2017 A to Z: Letter E…
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!
Letter E excels in remembering…. Events, Easter, Engaged, Eloped, Education, Email
Events: Being born a “baby boomer” in the 1950’s…. I’ve lived through many events, many life events that changed the world… many I never knew about, and many I wish I had paid more attention to. I’m sharing a few of them here with you, the ones I remember, and my remembered thoughts on them.
- 1952: Jeanne Lee Bryan was born, Greensboro, Greene Co., Georgia. My life was just beginning… and many years later, I’m still learning and living through events. The most recent events to have changed my life in the past ten years are the births of my five granddaughters… they make my life worth living and they are who I write for.
- 1952: Immigration and Naturalization Act was implemented. Ironically, how today there is much controversy on immigration laws and how they should be applied. My husband’s grandparents immigrated here from Italy, coming in through Ellis Island. My ancestors have been here so long, I have yet to find the boat they sailed on or where they initially immigrated to in America.
- 1953: Queen Elizabeth’s Coronation; and in 2017 today, she is still Queen. I was only one-year old when she took the Royal throne at age 27…. and still going strong at age 90; soon to be 91 on April 21st.
- 1954: First Atomic Submarine launched: I find it interesting how my husband became a welder and worked at Electric Boat in New London, Ct…. ironically working on atomic submarines. He has seen them up-close and personal as to what they look like, inside and out, and learned of the workings of them.
- 1955: Rosa Parks refused to give up her bus seat to a white passenger. I lived through racial times of where blacks and whites lived segregated lives. While it appeared normal to me, I never thought to question my life as it was: It was normal to me as a child. Mama told me a funny story once that sums up the thinking mind of a child. We were living in Union Point, I was about 4-5 years old. As I sat and watched a black man painting the neighbors house I constantly talked to him all afternoon… one of my questions I asked him was “did he have children”… I was looking for a playmate. My next question was “are they black like him, or white like me.” Mama said he fell over laughing! An innocent child just being curious…out of the mouths of babes. I grew up quickly learning how our theaters, restaurants, doctor offices, even schools were all segregated. I never gave it much thought, it was just accepted.
- 1956: Elvis Presley appears on The Ed Sullivan Show for the first time. I was 4 years old, so maybe my mama watched this, although she tells me that she was never a fan of his. She still insists that she saw him on the streets of Memphis strumming his guitar in front of the Army Navy store; I’ll never argue that point with her!
- 1957: Elvis Presley purchased a mansion in Memphis, Tennessee and names it Graceland. I’ve always wanted to visit, but never have. My father-in-law went there while on a trip to Memphis for work; he was surprised to actually see how small the rooms were in comparison to how it was seen on TV. He was not impressed!
- 1957: The Film Jailhouse Rock premiered featuring Elvis Presley. While I never saw this new in the theaters, being only 5 years old, I do watch his movies every time they are shown on TV…. reliving fun times of going to the movies. I remember many Friday nights at the movies in Perry.
- 1958: Catch a Falling Star, Chipmunk Song, Volare, The Purple People Eater, At the Hop. The Purple People Eater is the song I remember the most, as it was a funny tune that caught everyone’s attention… and made you sing along!
- 1958: “Barbie” was introduced… My favorite doll of all times and I spent hours playing with Barbie and Ken. After all these years, I have kept my Barbie, Ken and Midge in their original Barbie Case. I didn’t have an original Barbie in 1958, it was later, more in the early 1960’s when I fell in love with Barbie.
- 1958: The Hula Hoop became a national craze… I was very good with that hula hoop and we all spent many evenings in my front yard swirling it around our hips – mama always liked to join in with us kids, but I remember her having a hard time keeping it up.
- 1959: Alaska admitted as the 49th state. I was 7 years old, prob. in first or second grade and should remember this, but….
- 1959: Hawaii admitted as the 50th state. I vaguely remember Hawaii more than Alaska, wonder why that it is? Maybe that’s why I had several girl pen pals from there.
- 1959: NASA introduces the first group of astronauts…The Mercury Seven – Alan Shepard, John Glenn, Walter Schirra, Donald Slayton, Virgil “Gus” Grissom, L. Gordon Cooper, and M. Scott Carpenter. I was infatuated with space as a young girl and always glued to the TV set whenever the space capsule landed in the ocean. I can still remember watching them open the hatch and seeing the astronauts crawl out in the water; the Navy guys were always there waiting for them to open the hatch. I wrote many letters to NASA asking for information and still have a couple of papers they sent me on Space. I always wanted to go to Space Camp.
- 1960: Democrat John F. Kennedy won the U.S. Presidential Election and became the first president, and the youngest, elected to the highest office at this time. It was exciting when he won as there was so much TV coverage on this election. I never thought anything about whether he was Democrat or Republican – parties hadn’t entered my head at that time. He was more appealing for several reasons… younger than the other presidents, his speech tone was so different and it was talked about, he had a family with young children, and a wife that dressed in fashionable clothing that drew attention. I kept many photos and newspaper clippings on him and his family in my scrapbooks.
- 1961: President J. F. Kennedy signs legislation raising the minimum wage in stages from its current $1 per hour to $1.25 per hour by September 1963. I remember at age 14 (1966) being paid 50 cents an hour to work at The Coffee Cup in Perry… I only washed coffee cups at the counter, and I’m pretty sure that job was “under the table.”
- 1961: The United States began sending U.S. troops to Vietnam. The first of many young men to go there. I wrote to a guy serving in Vietnam as a pen pal. He became quite infatuated with me through those letters and came to visit when he came home.
- 1962: The Cuban Missile Crisis had the world on the edge of another World War as the United States and USSR come close to launching nuclear attacks. I was 10 years when this was going on and probably paid more attention because mama talked about it… saying that she wanted a bulls-eye on our roof so when they send the missiles, our house goes first… wanting us to go as a family and me not being separated from her. It scared me and I’d cry… saying I didn’t want that missile to hit our house. She then explained to me in more detail of why she said that.
- 1963: United States President John F. Kennedy was assassinated by Lee Harvey Oswald. I was 11 years old and in Junior High School. We were ushered into the auditorium and TV’s brought in so we could watch the events of what had happened. I remember all the girls were all crying, and were able to leave school early.
- 1963: The United States began using Zip Codes. I vaguely remember this happening, and now there are even more than one zip code in a town.
- 1963: U.S. Civil Rights Leader Martin Luther King Jr. gives his famous “I Have a Dream” speech. If only I had paid more attention to the history I lived through! History class in school was never my favorite… actually I hated history class! Funny how life changes you… Researching my family history has me now watching war movies and wanting to remember dates and what happened in the wars. I became very interested in WWII when I researched my Uncle Leroy McKinley who was killed in Metz, Germany… just before the Battle of the Bulge.
- 1964: The Ford Motor Company sold the first Ford Mustang. Little did I know that a few years later I would actually own a 1965 Mustang as my very first car… a pale yellow with an automatic gear shift on the floor…. I thought it was so cool! So why didn’t I keep it?
- 1965: The creation of Medicare and Medicaid is signed into law by Pres. Lyndon B. Johnson. Now in 2017, I am entering the age for Medicare… boy is that a scary thought! Where did my life go? It sure went by faster than I ever imagined… I want my life back!
- 1965: Mary Quant designed the mini-skirt in London and it quickly became a fashion craze. We loved the mini-skirts, but our teachers sure didn’t. I had a male teacher in high school that threatened to measure our skirt lengths… down to our knees. My mother told him, in no uncertain words, that he better not lay a hand on my knees! And he didn’t! I think my mother even wore some mini skirts!
- 1966: Batman TV series premiered on TV: I remember watching Batman, and I loved the “Kapow” “Bam” and “Pow” words that appeared in bold letters across the screen like the comic books, to accentuate fighting. I think I secretly wished for a Batman-type character to come to my rescue one day; I found him a few years later… and married him!
- 1967: South African doctor Christian Barnard completes the first heart transplant operation. I remember hearing this, but at age 15, I was only interested in when could I get my “learners” permit for driving.
- 1968: Civil Rights leader Martin Luther King Jr. was assassinated by James Earl Ray. I was a sophomore in high school, but I don’t remember what we did in school when it happened, like when Pres. J. F. Kennedy was shot and died. Probably the most important thing on my mind that year was turning 16 and getting my drivers license.
- 1969: Neil Armstrong and Buzz Aldrin become the first men to arrive on the Moon during NASA’s Apollo 11 mission. This was exciting to watch as the first man walked on the moon… on TV, but there was much controversy later on. People questioned whether it really happened – or not. Even today people still question it, saying that it never took place, but instead filmed somewhere in a studio, and portrayed on TV as it really happened.
- 1969: The Woodstock music festival took place in Woodstock, New York and featured such acts as Janis Joplin, Jimi Hendrix, Jefferson Airplane, and The Who. I was a junior in high school when this took place and very much into music. Janis Joplin was a big favorite of mine and I remember playing Jimi Hendrix’s song, Star Spangled Banner; daddy heard it playing one time on my record player, and came in trying to adjust the dials to make it sound better; he thought there was actually something wrong with my record player. At that time, N.Y. seemed so very far away…. never did I think that one day I’d be living just one state away.
- 1970: I graduated from Perry High School, in Perry, Georgia. The world awaited me after graduation, but I graduated with no definite plans. I never made plans for college as I had no idea of what I wanted to do, and Daddy said he wasn’t paying for me to go party…. so I went to work. If I had gone to college I wouldn’t have met Steve, so it all worked out for me.
- 1971: I married Steve Insalaco, and moved to CT. A new life awaited me in Connecticut, a place where I’d never been to, and colder than I had ever experienced. Mama said that from a young girl I always talked about wanting to live somewhere where it snowed… well I finally got my wish. Now that I have lived here over 46 years, well I’ve had my fill of snow!
- 2001: September 9, 2011 (911): The biggest event I’ve ever lived though, and paid attention to…and it left me shaken and terrified at what happened in NYC on that day. I am only two hours from the city and felt truly shaken at what was happening. I soon learned names I had never known before… names like Osama Bin Laden and Al Qaeda. Steve and I watched nothing but CNN for over two weeks – no regular TV shows played. Even though they often played the same news stories over and over, we watched; that’s all we wanted to watch, and most people felt the same way.
Easter: While I have a few photographs of me dressed up in my Easter dress that I’m sure mama sewed, complete with hat and purse. I have no memories of family coming for Easter dinner, Easter egg hunts, or photos with the Easter Bunny like we take today with the kids. I do remember having colored chicks at Easter and seeing them on display in the widow of the hardware store downtown Perry.
The Easter’s I remember more are since I married into an Italian family who celebrated Easter with unusual foods like Ham, Rice and Wheat Pies! My first offering of them was a quick “No Thank You.” It took a few years, and several tastes, to acquire a taste…. now they are some of my favorite pies. I learned to make them by watching Grandma Minnie and writing down recipes…. as no one had a recipe… they always called their mother every Easter to be reminded of exactly how much of this and that went in the pie. I don’t like to pat myself on the back, but I make great Easter pies… and I’m slowly teaching hubby how to.
Engaged: I met Steve at a Halloween party, Oct. 1970… me dressed as a princess and he… well dressed as an USAF airman… in his green work fatigues; I actually wore a dress from one of my high school proms. From the moment I stumbled over him sitting on the floor, and fell into his arms, we became a couple. I ate and slept talking about him to my girlfriend. Two months later, he was transferred from Warner Robins… all the way to Loring AFB at the northern tip of Maine… next to the Canadian border… I was devastated! We continued our relationship through letters and nightly phone calls, and it was on one of those phone calls that he pretty much told me…we were getting married. He wanted to leave me married as he was being transferred to Thailand.
Eloped: In talking about marriage and how would we make this work, I had the bright idea of eloping to get married. We didn’t have time to plan a wedding, making it work for all parents to attend, so my idea was that we would get marry by ourselves. When I look back now, I feel selfish in not letting my parents, or his be there, but I was 19, in love, and clearly only thinking with my heart!
As to the eloping part… My thought was, we didn’t have much time to make that happen, so why not run away. I had always heard that the place to go was Aiken’s, S.C…. why there… because they didn’t require a three day wait for blood tests, you could be married immediately; I was partly right.
We arrived in Aiken’s late in the afternoon, and with no cell phone to plot our destination like today, we drove around and around until we found the courthouse… almost at closing time. After finding the office, applying for a marriage license, we were told that we couldn’t be married that day… as they required a 24-hour waiting period; I hadn’t done my homework! After getting over our disappointment, we found a hotel room to wait out… our “waiting” period; we married the next day.
Education: I began school in Perry at Perry Elementary from first grade through fourth. From my first day with Mrs. Couey, I was in trouble for not sitting still. I didn’t want to be inside sitting at a desk, I wanted to play outside. If she gave out papers and told us to not write on them… I didn’t listen… and I got in trouble. My favorite teacher in elementary school was Mrs. Pierce, my second grade teacher.
After fourth grade, I literally crossed the street to Perry Junior High School for grades 5 through 7. Junior High was a big change… for the first time I was now changing classes, and loving it. It made the day go by much faster, as we weren’t sitting in one class all day, and if you didn’t really like one teacher, well you weren’t stuck with them all day. No one ever likes all their teachers!
Eighth grade had me heading to Perry High School, and if we had never moved, I would have been only one street away from high school. Going to high school was the biggest change of my life, and besides also still changing classes, I was soon driving to school. Different classes were now offered, and we were allowed to pick and choose, although we still had the basic ones like English, history and math. History was never my favorite and I probably only passed because Maj. Smith was friends with my parents… he let all the girls pass.
I graduated in 1970, with nothing on my horizon… no plans for college, just continuing to work. I never had goals of what I wanted to do with my life. Little did I know, that after only one year out of school…I would marry, move. and live an entirely different life from how I grew up. I had married a Yankee, probably the biggest taboo of my life. LOL
Email: I soon graduated from writing letters to hearing “you’ve got mail.” Writing letters is now a lost art, but on the rare occasions when I do receive a letter… it’s exciting to sit down and read. While writing a letter and waiting for a response is exciting… with email, it can all be in the matter of minutes. I soon became hooked on email, especially for family history and keeping up with family. Everything soon became so much more “instant.”
Want to read more, then click… 2017: A to Z… All About Me!
© 2017, copyright Jeanne Bryan Insalaco; all rights reserved