Family Photographs… and their stories: Mama, Daddy and me in 1957

Every photograph tells a story… and it’s often the little details… forgotten until too way to late to even ask. If only I’d started telling their stories earlier… I would have all the answers, but the photograph still tells me a story!

My parents and I in Union Point, Georgia.

I would date this the summer of 1957… what a great year that was for clothes, cars, foods, and fun… and also a much more safer time in America. This photograph was taken at my grandparents home (Paul & Evelyn Bryan)… they lived just one house away from us on Binns St. I’m thinking it was probably a Sunday afternoon and grandmama Bryan was probably in the kitchen cooking, while granddaddy was relaxing with a cigar on the back porch… after earlier picking a mess of corn, string beans and butter beans for Sunday dinner. That mess of corn would have been turned into fresh creamed-style corn… and nothing better for me than one of grandmama’s biscuits filled with cream corn. Granddaddy had two large fields where he grew all the family vegetables… but it was always his corn field that held my attention… although I was also pretty partial to his watermelon patch! He never picked vegetables to eat or even sell until the last minute… as he only wanted fresh for the table and fresh for his customer. When he grabbed his hat and threw his satchel over his shoulder… you knew he was ready to go picking!

As to who took this picture, I strongly surmise it was Tom Bradberry, who lived just across the street and enjoyed taking pictures of whomever would strike a pose for him. Mama always said if he hadn’t taken so many photos of us, she’d have very few of me growing up; Tom was single and lived in a small house on his parent’s property. If he saw us outside, he’d hustle right over with his camera! I’m assuming he must have also developed all those photos… as he didn’t work, and film processing would certainly have been an expense for him. I’ve often wondered if his photos were saved… as he definitely preserved the history of our small town of Union Point.

If you’re wondering why the photos are cut in odd shapes… well, one year my mother announced how she’d taken all our photos and “made” them fit into a photo album. I so wish today, she hadn’t trimmed them to fit… but I’m thankful I have them. In as many of those photos were now smaller, I taped them to 4×6 photo blanks, to ensure they weren’t lost.

This photo of us sitting in classic 1950’s summer chairs at granddaddy’s, is one of my favorites in showing so many details… also reminding me that we spent time together as a family. I can even see the dirt driveway winding behind us that led down to their house. Looks to be a sunny day, as daddy is squinting at the camera in his, dressed down, white tee shirt… and the heat undoubtedly has pushed me to kick off my shoes to enjoy the feel of grass on my bare feet. I’ve never been one for wearing shoes and hubby often scolds me today… but as soon as I come home, I can’t wait to kick them off! I guess I’m just not a shoe wearer… I’ll always be a barefoot girl!

I colorized the photo in a free program, and while not the best, it still gives me a little more insight into the colors. I can now see that mama’s dress is actually two pieces with a plain dress underneath, and the more colorful layer on the outside. Daddy’s socks are definitely colorful… and some of the coloring on the ground makes it look even more fall-ish, but it definitely was a summer day they dressed for! The chairs seem to have been of olive green and white stripes.

Mama seems to be well dressed, as always… and I’m sure in a dress she sewed… she never bought a dress I remember… always saying, they never fit right, and never the style she wanted! She’s always been fussy about the clothes she wore! I loved seeing this dress pop in color above… and see the colored design of the panels in back that hang along the side. Mama sewed my dress also, as well all my clothes until I begged for store bought… as I neared junior high school. My mother never went anywhere without being completely dressed, and Sunday dinner here seemed to be no exception. Her hair is pulled back and styled back neatly, possibly in a French bun… and she’s accented with jewelry and wearing shoes, unlike me. I’m leaning forward, squinting, and now barefoot… definitely not looking happy! I can honestly say I don’t take after my mother in wanting to dress, and pose for a camera!

In the photo with my father, I’m more laid back, smiling, and wearing one sock and one shoe… not sure what was going on with that, but daddy didn’t seem to care! By the time the photo with mama was taken, I’d squirmed right out of both socks and shoes… and not looking very happy! Maybe that photo was taken second, as daddy and I are both looking very laid back, but he’s squinting… sun didn’t seem to be bothering me though… but I was looking very happy with the one shoe off! I guess Argyle socks were popular in the 50’s, and daddy is showing his off! If this is 1957, daddy was 29 and mama, 27… so why do they look older to me? Oh, and how did I forget to mention that crazy wild hair of mine! Yikes, I could have played the lead in Little Orphan Annie with that frizzy hair. Mama always said I had curly hair when I was little, but as it grew long, the curl grew out… glad for that!

Another crazy “sock” photo… stripe socks this time! Daddy would fit right in today as you see socks again like these. Well, they do say what goes around, comes back another day! You certainly were handsome daddy… and I bet mama thought so too when she first saw you!

The colorized pic isn’t showing me as much color as I’d hoped for… had thought those socks might have been crazy colors… but they’re actually more subtle colors of black, white and grey. Seems mama wasn’t the only poser in the family, as I have lots of “just daddy” also!

Hope you’re enjoying my stories written around just a photo… as I’m having fun in the narration of only a photo… and bringing it alive!


Want to see more Family Photographs… and read their stories… click HERE

To read Family Stories… click HERE.
© 2021, copyright Jeanne Bryan Insalaco; all rights reserved

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Family Photographs… and their stories: Daddy with his Navy buddies on the deck

Every photograph tells a story… and it’s often the little details… forgotten until too late to even ask. If only I’d started telling their stories earlier… I would have all the answers, but the photograph still tells me a story!

Daddy with his Navy buddies

My father, Clayton Bryan, with his Navy buddies; daddy is second from the right. The names written on back (L.toR.) are Delong, Hamilton, Meare, my father, and Bates… seems they only called each other by their surnames. Mama always said “Bates” was his best friend in the Navy, but sadly now his first name is long forgotten.

This photograph passed again across my eyes the other day, which had me taking a deeper look… always looking for that story. To me, it looks as if it was taken on the bow of a ship… now what ship would that be… as Daddy served on two ships, the USS Blue Ridge and the USS Washburn.

To my inquisitive “Nancy Drew” eyes, and if I’m correct in that they’re standing on the bow of a ship… what is showing in the distance… if it’s land with trees, it might possibly be the USS Blue Ridge while anchored near the Bikini Islands. Did they stand in that spot to show the background on purpose… as their ship was there for all 3 of the atomic bomb blasts at Bikini Atoll in 1946… and “secret” was always the word in writing letters and snapping photographs.

Wherever it was taken, this photo shows me that daddy was already inked with his “swallows” Navy tattoo before shipping out… and probably at one of the many located near the Navy base in San Diego, California… so probably this photograph was snapped on the Blue Ridge. If only the photograph was of better quality like todays digital photos, and I could zoom in further… but I still can see his swallow tattoo. It was just a tattoo I saw all my life as a young girl… just accepting that it was a part of him… but the tattoo never caused me to ask the… where did you get it… or when… or why… instead it was just a part of him that I never questioned… leaving me today to wonder and wish I knew the real truth!

I wonder what his mother said when he returned home with that tattoo… I know her eagle eyes didn’t miss it!

After learning the tattoo was a swallow, I began searching out more information on that specific style of tattoo, and learned the swallow bird was a symbol often used by sailors to tell of their sailing experiences; if the sailor spotted a swallow in the sky, they knew they were nearing land. The tale through the years transformed into meaning a safe return to home for those who wore the tattoo. It also marked their sailing miles of traveling over 5,000 nautical miles across the seven seas, or crossing the equator… which my mother mentioned he had done; supposedly they are given a certificate to denote their maiden crossing of the equator, but she never knew of that. It’s also said, that if a sailor drowns, and he wore the tattoo of the swallow, the swallows will carry his soul to heaven.

As I peered in closer… I see daddy posing with pants too short, showing white socks… wearing his navy sailor hat cocked back on his head, and, as always, a cigarette in-hand; it was always told that Daddy smoked from the age of twelve. The pose the guys struck there on that day, had me looking in more detail at those happy, but definitely thin sailors… all leaned in toward each other with hands clinched at their belts… with a couple guys distinctly forming their hands into a heart. Was that meant as a sign to a sweetheart?

I have other photos of daddy wearing his sailor hat cocked forward and backward on his head… those will be for another day. Daddy’s hat was never saved, but in loving the Navy uniform, I bought my son a Navy suit and hat for his one-year old photo. Even though I’ve always loved seeing a man in a sailor uniform, it was a young Air Force guy who won my heart… sorry Daddy!

Daddy would have been possibly around 17, 18 years of age here, as he joined at age 16… but the real story is he first joined at age 15 with a fake ID, and making it all the way to basic before being discovered; his father was soon called. When he turned 16 the following year, his parents relented and signed for him to go… but it wasn’t long afterward, that he then wanted to come home; he served 4 years in the Navy.

I colorized this photo to give these guys a little more life!

So what had this motley crew been up to before taking this photo… possibly swabbing the deck?


Want to see more Family Photographs… and their stories, click HERE

To read Family Stories… click HERE.
© 2021, copyright Jeanne Bryan Insalaco; all rights reserved

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Craft Junkie: Magnus the Mouse

Magnus hanging out with Nancy Drew!

Often I feel like Alice in Wonderland… as I fall down the crafting rabbit hole. It’s so hard to see something… and just say “oh that’s pretty” and move on. Nope not me… I’m quickly rummaging through my yarn/stash of whatever to begin a new project… before finishing the present one. Hopefully I’m not alone!

I first discovered Magnus in my Facebook group “The Last Homely House East of The Sea”… a group for the blog followers of You-Tuber “Kate” on The Last Homely House. The woman who first posted Magnus had knitted several of them in all different sizes… so I figured, “well how hard can they be.” I bought the pattern (Arne & Carlos) and soon discovered I was in for a time, but I never give up on projects! While mine have a few issues, they are finished and dressed… another WIP crossed off my list!

Beginning Magnus wasn’t difficult, but I did find myself having to concentrate more on the pattern as I began knitting the legs… and saying to myself… “this is why I don’t like knitting animals… they have two legs!” For some reason, I just don’t seem to make two of anything… the same size!

My suggestion is… if you are going to knit Magnus… knit both legs and arms first.. and also the ears and tail. Another suggestion is to even make the clothes ahead of time also… so when you stuff Magnus, you’ll be able to judge if the clothes will fit. My first sweater was too tight… so I had to make another one.

After both legs were knitted, I thought the body would have been an easy knit… but I was soon scratching my head and mumbling in trying to decipher how to attach the legs using magic loop. I’m sure many followed the pattern easily, but in as I don’t usually knit animals… and not using dpn’s… I struggled trying to figure out in my head, which needle side to add the leg stitches to. I think if I had used the “dpn’s” from the beginning… instead of trying to knit magic loop… I might have had an easier time, but I finally figured out how to add the leg stitches on the dpn’s and continued to knit the body… and finally completing it!

Arms attached and almost ready for his head… but my magic loop was twisting the neck… I had to make the switch to DPN’s!

If you have the arms knitted beforehand and waiting… it will make the knitting process so much smoother. Or is it just me? Adding the arms seemed to have puzzled me more than the legs… and I thought socks were difficult! They are a cakewalk compared to knitting Magnus!

Now on to knit that long tail… which is what intrigued me about him!

Magnus looked like an alien with the opening for the snout and nose… but after knitting his snout and that cute pink nose… finally looking like a mouse!

The pattern originally called for dpn’s, but since learning magic loop… it’s been my go-to for everything, but I think I should have followed the pattern more… and used the dpn’s! I did complete much of it with magic loop until I reached the neck… as then the stitches seemed to twist, and I couldn’t tell if it was me, or just the way I had the stitches on the two needles. After transferring my stitches to dpn’s, I found it somewhat easier to understand the pattern, and see it transform into a face… and with a nose. At one point, I said, “I’ll never make another,” but for some reason I never seem to make only one of anything!

Yes I did make another…. I must love punishment… and I seemed to have had more trouble in figuring out how to add the arms again to the body on the second go-around… now why was that? If I ever dare to make another, I’m definitely going to start my dpn’s much earlier and just maybe, I’ll be able to follow the directions somewhat easier! I’m not a newbie knitter… but this pattern definitely had me muttering… often out loud!

I managed to knit the opening for the snout with no problem… even picking up stitches at the end to complete that cute pink nose. The only thing left now was the ears and eyes… and sewing them on. I procrastinated on that for a few days, as I couldn’t decide on where placement should be… but I finally faced my fears! Magnus was complete, well almost… had to raid my button jar for his eyes!

Magnus was almost finished… but still naked… needing clothes and that darn long tail sewed on. I decided to not sew his tail on until his pants were finished… as the tail had to fit through the hole in the back… but easier than I first thought!

Onto the clothes…

And also with the sweater… I had to knit two arms before finishing the sweater… did I say I hate making two of things!

The pants pattern really confused me when I began decreasing on the inseam of the legs… but possibly if I’d placed them on the dpn’s from the beginning, I might not have become confused! Somehow, I managed to knit the pants and attach both legs… turning them into pants, but it wasn’t as easy as I felt it should have been; was it me, or the pattern not being clearly written. The one writing the pattern always understands… but sometimes the knitter doesn’t always follow along as easily. I’ve shown patterns to better knitters than me… and they couldn’t fully understand what the author was asking on certain patterns… but it is what it is!

I did not enjoy knitting these pants!

I knitted Magnus a girlfriend named Millie… but she somehow ended up larger than Magnus… who knows maybe I grabbed a wrong needle size! I wanted a simple knit dress for her instead of the sweater/pants or overalls they gave in the pattern, but as I’m not one of those knitters who can knit patterns out of their head… I instead opted for a pink sweater in making her look more girly. If anyone has a simple knit dress pattern that would fit her… send my way!

Magnus with his friend Millie the Mouse!

Have you ever knitted a pattern, thinking you’ve figured it out… even making notes… then you proceed to knit another… and you’re still confused! Do let me know… hope I’m not alone!

If you’ve knitted Magnus… let me hear how it went for you!


You can read more Craft Junkie over HERE.

© 2021, copyright Jeanne Bryan Insalaco; all rights reserved

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Family Stories: Playing Baseball on the Grounds of the VA Hospital

Playing Baseball on the Grounds of the VA Hospital

… as told by my husband Steve

The Veterans Hospital in West Haven, Connecticut

The Veterans’ Administration Hospital in West Haven first opened in 1918 as a tuberculosis center… later in World War I to become an Army hospital. On August 9, 1921 Congress created the Veterans Bureau, and later in 1930 President Hoover consolidated the Veterans’ Bureau with the World War I Veterans programs, and the National Home for Disabled Volunteer Soldiers & Pension Bureau… re-designing it as the Veterans’ Administration. They closed it for a period of time in the 1940’s, before reopening in the 1950’s as a VA Hospital. Possibly after reopening… would have been when the recreation areas were added.

“In the many times my best friend Louie (Camputaro) and I walked by the VA Hospital, we always took notice of empty tennis courts… and as we never saw anyone using them, we soon began playing tennis there; it was hard to get a court at Painter Park on Kelsey Avenue. We kept our secret place to ourselves… and for the most part, no one ever kicked us out.”

This is the only photo I’ve found showing tennis courts on the side of the Veterans Hospital… even though it’s listed as the William Wirt Winchester Hospital. The VA Hospital In West Haven was formerly called The William Wirt Winchester Hospital… so named in memory William Wirt who died of tuberculosis. It was funded by the William Wirt Winchester Fund in 1909 by his wife, Sara Winchester. Land was purchased on Campbell Avenue in West Haven, at what is now the campus of the Veterans Administration Medical Center. Construction first began in 1916, dedicated in 1918, but prior to its completion, the United States government leased the building for use as a military hospital until 1927. The Winchester Hospital later operated as the Tuberculosis Division of New Haven from 1928 to 1940. After the final sale of the buildings and property to the government in 1948, it became a Veterans Hospital with the dedication in 1953.

“It was my uncle, Gene Cavallaro, who first showed me a shortcut one day behind Marshall’s Garage on Campbell Avenue, in which I discovered the ballfield; it was a shortcut in accessing a faster route home to Sawmill Road… and it was faster using this back road behind the VA. On that day of discovering the ball field, with the fenced in area complete with two dugouts and viewing stands… looking exactly like a real baseball field; I knew I’d be back with my friends. Even though there were fences around the ball field, there were no locks on the gates.”

“Being a young boy of around ten… I was in awe… and excited… and wanted to play there! The baseball field was set back from where I often walked by on Spring St… hidden from view behind the front tennis and basketball courts… actually facing the side of the hospital. A tall back fence stood behind home plate, with outside fencing separating it from the grounds of the VA hospital. The ball field reminded me of the one at Painters Park on Kelsey Ave., where the Babe Ruth, Twilight League, and West Haven High School team played.”

“I never understood why those courts and ball-field were there for the veterans, as no one actually lived at the VA hospital unless they were totally disabled. Uncle Frankie told me that there was also a bowling alley and a restaurant on a top floor; he heard that while doing some remodeling work there. Uncle Johnny always said that the men living there were too disabled to actually use the fields, but having it on the property looked good on paper… he never minced his words! I guess that’s why I never saw any men using it. It wasn’t until much later, in understanding why these things were really there… only a visual for all to see what was provided.”

There were also basketball courts between the tennis courts and the ball field. All the land on the side of the hospital, back to the maintenance buildings in the back, was all for recreation. No one ever used the grounds, but yet the fields there were kept picture perfect. The groundskeeper lived in the lower brick building at the bottom of the back hill facing Campbell Avenue… it was set back behind the front brick wall. The grounds were always kept immaculate… as they still are today. There wasn’t any need for parking at that time, like today... and those very fields today are now all parking lots.

“Once discovering the ball field, our gang of boys began playing baseball there… before only playing in an open field near my house on Sawmill Road. Here we had a “real” ball-field, with bases laid out in regulation style. There was even a real life dug-out… dug about half down, making it cool while you waited for your turn to bat.”

“Who knows… maybe we entertained some of those Veterans watching us play ball from the top floors!”

“There were about fourteen of us when we played ball there on the fields of the VA. We had enough to completely fill out the field, but often never enough to have extras waiting in the dugouts there. When we played in the open field near my house… the outfield wasn’t even big enough for more than one catcher in the field. Playing in this field was like being on a regulation size field. Only once in awhile, someone would come tell us, “you can’t be here.” We never argued, we just left with no grumbling or talking back like kids would do today. We always came back another day, and they usually never said anything… they let us play. We never destroyed anything… we just enjoyed the field.”

This is what the VA looked like when I grew up… we always entered through those doors to find the coveted Coca Cola machine.

“My friends and I sometimes went inside on hot days to cool off. Even in the late 50’s, it still had a 1940’s look to it, somewhat dark and gloomy with torn ragged carpet… but it was the Coca Cola machine that we were interested in. If I had a dime, I could buy a Coke or quench my thirst from the cold water fountain just inside the door. We usually only ventured in if we were extremely hot and thirsty from playing ball, or just walking by. We were always respectful… and they never asked us to leave.”

We all stopped playing around 1964 when I turned 16 and got a job… everything in my life soon changed. I didn’t even want to play hockey anymore… I wanted to work, make money, and buy a car!

“The ball fields were still there when I left for the Air Force in 1968… but everything changed after I left… and by the time I came back home for the first time, most of the recreation areas were gone… it was the beginning of expansion… and what wasn’t used… was gone.. All that I had grown up with as a ten year old boy, was now only a memory. The tennis courts in the front were still there in 1971 when I married, but I believe the baseball field and basketball courts were gone… but at that time in my life, I wasn’t paying attention to those things any longer.”

I don’t remember ever seeing anyone sitting around inside, or even walking around outside like you see today. Most Veteran’s that lived there at that time were ones missing limbs or had mental issues. I do remember that when one would escape, they’d sound a siren…. and it usually happened at least once a year.

“The VA Hospital was never crowded like it is now… just to find a parking space today, you need to arrive almost an hour before your appointment. There was once even parking meters on Spring Street when I walked up that long hill as a boy… and still there during the 50’s as I can remember. In thinking back, I’m not sure exactly when they were removed, but about twenty-five years ago there was actually a big push to bring them back. I couldn’t believe what I was reading when I saw that article on the front page of the New Haven Register. After that story ran in the paper, you never heard about it again… as there was strong outcry over it in wanting veterans to pay for parking. It was bad enough you had to spend hours just looking for a space… leaving many who couldn’t walk the distance, even after they found parking. The parking meter fiasco would have been after the Gulf War, as that was the time when the VA was becoming more used than in the past.”

“I’ll never forget Sergeant Foster, my recruiting officer, telling us… “after leaving the Air Force, you’ll have free medical for the rest of your lives.” That didn’t seem to be quite the truth when I tried to sign up. I never needed their medical until I was forced with retirement at age 60 from New Haven Body Building… the final of many lay-offs through the years. It wasn’t easy either, as they first denied me until my wife mentioned that I had spent time in a hospital in Vietnam (Cam Ron Bay) while en-route home from Thailand. That suddenly changed everything! It seemed as now they viewed me as a Vietnam Veteran; supposedly you had to have spent time on Vietnam soil to qualify. I should have listened to my Uncle Frankie… as he had told me that the first thing I should do upon discharge from the Air Force was sign up at the VA. I didn’t understand why at that time, as I had a good job, with good medical benefits, and didn’t need to use them… but he was right!”


© 2021, copyright Jeanne Bryan Insalaco; all rights reserved

More of Hubby’s Family Stories can be read HERE.

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Family Stories: 911 Remembered… 20 Years Later

911 Remembered… 20 years later (September 11, 2021)

Today is about remembering what happened… and remembering those brave hero’s who ran into those burning buildings, never stopping to think will I come out… and remembering all who lost their lives in The Twin Towers and the hero’s on United Flight 93 as they fought the terrorist… bringing that plane down in an empty field in Pennsylvania… possibly averting the plane that was destined to crash somewhere in Washington! I can’t even imagine what ran through the heads of those brave firemen and police as they raced to the scene… and even though trained for times just like this… but never thinking they actually would have to!

These are the times that will always be remembered for years to come… It was these times that changed history… changed the way we live today… and has changed America for “forever.” I feel privileged in that I was given the opportunity to have grown up in a safe America as a child… free to play on the streets without a parent’s watchful eye on me every minute… free to go to sleep at night without worry about terrorists assaulting our country… our land… and free to have been a child without worries. My granddaughters do not have that privilege! It saddens me immensely… my generation is the last generation to truly have grown up free.

It took 10 years to build the “Twin Towers”… and only seconds for it to collapse!

I’m sure there is “no one” who doesn’t remember exactly where they were on the morning of September 11th, 2001! I was working when I first heard that a plane (American 11) had hit the Twin Towers in New York… but never thinking that this was a terrorist attack. Those thoughts soon changed as I walked over to view the TV playing in the bank area at Stop and Shop… then seeing the second plane (United 175) hit the Second Tower, just 17 seconds later. It now was clearly more than just a plane hitting a tower… and I soon began hearing words like Osama Bin Laden, Al Quida, and Taliban… words I never heard before, but now words that I would hear daily on television over the next month… and even years after. Soon Television programming that we knew before… came to a screeching halt, as there was only “news” on 24-7. My husband and watched the same scenes… over and over… and were glued to it. We didn’t watch anything else… and if you tried to get away from it… it just didn’t feel right… we felt compelled to watch every detail of what had happened, and what was happening. It was over a month before any regular programming began to inch its way back on television… but it was difficult in making the change back to what once was our “normal.”

The first thing I did upon leaving work, was call my mother in Georgia. I knew she probably had been burning up my home phone when she saw the news… as we are only a two-hour train ride away from Manhattan. After assuring her that we were all accounted for… and just like a mother, she said, “you tell them to all come home with you and stay there.” And being a mother myself, that’s pretty much the same thing I told my husband, son and daughter… as I wanted them home with me.

Manhattan was soon locked down! There was no way in or out… but yet thousands of people needed to be evacuated. I remember seeing hundreds of people walking over the Brooklyn Bridge in trying to reach their homes. And until this year I did not know, or possibly not remembering how hundreds were evacuated by boats. It was organized through the Coast Guard with a call out to everyone with boats to help transport the people who made their way to the sea wall. It was called later the “Great Boat Lift” and known as the largest sea evacuation in history… transporting everyone out of there in less than 9 hours.

The National September 11th Memorial & Museum is a memorial and museum built in New York City to commemorate the September 11, 2001 attack, which killed 2,977 people, and also the February 26th, 1993 World Trade Center bombing, which killed six. Construction began on March 13, 2006… and opened on September 11, 2011; it is built at 180 Greenwich Street in New York City

There has never been a year since that I am not glued to the television to watch the ceremony on September 11th and listen to the names read… and never without tears. On today, September 11, 2021, many loved ones affected stood bravely reading those 2983 names.. reading the names of their fathers, mothers, husbands, wives, sons, daughters, grandfathers, grandmothers, brothers and sisters.

Besides the 911 Memorial in Manhattan there is also another Memorial Plaza situated in a field in Shanksville, PA. where United Flight 93 crashed into an open field after the passengers and crew stormed the cockpit to derail the plane from its intended target somewhere in Washington, D.C. A 17-ton boulder sits at the final resting place of that plane, just before the grove of eastern hemlock trees which were damaged in the crash. The area is kept closed except for one day… opening only on September 11th.

As I reflect on the worst attack on American soil… I think back to that morning and how I could hardly believe my eyes of what I was seeing. Everywhere you looked, someone was on their phone… calling their loved ones, or calling to tell tell someone to turn on the news. No one could actually believe what they were watching. All I wanted to do was go home and gather my family under our roof.


© 2021, copyright Jeanne Bryan Insalaco; all rights reserved

More stories on 911 can be read HERE.

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Family Stories: The Family Lore and Tales

Family Stories:

The Family Lore and Tales

I’ve heard several family lore tales from my mother all my life… she was a great story-teller… remembering stories from many years ago, even at the age of 90! From a young girl, she would sit quietly in listening to the stories told by the “old folks.” My husband always talked about how he enjoyed listening as the adults told stories… “if you were quiet, they didn’t kick you out… that’s how you learned things!”

Mama (Helen McKinley Bryan) always enjoyed when Uncle Joe McKinley visited the farm on weekends; he was her father’s brother, and once had been the sheriff in Siloam (GA). It was usually after supper when the men retired to the front porch for a smoke… and granddaddy (Edgar Thomas McKinley) would pull out his Prince Albert can to roll them a couple of cigarettes; I even remember watching him do that as a young girl. When her father and uncle left the dinner table, it was mama’s clue to sneak out to the front porch… hoping, not to be called back for kitchen duty. If she settled quietly in the background, she was allowed to hear their stories. The brothers usually reminisced about their early days in growing up with their brothers, and how they thought it was great fun to give Grandpa Joe a hotfoot. Their grandfather lived with them, and enjoyed sitting on the porch in his favorite comfy chair… often while whittling, or a late afternoon nap. My grandfather, Edgar McKinley, seemed to have a devilish humor, and he and brother Joe often stuck matches in Grandpa Joe’s shoe while he slept… lighting them and running away… giving him a hotfoot! Grandpa would awaken to the fire on the shoes… yelling at them, and calling them the “Devil’s Limbercats“. I’m not quite sure about the phrases’ meaning, but it seemed to mean that they were doing the devils’ work! I can attest to Granddaddy McKinley’s dry humor, as in as much as he loved grandmama, nothing gave him a chuckle more than taking a hot match head, and lightly sticking it to her leg as she walked by… making her jump; mama had always referred to his funny ways as “dry humor”. Even later while recuperating at the VA hospital in Augusta, his walking cane was considered quite dangerous to the nurses… they learned to carefully walk near him, as he was known to catch their leg with the top curve of his cane.

The one story that extremely fascinated mama as a young girl, was when her father and Uncle Joe talked about how it was told that Grandpa Joe stuffed money in his comfy chair; Joseph Thomas Sharp was their mother’s (Rosie Sharp) father, a Civil War Veteran. The talk was, that after the war Grandpa stuffed his favorite chair full of Confederate money… and as a young girl, mama was mesmerized with that story… and that chair! She couldn’t wait for Uncle Joe to leave the porch the day she first heard the story… so she could ask about that chair… and where was his chair… and could they go and find that money! Granddaddy laughed, saying… “that chair is long gone, but unfortunately if there was any money in it… it’s worthless.” I’m sure, as a young girl, her excitement was quickly spoiled in learning that the money was of no value… in as she had been sitting there the entire time, probably dreaming of what she would buy with all that money!

When I first began my delve into family history, mama immediately told me…I wish Aunt Lena (McKinley-Van Dusen) was still alive… as she researched our family years ago, and she would be the one who could tell you everything. She often talked about how our McKinley lines descended from President McKinley… and that there were three McKinley brothers who came to America… with one going North, one West, and one South… and how we descended from the brother who went South.” While my research turned up not one fly speck in sustaining that story… there were many others in the family who also heard this same story… so maybe she did research… and maybe that was her conclusion! I thought it odd, that if Aunt Lena had really researched the family… where were her paper files? Any researcher will attest to the fact, that if you research, you end up with more paper files than you have room for… and what we commonly call a paper chase! Yes, my hand is raised high on that! I have more paper files than I really know where to store, and often worry, and wonder, what the next generations will do with them; most of my information of documents, stories, and photos are stored in binders. I began all my research in the late 1980’s… so I have amassed almost 40 years of research! While I don’t research on a continuing basis as I once did… ever so often I get the bug to research something specific… when an email comes my way… or a comment on my blog has me looking for new clues. What I do continue to do is… write stories… writing my mother’s stories, my life stories, and also my husband’s. Often people forget to write their own stories… and who knows them better than us! I’m thankful that my mom was a storyteller… constantly telling me her life stories… and faithfully never forgetting those stories.

Another strong story mama stood firm on… was how her mother Ola (Askew) McKinley was part Indian… or so she would say… and also how her mother was blood connected to her step mother-in-law, Nancy Josephine “Minnie” (Askew) McKinley… not just through marriage. Whether my grandmother knew the actual connection or not, it was never said… just said they were really related as family, not just by marriage.

I inherited a hand-written Askew genealogy chart many years ago from a McKinley researcher, which gave us our proof! It was found by chance at the Atlanta Archives… not filed where it could be found… only laying in a drawer with other materials. We were thrilled, as it solved many clues for our McKinley lines… pointing us to accurately align families. I could now, without guesswork, say that my grandmother Ola (Askew) was her mother-in-law’s second cousin… sharing a third great-grandfather of William Askew (1807-1872) and Mary Gerald.

Askew Family Tree

As to the Indian relation, mama often spoke on the physical look of her mother’s dark hair and deep dark eyes… which she assimilated to Indian characteristics. In the area where grandmama was born in Hancock County, Georgia… it was once a strong area for the Creek Indians… and hard to not say that some didn’t marry into our family lines. I tested mama’s DNA through Ancestry years ago… hoping that it might share some insight into her story… but the tiny percentage of Native American DNA that came back… did nothing to give her story substance. In telling mama these words, she quickly responded, “I don’t care what that DNA says, I know my mother had Indian ancestry”… and that was the end of that… no argument from me. It was a matter of “pick your battles”… and it wasn’t one I was picking against my mother!

Mama told a couple doozy of “lore” tales during her lifetime… and while we all knew they were fiction… she could tell them with strong conviction! My favorite story about “Clyde” the alligator can be read over HERE... and the other was a story she told as a young girl in school, which I’m sure puzzled her teachers! That story goes… “I often told my teachers that I was really adopted by my mother and father. My father found me inside a capsule in the back forty by a lake, and brought me home. Mama sewed clothes for me and they raised me as their own child.” Hmmm… I wonder if her teacher ever contemplated calling in social services?

Our family “Bryan” tales of lore…

Most of my grandparents siblings were living when I began researching my Bryan lines… so I pressed them for whatever stories they remembered with countless letters and phone calls. It saddens me in thinking of how much I missed in not having those same talks with my father and his parents! I tell people today… ask your parents questions… and listen to them… and write them down!

Also, through my research of contacting every name I ever found on family group sheets… a few interesting twists were discovered.. although I’ve never been able to say “yay” or “nay”… but if you take in account, that at that time, these people who told the tales, actually knew their aunts and uncles… maybe the stories are true! You be the judge!

And onto to more tales of lore…

My cousin, Charles Bryan, had a tale of a story for me when I asked, “why did a few of our Bryan men add a “t” to Bryan”? Charles laughed in telling me… “Well, our great-great grandfather, William Madison Bryan”t” often moved from county to county in outrunning the law, adding the “t” to his name to keep a low profile. I think it might have been the way of moonshiners back in the day… and also kept the creditors away. (It seemed that he was still using “Bryant” when he moved back to live with his father (B.C. Bryan) in Dahlonega, Ga. before his death; even so listed as such on his gravestone. Talk about confusing the family researcher!) Uncle Gordon was another family member who added the “t” on his Bryan name… staying one step above the law in finding him… as I always heard he drove for the moonshiners. I remember when he lived in the mill houses in Union Point, and how he’d moved to another county for awhile, because the law was after him, and add the “t” to his name. His last name of Bryan was constantly changing.” I so enjoyed my talks with cousin Charles Bryan… he definitely knew the tales of the family.

The “t” was listed on the gravestone of William Madison Bryan… his fathers gravestone nearby denotes only the name of Bryan.

If only I’d had the insight to ask my father for stories, before he died at the young age of 54… way before I even gave a thought to researching our “Bryan” family; I was too busy raising two young children at that time. I never heard him or my Bryan grandparents tell any stories like my mother told, and often wonder… what did I miss? The only story my mother told me through the years about my father was how he jumped in radioactive water while in the Navy, which caused him to lose his teeth at an early age. That story never interested me… but I wish I had thought to ask my father himself more on that topic… as there was a “huge” story attached to those radioactive waters at Bikini Atoll… it can be read over Here.

My grandfather, Paul P. Bryan wasn’t much of a talker… I never heard him tell stories, but I bet he had stories to tell… even if it was only his fishing or hunting tales. I’m sure he remembered his life growing up… and now those stories are lost, except the several that my first cousin, Robert Bryan, share with me Here. The very few stories I learned of him was from his younger sister Myrt Bryan (Poss). She talked about how her brother, my grandfather, would carry her over the walking log at the stream, in going to school. Her fond memory was of visiting family in the Blue Ridge mountains at Dahlonega… when they lived in Greene County, Georgia. Her mother would pack the wagon with straw, covering it with many quilts for the children to ride and sleep on. In as it takes us about an hour and a half by car… she talked about it taking them a day or more in traveling time… often stopping to sleep along the way.

Another Bryan/Bruce family tale told, and even written about in The History of Lumpkin County (pg 376) and mentioned in the series of books entitled “I Love Dahlonega” by Anne Amerson, was about More gold coin buried – July 12, 1907:

“Those who knew, said that Mr. & Mrs. G. W. Bruce who passed away recently, had a lot of gold coin before they died, something like $1,500, but no one knows now where it is. When they lived in the West, Mrs. Bruce (Nancy Bryan) hid this gold under the hearth of the house in which they lived. The house was sold and the money was left undisturbed until they got ready to come back to Georgia. Then Mrs. Bruce went to the owners of the house and told them she wanted to get a package she had put under the hearth. Permission was granted and she brought it away. After Mrs. Bruce died here in April, her husband was asked by relatives where this money was. His reply was, “it’s around.”

Mr. Bruce died without telling any more about the gold. Fact or Fiction… but we will never know unless one day someone discovers it buried! (From cousin Carroll L. Ross… it’s told that his great uncle, Bruce Bryan, remembered as a child hearing family members tell stories of Winston Bruce and Nancy Bryan Bruce having hoards of gold hidden away; Nancy Bryan was the daughter of Berrian C. Bryan)

An obituary led me to another Bryan tale… and we all know as genealogists, that an obituary is only as good as who gave the information; it’s never written from accurate records, but usually gathered from the closest family members.

In the case of the misleading obituary of my 4th great grandfather James Bryan… the obit stated that James was born (1791-1885) in Sumter County, Georgia. That placed him far from the Franklin/Habersham counties, of where his father, John Bryan, was living, and records found. Also, Sumter county lies on the Western side of Georgia, whereas Franklin/Habersham counties lie far on the Eastern side. The only connection I have found that connected my James to Sumter county, is that he had an interest in property in Sumter as a legatee of John Bryan, his father; the interest in property came as a result of a land draw in that county from his father’s war service. Neither I, or any other researchers have found evidence of John or James ever living in that region of Georgia.

Tales from Thelma Nelson: Thelma Nelson was one of our early Bryan researchers, who was fortunate to have talked to many family members… as we later Bryan researchers never had that opportunity… so it is through Thelma that these tales have survived for us to ponder. I was lucky enough to have made a connection through another Bryan researcher… who enjoyed a correspondence with Thelma… and through him… I learned of these “Bryan” family tales.

Thelma attended a “Woody” family reunion in 1971… and it was there where she first learned of the “Bryan” tales. She was told that Calloway Bryan, son of Berrian Clark Bryan, had a special knife given to him by Daniel Boone… a knife with names and dates listed on a paper bound around the handle. Supposedly Calloway carried this very hunting knife to war (Civil War) with him… but it’s told that the knife never returned with him. This story was told to Thelma by Rosanna Bryan, who lived in Levittsburg, Ohio… her husband was a grandson of this very Calloway Bryan.

The tale below was told to Thelma by the grandchildren of Rausey (Bryan) Woody and Parthena (Bryan) Bruce – Ray; both were sisters of Berrian Clark Bryan.

A granddaughter of Thelma’s family once wrote a theme paper for school… entitled “My Uncle Daniel Boone & Aunt Rebecca Bryan.” The girls grandmother scolded her saying… “when you speak of family, tell the truth. Daniel Boone was not your uncle, he only married your Aunt Rebecca Bryan.” Talk about confusing the child!

Rebecca Bryan was born Jan. 9, 1739, and married Daniel Boone on Aug. 14, 1756 in North Carolina. From much speculation, we do believe that our Bryan line came into Georgia via North Carolina… and we place John Bryan’s birth around 1850-60… so that could very well place him as Rebecca’s younger brother.

Another tale told to Thelma, was that the very same Daniel Boone and Rebecca (Bryan) Boone were the uncle and aunt of our James Bryan… so that would make Rebecca the sister of his father, John Bryan. Naturally, this is exactly what all the Bryan researchers want to hear… the connection to Daniel Boone. I searched up and down, inside and out… and I have yet to find a solid link as of yet, but that still doesn’t mean that it isn’t true! It just means that I haven’t found the connection! Any researcher will tell you… that there’s always a chance! I know the Boone line has been pretty well documented, but there are still a few lines that seem to have migrated off the path, leaving holes with no documented information… and I’m hoping that’s my case. It might not be me, but maybe one day… another researcher will find that missing link to turn our tales and lore into a documented story… and they will write that story!

And just like with my McKinley line… there were mentions of three “Bryan” brothers who went to Kentucky with Daniel Boone… and said how they were uncles of my James Bryan. While it is documented that a John and Nancy (unk) Bryan are parents of my James Bryan… I do not have any documentation of John’s parents or his siblings.

Those “three” Bryan brothers who went to Kentucky with Daniel Boone to build Bryan’s station were William, James, and Morgan….. all sons of Morgan Bryan. The oldest son of Morgan Bryan was Joseph Bryan… who is said to be the father of my “John” Bryan (married to Nancy)… and possible brother to Rebecca Bryan (married to Daniel Boone).

The last tale/lore from Thelma, was that way back somewhere, there were two Bryan brothers, both judges… and one being the direct ancestor of William Jennings Bryan. He’s another line I have peeked into, but never found anything to warrant a deeper look.

Morgan Bryan’s only brother was William… and it’s said he was the direct ancestor of William Jennings Bryan. I did find it odd in how Thelma presented that in her letters… but in actuality, if William is a direct ancestor… then so is his father and all his siblings.

There is much documentation on Morgan Bryan and many of his childrens’ lines… as well as the documentation telling us how Morgan and William Bryan’s grandfather was deported by Cromwell, from County Clare in Ireland… of where he had vast land holdings, before arriving at Gloucester Beach, Virginia.

The more Thelma researched… the stronger she felt in her beliefs that our John Bryan and wife Nancy (unk), of Franklin County, Georgia, was the younger brother of Rebecca Bryan, who married Daniel Boone… and that they both were the children of Joseph Bryan, and sibling of our John Bryan. I, along with many other researchers, would like to believe this… but as of yet, we have not seen any documentation to unite them as siblings.

From cousin, Margie von Marenholtz, I learned of this family tale/lore: “My great grandfather, Anderson Lane Franklin, son of Anderson Green Franklin, grandson of Tarence Bryan, and great-grandson of John Bryan (also my 5th great-grandfather), was interviewed for his 95th birthday in 1960… although it was really his 94th.” The interview began… “although William Jennings Bryan was a three-times loser in his race for the Presidency, he never lost a foot race with his cousin, Anderson F. (should be L.) Franklin of 3635 Mayfield Avenue, La Crescenta. Of course William Jennings Bryan was somewhat older than Franklin, who is 95 today… but who recalls vividly many happenings of the past 90 years.” “The newspaper was The Ledger, Feb. 25, 1960. I wrote the biographer of Wm J. Bryan in the 1970’s, but never received a reply and have never found a connection of Wm J. Bryan’s father, Silas… to either be an uncle or second, or even a third cousin to my great grandfather.”

If only, Ila Stargel Jones, a granddaughter of Berrian Clark Bryan, was still living for me to ask these questions of our Bryan family tales and lore. She was a strong force at age 93 when I first met her… and had a mind still very sharp. I treasure her letters of factual family stories written to me, and it was through her that I learned more on her (our) grandfather… my 3rd great grandfather, Berrian Clark Bryan, who fought in the Civil War. Ila was a young and wise 19 year-old when he died, and she wrote a lengthy letter describing his death and burial… detailing who dug his grave and how they dressed his home made coffin… and even who built it. What better facts can you have… other than a person who was actually there… and knew the person… but speculations, can always give you a glimmer of hope!


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Family Stories: Boy Scout Camping and Memories

Family Stories: Boy Scout Camping and Memories

… as told to me by my husband – these are his memories!

I was eleven and a half years old (1959) when I first joined the Boy Scouts. My best friend Ralph Camputaro joined first, but I didn’t join until the following January… joining mostly for the camping aspect of scouts… as I wanted to go camping in the summer for two weeks.  My first camping trip was in 1960… celebrating the Boy Scouts 50th anniversary. Our troop consisted of about eighty boys… and if they all showed up on Thursday meetings, there wasn’t even enough seating in the room. On nights when our parents attended for family dinners… it was very crowded.

Our troop was first known as “Troop 716”, but later it was changed to Troup 16… and no one ever had an answer as to why. Conroy Taylor was our troop leader with Ken Bradley as the assistant leader; I remember Ken having earned every scout badge there was… I was impressed! Conroy Taylor’s outside job was photography… I’m not sure if he had a studio, but I do know he took pictures for the local newspapers, as well as many school functions. He was also a very good friend of my uncle Johnny Cambino, and even was their wedding photographer. His name is found on many older newspaper photos.

I attended Boy Scouts from the time I turned 11 until age 14!

My mother bought my first Boy Scout uniform at Kornman’s Department Store (94 Campbell Ave.), located in the “old center” part of West Haven… which was closer toward the end of Campbell Ave… near the beach. That clothing store sold all scout uniforms for both boys and girls. People often referred to that area as the old center, while calling the part down toward the green and Silvers Drugstore, just the center.

American Legion Hall… we attended on the top floor.

We attended scout meetings on the top open floor of the American Legion Hall on Center Street; it was just next door to Silver’s Drugstore. Scouts met every Thursday night, 7 to 9:30.  Ralphie’s (Camputaro) father took us every Thursday night around seven o’clock. I usually walked over to his house early and we’d watch Huckleberry Hound and Amos & Andy. As my father was usually just getting home around 7 at night, he would pick us up. It was only in the winter months that we had rides there and back… in the summer months we walked.

In the summer, was when we usually stopped at Silver’s and maybe had an ice cream sundae… if we found money in the pay phones. I’d usually have a black & white for 10-cents, or if I was feeling rich… have a sundae for 25-cents. But first things first… the first thing you did when entering Silver’s was check the three wooden phone booths for extra change… that sometimes determined what you were having. I never walked in Silver’s without first checking the money return slot… money was often there, just waiting to be found.

After our treat, I’d call home… the signal was to let it ring only once and hang up… then my dime would come back to me. There was a boy in our troop, whose father had stock in the phone company, who showed us another trick. You first put your dime in… then as the dime trickled down, and at just the right time… you slammed the receiver hard on the metal holder… and sometimes your dime came back, giving you a totally free phone call… and if you were really lucky, you got back more than your dime. It didn’t work all the time, but it worked quite often. I also learned how to whistle in Scouts by cupping my hands together… learning from an older scout in our troup. It took some practice, but I eventually learned how.

  “If we didn’t stop at Silver’s, we walked to Kelsey’s Pharmacy and had a treat at their counter, but again not before checking their wooden phone booths also.”

Old Settlers area today… Settlers Woods housing subdivision

There were three Boy Scout camps I attended during the years I was in. The first one was Old Settler’s Camp in Milford, just off New Haven Avenue. The only thing there was just a field for camping… a field usually of over three-feet high grasses… waiting for us in the spring when we camped. We often brought our own machete to help clear the area before setting up camp. Now it’s no longer there… just a subdivision of homes, but now known as Settlers Woods.

It was Mrs. Garland, who originally sold those 110 acres of land in Milford to the Quinnipiac Council in 1955… which became known as Old Settler’s Camp. The camp was used for short-term camping and Cub Scout day camp. The Boy Scouts later sold the property in the 1980’s to be developed for business; the sale was mainly due to the local Council needing cash to maintain other camps that were in disrepair.

We always arrived at Old Settler’s on Friday nights by 5 O’clock… it was only weekend camping; my parents would pick me up on Sunday afternoon. More often than not… it was usually raining or drizzling on those Friday nights when we arrived, but for the most part, the other days were nice; I went three years in a row. It was only a big open field area surrounded by woods with a stream nearby. The camp supplied all the tents and supplies needed there, with each patrol having a large main tent where you made your fire and cooked… ours was a Baker’s style tent; we slept in pup tents – two to a tent. After helping to put up the main tent, we then built a fire, which was always a first priority. In pitching our pup tents, we dug a trench all around to catch water if it rained… that helped to keep us dry. Our floors were dirt… you really roughed it there.

Camp Cedarcrest, another local camp located at 886 Mapledale Road in Orange… 43 acres along the Wepawaug River that ran through the property. It was created in 1924 by the Inter-Service Club Committee of New Haven. It was another weekend only camping area for the scouts; the camp was near Rt. 34 and Rt 15, so easily accessible.

The only things I usually brought to camp there was my knapsack, axe and sleeping bag; you packed everything on your back and carried it. The knapsack I used was either Uncle Tony’s or my fathers; I don’t know what happened to it. The sleeping bag was given to me by Uncle Johnny; guess it faded away to nothing and was eventually thrown out. Uncle Pete also gave me a knapsack, which I still have today. Later, I bought a belt, canteen, and holder at Herman’s for three dollars… the canteen fit in the holder and that clipped on the belt; the belt held everything you needed to carry. I bought mine, like everyone else at that time, at Herman’s Army Navy on the Boston Post Road; they had real Army surplus supplies, not like today, where it’s all from China.

My Boy Scout items saved through the years… all made in the U.S.

There was a stream that ran through the woods at Camp Cedarcrest… previous Boy Scouts had dammed up a pool of water so you were able to dip your hands in for washing… often we had to break the ice with our axe in the winter to wash and brush our teeth. We really lived on the land when camping there.

There were some cabins there, but very primitive. Each cabin had about 8 bunks and a fireplace, but there was no insulation in the walls… looking more like a garage where you see the studs showing. There was usually snow on the ground when we went in early January. The only thing we did there on the weekend was hiking, and looking for wood for our fireplace. We’d arrive on a Friday night… and by early Saturday morning we were up early chopping wood with our own axe we brought. Every scout had their own… and I still have mine today; my father gave me my first axe. While we chopped wood, someone usually went out to get us breakfast. We also maintained our own axes… sharpening them when dull. I’m sure today the scouts probably aren’t allowed to bring them!

Still have my axe after all these years…

We learned a lot at camp in living off the land… things like… you don’t start a fire on top of leaves, you first clean the area… cleaning off a good five feet circle of debris away before making a fire; you don’t want to start a forest fire. In Boy Scouts we learned those rules, but I already knew them as I had older uncles who taught me. At scout camp we also had to sleep under the stars once a week, just in our sleeping bag… and you kept your flashlight close to your side.

Even though there wasn’t really anything to do there other than hike and just be outside… it was a place to go and be away from your parent’s… being on your own a little… helping you in learning how to take care of yourself.

Camp Cedarcrest has greatly changed today, as they now have a dining hall, picnic pavilion, sports area for outside activities of basketball, horse shoes, baseball, soccer and even bocce. There are now 17 cabins and a large tent area, and often even rented out for family gatherings and weddings.

I marched a few times in West Havens’ Memorial Day parades… and it was plenty hot… often with temps up to like 98 degrees on some days. We marched with our short pants and knee high socks, not like the kids today. Today, they just march in regular clothes – what discipline is that? We were required to be dressed… and march in every parade if you wanted to stay in the Boy Scouts. That’s how it should be! My parents never came to watch, that I remember…. it usually was my Aunt Catherine who came to the parades.

Camp Sequassen… Connecticut Yankee Council

My favorite camp to attend in the summer was always Camp Sequassen, located at 791 West Hill Rd. in New Hartford, Ct. The 600 acres of forest was situated at the foot of the Berkshires with West Hill Pond located alongside the camping area. We always called it Lake Crystal as it was so clear. The middle of the lake was about 60 feet deep and so clear that you could even see the crayfish walking on the bottom. I first went to camp there beginning when I turned 12.

I went to Camp Sequassen every summer for two weeks… from 12 to age 14… and it often rained at some point while I was there. I always wanted to arrive before lunch as there was lots to do… they gave us a quick physical and then a swimming test… all that had to be done before we could do anything.

Camp cost $40 a week, but we always sold fundraiser items to help defray the cost. I usually sold about $80 out of that fundraising suitcase… with a percentage of the money going toward my camp cost. Most of the items sold were useful items like cheese slicers, kitchen saw or fire extinguishers, so people didn’t really mind buying. I usually sold to the neighbors, both of my grandmothers and the aunts always bought something; my parents paid the rest of the camp cost.

Being able to attend Camp Sequassen for two weeks every summer, was one of the main reasons I joined the scouts.

In going for two weeks, I brought a foot locker there with clothes… and it was where I kept my rolled up sleeping bag during the day. We were in the middle of the woods… and yes there were bears. No food or candy was allowed in the camp sleeping area… and food must always be consumed in the mess area. One year a boy left candy in his bag, and we returned to find his sleeping bag and area ripped apart. While I never saw a bear there… they were there!

We slept in tents, no matter what the weather was!

Camp was all about the buddy system… you went nowhere alone! Swimming and canoeing were my main priorities there… and we did both morning and afternoon, but always with a buddy. From the moment we arrived, we were tested for swimming capability. If you were tagged as a white swimmer… it meant you could not swim; red meant you were between a white and blue swimmer. You had to be a blue simmer to go out in a canoe at Boy Scout camp… I was a blue swimmer.

Crystal Lake at Camp Sequassen

Non-“white” swimmers weren’t allowed out in the boats at all; they did offer swimming lessons, so everyone had a chance to learn. Blue and red swimmers could go out in the regular boats, but the canoes required you to be a blue level; you kneeled in the canoe to paddle. Before letting you go out in a canoe, you had to prove yourself by tipping the canoe over, then flipping it back right side up… then crawling back in. If you could not accomplish this, no matter what color level you were – you didn’t go out.

 “The rules at Camp Sequassen as a Boy Scout were… No one went out alone… you went with a buddy… and No one went out in impending weather!”

Another one of the best parts of going to camp there was The TeePee Trading Post at Camp Sequassen. I usually only had about $10.00 with me… if I was lucky… so I had to buy wisely and sparingly to make it last the two weeks. I remember buying a knife there for $2.25. We also had a shooting range, where we used “real” rifles… imagine that today! They were 22 gauge rifles, and you could shoot for 25 cents a round, with 10 shots in that round. It added up… I enjoyed spending time at the range.

Assemblies at camp were usually once or twice a week… requiring us to dress in our uniform, complete with the high socks, tassels, and garters… it was all about discipline! Sure wish I had a picture of that! I always enjoyed hearing the bugler playing revelry every morning… telling us to get up… Taps were played in the evening. When I look back now… being in the Boy Scouts wasn’t much different than being in the Air Force… in the discipline aspect of it.

Steve’s “slide” held his Boy Scout neckerchief secured around his neck… also referred to as a woggle.

There were many different weekly activities at camp like wheelbarrow races… which were run barefoot; I always took the bottom, as I was fast. The knot tying races were fun… seeing who could tie knots the fastest… I was good at that! There was also archery… another favorite of mine. We had about 66 boys in our troop… with 16 in our “wolf patrol. We also played softball, and badminton against other troops at camp, it wasn’t just our troop there… they came from all over the state… and it was all about competition!

Another activity in Boy Scouts I enjoyed, was making canoes out of the bark of the White Birch trees; we formed the tree bark into a canoe shape and stapled them together. The bark doesn’t stay on the tree very long – its very fragile, so it’s often found on the ground. Years ago, there were quite a few across the street from my parents house… my friends and I had chopped down all the small ones across the street with our axes when we were young – we thought we were all Davy Crockett’s!

Like father… like son… following into Scouts!

Sometimes today I’ll hear a song like “Sherry”… which quickly flashes camp memories back. The last year I went to Camp Sequassen was in 1962… I was 14 years old… and when I got back from my two week stay, it was the most popular song playing on the radio. Sherry by Frankie Valli & The Four Seasons was played day and night! The first time I heard it, I thought it was the best song I’d ever heard – their voices were so different from all the other songs out there at that time. Now I don’t think it’s that great anymore.

  “I was fourteen years old, at silver star level, when I left Boy Scouts


To read more Family Stories… click HERE

“Steve’s memories written from the many conversations we’ve had through the years”

© 2021, copyright Jeanne Bryan Insalaco; all rights reserved

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Family Stories: August 7, 2021 – National Purple Heart Day

National Purple Heart Day – August 7, 2021

Purple Heart Day commemorates the creation of our military’s oldest American military decoration… first created for military merit during the American Revolutionary War… the Badge for Military Merit was awarded and decorated six soldiers during that war.

I’d like to honor my uncle “Edgar “Leroy” McKinley” on this day and my husband’s grandfather “Giuseppe “Joe” Cambino“.

Edgar “Leroy” McKinley

My uncle, “Edgar “Leroy” McKinley”, was killed in action on Feb. 19, 1945, of which he received his declaration posthumously. I can’t even imagine how hard it was for his commander, Lt. Mecklem to write my grandparents a few months later – even harder for them to receive such a letter of condolence from their son’s unit commander. A few words from that letter: “There is very little that I can say about his death on Feb. 19, 1945. He was killed by an enemy rifleman as we were cleaning out a woods – a few miles inside Germany. He died instantly and endured no suffering at all.” Sad to imagine how many letters he wrote during those long months of fighting.

Purple Heart award to family of Edgar “Leroy” McKinley


Giuseppe “Joe” Cambino… better known as “Buddy” the barber

Steve’s grandfather saw combat with Co. L. 102nd Infantry Reg of the 26th “Yankee” Division at Chemin-des AEF Dames Sector, Aisne Front, and the Battle of Seicheprey, where he was wounded on June 10th, 1918. Upon returning home, Joe opened his own business and Buddy’s Barber Shop was where he spent his days. It seemed to not have been known in the family that Joe had received a Purple Heart… until I learned from his son Frank. He told me that while one day at his father’s barber shop, he opened a cabinet in the back room and there the Purple Heart lay inside. If only there had been more conversation! The barber shop was sold when Buddy retired, and all seemed to have been left behind… no one knows what happened to the medal. There was this certificate (below) that always hung in Joe’s house… awarded to him upon being wounded in WWI. After reading the history on this certificate… often the service members were were sent a Purple Heart in later years. So possible, upon receiving the medal, he showed no anyone… instead humbly laying it on the shelf in his barber shop… not wanting to relive his war days.


World War I lithographic certificate, known as the “Lady Columbia Wound Certificate”, was awarded to Giuseppe Cambino, Pvt. Co. B., 102nd U.S. Infantry… depicting Columbia dressed in white, with a large billowing American flag behind her, knighting a uniformed soldier with bayonet kneeling in front of her… signature of Woodrow Wilson on bottom. World War I service members who already were awarded a lithograph became eligible for a Purple Heart in 1932.

This certificate was framed and hung in the home of Giuseppe Cambino for forever… with no one knowing that he had also received a Purple Heart medal… Grandpa Joe was very humble in speaking of his award.

Even though the Purple Heart award wasn’t created until after World War I, all military service members who were wounded after April 5, 1917 were eligible to receive the award.


A little history on The Purple Heart…

General George Washington was the creator of the Badge of Merit in 1782… an honor badge presented to soldiers for “any single merit action.” At that time, it was only a purple heart-shaped piece of silk with a thin edge of silver. The word “Merit” was embroidered in silver across the heart.

It was through the efforts of General Douglas MacArthur, that the U. S. War Department created the Purple Heart to what we see today. The medal created bears a bust of Gen. George Washington and his coat of arms.

General Douglas MacArthur received the first newly designed Purple Heart. The first woman to receive a Purple Heart was, Army Lt. Annie G. Fox, receiving for her actions during the attack on Pearl Harbor.

In reading the history of the “Purple Heart”, I was astonished and sad, to learn that an accurate and complete list of names does not exist… there is only an estimate of nearly 1.9 million service members who have received. Up until 1944, the Purple Heart was still also given to service members for their commendable actions as well as those who gave their life. It was later in 1944, the requirements to earn the Purple Heart was limited to only those who were wounded or killed in combat.

While searching for more information on the “Lady Columbia Wound Certificate“, I found the site Purple Hearts Reunited. Their mission is to return lost, stolen and misplaced military medals of valor to veterans or their families, in order to honor their sacrifice to the nation. On this site you can enter missing medals… I entered Steve’s grandfather’s Purple Heart as missing.

The National Purple Heart Hall of Honor museum is located in New Windsor, N.Y., and are in the process of gathering names from family and friends to construct a record of all who were in honored in receiving a Purple Heart. If you have a family member, do take the time to ensure they are honored by being listed on their Honor Roll. Click HERE for the document in adding a veteran to the Honor Roll. I will be adding my uncle and Steve’s grandfather.

The Purple Heart still remains as the oldest U. S. military honor bestowed upon service members. Pending before Congress is the Private Corrado A. G. Piccolo Purple Heart Preservation Act. If passed, the Act will make it illegal for anyone other than the recipient to sell a Purple Heart Medal that has been awarded.


To read more Family Stories… click HERE

© 2021, copyright Jeanne Bryan Insalaco; all rights reserved

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2014: 52 Weeks 52 Ancestors


My name is Jeanne Bryan Insalaco, owner and writer of 2014: 52 Week 52 Ancestor Stories. I Thank You Amy Johnson Crow for your 2014 motivation challenge – I’m back writing! I look forward to sharing them weekly with you so pull up a chair and sit a spell…

I originally began this first blog… just for these stories. I’ve made one post here on my current blog, just for links to those stories… making them more accessible for reading.

If you’d like to read more on Amy’s challenge on Ancestor Stories…..

Amy Johnson Crow, author of the blog “No Story Too Small” issued the following challenge: “Have one blog post each week devoted to a specific ancestor. It could be a story, a biography, a photograph, an outline of a research problem — anything that focuses on one ancestor.

I accepted the challenge and completed it!

 Here are my 2014 stories – 52 Ancestors in 52 Weeks.


1:  Ola Askew McKinley

2:  Berrian Clark Bryan

3:  Joseph Thomas Sharp

4:  Ila Stargel Sewell Jones

5:  Heirloom Recipes

6:  Searching for Family

7:  The Shoe Hits The Wall

8:  Edgar Thomas McKinley

9:  Harold “Clayton” Bryan

10: Paul Pinkney Bryan

11: I want Pancakes ‘Aunt Tis – Christine Askew Amos

12: Lena McKinley Van Dusen

13: Edgar “Leroy” McKinley

14: Siloam Hauntings on the McKinley Farm

15: William Clark Bryan

16: William Madison Bryan

17: Bryan Family Reunions

18: Cotton Growing on the McKinley Farm

19: McKinley and Bryan – Southern Family sayings…

20: Dear Bryan and McKinley Ancestors…

21: Sander’s Mill and Bowden Pond

22: Those Ahh Moments

23: Greene County Georgia Baseball with Leroy McKinley

24: Will the Real John Bryan step forward

25: Edgar “Lawson” McKinley

26: Evelyn Irene Little Bryan

27: Tornado’s in Greene Co., Georgia

28: B. C. Bryan – Dahlonega’s Blue Ridge Rangers

29: James and Elizabeth (Cain) Bryan

30: A Family Search, an old Church and Ghosts…

31:  The Tale of the Two Nancy Bryan’s…

32: “There’s Gold in Them Thar Hills” Tillman D. Gooch

33: Louise “Alma” Wilson Little-Gossett

34: Narcissa C. Meadows Sharp

35: Reflections of “Mr. Paul” – Paul Pinkney Bryan

36: Dear Photograph – Thanks for the Memories…

37: Anchors Aweigh… U.S.N. Harold “Clayton” Bryan

38: May I Have your Autograph Willie Mae, Catherine, Grace, Kendrick?

39: Two Sisters Married Two Brothers…

40: My Mother – Helen Rebecca McKinley Bryan…

41: Rosa L. Sharp (Sharpe) McKinley (1869-1902)

42: William Pinkney Turner and Laura A. Gooch

43: Granddaddy was a Pack Rat…Maybe not…

44: North Carolina McKinleys head into Georgia…

45: Just When I thought I knew it all…

46: I Pack my Suitcase with…         

47: James Bryan – War of 1812…     

48: Rebecca Ann Mapp…             

49: The Hilsman Family…                  

50: Rolling on into my Meadows…

51: Mary, Mary Quite Contrary….

52: Week 52 and I Made it!     

 2014: My Year in Review


© 2014, copyright Jeanne Bryan Insalaco; all rights reserved

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Weekly Chat: August 5, 2021… I’m Back for catch-up chatting

I’m Back…

I seem to have burnt myself out after the 30 “daily” writing on my 2021 April A to Z this year… but I’m trying motivate myself in finishing some of my blog posts I have pending… and writing this new weekly chat. I’m thinking now I should have really called these… Monthly Chats!

Do you also have several blog drafts started… meaning to write… but then other things get in the way… like life, knitting, cooking, vacation? I have so many things I want to finish, but I just can’t seem to accomplish them all at the same time. I really need to dig into my stash of junk journal supplies and get busy creating some journals… as I’ve accumulated lots of stuff… now only need to start; I’ve wanted for the longest to create a travel and Nancy Drew junk journal for the many things I’ve saved. The first thing though… is to clear off my dining room table, which has become my craft “holding” table!

Magnus the Mouse… and that tail that intrigued me in knitting him!

I’ve been on and off with my knitting… but still have socks to finish, and socks I want to begin. I recently sent off knitted slippers I made to my daughter in law… as there’s always a few chilly mornings in Florida. Finally finished my knitted Magnus the Mouse, his clothes, and even his tail… but in thinking he needed a girlfriend, I began another. I had struggled slightly with the first one in reading the directions, so wanted to perfect the pattern better… but that didn’t quite work out, as the second one befuddled me just a bit more… but I finally finished her… just need clothes now. There were no clothes pattern for a girl, so I’m going to have to look around at something that might fit her. Wish I was one of those knitters who could just knit a simple jumper dress out of my head… but that’s not going to happen! If anyone knows of a knitted dress for like a 9-inch stuffed mouse… send my way. If you’re curious about Magnus, check out the link HERE; it’s a Carlos & Arne pattern.

One of the main reasons I’m not a fan of knitting animals… is having to make so many components to complete the end. With Magnus, there were 2 legs, then attach to make the body… then 2 arms to attach before knitting the head. Afterward, having to knit 2 ears… and then that 8 inch tail… and besides having to knit all those separate pieces… there’s often sewing involved. And just when you think you’re finished… you have to dress them… meaning that you must now knit clothes… which consisted of pants and a sweater for Magnus. I’ll soon be writing a separate post on knitting the Magnus… once I knit a dress for his girlfriend…. hmm, she also needs a name!

So what are you knitting?

This is the scenery I see everyday by riding by the beach area! Whenever we travel, it’s always the first place we come upon returning home! This area is known as Bradley Point… and a favorite walking spot to relax way out under the two trees at the point. Many years ago, there were even houses on Bradley Point… so hard to imagine today!

Summer in Connecticut has been a little iffy this year… and while we’ve had many hot days, we’ve also had more than our share of rainy days… which has made it hard to plan anything. Summer music on the town greens were back this year, but often with rain preempting much of it. As of the past week, with more dry days… things are finally starting to look promising, but summer is dwindling down now, as we’ve headed into August… and school starting later this month. We did enjoy attending a few summer concerts… and just recently attended the Savin Rock Festival which took place alongside the beach area in West Haven.

We spend many mornings and evenings sitting at the beach relaxing with friends. There’s something about sitting alongside the water that’s calming, and cool… even on a hot and humid day. Several evenings there are DJ’s there… Thursdays being my favorite, as they play the oldies… but Sundays draw the biggest crowd. I’m always saying I’m going to bring my knitting or sewing… as I hate wasting time, but even when I bring it… it seldom comes out of my bag.

My granddaughters, McKinley and Grace with mom Melissa walking out on the breaker pier wall!

Sunflowers planted along the boardwalk… adding some color to the beach!

While I don’t have any vacations planned for the summer, we will be heading to Florida when the weather cools down a bit… and I can’t wait. I do enjoy hitting the road and living out of my suitcase. I’ve also been thinking of heading up to maybe Maine or New Hampshire for a few days… just stopping wherever we please with no specific agenda! Although if we hit Maine, I want one of those potato doughnuts at the Holy Donut; my favorite is the maple bacon! (We usually stop at the one in Scarborough on Rt. 1)

Marketplace, on Facebook, is another site I seem to be spending a lot of time on… as I’ve been selling there. I decided last year that it’s time to downsize, and let go of many things we’ve collected through the years. Funny though… I know I’ve sold many items… but I’m just not seeing space yet… what am I doing wrong? And don’t say “I’m buying more“. I’m trying to be more unattached to things… in order to let go. Funny how it doesn’t seem to bother me as much now to let them go! Are you letting go of things… any secrets to share?

I finally managed to finish my post on our 50th wedding anniversary… only took me two months, past our wedding date to finish, but after 5717 words later… it’s done; can be read over HERE. It was really hard in deciding… and remembering… what to include, and often now I think of something that I should go back and add in.

Well… gotta run and work on more posts to finish up… although there is always housework, but it’s not calling me this morning. I’m thinking I should have called these… Monthly Chats!


More Weekly Chat’s HERE.

If you’d like to read more Family Stories, click HERE.

© 2021, copyright Jeanne Bryan Insalaco; all rights reserved

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