Weekend Weathervanes: Grandpa’s Going Hunting… Derby, CT.

Weekend Weathervanes

Now I know what to do with those photos – “thanks” to Heather Wilkinson Rojo at Nutfield Genealogy; she blogs Weekly Wednesday Weathervanes  in New Hampshire.  Please check out her page and enjoy the many unusual weathervane photos and often be entertained with a history lesson. It’s amazing at what you can encounter in your travels – You Just Need To Look Up!

Grandpa’s Going Hunting… Derby, CT.DSC_0224 FIX

This weathervane reminds me of my Granddaddy McKinley, who was a fox hunter. He would have been out hunting with his foxhounds, just like featured here on this weathervane. I always wonder about the weathervane that adorns someone’s home… is this homeowner a hunter?

DSC_0223 FIX

 I discovered this weathervane on Sentinel Hill Road in Derby, CT. We were on our way to a tag sale… and that’s how many are discovered.


Want to read more, click…. Weekend Weathervanes:

© 2017, copyright Jeanne Bryan Insalaco; all rights reserved

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Weekend Weathervanes: Ye Old Stagecoach… Dodgingtown, CT.

Weekend Weathervanes

 Ye Old Stagecoach… Dodgingtown, CT.

Now I know what to do with those photos – “thanks” to Heather Wilkinson Rojo at Nutfield Genealogy; she blogs Weekly Wednesday Weathervanes  in New Hampshire.  Please check out her page and enjoy the many unusual weathervane photos and often be entertained with a history lesson. It’s amazing at what you can encounter in your travels – You Just Need To Look Up!

Stagecoach Closeup FIX

I was pleasantly surprised when I spied “Ye Old Stagecoach” high above a garage in Dodgingtown, CT., a small town near Redding. This was a new area of roads for us… so our eyes were peeled for new weathervane discoveries… and we were rewarded!

The stagecoach seems to have a man riding in the back seat playing an instrument, but I’m not sure of the type. Riding in the middle, I believe, is a woman with others… and on the front seat is the driver, with a whip… and possibly another woman. The stagecoach is pulled by a team of four horses, complete with harness lines showing; love seeing the definition of the whip and spokes in the wagon wheels.

Stagecocach top FIX

Stagecoach FIX


Want to read more, click…. Weekend Weathervanes:

© 2017, copyright Jeanne Bryan Insalaco; all rights reserved

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Family Stories: Part 2 – The Great American Eclipse of 2017

Family Stories: Part 2

The Great American Eclipse of 2017

In my 1st post on the eclipse, I promised that I would post what I saw, or didn’t see, and what photographs I managed to take during the eclipse. Well, I didn’t manage to take any photographs of the actual eclipse or the shadow snakes… it was more overcast than sunny in Connecticut!

I asked my granddaughter McKinley (age 5) if she knew about the eclipse and saw it while at school. McKinley said… “yes we watched it at school on the TV and then through little glasses.” But will she remember it one day!

McKinley Last day Smart Start 8 21 2017 Eclipse Day FIX

McKinley at Pre-K on August 21, 2017


I’d hoped my mother in Georgia would take a look at it, but she wasn’t interested in it either. When I told her the next one wouldn’t be around until 2045… that got me nowhere! She said she’d wait for the next one….

As I knew I wasn’t going to be able to take any of those professional photographs I’ve seen before, but so wanted… I settled to take a photograph of a Connecticut cut-out showing a couple of pin holes and a shadow of it. I did bring out a colander to try for eclipse shadows or shadow snakes, but the sun just wasn’t cooperating.


Many of my Facebook friends did grab some shots, and with their permission, I’m posting a few below.

Eclipse of Carlene Noggle2FIXEclipse of Carlene NoggleFIX

Such Cool Shadow “eclipse” Snakes!

My friend, Carlene Noggle, from Greensboro, Georgia, shared with me her “shadow snakes” that appeared through the tree branches on her front steps. I wrote about them in my first post, but I didn’t see any because the bright sun just didn’t cooperate!

Eclipse of Vera Marie Badertscher

Colander Eclipses

Vera Marie Badertscher, blogger of Ancestors in Aprons, graciously shared her “colander” experiment photo with me. Our sun didn’t shine bright enough in CT. to show the eclipses through my colander, and I tried…but hers worked great! Vera’s eclipses are from Tuscon, Arizona.

While… My attempts never materialized, either due to low sunlight for shadows or me not knowing what I was doing…. I think maybe it was the latter! Oh Well, I can still say I was there and I looked through my “eclipse” glasses and saw the sliver of sun shown here in CT., while hubby stood with his welding helmet shield to watch! I must get a “do-over” picture of that!

MY Connecticut Shadows!

CT shadow 6

Connecticut 2017 Eclipse gave me very few shadows!

CT shadow

Thanks to Mike’s Apizza… I had a box for showing the shadow of CT.

CT shadow 2

Sorry, no eclipse photo from me… just a shadow!

James Hold eclipse 2017 FIX

This was what I would have gotten if I had a dark solar filter, but thanks to friend James Holt…. in taking this photo!


The last total eclipse visible from the United States was in 1979 and the next solar eclipse viewable from the United States won’t be until 2045!

That is why August 21st, 2017 was such a big deal! Well, it was fun while it lasted….


Want to read more, then click: Family Stories: Part 1…The Great American Eclipse of 2017

© 2017, copyright Jeanne Bryan Insalaco; all rights reserved

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Friday Night Heirlooms: Daddy’s WWII American Campaign Medal

Friday Night Heirlooms

Daddy’s WWII American Campaign Medal

Medal frontMedal back

Recently, during a cleaning frenzy of mine, to finally return all things belonging to my children… I found this military medal pinned to a pillowcase, along with my son’s pin collection. I recognized it immediately as a military medal as I unrolled the pillow case holding the pins. Knowing that it wasn’t one belonging to my uncle, who was killed in WWII, my mind thought of my father, and….

Daddy's list of medals

I pulled out my father’s Navy records, and there was the list of medals he had received, that no one seemed to know what happened to. Mama must have had it in her jewelry box all those years and never knew who exactly it belonged to. At this time in her life, she doesn’t remember ever having one of his medals, thinking they must have been at his mother’s. Maybe Daddy even gave it to me…. but whenever it was given to me, I wasn’t involved in family history at that time, but I did have the insight to put it away. When my son began collecting pins, somehow he seemed to have added it to his collection. But however, I have now been rewarded in finding it as I’m working to declutter my house… giving away, returning long lost items of my children’s, and selling things no longer needed.

It was quite a surreal moment when I realized that this medal, that I had all along, and probably for over thirty plus years, was now returned to me… to finally preserve its history as an heirloom!

My father, “Harold Clayton Bryan”  never talked about his Navy history to me other than telling me how he’d lost his teeth by jumping in radioactive water. I remember thinking about it, but never questioned him. I was too young to give it another thought of asking “why was it radioactive?” If I had thought to ask that question, I might have learned his Navy history! Where he jumped in the radioactive water was while serving on the USS Blue Ridge at Bikini Atoll. He witnessed all three “atomic bomb” blasts there in the summer of 1946 and surely had stories to tell!

SCAN0587 (2 FIX

Harold “Clayton” Bryan

The American Campaign Medal was created in 1942, and issued by President Franklin D. Roosevelt; a military award of the United States Armed Forces. The medal’s purpose was to recognize those military members who performed military service in the American Theater of Operations during World War II.

Eligibility requirement was to have performed U.S. military service in the American Theater for at least thirty days outside of the USA or one-year inside the USA; service was to have been between December 7, 1941, and March 2, 1946. Daddy entered the Navy on September 4, 1945 – July 1, 1949.

I am missing the separate top bar as pictured here… but I have a feeling that I will find it!

The Campaign Medal is struck from bronze, measuring 1 1/4 inches wide. The back shows a Navy cruiser with a B-24 Liberator bomber flying overhead. In the foreground, there is a sinking enemy submarine; top of the medal are the words “AMERICAN CAMPAIGN.

The front of the medal is the same design used on the reverse of both the Asiatic-Pacific Campaign Medal and the European-African-Middle Eastern Campaign Medal.  It was designed by Adolph Alexander Weinman, with the reverse designed by Thomas Hudson Jones. The front proudly depicts an American Bald Eagle, with dates 1941 – 1945 and the words… United States of America.

The ribbon attached above is 1 3/8 inches wide in the color of oriental blue. In the center is a 1/8 inch center stripe divided into thirds of our “old glory” colors… blue, white, and scarlet. Between the center and the edges are stripes of 1/16 inch in the colors of white, black, scarlet and white. The blue color represents the Americas, with the central blue, white and red stripes representing the continuance of American defense after Pearl Harbor. The white and black stripes represent the German part of the conflict on the Atlantic Coast, and the red and white stripes are for the Japanese colors and they refer to that part of the conflict that took place on the Pacific Coast.

Thank You for your service Daddy!


Click Friday Night Family Heirlooms to read more stories…

© 2017, copyright Jeanne Bryan Insalaco; all rights reserved

Family Heirloom Bloggers:

I started a Family Heirloom challenge in November 2015 asking fellow bloggers to join me in telling the stories of their family heirlooms. Writing the stories of the family heirlooms I’ve been entrusted with has been on my mind for a long time; the time is now and I plan to write their stories on a weekly basis.

Please check out the weekly Family Heirloom stories of…

Blogger: Cathy Meder-Dempsey at Opening Doors in Brick Walls
Blogger: Karen Biesfeld at Vorfahrensucher
Blogger: Kendra Schmidt at trekthrutime
Blogger: Linda Stufflebean at Empty Branches on the Family Tree
Blogger:  Schalene Jennings Dagutis at Tangled Roots and Trees
Blogger: True Lewis at Notes to Myself
Blogger: Vera Marie Badertscher at Ancestors in Aprons                              Blogger: Heather Lisa Dubnick at  Little Oak Blog
Blogger: Kathy Rice at https://everyleafhasastory.wordpress.com/2016/01/29/heirloom-afghan/
Blogger: Mary Harrell-Sesniak at  Genealogy Bank Heirlooms Blog
Blogger: Amy Johnson Crow’s 52 Ancestors in 52 Weeks theme for 2015 Week 24 was Heirlooms. Check out her Blog at –  52 Ancestors Challenge 2015: Week 24 Recap  for links to more Heirloom posts.

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Conversations with Mama: You never know what she will say and more… #42

Conversations with Mama: You never know what she will say and more… #42


July 20, 2017: I couldn’t wait to call mama tonight to tell her about the picture I saw on Facebook of a stuffed torso of a man stuffed feet up… in a garden with a bike lying next to him… she said after she laughed… “I’d love that, but it sounds like too much trouble to make and I bet the cops would stop to check it out and probably get after me.”

We went to a school closing sale in Monroe, CT. today and it was “fill a bag for 5”… I filled two bags so heavy that we could hardly carry them. Filled with Lots of Nancy Drew books and a few more odds and ends I found there. I found over 17 new titles to add to Ella’s collection and some not so good readable Nancy Drew’s that I’ll read from. “Bring me some books when you come, it’s been like 100 years since I’ve read a Nancy Drew book.”

On my “Q” post in my All About Me blog series, I asked if she remembered the old show, Queen for a Day, and … “I don’t remember that show, but I didn’t sit down and watch TV during the day, I was always busy doing something, and later after I got my license I worked all day in Clara’s Beauty Shop.”

July 23, 2017: I told mama about the book sale we went to on Friday (21st) in Southport, it was under two HUGE tents on the library’s lawn with thousands and thousands of books. I headed straight to the children’s section while Steve parked. By the time he found me, I had found the Nancy Drew flashlight books, 3 boxes of them. He helped me to pull out the ones I didn’t have (I have a list of my phone) and we boxed them. Then he found a box of “vintage” ones (YooHoo) and as they were only “one dollar” I pretty much took them all! As my box was full, I paid for those and he took them out to the car while I continued looking around. On the other side, I found several more mixed in and another box of Nancy’s that I picked through and pulled out a few more before I called it a day…. It was super hot under those tents!” Mama said… “When you come down we will have to go to the libraries down here and see if we find any. You must have them all by now as you found so many at that sale.”

After talking Nancy Drew… mama began telling me… “This woman that sits at our table is really getting on my nerves, I hate bossy people. Carolyn is in charge of our table at lunch and this woman just tries to take over like she’s running it and she goes to the meetings too… only Carolyn should be going. The next time she starts, I’m going to stand up and ask her “who elected you?”… so sit down and shut your mouth, you are not in charge here!” Oh Boy, there’s going to be trouble at lunch!

In changing the subject, I told mama about the skunk family we saw living in our back yard… mama skunk with three babies. I took photos of them… but they only look cute from a distance; at first, I had thought it was a black and white cat in the backyard. “I never see any around here and I don’t even remember any around the farm, our dogs never got sprayed. Even when daddy went fox hunting, I don’t remember hearing him ever talking about seeing any skunks while out with the dogs. I’m sure he would have come home stinking if the dogs got sprayed. I can’t believe you, living in the city, have so many skunks around… I wonder why? I don’t even see any around here either… never remember smelling any either.”

“I remember one time while I was on the school bus that our driver wouldn’t let some other kids on. I guess they had run into a skunk on the way to school and got sprayed… and they were stinking. He shut the door and sent them back home, he definitely wasn’t letting them on the bus.”

July 25, 2017: I told Mama I emailed Karen S. yesterday and I heard back from her today. She’s retired also and now living in Queens in New York with a friend. “Me, I’m just content to lay here and watch TV and be with Boo. I used to like to read and I’d read everything I got my hands on. Now I never read.”

“I went to the grocery store today and got my coffee, but I didn’t get my donuts. I did remember my Ensure though… have to have my chocolate drink…. I love them! Boo just laid his head in my hand and just rolling himself around.”

July 26, 2017: What a surprise when I called tonight… “I’m sitting here reading a Nancy Drew book I bought at FISH today, actually I bought 3 books there… No. 2, 3 and 6. I’m reading The Bungalow Mystery right now. I don’t know what made me think of going there when I left the senior center, as I haven’t gone down there in awhile. I was surprised to actually find them there, they are the flashlight ones you had mentioned. I also brought home a book I found at the senior center, The Prince, and the Pauper.”

I told mama about taking McKinley and Grace to The Lavender Farm today, took lots of photos and now I’m pooped. Keeping up with two “Gingers” is tiring. They had lunch at the beach and later we took them home. “I bet daddy Frank was happy to see them arrive home, now they are his for the evening. He’s so sweet with them, I’ll never forget watching him as he changed Gracie… he was just so tender with her. I wanted to just hug his neck for being such a good dad.”

“Guess who called me this afternoon… Karen (Sisson). She said she’d heard from you in an email. It was good to hear from her, she’s retired, loving it and still sounds just like the old Karen I knew.”

July 30, 2017: Mama called me this afternoon… “I called because I was worried you might be on the road and I didn’t know where you were.” “I am home, doing nothing but being aggravated with all this stuff in my house, it’s smothering me!”… “I’m here doing nothing, just laying in the bed watching TV all day. I don’t even think I’m going to the center tomorrow, I just can’t take listening to that woman at our table. Three boxes of Ensure came yesterday, I guess I’m set for awhile… I can pop “tops” all day now.” I told mama that I finally found Melissa’s “Nancy Drew” books I bought probably over 20 years ago… Steve found them in a box in the cellar… “Too bad you didn’t find them before you went out and bought yours, but maybe the girls will want to read them.”

August 1, 2017: While watching a man jump rope really fast on a show, I told Mama, and… “I used to do all that as a kid, we’d have two ropes going at once and I’d run in and out… sometimes we’d even have three of us girls running in and out. I could also jump rope backward. Now I’d surely break my leg trying to do that… I’d never be able to do all that now that I used to do so easily. But if I was watching someone do it, I know I’d want to try.”

“I was just reading Nancy Drew, The Quest of the Missing Map when you called.  It’s ok, but not keeping my interest at this point, so I was trying to finish it tonight instead of watching TV. I hadn’t found anything to watch on TV, so I figured I’d finish up the book instead. After this book, I think I’ve read all the ones I bought and the one you sent. Did I tell you that there were Bobbsey Twin books at Fish also? Actually, there were quite a lot of them there, maybe I’ll buy a couple of them to read. When you come down, make sure you take them all home with you.”

“I did go to the center today, that woman didn’t come… that was a good thing! She gets on my nerves… and I think she knows it, especially when she sidles up next to me and asks, “don’t you like me?” “One of these days I’ll tell her the answer to that question and she might not want to hear it.”

“Oh guess who called me this afternoon? Rose and Steve called, I could hear Ana and Nina yelling to talk in the background. I didn’t hear Ella’s voice, maybe she wasn’t there.”

August 2, 2017: Somehow I happened to mention how I often skipped school with my girlfriend Linda during my senior year in high school… we’d have our bathing suits in the car and go to Lake Sobesofke in Macon for the day. Mama said… “I knew you did that, but I don’t remember how I knew… but I knew!”

“I used to skip school often in high school… we would hang out in the cemetery or down by that bridge over the road next to the train station in Greensboro. We couldn’t really go anywhere or do anything or we’d be seen. Sometimes Willie Mae’s boyfriend would pick me up on his motorcycle and later bring me back at the end of the day to get back on the bus, or take me home around the time I’d get off the bus; I’d walk down to my house… and daddy never knew I didn’t actually get off the bus. I always stashed my books under bushes so I could get them at the end of the day. If daddy had caught me he would have blistered my backside, and he did once when the truant officer came to the farm. But he ran him off telling him he’d take care of dealing with me, and he did later when he caught up with me.”

“My brother, Leroy, skipped school a lot and I’d write his excuse note… he’d give me five or ten cents. Whenever mama wrote a note for school, I always had to rewrite it! Before he went or was drafted in the Army, he skipped a lot; most of the boys who were being drafted skipped all the time. They knew they would be drafted in the Army soon, so why bother staying in school.”

August 5, 2017: First thing mama asked tonight was… “So where did you go today?” After telling her about finally finding the BIG flagpole we always see on RT. 34, I could tell she thought we were nuts! “So I guess it was meant for you to find, she said!” Then, I told her about the ant farm I had bought Steve a couple of years ago, and finally ordered ants for it. “Don’t bring any ant farm down here, I don’t want No ants! I’d be stepping on all those piss ants if they were in my house. Boo is running through the house right now like something is chasing him… his ears are slick back and his eyes are as big as saucers. I don’t know what he saw, but I didn’t see it.”

August 7, 2017: First thing mama asked when I called, “Did you buy any Nancy Drew books today?”… “Nope, I found not one Nancy Drew!”… “Boo and I spent the weekend in the bed, he just got up when the phone rang, he’d been warming himself under the covers. Maybe he thought his girlfriend was calling.”

“Boy I’d like to have that breakfast plate I see on TV right now, but I’m not going to go do anything in the kitchen to make it. I might just go get another Ensure and forget it.”

August 8, 2017: While on the phone tonight with mama, she said… “Someone is out in the yard flashing their lights, I better put some clothes on. I’m going to lay the phone down for a minute and go out on the porch.” I could hear her yelling from the porch… “Who’s out there, you better get out of my yard flashing those lights.” Then I hear her fussing to Boo as she’s coming back in the house… then she’s fussing because she can’t find the phone. I tried yelling loud to help her find “me” on the phone… finally, she finds me. “Well there was a car out there, but they left after I yelled to get out of my yard.”

In telling Mama about Ana balling up her fist today and punching Ella in the stomach… “Willie Mae and I were like that, we’d rumble and tumble over clothes and boys. Her dad, Bill Walker, often told us, “if you two don’t stop I’m going to kick both of you out here.”

August 9, 2017: Mama was watching America’s Got Talent when I called… “This older man is singing now, boy can he belt one out. I remember the colored people who came to help daddy pick his cotton when it was ready. They loved to sing while they worked… said it helped to while away the hours. I loved hearing them sing, and while I picked, I sang too.” I told her we were going to listen to music tomorrow night, and… “I never liked to go and just listen to music, I only liked to dance to music.”

August 10, 2017: When I called, somehow the conversation turned to… “I don’t believe in ghosts, but if one walked by me it wouldn’t scare me. That woman at the center asked me again today, “don’t you like me?” And again I said, I really don’t like you and I wish you wouldn’t ask me those type questions. I don’t like people pushing on me and you’re going to get your feelings hurt if you don’t stop.”

I guess Boo is all through with his running now, he’s settling down at the foot of the bed now. Guess the devil was after him.”

I laid in this bed all day today.” I said, “well tomorrow is Sunday, a day of rest.” I’ll rest tomorrow too. I might go out and see if I find a yellow squash, I see a few blooms, but I still haven’t found a squash, guess they didn’t make any.”

August 13, 2017: I called mama late tonight, about 10 o’clock, as I had been working on a Weathervane post. She asked, “so what did you do today”? I began telling her all about the Booth Memorial Museum and Park… “You need to go around and give speeches and talk about all your travels and I hope you write all of where you and Steve go, down in a book.”

After telling Mama that I found two more Nancy Drew books over the weekend… “Someone at the center told me they had some books and would bring me some, but they never brought them.”… Who were they, maybe you can ask them again, I said. “I don’t remember right now, it might have been one of the cooks in the kitchen… if I remember tomorrow I’ll ask them again.”

“I hope it rains tonight, I love to hear the rain, especially on that piece of tin I put outside my window. If Boo thinks it’s going to rain or thunder, he goes under the bed.”

August 15, 2017: When mama answered, I asked: “whatcha doing?” “I’m waiting on you… I went to “Fish” today after leaving the center and rummaged through the books. I bought a Hardy Boys, A Bobbsey Twins, and a Nancy Drew book that has two stories in one book, Book 1 and Book 2. I went to the center and then to fish and rumbled through the books.”  

“I brought home a new pair of flip flops from the center today, mama told me.” I said… “What, to go with the other 200 pair you have?” “I only live once, passing through, so now I do what I want, and when I want, and I don’t want to clean this house lately either… Boo doesn’t care!”

I mentioned that I had found Melissa’s trolls in cleaning today, and…  “I used to have a couple of trolls, I had them up above the mirror in the beauty shop. One day they fell behind the mirror and I never did get them out, so guess when they remodeled the shop they found them. I’d like to have one of those troll earrings of Melissa’s, I’d wear them down to the center. Tell her to send me a pair.”

I told mama about finding a medal last week, and that it must be Daddy’s from the Navy. It was a Theater Campaign Medal and there were Navy ships on the front. You must have given it to me a really long time ago when you gave me Leroy’s medals. I wasn’t even into family research then, so I just put them all away. I found it pinned to a pillowcase that Stephen had pinned all his collection of old pins and buttons on. I noticed it right away and took it off to look at. In looking up daddy’s records, it was one of the medals he was given. “I don’t remember ever having one of his medals, but it’s been so long. It might have just been at our house and with my jewelry. I always thought his mother had his medals as he never talked about them to me; I knew nothing about his Navy days.”

August 17, 2017: After mentioning the eclipse to mama…. “I’ve heard about eclipses all my life, but never really saw one. I’ll have to tell them at the center about the one in Siloam in 1900; my father would have been about 6 years old.” I told mama she should watch this one, as the next one won’t be here until 2024… “Maybe I’ll live to see it”, she said. I laughed and said, “well if you do, then we both will probably be in the same nursing home.”

I mentioned Boo to her and… “Boo’s tail is going ninety to nothing… his tail is just a-going… he knows we are talking about him.”

There’s a gnat in here tonight that is trying to go up my nose and it’s driving me crazy.” Mama said after I told her the story of the fly in the living room that made me spill my coffee tonight all over me and the couch. The fly won… he got away!

“When I grew up, I didn’t have all the toys like the kids have today. I had to go outside and find things to play with. I mostly played with paper-dolls, but I cut them out of the Sears and Roebuck book, and their furniture too. I found a doll in a ditch one time on the way home from school and thought Santa had dropped it. My cousin Hill Askew had thrown it away after receiving it at school as a gift. To me, it was the best thing I ever found! At home, we usually only received fruits and nuts on Christmas morning. In our stocking would be English Walnuts, Brazil Nuts, and one orange. One Christmas, my brother found my Christmas gift, a sewing machine. He tried using it and ended up breaking it. Mama got so mad… and that was the end of gifts after that.”

“Johnny came and cut my grass today, so I guess we will go out to eat Friday or this weekend if they want. I wasn’t dressed when he came… wearing my usual birthday suit, so I didn’t even go outside to say hello; he wasn’t out there very long.”

August 21, 2017: I called Mama while at The Grove in West Haven for the last music concert. I asked her… “did you see The Eclipse?” “No, I wasn’t interested in seeing that… me and Boo watched TV all day, I didn’t even go to the center. Did you and Steve see it?” “Yes I went out a couple of times and looked at it through my eclipse glasses, Steve used his welding helmet. I had cut an outline of CT. to make the shadow of my state show on the ground. Tried that colander thing I saw on TV too, trying to make eclipse shadows through, but we were so cloudy, there wasn’t a lot of bright sun.”

“I was just reading one of the Nancy Drew books I picked up when you called, The Missing Masterpiece. I’ve just about finished all the ones I found at Fish. You can take them all home when you come.”

In telling mama about all the dolls I found this week of my daughter, she said… “I didn’t like dolls much as a girl, but I did like to shoot their eyes out with my BB gun. I’d rather follow my brother around when he went in the woods than play with dolls; it’d make him so mad when I tagged along.”

“Well, Mr. Boo just came out from under the bed and headed over to his food dish. Now he’s gone again already, probably went out on the front porch. He wants to be out in the yard so bad, but how long would he last?”

Mama said I should have a yard sale with all the things I’m finding… and then, “I remember helping my friend, June Boswell, have a yard sale when we were kids. Her grandmother gave her some old clothes and jewelry and we set it all up in her yard like a store sale. Whatever money we made, we went over to Johnson’s Pharmacy and bought comic books. June lived just down from the stores in town in a big white house. I always wanted daddy to buy her house after they moved.”

To be continued…

Like to read more… click on  Conversations with Mama and more

© 2017, copyright Jeanne Bryan Insalaco; all rights reserved

Posted in Conversations with Mama and more, Daily Writings and funnies... | Tagged , , | 10 Comments

Family Stories: Part 1 – The Great American Eclipse of 2017

Family Stories: Part 1

The Great American Eclipse of 2017


The August 21st, 2017 eclipse is the first in almost one hundred years since 1918, to cross our country coast to coast. It will enter the United States through the state of Oregon, crossing over several of the middle states…. just grazing my home state of Georgia in the North Eastern tip before exiting out through South Carolina; Atlanta will only enjoy a 97 percent solar eclipse viewing. This 70-mile-wide strip of totality stretches through 12 states in its path.

FIX Poster of eclipse viewing states

Do You know the difference between lunar and solar….

A lunar eclipse is safe to view with your naked eye because it is the moon which passes directly behind the Earth. This can only occur when the sun, Earth, and moon are directly aligned, or very close, with the Earth in the middle. A lunar eclipse only happens on the night of a full moon… most of us miss the lunar eclipse’s…. we are sleeping!

If you have heard of a “blood moon“…. it is the result of a total lunar eclipse, which occurs when the eclipse has the direct sunlight completely blocked by the shadow of the earth; the only light seen is refracted through our earth’s shadow. The light will look redder, and because of its reddish color showing, it’s often referred to as a blood moon.

A solar eclipse occurs when the shadow of the moon falls on the Earth. This only happens during a new moon, and the moon passes between the sun and Earth. There are two or more solar eclipses every year, but depending on the geometry lines lining up and the moon’s shadow falling to Earth, as to what region will see them. But wherever the solar eclipses are viewed, they can not be seen with the naked eye, and you also will need a “solar filter” to protect your camera’s imaging sensor as well.

progress of eclipse

Everyone is talking about this 2017 eclipse, but it’s not the first solar eclipse that has been seen in my home state of Georgia.

I now live in Connecticut, and I’m getting short-changed with only a 70 percent viewing of the eclipse. I had thought of heading down to my mom’s house in Georgia, stopping first in Rabun County to enjoy the eclipse in totality… lasting a full 2 minutes and 40 seconds. That was my first thought, then my second thought was… do I really want to be there in massive crowds? Well, as I’m writing this blog post in Connecticut, you know I didn’t go. The eclipse will just graze Georgia’s northeast corner, and if it’s cloudy, well it would have been a disappointing trip!

In researching eclipse’s, the 1900 eclipse most interested me after discovering that the most advantageous point of view was in my mother’s hometown of Siloam, Georgia; a small Southern town of only 1,511 people… and soon became widely known and mentioned in many newspapers around the country.

On May 22, 1900, the small Southern town of Siloam, Georgia witnessed an eclipse… before television, before everyone owned a radio in the home, and before the internet was even thought of… Siloam, Georgia was put on the map! What does Siloam mean to me…. it’s my mother’s hometown, although she wasn’t born until 30 years later. Her father would have been 6 years old, and as he never mentioned it, I can only assume he didn’t remember. He was also not yet living in Siloam at that time, he was born in Hancock County, the next county over… but still in the viewing area.

FIX Siloam clipping 1900

Article from The Atlanta Constitution

The original place of viewing was supposed to have been in Union Point, Georgia, but after calculations, it was moved one town over to Siloam. Ironically my hometown is Union Point, only a short 8 miles over from Siloam.

Siloam was swooped down upon weeks before the eclipse by Professor Charles Burkhalter; arriving 5 weeks ahead of the eclipse. He chose this area, local to railroad connections nearby, making for easy transfer of his equipment. For a trip to the South, he carried tons of apparatus and supplies, and as cars were not the choice of travel at that time, he and his equipment traveled by train. In today’s time, he would have likely traveled in a truck with his equipment safely tucked in the back… making it much easier for set up and safely storing his telescopes on-site.

One of his photographs mentioned that he set up next to E. J. Stanley’s house in Siloam; I was unable to discover exactly where this house was located. Another question I pondered was, where did the professor live while spending 5 weeks in Siloam, or even store all his equipment he brought? I’m sure he just didn’t leave those expensive telescopes outside all night unless he camped nearby. There were no hotels, so either he pitched a tent, or possibly one of the locals took pity on him and invited him to stay in their home… and if they did, then they truly reaped the reward of being in the know.

Siloam Eclips 1900

Professor Charles Burkhalter with his massive telescope

Burkhalter arrived in Siloam and soon began setting up his equipment to study the Georgia skies. From an article in the Atlanta Constitution, it was mentioned that Burkhalter brought mammoth double photographic telescopes, and his cameras and telescopes were very popular with the locals, especially the children. The children would come and sit nearby daily, very quietly, watching his every move…. entranced! Often during the day, he’d wave them over to look through the lens of telescopes set up. I’m sure the children talked about what they saw for weeks later. This small humble town of Siloam, Georgia, my mother’s hometown, had never anything of this magnitude ever take place in their small town, and haven’t since!


Eclipe at Peabody

One of the Chabot Observatory – Dolbeer Eclipse Expedition glass negatives at the Yale Peabody Museum in New Haven, CT.


After discovering that one of the actual glass negatives taken in Siloam was at the Yale Peabody, I contacted them to see if I’d be able to view it in person. Sadly, I was told that it’s stored away… quite disappointing to hear it wasn’t on view in the museum, especially as I actually live in New Haven.

Professor Burkhalter was of the Chabot Observatory Dolbeer Eclipse Expedition of San Francisco

  • The 1970 total eclipse was only seen by the Eastern seaboard on March 7th, just two months before I graduated. I have no memory of it, even though it did come close on the east side through Georgia, exiting through Florida.
  • The 1979 eclipse passed over only through the Northwest United States into Canada. I guess that answers my question of why didn’t I know anything about this eclipse… it wasn’t coming anywhere near where I now lived in Connecticut.
  • The 1979 eclipse occurred on Feb. 26, 1979… I was about two weeks pregnant with my daughter. Did I even know about it? I have no memory of even giving it a second thought at that time in my life.

So What Do We Experience When An Eclipse Happens…

Day turns into night, the air becomes still, birds go silent, looking to roost, and anyone that doesn’t know we are experiencing an eclipse…. will look puzzled! The only time you can look directly at the sun without special eclipse glasses is when the moon completely covers the sun for brief seconds.. which we will not be experiencing in Connecticut!

As the eclipse ends, the animals will think that morning is coming… I wish I lived in the country so I could hear the roosters crow… thinking sunrise is approaching!

Have you heard of “Shadow Bands“? They are snake-like shadows, that often appear to slither across the ground. Scientists believe they are the result of light from the eclipse being focused over and over through the cells of air in the atmosphere. Supposedly they are a rare sight during an eclipse, but you never know… so keep an eye out for “shadow band snakes.” Lay a large white sheet on the ground, or try spotting them by looking at concrete or large sandy white areas. I’ll be looking!

Listen for different sounds…. or no sounds!

This is a Once in a Lifetime Event to experience!

During those “two minutes plus” of almost total darkness for me in Connecticut, the “hidden solar corona” just might be visible for us to see. The corona is the usually hidden outer bright atmosphere of the sun; stars and even planets might also become visible as well. I’m also hoping to see the sun’s “Bling” – known as the “ring.”

I don’t think we will see “Bailey’s Beads” either here in CT., but I’ll still be looking… just in case we see a partial one. The beads are bright pearls of sunlight that shine through the outside valleys and mountains of the “somewhat” smooth moon edge… which we don’t normally see. You can only experience the sight of them as the moon passes over the sun. The beads will often look reddish in color, as they expose the upper atmosphere of the bright sun.

If it turns out to be an overcast and rainy day for our eclipse… we could be treated to “Corona Rainbows“… imagine a corona full of tiny rainbows surrounding the sun! That will only happen if we have rain, leaving water vapor in the air when the sun goes into eclipse mode… then the rainbows would surround it.

Another awesome event to happen during the totality of an eclipse is that you enjoy a 360-degree sunset. But as we aren’t in totality in CT., I’m not holding any faith of seeing anything such as this; and if it happened it would be because the sun is shining on the outside of totality. Maybe my family in Georgia can experience this.


The future total solar eclipses over North America

The next North American eclipse won’t be visible until April 8, 2024…. in just 7 years. If I’m able to view it, my grandchildren will be old enough to now understand about the eclipse and it will be the first one that they can experience. My oldest granddaughter Ella will be 14, McKinley will be 12, Ana and Nina will be 11 and Grace will be 10. And if I am here, I will ensure that they watch and hopefully, remember their first eclipse.

The 2017 eclipse is expected to be the most observed and documented eclipse in our history… I’m sure having the internet at our fingertips doesn’t hurt either! Towns and cities in the totality line of viewing have events planned over the weekend and all day on Monday the 21st. I wonder how many people are planning to call out sick? Many schools are even prolonging the school day so the children aren’t leaving during the eclipse.

While Connecticut won’t experience the total effect, it’s still worth watching and maybe in 2024, I might be treated to a totality viewing. There are events planned locally here, such as observatories open for viewing, astronomy club events and several places have planned parties, and now since most places have sold out of “eclipse” glasses…. people are waking up that an eclipse is actually coming!

How to Watch!

I have several thoughts on how to watch and while it’s only going to be a short couple of minutes, I’ll be scrambling to view in several ways. Like everyone else, I bought “Eclipse glasses” and searched the internet on “how” to watch. I also found printables of the entire United States and individual states that will allow me to make a pinhole viewer of any state, and I will attempt to project the suns light onto a whiteboard; if I watch by projection, I can view with my naked eye. Only turning into the eclipse, will I need to wear glasses.

Printables of all the states can be found on the Nasa website by typing https://eclipse2017.nasa.gov/… then scroll down on the page to “what’s new” and you’ll find links to state printables. Choose the 2D ones if you’re going to print and cut-out of card stock. Domino’s Pizza also has posted directions on making a viewer, using their pizza boxes… everyone is cashing in! Let me hear back if you make a viewer and how yours worked! My follow-up post will have my photos, results, and thoughts!

viewing with telescope or binoculars

Where will I be viewing? I’m thinking of the beach area as there will be no trees around to cloud my view, but I may just attempt my photos right in my driveway! Will I be taking photos? Most likely not, as I’d need a special lens to protect the inner workings of my camera. That’s very frustrating, as I’d like to have my own photos, not relying on others, but this time… I have no choice. If I make a projection viewer, I can safely take photos of the pin-hole views…. if I can make it work!

All I know is… I’ll be watching!

Stay tuned for Part 2… of what happened, what I saw, or not saw, and what photographs I managed to take during the eclipse. No matter what happens, I can say “I lived through The Gream American Eclipse of 2017″.  It will make for an interesting family history story for the budding genealogist in the family to read one day!


Want to read more, then click… Family Stories

© 2017, copyright Jeanne Bryan Insalaco; all rights reserved

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Weekend Weathervanes: Boothe Eagle over The Clock Tower

Weekend Weathervanes

Boothe Eagle over The Clock Tower

Boothe Memorial Park & Museum

Stratford, Connecticut

Now I know what to do with those photos – “thanks” to Heather Wilkinson Rojo at Nutfield Genealogy; she blogs Weekly Wednesday Weathervanes  in New Hampshire.  Please check out her page and enjoy the many unusual weathervane photos and often be entertained with a history lesson. It’s amazing at what you can encounter in your travels – You Just Need To Look Up!

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While heading to a tag sale today, we rode by Boothe Memorial Park and Museum… and while I have heard the name, I never knew where it was, or anything about it. The buildings at the museum intrigued me so we made a mental note to stop back by; I wanted to take a couple of photos… which turned into many photos, a walk around the buildings and a tour of the Boothe Family Home. If you’re ever in the area, I highly suggest a stop and tour of the buildings and family homestead.

As I shot the clock tower, I had no intention of featuring the eagle weathervane, as I see so many eagles in my travels, but this one stood out to me when I saw the name “Boothe” and the dates featured on the arrow.

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It was The Clock Tower that caught my eye when we rode by!

In 1913, the Boothe family celebrated their 250th anniversary of their presence in North Stratford by building an Anniversary Tower on top of the family hay barn. David Boothe designed it, but both brothers worked on its construction. There were five massive cast iron bells made and inscribed with the Boothe and Nichols genealogy; one lone one sits now alongside The Clock Tower today. While nothing in the history book I purchased mentioned the weathervane as to who first installed it, I’m assuming it was added by the brothers, who added their family name, along with the dates of 1663, signifying the first laying of the foundation of the family homestead and the year of 1914, when final completion on the family home was made. They were very big in preserving the history of the era in which they lived, as well as their family history!

As completion of the Clock Tower neared, the Boothe brothers searched all over New England for a proper clock. Finally, at an abandoned church in Massachusetts, they discovered a cherry hand-made clock, built in 1815; they were able to make an exchange of a Eureka carpet sweeper for the clock. The clock was not in working condition and they never were able to get it to run, but later in the 1980’s, a volunteer with the Friends of Boothe, was finally able to restore the clock to working condition again. The Clock Tower later appeared in Steven Spielberg’s movie Amistad.

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It was later in 1999, that the Friends of the Boothe had the eagle weathervane gilded with gold leaf.

Long before the deaths of the Boothe Brothers in the late 1940’s, they drew up plans to bequeath their buildings and property to the Town of Stratford, but the town had to first agree that they would open the grounds for all to enjoy free, just as the Boothes had, during their lifetime.


Brothers, David Beach Boothe and Stephen Nichols Boothe, began creating the Boothe Memorial Museum during their lifetime; they showcased their collection of twenty architecturally and very unique buildings, and often held events inviting the townspeople to attend. Some of the structures on the property include a carriage house, Americana Museum, miniature lighthouse, windmill, a clock tower museum, trolley station, chapel, and a blacksmith shop. It was in 1949, that the property became a public park owned by the town of Stratford.

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The Clock Tower is the most visited building at the museum

Stephen and David Boothe were way before their time in their creativity and knowledge of building these unusual buildings on the Boothe homestead site. Besides their vast knowledge in building and design, they were also very witty and known for giving back to the community. There is much history on these two men and they have certainly peeked my interest to return to the museum to see all I missed and to visit their graves in the family cemetery nearby.

If you, by chance, are a family descendant… I would enjoy hearing from you.


Want to read more, click…. Weekend Weathervanes:

© 2017, copyright Jeanne Bryan Insalaco; all rights reserved

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Family Stories: Cousin Ila Turns 114 Years Young

Family Stories: Cousin Ila Turns 114 Years Young!

Ila holding pic

Ila Arminda Stargel Sewell-Jones

Ila turns 114 on August 21, 2017

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Ila (right) with her sisters Mabel (middle) and Cleo (left)… Note the picture Ila is holding in the photo above… this is one of her favorite photographs.

Ila Stargel Sewell-Jones is my 2nd cousin 2x removed per Ancestry’s calculations and I am so proud to call her my cousin; sure hope I share in her long-living Bryan genes! In just ten days, Ila will be turning 114 years and holds the record for  “The Oldest Living Person” in the state of Georgia, and the second oldest living person in the United States; Delphine Gibson, of Pennsylvania, holds the record of the oldest by only three days, with them both born in 1903.

Ila on Georgia stats

Chart used by Creative license of Wikipedia 

Ila comes from a long line of long-living family members, but to date, it is SHE who is setting the record in our Bryan-Stargel family tree. Cousin Ila is a true “supercentenarian” at the present age of 113; any person living to the age of 110 is known as a supercentenarian and is only achieved by about one in every 1,000 centenarians.

I met cousin Ila in 2000 after corresponding with her since 1997… she was then 93 years old and widowed. This was a correspondence that relied strictly on “snail mail”… which often left me impatiently waiting for her next letter; those letters are truly treasures!

Ila and I share a Civil War grandfather, Berrian Clark Bryan (1823-1923), who served in the Blue Ridge Rangers. B. C. Bryan, as he was mostly known, was Ila’s great grandfather and my 3rd great grandfather. Our lines part there, with my line continuing with Berrian’s son William Madison Bryan (1849-1921) and her line continuing with B.C.’s daughter Sarah “Sallie” E. (Bryan) Stargel (1854-1951). When Sarah married Richard Remington Stargel in 1873 in Lumpkin County, she chose to remain in close proximity to her parents and built a log cabin just down the walking path on her father’s land.

Ila with great great grandfather BC BryanFIX

Ila standing to the left of Berrian Clark Bryan (her great-great grandfather) at Cane Creek School. Ila wearing a print dress with a large dark bow in hair… second row, 4th girl from left.

Nine children were born to the family of Sarah (Bryan) and Richard Remington. Son John Jones Stargel (1875-1957) also remained in the same area and built a two-room log cabin directly across from his parents. He married Georgia Jones in 1901 and had three daughters in that two-room log cabin. Ila Arminda Stargel was their first born (1903 –   ), with Mabel Nora (1908-2002) arriving when Ila turned five, and later Dorothy Cleo (1910-2003) when Ila was seven years old. Living this close to her great grandfather B. C. Bryan, afforded Ila the opportunity to spend time with him. She remembered him as a quiet and humble man and somewhat hard of hearing later in life, and always wondering if the bullet wound in the face, during the Civil War, attributed to that.

Stargel family of Sara Bryan and Richard R Stargel 2

Family of Sarah (Bryan) and Richard Remington Stargel

(Ila’s Grandparents)

It was Ila’s first letter to me that gave me the inkling of her personality. I had originally written to her sister Cleo, finding her name listed on a story submitted in the Heritage of Lumpkin County; a book I also contributed several Bryan stories too. In Ila’s letter to me, she wrote that she was answering for her sister Cleo… as she knew more than anyone on the Bryan’s! I knew I would enjoy writing her, but never thought I’d learn all I did; I first wrote on Ila in 2014 in my 52 Ancestors 52 Week Blog… of how I met Ila on a Georgia Backroad.

 From my blog post…. 52 Ancestors 52 Week Blog: Ila Stargel Sewell Jones …. I felt both stunned and excited after reading Ila’s letter – realizing that what I actually was reading was information from someone who actually knew my Civil War grandfather. Ila’s letter left me speechless and wanting more. She was a lifeline to the past that gave me factual details of a life I never thought or dreamed of ever knowing. I now had a “living” person who could possibly answer questions about the past. I couldn’t write the questions down fast enough as I penned a letter back to her.

Ila’s second letter to me told about the funeral of Berrian Clark Bryan… It left me speechless… I couldn’t believe that I had met someone in my family that had a direct connection of actually knowing my 3rd great grandfather who fought in the Civil War. This was a “happy dance” moment, but no one to share with!

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A drawing Ila sent me of where she lived and grew up

Together with Ila’s remembrances of where she once grew up, her son Ike pinpointed the Bryan lands with the help of Stargel cousins, still living in the area; soon permission was granted for us to walk in on the “old” Bryan lands near Cane Creek. Meeting Ila and walking in to find the old Bryan home-place of B. C. Bryan was the highlight of my day. We later visited Cane Creek Church afterward, which resulted in somewhat of a ghost story, making its way to the local newspaper. My walk into the Bryan lands and my experience at Cane Creek Church that day were written up in the Dahlonega Nugget by a local reporter… after being told about my ghostly-looking photos taken inside the church.

Ila Stargel teacher holding baby

Ila is now a teacher at Cane Creek School in this photo. She is pictured on the porch holding a baby.

Ila attended Cane Creek School and at the age of sixteen, after completing ninth grade, she even began teaching a class. She went on to graduate in 1929 from the North Georgia College, right there in Dahlonega, and at some point worked at The Bank of Dahlonega, possibly before her teaching career began. After graduation, her first teaching job was in a one-room schoolhouse in Cane Creek… back to her roots to give back; she later left for a teaching at the Georgia School for the Deaf, followed by teaching jobs at various schools in North Georgia and Alabama, teaching subjects from math to physical education classes.

Ila grad from North Ga College 1928 FIX

Ila is listed here in the 1928 North Georgia College Yearbook – Note her middle name was written here as Armenia vs the Arminda I found listed as such in a local newspaper article on her birthday. I tend to believe Arminda is correct, but both are names I haven’t seen before.

Ila married Paul Sewell in 1931 and had two sons, Ike and Paul Sewell. She and Paul continued to live and raise their sons in Georgia until Paul’s death in 1958. A few years later she remarried to Frank Jones, and moved around to Alabama, Texas, and California, but eventually moving back home to Georgia at age 88.

When I first made contact with Ila she was still living in her own home at age 93… she remained at home until around the age of 103. After it became that she needed a little extra help, Ila moved into an assisted living community close to her family. Even after reaching the age of 104, her sharp mind and wit were still there; she is quick to tell you that her longevity comes from her eating habits of avoiding sugary foods, staying physically active and the Bryan and Stargel genetics inherited from her ancestors.

While Ila now uses a wheelchair to get around, and her eyesight and hearing isn’t what it once was, she still remembers her childhood memories, and if she’s like my mom… she loves talking about them. Ila also enjoys writing poetry, which was one of her favorite things to do as a young girl.

Cousin Ila, I want to wish you your “best” Birthday ever this year as you celebrate with family and friends that will be visiting on your special day. Even though I can’t be there, I hope you’ll enjoy an extra bite of cake for me! I’ll be thinking of you as I watch the eclipse this year and remembering how your father walked with you on that starry night, on that hilltop, to watch Haley’s Comet.

In Ila’s own words… “I was seven years old in 1910, the year Haley’s comet was to be in view. My Dear Papa woke me, got a quilt, and we walked to a hill, sat on the quilt and waited for it to appear. Soon it lit up the sky. We could see the nucleus, coma, and beautiful shining tail… Since that night I’ve always enjoyed w watching the stars.”

In Looking back at all Cousin Ila has lived through just overwhelms me… living through so many important events that have shaped and changed this country. I wanted to share a few… but it quickly rolled into so much more, that I had to pick and choose… trying to pick events that might have intrigued her!

Just a sampling of the milestones Ila has lived through….

  • Ila has lived through 19 sitting United States Presidents, with the first being Theodore Roosevelt in 1904, and the current Donald J. Trump.
  • In 1906, Ila was just three years old and The San Francisco earthquake occurred.
  • Ila turned 5 in 1908 – The tradition of dropping a ball in New York’s Times Square to signal the beginning of the New Year was inaugurated.
  • Ila turned 7 and witnessed the 1910 passing of Haley’s Comet from a hilltop near her home with her father.
  • Ila was 9 when the Girl Scouts began in 1912, first known as The American Girl Guides, forming in Savannah, GA; they changed their name the following year.
  • Ila lived in a very secluded mountain town called Dahlonega, and if baseball news reached that area, then she might have known that Babe Ruth made his debut in 1914 in the major leagues… she would have been 11.
  • January 25, 1915 – Alexander Graham Bell and Thomas A. Watson conducted the first telephone conversation between New York and San Francisco. Ila was 12 years old; I wonder if this new invention piqued her curiosity?
  • 1917 – World War I began; what was the impact on her family? Ila was now 14 years old. Her father signed a WWI draft registration card, but being age 43 he was not selected to serve.
  • 1918 – Airmail service began – the world was opening up for Ila at age 15.
  • November 28, 1925 – The Grand Ole Opry transmitted its first radio broadcast. If Ila was like my mother, she loved radio, but not every family could afford to buy one, so they often gathered at a family or friend’s house who owned one.
  • May 20, 1927 – Charles Lindbergh made the first non-stop transatlantic flight in history. Ila was 24 years old and living home; I’m sure she paid attention to this.
  • 1928 – Mickey and Minnie Mouse on film with the short film, Plane Crazy. If Ila went to any movie houses at this time, she might have seen it. My mother often talked about going to the movies on Saturday nights.
  • February 18, 1930 – American astronomer Clyde Tombaugh discovered the planet Pluto – Ila loved watching the stars, so I’m sure she was well aware of this at age 27!
  • 1930 – Clarence Birdseye invented frozen food with his quick-freezing process. It would be many years later before Ia’s family owned a freezer.
  • March 3, 1931 – The Star-Spangled Banner, by Francis Scott Key, is approved by President Hoover and Congress as the national anthem. As a teacher, I’m sure Ila was aware of this.
  • August 14, 1935 – The Social Security Act was passed by Congress as part of the New Deal legislation and signed into law by President Franklin D. Roosevelt. It would begin payouts to retirees within two years. Little did she realize at that moment, of how many years she would collect Social Security!
  • 1936 – Gone with the Wind was published by Margaret Mitchell. As a young woman of 33, and a teacher, I’m sure Ila had this book in her collection.
  • December 7, 1941 – The attack on Pearl Harbor, Hawaii… the biggest event of the century that affected so many Americans. Ila was still a young 38, and I’m sure she was fearful for her family.
  • December 30, 1953 – The first color television went on sale. How soon did Ila get a color TV? My father owned one in the middle 50’s due to him being a television repairman.
  • October 14, 1962 – The Cuban Missile Crisis began; this was an event that everyone paid attention to.
  • 1963 – President John F. Kennedy was assassinated… this touched everyone’s life and our country! Ila was 60 years old… I was 11 and remember it vividly.
  • October 15, 1965 – The first public burning of a draft card occurs in protest to the Vietnam War; while Ila’s boys were too old for the draft, I’m sure she had family that concerned her.
  • July 1, 1966 – Medicare, the government medical program for citizens over the age of 65, begins. Ila turned 62… she only had 3 more years before she could collect.
  • July 20, 1969 – Neil Armstrong, United States astronaut, becomes the first man to set foot on the moon.  Ila loved space, so I bet she was glued to the TV set for this one!
  • 1971 – As Ila was a school teacher, I’m sure when the U.S. Supreme Court ruled to desegregate the schools, it was of utmost interest to her.
  • 1978 – Ila’s two sons were long born and by this time, grandchildren and even great grandchildren she was enjoying… wonder what were her thoughts were on the first test-tube baby born?
  • 1980 – The wreck of the Titanic was found… sunk by an iceberg in 1912 when Ila was only 9 years old.
  • 1983 – As Ila was a fan of space, I’m sure she watched when astronaut Sally Ride became the first American woman to go into space. Ila was probably wishing it could be her!
  • September 11, 2001 – The twin towers were hit by two jet airliners and collapsed… and over 3,000 killed. Another plane hit the Pentagon, and a fourth crashed in Pennsylvania. There was no American that wasn’t affected by this tragedy on American Soil!
  • 2003 – The last war Ila witnesses, hopefully… President Bush invaded Iraq.

The last years have been more of a computer age, bringing the technology of the internet and where everyone owns a cell phone… so far from 1903 when Ila was born… born at home in a two-room log cabin by lamp light. No telephone, No radio, No TV, No internet, No cars, No cell phone and No Facebook! How would we survive today, without these things?

Cousin Ila you truly have seen it all!

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God Bless You Cousin Ila…. and I wish you many more Birthdays!


Want to read more, then click… Family Stories

© 2017, copyright Jeanne Bryan Insalaco; all rights reserved

Posted in Daily Writings and funnies..., Family Stories | Tagged , , , , , , , | 8 Comments

2017 A to Z: Letter R… It’s All About Me

2017 A to Z: Letter R…

I thought I’d change the ongoing 52 stories this year to an A to Z of 26 stories of  “All About Me”.  I plan to post bi-monthly, but I’m not holding myself to a certain time frame other than completing by year end. Originally I was going to do the “All About Me” for the 30 Day -April A to Z, but thought I might get just a wee bit long-winded, so I’m giving myself a longer time frame. Hopefully, by the time I reach letter Z, I will have written all I can remember about “me.” If you so feel inclined, why not join me in your own “A to Z” of All about Me!



Letter R is for… Rollerskates, Radio, Records / Record Player, Recipes, Rain, Road Trips and Retirement


I don’t remember exactly when I learned to skate or who taught me… most likely I learned on my own with the metal adjustable key skates I had when we lived in Perry on Smoak Avenue. Just around the corner from my house was the local tennis court… my skating rink where I spent countless hours. I wish I’d saved my skate key that I always wore around my neck; that’s how everyone kept track of it… you needed that key in order to skate.

Once I learned to skate, I graduated to “real” roller skates at the local skating rink… Lake Joy Roller Rink at Houston Lake. I soon lived to skate… every weekend was spent at the rink… my home away from home. There was a group of us there who lived to skate, it was our hang out… we were the regulars, and we were there all the time!


My Skates!!! Boy have they seen many miles….

For my 16th birthday, granddaddy McKinley bought me my first and only pair of skates; they had precision wheels and what a difference they made. Everyone who skated well… had their own skates. I still have them today, in the very case I carried them in, to the rink.

Once you had your own skates, you wanted pom-poms. While it was only the girls who wore pom poms on their skates, it was always the boys who bought them for us! I still remember the tall jar sitting on the counter, full of colored pom poms; us girls could never have enough tied on our skates! Maybe it was a status symbol?

We kept the jukebox there playing almost non-stop every week; often now when I hear certain songs, my mind is pulled back and I can almost feel myself gliding around that rink on my skates.

As my kids grew up and began skating, I sometimes went with them… bringing my skates! I could never use rink skates! My kids were amazed when they saw that their mom could skate… even though they had seen my skates, I don’t think they really believed I could. If my skates could talk, they’d tell you I had the best times of my life there at the roller rink; some of my best memories!

My father-in-law accompanied us on a few Saturdays… even putting on skates. He did pretty well going around the rink until a young kid plowed into him and down he went. Although he was ok, I think he had second thoughts of “breaking” something next time… and that was his last time on skates!


Radio has come a long way from when I grew up. One of my first radios was a small transistor radio that I kept tuned to WPGA, which was the local radio station in Perry. There was no rewind… if you missed the first part of the song… well you missed it! I remember sitting for hours with my radio and tape recorder… making mixed tapes; I made lots of tapes. I’d call the radio station, make my requests, but then I had to sit there with my finger almost on the “record” button… just waiting to hear enough of the song to know if it was my request;  I spent hours making all those tapes! Although that tape recorder no longer works, I still kept it… just because!

Is it weird or what, but when you listened to those disc jockeys on the radio, you pictured them in your head… and when you met them… you were like… Oh No! I remember listening to this one guy on WPGA in Perry and thought he sounded so “good looking” by his voice on the air… and when I met him, I thought… “geeky.” Funny how we picture people sometimes by their voices. To be a disc jockey, you had to have the voice… it didn’t matter what you looked like, as most times they were never seen… only heard!

When I first married, my hubby and I collected vintage radios… our favorites were “Cathedral” style. Every Thursday we’d scour the Bargain News for new ads to check out. We had quite a collection of them… and hubby even managed to fix the non-working ones. These type radios used the old-style bulb tubes… the type of radios my mother listened to… in the day… and the ones that made her wonder… “if only I could look in the back and see what those people singing looked like.” One day her dream came true… Television was invented!

cathedral radio

Cathedral Style Radio


Radio belonging to hubby’s grandfather

We only kept a couple of older radio’s when we changed our collecting tastes to early photographs, which I’ll feature later in Letter V; we always liked the Cathedral style radios the best. The small plastic radio on the right belonged to my husband’s grandfather, Giuseppe (Joseph) Cambino. He was a barber and kept this radio on a shelf in his shop. Steve remembers it playing whenever he went for haircuts, and often caught grandpa napping. (I have photographs of our radio collection, but I can’t put my hands on them at the moment… I will add when found.)

One year while visiting my mother at the farm, I discovered my father’s old upright Zenith radio… these large types were considered as pieces of furniture in their homes… in the day! I packed it up and shipped it home… now to find someone to restore it to a working condition… I can’t wait to hear its sound!


Now if Daddy’s old Zenith could talk… it would tell me what my father and grandparents listened to… was it baseball or a president’s speech? Mama often talked about how her father would listen to the president on the radio.

My husband and I have always collected one thing or another, and before children, we spent all our free time at flea markets and auctions… looking for anything and everything! We graduated from collecting old radio’s to the older record players known as Victrolas or Gramophones; they played the older 78 records. I’ll pick back up this post in Letter “V” so stay tuned! Now that our kids have flown the roost… we are back to the flea markets and making collections; he hunts cast iron while I’m on a Nancy Drew hunt!

Records / Record Player:

When I reached my early teenage years, I think I traded my Barbies and Nancy Drew for records… I loved music! The only record player I remember having was a suitcase style, where the turntable folded down. I spent countless hours playing my 45’s and LP’s and whenever I was downtown, I headed to Lawhorn’s Music Store; my girlfriend Janet’s father owned it. This was where most of my music was bought… hours were spent looking and choosing between Elvis, Herman’s Hermits, Sonny and Cher, The Beach Boys, Paul Revere and the Raiders, and The Monkees. Much of that was my early “bubble gum” music, as it was so-called, but I soon graduated to The Beatles, Jimi Hendrix, and Janis Joplin. Daddy walked in my bedroom once while Hendrix’s “Star Spangled Banner” was playing and attempted to fiddle with the sound controls; he was trying to adjust the sound, but with that tune… there was no adjusting!

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My favorite store to shop for the latest ’45 or LP! It was owned by my best friend’s father… so I always got a discount!!!

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A drop down turntable style record player just like the one I had!

I could easily spend an entire afternoon listening to my music… nothing better than creating a playlist with all your favorite 45’s. Today it’s a click with your mouse to create a playlist, but mine was “hand’s on” when I was a teenager. That was more fun! I can still hear the sound of the 45’s dropping down the spindle, the arm rotating over and the needle dropping down to play; funny how you remember things like that!

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… and after all these years, I still have my ’45 record cases and records! Look what I found inside! Price tag inside lid tells me I bought it at K-Mart and paid $1.69… what a bargain!


I never gave a thought to what a recipe was in growing up…. Mama didn’t have any that I ever saw. While my mother cooked… and cooked some of the best Southern food I’ve ever eaten, I never saw her once use a recipe. She cooked food like her mother… she just knew what went in, and how it felt to her hands. Mama cooked, she didn’t really bake, so I have no memories of watching her make cakes and cookies. The only dessert she ever made, that I remember, is a lemon pie.


Heirloom Recipes is listed on the top of the magazine… just click on the link to read my story; enjoy the recipe and make one for yourself. Be sure and let me know how you like it!

My original recipe I created for Grandmama Bryan’s Sweet Potato Cobbler came about after many tries… and much help from my cousin Charles Bryan! All my many tries resulted in a recipe and story I wrote titled “Heirloom Recipes.” I was even lucky enough to have it published after submitting it to Georgia Backroads; a publication about the history of everything in Georgia. What’s more Southern or Georgian than a “sweet potato?”

I have many recipes written down today, especially all my favorites and still even more stuffed in folders… for those days I just might want to make them… but then try and find the one specific one you want… that is a scavenger hunt!

When Stephen and Melissa left the nest, I gave them each a small recipe book with handwritten recipes of all their favorites; they loved it! Often I’m still asked for a recipe, but as they both are now married with families, they now add their new family favorites to it… sometimes even now sharing a recipe with me.


Aunt Mary’s “famous” cream puffs!

When my husband retired, and I still worked… I taught him how to cook many of his favorite foods. He soon learned how to make sauce, even though he had watched his mother make it through the years, and she made a great pot of sauce… he had never made it. He’s ventured to attempt many new recipes, as I often share Facebook recipes on his page, with the words “this looks good“… meaning… would you make this for me! In the cookie department, he’s perfected his mother’s “Ricotta Anginette” cookie recipe! And if I say, “but you make them better than me,” I’m often rewarded with Anginette cookies!

We all have our “own” way to write recipes, abbreviating many words like “opt” for optional, and “tsp” for teaspoon… and when hubby first began cooking from “my” recipes, that was a challenge for him… he had no clue what I meant with all my abbreviations.  While I have no problem reading my recipe cards with all the scribbles and notations, it’d probably take a detective to fully figure them out for anyone else! Hubby has now pretty much learned all my abbreviations, but my grocery lists still puzzles him; he didn’t know what my “pot” was just recently… doesn’t everyone know that means “potatoes“? While he did bring home the “sweet pot” I wrote, he ignored the other “pot“…  he is learning though!

recipe book cover

Hubby is more precise when following a recipe than I am. I tend to follow, but not really follow… often changing ingredients and amounts. It’s easier to change ingredients and amounts in a cooking recipe vs a baking recipe where precise is more a must… if you want it to “rise” correctly!

My “recipe book” holds all our family favorites… along with many of my scribbled notes. My daughter has laid claim to this recipe book! Notice the yellow labels peeking through the top – hubby put “post its” on his favorite recipes he cooks most!

If you cook with hubby… who follows the recipe more in your household?


Who doesn’t love to hear the sound of rain coming down… especially on a tin roof! I think that might be more of a Southern thing, as who has tin roofs in the North; boy they don’t know what they’re missing!

My remembrances of hearing rain on a tin roof were mostly at Granddaddy McKinley’s farm house, and just thinking about it now… well you know I’m hearing it in my mind! Sometimes I hear it bounce off the tin roof on our shed near my bedroom window… and it always brings me back to those days.

Rainy days are days where you can be lazy, as what else can you be doing? Well, there are things, but on rainy days I want to just lay on the couch in my pajamas, enjoy my coffee and watch old movies… I Love TCM! I binge watched that channel when I was home with a broken foot a year ago, and really got into the old black and white classics from the 1940’s.

So bring on a nice rain, but never on the weekend…  Monday’s are always good!

Road Trips:

The only road trips I remember as a young child were the two-hour trips from Perry to Granddaddy’s farm in Siloam. Mama often played counting games with me in the car… that was a time when there were no deposits on bottles in Georgia; there were plenty of Coca Cola bottles on the side of the road. She counted bottles on one side, while I counted on the other. If we weren’t counting bottles, then we counted cows or colors of cars…. it helped to pass the time!

The only other road trips were our summer vacation trips to Miami, Panama City or Tallahassee in Florida. During those trips I probably read… maybe Nancy Drew or Barbie and Ken came along. When I was older, Mama usually let me bring a friend, so we amused ourselves.

Hubby and I take “lots” of road trips now… his favorite road trip is packing for our Georgia trips. I can mention at any moment “let’s go to Georgia” and he’s willing and soon ready! We have certain things we bring on our trips, like our own coffee pot for the hotel rooms… we hate those individual cup machines they have now… and there have been a few rooms with none! I also bring my own hair dryer, just in case there isn’t one, and that has happened. Our car kit also includes paper plates, utensils and cups… never know when you’ll need them. I guess we just like our own things! Mama always says when we arrive… “you’ve brought everything but the kitchen sink”… we don’t travel light!

On the return trip from Georgia, we’re usually traveling with three coolers, so when we stop… we need a room with a fridge and freezer to refreeze our ice-packs. What are we bringing, you ask? I’m from Georgia, so I bring BBQ and Brunswick Stew home from Holcomb’s… our favorite BBQ place!

We often take road trips on Sunday’s, just recently we went to Rhode Island; it’s only about an hour away. As hubby enjoys driving, it’s nothing for us to plan a day trip to somewhere, pack a cooler, and we are off! He’s always agreeable to go anywhere.

I’d love to drive part of Rt. 66 out West one day, and who knows…. one of these days we just might pack up the car for that trip! We’ve driven to Pennsylvania a few times with no specific place in mind, just winging it… stopping whenever and wherever we want. On one trip we ended up in the Amish country, but were so involved in Antiquing than taking the time to see the sights; it’s on our list to go back. Hubby wants to go on an Amish buggy ride and visit their farms on our next trip. Future trips are to Vermont and Maine… I want to see where he was stationed at the Loring AFB near the Canadian Border.

It’s fun to be on the road with my husband, just the two of us with no specific place in mind, just stopping wherever! He drives while I navigate… and sometimes we’ve ended up on some strange back country roads, where we had no idea of where we were, but I always manage get us back on track.

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The beginning of the Blue Ridge Parkway we entered in N. C., but we exited out of the Smokey Mountains in Gatlinburg Tenn.

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Bunches Bald Overlook – Notice the elevation – We were quite high!

Last year I wanted to drive on the Blue Ridge Parkway and The Skyline, so in heading home to Connecticut, I mapped us to start on the Blue Ridge… well it said Blue Ridge Mountains when we entered, but somehow we ended up in The Smoky Mountains of Tennessee and exited at Gatlinburg. I’d do it again, as Gatlinburg looked really interesting, and I’m anxious to go back and spend a day.

We did see wildlife on that ride… several Elk were grazing out in a large field; I was really hoping to see black bears! When we drive to Georgia this year, I think we’ll begin on the Skyline Drive and spend a day… surely we won’t get lost… again!


These Elk had traffic backed up… everyone was out with their cameras, including me!


I retired on June 2nd, of this year (2017)… a decision I thought about for a long time, and when my company offered a buyout… well that pretty much made up my mind. Hey, who turns down free money!

While raising our children, retirement seemed like something so far away in the very distant future… but it seemed to have come way faster than I expected, or wanted. We paid off our house this year, and I turned 65… yikes another milestone… but paying off the 30-year mortgage was the best! It felt good making that FINAL payment… and that is definitely going to make retirement a little easier to handle.

While I was scared at all the preparation to retire… so much to think about and do. It was so overwhelming… especially All that Medicare and medical stuff… it was scary to sign up for. The one thing I haven’t taken yet is my social security and because of the buyout this year, I chose to postpone until next year when I reach full social security age… something to look forward to…. more money!

But all in all, I’m enjoying retirement, how could I not when hubby tells me how much he loves having me home… that it’s like being on a honeymoon with me every day! We are enjoying every day… enjoying it so much that often I don’t even know what day it is. I just know that it’s morning and I think “what are we going to do today“! On the weekends we enjoy tag sales, flea markets, and book sales… still looking for Nancy Drew books!

Retirement is getting up in the morning when we want, and pretty much doing and going where we want. My plans for retirement was to go through my house and “try” to declutter, but that just hasn’t happened… yet; maybe when the cold weather arrives, as that will keep us home more… maybe! I think right now, I just needed some weeks, months, to just enjoy life… as life is too short! Eventually, I will tackle the two upstairs bedrooms that are cluttered, I promise… but right now I am enjoying my first free summer in thirty-six years! So take my advice… Don’t be Afraid to Retire!!!


Want to read more, then click… 2017: A to Z… All About Me!

© 2017, copyright Jeanne Bryan Insalaco; all rights reserved

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Nancy Drew: The Hunt

 Nancy Drew… The Hunt

 No sooner than I began the hunt for Nancy Drew books for my granddaughter Ella, then the inner Nancy Drew fan inside me surfaced. The hunt now became personal for me as not only am I hunting for books for my granddaughter… I also am secretly searching for vintage Nancy Drew books for me. Oh, if only my books hadn’t been thrown, given away!

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My First “Vintage” Book Found!

In past years I ran across many Nancy Drew at tag sales, flea markets, and antique stores and passed them by… but now that I’m looking… they seem to be seriously hiding! It’s taken me weeks before I even found my very first copy at a town flea market. It was exciting to finally find a copy, but I felt the price tag of 5 dollars was too high, so I laid it down, but hubby pushed me to go back and haggle a better price… which I did and I left with it, paying 3 dollars. At least I’ve broken the ice, and found my first book!

Yes, they are on eBay, Etsy, and Abe…. but it’s the hunt and the find which is the most fun… discovering them with your own eyes! Just recently I’ve discovered that many are to be found at a library “book sale.” Who Knew! My husband had mentioned trying a library and I laughed… “they don’t have books for sale.” Well, they don’t per say… but they seem to store donated books and have yearly sales.

My first book sale attendance was by accident and I was quite overwhelmed with the number of books there and all the people buying…. and they came prepared… carrying bags to shop the many boxes of books. Needless to say, I left with a box of Nancy Drew books!

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I now know that “book sales” are where my coveted Nancy Drew books have been hiding… Who Knew!

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I found a “Dust Jacket” Nancy Drew hiding at the book sale!

After locating a “book finder” online… I was now armed with where to hunt for those library sales. Just recently I added more of the “flashlight” series from a school sale for my granddaughter, but I am still on the hunt for vintage ones for me.

The more obsessed I became with hunting for books, the more I read on the history involved in creating Nancy Drew… I never knew how the Nancy’s were created…. and now I’m obsessed in knowing it all.

Facebook has several Nancy Drew book groups…. with people just like me rebuilding their long lost collections of Nancy’s! The more I read, the more I’m being pulled in.

Just recently I went to another “big” library book sale advertised as their 59th year…. I felt for sure that there would be Nancy’s there… and I was right! There were two huge tents on the library’s long front lawn and more books underneath than I have ever seen, but after walking and walking… I finally found the children’s section. It took my eyes only a couple of minutes to finally look under the table to discover what I had come for. I first found the “flashlight” series and after comparing them to my list with the help of hubby…. I filled a box! Yes, I had made a list of all I already had, so I didn’t end up with too many doubles.  As I made my way further down, I found what I was really looking for… the vintage Nancy’s… and they were only marked one dollar, cheaper than the flashlight ones at two dollars – go figure! It didn’t take me long to fill another box… they were all coming home with me!

Thank heaven hubby came with me… those boxes were heavy!

When I first bought my Nancy books in the 1960’s, they were bought “new“… did I write my name inside like many I find today? Whenever my mother mentioned she was going to K-Mart… I never fussed about going along… I knew she’d buy me a new book! I wonder if my books are still out there somewhere in someone’s collection? Imagine finding those books!

I bought my daughter Nancy Drew books when she was young, but either she wasn’t really a reader or they just didn’t interest her as she packed them away a long time ago… and it took until now to finally find them; I knew I had never sold or gave them away, or at least I didn’t think so. I hadn’t seen her Nancy’s in probably twenty plus years until today… when hubby came up from the basement with an old Avon box… and there they were! I was so excited to finally see them… and finally, know that she hadn’t disposed of them under my “prying” eyes whenever she brought trash down!

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Finally… daughter’s “Nancy’s” are found!!!

I spent my afternoon, looking through every one of those books, writing down story names, and listing their conditions and styles to better identify them. Even though you really don’t want writing in your books, it is interesting to read the names and scrutinize what and why they wrote what they did. Some wrote just their names, some added the address and even their phone number… and when you see no area code, it pretty much pinpoints how early it was written. Some even put small check marks by the listing of other book titles… they were identifying their libraries. Many of the ones bought at library sales all belonging to just one girl. A few of the ones I have inscribed are locally from New Haven, Ct., New York… with the furthermost being from Illinois.

Mellissa sig FIX

Finally, I opened a book, No. 1, The Secret of the Old Clock… and there was a name I recognized… “This book belongs to Melissa”… I guess my daughter read one book! These will now be saved for her daughters, hopefully, McKinley and Grace will be readers!

This is not the end of my “hunt” for Ella’s set is still missing six books, my vintage collection is missing quite a few and my daughter’s set was never completed. It seems the higher numbers are in shorter supply than the early numbers. I seem to have my work cut out for me, but I’ll slow down my search a bit now… as it’s the “hunt” that is the most fun!


Click… to read more Nancy stories

© 2017, copyright Jeanne Bryan Insalaco; all rights reserved

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