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.

Michigan Chronicle, February 8, 1947. Front page

“Hugh, Gladys and Anna Cleage of Scotten took their share of places in the annual city ice skating meet which was held at Belle Isle last Sunday afternoon.  Anna won first place and a gold medal in the Senior girls’ novice; Gladys, third in the same event and  a gold medal.  Hugh competed in the men’s 220 and two-mile events.”

Years later, my aunt Anna told me that the story was wrong. She actually came in third and Gladys won the race.  She remembered taking an early lead in the race but soon falling behind as Gladys easily over took her.  One reason might have been that Anna kept looking over her shoulder to see Gladys smiling as she gained on her. They learned to skate at the  Northwestern High School skating rink, which was a few blocks from their home on Scotten Avenue. Years later, my sister and I also learned to skate there.

The Michigan Chronicle, February 8, 1947

After being asked how two gold medals were given, I looked for more news articles that would set the record straight. Unfortunately, I found none. I can only suppose that the Chronicle got it wrong and only 1st place winner, Gladys Cleage got a gold medal. Third place winner Anna Cleage should have received a bronze metal.

I did find two articles, one tells that there was a meet. The other mentions a Northwestern High School student who won an earlier national meet.

Detroit Free Press, Sun, Feb 02, 1947 · Page 1
The Detroit Tribune, Sat, Feb 01, 1947 · Page 10

John James, Junior, of Northwestern High School, became the first Negro ever to win a championship in a North American or nation meet when he won the Intermediate two-mile event in the DETROIT NEWS sponsored North American Meet at Belle Isle on Sunday. James, a 16-year-old Northwestern Junior, is also a bike racer of local repute.

#AtoZChallenge 2023 letter S

13 thoughts on “R – RACING

    1. My husband asked me the same thing. The only thing I can figure is that the newspaper made a mistake, as they did when they said Anna won first place. I looked for more information, but found none. Anna should have gotten a bronze third place medal.

  1. Ice skating is a great sport for the colder climes, as it was for your family at Belle Isle. I was started on two-blade skates in first grade and graduated to one blade within a couple of years — skating on outdoor lots flooded for the purpose or on frozen creeks near home. How great that the Cleages excelled in this as in so many other endeavors — and there is a photo and news report as well!

  2. When I saw the headline Racing, skating was the last thing I though of , so great to read your story, even better backed up by newspaper coverage. It is just not cold enough here to have open air ice skating.

  3. Those headlines are confusing. Right under Juke Box Truce Declared it says “Killed in Italy” and I have so many questions. Did the death start the presumed feud? Is that what led to the truce? Why are Italians engaged in such violence over juke boxes? Is this a mafia thing?

    (Yes, I’m being facetious. ????)

  4. It is difficult to report. I’m not much of a reporter. I don’t know much of anything about the Chronicle. I wonder why a correction was not made? The Detroit Free Press is well respected though. Wish they’d have covered the meet and not just mentioned it was coming up. I always try to watch speed skating during the Winter Olympics. I loved ice skating on ponds near where I grew up. Cool to have the historical context where you and your sister skated.

    1. The Michigan Chronicle was and is a weekly black paper in Detroit. Maybe a correction was made, but I haven’t found it on newspapers.com. The Detroit Tribune was the other black weekly in Detroit. That was where I find news of my family. Not in the Detroit Free Press, which largely covered happenings in the white community.

    1. Negro isn’t the so called “N” word. We were all Negros back then. It wasn’t until the 1960s that people began to use black and even later then that when African American came into usage.
      The “n” word is “nigger”.

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