Z is for Zoo and KalamaZOO


"Dr. Albert B. Cleage Sr and son Albert Jr"
Dr. Albert B. Cleage Sr. and son, Albert Jr

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.

6_10_30_env 10-30-12_000110-30-12_0002June 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 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.

21 thoughts on “Z is for Zoo and KalamaZOO

  1. I have enjoyed this series of letters. Thank you for sharing your grandfather’s letters, which showed his love for his family.

    1. I’ve been thinking about that. If I spent as much time working on putting it into book form as I did posting everyday, I could do it.

  2. Hi Kristin…thanks for sharing with us from A to Z! I really enjoyed reading your posts. You know you have to look for a way to top this…so make it good!

  3. Kris….I so enjoyed your A-Z challenge. Loved to see their beginnings. Wish I could of bite my Lewis “Toddie” too! Glad you can look at all these items. Hope to hear more on Lewis soon. Ite Man! Thanks for sharing. Lots of Love and Kisses!

    1. Thanks True! I’m thinking about where I’m going next. I like a long term project. Mabye I’ll pick a topic, minus the alphabet component, and do it for a month. Maybe.

  4. What a moving letter! I’m glad you moved on from Zoo (Congrats on getting through to Z!) to KalamaZoo, since that’s more interesting and important in the story we’ve been following in these postcards. I’ve really enjoyed this month and think presenting the postcards was a terrific choice.

    1. I thought Kalamazoo was the perfect end – perfect last card and the start of a new chapter in their life. Glad they didn’t move right to Detroit, that would have messed up the alphabet.

  5. Toddie – cute name. 🙂

    Thanks so much for sharing these precious letters and postcards during April – I so loved seeing what Albert would have to say to Pearl next. 🙂 And seeing the actual letters and pictures on the postcards was fabulous as well!

    Congrats on finishing the A to Z. 🙂

  6. You have done such a wonderful job in sharing the memories of your grandparents through their letters – and you obviously had no difficulty in coming up with something for the tricky letter of Z – a great end to the series!

  7. What a wonderful blog site you’ve put together here! I agree with Virginia, these posts are good foundation for a book. (I’d buy it!) I came across this site while researching a paper I’m writing. I’m a doctoral student studying music and would love to email you a few questions if you would be willing to help. Have a wonderful evening!

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