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.