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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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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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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Henry Cleage 1916 – 1996

henry laugh sepia
Henry Cleage

Part 1

(The links will take you to posts I have written that give more details about his life.)

Henry Wadsworth Cleage was born March 22, 1916, six months after his family moved from Kalamazoo to Detroit, Michigan.  He was born at home on 1355 24th Street, the 3rd of the 7 children of Dr. Albert B. Cleage SR and his wife Pearl Reed Cleage. This was my first digression.  I went to look on Google Maps to see if the house was still there.  It wasn’t. There are mostly empty lots with a few houses scattered about. The house was located on the corner of 24th Street and Porter, a few blocks from the Detroit River And the Ambassador Bridge.

Between January and June of 1920, when Henry was 5 years old, the family moved 3 miles north to a large brick house on 6429 Scotten Ave.  My grandmother was pregnant with Barbara, her 5th child and first daughter, who was born in the new house. I remember my aunt Gladys telling me that all the girls were born in that house on Scotten.

Henry and his siblings attended Wingert Elementary school, a few blocks from the house. He built forts in the backyard with his brothers and neighborhood friends and told of riding his bike out Tireman to the country where they roasted potatoes in a campfire.  His father’s mother Celia Rice Cleage Sherman stayed with the family during that time.

He attended McMichael Junior High School and then Northwestern High School.  While at Northwestern he played in the school orchestra and the All City Orchestra, played school baseball and was on the 12-A dues committee.

After high school Henry attended Wayne University, getting his BA and then entered Law at Wayne school.   These posts talk about his life during those days Henry Cleage’s Journal 1936,  Follow up on Henry’s Diary.

Henry married Alice in 1941.  When WW2 started, Henry and his brother were conscientious objectors and moved to a farm in Avoca where they raised dairy cows and chickens.  Henry and Alice were divorced in 1943.

While on the farm, Henry wrote short stories and sent them out to various magazines of the day. None were published. I shared two of them earlier – Just Tell The Men – a short story by Henry Cleage and another short story Proof Positive. In 1947 Henry returned and completed Law School and began practicing in Detroit and Pontiac.

This ends part 1 of the life of Henry Cleage.

Note: You can find out more about Henry’s time as a conscientious objector in this post – Of Cows and Conscientious Objectors.

 

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Northwestern High School & Cleage Graduates

old northwestern
The original Northwestern High School stood on the corner of Grand River and West Grand Blvd in Detroit.  It was built in 1911.

 

When I finished writing up this post, I googled Northwestern High School and found the following statement in an online article from 2011 about school closures in Detroit:

“The academic program at Northwestern High School will close and the Detroit Collegiate Preparatory High School program will relocate from the east wing of Northwestern into the main academic part of the facility. Because of the importance of the Northwestern name to DPS and the community, this new program will be called Detroit Collegiate Preparatory High School at Northwestern.”

So,  like so many other places of importance in my early life in Detroit, Northwestern High is no more.  The original building was replaced in 1980 and the school was closed in 2011. So many of my family attended high school at Northwestern, some just for a year or two.  Here is something about those who graduated, starting with Alberta Cleage in 1927 and ending with my sister Pearl in 1966.

Click on any image to enlarge.

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Alberta blog HSCousin Alberta Cleage, my grandfather’s brother Edward;s daughter, came up from Athens Tennessee to stay with her Uncle Albert and his family and graduated from Northwestern High School in 1927.

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albert sax HS______________

My uncle Louis Cleage graduated Cum Laude in 1931 and appeared in a picture of the physics lab, right there lower right, first desk.  Advertisements for his medical practice appeared in the Norwester in 1941 and 1942.

Louis Cleage HS

louis ads hs___________________

Henry Cleage appears in a photograph of the orchestra in 1933 and as a graduating senior in 1934.  He is in the back row, 4th from the left with his cello.

henry Cleage_band blog__________________

hughface<– My uncle Hugh Cleage graduated in 1936, unfortunately that yearbook is missing.

barbara hs

 

My aunt Barbara Cleage graduated in 1938 but, again the yearbook is missing.–>

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My aunt Gladys Cleage graduated in 1939.  In the photo on the right Gladys is standing in front of the back steps. You can see Henry over her right shoulder. Not sure who the other two are but my grandmother Pearl is looking through the screen door.

gladys Cleage HS plus___________________

My cousin Geraldine Cleage, Uncle Henry’s daughter graduated in 1940.  They lived a few blocks from my grandparent’s house on Scotten.

geri cleage HS______________________

Anna Cleage graduated from Northwestern in 1942 and appeared in the Norwester and in 1947 in the yearbook when she graduated from Wayne State University.

anna HS 1942

Anna 1947 WSU
Anna’s Wayne State University graduation photograph from 1947.

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I, Kristin Cleage, graduated from Northwestern in 1964.

honor society 1a

That is me in the middle, 2nd row. I pretty much looked like that throughout my high school career.  I did not take a senior photo and didn’t plan to go to my graduation, but did end up going. Do not remember a thing about it.

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My sister Pearl Cleage graduated from Northwestern in 1966.  No yearbook photo available, but this is how she looked.

pearlscholarship1966 pearl_1966hs

 

 

 

 

 

Four State Negroes Earn Scholarships

“National Achievement scholarships have been awarded to four Michigan Negro students according to a recent release from the National Merit Scholarship Corp.

Students winning the scholarships, which range from $250 to $1,500 a year, are Pearl Cleage, Detroit; Evans E. Pate Jr., Detroit: Ivy L. Thomas, Flint, and Vernice V. Killough, Remus.”       The News-Palladium, Benton Harbor, Mich.  Wednesday, February 2, 1966

Pearl gave the valadictorian speech at her graduation. Jim advised her to speak out against the war in Vietnam. She was horrified at the thought and regrets now that she did not do it.

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Cousin Geraldine Cleage’s son Shelton Hill also graduated in 1966. Unfortunately, I have no photograph of him from this time.

new northwestern
The new Northwestern High School, dedicated in 1980, stood down the street from the old site on West Grand Blvd.

Photographs of Northwestern High School are from the Website for the Alumni Association – NWHSAA.

The Freedom Now Party – William Worthy Speech 1963

Inspired by a Facebook post by my cousin Nikki, I went through my collection of The Illustrated News and found the first mention of the Freedom Now Party (FNP).  In the days to come, I will be posting a series of The Illustrated News issues that mention the FNP.  There is a lot of reading there but I hope some will wade through it.  This is the September 2, 1963 issue.  The story about the FNP is on page 2.  Other posts about the FNP are The Freedom Now Party Convention 1964 and Interview with Henry Cleage.  Click any image to enlarge.

 The Illustrated News was published during the early 1960s by my father’s family and family friends.  Two of his brothers, Henry and Hugh, started a printing business because the family was always looking for ways to be economically independent.  The main business was printing handbills for small grocery stores.   They started several newspapers.  First they did The Metro but the one I remember best is The Illustrated News. It was printed on pink paper (that was what was left over after printing the handbills) and distributed to churches and barber shops around the inner city. Some people had subscriptions. My father wrote many of the lead articles. My Uncle Louis wrote Smoke Rings, which was always on the back page. Billy Smith took most of the photographs.

illustrated news sept 2 1963 pg1 illustrated news sept 2 1963 pg2 illustrated news sept 2 1963 pg3 illustrated news sept 2 1963 pg4 illustrated news sept 2 1963 pg5illustrated news sept 2 1963 pg6illustrated news sept 2 1963 pg7illustrated news sept 2 1963 pg8

Fish and Fillets – Idlewild Michigan 1977 & 1979

My mother, Doris Graham Cleage, holding a string of fish on Water Mill Lake.
My mother, Doris Graham Cleage, holding a string of blue gills she and Henry caught in Lake Idlewild in 1977.

On the left my Uncle Henry is holding a ten inch blue gill that he and my mother caught in September of 1977 in a boat off of my Uncle Louis’ dock on Lake Idlewild.  They would fillet them and freeze them in empty milk cartons.

On the right is a boat in front of Louis’ cottage on Idlewild Lake. I can’t quite make it out, but could be them catching the above string of fish.

In June, 1979 my mother sent to the Emergency Land Fund’s newspaper “Forty Acres and A Mule” her recipe for cooking blue gills.  I wish I had a plate of those blue gills right now.

idlewild lake with boat 1977:sept 10" blue gill from L. Idlewild

bluegill recipe - doris cleage******************************

I just remembered this letter with a drawing of a fish that my mother wrote to Henry from Idlewild in 1956.

Letter my mother wrote in 1956 from Louis's cottage in Idlewild.
From a letter my mother wrote in 1956 from Louis’s cottage in Idlewild.

“In between showers, the children & I go outside to see what’s up.  The lake is full of minnows & baby bass & even some half-size bass who stay around our beach.  But the rowboat isn’t even down the hill – and the other boats are too fast – everything is gone before you even get to it – including the lake.

I’ve spent two evenings with Louis & his guests – and they took me out to “night club” – but they’ve given me up, I think, as a confirmed “prude” – but a pleasant innocuous one.  I’ve been reading the book about Bronson alcott (no, I won’t tell you who he is) and also…”

kris,ma,pearlon dock
Me, my mother and Pearl on Louis’ dock that summer of 1956.

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I was going to write about the time when we hand printed fish one spring in Idlewild. Unfortunately, we don’t seem to have saved any of our prints. I did not know printing fish was a Japanese art form called Gyotaku.  Ours were not as lovely as those at the link, but they were interesting.

Note:  My sister tells me she has some of those prints. Whenever she finds them, I will add them to this post.

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“Anthropoid, anthropoid, don’t kill me yet!”

antrhopoidMy sister Pearl as the anthropoid, about 1961 at Old Plank.

My family had a tradition of chasing the children around while acting like a monster.  My Uncle Louis was the master and didn’t need any sort of mask or costume to send us screaming into the lake at Idlewild.  He just twisted up his face and hands and came towards us and that was it.

My uncle Henry got the mask above from somewhere and incorporated that into the scary chases.  You had to holler out “Anthropoid, anthropoid, don’t kill me yet!”  when he got too close, in order to escape.  Aside from putting on the mask for photo ops, I remember once time we put it on, wrapped in a blanket and sat on the lawn toward the road where we hoped to scare drivers passing the house.  I don’t remember any wrecks so I guess no harm was done.

By the time my children came along, my cousin Warren used to take them on a bear hunt. I remember one time that he worked it out with another cousin to be out in the woods where he drove and stopped and told the kids, who as I remember were in the back of a pickup with a camper, that they were waiting there to see the bear.  The other cousin starting growling and knocking on the truck and finally my cousin drove off, it was dark or almost dark. He said they had a close escape.  Later, when we were all inside, the other cousin came around tapping on the windows.  The bear!

My cousin and me playing in the sand during the visit Louis chased her into the lake.
My cousin and me playing in the sand on the beach in Idlewild during the visit my uncle Louis chased her into the lake. July 1955.

Nobody was terrified of the bears or monsters, well maybe my cousin Barbara who did run into the lake, but mostly it was the enjoyable kind of being scared while knowing you are safe.

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Aunts & Uncles

book+of+me+adYesterday I talked about cousins, today I am going to share something about my aunts and uncles, some plain old aunts and uncles and some great and some 2X great.

Pearl and Albert with their children and 3 of the grandchildren. My sister and I were at our other grandmothers and the youngest 4 were not yet born. 1951.
Pearl and Albert with their children and 3 of the grandchildren. My sister and I were at our other grandmothers and the youngest 4 were not yet born. 1951.

 Because my family seemed to socialized mainly with each other and a few long time family friends, I saw a lot of my aunts and uncles. When I was growing up, we spent every Saturday with my mother’s sister, Mary V. and her daughters at our maternal grandparents. We all rode over and back together. We also lived down the street and went to the same school so we saw her often.

My father’s family was very close and worked on political and freedom causes together through the years. We all went up to Idlewild together. Uncle Louis was our family doctor. My first jobs were working with Henry and Hugh at Cleage Printers.  I babysat one summer for Anna and Winslow.  I worked at North Detroit General Hospital in the pharmacy with Winslow. I worked with Gladys and Barbara at the Black Star sewing factory. My mother married my Uncle Henry years after my parents divorced so he was like a second father to me.  I raked their memories for stories about the past for decades.

My mother and her sister with cousin Dee Dee inbetween. Front row: Me, sister Pearl and cousin Barbara.
My mother and her sister with cousin Dee Dee inbetween. Front row: Me, sister Pearl and cousin Barbara.
  • Aunts by blood and Uncles by marriage.
    Aunts by blood and Uncles by marriage.
aunt_abbie
Aunt Abbie – my great grandmother Turner’s sister.

I had 4 aunts and 5 uncles, by blood. Two of my uncles died when they were children so I never knew them. All of my aunts married so there were 4 uncles by marriage. Three, Ernest, Frank and Edward, were eventually divorced from my aunts. I didn’t see them very much after that. Ernest lived in NYC and only appeared now and then so I didn’t know him very well beyond the fact he was very good looking and polite. Uncle Frank, who we called ‘Buddy’, was a an electrician. I remember him taking us to Eastern Market and boiling up a lot of shrimp,which we ate on soda crackers. And a story he told about a whirling dervish seen in the distance that turned into a dove. Edward, who we called Eddie was a doctor and I remember little about him except he was quiet and when I had a bad case of teenage acne, offered to treat it for me.  Uncle Winslow was there to the end. I saw him often and I felt very connected to him. He had a wicked sense of humor and liked to talk about the past when I was in my family history mode. None of my uncles were married during my lifetime so I had no aunts by marriage.

We didn’t call our aunts and uncles “aunt” and “uncle”.  We called them by their first names only.  I did know two of my great aunts, my maternal grandmother’s sisters, Daisy and Alice.  I knew one of my 2 X great aunts, Aunt Abbie. She lived with my grandparents until she died in 1966. Aunt Abbie was Catholic and I still have a Crucifix that she gave me.

I remember calling Daisy “Aunt Daisy”, but Alice was just “Alice”.  Aunt Daisy had a distinctive voice and she laughed a lot. I remember going to dinner at their house once, and going by on holidays.

daisy_alice_1961_boblo
My maternal grandmother’s sisters, Aunts Alice and Daisy. On Bob-lo Island 1961.

There were a host of great aunts and uncles that I never met but I knew from stories about them so that I felt like I knew them.  Aunt Minnie and Uncle Hugh were my paternal grandmother’s siblings.  I must have met several of my paternal grandfather’s siblings but I was small and don’t remember them, Uncle Jake, Uncle Henry, Aunt Josie and their spouses.  And on the maternal side I heard so much about my great grandmother Jennie’s siblings that I felt I knew them too.  When I started researching, these were not strangers – Aunt Willie, Aunt Mary, Aunt Beulah, Aunt Anna.

header_eliza
2X Great Grandmother Eliza and her children. My 2X great aunts and uncle.  Aunt Mary, Ransom, Aunt Abbie, Aunt Beulah, Eliza, Great Grandmother Turner, Aunt Anna and Aunt Willie. Don’t know why Ransom was just ‘Ransom’.

We didn’t call any of my parent’s friends ‘aunt’ or ‘uncle’. Not surprising since we didn’t call our own aunts and uncles, ‘aunt’ and ‘uncle’.

Left to right: Albert, Josephine, Edward. Back L Henry, back R Jacob
Left to right: My grandfather Albert Cleage with my great aunt and great uncles, Aunt Josie, Uncle Ed. Back L Uncle Henry, back R Uncle Jake.

Henry Rototilling Garden at Old Plank

Henry Cleage rotilling the garden at Old plank which Hugh Cleage watches.
Henry Cleage rotilling the garden at Old plank while Hugh Cleage watches.
examiningpotatoesoldplank
Picking potatoes at Old Plank.
henryhugh@oldplank
Holding potatoes.

To see more about Old Plank read this post from the past:

Picking Beans – Old Plank 1963

Playing Poker at Old Plank – 1962

Old Plank road in Shadow – 1962

 

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