2017 A to Z: Letter J… All About Me

2017 A to Z: Letter J… All About Me

I thought I’d change the on-going 52 stories this year to an A to Z of 26 stories of  “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 30 Day -April A to Z, but thought I might get just a wee bit long-winded, so I’m giving 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!

J

all-about-me

Letter J is for Jeanne, jokes, Journal, Jobs, Jukebox and Jeans…

Jeanne:

Jeanne_Crain

By U.S. Army – Yank, the Army Weekly, Public Domain, at Wikimedia.

My mother often told me that I was named after her favorite movie actress, Jeanne Crain, a popular actress of the 1940’s. The movies she most remembered was “Leave Her to Heaven and State Fair”… appearing in over fifty well-known movies throughout the 40’s. Mama always thought she was so pretty with her long dark hair and after I was born, and she saw my dark hair, she decided to name me after her; even spelling and pronouncing my name the same way. Many people try to add an “i” to the spelling of my name before the last e…. saying that if there’s no “i” then it’s pronounced as Jean. When I spell it for them I say specifically…. Jeanne… no “i.”

Many times even when they pronounced my last name wrong in school, it irritated me and I wouldn’t answer “present” in class. I was sent to the principal’s office once for that… my teacher said I was being precocious! Doesn’t everyone want their name pronounced and spelled correctly? For the most part, the teachers pronounced my first name correctly, but if they wrote it, the spelling was always wrong.

I’m not as concerned with the spelling and pronunciation of my name today, as I once was! It’s no longer a battle I need to pick, but it does amaze me at how many people still can’t spell Jeanne, it’s not an odd name, or at least I don’t think so. Don’t laugh, but many people always spell it as Genie…. then I say, “no I’m not the one who pops out of the bottle.”

Jokes:

While I’ve never been a big joke person, at least in the telling part. I’m just a person who’s comfortable being in the spotlight…. I’m a more behind the scenes person, that’s why my camera is always in my hand… I take the photos! But my mother, on the other hand, likes the limelight and she used to be a big joke teller when she worked. That was her thing… telling jokes as she cut and styled their hair. And she never forgot a joke… daddy often joked that she had the mind of an elephant and if you didn’t want something to not be known, then don’t tell her! LOL, I think that more reflected on him not wanting her to know things!

I’m terrible at remembering jokes and more so in getting the punch line correct, which is a big deal, but I haven’t forgotten mama’s favorite joke that one of her clients, an 80plus-year-old woman, told as mama washed her hair, and the joke goes… “what do you call a one-eyed sex maniac?” The woman covered one eye! Mama said she fell over laughing as she hadn’t expected that coming from her. Recently I reminded mama of that joke in preparation for this post, but I had to remind her… slightly…. of how it went, but once I did, well she enjoyed it all over again and said, “I’m going to tell that down at the senior center tomorrow.”

Journal:

My first form of journaling was diaries, those little books with keys. Didn’t we all have them? I remember writing on those small lined pages designated for the days of the week, although there wasn’t much room to elaborate. Hmmm, what did I write? I suppose all about my favorite Nancy Drew books or school until I began writing about boys. Whatever I wrote, I didn’t want my soon-to-be husband to read before I married so I threw them in the trash. I can still see those diaries lying there… why didn’t I have second thoughts and pick them up. If I could go back in time, I would tell myself, “what are you crazy, pick those diaries up…. you will want to read them one day and laugh at what you thought was so important.”

My granddaughter Ella is becoming quite the reader and writer as she heads into second grade; maybe she’s inherited those genes from me and will continue in my footsteps. I plan on buying her one of those diaries with the little keys, but she might need to keep hers locked as she has two younger sisters… who could have prying eyes soon. I’ll be sure to tell her to never throw them away, that one day she will enjoy re-reading through those pages, or maybe even her granddaughter might.

As an adult, I’ve kept journals, but as I write more on my blog…. I haven’t cracked them open in a long time. I should, as they are words in my own handwriting, not written words that just appear on paper, with no direct connection back to me. I started journals for my children several years ago, but I found it difficult to try and start at the beginning and I soon began rambling to them… not in any order. I don’t think they will mind! I’ve also bought journals to write to the grandchildren… I need to become more diligent in writing in them.

Jobs:

My first job was before I was even of legal age to work, and most likely because the owner knew my mother. I worked on Saturdays at the local restaurant in town called “The Coffee Cup”. It sat on the corner of the main street of town and just down the street from where my mother worked at Claire’s Beauty Shop. I was the Chief “Coffee Cup” dishwasher at the counter… LOL! Besides washing, I poured coffee for whoever wanted a refill, I think coffee was five cents a cup with free refills. What a bargain compared to the two and three dollar coffees we buy today… with no free refills! I was cheap help at 50 cents an hour, plus tips. Too bad I don’t have any vivid memory of what I made in tips.

coffee cup
The Coffee Cup Restaurant

When I turned 16, I landed my first real job as a waitress at Risher’s Restaurant in Perry. Did I have any experience as a waitress, absolutely not… but I bluffed my way in. My first day began on a busy summer Friday night and my first table was a group of boys from Ohio. The first obstacle for me was their drink orders…. simple drinks had me baffled as they asked what type of pop did we have? Whenever anyone asked me for something I didn’t know, I responded with “we’re all out”, or “we don’t carry that“. Finally, they came back with, “you don’t have Coke?” I was like, “oh yea we have Coke.” They had a field day with me after that, teasing me over everything, and I was probably loving the attention! Hope they left me a big tip! Whenever I wanted a soda, we just said, “I’ll have a Coke.”

rishers restaurant

Rishers Restaurant

In the South, we only drink sweet “iced” tea, but I was soon thrown again by another drink order when a tourist couple ordered tea. I knew something was wrong when they looked puzzled at me as I sat two glasses of sweet tea on the table. I soon returned with two coffee cups and tea bags, after the girls in the kitchen showed me how to make that “other ” tea! I don’t think I lasted more than a couple of weeks there… waiting tables was not for me!

Perry was a small town with a big tourist crowd, as it was about mid-way through Georgia… a stopping point on the way to Florida. Tourists often walked the streets in the evening as they headed to the local restaurants.

My next job was still in town at an older clothing store called Johnson’s. I don’t remember working any day except for Saturdays, and it wasn’t a fun job. Johnson’s was a family owned business selling mostly clothes and shoes. Mr. and Mrs. Johnson didn’t allow us girls to chat, chew gum or play around… they were very strict! I remember hiding behind counters, out of eyesight, to chat or chew my gum in order to not be seen. I waited on customers and folded clothes to lay on the square oak tables that covered the floor.

In my senior year, a big-box drugstore called Eckard’s came to town and I was hired as their Cosmetologist… a fancy title I had for someone in charge of the makeup and cologne counter. I kept that job for over a year until I married and left Perry.

After I married, I lived in Connecticut with my in-laws while my husband was in Thailand; after a few months of settling in, I looked for a job. Without any prior experience in billing, I was hired at Grand Light & Supply in New Haven as a billing clerk. I was fast at typing, so all I needed to learn was how to operate the billing machine and what to type on the bills; it was simple enough to operate and I enjoyed working there.

Having a southern accent while living in the North… always made work interesting. I was constantly asked where I was from, and then they’d always want me to talk so they could hear my accent. Lunchtime was never boring as I often went downtown with the girls for lunch, sometimes one of the salesmen would even go with us… and that meant wine at lunch. I remember one lunch where we had more than one or two glasses of wine and could hardly type by the time we got back to work. It was an interesting afternoon trying to keep our composure.

After leaving Grand Light, I didn’t work for several years until I went to work for Stop and Shop Supermarket in 1981, where I worked until  June 2nd of this year (2017). Never in my wildest dreams did I ever think I’d work anywhere for 36 years! All I can think of now is where did those years go. I first began there when my son turned 5 and went to kindergarten; my daughter was only three. Now, they both are married and I have five beautiful granddaughters.

Why did I put an application in…. well my husband had just been laid off at Electric Boat and home sick with bronchitis… so sick he couldn’t even go to the employment office to apply; yes there was a time when you actually had to go there in person. Today it’s all done over the phone, they don’t even want you coming to their office. On a lark that morning, while grocery shopping, I filled out an employment application… and the rest is history!

Upon returning home that day, hubby told me “Stop and Shop called, they want to see you today for an interview.” I was like… “what“… I didn’t really want to go to work! I trudged back to the store and met with the store manager, Harry Theis, who hired me immediately. Funny how he tried hiring me for the very job I left today. Back in the day, it was called “hydra” – today it’s called “file maintenance”, which is more politically correct. No one has ever been able to explain the name of hydra to me!

In questioning the store manager of what exactly was this hydra job, his words were… “oh you just walk around and look at numbers on the tags,” I was like, “that’s ok, I think I’d rather just be a cashier.” Funny how even today, the managers still have no clue about what hydra, aka “file maintenance” really is. He also tried to give me a meat wrapping job, but when I learned the room stays at 32 degrees, I declined that also!

While I advanced in jobs at Stop & Shop, I never thought I’d ever, in my wildest dreams, work anywhere for 36 years… especially since I’d only put my application in on a lark. But as of June 2nd, this year (2017) I have a new job… it’s called Retirement! My last day and days leading up to it have left me with mixed feelings. While I’m happy to be free of a daily commitment, and free to be able to go places whenever we want… I’m also fearful of losing my steady paycheck, medical, the safety of a job and friends that I spent my days with. It’s been hectic setting up that scary “Medicare” and I’ve definitely procrastinated with it along the way… I guess I was hoping my fairy godmother would swoop in and set it up for me… well that didn’t happen!

With Stop and Shop, my job history ends… will there be a new job in my future? Only the job of doing what I want… when I want…. and if I want! Hubby has already said he will be keeping me busy, and off the couch!

Jukebox: 

I’ve always loved music and if there was a jukebox around, and I had a quarter… I played it! You sometimes today will still find a jukebox, usually in a retro diner or specialty restaurant, but the music is now supplied by CD’s, not 45’s I knew, or the 78’s from my mother’s era, and none of my bubblegum music is ever on there. I’m sure I went through lots of quarters at Lake Joy Skating rink on their jukebox…. nothing better than skating to your favorite tunes!

One of my favorite jukeboxes was the table-top ones… they were the best; nothing like having your own personal jukebox at the table. I loved flipping the panels back and forth while looking for favorite songs.

jukebox
vintage Table Top Jukebox

Steve and I always wanted to buy a jukebox, but then the next question always was… “where do we put it?” But we still wanted one, especially one of the older Rockola’s like we saw on the Happy Days show. We have always been a fan of everything old and vintage!

juke

Even after I married in 1971, they were still around, but have slowly disappeared. The last place I played one was at The Elm Diner in West Haven, where we faithfully ate breakfast on weekends. But like everything else… remodels take away old and bring in new, and new isn’t always good. Sadly all those table top jukeboxes are gone today, but if your lucky enough to find a new 50’s style diner… you just might be able to enjoy a little music at your table. Be sure and bring lots of quarters!

Jeans:

I don’t really remember wearing jeans as a young child… so what did I wear? Well, I’m sure it was only shorts in the summer, but what did I wear in the winter? I know I only wore dresses to school – no pants were allowed until I was in High School… imagine that! Mama told me that she sometimes dressed me in overalls when I was small… probably when we lived in Union Point. I never remember wearing them and I haven’t found any photos to prove that!

I never wore the typical “blue jeans” as a teenager, but I do remember having jeans in colors like pink, green and yellow. The pink ones were always my favorite and I still had them when I married… keeping them for years when they no longer fit. Don’t we always keep pants that don’t fit, because we liked them so much… and always hoping that they will fit again! Finally, I parted with them – it was hard!

Today my daily wardrobe consists of blue jeans… it’s always easy what I’m wearing for the day… jeans and a shirt. Take me out of my jeans and I’m uncomfortable! Tell me I have to get dressed up – I’m miserable… and then there are the shoes… sneakers just work better for me. Put my feet in a shoe and I end up having trouble walking. I know… I’m a funny duck! Since I’m no longer working, maybe I’ll try a pair of sandals or even my old favorites – Dr. Scholls!

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Want to read more, then click… 2017: A to Z… All About Me!

© 2017, copyright Jeanne Bryan Insalaco; all rights reserved

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3 Responses to 2017 A to Z: Letter J… All About Me

  1. Evelyn Smith says:

    Wow, you even brought back a bunch of memories for me.
    Not answering when my name was mispronounced, being sent to the principal’s office because of it. I was sent more than once.
    My first job was a department store in Huntsville, Alabama but I can’t remember the name of the store. I do know it was in the fabric section and I learned how to cut window shades to fit. I had that job for a few months before moving back to Georgia and working at the Waffle House. I hate those places today, not necessarily because I worked there. Looong story.
    One thing I did that was super interesting but not necessarily a job, though I did learn filing while there. The Huntsville Police Department had this program for boys, called Rangers but since women were beginning to join the department, they offered it to girls. We would ride around with the officers or work with the Detectives at the station. I did a bit of both. Lots of fun and, of course, the officers could not respond to hazardous calls when one of us was with them.
    I, too, wish I had all my journals from years past but, yes, I tossed them out some years ago. I shredded mine. What are you going to do if yours pop up somewhere one day? Haha.
    Jukeboxes. Oh yeah. I think my favorites were the table ones at Jack’s in Huntsville, Alabama. I like some of the piped in music you hear now but nothing beats being able to walk over or sit next to a jukebox, make your choices and wait for them to play.
    I tried to win me one several years ago but that was not to be. I would have had to placement problem, too but I would have found a place.
    Thanks for the memories.

    Liked by 1 person

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