Edward Cleage was my grandfather, Albert Cleage’s brother. This post is a chapter of a memoir written by his daughter, Beatrice in 1990.
Memories To Memoirs
Written in 1990
By Beatrice Cleage Johnson
Chapter 2 – Early Years of Life
1926 – I remember the early years of my life living at 216 Ridge Street. We used wood and coal stoves for heating and cooking. I will never forget the range stove that my mother cooked on. She made biscuits every morning for breakfast. There was a warmer at the top of the stove for left overs. I would always search the warmer for snacks. We had an outside toilet. Everyone that we knew had these, so we thought this was it. We never dreamed of ever having inside plumbing.
We had a water hydrant in the front yard and every night it was my job to fill the water buckets which had stainless steel dippers in them. My sister also helped with the chores. My other job was to clean the lamp chimneys. We used oil lamps. Momma always inspected them to see if they were clean. I decided then, if I ever made any money I would have electricity put in our house. And I did. I would babysit during the summers and save my money.
I have always loved poetry. I learned many poems and stories from my mother and sisters, such as “Little Boy Blue” and “Little Red Riding Hood”. I think my favorite food was any kind of fruit. I was always happy to see Summer, when the apples and peaches were plentiful. I always looked forward to Christmas. We never saw any oranges until then. I remember my first doll. It had a china head and straw body. I loved it so much. Momma always made a special white coconut cake for Christmas, which I looked forward to. She made other pies and cakes, but the coconut was my favorite. We didn’t get too many toys for Christmas, but my sisters and I enjoyed everything we got for Christmas.
My father became ill and my mother was to be the sole support of the five girls. I was six years of age when my father passed away in 1926. My youngest sister, Juanita, was three years of age and she didn’t remember him, but I did. After he died my uncles took the two older sisters, Helen and Alberta, to Detroit to live with them. Alberta stayed and finished high school there, but Helen came back home and helped Momma care for the three of us. Ola, Juanita and myself went to high school here.
We always celebrated the holidays. Thanksgiving was very special as my birthday would sometimes come on Thanksgiving Day. We always had special food on these days. Pies, cakes, chicken, rabbit. On Halloween we always dressed in our older sister’s and mother’s clothes. One of the main pranks the boys would do was to push the outside toilets over. We used to beg them not to push ours over. In those days, there was no trick or treat. It was all tricks. Easter was also special. Momma would make us a new dress for Easter, and Helen always bought me black patent leather slipper.
9 thoughts on ““Memories to Memoirs Chapter Two Early Years of Life””
Love this: all the food and seasonal descriptions are just wonderful!
Wish i could put the whole piece up, it gives a good picture of growing up in that time and place.
What an amazing family history, and incredible pictures. I hope you'll keep posting more.
I will. unless i get dragged kicking and screaming off the computer. it's my way of getting the information and the photographs organized and identified and shared so i'm sure i'll be at it forever.
How fun to read your aunt's memories of growing up in the 1920's. It's so good she wrote them down to share with you and others. Some of the things she wrote about sound so familiar, probably from watching old movies or hearing my mom talk about her youth. Thanks for sharing.
Nancy, Beatrice is my first cousin, once removed 😉
Most of my memories have to do with food as well. Ola and Beatrice look just like their mother!
What a wonderful photo and I enjoyed reading the memoirs.
What a fascinating story, thanks so much for adding it to Sepia Saturday. Excellent photographs too, they really give a feel of the age.
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