2017 A to Z: Letter R… It’s All About Me

2017 A to Z: Letter R…

I thought I’d change the ongoing 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 R is for… Rollerskates, Radio, Records / Record Player, Recipes, Rain, Road Trips and Retirement


I don’t remember exactly when I learned to skate or who taught me… most likely I learned on my own with the metal adjustable key skates I had when we lived in Perry on Smoak Avenue. Just around the corner from my house was the local tennis court… my skating rink where I spent countless hours. I wish I’d saved my skate key that I always wore around my neck; that’s how everyone kept track of it… you needed that key in order to skate.

Once I learned to skate, I graduated to “real” roller skates at the local skating rink… Lake Joy Roller Rink at Houston Lake. I soon lived to skate… every weekend was spent at the rink… my home away from home. There was a group of us there who lived to skate, it was our hang out… we were the regulars, and we were there all the time!


My Skates!!! Boy have they seen many miles….

For my 16th birthday, granddaddy McKinley bought me my first and only pair of skates; they had precision wheels and what a difference they made. Everyone who skated well… had their own skates. I still have them today, in the very case I carried them in, to the rink.

Once you had your own skates, you wanted pom-poms. While it was only the girls who wore pom poms on their skates, it was always the boys who bought them for us! I still remember the tall jar sitting on the counter, full of colored pom poms; us girls could never have enough tied on our skates! Maybe it was a status symbol?

We kept the jukebox there playing almost non-stop every week; often now when I hear certain songs, my mind is pulled back and I can almost feel myself gliding around that rink on my skates.

As my kids grew up and began skating, I sometimes went with them… bringing my skates! I could never use rink skates! My kids were amazed when they saw that their mom could skate… even though they had seen my skates, I don’t think they really believed I could. If my skates could talk, they’d tell you I had the best times of my life there at the roller rink; some of my best memories!

My father-in-law accompanied us on a few Saturdays… even putting on skates. He did pretty well going around the rink until a young kid plowed into him and down he went. Although he was ok, I think he had second thoughts of “breaking” something next time… and that was his last time on skates!


Radio has come a long way from when I grew up. One of my first radios was a small transistor radio that I kept tuned to WPGA, which was the local radio station in Perry. There was no rewind… if you missed the first part of the song… well you missed it! I remember sitting for hours with my radio and tape recorder… making mixed tapes; I made lots of tapes. I’d call the radio station, make my requests, but then I had to sit there with my finger almost on the “record” button… just waiting to hear enough of the song to know if it was my request;  I spent hours making all those tapes! Although that tape recorder no longer works, I still kept it… just because!

Is it weird or what, but when you listened to those disc jockeys on the radio, you pictured them in your head… and when you met them… you were like… Oh No! I remember listening to this one guy on WPGA in Perry and thought he sounded so “good looking” by his voice on the air… and when I met him, I thought… “geeky.” Funny how we picture people sometimes by their voices. To be a disc jockey, you had to have the voice… it didn’t matter what you looked like, as most times they were never seen… only heard!

When I first married, my hubby and I collected vintage radios… our favorites were “Cathedral” style. Every Thursday we’d scour the Bargain News for new ads to check out. We had quite a collection of them… and hubby even managed to fix the non-working ones. These type radios used the old-style bulb tubes… the type of radios my mother listened to… in the day… and the ones that made her wonder… “if only I could look in the back and see what those people singing looked like.” One day her dream came true… Television was invented!

cathedral radio

Cathedral Style Radio


Radio belonging to hubby’s grandfather

We only kept a couple of older radio’s when we changed our collecting tastes to early photographs, which I’ll feature later in Letter V; we always liked the Cathedral style radios the best. The small plastic radio on the right belonged to my husband’s grandfather, Giuseppe (Joseph) Cambino. He was a barber and kept this radio on a shelf in his shop. Steve remembers it playing whenever he went for haircuts, and often caught grandpa napping. (I have photographs of our radio collection, but I can’t put my hands on them at the moment… I will add when found.)

One year while visiting my mother at the farm, I discovered my father’s old upright Zenith radio… these large types were considered as pieces of furniture in their homes… in the day! I packed it up and shipped it home… now to find someone to restore it to a working condition… I can’t wait to hear its sound!


Now if Daddy’s old Zenith could talk… it would tell me what my father and grandparents listened to… was it baseball or a president’s speech? Mama often talked about how her father would listen to the president on the radio.

My husband and I have always collected one thing or another, and before children, we spent all our free time at flea markets and auctions… looking for anything and everything! We graduated from collecting old radio’s to the older record players known as Victrolas or Gramophones; they played the older 78 records. I’ll pick back up this post in Letter “V” so stay tuned! Now that our kids have flown the roost… we are back to the flea markets and making collections; he hunts cast iron while I’m on a Nancy Drew hunt!

Records / Record Player:

When I reached my early teenage years, I think I traded my Barbies and Nancy Drew for records… I loved music! The only record player I remember having was a suitcase style, where the turntable folded down. I spent countless hours playing my 45’s and LP’s and whenever I was downtown, I headed to Lawhorn’s Music Store; my girlfriend Janet’s father owned it. This was where most of my music was bought… hours were spent looking and choosing between Elvis, Herman’s Hermits, Sonny and Cher, The Beach Boys, Paul Revere and the Raiders, and The Monkees. Much of that was my early “bubble gum” music, as it was so-called, but I soon graduated to The Beatles, Jimi Hendrix, and Janis Joplin. Daddy walked in my bedroom once while Hendrix’s “Star Spangled Banner” was playing and attempted to fiddle with the sound controls; he was trying to adjust the sound, but with that tune… there was no adjusting!

Lawhorn Records PerryFIX

My favorite store to shop for the latest ’45 or LP! It was owned by my best friend’s father… so I always got a discount!!!

record player

A drop down turntable style record player just like the one I had!

I could easily spend an entire afternoon listening to my music… nothing better than creating a playlist with all your favorite 45’s. Today it’s a click with your mouse to create a playlist, but mine was “hand’s on” when I was a teenager. That was more fun! I can still hear the sound of the 45’s dropping down the spindle, the arm rotating over and the needle dropping down to play; funny how you remember things like that!

record case fix

… and after all these years, I still have my ’45 record cases and records! Look what I found inside! Price tag inside lid tells me I bought it at K-Mart and paid $1.69… what a bargain!


I never gave a thought to what a recipe was in growing up…. Mama didn’t have any that I ever saw. While my mother cooked… and cooked some of the best Southern food I’ve ever eaten, I never saw her once use a recipe. She cooked food like her mother… she just knew what went in, and how it felt to her hands. Mama cooked, she didn’t really bake, so I have no memories of watching her make cakes and cookies. The only dessert she ever made, that I remember, is a lemon pie.


Heirloom Recipes is listed on the top of the magazine… just click on the link to read my story; enjoy the recipe and make one for yourself. Be sure and let me know how you like it!

My original recipe I created for Grandmama Bryan’s Sweet Potato Cobbler came about after many tries… and much help from my cousin Charles Bryan! All my many tries resulted in a recipe and story I wrote titled “Heirloom Recipes.” I was even lucky enough to have it published after submitting it to Georgia Backroads; a publication about the history of everything in Georgia. What’s more Southern or Georgian than a “sweet potato?”

I have many recipes written down today, especially all my favorites and still even more stuffed in folders… for those days I just might want to make them… but then try and find the one specific one you want… that is a scavenger hunt!

When Stephen and Melissa left the nest, I gave them each a small recipe book with handwritten recipes of all their favorites; they loved it! Often I’m still asked for a recipe, but as they both are now married with families, they now add their new family favorites to it… sometimes even now sharing a recipe with me.


Aunt Mary’s “famous” cream puffs!

When my husband retired, and I still worked… I taught him how to cook many of his favorite foods. He soon learned how to make sauce, even though he had watched his mother make it through the years, and she made a great pot of sauce… he had never made it. He’s ventured to attempt many new recipes, as I often share Facebook recipes on his page, with the words “this looks good“… meaning… would you make this for me! In the cookie department, he’s perfected his mother’s “Ricotta Anginette” cookie recipe! And if I say, “but you make them better than me,” I’m often rewarded with Anginette cookies!

We all have our “own” way to write recipes, abbreviating many words like “opt” for optional, and “tsp” for teaspoon… and when hubby first began cooking from “my” recipes, that was a challenge for him… he had no clue what I meant with all my abbreviations.  While I have no problem reading my recipe cards with all the scribbles and notations, it’d probably take a detective to fully figure them out for anyone else! Hubby has now pretty much learned all my abbreviations, but my grocery lists still puzzles him; he didn’t know what my “pot” was just recently… doesn’t everyone know that means “potatoes“? While he did bring home the “sweet pot” I wrote, he ignored the other “pot“…  he is learning though!

recipe book cover

Hubby is more precise when following a recipe than I am. I tend to follow, but not really follow… often changing ingredients and amounts. It’s easier to change ingredients and amounts in a cooking recipe vs a baking recipe where precise is more a must… if you want it to “rise” correctly!

My “recipe book” holds all our family favorites… along with many of my scribbled notes. My daughter has laid claim to this recipe book! Notice the yellow labels peeking through the top – hubby put “post its” on his favorite recipes he cooks most!

If you cook with hubby… who follows the recipe more in your household?


Who doesn’t love to hear the sound of rain coming down… especially on a tin roof! I think that might be more of a Southern thing, as who has tin roofs in the North; boy they don’t know what they’re missing!

My remembrances of hearing rain on a tin roof were mostly at Granddaddy McKinley’s farm house, and just thinking about it now… well you know I’m hearing it in my mind! Sometimes I hear it bounce off the tin roof on our shed near my bedroom window… and it always brings me back to those days.

Rainy days are days where you can be lazy, as what else can you be doing? Well, there are things, but on rainy days I want to just lay on the couch in my pajamas, enjoy my coffee and watch old movies… I Love TCM! I binge watched that channel when I was home with a broken foot a year ago, and really got into the old black and white classics from the 1940’s.

So bring on a nice rain, but never on the weekend…  Monday’s are always good!

Road Trips:

The only road trips I remember as a young child were the two-hour trips from Perry to Granddaddy’s farm in Siloam. Mama often played counting games with me in the car… that was a time when there were no deposits on bottles in Georgia; there were plenty of Coca Cola bottles on the side of the road. She counted bottles on one side, while I counted on the other. If we weren’t counting bottles, then we counted cows or colors of cars…. it helped to pass the time!

The only other road trips were our summer vacation trips to Miami, Panama City or Tallahassee in Florida. During those trips I probably read… maybe Nancy Drew or Barbie and Ken came along. When I was older, Mama usually let me bring a friend, so we amused ourselves.

Hubby and I take “lots” of road trips now… his favorite road trip is packing for our Georgia trips. I can mention at any moment “let’s go to Georgia” and he’s willing and soon ready! We have certain things we bring on our trips, like our own coffee pot for the hotel rooms… we hate those individual cup machines they have now… and there have been a few rooms with none! I also bring my own hair dryer, just in case there isn’t one, and that has happened. Our car kit also includes paper plates, utensils and cups… never know when you’ll need them. I guess we just like our own things! Mama always says when we arrive… “you’ve brought everything but the kitchen sink”… we don’t travel light!

On the return trip from Georgia, we’re usually traveling with three coolers, so when we stop… we need a room with a fridge and freezer to refreeze our ice-packs. What are we bringing, you ask? I’m from Georgia, so I bring BBQ and Brunswick Stew home from Holcomb’s… our favorite BBQ place!

We often take road trips on Sunday’s, just recently we went to Rhode Island; it’s only about an hour away. As hubby enjoys driving, it’s nothing for us to plan a day trip to somewhere, pack a cooler, and we are off! He’s always agreeable to go anywhere.

I’d love to drive part of Rt. 66 out West one day, and who knows…. one of these days we just might pack up the car for that trip! We’ve driven to Pennsylvania a few times with no specific place in mind, just winging it… stopping whenever and wherever we want. On one trip we ended up in the Amish country, but were so involved in Antiquing than taking the time to see the sights; it’s on our list to go back. Hubby wants to go on an Amish buggy ride and visit their farms on our next trip. Future trips are to Vermont and Maine… I want to see where he was stationed at the Loring AFB near the Canadian Border.

It’s fun to be on the road with my husband, just the two of us with no specific place in mind, just stopping wherever! He drives while I navigate… and sometimes we’ve ended up on some strange back country roads, where we had no idea of where we were, but I always manage get us back on track.

DSC_1108 Fix

The beginning of the Blue Ridge Parkway we entered in N. C., but we exited out of the Smokey Mountains in Gatlinburg Tenn.

Mountain FIX

Bunches Bald Overlook – Notice the elevation – We were quite high!

Last year I wanted to drive on the Blue Ridge Parkway and The Skyline, so in heading home to Connecticut, I mapped us to start on the Blue Ridge… well it said Blue Ridge Mountains when we entered, but somehow we ended up in The Smoky Mountains of Tennessee and exited at Gatlinburg. I’d do it again, as Gatlinburg looked really interesting, and I’m anxious to go back and spend a day.

We did see wildlife on that ride… several Elk were grazing out in a large field; I was really hoping to see black bears! When we drive to Georgia this year, I think we’ll begin on the Skyline Drive and spend a day… surely we won’t get lost… again!


These Elk had traffic backed up… everyone was out with their cameras, including me!


I retired on June 2nd, of this year (2017)… a decision I thought about for a long time, and when my company offered a buyout… well that pretty much made up my mind. Hey, who turns down free money!

While raising our children, retirement seemed like something so far away in the very distant future… but it seemed to have come way faster than I expected, or wanted. We paid off our house this year, and I turned 65… yikes another milestone… but paying off the 30-year mortgage was the best! It felt good making that FINAL payment… and that is definitely going to make retirement a little easier to handle.

While I was scared at all the preparation to retire… so much to think about and do. It was so overwhelming… especially All that Medicare and medical stuff… it was scary to sign up for. The one thing I haven’t taken yet is my social security and because of the buyout this year, I chose to postpone until next year when I reach full social security age… something to look forward to…. more money!

But all in all, I’m enjoying retirement, how could I not when hubby tells me how much he loves having me home… that it’s like being on a honeymoon with me every day! We are enjoying every day… enjoying it so much that often I don’t even know what day it is. I just know that it’s morning and I think “what are we going to do today“! On the weekends we enjoy tag sales, flea markets, and book sales… still looking for Nancy Drew books!

Retirement is getting up in the morning when we want, and pretty much doing and going where we want. My plans for retirement was to go through my house and “try” to declutter, but that just hasn’t happened… yet; maybe when the cold weather arrives, as that will keep us home more… maybe! I think right now, I just needed some weeks, months, to just enjoy life… as life is too short! Eventually, I will tackle the two upstairs bedrooms that are cluttered, I promise… but right now I am enjoying my first free summer in thirty-six years! So take my advice… Don’t be Afraid to Retire!!!


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 R… It’s All About Me

  1. Lyn Smith says:

    Wonderful collection of memories.
    I still have my records, as well as a few of Daddy’s old 78’s, books, recipes and other stuff saved from those years. Our road trips were mostly the twice yearly trips from Huntsville, Alabama to Macon. Six hours I spent either sleeping or reading.
    My husband and I honeymooned in Helen, Georgia. We stopped at a McDonald’s once and when I mentioned ice cream, he said Dairy Queen had the best, so we went in search of a Dairy Queen. Little did we know there were none in North Georgia. We ended up on some pretty desolate roads, which led us into North Carolina, Murphy, I believe. I’ll have to check our pictures. But no Dairy Queen. We did find an A&W, so we stopped there. No one makes root beer like A&W and their floats are wonderful.
    I’d love to make a non-specific destination road trip someday. That is a dream of mine.
    Retirement. Yeah but not what I had expected. Nice but not what I’d expected. Glad to know that you are enjoying yours and you and Steve are getting so much in your free time and spending so much time with your granddaughters.


  2. Hi, this is going to sound really strange, but that particular Cream puff recipe is very similar to one I have been trying to find the attribution for… I got here by searching for Clyde Tombaugh and cream puffs lol apparently he quite liked them and I have been trying to find the lady I got the recipe from, her mum used to make them for him.

    Liked by 1 person

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