2017 A to Z: Letter M… All About Me

2017 A to Z: Letter M …

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!



Letter M is for… Mama’s Meatloaf, Mac & Cheese, music, magazines, memories, Mama, and marriage

Mama’s Meatloaf:

My mama’s meatloaf is like none other I’ve ever had, and hubby loves it! He loves everything Southern, guess that’s why he married a Southern girl! Mama’s secret ingredient in her meatloaf is oatmeal – so whoever said meatloaf isn’t healthy! In as I’m planning a post on her recipe, I’ll save the “meat” for that post, and you can read it HERE.

My husband has learned to make it also, making it just as good as I do. There’s no specific recipe you have to follow exactly, it’s more or less just knowing what ingredients to use and adding in coordination with the amount of hamburger meat using.

Mac & Cheese: 

I’m a child born and raised in the South – so why didn’t I ever eat Mac & Cheese as a child? I have no answer for that!

I never remember mama making it from scratch, but she did serve it…. frozen! I can still visualize those small pie tins of mac & cheese that sat between her and daddy’s plate at supper. Why didn’t I eat it? I’m going to have to ask her that one. Was I that picky of a child? Did I even try it before turning up my nose?

I sure do wish I had a dish of it right now. Maybe if I “wiggle” my nose…. it might appear! If not, I just might have to make a dish next week.


I’ve tried many musical instruments through the years… beginning with the flute in second grade. Everyone in the class had a flute which we carried in a brown cloth case with our names written on the front; I still have mine in that same case.

Music class began in second grade…. on music day, we marched over to the small building where music class was held – all carrying our flutes. I remember walking there in single file with our teacher, Mrs. Pierce, leading us.

My Song Flute

I soon progressed from flute lessons to piano lessons, with the use of a piano given to me from one of Mama’s friends; it was an older upright which Mama painted green. I’m lucky it wasn’t painted black… she painted everything!

My music teacher lived on Hwy 441 just out of town, and also where I took my lessons; my piano recitals were held in her living room. I remember sitting at the piano there while the metronome clicked back and forth emitting beats for me to keep time to.

The only recital that has stuck with me today was when I played the Greensleeves. When I hear this song today, I’m always taken back to memories of playing it at my piano recital.


Greensleeves… My piano recital piece

Whenever I practiced at home my Chihuahua, Teddy Bear, sat at my feet… and howled; he hated my piano playing! Mama tells me I hated to practice and often would begin wheezing to get out of practice; guess I used my asthma to my advantage. I didn’t take lessons for many years, but now wish I had continued so I could play today.

After moving across town from Smoak Ave. to Hillcrest, I suddenly wanted to play the accordion; not sure how that came to be and Mama doesn’t remember either. Wherever I took lessons, I borrowed an instrument to use until I decided whether I liked it or not…. I didn’t last long with the accordion, it was too heavy and awkward for me. I don’t remember knowing anyone who played or even seeing one before… so where did I get the idea to play it?

I soon moved onto a new instrument – the guitar; Daddy bought me a guitar at a local pawn store. It was a really nice one, but I think it was just too big for me. I did take several lessons…. somewhere, but I found it very difficult to move my fingers in following the chords… the chords just never flowed fluently for me and I ended up with callouses on my fingers. Watching someone play looks so easy…. believe me it’s not!

I guess I’m just not musically inclined!


I’ve always had a pile of magazines …… somewhere hiding in my room. Just the other day I went through a large stack of magazines in my decluttering; kept with intention of reading but never got around to… it’s too hard to read now unless I have my reading glasses handy.

Mama often brought home magazines from the senior center for me to look at when I came home – I loved that! At nighttime I’d read through, ripping out recipes… that I never made! But it kept me busy and I enjoyed reading all my Southern favorites while there. When I stayed with mama while she was in the hospital in Athens, I’d scour all the floor waiting rooms at nighttime for reading magazines… I had quickly learned that many people donated their magazines to the hospital. I’d then head back to her room with an armful of my favorite Southern Living magazines; next evening I’d return them as I hunted for more.

My favorite teenage reading magazines!

As a teenager, my magazine choices were Tiger Beat, 16 Mag, and Teen Beat. They were where I found all my favorite movie photos that hung on my bulletin board in my room on Hillcrest Avenue. Many of those very photos I saved are still in my scrapbooks today.

Jeanne in room Hilcrest Avenue

Me in front of my bulletin board with movie photos!


While I have written many memories in my A to Z, there are many things I just don’t seem to remember and I don’t understand why! I’m an only child, so I had very little family around at holidays… is that why? My husband has many memories of holidays like Easter, Thanksgiving, and Christmas, while I basically have none! I remember no Easter, Thanksgiving or Christmas dinners – why is that? My mother has many memories from being a small child on the farm with her brother… I remember nothing as a small child and it puzzles me as to why? Sometimes I think… do I even remember the things I do because my mother has told me about my childhood… or do I really remember?

Whether I truly remember… or remember all that my mother has told me, these memories are written for my children and grandchildren to enjoy one day.


Being an only child, it was always just my mother and me; she kept me very close to her. There was no getting away with too much with My Mother, she was always one step ahead of me… I remember sticking my tongue out at her once after she shut the door, and she quickly opened it back telling me that I better not ever stick my tongue out at her again. I bet she did that to her mother, so she knew!

Mama and Me

The one drawback to being an only child…. caused mama to be very protective of me. If I was a few minutes late on my curfew – she was waiting at the door almost in tears. It was frustrating, but I had no older siblings to have already broken the ice with her.

She spent a lot of time with me and my friends at night, playing games with us on the stoop… telling ghost stories and taking us to the Dairy Queen for ice cream on Friday nights. She never left anyone out, piling us all in the backseat of her car – no seat belts needed back then.

My parents divorced the year I graduated in 1970 and I remained with my father to finish school and graduate; I ended up staying with daddy as I didn’t want to leave my friends. Mama needed to care for her father, so she moved back to the farm to care for him. It was a small rural farming community… I didn’t want to live on a farm – I was too much a city girl at heart. I loved my grandfather’s farm and had spent a lot of time there as a child… but as a teenager, it wasn’t where I wanted to be all the time. I spent time with my mother, but living with my father afforded me more freedom, and as a teenager, I liked that.

My mother and I are quite close, and I call her almost every night to chat and check in on her. Several years ago I began keeping a journal of those nightly chats because she’d often tell me family stories or just funny stories, and I needed a way to document them. Soon after beginning my blog, I decided to blog them and if interested they can be read here at Conversations with Mama and more .

Often when I visit it takes time for us to get back in sync with each other in person… caused by not living near each other. We are both strong-willed women, independent and always wanting things our way. Sometimes that causes a conflict… she wants it one way being the mother and thinking its the best way, and me, a grown woman… wanting it now my way as an adult…. no longer a child. Mama still thinks of me as her little girl… I guess I’m the same way with my own daughter. I never realized how strong-willed we all are, until my son-in-law pointed it out when he was with all four of us… my mother, me, my daughter and granddaughter. He says he could never live with all of us McKinley women under one roof!

4 generations

The 4 McKinley Generations!


As a little girl, you’re always thinking about who you will fall in love with and marry. Never in my wildest romantic dreams did I ever think I would marry a Connecticut Yankee! And I never even knew anyone who was Italian! Don’t laugh… I remember first seeing an Italian airman hanging out at Shoney’s – where we all cruised at night – and all the girls wanted to meet him; he was an oddity to us!

And who did I marry… and Italian Connecticut Yankee who came all the way to Georgia to fall in love with a Southern Irish, Scottish, Welch, English, and probably even more nationalities girl!

We met on Halloween night at the Sandpiper Club in Warner Robins, Georgia. I often went there, even though I was underage and “technically” not allowed in, but the cop at the door checking Id’s knew I didn’t drink and he’d pass me in; there were several of us he allowed in. That night I came dressed as a “fairy princess,” wearing my old prom dress. Although I never saw my hubby that night in the club, he saw me; I won 1st prize and a case of beer – which someone else had to claim for me.

I didn’t meet my soon-to-be husband that night until after I changed back into street clothes and headed over to his house for a party. All I knew was that there were 4 Air Force guys living there and one wanted to meet me. I literally tripped over him when I walked in – and that’s where I stayed the rest of the night after he caught me when I fell. Did I trip, or did he trip me on purpose… Hmm, whatever it was, I think it was love at first sight – 46 years later and still inseparable!

No sooner than when just getting to know each other, he threw me a curveball one night – he was being transferred to Loring AFB in Maine! Within only a few days, he was packing to leave – I was devastated, but no one says NO to Uncle Sam. He often reminds me that GI stands for “Government Issue.”

So many thoughts ran through my head – does he really love me like he said – will he call – will he write – will I ever see him again? Maine might as well been across the ocean – I’d never be able to go there. I had only known Steve for a short two months before he left in December just before Christmas.

He spent Christmas with his family in Connecticut before arriving at Loring AFB in January, and it wasn’t long before he began calling and writing to me. Once he arrived at the base, he called me nightly. A friend showed him how to call through the base lines, so it never cost him a penny. It was on one of those nightly phone calls when he asked me to marry him. I said Yes, but Daddy was quick to tell me I was crazy! Daddy had never met Steve! Why… guess we just never thought about… thinking I had plenty of time as we dated more.

It wasn’t long after him asking me to marry him, when he sprung another surprise on me – he was now being shipped to Thailand for a year! This was beginning to be too much to bear… my thoughts ran to… would there even be a wedding? I didn’t have time to think about Thailand before he told me that he wanted to marry me before leaving and that I would stay with his parents in Connecticut while he was gone. My head was spinning! I was just 18, never been further than N.C., and now I was going to Connecticut… too far past the Mason-Dixon line!

I guess I didn’t have many hesitations as I soon quit my job against my father’s wishes. He had a more clear head than I had at the moment… he was like, “do you really love him, what if he doesn’t come?” I had none of those thoughts!

Before I knew it, Steve appeared on my doorstep one early May morning… I was so nervous seeing him again. Within a couple of days, we headed to Aikens, S.C. to get married… my bright idea! I thought that since we didn’t have time to really plan a wedding, and have both parents attend, that we would marry by ourselves. Was I really thinking clear… but that’s what we did!

I had been told that there were no blood tests in S.C., so that meant no waiting and Aiken’s was where everyone went if they eloped. There were no blood tests, but they did require us to wait 24 hours… he still reminds me how I knew all about getting married!

Finally on May 5th, 1971, we climbed the stairs to the Justice of Peace’s office to be married. As we walked up, we met an older woman on the stairs who smiled at us and said, “you’re going to be married this morning?” I hardly heard a word during our ceremony as I giggled through it all. It just felt so silly to me, and I couldn’t wait for the I Do’s to be over, and I could run out of there.

Insalaco Jeanne and Steve_0004FIX

We had just arrived back in Perry after being married in Aiken, S.C.

Daddy took us out to eat to celebrate our marriage at The New Perry Hotel when we arrived back that evening. I think it was my first time ever eating there; although it was one of the most popular restaurants in town, I always considered it mostly for the tourists as it was inside the hotel.

We only had a couple of days left in Georgia before heading to Connecticut and I soon began packing and trying to figure what would fit in Steve’s 1965 Pontiac LeMans. Reflecting back now, I think about all that I left without a second thought. I left my 69 fastback Mustang – Big Mistake! I left all my music… all my albums of Elvis, Herman and the Hermits, Sonny & Cher, The Monkees, Paul Revere and the Raiders and the Beatles… I did bring my 45’s! I also left my awesome flip-open record player where I had played all that great music. I never even gave a second thought about so many things – I was a newlywed! I wonder if those diaries I threw in my trash can were still there when I left… I could have saved them if only I had thought!

Daddy cooked us and our friends a catfish dinner on our last night; Steve was amazed at how he went fishing just that morning and caught so many. I bet daddy had a special fishing spot, as it was his favorite sport. I remember going fishing with him a few times… the last time was when I threw his pole in the water. We were fishing under a bridge and I saw a snake swim by… that was it for me! I threw the pole in and scrambled up the bank to jump in the car. He never took me fishing again! Steve reminds me that we devoured all the catfish and hushpuppies that night and it was one of the best fish dinners he’d had while in Georgia.

The next morning I said goodbye to Perry as we headed to Connecticut, looking to enjoy a honeymoon along the way. One of our favorite places we stayed at was a cottage in South Hill, Virginia; each room was an individual knotty-pine cabin with a claw foot tub. I might just have to see if those cabins still exist and make a return visit.

It still saddens me today that I wasn’t able to give Daddy a hug and kiss that morning we left. He had left before I got up that morning… I was puzzled! He called me before I left to say he had to go somewhere and wouldn’t make it back before I left. I found out later from his friends that he took it really hard when I left… it helped me to understand why he didn’t, couldn’t say goodbye. What I wouldn’t give for that hug right now….


Daddy and Me… and that 69 Mustang I left!

It’s all history now – 46 years later – still in love and that’s what counts!


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/
This entry was posted in 2017: A to Z - All About Me, Daily Writings and funnies... and tagged , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

2 Responses to 2017 A to Z: Letter M… All About Me

  1. Evelyn Smith says:

    Memories. Reminds me of the old Nancy Sinatra song of that title, “Memories, tucked between the pages of my mind, sweetened through the ages just like wine”. I think Dean Martin sang it, too but Dean Martin did have one titled, ‘Memories are made of this’, which would work as well.
    Memories, some sweet, some bittersweet. Bet you could have made a sweet blog full of memories with all those pictures you posted the last couple of days.
    I quite often wish I’d taken guitar lessons but I didn’t. I did take piano lessons but not for too long. I think I can still play ‘Chopsticks’. The lady that taught the lessons taught us this one little ditty, “Show me the way to go home, I’m tired and I wanna go to bed. Had me a drink about an hour ago and it’s gone right to my head”. Not really appropriate but then they may be the reason we had no more lessons. I don’t remember.
    Magazines, music and outdoor games. Paul Revere and the Raiders. I loved them, still do. I also had a crush on Robert Conrad. That was before I discovered Johnny Cash, Dean Martin, Gary Cooper, Randolph Scott and all them. And The Statler Brothers.
    Yes, memories of our youth and how they shaped who we are today. Great story, again. I seem to remember you mentioning before that your Daddy couldn’t let himself be at the house when you left. Daddy’s little girl, bet you always were.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Good songs remembered of Nancy Sinatra and Dean Martin, might have to refer to them on a blog post. Lol, I can’t even remember chopsticks! Loved Robert Conrad in the series Ba Ba Blacksheep. Daddy mentioned the series to me and that he liked it, so I began watching it. Great series!!! Funny I wasn’t always close to my father when I was small, it was my mother and me always together. I got closer to him later when just the two of us lived together.


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