Weekend Weathervanes: The Snail

Weekend Weathervanes: The Snail


Not sure how the snail relates to the Winery… but it was cute!

Hermit Woods Winery

Meredith, New Hampshire


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© 2018, copyright Jeanne Bryan Insalaco; all rights reserved

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Family Stories: Playing the Game – Scrabble

Family Stories

Playing the Game… Scrabble

Playing games was not something I grew up doing, but in my husband’s family… they were big game-board players… all types of games… Monopoly, Scrabble, and many Card Games; I learned to enjoy board games after I married.


The many Scrabble games of my mother-in-law

The biggest scrabble players in the family were my mother-in-law, Celia and her sister Dolly; I remember them playing almost every afternoon. When I married Steve was when I acquired an interest in playing games, but I was no match for them in their scrabble games… it was a long time before they let me play… they never played for free!

Were they thinking of playing in Scrabble Sweepstakes?

When we cleaned out her home, we found several of her Scrabble games and brought them home… today we pulled them all out to photograph. Steve went through each one, checking if all pieces were there… and for the most part they were all complete except for a letter or two missing. Many of the tile letters ink has faded, from so much use Steve says, and there were a few tiles half broken… from the times they were thrown on the floor… maybe when a word was refused!

Why so many games? Whenever a new game style came out, Celia had to have. I’m not sure on all the travel ones… did she go somewhere… and took them? Her favorite one was always the newer plastic one in which the tiles were recessed on the board and it sat on a disk that easily spun around. We also bought one like it, as when we first married we began playing board and card games like 500 Rummy… no Facebook, phones or computers!


The famous “eyedog” word!

Dolly remembers the funniest word every “tried to be played” was by her brother Freddie, when playing a game with his brother Frankie. Freddie spelled out “eyedog“. Frankie called it stupid and probably knocked the letters right off the board. Hey you can’t blame a guy for trying! I don’t remember ever hearing of any scrabble games where the brothers played with the sisters… although they later played more than their share of poker and  knock rummy. Most evenings you’d find many of the siblings and other family  members playing a few hands of knock rummy in their mother’s kitchen! It was a nightly ritual!

No game was played by Celia and Dolly without the famous Webster’s Dictionary on the edge of the table… if they found the word inside, top or bottom… they played them! Their Rules! They were very competitive… which drove them to play hard to win the money on the table… games were never played for fun!

A few of the famous “big” dictionaries… any word, top or bottom was fair game. Duct tape held everything together, from the many falls off the table!

The most famous dictionary was made by weekly visits to the Rivoli Theater… downtown West Haven. They sucked you in by giving you a free letter pack once a week… only given out during the week… encouraging more weekly business. It was often Steve who went to the movies with his mother, they were the big movie buffs in the family. The night they played The Man with the Golden Arm with Frank Sinatra, his father and brother also came. Unfortunately David got sick, and dad didn’t get to stay for the end, as he had to take him home. Steve remembers how the family in Shelton was mad when they learned she took a ten year old to see that movie; his father’s family had a different view on family life.

The weekly letter sections were given out at the candy counter… every week a different letter, but sometimes they’d have the previous week if you missed a show. Steve says his mother usually gave him ten cents for candy when he went to the counter. It was Steve’s job to assemble each weeks letter pack to the dictionary book.


Steve and I later became hooked on the board games Clue and Careers and played with his aunt Dolly and her husband Joey… more known as Joey Bags. So many family members had nicknames… but that’s another story! I remember many all-day Saturday afternoons of one game after another… I miss those days… and games! We later graduated from the board games to the game of OTB… Off Track Betting. Then it was on to the weekly Saturday racing forms… spending the morning arguing over who the winners would be… and who was the best mudder!

Dolly and I play scrabble today, but it’s called Words for Friends and played on an app…on our phones… she in her house and me in mine; how times have changed!  These type games lose the personal touch of being with the person, and having conversations, but like they say… it’s a totally different world today, but Not necessarily for the better!


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© 2018, copyright Jeanne Bryan Insalaco; all rights reserved

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Family Stories: Memories with Cousin Charles Bryan

Family Stories

Memories with Cousin Charles E. Bryan


The Smith House

(photo printed with permission from Rocky Smith)

It wasn’t until I became interested in family history research that I met my second cousin, Charles Earle Bryan… although I’m sure he’d seen me as a young child, I just didn’t really know him. We became acquainted after I sent his mother my yearly Christmas newsletter and a copy of my Bryan research. He began reading through it… and was bit by the genealogy bug… and on one of my trips home we hooked up for a family research trip to Dahlonega, Georgia.


Charles, surrounded by many of his family (he’s back there in the blue shirt)

One of my first trips, of several, with Charles, began in June of 1999. He drove me, along with my mother and son Stephen for a trip to Dahlonega. That day we were picked up in his van… mama was enjoying the captain chairs in the back, and there even was a TV and vcr, so they were kept busy as I’m sure Charles and I yakked all the way up. Whenever she’d moan about the windy roads, Charles just keep on driving while chuckling… and give me a wink!

We arrived around lunchtime and stopped at The Smith House… which is more for tourists but we had wanted to check it out. They serve family-style meals, which means you sit at large tables, often with other guests and pass the bowl around, just like at home. Mama always said their fried chicken was one of the best she’d had in years… Stephen kept the fried okra bowl empty, and I did a decent job on the creamed style corn. The one thing I thought missing was a southern biscuit… they only serve yeast rolls… oh well you can’t have everything!

From my journal entry, I’m thinking this might have been my first visit there, as it seemed Charles let us spend time walking around and shopping… I’m sure that wasn’t his cup of tea! I wrote in my journal that I bought a lap-throw with pictures of Dahlonega on it… I’m not remembering that, so might have to dig around and see where it went!

Dahlonega Square from Tower Crane

Aerial view of Dahlonega Square – the center brick building is the original Lumpkin County Courthouse

After a walk through town, stopping at The Hometown Bookstore for a genealogy book on Lumpkin County obits transcribed, and a stop at The Fudge Factory, we were ready to ride off our food! Charles drove up to Woody Gap to show us the view of Dahlonega from way high up… Stephen had a chance to try out his new digital camera and snapped many photos; this was the new Sony camera that first recorded digital images on floppy disks. Boy how times have changed in nineteen years!

Image result for cane creek falls ga

Image result for cane creek falls ga

Cane Creek Falls

On the way back to Dahlonega, we stopped by Cane Creek Falls… which is now on the property of  the campsite of Camp Glisson, a youth camping area; you can still walk down to the falls if camp isn’t in progress. Our common ancestor, Berrian Clark Bryan’s homestead was further up, and just across from the part of the river that runs down to feed into the falls.

That trip was only one of many as once the family research bug hit Charles, often he and his wife Kay spent many weekends in Lumpkin County; they enjoyed searching out places to show me when I came home every summer. (I was always so jealous!)

Cousin Charles favorite restaurant!

On another trip, Charles took me to his favorite… where he always ate… The Wagon Wheel… it was just out of town and where all the locals ate; you can never go wrong if the locals eat there! He never went to Dahlonega without stopping there for his favorite fried chicken… I’m told it’s the best… and Charles Bryan with choc piealways a slice… or maybe two… of their famous chocolate pie. His daughter, Lynn, told me that it wasn’t unusual for him to just take off and go up there by himself just for a lunch of fried chicken and chocolate pie! I’m definitely stopping there on my next trip… and maybe I’ll have an extra slice for cousin Charles!

Charles would always take several routes to Dahlonega, and it took me awhile to get my bearings and finally write down a route so I could drive my son and I up there for more visits. This was before I had a cell phone for map directions. I became quite good in making that route and learning my way around to feel comfortable enough to drive there… although my mother wasn’t comfortable when we hit the roads going around the mountains… all I’d hear from the backseat was… “slow down, I know you’re going to drive us off the mountain, or I’m going to be sick!” Stephen and I would laugh from the front seat!

cane creek church_0001

Cane Creek Church

One of the main places I had always wanted to see was Cane Creek Church in Dahlonega; after Charles and Kay discovered it, Kay wrote me all about it, and how he would take me there when I came home; I couldn’t wait for my trip to Georgia… knowing that I was finally going to see the church and cemetery where my third-great grandfather, Berrian Clark Bryan, was buried, along with many more family members.

When Charles turned off the main road that day, the first thing I noticed was that the road wasn’t paved… it was a narrow red-dirt road, and very muddy from the rain, the night before.  If you’ve ever driven on muddy dirt roads with deep slanting sides leading down to the even muddier ditch, then you know what I’m describing. Of course, if you know Charles, you know he had plans to tease me about ending up in that muddy ditch… and yes I was a little nervous about being stuck there as the road leading out to the cemetery, which seemed to go on and on; it was way over a mile back in the woods… and it became a dead end when we arrived!

While I was excited to see Cane Creek Church, I was a little scared being so deep in the woods, now at a dead end… and seeing an old logging truck with men sitting off to the side of the open area… didn’t make me feel any safer! I’m sure Charles chuckled when I said, “well if they kill and bury us somewhere back here, I know Steve will never know what happened to me.” He just laughed again! Before we headed around the church toward the cemetery, the truck pulled out… and I breathed a sigh of relief. I don’t think it had fazed Charles one bit!

Seeing the church and cemetery was like stepping back in time… as if time had not touched this area. The cemetery was a small circular area with many graves still unmarked… only marked with a fieldstone. I had learned earlier from a cousin, that her grandfather, who was a grandson of B.C. Bryan, had actually researched the cemetery many years ago to learn exactly where the family graves were and had gravestones placed; what a lifesaver that was for us!

Charles and daughter, Lynn; they visited Cane Creek Church on Memorial Day (2015)

Visiting the cemetery and gravestones of my early ancestors that day, was only the first beginning of many returned visits; the church was another delight to see in person. The two white-clapboard doors were open and upon entering, it felt like we had stepped back into another era. The original oak pews were still in place… lined up on very worn oak flooring.  Gas lights still hung on the wall, although there is electricity now for lights overhead and  ceiling fans. An older upright piano sat in the corner, with many hymn books there showing what music they played. We left a note and money in the offering basket we found underneath the ministers preaching pulpit. It seemed others had also been there before us, as there was other money in the basket… seems we all had the same idea. In as much as I could have stayed longer, we headed home… or mama might have turned into a pumpkin. My camera was loaded with so many photos that day and I couldn’t wait to view them  later on my laptop.

I was swept away by the quaint inside on my first visit… click HERE for a story and photos on my visit to the church showing ghostly spirits.

Another trip with Charles was to Nimblewill Baptist Church and cemetery, as he showed me the graves of William P. Turner (1846-1899) and wife Laura A. Gooch (1848-1914). I remember how excited I was when I learned what the letter “P” stood for… Pinkney… the same middle name of my grandfather, Paul Pinkney Bryan; I always had heard he was embarrassed with that middle name and never liked anyone to know… if only I had known early… I would have liked to have asked him about it.

Nimberwill Church_0003

Nimblewill had a couple more “Turner” graves of a Francis Turner (1810-1911), age 100… and for several years I hoped, and tried to tie her in as being the elusive mother of my William P. Turner, but after much research, she wasn’t a match. She could tie in to the Turner family somewhere, but not as his mother. It turned out that Francis was the mother of the nearby gravestone of Malinda Turner Gamblin (1840-1876).

A year passed, and while I was home dreaming of what Charles would discover to show me… he was pulled to Lumpkin County on many weekends…. searching for new places of interest… especially cemeteries of where our shared ancestors were buried.

Another trip to Georgia had Charles and I heading to Springer Mountain in Fannin County, which is the next county over from Lumpkin. I had never heard of this mountain before, but anyone who hikes will know that Springer Mountain is the beginning of the Appalachian Trail, which runs from there to Mount Katahdin in Maine; a total mile count of 2,200 miles, which often takes around six months to walk. I’ve read a few books of people’s walks, and followed someones daily blog recently… finding them quite interesting. Their writings sound like such an adventure, from the people they meet, to the breathtaking views they see… but I’ll never see those views or meet those people except through their stories and photos… that should have been something I thought to do many years ago… today I’d never get a mile in before turning around. Hopefully when I revisit Hickory Flats Cemetery again, I’ll find the beginning of the Appalachian trail and that will be as close as I’ll get to the trail… it does run directly alongside the cemetery, so I could step on the trail there… and at least I could say I was on the trail!

I was totally lost as we headed there, but Charles knew exactly where he was going… I just enjoyed the ride and the scenery… until! Once we turned off the main road onto the last road that wound round and round up Springer Mountain, I had hesitations on going on, but! This narrow dirt bumpy road was known as Ladder Road… so known because of the constant line of bumps going across. When I say it was narrow… it was very narrow… and my first question of many was “what happens if we meet another car coming down?” Charles just laughed, “Oh, we’ll get by.” I wasn’t as sure as he seemed to be, but I buckled up and held on. His side of the car hugged the mountain, while mine hugged the side of the road directly next to the ravine… which I could look down the side of the mountain and see a constant water stream full of rocks. All that ran through my mind was, if the tires go off the road and we go tumbling down the gully into the water… it’s all over. I’m sure I said a few prayers on the way up… and it seemed like it took forever. I was quite relieved when we finally reached the top of the winding ladder road and came to another… dirt ruddy road!

Hickory Flats Cemetery is known as one of the most unique cemeteries in Georgia as it sits on top of a mountain…. in the middle of the Appalachian Trail. It is around 12 miles from the closest paved road… and to reach it, you drive those 12 miles on a twisting gravel-dirt mountain road through the Chattahoochee National Forest. As the cemetery is inside the area of the Chattahoochee, campers have camping rights in this cemetery area… where else would you find a cemetery to legally camp in? I found it so odd when I discovered that, but it is pretty cool.

I was later told by his wife Kay that the first time he took her and the kids up to Hickory Flats Cemetery, he took the same bumpy road… him hugging the mountain, while she, like me, feared they’d end up in the ravine down below! They often took weekend trips there, and lured the kids along for “digging up bones“… which is what they called those trips. Kay also remembers the “sighs” and “eye rolls” from the backseat… but they came.. and now have many great memories of those trips with dad, just like I do. And they all knew they’d get a slice of chocolate pie if they came along for the ride!

After we turned onto a somewhat flat straight road, the cemetery of Hickory Flats was just to our right. New Bethel Church, for whatever reason, had left Georgia and moved it’s parish up to Tennessee. We pulled into the parking area to discover several cars, a camper and many people sitting around an open fire. We were quite surprised, wondering why so many people were here, and just sitting around. Charles, being the southern talker he is, didn’t hesitate to walk over, introduce himself and start a conversation. Before I knew it, we were sitting by the fire and sharing stories about the families of the Bryan’s and the Long’s.

It seemed the “Long” family came there yearly, every August for a family reunion… yes in a cemetery! We sat down and had many conversations as there were Long’s who married into our Bryan line… and it seemed we were connected as distant cousins. After several photos and a look around, we left them to their reunion, and we headed back… on a different route. I was thankful for that, especially after the story told about a bear spotted up there the day before. I’m sure I kept looking over my shoulder that day… expecting to see Yogi looking for a picnic basket… or me!

What I had first noticed upon getting out… was the quality of the air on top of Springer Mountain that day. You could just take a deep breath and feel how clean, crisp and cool the air felt. I have never been back there since that day with Charles, but it’s now on my “to do” list… I must take my husband there on our next trip to Georgia… but I’m not going the route of Ladder Road… I can’t take that trip up again!

We hadn’t gone 500 feet leaving on that flat road before Charles said, “was that a snake I just ran over, now where did it go.” He thought he had run over a rattlesnake, but didn’t see him in the road after stopping. I just knew that he was lingering under the car, waiting for me to open my door… and bite me! Later I wondered if he actually ran over him… or just was teasing me! Charles was always quite the storyteller, and a teaser!

The dirt road just outside the cemetery, actually runs back toward where Cane Creek Church is and also Nimblewill Church cemetery. In discovering that, we surmised that Fanny Fortner Bryan must have been buried here as it was the church they belonged to at the time. Much later, William Madison Bryan, her husband, had came to live with his father near Cane Creek and was buried in the Cane Creek Cemetery.

I received a phone call from Charles one day telling me about his visit with Walter Bryan. I first heard from Walter after the story about the re-enactment of the Confederate funeral for my third great grandfather, Berrian Clark Bryan. Walter descended through a line also from B.C. Bryan. Charles went to visit with Walter after I told him and couldn’t wait to let me know about his visit. He took me also on my next trip… and when I met Walter in person, standing in the doorway wearing overalls… I knew he was a Bryan. I couldn’t believe how much he favored my own grandfather; sometimes you can just look at a person and see the family traits! Charles often stopped by Walter’s whenever he was in the area.

My last meet up with Charles was at his home in Union Point a couple of years ago, along with several of his children and grandchildren.  We had a great afternoon going through photo albums and in between he told a few stories. I recently wrote on the “All You Can Eat BBQ plate for $1.25“… sounds like quite a deal! My ears were on that day, and I busily jotted notes as I listened. That afternoon even yielded a few stories that could never be repeated… anywhere… but we all had a good laugh over them. My mother still often remembers it and talks about it… but I stop her right in her tracks… it was funny but not something I really want to talk about! Believe me, it takes a few times of “Shhh” to get the hint across to her…. as she thinks it funny! If you were there that day… you know the story!

Charles still lived in his family home on that day, the same home where he grew up… being the red-headed mischievous boy he was… I’m sure he gave Uncle Leon and Aunt Louise quite the time. From what I know of him, I’d easily say he was “full of the devilment” in growing up… as mama says! While we sat in the living room that day listening to his stories, it’s really the famous “front porch” that has been the keeper of the stories through the years… and if only it could talk… I’d have all the stories!

Cousin Charles Bryan is the father of 5 children, 10 grandchildren, and 2 great-grandchildren. I will always remember and treasure my alone time with him as we trampled through Lumpkin County, and so blessed that he became hooked on the family history; he paved the way for me to be able to discover all these places and meet people that I never would have been able to on my own, especially in the limited time I have in Georgia when I visit.

If cousin Charles front porch could talk… it could tell all the stories of the family through the years. It truly is the keeper of their stories. Whenever the family gathers… they always ended up on… the front porch… it was always Charles favorite spot to just sit and reflect!

We lost cousin Charles on February 15th this year (2018), but whenever I go to Lumpkin County, I know he’s still there over my shoulder; he loved that area so much!

Feel free to your family stories and memories of Charles in the comments below!


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© 2018, copyright Jeanne Bryan Insalaco; all rights reserved

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Nancy Drew: Will The Real Nancy Drew Stand Up

Nancy Drew

Will The Real Nancy Drew Stand Up!

Me as Nancy Drew 1

We all know who Nancy Drew is, but many of us remember a different Nancy… and she will always be our “Nancy” in the back of our minds… and hearts!

Who is your Nancy?

collectibles 1

My Nancy drove a blue convertible, although she had many cars of color… of which I have no memory of, but she lived within the pages of my well-remembered and so-loved yellow spine matte books. Those covers were works of art… truly! And it was those covers that often helped me in deciding what my next book was to read.

I grew up as one of those nine-year-old girls who loved “sleuth” Nancy Drew… and coveted each new book that lined across my bookcase. Mama reminds me of how I kept my books so neatly lined on the shelf, allowing no one to touch them. If only I could just go back in time to the year of 1961… and meet that girl and see inside her bedroom… just one more glance at her bookshelf. What titles did I have?  Who doesn’t dream to walk back in time and treasure your life… all the times and things and you’ve forgotten… but  we all dream to remember!

Most likely, it was my mother who introduced me to Nancy Drew, as Nancy had been her favorite read… and just like my mother, Nancy was also born in 1930. She literally grew up, right alongside her… riding in that roadster and wearing those frocks, and definitely enjoying the fried chicken… just like Nancy!

I don’t believe, as a young girl, that I ever knew the name, Carolyn Keene, was a psysedium… never being an actual real life person. Maybe it was better I never knew that as a nine-year-old… why be disillusioned at such an early age!

There were so many things I never knew about Nancy Drew when I first read her in 1961… verses today in re-reading the stories; I read today in a new and different light. As that young nine-year-old girl, I read in awe of her life, excitement and daring ways. While, today I continue to read for enjoyment, I also read to compare storylines between the “original” and the “revised” text.

The revisions of the first 34 books began in 1959, and were revised for the specific reasons of bringing Nancy Drew into a world where the “baby boomers” could better relate to. They wrote out racial references and stereotyping, and changed Nancy’s spunky and forwardness into a more refined, and always by the law, type of girl… and lastly to re-word many references to items like roadsters and frocks. My era was more familiar with words like convertibles and dresses… would I have even understand Nancy’s original words?

If I had read the original books from the 1930’s, instead of the revised, would I still have fallen in love with Nancy? As I wouldn’t be reading words more written  for my time era, but instead more of my mother’s years. That was the thinking of editor, Harriet S. Adams, as she began to bring Nancy Drew to my generation. Nancy suddenly stepped out of her blue tweeds and paper dust jackets onto the yellow spine matte covers… the books I grew up with. Never did I know of what went into producing those book covers I loved so much!

While I have memories of reading Nancy Drew as she explored the many hidden staircases, such as in “The Hidden Staircase”, or “The Mystery of the 99 Steps”… and most likely my love of searching through attics came from reading my favorite “The Secret in the Old Attic.”

As one of many nine-year-old girls reading Nancy Drew, I became quite the dreamer… daydreaming of having a handsome Ned, galloping around the country, and being the ever popular Nancy Drew, having the confidence to handle whatever came her way. Nancy led a quite interesting and exciting life as she solved mysteries, while all at the young age of eighteen; and only sixteen in solving the mysteries in 1930! She gave you the hopes and dreams that you also could have those adventures, but often only under the covers by flashlight… as you rode along with Nancy in her blue convertible, while chasing villains. Nancy was never afraid… well there were a few moments, like when she was thrown in the bungalow closet in “The Secret of the Old Clock”… it was just a little comical to read her say, “they’ve left me here to starve.” Spoiler Alert! Of course that never happened, as you the reader knew better… no one ever bested our Nancy!

Nancy brought us into her world on those pages filled with exciting words… written by Carolyn Keene. I always loved her name, wondering what she looked like, and thinking how did she write all those many books… that I so enjoyed reading. It was her words that painted pictures in my head! Often a book is far better than any movie you watch… as you paint the scene with the characters… you hear their thoughts, which often isn’t carried into the movies. How often have you thought… “the book was much better.”

One of the highlights of a shopping trip with my mother to the newly opened K-Mart box store, was that I knew I’d leave with a new Nancy Drew book. Upon entering, I made a quick “beeline” to the book section in the far corner, and often remained there until mama pulled me away. There were so many beautiful covers to choose from,  it was impossible to hurry and make that final decision!

Knowing what I know today, those book covers were actually little books of art, but from a nine-year-old’s view, it was only about which book was coming home with me. I was constantly dragged from the book department… and always planning my next trip!

If you are one of the 1% that have never heard of Nancy Drew, or perhaps never read one… then you’ve missed out on reading stories about an iconic female figure, she’s one of a kind, our Nancy!

I great up in a great era… reading Nancy Drew!

and always when in a dilemma… think WWNDD!

…And if you happen to not know what that stands for…  just google it!

magnificator ThanksForReadingClick for more … Nancy Drew stories or to read my A to Z: 2018 – All About Nancy Drew

© 2018, copyright Jeanne Bryan Insalaco; all rights reserved

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Conversations with Mama: You never know what she will say and more… #48

Conversations with Mama: You never know what she will say and more… #48

Me as Nancy Drew 1

Me, wearing one of the many dresses mama sewed – Mama started me on my love for Nancy Drew!

Lost posts… out of time sequence:

October 19, 2017: While watching Leave it to Beaver I made fun of June Cleaver with her pearls on, and mama said, “my mama didn’t have any pearls, the first thing she did every morning was go in the kitchen and put on her apron. If it was wash day, then she immediately went outside and started toting water to fill the wash pots.”

I later asked mama if  she was going to watch the Presidential debate tonight, she didn’t hesitate with, “I sure am, they’re going to put on a show tonight and go all out.” If I lived there, I’d drag her to vote in November… she want go by herself; it’s been a long time since she’s voted, and that probably was for John F. Kennedy. And if you’re wondering, she’s a Trump fan!

October 20, 2017:  We left Monroe with mama today to head down to Siloam, as we rode by fields, mama said… “those are sugar cane, the type grown to feed the cows, not what you eat.” In getting closer to Bostwick, cotton country… “I don’t know why they haven’t picked the cotton yet, those clouds look like rain.”  Outside of Greensboro, we saw another dead armadillo on the side of the road, and mama said “we never had those rodents around here when I lived in Greene County, daddy would have been out in the field shooting them with the shotgun! We even have them in Monroe.”

As we headed to Siloam today, we thought we’d take a chance to catch the owners of the McKinley old farmhouse at home, and we did. They were gracious enough to let us walk through the farmhouse… it’s in the process of renovations for their son to move into soon. Mama really enjoyed going in and seeing the inside probably for the last time of what she will recognize as once her family home. I had to shush her a couple of times… as she started to tell how she felt her father’s ghost was still walking the farm… while she enjoys telling that, not everyone likes to think ghosts are walking on their property! But I bet he is still there… he loved that land! I was thrilled that the owners gave me a couple of kitchen cabinets from Grandmamma’s kitchen… what a treasure!

After leaving, we rode by Slip Rock… “daddy used to bring me here often on a late hot afternoon. It once used to be so nice, but now the Kendrick family finally closed it off as people came here and trashed it… leaving broken glass all around on the rocks and in the water.” In leaving Siloam, we noticed that Johnson Pharmacy in town is now boarded up… last year I took pictures through the glass front windows.

November 17, 2018: Hubby and I were on the lookout for an Armadillo while out today … they seem to be plentiful in Georgia now, especially around mama’s area, and quite destructive I’m told. We finally spotted one as road kill, but by the time we came back by, it was no longer picture worthy!

November 18, 2017: While coming back from Hancock County… as we neared White Plains, mama said. “I know where we are now, this road comes into White Plains. My grandfather, Lawson McKinley, lived just outside of town and is buried over in the White Plains  Baptist Ch. Cemetery.” As hubby stopped for gas, I noticed a building that had the name, White Plains Logging Co. on it, and I asked mama. “That’s the logging company who I sold my farm too. They came in and cut all the timber and then sold the land  in lots.” I had really never known exactly who she had sold it to… learned something new!

Then we passed a house that had partially burned down, and mama said. “That’s the old Lewis house, that’s who my father bought the oak table and chairs you have today. It was just sitting out in their yard one day when we rode past; it had several coats of many colors of paint on it. Daddy bought it for about ten dollars and stripped it down to bring it back to its original oak finish.” We somehow had missed lunch today, so by the time we arrived in Greensboro we stopped at our favorite ice cream spot… that was lunch. Mama got her usual chocolate and I had Butter Pecan… my favorite when in Georgia.


May 19, 2018: Called Mama today at Park Place (rehab); she sounded pretty good, but anxious to come home. At least today the phone had a better connection and she was able to hear me. So when I asked what she was doing… “I’m just laying here watching TV, the Royal Wedding is on. I really wish I could have a new room with a different roommate, this woman really annoys me… she thinks she owns the entire room, and when she’s finished watching TV, she just turns it off. Every time she rolls past me, she gives me a glare, and I just give her back a smile, but not really meaning it!” (Mama is in rehab from a fall, where she broke two ribs, then ended up with pneumonia… wasn’t walking well, so they thought she should go to rehab… and believe me it was against her will!)

“I’m alright here, but I don’t really like this food. I”ll eat when I get out of here. If someone would bring me some Brunswick Stew and loaf bread, I’d eat it all up. (I have some in the freezer down there, so hopefully, I can get Donna to take it to her this week, and we’ll see if she eats it) Carolyn and Johnny came the other day, maybe my friend Jo will roll in today and give me a laugh, she’s funny. I hope you’re coming down soon, as I really want out of here, I can exercise just as well at home.”

May 21, 2018: I called Mama at Park Place today, and immediately told me… “They moved me to a new room, I just couldn’t take it in there with that woman any more. She yelled at me today and that was it, I told them I wanted out of this room today! I’m still on the same hall, but now I can see outside and see the road. Hope this roommate is nicer than the last one, that only wanted to spend her day in the bathroom. If I’d known what they make you do here (exercise), I’d have never consented to come. When are you coming down, I want out of here. I can do all this at home just as well as here. I can go to the center, and they’ll pick me up. I drink everything they bring me, but I just don’t like this food.” I told her that Donna will bring her the Brunswick Stew this week. “I can’t wait, I’ll eat that.” I need to call them tomorrow as they never called to tell me of the room change, and I have a few more questions.

May 22, 2018: Called mama at Park Place this evening, immediately I knew something was wrong as she sounded very lethargic when she answered. I asked her what was wrong…. “I don’t know what’s wrong, I just don’t feel good.” At the same time, as I was talking to her, Park Place was calling me, so I called them back after hanging up. They said she had a high pulse rate and not feeling well.. Dr. had said for them to watch her closely over the weekend. Being 1000 miles away, that didn’t give me a good feeling.

May 25, 2018: Had an early Memorial Day phone call from Park Place… mama was en- route to the Monroe Hospital. We began packing the car for an early Tuesday leave to head to Georgia. I’d only been home three weeks from the last trip there, so my to-go bags were still packed; we’d plan to go the week after Memorial Day. Later in talking to the hospital to let them know I would be coming, they told me she arrived at the hospital with acute heart failure, pneumonia another UTI… here we go again!

May 28, 2018: We finally arrived at the hospital on Wednesday afternoon, Steve dropped me off while he went to the house to unpack the car. She looked pretty good when I arrived, and immediately wanted to go home… much to me not wanting that. I was hoping to talk her into going back to Park Place to finish more rehab. The Dr. wasn’t helpful, standing behind me, saying… “I can’t tell her she has to go back there, she clearly wants to go home.” What’s the matter with these doctors, don’t they see that she isn’t thinking clearly? While she still has much of her faculties, she doesn’t have good judgment now, isn’t eating… only drinking those Boost/Ensure drinks and doesn’t have good short-term memory at times. I don’t want her in a home… as it would just push her over the edge, but she fights me every step I try to put in place.

May 31, 2018: I told mama tonight that I wrote a new blog post called… “My Mother was Nancy Drew, well maybe!” She laughed and said, “did I ever tell you that me and Willie Mae wanted to be private eyes. We used to read stories about them in all the magazines. I read many Nancy Drew books but Willie didn’t… she wasn’t a big reader like I was.”

Me – Do you remember when the physical therapy guy came to your house after your heart surgery? “Yes, he was a young cute guy, he’d walk around with me outside and put his arms around me and make the neighbors jealous. He’d tell me that we would dance when I got better.”

When I told mama about how Steve’s father took old nails, straightened them out, and used them in building his house… mama said, “my daddy had buckets under the car shelter full of old nails. He threw nothing out!”

June 15, 2018: When I called… “It’s not hot, hot, but it hasn’t been cold, cold either! It must be hot, as I’m laying her necked as a jaybird! Boo is in the kitchen laying on the kitchen floor.”

June 24, 2018: I called mama tonight and immediately knew something was wrong… “Boo is gone, he must have gotten out when I went to the mailbox.” After I mentioned about putting food out near the open porch screen door, she said… “There he is, he’s eating by his bowl.” I hung up and dropped in on her Alexa and saw that he was now on the bed by her… so I knew he was really there. She would be so lost if Boo disappeared. While he can be quite the one in leaving little “presents” around the house, when he clearly has a clean litter box, he is all she has there for life support and company every day, and she loves him so much! I don’t know how she would survive without him. In as much as she drives us crazy when we are there, at all hours of the day, in calling his name and looking for him he’s not on the bed… he keeps her going!

June 27, 2018: Called mama tonight and after a few minutes, I asked about Boo, and “I don’t know, I guess he’s done got out. Haven’t seen him since this morning.” Here we go again, I think this is going to be an everyday occurrence… and he’s there all along, just being a cat… not coming when you call! She’s getting hard to have a conversation with, I feel like she doesn’t listen at all, but she knows how to tell me that she laid in the bed all day and didn’t want to go to the center. I told her about taking McKinley and Grace to get ice cream on McKinley’s last day of kindergarten… now she’s a 1st grader. As we headed to the farm for ice cream I asked them, can you guess which farm we’re going to? Grace says… “it’s either the farm where the doggies (B&B Farm) are or where the big swing is (Lavender Farm) or where the tractor is (Rose’s Farm)… yes, Gracie, it’s where the tractor is! “Oh Boy.”

July 5, 2018: I called mama and she immediately told me… “I’m watching Lets Make a Deal and Boo’s walking around like an old man.” OK… LOL  Mama hasn’t been in much of a talkative mood and it often turns to her telling me I’m being bossy and telling her what to do… so I end the conversation and get off the phone.

July 14, 2018: Mama immediately remembered to ask me how my trip was today… we had gone whale watching on the 12th. When I first told her I was going, she said, “I’d just open a book if I wanted to see a whale.”

Today the conversation turned to the heat… “When daddy went to the field, he’d pour a bucket of water over him. He also believed in putting on more clothes than less, when hot out. My mama made all his underwear out of some type of cloth sacks that something had come in… nothing was ever thrown away. Mama bleached them first before sewing. He only wanted long ones, down to his ankles; they had a drawstring around the ankles and the waist… he wore them year round. When he went to the field he always wore two pairs of overalls, with that long underwear and one or two shirts. Mama even made her own underwear, as well as mine; they had elastic in the waist and legs. I don’t think mama ever had bought underwear, but I did… much later on though!”

“Mama and Daddy had everything they needed at the farm, and probably happier than we are today. After cleaning the supper dishes, we’d go out on the front porch until bedtime… where it was cool. Later, when they had a TV, they’d watch it after supper… rather daddy would as he liked watching wrestling… mama probably sat there piecing quilts… that made her happy. I liked to lay on my bed propped up and read a book, probably a Nancy Drew book if I happened to have a new one borrowed from my friend in town.”

July 17, 2018: In calling mama, after several rings, she finally answered with a really loud… “Hey!” Naturally, I said, “hay is for horses.” Mama came back with, “I don’t have a horse! I was sleeping (yawn, yawn)…  I went to the center today (yawn).” “No wonder it stormed here today, you actually went out!” “Carolyn, (yawn) had pestered me to come so I made up my mind I’d go… (yawn)! I probably stirred my food around (yawn), not sure what (yawn) was even on the plate now.” Me… “I think I’ll let you go back to sleep.”

July 20, 2018: I told mama that Ana lost her first tooth on the 19th! She had been wiggling and wiggling it when suddenly it just fell out in the tissue she was using. Steve said she screamed bloody murder! Mama said, “I would have too!” Nina will be the next one to lose a tooth and Grace will be last.

July 31, 2018: I’d been trying to call mama all morning… finally she answered. “I had gone to the center, and just got in the door, but you don’t sound like yourself”, she said to me. “Surely the sky is gonna fall… you went to the center twice in one week.” “I didn’t want to go, but I promised Carolyn, so I went… now, I’m give out! I found you an old glass bowl down there, the kind you put fruit in. Mama used to have one like it and she always had fruit in it. We had a cold plate dinner today… slaw, fruit salad, and I don’t remember what else, but I’d rather have that than when they cook. They don’t know how to cook. It’s not too hot today, it’s just comfortable. Johnny came today to cut the grass. I was laying here in the bed when I heard him outside.”

August 5, 2018: When mama asked where we went today, I told her about finding the tall flagpole. Then mama said… “Boo just came running through here like something was chasing him, with his ears all slick back and eyes as big as saucers. I don’t know what he saw, but I didn’t see it!”

August 6, 2018: When I called, mama said… “I didn’t go to the center today, woke up but decided to just roll back over and go back to sleep… no one here to tell me I have to go; Boo was happy to lay on the kitchen floor all day. I never even went outside to see if it was hot, the air is on, so I’m comfortable. I’ve just been watching TV and reading.” Me, “what are you reading?” “I brought home one of those Reader Digest books that have two stories. I picked it up at the center last week… it looked interesting. It’s a story about a girl teaching animals. I think I’ve got about a couple more days of reading. If you don’t want to read it, I’ll take it back to the center and just lay it down where I picked it up from.”

August 8, 2018: I called to ask mama if it was raining… “It’s thundering and lightning out but I didn’t hear any rain. It if rained, I’d hear it as I have a piece of tin just outside my window… and I’d hear it.”

“I’m just an old 88-year-old woman now.” I said, “but, you’re the same age as Nancy Drew and she’s still driving her roadster.” “Well, I’m not driving a roadster, but I bet I’ve driven down as many dirt roads as Nancy Drew did. I grew up reading her and wanting to be just like her, both me and Willie Mae.”

October 4, 2018: While talking to mama tonight, I told her about seeing all the potato fields in Maine on our vacation, and she said. “Daddy grew potatoes, both regular and sweet potatoes. He’d bury them under big hills of dirt and sawdust after he dug them up. When we wanted some, we would just dig into the hill and take them out. They’d stay all winter there; he had two different hills.”

“He bought ice, as we had no refrigerator… he’d take the ice and put it in a croaker sack and bury it under the sawdust pile. Daddy kept the big sawdust pile away from the house as he always told me sometimes they burn hot at the center and could start a fire. He would warn me to never play in a sawdust pile as I could fall in and smother or be burned.”

“I went to the center today, but there was hardly anyone there as they all had gone on a trip. I brought my food home, I’ll eat it later.”

“I used to shimmy –up pine trees with no limbs when I was young. You used your feet and arms to pull yourself up, and wrap your legs around the tree… digging your feet in. I used to do all that while Daddy plowed with the mule. He’d yell over, “you’re gonna fall.” “I never fell! I’d do anything to get out of being in the house around mama because she would make me do housework or churn. I hated churning… going up and down with that stick! Mama was happier to have my brother around, I was daddy’s girl!”


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

© 2018, copyright Jeanne Bryan Insalaco; all rights reserved


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All You Can Eat BBQ – $1.25 a Plate…

  • All You Can Eat BBQ – $1.25 a Plate…


When you don’t talk to family members often, you miss out on stories like this… the ones you never knew even existed! On a recent visit home a couple of years ago, I visited my cousin Charles Bryan, who still lived in Union Point in his parent’s original home… with a front porch which is the keeper of all the stories. His father, Leon, was my grandfather’s (Paul) brother… they both lived in the same town and worked together at the mill, spending a lot of time together… but on this visit, I heard stories I never knew.

Granddaddy Paul worked at the Chipman Mill in Union Point his entire adult life, along with several of his brothers, and members of their family. But that’s another story to tell… the tales of work at the mill… this story tells of only one of their money-making schemes.

Gordon, Charlie, Leon, Clyde, Paul Bryan

Bryan Siblings: Bottom – L to R: Jewell (Runt), sister Myrt. Back – L to R: Gordon, Leon, Charlie, Clyde, and Paul (my grandfather) Bryan

Work during the week always led to the Southern tradition of having a BBQ on the weekend; southerners live for their BBQ on the weekends! This wouldn’t be the regular BBQ cookout for a family dinner, this was a cookout to put a little money in their pocket.

Uncle Leon raised turkeys, cows, pigs, goats, and chickens, another way to support his family besides working in the mill. Whenever granddaddy bought a hog for a weekend of cooking, it was his brother he went to. Being a girl, I was never allowed anywhere near the cooking pit… usually, a pit dug down in the field… a place where the men sat as the pig roasted long and slow all night. You’d see the glowing embers all night, as well as the glow from their cigars or cigarettes as they sat around the pit.

Every year Uncle Leon held a Turkey Shoot… usually just before Thanksgiving. Besides just the shoot, he also sold turkeys for $3 dollars – $5 if dressed. The turkey shoots were one dollar a shot… he made more money selling shots than actually selling a turkey!

Most of the Bryan brothers were always into something, whether legal or not so legal… whatever it took to make a few extra bucks. Besides selling BBQ my granddaddy Paul also set out fish baskets to catch catfish, although I’m not sure if he ever sold them, but he probably sold a few fried fish dinners here and there, if someone knew he was cooking. I remember many family fish fry’s at granddaddy’s house… and always cooked outside in a big cast iron pan; Grandmama Bryan never let him cook fish in the house. I remember those fish fry’s… the catfish and the hushpuppies… can’t have fish without them! My mouth waters, in thinking about them.

WC Bryan

William Clark Bryan (my great grandfather) and the famous horse who pulled his wagon around town selling vegetables and spring water!

Their father, my great-grandfather, William Clark Bryan, had also been a wheeler and dealer in making money; guess the apple never fell far from the tree. He drove a wagon all through the streets of Union Point, where he sold fruits, vegetables, and spring water in gallon jugs. Recently I learned that it wasn’t all spring water in those jugs… in the back of that wagon… my cousin Charles Bryan confirmed that he checked them out as a young boy… that water packed a punch! Those jugs were probably his biggest seller!

Whenever the two brothers held a BBQ dinner, it was always announced at the mill… they both took turns every other weekend cooking BBQ and Brunswick Stew. Before the end of the week, they would post flyers all around the mill announcing “BBQ plates – $1.25 – All you can eat.” I’m sure they helped each other in the overnight cooking of the hog.


By Saturday noon-time, locals began showing up to eat or take dinners home. Usually, before they began selling, they would put BBQ and stew aside for themselves, but one day… at the day’s end, there was no stew left, only chopped BBQ. Somehow they both had forgotten to put their stew away… I bet supper wasn’t enjoyed that night! Mama remembers that night and how grandmamma Bryan wasn’t happy… I bet she never let my grandfather forget that!

In as much as I try, I just can’t remember the taste of his BBQ and Stew or even of them cooking it… but mama tells me I was there! My mother remembers that grandmamma Bryan always had a pot of sauce brewing on the back burner… which was later added over the chopped BBQ.



Granddaddy Mckinley’s cast-iron kettle – Granddaddy Bryan with brother Clyde chopping BBQ; he always was involved in the chopping at every family BBQ. He even made his own choppers from steel he brought home from the mill, although it looks like he has a hatchet in that photo. (I have a chopper he gave me – and treasure it)

The Brunswick Stew was cooked outdoors in the small black cast-iron kettle that he borrowed from my grandfather Edgar McKinley; granddaddy Bryan’s was a larger kettle and he never liked using it for small batches. One summer, cousin Charles Bryan gave my son, granddaddy Bryan’s well-used wooden paddle which stirred his famous stew, but I somehow took possession… one day I’ll let my son have it back. Oh, if only the DNA could talk, I’d have his exact recipe! I do have the small cast-iron kettle of granddaddy McKinley’s that was most often used to cook the stew, the larger one of Granddaddy Bryan’s is still in the family, now belonging to another family member.

Granddaddy Bryan’s stew paddle

Brunswick Stew is a Southern food, almost unknown to other parts of the country… and often a different variation of that recipe in many areas. I haven’t found one yet that I like, as to what I’m used to, but I did get to taste my cousin’s stew at a family reunion recently… and I have to say it was pretty close! While I can’t remember what granddaddy’s tasted like, my favorite has always been from Holcomb’s, a place in Greensboro. Mama tells me that it tasted very similar.

Every region boasts the best “stew”… and every region has a favorite recipe, and they all vary. Anytime I discover a recipe for Brunswick Stew, I stop to read through the ingredients, but usually end up shaking my head! Our stew only uses chicken, pork, corn, and tomatoes as the main ingredients, with a base of chicken stock, and condiments of cider vinegar, salt, pepper, and red pepper. I’ve spent many hours perfecting my recipe with much help from my mother, who first devised it. While it’s not exactly like Holcomb’s, it’s pretty darn close. When you live a thousand miles away from your favorite BBQ place… it’s either improvise or do without! If I have sauce from Holcomb’s, I’ll often add some into the stew for flavoring, but if not I’ll add a few tablespoons of my favorite BBQ sauce. Even though I have a somewhat devised recipe, I still add, taste, and then add more!

Brunswick Stew

My mother worked to develop this recipe for me… and I somewhat follow it, but I don’t always use a whole chicken… sometimes I use only the breast with chicken stock. I found a pepper called “Hot Shot” that I use in place of the black and red – it’s a mixture of them both. Generally the meats are ground for this stew but I use the blender to slightly shred the meats, but I have used a grinder. The heat in this stew depends on your taste… you season in the beginning, and continue seasoning along. It does take time to make, so I make a large pot, having  plenty to freeze.

With the promotion of Southern foods now on the TV cooking channels, there are many more places that now serve chopped and pulled BBQ locally, but I haven’t seen Brunswick Stew pop up on their menus yet. After reading through several recipes I’ve found, I’m not sure if I’d like any of the others except for mine… I don’t want potatoes, Lima beans, beef chucks or hamburger in my Brunswick stew.

Granddaddy Paul and Uncle Leon took turns cooking it at their houses when they sold, but I’m sure it wasn’t done weekly as it required a lot of weekend hours. I remember hearing how whenever the locals heard that Granddaddy Bryan was cooking BBQ, they’d ride down and ask about buying… they were both well known as great BBQ cooks.


Click for more … Family Recipes and Memories

© 2018, copyright Jeanne Bryan Insalaco; all rights reserved




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Weekend Weathervanes: Soldier Taking a Knee

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 be entertained with a history lesson. It’s amazing at what you can encounter in your travels – You Just Need To Look Up!

Weekend Weathervanes

Soldier Taking a Knee

While stopping for coffee in Newtown, CT. this weathervane caught my eye… coffee had to wait, as I quickly exited the car for photos! This one was perfect to save for a special day, and I’ve chosen Dec. 7th, 2018… a day we think back on all our men and women who lost their life at Pearl Harbor! More than 2,300 Americans lost their life that day, while many more were injured…  we will never forget! President Franklin Roosevelt called December 7, 1941 “a date which will live in infamy.


While this solder takes a Knee above the now Bank of America… I am curious if they placed it there or a previous tenant. I’ve been in this plaza before and it never caught my eye. Sometimes it’s all about the clouds that makes the weathervanes stand out!


It couldn’t have been a better day for photographs!


One of my favorite finds!


Want to read more, click…. Weekend Weathervanes:

© 2018, copyright Jeanne Bryan Insalaco; all rights reserved

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Friday Night Family Heirlooms… telling their stories: Grandmama McKinley’s Kitchen Cupboards

Friday Night Family Heirlooms… telling their stories: Grandmama McKinley’s Kitchen Cupboards

kitchen doors

When “heirlooms” aren’t identified, and their stories never told, they often become items tossed or sold – as they have no history, no ties to the family. So take the time to identify your family heirlooms and record your memories so the family treasures aren’t tossed in the trash; they are just as valuable as your family photographs and need to be documented. Sometimes it’s not even the value of the item in question… it’s the story which holds the value.

Something as simple as having an actual cupboard door from Grandmama’s kitchen… I consider an heirloom. Any object that holds memories, whether valuable or not… it’s really the memories that live on through the heirloom.

These cupboard doors came to me in the most unusual way… from an impromptu stop to see the family farm. While visiting my mother, we took a ride down to her old stomping grounds and the farm where she grew up. As we rode down the dusty dirt road to the farm, we were hoping to find the new owners home… and they were.


The road leading down to Granddaddy McKinley’s farm



Grandaddy’s farm bell stood on the pole on the left at the front of their yard… now it stands in my front yard. Granddaddy Bryan helped my husband get it down and told him this story. “The day it was put up, a man threw it over his back and climbed up the ladder alone to hang it.”


Granddaddy McKinley standing by the mailbox, which was quite a walk from the house; it was mama’s job to get mail when she was young.


My grandparents: Edgar and Ola (Askew) McKinley

(Standing in front of smokehouse with farmhouse behind them)

The new owners purchased the old farmhouse, along with a few acres many years ago after my mother sold the land to the Plains Logging Company. They built a new house further up where granddaddy’s two barns once stood, but kept the old farmhouse; they lived in it while building their new home. They were now in the process of updating the farmhouse for their son and daughter-in-law to call home. When they asked if we’d like to see inside, it didn’t take me but a quick second… to say yes.


Mama had the front porch enclosed when she moved back and a bottom put on the back side porch; it originally was screened from top to bottom.


The Well House

The one thing missing was the old granite stone blocks of uneven steps that had surmised as the back porch steps for as long as they lived there…. which I loved! They were where I’d first run and jump up on when we arrived on Friday nights… trying to jump over the toads in the yard. They were the back stoop where I sat with granddaddy to listen to the Bobwhite birds… he taught me how to whistle to them, and wait for them to call back to us. They were the very steps where granddaddy sat at the end of a long plow day, and my mother as a young girl would take off his boots and wash his feet. If those steps could talk… they’d tell even more tales… and if I thought I could have lugged them home to CT. I would have begged for them.

Stone steps from McKinley steps

In stopping one day, I looked over and was excited to see the stone steps were still there, even though they weren’t used as the back steps any longer.

They say you can’t always go home… things are never the same, and for the most part, it’s very true… but it was really nice to actually set foot in my grandparents old home for probably the last time.

Walking onto the long back porch brought back memories of where our chihuahua, Teddy Bear, loved to run and bark at granddaddy’s foxhound dogs in the yard. He thought he was “big dog” behind the screen wire, but the one time he jumped up on the screen barking big and fell through… landing at the feet of Smoker and Bill… who just stood staring at him as he quickly high-tailed it back up the steps… whimpering to come in. Granddaddy had been repairing the screens and Teddy Bear made the mistake of picking the one screen not secured yet. I think he toned down his barking at the “big dogs” after that.

Another thing missing on that back porch was the old Coca-Cola thermometer that had hung by the back kitchen, for forever… until I married and my husband pointed it out to me. It left with us on that trip and still hangs in my kitchen today.

farm door with coke sign

As I never thought to actually take a photograph of it hanging on the wall when we removed it, I improvised as to where it hung.


Now hanging on my kitchen wall!


Another heirloom that hung out on the back porch was this weather thermometer. I’m surprised it even lasted over the years, but I treasure having it. You can read that post on Family Heirlooms.

Entering grandmama’s kitchen that day, I discovered many changes, her small country sink which had always been my play area was now gone…. but I could still see the area where it once hung. The plumbing only ran down under the house and into a cement trough that ran the sudsy water out toward the field. When no one was minding me, I loved to make “lots” of soapy bubbles… and watch them flow out to the field. Being at the farm, was a place where you made your own entertainment!


Grandmama’s small white cast-iron sink hung to the side the window… there was a cabinet just above; you can still see the outline of where they both once stood.

Grandmamma’s kitchen bead-board cabinets with the old-fashioned wooden knobs were mostly still in place, but now being pulled out, to be replaced with new oak cabinets. I felt a little sad knowing that those simple wood cabinets weren’t going to be on the walls anymore… the cabinets that once held grandmamma’s best blackberry jam and peach preserves… and the counter which always had jars waiting for me to bring home… were soon to be gone! Mama reminded me that grandmamma always kept a small porcelain cup in the tall cabinet where she kept her biscuit dough in… for making sourdough biscuits. She’d take a pinch to add into her dough and then remove a pinch to add back to the cup to keep the starter going. Sure wish I had been able to sample grandmamma’s biscuits! Mama said they were the best… cooked on her wood-burning stove!

kitchen cabinets farmhouseFix

A photograph I took years ago after my mother moved out of the farmhouse… cabinets were still intact. There originally was a back wall on the cabinets but mama cut it away to make it open up into the dining room; she was always handy with a hammer and saw… never tell her she couldn’t do something!

As we stood there in the kitchen, listening to the owners tell us about the plans for the house, the wife mentioned, she was keeping the doors off the cabinets… planning to do something with them later. Then she looked at me and asked, “would you like a door.” She didn’t have to ask me twice! Now came the dilemma, as there were both short and tall doors… I’m horrible in making decisions, but she soon solved that in telling me to take one of each! How awesome was that?

I had planned to make a craft with them after returning home, but I’ve never been able to come up with something that I thought appropriate… so they’re still sitting in my basement… but I have them! If you have ideas, feel free to send my way!

corner cabinet farmhouseFix

Grandmamma’s corner cabinet that granddaddy built her. I can peek through here and see part of grandmamma’s old kitchen sink… if only my camera had veered over under the cabinet, but who thought I’d ever want a photograph of a kitchen sink!

In walking through the dining room, I noticed that grandmamma’s corner cabinet was still there. It wasn’t the usual dining room cabinet to display treasures in… grandaddy built it for her to store her summer canning jars. Those were her treasures! Mama remembers it always full for the winter months… jars of the vegetables she grew in the family garden. Grandmamma canned everything… and I’m told she made the best vegetable soup mama ever ate… it was my father’s favorite. Daddy treasured whenever she gave him a jar and on one occasion he dropped the jar in the sink as he opened it. Mama said he was almost in tears… not wanting to pour the rest in the trash. (I was told that the new owners liked the cabinet and are keeping it, only moving it to the opposite corner in the room… I’m sure grandmamma will smile as she loved that cabinet.

I never remember eating in the dining room there… they were plain country people eating only in the kitchen. From mama’s accounts, she did cook large Sunday dinners and often family came “to put their feet under her mother’s table” as mama says! Sundays was the only day grandmama made sweet tea… as she never liked tea. Granddaddy would buy a block of ice and chip it up to use in the tea, then keep the block of ice in a burlap bag under a mound of sawdust. I’m told that was how you kept things cold before you had a refrigerator… sounds odd to me, but it worked!

The room in the farmhouse I most remembered was their front bedroom, which also served as a parlor. I never thought it odd… but they lived simple. From the windows in that front room you could see anyone who turned into the yard and it’s where I’d sit and wait for granddaddy to come home from Friday night foxhunting.

unsidewall of farmhouseFix

The bedroom opposite the hallway from my grandparents room… the knotty pine walls were always my favorite in here.

A wide hallway separated my grandparents bedroom from this one… and that is where I slept, as well as my parents when we came; there was two high metal beds in there. The fireplace had been long walled up and a gas heater installed. Mama had told me a story about the chimney having a “trick” put on it long ago when two brothers lived there. A trick is similar to a spell. I’m glad she never told me that story when I was small, as I had a hard enough time sleeping there anyway. It was always so super dark out there in the country and I was afraid to look out the windows… thinking I’d see a face looking in. Also the knotty pine walls seemed to hold shapes of animals as I stared at them in going to sleep… I had a very vivid imagination!



Click Friday Night Family Heirlooms to read more stories…

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.

 © 2018, copyright Jeanne Bryan Insalaco; all rights reserved

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Weekend Weathervanes: It’s a Gobbler

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!

Weekend Weathervanes

It’s a Gobbler!

As we headed home from a weekend in New Hampshire…. actually the weather was pushing us to leave… due to the tremendous rains coming into the area. No sooner than we passed this restaurant, I asked hubby to turn around as “my little eye” spotted a turkey perched high above… which turned out to be Hart’s Turkey Farm Restaurant.




Hart’s site boasts, that on any given day they serve a ton of turkey, 40 gallons of gravy, 1000 pounds of potatoes, 4000 dinner rolls, and more than 100 pies… now that’s a lot of food! Glad I don’t cook here, but I am definitely going back to eat! Everyday is Thanksgiving there! There’s much history  on this restaurant which opened its doors in 1986 in Meredith, New Hampshire… so head on over and check it out.

If you’ve eaten there, do leave me a comment… what’s your favorite dish served at Hart’s. I viewed their menu online, and I want one of everything!!!


Want to read more, click…. Weekend Weathervanes:

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Family Recipes and Memories: Blackberry Cooking

Family Recipes and Memories: Blackberry Cooking

blackberry bushes of mama


Nothing catches my eye quicker than a dish made with blackberries!

While browsing through my genealogy blogging group, I stopped on a fellow bloggers post from “Ancestors in Aprons“… I just love the name of her blog! It was a picture of a blackberry pie that caught my eye… and in my mind I could almost smell it! Yum… Yum! It was that post which sparked me to write about my grandmother and her “blackberry” pies and jam… and the stories I’ve been told through the years!

While I don’t have many memories of my grandmother, Ola (Askew) McKinley… I do remember the many jars of blackberry jam she kept on the kitchen counter waiting to come home with me! As a young girl, it was always the first thing I looked for when we arrived, and the last thing I grabbed when we left!


Granddaddy and Grandmama Ola McKinley

My grandparents lived on a Georgia farm, in the small town of Siloam… it was about a mile down a dirt road filled with oodles and oodles of blackberries growing along the roadside… just waiting to be picked! Mama often talked about all the blackberry pickings during the summer when Grandmama would send her with a couple of pails early in the morning; when blackberries ripened, it meant school was out for the summer. By suppertime, grandmamma would have one of those “to die for” pies cooling on the back of her cast iron stove. Mama laughs and remembers how good the food was that her mother cooked on that stove… and I just bet it sure was!

There were two picking spots on the farm, with the closest being just on the road near the house, while the other was back behind the barns, in what mama called, the “back forty.” “All the berries picked there, were the “best tasting” compared to today“, mama says. The blackberries that grow in the wild are smaller, compared to what we buy in the stores today… which are large; Mama swears they just don’t taste the same!

All I have to do is mention blackberries and mama remembers all the stories and never misses a beat in repeating them…

preserve past jars

I heard “blackberry winter” mentioned on TV once and in asking her… “that’s what the old folks used to call a cold spell occurring around Easter, signaling that the first of blackberry season was coming… all I know is it’s something I’ve heard all my life.”

Anytime mama talks about blackberries… what always follows is… “I sure wish I could just have one more slice of my mama’s blackberry pie. It was the juiciest of any pies I’ve ever eaten… and the best!”

I’ve never tackled making a blackberry pie, as I’m not overly fond of making and rolling out pie crust… and often cave to using a bought one, except at Easter when making my pepper crust for Ham pie and a sweet crust for my Rice, Wheat and Ricotta pies. If you’ve never heard of them, I’m sure you’re turning your nose up about now… as I certainly did when I married into an Italian family, but now they truly are favorites of mine!

After mentioning to mama one evening that I had just made blackberry muffins… and before I even finished my sentence, she said… “I remember my mother’s blackberry pies like it was yesterday… they were so good, the best I’ve ever eaten… I still remember today how she made them! Mama would first make the crust, using her same biscuit dough, but adding lard, instead of butter. She always mixed the dough in her bread bowl… no recipes, no measurements, just adding this and that, until the feel of the dough felt right… she knew exactly when it was perfect. First, she baked the crust in her deep pie plate until it was light brown… and while it baked, she cooked the blackberries in a deep pan on the stove, only adding sugar to sweeten, which helped to release their juices. Mama then poured those steaming blackberries into the baked pie crust, and covered them with a lattice style crust… and always brushed with butter, which gave it the best taste ever! My mother made the best pies and what I wouldn’t give for a slice of one of her pies right now, especially the blackberry! I’ll never forget the taste!”

“Mama’s crust was crispy and the berries underneath were so juicy. I think it was her wood burning stove that gave it the best taste… she always knew exactly how many sticks of wood to cook everything… that always amazed me!”

Several years ago,  mama went to a McKinley family reunion, and on the dessert table she spotted a blackberry pie, and… “when I saw that pie, I couldn’t wait to have a taste, I knew it must be good as I was told an elderly woman had brought it. After my first bite, it felt like I was eating my mama’s pie; it was so hard not taking that whole pie home! I later told the woman how I truly enjoyed her pie and it had so reminded me of my mother’s blackberry pie; it was made with the old-fashioned small blackberries just like I used to pick on our farm. On the ride home, all I could think about was that blackberry pie and wishing that I had brought the rest of it home!”

When my grandmother cooked, there were no recipes… mama told me that grandmama probably had never even heard of a recipe. She cooked only by the feel of her hands and taste… maybe even learning from her mother. Back then, no one had recipes, they learned from the women in the family!

“Mama would send me out in the morning with pails to pick blackberries. If I went alone, it was only to the bushes near our house. Usually there were lots there, but when she canned, we went to the back fields behind the barn, where it was marshy. The best ones were back there in the “back forty” as daddy often called it; they were the big juicy berries, the best for making jam. We never went back there alone without the dogs coming. Daddy always made us take either Frank or Fancy with us as they’d kill a snake in a minute. The dogs were smart and knew what to do when they went with us…  always going into the bushes first, and once they came out, we knew it was ok to begin picking. The blackberry bushes were also back by the big rock I liked to climb on and just sit…. and think. Fancy was really good at sniffing out snakes and killing them, but one day she must have missed one, as she was bitten and later died.

mamas blackberry bushes

Mama’s blackberry bushes in Georgia

My love of blackberries began with grandmama’s jam… and as a child, I never even knew what jam from a jar tasted like. Every summer now when blackberries first appear in the stores, I get the itch to make my favorite… blackberry cobbler. I found this recipe many years ago in a Woman’s World magazine and I’ve used it ever since. I’ll share it below for you, as now blackberries can be found year round in the stores.

blackberry cobbler

My Blackberry Cobbler

5 cups blackberries (Can use more)
1 1/2 tablespoons lemon juice

2 cups flour
3 cups sugar (divided for topping)
1 cup milk
1/3 cup butter – melted
2 teaspoons baking powder
1 teaspoon salt (divided for topping)
2 tablespoons cornstarch (for topping)
1 1/2 cups boiling water (for topping)

Spread berries in well buttered 2 1/2 quart dish, sprinkle with lemon juice and set aside. Sprinkle berries with lemon juice and pour in buttered dish.

Batter: In a medium bowl mix: 2 cups flour, 1 1/2 cups sugar, 1/3 cup butter, 2 tbsps. baking powder, 1/2 tsp. salt and 1 cup milk. Mix well and spoon over the berries.

Topping: In a separate bowl, mix 1 1/2 cups sugar, 2 tbsp. cornstarch and 1/2 tsp. salt, and sprinkle over batter; slowly pour 1 1/2 cups boiling water over topping. Bake 350 oven – abt. 1 hour, until lightly brown and bubbly on top. This recipe can be halved or adjusted to the number of berries you have.

Another favorite Blackberry recipe of mine is….

Blackberry Muffins: Use any favorite muffin recipe and substitute blackberries. I never add blackberries to the batter, but instead, push several down into the batter after I’ve filled the muffin cups. Blackberry muffins are the best warm out of the oven with a small chip of butter on top!

And one of these days, I’m going to make one of grandmama’s juicy blackberry pies… sure hope grandmama guides my hand along!

cast iron stove

If only I had a cast iron stove like Grandmama had!


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© 2018, copyright Jeanne Bryan Insalaco; all rights reserved





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