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

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

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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, then to gleam 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.

I

I…. Conversations with Mama – The Best of!

I is for Ice Cream, I Can’t Believe Mama Stood on her Head, and Ice

Ice Cream:  Headed to Greensboro today and stopped for ice cream at one of our favorite spots… mama enjoyed looking at the birdhouses and eating her favorite chocolate ice cream, and said… “I like those, bet I could make them if I had a saw, but I think mine walked off like everything else around here.” Then she told my husband Steve, you can make that for me, it’d look good out in my yard.” Steve found her brand new saw, later at home, on the front porch, and he left it out in plain sight, she might just make those birdhouses!

I asked if she remembered daddy making Banana ice cream…. “No I don’t remember that.” I have vague memories of that when we lived on Smoak Ave. and I remember him mashing the bananas and adding Eagle Condensed milk, but not sure what else. I did find a recipe on the internet with a photo, and it looked like what I remember – they froze theirs in ice cream trays like he did.” (I remember daddy using the old aluminum ice cream trays… I think he used to freeze and stir it often as it froze. I wish I had a better memory of how he really made it, but I do have the aluminum trays…. one day!)

“Do you remember the jar of pennies I kept in the top drawer of the old oak bureau sideboard you have? It sat in the dining room in our house in Perry. One day when I looked in there, it was empty – not a penny left. When I asked you what happened, you told me you used them to buy ice cream from the ice cream man. That bureau I used as a sideboard was a piece that had been in my parents house from the time I was a little girl. It sat in the backroom behind the dining room – it originally had a mirror attached, but it needed to be redone, so I  just took it off when I brought it to my house. It belonged to either my mother or father’s parents.” 

“The sun was out today, but it’s so cold and I’ve even been cold all day in the house. You woke me up when you called – I had just crawled under the covers and went to sleep because I couldn’t get warm. I remember having ice thick as two or three inches on the ground when I was a child.  We also had some bad clouds back then and it hailed so big that you’d think it was going to break the windows; I saw hail as big as hen eggs. It was a lot colder then in the winter… you’d have to put on your hat and mittens to go outside; I never wear them. When I came inside as a small child, I’d run to the fireplace to warm my front and then turn around and burn my backside. I don’t remember seeing snow much as a child, just seeing ice mostly. But it must have snowed some as I remember Mama making snow ice-cream. You had to find a clean place to take the snow from, but later on they began telling people not to make snow ice cream anymore because of the contamination in the air from all the atomic bomb fall-out.”

After telling Mama we had gotten over 20-inches of snow, (Jan. 11, 2011) she said. “We got about three inches today and I can’t go anywhere. I went to the store yesterday and bought two things I needed, and one was my chocolate ice cream. There were people there with piled-high carriages, everyone was going crazy hearing about the snow coming. I guess me and Boo are stuck in the house for the week, as I think they are closing the senior center too; no one will be able to get out.”

“Do you remember the time I came up there when Stephen was a baby, and after you took me to the airport I got snowed in and had to spend the night in the airport? Steve had lent me a bag of his that had the name Insalaco on it and a man came up to me and asked if that was my last name; he had been in the service with an Insalaco. He didn’t know a Steve Insalaco. “I saw all about your snow storms on the news, do you need some more snow, I’ll send you ours.” (Mama never got out of the house until Jan. 15th.)

I told Mama to make herself some ‘snow ice cream’ with the snow, and she said. “When I was young my mother made us snow ice cream once in awhile when it snowed. She made chocolate or strawberry – it was so good. I’d be afraid to eat it today with what all is in the atmosphere. Especially with the birds falling out of the sky nowadays.”

I Can’t Believe Mama Stood on her Head:

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I guess this proves Mama can stand on her head! Her father did it also, but they didn’t take his photo – Darn!

Ice:

“In school, if anybody’s lunch was stolen, it always seemed to be mine. We never had loaf bread in our house, Daddy always said that it was like eating a wasp nest – too many holes in it. Everybody always wanted my lunch of biscuit and ham or sorghum syrup. I carried my lunch in probably a tin pail, I didn’t have a real lunch box like the city girls – I was a country girl. I remember Mama making me chocolate milk and putting it in a mason jar. We mostly drank milk, my mother hated ice tea and only made it on Sunday or when company came. She said the taste of it reminded her of medicine, but she made the best sweet tea.”

I asked mama about grandmamma’s teapots and did she drink tea? “My mother never drank tea, hot or cold! She always thought tea tasted like Black Draught, which was some type of medicine back then. She only bought it to make sweet tea for Sunday dinner. Those teapots came from cousin Ulma’s store in Siloam. They were given away free when you bought certain products; I remember pulling it out of the flour sack and thought it was pretty.”

“I made myself a big pitcher of sweet iced tea today, you better run in the kitchen and make yourself some just like you usually do when you go home from being in Georgia.”

“Mama and Daddy never had an icebox or refrigerator until after you were born (1952). Anything that needed to be kept cold was put under the sawdust pile with a block of ice. Daddy kept the milk and cream down in the well – you had to pull up the bucket to get the milk or cream bottle when  needed.”

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!

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© 2017, copyright Jeanne Bryan Insalaco; all rights reserved

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

  1. Molly says:

    Another wonderful post! The ice cream and ice blocks in saw dust bring back such memories. When was little there was an “ice man” with a shop on the way to my school for the folks who still had ice boxes instead of refrigerators. Love the photo of your mom!

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Evelyn Smith says:

    Wonderful memories. I love the picture of Helen standing on her head. My gosh, I haven’t done that myself in many a year. If I tried, ain’t no telling what would happen.
    I don’t remember anything about the sawdust and ice. I do know Grandma Grace called the refrigerator an Ice Box, because originally you had to have a block of ice to keep things cold. I called it that for many years and still find myself doing so.
    I need to get an ice cream freezer. There is just some reason that home-made ice cream tastes so much better than store bought. I remember Papa made ice cream at one of our family gatherings. He put fresh peaches in it. Those were the days.

    Liked by 1 person

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