Every One Has a Story: What I Collected as a Youth…

Every One Has a Story

 What I Collected as a Youth…

WHAT-DO-YOU-COLLECT-WEB-FILE_2After reading a post at “geneamusings” by Randy Seaver on Saturday night genealogy fun, I began thinking, it’s Saturday – why not today ….. and if you’d like to check out his site, just head on over to:  http://www.geneamusings.com/  It’s quite a fun site to scroll through!

I went through several collecting fazes of my life – If only I had collected ancestors as a youth, just think where I would be today and what stories I would have. I can dream – can’t I?

So pull up a chair – and enjoy a few of  my collecting memories…

Seashells: Doesn’t every kid collect beach shells? My granddaughter, Ella, already has a growing collection! She even has a special dress with deep pockets – her beach attire – when she knows she’s going to collect shells. McKinley picks up also, then throws them back – I guess she’s not going to be a collector.

My father loved to fish – and that was probably the very reason that took us to Florida every summer; I never complained. Panama City was his favorite fishing spot – and my favorite seashell spot. We always stayed at a small motel just outside of town; I remember a long pier behind the motel, and there was even a small restaurant right there at the motel where I could hop up on a stool early in the morning and order my favorite breakfast sandwich all by myself – a plain bacon sandwich, just bacon on white bread – definitely no mayo!

We always went to the same local restaurants there and daddy usually ordered red snapper for me. But my favorite memory is of him always ordering me a “Shirley Temple.” I’d feel so grown-up when daddy ordered that it for me.

I loved picking up shells at the beaches in Panama City; I remember looking for those small pastel colored shells – they were my favorite. The beaches there were covered with smooth white sand and the clearest water I’ve ever seen; definitely different from our Connecticut beaches. I remember walking barefoot along the edge and watching my toes just squish down in that white sand;  I could see all the way to my feet as the waves splashed across them.

silver dollar

One of my last silver dollars from Alligator Point, Florida.

Another great shell spot was a place called Alligator Point, and until I searched online, I never even knew it was a real town in Florida. I thought it was just some made-up name the neighbors called it – probably even thought I’d find real alligators walking around. We went a few times with them, as they had a cottage right there on the beach; I was in heaven! The beach wasn’t great for swimming but it was full of shells – and that was ok with me. Mama and I would spend all morning on the beach picking up shells – she loved the conch shells until something tickled her palm one day and she quickly dropped it – only to discover a living creature still inside the shell – who knew!  Mama even found a crab one time and brought him home too. The poor crab was doomed – she soaked him in alcohol to clean him! This was the only beach I ever discovered real “silver dollars” on the beach. I was fascinated with them! How many times have you ever found one lying on a beach? I gathered up as many as I could to bring home on that trip.

My mother has always been a crafter and upon returning home she decided to create something to display all my shells on. She took a large frame, sprayed it gold – she sprayed everything gold – and stretched a large square of wire mesh across the back. We then wired and glued my shells on – even the dead crab she had soaked in alcohol; it had soaked for weeks in that bucket and it was clean as a whistle when it emerged.

I kept that frame for many years with all those shells attached; it even came to Connecticut with me, but eventually you let go of things. I so wish I had taken a picture of it, but who thought I’d ever want to see it again. It’s still here in my mind, filed away – sorry I can’t share it with you.


My stamp album and the pages mama sewed for me to save my extra’s in.

Stamps: A friend of the family showed me his stamp collection once – and I was instantly hooked on all that tiny artwork from far away places, and soon couldn’t get enough. I began collecting the mail everyday after that, just to see what stamps I could find. I became obsessed in finding stamps and every magazine that offered “send away for free stamps” – had me hooked. It was such fun when those little packages arrived, addressed just to me, and full of stamps. Mama, being the seamstress she was, even made me a stamp album for storing my “extras” in. And I still have it, along with my first stamp album – still complete with my stamps!

Whenever I mention stamps to mama now, she always says, “remember that man who got you interested in stamps? He always wanted to trade you badly for one of yours. Maybe you still have that one – maybe it’s worth a lot – too bad you don’t know which one it is.” Maybe one day, one of the granddaughters will want to collect stamps and I can say, “wait till you see what I have.”

My stamp collection caused me to lose a great wealth in family letters though. I discovered a trunk full of correspondence at my grandparent’s farm one day – every letter they ever received – and I begged for all the stamps. Mama gave in, and later decided to throw away all the old letters after I took off the stamps. Oh No! What I wouldn’t give to have all those letters now to read through, but I have the stamps…

Pen-pals: Can you collect them? Well let’s see, I had two boy pen pals – one in England and one inPenPalsAround Canada and seven girl pen pals in Hawaii. There were even more – I probably wrote to over fourteen through the years, but those were the ones that lasted the longest. I’m not sure how I came to have them, probably saw something in a magazine or through the school. One of my Hawaiian pen pals mentioned she had picked my name out of the newspaper; so I must have sent a letter to her local paper. I loved to write at a young age, but I don’t remember writing stories – just letters. And most of those letters are still tucked away in my three scrapbooks. When I first came on Facebook and discovered that you could find people, I searched for my pen pals. I only found one of the girls in Hawaii and shared her letters back to her. She thought it such fun to be able to show her grandchildren what she wrote about at their age. Unfortunately, her mother cleaned the closets out a long time ago and mine were all gone.


One of the several pages of letters from Vietnam

Even around age sixteen, I was still into writing and wrote to an army guy in Vietnam. He had picked out my letter at the USO, himself looking for someone to write to in passing the time there. We wrote for awhile and he even came to visit me when he returned to the states. He nicknamed me Peaches, as I’m from Georgia, and became a little more infatuated with me through our letters than I was in him. I’m sure at the time, and being where he was in the war, he was looking more for  a girlfriend.

When my grandchildren are old enough to write, I hope that I can encourage them to have a pen pal; and if they haven’t been taught cursive in school, I’ll teach them. If they don’t receive letters in the mail, they will never know what “snail mail” is – but by that time, their pen pals will be on Facebook!

gant shirt loops

The “coveted” shirt loop!

Shirt Loops: All the girls had a little collection of shirt loops – who besides me snatched those loops off the back of every unsuspecting boy that walked by? It got to be where the boys eventually would jump and quickly yell, “no, my mother will kill me if you rip my shirt.” Now being a mom, I can just hear those mothers tell their sons that they “Better Not” let the girls rip off those loops. And…. yes I did rip a shirt or two!

Jeanne in room Hilcrest Avenue

It’s Me! Take note of the bulletin board and the gum wrapper chain hanging. Plus all my favorite movie stars and singers. My bulletin board fit the entire wall!


Gum Wrappers:

I definitely saved lots of gum wrappers to make those long folded paper chains. I think the last one hanging in my room was over seven feet long. Gee I hope I didn’t chew all that gum – maybe that’s why I had so many cavities growing up!

They were so much fun to make – making all those precise folds. And it was always something to do in school when you were bored with the teacher. I bet I folded them all in history class – shame on me!

And if your wondering, “how do you fold gum wrappers?” Well follow this link…  http://www.gumwrapper.com/build.htm

What do I collect now you ask? Well, I did collect cows at one time, not real ones, but anything that was colored black and white like a cow – I was obsessed with them. Now I keep throwing or trying to give them away whenever I find one still hiding around the house. Then there was the teacup collection; many are still in my china closet. Maybe I can share those with the grandchildren one day – we will all have tea and I’ll send them home with their very own special tea cup.

And then the genealogy bug bit me and that’s the biggest collection of all. With that hobby comes “lots” of papers, a book on every county you’re researching and more pictures then you can ever keep up with. You don’t have just photos of people, it’s pictures of cemeteries, graves, gravestones, churches, and anything else that pertains to the area. You All know exactly what I mean…


My Scrapbooks – full of my youth!

Tonight as I lay in bed, with posts running through my head, I’ll probably go, “dam” I forgot about that other collection! So that means I can write another fun Saturday night post one day. There are still lots of bits and pieces in my scrapbooks I can share. I hope you’ve enjoyed this peek into my youth collecting, and please won’t you take a moment and let me hear what you’ve collected. I’ll be checking!!!


About Jeanne Bryan Insalaco

My blog is at: https://everyonehasafamilystorytotell.wordpress.com/
This entry was posted in Daily Writings and funnies..., Family Stories and tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

2 Responses to Every One Has a Story: What I Collected as a Youth…

  1. True! says:

    Girl I loved it! Your Photos are Amazing. The story told so Much! I really LIKE you! I can truly say that. This was so Fun and Full of Wonderful things in your Life. I enjoyed it! I’m so Glad you have so many mementoes. They are Wonderful! Thanks for sharing!

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Thanks for stopping by True! And I’m glad you enjoyed it – it’s always fun to write some things of my life – the living – instead of concentrating on the dead so much.


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