2017 – A to Z… B: Conversations with Mama… The Best of!

2017 – A to Z… B: Conversations with Mama… The Best of!

a to z header

I married and moved away from home when I was 19, so I didn’t grow up stopping by Mama’s for afternoon chats. Living almost a thousand miles from home, a nightly phone call is how I stayed in touch, as she’s gotten older, it’s how I check in on her. As I became involved in researching my family history, it was often how I heard the family stories. I recorded the usual dates and names, but all the tidbits of family stories…. well where was I going to put them. That was how Conversations with Mom evolved, and I eventually blogged those conversations. What better choice, than to glean an A to Z of my favorites here to celebrate Mama’s birthday month; she turns a spry 87 this April, but “mums” the word on me spilling her birthday number here!

During the month of April, I’m participating in the Blogging from A to Z Challenge for my 2nd year… both on this blog. I will post each day, except Sundays… using a daily alphabet letter in my theme of “Conversations with Mom… The Best of.” If you’d like to read more blogs, hop over to their Facebook page.


B… Conversations with Mama – The Best of!

B is for Brother…. and Boo

“I believe it was much colder when I was young then it is today. When we lived in the log cabin (1930-40), I remember sometimes seeing several inches of ice on the ground in the winter. I remember Leroy (brother) skating around on an ice patch that always formed near the chimney. One time he slid into the brick chimney, hit his head, and knocked himself out.”

“I have many memories of being with my brother Leroy. One time the two of us were sitting on top of the dog house, and he was making flips. I wanted one badly, and when I asked him, he told me No. It made me so mad, and when I slapped my fist down, it hit the knife laying there and it flew over and stabbed him in his finger. I don’t know exactly what it did, but he was never able to bend his finger right again.”

“My Daddy always said that there were Indian burial graves on our farm… way back in the woods. One time my brother, Leroy, and I stuck sticks in the ground trying to find the graves. When Leroy pulled his out, it had a hair on the head of the stick and it scared me to death. I thought he’d actually struck a grave and pulled out an Indian hair. But instead, Leroy had stuck a horse hair on the end of his stick before showing it to me.”

“When my brother and I were sick Mama would put sugar in a little moonshine to give us. It made us sleep well! They used home remedies back then, they didn’t have drugstores to run to. Daddy bought certain roots from a root Dr. near White Plains and Mama made tea with it for us to drink when we were sick. Those remedies worked.”

I wrote a story on mama’s brother Leroy to commemorate his death in Feb. 1944. I asked her, “what did he say when he left for the service, who took him where he left from?” “I was so young, it’s hard to even remember, but somehow I remember him waving and saying “so long” as he left. I guess daddy took him to catch the train, not sure why we all didn’t go, but my mother was probably too upset to go. She cried a lot when he left and all the time later on. On one of the only times coming home on leave, I  remember a girl named Lois Brown taking him back to the train station. (I have a postcard Lois sent to my grandparents telling them she took him to the train and he got off OK. I never understood why she sent a postcard telling them this; maybe no phone or a way for her to go see them?)

As we drove to Greensboro today, mama talked about all the pine trees along the road… “They say when you plant a Christmas tree and it gets tall enough to cover your grave in the shade  – you die. My brother, Leroy, planted one for mama – we could see it out the kitchen window.”

In mentioning a dream to mama, she told me… “I used to dream about my brother Leroy, and I dreamed the same exact dream many times… always the same. In my dream, I was on a road and going around a corner up a hill. As I’m going up the hill, I see a house on the hill, a big Southern home with columns holding up a porch that you’d drive your car underneath. In my dream, I knew Leroy was living there, but I didn’t see him, I just knew he was there. Maybe it was showing me that he was in Heaven! I can’t remember where I was, but one day I saw that house from my dream, and it made me remember that dream about Leroy, and after that… I never had that dream again. Now, what did that mean? I hadn’t thought about that dream for a long time until tonight. Sometimes I used to dream about my father, but that was a long time ago. I still dream about both of them, but not much anymore. At times, it seems like those times were just so long ago.”

The Brother – Edgar “Leroy” McKinley

The Boy – The Man – The Soldier ….. click to read

Ancestor Card Leroy McKinley

I blogged on Leroy as a Thank You for his service… he gave his life in WWII… I never got to meet him!

Let’s meet Boo! Boo is mama’s black cat…. the Love of her life! 

“I wanted to hang up something on the wall tonight and I couldn’t find my small hammer. In looking for it, I laid down the tacks in my hand somewhere so Boo wouldn’t get them, and then I couldn’t find the hammer. Finally, I found my hammer, then I couldn’t find where I put the tacks. Boy did that make me madder than a wet hen! I finally found the tacks in an empty bottle. It’s funny how I can remember everything of my life when I was young, and now, most times, I can’t even find myself.”

“Did I tell you they have a rooster next door? He follows me all around when I’m in the yard; he’s a big red rooster. Wherever I work in the garden, he likes to come and scratch and scratch. I told him, when I plant my tomatoes, you better not scratch them up – or else. He crows every morning, and Boo runs to the window to look for him when he hears him. The rooster also runs across the street and plays with June’s dog Sadie.”

“We woke up to snow today (March 1, 2009). The big flakes coming down is covering everything. Boo wasn’t trying to get out the door today – he’s afraid of the snow. He takes one look out the door and runs to hide; he’s so afraid of the snow that it’s actually funny. There are about 2-3 inches out there and all the trees are covered white. It’ll probably be pretty tomorrow and the sun will be out. I remember that as a little girl, you always said that you wanted to live where there was a lot of snow – we’ll you got your wish…you live in CT.”

“Did I ever tell you how Boo likes to talk to me. Every morning about 6 o’clock, he jumps up on my chest and does different meows to me. I’ll say, “what do you want, do you want to go out on the porch.” If he does, then off he jumps and runs to the door. Sometimes I’ll say “I love you.” He’ll meow back to me and it seems he tries to imitate what I said. He doesn’t know he’s just a cat, he thinks he’s human. When he’s on the porch and sees another cat, he gets really intent – he likes to look at cats that look like him – wonder what he thinks!!!”

“About 3 p.m. today Boo went crazy running all around like a mad cat. He was running like he was spooked – he was even trying to climb the window by the table and running under the table; I finally got him calmed down. Maybe he saw a ghost!!! Even his tail was quivering – it’s always hard and stiff. He gets those spells sometimes, then he’ll get under me and get as close as possible. Or sit on me and make biscuits with his paws.”

“Today Boo and I slept all day – wasn’t anything on TV to watch. I want to come back in my next life as a black cat, preferably a black panther. I’d like to climb up on buildings and jump down on people; I guess Boo will have to teach me how to snarl! What would people say if I dressed up as a black cat at nighttime and went walking around!”

“Did I tell you that Boo has a little friend? There is a little grey squirrel that comes up to the window in the bedroom; he sits outside the window, on the ledge. There is a flower pot on a stand and he comes up to sit and look in. Boo goes all to pieces – trying to climb up the window and crying. I don’t know what he thinks he could do with that squirrel if he caught him.”

My husband called Boo by the name of Beauregard once while there and mama said… “ That’s what they used to tell us kids when we didn’t mind, that Beauregard in the cornfield was gonna come and get us if we didn’t behave. I don’t think I was ever afraid of him though.”

“Boo came running through the bedroom tonight before you called, he came flying through with a paper bag on his head. He had gotten it stuck on top his head and just kept running and running; he had been in the kitchen, so I guess he’d stuck his head in it being nosy. I tried to catch him, but I couldn’t. It was so funny to see, and even though I was laughing hard, it scared me. He finally got it off and then began walking around very slowly, like he was thinking, “what was that.”  Maybe he learned a lesson!”

No sooner I said hello tonight, mama said….”It’s thundering and lightening down the road, I have the window open, but I pulled the curtains closed, as I don’t want to see it. I don’t know where Boo is – he usually hides when it’s storming. You’re not supposed to have your animals near you when it’s lightening – they always told me that animals attract lightning; you know when you brush a cat and their hair gets all full of electricity.”

Want more on Boo… Follow the link above to Conversations with Mom…

My mother grew up on a small farm in Georgia and has more memories of her childhood than I can only dream to remember. If you’d like to follow along from day 1, click on 2017: A to Z… Conversations with Mama – The Best Of!


© 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... Conversations with Mama, Daily Writings and funnies..., Family Stories and tagged , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

4 Responses to 2017 – A to Z… B: Conversations with Mama… The Best of!

  1. Lovely stories. I must try the sugar in moonshine some time!

    Liked by 1 person

  2. I enjoyed this! Wish I could have known Leroy, too.

    I was born in middle Georgia, and now live in the northern part of the state. My grandfather, who grew up in Washington County, had a lot of stories to tell, too. I used to love to sit and listen to them.


  3. Louise says:

    Oh my! The idea of ice on the floor inside is a bit much for me! As for your mom’s brother dieing in the war – sad to read. My grandmother lost her brother in WW2 as well – and I think the man she had planned to marry. I can’t imagine what that must have been like at home waiting for news.


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