2017 A to Z: Letter G… All About Me

2017 A to Z: Letter G…

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 is for Georgia State Fair, Greensboro, Graduation, Grandparents, Games, and Genealogy


Georgia State Fair: 

While I remember many carnivals coming to Perry, it’s the Georgia State Fair in Macon that I have vivid memories of. My parents went every year, and usually, they let me bring a friend. The anticipation of going was probably the best, and when finally in the car, finally on our way… well you just couldn’t wait! As soon as we arrived in Macon, I began looking for those large lights that swayed up into the dark sky… and when you saw them, you knew you were close. Once we parked, I was first out as I couldn’t wait to hear the sounds, and as we got closer to going in…  well the sounds and smells were overwhelming. To a kid, it seemed so big, but if I walked it today, it probably isn’t as large as it was to a child of twelve.

As soon as Daddy parked the car, I was ready to go, always trying to hurry them along. Just hearing the sounds coming from the fairgrounds, seeing the lights, and smelling the smells of the carnival goodies that awaited… my feet couldn’t get me there fast enough. I couldn’t wait for my first candy apple or stick of cotton candy… so much fun watching them twirl the sugary threads onto that stick. Just thinking about them, I can smell the candy sugar aroma, but not sure if I want to chance to break my teeth on them now.

I remember seeing a 5 Legged Cow at the Fair in the freak tent. All the animals inside were really alive. and I remember being mesmerized as I walked through… staring and wondering how and why… Mama told me later that animals were born that way, but in the animal world, the mother usually pushes them aside to die.

Those state fairs of the 1960’s boasted those large painted oil cloths advertising “The Largest Woman”, “5 Legged Cow”, the Largest Horse, or “The Smallest Man”. I also remember tents of deformed animals, and what still sticks in my mind… the cow with 5 legs; I’m sure they don’t even have those exhibits anymore, but they were always filled with long crowds of people walking through, gawking …looking.

I always felt it was really award when we walked through tents looking at “real” people like the Fat or Bearded Lady, or the Tall or Shortest man. As a young child, I wanted to look at them, but I felt funny staring…. after all, I been taught to not stare at people and here we were… paying to look at them. Thinking back now, I wonder how much they stared at us and what they thought…. maybe they even talked about us at the end of the day.

There were also men, high up on a platform, encouraging you to enter the tent to different exhibits…. all for one thin dime or quarter, and I wanted to go in them all! And there were some that catered more to the adults, especially the men with the Hoochie Coochie girls prancing around out front to entice them to come in. Mama told me she went in once, and they didn’t do much more inside than they did out front, but they took your money, and let you think you’d see something.

One exhibit, I walked in with mama, had a two-headed baby in a jar, imagine… Of course, as always… mama was never afraid to hold her tongue, after studying this two-headed baby in the glass jar…. she said out loud, “that’s a doll in that jar, it’s not a real baby,  you can even see the seam.” They quickly escorted us to the exit before she voiced any more concerns.

Greensboro, Georgia:

 I was born in the Minnie J. Boswell Hospital in Greensboro, only about ten miles from where my parents lived in Union Point. Going to Greensboro was a treat when I was small, and they had the best hot dogs at Hunter’s Drug Store on Main Street. When I was young, whenever we went to Greensboro, mama and I always had to have a hot dog toasted on their grill. It was a local food specialty and well known as the best dogs in town! They also served ice cream, and there was always room for an ice cream cone after a dog. Sadly, Hunter’s Drug Store closed many years ago, but if you mention Hunters around anyone who’s lived their life there…. they’ll remember!

I remember a Five and Dime store also on the street that I liked to frequent if I went with mama or grandmama. Those were the early Dollar Stores…. they had everything you needed – somewhere in there. If grandmamma was with us, she always had a change purse filled with half dollars… that she never hesitated to give me.

The local newspaper, The Herald Journal, is still in business and has published many of my family stories through the years. It has always been a family business, began by his father and now still run by the son, who went to school with my mother.


Grad pic 1971FIX_LI (2)

As a child in school, isn’t it all you think about during your teenage years…. to graduate. Little did we realize, that once we were out of school, well your life would fly by. When I graduated at age 18, my age of 65 now… seemed like eons away. When I look back now, where did my life go? Sometimes I feel like I just closed my eyes… and I married, had a family and now I’m a grandmother to five beautiful granddaughters. Life is just flying by now, and I still have so much I want to do.


Both of my grandparents, the McKinley’s and the Bryan’s only lived about 10 miles from each other. Edgar and Ola McKinley lived in Siloam on a farm and it was my favorite place to be. I have more memories of being there than anywhere. My father’s parents, Paul and Evelyn Bryan, lived in Union Point, also where I lived for the first five years of my life; we lived one house away from them. Granddaddy Bryan was my favorite, and I’d follow him all day as he went to the field and barns. I never called my grandmother Bryan – grandmama…. she was called Mama Bryan. Why I don’t know? She was not the warm fuzzy type of grandmother we most know, so I don’t have fond memories of spending time with her. In looking back, she was more partial to my cousins, but it didn’t bother me, and it doesn’t bother me now… but it was known.


Me with my grandparents, Ola (Askew) and Edgar McKinley and my mother, Helen McKinley Bryan


My grandparents Evelyn (Little) and Paul P. Bryan


I don’t remember playing board games…. my mother didn’t like to play and I don’t even remember having any. I probably did have some, but nothing specific sticks out in my mind. Mama tells me that she never liked board games, so if I played, well I guess I played with other kids. I did play games… like Kick the Can, Mother May I, Hide and Seek, Hopscotch, Jax, and Red Light. It was my mother who sat on the stoop in the evening playing with us. Kick the Can was our Friday night game and we’d be out there till all the mother’s called us home… way after the crickets were talking. In as much as I don’t really like the dark now, I don’t remember being scared as I hid in the darkness, waiting to run to kick the can. We never heard of anything happening to kids back then… different times…. a different and better life for kids.


 I can only wish I was as interested in genealogy back then, as I am today… although mama tells me I often asked where did we come from. I became more interested as an adult, after marrying Steve. I loved the colorful stories his family told, and after his grandmother died, I felt compelled to begin writing their stories and family history. It wasn’t as much of a computer age in 1992 as it is today, so I didn’t begin working on my family history right away… my thoughts were how could I even begin to research Georgia when I lived in CT.

I’m sure I pestered all his family asking for names and dates and whenever they told stories, I was scribbling notes for later. It became a joke in the family if anyone asked about something, they immediately said, “ask Jeanne as she knows our family history and stories better than we do.”

I found my husband’s Italian family very colorful and as his grandparents on both sides immigrated here from Italy, I was able to trace their route from Ellis Island to Italy. My Scott-Irish roots have me stuck… still… in Mecklenburg County, North Carolina; they arrived there around the mid-1700’s! But our mystery still is… where did they come from before living in Mecklenburg? Did they just exit a ship…. in Pennsylvania, Virginia, N.Y., Canada? Hopefully one day I hope to break down that brick wall!

Steele Creek Presbyterian Church, Charlotte, Mecklenburg Co., N.C.

Just last year, I visited the Church and graveyard of where my earliest McKinley’s are buried at Steele Creek Cem., in Charlotte, N.C. and documented my trip “here.” I hope to make another visit there to find my Beaty’s – who married into the McKinley family.

In 2014, I joined Amy Johnson Crow’s challenge of writing more family history in a 52 Week, 52 Ancestors challenge. Amy is the author of the blog, “No Story Too Small.” It was because of that challenge that I became more involved in family story writings vs just the abc’s of family names and dates. It’s the stories that help to bring the family to life and I’ve found that the more I write… the more it has helped to pull my family lines into a better order; I’ve rediscovered bits and pieces of information I missed before by not writing. Please check out my first blog –  52 Week Ancestor Challenge.


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/
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