In 1940 my grandparents and family were living at 6429 Scotten at the corner of Milford. They owned the house and it was worth $5,000. They had lived in the same place in 1935 and in fact had been there for over 20 years as all the girls in the family were born in that house. My grandfather was a medical doctor in private practice at the Cleage Clinic. The amount of money he made in 1939 was a crossed out number, replaced with “0”. He was the informant.
My grandfather was 56 years old, born in Tennessee with plus 5 years of college. My grandmother was 50, born in Kentucky with 4 years of high school. My father was 28, born in Indiana, had plus 5 years of college and was absent from the home. All the other children were born in Michigan. Louis was 26, had plus 5 years of college and absent from the home. Henry was 24 and had 5 years of college. Hugh was 21 and had 2 years of college. Barbara was 19 and had completed 1 year of college. Gladys was 17 and had completed 4 years of high school. Anna was 15 and had completed 2 years of high school.
All of the children were in school. Anna was still attending Northwestern High school. Gladys had graduated in 1939 and was a freshman at Wayne State University. Henry, Hugh and Barbara must have been at Wayne. Louis graduated from Wayne State medical school in 1940. Was he doing residency or internship outside of Detroit? My father graduated from Wayne in 1938 and was in the seminary at Oberlin College.
Source: 1940 U.S. Census. State: Michigan. County: Wayne. City: Detroit. Ward 14. Enumeration Districe: 84-787. Sheet number: 11-A. Head of household and informant: Dr. Albert B. Cleage. To see the census sheet for the Albert Cleage family click HERE.
View The Cleages on the Old West Side – 1940 in a larger map
I hadn’t realized that one of my grandmother sisters and all of my grandfather’s living siblings lived within walking distance of their house. I have labeled their houses, Northwestern High School, Wingert Elementary School and the Cleage Clinic. I sort of knew this, but I didn’t realize it until I mapped it out after finding everybody in the same neighborhood. In future posts I will share what I learned about each household in 1940.
This letter should have come before the previous post where my father writes about lecturing on his Design Theory. “Gravi” is his younger sister, Gladys who was an art student at Wayne State University in Detroit at the time. Below is a strip photograph of all the Cleages, the house on Scotten in Detroit and my parents and their apartment in LA. This is how they looked at the time the letters were written and how they were identified in the letters. If you click it, it will enlarge and you can enlarge it again which makes it big enough to see.
2130 s. Hobart Blvd. #4
Los Angeles 7, California
December ?, 1944 (note: envelope dated Dec. 20)
My dear Gravi:
I have a little problem in “Design” for you to work out for me during the Christmas vacation. (If your hectic love-life and gadding about permits of the time.) ‘taint very important, if you’re too busy.
I want you to work out some little designs (like the one you did breaking down the picture into abstract lines and masses for your first course in design…remember…you used show-card paint.
I have developed a “theory” of graphic design which I would like to illustrate. It goes as follows. All design is based upon the principle of dialectic tension and progression…moving (just as Marxian social-change…remember social-causation) from THESIS to ANTITHESIS to SYNTHESIS and BACK TO A NEW THESIS. I want abstract designs to illustrate the three stages of development and two to illustrate the proper transition between them. I will describe just what to do to design each stage as follows:
THESIS represents security…peace…calm…status-quo…the power of order… stability …etc. It is essentially unpleasant unless you are somewhat akin to a clod. It represents the Middle-class ideal…the bourgeois unconscious. it is usually used in picture of New England churches etc…There is balance…with the emphasis upon spaciousness (figures are not compactly massed)…and HORIZONTAL LINES combined with VERTICAL LINES (both boldly done. THERE ARE NO CURVES OR DIAGONAL! There can be a soft triangle but not too conspicuous (like the spire atop a church which is essentially a HORIZONTAL. ALL LINES AND MASSES indicate the STATIC QUALITY…EVERYTHING HAS TO COME TO REST! ALL DIVIATIONS HAVE BEEN SQUASHED! Simple isn’t it. You can find a picture of this sort and break it down into an abstraction if you like or just build up the abstraction.
ANTITHESIS represents REVOLT against the THESIS. It is done with diagonals (not triangles) Bold diagonals form the basis of design. Small contradictory diagonals probably in the foreground add to the general confusion. The confusion, however, is orderly because it is a design BUT EVERYTHING GIVES THE FEELING OF REVOLT or ANTITHESIS. Picture of the CITY, INDUSTRY, WAR, and POVERTY are usually designed this way to suggest the underling conflict and revolt. Do one design representing this stage.
(Inserted handwritten note by my father) “Keep the idea of one basic design merging into the next and then into the next – etc – like a circle – where the design pattern is being changed as taught by external force.”
SYNTHESIS represents the tendency of ANTITHESIS to resolve back into a new THESIS. It is the most pleasant of the three because it is a compromise having something of both. IT has something of the HORIZONTALS AND VERTICALS of the THESIS, and the DIAGONALS of the ANTITHESIS have all bee softened into CURVES. It is not so spacious as the THESIS nor so compact as the ANTITHESIS. Most rural scenes are SYNTHESIS… the rolling countryside..the soft clouds in the sky (curves) and the swaying trees…the cattle in the fields etc. all make for “SYNTHESIS” composition.
The TRANSITION between THESIS and ANTITHESIS would tend to emphasize the TRIANGLE (I think) these transitions are more difficult. Some of the stability of THESIS is maintained but the suggestion of conflict and revolt DIANGONALS is present in triangles)
The TRANSITION between ANTITHESIS and SYNTHESIS would tend to have softened diagonals which are already becoming CURVES… some would have already become horizontals and verticals (which is the result of spreading out diagonals beyond the point where they result in curves.
Simple isn’t it! you can find pictures representing each stage in that book of American Paintings… and just break down examples of each. I think the abstract breakdown would have the same FEELING (emotional effect upon the observer) as the original paintings in spite of the fact that the subject (human interest) has been lost. Incidentally this is the basis of all abstract painting! and the schools of Modernists (Cubists, Expressionists, etc.) In addition this conception should determine the artist’s rendidtion of any picture. The style he uses should be determined by the meaning of his subject. Most artists do it unconsciously but I am now in the process of bringing this great truth out into the open!
I want it for a class in CINEMATIC DESIGN because in the designing of motion pictures this unity of subject matter and graphic design is absolutely necessary…but apparently no one ever discovered it before (or why are they keeping it so secret…or don’t I read the right books!
If you have time to do them let me know. Put each one on a white cardboard and place the title (thesis, Antithesis, etc.) on each one. It would be interesting to do them all in BLACK & WHITE…and another set in COLOR (suiting the colors to the basic idea…which I would leave to you) Two sets could be done in black and white REVERSING THE VALUES IN THE SECOND SET (to prove a contention of mine that the tonal pattern is secondary to the linear pattern which would be the same even after the black and white values were reversed.) THAT WOULD MAKE THREE SETS. LET YOUR TIME BE YOUR GUIDE. SEND ME A BILL FOR THE MATERIALS. (and I’ll file it away with my other bills) Don’t take as much time with each as you took with the one you did for yourself…SO LONG AS THE BASIC IDEA IS RENDERED IN ABSTRACT DESIGN I’LL BE HAPPY. To do it myself would take twenty-years or so!
(Note written in my my mother) “Pauvre Gravi!! Beware!!! This Negro loves to see people work!! Signed, Voice of Experience.”
Memories of Easter – dying eggs in my Graham grandparent’s basement on Easter Saturday with my sister and cousins. Easter baskets with jelly beans and chocolate eggs and one big chocolate Easter bunny. Tiny fuzzy chicks. The year someone gave us 4 or 5 real chicks that died one by one in their box in the basement. Sugar eggs decorated with wavy blue, pink and yellow icing and a little scene inside. Reading the book “The Country Bunny and the Little Gold Shoes”, new clothes, going to church. Going by the Grandmother Cleage’s after church. What I don’t remember is gathering for a big Easter meal like we did for Thanksgiving and Christmas. I wonder why?
I have some Easter hats here and although you can’t see them clearly, my sister and I are holding some stuffed bunnies. To see other Easter or bunny Sepia Saturday offerings click here.
Another Christmas memory from the Ruff Draft December 1991 Issue, compiled by Ayanna.
Gladys Evans remembers when she used to take her family over to her mother, “Gammie’s” house. Her brother Louis was like Santa Claus. He didn’t put on the suit, but with all the presents, his attire was not noticed. There would be a roomful of presents. No one was allowed in. They would have to wait, to build the suspense, until Louis was ready. Then they would all open their presents. They would be just the thing for that person, not a last minute thing picked up on the way home. Gladys said she always wondered if they had left anything in the room. As soon as possible, after the hub-bub, she would go check out the room. There was never anything forgotten.
After Gammie died, Gladys said, her family (now grown with their own children) would have two or three Christmases, one at their respective homes, one with Gladys and I do believe she said they would visit Louis and Hugh also.
I don’t remember these gift laden Christmas mornings because my mother, my sister and I went to my maternal grandmother’s house first. By the time we got to Gammie’s house it would be evening and the excitement had died down. I don’t remember anything I got for Christmas then, but I do remember one of Louis later Christmas gifts. It was the Christmas of 1991. My family and Louis, Gladys and Hugh were all living in Idlewild. My cousin Jan and her family came up Christmas day from Windsor, Canada. There were a dozen kids, 7 or so adults and a friendly rotweiller gathered at Louis, Gladys and Hugh’s house. There weren’t a lot of gifts. Louis wasn’t able to go out and shop anymore. He looked around the house and came up with presents. I don’t remember what he gave everybody but I do remember the puzzle he gave us. We still have it 20 years later. I keep it out on the coffee table with the other puzzles and the grandchildren often dump it out with the intention of putting it back together but few actually can do it without spending a lot of time figuring where the pieces go. It always reminds me of Louis and I’m sure I mentioned more then once that it was a Christmas gift from him.
My Aunt Gladys Cleage Evans drew this pencil sketch of me after dinner at my grandmother Cleage’s dining room table. I did a sketch of her at the same time. It has been (thankfully) lost. At some point I tore the picture out of my journal notebook and glued it into a scrapbook. This was before I knew what glue can do. I’ve cleaned it up some. Many lively political discussions took place around that table. Click for other Sepia Saturday offerings.