E – Elkins

This is my ninth year of blogging the A to Z Challenge. Everyday I will share something about my family’s life during 1950. This was a year that the USA federal census was taken and the first one that I appear in. At the end of each post I will share a book from my childhood collection. Click all images to enlarge.

The Elkins Family in 1949. Frank, Dee Dee, Mary V. holding Barbara. In Mary V’s parent’s (Mershell and Fannie Graham) backyard.

My Cousin Dee Dee Elkins McNeil Remembers 1950

Mr. Jackson, Dee Dee Elkins and Janet Milben 1951. Mr. Jackson and his wife also lived in the 4 family flat.

I was born in 1943 and we lived on the corner of McDougall and Hunt Street on the East Side of Detroit, just South of Charlevoix. It was a 4-family flat. We lived upstairs. Mom worked at the County Building as a secretary. Daddy was an independent Electrician with a truck that had Elkins Electric Company painted on the side.

Elaine & Eleanor Millben were twins who lived in the same four-family flat. We lived upstairs on the left-hand side and they lived downstairs on the right-hand side.They used to baby-sit me. We called their mom Aunt Cecil and their dad Uncle Lorn. They had an older brother “Larry” and a younger sister “Janet” who was my best friend for many years. We were born just months apart and rolled in the same baby buggy that Aunt Cecil used for the twins. We’ve all remained friends over the years to present.

2640 – 2644 McDougall on Goggle today.

I also witnessed a big plane crash that happened in Detroit when we lived on McDougall. Three small planes came down just a few blocks from our house. I watched them crash to the ground. Mary V. was hollering at me to get up on the porch, cuz it looked like one of those planes was coming down right on our house. It was a scary moment. A flying instructor and his students ran into each other. As I recall, one plane crashed into a commercial building on Charlevoix, one crashed into a house and another one crashed into a school yard. (Note: I remember hearing about that crash. I was not quite three, but remember looking up at planes when they passed overhead for a long time afterwards.)

The crash site was 0.2 miles from the Elkins home at 2640 McDougal

Daddy also was in business with Aunt Maude and co-owner of MMM Shrimp Hut (Triple M short for Maude Mazique Miller). They opened later on and I used to be a waitress at that restaurant in the summer. I think I was twelve at the time, so that had to be in the mid-fifties. The MMM Shrimp Hut was on Warren Avenue on the East side. I think we moved from McDougall to 2034 Calvert Street around 1950, going to the West side of Detroit (between 12th and 14th Streets). I think one of those streets was renamed for Martin Luther King Jr many years later. Daddy had a storefront business for Elkins Electric Co on the East Side. I think it was on Warren Avenue also near John R.

I drove back to the McDougall residence the last time I was in town. It looks a lot different now. It used to have a black, wrought-iron fence around it.

Looking in the Census

Census Sheet from 1950 Census Archives. Some people were asked extra questions. The red line leads from those family members to the extras. Janet Millben appears right above the Elkins family. The Jackson’s were not at home. Click to enlarge.

The family lived at 2644 McDougall in Detroit, Michigan, where they had also lived the previous year. Frank L. Elkins was listed as head. He was 30 years old and married. He and everybody in the household was Negro and had been born in Michigan. Frank worked 60 hours a week as the proprietor or his electrical contracting company. He earned about $2,000 in the past year.

Mary V. was listed as the wife of Frank. She was also 30 years old. She had been a housewife during the past year and not worked outside of the house. Her hours were unrecorded. She answered the extra questions given to certain numbers on the census roll. We find she had attended two years of business college and that her parents were born in the United States.

Doris D. was six years old and Barbara was two.

The Saggy Baggy Elephant

I really wanted to find a book about the tooth fairy that I remember looking at when we visited Dee Dee and Barbara. Unfortunately, I don’t know the title of the book and so can’t find it online. Maybe Dee Dee will read this and remember!

19 thoughts on “E – Elkins

  1. Thank you for this lovely message about the Elkins and Graham family. I feel honored to have my picture and name included in your record. I to remember the plain crash. It was the last day I sucked my thumb. I guess you could say it had a lasting affect. I have no problem flying. Our friendship with your family has lasted for decades. Thank you for many happy memories.

    1. Hi Janet! I wondered if you would see this post. I don’t remember meeting you but I have seen photos of you and DeeDee through your young years. I guess that was a unique way to stop from sucking your thumb!

  2. Witnessing a plane crash would have been terrifying.

    A great post with your cousin’s memories expanding on the census document.

    All Australian census household returns have been destroyed 🙁 I think it is fascinating to see who was in a household and to account for their neighbours too. Neighbours are important and so often not remembered in family histories.

    1. My cousin and her friend witnessed it. I was in another state so just heard about it.
      The restaurant was a family business so I would think the job as a waitress wasn’t like working as a waitress in the business of strangers. Our family always tried to involve the younger members in family businesses.

    1. I bet it was more terrifying for Dee Dee’s mother even then for her because she knew how dangerous it was.

      I’m glad someone recognizes one of my old books!

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