2020: R – 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!
The Rocking… “Traveling” Chair
My “rocking chair” is a Christmas present I still have… 71 years later… and it’s travelled throughout the family. By the time it made its way to Uncle Jimmy’s house for cousin Diane… it received a much needed re-upholstering and refinishing… taking place in his famous basement woodshop. Its last stop was at Aunt Nancy’s… she gave it back to me, after I married, to prepare for my children.
This is the same chair I stood up in at about age 5… and hitting my head on Grandma Minnie’s porcelain stove. Supposedly I was rocking… while standing… and hit my head without causing any damage to me, but chipped her stove. I don’t really have a memory of seeing that chip, but that story was told to me by many, so I’ll have to assume it’s true. Besides wondering if I really chipped her stove… also wondering why I had my chair in the kitchen?”
In this photo at “The Farm”, the back of the chair looks like it might have had a cowboy print fabric. If my father had been standing there… he would have given me his constant, “sit up straight” words!
“I often watched The Howdy Doody show with Aunt Dolly at my grandparent’s farm – we still had no TV at that time. I think that was mostly the reason I kept my oak rocking chair at their house… and it was my favorite place to sit when there. That rocking chair made the rounds through most of the families… and finally back to me when I married. Howdy Doody seems very corny now when they show clips of it, but we loved it! There was Buffalo Bob Smith along with the famous Howdy Doody puppet… which was his own creation, and Clarabell the clown… who turned out to be the much-later famous Bob Keeshan. In 1952 he left Howdy Doody for his own show where he played Captain Kangaroo. The Howdy Doody show was set in the fictitious town known as Doodyville, and the audience, on set, was known as “The Peanut Gallery.” It ran daily, but later changed to only Saturdays… going off the air in 1960.” (Me: Captain Kangaroo was my favorite kid show growing up in the 50’s)
“Being the first baby born in the family… and like most families back then… my crib also was passed around to all the cousins in the family… until it eventually fell apart as it never came back. My oak rocking chair was also passed through the family, but we retrieved it when I married for my children and grandchildren to have a turn to sit in. Presently it’s landed at my daughter’s house and the youngest, Gracie, has seemed to have taken it over.”
Steve refinished the chair when it came back to him!
“It seems taking pictures of all the girls “sitting in the rocking chair”… never happened… when it should have!”
“Ella, was the first of our five granddaughters to check out “pops” rocking chair, which was close to 60 years old when she first sat in it. How did it even survive the years… well, it was solid oak and well-made, not like the furniture of today. The only thing I did was clean and polish the oak arms and recover the body in new leather. It was recovered only once by Uncle Jimmy when he used it for his daughter. I think it was bought for me by the aunts in Shelton… they often bought large gifts together.”
Ella always thought standing in the chair was more fun… good thing we didn’t have a porcelain stove to chip. While we thought she’d enjoy sitting in the chair… it seemed standing was more fun!
McKinley arrived soon, and like Ella, she also experienced Pop’s chair… but standing was more fun than sitting and rocking… so the chair didn’t stay in the living room except under supervision. After realizing that they really didn’t want to just sit in the chair… it was put away until recently delivering it to Melissa where the girls, now a little older, are finally enjoying… and actually sitting in!
And even today, Pop still fits! (photo coming)
© 2020, copyright Jeanne Bryan Insalaco; all rights reserved