2017 A to Z: Letter N… All About Me

2017 A to Z: Letter N …

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 N is for New York, The New Perry Hotel, Nicknames, Navy, Neighbors, Novel, NaNoWriMo, Nolan Home and Nancy Drew

New York:

As a small child mama told me I always talked about New York and wanted to go there… I also wanted to live somewhere it snowed! Never in my wildest dreams did I ever think I’d live anywhere but Perry, Georgia… but look what happened!

My first trip to NYC was on a family bus trip to visit Ellis Island, that I planned. I had my husband’s grandparents names placed on The Wall at Ellis Island and we traveled there as a family to view The Wall of Names. This was my first up-close experience of seeing the city as we rode through on the bus. Seeing Ellis Island and The Statue of Liberty was awesome that day… and as we rode over on the Liberty Belle I was reminded of how my husband’s grandparents arrived at Ellis Island in the early 1900’s… seeing the view of the statue and surrounded by a language they didn’t know… English. We were surrounded that day by many different languages on the boat that we didn’t understand and crowded like cattle on the boat.

Steve often told me through the years how it wasn’t safe in the city, but after Mayor Giuliani cleaned up the Times Square Theater District, it changed there. That first trip to Lady Liberty was one of our many trips into the city to see several musicals. My all-time favorite still remains…. Phantom of the Opera.


A few of the Broadway shows we’ve seen in NYC – Phantom of the Opera is still my favorite… I’ve seen it several times!

After 911,  which was the scariest moment I’ve ever experienced… we stayed away from New York and I’m still not as confident going now…times have changed. Recently we took a trip and decided to ride one of those touristy double-decker sightseeing buses… the very ones I used to laugh at when it rode by me. I loved it!!! It gave us more of an opportunity to see architecture, and sights we’ve never seen from the sidewalk… and it saved us a lot of walking; my feet thanked me for that! Guess who sat right behind us on the bus? A woman from Vidalia, Georgia; I enjoyed listening to her accent throughout the trip, and we had a nice chat.

Even though those buses are a hop on – hop off… since we started late, we decided to just ride that day; I’m definitely doing it again on another city loop, but starting earlier. I’d like to go back and check the cemetery we rode by… yep a cemetery right in the heart of Manhatten at Broadway and Wall… the cemetery faces the gate. We happened to stop right next to it, and I so wanted to hop off the bus and go exploring. The Trinity Churchyard is definitely on my list to go back to visit; Trinity Church was once the tallest building in Manhatten when it was completed in 1846. Most of the stones there date back to the 17th century, and the most notable buried there is Alexander Hamilton. This cemetery is the only active cemetery in Manhatten and is listed on the National Register of Historic Places.

nyc cem

Trinity Church Cemetery in NYC – I took photo on bus tour

Hopefully, I’ll get back to the city soon and check out the other loops on those touristy buses, maybe even a night one. I need to make myself a checklist of the sights I want to see… but remember how big the city is! I do want to see and walk the High-Line toward South SeaPort and maybe even ride the boat that circles Manhattan. The High-Line was once a freight line elevated above the streets on Manhattan’s West Side. This historic freight line had now been turned into a public park you walk. It runs from Gansevoort Street in the Meatpacking District to West 34th Street; between 10th and 12th Avenues. I could see the line, but it was way too cold on our ride to brave walking up there.

The New Perry Hotel:.

The New Perry Hotel is the most well-known fixture in my hometown; widely known to the tourists who frequented it yearly on their way to Florida; Perry is known as the “Crossroads of Georgia.


The New Perry Hotel

I knew several girls who waitressed in the white table clothed restaurant housed inside, but I already had my fill of waitressing……. No interest in doing that again!

Perry Hotel SignFIX

Love the sign on the corner!

When I married, daddy took Steve and me to dinner there to celebrate our marriage. That was the first time I ever remember eating there, but it wasn’t my last. On one of my trips to Perry I took mama and my kids there for lunch and on another trip with my mother and Steve, we stopped in for lunch. The dining room looked smaller than I had remembered, but still complete with their famous white linens and napkins.

The hotel has changed hands a few times over the years and just a few years ago I was saddened to hear it was closing for good…. everything inside was being sold at a tag sale. I so wanted to go, and would have enjoyed walking through and possibly buying a piece of my history; I secretly wanted those white linen tablecloths and napkins! It’s now been sold again and I hear it might be revived. I’m keeping my fingers crossed! It’s just too much of a landmark to remain closed and cave to decay. Hopefully, I’ll be able to eat there once again!


The only nickname I can think of that I had when I was small was given to me by my granddaddy McKinley… he called me Poot! The only reason I can think of was… well maybe I pooted a lot! LOL… Mama tells me that I recited this little poem at Sunday School one day… “I had a little dog named Jack, that I tied to the railroad track… the train came along and went toot toot and the little dog went poot poot.” I proudly told them my granddaddy taught it to me… I don’t think they were impressed!

My husband gave me the nickname Babe and signed all his cards to me with that name; even today he’ll come out with it and surprise me.

My father was called “Fats” by his best friend Henry Sisson… but he wasn’t fat! Daddy was always very thin as a kid and through his Navy years… maybe that was why! I always thought it strange as a kid because I hadn’t seen photos of him in the Navy so never knew he was skinny; he had a beer belly when I began hearing him called Fats, so I just thought it was because he was…..!

Mama’s nickname came about because she had a CB radio in her car… she was known as the 1 Angel. Many friends just began calling her by that name even when she wasn’t on the CB, so it just stuck. When her grandchildren came along, I asked her what she wanted to be called…. she immediately said, “definitely not grannie or grandma… they can call me Angel.” The name of Angel has stuck, it just wouldn’t seem right to call her by any other name. I call her Mama, and if I say just Ma…. she gives me a dirty look and tells me, “I”m not your Ma, I’m your Mama…. get it right!”


SCAN0587 (2 FIX

Harold “Clayton” Bryan

1928 – 1983

My father served in the U. S. Navy from 1945 – 1949. I never was fortunate to have had the hindsight to ask him about his service days… only learning second-hand from my mother, his records, and my research. Oh, If only I could go back for just one day!!!

The highlight of his career I’ve discovered was that he was at Bikini Atoll for the atomic bomb blasts… stationed on the U.S.S. Blueridge. My post Anchors Aweigh documents his time there.

My father wanted to join the Navy just like his brother and uncles, and he wanted to join so bad that somehow he acquired a “fake” ID and joined the Navy at age 15. After his age was discovered, his father was called to bring him home until he reached the age of 16 and then joined with his parents signature. But I’m told he then called his father and said he didn’t want to stay and wanted to come home… his father told him No!

I recently found a newspaper clipping in the  Macon Telegraph of Daddy signing up at the Naval recruiting station.. I’m not sure why he’s referred to as an “Atlantan”… wish he was here to ask!

Bryan joining Navy Macon Telegraph Sept 5 1945 Wed

September 5th, 1945 clipping from the Macon, GA. Telegraph


Having neighbors and actually knowing them is how it was when I grew up. We knew all the neighbors on Binns St. in Union Point and most of them on Smoak Ave.; it was a long street. Many of the kids spent time at my house because mama took up time and played games with us. It was a real family neighborhood there… those type neighborhoods are gone now. When we moved across town to Hillcrest Avenue, we only knew the immediate families near us, but after moving to Oakridge… I remember knowing no one, but I was older then.

Times were safer when I was small! Neighbors looked out for each other and their children. It wasn’t unusual on Binns St. for someone to walk by and take me for ice cream if I was in the yard – never even asking or telling mama. My mother was very protective but never worried that anything would happen to me when I was in our yard.

Steve & I have lived in our house for over 30 years… and while we know a few close proximity neighbors, it’s often just to wave hello. No talks at the fence, no inviting each over for coffee or backyard BBQ’s… times have changed! Mama tells me I’m not sociable, she talks to everyone! Maybe if I worked outside in the yard, I’d have those conversations, but gardening is not my thing! I do enjoy my flowers that bloom and I used to do a little gardening, but other interests have taken over now. I’m looking forward to the Bee Balm blooming soon and my Ola Lily that I brought from Georgia; that Lily originally came from the Siloam Farm. At this writing, the Honeysuckle on the fence is in full bloom, and I am enjoying the smell blowing in my bedroom window every night.


I have always had the dream of publishing a book…. Probably the first book I contemplated publishing was the cookbooks I made years ago using Microsoft Publisher. The first one, “Cooking Family Memories,” was compiled of recipes and memories of my Southern Foods, although I did add a few of our Italian favorites; by that time I was cooking both flavors! After months of writing and editing, I printed all 200 plus pages and bound the cookbooks at the local Staples. The family kept me busy printing and binding as it seemed everyone wanted one. While I never made any money on them, only charging for my supplies and binding costs, I enjoyed sharing it with everyone. It makes me feel good when someone says, “I still use your cookbook today”... then comes, “when are you going to make another one?

My second cookbook came about after hubby’s Uncle Frankie (Cambino) looked through it and said, “but what about our family recipes?“… meaning their Italian family recipes! I soon was busy gathering those old family recipes, memories and photos to create a new cookbook – Italiano Famiglia Recipes; and again after much editing, I printed and bound copies for everyone. I keep both of them today in a digital PDF format for easy sharing on our family Facebook group page.

I hope to create a third recipe book as both of my children are now married and have blended new recipes into their family. I will put this on my “To Do” list! My original cookbook was the easiest as the memories were mine…. acquiring memories from others are not so easy.

Back to Novel writing…

I have always wanted to still write that great novel… but in order to write… you need an idea! While in Georgia a few years ago, that “idea” finally came to me – and it’s set in my favorite house in Georgia… a 1905 Greek Revival Southern abandoned house; a house I become obsessed, infatuated with several years ago. More on my house later!

NaNoWriMo: (National November Writing Month)

NaNoWriMoShortly after returning from an October trip to Georgia in 2014, a NaNoWriMo writing challenge appeared on my Facebook page. It caught my eye and I clicked to learn more… boy was that a mistake!  I was first puzzled as to what it actually was and how it worked, but intrigued as it might be just what I needed to finally begin my novel! I had the idea… and hundreds of written words… so was this my opportunity to tie it together?

The purpose of this challenge was to commit to writing 50,000 words during the month of November! It was to only be a draft, not worrying about spelling, punctuation, or any perfect order…. to just write, putting ideas on paper. Editing would come much later… and sadly my editing has not come yet! But I have printed out my 70 pages of written words and I plan on committing myself to putting that story in order, maybe it could just be a short novella? But the plan is to finally write that story… just for me if nothing else!

It’s a story set in my favorite house, the Nolan House… with a twist on genealogy – while tying a story, somewhat into my own family… with many whimsical ideas!

I wrote every day in November, writing a few hundred words or more a day, and many days I really had to push myself! 50,000 words seemed like a LOT of words to reach, but I was diligent in writing daily and I can proudly say that I exceeded my goal with 50, 459 words… and even received a certificate! Yah!!!

writing certif

A few teasers from My novel” “Behind the Wall” …

“Well, it seems that this old house, for some reason, seems to have a problem keeping an owner, but maybe I shouldn’t be telling you that. My company has sold this house several times, but it seems no one ever makes a go with it… for whatever reason they end up re-selling, saying it’s just not for them,” said Jack from Bowden’s Real Estate.

“How can this be? Why would a picture of my great-great grandmother be in that house? Steve will never believe this! I can’t believe I’m looking through my great-great grandmother’s photo album.” Rebecca thought all this was pretty eerie, and actually had goosebumps just thinking about what she was seeing… these same pictures in this album were hanging on the walls of that house! How could this be? Rebecca sat there stunned – not believing what she had just discovered… who will ever believe this?

Nolan Home:

Nolan Fix

The Nolan Home in Madison, Georgia

This is the Greek Revival house I refer to in my novel-in-progress… it’s actually the Nolan home in Madison, Georgia, a cotton plantation house built in 1905 and surrounded by over 3000 acres. This is the very house where my idea of “Behind the Wall” was born.

I’m not sure how I became so infatuated and obsessed with this house, but it draws me to stop every time we drive by. I have no memory of ever seeing anyone living there – it’s always sat empty.  Stopping to take photos of us sitting on the front steps has become somewhat of a family tradition now… and it just doesn’t feel right if we don’t stop for that visit! I should bring a few Southern “Mint Julep’s” to enjoy on those steps – now that would make a great Photo Op while wearing one of those wide-brimmed Southern hats! I think I’ll put mama in charge of finding our hats!

Me on steps Nolan house 2010FIX

Sitting on the steps of my house…. wishful thinking!

And Yes I have even snuck inside a couple of times… kinda eery as I always felt like someone was watching and I’m always waiting for a tap on the shoulder…  from the local police!

This Nolan house is quite popular I’ve discovered from my research of several years ago… and I was just a little upset knowing that were so many others just as obsessive over it as I am; I never thought I’d have to share it with anyone! I’m just a little possessive over my house!

I discovered that this house still remains in the Nolan family, but they have no interest in selling. Hopefully one day I’ll ride by and find that it’s being restored, but for now, I’ll just enjoy adding more photos to my growing collection every year.

Nancy Drew:

Nancy Drew was one of my favorite books as a young girl and I’ve never forgotten her… even though I never kept my books, I never forgot about them. I just wish I knew what happened to my books… were they thrown in the trash… were they given away… are they still around in someone’s collection? If I only knew!

Just this year I began thinking about Nancy again as my granddaughter Ella began reading more at the end of the first grade. I wanted… and am hoping to interest her in the sleuthing of Nancy Drew! I began searching for Nancy books and it took me a few months before I even found one! But once I broke the ice, I began discovering exactly where those books were hiding and since the early summer I have made a collection of books for her… she even has a bookcase to hold them, that Pop refinished for her.

My Nancy Drew Books

The re-building of my Nancy Drew collection

After beginning a collection for Ella of the “Flashlight Series” of Nancy Drew, I began thinking about the yellow matte vintage ones I loved and remembered so much… and I began to make myself a collection. I know I must be crazy, in as I’m trying to declutter my house upon retirement, and now I’m buying books! But I’m having fun in searching for them, and I’m having, even more fun in re-reading them again. Many I never even read, as I never had the entire set of 56 books. I have five granddaughters… so there will be plenty of Nancy Drew to go around for everyone…. but they just can’t have my vintage ones right now!


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.

4 Responses to 2017 A to Z: Letter N… All About Me

  1. Evelyn Smith says:

    What a wild collection. New York City. I’ve always wanted to see Ellis Island but have never made the trip. My husband’s great-grandparents arrived here at Ellis Island in 1907 and I believe 1909. I’d have to check on the dates. His great-grandfather came first, then went back and got his wife.
    Can’t believe I’ve never heard of the New Perry Hotel, so I looked it up. Being as it is on the National Register of Historic Places, I doubt it will ever be demolished. Did you know it dates from 1894? Hopefully, it will be refurbished and opened again. I’d love to see that, as I hate to see historic places return to dust.
    No, neighborhoods are not the same, even in the small community we live in. I know very few of my neighbors and can’t remember the last time I did know the neighbors.
    Navy. Daddy was in the Navy from 1941 to 1947. I wonder if he and your Daddy were in California at the same time or even knew one another? That would be something, wouldn’t it?
    I’d love to see you put your book together. I bet you could do a very nice job. I like your ‘teasers’ and that house is beautiful. I love old houses. Dare you to get a picture on that balcony.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. New York…someday…loved your tale…nickname that was cute; mine was imp. And someday, I would like to write that novel too…I’ve started one…lol…and love your Georgia homes…lol…the setting is perfect

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Try the NaNoWriMo this November, it was interesting and pushed me to get a lot of writing done.


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