I first shared these photographs 5 years ago. Time to bring it back.
Reading about the present teacher’s sick out and the student walkouts in Detroit reminded me of this boycott of Northwestern High School in 1962. I was a junior and remember picketing in the cold. Several students from our church Youth Fellowship came and picketed with us even though they were students at Cass. Most of my classmates went to school that day, I particularly remember one of my friends said she was not going to stay home because she didn’t want to miss a day at school. Sometime later students from Northwestern were bused out to the white schools with vacant seats.
Click any of the images to enlarge for reading.
Tulani, Ayanna and James , soon after we started homeschooling. Tulani was 11, Ayanna was 13 and James was 7 when we began. This is the story as I wrote it for a newsletter I once published. Click on the pages below to enlarge.
I remember that my grandmother did not think much of Idlewild vacations when her children were growing up and they rented places because she still had to do all the cooking, washing and other chores she did at home, but without the familiar home tools. Everybody else loved it and they probably went out on the water in a row boat and went swimming and fishing and visiting friends. Maybe the older ones went to dances.
While looking through old copies of The Illustrated News for something completely unrelated, I came across this advertisment for Vicki’s Bar-B-Que. I noticed the oven and immediately thought of the Sepia Saturday prompt for this week. I decided to google Vicki’s and see if there were any photographs or other ads from the past. Imagine my surprise when I found that the restaurant is still operating and that the same family still owns it!
Although I do not remember ever eating at Vicki’s or tasting their sauce, I was able to find a family member who has been to the restaurant recently and she said “Yes. Vicki’s is still there. Some people love it! I’m not a fan but I’ve only been there once. Maybe it was a bad day. They have the kind of bbq that is grilled meat and then you dip it on the sauce instead of grilling and caramelizing the sauce while grilling.“
You can see an interview with the present owner, the oldest son of the original family, and photos of the food and building, plus reviews of the present food and service at this link Vicki’s Yelp Page. The link to the video is just under the photos of the restaurant at the top of the page.
It was the summer of 1953. My sister and I stood on my uncle Louis Cleage’s dock in front of his cottage in Idlewild, Michigan holding our dolls. The summer of 1953 my mother, sister and I stayed with her parents on the East side while my father stayed with his parents on Atkinson. We were between houses as a Church fight had resulted in us having to vacate the parsonage. We moved to the new parsonage at 2254 Chicago at the end of the summer.
I remember riding on the floor of my grandparent’s car on the way there, my grandmother reading to us by kerosene lamp during a storm that put the electricity out, fishing off of the dock, the catfish that lived underneath it and being out of the city for an extended time for the first time in my life.
Taken at Old Plank about 1963. Me with my cousins, Blair, Jan and Dale. They seem to be trying to pose for the photographer while I am about to cause trouble with that ball. I was a senior at Northwestern High School in Detroit. Old Plank was 30 minutes outside of Detroit near Wixom. We had 2 acres with a big house and although there was talk of moving there, we didn’t. We went for weekends to get out of the city until 1967, after the riot when the printing business lost the businesses that burned or left. At the same time, a man bought the barn and let his chickens and hogs run lose. Before he and Henry came to blows, they sold him the house.
There were two more photographs taken that same day. I think they were taken in the order shown below. My uncle Henry took the photos and developed them at the print shop that he and Hugh ran at the time – Cleage Printers.
This store was located some blocks from our house on Oregon on Tireman Ave. Sometimes my mother called and ordered the food and the delivery guy brought it to the house. This day we went there in person and there is my mother in the glasses and me in a scarf with the grocery bag coming behind her. Henry must have been there to take the photograph. There is that strange grassy stuff at the top of the picture. It seems to be on a bunch of photos, maybe they were all taken on the same roll.
My most memorial story concerning this store is the time my mother, my sister and I were on the way to the store. My sister and I were going in while my mother waited in the car and she was telling us what to get. One item was ground round and she was explaining the difference between hamburger (don’t get it!) and ground round (do get it!) when I heard my voice saying, “ok, ok. We’ll get ground round.” There was silence for a moment and then she said get out, get the groceries and walk home. That was about 5 blocks, with heavy paper bags of groceries. We made it. Probably she had little to say to us when we finally did get home with the ground round and the rest of the groceries.
I was going to put a photo of the store as it is now but that area on goggle maps was vacant lots covered in cracked asphalt or brush. I can’t even tell where it was. You can read more about the house we lived in during this time and my life there in O is for Oregon.
I used all my old Christmas tree with child photos in past posts. We do not seem to have taken many pictures of children on Christmas for some reason, although there are plenty of pictures of older people and Christmas trees. Maybe the photographers were too involved in the moment.
The Black Messiah was published in 1968. It was taken from sermons that my father made about black power and the black Jesus. I have all of those sermons am thinking about putting them online in the coming year.
I remember taking my copy with me when I went on my cross country bus/train/plane trip after graduating from Wayne State University. At the train station in San Francisco, as I waited to catch a train to D.C., a young white guy came up and started talking to me. He asked about the book but mainly he wanted to talk about waiting for his girl friend (or a woman he hoped would be his girl friend) coming in on the next train.
I also remember lending my mother-in-law my copy when she was visiting us in Simpson County, Mississippi. She didn’t finish reading it before she was scheduled to take a flight back to St. Louis. She carefully covered the book with a brown paper bag cover because she didn’t want anybody to see the cover.
Below, Rev. Albert B. Cleage, Jr., interviewed by Scott Morrison, Mutual News (New York: Radio Station WOR-AM, November 1968)