2017 A to Z: Letter B…
I thought I’d change up the ongoing 52 stories this year to an A to Z of 26 stories and write “All About Me”. I plan to post bi-monthly, but I’m not holding myself to a certain time frame other than completing by year end. Originally I was going to do the “All About Me” for the April A to Z, but as I might get just a wee bit long-winded, I thought I’d give myself a longer time frame. Hopefully, by the time I reach letter Z, I will have written all I can remember about “me.” If you so feel inclined, why not join me in your own “A to Z” of All about Me!
B brings to mind…Books, Baby, Brownies, Bikes, Baseball, Basketball, Breakfasts, BBQ & Brunswick Stew, BB Gun, Bubblegum, Bulletin Board, Birthdays, Bucket List and Blog
I’ve always loved to read as far back as I can remember. – maybe that love came from all The Little Golden Books mama and grandmama McKinley bought and read to me. Mama says that after she’d read them to me a couple of times, I would sit and read them to myself. Could I really read – or did I have a great memory? I’m told I had a large collection of all those books.
As I learned to read, I graduated to the Bobbsey Twins, Trixie Belden and Nancy Drew – my all-time favorite! Nancy Drew probably became my favorite when I was about ten and stayed with me for a long time. There were no tag sales like today to buy books at – they were all bought new. I mostly remember buying them at the new K-Mart in Macon; the first “big box” store at that time besides Sears. Whenever mama went, I quickly volunteered to tag along… making a bee-line to the book area to peruse the new titles of Nancy Drew. It was always such a dilemma in choosing a new book… so many titles to choose from, and only so much money! But I was excited to walk out with a new book in my hands… anxious to begin reading.
The Nancy Drew line of original 56 books began in 1930 under the pseudonym of Carolyn Keene. As a young girl, I often visioned Carolyn writing these books… it wasn’t until I was an adult did I discover that they were actually written by several people – how disillusioned I felt! In reading more on this book line, I discovered that my all-time favorite book, The Hidden Staircase, was her No. 2 book in the series. After reading it, I know my mind ran to looking for hidden staircases… and I’m sure I secretly checked out a few. I always felt like I was right there with Nancy following along in her sleuthing.
My books were kept neatly lined up in my bookcase; I never liked loaning them out either, but sometimes Mama made me. When we visited my cousin in Macon, I often was envious of her collection of Nancy Drew books – she had more than me!
My favorite spot for an afternoon read was outside laying on grandmamma’s quilt; and when I was tired of reading, I had the clouds rolling by to gaze up at.
During the summer, I was an avid reader – and always joined the summer reading club. The library was located in the basement of the courthouse downtown, and I often went to work with mama and spent the morning picking out a week’s read of books. Afterward, I’d leave my books at Clara’s Beauty Shop where mama worked, and spend the rest of the morning checking out comic books and enjoying a Coke at the drugstore. Over several summers, I read all the autobiographies of the presidents and inventors.
Mama often drove me home on her lunch… where I was content to read the afternoon away. Besides the enjoyment of reading, I also wanted that “library reading certificate” given out for the summer reading club. Every time you returned a book, you received a gold star… and mine was filled every summer with those gold stars! Mama told me later that she also read all the books I brought home.
I don’t remember what eventually happened to all my books when I stopped reading, but mama told me that she often gave my things away to our maid, Annie, for her children. Annie came a couple days a week to help mama with light housekeeping and laundry as she worked full time. If only I had just kept at least one of my Nancy Drew books! In trying to encourage my daughter to read Nancy Drew I bought several books for her, but she never had an interest in the sleuthing detective; I did keep the books I bought her… so maybe one of my granddaughters will become a Nancy Drew reader.
I was born at a time when all babies stayed in the nursery – never in the mother’s room… they were only brought to visit. As I wrote in “A” about when I was born, I won’t cover that again here, but I will share some info from my baby book that mama kept and a link to my Baby Book Heirloom post.
My mother didn’t spend much time with me when I was brought home from the hospital, she was afraid to bond with me because of losing her first child, Monica Yvonne, who died six months after birth from spina-bifida. No matter what the doctors told my mother, she couldn’t bring herself to believe that I was perfectly healthy. My Aunt Chris, who lived next door, took care of me until mama finally accepted that I was really ok.
Yes, I was a Brownie, complete with one of those cute brown dresses. Other than that, I remember nothing of what I did. Mama tells me she often helped out in my Troup – helping with craft projects; a perfect choice for her, as she was a very crafty person! Neither one of us can remember the troop leader or troop number. I wish I had more memories of going to Brownie meetings, or at least one photo of me in that cute brown dress. I don’t think I participated for too many years as I never continued on to become a girl scout. Update: I recently discovered I was in Brownie Troup No. 204 while re-visiting one of my scrapbooks. Troup Leaders were Mrs. Russ, Mrs. Simmons and Helen Bryan (my mom). This information was posted on an envelope which held a paper corsage I made.
One of my first bikes, complete with training wheels, came at Christmas. Bikes were always a popular Christmas present, especially in the South. Southern kids never had a problem on Christmas morning with snow!
When we moved to Perry I still had my training wheels on – I was about 5 1/2. All the other kids on my street already knew how to ride their bikes without training wheels, so I was quite teased; it didn’t take long before those training wheels came off. Of course, I suffered a few bumps and bruises along the way… falling off and landing in the bushes gave me much encouragement.My bike was pictured in Letter A story.
Once I learned to ride, I was part of the gang and we rode all day long; those were times when it was safe to be outside without parents nearby. We played cowboys and Indians all day – I remember having a rope tied to my handlebars as I pretended to hold the reigns of a horse. We had a nice steep hill at the end of our street, and our horses ran really fast down it. I don’t think Mama ever knew how fast we flew down that hill… it did end on the main highway, but we all managed to survive!
I never played this as a child, except in gym class. I’m sure no one wanted me on their team, as I was very good at striking out! And if I didn’t hit an out, it was a foul! No one in my house watched baseball on TV, so I guess no interest ever generated to me. And today, my husband and I watch no baseball either! He played baseball a lot as a kid and watched the New York Yankees in growing up, but when baseball changed to be more commercial, he lost interest.
My father-in-law was a big New York Yankee fan and often stayed up until the wee hours of the morning to finish a game. I tried to become interested, but as my husband didn’t watch, it was no fun watching alone. The one year I watched, was when the Atlanta Braves were in the playoffs with the Yankees…and I only watched so I could talk baseball with my father-in-law – and razz him during the game; I think my team lost!
We played a lot of basketball in our neighborhood as the next door neighbor had a hoop in their backyard. While I don’t really remember playing the game so much, I do remember playing a game called “Horse.”
During my high school years, basketball was a big sport and we always had winning teams. Even my parents went to the games and followed them to the state games in Macon. Those basketball games at the high school were so exciting, and as the clock clicked down to the 4th quarter ending, the crowds went wild, especially if we needed the points to win. There was one short guy on the boy’s team, and when he took the ball, he’d take it down the court so fast that the other team hardly knew what happened… causing the crowd to go crazy cheering him on! Go Perry Panthers!!!
When I think of breakfast, I mostly remember our Sunday breakfasts the most, as that was usually the only time we were all together for breakfast. Mama made the biscuits… I don’t think Daddy ever knew how, but he was “king” of the bacon, and either one of them cooked the scrambled eggs. They were always served scrambled and I never ate them any other way until I married. My husband only ate eggs “sunny side up”… and now that’s pretty much the way I eat them. I make scrambled sometimes at home, but I love my eggs sunny side up with home fries when we eat out… and I still love my grits!
I don’t really remember mama making pancakes or waffles; I only vaguely remember eating cereal, which was only Corn Flakes with a spoonful of sugar. When I went to Junior High, I remember Mama taking me to the donut shop most mornings… conveniently located at the end of our street. We’d arrive just in time to enjoy freshly cooked donuts, and those glazed warm donuts were soo good! Not a healthy breakfast, but time was limited in the morning, and what kid would object to a donut!
Granddaddy McKinley’s cast iron kettle
BBQ and Brunswick Stew:
Living in the South, I grew up on BBQ, although it was only my Bryan grandparents who cooked it; Granddaddy Bryan often roasted a whole pig once or twice a year. Cooking it was a man-only thing and being a girl, I wasn’t allowed in the pit/cooking area, but my cousin Robert always was… I was so jealous! Mama Bryan (what I called my grandmamma Bryan) always began the BBQ sauce and the beginning of the Brunswick Stew in the kitchen. Later the stew was transferred out to the cast iron kettle and more ingredients were added.
Brunswick Stew is cooked and eaten all over the Southern states – and there are so many different recipes, varying county to county and state to state! The only ingredients we use are chicken, pork, chicken broth, ground tomatoes, creamed corn, and vinegar, with seasonings of salt and pepper. Anytime I find a recipe, I always stop and look, but haven’t seen one yet I’d try; they often call for other ingredients like beef, lima beans or potatoes… not what I want in my Brunswick Stew!
Granddaddy Bryan cooked his stew in a cast iron kettle, just like it’s been done for years; he had a large kettle, but often borrowed the smaller one belonging to my Granddaddy McKinley; I have that small kettle and the wooden paddle that Granddaddy Bryan made to stir; lots of stew DNA on that paddle! Cousin Charles (Bryan) has Granddaddy Bryan’s large kettle, but gave the paddle to my son… but I brought it home and haven’t given it up yet.
The recipe I use for my Brunswick Stew was devised by my mother, although I’ve tweaked it a bit over the years. I devised a couple of BBQ sauces I use when cooking pork to season my chopped BBQ. Whenever I visit mom in Georgia, the first place I head for BBQ and stew is always Holcomb’s in Greensboro… it’s what I remember! I never come home without a couple gallons of stew and a few pounds of meat to last me until my next trip.
If only I could remember eating my grandfather’s BBQ or stew… or better still, have that memory of him stirring the stew with the wooden paddle he made. If I could do a DNA test on that paddle, I’d be able to have the actual ingredients in his stew… wouldn’t that be great! But I can’t… so the next best thing is the memories I do have.
My BB gun was only kept at Granddaddy McKinley’s farm, and shooting it was one of my favorite things to do when there. While I don’t know who bought it for me, I strongly suspect it was granddaddy. I was always allowed to take it outside without any supervision but often yelled at when granddaddy heard the ping sounds as I shot his farm bell – I kept him on his toes when I was there; I just couldn’t resist myself, as the ping’s let me know I hit my target. I sure wish I had that gun to offer as a family heirloom feature, but mama doesn’t remember what happened to it.
Bubblegum: I was always a big gum chewer… from bubble gum to sticks of gum. I’m sure I liked the sticks so I could save the wrappers… making gum wrapper chains were a big thing when I was in school and I think mine was probably way over 7 plus feet. I kept it hanging on the huge bulletin board in my bedroom when we lived at 706 Hillcrest Avenue. Teaberry gum was a big favorite of mine and my girlfriend Janet and I would dance down the sidewalk doing the “Teaberry Shuffle” that was so popular. Mama used to try and dance it, and get so mad when she couldn’t. I can understand that now, she lost her coordination, just like I have now; I’m sure I couldn’t do that dance now either, so definitely will not be trying.
I had a bulletin board in my bedroom that was probably 5×6 feet, it took up an entire wall. It was already on the wall when we moved there, and it didn’t take me long to fill it up with all my movie posters, and that’s where my bubble gum wrapper chain was hung. What teenager wouldn’t have loved that on their wall!
Mama tells me she always had birthday parties for me – so why don’t I remember? Even while living in Perry, I have no memory of any birthday parties or going to birthday parties of friends. I do remember my 16th birthday as my granddaddy McKinley was living with us and bought me roller skates and a case… and I still have them. I spent many hours on those wheels – I lived for roller skating.
I remember daddy always taking me out to eat on my birthday when I was older, it was a special night out… just daddy and daughter. One place, in particular, comes to mind, a restaurant in Macon called the Saratoga. It was down an alley, and I can still see it in my mind, when you walked in there was a long walkway with high wooden booths, and another room with tables… and I remember a piano player there also. Daddy always ordered me a drink, still the Shirley Temple… not 21 yet. Those were special “dates” with daddy and I’ll never forget them, and so miss them.
Maybe I was never a fan of birthdays, as I’m still not a fan. Today I just try and ignore them; I like celebrating everybody else’s birthdays, just not my own.
Don’t we all make that Bucket List in life… many are doable, while some are “only in your mind.” Probably the most thing I’ve wished for was to go to Disney… well I haven’t gotten there yet and I’ve pretty much given up on that.
Now that I’m retired, everyone says how much time I have now to do all those things, but the problem is that now I’m older. Who has the stamina to walk around that Disney park now? I have many things I’d like to do if I could just wiggle my nose and be there.
I’d love to drive Rt. 66, but who can spend weeks away from their home without the kids fussing about going to take care of the cat. And even if there was no cat, you hate to leave your home for that length of time. But when we are on the road, we enjoy the freedom of just going and stopping wherever we want – no rules! We hope to spend time in Vermont, New Hampshire, and Maine this summer – just weekend trips. I want to see the part of Maine near Loring AFB where Steve was stationed… even though it’s now closed.
One of our shared likes is antiquing, flea markets and now they have mile-long tag sales… through several states. That’s on our bucket list! Will you hit them all, absolutely not, but it would be fun.
I guess a blog today is what a diary was when I grew up, except that you wrote only for yourself, while today we write for others, as well as ourselves. I always wanted a blog but procrastinated in starting… as I had no knowledge in the know-how of beginning one. I’m a big procrastinator when I don’t know how!
My motivation was an email from Ancestry with a challenge from Amy Johnson Crow to write a family story every week in 2014: Her challenge was 52 Ancestors in 52 Weeks. As I hadn’t seen the challenge until mid-January, I knew if I was going to join I quickly needed to begin writing stories to catch up… while also researching how to set up a blog. I found it quite exciting as I pulled it all together and offered my first weekly story; I caught up quickly and I posted a new ancestor story… on time, every week! I’m happy to say I completed all 52 stories and eventually learned a new word… “slurping” as I slurped my blog over to a printing site and made a book of all my 52 ancestor stories.
From day one, I’ve met many awesome bloggers, joined a few blogging groups on FaceBook and learning more every day!
Want to read more, then click… 2017: A to Z… All About Me!
© 2017, copyright Jeanne Bryan Insalaco; all rights reserved
Such wonderful memories.
The only thing I know about my birth is that I was born at home with my two sisters and older brother playing in the Living room. Daddy hadn’t made it home, story is that he had stopped of at the bar on Milledgeville Road.
I really didn’t enjoy reading until high school when I signed up for Literature. From then on there was no stopping me but I don’t recall reading Nancy Drew or any of those mysteries. I did read Mickey Spillane’s Mike Hammer, Dark Shadows and of course, Zane Grey, Luke Short and Louis L’Amour among the classics, which I preferred.
Wow, you are breaking down your memories into such enjoyable reading.
What fun! I’m with you on the Bobsey Twins–and that was 20-some years before you were reading them! Somehow I completely missed Nancy Drew.
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I must ask my mother if she read Nancy Drew, she often remembers that those True Romance books were favorites of the girls when she was growing up.
What a fun post! You brought back a lot of memories for me: being a Brownie, Nancy Drew, even gum haha. I still have Nancy Drew books (and a collection of Little Golden Books). My favorite Nancy Drew was The Password to Larkspur Lane. It was probably the creepiest!
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Happy to hear you enjoyed it… it’s just as important to document our own memories. I don’t remember that Nancy Drew you mentioned, I’ll have to look it up. When I find the ones I bought my daughter years ago, I think I’m going to take a read down memory lane!
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I first read ones that had belonged to my mom–from the 40s. Then I got some of my own. The Larkspur Lane one is where there are carrier pigeons, Nancy imprisoned in a cistern (I had no idea what that was!), and an estate that held an old lady prisoner.
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I always remember the Secret Staircase one – and fantasizing about discovering one.
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I remember it!
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