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

2017 – A to Z… G: 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.


G… Conversations with Mama – The Best of!

G is for  Genealogy, Ghosts, and Gardens


Arrived in Georgia today to visit mama… After arriving, mama said, “I thought you’d never get here, but I think you brought the cold weather with you.” We were in short sleeve shirts and hubby in shorts, mama was bundled up with her bathrobe and the heat was on… feeling like a sauna to us; hubby quickly turned the gas furnace down in the living room. After unloading the car and making room in the living room for our “stuff”…. Mama said, “what all did you bring, everything you own?” Well, I can’t travel without my camera, laptop, genealogy bags of notebooks, and we always bring food, and a cake for mama… yes, I bring a lot; upon stopping at a flea-market that morning in South Carolina, I bought even more notebooks. I must have a supply of notebooks to write in or I’ll have withdrawals… LOL!  “I just don’t know where you get this love of writing from, it certainly isn’t from me – I’m not writing anything, Is coffee ready – I’m going to pour a cup and eat a piece of cake; if you hadn’t brought cake, I’d have had a donut.” (mama loves her coffee and donuts every morning) Temp. was abt. 60 there.

I’ve been emailing with a woman, who grew up in Siloam, that I met on the Greene County genealogy page and told her that her brother remembered Leroy, Mama’s brother. After telling Mama that he told me how good a baseball player Leroy was, she said – “Yes, Leroy played baseball and was really good, he played in Siloam and was also on the Greensboro High School team. Leroy’s friends often called him “corncob” and me “little corncob”, it would make me so mad. I remember Leroy was also prom king once in high school.”

And now to Ghosts:

After I read about Dudleytown (CT) in the ghost book I picked up at work today I asked Mama about ghosts on the farm, and … “I believe my Daddy is still on the farm – probably still sitting in his favorite rocking chair, rocking back and forth. I remember one night being woke up and finding his rocking chair in my bedroom rocking back and forth. I just laid there and watched it rock before going back to sleep. I told my girlfriend, Willie Mae, the next morning and she got so scared and said she wasn’t going to sleep over ever again; I told her she was silly. Later I figured out what happened – I had laid my exercise rope on the back of that chair, and at some point, it must have slipped off and caused the rocker to slowly rock back and forth. I used to tell tales in town that Daddy’s ghost was still on the farm… giving them something to talk about. It made many afraid to come around, afraid that maybe Mr. Ed was still on the farm. It did keep certain people from coming down and bothering me.”

“I remember a black man named JP who often babysat me and Leroy when Mama went anywhere with Daddy at night. I was really young then, as we were still living in the log cabin when he’d come and stay with us. He liked to tell us ghost stories and told us that ghosts talked to him through the cracks in the floor. Back then, most people had cracks in their floors if you lived in the old houses. By the time Mama and Daddy came home, we’d be scared silly from his stories… and after those stories, I’d step over the cracks in the house for days.”

Mama called me tonight – she was in a talking mood. LOL After a while she began talking about her grandfather’s house. ”My granddaddy McKinley had a big scuppernong arbor, it was on posts with wire and the vines wrapped all around. Oh Boy, you could just stand underneath and eat until you had your fill; I loved going to the arbor there. They had a big two-story house down in the corner of the road that went to Slip Rock; they never used the second floor – I never really knew why, but once in awhile, we kids would slip off – there were big empty rooms up there. Somehow they always knew when we went up there, yelling at us to come back down. Maybe they thought ghosts were really up there?”

The house they lived in was really big, I can still see it in my mind – I could sketch it out. Maybe I will try sketching it out for you. Too bad those old houses aren’t still there, I’d sure love to go inside for one more look. As a kid, I was intrigued with my grandfather’s old house and always wanted to go upstairs, but they didn’t want you to. They never used upstairs and I couldn’t understand why, there were big rooms up there, but no furniture. I did sneak up once or twice but I’d always get caught, so I never did get to really look around. I just wanted to know why they didn’t go up there, and I thought maybe they were hiding something up there. After they moved to White Plains another family moved in – I  should have stopped by and asked them to let me look upstairs; eventually, that house burned completely down… maybe it took all the ghosts with it.”

“The noises were said to come from the ghosts of the old man and woman who lived in the house previously before my grandparents moved in. Supposedly he beat his wife and that’s where the kitchen noises came from. I never saw or heard anything, as I was small, but I heard the “old folks” telling these stories. I do remember walking from our log cabin to my grandfather’s house and being afraid that a “bugger” would get me as I walked on the dirt road. There was a couple of hills on the road and I used to run from the first hill quickly down the dip to get up on top of the second hill. I was always afraid that something would get me in the dip of the road.”

“If you spent much time in the house, they said you’d hear the sounds of a table being turned over, but if you went into the kitchen to see, you’d find the table standing exactly where it should… you’d heard the sounds of pots and pans rattling, but what you’d find was that they were all in place – often you’d hear the stairs creaking to the sounds of someone walking upstairs, but upon investigating, there was no one. One of the things you could witness was the kitchen door opening.  It was told that they would be sitting at the table, when all of a sudden, you’d hear the thumb-bolt lock click open, and the door open wide… all on its own. The other ghostly haunting they witnessed was the sudden jerk on the window shade, and up it went, rolling completely up to the top. No one would even be near the window, it just would go flying up – all by itself.”

My grandmother always cleaned up the whitewash debris they found, but McKinley said, “that day was not the last time the family heard the mysterious noise. For years afterward, maybe once every three or four months, the family was startled by a loud crashing sound, followed by a sprinkling of whitewash from the ceiling. “Sometimes it’d wake you up in the middle of the night. You’d hear this ‘boom’ and then your bed would be covered with whitewash peelings. It scared you, waking up at night with that stuff falling on your face.” But was it a ghost?

“Back then, people used to call things like that a ‘haint,” McKinley said. “I’d hear people say that maybe it was the ghost of so-and-so that used to live there. I never thought much of that. I don’t believe in ghosts, but I don’t have any explanation for what caused it.” From my blog post…Siloam Hauntings on the McKinley Farm.”


I told mama tonight that I’ve been trying to decide what to write about on the A to Z blog challenge in April this year, she said… “I don’t know why you worry yourself about these things. I don’t want to write on anything.” Then she started with the ideas of writing about the flowers growing in her garden or about playing the piano… I don’t remember what happened to your piano, I think it was given to you by a woman that came to the beauty shop. She heard that I was looking for one so you could take piano lessons and gave it to you. But I still don’t understand why you want to rack your brain so much, cause I’d rather just sit here and do nothing. I can easily be content to sit here and watch TV while doing nothing.”

Tonight when I called mama…” Did I tell you that a woman stopped this week and wanted to know if she could photograph my flowers for the newspaper? I think she belonged to the Monroe Garden Club, but I can’t remember now what she said; you know me it goes in one ear and immediately out the other. All my Chrysanthemums are in bloom now and my yard is colored in layers of color. I don’t know if she was sending someone out to take pictures but if it ever gets in the paper I’m sure someone will tell me. She also wanted to know if I’d like to join their garden club. I told her no thank you, I just like to come home and piddle around in my own garden. I offered her a bouquet of flowers to take with her when she left.”

Mama had just come from working in the gardens when I called… “I have never seen such vegetation in my life as what’s in my gardens. Why my yard, it’s not in anyone else’s yard. You should see what all I piled up by the road – it’s as high as my head. All I know is they better pick it up or I’ll push it out on the road and then they’ll see it. They seem to like to ignore my garbage and trash.”

“When I called tonight, Mama said, “where in the hell have your been? I haven’t talked to you in days, I thought you fell off the planet. Today when I was working in the garden I saw a black snake. They had cut the grass next door and that’s probably why he was in my yard. I just picked him up with a pitchfork and put him back in their yard. My yard is such a mess. I’ve never seen such grass in my gardens in all my life. I don’t know if I’ll ever get it all out.”

I called mama around 10 tonight and she immediately said, “it’s 11 o’clock, what are you doing up?” I laughed and said, “well when we spring ahead, it’ll be 11 again, it’s only 10 now, your clock is wrong.” “Oh yeah, I never change those clocks, it will catch up.” Then she asked… “what’s all that noise in the background, sounds like someone is singing.” “I’m watching a show called That’s Entertainment, a montage of movie clips of dancing and singing. I enjoy watching and listening to shows like this when I’m on the computer, I don’t have to pay too much attention to it.” “I don’t like those, I had enough dancing when I was growing up, going out to dances. So what are you doing on the computer?” “I’m writing, what else do I do!” She laughed…. “God is going to put you in charge up there and you can write everything down. Haha, what will he do with me?” I told her… “he will put you in charge of the flower gardens.” “I don’t know about that, I don’t do that too much anymore. It’s dreary here today, it thundered early just once – just out of the clear blue sky and scared me and Boo! He took off to the living room and didn’t come back for awhile.”

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... and tagged , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

6 Responses to 2017 – A to Z… G: Conversations with Mama… The Best of!

  1. Molly says:

    Your mother may not be writing anything, but she sure is telling it! Wonderful stories, all — but particularly love the image of her moving the black snake back next door. Priceless!

    Liked by 1 person

  2. I enjoy your blogs so much! We had ghosts too…i should dig up an old article that I wrote. I t was about our haunted house! Can’t wait for the next one. Happy Hunting!

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Louise says:

    I love the idea that your mom’s dad was still on the farm and in that rocking chair keeping her company one night 🙂 Such a nice collection of memories you are pulling together here!

    Liked by 1 person

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