Are you Gypsy?

Skirt I was wearing.
Skirt I was wearing.
gypsy_house
The house on West Grand Blvd looked like this one.

The first time I met Gypsies was the summer of 1964. I was 17, wearing a patterned skirt, my hair was long then, pulled back in a clip. I had on gold hoop earrings. My sister Pearl and I were walking down West Grand Blvd. to the Main Library. We passed a house like the one pictured above.  Three little girls ran off the porch and began to walk down the street with us.

“Are you Gypsy?” they asked me.  I wasn’t, I told them. My sister assured them that we weren’t. They weren’t talking to her, they said. Was I sure? I was sure. When we got to the first cross street, they turned and ran back to their house.

Several months later, an article came out in the Sunday Detroit Free Press Parade Magazine. There was a picture of the three little girls.  It was all about being a modern Gypsy in Detroit.  The man was their grandfather, identified as the head of their family’s clan.

In 1968 I was an art student at Wayne State.  I had been to the Utrecht art supply store on Woodward.  As I was on my way back to Campus, some women were sitting on the porch of a large house. They were wearing long skirts and of various ages.

“Want your fortune told?” One of them called out. What if it was a bad one? I thought. No, I called back and kept moving. I sometimes wonder what they would have told me was coming up if I had stopped.

In the early 1980s I was living in Mississippi. One summer afternoon, I was visiting my friend Carrie Ann, when a woman about my age came by in a pickup selling sets of hand made wooden porch furniture.  She had an incomplete set at a reduced rate and I bought it.  She drove them down the road to my house and said I reminded her of her cousin. She reminded me of my cousin Barbara, I told her.

No caravans of any kind were involved, but this is what I remembered when I saw the Sepia Saturday prompt for this week.

2013.05W.19
To see more about travelers visit this weeks Sepia Saturday.
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Poppy’s Garden 1953

 When I was growing up we spent Saturdays at my mother’s parents house, along with my cousins Dee Dee and Barbara and later, Marilyn.  When the weather was good we spent it outside in the backyard. There was a vegetable garden, lots of flowers and space for anything we could think of.

In the summer of 1953 I turned 7 in August. Dee Dee turned 10 in September. Barbara had already turned 6 in January. Pearl was 4.5 until December.  Poppy was 64. He would retire in December of that year when he turned 65. The yard was surrounded on all sides by a wooden fence that made it feel like a world apart.  In the photographs I can see the big house across the alley and a factory on Warren but when I was playing in the yard I didn’t much notice those things.

"collards"
In the collards – Pearl, Barbara, Kris with Poppy

Pearl and I are holding dolls and I have a purse I remember getting when we lived in Springfield, MA. A young lady who might have been the church secretary had a grown up purse just like it.  It was brown leather and had a golden metal clasp that turned to open and close. Looks like collards with the poison Poppy sprinkled to kill the cabbage worms. I think I see a little cabbage butterfly holding on to the underside one of the leaves.

"geni of the magic carpet"
Geni of the magic carpet go, go, go.

I am standing up at the table where Barbara and I are making something. Dee Dee is sitting on the arm of the swing. She was probably taking Pearl somewhere on the magic carpet (aka swing) the rider would have to say “Geni of the magic carpet, go, go, go!” and then Dee Dee would take you someplace magic.  She would tell you where it was when it was time for you to get out of the swing. Dee Dee was in charge of all the magic.  Each of our households had a little, invisible fairy that lived in the mud castle we built and rebuilt at the foot of the apple tree. Their’s was named Lucy and ours was Pinky. She also kept a box full of prizes that she gave out at appropriate times. I remember packages of soda crackers, prizes from cereal boxes and pieces of chewing gum.

"Pearl and Kris with saw horses"
With our horses.

Here Pearl and I are standing on the grassy part of the yard. The flowers are in full bloom behind us with the vegetables back behind them. We often made the saw horses into mounts. I see my purse over there on the grass to the left.

Greens in my Idlewild garden 15 yars ago.

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I have participated in Sepia Saturday for so many years that it is hard for me to come up with new photos when the same sorts of prompts come around. This week I am recycling a post from 2012.

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On Being 12 & 70

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.

1958 augkris&fan
I was 12 and my grandmother was 70.  1958 in my grandmother’s backyard.

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.

My granddaughter was 12 and I was a  a few months shy of 70. 2016, we were at the beach in St. Petersburg, Florida and the water was freezing!

 

 

Subject and Photographer

Me, 1949. My father is reflected in the mirror.

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.

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Click for more Sepia Saturday.

Playing Ball – Old Plank – 1964

oldplankkrisdalejanblairaTaken 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.

three in one

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Springfield, MA 1950 #301

springfield_ma_kidsMy 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.

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Hanging Up The Laundry – San Francisco 1944 & Mississippi 1977

My mother hanging up clothes in San Francisco, 1944.
My mother hanging up clothes in San Francisco, 1944. Photos of my mother by my father, Albert B. Cleage jr
doris_graham_cleage_1944-5
My mother with her clothes box after hanging up the clothes.
clothes in basket st. john's rd
Me posing with a basket of laundry to hang up. About 1977.  Photos of me by husband James E.Williams
hanging clothes st. johns road
Me hanging up or taking down clothes in the rain? About 1977.

 

Two other posts about my parent’s time in San Francisco

My Parent’s Time In San Francisco

Newspaper Clipping of My Parent’s Arrival in San Francisco

A post about my life on St. John’s Road, Mississippi

R is for Toute 1 Box 173 & 1/2

 

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Isle of Palms Beach – 1975

Jim and Kris at the beach.
At the beach on the Isle of Palms, 1975.

This photograph was taken of me and my husband shortly before we moved from Mt. Pleasant, South Carolina to rural Simpson County, Mississippi, far from the Ocean and the beach.  You can read more about our life in Mt. Pleasant at this link,  S is for Sixth Avenue, Mt. Pleasant, SC.  To learn more about the Isle of Palms, click this link,  Isle of palms, South Carolina (Wipkipedia)

 

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Glow Around His Head – Two Memories

Mackienzie Hall in the 1960s.
You can see all three buildings here. Mackienzie Hall is straight ahead. State Hall is to the left. The Maccabee’s Building, which housed the Board of Education back then, is down the block, a light colored building behind Mackenzie Hall.  We can’t see the library in this photo but it was directly across from State Hall on Cass and across the side street from Mackenzie Hall.    ( Photo from the Wayne State University archives)

My sister Pearl’s version:

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. ….

My Version.

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.

That’s what really happened.

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