2017 A to Z: Letter C… All About Me

2017 A to Z: Letter C…

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!



C comes to mind…. Camping, Cheerleading, Cats, Cooking, Cookbooks, Computer, Clothes, Church, Comic Books, Cars, Cuban Crisis, Chickens, Crafts, Coloring, Candy, and Cemeteries


 We often went camping on the weekend at Lake Sinclair, meeting up with mama and daddy’s best friends, Willie Mae and Henry Sisson, and their daughters, Karen, Pat, and Debbie. Saturday nights were the best, as the camping area had a large overhang with a cement floor for dancing, but the best part was… it had a Jukebox! All the kids gathered there on Saturday night and we kept that jukebox blasting until someone pulled the plug! The one song I remember we played over and over was “Wooly Bully” by Sam the Sham and the Pharaohs… I think once everyone had heard it for the umpteenth time, well that was when someone’s dad would pull the plug – they had had enough!

We didn’t camp with a tent, instead, mama let the seats down in our station wagon and we both camped out in the back… making a comfy bed of quilts; daddy was content to sleep outside under the stars in a reclining chair. The best part about camping there was waking up to the smell of bacon sizzling in Mama’s cast iron pan… daddy was always the cook at the lake. The only downside was… none of Mama’s homemade biscuits, but daddy did cook canned biscuits. Those breakfasts were the best eaten outside by the lake, as being outdoors gives you a big appetite; I remember how the food tasted so good and I can almost close my eyes now as I write this and smell that bacon…. I”m hungry now!


Sunday was usually the day their friends came, bringing the boat for skiing, but the first time I tried, well it didn’t go well. All I remember is, they instructed me to put the rope around my neck while putting on the ski’s… and guess what, I went under. I pretty much gave up on skiing as I couldn’t get my ski’s on while keeping my head above water at the same time. I’d rather dance to Wooly Bully all night long!


No, I was never a cheerleader, but I did try out in high school. And what changed my mind was… how sore I was after practicing for a week. I remember my legs being so sore that I could hardly walk up the front steps to my house. I’m surprised I attempted to even try out, as so many clubs were always certain close-knit girls and hard to get in.


Rah, Rah, Rah… go Perry Panthers!


While I never had a cat in our house while growing up, there were many cats at granddaddy McKinley’s farm. They weren’t family pets though, more like feral cats. Granddaddy fed them, and I guess in return… they kept the mouse population under control. I was always intrigued and wanted to just hold them, but that wasn’t an easy task to manage. Usually, the only ones I could “safely” catch were the kittens, and that would only be for a short time… as soon as my grip loosened just a bit, they were lightning fast in escaping.


This was something I never did at home with my mother or grandmothers. I ‘d safely say I pretty much exited the kitchen if mama was cooking… there was no interest to learn. By the time I was old enough to learn, grandmama McKinley wasn’t cooking any longer so I never had the chance to be one of those grandchildren who experienced cooking with their grandmother. The only memory I have of being in the kitchen watching grandmama Bryan was when she made sweet potato cobbler; from that memory helped me to perfect a recipe and story – Heirloom Recipes.

When I married, I really didn’t know how to cook, but with the help of my mother-in-law and calling my mother…. I learned how to make all my husband and my favorite dishes. The hardest thing to learn was how to make Southern biscuits… it took many “watches” to learn that trick!

Since my husband retired, and I work full-time, I taught him how to make all his favorite dishes… and many of mine. Nothing like coming home to a cooked meal!


I have loved collecting cookbooks and I’d say the first one I ever had was the one daddy sent me… Miss Mildred’s Southern Cooking??? She lived in our town and owned a clothes store; she also wrote a cooking column for the local paper in Perry called the Cook’s Nook. I contributed a few Italian recipes to her after moving away. Through the years I fell in love with cookbooks, although I didn’t use them as much for recipes… but I did enjoy reading them. Many are filled with family stories of how their recipes came to be.

Recently I attempted a little cookbook de-cluttering and let go of a basket full…. but there’s plenty I kept. Maybe another time I will de-clutter again. This was just the shelf in my Hoosier Cabinet, there’s still the kitchen cabinet that I need to go through and I’m sure there are more hiding around in out of the way storage spaces.

Cookbooks I let go….. and I’m sure more will follow!

Several years ago I made two family cookbooks of all the family’s favorite recipes, stories, and memories. My first one was mostly my Southern favorites… it was easy for me as I wrote my memories. I added a few Italian favorites for my children… who thought I’d even attempt a second cookbook, but I did. While my husband’s family loved my cookbook, they quietly asked, “what about our family favorites”… and I began a second cookbook. It was so popular among family and friends of the family that I was constantly printing, reprinting and lugging the pages to the copier to be bound. (I’m planning a blog post in the future on my family cookbooks… stay tuned!)


I can vividly still remember the very first time I saw a home computer work and stood there trying to wrap my brain around how it connected to all those libraries, chat rooms and much more… giving you information at the click of a mouse! All I visualized was wires going in and out of all those places and me trying to figure it all out in my mind – it was mind boggling!  

It wasn’t long before I went in search of a computer, in the guise of “for my son“, but I knew that I wanted to learn more about this computer thing! I slowly learned how to work the mouse, dial online, and was soon surfing away as I heard “you have mail“. Can you still hear that dialing tone as it logging you on? My first genealogy groups were bulletin boards on Prodigy…. I  spent hours in there while the kids were in school and hubby at work. There was a topic for anything and everything and I made so many genealogy contacts through those boards on my surnames… and there’s still a few I’ve stayed in contact with.

Computers have made such a big change from those huge heavy monitors to the nice flat screens we have today. Such a difference now, from the always-on with “wifi” … no more dialing up and hogging your phone line, and much faster speeds. Computers changed the way genealogists researched and it’s never stopped changing since.


When I think of the clothes I had as a child, I remember all the long hours my mother spent at her sewing machine. Until I was about twelve years old, she sewed all my clothes. It wasn’t long after that when I began begging for store-bought dresses like the other girls wore to school. She told me later how much it hurt her when I asked for store-bought clothes; she felt sad that I didn’t want what she sewed. I guess she really enjoyed sewing them, but I was just being a regular teenage girl who wanted the new styles shown in the store windows.

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Mama’s embroidery on my favorite dress!

Besides sewing my dresses, she also embroidered on a few of them – an art she learned by sitting next to her mother and watching. I also learned how to embroidery, but I don’t remember watching anyone. I’m more self-taught in most of my crafts. The only dress I have a photo of which mama embroidered, I featured in a Friday Night Family Heirlooms… telling their stories: My Favorite Dress.

 I guess the one thing I’m thankful for is that mama didn’t make my underwear like her mother did for her… made from flour and feed sacks! I hear it was pretty scratchy!

While I’m not a clothes hound now…. I once was!  I remember the shopping trips to downtown Macon and checking out all the new style dresses in the windows. The hemlines became much shorter by the time I went to high school, and some of my dresses were quite short; I’m even surprised that Mama let me have them. One of the male teachers in high school carried a ruler and threatened to measure our hemlines, but my mother quickly set him straight…  that if he put one hand on my knee to measure my hemline… well it would be his last. He never came near me, or my hemline!

Yes “Pantsuits” were in style when I was in high school, and so glad they aren’t any more! The car I left behind in Georgia, my 1967 fastback Mustang!

Finally, in high school, they changed the dress code… we could now wear pants – how ancient that sounds! While we weren’t allowed to wear jeans, and I don’t even remember ever wearing them anyway, we could finally wear pants. There was a “but” though… we could only wear pantsuits! I think I had a pantsuit, of every style, in every color that Sears and Roebuck sold; they were my favorite store for “pantsuit” shopping!


When we moved to Perry, my parents were Baptist, but most of my friends were Methodists, so I began going to MYF (Methodist Youth Fellowship) with them on Sunday evenings. Eventually, I asked mama if I could be baptized in the Methodist Church; she moved their letter to the Methodist Church where I was baptized and it then became our family church. While I never was a Sunday church goer, I was involved in the church.

Comic Books:

Comic Books always called to me anytime I went to the drug store; maybe it was the artwork covers that called out to me, but I loved looking and reading them. My early favorites were Little Ritchie, Annie, Little Nancy, Casper, Cecil and the Sea Serpent, Little Lulu, and then I graduated to The Archie’s with Veronica, Betty, and Jughead; I read them over and over again. If I had some change in my pocket, I was buying a comic book!


My first car was a 1965 pale yellow Mustang… I had just turned 16! My father had looked for months for the “perfect” car but seemed more like years to me. He finally came home with my car one afternoon, and I couldn’t get out the door fast enough to see!


Me with a friend of my parents. (Short dresses were the style) home one evening and told me that he had found me a car… and it was sitting outside in the driveway. My feet couldn’t get out there fast enough and I fell in love with it from the first moment! Does anyone ever forget their first car?

It was an automatic with the gears on the floor, making it appear to be a manual shift – I thought that was the coolest! It was my grandfather McKinley who actually bought it for me – a whopping $500 he paid! I wish I could remember more, like how many miles did it have on it, where or who did he buy it from, but all I was thinking about was… just driving it! He let me drive it around the block… and it was tempting to go further, but I didn’t dare!

At that time, girls didn’t even need insurance like today, they just automatically were on their parent’s policy; boys needed insurance, they were considered a risk. I never even thought anything about the upkeep of my car… when it needed tires, daddy took care of it. How times are changed!

I probably only had my Mustang about a year or so, when one day as I rode by Moody Ford on the corner of Commerce and Ball St., a 1967 green Fast Back Mustang sitting in the corner caught my eye. I circled the block and pulled in – I wanted that car! I  traded in my ’65 for a car payment plan! I only wish I’d kept the paperwork on those cars so I could trace their genealogy history… just to see if they have survived the years! When I married and left Georgia, I left my ’67 Mustang with daddy and never gave it another thought until much later! Even today my husband says… “what were we thinking!

Cuban Crisis:

I never really understood what the Cuban Crisis was when I was young, I just knew that a bomb could land on America and if you didn’t have a bomb shelter… you were going to die. There was one family in our neighborhood who actually built a bomb shelter, but I never saw it. Not sure if I ever even wanted to, but all the kids knew it was in their house… somewhere! I remember feeling scared when I thought about a bomb coming over – but I had no concept at that time of really where it was coming from or where it would land. Mama told me that she once said how she’d like to paint a big bulls-eye on our house so the bomb could hit us and we’d all go at once. She said I cried when I heard her say that, saying “I don’t want a bomb to hit our house.” She quickly told me that she wasn’t serious…. later saying that she didn’t realize how it would scare me.


Chickens following me at cousin Katie’s house in Canterbury, CT.


While we had no chickens at our house in Perry, there were plenty of chickens at granddaddy McKinley’s farm. He had a large chicken coop on the path leading up to the barns where they were kept at nighttime, but during the day he let them roam in the yard. I enjoyed feeding them by throwing feed – they’d swarm around as soon as they knew I had the food pail. What I hated the most was.. stepping in chicken poop! I often went barefoot at the farm, so when you stepped on it… well you knew instantly!

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The Egg Gathering Basket

While it was fun to gather the eggs,  I’d sometimes find chickens in their nest, which made me walk carefully… feeling afraid they’d attack. They didn’t like you to disturb them if they were in their nest and I quickly learned I wasn’t that brave! I still have granddaddy’s egg basket featured in an Heirloom post.


I don’t think there are too many crafts out there that I haven’t attempted. My mother crocheted, but I didn’t really learn from her other than just trying a few stitches. My mother-in-law was a big crocheter and knitter and she taught me many of the basic stitches and I took it from there. Many people say that they can’t read directions, but that never seemed to be a problem for me, although my mother says she never could read or follow them; whatever she made, she made up as she went along. She crocheted, just like her mother, creating it out of her head – no directions!

My 2016 knitted Baa-able sheep hats that I went crazy knitting…. and you can read all about them over Here.

Once I began knitting, I found I liked it better than crocheting, but I go through stages when I knit… and I never knit in the summer! During the 80’s I went through a phase of crewel embroidery and along with my mother-in-law and aunt’s, we embroidered several pictures. At every family picnic, everyone brought whatever crafts they were working on at the moment.

When my kids were small I sold felt Christmas ornaments I saw featured in Woman’s World magazine, and I soon was staying up till the wee hours cutting and sewing… they were all hand sewn, no glue! I made so many that I sold at craft shows and family members even took them to their workplace to sell. For all my hard work, I charged a measly $2 an ornament. Today, I wouldn’t make them for less than ten dollars at the least. I’ll leave you with a little tease… there will be another story on my felt ornaments under another “letter.”


I even had my own business card!


Who didn’t love to color as a child, and now it’s become quite popular for adults with fancy coloring books. I bought one of those fancy books, but haven’t found the time to try it yet. I love watching my grandchildren color, or rather scribble right now; they are all under 7 so I can’t expect too much.

My favorite part of coloring was outlining what I was coloring with a dark color and then coloring lighter inside. I did enjoy coloring and colored often with my kids when they were small. I look forward to watching my grandchildren’s progress in their coloring skills.


 What kid doesn’t like candy…. and I was no different. My first favorite I remember is the classic Baby Ruth. Whenever I was in Siloam, I always got one at cousin Ulma’s store and she’d put it on granddaddy’s tab. I never liked plain chocolate, there was usually caramel and nuts in most of the candy bars I ate. I do remember several other candies I’d buy at the stores, like… pixie sticks, wax bottles, fireballs, Maryanes, Sugar Daddies, candy cigarettes, Today my favorite is Snickers or Almond Joy. Another favorite way I enjoy a plain chocolate bar is eating it along with either potato chips or strawberries… salt and sweet… you can’t go wrong.


Finally, last but not least, one of my favorite places to go riding on a Sunday afternoon… Cemeteries. When my kids were younger, going to Georgia with me on “vacation”, I often pulled them through cemeteries looking for ancestor graves… just ask them! Today, I enjoy photographing the unusual gravestones, or war memorials standing tall in honor of the men who fought and died in the wars. If you’d like to check out one of my many “honors” from my cemetery rides, click Here for Connecticut, and Here for Georgia. A recent cemetery in New Haven, caught my “genealogy” interest because of what I found on the gravestones… click Cemetery Sunday: St. Bernard’s Cemetery to read what caught my eye! Hint… Read the gravestones there and leave me a message on what piece of genealogy history you found that would make you do the “genealogy dance“!

Stay Tuned….. The D’s will be marching in!


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

© 2017, copyright Jeanne Bryan Insalaco; all rights reserved

About Jeanne Bryan Insalaco

My blog is at: https://everyonehasafamilystorytotell.wordpress.com/
This entry was posted in 2017: A to Z - All About Me, Daily Writings and funnies..., Family Stories and tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

3 Responses to 2017 A to Z: Letter C… All About Me

  1. pen4hire says:

    I can relate to so many of these–eve though we were different generations. Particularly the overflowing shelves of cookbooks. I used to go to charity book sales on the last day and take away boxes of cookbooks! But the piece of nostalgia I really liked was that you were on Prodigy in the old days. I wasn’t into genealogy at the time, but was just beginning a freelance writing career (at 50). The members of the group called Aspiring Writers Club became so close that I have met several in person (IRL, as they say) and we even have a Facebook Group for the members who are still in touch!

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Evelyn Smith says:

    Wonderful story covering many things. Camping was a wonderful past-time for me for a few years. Not as a child but as a young adult. Great getaway.
    There were a few of us girls who did a bit of cheerleading when we were in Junior High. No trying out or clubs or anything, just a bunch of us who would get together at the games and lead everyone in cheering for our team. It was a lot of fun, unlike the cliches in High School.
    Cookbooks, I have my collection, even collections of cards I’d order in an effort to improve my skills. I know Grandmother Grace McKinley never used a cookbook, at least I never saw her with one. Actually, I don’t recall ever seeing Mother with a cookbook. I just thought I needed a bunch of them, so I’d buy one now and again. I like the older ones I’ve had for what seems like centuries.
    I took Home Economics in school and Mother would help me make whatever the assignment was. I actually enjoyed sewing. When we were allowed to wear pants to school, pantsuits were what we had to wear, too. Also, out skirts had to be a certain length. When we held our arms to the side, our skirt had to be longer than our middle finger, if it wasn’t, we were sent home to change.
    When I was older, I liked those shift dresses with the coats to match. So easy to make and looked so smart. I could probably make some of those today.
    I’ve never been too crafty, so that wasn’t a hobby of mine. I did spend a lot of time with the other kids from church. We had a lot of different activities and Mother would even be one of the chaperones from time to time. Those days were a lot of fun.
    Chickens were a pain in the butt. Yes, dodging poop was an issue. Dodging hen pecks, while gathering eggs.
    Cemeteries. Yeah, you have to have a certain interest in Cemeteries if you have an interest in genealogy, which I do.
    Yes, you have covered a great many subjects with this story and done a wonderful job.
    Thanks for bringing back some memories for me, too.

    Liked by 1 person

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