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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
My sister Pearl patting goat while being held by my mother. The back of my head is visible on the lower right. This is probably at the petting zoo on Belle Isle in Detroit, Michigan. Taken in 1952 when Pearl was 3.
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.
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.
Unfortunately Warren was not reading the Saturday Evening Post in this photo, he is reading a Mad Magazine. For several years I remember copies being around the house. Such a crazy magazine.
By searching online I was able to find a copy of the cover of this issue. It is dated October 1962. The copy in the picture above looks pretty new. Everybody seems to be wearing cool weather clothes so it could well be October of 1962. Warren and Pearl were both high school freshman in 1962. Hugh was printer/owner of Cleage Printers.
Old Plank was the farm house on two acreas that my family owned near Wixom, Michigan. We spent as much time as we could there and were often joined by other family members who also made the short drive from Detroit.
When I started looking for signatures, I thought it would be easy because I have many letters through the generations. The problem was that they did not sign letters with both first and last names. Some repeatedly used nicknames. I was able to find most signatures by searching through documents – marriage licenses, social security cards, deeds, bills of sale and group membership cards. I finally found my sister’s signature in the return address on an envelope and if I’d thought of it sooner, might have found others in the same place.
This is the modern dance group at Northwestern High School in Detroit in 1964. The photo is from my year book. There is my sister Pearl, 3rd from the left, first row leaning back. She was in the dance group all through high school and also participated in the All City dance group and even contemplated a career in dance but writing won out. Ms. Carty was their advisor/teacher.
Pearl remembers “I remember this number. It was to “Elijah Rock” and we thought the costumes were so cool. Choreography was great, too. We had a whole Martha Graham thing going!
“I think Craig Carter took it from the track that ran around the gym so he was looking down at us“
Names are sometimes repeated in a family generation after generation. In my family, Pearl is one such name. My grandmother, Pearl Doris Reed Cleage, was the first Pearl. She was born in Lebanon, KY in 1886, the youngest of 8 children.
Pearl Losin Mullins was the son of Pearl’s sister Minnie Mullins. He was born in 1908 in Indianapolis, IN. and died in 1986 in California.
Theresa Pearl Averette, was the youngest daughter of Pearl’s brother Hugh. She was born in 1913 in Indianapolis, IN. and died in 1941 in California.
Barbara Pearl Cleage, daughter of Pearl was born in 1920 in Detroit, MI.
Pearl Michelle Cleage, my sister, daughter of Pearl’s oldest son Albert and 2nd granddaughter was born in Springfield, MA in 1948.
Anna Pearl Shreve is my grandmother’s youngest daughter’s daughter. She was born in 1960 in Detroit, MI. Anna Pearl was the 4th granddaughter.
Ayanna Pearl, my daughter and my grandmother Pearl’s great granddaughter, was born in 1976 in Jackson, MS.
Jann Leya Pearl, great granddaughter of Pearl Reed Cleage, was born in 1983 in the Detroit area.
Liliana Pearl Nowaczewski, is another great granddaughter of the original Pearl. She was born in 1989 in Michigan.
Chole Pearl is the youngest family Pearl. She was born in 2003 in New Orleans, LA and is a great great granddaughter of Pearl Reed Cleage.
I decided to make a collage of happenings in 1948, the year my sister Pearl was born. The most surprising thing was how many of our very favorite Little Golden books came out that year. I don’t know what my mother was reading to me before 1948!