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

2017 – A to Z… V: 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, 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.


V… Conversations with Mama – The Best of!

V is for Valentines and Vegetables…


“When I was in the 10th grade I was voted Miss Valentine and Mr. C. Ashley voted $10.00 worth of votes at a penny a vote for me. I should have won, but someone else gave money after it was over and they changed the winner from me to them. Mr. Ashley was my cousin Joanne McKinley’s uncle.”

I asked Mama tonight if she remembered what her favorite Xmas present was as a child, as I had just read an article about someone remembering their favorite present. “I don’t remember any Xmas presents really, but the one present that stuck in my mind was a dress Daddy gave me. He and mama had taken me to town to buy a special dress for a Valentine dance at school. I fell in love with this dress as soon as I saw it hanging on the rack. The saleswoman encouraged me to try it on, but I told her that my father wouldn’t buy it. She insisted I model it and let him see how pretty it looked on me. I guess I did try it on along with the one they picked out for me – a plain dress with a sweetheart neck – which I didn’t like. When we got home daddy handed me two boxes. I opened the boxes and discovered that the dress I loved was inside. I couldn’t believe he bought me that dress and I was so proud of it, and couldn’t wait to wear it.  When I wore it to school I got nominated for Miss Valentine of our room – and won! I’m sure I thought that is was all because of the dress. Willie Mae was so jealous of that dress and showed it to a seamstress, who made her an exact copy of it; she was very jealous when I wore it to the dance. Willie always had more clothes than I did, but that didn’t stop her from being so jealous of that dress. One thing we always fought with each other about – was clothes and boys, but always remained friends afterward.”

helen in school (2)

Mama is second from left, peeking through. Her best friend Willie Mae is 4th from left peeking through.

I Called mama to wish her Happy Valentines Day… “ every day is the same, guess I missed the party at the center as I can’t find my car keys this morning. They are in the house… somewhere!”


I asked mama again tonight about the root cellar granddaddy had on the farm, I thought I had it written down in these conversations, but couldn’t find it today when I was looking for it for my April A to Z – maybe I wrote it for another story somewhere… Mama says “My daddy began questioning why so many vegetables had been disappearing from the root cellar… than he remembered taking out. He had made a big dirt mound behind the car shed, and he dug a root cellar under it – there was a tunnel we crawled in to get what was needed. One afternoon, he sent me, mama and Leroy to town and he crawled up inside with his shotgun – to wait… Well, it wasn’t long after we left when he heard someone coming in the tunnel. They opened the door to find him sitting there with the rifle – they quickly retreated with daddy in tow. It was the tenant who lived on the hill and worked on the farm. Daddy just looked at him and told him to pack his belongings, he was done! After he left, that’s when Aunt Lou moved in with her family. I liked Aunt Lou, she often wrote poems for me and would let me stay up there all day cutting out paper dolls and pasting them on the walls of the cabin.”

While watching a TV commercial showing Chili… mama said “I never liked anything with beans, and if I don’t like it, I’m not eating it for any reason. I am spoiled growing up on the farm, having all our vegetables out of the garden. I don’t want any vegetable out of a can and especially turnip greens. I’ll only eat them if they’re fresh – I used to cook them, sometimes even adding a few collards in. I don’t know how anyone can eat them out of a can! I used to cook turnip greens and they were really good, but I don’t want to cook anymore. I only want to eat Brunswick Stew now.”

“My mama loved living on the farm, she had a lot of shelves in the dining room and kept them all filled with her canning jars. She enjoyed canning and grew a small garden just so she had plenty of vegetables to put up for the winter.”

“I went over to feed Sadie today; she’s gotten used to me coming over and becoming very spoiled by me. I wasn’t going to brush her today, but she got right up under me, so I got the brush and brushed her – she loves to be brushed. It’s so hot here – you think it’s hot there in CT. baby girl – come on down here and I’ll show you what hot is. There’s plenty of tomatoes on my plants right now, but I think they’re gonna be tough as there hasn’t been enough rain this summer to make the vegetables have juice. If this weather doesn’t change soon, I don’t think we’ll have any vegetables.  I did have plums on the tree, but they’re just falling off now. I have some big squash vines, but no squash yet. I wish I could cook some turnips to eat like I used to. I’d bring the greens to a boil, then pour off the juice to get rid of the bitter taste… then add fresh water and a piece of ham hock with salt and pepper and cook till they were tender. I would cook a big pot of them and freeze in small containers.”

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.

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