The 5th Annual iGene Awards!

Once again it’s time for the Annual IGene Awards when we look over our blog posts for the previous year and pick those we think are deserving of winning in one of five categories – Best Photograph, Best Screen Play, Best Documentary, Best Comedy and Best Biography.  Before we start, I must thank my family for both their written contributions and their behind the scenes inspiration. Without further ado, here are my winners for this year.

 

For Best Photograph my mother once again stole the show, this time sharing the spotlight with my father in the photo My Parents About 1943   taken at the Meadows.

 

For Best Screen Play He Had Him Hidden Under the Floor, based on the story told to me by my cousin Jacqui about the daring rescue of a local black dentist from the angry mob of white men by her grandfather, Victor Tulane. It takes place around 1918 in Montgomery Alabama. The movie begins with dentist William Watkins flight from his house located 3 minutes away to the Tulane’s home.  It’s dark and Aunt Willie and Naomi are already asleep as he’s ushered inside by Victor.  Next we see the light shinning through the window, waking up the women. We see the mob come in and go through the search of the house and don’t know until after the mob leaves that indeed the dentist is there, hidden in a secret place under the floor.   Of course Aunt Willie and Naomi are terrified without knowing that he’s in the house because after all, a mob is a mob and where it will end you never know. It ends with his ride to the train station under the produce and we see the train leaving the station with him on it and perhaps Victor Tulane heading back home down the still dark and lonely street, which is just beginning to wake up.

I called on my sister Pearl Cleage to cast my movie because she is a playwrite and knows about those things. Not to mention she watches movies and plays and knows who would work while I do not have a clue. From Pearl…

Okay here’s my cast. I think the way you laid out the movie was great, from the arrival of Dr. Watkins with the women being sent back to bed, through the mob search, through the ride to the train station and the farewell in the early hours of the morning. I can truly see the ending with Victor Tulane heading home in the dark. bravo. You get the Oscar for the screenplay. I get the one for casting:

Dr. William Watkins: Terrance Howard, currently being seen in “Red Tails,” where he plays one of the Tuskegee airmen. Nominated for an Oscar for “Hustle & Flow,” where he played the lead. He was also featured in “The Best Man,” and has appeared in many films, playing a variety of characters.

Victor Tulane: Idris Elba, a British actor of African descent who can do such a convincing American accent that when he first got famous in the USA for his role on “The Wire,” playing a Baltimore gangster, people were shocked to hear him on the talk shows speaking with his real accent, which is undeniably British. I’m sure he could do a perfect Alabama accent. He was wonderful in the Guy Ritchie film “RocknRolla,” and has been in many films and television series.

Willie Lee Tulane: Viola Davis, Oscar nominated star of “The Help,” Tony Award winning star of “Fences” on Broadway. Also known for her ten minute turn in the film “Doubt” where she played an anguished mother with amazing grace, truth and dignity. She would be able to bring the complexity required of the role of Mrs. Tulane, who has to remain calm in the face of terror she knows all too well.

Naomi Tulane Vincent: Phylea Rashad, daughter of actress Phylicia Rashad, who is currently featured in a critically praised role in the Broadway play, “Stickfly.” she also won critical acclaim for her role in Lynn Nottage pulitzer prize winning play, “Ruined.”

Klansman #1: Billy Bob Thorton, featured in films as different as “Monster’s Ball,” and “Pushing Tin.” A great actor with a great southern accent. He makes a great bad guy and could play the role of the klansman who comes to the door.

Klansman #2: Sean Penn, featured in many films, including “Milk,” where he played San Francisco activist Harvey Milk so realistically it was hard to watch him get killed at the end. Penn can also play a convincing bad guy and would be great walking through the house with Billy Bob.

Best Documentary – Is the combined series featuring several doctors in Detroit and how their lives were interwoven with the lives of both sides of my family. It started with these two posts earlier in the year “Births, Deaths, Doctors and Detroit – Part 1” , “Births, Deaths, Doctors and Detroit – Part 2″. The more recent posts started with “The Hat”“Dr. Palmer Gamble – Solving Mysteries Part 1”, “Dr. Alexander Turner – Solving Mysteries Part 2” and finally “Loudin’s Jubilee Singers and a Clock.”.

Best Biography goes to “Growing Up – In Her Own Words” by Doris Graham Cleage for telling her own story.  Last year she won the best biography with a story about her mother, Fannie Turner Graham.

 

And once again Henry Cleage walks away with Best Comedy for one of his short stories,“The Devilish Ghost”, written in his usual suave, wise cracking style. There is a special guest appearance by piano playing fool Slim Gaillard, also a Detroiter.

To read other igene offerings, click here. Thank you, Jasia, for once again hosting them. I enjoy writing and reading them.

 

Dr. Alexander Turner – Solving Mysteries – Part 2

While trying to identify the people in the hat photo, I looked through my stash and found more photographs with some of the same people. They might have been taken at the same time, but might not have. Several other people were also included. On the back of one was written “Dr. Turner”.

The women are my grandmother Pearl Cleage, Melzetta Gamble, lady in the polka dot hat, Leota Turner. Men are Dr. Alexander Turner and my grandfather Albert Cleage.

I wrote this earlier post which mentions Dr. Turner, “Births, Deaths, Doctors and Detroit – part 2“.  It was about the doctors that delivered three of my grandmother Fannie Graham’s babies and was with her two sons when they died.  So, I figured that I KNEW Dr. Turner but I decided to look some more anyway. And I thought maybe the lady in the polka dot hat was his wife.  Using Ancestry.com, FamilySearch.org, google maps, books and search along with newspaper articles found at GenealogyBank.com I was able to put together the following picture of Dr. Alexander Turner. And I did find his wife but it wasn’t the woman in the polka dot hat.

The “Michigan Manual of Freedmen’s Progress” published in 1915 to”celebrate 50 years of freedom for the former Negro slaves of this nation…” had this to say,

“Turner, Alexander L., M.D., 1042 W. Warren, Detroit.  Born in Georgia.  Graduate of the medical department of the University of Michigan.  Started his practice in Detroit, 1910 and became highly successful in the treatment of diseases peculiar to women and children.  Dr. Turner is also a Pharmacist and is the proprietor of two drugstores in the city of Detroit.”

In the 1900 census Alexander L. Turner was a 16 year old boarder living in Ravenna, Ohio.  The head of the household was Frederick Loudin who was 64 years old, occupation listed as “Showman”. The others making up the household were:  Wife, Harriett, age 54. No children. No occupation. Sister, Adeline Henson 54, widowed with one child and occupation housekeeper. Niece, Leota Henson 33, single with no children, occupation Musician. Alexander’s occupation was “at school.”

Frederick and Harriett Loudin. Click to see more photos.

Alexander graduated from the Ravenna high school in 1904 and then attended Buchtel College in Acron, Ohio. An article in The Gazette, a black newspaper out of Cincinnati, Ohio, ran a short article about Turner’s graduation it read.

“Graduation Present

Alexander Turner was made a graduation present of fifty dollars in gold by F.J. Loudin and wife.  Alexander came here from the south a few years ago.  He worked at the Loudin home and went to school.  He proved to be one of the brightest students that ever attended the Ravenna schools and he was a faithful worker for the Loudins.  For his faithfulness he received the reward mentioned above on Tuesday.

The commencement exercises of the high school were held recently in the First Congregational church (white) and Alexander Leigh Turner, one of the few Afro-American graduates who has completed the courses and received a diploma from the schools, fairly thrilled his hearers by his oration on “The Negro and His Progress” forcible and eloquently delivered.”

Later Alexander took the name “Loudin” as his middle name.  I can only suppose it was in honor of the Frederick J. Loudin.  This story ran on July 2, 1904. On November 3 of the same year Frederick J. Loudin died.  His wife, Harriett, died later that same year.

In April of 1905 while a student at Buchtel College Turner and Harry Proctor sued the Ravenna Rollar Rink Co. under the Ohio Civil Rights Law for refusing to allow them to skate after selling them tickets for skating. They won the suit.

After graduating from Buchtel College Turner enrolled in the University of Michigan Medical College. On September 16, 1908 twenty seven year old Alexander L. Turner married 45 year old Leota F. Henson in Ann Arbor Michigan. Leota’s mother  lived with them at 603 Catherine St. The house is still there.

In 1912 Turner graduated and the family moved to Detroit where he began to practice medicine. On his WW1 draft registration card he is described as 5 ft. 8 inches, slender with brown eyes and black hair.  He lived at 1042 Warren Ave. West and practiced at 287 Saint Antoine St. down the block from Dr. Gambles office. All these places are long gone, urban renewed decades ago.

In 1918 Turner was one of the founders of Dunbar Hospital where he was the chief of surgery.  You can read more about the founding of Dunbar in the post mentioned earlier,  “Births, Deaths, Doctors and Detroit – part 2”. In that post I also described what the Turner’s suffered when they attempted to move into a house on Spokene Ave, into a white community on Detroit’s west side.  At that time some white men forced their way into the house, put a gun to Turner’s head and demanded he sign the house over to them. He did.  He and his wife and mother-in-law, were escorted out of the house, their furniture was packed in a van by the mob and in a hail of thrown objects that shattered the windshield, they drove back to their house on W. Warren where they resumed life.  Can you imagine the rage, the shame and the helplessness they must have felt as they drove away from that house? I don’t have the address of the house on Spokene, but here is a photograph from google maps that shows houses in that area today.

All of this happened not very far from  the Cleages house on Scotten (which was in a black neighborhood), from my grandfather’s Cleage Clinic on Lovett and Mcgraw, the high school my father and his siblings  attended and even closer to 5397 Oregon where my family lived in the 1960’s.  I’ve marked the places on the map below.

The gazette in Cleveland ran a lengthy article on July 11, 1925 in which they talk about the incident and also a short item supporting the Turners.  I will just include the short item.

I did not find anything else about the suit so I can’t report if they won any damages or not.  Perhaps they were most pleased with Leota Turner because it was reported that she didn’t want her husband to sign the papers, even though he had a gun to his head. It is said some thought him cowardly for doing so.

In June of 1943 Detroit experienced a race riot. Thirty-four people died during that week.  A year later Dr. Turner and his wife returned to Ravenna, Ohio where he died of a heart attack at 11pm on August 12.  he was 61 years old. His father was listed as Alfred Turner and his mother as Lucy, maiden name unknown.  Dr. Alexander Loudin Turner was buried in Maple Grove Cemetery in Ravenna, Ohio, on August 15.  Leota Turner was the informant on the death certificate.  She lived until 1955.  I will tell her story and that of her uncle Frederick Loudin in part 3, which will fit nicely with the Sepia Saturday theme of the theater.

Leota Henson Turner date unknown. Click to see more photos.

 

Dr. Alexander Turner, 1926

 

Dr. Parker Blair Gamble – Solving Mysteries – Part 1

Since posting “The Hat” on January 12 I have been sucked into a research whirlpool.  It wasn’t that hard to find some of the names. I looked on the backs of other photos in the set and found “Dr. Gamble” and “Mrs Gamble” identified.

Of course I wasn’t satisfied with just their names.  Where were they from? What building was that in the background? How did they meet my grandparents? Why were they all in the DC area?   When were these photographs taken? And who was the lady in the polka dot hat?

I thought the building might be on the Howard University campus in Washington, DC, but looking at photos online I was unable to find one that looked exactly right. I asked my sister, who attended Howard, if she thought it was on the campus and she suggested it was Freedmen’s Hospital, which was established in 1862 and served as the teaching hospital for Howard. The building shown below was new and completed in 1909. Googling “Freedmen’s Hospital” I found several photographs of the hospital that showed me she was right.

Dr. Gamble in front of Freedmen’s Hospital in Washington D.C.  My grandparents in back.
Dr. and Mrs. Gamble

I needed the Gamble’s first names to do more research. First I looked at a photograph I have of the doctors who practiced at Dunbar Hospital in 1922 to see if he was there.  He was and you can see him third from the right in the first row.  His name is listed as Parker G. Gamble. His middle name was actually Blair. My grandfather is on the end of that same row, on the far right.

Next I looked in a book I have called “Michigan Manual of Freedmen’s Progress” published in 1915 to”celebrate 50 years of freedom for the former Negro slaves of this nation…” where I found this entry for Parker Gamble on page 53.

“Gamble, Parker Blair,M.D., 226 E. Lafayette, Detroit.  Born at Chattenooga, Tenn.  Graduate of Knoxville College and the medical department of the University of Michigan, class of 1912.  Like almost all other Negro Professional persons, Dr. Gamble worked his way to his sheepskin and is now successfully practicing medicine in Detroit.”

With this information it was easy to go to Ancestry.com and Familysearch.org and find the following information in census records, draft registration records and marriage records.  I also googled and found small bits of information online.

In 1900, 14 year old Parker Gamble was in school.  He lived in Hamilton County, Tennessee with his parents, Wesley and Mary Gamble. There were six children in the family ranging  from 20 year old Lula who was teaching to 12 year old Jessie. All the younger children were in school.  Mary Gamble had birthed nine children and six were still living. Wesley Gamble earned his living as an iron moulder, that is he made molds for casting iron.

Parker attended Knoxville at the same time as my grandfather, Albert B. Cleage.  In 1906 he graduated. He enrolled in the University of Michigan Medical College and worked his way through.  I wonder if he worked on the cruise lines that went from Detroit to New York, as my grandfather did in the summers to pay for his education. On September 21, 1909 twenty four year old Parker married twenty two year old Melzetta M. Crosby, a teacher in Ypsilanti Michigan. In 1912 he graduated and moved to Detroit to practice medicine.

By 1918  Dr. Gamble had his own practice as a physician and surgeon  at 346 St. Antoine on the east side of Detroit.  According to his World War 1 draft registration papers he was 5 foot 6 inches tall and weighed 178 lbs with brown hair and brown eyes.  His wife, Melzetta Gamble was someone who would always know where he was.

He and his wife had no children.  By 1942 according to his his World War 2 draft registration he was an inch taller and had gained 10 lbs. His hair was showing some grey mixed with the brown and he had a mustache.

I found a few things out about him by googling. He wrote a thank you letter to W.E.B Dubois.  He introduced another doctor at the National Medical Association Convention held in Detroit in 1927. There is a scholarship for medical students in his name at Wayne State University.  Dr. Parker Gamble died in 1948.

Dr. Parker Gamble seems to have led a pretty quiet life.  The same cannot be said for Dr. Alexander Turner and his wife Leota Henson Turner who I will write about in part two of Solving Mysteries.