H – HENRY Cleage in the 1920s

Henry 1920
Cousin: Front Henry and Hugh Cleage. Back: Albert Cleage, Hugh Reed/Averette, Thomas Reed/Averette, Louis Cleage. Indianapolis, IN. About 1922
Henry, Albert Jr, Albert Sr, Gladys. Eater Sunday about 1925.
"Barbara, Hugh and Henry Cleage"
Barbara, Hugh and Henry Cleage. Later than the last and earlier than the next photo.
Children of the Boule. Front: Henry, Barbara, Gladys, Anna Cleage. Behind them: Albert Jr, Louis, Hugh Cleage. I do not have the names of the rest right now. About 1928. The Meadows.
Henry and Albert about 1929

Henry Wadsworth Cleage was born March 22, 1916, six months after his family moved from Kalamazoo, Michigan to Detroit, Michigan. My poor grandmother! She seems to have always been pregnant when the family moved! Henry was born at home on 1355 24th Street, the 3rd of the 7 children of Dr. Albert B. Cleage Sr and his wife Pearl Reed Cleage.

Between January and June of 1920, when Henry was 5 years old, the family moved 3 miles north to a large brick house at 6429 Scotten Ave.  My grandmother was pregnant with Barbara, her 5th child and first daughter, who was born in the new house. I remember my aunt Gladys telling me that all the girls were born in that house on Scotten, which you will get to see when we reach “S”.

Henry and his siblings attended Wingert Elementary school, a few blocks from the house. He built forts in the backyard with his brothers and neighborhood friends and told of riding his bike out Tireman to the country where they built campfires and roasted potatoes.  His paternal grandmother Celia Rice Cleage Sherman stayed with the family during that time. Henry was her favorite and she sometimes slipped him a nickle.

He attended McMichael Junior High School and then Northwestern High School.  While at Northwestern Henry played in the school orchestra and the All City Orchestra. He played school baseball and was on the 12-A dues committee.


Here is another memory from the December 1990 Ruff Draft, a family newsletter we put out for 5 years.  My daughter Ayanna interviewed my Uncle Henry and wrote this from the interview. 

Henry Cleage remembers when his Aunt Gertrude won a nice new shiny bike.  He just knew she would give it to him for Christmas.  On Christmas Eve he was sitting in the living room with his father after the younger kids had gone to bed.  His father said, “Henry, go over to your Aunt’s and get that bike … for Hugh.”  Henry thought he would never enjoy Christmas again, but that, after seeing Hugh so happy with the bike, he decided it was all worth it.  Even so, he said that Christmas was never the same for him.  It had lost some of the magic.

21 thoughts on “H – HENRY Cleage in the 1920s

  1. That Christmas story makes me want to hug him. He was a kind soul though–to find happiness in another’s joy at that age is not easy.

    1. I think he both felt good for Hugh, who was always a kind and gentle person too, and I think he felt pretty disappointed that he didn’t get the bike.

  2. Especially love the first photo…and the Christmas story. My worst Christmas was the year I discovered where my parents hid the gifts. Never looked again, nor have I since allowed anyone to tell me in advance what they have gotten me!

    1. I don’t know if my sister and I were true believers. We left cookies and milk out for him, but I don’t remember more than a token gift labeled Santa. I know I did not suffer any trauma related to Santa. I always like a good surprise gift.

  3. So Henry was five years old when the decade began and 14 when it ended; those are traditionally the golden years of childhood. I’m interested in his childhood relationship with his elder brother–your father; the bike story must have been the tip of the iceberg! I hope she got his own bike eventually, or that Albert shared from time to time.

    1. No, no! The bike went to the youngest brother, Hugh. Henry and my father got on pretty well except when Albert pulled rank and tried to put something over on Henry. In spite of arguments and status fights, the siblings all worked together for many, many years on my father’s church, the Freedom Now Party, the Black Slate, and others.

      1. Oh, sorry–my mistake. I think it’s because I’m always trying to think of everyone’s relationship to you! It’s the only way I can wrap my head around all these people and names.

  4. Such a nice way of remembering your ancestors. I love the Christmas story and I hope Henry got an awesome gift.

    dropping by from the AtoZ

    1. He never mentioned what he received. I think the bike was the most awesome gift going that year. Strange, I don’t think I ever heard what kind of gifts my father and his siblings received for Christmas.

    1. I think he still wished he had received the bike, but when he told the story so many years later, he put that spin on it. I could be wrong though. Hugh was such a sweet person.

  5. Love all the photos. And I loved that you included some more memories.
    I hadn’t realilsed your family kept a newsletter of the family history for a time. How cool is that?
    I wish I had thought to do it myself. Now most of my family is gone.

    The Old Shelter – Living the Twenties

    1. The newsletter at the time was about current happening in the family most of the time, but every once in awhile memories would be solicited from older family members.

      We were homeschooling at the time and the newsletter was a chance to show how wonderfully the kids were learning. Worked great. Both in that regard and in now being a family history resource. It fell apart when the older kids moved on to college.

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