“G” is for Grand River Avenue

This post continues the series using the Alphabet to go through streets that were significant in my life as part of the Family History Through the Alphabet Challenge.  It was first published in June, 2012.

Grand River Avenue figured in my life in multiple ways.  I walked to both McMichael Junior High and Northwestern High Schools down Grand River. I took the Grand River bus home when I worked at J.L. Hudson’s Department store during several Christmas seasons.  In 1971 and 1972, the Black Conscience Library was located at 6505 Grand River and that is my focus in this post.

Grand River Avenue in 1967. The Black Conscience Library was at the far end of the block past the church on the right.

 In 1971 the Black Conscience Library relocated from temporary quarters to 6505 Grand River, the upstairs offices in a building right across the street from Northwestern High School. I continued as librarian for awhile.  This was around the time that the heroin epidemic hit inner city Detroit hard. Chimba, one of the active members of the Library, was from the North End community. I remember him saying that the year before they had a  baseball team, but that in 1971 there were so many heroin addicts in the community that they couldn’t get a team together.  It was Chimba’s idea to start a methadone program in the Black Conscience Library to help addicts get off drugs. This was before it was widely known that methadone was a powerful, addictive drug in it’s own right. Eventually, the drug program over shadowed all other Library programs. I spent less time there and eventually got a job as assistant teacher at Merrill Palmer preschool. I still came around but not everyday and not as librarian.  It was pretty depressing up there.

The scale is off. The “Doctor’s Office” was for Dr. Gerald, a lay doctor, not an MD.

There were lines of junkies waiting to collect their scripts, men and women. Some brought their children. In the beginning, I watched the kids while the parents went to the lectures. I remember one baby with a bottle full of milk so spoiled it was like cottage cheese.

We came to the Library one morning to find it had been broken into the night before.  All of the printing equipment and the tape recorder were securely locked up. There were no prescriptions laying around. Nothing was stolen, but we couldn’t figure out how they got in, until I noticed glass from the skylight on the table.  They had come through the skylight. One night someone was found hiding in the Men’s room hoping nobody would notice they were there so they could rob the place. Another man tried to break in one early morning. Luckily, he couldn’t get through the front chained door. I remember a junkie who nodded off and fell out of his seat during the planning session for a radio program.

There were a few non-drug related activities.  One I remember, was a panel discussion on the role of the father in parenting that was presented by several ex-members of SNCC (Student Non-violent Co-ordinating Committee). There were karate classes.  One night I had come back after a particularly trying day and a car crashed into the shop downstairs. I caught a plane to visit my sister in Atlanta the next day. Those were the days of cheap standby tickets. I remember The Last Poets record playing over and over and over.  The relief when the drug program ended.

The Black Conscience Library was in the dark part of the building on the far corner. There seem to be vertical blinds on the windows. The Lucky Strike Bowling Alley was next door. You can see part of the sign “…TRIKE”
This is a police memo from my husband Jim’s police file from October 23, 1970.
The poster in question.
Memo #2 about who rented the building.

This is one of a three page surveillance report from October 29, 1971 is from Jim’s police file.  We knew they were watching,  but when we got this report several years ago it was still creepy to see how much time they were actually spending watching, following, keeping track. “N/M” = Negro Male. “N/F”  = Negro Female.

Staff – Dr. Gerald, Sam, Miriam, Chimba, Me & Jilo, James Williams

 

The block where the Black Conscience Library once stood. That end is now a vacant lot.
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My bedroom window – 1953

The window on the top left was our bedroom window.

The parsonage now and us back in 1953.

In 2004 I spent a day driving around Detroit taking photographs of places where I used to live and of other houses family members lived in.  The angle of this house fit almost perfectly with the photograph taken in 1953 of my father with my little sister Pearl and me.  We are in front of the parsonage on Atkinson. My father was the minister of St. Mark’s Presbyterian Church, two blocks up the street on the corner of 12th Street and Atkinson.

My sister and I shared the bedroom on the upper left.  We used to look out of the side window into the attic of Carol and Deborah. They were our age and lived next door and got to stay up much later then we did. They had a wonderful playroom in the attic.  I taught Pearl to read by the streetlight shinning into our bedroom.  I don’t know why we waited until we were supposed to be in the bed to teach and learn reading.

Sometimes after Pearl was asleep, I would kneel in front of the windows and look out. I remember an amazing pale pink Cadillac. The cars I had seen up until then were dark colors.  I remember looking out of that window and watching for my mother to get home.  Was she taking night classes while working on her teaching certificate?

On our other side lived Eleanor Gross with her family. Eleanor was a teenager and babysat with us during the rare times our parents went out.  My paternal grandparents lived down the street.

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Saw horses

This photo first appeared on my blog in 2012 in a post about my grandparents magical yard. I used that post again in June of 2017.  This time I am only posting the picture of my sister looking glamorous and me looking worried as we stand next to our trusty mounts. Neither of us can remember where we went on those horses. I remember a pillow/saddle that was made of some shiney purple fabric. That may have been the one I am leaning on.

You can read the original post at “Poppy’s Garden 1953”

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One Hundred and One Famous Poems – 1933

This book has seen much use. It is held together with masking tape. It is full of the old standards of the day.  It was published by “The Cable Company, Manufacturers of the famous Cable Line of Pianos and Inner- Player Pianos.”  Click all images to enlarge.

My grandmother Fannie Turner Graham wrote on the cover of the book “Mary Virginia and Doris Graham. 1933. From Aunt Daisy who died suddenly 1961”

Aunt Daisy Turner who gave the book to my mother and her sister in 1933, the year after their little brother Howard died.
Bonzo, MV and Doris Graham. 1932. Backyard of house on Theodore, East Side of Detroit, Michigan.

I chose this poem by James Whitcomb Riley because I was feeling rather nostalgic, thinking about my sister and me back in the olden days.

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Girls Riding a Bike, From the Porch of 5397 Oregon, 1962

One of my uncle Henry Cleage’s photographs from the porch of our house at 5397 Oregon in Detroit.  Below is a photo of the house and porch from which he took the photos. They were developed at Cleage printers, where Henry and Hugh had a full dark room.

I do not know who the little girls are. I have memories of riding bikes when I lived here, but no photographs.  I remember going bike riding all around the neighborhood with my cousins, Dee Dee and Barbara. We rode in the street, which I wasn’t supposed to do. My sister and I used to go bike riding too but we usually had a destination – the library or my grandmother’s house. I lost that bike when I left it unchained outside of a store on W. Grand Blvd. We were on the way home from the Main Library.

View of the porch.  My mother and I are sitting on the porch. Henry took this photo too. About 1962.

You can read more of my memories of my bicycles in this post – “Biking at Old Plank Road, 1962”

 

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Letter from Albert B. Cleage to Pearl Reed. March 18, 1910.

Albert B. Cleage Sr. This photo was enclosed in the letter.
This was the house where Pearl’s aunt lived. She received mail there sometimes because her mother disliked Albert.  The two houses were on opposite streets and shared a yard

3/18/10

My dear Sweetheart:-

How did you spend St. Patrick’s day? It was a lovely day sure and also has today been beautiful.  How are you? Have you gotten entirely well. I hope that pains and aches with you are now “past history.”Does your mother seem to be improving?

These are busy days with me. Examinations for the close of the winter term begin Monday and will last one week after which comes a ten or twelve day’s vacation.- What can I do with so much time all by my lone self. 

Do you remember that last year we planned a day’s outing in the country and I thinking the day appointed, too bad did not show up?  And also how you got angry with me?  See how well I remember. That has been one year ago but it to me certainly does not seem so long.  You did go to Brookside with me, which was the beginning of several very pleasant trips which will always be sweet sweet memories to me.  My vacation is about 10 days off and it may be yet that you will be able to take that trip which we planned last year.

Mrs. White, I believe goes to Lincoln Hospital tomorrow to be operated upon Monday.  Mrs. Brady – Little Marcum Mitchell’s grandmother died at the City Hospital this morning. 

Of course I selected that negative which you liked better, others whose opinion I asked were about equally divided.  I send you the other which is fast fading.

Be careful for yourself.  The things you said in your last letter were surely the product of a melancholie mind – such moods are not good for you. Cheer up!!  Of course, God in His wise providence might call your mother home, and ’tis he alone who can cause me to cease loving you.  So wake up from your dream – you shall nurse, not patients for someone else, but (__?__) for yourself – Won’t you like that better.  Yes, I believe you will – Ha! ha!

Your Albert

{Had better burn this letter up}

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My grandparents, Pearl Reed and Albert Cleage, exchanged letters for several years while they were courting.  The letters go from 1907 when they met to 1912 when they were married, my father had been born and they were moving from Indianapolis, IN to Kalamazoo, MI. Unfortunately I do not have copies of my grandmother’s letters, just my grandfather’s. You can read more of Albert’s letters to Pearl and what else was going on when he wrote them, by looking at the  Index of blog posts I wrote for the A to Z Challenge in 2014. Scroll down past the posts for 2017, 2016 and 2015 until you reach 2014. Perhaps I should give each year’s index a separate page.

At one point, this letter refers back to a letter from a year ago.  You can read it here at K is for Kenwood.

Me and My Goats

Years ago I sent this to my cousin Barbara. Recently her son sent it back to me. I’m so glad I sent it because I have no other such photos.

From 1976 to 1984 I lived in Mississippi and raised some goats, children and chickens. These are four of the goats. They needed their hoofs trimmed. I could talk their language. Recently I realized that it would have been a lot less trouble to go buy a couple of gallons of milk instead of milking all those goats twice a day, buying their feed and trying to keep them confined before I gave that up and just let them wander the area, losing garden after garden as they figured out how to break in and eat it.  However, it was an experience for the whole family that would not have been replicated by buying milk.

You can read more about those years in these posts:

Rt 1 Box 38 – The Luba Project

R Is For route 1 Box 173 & 1/2

1978 – Mississippi Shoes and Film

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Uncle Louis Cleage’s Yacht

Somewhere in my letter collection, I remember a comment of my father’s, something like, “Louis joined the capitalist class” when he got the yacht. I thought it was in the collection of letters he wrote home but after reading through them several times without finding it, I think it might have been in the old, crumpling, photo album. I can’t find that either, but either way, that puts the purchase of the yacht during the late 1940s, after the end of WW2. I was only on the boat once and I got sea sick. I also got train sick and bus sick.

Louis Cleage on his yatch.

Louis must have sold the boat in the early 1950s because I don’t remember it later.  My uncles used to talk about going over to Walpole Island,  unceeded territory at the mouth of the St. Clair River, and sitting around talking with the First Nation People.  There was mention of campfires and my Uncle Hugh almost staying or being left.  I remember a boy in my 6th grade art class who was from Walpole Island. His name was Frank Shipman and he opened a jar of glue for me when no one else could get the top off.  Later he moved to Wabash street.  I do not think it compared with an island between two rivers.

Two boys from Walpole Island.

I am adding this memory from the comments from my cousin who remembers a ride on the boat.

Louis took Skip, me and two other boys on a cruise up the river into Lake St. Clair. Had to be the summer of 1947. As I remember the boys resemble boys in that photograph. They were around Skip’s age (10 or 11). Louis docked his cruiser on the Windsor side at that time. The cruiser was a nice boat – lots of room. I enjoyed myself except when we got near a lake freighter – the water got very choppy, and I started to feel sick. Other than that it was good time. I wore a life jacket.

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Congregation of Witherspoon United Presbyterian Church 1909

Witherspoon Presbyterian Church – 1909 Indianapolis, Indiana. Click to enlarge.

This is a photograph of the congregation of Witherspoon United Presbyterian Church in Indianapolis, IN in 1909, two years after they organized. This photograph is from the personal collection of my cousin Vivian Vaughn McDonald.  My grandmother Pearl Reed Cleage is the third person on the top right. My grandfather, Albert Cleage is next to her.  They wouldn’t be married for two more years. Next to Albert is his brother Jacob and next to him is their brother Henry.  Directly in front of my grandfather Albert is Jacob’s wife, Gertrude.

I was told that my grandfather’s sister Josephine, also a church member, was not there for the photograph, but was home pregnant with Hattie Ruth, the youngest of her five children. Her husband, James Cleage  stands four people to the left of Henry.  James Cleage was from a different branch of Cleages.  In the second row, second from the right, is Henrietta Cleage, oldest daughter of James and Josephine.

In the 1909 Indianapolis City Directory Witherspoon United Presbyterian Church is listed as located in Realty Hall with Rev. David White as Pastor.  I wonder if he is in this photograph and if so, which one he is?

The history below was from the Witherspoon web page, however they  have taken the history section down. My grandparents, Albert Cleage and Pearl Reed, are both listed as founders.

On April 30, 1907 the Presbytery of Indiana of the United Presbyterian Church held a called meeting at Realty Hall in response to a petition signed by 31 persons asking to be organized into a United Presbyterian congregation.

Begins With 31 Members

Prof. David Graham of Rushville was moderator and Rev. W. W. McCall of Greensburg was secretary. Other members present were Rev. Fred W. Schmuch of Milroy, Rev. N. B. McClung of Vevay, Rev. Mr. McDill of Madison, and Dr. Cowan of Indianapolis.

The petition was discussed at some length. By unanimous vote an organization was decided upon. The 31 members who signed the petition were as follows: Henry W. Cleage, Mrs. Carrie Perkins, Mrs. Emma Moore, A. T. Roney, Mrs. Cora Donann, Mrs. Cathern Crenshaw, Mrs. Daisy L. Brabham, Albert Cleage, Mrs. Gertrude Cleage, James Myers, Mrs. A. L. McElrath, O. F. Dennis, Mrs. Hattie  Mitchell, H. M. Mitchell, Mrs. Theresa Finley, Othello Finley, Miss Edith Finley, Miss Luell E. Hibbett, Mrs. Mary Peterson, Mrs. Anna Bowman, John T. Fox, Miss Pearl Reed, Thomas H. Bransford, Mrs. O. F. Dennis, Miss Alice Mathews, Miss Hilda Reeder, W. J. Perkins, Henry Moore and H. L. Hummons.

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Diving Into Lake Idlewild, July 1967

I spent much time in the summer of 1967 at my Uncle Louis’ cottage in Idlewild, MI. I was there when the Detroit Riot/Rebellion broke out and remember driving into the city on that first Sunday when it began. You can read more about that here Detroit Rebellion Journal.

I spent a lot of time that summer swimming and skating. I don’t have any photos of me skating but I have this whole series of a dive.   My sister Pearl, my cousin Jan and my mother also make brief appearances. My Uncle Henry took the photos.

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