alongside the fence together… until we all got scared and ran inside. Summers on Smoak Avenue was fun…. so many games played in my front yard… kick the can, mother may I, red rover, school games, Dairy Queen runs with everyone piled in my mothers back seat… no seat belts needed, and ghost stories told by my mother… as we all sat on quilts; mama often had to walk everyone home afterward.

Our yards there were filled with fireflies… or lightning bugs as I often called them. I remember gathering them in a jar and sitting them on the headboard of my bed to watch while falling asleep. I imagine my mother released them after I fell asleep!

We played a basketball type game called “horse” in their backyard… they had a hoop, I didn’t. The big Friday and Saturday night games for all the kids was “kick the can”… playing after dark so we had lots of hiding places. I never liked the dark, so I’m sure I scared myself in hiding, but I wasn’t going to be left out. I remember many times of running to kick that can!

1317: Rex Ivie: Funny how I remember the name, but can’t remember the people or even if they had children.

1315: L. C. Todd: I only remember one boy in this family, Terry Todd. He was a few years older than me, so he didn’t give us younger girls the time of day, but I remember watching him play basketball at Perry High School. High school basketball was very popular in Perry… and his class had the best players… they went to state championships almost every year; the basketball games were exciting, even my parents came.

1313: R. J. Perkins: Pam Perkins lived here with her parents, and I’m now told she had an older sister, but I don’t remember her. I vaguely remember playing Barbie with Pam, probably not often, as I don’t have strong memories of it.

1311: Unknown… possible empty lot

1309: Unknown… possible empty lot

1307: Unknown… possible empty lot


1305: Chas J. Norman: Found name listed in the 1963 Perry telephone book. I believe this might be the man who drove the Gordon’s potato chip truck that I remember always in his driveway. While I don’t remember any children, Jim remembers two children in this family… Joe was a year older than Jim… and there was a sister Jean, who was several years older. (Remembered by Jim Beall)

gordon chips man

Mr. Norman lived on my street!

1303: Unknown… possible empty lot

1301: C. I. Murray: They had a son and daughter a little older than us. (Remembered by Jim Beall)

Other Side of Street:

1322: The Kersey’s: They had two or three kids I think, but I don’t remember any of their names. I played Barbie with one of the girls, but what comes to mind most was the huge Mimosa tree in their front yard… with its beautiful cotton candy pink fluffy flowers. Besides climbing the tree, the most fun we had with it in the summer was gathering the green seed pods that hung from the flowers. We strung the seeds with a needle and thread … turning them into necklaces. Those green seeds were soft enough to string through, and later after drying, they turned into hard brown seeds… making the best necklaces. This was probably my first introduction into arts and crafts… and no one had to run to any craft store for supplies; my mother probably supplied us with needles and thread. One afternoon those little green seeds sent me to the Dr…. don’t ask me why but somehow I stuck a seed up my nose… I have no clue as to why I would have even thought of doing such a thing… maybe it was a dare!  I don’t remember when the Kersey’s moved here, as I didn’t find them listed in either the 1963/66 telephone book that I have of Perry. Imagine, I actually saved two old phone books  from all these years! In 1963, Delbert L. Holton lived at 1322, but they weren’t there in 1966. (Jim Beall told me their names were Billy and Ann, they were near our age… and there was also an older sister)

1320: The Lampley’s: Fred and Mary Lampley lived directly across the street from us, along with their son, Freddie boy… as he was called by everyone. Freddie was about ten years older than us and all the girls liked to hang around him. I remember him having a few animals he kept as pets and I think one was a snake; we were always inquisitive about them. Miss Mary… mama always made me address adults as Miss or Mr., I could never just call them by their first name… it was rude. Mama and Miss Mary became good friends from the very first of us moving there, she’d often walk over and sit on the stoop with mama. My first experience meeting Miss Mary was when I just walked into her house, without being asked in… I think I wondered in looking for Freddie boy… she promptly told me to never do that again and to knock next time. Another instance I remember was when she had brought over a jar of cream to my mother and I wanted to smell it… she somewhat stuck my nose in it… I guess she was telling me not to be so curious.

Miss Mary and Mr. Fred had a summer cottage at Alligator Point, Florida;  we went a few times with them to spend the week. I always thought for sure that I’d see alligators walking around there, because of its name, but I never saw any. The beach behind their cottage wasn’t a beach for swimming, but it was the best beach for seashells that I ever saw. Mama and I picked up buckets of shells and the prettiest white sand dollars… I’ve never found them again on any beach. I guess daddy and Mr. Fred went fishing there as he never came with us to the beach; fishing was his thing. I found out later that Alligator Point was so named because of an aerial shot… the point is shaped as an alligator.

1318: Carl W. Grant Jr.: I didn’t remember the name of this couple until Jim Beall reminded me… they were older with no children that I remember, but I do remember them having a small pekingese dog. The kids always wanted to pet it but they’d tell us to not pet it on the head as the eyes might pop out. I guess we believed it… as I was always afraid to actually pet it. Well that’s one way to keep kids from petting your dog! (Jim remembers them having a boy named Mike, a few years older than us.)

1316: J. M. Hamilton Jr: I’m only reminded of this family by Jim… they had one boy, Jimmy, one year older than me. Several families lived here for awhile, but I remember the Hamilton’s there. (Remembered by Jim Beall)

1314: Jack Davis: Another family I didn’t remember, but am told by Jim Beall that their names were Paul (1 year older then us), James (3 years older), and Helen (6 years older).

1312: B. E. Dennard: I don’t remember much about this family except for one boy, David, who lived there. He might have had another brother, but I don’t remember anything about his parents. He rode bikes with us all the time and that was the biggest summer thing that all the kids did together. We had a big group of bike riders… riding up and down the street… often we even tied ropes to our handlebars… pretending our bikes were horses; we even took playing cards and clipped them to the spokes to make noise. Our street crested at the top of a somewhat hill heading down toward Hwy 41. If we felt like riding back up, we’d coast down for a nice breezy ride. (With Jim Beall’s help, he reminds me that there was also a brother named PeeWee and an older sister Pam.)

1310: The Bealls: Tom and Polly Beall lived here with three children, Priscilla, Tom and James (Jim)… and for the life of me, I don’t remember James “Jim” Beall when he lived there, but he must have played with us… as he remembered me. I guess us girls played together more. He seemed to have not been in any of my school classes or surely I would have remembered him from school. We hooked up on Facebook and have exchanged many Smoak Avenue memories.

Smoak Ave pic3

Mrs. Beall at the top of the street… photo looking down toward my side of the street. I can see my house in this photo. The neighborhood was still new here… notice no tall trees like today. (Photo courtesy of Jim Beall)

snowman on Smoak2

Snow arriving on Smoak Ave. about 1954… a few years before we moved there. I can just about see the chimney at my house of 1321 Smoak Avenue in this photo. (Photo courtesy of Jim Beall)

1308: C. Boterweg: Two girls, Connie, and Ann… both girls older than me. (Remembered by Jim Beall)

1306: J. W. Jacobs: Clint Jacob’s grandmother. (Remembered by Jim Beall)

1304: Jeff Roper: Beverly Roper was near our age… several brothers and sisters. (Remembered by Jim Beall) I remember a Beverly Roper, but she wasn’t in my grade, maybe a grade up.

1302: G. T. Pierce Jr: Name listed from Perry 1963 telephone book.

1300: E. H. Odom: Sharon was a bit older than Jim and I. (Remembered by Jim Beall)

Smoak Avenue was a fun place for a child to grow up… it was a time when children played outside with no worries of anyone bothering you. All the parents looked out for all the kids… and quickly disciplined you if you needed it. No one contacted that parent if they had disciplined their child… it was just the way it was… it was growing up in good times. We played outside… all day! We played until supper… then played again until dusk… often playing until we were finally called in for the night!


Read more Family Stories over HERE!

© 2019, copyright Jeanne Bryan Insalaco; all rights reserved

Posted in Daily Writings and funnies..., Family Stories | Tagged , , , | Leave a comment

2019: 52 Ancestors in 52 Weeks – Week 30 (July 22 – July 28): Easy

2019: 52 Ancestors in 52 Weeks – Week 30 (July 22 – July 28): Easy

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

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

Easy… life

What’s the Secret?

City vs Country life?

Factory worker vs Farmer?

Home-grown food vs Supermarket bought?


So what’s the secret to a long “easy” life? Everyone has their own thoughts on this… is it the way we eat, where we work, how we live, or even where we live? Both our ancestors, for the most part, grew their own food, but lived in different locations. All mine lived in the South, and were dirt farmers… while my husband’s ancestors lived in the North, and lived within the city limits.

My grandfather, Edgar T. McKinley once went to a Bryan family reunion with my parents in the Georgia Blue Ridge mountains… upon arriving, the first thing Granddaddy McKinley asked of the men, “where are your cemeteries“… and was quickly told, “we don’t need them.” It seems that they lived long lives in the mountains, although probably not an “easy” life! Granddaddy had constantly remarked during the trip as to how he hadn’t seen any cemeteries, and it puzzled him.

While “Longevity” is defined as being a “long life”… it’s not always an “Easy” life. If you live longer than the average person… you are said to have longevity, but not everyone had an easy time in achieving that old age… but we still seem to strive in reaching it!

Pedigree chart of Steve Insalaco

Steve Pedigree chart

My husbands pedigree “direct line” showing the ages at death… no one lived past age 87 for women and 79 for men. As I don’t have ages of death going back any further, I have no comparisons for those living in Italy. Is a young death age a sign of not an “easy” life?

Pedigree chart of Jeanne Bryan Insalaco

pedigree chart me

My chart shows a high age of 80 for the women in my line and 86 for the men; ironically they are both my father’s parents! If I took this chart back further, my highest age for a woman would still be 80 as a direct descendant and age 99 for a direct male… my great-great-great grandfather, Berrian Clark Bryan. (B.C. Bryan not showing on chart) Directly in my line also is a 2nd cousin, 2x removed, Ila Stargel Sewell Jones who lived to the age of 114. At the time of her death in 2017, she was the oldest woman living in Georgia and the second longest living woman in the entire United States. I had the privilege of meeting and enjoying much correspondence with her over the years. Did she have an easy life to reach that age? Like my husband always says… “nothing in life is “easy” or free.”

Sibling Charts: Cambino and DeTulio

                               Cambino Siblings                       DeTulio Siblings                    

Even though my husband’s great grandfather Giovanni (DeTulio) only lived to age 67 and his great grandmother, Julia (Catalano) to age 72… it seems for the most part, that their children lived a much longer life… maybe because it was easier! Daughters, Mary, lived the longest in this family to age 93, Josephine (JoJo) to age 92, and sister Carmela (Carmel) to age 90. The younger sisters, Domenica (Minnie), Antoinette, and Rosa (Rosie) lived until their late 80’s except for sister Lucia (Lucy), who died at age 76. The oldest brother, Michael (Mikie), lived until age 70, the next brother Nicholas (Nicky) lived until age 85, while their youngest brother, Andrew, was the first one to die at age 56… it hadn’t been an easy life for him.

In knowing my husbands aunts and uncles, I believe the one thing they all had in common was that they remained of a sound mind. Steve’s grandmother, Minnie, remained very sharp until the end… she never forgot anyone’s phone number or ingredients in a recipe.

In the Cambino family, my husband’s grandfather, Giuseppe. lived to age 72, while his grandmother, Minnie (Domenica), lived until age 86; again, the wife outlived her husband, which unfortunately has been the case in most of the families. The siblings in this family show the oldest sister (Catherine) living to age 90, while the oldest brother (Freddie) only lived to age 60. What factored in the difference of longevity here, might be an easy lifestyle? work? If you look at male vs female in ages of death… all three brothers died before any of the sisters. Did the sisters have an easier life in not working outside the home after the marriage?

If we all knew as a child… or even as a young adult… as to what we now know in  our later life… we wouldn’t rush to grow up quite so fast… and hopefully we’d live a more “easy” lifestyle!

Think back to how you couldn’t wait for school summer vacation to begin…. learn to drive… get your license… graduate from high school… get married… have a family… have children… hurry them along to crawl, walk, talk… and soon they are married… the grandchildren come… you’re getting older and soon called grandma/grandpa…your life is becoming shorter and shorter now… and it doesn’t get any easier!

So what does this mean? Stop rushing life… enjoy your children, don’t rush them to walk and talk so soon…  take time to enjoy the easy part of your life… it ends too quickly!

Live for Today, Tomorrow isn’t promised to any of us!

Don’t rush your “Easy” Life!

Image result for Longevity

Stay tuned for Week 31: Brother


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

To read more Family Stories… click HERE.

© 2019, copyright Jeanne Bryan Insalaco; all rights reserved

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

2019: 52 Ancestors in 52 Weeks – Week 29 (July 15 – July 21): Challenging

2019: 52 Ancestors in 52 Weeks – Week 29 (July 15 – July 21): Challenging

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

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



My husband’s family came here in the early part of the twentieth century as immigrants from Italy. I thought I’d focus on 1930 through the 1940 census to see how they prospered in the beginning of the depression… to the end… it was very “Challenging.”

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

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

Giovanni DeTullio (John DeTulio)

1930 DeTulio censusFIX

DeTullio/DeTulio, 1930 Census

John DeTullio first came to New Haven, CT. in 1906, and lived in the “Little Italy” area at addresses of 2 Olive St., and 5, 15, 42, and 45 Warren St. He worked in various jobs, with the first one working for Star Line Co. (N.H.S.C.) as a dock hand at Belle Dock (record found on the 1918 WWI Registration Card). Later he found work at a local New Haven lumber company… DeForest & Hotchkiss at 115 Water St. John seemed to always work near his home as he didn’t drive. The 1930 census was challenging in as they misspelled his name as DeTugglio.

1917 CT Military Census

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

The 1930 Census, showed that John and wife, Julia (Giulia) were living at 2 Olive Street, with their nine children, Antoinette, Carmela, Rosa, Michael, Nicholas, Maria, Andrew, Lucy, and Josephine; the children’s ages varied from 2 months to 19 years of age. At this time they rented, paying $21 dollars a month. Neither John or Julia were listed as able to read or write, but all children of school age were listed as able to. The language spoken was Italian… and from all accounts I’ve heard, it was always their dominant language used in their home. Several of the grandchildren, who knew their grandparents, told me how they didn’t have much communication with their grandparents… they didn’t speak Italian. The one odd question on this census to me was “did they own a radio?”… it was noted that “yes” they did.

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

DeTullio / DeTulio Through the years

Detulio census 1

Detulio census 2


Giuseppe Gambino (Joseph Cambino)

Giuseppe (husbands grandfather) Gambino arrived in the United States as a young man of age eighteen on May 27, 1913. As jobs were scarce, it pushed him to quickly join the Army in WWI on July 20, 1917. That may have been his best choice, as he came out of the Army as a barber. We have never been sure if he knew barbering before entering, but it was told to me by sons Johnny and Frank, that he came out of the Army as a barber; it seems he cut hair while in the Army.

Cambino ship Clip

Giuseppe Gambino (Cambino) arrived May 27, 1913

Even though I found Giuseppe’s destination listed on the ship manifest at Ellis Island for 178 Frank St. in New Haven, CT, I never found him actually listed in the city directory until 1920… after returning from WWI, where he was then listed as a barber at 668 Washington Ave., West Haven, with a residence now of 178 Frank St; previously listed there was a Thomas Foormichella and Grava Angelo. He may have boarded with them before going into the Army… possibly why his name was never in the directories; there were many boarding houses on Frank St. in New Haven… a big area where many immigrants settled to.

Discovering this ship manifest was indeed a big challenge… discovering it many years before “Ancestry” and “Family Search” was even online. I found it by sitting in front of a fiche machine at a local LDS library, scrolling page by page… looking at each name on every ship manifest page. Luckily I knew the exact date he arrived or I’d never have found him… most definitely a “challenge”!

1930 Cambino Census1930FIX

1930 Census: Joseph (Giuseppi) Cambino (Gambino) and family

On the 1930 census, Joseph was now married, working of his own accord at his barber shop (Buddy’s Barber Shop) at 668 Washington Avenue in West Haven… but now living at 294 York St; he owned this home with a value of $6000… 3 children were living at home… Catherine, Fred, and Celia. Joseph was listed as able to read, write, and speak English, which was their primary language spoken in the home; all the children spoke and read English. I was told that he never spoke in Italian… and only wanted his children to speak English… he wanted them to be American. Joseph also owned a radio, and his grandson, Steve, remembers how grandpa enjoyed listening to his radio at the barber shop; it was kept on a shelf in the shop… and was always on. They also had a radio on a shelf in their kitchen at home and it’s the very one that we have today in our kitchen.


Grandpa Joe Cambino’s radio.

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

Gambino / Cambino Through the Years

Cambino year listing

Cambino year listing 2


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

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

1930 insalacoFIX

Insalaco, 1930 Census

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

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

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

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

Insalaco Through the Years

Insalaco listings 1


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

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

Stay tuned for Week 30: Easy


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