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

Posted in Detroit, Newsletters, sepia saturday | Tagged , | 5 Comments

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.

Posted in Grahams, The Book of Me | 7 Comments

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.1930s M.V.hats07

“… 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 typewriter. 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.”




Connie Stowers and Mary Vee Graham.

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 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

Dunbar Hospital Article – 1995

More about Dunbar Hospital which was recently saved from being sold at auction when the it was decided to let the owners pay all back taxes, fines and water bill.  The article seems to be based on an interview with my aunt, Barbara Cleage Martin/Cardinal Nandi.

dunbar 1995

Sign on front lawn:  Dunbar Hospital: Michigan Historic Site (blanks where the viewer and the fence blocked my view.  Unable to find another picture of the sign.)

At the time of World War I, health car for black Detroiters was inferior to that for whites.  Black physicians could not join the staffs of Detroit’s white hospitals.  On May 20, 1918 thirty black doctors, members of the Allied Medical Society incorporated Dunbar Hospital, the city’s first nonprofit community hospital for the black population.  It also housed the first black nursing school in Detroit.  Located __________reform-minded neighborhood this ______________the center of a social and cultural __________of the black____________________ in 1928 Dunbar moved to a larger facility and was later renamed Parkside, operating under that name until 1962 and in 1978 the Detroit Medical Society, an affiliate of the National Medical Association purchased the site for their administrative headquarters and a museum.

You can read more about Dunbar Hospital in previous posts at these links A Speech on the Graduation of the first class of nurses,  Births, Deaths, Doctors and Detroit, Part 2,Dunbar Hospital 1922 and 2014.  You can read about this building being auctioned in September 2014 here Detroit’s first black hospital hits auction

And here is an article from The Michigan Citizen about the Dunbar Hospital being saved. Let’s hope something positive is done with it now. Saving the Dunbar.

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Reading Mad Magazine at Old Plank

My uncle Hugh, cousin Warren  and sister Pearl in the living room at Old Plank.

My uncle Hugh, cousin Warren and sister Pearl in the living room at Old Plank.

Unfortunately Warren was not reading the Saturday Evening Post in this photo, he is reading a Mad Magazine.  For several years I remember copies being around the house.  Such a crazy magazine.

By searching online I was able to find a copy of the cover of this issue.  It is dated October  1962.  The copy in the picture above looks pretty new. Everybody seems to be wearing cool weather clothes so it could well be October of 1962.  Warren and Pearl were both high school freshman in 1962.  Hugh was printer/owner of Cleage Printers.

Old Plank was the farm house on two acreas that my family owned near Wixom, Michigan.  We spent as much time as we could there and were often joined by other family members who also made the short drive from Detroit.


You can read more about Old Plank in these posts:

Playing Poker at Old Plank

Picking Beans at Old Plank

Biking at Old Plank


Posted in Cleages, sepia saturday | Tagged , | 25 Comments

My Mother – 1955

In this photograph, my mother is standing in the living room of my Cleage grandparent’s house on Atkinson. The date says Nov. 55  but there are also summer photographs with the same date, so I will say it’s 1955 and it does look like cool weather, but I’m not sure it was taken in November, although that’s when the film was developed, so I’m not sure if it was Thanksgiving or not.


Doris Graham Cleage holding a plate of something and a towel. A plate of what I cannot tell. The couch was green and I see the corner of the red and white candy dish which held candy corns or peppermints, on the table.

Probably taken the same day as the photo of my mother. My cousin Ernie, sister Pearl seated and me, standing.

Probably taken the same day as the photo of my mother. My cousin Ernie, sister Pearl seated and me, standing. We are dressed for a holiday and playing with one of Ernie’s fabulous toys.

Another photo from the same batch of 1955 photographs.  Can't believe I am making that face while my sister is looking so angelic.

Another photo from the same batch of 1955 photographs. This one was taken on Louis’ patio in Idlewild. Can’t believe I am making that face while my sister is looking so angelic.


Posted in sepia saturday | 26 Comments

Cars I Have Known

I was going through some old notebooks where I used to write during the 1990s.  There are schedules, poems, story parts and sometimes journal entries. I was happy to find my memories of cars in my life and with a few additions, I find it fits the Car Prompt in The Book of Me Written By You.

We didn’t own a car until I was 7. My mother went back to school to get her teaching certification when I was 5.  When I was 7, she had her degree and was teaching at the school I attended. She brought a gray Ford. She always bought Fords because her father worked at Fords. My father’s family always bought Chevys. Why, I do not know.

Betsy with my mother and sister.

My mother and sister with Betsy.

We called our light gray car Betsy. Every Saturday we would pick up my mother’s sister and her daughters. The 5 of us would ride across town, usually taking the Blvd, from the West Side to Theodore on the East side to spend the day at my grandparent’s house.

I remember getting a flat tire once on the way home. My mother changed the tire while we ran up and down the sidewalk. I liked the drive down through the exotic crowded flats and houses flats and houses. All those people outside bar-b-quing or sitting on porches. The neighborhoods looked lots more exciting than where we lived in a flat on Calvert. More people, older houses.  We passed through areas full of white people up from the south and black bottom, full of black people up from the same south.

Before the car we would catch the bus on Saturdays. Often having to get off and walk because I got bus sick. There was a big bridge over an industrial area, junkyards, railroad tracks… that we had to walk across. My sister Pearl and I ran across, looked over the railing, having a great time. I later learned my mother was scared to death of heights, but she hid it so we wouldn’t be.

Anyway, back to cars. My father didn’t buy a car until after my parents were divorced. How did we get to church on Sunday or over to his mother’s? I can’t believe we walked… I’l have to ask ( later note: unfortunately I didn’t and now it’s too late.)

My father always bought a car with no extras, no clock, no radio.  They must have been new. My mother always got a used car Her father, Poppy went with my mother when she decided to trade in Betsy for a newer used car. As we drove into the used car lot, the door flew open. We left with a newer black Ford.

I recall my cousin Barbara getting her thumb or finger closed in the car door. She very calmly said “Aunt Doris, my finger is in the door.” Nobody paid her any attention. She didn’t sound like she had her fingers in the door. Then she started crying and Mommy opened the door.

Lizzie in the background. My great grandmother, Great Aunt Daisy, Grandmother Fannie, Aunt Mary V. and my mother Doris.

Lizzie in the background. My great grandmother, Great Aunt Daisy, Grandmother Fannie, Aunt Mary V. and my mother Doris.

The first car in my life was Lizzie, Poppy’s (my maternal gramps) old Ford. It was black with a running board and awning-striped shades on the windows. We pulled them down when using the car to change when we went swimming at Belle Isle. Poppy didn’t have a garage. The back of his yard was taken up in a large vegetable and flower garden with a winding path and bird feeder. It’s all torn down now and cement block/razor wire surrounds it.

Poppy rented garage space from a neighbor across the alley. Was it the family with all the kids?  I don’t remember. I do remember my mother telling me one of their sons mentioned to Poppy something about his pretty granddaughter and I figured she was going to say Dee Dee, my older, beautiful cousin. At the time I was skinny with glasses and hair in 2 braids. I was truly surprised when she said he was talking about me. Come to think of it, he was skinny with glasses too. Anyway, I don’t remember ever talking or playing with him or any of my grandparent’s neighbors. We stayed in the house or yard making up plays, building fairy castles, playing imaginary land and swinging.

Back to Lizzie. After we took the bus over to visit, Poppy would drive us home. Maybe while we were there the mothers went grocery shopping. I remember how we grocery shopped in Springfield, MA pre-Betsy…. we walked.  

We all squeezed into the car for our yearly visit to the zoo. We granddaughter all spent the night before the trip – 4 girls smashed into a double wide cot in my grandfather’s room. If I woke up at night I was doomed to lay there and listen to his loud snoring.

Let’s see, Poppy, my mother, her sister and 4 or 5 kids in one car?! Maybe we were in Betsy by this time – three adults in front and 5 girls squeezed into the back seat. Singing “John Jacob Jingleheimer Schmidt” and other camp classics that Dee Dee taught us.

I remember coming up to Idlewild in my other grandfather’s big green car. The car was full and some of us were sitting on the floor. This doesn’t make sense, but I remember it.

Flash forward. Oh, wait, I used to have to go to bed at 8 o’clock or maybe earlier. Way before I was sleepy. I’d watch the girls next door playing up in their attic playroom. They were our age. They had an awful, mean dog that tried to bite me once, so we never went over there. My father had a big stick he carried to knock the dog silly when she ran out at him.  One night I saw a pink Cadillac parked on the street in front of my house. A pink Cadilac. It wasn’t full dark yet, dusk. I was kneeling at the open window and there it was. This was in the days of black and dark colored cars. I was amazed.

Henry's red and white car. The photo was taken from the house porch.

Henry’s red and white car. The photo was taken from the house porch.

After Henry and my mother married they spent many weekends driving around looking for a place in the country. Pearl often chose to stay with my father and so it would be the three of us. We drove around Canada, but the houses on the lake – What lake? – On the beach, the beaches in Canada were public beaches and there seemed to be lots of teenagers racing cars up and down them.  I always liked trips. Sitting in the back seat looking at all the stories going by.

Henry’s car was a red and white Chevrolet. It always struck me as chunky. That was on Oregon and there was no driveway so the cars (Chevy and Ford) were parked out front. When we went to Nanny’s and Poppy’s we drove via the highway. We passed over an area of junk piles,  We’d gotten into the habit of saying “If this bridge broke, we’d land right in the junk yard where we belong.” Henry took this (for some reason) as a personal insult and we had to stop that.

Once we gave my Uncle Hugh a ride way out Grand River somewhere to pick up his car from where it had been in the shop. The drive was long. On the way home, he stopped suddenly for a red light. We were right behind him. Blam! Back to the shop he went.

A big light blue car that must have been between Betsy #1 and the black car.

A big light blue car that must have been Henry’s  white after white and red car, at Old Plank.  When this car was worn out they said they would have given it to me but since I couldn’t drive they gave it to my cousin Warren. I don’t think it ever moved out of his driveway until it was towed away.

We used to drive to Old Plank Road, near Wixom and Milford, our 2 country acres with a big, old farm house on it. We’d drive out Grand River or take the Freeway. My mother and Henry would sing songs like “Indian Love Call.” We drove passed a Square Dance clothing shop.  I would have loved to have one of those dresses.

 Learning to Drive

I started learning how to drive when I was 16 or 17. Henry was teaching me out at Old Plank. I wasn’t all that interested in learning to drive but I learned to drive to Wixom and even went 40 mph down the black top. The end of my early driving career came when I had turned into a driveway and was supposed to back out but instead I went into a ditch. Just as my cousins drove up.

I tried learning to drive again when Jilo was a baby.  My husband Jim was teaching me but there was too much traffic. It rattled me and I gave it up and continued to ride the bus or catch a ride.  This worked when we moved to Atlanta where my second daughter Ife was born, but not after we moved out of the city.  I finally had to learn to drive.  I started learning in Mt. Pleasant, SC and ended up getting my license while pregnant with third daughter Ayanna, in Simpson County, MS in 1976.  Our car at that time came with the job and was a little gray Volkswagon.

Our cars from then to now.

After the Volkswagon we bought our first car.  It was at an auction – a light green post office jeep. The only seat was the drivers seat. Jim bolted an old kitchen chair onto the passenger side and the kids just sat in the back.  There were no seat belt laws in those days.  After that, we had a station wagon with a hole rusted in the backseat floor. My daughter Jilo put her foot through that hole once to see what would happen.  Luckily, nothing. There was a blue car of some type and there was a Datsun truck – red, with a camper. We sat in the front and the kids rode in the back.

After leaving Mississippi we moved to Excelsior Springs MO. My brother-in-law left us his black Rabbit Volkswagon.  It was a bit small for 2 adults and 5 children.  The back shelf came out and several of the children would ride back there, sort of in the trunk but with their heads coming up where the shelf was supposed to be.  Eventually we bought our first new car – a much needed station wagon. It died of a fire years later. Nobody was in the car or hurt. The Idlewild fire department came and hosed the car well and that was the end of it. There followed a series of used cars, a blue van, and as Jim retired and we moved to the big city, we bought a newish used car that I hope will last us another 20 years.  Or however long we keep driving.

Posted in Biography, The Book of Me | 4 Comments