31 Aug 2015 – Love Can Conquer All!

We celebrated my Mom’s birthday on 29 Aug 2015.  It was one of the most emotional, precious and memorable experiences I have ever had in my entire life!  Our family is truly blessed!  We all met in Tampa, FL 27-30 Aug 2015, stayed at a hotel in Ybor, the historic district of Tampa, and celebrated my Mom’s birthday on Saturday night.

Our plans for the weekend were to enjoy our family, reconnect, reminisce and celebrate Alice’s birthday.  We had five generations represented in person, and with our stories, we had up to eight generations!  It was truly amazing!  We had a nice turnout, from our newest member that is 11 weeks old (Andrea Jenea or AJ) to our oldest member, Inell who is 82 years old!  We used to have family reunions every other year, but with all the competing priorities in our lives, we stopped having them years ago.  In the past, when we got together, we were the kids in my generation, and now most of us are the grandparents!

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30 Aug 2015 – Las Vegas, Baby!

Las Vegas is one of our favorite places to vacation!  We have stayed at the Luxor, Caesar’s Palace, and the Stratosphere.  You would be surprised that our favorite place to stay was the Stratosphere!  When you think about it, you don’t spend a lot of time at the hotel.  You must get out on the strip and enjoy the town!

Concerts, food, skydiving, shopping, casinos, the canal shops at the Venetian, the Eiffel Tower, the Luxor Museum – so little time, but so much to do!  We have to go back because we did not tour the Grand Canyon or the Hoover Damn.



Jasmine and Deb in front of Caesar’s Palace

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26 Aug 2015 – Sfinge (St. Joseph’s Day)

  • 2 cups water
  • 5 tbsp butter
  • 2 tbsp sugar
  • pinch of salt
  • 2 tsp baking powder
  • 2 cups flour
  • 8 large eggs
  • 2 tsp vanilla extract
  • 2 tsp whiskey
  • Shortening or vegetable oil for frying
  • Combine, water, butter, sugar, and salt in a large saucepan and bring to a boil.
  • Add the baking powder and flour all at once and stir until the mixture comes away from the side of the pan.
  • Remove the pan from the heat and allow it to cool for 2 min. or until the mixture is no longer steaming.
  • Add the eggs one at a time until they are incorporated.  Add the vanilla and whiskey last blending them into the mixture.
  • Heat 2-3 inches of oil to 375 degrees in deep fryer or large shallow pan.
  • Drop batter into the oil 1 tsp. at a time, fry until golden brown. Drain on paper towels.
  • You may dust them with powdered sugar or drizzle with honey.
Note: Sfinge will flip themselves over again and again until they are almost done.  No need to touch them until the end when they won’t turn over anymore. Do one last flip with a spoon before removing them.

23 Aug 2015 – Cairo, Egypt

While working for the Army, I had the opportunity to travel to Cairo, Egypt for business!  How often does that happen?  For a civilian, not often!  It was a memorable experience for me.  It’s like it was a few years ago.

During our free time, we visited the pyramids, toured the Egyptian Museum in Cairo, and did a dinner cruise up the Nile River.  I would love to visit Cairo again!

Debra Saletta in front of Great Sphinx of Giza with the Giza Necropolis in the background

Debra with Great Sphinx of Giza and the Giza Necropolis in the background

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22 Aug 2015 – Manicotti

  • Manicotti shell ingredients:
    • Six eggs
    • 1 1/2 cups water
    • 1 1/2 cups of flour
    • pinch of salt
  • Filling ingredients:
    • 1 1/2 lbs of Ricotta cheese
    • 1 Eggs
    • Fresh mint
    • Romano cheese
  • Shell Instructions:
    • Mix eggs, water, and flour to make a batter ( like pancakes)
    • Heat a pancake griddle to 400 degrees or lower. When a splash of water sizzles it is ready.
    • Pour batter depending on how big you want them. I use a tablespoon; however, you can make them any size you want. When the edges start to cook flip them over.  By the time you have them all flipped remove them (starting with the first one you flipped) and place on wax paper to cool.  Continue until all the batter is gone.
  • Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
  • Filling Instructions:
    • Fill with a mixture of Ricotta cheese, eggs, and fresh mint, and sprinkle in some Romano grated cheese. Start with 1 1/2 lbs of the Ricotta and add an egg to each 1 1/2 lbs.  You can adjust this depending on how many you wish to make.
    • Place sauce on the bottom of a casserole dish and place the Manicotti on top then cover with more sauce and grated cheese.  Bake at 350 degrees until the sauce bubbles.  Remove and serve.
  • Serves approximately 12

21 Aug 2015 – I Couldn’t Wait To Have A Job

This event takes place in Mobile, AL around 1948.  Alice (my mother) was 13 years old, and Eva Jasper (my grandmother – Mom’s side) was 51 years old.  Eva worked for a white family as a house keeper.  During this time, Jim Crow laws were still in effect and the civil rights movement was not officially active (check out the history section at the end of this post).  In Mobile, Negroes worked low paying jobs, and one of the primary sources of income for Negro women was cleaning the house and keeping the children of white people.

On this day, Alice went to visit her grandmother.  However, this day was different because when she arrived at Eva’s house, she had a bandana tied around her head.  Alice asked, “Momma Eva, what’s wrong?”

Eva responded with her head hung low, “I’ve got a real bad headache.  This bandana will help it go away.  Only problem is I have to go to work today.”  Without hesitation, Alice said, “What if I go for you today?  I don’t mind!”

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19 Aug 2015 – Suggested Interview Questions

When I started this journey, “Between The Dashes”, I struggled with how to gather short stories to actually better understand my family history.  One way to do this is to interview living relatives.  I quickly found out that my Mom prefers oral interviews (versus video).   In this post, I will share the 50 interview questions, and periodically share her answers in future posts.

I researched several sites and found a good, comprehensive list of questions here at Fifty Questions for Family History Interviews  (repeated below):

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18 Aug 2015 – Introducing My Father’s Side of the Family

My father’s side of the family was very colorful – to say the least!  There was always excitement, but not the kind that my mother’s side of the family appreciated.   🙂

I remember all of my uncles very well.  In fact, along with my father, they were the ones that created all the excitement!  More on that later.  Let me tell you about them.

My grandmother, Rosie Lee Kennedy, was born in 1912 to Winslow Kennedy (age 28) and Onnie Kennedy (age 33 – still researching maiden name) in Marengo County, AL.  Rosie was a single parent with four boys – Cecil was born on 26 Jun 1931, Roland on 25 May 1932 (my father), Roosevelt on 3 Sep 1934, and Tonzie (we called him Charlie) on 18 Aug 1935.  In the 1930 census, Rosie and her children lived with Winslow and Onnie; however, by the 1940 census, all four sons were living with their grandparents, but Rosie was not.  I have not found Rosie in the 1940 census yet.

In the 1950s when my father was in high school, Rosie asked Roland to join the Army to help pay for bills.  As you know, the money my father sent to his mother was used to get his brothers out of jail on various occasions.  Rosie probably asked this of my father because her oldest son Cecil was always in trouble and not so dependable.

I was six years old when my family moved to Chicago.  Every summer we visited Rosie.  She was an excellent cook!  I remember eating the best homemade biscuits, fried corn, fried okra with tomatoes, collard greens, cakes, etc.  All the vegetables were fresh, not frozen.  Unfortunately, I have no recipes, and neither does my mother.  So sad.

The chicken and other meats were fresh as well.  One visit, we went to my grandfather Tonzie’s house for dinner.  At this time, Rosie and Tonzie were divorced (or separated).  There was a big meal prepared for us to include fried chicken.

The chicken that was on the table, started out his day running on the farm.  Someone grabbed it, rung his neck, plucked the feathers, and fried him up.  Fresh, fried chicken looks good but tastes nothing like what we are used to today.  That evening, I could not eat my chicken – it was just too fresh!

On one occasion while visiting Rosie, the brothers were out having fun.  When they returned, Charlie got out of the car, and slammed the door too hard.  It was Roland’s car, so he started screaming at Charlie who pulled out a knife and threatened to cut Roland.  Roosevelt joined the fight by threatening to shoot one of them with his gun, and Cecil was too drunk to care.  Needless to say, all four brothers were drunk!  Rosie, Onnie, my sisters and I were inside the house, peeking out the front room window.  The adrenalin was racing through my body because if shots were fired, I was afraid they might find us.  I was scared to look, but very interested in the excitement.

A variation of this scene was repeated every summer we visited!  Regardless of their actions, I loved each one of them!  The excitement left me with stories to tell my friends about how I survived my summer vacation!

A picture of Rosie is located below.  She is seated on the sofa (next to the lamp) near my sister Andrea.  My brother Roland is also in the picture.


Picture taken September 1976. Front to back/left to right - Roland, Anrea and Rosie Kennedy.

Picture taken September 1976.  Front to back/left to right – Roland, Andrea and Rosie Kennedy.


Between The Dashes

17 Aug 2015 – Granddaughter Visit – Summer 2015

I enjoy being a grandmother!  It’s especially nice when my granddaughter (Taylor) can spend time with her great-grandmother (Alice) as well.  Taylor is actually closer to Alice than she is to me.  Alice kept her, while her mother worked, until she was 5 years old.

We always enjoy Taylor’s summer visits.  The time flies by.  This summer, Taylor attended basketball camp, various library programs, movies, nature walks, photography opportunities, new restaurants, and travel.  See some highlights below:

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Granddaughter (back row in pink top) at basketball camp


Granddaughter with SWAT Team member

Taylor Decorated These Cupcakes!

Taylor Decorated These Cupcakes at the Library!  She ate them on the way home!


Granddaughter at Movies with the family

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Granddaughter on nature walk – getting our photography groove on!



Nature shot near the Potomac

Taylor, looking forward to your visit next summer!