Seven In A Boat

in the boat
Far left back, shadowy Henry Cleage, Louis Cleage, cousin Helen Mullins holding baby Cleage (Barbara?). In front Evelyn Douglas, Cornelius Henderson, “Toddy” (Albert B. Cleage jr)  in the boat. About 1919.

Looking at this photograph, I wondered about the lives of the children in the boat. Here are their lives in a paragraph.

Evelyn Douglas, seated on the left in the first row, was born in 1910 in Detroit. She was the only child of Dr. Edward and Louise Douglas. Her father was a dentist.  Her mother was a dressmaker before Evelyn was born. Evelyn graduated from the University of Michigan and earned a graduate degree in education. She married Charles E. Beatty, Sr., a pioneering educator, in 1935. He was the first black principal of Perry Elementary School in Ypsilanti, MI which later housed HighScope Perry Preschool program. She taught for 30 years in the Detroit Public Schools.  Evelyn was the mother of three children. She died at age 93 in 2003 in Detroit.

Cornelius Langston Henderson, who sits in the middle of the first row, was born in 1915 in Detroit, Michigan. He was an only child and grew up several blocks from the Cleages on Detroit’s Old West Side. Cornelius was named after his father, Cornelius L Henderson Sr., also born in Detroit. Like his father, Cornelius Jr became an engineer. His mother, Gertrude, born in Virginia and taught in the Washington DC public schools before she married. The younger Cornelius graduated from Howard University in Washington DC with a degree in civil engineering. He later took postgraduate classes at the University of Michigan. He worked for the City of Detroit as a civil engineer for over 30 years, where he helped design sewer systems.  He was married and raised two sons and a stepdaughter. He died in November of 1993 in Detroit and is buried in Detroit Memorial Park.

Albert B Cleage, Jr, my father, seated on the right end of the first row, was the oldest of the seven children of Dr. Albert B. Cleage Sr and Pearl Reed Cleage. He grew up to be a black nationalist minister and organizer around political and civil rights issues. He founded Central Congregational Church which became Central United Church of Christ and finally the Shrine of the Black Madonna.  He had two daughter, my sister and me. He died in 2000.

Directly behind my father is his first cousin Helen Mullins. Born in 1899 in Indianapolis, Indiana, she was the oldest of the 12 children of James and Minnie (who was my grandmother Pearl Cleage’s sister) Mullins. James Mullins held various jobs through the years, including that of fireman, carpenter and  laborer. Helen completed highschool. She married Otto Mitchell. They raised four children. In the 1940 census Helen was a telegraph operator for Western Union while Otto worked on the assemble line of an automobile factory in Detroit. They owned their own home. Helen died in 1982.

Helen is holding Barbara Cleage, my aunt. Barbara was the 5th child and first daughter of Dr. Albert and Pearl Cleage. She completed a year at Wayne State. She married Ernest Martin and had one son. Unfortunately the marriage didn’t work out and she returned to Detroit. Barbara worked as a receptionist in her father’s doctor’s office, at Cleage Printers doing layout and finally her true talent came to the fore and she organized and managed the bookstores and cultural centers for the Shrine of the Black Madonna. She was amazing at it. Barbara is 96 and lives in South Carolina.

Next, in the back row middle, we have my uncle Louis Cleage. Born in 1913 he was the 2nd of the seven children. He followed in his father’s footsteps and became a medical doctor, sharing an office with him for some years. Besides having a medical practice on Lovett Ave. in Detroit for many years, he was active in the Movement. He wrote Smoke Rings for the Illustrated News and ran for office on the Freedom Now Party ticket in 1964. He maintained a cottage in Idlewild where the family spent many happy summers. Louis died in 1994.

Last we have a partial, ghostly image of my uncle Henry Cleage. He was the third child born in 1915. He graduated from Wayne State in Detroit and became a lawyer. During WW2 he and his brother Hugh farmed as a conscientious objectors. (Where was Hugh when this picture was taken? Click to read) Henry later left the law and started Cleage Printers where he and Hugh printed far into the night putting out flyers for grocery stores, books of poetry and radical newsletters. He ran for Prosecuting Attorney on the Freedom Now ticket in 1964.  After the 1967 Detroit riot, Henry returned to the law and worked for Neighborhood Legal Services until he retired to Idlewild, MI where he fine tuned his Status Theory. He died in 1996.

The photograph in the boat was taken the day of this picnic, summer of 1919.

picnic cleage

I used news articles, census and other records from ancestry.com to fill in the lives of Evelyn Douglas and Cornelius L. Henderson, who are not related to me.

Speedwell Cavern Postcard
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On The Way Home From Work – 1943

poppy sidewalk
My grandfather, Mershell C. Graham. “On the way home from work 1943”

poppy_the_worker_poemFrom my grandmother Fannie’s scrapbook. “That’s my Shell” 1-25-59.

River Rouge Plant in Dearborn, Michigan.
River Rouge Plant in Dearborn, Michigan.

My grandfather, Mershell C. Graham came to Detroit from Montgomery, Alabama in 1917. He worked on the steamer “Eastern States” as a steward for awhile and then as a stockman in the library at the Ford River Rouge Plant in Dearborn, Michigan until he retired in the 1950s. Although he had a car, he did not drive to work, he caught the bus, first walking to the bus stop and then riding over an hour to get to work.

Unknown Man Walking
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A Remington Noiseless Poem

postcard-4.5inx6.5in-h-front

1185552_10152158205953626_515585218_n
I wrote this poem for the 2013 August Postcard Poetry Challenge and just was reminded of it while reading Crazy as a Cool Fox’s Sepia Saturday post about typewriters.

“I think getting a card that had been through a typewriter would be pretty cool.” Paul Nelson

Typing poetry straight out of my mind

to the card on this Remington noiseless

model seven is no easy task.

From a flea market to my daughter to me.

I don’t remember by mother’s underwood

being so stiff and LOUD and slow.  So

slow. I typed 36 words a minute on that

one. I type 80 words on my computer. Lucky

to type 3 words a minute here.  I took typing

in high school. Do not

remember 1 day in class.  Typed papers for

Seydou and for newsletters and after the ’67

Detroit, typed on an electric. At the

library typed index cards on a selectric, the

ball going round and across fast and smoth.

smooth, two oos. not

like this soundless/noiseless/LOUD Remington

noiseless model seven.  Let us not even consid

corrections. er.

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Three Generations

cleages3generationsThree generations of my Cleages. Front left is Henry, with Louis behind him, center is my father, Albert B. front right is Hugh. Behind Hugh is my great grandmother Celia Rice Cleage Sherman. Back left is my grandmother Pearl Reed Cleage holding baby Barbara Cleage Martin. This photograph was taken about 1921 somewhere around Detroit, Michigan, perhaps on Belle Isle.  My grandfather took the photo. There is another from the same day with him in the photo taken by my grandmother.

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Belle Isle 1947

deedee & MV at scott statueHere is a photograph of my cousin Dee Dee and her mother Mary V. Graham Elkins taken on Belle Isle in 1947. At first I thought the fuzzy black spot on the lower right was an ink spot, but when I looked closer I saw it was a little dog.  Dee Dee is looking down at it a bit apprehensively.

There are several family photographs taken around the statue of  James Scott, who donated the money for the Scott fountain and I grew up going to Belle Isle and seeing the fountain in all it’s glory but I never knew anything about James Scott until I was working on this post and found a piece on Historic Detroit that begins “The Scott Memorial Fountain is the jewel of Belle Isle – and a monument to a womanizing scoundrel.” and gets worse from there.  Click the link for the full article.

 

James Scott statue and fountain - Detroit Michigan
Mikerussell at en.wikipedia
A picture of the fountain with the James Scott statue.  You can see a short video of the workings of the fountain underneath here “Underneath Belle Isle…”

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Subject and Photographer

Me, 1949. My father is reflected in the mirror.

This shot was taken in our living room in the parsonage of St. John’s Congregational Church in Springfield, Mass.  I just noticed the reflection of my father taking the picture last night. I looked everywhere for that teapot in later years but it was lost in one of the various moves. It was blue with a gold design over it.  The couch was with us for many years.  Eventually the cushions were covered in reddish leather, or something like it. I remember that table, which was also around for a long time. And those little plastic records my sister and I used to play on our little phonograph.

Bringing this back from August 2011 for this weeks Sepia Saturday prompt showing a mirror and the reflection of the photographer. If only I had a rose behind my ear like Billie Holiday.

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Boulé

barbarannabeauties_2Here are 6 young women at a Boulé event back in the 1940s in or outside of Detroit.  Two of my aunts are in the picture. Barbara Cleage is front and center with a light dress and jacket. At the end of the line is my aunt Anna Cleage who seems to be wearing trousers.  Unfortunately the photo was unlabeled and I do not know the names of the others.  I recognized the woman on the far right as one in the background photograph of the photograph of my grandfather, Albert B. Cleage Sr with a camera.  Sheryl asked last week what sort of even my grandfather was attending. It made me go back and look at the background in the photo below and then look for photographs that appear to have been taken on the same day.  You can read an post from 2012 about the Boulé at this link.

abcsrcameraMy grandfather Albert B. Cleage with his camera.  In the background we see the young woman with her hand on her hip and the dark dress, from the first photo above.  The woman closer to us in the striped outfit, carrying a big purse, appears in the bleachers (which we see in the background here) in the photo below.

boule event 1940s 6The 4th woman from the right, first row, is in the photo with my grandfather to his left.  Above her head, on the top row are some of the young women from the first photo above.

cornelius & camera manFirst a photo of the men, then one of the women.  Or vice versa.  Who is that on the second row taking a photograph of the photographer? Front row center is Cornelius Henderson, engineer who graduated from the University of Michigan and helped design the Ambassador Bridge between Detroit and Windsor.

Cornelius Henderson Belle Isle BridgeCornelius L. Henderson

boule event 1940s 4My grandmother second bench, 2nd from right. My aunt Anna (from the photo of the lovelies) can be seen behind the lady first in my grandmother’s row.  My aunt Barbara is 1 person over from Anna. You can see the woman in the striped dress in the first photograph lineup. Toward the left side, top row, you can see another young woman from the first photo.boule event 1940s 3I do not see any family members but do notice the men and women are sitting together in this one. I wonder how the man in front lost his leg.

 

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The Cleage Photographers

I first shared these photographs 5 years ago. Time to bring it back.

My grandfather, Albert B. Cleage, Sr. – 1950s
My father Albert B. Cleage Jr, 1940’s.
My uncle Louis Cleage – 1940’s
My uncles Henry and Hugh Cleage – 1960’s
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