Carrying The Damsel – 1939

carrying_girlLast week while looking for a photograph of a fisherman for Sepia Saturday, I came across this photograph of a man carrying a woman on a sandbar in the river or creek that ran through the Meadows.   I talked about the Meadows in last weeks Sepia Saturday post Hugh Fishing At the Meadows.

carry girl on pathI don’t know who the couple is but I have put out a call and will post the information if/when I get it.  Here is a photo of the same couple walking through the Meadows.

girl & guy against sky

And here is a photograph of them walking on a ridge, the sky behind, the future before, and now so very far in the past.


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Hugh Fishing At the Meadows

Route from Capac to Detroit.

Route from Capac to Detroit.

I have used some of this information before but the photographs are all first timers.

These photographs were taken at “The Meadows” near Capac, St Clair County, Michigan around 1939.

My Aunt Gladys remembers that her father Dr. Albert B. Cleage Sr  and a bunch of fellow doctors bought it. It was to be a place where everyone could get away and the kids could meet and play… big house on the property with a porch that wrapped around 2/3 of the house…  dances on the porches… near Capac Michigan… they sold it later. She kind of remembers parties on the porch… a getaway other than the Boule or Idlewild … her brothers and their friends spending a couple weeks at the meadows during the summer and brother Louis packing the provisions.

Hugh at meadows

“Hugh at Meadows” fishing with a homemade stick pole.  I wonder if he caught the fish on the string below with that pole.

Hugh fish meadows 7:1939

This photograph of Hugh was also taken at the Meadows in July 1939.

Some entries about the Meadows from Hugh’s brother Henry’s diary, several years earlier in 1936.

August 29         Meadows
Arrived at meadows at about 7:30 (getting dark) Had seen Velma before I left – I have her ring now - after had gotten our trunk in – we went down to creek – other’s brought some wood up and started a fire – I stayed down watching the creek and the farm – as it was dark they worried and came and got me.

August 30        Meadows
Sunday Richard’s club gave a picnic – we played ball off and on all day.  Daddy came out and brought Bobby – wrote two letters – Velma and Carolyn.  Bobby deliver them.

Last night when the others were in bed Morrow, George, Paul, Hugh and I sat around camp fire and sang – Nice but a little chilly  (Benard’s parents came out)

Henry Cleage at the Meadows in July 1939.

Henry Cleage at the Meadows in July 1939.

August 31       Meadows
After breakfast some of us went swimming – after that we all worked on a raft till dinner – chopped heavy logs from a fallen tree – tied together with grape vines and barrel wire – after dinner went & christened it “Frogy Bottom” & launched it – it immediately sank – logs were too heavy – were we mortified – the same group sat around the campfire again sang after dark.

September 1     Meadows
“Gee! but I’m blue, and so lonely, I don’t know what to do, but dream of you!” (a song I like to sing out here)

Boys are playing horse shoes just after dinner – we fished and swam today – George caught a pretty large bass and I, trying to throw him across river to Morocco – threw him in.

I like to get on the hill and look down towards the creek in the evening and watch –  The other nite I was there, Morocco, George, Hugh and Benard were chopping wood.  Louis and Paul were sitting further down the hill with their arms full of wood – It was almost nite – The faint light from the west gave the scene a surreal quality – The grass uneven, the rolling land, the giant trees, the creek, all outlined in this light and the boys too reminded me of an illustration in the book “Tom Browns School Days.”


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Home Coming Banquet -1966

Part of the crowd at the Banquet.

Part of the crowd at the Banquet.

October is Home Coming Month for the church I grew up in.  At the time of this banquet on October 9, 1966, the church was known as Central United Church of Christ. Later it became the Shrine of the Black Madonna. Looking over the room, I can’t find myself. I was a junior at Wayne State University and lived at home so I don’t know why I wasn’t there.  Maybe I just made myself scarce during picture making.  Or maybe I had a lot of homework due the following Monday and pleaded out. I don’t remember ever helping serve or dish up the food.  Now that I think of it though, I don’t see my cousin Jan either. Where were we?  My sister Pearl was a freshman at Howard in DC so that explains her absence.  But enough rambling.

The Banquet is taking place in the Fellowship Hall immediately after the morning service. Services started at 11:30AM.  My father preached for about an hour so 1 really would be right after the service. The sermon that week was a part of a Series that extended over several weeks. Women are circulating around bringing plates to the table.  Unfortunately there is no clock showing in these photos, so we don’t know what time it was.

By banquet time the next year, after the 1967 Detroit Riot, there would be afro hair styles here and there. This year there are quite a few hats, everybody still in their Sunday best, eating and waiting.  There are real plates and glasses and silverware being used. I wonder if there was a dishwasher in the kitchen or if after waiting table the women washed all those dishes by hand.


I see my mother, Doris Graham Cleage (with the white blouse) and aunt Gladys Cleage Evans (sleeveless dark top) over at the window to pick up plates to serve the waiting crowd.

My uncles Henry and Winslow with my little Grandmother Cleage in the hat and my Aunt Anna.

My uncles Henry and Winslow with my little Grandmother Cleage in the hat and my Aunt Anna.

bulletin sunday 1966

Church Bulletin

bulletin oct homecoming 1966 cover

My father's Sermon Notes.

My father’s Sermon Notes for that Sunday morning.

Annabell Washington 1966

Ms Annabell Washington serving plates. She was one of the advisors for the youth fellowship. She later retired to Tybee Island, off of Georgia and became an artist, a painter.

grace & Jimmy boggs 1966

Grace and Jimmy Boggs chatting with fellow diners while they all wait to be served.

Ed Vaughn, founder of Vaughn's Books.  Sitting a few seats away on the left is Arthur Smith who later took an African name, but I can't remember it right now.

Ed Vaughn, founder of Vaughn’s Books. Sitting a few seats away on the left is Arthur Smith who later took an African name, but I can’t remember it right now.  I wonder if the people at this end of the table had been waiting a long time for their food.


homecoming menu 1967

I do not have the menu for the 1966 Banquet but it was probably similar to this one from 1967, except I think they had chicken.

Church dinner in the Fellowship Hall.

At the far end of this table was my family – on the left we see Henry Cleage, Winslow Shreve, Ernest Martin and Dale Evans with his eyes closed.  On the other side is my Aunt Anna Shreve and  her daughter Anna with glasses.


Mr. Perryman at the head of the table. To his right is Oscar Hand, I don’t recognize the next man, then my father, then a man, I suppose, from the United Church of Christ Associateion, Rev Webb and his wife giving the photographer a very firm look.

And from that day’s service “Just a Closer Walk With Thee” sung by Mahilia Jackson. Of course she didn’t sing at our service but this is the same version we used.


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My Aunt Barbara Colorized – 1943

Last week I had several photographs of my Aunt Mary V. colorized.  This week I have a colorized photo of my father’s sister, Barbara Cleage Martin.  This photo is printed on thick, off white paper. I believe one of the Cleage photographers took and developed the photo. Which family member, I don’t know.  It was taken in 1943 when she was 23 years old.

Barbara colorized blog

Colorized photo. Click photos to enlarge.


A photo taken the same day that wasn't colorized.

A photo taken the same day that wasn’t colorized.

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Anti-Police Brutality Demonstration – 1963

Police brutality was a problem in 1963, as it is today. Today I am sharing an issue of the Illustrated News that covered a demonstration held in front of the Detroit police station, then at 1300 Beaubien.  The protest was against the killing of Cynthia Scott, an unarmed woman.  She was shot in the back. The demonstration was peaceful and there was no interference by the police. The article says there were 2,500 people at the protest.  Also “We wonder if a grand jury investigation might not clear the air and throw some light upon the police brutality practiced on Negroes and why such shootings never come to trial.”  And that is something people are still wondering today.  There was no investigation and the officer was not charged. Click on all pages to enlarge enough to read them.

Richard Henry aka Imari Obadela leader of GOAL talking to police during a demonstration.

Richard Henry, later known as Imari Obadele, President of GOAL discusses protest with officers during demonstration.

illustrated news cover blog

illustrated news 2 - 3 blog

illustrated news center fold blog

Picture lower left includes Malcolm X’s brother, Wilferd X and my father, Rev. Albert B. Cleage Jr.

illustrated news 6 - 7 blog

illustrated news smoke rings blog

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Remembering Barbara Lynn Elkins


Click to enlarge.

My cousin Barbara Lynn Elkins was born in Detroit, Michigan on January 28, 1948.  She was the second child of Frank Lawton Elkins and Mary Virginia Graham Elkins.  Her first home was on MacDougal St. on Detroit’s East side.  Later they moved to Calvert, a few blocks from where we lived.  She attended Roosevelt Elementary, Durfee Junior High and Central High School.  She had two sons, Frank and Ahmad. She lived in the East Village in NYC for several years during 1969 – 1970 before returning to Detroit. She worked for many years at General Motors before they moved the plant to Texas. Through the years she took care of over 100 children as a foster mother.  She died October 14 after a long illness.  Below is Barbara’s Person of the Month article from 1991.


Front page of our family newsletter for August 1991. Barbara was person of the month. She said the dress she is wearing in the picture was her favorite.  Actually, she was my children’s first cousin once removed, not their second cousin. In 1991 I didn’t know.

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Everyday Things Then and Now

I am going to compare how my grandparents lives differed in the everyday things from mine. I’ll use 1923 (which is when my grandparents and family moved into the house I remember) most of the time but sometimes the 1950s creep in there.  I even remember how different things were even when I was little in the 1940s from today.

doll149For breakfast I had oatmeal with raisins, cooked in a stainless steal pan on a gas stove. Water from the faucet. Oatmeal from a cardboard container with a plastic top, milk from a waxed cardboard carton stored in the electric refrigerator. My grandmother used a long legged gas stove. They still kept it in the basement when I was growing up.  My grandfather cooked the holiday turkeys in it.  They had to light the burners and oven with a match. More about kitchens in the olden days – Transitioning into the modern kitchen

Back in 1923 my grandparents would have had an ice box to keep food cold. The ice man would have delivered the ice. Milk was in glass bottles.  Leftovers were kept in china containers with matching tops.  I remember a green iceboxone. Or in glass bowls with cloth tops with elastic around the edges to put over the container. Our leftovers are in glass dishes with plastic tops that always end up splitting.  We also use plastic containers that once held take out from the Chinese restaurant.  She kept her butter on a saucer in the cupboard so that it would be ready for spreading.  I do the same with mine.  They kept chickens in their Detroit backyard so eggs came from them.  We buy ours at the supermarket.

Washing dishes – I use a plastic dish pan. My grandmother (and so did we) used a metal one. I would still if I could find one.  I fill another container with rinse water.  So did she.  She saved leftovers, cut them small and put them outside on the bird feeder.  I throw mine in the plastic garbage can lined with a plastic bag.  It goes outside to the big plastic bin after dinner. A full days garbage fit in a small metal can that roll_towellhad a step on opener. They wrapped it up in newspaper and took it out to the metal garbage can.  There was a towel rack on the back of the basement door and a continuous towel hung there. We have a rack on the wall and hang smaller towels over them.

Washing clothes – I use a small washer/dryer.  My grandmother used a wringer washer and hung the clothes up on lines in the basement.  By the time we came along, she had an electric wringer washer but that is as far as she was willing to go.  When I was small, we had a wringer washer too.  It wasn’t until my mother retired that they got an electric dryer.  I like to hang my wash outdoors but haven’t hung any lines since we moved here, so it’s the electric dryer.

washmachinewringerI spend lots of time working on computer research – nothing to compare with in my grandmother’s time.

Listening to the radio – Actually I’m listing to the radio via my computer while I type this. During the 1950s my grandmother listened to a small radio in the kitchen.  She listened to the radio soaps and baseball games.  I am listening to BBC4. Metamorphasis by Kalfka right now.  In the evening my husband and I sometimes watch programs on our screen.  It isn’t actually a television but a large computer screen that we have connected to a device (Hulu) that allows us to watch movies and old TV programs from Amazon and Netflix and PBS. It comes in via our internet.   There was no television in the 1920s.

My grandmother holding my mother with Mary V and Mershell and chickens. 1923

My grandmother holding my mother with Mary V and Mershell and chickens. 1923

Grocery shopping – We drive to the supermarket and picks things off of the shelf. We also belong to a urban farm where we pay a certain amount and get vegetables in season. My grandfather had a garden and they had an apple tree.  My grandmother made the best applesauce from the apples.  I sometimes make applesause from boughten apples but cannot match hers. They kept chickens in 1920.  I don’t know if they had milk delivered to the house in glass bottles like we did in the 1940s and 1950s but I’m thinking they did. It seems from reading  Got Milk? that milk in Detroit began to be pasteurized in 1916 and that milk men gradually replaced the milk peddlers that arrived with containers of milk from which they spooned into the housewives pitcher raw milk.

A grocery store in 1920 Detroit.

A grocery store in 1920 Detroit – Shorpy historic picture.

 A grocery store in 1920 Detroit. In the 1950s, I remember walking to a poultry market with my grandmother where she picked out one of the living chickens kept in crates around the room, they killed and plucked it for her.  In the 1950s my grandfather bought ice cream from a dairy in the neighborhood. It was always vanilla ice cream. The kind we get at the store doesn’t match the taste.

Bed lamp.

Bed lamp.

We sleep in a queen size bed, wooden frame.  My grandparents slept in a brass double size bed in 1923. They had headboard lights that hung over the bed frame so that they could read before they went to sleep.  Or turn the light on when they woke up in the middle of the night.  I use my kindle to read on before I go to bed and often wish I had one of those lights.  Read the story of the brass bed here Dollhouse Update.

I almost forgot the bathroom!  We have three bathrooms in this small house. Mine is the size of a closet, containing a stall shower, corner sink and toilet. There is no window. My grandparent’s bathroom was a full size room that was a bathroom.  It had a claw foot tub, a toilet, a sink, a cupboard and a kerosene heater to warm up the room before baths. The window looked out on the neighbor’s house, but it wasn’t so close you could hear them talking.  My cousin Dee Dee made up a story that the tub was magic and that it could go up through the ceiling somewhere magical, not the attic we knew was up there.  They always used floating ivory soap for bath soap.  I do too.  And they used lava soap at the sink to get the grime off. It was a gritty gray soup.

I wish I had a claw foot tub today!

I wish I had a claw foot tub today!

For more about the house on Theodore, T is for Theodore Street.

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Mary Virginia Graham Colorized – 1938

1930s mv hats08These three photographs of my mother’s sister, my aunt Mary Vee were taken in and around 1938.  The first two have been colorized, and not very well either.  What was happening in my aunt’s life then?  She was 18 years old and had graduated from Eastern High School and was attending business college, where she won a prize for certificate for her speed and accuracy.  After completing the program there, she worked for awhile at her uncle Jim McCall’s Newspaper.  Later some friends of my grandparents from Montgomery helped her get a job at the City County Building as a secretary, where she worked for many years. Some years ago, Mary Vee talked with her daughter about her experience working at the paper.

“… her job was to read all these articles to Cousin Jim McCall, since he was blind. From what she read to him, he would formulate his editorial articles. She said he had a  braille 1930s M.V.hats07typewriter. She said she learned so much,  just reading to him and talking to him about various topics. Mom said he was a wealth of information and he knew a lot about everything. She started working for them when she was 16 and continued every summer until she graduated from College. At that time, she said, it was due to a letter of recommendation from Uncle Jim that she landed the County job.”

What was happening in 1938:  following a number of years of success with the US economy a recession hit which caused unemployment to rise back to 19%. In Europe Germany was continuing it’s strategy of persecuting the Jews and occupation in Czechoslovakia, the British prime minister Neville Chamberlain went to Germany fearing another world war and after agreeing to allow Hitler could occupy Czechoslovakia declared “Peace in our time” . The law changed in the US that meant the minimum hourly wage was 40 cents per hour for a 44 hour working week. On September 21st a giant hurricane slammed into the east coast with little or no warning from the Weather Service , the hurricane caused 40 ft waves to hit Long Island

Connie Stowers and Mary V.

Connie Stowers and Mary V.

 and sixty three thousand people were left homeless and some 700 dead. On October 30th Orson Wells dramatization of “War of The Worlds” radio programme caused panic when it was broadcast more like a news breaking story than a play. Most of the world cheered when Germany’s Max Schmeling was defeated by a knock out in the first round by the great Joe Louis for the heavyweight championship.

And more: The Nanking Massacre took place in China during the continuing invasion of the Japanese during their invasion of China. The battle of Teruel, one of the most violent to occur during the Spanish Civil War, took place with German planes bombing the Spanish city. Guerilla warfare against Italy continued in Ethiopia.

What was going on in 1938?

What was going on in 1938?

Posted in Grahams, sepia saturday | Tagged | 25 Comments

A Stagecoach On A Trip West

As I went through photographs of vehicles trying to decide which to use for the stagecoach prompt, I finally remembered that I did have a stagecoach photograph in my Cleage family photographs.  I used this before along with other photographs from a trip my grandparents made out West during the 1950s.  I cannot make out the writing on the side of the coach because when I blow it up, the photo is a bit blurry, as though the photographer did not hold quite still.  Looking at the building on the right, which seems to be a false front with platforms and such in the back, I surmise that this was a movie set.  If only I had noticed these photographs during my grandmother’s life time and asked her to tell me about the trip!  Alas, I did not.

A stagecoach on the big trip West.

A stagecoach on the big trip West.

My stylish grandparents - Albert and Pearl Cleage. He is wearing the rakish white hat and she is wearing the stylish black hat, with a feather.

My stylish grandparents – Albert and Pearl Cleage. He is wearing the rakish white hat and she is wearing the stylish black hat.

To see more photographs from this same trip, Trains – My Grandparent’s Mystery Tour.

Posted in Cleages, sepia saturday | 13 Comments

My Sister Interviews Me

My sister Pearl interviewed me in 2010 about my interest and findings in family history research. I talked about some of the stories I’ve blogged about – Dock Allen’s Escape, finding Eliza in the 1860 census and slave documents. I have found more information since the time of this interview – court records about the land case between the Turners, newspaper articles, and several Wills from slave holders who owned my Cleages.

It gives you a chance to hear my voice and my thoughts about how to start your research.  I highly recommend being interviewed like this. I am enjoying listening to myself talk, for one thing.  If you can’t find anyone to interview you, interview yourself!  I think it makes a great addition to the legacy we are leaving for those following us.


Pearl & Kristin walking through a field on cousin Ernest's land - SC 2013.

Pearl & Kristin walking through a field on cousin Ernest’s land – SC 2013.


Posted in Investigations, Slavery, The Book of Me | 18 Comments