It was June of 1971 and my grandmother Pearl Reed Cleage was waiting for the party to begin. Uncle Hugh is in the kitchen getting things ready. Grandmother was 87 and didn’t break her hip for some years yet. I remember so many dinners around that table. There were always cakes with caramel icing for birthdays. This time it looks like there are two cakes – one chocolate and one with caramel icing. Both have candles.
Candy corns in the little silver dish. There were often candy corns in the covered candy dish that always on the front room table coffee table. Candy corns or red and white striped peppermints or sometimes chocolate kisses.
I can think of several June birthdays. My father turned 60 that year. My cousin Anna Pearl turned eleven and her sister Maria turned nine. It must have been an all June collective party. I wish I had been there. My oldest daughter Jilo turned one that June.
For the past month, I have been lost in researching my cousin Anna Belle McCall Martin Martin Giampino’s life. My plan was to write her up for the second person in my 52 ancestors in 52 weeks series. Right now I am behind by about six weeks. While looking I found a third husband, an eighth child and her death, among other things.
One of these was a newspaper article that described a recital where Anna Belle McCall sang “Oh Dry Those Tears”. I realized that my grandmother Pearl Reed had sung the same song at a different recital. You can hear this song at the end of the post.
Twenty two year old Anna Belle sang in Montgomery in 1904. She had graduated from and taught at Alabama State Normal School, where the program was given. At the time she lived at home with her parents and siblings.
My grandmother Pearl sang in Indianapolis Indiana in 1909. She was twenty three and lived at home with her mother and brother. She sang with her church choir at Witherspoon Presbyterian Church on Sundays and regularly in community and church programs. Several years ago I found this news clipping among family photographs.
Sings in Concert at Simpson Chapel
“The violin recital of Clarence Cameron White will be given this evening at Simpson Chapel under the direction of the colored Y.M.C.A. Orchestra. He will be supported by the best local talent.
Poems of Blind Negro Poet Recited at Normal School
“A goodly crowd of representative negro citizens of Montgomery was present last night at the chapel of the State Normal School to participate in an “Evening with Poet McCall.” The entertainment consisted of recitations of some of the works of Montgomery’s blind negro poet interspersed with musical selections both vocal and instrumental.
The poems presented were well selected, embracing lyric, epic, didactic and satiric compositions of James Edward McCall and were rendered in a suitable and sympathetic manner by members of his race. The poet himself was present, seated among the audience.
N.H. Alexander acted as master of ceremonies and in a few introductory remarks dwelt upon the character of McCall’s work and stated that the object of the meeting was to pay tribute to the genius of one of their own race.
Also noteworthy were the remarks of William Phillips who gave a sketch of the life of the blind poet and spoke of the favorable appreciation his poems had met with both among his own race and the white people in Montgomery and elsewhere.”
Lyrics: O dry those tears and calm those fears Life is not made for sorrow ‘Twill come, alas! but soon ’twill pass Clouds will be sunshine tomorrow ‘Twill come, alas! but soon ’twill pass Clouds will be sunshine tomorrow
O lift thine eyes to the blue skies See how the clouds do borrow Brightness, each one, straight from the sun So is it ever with sorrow ‘Twill come, alas! but soon ’twill pass Clouds will be sunshine tomorrow Then lift thine eyes to the blue skies Clouds will be sunshine tomorrow O dry those tears, life is not made for sorrow
words and music by Teresa del Riego
published by Chappell & Co. Ltd., London
I came across this photograph of my grandparents looking relaxed and happy the other day and it made me smile. It was in the black album of tiny photographs and I date it to be from the late 1930s when they lived on Scotten in 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.
For this year’s April A-Z Challenge I blogged everyday using items taken from the letters written by my grandfather to my grandmother from 1907 to 1912, starting with “A” and moving right through the alphabet to “Z”. I even managed 2 bonus posts on Sundays that were related to the theme. Doing them out of chronological order to meet the necessary letter bothered me until someone pointed out that I would have overlooked some of the words that gave the letters more context, as in H is for Henry Hummons or Q is for Questions.
This year was much easier for me than last year. I think having a theme and material that was already there, did it. It probably helped that I did little else everyday this month besides work on the blog. I managed to visit quite a few new to me blogs and got some new visitors. Now, if I can just use May to put these letters into a print ready form, I will be happy. The header for this post is a picture of just some of the descendents of Albert and Pearl Cleage taken in 2012.
Pearl and Albert with their children and 3 of the grandchildren. My sister and I were at our other grandparents and the youngest 4 were not yet born. Their backyard at 2270 Atkinson, Detroit, MI – 1952.
Dr. Albert B. Cleage Sr and son Albert Jr – about 1912. For this year’s April A-Z Challenge I am blogging everyday using items taken from the letters written by my grandfather to my grandmother from 1907 to 1912, starting with “A” and moving right through the alphabet to “Z” during April.
My grandfather did go to the Zoo in 1909 when he was traveling between Detroit and Buffalo while working on the Steamer Eastern States.
July 3, 1909 (Enroute to Buffalo, Steamer Eastern States)
My Dear Pearl:
…Yesterday while Lewis and I were walking up the street in Buffalo, whom did we see standing on the corner (as if lost) but Miss Berry of Indianapolis, her brother and his wife and a Miss Stuart an Indianapolis teacher. Well to be sure we were surprised and they too seemed agreeably so. We spent the day with them taking in the zoo and other points of interest. They visited our boat and we showed them through it…
However, it is KalamaZOO that I am more interested in as this is the last letter in the A – Z Challenge and also the last letter my grandfather mailed back to Pearl, now his wife, and little Albert, in Indianapolis as they planned their relocation. My grandfather calls my father “Toddie” in the letter. This is a nickname he kept among family and friends for the rest of his life. This letter is addressed to a house on N. West Street, several blocks from the one on Fayette Street.
June 10, 1912 (From Kalamazoo, MI to Indianapolis)
My dear Sweetheart
I am awfully tired and lonesome. Have not as yet been able to find a suitable place for either office or residence. I am trying to find a place to suit both purposes but so far have been unable to find either. However by the time the things get here I’ll find some place to put them and just as soon as a find how much I am going to have to pay for rent will send you some money so that if you get the things all ready you can leave any time the first of next week. Hope ere this reaches you are much rested and feeling fine. Please do not worry and fret yourself sick about what some people may say. Take care of yourself and baby and get some man to pack and fix the things for you. I expect to secure a place tomorrow if possible.
Did Mamma and Ed leave Wednesday? Did Richard go with them? Tell Toddie to give you whole lots of bites for daddie. I would give five dollars to hear him say: – “Ite man” tonight
Remember I’ll try to send you some money by Monday. How are the people paying you, I want to see you all awfully bad.
Write often to your Albert.
From Michigan Manual of Freedmen’s Progress. Published in 1915. Page 53.
Albert B. Cleage was born in Loudon County, Tennessee, May 15, 1883. He graduated from the Henderson Normal and Industrial College in 1902, from Knoxville College in 1906, and the Indiana School of Medicine in 1910. He was appointed as intern at the city dispensary at Indianapolis and served there as house physician and ambulance surgeon. He began private practice in Kalamazoo in 1912 as the first African American doctor and practiced and lived at 306 Balch Street.
For this year’s April A-Z Challenge I am blogging everyday using items taken from the letters written by my grandfather to my grandmother from 1907 to 1912, starting with “A” and moving right through the alphabet to “Z” during April.
As I tried to figure out an X word to use for this post, I wondered if an x-ray machine was in use during 1910 when my grandfather finished medical school. Yes, they were. Wilhelm Conrad Rontgen discovered them in 1895 and by 1910 there were various early versions of x-ray machines. Here is a photo of Rontgen’s wife’s hand, with ring.
Since this information was not included in one of my grandfather’s letters or cards, I am also including this postcard of the log cabin in Palmer Park, Detroit. It was built for eX-senator Palmer and still stands. This card was postmarked Buffalo N.Y. July 21, 1911. My father, Albert B. Cleage Jr, was just over 1 month old. I don’t know what the purpose of the trip was. On July 12, my grandfather sent a 1 month birthday card to my father, which was postmarked Detroit. I remember being called “nigger” by some white children in this same log cabin one long ago summer day in Detroit while on a family outing to Palmer Park.
“Log Cabin, Palmer Park, – Built on land donated to the city by Ex-Senator Thomas W. Palmer in 1893 and situated north of the city at the extreme terminal of the Woodward Avenue car line, is one of the city’s favorite breathing spots. Its center piece is a log cabin which is an exact reproduction of the home in which Senator Palmer resided when Detroit was a little more than a trading post”
Dear Pearl – I am lonesome for you and baby. Want to see you all awful bad. Hope you are well and happy.
July 12, 1911 and grandparents had now been married a year and the first of their 7 children, my father, was about 1 month old. I’m not sure why Albert is in Detroit. Perhaps trying to figure out where to establish his medical practice. The card is addressed to the house on Fayette so they were still living with Albert’s brothers, Henry and Jacob and Jacob’s wife Gertrude.
Just got back to Detroit, Hope you all are well and happy. Will feel better where I hear from you.
The contents of your letter were very carefully noted and I shall endeavor to answer it in detail. Am sorry that such a letter was necessary but you did perfectly right in asking the questions you did, I had no idea that such thoughts were troubling your mind. You must forgive me dear for mistakes oversights etc. – I have never attempted anything like this before, – I realize now that I have taken too much for granted and have not talked with you over the matter as perhaps I should have done. Now don’t get from what I say that I do not realize the seriousness of what I am about to do – my responsibilities etc.- You know I spoke to you sometime ago about not staying with Gertrude and I thought I go from your reply that it did not matter much about where we stayed and neither was I very choisey about places, just so I could be with you knowing that in time we would be somewhere. Since we did not want our marrying to be general gossip I have refrained for a time asking the people whom I had in mind about rooming. However this morning I talked the matter over with Gertrude and she is more than willing – is rather anxious to have you live with her – and I convinced that it will be just about as congenial a place as will be possible for you to stay now, if agreeable to you, you may plan to live at 910 Lafayette – We’ll talk it all over. – again – you may plan definitely on going to visit my mother.
You ask about a wedding ring- I believe it is the conventional thing, in conventional weddings. – not by any means in my mind, a necessity.
Do you distinguish between an engagement ring and a wedding ring? I confess that I have never thought of an engagement ring for I thought you want that kept quiet – I had planned giving you a wedding ring after the wedding – but sweetheart it makes no difference to me. If you prefer it before or after you may have your choice. You must tell me all of this when I see you and anything else you must feel free to talk to me about, just as a wife talks to her husband- Now I hope everything is clear.
10 We shall live at 910 Lafayette (if you are willing)
2) We shall go to Athens, Tenn., on a honeymoon.
3) We shall have a ring – when you desire it.
Will let you know when you are to ? meeting when I see you Sunday. Hope you will get to come to choir practice. Your Albert
“In the presence of relatives and immediate friends of the two families Dr. Albert B. Cleage, Interne at the City Dispensary and Miss Pearl D. Reed, 1730 Kenwood avenue, were married at noon Thursday. The Rev. D.F. White of the Witherspoon United Presbyterian church officiated. Immediately after the cremony Dr. and Mrs. Cleage left on their wedding tour, during which they will visit the Appalachian Exposition at Knoxville, Tenn., and points farther south.”