Y – Youth & a Mop

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.

Youth with a mop. Sunday school? My birthday? August 1950.

Why were we all sitting on the stairs in our dresses? I have no idea. It was during my cousin’s August visit from Detroit. Maybe it was my birthday and I had turned four.

Why didn’t the photographer notice that mop propped against the wall and move it? I understand that. I’ve taken many photos and never noticed the distracting bottles on the table.

I do recognize about half of the children. Taking the front row from left to right – unknown girl with purse, Sherrie Johnson looking mad, unknown girl with a doll, Pearl eating something. Second row: unknown smiling girl, my cousin Dee Dee looking peeved, my cousin Barbara looking worried, me saying something to Barbara “Don’t worry Barbara.” On the top step, unknown girl looking at the camera and Lynn Johnson (Sherrie’s sister), also eating something.

The Springfield Union February 7, 1950
My mother – Doris Graham Cleage
Mrs. Cleage Speaker

“When the St. Paul’s Youth Fellowship gathers in the parish house Sunday evening at 7, it will hear from Mrs. Albert Cleage, Jr., of Springfield on the subject “What it means to be a Negro”

Mrs. Cleage is the wife of the minister of St. John’s Congregational Church, Springfield. A graduate of Wayne University, Detroit. Mrs. Cleage has done social work for the American Red Cross in Detroit and Los Angeles”

The Springfield Union February 7, 1950

A Poem From Today’s Youth

After posting this, I found that my thirteen year old great niece Bailey Tucker, had written a poem that could have used the same title as my mother’s talk, except we don’t use “Negro” today. I am adding it to the post. I know my mother must be smiling to have her great granddaughter following in her footsteps.

Black by Bailey Tucker. Transcribed below.


It’s not fair we get shot at.
It’s not fair we get pulled off a bike at 8.
It’s not fair they yell because our skin tone.
It’s not fair they’re mad because our hair.
It’s not fair they call us ghetto because our voice.
It’s not fair we can’t walk with our hoods on.
It’s not fair we can’t walk with our head down.
It’s not fair they call us thugs for having tattoos.
It’s not fair we get stared at.
It’s not fair they call us fatherless.
It’s not fair we are treated different.



Little Galoshes

Unfortunately they don’t share the pictures in the book, they just read it. You can see some of the illustrations here -> Vintage Kids’ Books My Kid Loves

16 thoughts on “Y – Youth & a Mop

  1. I am so glad that my brother has always been interested in genealogy. He went over old pictures, with grandparents from both sides, and was told who people were in pictures. Other than that we may never have known.

    Great picture, by the way. Glad we have programs now that can take out unwanted objects.

    April always seems to fly by when I participate in this challenge. Only one more day, congratulations to you!

    1. I wish I had done that with all the photos I have with unidentified people.
      April did go by very fast!
      We can also look before we click and remove those bottles and mops. LOL.

  2. I love all the little girls in their dresses. It’s always a wonder when they have cake and games that little girls manage to stay put together (little boys on the other hand…)
    You must be so proud of your mama. What a family you have – something to cheer about.

    1. It’s what my family did. I was proud to be part of my family, but it was just what was. Some families dance. Some families sing. We spoke out in oh so many ways.

  3. A birthday party makes sense of the gathering.

    My pet hate intruding into photos is electricity wires – I always look out for them but sometimes unavoidable – they become prominent black lines in front of buildings or across landscapes if they can’t be avoided.

    The mop helps to ground the picture as being at the back of the house.

    1. I hate those electrical wires too! These days I can’t really get a good shot of the street from my house without those wires intruding.

      It does show it’s the back of the house.

  4. In a wayI like the contrast of the mundane mop and all the girls in their pretty dresses. Mind you if I’d taken the photo I’d have been so cross with myself 🙂 Perhaps all they cared about was capturing the moment which was the important thing.

    I agree entirely that it’s not fair. Good on her for spelling it out! Your family was quite remarkable.

    1. I wonder that I never even noticed that mop until I was setting up the photo for this challenge and I’ve looked at it many times.

      And we’re still remarkable!

  5. Bailey has beautiful handwriting …. lovely … you did not have to type out in fact … As for the mop , unlike digital photos of today, photos were not seen till actually developed … Hence no one may have noticed the mop … these things are easier to spot when looking at the picture

    1. Yes she does.
      That’s true about not seeing all those extra objects until you look at the photo. I try to remember to clear things away nowadays, but it’s easy to forget.

  6. First, Bailey is a great writer! Great poet. The subject breaks my heart, more should have changed since your mom’s times. But I have so many old photos, with no staging, and many “cultural artifacts.” The worst one is me giving my daughter a sink bath – and there is a bottle of bleach near the sink because I always disinfected the sink before the bath. But it looks like I was a terrible careless mother.

    1. One would hope things were different 72 years later. Unfortunately not so much.

      Yikes! Bleach. Glad there were no problems.

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