“A Sumptuous Christmas Dinner”

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Photo from “Montgomery, the Capital City of Alabama”

Edward McCall was the husband of my great grandmother’s oldest sister, Mary Allen McCall.  He worked as cook at the City Jail for 30 years, according to the article below. He was also listed as “turnkey” at the jail in several censuses.  Edward’s wife, Mary was a talented seamstress, a skill she learned from her mother, Eliza (who I named this blog after).

They were the parents of 7 children. Six of them survived to adulthood. One of their sons, James Edward McCall was a blind poet and publisher first in Montgomery and later in Detroit.  Their other children were Annabelle McCall Martin, Leon Roscoe McCall, William Gladstone McCall (who died as an infant), Alma Otilla McCall Howard and Jeanette McCall McEwen.

Edward McCall died in Montgomery, Alabama on February 2, 1920 and is buried there in Lincoln Cemetery. For many years this cemetery was horribly neglected and vandalized. Several years ago the Lincoln Cemetery Rehabilitation Authority was formed and has been working to clean it up and put the graves in order. I hear that it is in much better shape.

ed mccall xmas dinner for prisonersOnly Fifteen Will Enjoy the Hospitality of the City on Christmas Day

Twenty-six city prisoners whose sentences originally ranged from thirty days to six months, and who had a balance of time of from one to thirty days yet to serve, were given their liberty Saturday at noon as a Christmas present, upon an order to Chief Taylor of the Police Department from Mayor W. A. Gunter, Jr., this being, the annual custom in vogue for a number of years in Montgomery with reference to the city’s prisoners.

The release of the twenty-six left a remaining number of twelve, which together with three convictions at the Saturday session of the Recorders Court, who were unable to pay their fines, aggregate fifteen who will be given holiday Monday and a sumptuous Christmas dinner, which is being prepared today by Ed McCall, the negro (sic) who for thirty years has served as chef at police headquarters.

The dinner will be served in the regular dining room at headquarters and will consist in a menu of camp stew, bread, cakes, fruits, coffee and other good and tasty articles of substantial foods.

“The Star and The Stable” Dec. 11, 1966

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As Christmas approaches, I remember my father’s sermons from that time of year. Here is the Sunday Bulletin for Sunday, December 11, 1966, the sermon notes, a flyer for an evening program held the same day and one of the songs sung by the Choir that day at Central United Church of Christ, Detroit.  The sermon notes, bulletin, etc. for Dec. 25, 1966 are here – A Christ To Carol.

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….

Merrie Christmas and Happy New Year

A Christmas card from my Grandparent’s ( Mershell and Fannie Graham) collection, date unknown.  I read on a post by Pauline on Family History Across the Seas  about the people who sent Christmas Cards. It started me thinking about the cards I had from my grandparents collection with photographs of people I only knew were friends of the family, but nothing else about them. I wondered what I could find out. I picked this one out because, unlike some of the others, it had a name and a street address, although there was no date and no city. My grandparents lived in Montgomery, AL before moving to Detroit in 1919, so I started there.  Here is what I learned from the census and Montgomery Directory about Addie Smith.

Addie Smith "Ma Smith"
Addie Smith  “Ma Smith”  is written on the shingles near her face level.
"Merrie chtsmas and happy New Year. Your Addie Smith 105 Hutchinson St."
“Merrie Christmas and happy New Year. Addie Smith 105 Hutchinson St.”  My mother wrote “Don’t know date- friend”

Addie was born in 1869 in South Carolina to parents also born in South Carolina. In 1888, (the year my grandmother was born), Addie married Fountain Smith, a laborer about 14 years her senior.  This was her first marriage. Fountain may have been married before.  They had no children.

bankrupcyBy 1906 Fountain and Addie were living at 105 Hutchinson Street in Montgomery. She would live in this rented house for the rest of her life.  A Fountain Smith filed for bankruptcy in 1906. Over the years Addie Smith worked as a char woman/janitress in the Post Office. She may have also worked in that capacity in other public buildings.

At 53 years old, on October 26 in 1922, Addie Smith died. She is buried in Oakwood Cemetery in Montgomery.  Fountain lived another 8 years, dying on November 3, 1930.  He would have been about 62. Because Addie died in 1922 and my grandparents moved to Detroit in 1919, I am guessing that this card was sent in 1920.

Fannie and Mershell soon after their marriage in 1919.
My grandparents Fannie and Mershell Graham soon after their marriage in 1919.

Looking at a map of the 4th Ward in Montgomery in I found that Hutchinson street no longer had houses below #800, However, my great Uncle Victor Tulane had a grocery store at Ripley and High street. My grandmother Fannie managed the store for a number of years before her marriage. This store would have been several blocks from Addie and Fountain Smith’s house. I am supposing that this is how they met.

For more Sepia Saturday Posts, CLICK!
For more Sepia Saturday Posts, CLICK!

Juanita Cleage’s Christmas in Athens, Tennessee

Alberta, Ola and Beatrice Cleage. Juanita's older sisters. 1919 Athens, TN.
Alberta, Ola and Beatrice Cleage. Juanita’s older sisters. 1919 Athens, TN.

Christmas and Early  Childhood
by Juanita Cleage Martin
From the book “Memories to Memoirs”

Our Christmas trees were cedar instead of pine.  A bunch of kids would go together a few days before Christmas looking for Christmas trees.  We would sometimes find them along the roadsides, but our special place was at Keith’s, across from Community Hospital before Community Hospital.   We always found a good shapely tree in that section.  I guess we didn’t realize we should ask someone.  Nobody bothered, as we never seen anyone to ask.  Our decoration was ropes of tinsel, and we often strung popcorn and cotton.

My favorite toy was a big doll.  In our day, dolls were stuffed with sawdust, and their heads and arms were made of plastic, not like plastic of today.   I remember I left it outside and the rain ruined it and  made puffed splotches like blisters.   I cried, as I dearly loved this doll.  My sister Bea was the doctor.  She gathered wild purple poke berries and covered the places.  I continued to carry and play with it until it finally tore to pieces.

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Juanita Cleage Martin was the daughter of my grandfather, Albert Cleage’s brother, Charles Edward Cleage.  They lived in Athens Tennessee.  Juanita was born February 11, 1922. I don’t know how old she was when she got the doll for Christmas but this Cuddles doll was made from 1926 through 1928 to 1940 and sold through the Sears Catalog.  Maybe this was the doll she got for Christmas. The body was cloth while the face and limbs were “composition” which was made by mixing sawdust and glue and compressing them in a mold. Composition does not react well to water.  I remember a doll sort of like this that was left over from my mother and her sister’s childhood. I wonder what happened to them.

1928-1940 Cuddles or Sally-kins, 14-27″ tall, composition head, arms, legs (some limbs are rubber), cloth kapok stuffed body, molded hair, tin flirty sleep eyes, with lashes, open mouth with upper & lower teeth, tongue, mama crier, wore an organdy dress, bonnet and rubber panties, (Little Sister has flannel diapers).  Made by Ideal.

For more about Juanita and her family – Mattie and children and  Childhood Memories.

Childhood Memories by Beatrice Cleage Johnson – Athens, TN

This is another from the Christmas series that I am reposting from the early days of my blog. Two of my father’s first cousins, Juanita and Beatrice participated in a workshop to turn their “Memories to Memoirs” in 1990 in Athens, Tennessee.  I was able to get a copy of them from my cousin Janice (Juanita’s daughter).  Today I am posting Beatrice’s memories of her childhood, which sets the scene and also has some Christmas memories.  Tomorrow I will post her sister Juanita’s Christmas memories.

"Uncle Eds wife and children"
Back: Ola, Helen, Alberta.       Front: Beatrice, Mattie, Juanita.

From “Memories To Memoirs”  – Chapter 2 – Early Years of Life

By Beatrice Cleage Johnson
Written in 1990

1926 – I remember the early years of my life living at 216 Ridge Street.  We used wood and coal stoves for heating and cooking.  I will never forget the range stove that my mother cooked on.  She made biscuits every morning for breakfast.  There was a warmer at the top of the stove for left overs.  I would always search the warmer for snacks.  We had an outside toilet.  Everyone that we knew had these,  so we thought this was it.  We never dreamed of ever having inside plumbing.

We had a water hydrant in the front yard and every night it was my job to fill the water buckets which had stainless steel dippers in them.  My sister also helped with the chores.  My other job was to clean the lamp chimneys.  We used oil lamps.  Momma always inspected them to see if they were clean.  I decided then, if I ever made any money I would have electricity put in our house.  And I did.  I would babysit during the summers and save my money.

I have always loved poetry.  I learned many poems and stories from my mother and sisters, such as “Little Boy Blue” and “Little Red Riding Hood”.  I think my favorite food was any kind of fruit.  I was always happy to see Summer, when the apples and peaches were plentiful.  I always looked forward to Christmas.  We never saw any oranges until then.  I remember my first doll.  It had a china head and straw body.  I loved it so much.  Momma always made a special white coconut cake for Christmas, which I looked forward to.  She made other pies and cakes, but the coconut was my favorite.  We didn’t get too many toys for Christmas, but my sisters and I enjoyed everything we got for Christmas.

"Edward Cleage"
Charles Edward Cleage.
My grandfather Albert’s brother.

My father became ill and my mother was to be the sole support of the five girls.  I was six years of age when my father passed away in 1926.  My youngest sister, Juanita, was three years of age and she didn’t remember him, but I did.  After he died my uncles took the two older sisters, Helen and Alberta, to Detroit to live with them.  Alberta stayed and finished high school there, but Helen came back home and helped Momma care for the three of us.  Ola, Juanita and myself went to high school here.

We always celebrated the holidays.  Thanksgiving was very special as my birthday would sometimes come on Thanksgiving Day.  We always had special food on these days.  Pies, cakes, chicken, rabbit.  On Halloween we always dressed in our older sister’s and mother’s clothes.  One of the main pranks the boys would do was to push the outside toilets over.  We used to beg them not to push ours over.  In those days, there was no trick or treat.  It was all tricks.  Easter was also special.  Momma would make us a new dress for Easter, and Helen always bought me black patent leather slipper.

Mary V. Graham Elkins Remembers Christmas

From 1990 until 1996 we put out a family newsletter called the Ruff Draft.  In December of 1990 we solicited Christmas Memories from our readers, who were mostly relatives.  This one was sent in by my mother’s older sister, Mary Virginia.  In the photo are my mother Doris (1923-1982) and her sister Mary V. (1921-2009).  It was taken in their backyard on Detroit’s east side.

Doris and Mary V in their backyard. Detroit Eastside 1929.
Doris and Mary V in their backyard. Detroit Eastside 1929.

I can remember Poppy waiting till Xmas Eve to go and get our tree.  We (Doris and I) usually went with him…and bringing it home to decorate.  He had a stand that he made himself.  We went up to the attic to haul down boxes of decorations that had been carefully put away.  Some very old.  I can remember one little fat Santa that Mom always put in the window, he had a pipe in his mouth.  Doris and I shared a bedroom which had the door to the attic in it.  When we were at the “believe in Santa Claus stage” we thought that once we went to sleep he would tip down the attic stairs and put our toys, etc, under said tree.  I think I laid awake waiting for the old boy to show up.  Of course I never saw him ’cause I went to sleep, but the stuff was always under the tree.  Mom was always busy in the kitchen getting stuff together for Xmas dinner and the house would be full of wonderful odors.  If Xmas fell on a Sunday, we would go to church. And we used to have lots of snow.  Although we came up during the depression, we always had something to eat and something under the ole tree even if it wasn’t what we asked for.  It was a tradition that Xmas dinner was at our house and Thanksgiving dinner at Grandma Turner’s.  Daddy cooked the ole turkey and made the most delicious stuffing.  He could cook.  Mom learned from him.  She couldn’t boil water when they got married.  Dad taught her cause he had worked in restaurants as a young man.

Jilo’s First Christmas 1970

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Nightgown & Undershirts –  Pee Wee and Winslow.
Sleeper – Grandmother Cleage.
Pop beads, music box, rings, boat, rattle – Ma and Henry.
Poppy $10
Louis $10
Barbara – back carrier.
Silver spoon – Gladys.
2 sleepers & clutch ball – Martha.
Jim out of town (St. Louis) .
Xmas eve at Miriams.  Living at Bro. Johns.
Xmas, went by Grandmother’s. first time she saw Jilo.
Dinner and spent the night at Ma’s.
Jim back on 30th.  Party at BCL (ugh).
Man across the street from Miriam’s hollering for help (“I’m not kidding Help!”)
Pearl and Micheal didn’t come home for Xmas.

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Holding my oldest daughter, Jilo
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Jilo and great grandfather Mershell C. Graham.

Christmas Bookmark from Uncle Clarence

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My great uncle Clarence Elwood Reed was 2 years older than my Grandmother Pearl Doris Reed. While doing some scanning of old photographs and newspaper articles recently my cousin Jan came across a book mark in my grandmother’s journal. Unfortunately the only thing written in this journal was my grandmother’s name, address and the date – December 25, 1903.  Perhaps it was a Christmas present.

Clarence is something of a mystery to me. I wrote about him several years ago – Madness Monday.  I still haven’t found him in the 1920 and 1930 census but I did find him in the 1940 census with yet another name for his wife, Mamie Reed. This census entry is the most confused I’ve seen. The head of the house is listed as Clarence Reed, a female and all of the other data is really for Mamie. Mamie is listed as a male and all the data is really for Clarence. Pretty confusing. It’s just a whim that I decided to check out this Clarence Reed who was born in Tennessee instead of Kentucky.

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Picture 3 A photo of 4845 S. Michigan in Chicago, Illinois taken from Google maps. This was Uncle Clarence Reeds address when he sent the bookmark.