M – MY MOTHER Walking

This is my tenth A to Z Challenge. My first was in 2013, but I missed 2021. This April I am going through the alphabet using snippets about my family through the generations. On Saturdays I’ve combined my usual Sepia Saturday post with the letter of the day. A double challenge.

In 1945 my father, Rev. Albert B. Cleage Jr., became the pastor of St. John’s Congregational Church in Springfield, Massachusetts. He and my mother, Doris, arrived there at the beginning of October.

Camp Atwater was connected to the church. It is located in N. Brookfield, Massachusetts, 34.5 miles from St. John’s. In November they took a tour in the company of former pastor Dr. DeBerry and his wife. Below is a page from my father’s photo album. Comments were written by him. The camp is still functioning, although no longer connected to St. John’s. The Urban League now runs it.

Walking tour of Camp Atwater. My mother is walking on the lower right. Click to enlarge.

“Camp Atwater is a cultural, educational, and recreational camp designed for the children of African American professionals.  The camp, founded in 1921 by Dr. William De Berry, was located in North Brookfield, Massachusetts. Initially named St. John’s Camp, in 1926 the name was officially changed to Camp Atwater when Ms. Mary Atwater donated $25,000 with the stipulation that the camp’s name honor her late father, Dr. David Fisher, a well-known and distinguished physician in the town. The camp is the oldest American Camp Association (ACA) accredited African American owned and operated camp in the nation.”

I was born in August 1946 and about 10 months later, I was walking.

Click for more information about Camp Atwater

Click for more walking posts.
#AtoZChallenge 2023 letter M

34 thoughts on “M – MY MOTHER Walking

    1. Yes. If he hadn’t written about the photos, I wouldn’t have known where they were. My grandparents photos are often a mystery because of this.

      1. I once found an album of photos by a pioneering couple of Irish photographers (which I donated to the National Museum of Ireland). It had been put together by their daughter and featured their grand house, servants and holidays around Europe. The latter had dates and places but the people, she had not named – so right from the start, people have often failed to name family, assuming that everyone who looks at the album will know who’s who. Lucky your Dad had greater foresight!

    1. I always wondered why I was carrying a big stick, but when I posted this photo I could see that it was a skinny little tree behind me. Whew!

  1. Another excellent post about your remarkable family. Like Scotsue, I was also unfamiliar with this aspect of African American history and culture. Kudos to your dad for taking and annotating the photos. Love the photo of your first steps!

    1. There were other black camps around the country. I believe most were started as “fresh air” camps to get children out of the city to the country where it was healthier. The Urban League ran a camp near Detroit that a couple of my cousins went to in the 1950s, “Green Pastures”.

  2. I continue to enjoy hearing/seeing about your family. Oh those summer camps! They were where many fun challenges were met. I loved the crafts best. You were certainly ready to get going at 10 months…and haven’t stopped since!

  3. You write beautifully, sharing needed stories, thankfully. More people should share stories of their lives, family, communities. Have you thought of collecting all these wonderful stories into an ebook?

  4. Those annotated photos are such a precious resource. Interesting to read about those camps we very few similar institutions in Australia. When I was young i loved to read stories of kids going on summer camps in the US.

  5. Here I am living just a few towns over from North Brookfield, and I didn’t know about Camp Atwater (or if I did, I’d forgotten). So glad it’s still in operation after more than 100 years. You look as if you’re up and ready to move at 10 months!
    BTW, I love the way you have set up the photos in that grid and made it possible to enlarge them with a click. Skilful!

    1. It took no skill on my part. It’s very easy with my WordPress blog. You have a WB blog, you should be able to do it. “After you insert the image via the Add Media button and your image is still highlighted (if it isn’t click on it), click the Link button in the Visual Editor toolbar. Your image link will appear in the URL box and you can select whether to open that in a new window or not.” Also click the “media file” link.
      This is probably way to confusing.

  6. I love your mom walking with her coat casually draped over her shoulders. I also like the note your father made that it was the 2nd Mrs. DeBerry. Your baby pic is adorable! My daughter walked at 9 months (pretty much skipped crawling, because she always worked to be bigger) so I know what your mom went through with a tiny walker in the house!

    1. My husband and I have been wondering if that means there was a first Mrs. DeBerry. I should go look.There was only one Mrs. DeBerry. He must mean their places in the line.
      I was a perfect tiny walker 🙂

  7. Some folks walking, some interesting history with pictures, and a cute little tyke ready to show how far she can amble! Nice match to the prompt. 🙂

  8. Again, great photos! I love these glimpses you give us of your family history.

    I also loved camp as a kid. It meant a lot, especially since I was a bit of a weirdo at school. At camp, I could sort of re-invent myself.

    1. I went to a Congresational church camp in Michigan because my father was a minister and I got a discount (I think that’s why anyway). And we lived in Detroit by that time. It wasn’t my favorite experience. I went about 4 years. We didn’t get to go camp in the woods or anything, although the boys did. I didn’t hate it. Just didn’t miss it when it was gone.

      Wondering who the murderer is in your continuing story.

  9. Well done to combine two themes in one. It’s interesting to see how other people preserved photos in albums and I admire your dad’s annotation and neatness in arranging the photos. Many of my family albums from the same era are often a mess of random pictures without any notes which over time have become more mixed up with photos moving away from their original albums. Worse is that my dad made so many copies of old photos that it takes me a long time to find the original print which I can usually scan and digitally correct better than his old school film method.

  10. I’ve been told I walked early too, but then stopped because I got whooping cough… And it took a while before I was “back on my feet” again!

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