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 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.
I was 16 and my mother was 39 in this photograph. We were getting ready to go bike down Old Plank Road. I was bare footed. We used to bike past the neighbors on the hill and down to a pond that was small and weedy. Sometimes we skated there in the winter. The neighbors had two big dogs that were often outside and we would peddle fast to get past before the dogs got to the road. We’d take enough time riding to the pond and looking at the water for them to go back up and then we’d repeat the ride back to the house. The dogs never got to us.
I got my first bike on my 8th birthday. It was a basic, blue bike. I didn’t know how to ride and it took me so long to learn that my mother finally threatened to give the bike to my cousin Barbara if I didn’t learn how to ride. I don’t remember anybody holding the bike and running with me. I do remember practicing in the driveway of the house on Chicago until I learned to ride. At that point I only rode around the block.
When I was older, I remember going bike riding all around the neighborhood with my cousins, Dee Dee and Barbara. We rode in the street, which I wasn’t supposed to do. My sister and I used to go bike riding too but we usually had a destination – the library or my grandmother’s house. I lost that bike when I left it unchained outside of a store on W. Grand Blvd. We were on the way home from the Main Library. Later it was replaced by a three speed bike. I had that one up at Old Plank until we sold the place and then I had it in the Detroit. It too was stolen when my husband left it unchained on a porch one night.
When we lived in Idlewild, from 1986 to 2007, I used to ride my Uncle Hugh’s old bike. It had a bigger than average seat which made it more comfortable for me to ride, however it was old and had been through a lot and the tires were sort of crooked. I enjoyed riding it the 4 miles around the lake and for one memorable 5 mile ride into town with my daughter, Ife. She was going to work so she had 6 hours between her rides. I had to turn around and ride 5 miles back. If the streets around my house here were flat and I didn’t see rottweilers trotting down the street alone, I would get a bike and ride now. I know I am not going to take a bike to a park to ride.
I’ve been thinking about my mother these last few days. My mother, Doris Graham Cleage, was picking vegetables in the garden at Old Plank. I wrote about the farm in my post Playing Poker. What else was my mother doing in 1963, aside from maintaining a large, organic garden? She turned 40 February 12 that year and lived on the west side of Detroit at 5397 Oregon with her second husband, Henry Cleage and her two daughters Kris, 17 and my sister Pearl, 14. Both of us were students at Northwestern High School. Henry was printing in those days and putting out the Illustrated News.
She was in her 5th year of teaching Social Studies at Roosevelt Elementary School. She took two post masters degree classes at Wayne State University that year, Urban Geography in the winter quarter and Constitutional Law in the fall quarter.
There was a lot going on in those days and my family was involved in a lot of it. To see what was going on in the news in 1963 click here –> Politics
To read about the March To Freedom in Detroit, when over 100,000 people walked down Woodward Avenue to protest the violence in Birmingham, Alabama, in July 1963 click here –> Walk to Freedom.
My mother and Henry bought this house about half an hour from Detroit about 1961. There was talk of moving there year around, but it never happened. We had a large garden and went up on weekends and for longer periods during the summer. We only owned 2 acres of the 40 acre farm, not including the barn. In 1967 someone bought the barn and started keeping chickens and pigs there, though they didn’t live on or near the property. The animals regularly escaped. The pigs dug up our garden and the chickens roosted on the porch. Before Henry and the man came to blows, they finally sold the house to the man with the animals.
This photo was taken by my uncle Henry in 1962 at an old house we had in the country. It was between Wixom and Milford Michigan and about 40 minutes or less from Detroit. We had the old farm house and two acres, not including the impressive barn in the background. Maybe we were playing a trucated version of baseball. My cousin Warren seems to be coming in to touch base? I seem to be hysterical. Was small Blair in the game?
My Sepia Saturday tie in this week is not through the designated photo but through a fellow Sepia Saturday contributor who I got into a discussion with about racism in the USA today and in the past and somehow it came up that I have Canadian cousins and that one of them played football for the Eskimos until a recent achilles tendon injury. TickleBear turned out to be a big football fan and when I mentioned my cousin and said he was now playing for the BC Lions and that his name was Kamau Peterson, he (Ticklebear) was quite thrilled. I must admit that I’m not a sports fan of any kind and although I’ve kept up with my cousin’s growing family I have not really paid much attention to his football career. I had to go check his fb page and go to links to catch up. I knew he was doing well at it because that’s what we do, do well 😉 But I didn’t know the details. Here is a photo of my well known Canadian Football playing cousin, Kamau Peterson. He also has an awesome full back tattoo which you can see in progress here. You can see other Sepia Saturday offerings here.
Another memory from Ruff Draft 1990, this time mine.
I remember the first year I was old enough to try and buy presents for all my relatives. I must have been about 12 or 13. I just had my allowance. I saved up and got presents for several great aunts, seven or eight cousins, parents, a sister, numerous aunts and uncles and my grandparents. There was a dime store in Milford, Michigan where we used to go when we spent time up at the farm on Old Plank Road. There I bought several perfume atomizers for the great aunts and a set of wooden alphabet blocks for little Blair and a cast iron trivet with a country snow scene for my mother. I bought something for everybody. I don’t know why I didn’t make cookies or something. I don’t remember how anybody liked their gifts but I worried a lot about if they would or not.