2020: I – April A to Z… Family Stories: I-95 Cut Through Sawmill Road

2020: I – April A to Z… Family Stories

I’m back in 2020 for my fifth year of participating in the yearly April A to Z challenge… and as usual I racked my brain scribbling ideas on paper since the end of last April. It wasn’t until January, that the light bulb finally went off in scrolling through the 85+ of unfinished blog posts in my draft folder. Bingo… there was my A to Z topic…

Family Stories as told to me… mostly by my husband!

From the moment I married into this Italian family… I fell in love with their stories… their memories… and the family. My husband grew up in West Haven, Connecticut… where there was so much to enjoy as a young boy… especially a place known as Savin Rock… although long gone now. It somewhat resembled Coney Island… but was even larger when his parents, aunts and uncles grew up. They had stories… and I was always an eager listener whenever they told those stories…  remembering, and scribbling down to preserve, just as I did with the family recipes that had once only been in their heads. 2020 has became the year I’m telling many of those stories… along with my husband’s memories to preserve for the generations to come. Many of those who told me their stories, are no longer with us… and I hope to keep their memory alive in these stories… as they are now my family also… and I love them all!

My previous years of A to Z Challenges are:

Come sit a spell and enjoy!

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

I-95 Cut Through Sawmill Road

Sawmill Road was still a dirt road even when I was young and living therenothing was around our house… I-95 had not come through yet.

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“In looking at this photo I can visualize Exit 42 North exiting off I- 95. Every time we exited there, it almost circled around where our house had once stood. A tree grew up later almost where the center of our house had once stood…  I always looked at that tree as marking where our house had sat! Aunt Catherine is standing next to my father’s 1956 Oldsmobile Rocket 88 – our house sat above; my father built our house on land given them from my mother’s father.”

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“Not long after my father finished building our house, and we moved in… the building of Interstate I-95 began. Little did we know at that time that it was designed to come straight through our property. I remember the men surveying near our house and the day they came to see my father. From this photo you can visualize how high up our house was… it sat above Sawmill Road.”

“The first day I saw men surveying our land was in coming back with Aunt Nancy from food shopping at the Food Basket; it was a Saturday afternoon. As we pulled into the driveway we saw them surveying our property line, and Aunt Nancy said, “if the old man sees them he will have a fit… he’s going to be so mad.” Nancy had probably already read about I-95 coming through, but no one had dared to tell the old man that it might come through his property.”

“It wasn’t long before my grandfather was contacted by the state to buy his land… or seemed to rather take his land. He wanted to fight, but everyone told him you can’t win…  they will take everything from you and you’ll get nothing in the end. He eventually sold his land to the state for $12,000… prime Sawmill Road property today… all 100 plus acres.”

The state later burned the farmhouse when they began the construction for I-95. Every time I drive by, even now, I can still visualize where our house and Grandpa’s farm was.

“The surveyors later came to our house and spoke to my father about buying his land… telling him that I-95 was going to be built straight through his property… and he had to sell. He knew better than to try and not sell… as they’d take it anyway. My father made the deal that the state would buy him a parcel of land and pay to have the house moved; our house was newly built. He was not going to have it demolished like the farmhouse was destined, as it was older and not worth moving to another property. They bought land he chose and moved our house to a lot on Edward Street – not far from where we were living.”

“I still can visualize the burning of my grandparents farmhouse… watching it slowly go up in flames and seeing the center cave in. Not everyone wanted to stay and watch, but I wanted to see.”

“Even though Sawmill Road was a main road, only about twelve or fifteen cars went by daily. Further up the road was a large chicken farm called Vansack’s… those chicken houses were torn down later and replaced with apartment houses. The apartment houses were later torn down in 2006 when they redid the I-95 exits on Sawmill Road and a Walmart was built in 2007. Sawmill Road has seen many changes since I was a young boy.”

One day while driving on Sawmill Road, I asked questions… “Long before Sawmill Road was paved, it was covered with pea gravel, then oil and sand… and that was still the way it was covered even after I-95 first opened.. and continued to be maintained in that way for quite awhile. It would bounce all under your car when it was first put down… and last for a few weeks until it became packed down from the cars. Roads weren’t smooth back in the late 50’s… they were bumpy wherever you went; I don’t remember when it was finally blacktopped. On the old Sawmill Road cutoff, I remember two old gas pumps sitting in someone’s front yard… I believe they were still there in 1971 when you came here.”

“One day a truck carrying live chickens and eggs ran off I-95 and crashing on the South-side… there were dazed chickens were everywhere…! I happened to have been over at my friends house at the corner of Moloy and Sawmill Road… so we saw it happen. Everyone who lived close-by came and gathered up the chickens and eggs. My friend and I took several to my grandfather’s house on First Ave. as they had a freezer. Grandpa put them all in the garage… later I helped him kill them that afternoon; he cut their heads off with a pair of scissors while I held them. Everyone ate chicken over the next few days.”

“Within a year of first seeing the surveyors, I was standing in my grandparents yard watching our house being prepped for moving. The state bought my father a lot nearby at 30 Edward Street and moved our house to its new location. It took about a week to secure and prepare our house to sit on top of huge beams… the house was pulled by a large moving truck. We didn’t have to pack anything – even the kitchen dishes in the cabinets were secured and the cabinets tied shut. As far as I can remember, nothing broke. It was quite a site for a young boy to watch your own house lift off its foundation, and move slowly down the driveway toward its new home.”

“I still hung around Sawmill Road even after moving to Edward Street. Our ball field was across from the motel, which was behind the Mobil Station on Sawmill Road… near the old 42 exit off I-95; I played many games there with my friends. If a home run was hit… it went over the 42 exit off the highway… now it’s where the exit-42 entrance is. We played both baseball and football there.”

“All the many waterways around West Haven eventually make their way out to Long Island Sound. Beginning by Greta Street is a running stream that follows under I-95 via a large metal tunnel. It continues under Sawmill Road to where you see a sign saying Cove River, and then into what we called Voss Pond on Sawmill Road. Behind Voss Pond were two house where the Voss families lived. The water flowed around their houses, under Edward Street toward the factories, and then into Turtle Pond before flowing into Phipps Lake… then through Painters Park and finally emptying out into Long Island Sound where the once Scotty’s stood at the Cove dike bridge; I used to fish off that cement dike.”

“There wasn’t really any fish in Voss Pond, but there were turtles. Eddie Voss had built a concrete walkway all around the pond area… enabling him to be able to walk completely around the water pond. One day, as he was walking around, he yelled at us to quickly get out. We watched as he took a pitch fork and felt all around until he felt what he was looking for… he had spotted a large snapping turtle. Just under the diving board, he jammed the pitch fork down and came up with a wiggling turtle…  probably weighing 20 lbs and about 18 inches across. I remember Eddie Voss as a very strong man… and he had no problem that day in pulling up that turtle with one hand. If that turtle had bitten one of us… and we swam there daily… it would not have been good. About every three years, he would drain and clean the water pond there with his backhoe.”

“I enjoyed sitting on the Cove River bridge by Voss Pond… just car watching… especially on race nights at the West Haven Speedway. My friends and I liked to watch the cars exiting off I-95… often counting the many out-of-state license plates. At times, there would be car after car exiting off… heading down to the pits at Savin Rock Speedway.”

“Our house on Sawmill Road sat about where Exit 42 once was (old exit)… exiting from the South. As you came down and around the curve, that was where our house had sat. For years I remember seeing a large tree in the curve there – it had actually been a really small tree in our front yard. The new entrance they have now, goes directly over our old basement.”

“In thinking back today, I wish my grandfather would have fought the government when I-95 came through… and not let them take his land. His farm and our house would still be on Sawmill Road… and Freddies old junked cars might still be sitting way out in his somewhat junkyard. I can’t imagine how my grandfather and father must have felt when he was told they were taking his land – he loved that farm.”

“It was something to see when the state moved our house around 1957… and it wasn’t just moved in one day… it took days. Actually it took days just for the trucks to lift our house and sit the foundation on the steel beams; large rubber bags were inflated under the house to keep it steady and not bounce around as it moved. Once the beams were in place, they proceeded to lift our house off the cellar foundation and lower it down our steep driveway… I was so amazed at how it remained level at all times. It wasn’t easy coming down our driveway… as it wasn’t very level. Even when they reached Sawmill Road, they didn’t block traffic… as back then there weren’t many cars coming by. We lived in the sticks there… it was still a wooded area, not developed like today. Our front yard was full of rocks and crevices, and even though we’d been living there about three years, we still didn’t even have grass. To build up our front yard and make it level would probably have taken over 12 truckloads of dirt. ”

“The same moving company moved all the houses that needed to be moved out of the way of I-95 coming through. They worked ahead of the construction to clear the way.”

“Another favorite place we explored near I-95, which originally was called the Connecticut Turnpike, was a large, 8-foot diameter metal open pipe that ran under I-95; it looked like a corrugated tube. As a kid, my friends and I often walked through it, jumping side to side to keep out of the water that ran through the middle. Who knows what was lurking in the water, and I wasn’t about to find out. As we jumped from side to side, we held onto huge metal bolts which held the pipe together. The water flowed under the road and into Voss’s pond across Sawmill Road. Of course my parents never knew I went through the pipe under I-95, but back then parents didn’t keep track of their kids like today. Once I left in the morning, I was usually gone all day until supper… unless I came home for lunch. I was never questioned as to where I’d been, just as long as I was out of my mother’s hair.”

“I was always told to not cross the RR tracks, which was not far from our house, but I crossed them all the time… sometimes we’d even put pennies and sticks on the tracks to see what would happen. Then we’d later look for the flattened pennies, but I don’t remember ever finding any.”

“I rode the school bus in high school, along with friends, Ralph Camputaro, Ronny Kessler and my best friend Louie Albarella. We were picked up every morning on Sawmill Road, and always sat in the back of the bus. More than once, Ralphie dropped cherry bombs through a hole in the bottom of the bus… always when it went under the I-95 bridge. The bus driver never said a word to us, but one day, I guess he’d had enough and pulled over…  yelling for us to get off his bus… and never come back. He never reported us, and we never rode his bus again. We didn’t really care as we were all turning 16 soon… and I was getting my license and a car. Until I bought my car, we walked to school… we never cared. Back then, kids didn’t run and tell their parents everything like they do today.”

In passing through Waterbury on I-84, and seeing a company blasting… “I remember when Eddie Voss dynamited the area where our house was moved to… lots of rock underneath there. It was interesting to watch him dig the hole with the jackhammer… plant the dynamite and line up all the wiring. Then he’d lay heavy metal blankets over the area he didn’t want affected; they weren’t as noisy as the ones we saw today. I enjoyed watching that process of setting the dynamite.”

When we lived next door to my grandparents on Sawmill Road, I was there every day. I idolized my uncles – Johnny, Frankie and Freddie. Johnny and Frankie were more like brothers to me… being closer in age than Freddie. I remember watching my favorite TV show “Superman” with Frankie in the evenings. They had a TV set before we did, so I went there often. Frankie was funny to watch TV with… he liked to tell me how things worked as we watched the show and make fun of how they did tricks and stunts on the program… telling you it was a “crock” and it wasn’t really done like that. He’d say, “look, see the strings pulling Howdy Doody, you’re not suppose to see them.” Freddie liked to mostly watch movies; I watched many old classic’s with him.”

“Behind our house on Edward Street… after it was moved… was an open woody area… originally part of a farm called Staley’s Apple Farm. When the state came through building I-95, they also bought his land… splitting the farm in half. Mr. Staley’s house was where American Steakhouse sits now. Behind our house were still a few of apple tree’s left from the split of his property… I could see them from my yard. I even remember seeing part of an old truck body discarded there that was eventually engulfed with weeds and vines. We sometimes picked apples from those left trees. There was also a few small ponds of water back in the woody marsh area… it was where I often caught turtles, frogs and sometimes snakes. All that was still there even when Jeanne came in 1971, but on a much smaller scale; it was then more just a marshy area with still a couple of apple trees, but they didn’t really produce apples anymore.”

“The house on First Avenue that Grandpa Joe bought was a large one-family house built around 1860; it sat next to the West Haven Yacht Club; it needed a lot of work to accommodate their large family. The 1st floor was very open, only a couple of rooms… my grandpa, along with his sons and my father remodeled it into more rooms. They changed the bottom floor into a complete one-family, and turned the 2nd floor into another separate floor to rent out. Later, after Aunt Nancy married, she and Uncle Gene lived upstairs.

I-95

The Connecticut Turnpike, officially the Governor John Davis Lodge Turnpike, is a controlled-access highway and a former toll road in the U.S. state of Connecticut. Construction on the Connecticut Turnpike began in 1954 and the highway was opened in 1958.  

One day while checking the newly advertised CT. site of unclaimed property owed to citizens, I found my mother-in-law’s name. In contacting the state, I discovered that she was owed over $700 dollars from the state… in regards to the original tract of land the state took from them. I wish I could have found out why… and how that came to be… over fifty years later discovering they still owed her money… but I  just took the money for her… asking no questions.

2020 AtoZ Thank You Reading

Continue reading 2020: April A to Z: Family Stories… click HERE
To read more Family Stories… click HERE

© 2020, copyright Jeanne Bryan Insalaco; all rights reserved

Posted in 2020: April A to Z: Family Stories, Daily Writings and funnies..., Husbands Family Stories: | Tagged , , , , , | 2 Comments

2020: H – April A to Z… Family Stories: Having Snow Fun… and more!

2020: H – April A to Z… Family Stories

I’m back in 2020 for my fifth year of participating in the yearly April A to Z challenge… and as usual I racked my brain scribbling ideas on paper since the end of last April. It wasn’t until January, that the light bulb finally went off in scrolling through the 85+ of unfinished blog posts in my draft folder. Bingo… there was my A to Z topic…

Family Stories as told to me… mostly by my husband!

From the moment I married into this Italian family… I fell in love with their stories… their memories… and the family. My husband grew up in West Haven, Connecticut… where there was so much to enjoy as a young boy… especially a place known as Savin Rock… although long gone now. It somewhat resembled Coney Island… but was even larger when his parents, aunts and uncles grew up. They had stories… and I was always an eager listener whenever they told those stories…  remembering, and scribbling down to preserve, just as I did with the family recipes that had once only been in their heads. 2020 has became the year I’m telling many of those stories… along with my husband’s memories to preserve for the generations to come. Many of those who told me their stories, are no longer with us… and I hope to keep their memory alive in these stories… as they are now my family also… and I love them all!

My previous years of A to Z Challenges are:

Come sit a spell and enjoy!

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

Having Snow Fun and more!

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Sledding on Kneen Street in Shelton at Noni’s house

“I remember waiting for the bus after lunch…one day in heavy snow… Aunt Dolly got off the bus and announced that school was closed. School was in two sessions… she went in the mornings and I went in the afternoon. She would be getting off the bus… while I was waiting to get on for the afternoon classes; we lived on Sawmill Road at that time.”

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Lots of snow sledding at my grandmothers in Shelton, CT.

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Snowman building in West Haven!

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Aunt Dolly helped build this big snowman with me!

“When my grandparents lived on 1st Avenue, I remember Dolly and I with Uncle Johnny built a really big snowman in the front yard. The balls were so large that we had to actually cut them in half to even pick up. You must have perfect snow to build a snowman.”

“It was usually my uncles who cleaned the driveway when my grandparents moved to 1st Avenue. Sometimes they cleaned with shovels, but often they liked to just drive their cars back and forth to pack the snow down. Uncle Gene (Cavallaro) sometimes came with the plow from his garage to help out when the snow was really deep.”

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Uncle Johnny (Cambino) enjoying a snow day in Okinawa

In talking about the weather on TV…. “It seems like just yesterday when we went to see Johnny Poe play in his last game. I often went to the Thanksgiving football game with Johnny and Maggie to see West Haven High School play Hillhouse… it was always the last game of the season. One I specifically remember was when it was about 16 degrees… I was probably in eighth grade. Even as cold as it was, I never saw Uncle Johnny ever wear a coat – but he did carry a flask on those cold football games to keep warm. I don’t think he even owned a coat, but I guess he did for deer hunting in the winter as he often talked about the deep snow that they had to walk in.”

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Freddie (left) with brother Johnny (right) Cambino, and friend George Froleck proudly showing their deers!

“Johnny, along with Frankie, Freddie, Marshal Carbone  and George Froleck went hunting every year. It was standard for them… nothing stopped them from those yearly trips! On one hunting trip they were snowed in… and lost in the woods. The snow was almost waist-high, but Johnny, being the toughest and strongest, managed to get them out, he said. He took the lead and stomped down the snow as he plowed through… making the way for them to follow. Johnny always told that story and said, “I sure thought we were goners that time – thought for sure that they’d find us in the spring – dead. I don’t know how I did that, and if I wasn’t as strong as I am, I wouldn’t have been able to.”

“The picture above of Johnny and George Froleck with the large buck on the hood of the car was from one of their hunting trips. It was the time when Johnny shot the largest deer ever (about 260 pounds), and told me, “good thing I’m strong, as I had to drag that bastard through the snow all by myself.” In showing the photo to Aunt Nancy, she recognized the license plate as one from their garage (Marshall’s Garage); I guess they drove one of the garage cars to go hunting with.”

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“One Christmas the family all chipped in and bought my grandfather a snow blower. I think he used it only once before he fell cutting tree limbs and hurt his shoulder… then the boys used it. My father often went down to help clean their driveway too.”

Nancy: “We did a lot of crazy things as kids growing up. My brother, Johnny, had a big black Lincoln car. I remember riding in a snowstorm once with him – going down big hills, sliding back and forth – and that was all on a quarters worth of gas – money was short!”

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My father, holding the snowball, enjoyed snow while in the service!

“Whenever we had snowstorms, all the kids in the neighborhood brought their sleds to the side of I-95 to slide down the embankment alongside the highway… in the summer when the grass was high, we’d mash it down and ride down on cardboard. Once we had it really matted down… it was super slick. Living down from the factories near my  house… there was always and abundance of cardboard thrown out. We had to make our own fun back then.”

“When it snowed… it was a free day from school… and we stayed out all day!”

2020 AtoZ Thank You Reading

Continue reading 2020: April A to Z: Family Stories… click HERE
To read more Family Stories… click HERE

© 2020, copyright Jeanne Bryan Insalaco; all rights reserved

Posted in 2020: April A to Z: Family Stories, Daily Writings and funnies..., Family Stories, Husbands Family Stories: | Tagged , , , | 9 Comments

2020: G – April A to Z… Family Stories: Grocery Shopping… and more

2020: G – April A to Z… Family Stories

I’m back in 2020 for my fifth year of participating in the yearly April A to Z challenge… and as usual I racked my brain scribbling ideas on paper since the end of last April. It wasn’t until January, that the light bulb finally went off in scrolling through the 85+ of unfinished blog posts in my draft folder. Bingo… there was my A to Z topic…

Family Stories as told to me… mostly by my husband!

From the moment I married into this Italian family… I fell in love with their stories… their memories… and the family. My husband grew up in West Haven, Connecticut… where there was so much to enjoy as a young boy… especially a place known as Savin Rock… although long gone now. It somewhat resembled Coney Island… but was even larger when his parents, aunts and uncles grew up. They had stories… and I was always an eager listener whenever they told those stories…  remembering, and scribbling down to preserve, just as I did with the family recipes that had once only been in their heads. 2020 has became the year I’m telling many of those stories… along with my husband’s memories to preserve for the generations to come. Many of those who told me their stories, are no longer with us… and I hope to keep their memory alive in these stories… as they are now my family also… and I love them all!

My previous years of A to Z Challenges are:

Come sit a spell and enjoy!

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

Food Basket

Grocery Shopping… and more

About the only memory I have of grocery shopping with my mom is remembering the groceries loaded in a metal basket and pushed out on a conveyor belt… at least I think I remember! My husband on the other hand has many memories of grocery shopping with his mother and aunts at the Food Basket. This post reflects his words… written from his memories.

“My mother’s grocery shopping was usually on Friday nights… but sometimes she waited for Saturday afternoons. It really didn’t matter which day… she only waited for Friday, because that was the day father was paid. Back then, you paid for everything in cash, so you waited for “payday” for most things. It was the standard then, more or less, that families shopped on Friday nights. I never tried to sneak anything in the basket when shopping with her, because usually if I asked for something, she bought it. My father never went with us to the grocery store… he only stopped at West End Market on Fridays to pick up his meat order he had left earlier during the week.”

“The A & P (The Atlantic and Pacific Tea Company) grocery store was on Campbell Avenue across from the Green. It later moved during the early  1960’s to Elm st. across from Armstrong Rubber… and was still operating when I married in 1971. Today in that very site is the current Stop & Shop, who built their new store on the site over ten years ago; a roller skating rink originally took the A&P’s place when it first closed.”

“Friday nights were always my favorite night – the best TV shows were on that night. It was also the night my mother sometimes went grocery shopping when I was young… and I often tagged along. She sometimes went to Atlantic Grocery store on Jones Hill Road (in shopping center in front of Randall’s bar). I liked to go there, as I’d see other kids my own age there. When you loaded the groceries on the belt at checkout, there was no running belt like today to bring the groceries forward… there were  boards you used to push your items forward like what we used at West End Market.”

“Atlantic Supermarket also gave out green stamps… and my mother saved them. She redeemed them somewhere in Hamden, and even redeemed books one summer for a wood picnic table… and later a round metal outside table with an umbrella… which lasted forever! It was still there when we cleaned out the house in 2015. That was before the era of when everything was made in China…  it was when most of our things were made in the USA… made to last!

“First National Grocery was where Mantilla Motors later built on Campbell Ave… another store who gave out S&H green stamps; they closed on Mar. 15, 1973″

“The Food Basket was in the center of town… located in the basement of where Horwitz was later on; I don’t remember what was there originally. We parked in the back parking lot and walked down a few stairs to the lower level. Grocery stores weren’t big like they are today… they carried just what you needed… today they carry way more than you need and way too big. As the Food Basket outgrew that location, they moved further down Campbell Avenue. I remember how your groceries were loaded onto a metal roller conveyor belt in a square metal basket. You pulled your car up and gave the kid the matching no. tag, – which matched up with the basket tag… he then loaded your “paper bags” into your car.” 

“Stop and Shop later opened in the same location where the Food Basket had operated. After Stop and Shop finally closed in that location, it moved to Orange to operate side by side with Bradlees… a department store that was a branch of the company. You could shop in both stores… never exiting outside… as there was an archway opening inside which connected both stores. Stop & Shop later built a brand new store around the corner and remained there from the mid 1970’s through 2013… they then relocated back to West Haven, building a new building… across from the Armstrong Rubber building on Elm St..”

“The Grand Union Supermarket was in the Baybrook area, but I don’t remember my mother every shopping there. West Haven had many small grocery stores, but most people only shopped in the ones closest to their home.”

“Saturday’s were a busy day around Grandma and Grandpa Cambino’s house. Aunt Nancy (Cambino-Cavallaro) always swept the backyard early in the morning; it was a hard-packed dirt yard and she swept it to clear out the pebbles and small sticks. The other weekly chores on Saturday was grocery shopping. Nancy did the family shopping at The Food Basket, located on Campbell Avenue, in the center of West Haven… located in the basement level. Often Dolly and I tagged along, if we had nothing else to do. It was all paper bags back then, no such thing as plastic bags… and it was mostly kids stocking shelves and bagging groceries, not like today… where it’s a career job.”

 All my mother’s early dish sets were made from the free weekly pieces given out at the grocery stores – probably from the Food Basket.”

My father bought Italian bread on Legion Ave in New Haven on Sundays. There was a market, I think called Jerry’s Market Grocer (191 Campbell Avenue where I went often with him to buy hard rolls on Sunday. It was still open after I married and we used to go there sometimes, but now it’s a liquor store called the Wine Press.”

“There weren’t many stores to choose from like today… but there were many “mom and pop” stores on every corner back then. My grandfather often stopped daily on his way home for a fresh loaf of Italian bread. We had milk, eggs, and even potato chips, (Charles Chips) delivered… there was also an egg man out of North Haven. The milkman delivered Sealtest milk, leaving it in the aluminum box… kept on the side porch by the garage. The milk man came daily, but often my father had to bring home milk… I drank a lot of milk! I ate cereal usually every morning… eating it out of mama’s large yellow mixing bowl… and that took a lot of milk! Sometimes dad called from Armstrong or even West End Market to see what else she needed on his way home… having had to call from the store phone… no cell phones back then!”

“Although I lived in town, I always felt like I lived in the country. I seldom went to the center of West Haven unless I went grocery shopping with one of my aunts or mother when I was young. I had no extra money for me to spend in town… so no need to go there. I did have an allowance, but I spent it wisely on things – and usually never on candy. That was a luxury for me a young boy.”

Shopping years ago, meant no plastic bags… paper only. Your meats were wrapped in white butcher paper, no plastic covered your deli meats… you didn’t bring recycling bags to carry your groceries home in!

“When you went to town it was only for the necessities of shopping for food or paying bills; no one had checking accounts. You paid all your bills in the center of town – you paid the telephone bill at Southern New England Telephone on Center Street – you paid your electric and water bill at the jewelry store and you could also pay bills at Silver’s Drugstore on the corner. Most everyone paid their basic bills of telephone, electric and water in town. There was no cable, every house had an antenna for their TV reception. It was basic bills when I was a boy – no cable, no cell phone, no internet. It was a happier time and a safer world! Everyone paid cash or they used lay-a-way. There were very little charge accounts, except for a few local stores. I remember when the MasterCard Logo began appearing on the doors, but I never knew what it meant, and very few people at that time even had a charge-card in their wallet; it was a cash and carry world!”

“A  treat was going to the Rivioli Theater (584 Campbell Ave.)… which was quite often with my mother when they gave away free item; she made the large dictionaries there that she used for scrabble. All her dish sets came from the free weekly pieces at the grocery store – and most came from The Food Basket. It was a gimmick that the grocery stores ran to get you there every week… and it worked.”

“I remember Uncle Mikie “O’Toole” DeTulio rising early on Sunday mornings to go to the bakery in New Haven for fresh Italian bread… and delivered fresh bread to his sisters every Sunday. He usually went to Aunt Minnie’s (Cambino) first and Aunt Mary’s (Pompone) last… that’s where he’d enjoy his cup of morning expresso.” 

“Once in awhile mama bought me my favorite chocolate cream pie at West End Market… it was freshly baked and delivered from Peschell’s Bakery on Campbell Avenue. The owner delivered them fresh every morning… they were baked in a metal tin where you had to pay a 5-cent deposit… just so you would return the tin. We weren’t a throw-away society back then… we recycled more than they do today… although no one talked about recycling back then. I always noticed how things that came from China and Japan recycled… they took their boxes and turned them inside out… to reuse.

Wolfe’s Bakery was on the corner on Campbell Avenue – Ronnie Kessler and I bought pastry there sometimes.

“Pegnataro’s Supermarket came from New Haven to the West Haven Savin Rock Parcade in the 1970’s.. my mother never shopped there. The big food eatery that was popular there was Danny’s Espresso pizza restaurant. It was the first place I took Jeanne when she came to Connecticut as my wife.”

“Crown Supermarket (Jewish Market) was in the Westville part of New Haven on Whalley Ave – Jeanne and I went there on Sundays as it was the only place open for hard rolls and lunch meat. They had large brass cash registers at the checkout. It used to feel like such a long ride there, but now it’s just another ride as we travel it often.”

Every Friday a friend of Grandpa’s came to the house selling fresh fish. He would pull his old truck into the driveway and you’d hear him call out, “pesce – pesce.” The truck had been converted into an open back with an overhang. The fish were laid on top of ice – all whole and fresh; probably caught locally that morning. He had flat, black and bluefish in the summer, and being from a Catholic family, fish was served every Friday.

“York St. Market was another corner market where mama sent me if she needed something before my father came home. I didn’t mind walking anywhere as a kid… I liked going to the markets, as I could pick out something also for myself.”

“Even when I was at my grandmothers, I often walked to one of the local mom and pop’s markets to buy what she needed. Usually there was a small pharmacy nearby that had a soda fountain… and if you were lucky there would be enough change to treat you to an ice cream.”

“Besides shopping in a market, many businesses came directly to your house… the fish man, ice man, milk man, egg man, rag man.”

“The best place in town for atmosphere was Zuppardi’s Pizza… even though it wasn’t a corner market… you could buy pizza dough. It was always a little dark inside… I loved their tall wooden booths… the floor was nice and worn from dancing and even more worn at the cash register where you stood waiting to pay. My favorite spot inside was perusing the jukebox that played the old 78 records.”

“The original Zuppardi’s was their back building… they built a new building in the front when they remodeled. We seldom went after that, it was too much lighting… and never the same… just higher pricing. My father sometimes went on Saturday to buy dough at Zuppardi’s though – my mom liked it for pepperoni bread. The guy behind the counter would pull off a piece of dough, throw a little flour in the brown paper bag and plop the dough inside… the dough never stuck in the bag either. Imagine today, someone giving you dough just inside a brown bag?”

“Later, we began going to Pat’s Pizza – across from Duchess Diner. It still had the look of the old-style pizza parlor… which everyone enjoyed eating in. When I think about it now, it reminds me of the pizza place from the Goodfellas movie with the dark lighting. Pat’s kept their back door open for you to enter in from their rear parking lot. My hometown had more pizza places than grocery stores… almost every neighborhood had their own special one. Pizza was and still is very popular here with a few of our locals like Pepe’s, Modern and Sally’s being well known across the country.”

2020 AtoZ Thank You Reading

Continue reading 2020: April A to Z: Family Stories… click HERE
To read more Family Stories… click HERE

© 2020, copyright Jeanne Bryan Insalaco; all rights reserved

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2020: F – April A to Z… Family Stories: Family Recipes… Cookies and more

2020: F – April A to Z… Family Stories

I’m back in 2020 for my fifth year of participating in the yearly April A to Z challenge… and as usual I racked my brain scribbling ideas on paper since the end of last April. It wasn’t until January, that the light bulb finally went off in scrolling through the 85+ of unfinished blog posts in my draft folder. Bingo… there was my A to Z topic…

Family Stories as told to me… mostly by my husband!

From the moment I married into this Italian family… I fell in love with their stories… their memories… and the family. My husband grew up in West Haven, Connecticut… where there was so much to enjoy as a young boy… especially a place known as Savin Rock… although long gone now. It somewhat resembled Coney Island… but was even larger when his parents, aunts and uncles grew up. They had stories… and I was always an eager listener whenever they told those stories…  remembering, and scribbling down to preserve, just as I did with the family recipes that had once only been in their heads. 2020 has became the year I’m telling many of those stories… along with my husband’s memories to preserve for the generations to come. Many of those who told me their stories, are no longer with us… and I hope to keep their memory alive in these stories… as they are now my family also… and I love them all!

My previous years of A to Z Challenges are:

Come sit a spell and enjoy!

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Family Recipes… Cookies and more

Very few have family recipe boxes today holding their treasured recipes… they have the Internet! But without having mom and grandma’s recipes written down… you’re losing your family history… the history of their recipes!

When I began writing this post, I thought back about my own recipe box… which once sat on my kitchen counter… today it’s been pushed in a cabinet… which tells me I never look through it anymore, but I did pull it out, along with a few recipe books I’ve filled with my favorite recipes… that I haven’t looked at in years.

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I found this recipe written in my mother-in-law’s (Celia Insalaco) handwriting her… it was her mothers (Grandma Minnie) favorite go-to cookie whenever company stopped by. I’m told that she would whip these up almost before the coffee was ready; she must have kept a large supply of molasses on hand. This recipe is a good example of how they measured… note that they often measured by soup bowls and glasses instead of cups for measuring. No exact amount was given on the molasses either… other than as written, 1 bottle… so not sure on that, but knowing how strong it is, I’m thinking that surely she didn’t use the entire bottle!

In calling Aunt Nancy and Aunt Dolly to ask if they still have recipe boxes on their counter….  I learned “Yes” they do!

Recipe cards have disappeared from the younger generations kitchen… who pulls out that weathered food splattered recipe cards any longer… very few… but I sometimes do! I remember making recipe cards on my computer years ago… being a “paper” person I’ve always loved anything paper so I had several different cards… some only for me… while others were used when I gave recipes out. But very few today even take the time to write out recipes anymore. There’s only one person I can think of that gave me hand-written recipes… a friend at work, and one of the best bakers around in giving explicit directions. How many have you known, that when they give you a recipe… something was left out… or the cook who wouldn’t give you her recipe? I’ve never understood that… I always felt honored if someone asked me for my recipe… but there are others who’d rather take it to their grave… why is that?

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Through the years, there have been many types of Anginette cookie recipes… and every family have their favorite! I remember Celia telling me how her mother-in-law (Nonni) made hers with milk… I was excited to find that recipe!

As I looked through my recipe cards, I noticed how some ingredients changed from one ingredient type to another, like oleo for butter… or crisco to butter… or in the case of the Anginette recipes changing from orange juice and milk to ricotta. Also measurements were changed… I found saucer cups listed… and even a glass… mentioning to use a small glass. Grandma Minnie used a saucer cup in measuring flour… they didn’t have measuring cups or spoons in their kitchens like we do today… they had cups and saucers and regular teaspoons and tablespoons. There are some things I don’t actually measure though… often like vanilla extract… I still seem to eyeball it. Hubby laughs at me… he always grabs the teaspoon to measure. When he first began baking, he often had to ask me to explain some of my cooking terminology written on the recipe cards… like what was opt (optional)… or a pinch… or heaping… or what tsp. or tblsp meant. I guess I thought everyone could decipher my abbreviations. Even today, when I make homemade Italian Cream… I still use a regular tablespoon to judge my heaping… it’s how I was taught! It was also hard to send him to the store with an abbreviated food list… pot wasn’t asking for a cooking pot… it was potatoes… and swt pot was really sweet potatoes… and after almost 49 years of marriage, there’s usually something still on the food list I have to explain!

“A pinch is whatever fits between my thumb and finger… geez, doesn’t everyone know that?”

I remember many times in looking through my recipe box for a certain recipe… and not finding it… because it wasn’t filed… necessarily in how I was searching. Many things I filed under D for desserts or V for vegetables… which often took me awhile in finding… and when I didn’t, I learned to always search under “A”… it was always easier to stuff back in the front. I’m sure you’re laughing now… as you’ve done the same thing! Those recipe boxes actually needed an Amazon’s “Alexa” to find the recipe! If you still have a recipe box… go look and see if you’ve filed in the same manner!

During the school years, I often was called upon to send in recipes for cookbook fundraisers. In searching through my recipes, I found one of the Davis School cookbooks I submitted recipes to… sending in one of Melissa’s favorite recipes.

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My youngest baker… Melissa helping grandpa!

After my recipe box disappeared off my counter, I began using a recipe book to write my recipes in… having them all in one place. My daughter has laid claim to those books with all the food splattered pages and notes of who likes which recipe best. When Stephen and Melissa first moved out, I gave them each a recipe book of their favorites… all  hand written by me… and they still use them today!

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Dolly told me that her mother never had any recipe cards, they were all in her head… sounds right for that generation. I remember every Easter my mother-in-law diligently calling her mother to ask for the ingredients in the ham pie crust… and I’d always say, “you better write that down.” That’s what pushed me to gather hubby’s family recipes and create a family cookbook.

“Something that’s always puzzled me was… How did our grandmother’s know the temperatures of their wood-burning stove? My mother always said how her mother just knew from the feel of the heat.”

I’ve often heard some say… the recipe was lost because no one ever wrote down grandma’s recipes… sometimes you have to recreate that recipe… from the memory of taste and knowing about what ingredients went into the making of it. I had to do that with my grandmother Bryan’s “sweet potato cobbler”… if you’d like to read further on how I accomplished in creating it, and see the recipe… click over HERE.

My mother also never had any written recipes, she cooked her southern fried chicken,  dressing, lemon pie and biscuits from her head… and the feel in her hands. When I ask if her mother had any recipes, she’ll laugh and say, “my mother probably didn’t even know what the word recipe meant”… she just knew how to cook.”

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While looking through Celia’s notebook of recipes… I found Stephen’s artwork on the page where he wrote my mother’s biscuit recipe!

While watching Martha Stewart bake sponge cakes today on her new show “Martha Bakes”, Steve said. “My mother often cooked sponge cakes through the years, although she called them angel food cakes… they were her favorite; we didn’t like them too much, but we ate them anyway. She never seemed to use a written recipe… the recipe was just in her head.” (I never found any specific sponge cake recipes written down anywhere, so I guess the recipe really was in her head)

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One of my many food splattered recipes!

In showing Steve a recipe for making homemade Ricotta… “I think Grandma Minnie made it… I remember her using cheesecloth for many things and you did have to strain the liquid through cheesecloth to finish the ricotta process. My father used cheesecloth for many things also – he even strained paint through it.”

Manicotte machine Celia

Celia’s pasta machine

“I helped my mother make homemade pasta from the time I was old enough to turn the handle on her pasta machine; it was a big process and many hands were needed. She made the pasta dough right on the table, beginning with a well of flour. After the dough was made, I helped by running it through her hand-crank machine… flattening the dough into long strips… that was the fun part as a child. It was then laid on clean sheets on the bed to dry. After drying, we boiled and dumped it back on the kitchen table where we quickly began separating the cooked noodles. That was the best part… as I liked eating the cooked dough; even though it was only plain cooked dough… it tasted so good. Everyone pitched in to help… from turning the crank… to making the ricotta mixture… and then stuffing the manicotti noodles. You scooped up a small amount of ricotta-meat mixture… laying it in the middle of the dough, rolled it up and into the baking dish it went… waiting for sauce. It was a lot of work, but it was so well worth it in the long run.”

I’ll always treasure the family stories and recipes from Aunt Mary. When I began the family cookbook, ”Italiano Famiglia Recipes,” she taught me many of the old family recipes she learned from her mother… there were no written recipes. Between her and Aunt Jojo, I also learned many of the family stories behind those recipes, as well as enjoying their cooking when I visited. Aunt Mary is Stephen’s Godmother and she’s often cooked him many of the old Italian family dishes through the years. Whenever you walk in Aunt Mary’s house, you know from the smell that there’s something good waiting for you… and you never leave empty-handed.

Aunt Nancy (Cavallaro) remembers: “I remember the fish man coming every Wednesday to our house. My mother bought and cleaned the calamari, made sauce and stuffed them with an egg and bread mixture… then pan fried; sewing them up was always my job. We also had an iceman (Ralph Camputaro) who delivered ice every week… he lived next door to us.” (My husband remembers Grandma Minnie’s stuffed calamari… and how no one has ever made that except for grandma… another recipe, lost forever.)

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This seems to be an even earlier recipe for Cherry Winks… and today I use butter, not Crisco… and I never heard of French’s Vanilla! I found it interesting how they mention an adaption in the flour on measurements for bakers in the South! Another change today is… the name has changed to Cherry Dot cookies… which I don’t understand as Cherry Winks was a much more catchier name… and I think walnuts give a better taste than pecans in this recipe. I’ve tried both… as just “nuts” were written on my original recipe… but I’ve changed it now to say walnuts!

Cherry Winks is one of my favorite cookie recipes I learned from my mother-in-law… a cookie made with cornflakes, cherries and dried dates. I remember being hesitant to try them at first… but I quickly became hooked! Even today, it’s still my favorite Christmas cookie to bake… when I’m motivated to bake! While writing a blog post on them one day, I laughed when I turned the page in a small Kellogg booklet I’d saved from cleaning out her kitchen drawers… there was her original recipe… even with food splatters! (The book was printed in 1971, the year I came to CT… maybe it was a new recipe for her also) You can read that post over HERE.

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2020 AtoZ Thank You Reading

Continue reading 2020: April A to Z: Family Stories… click HERE
To read more Family Stories… click HERE

To read more Family Recipes and Memories… click HERE.

© 2020, copyright Jeanne Bryan Insalaco; all rights reserved

Posted in 2020: April A to Z: Family Stories, Daily Writings and funnies..., Family Stories, Husbands Family Stories: | Tagged , , , , , | 9 Comments

2020: E – April A to Z… Family Stories: Every Home has a Story…Cleaning out the Family Home

2020: E – April A to Z… Family Stories

I’m back in 2020 for my fifth year of participating in the yearly April A to Z challenge… and as usual I racked my brain scribbling ideas on paper since the end of last April. It wasn’t until January, that the light bulb finally went off in scrolling through the 85+ of unfinished blog posts in my draft folder. Bingo… there was my A to Z topic…

Family Stories as told to me… mostly by my husband!

From the moment I married into this Italian family… I fell in love with their stories… their memories… and the family. My husband grew up in West Haven, Connecticut… where there was so much to enjoy as a young boy… especially a place known as Savin Rock… although long gone now. It somewhat resembled Coney Island… but was even larger when his parents, aunts and uncles grew up. They had stories… and I was always an eager listener whenever they told those stories…  remembering, and scribbling down to preserve, just as I did with the family recipes that had once only been in their heads. 2020 has became the year I’m telling many of those stories… along with my husband’s memories to preserve for the generations to come. Many of those who told me their stories, are no longer with us… and I hope to keep their memory alive in these stories… as they are now my family also… and I love them all!

My previous years of A to Z Challenges are:

Come sit a spell and enjoy!

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

Family Stories

Every Home has a Story…Cleaning out the Family Home

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Last Visit to the Family Home

Cleaning out the family home after a parent dies is probably one of the hardest and saddest things… you’re saying that final goodbye, and often the last time you’ll walk through where you grew up. While you may not want the house to be out of the family… decisions have to be made, and it’s time to say goodbye… you can’t hold on to everything. Even though you won’t be coming to the family home any longer, you’ll never forget the memories made there… first bikes, holiday meals and Christmas pasts will never leave you. I never had to really experience this until the death of my mother-in-law. Closing the doors with my husband for the last time, knowing it wasn’t ours anymore was very hard for the both of us, and it’s taken me this long to finally complete this post.

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Many memories of bringing in the mail… all the letters Steve wrote me from Thailand landed in that mailbox!

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Dad planted this red maple tree from a sapling and watched it grow… it’s always been a favorite of mine!

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One of my favorite pictures when Dad climbed up in the tree with Melissa and Stephen

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Steve jack-hammered the old cement steps away… together he and his father built a new wooden porch and steps.

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This was probably the first photo taken of me at the house after we arrived… and before Steve left for Thailand. (The original cement steps showing here)

One of the first things I began going through in cleaning out, was the piles and piles of knitting and crochet books… and there were LOTS! My mother-in-law has probably crocheted and knitted from the time she married in 1947. I’m not sure who she learned from, and don’t remember ever asking that question, or even thinking to… but maybe someone will answer it for me. I never saw her mother crochet or knit, so I’m thinking it might have been her mother-in-law, as I remember seeing crocheted afghans in Nonni’s living room in Shelton.

It wasn’t long before I found myself lost in those books… even finding some with my name written on. I kept a good sized box of them and had to part with the rest. It was just too much to try and keep… I hadn’t looked for any of those patterns in years and years… everything is online now. Dolly was looking for a specific pattern, but we never came across it… so we gave up on that also. Why do I think of these things afterward… I should have piled them all up and taken a picture, now that photograph is only in my mind. Shame on me!

I shouldn’t have the need to ever buy another crochet hook or knitting needle in my lifetime; good thing my daughter learned to knit, as now she also needs to learn how to crochet. Funny thought now… most of her needles I’ll probably never even use as I mostly knit with circular needles and the few she had were either of a hard plastic or metal cords… but I still kept them. My granddaughter, McKinley, is learning to knit now, so one day I’ll pull out all her great grandmother’s knitting needles just to show her… nice remembrance to keep.

My husband and I were on a time frame in cleaning out his parents home… working every day… and leaving exhausted!

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Those drawers held lots of stuff… and lots of memories

celia in kitchen Clock in background

Those cabinets held her treasured milk glass collection… my husband made the wooden scales in shop class at school that she has on the counter. I remember listening to the chimes on the clock in the living room that chimed with a push on the front doorbell. (We saved it in hopes that one day… one of the children or grandchildren might enjoy it)

I went through drawer after drawer in the kitchen, remembering many of the things I used when I cooked there. Steve took home several useful gadgets to add to our own gadget drawer, which is overwhelming in itself; we just couldn’t throw them out… but they will need homes one day!

The kitchen drawers also hid many cookbooks, recipe cards… and pages and pages of recipes ripped from magazines… recipes that she wanted to try, but we all know how that goes; some I kept, some I trashed. I did keep the written recipes in her own handwriting, and I found two notebooks where she’d written many recipes in. Some of those recipes were also in my son’s handwriting… she probably put him to work in writing them for her.

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I remember her making “lots” of pizzelles over the years!

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recipe of moms

I laughed when I found this scribbled recipe for ham pie and sweet pie crust in the drawer… probably from one of the many times Celia probably called her mother for the recipe! What the funniest was… that she wrote it on the back of a horse racing form!

In looking through the recipe books, I found her favorite Spritz cookie and pizzelle recipes; she made them often… and I loved them! When she retired her hand-held cookie press, I snagged it and have used it for years… although it does hurt my hand now. She had the perfect touch in pressing them out… just right every time… sometimes now I struggle with the dough. It does have to be the correct texture or it won’t push through… and it takes a good cook to know that… and she was a great cook and baker.cookie-press

Celia’s favorite cookie press… still in my cupboard!

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pizzelle maker

Somehow I have no memory of finding her pizzelle machine when we cleaned through the kitchen… I remember her machine actually having the recipe printed on the handle… and in as many times as she used it, I’m wondering if it burnt out! The one pictured above is the one I bought for my son’s birthday gift… he was her helper through the years! Writing this makes me want pizzelle’s… think I’ll drag mine out now!

Photographs were scattered throughout all those drawers… in every nook and cranny. It slowed me down a bit, as I can’t find pictures without stopping to look at them, and remember times of long ago when there were voices in this house other than just ours today. This house was dead now – no more laughter will it see until a new family moves in and brings it back to life…. but it’ll never be the same!

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Cherry Winks… first cookie I learned to make from my mother in law

Being a new bride in 1971, and unexperienced in cooking… I learned to cook in this kitchen – from her favorite cookies of… Cherry Winks, Anginettes, and Thumbprints… to learning how to make Manicotti, Ham Pie and so much more. There were fun times around the kitchen table… learning how to roll out Easter pie crusts.. to dumping fresh pasta on the table… or frosting the Anginettes; I liked that part as I could sneak one or two as I frosted, but she always kept a close eye on how many I was sneaking. To read my detailed post with photos and recipe on Cherry Winks, click Here.

Manicotte machine Celia

Celia’s “famous” manicotti machine… all our holiday pasta was cranked through that machine.

If Celia was making Manicotti, it was “all hands” on deck. We watched while she made the dough… then we helped to run the pieces of dough through the pasta machine which stretched it out into thin strips. Once the dough was flattened, it must be dried… and that meant spreading clean sheets on the bed to lay the dough on. After drying, they were boiled and dumped on the kitchen table… where we were waiting to add the ricotta mixture to the pasta as we rolled them up. I remember how messy that table became once she dumped the macaroni on the table… water dripped everywhere… even running off the table. My kids were able to enjoy helping out in the family cooking escapades there… the messier it was, the more fun they had.

As a young bride… I learned to cook in this kitchen!

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I made Dad his own “pizza” apron for Saturday night pizza making… which of course the kids always fought over who was going to wear!

Saturday night dinners often consisted of Dad making his famous pizza, which was plain with lots of parmesan cheese and pepper… it was so good! We’ve never been quite able to duplicate it either, no matter how hard we’ve tried… he just had a technique of putting it together which we will just have to remember. If we weren’t having pizza, we made calzones… and whoever was there always competed as to who made the best looking and best tasting.

I can see how my husband took after his father in cooking… everything his father cut and diced was always perfect in size. When the ham pies at Easter were made, he sat diligently at the kitchen table cutting the ham into perfect bite-size pieces… and his son does the exact same thing. When my husband makes pepperoni bread, there isn’t a piece in there that isn’t uniform in size… mine never comes the same size. Dad also helped in the ham pie crust… after my mother-in-law mixed the dough, she’d yell, “Steph roll out the crust, it’s too hard for me.” In as I make the crust now, it’s not hard to roll out… she was playing him, but he had more finesse in rolling it and laying it in the pans… she had no patience for that. Teamwork is needed in making all those Easter pies… especially when you’re older. I can easily say now, I was once “wonder woman” in the kitchen baking all day with pies all over the place by the time hubby came home… and now… it’s a chore to just get one made. What Happened?

On Saturdays there, the TV was always on… and we either were watching a cooking show, The Victory Garden or NBC’s figure skating on the Wide World of Sports. My love of figure skating came from those Saturday afternoons. Often it was Nick Stellino or Mary Ann Esposito for the cooking shows.

There was much glassware there that was not of any value, just things collected through the years. I decided to box it all up and tackle a project in the spring. I had just been to a craft fair and saw birdhouse feeders made out of assorted pieces of glassware, and thought that would be a perfect end to all those pieces… they could be enjoyed, while giving us a remembrance of the family. And all those pieces…. are still boxed… maybe one day!

Many things were overwhelming like all her VCR tapes… which seemed to never end. It wasn’t just bought ones, my mother-in-law had taped many shows through the years… what do you do with them all? No one wants the VCR tapes anymore and I couldn’t think of a craft with them, but let me throw them out and something will come to mind

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We stacked up many of the VCR tapes in the window… but believe me there were many, many, more!

Clothes were in every closet, along with drawers of duplicates of everything. It’s funny how you can tell the years by looking at the clothes, they just call out the years to you. And who doesn’t have clothes hanging in their closet… still with price tags!

Drawer after drawer… sifting through pencils, tape, address books, tiny pieces of return labels torn off envelopes; it made me think of what is all in my own drawers at home. My house is becoming a stocked store with so many items we’ve brought home. If I’d only been into crafting “junk journals” when I went through all those drawers… well, even more junk would have come home.

One of the drawers held her collection of family “obituaries” and funeral “wake” cards. She loved to pull them out once in awhile and we’d all look through and remember stories. They were one thing she seemed to treasure more than the family photographs she misplaced one time. It took us years to finally find them… buried in the cellar in a trashcan… almost succumbing to water. They quickly came home with us before lost for good. I saved her obituries and wake cards, along with all the wedding announcements sh’ed also saved. Sometimes they’re fun to look back through and being the family researcher… they can be a wealth of information. I later scanned all of the wedding announcements to share in our family group on Facebook.

Sad to see their bedroom bare… only the sun shining in and the same light globe in the ceiling that had been there for years. I only wish I had asked Steve to take it down… love the vintage look!

Then there are the things you aren’t going to use, but can’t bring yourself to throw away or sell… like the clock on the living room wall that chimed with the doorbell. (That clock can be seen in the photo of Celia standing by the kitchen cabinets up above… only wish I had thought to take a photo before it was taken down) It’s safely stored away, hoping someone will eventually like to have it… so far I have no takers! Hubby remembers it must have been bought while he was in the Air Force… he always discovered new changes to the house whenever he came home.

What a beautiful staircase this was that led upstairs… Steve used to do pushups on those stairs as a boy! (I’m told the new owners painted this beautiful wood staircase! Why would you do that?)

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One of their earlier television sets…. next to that same staircase!

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Many of the puzzles Celia put together through the years ended up on the attic floor… along with Elvis… she was a big Elvis fan!

In the attic we found puzzles, old paint by numbers that Celia painted of the Spanish bull fighters and a family of deer. I have photographs showing the bullfighters in pictures on the wall behind my husband with his parents… making them more sentimental to me; more things I can’t part with hastily! So what else ends up in the attic, all  the various kitchen ceiling lights that came and went through the years. What hubby didn’t find was the baseball he lost many-many years ago in the attic… it rolled away to never-never land… and believe me he looked many times… with flashlight in hand looking down the attic edges of the walls. While he eventually gave up… he’ll never forget… and wonder where it really went!

The matador and bull paint-by-numbers Celia painted!

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Steve with his parents… and there are the matador and bull fighting paint-by-numbers… I see a ceramic matador and bull on the table… but guess they didn’t survive through the years… as I never found saw them.

The attic door was in Steve’s room. On this last day, he looked down all the rafter walls one more time… still looking for that missing baseball of his youth! It’s now lost forever!

The second bedroom upstairs seemed to have become her craft catch-all in the past decade or two; and also seemed to be where she stashed her bear collection. Who knew she had that many bears! She also stashed her empty box collection from QVC there years ago… behind the wall in the closet in that bedroom… not wanting everyone to know all she had bought. I remember many when I’d be sitting out in the den and UPS would deliver a box… she’d stick it behind the couch without a word and go right back to cooking… like I didn’t even see it!

Steve’s childhood bedroom was hard to clean out and say goodbye to… lots of memories. My father in law built all the bureaus in the wall… a special touch to his room. This room was our first bedroom also when we lived there… it was where I stayed alone when Steve was in Thailand.

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The dormer window that looked out from Steve’s bedroom… a place he looked out everyday… his boyish bedroom window.

What a craftsman my father-in-law was in building all these drawers in the wall. Steve kept his rolled coins behind the peg sliding doors as a young boy, and the long plexiglass shelf held his model cars. They all held memories! Hubby pulled all the drawers out… looking behind…. still looking for that baseball!

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Celia standing in Steve’s bedroom!

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Celia kept her Tarzan books on these shelves… they were originally her brother Freddie’s. The set of encyclopedias were used by Steve as a boy in school… I brought them home… why, I don’t know, but nostalgic feeling I guess. I do see them now in antique stores at somewhat higher prices than I imagined!

I did enjoy picking through all the crafts and remembering when we stitched embroidery crewel pictures. Now all our pictures that once hung on the walls… well, no one even wants anymore. After I’ve taken pictures of them all for remembrance, I’ll have to decide what I’m going to do with them; I do see them in antique stores now, but I can’t keep everything, or I’ll become smothered in stuff,  but we will keep the memories. (I’ve planned a separate post on the crewel embroidery pictures)

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A last look at Dad’s tool bench…

The tools in the cellar didn’t do too much for me, but my husband felt differently – so now he has more tools than he can ever use, but they were his dad’s. And who doesn’t have projects you never got to, well so did his dad; the old Singer pedal sewing machine he picked up off the road many… many years ago… well now guess who’s project it is – hubby’s! Hopefully it will get restored and find a  home.

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I remember the day Dad brought this home… proudly in his trunk… sadly he never found the time to refinish it… but it always sat under the stairs waiting for him!

It was in this cellar where my husband built model cars, lifted weights, ran his American Flyer trains, and learned many of his carpentering skills. His father often called him downstairs, not really needing the help… but to teach him without him really knowing it! All his skills today, can be attributed to those teaching lessons… learning without really knowing you were being schooled!

The basement didn’t look the same after we cleaned… taking many things that held memories. I should have taken more photos from the very beginning… but too many things were on my mind!

Dad’s workbench has never been so clean… it was once filled with motors, coffee cans holding nuts and bolts, and a few mechanical books. The cabinet on the wall held lots of plumbing supplies. Some came home with Steve and some had to be trashed. Dad saved every motor… always saying… “one day I’ll repair it.”

The only pieces of furniture that we took were two bureaus in the bedroom… which actually had belonged to my husband’s grandmother and were very vintage modern… built with real wood, not like the “knock down” type sold in the stores today; my daughter decided she wanted them for her first bedroom set.

baseball cards on door

Steve would have liked to have taken the older armoire … that had once been in his room… notice the baseball stickers pasted… that are still there; it originally came from the Insalaco family in Shelton. Once it was no longer needed in his room, it landed in the cellar… and the many water fiascos damaged the bottom.

The kitchen glass cabinets that held my mother-in-laws collection of milk glass pieces over the years; she gave the grandchildren several pieces years ago, so now they added a few more to their collection. It’s nice to see them being used in their homes today… keeps the memories alive when you see them.

Good thing my father-in-law wasn’t really a collector… other than the tools, screws, nails,  plumbing parts, and old motors – he could never throw a motor away… always saying how he might be able to repair it one day. There were enough tools scattered throughout the house… enough for everyone in the family. Like I said, he wasn’t a collector!

The funniest thing we found in the cellar… buried way down in a wooden nail keg… was one of my mother-in-laws saucepans. Why didn’t I take a photo? Someone must have left it unattended on the stove… and it must have been left for quite a while, as the stainless steel bottom was quite scorched… as well as warped and destroyed… beyond repair! We both laughed over that as she often talked about that saucepan, and couldn’t understand what happened to it…. and dad never offered any suggestions as to what really happened either! Good thing she never found it… as he would never have lived it down! But we all have our little secrets! What goes in the cellar… remains in the cellar!

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While the saucepan was thrown away, and I’m so wishing I’d taken a picture… Steve brought home that “famous” nail keg of memories… and refinished it as it was literally falling apart.

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The kitchen window was Dad’s favorite place early in the morning, especially as he was always the first to rise… it was where he had his morning cigarette and coffee… surmising what the day would bring as he stood leaning on the counter… looking out. A daily habit that he never changed!

What I collected over the years in my husbands family home was lots of memories and stories… and those can’t be sold or forgotten. My kids grew up in this family home and spent countless hours there, especially in the summer. A pool was there from the time they were babies… they graduated from “swimmies” to dog paddling, and finally swimming… and finally tall enough to even touch bottom. In the summer… we spent every day in that pool… and cooking dinner on the grill!

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Steve spent every evening cleaning the pool! He was the pool man!

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Melissa, Stephen and Steve… spent countless hours in the pool!

My father-in-law’s passion in the summer was his garden… planting the usual Italian foods of squash, eggplant, peppers, tomatoes and green beans. He babied that garden, watering it every evening like clockwork. We always laughed about his garden, that inasmuch as he cared for it, it never really produced much! I always looked forward to the first squash though, as my mother-in-law made squash quiche… and she made the best; although my husband makes it the best now – he’s perfected her recipe!

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Dad’s squash and tomato plants

Dad attempted to grow a lemon tree once… but it never produced not one single lemon… no matter how he fussed with it all summer. He’d grown it from seeds given him… babying it every winter… bringing it in the house, and carrying it back out in the summer. But no lemons!

garden seeds

What was so hard in closing up this house is that we’ll never be able to return again. My father-in-law built this house… building it pretty much all by himself at night after work, and every weekend… and built with no mortgage… that is amazing! The house even withstood a move… as when I-95 came through, it was projected to run through his property; the state bought him property nearby and moved the house. My husband remembers watching the house being prepared for the move as they jacked up the house and secured it with huge girders underneath.

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Dad building their house… first on Sawmill Road… and later moved to 30 Edward St. after I-95 came through.

I lived in this house after marrying Steve while he went to Thailand. I’ll never forget the afternoon when I put too much soap in the washer and it bubbled soap bubbles like a Lucy episode! Of course I didn’t want my mother-in-law to see that I didn’t know what I was doing… as I clearly didn’t… so I kept scooping up and dumping them out the cellar door! It’s been so long that I don’t even remember if I was ever caught, but I’m sure my father-in-law probably figured it out… but never said anything. The biggest basement fiasco, which wasn’t really my fault… was when the water hose on the washer broke while I was home alone with my son. Water was shooting up super hard and fast from the washer… up toward the ceiling. I was clueless as to what happened… and had no idea how to close the water valve or even knew about it! I ended up calling the fire dept, but before they arrived, I accidentally found the valve… and met the fireman at the door dripping wet… head to toe! They chastised me for going in the cellar barefoot with water all over the floor… who knew I could have been electrocuted!

There’s a few things my husband won’t miss there – the millions of leaves in the fall that he raked and bagged for almost forever… the grass he mowed from the time he was old enough to push the mower, until well, like forever… the snow shoveled on those cold windy days… gutter cleaning every spring… and the many nights he spent pumping the water out of the cellar, when the sump pump became stuck… he definitely won’t miss those things!

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Leaves were abundant there… just as many in the front as on the side and the back. In the years that he bagged them, it was easily way over a hundred plus bags by the time he was through.

Granddaughter, McKinley, was the last one to romp in the leaves!

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Granddaughters, Ella, Ana and Nina enjoying a ride on the hand truck!

Steve will miss the memories of living there with his parents… growing up on Edward Street. It’s a home he watched his father build… a home he watched being moved from Sawmill Road to Edward St…. memories of learning how to build and repair things from his father… memories of the many holiday meals his mother cooked and family around the table… memories of us living there with his parents as our first home, when we married… and memories of watching television with his mother mostly… they shared many of the same type of movies. Her kitchen was where I learned to cook… mostly all the family favorite Italian foods I’ve written about in my cookbooks. Even though the house was becoming hard to keep up us as his mother aged… it was still home when we walked in. And that last day when we both closed and locked the door for the last time… both knowing we could never just walk right in again… it felt strange and unreal… and we both left very quiet… each having our own thoughts of sadness.

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The last photo taken with the family tree… I’m sure dad was sitting on that same branch above… smiling!

2020 AtoZ Thank You Reading

Continue reading 2020: April A to Z: Family Stories… click HERE
To read more Family Stories… click HERE

© 2020, copyright Jeanne Bryan Insalaco; all rights reserved

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2020: D – April A to Z… Family Stories: DNA: Myths or Facts on Inheritance

2020: D – April A to Z… Family Stories

I’m back in 2020 for my fifth year of participating in the yearly April A to Z challenge… and as usual I racked my brain scribbling ideas on paper since the end of last April. It wasn’t until January, that the light bulb finally went off in scrolling through the 85+ of unfinished blog posts in my draft folder. Bingo… there was my A to Z topic…

Family Stories as told to me… mostly by my husband!

From the moment I married into this Italian family… I fell in love with their stories… their memories… and the family. My husband grew up in West Haven, Connecticut… where there was so much to enjoy as a young boy… especially a place known as Savin Rock… although long gone now. It somewhat resembled Coney Island… but was even larger when his parents, aunts and uncles grew up. They had stories… and I was always an eager listener whenever they told those stories…  remembering, and scribbling down to preserve, just as I did with the family recipes that had once only been in their heads. 2020 has became the year I’m telling many of those stories… along with my husband’s memories to preserve for the generations to come. Many of those who told me their stories, are no longer with us… and I hope to keep their memory alive in these stories… as they are now my family also… and I love them all!

My previous years of A to Z Challenges are:

Come sit a spell and enjoy!

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DNA: Myths or Facts on Inheritance

Inheriting From me… The Maternal Grandmother!

my family

A male child inherits the Y chromosome from their father, while the X chromosome comes from their mother… so therefore my son doesn’t inherit any X chromosomes from his paternal grandmother… they only come from me, his mother… and my mother… and so on! Genetically, your children are a combination of four separate individuals… but those contributions aren’t always equal… some more… some less!

We all carry 23 pairs of chromosomes… 22 autosomal pairs… and one pair of sex chromosomes, which is either two copies of X… which means you are female… or an X and a Y, which would means you are a male. You receive one copy of each pair from your mother by fertilization of the egg… and one copy from your father from the sperm; half of your genome makeup derives from each parent.

How often have you looked at people… even in your own family and saw how alike they looked and even acted just like their mother or father! Often you’ll see a resemblance through several generations. Many people say they see a resemblance of me in my daughter… and they call both her red-heads… her mini-me’s! I see my father in my son… I remember thinking that as I watched him say his wedding vows.. strangely I felt like my father was with us.

Another genetic marker inherited is PTC tasting… which determines how people taste bitter… hence where the talk of your taste buds come into play! In reading about this tasting marker… I was sucked into reading… and more reading. I found it quite interesting, but if you want to learn more… I’ll leave it up to you to go in search of!

With the PTC tasting marker, you are either a “taster” or “non-taster“. A taster is one who tastes more bitter, while a non-taster isn’t the picky eater… not tasting the bitter. I’m going to assume I’m a non-taster as I eat many of the vegetables they listed as bitter, such as turnip greens, broccoli and brussels sprouts. When I first met my husband’s grandmother, Grandma Minnie… she said that I should like broccoli rabe, as it tasted like bitter turnip greens. I thought that funny… as I loved turnip greens and never considered them bitter; I do hear people say how broccoli rabe is bitter, but I never thought so. Grandma Minnie offered it to me often when was pregnant with my son, so I quickly created a taste for it; it’s also one of my son’s favorite vegetables. Maybe that’s why Grandma Minnie cooked so many different foods for me when I was pregnant… always saying how I needed to eat everything so the baby would create a taste for it. The older generation are the wisest!

I was a fussy eater on certain things as a child, especially having anything to do with mayonnaise, mustard and pickles… I’m not sure if they’re in the bitter family, but I can’t get past the smell! Without even tasting the food… I can smell those three ingredients! Many people laugh how those three are the staples of the South… where I was born and raised…but won’t eat. That meant no deviled eggs, no pickles on my hamburgers or relish on my hotdogs! I can’t even tolerate seeing anyone lick the spoon used in the mayo jar! I guess my mother didn’t eat enough of those foods when she was pregnant, but she did eat herself silly, she says, in the turnip green department… hence my love for them. Another oddity in tastes for me was my choice of ketchup… as a child, I was only a Hunt’s ketchup girl… no matter how hard my mother tried to fool me; now I only like Heinz ketchup! My two children didn’t inherit my fussiness on these condiments.

Out of all my 5 granddaughters, McKinley is the fussiest eater… so she must be a taster… meaning that she has a greater sensitivity to bitter foods… maybe that’s what gives her the hesitation in trying regular foods… and sometimes it’s like pulling teeth to persuade her to even try! But she never turns down a sweet dessert! Her sister, Grace, is more amicable in trying foods, but still doesn’t have a large tried list of foods… as she often looks to her sister for approval in eating a food… if sister doesn’t want to eat it, then she often develops a… “I don’t either attitude.”

My son’s three daughters are completely different in their food habits… they pretty much eat everything, or at least have tried everything. If there is a meal of mussels and pasta on the table, you’ll have to fight Ana for that last clam shell… she will devour them all very easily! Ella is a fan of shrimp, while Nina will happily give her share away to anyone who asks. And like their cousins… no one turns down the sweets! They are easily three non-tasters there!

They say your granddaughters share about 25% of your DNA… but the granddaughters from your son receive just a little more!

I’ve always said how I inherited my “crafty” genes from my mother and grandmother (maternal)… and I can see those genes have been passed onto all my granddaughters… as they all love to craft!

Granddaughter, McKinley, (redhead) enjoys all types of crafts, as well as engineering and building projects. McKinley, like all children, have two personalities… one for home and one for school! She’s shy in first joining activities, but soon settles in to make friends. Being the big sister, she always gives in to younger sister Grace, and is very protective over her. Her report cards at school always note how she’s helpful in class to other students and sensitive of those who feel shy.

I credit the majority of her engineering skills through her father and paternal grandfather, but again, she’s also inherited much through her maternal grandfather and  maternal great grandfather. My husband has always said, “there isn’t anything my father couldn’t repair.” His father helped to disassemble the many tire building machines at Armstrong Rubber when they closed for shipment to their Nashville, Tenn. plant… and after the machinists there couldn’t reassemble them, he was called to travel there to teach them how to reassemble the machines. At my father-in-laws wake, his nephew Paul said, “who are we going to go to now when something needs repairing?”

McKinley, is in the second grade (2020), and Grace is in kindergarten… both go to the same school. Grace had no problem in adjusting to attending school, as she had often visited the school for two years already… even knowing her teacher beforehand. It’s funny how both girls interact with each other at school and home. Recently I picked up McKinley from school when she was sick… and while sitting in the office with her, in walks Grace… saying she didn’t feel well. Now how did they plan that? Needless to say… I left with 2 “somewhat” sick little girls that morning!

Grace, younger sister of McKinley, is also a crafter, and immediately takes out the craft box when she comes. I enjoy watching her and McKinley as they craft with yarn, toilet paper rolls, felt and popsicle sticks… their minds churn in figuring out how to design the project they each have in mind. Grace has also inherited my love of Barbie… she’s a true “Barbie” girl… and when she plays… she’s truly in a Barbie world! Grace is now finishing up her first year of kindergarten and has adjusted very well with others. She bounces out of school all smiles and often with projects in hand… but hates wearing coats, hats and gloves… and never wears socks unless you check her before leaving in the morning! She laughed the other day when I told her I was going to glue socks to her feet… I guess she’s very warm blooded!

Ella, the oldest granddaughter of my son, also crafts, draws fashion clothing and is beginning to write stories. She’s fascinated with my blog and wants her own on fashion design one day. Ella is quiet, helpful at home, school and church and will always help a classmate. On her very first day at Pre-K, she went over to a young girl crying, put her arms around her and said, “don’t cry, your mommy will come back.” It was her first day also of being left by her mother, but she had the assurance in her heart of knowing her mother would return. Ella enjoys checking my blog, especially if she knows I’ve mentioned her name. She enjoys reading, but unfortunately she hasn’t become the Nancy Drew reader yet… that I’d hoped for. It fascinates her that I still read Nancy Drew and often asks me about the books… so there’s still hope! I think it’s hard for the young girls to read my era of Nancy Drew, as they can’t relate to some of the words used, such as roadster, or hypers. I did ask her once if she knew what roadster meant… she did! At least she’s inherited my love of reading… and there’s still time for her to discover my Nancy Drew!

Ella is in the fourth grade now, so she both reads and writes, and has her own laptop where she does her homework. Times have changed… the kids today don’t turn in paper homework very often… it’s mainly typed on computers. I personally don’t like this change… to me, there’s nothing like paper and pencil in writing your notes and ideas down… it helps you learn by writing!

Ana, the oldest by a couple of minutes of my son’s twins, is another crafter and builder… and likes Lego block building… but her best skill is her artistic drawing gene. She’s in the first grade and is very encouraged by her teachers to draw. I can’t take any credit in the art department… but I can trace well! The art skills come through her mother and uncle, and I look forward in watching her develop them! Ana is bubbly, sweet and very easy going… and loves playing outside after homework with her sisters; the sisters are very close in everything they do.

Ana and Nina are both in first grade this year (2019-2020) and love school… Ana will immediately say she does, while Nina gives the thumbs down… laughing! Nina does enjoy school once she’s there… always helpful to her teacher and was voted the most student everyone would like to sit next to in class!

Nina, the younger twin is a complete girly girl, besides a crafter. Whenever I visit, it’s crafts all day! She has always been obsessed with princesses from a toddler… but now has transformed that obsession onto Barbie… another Barbie girl after my own heart! Both Nina and Ana have very dark hair… I see more of her mother in Nina, while I see a resemblance of my son in Ana’s face. Nina is the “skootch” of the three sisters… always joking, laughing and never sits still… you will be exhausted in just watching! She’ll put her shoes on backwards, just so you notice… then criss-cross her feet and say, “see, they’re on the right feet!” 

One day, I’d like to test all the girls DNA, and probably be surprised at their gene makeup… it was that way when I tested my son, (Steve) and daughter (Melissa). Steve looks more Italian as his father’s side with an olive complexion… tanning easily in the summer… although I see a resemblance of my father in his face and the shape of his head… while my daughter with the red hair and fair coloring, looks more Irish… the DNA results proved just the opposite! They thought it was hysterical that I was proved wrong!

RedHead Genes… Myths or Facts

In order to be born a redhead, both parents must be a carrier of the MC1R gene… because red hair is a recessive trait… there is only a 25 percent chance of having a redhead. If any of your family members, aunts, uncles, grandparents were a redhead… then you have a good chance of carrying the trait. I must have carried the trait, as well as my husband because my daughter was born a redhead. I’ve read that the gene to produce a redhead often skips generations… so that means my redheaded granddaughters may not have redhead children!

I had great faith that my children’s DNA would come back as Stephen being more Italian and Melissa more Irish… well, who wouldn’t with her having red hair. I would have bet my last dollar… but their DNA has come back – and proved me wrong! It’s Melissa with more Italian ancestry and Stephen more Irish… well maybe that’s why his daughter Ella looks more like an Italian lass… after all she was born on St. Patrick’s Day!

Wikipedia tells me….

Red hair – Wikipedia: Roughly 2% of the 300 million people in the US are redheads. This translates to a much greater number (25%) of red hair carriers in US. If your family originated from northern Europe, you have a high chance of being a carrier. In the United States, it is estimated that 2–6% of the population has red hair. This would give the U.S. the largest population of redheads in the world, at 6 to 18 million, compared to approximately 420,000 in Ireland and 300,000 in Scotland.

My Bryan and McKinley roots trace back to Europe, as well as my husband’s Italian family lines….

Was I expecting a redheaded daughter – No! There were signs of red’s in our family, as my mother often talked about aunts having auburn hair. When she told me that my father’s under-arm hair was red, I laughed. On my husband’s side, he has aunts who have auburn hair… but he only showed signs of red in his beard. Those little signs never gave me a second thought of ever producing a redheaded child. If I had only been involved in genealogy at that time, I might have given more thought to understanding how the red gene worked.

My first child was a boy with dark hair and dark eyes… my mother immediately said his hair reminded her of her mother… dark hair and dark eyes often suggests Indian bloodlines. Stories had been passed down through my family of Indian lines, as so many other families… and while I see resemblances to a look of Indian lines in facial structures and hair color… I have not yet found Indian Ancestry to prove my mother’s stories. Just recently I had my mother’s DNA tested, and even though I told her that no DNA showed Indian Ancestry, her first words were, “I don’t care what that test shows, I know my mother has Indian in her.” And we all know, you don’t argue with your mother!

When my second child was born, a girl with red hair, I was shocked! I had never contemplated the idea of having a redhead. It shocked me so much that I thought I had been handed the wrong child… especially in not seeing her immediately afterward; she was brought to me later, in my room. I laugh now, and I’m sure the nurses thought me delusional, but I sent her back to the nursery telling them that they brought me the wrong baby. I was determined that I was going home with another dark haired baby, but they immediately brought that redheaded baby girl right back to me!

She became quite popular in the family, as whenever we went to family functions, she was the only redhead. Immediately I’d hear someone say, “and who’s this little redheaded girl belong to“… and then the next line was, “so where did she get the red hair from.” My mouth always popped off with, “the postman.”

In as it’s uncommon for two brown-haired parents to produce a redheaded child, it’s also just as complicated when two redheads “Do Not” produce a redheaded child. My immediate family is living proof… as my husband and I were those two brown-haired parents. But the signs were there…. we just hadn’t paid attention to them. So if you’re wishing for a red haired baby, even though you aren’t a redhead, there’s always hope! Research your family for those glimpses of red in facial and body hair or possibly someone is not wearing their actual hair color!

There are more than one variant in the MC1R gene… actually over 35 variants, and it’s said that only 5 of them are strongly associated with red hair phenotypes; red hair comes in several color shades. I have three red heads in my family and if you laid a sample of each hair side by side… you will see a difference. Each variance of hair color are red hair gene mutations, resulting in phenotypes of auburn, copper, titian, strawberry blonde and ginger.

Maybe that’s why I love Nancy Drew so much… she was written as having titian hair!

So what determines the exact shade of red? The phenotype is determined by the amount of eumelanin (dark brown) and pheomelanin (reddish). The various amounts producing very little to large amounts are what determines if your child has red hair from the range of a pale red, or strawberry blonde, to a bright red or one of the many shades that fall in between.

My daughter had a friend in school who was a redhead, an entirely different shade of red from hers, and while Melissa’s color seemed to have remained the same,  her friend’s hair. seems to have lightened through the years… although now I think my daughters hair has browned up somewhat.

Besides the red hair that is passed through forms of variants in MC1R, there are also other variants that contribute to freckling, and sun sensitivity; everyone pairs redheads with also being fair skinned. Not all redheads have freckles, and sometimes they freckle only in the summer from sun exposure… my daughter freckled more in the summer as a young girl. Even though she spent much time in the sun… she never seemed to tan like her brother… which always infuriated her. His skin was more olive, taking after his father’s Italian ancestry… he always appears tan… summer and winter.

A few oddities about RedHeads!

  • Red hair is thicker than other colors, which compensates that they actually have less hair. The strands are thicker than other color shades, with an average of 90,000 strands… while blondes have over 110,000, and brunettes have about 140,000. I’d just like to know who counted those strands? I can attest to the fact that red hair is thicker… my daughters hair is very thick and takes much longer to dry than mine ever did… she’s always complained about the drying time with her hair, which pushed her to eventually cut her long beautiful hair… while it so saddened me to see that long hair gone, I do understand the maintenance time it takes.
  • Redheads do not grey. Well I’m not so sure on that, as my daughter does have a few grey hairs in her front hairline now. I read they may fade to a rose gold after the white, so in time we will see. I didn’t begin to grey until much later than she has and at age 68, I really don’t have much grey hair.
  • It’s said that blue-eyed redheads are super rare: I don’t know how true this is, but one of my redheaded granddaughters has blue eyes… although more a blue grey now; they were a more recognizable blue when she was a baby.
  • They say redheads are more sensitive to hot and cold pain. I’m not sure about the heat as my daughter would rather be cold than hot, and her youngest daughter, Grace, doesn’t seem to feel the cold, especially in her feet. Trying to get her to wear and keep on socks is an impossible job. You must check her every morning to see if she’s put on socks. I just told her the other day that I was going to glue socks to her feet. She just looked at me and giggled! McKinley, the oldest, likes to snuggle up under the covers… and always wears socks! The one time Grace complained she was cold was last year at the St. Patrick Day parade… I bet next year she’ll wear more socks as she still remembers exactly how cold she was!
  • Redheads are more likely to be left-handed: I can only compare my three, and none of them are left handed at this time. I do have one granddaughter who is left handed… my son’s daughter, and she’s very dark headed.

Redheads are more bullied than other colors and endure the slander of name calling like… carrot-top, strawberry shortcake, red.  In asking my daughter on that… “yes I was called all those names in school.” Does it make them stronger…. I feel my daughter is a very strong woman!

So where are the majority of redheads in today’s world located?

Scotland began a study entitled ScotlandsDNA…. mainly to count all of their country’s redheads. What a tall task to undertake, and unless it can be accomplished on a census, I’m not sure what their plan is; I suppose they could tally the birth records unless that’s considered an invasion of privacy. Now wouldn’t that be a big help in our genealogy research to have had those characteristics listed on earlier census; but again, it’s never too late to begin for our future genealogists… I vote to leave weight off though!

The ScotlandsDNA project is to mainly learn why the ‘redhead’ gene is so prevalent among native Scots, as they now believe that everyone who carries one of the 3 variants of the red-hair gene is a direct descendant of the first ever redhead….and how do they know who the first “ever” redhead actually is? I do believe my Bryan and McKinley lines come through Scotland and Ireland… so there are ties across the ocean to the red DNA.

While Scotland believes they have the highest ratio of redheads, Ireland also claims to have the highest per capita percentage of redheads in the world… claiming a 10 to 30 percent of their population, according to Eupedia… a site exploring European genetics and ancestry. From all I’ve read, both confusing and interesting, I feel they both are pretty much equal in claiming this “redhead” status!

Gillon family 2018

But what I do know… I have three redheads in my immediate family! In as I only raised one redhead… the trophy goes to my son-in-law Frank… he married my redhead and raises two redheaded daughters… his life is full of redheaded love with a couple small redheads that keep him on his toes! He’s the best son in law I could have asked for… I’m Thankful!

“Ruadh gu brath” is Gaelic for

Redheads Forever

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2020 AtoZ Thank You Reading

Continue reading 2020: April A to Z: Family Stories… click HERE
To read more Family Stories… click HERE

© 2020, copyright Jeanne Bryan Insalaco; all rights reserved

 

Posted in 2020: April A to Z: Family Stories, Daily Writings and funnies..., Husbands Family Stories: | 11 Comments

2020: C – April A to Z… Family Stories: Corner Markets, Pharmacies & Diners… and more!

2020: C – April A to Z… Family Stories

I’m back in 2020 for my fifth year of participating in the yearly April A to Z challenge… and as usual I racked my brain scribbling ideas on paper since the end of last April. It wasn’t until January, that the light bulb finally went off in scrolling through the 85+ of unfinished blog posts in my draft folder. Bingo… there was my A to Z topic…

Family Stories as told to me… mostly by my husband!

From the moment I married into this Italian family… I fell in love with their stories… their memories… and the family. My husband grew up in West Haven, Connecticut… where there was so much to enjoy as a young boy… especially a place known as Savin Rock… although long gone now. It somewhat resembled Coney Island… but was even larger when his parents, aunts and uncles grew up. They had stories… and I was always an eager listener whenever they told those stories…  remembering, and scribbling down to preserve, just as I did with the family recipes that had once only been in their heads. 2020 has became the year I’m telling many of those stories… along with my husband’s memories to preserve for the generations to come. Many of those who told me their stories, are no longer with us… and I hope to keep their memory alive in these stories… as they are now my family also… and I love them all!

My previous years of A to Z Challenges are:

Come sit a spell and enjoy!

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

Corner Markets, Pharmacies, Diners… and more!

Where I grew up in Perry, Georgia, I only remember a few grocery stores… no corner markets or pharmacies… and no diners! For some reason, you just don’t see diners in the South… seems like they are more a Northern thing… those silver streamlined icons with booths and if you’re lucky, a mini jukebox at your table. Years ago, they all had music at the table… but today, they are far and few in between. Anytime we pass one of those icons, it’s hard to refuse a stop in! Our neighborhoods were completely different in growing up… these memories are his… well most of them are!

I was lucky enough that when I married and came to West Haven, West End Market was still open… and had now turned itself from a corner market into more of a small grocery store; it was a family owned business, with the family still living upstairs. My husband worked at Armstrong Rubber… as did his father… both cashed their weekly paycheck there… and both bought the weekly meats there. I have fond memories of walking in through the back screen door… and I can still hear that slam the door made behind me; every butcher at the counter always smiled as you walked by. I can even visualize the many pieces of wood shavings trampled out from the back butchering room. Everyone had a smile… from the back to the front… they were happy to see you and always inquired about your family… as they knew all your family. They even made me feel as if I’d been coming there for more years than I had.

West End Market early pic

West End Market… in its early days.

West End butchers

The scene you saw walking in through the back screen door!

“My father bought his meats weekly at West End Market, on the corner of Sawmill and Elm Street – across from Armstrong Rubber. It was convenient for him and many others to shop there. He cashed his weekly paycheck there every Friday, along with picking up his meat order… left during the week. They were old-fashioned butchers who trimmed your meats to perfection… you paid a little more, but you got what you paid for, along with a friendly smile and chit-chat about life and the family.”

“You could buy almost everything you needed at West End Market. They had small sections of this and that scattered all over their store. It was mostly known for their meats… the best looking cuts of meat you’d ever see at a meat counter. West End Market wasn’t always across from Armstrong, it originally was in the old Underwater Scuba building on the corner of Kelsey and Main St.”

I shopped there after Steve and I married when we lived in West Haven – it was a friendly place. I often went on Friday to buy Steve his favorite chocolate pie in the tins that advertised “New England Table Talk Pies with flaky crust”… you paid a nickel deposit on the tin… because you were suppose to return for your deposit back; funny how we still have a couple of them hanging in the kitchen today. I even remember the wooden bar that the Anna used to pull your groceries down the “non-electric” belt.

Mom and Pop Grocery Markets

“Many of the “Mom and Pop” markets, as they’re often called, were only a storefront… a front built onto their home… with them often living upstairs over the market. They were the local neighborhood markets where you bought your daily necessities like Italian bread, cold cuts, milk, sometimes pizza.. and where your mother sent you to buy her cigarettes! Yes, that was the era where I, at ten year old, was sent to buy cigarettes! Every neighborhood had these markets… there was so many because often the wife was home with no car…it was the era of a one-family car.”

You lived in your neighborhood… everything was there you needed… often even a pharmacy or two. Now, all that is gone… for the most part. You also frequented the local family-owned hardware stores, but now they are all gone… only big box stores left. Byer’s Hardware on Campbell Avenue was the last one to close… my husbands favorite place! You never walked in a family owned hardware without finding what you needed… and you were always greeted… asking what could they do for you, and taking you directly to the item you wanted. Try and find someone to help you today in any store!

Mr. Byer’s knew where everything was… you only had to ask!

“Byer’s Hardware always had the look of an old-style hardware store even when it closed in its later years… it still had the worn wooden floor and tin pattern ceiling tiles from years ago. Mr. Byer’s oak roll-top desk, along with the original metal cash register also remained until they closed their doors around 2010.”

“I often went crabbing behind Painter Park in the running stream of water (Cove River) that runs through…  running out to Long Island Sound; we even caught crabs there. We bought our cheap bamboo fishing poles at West End Market – probably cost about $1.50 each… the butchers gave us meat and chicken scraps for bait. We tied the meat on a string and dragged it along the bottom… and as the crab followed, the other one scooped the net in and picked up the crab. I didn’t really like crabbing, and didn’t do it often as it was a slow process – I’d get bored. That same stream of water also ran near our house, and we could actually follow it all the way to Painter Park. We rode through Painter Park recently, but the stream isn’t as big as it was, and now looks to be more marshy than a stream.”

“York St. Market, on York St, was another corner store mama sent me if she needed something before my father came home. I didn’t mind walking anywhere as a young boy… it was fun going to the markets. After West End Market closed, it became my father’s go-to place in picking up a loaf of Italian bread or playing his numbers My father became hooked on playing the daily numbers after he won on the number 487. We didn’t even know he was playing… as it was so unlike him. I accidently learned when I was picking up my meat order at West End Market… and the cat was out of the bag! It didn’t take my mother long, after hearing… to ask for her cut!”

“My mother was known for saving cigarette butts around the house – on a ledge in the cellar – and always on a kitchen shelf. She wasn’t really hiding them from anyone, just saving a few butts… for when needed. Stores weren’t as close by… and she didn’t always have a car. The closest store was either York St. or West End Market. She wouldn’t walk, she would send me.”

“I could buy a pack of cigarettes from a vending machine as a kid – and no one even blinked an eye! All kids my age were sent to the store to buy cigarettes for their mother – that was the standard. The only place you’ll see a cigarette vending machine today is in the antique stores!”

“Phaff’s  Market  was on the corner of Elm and Washington, just up from my grandfather’s barber shop.  As many times as I walked by this store headed to the barber shop, I never remember going inside. My grandfather shopped there almost daily… Grandma would call him as to what she needed on his way home. It was usually milk and bread, even though milk was delivered daily, there never seemed to be enough. I always drank milk when I went there and I went there three or four times daily. When they had the farm, we lived right next door, but even when they moved to First Avenue, it was nothing for my mother to go there several times a day.”

“Another market, I think called Jerry’s Market Grocer, (191 Campbell Avenue) was where I often went with my father on Sunday’s to buy hard rolls. It was still open even after I married and we went there too, but now it’s a liquor store called the Wine Press. Stores weren’t open on Sundays when I grew up, there was a law called the “Blue Law”… which prohibited them from opening. Even after I married, they still were closed… so on Sunday, we’d drive to Crown Market in Westville to buy hard rolls and cold cuts for work.”

“Corner markets were scattered all over West Haven, but you only knew the ones in your neighborhood… the ones you could walk to!”

Besides the many diners located throughout West Haven, there was also several downtown. Only one, Jerri’s Diner on Campbell Avenue, remains today – and with the same name; after their remodel, they removed the famous Coca Cola clock above the door. Much of downtown West Haven now has foreign storefront names… it’s very sad to ride through the center of town while remembering what it once looked like… as Steve has described to me. Our favorite diner was always The Elm Diner, just next door to Armstrong. We began going there before our kids were born and went so often that they knew us, our children, and even “our order”… they never needed to come take our order. It was like family there… they watched our kids grow up and always called us by name. Later they moved from the shiny streamlined typical New England diner to a more restaurant look… but it’s still our favorite diner of choice.

“Another store on Campbell Avenue was Dannenburg’s… while it wasn’t a corner market, it was a store where my grandmother and mother often shopped. My grandmother bought clothes for her 7 children there – she charged and paid weekly, but she never told my grandfather… he was very proud and would never charge anything… he’d do without first. My mother also shopped and charged… buying mostly household things like pots and pans and curtains. There were no other places to shop… and no one had charge cards at that time.”

“Bell’s Department Store was located behind Railroad Salvage on Campbell Avenue. It was a store like Dannenberg’s on Campbell Avenue, but on the opposite side of town… further down toward Allingtown. It was located in a large older house that was once a brewery; my father told me that. There were many local breweries years ago in the New Haven area. You needed to drive down a dirt road, almost on the side of where Railroad Salvage sits now. Aunt Mary and cousin Pauline worked there as cashiers when it first opened. I remember standing in line with my mom on opening day.”

Silvers fountain

The soda fountain at Silver’s is what Steve remembers most… especially the nights after Boy Scouts… if he had a quarter! Sad for West Haven when Silver’s closed its doors. 

Silvers sepia

Silvers – the downtown corner pharmacy

“The big pharmacy downtown was Silver’s… and it was where I went on Thursday nights after Boy Scouts. My scout meeting was on the second floor of the American Legion Hall on Main St… Troup No. 716; later it was shortened to Troup 16. My friend Ralph and I went there after scouts… and I usually had a black & white for 10-cents, or if I was feeling rich, I had a sundae for 25-cents. But first things first… the first thing I did when entering Silver’s was to check the five wooden phone booths for extra change… that often determined what I ordered.”

“Kelsey’s Pharmacy was the pharmacy we often used… as it was the closest to us… just down from West End Market. It was another family-owned business where you walked in, and everyone knew you.” West Haven was covered with corner markets and pharmacies in almost every neighborhood… way too many to even mention… these were the ones that my husband grew up with.”

2020 AtoZ Thank You Reading

Continue reading 2020: April A to Z: Family Stories… click HERE
To read more Family Stories… click HERE

© 2020, copyright Jeanne Bryan Insalaco; all rights reserved

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2020: B – April A to Z… Family Stories: Buddy’s Barber Shop

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2020: B – April A to Z… Family Stories I’m back in 2020 for my fifth year of participating in the yearly April A to Z challenge… and as usual I racked my brain scribbling ideas on paper since the … Continue reading

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2020: A – April A to Z… Family Stories: All The Family Cars… and more

2020: A – April A to Z

I’m back in 2020 for my fifth year of participating in the yearly April A to Z challenge… and as usual I racked my brain scribbling ideas on paper since the end of last April. It wasn’t until January, that the light bulb finally went off in scrolling through the 85+ of unfinished blog posts in my draft folder. Bingo… there was my A to Z topic…

Family Stories as told to me… mostly by my husband!

From the moment I married into this Italian family… I fell in love with their stories… their memories… and the family. My husband grew up in West Haven, Connecticut… where there was so much to enjoy as a young boy… especially a place known as Savin Rock… although long gone now. It somewhat resembled Coney Island… but was even larger when his parents, aunts and uncles grew up. They had stories… and I was always an eager listener whenever they told those stories…  remembering, and scribbling down to preserve, just as I did with the family recipes that had once only been in their heads. 2020 has became the year I’m telling many of those stories… along with my husband’s memories to preserve for the generations to come. Many of those who told me their stories, are no longer with us… and I hope to keep their memory alive in these stories… as they are now my family also… and I love them all!

My previous years of A to Z Challenges are:

Come sit a spell and enjoy!

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

IMG_3226 (2)FIX

Aunt Catherine (Cambino/Donahue) standing in front of my father’s 1956 red and white Oldsmobile Rocket 88… the house my father built is above

All The Family Cars

“I remember making car models from probably as young as five years old… building both cars and planes, but I liked building planes the best. My work area for building models was always in our cellar… placing a piece of plywood on top of my father’s sawhorses for a table. I often built several models at a time… lining them up for show as I finished. All my spare parts went into piles… often looking more like a junkyard piled on the side. Most of my cars were bought from department stores on the Boston Post Road like Barkers or Tops… if I went to Railroad Salvage with my parents, I bought some there also. Railroad Salvage wasn’t always in West Haven – it originally was on the Boston Post Road where Comp USA once was in Orange. After I married, I built a large model of a B-52 – the type plane I was crew-chief on in the Air Force. It hung in my son’s room for a long time until we threw it out. Even today, I still get the bug to build a car or two… mostly in the winter.”

“My father bought his first ‘new” car in 1956 when we lived on Sawmill Road – it was a red and white Oldsmobile Rocket 88.  It was bought on Whalley Avenue in New Haven… which at one time, was row city for car dealerships. He bought a two-door, as they were less expensive than four-door cars at that time… later on, no one even wanted two doors, everyone bought four doors. Dad never went to buy a car alone… always taking his brother -in-law Gene Cavallaro, who worked at Marshall’s garage; my father would spend weeks looking for just the right car. He paid $2,360.00 dollars for that first new car.”

We always knew when my father was coming home in that 1956 red and white Oldsmobile Rocket 88 car… lines would begin rolling on our TV set – and the closer he got to the house, the stronger the lines were. I don’t know why that car affected our antenna signal, but it did! It even affected the neighbors TV’s as well. A friend of mine down the street always said he also knew when my father was nearby –  as lines rolled on his TV set too.

rocket carFIX A08741

My brother and I sitting on my father’s 1956 Oldsmobile Rocket 88!

cars bought BillsFIX

Dad kept all his receipts for cars bought!

My father in law often talked with me… telling me stories… “I bought my first car when I turned 16… it was a ’32 Chevy…. bought with the money I’d saved while working at Bogen’s Grocery Store. I was eight years old and in the third grade… and continued working there until I was around seventeen; we lived on Oak Avenue, right next to the grocery store. I stocked shelves and delivered groceries to many families in the area… often making my deliveries by foot and bicycle, and later after buying my car… I delivered with it. Most families tipped from five to fifteen cents for the delivery of their groceries. I usually made about thirty cents a day and about $3.00 a week in tips.” (Brainards Plumbing Inc. now occupies the old Bogen’s grocery store building on Oak Avenue)

When I asked about the cars he’d owned, dad said… “I bought a ‘38 Oldsmobile car before entering the service. While I was gone, it was stored on jacks in the garage at my home on Kneen St… next to my brother Tony’s 1936 Oldsmobile, also on jacks.” (Throughout dad’s life, he always had a love for Oldsmobile cars – almost every car he bought afterward, from that first ‘38, was an Oldsmobile.)

By the time he bought his next car, he couldn’t afford another Oldsmobile… they had become a more expensive car!

“On March 16, 1966 my father bought a black Chevrolet Malibu from Page Motor Co., in Milford… after many weeks of looking. He went out night after night, with brother-in-law, Gene Cavallaro, to look at new cars before finally deciding on this one. Later in 1981, he bought his last “new” car… a 1981 “jade green” Supreme Cutlass Oldsmobile from Volvo City, Milford… that new car cost $9,352.50. Other used cars along the way included a 1962 red Pontiac Tempest, which he later sold to me for one dollar; I was working at Armstrong, married, and needing another car. Later he bought a 1963 tan Chevrolet Corvair, and in 1991 he bought his last used car, a ‘91 white Oldsmobile Cutlass Supreme. He never lost his love for Oldsmobile cars!”

Steves first car boughtFIX

“Immediately after turning sixteen, I got my license, and began working… and soon bought my first car – a 1961 blue Plymouth Valiant. It didn’t have much in it… it was three shifts and a radio – not what I wanted, but all I could afford at the time. My father found it for me at The Annex in East Haven for $250.00 – not much money by today’s standards, but that was a lot of money for me back then. My dream car was always a powder blue ‘66 Chevelle Super-Sport… and still is my dream car. Annex Used Cars remained in business selling cars until 2006.” (Upon going through my father in law’s paperwork after his death (2000), I found this original bill of sale for Steve’s Valiant – Dad didn’t throw anything out!)

Steves Valiant

Steve’s blue Valiant parked behind his brother

After buying a car, I often picked up my best friend, Louie Albarella, for school every morning – mainly because his mother cooked me anything I wanted for breakfast. Even though I had eaten cereal at home… I never turned down a second breakfast of eggs, pancakes, waffles – whatever she was cooking. It was like going to a diner – just put your order in… and she’d cook it.

Freddie Hudson HornetFIX

One of many of Freddie’s so-loved Hudson cars.

“At times, the backyard at my grandfather’s farm looked more like a junk yard with all the cars Freddie kept for parts. That was another favorite playing area of mine – crawling in and out of the old cars or just taking a sledge hammer and pounding on them. Freddie seemed to have bought a car every year, not new but used; I remember him telling his brother Johnny “we should keep those cars, they’re going to be worth money one day”… Johnny laughed, saying “ah they’re junk, get rid of them.” I sure wish we kept some of Freddie’s prized cars – especially his Hudson Hornets. I’ll never forget his prized ‘59 black Chevy Impala… he smashed both front fenders one night going through a roadblock. I don’t think it was a Police blockade… but the stories I heard were all second hand. The Chevy wasn’t on the road for awhile, until he repaired the fenders… he kept it hidden inside the garage. Freddie did all the body work himself on his cars, and was a regular fixture at the local junk yards,,, scrounging for parts needed; the only thing he didn’t do was paint them. “

My grandfather built his chicken house using the old roll-up windows from the junked cars Freddie brought to the farm. When I think back now – how ingenious it was of him in using the roll-up windows from the junked cars as an actual window in the coop.

“I was about 11 years old when Johnny came home from the Army, and the first thing he did was buy a Lincoln – he always loved Lincolns! I also remember when someone stole that car and posted a “For Sale” sign on it. Johnny always left the keys in his cars… he did get the car back though; he found it on the Post Road when he went looking for it.”

“I cracked my head on the dash of Johnny’s Lincoln… my mother was driving. I was about four or five years old… standing on the front seat… as all kids did back then. My car seat was her arm… coming out when needed to hold me back. She was driving on Spring St., headed toward the Boulevard when someone cut in front of her. I’m told I cracked his window! That seemed to be the second time I hit my head and did damage… I also was told I chipped grandma’s porcelain stove at the farm when I was about three years old… how did a three year old do that?”

johnny in 5

Uncle Johnny’s favorite car!

“Johnny let me drive all his cars when I turned fourteen and began working with him on the weekend. He’d say, “you want get into any trouble if you’re pulled over because I know all the West Haven cops and most of the New Haven ones too… don’t worry about it, I’ll take care of everything”… and he always did.

Johnny loved cars… and often let me drive his black Pontiac Bonneville... that was the best car ever! I felt cool whenever I was with him – it was like being with a celebrity! Whenever he entered a room, he was immediately acknowledged… being well-known wherever he went.

Aunt Nancy (Cavallaro) remembers: “We did a lot of crazy things as kids growing up. My brother, Johnny, had a big black Lincoln car. I remember riding in it during a snowstorm… going up and down big hills, sliding back and forth – and that was all on a quarters worth of gas – money was short!”

“Frankie bought a brand new 1956 Ford Fairlane Skyliner – the first “new” car he ever bought. It was black on the outside and yellow inside… and it was a beauty! Someone hit him head-on in a snowstorm one day, while Dolly and I were in the backseat… we hit our heads on the back of the front seat. He later sold this car while building his house in Branford.”

Frankie and sunlinerFIX

Uncle Frankie’s first new car… a 1956 Ford Fairlane Skyliner… a yellow and black convertible. What a beauty of a car! Grandpa Joe looks like he was giving it the once-over!

Frankie with car double exposure

Classic double exposure of Uncle Frankie with his Cadillac!

“I remember Uncle Jimmy (Donahue) mostly buying Pontiac’s, but he did buy an Oldsmobile once… because he liked my father’s Oldsmobile Rocket 88; the following year after daddy bought the Rocket, Uncle Jimmy bought a new one just like it.”

donahue 1957 oldsmobile

Aunt Catherine with daughter Diane… Uncle Jimmy’s (Donahue) Oldsmobile he bought like my father’s Rocket 88.

Celia: “I remember my father having an older car with a rumble seat and I loved riding in it when he took us to Savin Rock; he often took us on Sunday afternoons for ice cream. Mama enjoyed sitting in the car while listening to the laugh of the “laughing lady” at the Death Valley attraction. I remember crying whenever my father tried to make me ride the “flying horses” on the carousel. Why I was afraid, I don’t know, but I’d cry whenever they tried to  make me climb up on those painted horses that went up and down. I wonder where they all are today, probably worth a lot of money now.”

cars on farmFix

We believe the car on the left belonged to Joe Cambino… my husband’s grandfather… possibly the 1936 Buick.

Aunt Nancy: “The earliest car I remember of my father’s was a 1936 green Buick… he took us to Savin Rock in that car. Mama loved to go to Savin Rock to hear the “laughing lady.” She would laugh along as she listened to her laugh continuously; Daddy would buy us an ice cream cone while she waited in the car.

dolly in car 1

Even Aunt Dolly (Cambino-Alphonso) was caught up in racing cars… entering a demolition derby at West Haven Speedway.

2020 AtoZ Thank You Reading

Continue reading 2020: April A to Z: Family Stories… click HERE
To read more Family Stories… click HERE

© 2020, copyright Jeanne Bryan Insalaco; all rights reserved

 

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15 Days… Stop the Spread: Life has Changed… Day 15

15 Days… Stop the Spread: Life has Changed… Day 15

trump liberty

The Statue of Liberty gives me hope!

President Trump has said from the very beginning… “we need to close our borders, we need to bring our businesses home, we need to become less dependent on other countries to survive, and we need to take care of America first!” This virus outbreak has surely made me think that we definitely do!

Daily News and Stats……..

  • World Wide Confirmed cases – 784,716
  • World Wide Deaths – 37,639
  • United States Confirmed cases – 164,248
  • United States Deaths – 3,164
  • The U.S.N. Comfort ship sailed into New York Harbor today
  • Makeshift hospital tent set up in Central Park

Comfort

The U.S.N. Comfort sails into the New York Harbor and gives me hope… hope that we will win this fight! This ship looks so impressive on the screen… and there to help fight the war on the COVID-19 virus!

Day 15 is finally here… and now we begin to gear up once again… to continue “Stopping The Spread” for the month of April. What happens after this… no one really has an answer… but it’s what we all want to know! They say in the next two weeks, New York will peak… and let’s hope that they will begin to show the flattening curve on the graphs showing daily.

Social distancing is the word we hear every day… whoever heard this word before? Socializing is what we do on a daily basis… socializing at work… socializing in shopping… socializing at home with family and friends. Now we don’t socialize with anyone except on-line. Many are socializing through Zoom or Skype video chats… I’m readling online that friends are having “happy hour” chats… that would mean I would have to get out of my pj’s. I’ve become a less social person upon retirement… maybe I’ve always been somewhat of a loner, so it doesn’t seem to bother me as much to stay home. It does bother me that I feel scared to go to the stores… and many you can’t even go to.

My grandchildren are becoming more accustomed to their Google classrooms every day. They have daily Zoom chats with their teachers and often see their classmates now only on their screens. I don’t think the elementary children are as affected as maybe the teenagers are… they are more controllable in where they go or do. The teenagers have a mind of their own… thinking, like we all did… that they know it all. They aren’t all keeping their distance from what I’m seeing of photos on Facebook. I hope our youth will pay more attention as we go into being guaranteed for the month of April. We need to heed the socializing aspect of life now… so we can all come out soon of our “time outs!

Today is the first day since 1941 when auto manufacturers are not building cars on their assembly lines. They have all switched to building what’s needed to fight the war on the Coronavirus… we are now our parents generation in being part of a fight… a fight that will be in our grandchildren’s history books.

At times I hate to even watch the news today… even though I feel compelled to watch daily… I’m so tired of the name calling and finger pointing. At this time of pandemic… all our political parties can’t seem to work together? Every day, I’m waiting to hear the word “impeach” come up again… especially after someone referred to our President as “fiddling” around! It seems some must not be taking this fight against the virus as being real… but instead are using it as a political weapon!

To everyone who has take the time to stop and read my daily posts and leave comments… I truly Thank You for your time. I pray everyone is safe and healthy and will continue to be so as we hunker down for the month of April. Easter will be very quiet this year as we all celebrate by ourselves… celebrating that we are home and still healthy. I will continue writing during April on my planned A to Z April Blog Challenge. It will be a more upbeat than my 15 day “Stop the Spread“… so please stop by and enjoy the family stories I’ve written from my husband’s memories and the many family stories I’ve heard when I married into his family.

Click Here to read 2020: A to Z April Challenge… Family Stories

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To read more 15 Days Stop the Spread: Life has Changed… click HERE.
© 2020, copyright Jeanne Bryan Insalaco; all rights reserved

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