Family Photographs… and their stories: Finding Nancy Drew

Do you see Nancy Drew?

Isn’t it always the case… look for one thing… and find another unexpected surprise. My husband strongly believes that it’s meant to be. While looking for a specific photo today to complete a post… and after exhausting all the boxes he pulled out from under the bed… and not finding it… but I did find this awesome photo!

Before looking through several packages of photos… that were in a box of miscellaneous items… and wondering why they were there… I continued my original search. Suddenly thinking of Shutterfly, I looked there… and Bingo I found them. I know they must be somewhere on my computer, but at least they made their way online for me to retrieve.

So what did I find in those packages of photos that had been packed away where they shouldn’t have been? I found photos my daughter must have taken of her room… and no sooner than I looked at the one above… the yellow caught my eye. I immediately thought to myself… “could they be her Nancy Drew books on the bookshelf?” I was so excited to actually see them on her shelf… and so wishing that in all the photographs I had of my room as a child, that my Nancy Drews had shown up.

Last year hubby came up from the cellar with a box… placing it on the floor in front of me, saying, “I think you’ve been looking for these.” He was so right! When Melissa took the books off her bookcase, she packed them in a box and put them in the cellar… where they’ve been for a long, long time. They resurfaced at the right time… and now they are back on her bookshelves!

If you’d like to read more on Nancy Drew, click HERE, or read my April A to Z on Nancy Drew over Here.

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If you’d like to read about more family photographs and their stories, click HERE.

© 2021, copyright Jeanne Bryan Insalaco; all rights reserved

Posted in Daily Writings and funnies..., Family Photographs... and their stories | Tagged , | 3 Comments

Family Stories: Button… Button, Who’s Got The Button

The contents of my favorite button jar… mostly all coming from my mother. I can only assume she cut them off the many clothes that came her way wile working at the senior center. Those tooth looking buttons look like they belong on Fred Flintstones saber tooth outfit he always wore … if only I knew where they really came from!

Every time I look at my button jars, I’m reminded of my mother telling me how she played the game… “button, button, who’s got the button” as a child growing up in the 30’s and 40’s. It was a game where they sat around in a circle and passed around a button held in their hand… you passed it into the persons hand next to you, while not letting anyone know if it was really passed or not; she enjoyed playing with her mother’s box of buttons and thimbles… items used as toys. Mama remembers how actual toys were far and few in between… children learned to make their own fun.

While visiting mom one year on vacation, we scouted out the old log cabin where she was born… as we walked to the back, she pointed up the stairs toward the loft and told us about all the many thimbles, of her mothers that she and her brother, Leroy, lost in between the rafters. Mama really wanted to venture up those stairs that day… but as we were already trespassing, I persuaded her strongly that it wasn’t the best of ideas. If you knew my mother… you’ll know that almost nothing ever stopped her from doing something she really wanted to… but her grandson was with us on that day… thankfully she listened more to him than me, which was often the case!

Cabin originally had a porch on front… as mama remembers.

Mama really wanted to climb those stairs again… looking for thimbles and buttons!

On every trip home to visit mom… the night before leaving, my suitcase suddenly became “pack my suitcase with“… everything she thought I should take home. I’ll have to write a post on all my excursions returning home. Buttons were always an easy thing to pack… as they fit almost anywhere! On one trip a huge cast-iron frying pan even went into that suitcase… and arrived home safe and sound!

Mama volunteered at the senior center probably over 30 plus years, and working in the “clothes closet” for as long as I can remember. The clothes closet was their thrift store… and it was her favorite place, as she loved looking through all the many things donated there… besides just clothes. Whenever I mentioned if she’d seen something… she’d say… “just wait long enough, it’ll show up there eventually“… and for the most part, she was always right.

What did show up there often, were buttons… as buttons are on everything. On one trip home, she pulled out these exquisite vintage beaded buttons… she was so proud of them, telling me that they had cut them off a few old coats that weren’t wearable any longer, but the buttons were so beautiful, that she saved them for me… knowing I’d love them… and she was right!

I’ve never seen beaded buttons like this… and I can only imagine what type of coat they were cut off of… and wondering what year they would have been fashionable… 30’s, 40’s, 50’s? They were from someone’s loved coat!

The saving of buttons is probably about as old as saving fabric. Mama remembered her mother’s fabric basket… they were her treasures! When grandmama pieced quilts, that’s where she worked from… a pile of saved flour sacks, old clothes… anything that could be reused. In those days, going to a fabric store to buy “new” fabric was not something often afforded. My grandmother was an avid quilter… not a sewer of clothes… but she treasured her fabrics, no matter where they came from. She also saved buttons… as who didn’t have a tin of buttons… never know when you’ll need one. My mother and grandmother came from a generation of savers… they were the true green and frugal generation. Even granddaddy was a saver, but of different items… his treasures would have been behind the barn and consisted of wood, iron, nails and probably extra barb wire.

My mother learned to sew and embroidery by sitting alongside her mother in the evenings… grandmama only sewed by hand, never wanting to use one of those new-fangled pedal sewing machine. After my mother began sewing, her father bought her a used pedal machine… and she began making her own clothes, as well as her own patterns… by tracing around her own clothes; Grandmama’s button box soon became a treasure trove.

While my grandmother didn’t really mind mama using her buttons, she did mind her taking fabric from her treasured stash… and on one afternoon while her mother was working in the field, mama discovered yards of new fabric… and sewed all afternoon… so proud of all she had made for her bedroom… consisting of new curtains and other coverings for her room. Grandmama took one look and left the room crying. Mama didn’t quite understand why her mother had gotten upset until later on, but granddaddy smoothed the episode over later by buying grandmama more new fabric. In those times, buying fabric for everything you wanted to make wasn’t the norm… most things were made by re-using what you already had. Even mama’s underwear was made from flour sacks… something she always complained about and wishing for store bought ones… that weren’t scratchy!

I’m also a saver of buttons… and have to admit that I even save those extra buttons that come with coats or shirts… always hard to throw a good button away. But the funny thing is… that whenever I need buttons for a craft project, I never seem to have the right buttons needed… so off to Joanne’s I go. The one person who likes to “raid” my button jar is my granddaughter McKinley. She enjoys dumping it out to see which ones she might scurry away with, but she knows the jars that she can only look at, although I might need to begin patting her down! She and Grace remember my rules of not cutting paper with the fabric scissors, and if they aren’t sure which scissors is ok to use… they ask. I’ve trained them well on the do’s and don’t of scissor cutting for paper and fabric.

I keep my button jar under mama’s watchful eye… they make me smile!

My husband often says… “your mother had a good eye for things,” and yes she did, as we’ve brought home many of her treasured finds over the years… and she’s often remembered when we use them!

Thank You Mama for always thinking of us!

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If you’d like to read more family stories, click HERE.

© 2021, copyright Jeanne Bryan Insalaco; all rights reserved

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Family Stories: The Family Who Served… listed at the West Haven Veteran’s Museum

Family Stories: The Families Who Served… now listed at the West Haven Veteran’s Museum

Giuseppe “Joe” Cambino (1896-1972), Private 1st Class… enlisted in the Army on July 20, 1917. Giuseppe had only been in the United States a few years… arriving from Italy in 1913. Jobs were scarce at that time, so many young men chose to enlist… hoping to find work after they served. Joe served in France and the German Occupation from 1917 through 1919, and 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…. later receiving the Purple Heart. He was Honorably Discharged on April 28, 1919 and returned home to open Buddy’s Barber Shop on Washington Ave. and soon married Minnie (DeTulio) Cambino. They bought their first house on York St., then later moved to a farm on Sawmill Road where he and Minnie raised a family of seven children. Sadly after many years, he was forced to sell his farm when the construction of I-95 came through… it was mapped out to run directly through the middle of his farm. His farm was situated around the area of where the new entrance to I-95 is now, after the entrance and exits were changed on Sawmill Road. Joe then relocated his family to a home on First Avenue alongside the waters of Long Island Sound. Joe and Minnie are both buried in All Saints Cemetery in North Haven, Ct. (My husband’s grandfather)

Fred Joseph Cambino (1926-1986), Seaman 1st Class, joined the U.S. Navy on Feb. 13, 1943… two years after Pearl Harbor, (son of Giuseppe “Joe” Cambino). Most American boys were eager to join at the time… wanting to serve their country. It was never told as to why he chose the Navy, as most of the family men had served in the Army; his father served in the Army in WWI… his brothers Johnny and Frank also both chose the Army, but Freddie had always had a love for the water. He shipped out of Boston on the USS Lexington on March 31, 1944… later debarking at San Francisco, California… and then embarked on the USS Hinsdale (APA-120) on Nov 30, 1944… headed to Okinawa. As the USS Hinsdale approached the beachhead during the initial assault of the Battle of Okinawa… when “tragedy” struck on that early morning of April 1st, 1945… a suicide plane crashed into her portside, causing damage just above the waterline; it destroyed the engine room, killing all except for one man. It had been a low-gray dawn that morning, which caused the plane to not be sighted early enough before it made an almost fatal assault on all aboard. As the bombs exploded, most of their machinery areas quickly flooded, leaving all machines inoperable except for emergency equipment. Their ship was immediately dead in the water! Freddie was an aviation mechanic onboard. He carried a photograph of that hole in the Hinsdale home with him… crinkled from being carried in his wallet, but he brought it home… a reminder of the night… reminding him that he almost didn’t come home! He received medals of the American Theater, Victory Medal and the Asiatic Pacific Medal with 5 stars; was Honorably Discharged on March 28, 1946. Freddie returned home to work at Armstrong Rubber, along with many other family members. He died on Feb. 3, 1986 and is buried at All Saints Cemetery, North Haven… alongside his parents. (My husband’s uncle)

Sergeant E Frank Cambino

Frank Cambino (1932-2016), Sergeant E-5, was drafted into the U.S. Army, and inducted on January 12th, 1953. Frank listed construction as what he wanted to do in the Army when filling out his paperwork… and eventually he was sent to school and earned a diploma from the Army Engineer Core. The Korean War was raging when Frank first went in, but before leaving for Korea, the war ended. While at boot camp, he often walked to the airport on base to watch the older bubble-top helicopters takeoff and land – really wanting to fly them. Finally his name was called to ship out, soon heading to Korea. His platoon leader there gave him the nickname of Gabby because he talked all the time, telling many stories; Frank loved having a nickname finally given him, as many in his family had nicknames but him. Later, he became the assistant company carpenter on base… and while there, built a water tower and even a table and chair set for the base commander. After the company head carpenter left, he was promoted to that position. Frank was proud of his jacket full of medals he earned… as he was a perfect marksman, and had wanted to also become a sniper while in the Army. He returned home to continue in the carpentry field. He was honorably discharged on Nov. 30, 1954 with a final full Honorable Discharge from the reserves on Dec. 31, 1960. While serving during the Korean War, he received medals of the Korean Service Medal, Merit Unit Commendation, Presidential Unit Citation, UN SVC Medal, and the National Defense SVC Medal. Frank died on May 26, 2016. (My husband’s uncle)

James “Jim” Lewis Donahue (1924-2005), Private 1st Class, was inducted on March 24, 1943 in Bangor, Maine… into the Headquarters & Service Company, 879th Engineer Aviation Battalion in the U. S. Army. His qualifications earned him the military occupational specialty of heavy machine gunner, and received the Marksman-Rifle Glider Badge. James fought in battles of India, Burma and Central Burma… receiving medals of Good Conduct Medal, the Asiatic Pacific Theater Campaign Ribbon, and the Victory Medal; received an honorable discharge on January 7th, 1946 at Fort Devens, Massachusetts. After returning from the war he moved to Hamden and lived with his brother Teddy and his wife, while working as a window washer where he met his wife Catherine Cambino, who worked at Armstrong Rubber. He moved to West Haven when he married in 1950 and soon learned the roofing trade. James later worked as a railroad conductor for NY NH & Hartford RR, then Conrail and later Amtrak until his retirement in 1986; he returned to roofing and siding jobs after retirement from Amtrak. James died on August 25, 2005 and is buried alongside his wife, Catherine, in Oak Grove Cemetery in West Haven. (My husband’s uncle)

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Sergeant Stephen J. Insalaco Sr.

Stephen Joseph Insalaco Sr. (1921-2000), Staff Sergeant, was born on April 24, 1921 in Willimantic, later moving with his family, as a young boy, to Shelton, CT. Steve joined the United States Army Air-Corp and was inducted on Aug. 4, 1942. He was then working at Armstrong Rubber… a job he left in heading for boot camp on Aug. 21st. at Fort Meyers, Tampa, Fla… and soon trained with the 582th Technical Squadron Training School No. 727. After boot camp, Steve was sent to the Army-Air Forces Technical School in Madison, Wisconsin where he completed a course for radio operators; later sent to Fort Myrtle Beach, S.C. with the 316th Air Drome Squadron… working as an airline mechanic on the flight line on the B-25 planes. On January 7, 1946, Staff Sergeant Stephen J. Insalaco was honorably discharged from the Army -Air Corp. His separation for Honorable Discharge was at Mitchell Field, New York on January 7, 1946. Steve then returned home to Connecticut, and back to work at The Armstrong Rubber Co. in West Haven, where he soon met wife, CeCelia Cambino, (daughter of Giuseppe Cambino) who also worked there. They married in 1947, had two sons, and Steve soon began building their home on Sawmill Road, and like his father in law… I-95 cut through their property also, and the state moved his house to property purchased on Edward Street. After many years of working in the union at Armstrong, Steve was promoted to maintenance foreman, and remained in that position until his retirement in 1981; Stephen Insalaco Sr. died Nov. 3, 2000 and is buried alongside his wife, Cecelia, in Oak Grove Cem., West Haven. (My husband’s father)

SteveInUniform
Sergeant Stephen D. Insalaco Jr.

Stephen David Insalaco Jr. (1948-) Sergeant: I joined the Air Force in 1967, just before graduation from West Haven High School; at that time, the Vietnam War was in full force. I joined in late 1967 at the recruitment offices, along with my best friend; the offices were then located on Grove St. in New Haven near the Arena. On January 25nd, 1968 at 5 a.m., I reported to the Air Force leaving station on the corner of Chapel and Olive St. in New Haven; first stop was Lackland Air Force Base – San Antonio, Texas for boot camp. Directly afterward, I was sent to Chanute AFB in Chicago, Illinois and assigned to the Air Force Technical Training Center for schooling as an aircraft maintenance specialist. It was there where I learned to work on the Air Force “big birds”, the B-52’s. I soon received orders for Robins AFB in Warner Robins, Ga., where I was assigned to the 465th OMS, (Organized Maintenance Squadron) 465th Bomb Wing of SAC (Strategic Air Command), working on the flight line maintaining the B-52 G models. The SAC unit, the WRAFB 19th Bombardment Wing, was only there to support the B-52 bomber… the rest of the base was Logistics. While stationed there, I met my future wife, Jeanne Bryan… marrying her in 1971, but not before I was transferred for a short time to Loring AFB in Limestone, Maine; after my marriage on May 3,1971, I was transferred to U-Tapao Royal Thai Navy Air-base located on the southern coast of Thailand. It was a short stay in Thailand and I returned home to Honorably Discharge at Westover AFB in Massachusetts on Sept. 23, 1971. My wife and I first called West Haven home. and like my father, and like many other family members, I also first went to work at Armstrong Rubber.

To read more Family Stories… click HERE.

Click Brothers, and Uncles for more stories.

Click for more… Soldier, Veteran’s in the family stories.

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© 2021, copyright Jeanne Bryan Insalaco; all rights reserved

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Family Stories: Memorial Day Memories…

Memorial Day is a time to reflect on those who gave all… for our freedom… and Let us never forget!

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Edgar “Leroy” McKinley (1924-1945)

While both sides of my family lines of Bryan & McKinley have served… as well as my husband, and his family line of Insalaco… there is only “one” soldier remembered at Memorial Day… a soldier who lost his life in WWII. My mother’s only brother and my uncle… gave his life at the young age of 19…. so we may live in Freedom.

Memorial Day Memories

The Veteran Poppy flower

From a young girl, I’ve always bought the poppy flowers sold by Veterans around this time of year. My father often came home with one attached through a buttonhole… and would give to me. I’ve never walked by any Veteran selling them, without buying a couple and Thanking Them for their service; sadly today, you don’t see them sold often. A few years ago, while visiting my mom, we saw a Poppy Festival and I discovered much info on how the poppy flower came to be sold. Read about the Poppy Lady, Moina Belle Michael …. over HERE. She lived and is buried in my mother’s hometown of Monroe, Georgia.

Leroy was born on May 19, 1924, in Siloam, Greene Co., Ga., to parents, Edgar T. & Ola (Askew) McKinley. Born in the same log cabin of where my mother, Helen Rebecca (McKinley) Bryan was also born.

Leroy served in Company B, 1st Battalion, 2nd Infantry Regiment, 5th Infantry Division, serving in the Third Army. He was a replacement soldier, joining the 5th division after it was originally formed in Ft. Custer, Michigan. This 2nd Infantry Regiment was held in reserve after much brutal fighting of when the Sauer River was first crossed. He most likely crossed it, but not under fire as the 1st Infantry encountered.

In July of 1944 the 2nd Infantry Regiment, along with the 5th Infantry Division landed in Normandy, France… becoming part of General George Patton’s United States Third Army… capturing Rheims and seizing the city of Metz after a major battle at Fort Driant. I can only surmise that Leroy was there with his unit… as from letters written home, he mentioned being in France, as well as Luxembourg, and this would be the correct time frame.

The 2nd Infantry Regiment moved to the battle zone, in the area of Niederanven, Luxembourg when the Battle of the Bulge began. Niederanven is a small commune and town in Luxembourg, with a population of 1,476 in 2001… located north-east of Luxembourg City. I’m sure it was even smaller than this in 1945. The country of Luxembourg is bordered by Belgium to the west and north, Germany to the east, and France to the south. I do have a photo of Leroy in Belgium… which is probably one of his last photos taken before leaving for Luxembourg.

Last photo of Leroy in Belgium before leaving for Luxembourg. This photo was never among my mother’s photos… it was sent to me by a cousin who found it in her mothers photo album.

On a letter dated February 6th, Leroy wrote… “I am ok here at this time. Almost all the snow is gone in Luxembourg, but it is still very cold. Tonight I am heading out to see a movie. Tell my sister I am thinking of her. His letters always ended the same – Your Loving Son Always, Leroy.”

It was on that Monday night, February 19, 1945, the day of his death, that my grandmother penned a last letter to her only son… unbeknownst to her. This letter never reached him, but instead, returned… breaking her heart in receiving it back. In that letter, she had written…”We received letters dated Jan. 3rd, 12th, 13th, and 14th,, and also a V-mail from you on February 17th, dated January 24th.  I hate to hear that you haven’t received the fruitcake in the box I sent in November and the cigars I sent later in a tin box. Leroy, you said your wife wants you to come to Wisconsin to live, but I think it’s best to come home first when you get back to the States. I sure hope it won’t be long before you can come back because they might just talk you to do something you would be sorry of, and she might not sign the papers like she did last time. She said she was sorry she signed the papers. No, I haven’t heard anything from her, or either her sister.”

I can’t even imagine how hard it was Leroy’s 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. 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.

It wasn’t long afterward, that the box containing the fruitcake was returned – and it must have been right before she was told of his death, my mother remembered her mother collapsing on the ground, saying “my son is dead.”

What was the turnaround of informing the parents or spouse of a loved one’s death? I’m sure it couldn’t have been in a timely fashion. I believe this telegram was delivered by the Army as my grandfather heard the news while in town on a Saturday afternoon. In being told that the Army was headed to his farm, he tried to have them held, so he could arrive first… but they were at his house before him… he found my grandmother standing in the yard crying – “my son is dead!

It was a long two years before my grandparents were able to bring their sons body home to say goodbye and bury. My mother wasn’t able to attend her only brother’s funeral as she was married, living in Memphis, Tenn., and very pregnant… due at any time with her first child.

Leroy received the Purple Heart medal posthumously, and rests in my trunk along with the flag that was presented to my grandmother. The medal was originally sent to his ex-wife because his divorce papers were not received from the Army in time, but she later sent it to my grandmother…. saying how she should have it.

Leroy’s death has always tugged at my heart – he was my mother’s only sibling and his death left her an only child. There was so much unknown about Leroy before I began my search, but it was in reading those letters saved, I was able to piece together his thoughts and whereabouts. My mother always felt like her brother wasn’t close to her, but in reading the way he spoke about her in his letters… always asking about her, and sending his love thousands of miles away from home… still thinking of her and wishing her well. This story of his life and service has deeply touched my heart as I say a final “Thank You” for your service Uncle Leroy …you will never be forgotten! As Leroy did not live to carry on the McKinley name, his great-great niece was given his surname… so there is now a “McKinley” to carry on for him.

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For more Family Stories, click HERE

© 2021, copyright Jeanne Bryan Insalaco; all rights reserved

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Connecticut War Memorials

Connecticut War Memorials

World War II Veterans Memorial Monument… restored in 1990 by the Historic Wooster Square Association

I yearly contribute to the Honor Roll Project of  Heather Wilkinson Rojo – the purpose is to photograph and transcribe Veteran names for family research. Heather’s Blog can be found at http://nutfieldgenealogy.blogspot.com/.

Acampora. Albert
Aldieri. Sisto
Amarone. Benny
Arminio. John
Celio. Victor
Celone. Samuel
Corato. Peter
Damato. Anthony
DeCusati. Joseph
Diadamo. Rose
DePino. James

D’onofrio. Louis
Fisco. Frank
Iovene. Michael
Laucella. Victor D.
Lenzi. Joseph
Maresca. Domnic
Marzullo. Anthony A.
Migliaro. Salvatore E.
Raiano. Anthony
Ruotolo. James V.
Zimbardi. Pasquale

I have gone to Wooster Square Park for many events… and somehow this memorial that sits on the corner of Chapel and Wooster Place escaped my camera. Even in my early searches for all the war memorials in New Haven, this one never showed… but somehow it managed to catch my attention on Sunday when we rode by; my husband circled the block for me to photograph and preserve these veteran’s names.

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For more Connecticut War Memorials click… Connecticut – War Memorials

© 2021 Jeanne Bryan Insalaco

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Craft Junkie: Finishing up my WIP’s

Anyone who crafts… knits… and has a hoard stash of supplies… knows that you’ll have several WIP’s (work in progress) laying around. How many times have you searched for certain yarn… or a knitting needle called for in the knitting pattern in-hand… and where are those items? Of course you know… they’re attached to a WIP hidden somewhere in a bag or basket… or if you’re lucky… in a project bag… where at least you can transfer your stitches to a holder for safe keeping!

I made myself a promise after returning from Florida, that I would work really really hard in digging out my unfinished items… finish them… and return my knitting needles back to my knitting bag for future projects. And for the most part, except for starting one new knitting project, I am keeping to my word. So let’s take a peek at what I have completed!

I had finished two of these ribbon/lace curly scarfs… but in searching through a basket, out came a plastic bag and there was one unfinished. It really wasn’t what I wanted to tackle first, but… I quickly refreshed my mind on the directions and sat diligently all Sunday afternoon to finish. At first I didn’t think I’d ever finish, but before I knew it… I felt it was long enough and I still have leftover yarn. While not enough for another scarf… it will be quite useful when I delve into working on my junk journals. I have made a few small junk journals for the girls, but still haven’t tackled the ones I want for myself. I have gathered and saved so much “junk” for mine… so what am I waiting for! If you’d like to make a ruffled ribbon scarf click Here for video. So Easy!

And then I found the unfinished Mermaid Tails… lucky for me, I only had to finish the two purple ones. I loved the pattern the designer chose… once I managed to figure it out… but that’s what YouTube is for. I linked back to the designer (above) that I bought from…I lucked out years ago when I bought mine, as it came with the pattern for Barbie, an 18-inch doll, and young girls!

A few years ago I knitted all the granddaughters the Barbie Mermaid Tails and I knitted larger ones for the girls here for cold winter mornings. These tails will be for their 18-inch dolls, and most likely will lay on their beds along with the Scottie dogs. The blue one I made a little larger for “Big Baby” and that one goes to Nina for the big Madam Alexander baby doll of mine that I gave her. She fell in love with it one day, and I decided it should be hers to love and save! It’s almost life-like and it is a big baby doll… hence the name she gave it! I can’t wait to see “Big Baby” all snuggled inside!

Here’s a close-up look at the scallop pattern on the Mermaid Tail. Do you write all over your pattern when knitting like this? I usually make such a mess, but I try and write notes also… notes for another future knit. You do have to pay attention in using magic loop on this pattern, especially in remembering to carry the loop around the side… and there were a couple times I forgot… but no one noticed. I could have easily sewed the stitch in afterward, but honestly it wasn’t that noticeable to anyone, but me!

The very top one was given to me… it hooked me into making these quilted Christmas balls. Last Christmas I pinned pins into styrofoam balls every day until my fingers were sore!

I have a few left that need to be finished in completing this basket… hmm will I begin with new ones nearer Christmas this year? But I will finish these soon! Believe me, I went through thousands of pins last year in making all these… plus the ones I gave away!

I usually don’t attempt to knit animals… as I detest making parts and attaching… but I saw several women in my Facebook craft group show off their Magnus the mouse… and I thought him so ugly, but cute. I was hooked! Magnus is a creation of Arne and Carlos, so head over if you’d like to knit a Magnus. I usually never make myself anything, but this one is mine… and I need to think of a name for him. And you know they’ll be another… as he’s going to need a girlfriend!

Once upon a time… I started 12 socks on a 60-inch cable, but I have since ripped them off as I really wasn’t happy with a couple of the yarns and didn’t want to invest that much time… and not be happy with them in the end. Since then, I’ve decided to do 4 “at a time” socks… but I need to get back to them. Ever since I saw a few knitters online knit the 12 “at a time” socks… I really wanted to accomplish that… but I’ll get back to it another time. First things first… finish my WIP’s.

Only one more mitten to complete these two sets… and then knit one more pair for the girls in Florida on the few cold days they get. Mittens with fingers aren’t really needed there, but figured the open mittens would work.

A fellow knitting blogger knitted a few pairs of these awesome slippers… and graciously gifted me the pattern from Ravelry…. so awesome of her! I’ve knitted one pair so far and will gift them to someone. Stop over at Cosmicknitter’s blog and check out her awesome knitting.

It feels good to have completed many of my “works in progress”… plus I freed up my missing knitting needles… adding them back to my knitting bag.

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For more Craft Junkie posts, click HERE.

© 2021, copyright Jeanne Bryan Insalaco; all rights reserved

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Weekly Chats: May 12, 2021

Well I survived my April A to Z blog challenge of blogging everyday except for Sundays… off for good behavior. It was a fun and emotional blog in writing and showcasing my mom through photos and memories. I lost my mom on Nov. 30, 2020… not from Covid, but through the horrible disease of Dementia. Mama was 90, and for the most part, except the last year or so, lived a pretty good life… so unfair that we have to be go out of this world in pain… whether emotional or actual pain. Life can get pretty unfair to us at the end… and I’m not looking forward to getting any older… too many things run through my head daily.

March and April were very busy months for me as we traveled to my mother’s house… to clean out for the closing in late March. This is the second time I’ve gone through cleaning out a parents home… helped hubby with his parents house, which had pretty much been a family home to me also. Mama had lived in this last home over forty plus years… so even though I actually never grew up there, it was my last connection to a home with her. It was where I spent every summer visiting with my children… and later visiting with my husband. We never seemed to vacation anywhere other than going to visit mama. I was born in Georgia… and I loved going home to my roots every summer. Going home to see mama, eat my so-loved Southern foods, drink sweet tea and beg hubby to always stop at every stand, by the side of the road, for boiled peanuts.

The first two weeks spent in Georgia was cleaning and closing out mama’s house… and even though we had somewhat cleaned parts of it on our last couple trips last year, this was the final cleaning. It was hard thinking and realizing that once I walked out the door on the day of the closing… that I’d never be able to walk back in. I tried to put it out of my mind most days, as it only made me tear up. I was really nervous walking in the lawyer’s office for the closing, but I put it out of my mind… as the last thing I wanted was to tear up in there. I did good… no tears. Sometimes I feel like it really hasn’t hit me yet… that all those visits to my mother’s house are really over. Last year we drove down four times (960 miles) to check on her… no more trips to Georgia now… who knows! I was born in Georgia, but I’ve lived in Connecticut fifty years now this year… way more years, but it’d never feel right to not visit Georgia again .

After the house closing, we packed and headed to Florida to visit my son, daughter in law, and granddaughters… the car was so packed that I had to even leave “stuff” with a friend for pickup on the return home. Some people have no problem in throwing out someone else’s stuff… but I was very emotional in what things I wanted or had to part with. All in all… some came home with me for now… and I’m sure at a later date I can maybe part with it, but for now, it’s mine. Mama had lots of treasures… worthless or not… she loved her things.

Some people have said to me, “I bet you feel better now, that you don’t have her house lingering over your head.” I really hate when that’s said to me… as I don’t feel better. In one way I might not feel so stressed in knowing that I don’t have to clean out her house, but on the other hand, I don’t have a family home to go back to anymore.

Heading to sunny Florida… I love when I first begin seeing the palm trees! Just seeing this photo puts me in the mood to pack for a road trip to Florida!

We celebrated Easter with my son’s family… and the English Piecing Paper “patch” dogs were finally finished for the granddaughters Easter baskets… and they were a big hit! The weather was awesome there… and by the time we got back home, we went from 80 plus days to lows of 30. We had left CT. on a cold 28 degree day in early March, and by the time we stopped for the night in Virginia, it was an awesome 70 degrees… and by the time we arrived in Georgia, it was a hot and humid 90… what a big difference! After being in sunny warm Florida for over two weeks, it definitely was shock coming back home to cold weather again!

Easter in Florida… what could be better than eating outside! Girls decorated an awesome Easter bunny cake while my son cooked on the grill!

I was even treated to Sunday morning breakfast! So spoiled I was!

My Florida granddaughters, Ana, Ella and Nina with their Easter baskets and the Scottie patchwork dogs I sewed.. which was finished nightly in the hotels and in Georgia. To learn how to make them, head over HERE.

I celebrated my birthday before leaving Florida, and my daughter in law did an awesome job in decorating… it was so nice enjoying my day with them… the granddaughters drew cards and even made me my very own jar of memories.

GiGi’s memory jar filled with their memories of me… the best gift ever! I spend many crafting days with the girls… and will post separately on our craft days!

Teary-eyed photo for me… knowing it was my last day with them… but they all looked good! I’m just a too-emotional girl!

My morning view outside our room… and on our last morning a Sand Crane stopped to say goodbye. Often in the morning, I’d find various birds around like the mama duck and her ducklings that swam away faster than I could run for my camera! I loved looking out every morning… awesome clouds in Florida.

On road beside our hotel was lined with flags and palm trees… so pretty!

Before leaving Florida, I received an email that mama’s gravestone was delivered and placed in the McKinley family plot in Siloam. We stopped to see it in person on our way home… made me sad to think about it. Living so far away from her is going to almost make me feel like that she’s still really there, and I’m just not visiting. I guess I’ll have to keep myself busy and make new plans for us instead of driving to Georgia so often.

I always have to stop at the Florida welcome gift centers… you know the ones that advertise a 6 foot alligator… but they don’t tell you that it’s stuffed… but they do have the cutest baby alligators in a tank. While I took a video, this little guy was lunging at hubbys finger… guess it was lunch time! I did spot two “live” alligators in canals near our hotel… I’m always looking when we drive by any water.

Per mama’s request, I scattered her ashes at the gravesite of her parents, daughter Monica, and her brother Leroy… and also near the farm where she grew up… of where mama always said she was the happiest. Her cat Boo’s ashes were scattered along with hers… as they were inseparable and needed to be together… for forever. Before we left her house, I also left some ashes throughout her gardens… wouldn’t have been right, to not have left leave ashes in her gardens… as they were her love… when she often spent morning to evening… I often wondered where she got her strength from.

Visited my mother’s grave and left two white roses from us… even though I had seen the gravestone in my email… seeing it in person as a final goodbye is never easy.

Heading home so packed! Hubby laughed as he said, “I’m driving home like a trucker… only using side mirrors.” I could never have driven that way, but we made it home safely! We are always packed, but never like this!

Upon returning home in mid April, I finished my other two Scottie dogs for the Connecticut granddaughters… can you believe I made 5! I swore after the 5th, that I’d never sew another, but my daughter-in-law looked so forlorn when she didn’t get one, that I began another one and sent it off to her. I have one more in the works for me… cut out of my coveted Nancy Drew fabric. I’ve never hoarded fabric before… but it’s so pretty, that I honestly hate to cut it… although I did make myself a couple of masks.

McKinley and Grace in Connecticut… and were excited to receive their Scottie dogs as a late Easter gift from GiGi.

How lucky am I… being treated to two birthdays… as long as I don’t have to add two years… I’m ok with that! My daughter and son-in-law took us out for dinner and the girls picked out a special cake! A wonderful evening was had by all… and yes Melissa, “we need to do this more often.”

Hubby and I enjoyed seeing the girls after being away for almost 6 weeks. But I’m rested now… and ready for another road trip!

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For more Weekly Chats… head over HERE.

© 2021, copyright Jeanne Bryan Insalaco; all rights reserved

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Savin Rock: Published on Laff in the Dark

Click Laff in the Dark website for article, photos and more history on Fun Houses around the country… some in operation and some long gone as Savin Rock is. (Savin Rock artwork logo published with permission from George LaCross, with credit to art designer Bill Luca)

I was asked last year to write an article for publication on the long-gone Savin Rock amusement park… and excited to announce that it went live on May 9th, 2021. It was an honor to have been asked to write the story of the two funhouses… The Death Valley Funny House (1937) and Peter Franke’s Fun House (1945-46)… where both sat alongside the shoreline in West Haven, Connecticut until 1968.

As I sat working on this article the other day, I mentioned to my granddaughter, McKinley, that there once was a amusement park alongside the beach… her eyes widened before asking, “is it still there, can we go.” She was ready to find Pop and pile in the car. Sad, that the next generation will never experience… and find so hard to even imagine… as to what was once there. I tried explaining about Beach Street and how it once continued alongside the beach… where there are now only condos, and a beach boardwalk that circles behind Bradley Rock until reaching Bradley Point. I think this summer I’ll dig out my Savin Rock photo books and take her to the beach and show her in person where things were once located… so this generation will know and remember of what was was alongside the beach…. a beach where she and her sister Grace enjoy playing.

My original story can be accessed HERE.

More Savin Rock stories and photos can be found here at https://everyonehasafamilystorytotell.wordpress.com/category/savin-rock/

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© 2021, copyright Jeanne Bryan Insalaco; all rights reserved

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Craft Junkie: EPP Scottie Dogs

Easter “EPP” Scottie dogs

If you’ve never heard of EPP… don’t feel bad, as I had to google it myself when I first heard it mentioned. EPP stands for English Paper Piecing and it’s used in hand sewing with paper templates, cut into the exact size square of your project… no seam allowance needed. The one thing that I’ll stress in cutting paper templates… is to be very precise, or your squares will not be exact… meaning your squares and seams will be off. After cutting mine, I tapped them down and felt the squared edges in my hand; you can feel they are even that way… and also good to eye-ball them as they are stacked up neat. I learned about this little Scottie dog from You-Tuber, Kate Jackson, whom I watch on The Last Homely House. She’s amazing in all the crafts she makes… and if you’re like me… you’ll want to make every one of them!

I never seem to make “one” of anything… and in having five granddaughters… that seems to always be my number!

You start sewing with paper squares and fabric… covering the squares precisely is what gives you a straight precise edge. Can you guess what my next dog will be covered as? It’s one of my all time favorites and I can’t wait to see it all sewn. I never seem to make myself anything… so this one is all mine!

I began by cutting paper squares… starting with the exact size Kate made for her granddaughter… 1 3/4 inch paper square. You can pretty much use any paper, but I found magazines with shiny pages worked the best… and we all have them; mine was actually one given out free at my local supermarket. I used my small paper cutter to cut… lining up two or three pages at a time to make long strips… and then cutting into the squares needed. My size I used is not exactly what you might want to use… and there is no right or wrong in whatever size you choose to make.

All 5 granddaughters and daughter-in-law received their own Scottie dog for Easter… although daughter-in-law received hers after I returned home. Molly, the granddog, is giving me the stink-eye here… do I dare sew her one?

Supplies Needed: paper, (thin glossy magazines work best), needle and thread, pins, scissors, large buttons or felt, ribbon or scarf for neck bow, and stuffing. For small children you might want to make safer eyes using felt, instead of buttons. I’ve seen embroidered felt eyes… so be creative. My eyes were about 1 1/2 to 2 inches… as you want them to be seen and most regular buttons were too small. On my granddaughters I attached a felt heart of which I embroidered a sentiment to them. Like I’ve said, there’s not set rules… make it your own!

Each of the dogs for the granddaughters I made special by embroidering a heart on them and attaching a label I use for things I make them. It’s all about making something your own!

For my first ones, I used 27 squares for each side (total 54 for both sides) plus 30 for the gusset, but for my daughter-in-law, I added another 3 squares vertical in the center (vertical) to make his body slightly wider… making each side of 30 squares (60 total), plus32 for gusset. If you have a love of Dachshunds, you could even make this dog wider to resemble them. I know in the future I’ll probably make a larger one… as there’s no set rules… other than making sure you have the sides sewn correctly so the fabric front and back match when sewing. The dogs measure about 10 by 14 inches… give or take. I thought it was a perfect size to lay on their beds, as they are too old to play with them.

When I began folding the fabric over the paper squares, I chose to use different colored threads so it would be easier to see and remove at the end. I happen to have had a large collection of embroidery threads, so I used them (one thread) in basting the fabric neatly and even over the paper templates. Knot your thread when you begin, but just cut a short tail off after you’ve basted the large stitches around. You don’t need many stitches to accomplish the basting… just fold the fabric neatly… that’s the clue. Always strive to keep your squares neat with the fabric folded around especially folding at the corner edges.

Covering the paper squares was very easy and went by pretty fast, and I had a couple gallon size bags before I even realized. They can be quite contagious to make, as I’ve since discovered after making my first 5. I first swore, that I’d never make another one… then I began missing the sewing! And after my daughter in law said to me, “I guess I’m not getting one“… I came home to see how many squares I still had and began making her one… which is currently enroute… unbeknownst to her! So yes Rose… “you are getting one“!

Notice the thimble on my finger… after sewing for awhile, my finger was showing quite the wear… it really helps in using a thimble, especially when pushing the needle through on the gussets. I eventually discovered a silicone thimble in the Dollar Tree and absolutely love it… I even went back and bought extras so I had plenty to leave around in my different sewing baskets. Notice that my fabric on the backside wasn’t always the same size folded over… and it doesn’t matter on the backside, so I didn’t fuss in using a pattern, just eyeballed my folded fabric to cut into squares… just don’t cut too short.

This is a hand sewing project… no machine needed unless it’s your choice. It will be sewn by tiny whipstitches around the very outside edge of the fabric squares, that you’ve covered with fabric. You will sew through some of the paper, but many times you’ll be able to grab the tiniest of the edge and might not grab any paper… but don’t worry about the papers as they will all be removed before you turn the dog inside out for stuffing. If you’ve never hand sewed before, or whipstitched anything closed, you might want to practice on some fabric before starting… or watch some videos.

As you sew (whipstitch) around, use single strong thread. On my first couple, I doubled the thread thinking it’d make it stronger, but in stuffing I think my stitches showed a tiny bit more than sewing with single thread. You do want to give a slight tug on your stitches as you sew, as they need to stay tight and close together… using up very little of the basted fabric squares.

I made one of these very patch square doggies many years ago when I sold at craft fairs, but it was much larger and machine sewn. Actually I had forgotten about it until I discovered some older photographs of my craft selling days , but as usual, I can’t find it now. (I will post when found) As it never sold, my kids quickly took possession and used it as their floor pillow for years.

When cutting your paper and fabric, I’ll stress that it’s only the “paper” that must be cut precise, the fabric size is very forgiving… as long as you allow at least 1/4 inch all around to fold over the edge of the paper square. I actually eye-balled my fabric by laying the square on my folded fabric and cut my squares by sight… some were larger than others, but after folded over the paper edge, it didn’t matter… just don’t cut yourself short with very little to fold over. The edges are folded over neatly and basted to stay in place. Some have said they have used a scrapbook roll on glue, but I prefered the basting. The basting went so fast, that before I knew it, I had a huge gallon size ziploc bag of squares… just waiting to be turned into Scottie dogs.

In following Kate’s size of 1 3/4 inch squares, I made 27 squares for the front and 27 for the back, with 30 squares sewed for the gusset; I sewed my gusset squares in one continuous length of 30 and set aside. You can see here how the basting stitches look… note I used large basting stitches so the squares are sewn quickly. It’s a easy sewing project on trips!

Depending on fabric chosen, decide on placement before sewing squares together (by hand) or use a random pull from your stash of squares. I tended to lay mine out by rows, as I wanted the ear, tail and face of certain squares, but like I’ve said before… there are no rules… sew it as you want. The one thing that you need to pay attention to after making your first side, is that the second side needs to face in the opposite direction, so your front-side fabrics face each other when sewing the gusset. If you follow the first one exactly in the same direction, you will end up with either two fronts or two backs… and I did just that! But as I was making 5 doggies, it didn’t matter… I then just made two in the opposite direction. You will quickly figure out how to lay your first side down so you can follow it, but really going in the opposite direction.

I first began by laying out my rows in vertical strips as how I was sewing… I found it easier to sew them vertical to each other in rows, then after, I sewed them those vertical rows together to attach. By laying out in a visual… it helps you decide if it’s laid out correctly to match the other side. The inside “fronts” should always be facing each other, in order for the gusset to be sewn around. If you are shaking your head, just head over HERE to watch Kate explain EPP and sewing the Scottie dog… always better to have a visual.

This is an example of how you “Don’t” want your two dogs to look like at the end… as you won’t be able to sew these two together… they will not match up to right sides together. This happened to me, but luckily I was making more than one, so it didn’t affect me, other than paying more attention when I sewed the next front or back.

This is how your front and back should look like, if sewn together correctly. With the right sides facing you, both heads should be facing in the opposite direction in order to be able to flip one over to sew the right sides together.

After you have both sides of your dog made, you are ready to sew the gusset… and you’re halfway finished… as long as both your dogs “are not” facing the same way… and I hope not! In order for both sides to match for sewing the gusset on, both dogs will face right side up toward each other with the gusset connecting them; the gusset gives the dog a little dimension. Not following me… then head over to the videos I posted above.

Here is one side with the gusset sewn around. Notice that on the first attachment of the gusset, you sew it completely all around… it’s only when you attach the second side, that you “leave open” a couple of squares for stuffing… later to whipstitch closed.

Before sewing the gusset, decide where you want to stuff from, some say the bottom, or the side… I chose the back side edge. I didn’t choose the bottom as I thought maybe I’d have a hard time stuffing the feet. By using the back side, and leaving at least 2 squares open, I could reach across to push my stuffing into all the ear, tail and feet. I wanted mine to be firm, but not bulging. If not enough stuffing, you might end up with a floppy head or neck, but it’s up to you.

Don’t be intimidated on sewing the gusset… just take one square at a time… and breathe… you can do it! What I will stress is… start with even matched squares, and maybe pin your squares , one at a time, together to help you stay on target. Yes, you’ll probably find a few squares that may be a bit off, but fabric is very forgiving and you should be able to wiggle it all in. If it’s off a wee bit… don’t fret as whomever you made it for, will still shower it with love!

Many find turning the gusset on the squares a bit intimidating, and I did also, but I found that by sewing almost to the end of a square on the turns, then turning the square and pinching it together to sew, it wasn’t that hard… then just start again sewing right at the beginning of the corner until you reach the next corner and turn. You will better understand that when you start sewing.

Hope I’ve encouraged you to sew your very own Scottie dog. I’d love to hear from you if you have sewn one and feel free to message with any questions. Have Fun Sewing!

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For more of my Craft posts, click HERE.

© 2021, copyright Jeanne Bryan Insalaco; all rights reserved

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Family Stories: Reminiscing on 50 years (1971-2021) of marriage… and how it all began

Our Family… my daughters favorite photo of us!

Where do you start in writing a post on how you met your husband, and the life you’ve shared… with me being a Southern Peach (some might not agree:) and he a Yankee Airman. It was recently approached to me that I should write a how “we” came to be… and how my life transformed in moving above the Mason-Dixon line! If “you’re” reading this… this is how it happened… with another post of how my life changed, and how I adapted!!

Haven’t you always heard how “love” comes when you least expect it… well it did to me the night I met Steve on Halloween night in 1970… and it went like this in speeding it up just a bit. We dated a very short time… my father never met him… and I hardly knew anything about him… then mid December, Steve was given orders to report to Loring AFB in Maine in January… could they have moved him any further… he told me we were getting married… yes we did… and later he was sent across the ocean… and look what happened in 2021!

This year, hubby and I celebrated our 50th wedding anniversary on May 5th (1971-2021)… yikes where did those years go… and I’m seriously demanding a do-over… is anyone listening?

I’d date this photo about 1981… wow 10 years here for us!

I met Steve on Halloween night… and while he saw me all night dancing away at the local club (Sandpiper) where I went every weekend… I never saw him. Hmmm, wonder why he didn’t ask me to dance… will have to ask… he didn’t remember! I do remember being there with my girlfriend and dancing all night, but everything else that night at the club is a blur. As it was Halloween, and dress was required… I came dressed in an older prom dress as a fairy princess. What was I thinking… but that costume won me first place! I actually was way underage to have even been allowed in the club… but somehow we were always allowed in as we didn’t drink… just wanted to dance! So someone, hint hint… under-age… won a case of beer that night for her costume!

I frequented The Sandpiper club in Warner Robins… not far from the nearby Air Force base, so there were often many airmen there besides the locals. While it was a 21 age club, I was always allowed in… even though I was only 18. I’m not sure why, but the cop at the door knew we didn’t drink… so he often let some of us girls in to dance to the local bands. I had no interest in drinking… I just wanted to dance… and going the entire time while Steve was stationed there… and always puzzles me why we never ran into each other before that night… I was always on the dance floor. He never remembered seeing me… and I never saw him.

One of my favorite dresses I wore to the Sandpiper… and I still have it!

On the night it was arranged for Steve to meet me… unbeknownst to me… but we only ended up together later when my girlfriend and I went back to his house for a party. I was pointed out to him that night as the girl who wanted to meet him… but someone, I think. was trying to hook us up… as I knew nothing about him, or even that I was supposed to meet him that night.

Long story short… we walked into his house he shared with his buddies, and it was so dark that I literally tripped… with him catching me… and we never left each other’s side. Then about a month later, someone higher up, like the Air Force, decided that he should be transferred to Maine! Well, that might as well have been “the moon”… to a Southern girl. I figured, well it was nice while it lasted… even though I was feeling pretty heartbroken.

We spent as much time together as we could before he left… he asked for my address and said he’d call, but I really wondered if it’d happen… but he did call almost every day, even writing letters. We are probably the last generation who wrote letters to our loved ones using “snail mail”. I’ve always been a letter writer… writing to many pen-pals through the years… then to Steve… and many to my mother over the years. My mother talked about how she and my father wrote to each other before they married… what I wouldn’t give to have those letters, but somehow they disappeared in moves. I still have our letters saved that we wrote… and who knows… maybe the grandchildren will read them and think “wow, they had no email or cell phones?”

After Steve left, I never thought our relationship would last, as we had only known each other in person less than two months… but once he was settled in the cold, snowy state of Maine, he called everyday and wrote letters. Funny to think back now… of how often he wrote, as I can hardly get him to write anything today… although he will peck away a post on Facebook… often asking… how do you spell???… who was his dictionary before me?

Steve left Georgia mid December 1970 to spend a few weeks at home before heading to Maine after the New Year. Christmas was spent at home with his parents before heading to snowy Maine mid-January. While home, he mentioned to them that he was pretty serious about the girl he’d met in Georgia… I’m sure it wasn’t well received as I was not Italian… they didn’t know me… and I was from the South… three strikes against me!

His mom cooked Sunday dinner on his last day for him and also his Air Force buddies… Vernon (Wiggens), Chuck (Zellar), Bob (Kletsco) and Mike (Mohr); also transferred with Steve to Loring AFB in Limestone, Maine. They had all shared a house together while stationed at Warner Robins AFB in Georgia. By early afternoon, the guys left on I-95 in their cars… each following their buddy Chuck… he had been stationed at Loring before.

By the time they hit the Maine border on I-95, they ran into heavy snow… and the closer they got to the base, all Steve saw were fields and fields of snow… more snow than he’d ever seen in his life… and he was from the snowy, cold state of Connecticut. Fields rolled one after another… piled high with snow… so high that the snow banks reached halfway up the telephone poles… no fences seen in separating the farms. It was only when the snow began melting, did fence posts peek out… and he discovered that there really were fields divided by fences… which had been completely unseen… covered with snow all winter.

Arriving in the barracks, he quickly learned no fridges were needed to keep your beer cold… just sit the cans outside on the high snow bank… just outside your second story window.

Those snowy fields were actually the well-known potato fields where many of our russet potatoes come from. As I never had visited Maine before, we took a trip there a few years ago… all the way to Limestone, which is the closest town to Loring AFB, and only a couple miles from the Canadian border; you can read about that trip, along with where Uncle Jimmy Donahue was from… growing up where those russet potatoes were grown; read HERE. We would have driven into Canada after discovering the border, but having no passports, we make a quick turnaround!

Our relationship grew stronger through nightly phone calls while he was stationed in Maine… all free thanks to Uncle Sam… well kinda! A fellow airman hooked him up on how to make those free calls. Imagine if Facebook had been around back then! The next three months were spent on countless phone calls… with me feeling very sad in wondering what will happen… and where this romance would really lead.

After only a couple months, he called to say he was shipping out of Loring, along with his best friend Chuck… and heading to Thailand. Well that through me into a tailspin! Maine was a possibility to visit, but never could I travel overseas. All had been good for us until he received those orders to ship out for Thailand in June! I was devastated… thinking, this is it for us, it’s over!

It was soon afterward, when Steve said “I’m bringing you home to live with my parents after we marry.” Marry… it was never a question of “will you marry me“… more like he told me we were getting married. I don’t think I even questioned it, as I felt more shell-shocked in trying to wrap my head around that he was going to Thailand! Steve’s time spent in Brrr cold Maine was short-lived… and by early April… he was packing again… for a warmer climate… heading overseas to Thailand! (More on that story later…)

Soon Steve was talking about how he was coming down before he left, and we were getting married… and he was bringing me to CT to live with his parents while he was gone. Yikes… did he even ask me to marry him… kind of a blur now, but I went right along with him. I was getting married… my parents hadn’t even met him… and I was going to live with my new in-laws, of whom I had never met, or even talked to. I must have been scared, but not too scared, as I marched right in to tell my father that I was getting married! That went well… he told me quickly that I was crazy to quit my job when Steve hadn’t even came down yet, and he hadn’t even met him! I was 18, soon turning 19 and what was I thinking! He clearly thought I wasn’t thinking… but I stood my ground telling him, “Steve is coming, you’ll see!”

Before the transfer overseas, he went home in mid April… announcing to his parents he was getting married to a girl in Georgia, and he would be bringing her to live with them while he was in Thailand. In knowing how I would feel… I know his mother wasn’t immediately happy, but I guess she relented that I could come and stay there. My father wasn’t much happier on the day I bounced into his room telling him I was getting married… and to a guy he also hadn’t met! He took it well… but shook his head telling me I was crazy to quit my job before Steve even came; he felt this young airman was just telling me what I wanted to hear. I’m sure I mouthed out… “you’ll see, he’s coming!”

My parents were divorced at that time, and I had remained with my father so I didn’t have to change schools in my senior year. Even though I had graduated, I continued to live with daddy, versus going to live with my mother on my grandfather’s farm. I’m sure it upset her, but I didn’t want to leave my friends and where I had grown up. My mother actually took the news much better than my father had, or so I thought. In thinking back now, I wonder why, as it’s usually the mothers who want to plan a wedding… and I even took that away from her as we decided, or rather I did… that we would elope to South Carolina. Weddings didn’t seem to be nearly a big event to me as they were where Steve lived… he had gone to several family weddings, unlike me, as I had no memories of any family weddings. I’ve never liked being the center of attention, so us eloping by ourselves was more exciting to me… Steve just went along with what I’d planned of “no” parents at our wedding… just us!

Mama and me after graduation…. it wasn’t long after this photo was taken during the summer… that I met Steve.

Mama was quite different when she first met Steve… giving him a big hug right away. If she had second thoughts, she kept them well hidden. She’s always told me how happy she was that I was moving away, as divorce seemed to be too prominent in the area… probably because of the base. Both my girlfriends married, divorced, and married again. I don’t know how my life would have been if I’d remained in Perry… but I have no regrets on the choice I made… it turned out perfect! Mama always said… “I finally gained the son I never had… she truly loved Steve!”

As we didn’t have much time before he shipped out, my “bright” idea was for us to go to South Carolina where no blood tests were required… allowing you to marry right away… or so I thought! If the internet had been around, I could have better researched that, but young and in love… we set off for the great town of Aikens, South Carolina; who even thought to call the courthouse there and inquire… definitely not me! Having nothing more than a paper map in hand, and me as navigator, of which I have retained that job for the last 50 years… we found the courthouse about an hour before closing. The two of us ran all the way up the long stairs to the marriage license/judge’s office to only discover we had to wait 24 hours before marrying! Funny story… “on the way up those stairs, we met an elderly lady coming down, who looked at us silly young kids, and said, “I bet you two are here to get married.” I’m sure I giggled, saying “yes” as we kept running up the stairs… today if I saw those stairs… I’d be looking for an elevator!

I’ve written before about our “elopement”…. over Here.

We made our first stop as man and wife at my girlfriend Linda Sue’s house… look who had to take a wedding photo with us! Even though we eloped, I did have a white dress… just a little short! Note my shoes sitting on the hood of the car… and I still hate wearing shoes! Steve’s 1965 yellow Lemans is in the background… not sure if he’d have let me put my shoes on his car!

Our wedding date of May 3rd, quickly turned into May 5th… and we were up early on our wedding day… me all dressed in my short, short white dress and Steve in nice pants and a ruffled purple shirt. In saying our “I Do’s” that morning before the judge, which should have been a solemn and reverent moment… not for me so much… as I remember being fidgety and feeling like I would burst out giggling at any moment! I couldn’t wait to say that final “I Do” and run out of there. That judge must have been shaking her head at me… as I’m sure she read my face! Hmmm, wonder if she thought that these silly young kids will never see 50 years of marriage… well, we proved her wrong!

Risher’s Restaurant where I first worked at age 16… The New Perry Hotel was where daddy treated us to our first dinner as man and wife!

We headed back to Georgia… so daddy could see that Steve really made an honorable woman of his daughter (LOL)… as daddy had had his thoughts on that! We arrived to discover daddy’s plan of taking the “newlywed’s” out to eat at the New Perry Hotel that evening. I’d lived in town since the age of five, and had never eaten there with their fancy white tablecloths… how did that happen? I’m so sad that it has since permanently closed, but still standing… hopefully someone will reopen it again as a hotel and restaurant. I have many memories as a young girl of tourists staying there en-route to Florida… walking our streets in the evening. My hometown of Perry was known as the “crossroads” of Georgia… tourists often stopped to spend the night… and usually they were repeat visitors.

My first job at the age of sixteen was as a waitress, but at Risher’s Restaurant, which was just a block away from The New Perry Hotel. I had never waitressed before, and it certainly showed on my first night when I took orders from the many Yankee tourists who stopped in. I quickly learned that there was another form of tea besides our Southern sweet tea… but to me that was the only tea in the world. When I sat that first glass of sweet iced tea in front of a Northern couple… she gave me a look… quickly telling me this wasn’t tea. And I’m sure I bantered back and forth, that “yes” it was… before I shuffled off to the kitchen muttering something unprintable here! Who would know that I soon would be marrying a Yankee from the North… but he enjoys a cold glass of sweet tea! I’ve trained him well!

Daddy cooked us a special “catfish” dinner on our last night… and Oh it was so good! Steve couldn’t believe all the catfish he’d caught that morning… and he certainly ate most of them! Daddy had always enjoyed fishing from the time he was probably old enough to hold a pole. Besides catching our dinner… he also knew his way around a kitchen! Nothing better than catfish and hushpuppies cooked by daddy… he sure knew how to cook, and good thing, as I couldn’t! Steve was in for a big surprise… in not marrying an Italian girl who knew how to cook his favorites! That was ok though, as his mom soon taught me to cook those Italian favorites! In looking more closely at this photo… I’m sure that wall phone heard many conversations with Steve during the past months. I love looking in the backgrounds of my photographs… and any photo with daddy… well, there was never a beer can too far away!

A few receipts from our honeymoon trip to CT. and the many postcards I bought… and wrote… but never mailed. I’m thankful I never mailed them so I have the memories and information. I’ll blog my writing on those postcards on another post. More on our adventures HERE.

In as I’m hesitant today in going places I’ve never been… there was no hesitations when I packed my bags that morning, loaded up the U-Haul trailer, and left my home in Georgia… for a far away place called West Haven, Connecticut… to live with strangers for possibly a year. Often today, I think back and find it hard to believe how I literally never thought twice about packing… leaving home with a guy I’d only known six months… actually only spending a couple of months in person with… but it was meant to be! I guess Daddy liked Steve and trusted him… or else he would have stepped up to tell me I wasn’t going anywhere!

My only regret was… that last morning I woke to find Daddy gone… leaving only a note telling me he was called into work and would call me later to say goodbye. I was too giddy in being a newlywed to have really understood what was going on. My big strong daddy couldn’t say goodbye without shedding tears… I guess he didn’t want me to see that. Even in writing this, tears swell in my eyes… wishing that I had went out searching for him to get that last hug, but I had other things on my mind. I was starting a new life with a man I loved… but I was sad… and kept hoping daddy would show up before we left. All through the years I’ve often had dreams of calling daddy and going there to see him, but never finding him. Those dreams have haunted me all these years… and I think they come from him not saying that final goodbye to me on the morning I left.

Today in the year of 2021… I’m writing about living with the same man for 50 years… and wondering where did the years ago! We didn’t have children right away… we were two kids ourselves, just enjoying life… coming and going whenever we wanted… before becoming a family with children. We wanted to have time together… the time that we never had before marriage.

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Steve and I in our wedding attire of 1971… his parents gave a small house party for everyone to meet me… and I remember being so overwhelmed and stuck like glue to Steve all day! There was so many people all wanting to meet me… and hear me talk with my Southern accent… but I was so nervous as I couldn’t remember all their names! I thought I’d never remember everyone, and who’s family was who. And now… my Southern accent is pretty much all gone except for a few words that Steve tells me today that I saw wrong… hey everyone down South knows what I’m saying… so who’s wrong!

I had about six weeks of being a new “bride” in Connecticut before Uncle Sam shipped Steve out for Thailand… leaving me all alone with his parents and family… and over a thousand miles from my home state of Georgia. I soon began to feel more comfortable, feeling like I was now family. After a few weeks I even found a job at Grand Light & Supply in New Haven… working in their billing department… typing bills daily… Thank You typing class!

Steve in his so loved “Papa-son” pants… writing one of many letters to me while stationed in Thailand. He brought home several of those silk pants and wore them out over the years.

By a small miracle, Steve didn’t spend a year overseas… and was able to return after only a few months and even leave the Air Force early. By Christmas we were finally a couple living together, although we still were living with his parents until we became more settled and saved money for our first apartment. Steve went to work for Armstrong Rubber, where his father had worked since the mid ’40’s. It was where so many family worked, or had worked; almost everyone in West Haven had family or friends who worked there. Armstrong was good to us, paying all medical for both our children… and it was a time when your medical paid 100 percent of your bills.

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Our “love” letters to each other… before and after we married… treasures to me! My mother often talked about how she kept her and daddy’s letters, but in the move to Perry, they somehow disappeared. It saddens me so much, as I would have enjoyed reading their love letters to each other. I hope my grandchildren enjoy reading ours one day.

Steve worked at Armstrong from 1971-1980… going through a few strikes and layoffs… making it especially scary when you have a family with no income coming in, or medical! But, we somehow seemed to always make it through… although I shed many tears during those times… being scared that we’d lose everything. The final blow was when Armstrong began closing plants… and then the decision came in closing down the plant in West Haven. While it didn’t affect his father, as he was near retirement… it was a sad day when they closed their doors for the final time, as it affected most families in West Haven… leaving many without jobs in their future. The state stepped in and offered free re-training and Steve took advantage of going to welding school in hope of a future better job. He was hired out of school to work at the submarine base in New London… almost an hour ride away on I-95. After only a couple of years, he was laid off again… which led to many jobs in his future… and many lay-offs until a final layoff at age 60. At that time you were able to collect un-employment for two years… and from then he retired at age 62. I had went back to work part-time after my son started school, and I continued to work through the years… finally going full-time when he retired. I later retired after working at Stop and Shop Supermarket for 36 years. I’ll never forget the day I first laid my application on the top of the service desk… Steve was laid off, sick with bronchitis and too sick to even go down to the unemployment office to apply. Lucky for us, they called me in for an interview before I had even returned home. Never did I think I would have remained with Stop and Stop all those years. Funny how the very first job they offered me was the same last job I worked at for most of my time there. Both my children also later worked for them when they turned 16; my daughter remained with the company from age 16, working her way up to a top management position.

We bought our first “brand new” car in 1973… borrowing $3500 from Steve’s best friend as we had no credit to get a loan… and we desperately needed another car. Our first new car was a 1973 red Volkswagen… and what was I thinking… I did not even know how to drive a standard… but I soon learned. It was a rocky road in Steve teaching me how to drive that standard… but amidst tears, yells and many languages… I mastered it! But the one thing that gave me fears was stopping on hills… I went nowhere, where there was a hill that I might have to stop on. I quickly learned new routes… and I’d map out my route wherever I went. I guess if I couldn’t find a route… I didn’t go!

Steve and I both fell in love with everything old… and often spent our weekends at flea markets, tag sales and auctions. We soon began collecting old radios and Victrola’s if it had a horn on it… Steve wanted it! On a whim, we’d hop in our VW… and head anywhere that struck our fancy. Having no children to keep us home… we were determined to enjoy this time… even though the family kept asking… “when are you going to have a baby?” Between being asked when were children coming or when I was going to cut my hair, or when he was going to shave his beard… we were just two young kids enjoying life… never giving a thought of having a baby… we were having too much fun!

Children finally joined our family, with my son arriving in 1976 and my daughter in 1979… life changed… and we changed from being fancy free kids to responsible parents who stayed home more. Christmas soon became all about the kids and what was Santa going to bring them. We finally became a family… and loved every minute of it. It didn’t stop us from still enjoying our love for antiques… while not as often, but we often still hit the flea markets with two little ones in tow.

By the time children came along, we were living in the Westville area of New Haven. We had previously lived in two different apartments in West Haven… first at Ivy St. Apartments, then later at Rolling Ridge Apartments on Meloy Rd. Everyone was soon asked to leave if they had pets… as they weren’t allowing pets any longer. We soon were forced to look for a new rent, and in finding nothing locally, we looked further away into New Haven. This rent was actually a second floor apartment in a house at 233 Fountain St. I remember being so scared in moving, as we felt at that time, it was far away… especially in not knowing the area at all. Of course it all worked out, and we lived there for about twelve years before the owners sold the house, practically out from under us… and once again we were looking for a new place to live… but now with two children, a dog, cat, and way more stuff than when we first moved there. It was this final move that pushed us to finally look to buy a house. My mother always reminded me how I called her up crying, saying that I was going to be homeless! While we did look back to West Haven for housing, we ended up continuing to stay in Westville… ending up only about a mile from where we were then living. This kept the kids from having to change schools, which worked out really well for us. Unfortunately, when we bought our first house in 1987… housing had skyrocketed, so we paid much higher than we should have, but we managed, and finally in 2017, we made our last house payment. That felt so good!

Kids grow up, graduate, college comes along… they move out… they marry… and suddenly you have 5 granddaughters! And you think… where did those years go. Then you hit that “lucky to make milestone” of celebrating 50 years of marriage… and you say a prayer for more years!

My husband is the only person I’ve ever spent so much time with… and we have been blessed with fifty years of marriage! My father died when I was just 31, and my mother died recently in 2020 at the age of 90, but living so far away from her for over fifty years… I was never as close as I am to my life-mate of over 50 years. Steve and I do everything together… it has never been you go your way, and I go another. People often remarked how they never saw one of us without the other. We’ve shared pretty much the same interest over the years… although I’ve never been able to teach him how to knit… and he’s never asked me to mow the lawn or shovel the snow. But we’ve shared so many things through the years… going to OTB (off track betting) to play the horses… we loved betting and watching the trotters on Saturday nights. Soon giving that up to raise our family… we spent everyday with our children… and summers was spent every day at the pool… at his parents home. My only regret is I wish we had taken our children on more car trips like we take today… I wish I had given them those memories of traveling, packing a lunch, and stopping to see things along the way.

Steve has always provided for me and our family… never complaining. He’d work overtime, still come to the pool, and clean up while I took the kids home to bathe and get ready for bed. He never left his parents house with anything for them to have to clean up behind all of us. It was just how he was… always looking out for others before himself. If it snowed, he cleaned our driveway, then cleaned theirs…. he mowed grass at home, then later cut grass at his parents… all without regrets or a complaint. He did what he felt a son should do in helping his parents as best he could, while also taking care of his family.

Me, with my sons family in Florida… a little teary-eyed in knowing I’d be leaving the next day for home. (I celebrated my birthday there)

Steve with the Florida grandchildren and the lap tables he made them! (The wood came from his parents first kitchen cabinets.)

Steve and I with our Connecticut granddaughters… again celebrating my birthday! I only take photos when I’m penned in… being in front of a camera panics me, but the girls don’t have a problem!

They often say that a short whirlwind romance before marriage works the best… and that certainly was us. Hardly knowing each other, but undoubtedly a match made in heaven… as we celebrated our 50th wedding anniversary this year. We’ve never been separated long-distance, except for the one time when I spent a month at my mom’s, after her heart surgery, and it’s still the same today… you see one of us… and you’ll know that the other one isn’t far behind! I’m sure there are things I’ve forgotten to mention or actually forgot (LOL), but if this was meant to include everything we’ve lived through… it would take years to read!

My in-laws celebrating their 50th wedding anniversary in 1997 (1947-1997)… like father like son!

Our latest “fun” summer days are spent just sitting at the beach and listening to music on the boardwalk. We are very lucky to be so close to the water, where we can enjoy the beach any day we choose. Being retired isn’t spent just watching television all day… I’m kept busy writing on my blog, knitting and crafting… along with sneaking in some TV time as I write; there’s many shows you can just listen to without having to devote your complete attention. Actually I never just watch TV without something in my hands… I must be busy! And at this time in our lives, I’m also trying to downsize us by selling; often my couch has become my wrapping station. But oddly in looking around, I’m not seeing empty spaces yet… not sure what I’m doing wrong, but one way or another things are leaving the house. Steve keeps busy with repairing his collection of cuckoo clocks… then there’s grass to cut, snow to shovel… and there’s always some plumbing problem that will suddenly pop up. We both enjoy our travels to Florida… where there’s no grass to cut or meals to prepare… just three beautiful granddaughter’s to craft and laugh with all day. I hope there’s more traveling in the future for us… as there’s really nothing to tie us down except the dreaded grass that won’t stop growing!

I’m now looking forward to making even more memories!

To read more Family Stories… click HERE.

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