2019: 52 Ancestors in 52 Weeks – Week 20 (May 13 – 19): Nature

2019: 52 Ancestors in 52 Weeks

Week 20 (May 13 – 19): Nature

“first” joined Amy Johnson Crow’s 52 Ancestors in 52 Weeks on its “first” year in 2014… and what a whirlwind year that was… writing, editing and researching daily for 365 days! As much as I wanted to continue the following year, I found that I didn’t have the time to continue another year with that type of research… although I did continue blogging and writing stories at my own pace, which allowed me to write on other topics as well as family stories when ideas came my way… but I’ve often missed it. The first year were no specific weekly prompts like today… but I’m taking a different spin on them. There will be some posts on a specific ancestor, but most will be memories that spring from those prompts. Head over to 2014 52 Ancestors in 52 Weeks to read about my ancestors in the first years challenge.

If you’re new to genealogy, make your “first” stop to Amy’s website for genealogy ideas or even join in on this 52 Week challenge… you learn by doing… not procrastinating! There is no right or wrong… anything you do is a start!

Week 20… Nature



I struggled with my writing again this week on the promptnature” until I read a post on Facebook… and Bingo… ideas came flowing into my mind!

Even though I grew up in the South, where tornados spur every spring and fall… I personally have no memories of being frightened… or of one touching down anywhere near where I lived… although my mother experienced a couple in her lifetime. One as a young girl while living with her parents on the family farm and once as an adult.

Mama was about 10 years old when she experienced her first tornado on the farm. While it didn’t cause any damage, they somehow inherited a small black and white dog that showed up… lost and scared. No one ever claimed him and he quickly made the farm his new home… in as he was spotted in coloring, mama named him Spot. Whenever a storm came up, Spot ran quickly to hide under her bed… so it seems animals are left with impressions of what happened to them. After mama married, he stayed there on the farm with grandmama and granddaddy… but one day when she came home and asked for him, granddaddy said, “he caught a ride.” You can imagine what it meant!

Another tornado touched down on the farm after mama moved back there in the 70’s. She remembers hearing the sound of it coming… sounding like a freight train coming down the road… and heading toward her house. Mama hid under the mattress in the bedroom… not sure how that was going to keep her from being swept away…. but she survived! It did cause a large tree to come down on the front porch roof and the strong winds sucked dust out of the attic into the house, but other than that the house remained standing, and mama was fine. I laughed when she told me how she called her cousin Kenneth and told him that there had been a tornado and that she thought she’d died… he laughed and said, “well, I’m talking to you.

Mama’s Uncle Villa and Aunt Mae lived a few miles away in a small house that didn’t fare so well… as the tornado picked up their house, with them inside, and set it back down further in the woods on top of tree stumps. They were ok, but had to come live with grandmama and granddaddy on the farm until a new house was built.

When I moved to Connecticut, I went from tornados to now experiencing hurricanes… of which neither is stoppable. It’s a scary feeling when you realize that nothing you do, can stop the wrath of nature! My first hurricane experience was while living with my in-laws… my husband was overseas in Thailand. Those winds that night were so scary, and when their huge weeping willow crashed in the backyard… it showed me quickly what nature can do… in a quick instant!

Hurricane Gloria gave my husband and I quite an experience on September 27, 1985… and after being pounded with wind and rain… nature threw us another curveball… no power! We had two small children… and no power, but it could have been way worse. Our house was spared, but two trees held our cars hostage inside the garage… chain saws took care of that! Steve and I were big OTB betters at that time… and he wasn’t going to not place his bets that day, hurricane or not… he freed his car!


Under those trees was our garage and cars… cars undamaged!

For over two weeks our house was silent… board games came out for the kids to keep them busy. Lucky for us, we had a gas stove and a perk coffee pot… I needed that morning coffee… perked coffee still has the best taste! That gas stove was a 1940’s stove we bought when moving into this two-family… and as it didn’t have an automatic pilot, we were fine for cooking… as long as we had matches to light it. We loved that vintage cast iron stove, but it sure weighed a ton. When we bought a house, we decided not to move it again… as we had struggled so much in getting it up the stairs to that second floor.

Nighttime for us was laying in bed “listening” to TV programs on a small radio we had that picked up TV channels… that was before they scrambled them off the airwaves. It was actually quite relaxing to just lay there… listening to our favorite programs and imagining the scenes. Finally one night… the lights suddenly came on! While I was excited to have electricity back on… it was erie… we had enjoyed the quiet time away from the television sounds… but now back to reality… and lights… and noise! The kids were the most excited to have television once again… they wanted the visual!

We have had a few scary tornado moments surrounding us… but fortunately we never experienced anything personally. One Saturday evening, during a pounding rain and wind storm… or so we thought… hubby was going in and out with the umbrella to cook our weekend steak dinner. While the the wind was strong, we didn’t even know we were actually under a tornado threat… until after it happened… we were too busy eating our steak dinner.

While eating, a news flash came on telling us that a tornado had just touched down in the next town over and had done considerable damage…  and we’d thought it had just been all wind and rain.


Photograph taken by Hailey Wilson atop the castle at Sleeping Giant!

In May of 2018, my daughter experienced tornados in her neighborhood… thankfully it only circled around her house, but took down over fifteen trees in her yard…. leaving the street a mess of trees and tangled wires… making it impassable… and left her without electricity for over two weeks. She lives near the famous “Sleeping Giant” state park in Hamden, CT., and it was devastated from the front parking area, and throughout the walking paths up the mountain. As my granddaughter Gracie said, “Sleeping Giant is very sick.” It was just unimaginable to believe all that destruction could happen so quickly.

tornado damage

My daughter’s street in North Haven, Ct…. just a mile or two from Sleeping  Giant.


It’s taken over a year to somewhat clean up Sleeping Giant Park… not easy when you have to go in and cut timber to haul out of a heavily wooded forest. As of today’s posting, it still hasn’t opened, but we are hoping by summer.



My granddaughters, McKinley and Grace in front of just one part of the timber that has been cut and stacked! The camera lens couldn’t even take it all in… the camera never sees the same photo that the eye sees!

Sleeping Giant reopened June 21, 2019

Nature Event Likes…

  • Listening to the rain on a tin roof… preferably at granddaddy’s farm house
  • The fresh smell of rain
  • Watching the show of lights in the sky during a lightning storm of strikes, especially over the water at the beach
  • Walking in the rain
  • Jumping in mud puddles… my granddaughters favorite activity!

Nature Event Dislikes…

  • Thunder Booms are my least favorite nature events
  • Tornado watches and warnings
  • Hurricane winds and rain
  • Snow amounts over a few inches
  • Pounding rain that causes water in my cellar

Stay tuned for Week 21… Military

Continue reading 2019: 52 Ancestors in 52 Weeks over HERE!

To read more Family Stories… click HERE.


© 2019, copyright Jeanne Bryan Insalaco; all rights reserved


About Jeanne Bryan Insalaco

My blog is at: https://everyonehasafamilystorytotell.wordpress.com/
This entry was posted in 2019: 52 Ancestors in 52 Weeks, Daily Writings and funnies..., Family Stories and tagged , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

2 Responses to 2019: 52 Ancestors in 52 Weeks – Week 20 (May 13 – 19): Nature

  1. vwlene says:

    What an incredible story. I live in Australia and we don’t have tornados, but we do have cyclones which is our term for hurricanes. I am amazed that your Mama’s uncle and aunt could be transported inside their house by a hurricane. How frightening that must have been. Glad they survived that experience. I am impressed that you started writing about your ancestors in 2014. I hadn’t heard about this concept til late last year. Although you had a break for a while, you are back with wonderful stories.

    Liked by 1 person

    • The house was picked up by a tornado – same one that brought the little fog to the farm. I was so overwhelmed the first year in research that I couldn’t commit again. This year I thought I’d write more memories as stories as family history. Some will have more research but I’m enjoying in writing family stories. Thanks for stopping by


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