My maternal grandmother, Fannie Mae Turner Graham, was born 129 years ago on March 12, 1888, in Lowndes County, Alabama. She died on August 13, 1974 in Detroit, Michigan. You can read more about my grandmother in this post Fannie Mae Turner Part 1.
I am the same age as my grandmother was when we posed together on her back steps. Looking at the photograph below of me and my granddaughter made me think about the endless circle and the passage of time.
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.
Taken at Old Plank about 1963. Me with my cousins, Blair, Jan and Dale. They seem to be trying to pose for the photographer while I am about to cause trouble with that ball. I was a senior at Northwestern High School in Detroit. Old Plank was 30 minutes outside of Detroit near Wixom. We had 2 acres with a big house and although there was talk of moving there, we didn’t. We went for weekends to get out of the city until 1967, after the riot when the printing business lost the businesses that burned or left. At the same time, a man bought the barn and let his chickens and hogs run lose. Before he and Henry came to blows, they sold him the house.
There were two more photographs taken that same day. I think they were taken in the order shown below. My uncle Henry took the photos and developed them at the print shop that he and Hugh ran at the time – Cleage Printers.
My sister Pearl held an arm full of leaves. My mother held our hands. I held my doll. We were standing in the vacant lot near the parsonage of St. John’s Congregational Church in Springfield, Massachusetts.
Click for another post about life on Union Street in Springfield.
okay. i know you always deny saying this, but here’s how i remember it.
you said somebody who worked with you in the wayne cafeteria said you have to meet this guy. I think you two would really hit it off and you said cool and then on a subsequent day, the person said there he is and he was at the top of one of those school building stairways and you said — i swear you said this to me because at the time i thought “woah! she’s got it bad!!!” — you said the first time you saw him “it was like he had a glow around his head or something.” i stole that for the “in the time before the men came piece” when the lil’ amazon says almost those exact words…
amazing that i remember this so clearly, have even told it to people, and it doesn’t ring a bell at all. I don’t know why. maybe the glow had to do with memory erasure and he erased it from your mind so you wouldn’t know he was from another planet or something… who knows? all i know is, if i dreamed it, it was an amazing dream. ….
What really happened…includes the cafeteria, the actual meeting and a stairway. No glow.
The first time I saw Jim, I was working in the Wayne State University cafeteria, behind the food counter. A woman who worked with me, who wasn’t a student but a regular employee, said her boyfriend was coming through the line and she always gave him free food. It was Jim who came through and got his free food and didn’t make any impression on me to speak of. I didn’t think about him again until I met him later. This must have been the winter of 1966 or the fall.
The Northern high students walked out in the spring of 1966. Northwestern high organized a supporting boycott and my sister Pearl was the head of it. I used to study in the main library’s sociology room. As I was leaving to go to my next class, a guy came up and asked if I was Rev. Cleage’s daughter. I said I was. He asked if I was leading the Northwestern boycott and I said no, that was my sister. We made arrangements to meet after my class on the picket line in front of the Board of Education Building. We did and later sat around for several hours talking in the ‘corner’ at the cafeteria in Mackenzie Hall. I felt very comfortable with him, which I usually didn’t do with people I just met. He tried to convince me to join a sorority and convert the girls to revolution. There wasn’t a chance I was going to do that. He also told me that he was “nice”. I asked if he meant as in some people were revolutionaries and he was “nice”. He said yes, that’s what he meant. We saw each other almost everyday after that.
One day during the fall of 1967, I was going to a creative writing workshop that was on the third floor of State Hall. The stairway had ceiling to floor windows and I saw him, Jim, walking down the sidewalk across Cass Ave., in front of the library. Before I knew what I was doing, I was down the stairs and on my way out the door when I realized I needed to go to class and went back up the stairs.
The birth of my tenth grandchild earlier this week made me wonder how many grandchildren the women in my family had in the past. I combined this with when they had their first child and how many children they had. Here is what I found.
I was born in 1946. My oldest daughter was born in Detroit in 1970 when I was 23 years old. My youngest son was born when I was 41. My first grandchild was born when I was 52. I was 68 when my youngest grandchild was born. I have six children and ten grandchildren.
My mother, Doris Graham Cleage, was born in Detroit Michigan in 1923. She gave birth to two daughters. The oldest (me) was born when she was 23 in 1946. My sister was born in 1948 when my mother was 26. I had 6 children and my sister had 1. My mother was 47 when her first grandchild was born and she would have been 64 when her youngest grandchild was born. Doris had two children and seven grandchildren.
My maternal grandmother, Fannie Mae Turner Graham, was born in Lowndes County, AL in 1888. She gave birth to 4 children, all in Detroit. The first was born in 1920. The fourth was born in 1928 when she was 40. Both boys died in childhood. Fannie’s oldest daughter (my aunt) had 3 children and my mother had 2. My grandmother was 56 when her first grandchild was born. She was 65 when her youngest grandchild was born. Fannie Mae had four children. Two died in childhood. She had five grandchildren.
My paternal grandmother, Pearl Reed Cleage, was born in 1886. Her first child was born in 1911 when she was twenty five. Her youngest child was born in 1924 when she was thirty nine. Her first grandchild (me) was born when she was sixty years old. She was seventy six when the youngest grandchild was born. Pearl had seven children and nine grandchildren.
Pearl’s mother, my great grandmother Anna Allen Reed She was born about 1849. She gave birth to her first child when she was 16, in 1865. She gave birth to my grandmother Pearl, her youngest child, when she was 37. Anna was 40 when her first grandchild was born. She had been dead for 15 years when her youngest grandchild was born in 1924. Anna had eight children and thirty-six grandchildren.
My great grandmother, Celia Rice Cleage Sherman was born about 1855 in Virginia. She was taken to Tennessee as a small child. Her first child was born in 1873 when she was eighteen years old. Her youngest child was born in 1883 when she was 28 years old. Celia’s first grandchild was born in 1897 when she was 42 years old. She was 69 when her last grandchild was born in 1924. Celia had five children and twenty-one grandchildren.
My maternal great grandmother, Jennie Virginia Allen Turner, was born free in 1866 in Montgomery, AL. She gave birth to three daughters. The first two daughters were born in Lowndes County. My grandmother was the oldest, born in 1888 when Jennie was 22. Daisy was born in 1890. In 1892 Jennie’s husband died. She later remarried and her youngest daughter was born in Montgomery, AL in 1908 when she was 42. Of her 3 daughters, only my grandmother had children. Jennie Virginia Allen Turner had three children and four grandchildren.
My maternal 2X great grandmother, Eliza Williams Allen was born into slavery about 1839 in Alabama. She gave birth to 13 children. Eight survived to adulthood. All were born in Alabama. The oldest daughter was born into slavery in 1856. Eliza was about 17 years old. Her other children were born free in Montgomery, AL. Her youngest child was born in 1879 when Eliza was 40. Eliza had thirteen children and eighteen grandchildren.
My 3X maternal line great grandmother, Annie Williams, was born into slavery about 1820 in Virginia. I only know of one child, Eliza above, who was born in Alabama in 1839 when Annie was about 19. Annie died before the 1900 census so did not answer the question “How many children did you give birth to?” There is no oral history of Eliza having siblings. Annie had one daughter and eight grandchildren.
My 2X great grandmother Emma Jones Turner was born into slavery about 1842 in South Carolina. She was later taken to Alabama. She gave birth to ten children. Six of the children survived to adulthood. Her first child was born when she was about 18 years old and the youngest was born when she was 30. Emma had ten children, and sixteen grandchildren.