2020: P – April A to Z… Family Stories
I’m back in 2020 for my fifth year of participating in the yearly April A to Z challenge… and as usual I racked my brain scribbling ideas on paper since the end of last April. It wasn’t until January, that the light bulb finally went off in scrolling through the 85+ of unfinished blog posts in my draft folder. Bingo… there was my A to Z topic…
Family Stories as told to me… mostly by my husband!
From the moment I married into this Italian family… I fell in love with their stories… their memories… and the family. My husband grew up in West Haven, Connecticut… where there was so much to enjoy as a young boy… especially a place known as Savin Rock… although long gone now. It somewhat had resembled Coney Island… but was even larger when his parents, aunts and uncles grew up. They had stories… and I was always an eager listener whenever they told those stories… remembering, and scribbling down to preserve, just as I did with the family recipes that had once only been in their heads. 2020 has became the year I’m telling many of those stories… along with my husband’s memories to preserve for the generations to come. Many of those who told me their stories, are no longer with us… and I hope to keep their memory alive in these stories… as they are now my family also… and I love them all!
My previous years of A to Z Challenges are:
- 2016: A to Z Southern Foods and Memories… they said write what you know… and being a girl born in the South… well this was what I knew.
- 2017: A to Z Conversations with Mama… it was a somewhat easy one for me to write as I’d journaled our conversations for years… I researched favorite topics to write.
- 2018: A to Z All About Nancy Drew… this one has been my favorite topic so far, and I don’t know if I’ll ever come up with another one to equal it
- 2019: A to Z Italian Famiglia Foods and Memories… I felt it was time to finally write the favorites of my husbands family foods.
Come sit a spell and enjoy!
Paint By “Number” Pictures & Puzzles
I remember loving “paint by number” pictures in growing up… I guess arts and crafts have always been in my blood. The one I actually remember painting were horse pictures… and I might have them stored away still… somewhere… but my mother in law seemed to have been the “queen” of paint by number pictures!
Family Stories: Paint by Number Pictures
When we cleaned out my mother-in-law’s house I kept the paint by number pictures I found in the attic. I just couldn’t bring myself to throw them out… after all the time she took to paint and dad’s time in framing… they needed to be saved. Steve told me…”she enjoyed painting them”… everyone in the family painted, even her sister Nancy, and some of her sister-in-laws in Shelton. It was a fad at that time… and if one made something… eventually they all joined in.”
The famous Matador and Bull Fighter paint by numbers that Celia painted… these hung in their living room for years, but by the time I came to Connecticut, they had been packed away. My father-in-law made the frames… he was always the finisher!
Here are the paintings on their living room wall… not sure what happened to the ceramic bullfighter and bull on the end table as I never saw them… guess they must have succumbed to breakage over the years. LtoR: Steve, Stef and Celia Insalaco… picture taken abt. 1963. The wall they’re hanging on was actually the wall which seperated the kitchen… it was later taken down and they opened up the area with a an open counter and glass cabinets.
“Over the couch at Grandma Minnie’s house was a large paint by number picture… I think it was of a covered bridge painted by Aunt Nancy. There could have even been several painters who worked on it… maybe even Uncle Frankie also. He later painted by following along with Bob Ross on his television program; many family members have one or more of Uncle Frankie’s paintings. (we have 2)“
“One Christmas Eve, Uncle Johnny gave a paint by number to his sister Dolly, but when she pulled it out of the box… it was a paint by number of a nude woman! Uncle Frankie quickly grabbed it for himself… guess he forgot to tell them the gifts were for a young girl. I’ve often wondered if Uncle Frankie ever painted that nude woman?”
Celia kept very busy during her paint by number phase!
I made so many different types of crafts with the family over the years… at every Fourth of July picnic we all brought our crafts to work on… and show. Let’s see if I can remember all I’ve done… burlap embroidery bags, crewel embroidery pictures, felt ornaments, applique wall hangings, stuffed toys/dolls, crocheted afghans, knitted items… with my latest accomplishment of knitting socks, quilted crafts, wood burnings / wood painted items… there hasn’t been much I never attempted.
I still have one paint by number that I sent away for… but never finished. I think it intimidated me with so many tiny areas to paint… that eventually I put it away… but never threw out. It’s a photo of my daughter in one of her dance costumes. Of course, the paints are all dried up now, but I’m sure I can match it up to finish… it’s going to be become one of my projects to finally finish… when I find where I buried it!
I often find paint by number pictures in antique stores today… and I always stop to look… and remember the ones I painted. It seems many others couldn’t throw theirs in the trash either, although in one antique mall, I found a ballerina paint by number sitting in the trash. Maybe someone had cleaned out their booth and didn’t want to pack it… who knows, but I thought it odd. I took a photo of it sitting there… as it seemed so sad and lonely… and I almost asked at the desk if I could have it, but I didn’t want them to think I was dumpster diving… which is fun! We have stopped many times to rescue items thrown out… probably more than we should have, but who doesn’t like free!
Family Stories: Puzzles
“There was always a puzzle in progress in our house… on the table in the back room; most times if anyone stopped over during the day, they eventually ended up in the back room to sit and add a few pieces. Who could resist not adding a few? My mother’s house was always the place to stop by during the day… her uncles and brothers often stopped daily.“
“My mother had her own way in beginning a new puzzle… and the larger they were… the better she liked it. She always began by lining up the straight edges to make the outside… making it easier… having that completed first; the box would be sitting nearby… it helped you in finding the colors and shapes! She didn’t always keep the puzzle intact after completing it though… it often was taken apart and thrown back in the box, unless framed… or she convinced my father to make her yet, one more frame.”
“I remember a puzzle hanging in my grandfather’s barber shop… it was more a picture he had liked of a farm with chickens in the yard… that he turned into looking like a puzzle. Maybe he cut it into puzzle shapes to resemble looking like a puzzle… but in looking at it, you would have thought it actually was a puzzle.“
Several puzzles found lying on the attic floor… lots of hours there! Steve’s mother framed many of her puzzles at one time or another… maybe she changed out the newer puzzle in the frame… sending the older one to the attic floor!
One year it seemed to have been popular to make Christmas puzzles. I think Dolly made one and my mother in law made this round Santa puzzle… dad mounted it on wood… framing with rope.
“While I was away in the Air Force, my mother made this huge, almost 2000 piece puzzle of an Irish Setter… and once again my father made a frame. After all that hard work… there was one piece missing at the end… my father stepped up to make a piece to fit in… using the photo on the box. He did a great job as it’s not really noticeable unless you know where to look! It hung over their sofa in the family room for years… another piece we saved from their house, and it’s even hung over our sofa a few times… brings back memories!“
Almost everyone in our family has DNA on this Coca Cola puzzle. It was laid out on our dining room table for months as we worked to assemble it… with many family members coming over to work on it (2000 pieces). It was finally complete with one missing piece… until I returned to put it in. I hid a piece… as I wanted to be able to put the last piece in! Sneaky of me!!!
In finding an empty Gone with the Wind puzzle box, I asked what happened to the puzzle… Steve said, “ I remember my mother putting it together… even taping the back, but I don’t remember it ever being framed. It probably ended up in the attic with the others. There probably were pieces missing… as almost every puzzle she ever put together had pieces missing… pieces fell off the table and never got picked up.”
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