You can read a bit about Louis in this earlier Sepia Saturday post #79 – Uncle Louis Plays the Organ.
You can read a bit about Louis in this earlier Sepia Saturday post #79 – Uncle Louis Plays the Organ.
This is the second batch of photographs fulfilling missed prompts for Sepia Saturday 47 – 200. With this I have answered every prompt since I began with #47.
My father and his siblings with other children at The Meadows. About 1930. In the first row, L > R Henry, Barbara, Gladys and Anna Cleage. In the second row also L >R, Albert Jr, Louis and Hugh Cleage. Unfortunately, I do not know the other children’s names.
My grandmother Fannie Mae Turner Graham all dressed up for church by her back steps. I wonder what that box in the kitchen window was. I found that there were “window refrigerators” in use during the depression. You can see one here “LawCo vintage Window Refrigerator“. Or even better, here “Window Icebox, A Money Saver.” Herb Mandel describes using one as a boy.
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.
A copy of the Illustrated News, published by Henry Cleage, other family members and friends from 1961 to 1964. It came out several weeks after the massive Detroit Walk to Freedom down Woodward Avenue on June 23, 1963. Click the link above to read an Illustrated News issue covering the march.
The inside pages are reprinted from The National Observer and Business Week June 29, 1963. The cover photo was taken by William “Billy” Smith. The “Smoke Rings” on page 8 were written by my uncle, Dr. Louis J. Cleage. Click on any image to enlarge.
My 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!
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.
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.
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.
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.
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’.
In 1943 my Uncle Louis Cleage and family friend, Paul Payne bought some lots in Idlewild, Michigan. Idlewild is a black resort located in the Manistee National Forest in Lake County. It’s 5 hours north of Chicago and 4 hours northwest of Detroit. Lake Michigan is half an hour away at Ludington. I’ve posted some photographs, documents and letters showing the progress of the original cottages. They did much of the work themselves. If you find the letter my grandfather wrote back to Detroit hard to read, scroll down to the transcription below.
(note: During WW 2, two of my uncle’s were conscientious objectors and farmed near Avoka, MI. They had milk cows and chickens, among other things. Their younger sister sold the eggs in Detroit around the neighborhood. While she was up in Idlewild, she needed someone at home – her mother – to handle the egg route. Like a paper route, but with eggs. Read more here.)
7/29/1944 Idlewild of Idle men and wild women.
Dear Folks –
We arrived about 2 o’clock. The trip was uneventful except for rain – on and off. Mrs. Hedgeman and Stith were here when we arrive just about ready to leave. Cottage is nice, was awfully cold and gloomy out. The rain seems over now and we are hoping for a brighter, warmer and happier day tomorrow.
The girls are now investigating the yard, lake, boats, etc. Gladys and I crossed the continent and visited the cottage with bad writing of J.L. Cleage and Payne – well, will say you have a nice location with huge possibilities. Nice beachhead etc, and hedgerows.
House is wired, but electricity has not been brought in from road. I have seen Mr. Ellison. He was not in when I first went but talked to the man who was and he wired it. He stated could not get the wire for bringing it into the house on account of it being a “tourist” cabin; and he didn’t think would be able to get it this year.
Later saw Mr. Ellison who said he would see about it again Monday and let me know what he can do. I will also see the Edison Co. if possible and urge the emergency toward the war effort etc.
There don’t seem to be many people here. However it is so cold they maybe in the house. Hope everything is alright. We will get the boat tomorrow. Everything will be ok. Write further instructions, if any – Anna Celia’s egg route book in her room on bookshelf –
Today I am previewing my paternal grandparent’s, Albert and Pearl Cleage’s, household in 1950.
In 1950 the Cleage household consisted of Albert B. Cleage, his wife Pearl and 5 of their 7 children. Albert was a Physician. He was 66 years old and had retired from his medical practice, my Aunt Gladys remembers. He was born in Tennessee and both of his parents were born in the United States. He had completed over 5 years of college. He and his wife had been married for 40 years. This was the only marriage for both.
Pearl D. Cleage was 64 years old. She had given birth to 7 children. She was born in Kentucky and had completed 12 years of school. She kept house and had not worked or sought work outside of the home. Her parents were born in the US.
Louis Cleage, their son, was 36 years old and also a physician in a private practice. He had completed over 5 years of college and never been married. He worked 52 weeks. Henry Cleage, a son, was 34 years old. He had worked 52 weeks as an attorney in private practice. He had been married once and divorced about 6 years. Hugh Cleage, a son was 32 years old. He had never been married. He worked 52 weeks as a postal worker at the US post office. Not sure of his salary yet. He had completed 2 years of college. None of them had been in the military.
Barbara Cleage, a daughter, was 30 years old. She had worked the previous year as receptionist at a doctor’s office. She had never been married and had no children. She had completed 1 year of college. Anna Cleage was the youngest daughter at 26 years old. She had completed over 5 years of college and had worked the previous year as a pharmacist in a doctor’s office. She had never been married and had no children. All of the children were born in Michigan. Everybody in the household was identified as Neg(ro).
By 1950 the Cleages had moved from their house on Scotten Ave. to 2270 Atkinson. This three story brick home with full basement was built in 1919. Because it was bought only 2 years before, in 1948, I believe there was a mortgage.
There were 2 full and 2 partial bathrooms. There were 4 bedrooms on the second floor and 2 in the attic. On the first floor there was a kitchen, a breakfast room, a dining room, a living room, a library and a sun room adding another 6 rooms and making 12 rooms in total.
The house was heated by steam heat, with radiators in every room. The house was fully electrified, had hot and cold running water and indoor plumbing. There were two bathtubs and 4 flush toilets in the various bathrooms. In the kitchen there was an electric refrigerator. The stove was gas. The sinks all had hot and cold running water. There was a radio and probably a television. A friend who lived across the street from my grandparents says that his parents bought their house for $15,000 in 1952. My cousin Jan found papers about 2270 Atkinson. When my grandparents bought it early in 1949, the cost was $12,600.
I remember several cookouts in my grandmother Cleage’s backyard. There was the one where the tables were set up right in front of the gate that looked out on the street. There was some sort of minor argument about this. Afterwards, my sister and I called any sort of family argument a “cookout.” On that occasion Grace Lee Boggs dropped by, not for the cookout, but for some political reason, dating it in the 1960s.
The cookout pictured below took place during the summer of 1958. My uncle Louis bought a big blue plastic swimming pool that took up most of the cement part of the yard. I don’t remember it being there any other summer. Once, my sister Pearl was drowning when my uncle Henry noticed her on the bottom of the pool, reached down and pulled her out. I don’t know why she didn’t stand up. She was 9 and I turned 12 that August. The bushes on the fence were full of tiny, pink roses during the season. Those are still my favorite roses.
Pearl remembers: I am still mystified as to why I didn’t just put my feet down. I don’t remember being at the bottom of the pool. I remember going down and splashing my way back up to the top and not being able to stay with my head above water. and then Henry came over and grabbed me and pulled me up and out. who knows what was going on? and we had those little plastic life preservers, too. how deep was the damn thing anyway?