The next year we see my great grandmother Jennie Allen Turner standing with her daughters, Daisy on the left and my grandmother Fannie on the right, outside of the fence surrounding my grandparent’s backyard.
And because it is Thanksgiving week here in the U.S.A., I include a clipping from 1939 of my great grandmother hosting a dinner with her daughters and her granddaughters and her son-in-law, my grandfather.
“On Harding Avenue, Mrs. Jeannie Turner bade the members of her family to dine with her. At the table were her daughters, Misses Daisy and Alice Turner; Mr. and Mrs. M.C. Graham, and her granddaughters, Misses Mary Virginia and Doris Graham.”
In 1948 I was almost two years old and I lived in Springfield, Massachusetts. My family had an ice box. The ice cost $2 a week and was delivered daily. I don’t actually remember ice being delivered by horse wagon, but that’s how it worked. Ice came in blocks 25, 50, 75 0r 100 pounds, depending on the size of your ice box. We were a bit behind the average because by 1944 85% of households in the USA owned a refrigerator.
According to an online article, the ice rested on a metal corrugated shelf which allowed for the ice to melt with the water passing through a tube in the bottom of the compartment to a flat pan located under the icebox to catch the water. Some finer models had spigots for draining ice water from a catch pan or holding tank. People would lift the bottom flap, empty the water pan, and replace the pan for the next day’s use.
That summer, we spent three week visiting family in Detroit. While there discussion took place between my paternal grandparents and my parents about purchasing an electric refrigerator to replace our ice box in Springfield.
When we had returned home to Springfield, my mother and I went downtown to Steigers Department store and bought an electric refrigerator on time. Below is a letter she wrote to my paternal grandparents about the purchase. It is transcribed below the image.
July 17, 1948
Well – Kris and I went down to Steigers and bought the refridgerator yestereday- to the tune of $315.00! Can you imagine? I had been thinking in terms of $200! It is a G.E. De Luxe 8 ft. (medium size) and is certainly beautiful. They also had a Philco – same size – same everything – but only $277.00. I sort of favored it, but I called Toddy and he said (from the bed of course) “G. E. – period!” So it will be delivered next Wednesday.
The store gave us a ten percent ministers discount of $31.50. Carrying charges came to about $20 – so final price was about $304. Down payment was $56.70 and beginning August we’ll make eighteen monthly payments of $13.80. That should hardly be felt because ice comes to amost $8 a month and I’m sure I’ll save more than $5 on food – to say nothing of convenience and peace of mind!
Kris is completely recovered and she told me yesterday – “That’s the way” – then smiled and said “Gamma.” Then she said “Gamma’s hat” and pointed to her head.” What hat does she remember? The black shiny one at the station? Anyway she looked pleased about it.
Write soon, Doris
In my mind, I can still hear my grandmother Cleage saying “Dat’s de way!” as she did to the littlest ones.
My grandmother Fannie, my grandfather Mershell and my mother Doris. I am standing on the table. I was 22 months old. My mother was about three months pregnant with my little sister Pearl.
That refrigerator was still going strong when I moved out on my own in 1969. When my parents left Detroit in 1975 and moved to a house that had a more modern fridge they left it behind. That new one, I might add, did not last as long as the one my mother bought in 1948.
World War 2 began in 1939. On Sept 16, 1940 the US Selective Service instituted draft registration. Not long after this photograph was taken, my uncle Hugh Cleage and his three brothers registered for the draft. On December 7, 1941 Japan attacked Pearl Harbor. The United States declared war on Japan. Three days later Germany and Italy declared war on the United States.
Armed Services Totally Segregated
Black men were excluded entirely from the Air Corps and the Marines. In the Navy they were restricted to the role of messmen. In the army black soldiers were totally segregated. Training camps were in the south. Officers were all white. Racism was rampant and often reported in the black press. My father and his brothers decided they could not and would not live in that situation.
My father, Albert B. Cleage Jr, who was enrolled in Oberlin Seminary, was not drafted . Ministers, priests and seminarians were automatically exempt. My uncle Dr. Louis Cleage was a physician. He went down and tried to enroll in the navy as a doctor. He was refused because the only role for black men in the navy was as messmen.
My uncles Henry and Hugh claimed the status of conscientious objectors and farmers. Hugh had taken an agricultural course at Michigan State College (now Michigan State University).
Article below typical of those found in the Black Press
On June 16, 1941 there was a small item in the Daily Telegram of Adrian, Michigan that the parents of Hugh Cleage visited him at the home of Lloyd Ruesink., a farmer in Adrian, Michigan. In January of that same year, Ruesink advertised for a hired hand. Since anyone I might ask about this is no longer living, I will hazard a guess that Hugh was a hired man and was gaining experience that would stand him in good stead when he and Henry became farmers during WW2.
By 1942, Hugh and Henry, with the help of their family, had purchased a 180 acre farm near Allenton in St. Clair County. They called it Plum Nelly, as in plum out the county, nelly out the state.
Their younger sister, Anna (AKA Pee Wee) sold the eggs in Detroit around the neighborhood. While she was up in Idlewild, she needed someone at home – her mother – to handle the egg route. Like a paper route, but with eggs.
P.S. “Pee Wee” speaking. My egg route book is in my room on the table in the small bookshelf. You know that black book, don’t you? Oh, yes, add Mrs. Duncan on Scotten to Monday’s list.
1. A farmer who resided on his farm and operated it alone was required to have at least eight milk cows.
2. If both a farmer and his son lived on the farm together, 16 animal units were required for the man to obtain deferment.
3. By Feb. 12, 1943, in order to get deferment, the farmer had to raise at least 10 animal units.
4. By May 12, 1943, the farmer had to have at least 12 animal units. Feed for the stock had to be produced on the farm where the resident lived.
Since there was a variety of different types of animals on different types of farms, guidelines were often flexible. For example:
For one milk cow there had to be three beef cows; or four two-year-old steers; or four feed lot cattle; or 16 ewes; or 80 feed lot lambs; or flock of 75 hens; or 250 chickens raised; or 500 broilers; or 40 turkeys raised; or nine hogs raised. Breeding herd was not considered at all.
A typical example if a farmer lived on a farm alone, and had the following stock, he would meet the requirement of eight animal units and would be entitled to deferment: 2 milk cows…2; 18 hogs raised…2; flock of 150 hens…2; raise 250 chickens…1; 16 ewes…1; Total animal units = 8.
Memories and Taking a New Look
I remember hearing stories about the alternating visits Henry and Hugh made to Detroit on holidays, always leaving one on the farm to milk and feed the stock. One of the last stories Henry told me of coming back to the farm after a storm and walking from town (the train) and nearly passing Hugh on the road without recognizing him they were so bundled up.
Once, when Henry and my mother were looking for some land outside of Detroit, we drove up to the former Plum Nelly. It was on the Belle River and I remember my cousin Ernest fell in and got wet. It was a beautiful place and Henry wanted to buy it but it was to become a part of a state park.
Recently I was looking on Newspapers dot com and came across the little item about Hugh Cleage of Allenton, buying a purebred cow.I looked for more the above post is the result.
In November of 1945 my uncle Dr. Louis Cleage participated in an experiment to measure the effect that Billy Eckstine’s singing had on the young women he sang to. He used an electrocardiograph and measured their blood pressures and heart rates while listening to him sing “Jelly, Jelly Blues to them. It turned out that their blood pressure and heart rate rose during the experiment.
The photograph below that accompanied one of the articles in the online archive of the Michigan Chronicle must have been better in the original. Unfortunately, I don’t have an original.
Click to open articles in a different window.
Billy Eckstine’s power to sing and make young women’s hearts beat faster was proven Saturday during an experiment conducted by Dr. Louis J. Cleage in his clinic at 5383 Lovett street. (Photo 1) Shows Billy Eckstine holding hands and crooning to Miss Frances Carter, whose heart reaction is shown before (A) and (B) after he finishes singing. Her blood pressure rose 20 points and her heartbeat increased from 90 to 120. (Photo 2) Miss Louise Lester awaits her turn as Dr. Cleage adjusts his electrocardiograph before she listens to Billy’s singing. Her chart (C) shows a 10 point increase in heartbeats (D). Her blood pressure rose two points. All of which proves that Eckstine does have a definite heart and emotional appeal when he sings to young women. No wonder he is thrilling female admirers at Paradise theatre. For Eckstine can now be called the “heart-throbber.” The experiment is conclusive proof that women listening to him feel an increase in heartbeats. – Photos by Fowler.
Test Proves Eckstine Has Way With Women By Larry Chism
Billy Eckstine, vocalist now appearing at Paradise theatre with his band is a “heart throbber.” This means that his singing does something to the women listening to his songs.
When women listen to Billy sing their hearts beat faster and their blood pressure rises.
Conclusive proof that a singer can make a girl’s heart beat faster and draw from her an emotional response was made Saturday when Dr. Louis J. Cleage used an electrocardiograph to record the reactions of two young women to Billy (heart-throbber) Eckstine’s singing.
The experiment, which proved that swoon singers have a way with the hearts and emotions of women, was conducted at the clinic of doctor Cleage at 5335 Lovett, Saturday morning.
The blood pressure of Miss Louise Lester of West Grand boulevard rose from 130, before Eckstine start singing, to 132 after he had finished singing “Jelly, Jelly Blues” to her. The electrocardiograph recorded an increase in the rate of heart beats from 70 per minute to 80 during the serenade by Eckstine.
The reaction of Miss Frances Carter of 7515 Cameron was more pronounced. Her blood pressure rose from 125 to 145 as she listened to Eckstine’s singing of I’m Falling for You.”
Her rate of heart beat rose from 90 per minute to 120 as the handsome young singer serenaded her. A soothing effect of his singing was recorded after the first tremors of emotion passed following the first few minutes of the singing experiment.
The mere presence of Eckstine in the same room showed a definite reaction on the part of Miss Carter who admits that she is an ardent fan of Eckstine, who can now rightfully and scientifically lay claim to being a “heart-throbber” vocalist.
The experiment was arranged by Milt Herman, publicity director of Paradise theatre.
Dock Allen was my 2X great grandfather. He was my maternal grandmother’s maternal grandfather. He was born into slavery about 1839 in Georgia to 19 year old enslaved Matilda Brewster. Eventually he was taken to Alabama. I do not know what happened to his mother.
It had been a wet spring, that 1860 in Dallas County, Alabama. Dock Allen was 21 years old and already a good carpenter. He was a white man’s son, but the man who then held him in slavery was not his father. His owner was known as a cruel man who kept vicious dogs to instill fear in his slaves. He wanted them to be afraid to run. When Dock made up his mind to escape, he had a plan to throw the dogs off of his track. There was a swampy area where wild ramps grew. He rubbed himself with them, poured the water on himself and rolled around in the field so the strong onion odor would hide his own human smell.
He had been running and running. He was bone tired. He could hear the dogs tracking him in the distance when he came to a small farm near Carlowville. He couldn’t go any further. He climbed up into the hay loft, covered himself with hay and lay there barely breathing. The dogs came into the hay room. He could feel their breath as they walked over him, but they didn’t smell him because of the ramps. Eventually they left.
This was the same place where Eliza and her small daughter Mary, lived. Eliza had been freed several years before. She lived on the farm of Nancy Morgan. Did Eliza hear the dogs and see Dock stumble into the yard? Did she silently direct him to hide in the hay?
For unknown reasons Dock decided to give himself up. Nancy sent a message to his master. It wasn’t long before he came to the house. He said that no one had ever out smarted his dogs and that any man who was smart enough to do that deserved to be free and he freed Dock. Dock stayed on that place and he and Eliza married. They stayed together until he died in 1909 at age70.
Reconstruction and After
Dock Allen registered to vote in Montgomery, Alabama in 1867. In 1870 the family appears in the same household with a wealthy white cotton broker and his family. I cannot find the house in the Sanborn Fire Maps so I don’t know if there were two houses on the lot. In 1875 he was again among the voters. Unfortunately Reconstruction came to an end in 1877 when the Union soldiers left the South and black people were once again without a vote for a hundred years.
The Montgomery City Directory starts with 1880, so I am not sure when the family moved into their own house, but from 1880 – 1904 Dock Allen and his growing family owned the house on the corner of Clay and Holt. Dock and Eliza raised nine of the thirteen children born to them to adulthood. There were six girls and three boys. All of them attended State Normal school through the elementary grades and were literate. The youngest daughter completed high school and two additional years there.
In 1882 the oldest boy Henry drowned in the Alabama River, which was about a block from their home. The third son, Dock Allen Jr. drowned in August 1891 trying to walk the moonlit path from a boat.
After her husband was killed at a barbecue in June 1891, my great grandmother Jennie Virginia moved back to her parent’s house with her two young daughters. My grandmother Jennie was four years old and her younger sister Daisy was two.
His daughter Abbie married a river boat gambler and had two sons. Earl was born in 1896 and Alphonso was born two years later. I don’t know if she ever left home.
1900 Census, she and her two young sons were living in her parents home. Beulah, the youngest child, was still at home. In 1900 there were the four grandchildren (ages 11, 7, 5 & 3), three daughters, Eliza and Dock living in the house at 237 Clay Street. The women were all seamstresses and Doc was a carpenter. Oldest daughter Mary lived next door with her husband and five children. Daughter Anna had moved to Chicago where she was passing for white.
My mother Doris Graham Cleage wrote the following about her mother’s growing up years:
… I know very little about their childhood except that they spent most of it in their Grandfather Allen’s house (which was in Montgomery) because their father died when Mother was about four and Jennie T. had to work to support them. It was a big house, Mother said, with a big porch around two sides and pecan trees in the big backyard. She never used the words “happy” or “unhappy” to describe her childhood and I have the feeling that it was happy on the whole. She told several incidents:
Their Grandfather took care of them while Jennie T. worked and when they were bad, he told Jennie T., who would sometimes spank them. Mother said she told Daisy to cry loudly when Jennie T. spanked them and so make the spanking short and not too hard. She said this worked! (This always surprised me because I never thought of Mother as a person who ever consciously manipulated people. Whenever she told this…and she didn’t mention it until she was in her eighties…she looked very pleased with herself.)
Everyday her Grandfather swept the backyard “smooth as silk” (it was dirt) and told Mother and Daisy not to set foot on it. (I hope this was just part of the yard and they had some space left for play, but I don’t know.) They got spanked with the flat of his saw if they made footprints on it. Mother said they would play on it when he dozed off, not realizing their footprints would give them away.
On Sundays they could do absolutely no work at all. Dinner had to be cooked the day before and could be warmed up. They couldn’t even sew a button on. They all went to the Congregational Church (black, of course) every Sunday morning. In the afternoons, Mother had to read the Bible to her Grandfather who would often doze off during the reading. Mother would get up and play and watch and run back if he seemed to be waking up. I don’t know if he still did carpenter work at this time. Mother said he was a good cabinetmaker and would make furniture for people. I don’t know if this is all he did or if he also built houses or what. But I do know he made cabinets, tables, chairs, beds and whatever.
Changes in 1904
James Edward McCall is the oldest son of Ed McCall, for twenty-three years a cook at the Montgomery police station and one of the best known and most respected negroes (sic) in Montgmery. Ed McCall was owned by W.T. McCall of Lowndes County. His aged master is still living on the old plantation and he has no truer friend or more devoted servant than Ed McCall. The mother of the young poet was Mary Allen, daughter of Doc Allen, for many years a well to do negro (sic) carpenter of Montgomery. She was owned before the war by the late colonel Edmund Harrison of this county.”
Beulah married in 1901. In 1904 Dock Allen and the family moved to 444 S. Ripley street. Jennie married the following year. She lived several blocks from the house on Ripley street.
Dock lived there for five years before he died on March 29, 1909 of “inflammatory bowels” after an illness of several weeks. His mother is listed as Matilda Brewster on his death certificate. No father is listed. He is buried in Oakwood Cemetery in Montgomery.
I would like to find information about a runaway matching his description in the Dallas/Lowndes county area around 1860.
I found this information in records on Ancestry and elsewhere, newspaper articles in the Montgomery Advertiser, Sanborn Maps and oral history from family members.
On a Sunday in December, when my aunt Mary Virginia was eight months old, my grandmother held her on a tricycle for a photo opp.
The baby doesn’t look very happy about it. She looks cold, or terrified.Even though the weather called for rain instead of snow which made it rather warm for Detroit, I imagine it was still pretty cold.
I don’t know if the tricycle was an early Christmas gift or if it belonged to another child, a friend of the family because Mary Vee was the first and oldest child of my grandparents, Fannie and Mershell Graham.
Another photograph with a story I don’t know.
This is not the first time Bicycles have been a sepia Saturday prompt. Here are some of my past responses:
Oddly enough, I do not have any personal photographs of buses. I do have an ancient journal entry chronicling a very bizarre bus ride I took in Detroit down Joy Road on the Clairmount bus in 1969. I had just graduated from Wayne State in December of 1968 and I was enjoying my freedom. I was living in my own apartment and working at the Black Star Clothing Factory. My cousin Barbara was living in New York City, the East Village. at the time and I was plotting and planning a visit with her. I did make it later that summer. I turned 23 that August.
I didn’t capitalize anything in the journal so I just left it like that.
June 25, 1969
I don’t know what is going on, it isn’t good though. i was leaving friday for new york, but i don’t think so soon. i need a bit more time (for what?) i been listening to new leonard cohen record. two days over and over at first it was tired, but now i really like it, after the old revolution, i liked best the partisan song about coming out the shadows. i am so sleepy .
everybody is mad/crazy, and i really don’t understand at all. i need pearl’s youth card so that I can leave, go to NYC.
yesterday on the way to a photo show, I was on the clairmont bus on joy rd. the driver was crazy, he acted like he was taking a pregnant woman to the hospital, he was weaving the bus in and out between cars. that was bad enough – old ladies rocking, weaving and falling, when suddenly a red light backs up traffic, or just stops it. he pulls belligerently into the lane of oncoming traffic (which lucky for us was empty at the time) and raced two blocks in the wrong lane to pull and bully his way in front of some poor car when the light changed. I was cracking up. the people weren’t, just me. I couldn’t control myself laughing, mouth open etc. they probably thought I was crazy or something. so ridiculous, can’t even imagine a regular car doing that shit. I just don’t know, I really don’t. some lunatic jehovah’s witness knocked on the door to give me a bible study tract. says god’s kingdom is eminent. we should be so lucky.
“This is not the picture of a family reunion, although all in the group, with the exception of one intimate friend, are relatives who stood in the receiving line or assisted otherwise at the “At Home” given Monday evening, December 26 from 6 to 9 o’clock, at the McCall’s residence on Parker avenue, the affair was in honor of Dr. and Mrs. Joseph H. Howard, of Chicago, brother and sister of Mr. and Mrs. J. E. McCall and Mrs Robert F. Johnson, a sister, greeted guests at the door, while Miss Mary Virginia Graham, a cousin, acted as registrar. Mrs. Moses L. Walker, a sister, introduced the guests to the host and hostess, who in turn presented them to others in the receiving line – Dr. and Mrs. Howard, the honorees; Miss Victoria McCall, daughter; Miss Louise McCall, niece, of Chicago; and Miss Mignon Walker, also a niece. Mrs. William Hawthorn, a friend of the family, presided at the punch bowl, assisted by Miss Doris Graham, a cousin of the McCalls; and Miss Margaret McCall, a daughter. At the close of the reception, the principals and assistants stood together and were snapped by the camera. They are left to right: Doris Graham, Mignon Walker, Louise McCall, Victoria McCall, Dr. and Mrs J. E. McCall, Mrs. M. I. Walker, ( not named was Margaret McCall) Mrs R. F. Johnson, Mary Virginia Graham and Mrs. William Blackburn.”
The Detroit Tribune, Detroit, Michigan 31 Dec 1938, Sat • Page 5
The Detroit Tribune was published by James E. McCall and his wife, Margaret Walker McCall. He was also a poet and had lost his sight while attending college after having typhoid fever.
The links below take you to more information about various people in the photograph.
Albert and Pearl Cleage at home. This was a tiny photo, probably cut from a proof sheet my grandparents doesn’t have the best exposure.It was taken in the house on Scotten Avenue in Detroit, in the mid 1930s.
Here is a better photo of youngest daughter Anna holding a bag of groceries and eating an ice cream cone on her way into the house when one of her brothers stopped her to take a photo. I bet they didn’t offer to carry that bag in though.