Category Archives: A-Z Challenge 2022

A to Z Reflections 2022

My sister Pearl and me with our “mashies” 1950
Click for other reflection posts.

This was my 9th completed A to Z Challenge. I had all of my posts finished before April 1, except for those needing the 1950 Census. Even with those I had chosen the photographs and Little Golden Books and had the post set up so I just needed to add the census. It made for a much less stressful month! All of my A to Z posts are listed here A to Z Challenge 2022.

I also did National Poetry Writing Month, so I wrote a poem a day. They were quick poems, which I posted on my Ruff Draft poetry blog.

This gave me more time to visit and comment on other posts. I found myself reading daily and commenting regularly on the following blogs, listed alphabetically.

Anne’s Family History
Backsies Is What There Is Not
Black & White
The Curry Apple Orchard
The Dreamgirl Writes
Everyone Has a Story
Family history across the seas
Flash Mob
Jayashree Writes
lynnelives
The Multicolored Diary
The Old Shelter
My Take Doses of Wild YAM
The Pensive
Women’s Legacy Project

I’m thinking about next year’s A to Z Challenge. I plan to do it and to have the posts written up before hand. No idea what the topic will be.

In the coming year I’ll write up more family members found in the 1950 Census. So far I have my Aunt Gladys Cleage Evans, my husband James E Williams and my great aunt Annie Graham, all found and waiting.

The big project – I want to get back to work on the Edelweiss women, those that I was going to write about last year for the A to Z but didn’t. They’ve been on the back burner for the last year. So many interesting stories! I’ve got to write them up.



Z – Zoo

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.

Springfield Forest Park Zoo

I don’t remember going to the zoo in Springfield. In fact I wasn’t sure if they had one. They do. It was founded in 1894 and is still open.

Dr. Seuss lived in Springfield as a child and his father worked at the Zoo when he was a boy. According to this post, he was inspired by spending time there to draw some of his bizarre animals.

“Located in the heart of the city’s largest park is the Forest Park Zoo. After Prohibition closed the family brewery, Ted’s (note: Ted was Dr. Seuss) father took a job as Superintendent of the Zoo. Ted’s childhood home was just a short distance from the zoo and he must have spent many an hour watching the exotic animals there since many of his zany creatures in his books bear a striking resemblance to animals he saw in Forest Park. Forest Park Zoo/Seuss in Springfield

We had our own zoo of stuffed animals and dolls.

After we moved to Detroit we used to go to the zoo once a year with my maternal grandparents and our cousins.

Good Morning/Good Night.

Some of the pages from Good Morning/Good Night, Little Golden Book

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.

Black

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.

IT’S NOT FAIR IT’S NOT FAIR IT’S NOT FAIR

_________________

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

X – Xmas 1950

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.

Kristin and Pearl with Christmas dolls.

This was our last Christmas in Springfield. In the fall of 1951, we moved to Detroit. I remember the metal dollhouse I received. It was like the one in the ad below but didn’t have the garage and patio.

Pearl received this ferris wheel. A very colorful metal toy that wound up and went around. I remember that ferris wheel was around long after the dolls and the dollhouse bit the dust. Eventually it wouldn’t wind up any more, but we manually turned it.

Pearl also received this musical rocking chair. She still has it. You see my grandson Matthew standing next to the chair on the left. This chair has a bad habit of flipping over if it was rocked too hard. I remember it being taken back and exchanged. The replacement chair was no better. You had to rock gently. Pearl remembers our mother disconnecting the music box after awhile.

Kristin and Pearl on Christmas day 1950.
Christmas in the Country

________________

I’m also participating in the Genealogy Blog 1950s Blog Party hosted by Elizabeth Swanay O’Neal, “The Genealogy Blog Party: Back to the 1950s,” Heart of the Family™ https://www.thefamilyheart.com/genealogy-blog-party-1950s/

U -Union Street

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.

Present day photo of the parsonage

This information is quoted from the application for Historical Designation of the St. John’s Parsonage/Parish Home for Working Girls. I can no longer find it online but have a PDF. It was accepted on June 28, 2016 and entered into the National Park Registration.

St. John’s Parsonage/Parish Home for Working Girls
“This large, 2 story, domestic building resembles the many two-family houses that characterize the neighborhood, but it was consciously designed to house the pastor as well as board working girls and women

Property Name St. John’s Congregational Church & Parsonage/Parish Home for Working Girls Reference Number 16000140 State Massachusetts County Hampden Town Springfield Street Address 69 Hancock Street Multiple Property Submission Name N/A Status listed 6/28/2016 Areas of Significance Architecture, Ethnic Heritage, Religion, Social History

” Planned with 26 rooms, all accessible off of central halls on four levels with staircases front and rear, the first floor contained the pastor’s living quarters, a parlor for boarders, and church offices. A guest chamber, thirteen dormitory rooms, and lavatories were arranged on the second floor and in the attic . Bath facilities were provided on each floor. The basement contained a kitchen, dining room, sewing room, and laundry. “

A rough layout of the first floor as I remember it.

“Windows in the front bay are part of a reception room on the first floor, and a boarder’s room on the second. Three vertically aligned windows in the next bay indicate the location of the front stairs leading from the first story to the attic. A large, one-story bay window is contained in the pastor’s office behind the stairs. Rooms in the pastor’s residence are represented by windows on the first story, as well as in a one-story wing appended to the southeast corner of the building. Second-story and attic windows were for boarders’ rooms. The rear stairs are contained in a second extension in the center of the rear wall. A porch formerly spanned the remaining section of the rear wall at the southwest corner of the house, where a doorway exited the pastor’s kitchen.”

Kristin and Pearl on the front porch with Sherrie Ann Johnson.
Ukelele

The only book I had in those days with a main character who wasn’t white or an animal. In fact, there were not even any minor characters of color. And she preferred her own little homemade black doll to the fancy doll the sailor gave her.

******

Memories of Union Street

T – The Thief of Baghdad & A Waltz

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.

I remember wandering into the movie below one afternoon when I was three or four.  We lived in St. John’s Congregational Church parsonage/community house in Springfield, Massachusetts where my father was pastor. I woke up from my nap and going down the hall to a big room where the movie was being shown.  There I saw a larger then life, green genie coming horrifyingly out of a bottle. For years I could not remember the title of the film. After watching some youtube clips, I can see it had to be “The Thief of Bagdad“. It was released in 1940 and by 1950 it would have been available for showing in darkened rooms full of folding chairs to church groups.  I did not stick around after the Genie started coming out of the bottle.

In the backyard

One of the few songs I remember from those years.

Lucky Mrs. Ticklefeather

S – Segregated Housing

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.

Rev. Albert B. Cleage Jr

Claims Hit By NAACP here

Committee Disputes Robinson Statement No Prejudice in Projects

Click to enlarge

Taking vigorous exception to statements made by Springfield Housing Authority Chairman John J. Robinson, that there is no segregation in Riverview or Reed Village, Rev. Albert B. Cleage Jr., chairman of the housing committee of the local branch of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People, said last night that the NAACP will take legal action if the segregation “pattern” continues. Such action will result in a test case which would receive national attention, he said.

His statement follows in brief:

“The NAACP has been engaged in investigating the tenant selection and placement policies of the Springfield Housing Authority for more than two years and our preliminary findings indicate the existence of a definite and deliberate policy of racial segregation in tenant placement in both the Riverview and Reed Village apartments,” said Rev. Cleage.

“The Springfield Housing Authority seems to subscribe to exactly the same racial theories as those advanced by some of the residents of Amore Village who stated that they were not prejudiced, but felt that Negroes should live to themselves. The Springfield Housing Authority seems to believe that Negroes and whites living in the same projects must be segregated in separate Negro and white units. The fact that this discriminatory policy existed at Riverview first prompted an NAACP investigation and eventually a conference with the Springfield Housing Authority.

Click to enlarge

“The NAACP Housing Committee reported its findings back to the Executive Committee and was unanimously authorized to continue its investigation until the Reed Village segregation pattern had been definitely established, and if such a pattern was continued, to proceed in co-operation with the organization’s Legal Redress Committee to take legal action against the Housing Authority. The NAACP case against segregation in Public Housing will receive full support and cooperation from the National Legal Staff of the NAACP. When and if legal action is taken, Thurgood Marshall of New York, who has already been consulted regarding developments, will be asked to handle the case. Such a development will receive national attention as a test case and for that reason the Housing Committee is proceeding with understandable care in preparing its case.

“The case will again test the principle that separate but equal is an actual impossibility already established by the NAACP on many legal fronts. The NAACP contends that a pattern of segregation as practiced by the Springfield Housing Authority contradicts the non-discriminatory provisions of both the state and national Housing Acts from which the Springfield Housing Authority derives its powers. The Springfield Branch of the NAACP in no way endorses or condones the policies of the Springfield Housing Authority.”
From The Springfield Union November 1, 1950

Meanwhile Pearl and I were eating snacks.
Scuffy the Tugboat

_______________

’m also participating in the Genealogy Blog 1950s Blog Party hosted by Elizabeth Swanay O’Neal, “The Genealogy Blog Party: Back to the 1950s,” Heart of the Family™ https://www.thefamilyheart.com/genealogy-blog-party-1950s/

R – Rev. Albert B. Cleage Jr.

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.

Taking photographs.

My father turned 39 on his birthday, June 13, 1950.

In the final assessment of the “Years of Transition and Trial.” the History of St. John’s Congregational Church says:

“In the five years that Mr. Cleage was at St. John’s he increased the church membership and the value of the church property, and enlarged and expanded the community service activities by establishing the St. John’s Community House at 643 Union Street with a completely equipped settlement house plant.

While in Springfield, Mr. Cleage was active in civic affairs, serving on the Executive Committee, the Legal Redress Committee, and the Housing Committee of the NAACP, and participating in the Round Table of the Conference of Christians and Jews, the YMCA, and the American Red Cross. He inaugurated Sunday Cultural Vesper Services and programs. At one of these, Langston Hughes was presented. Mr. Cleage was also a popular speaker and lecturer on New England college campuses.

With the death of Dr. DeBerry and the departure of Mr. Cleage a turbulent perirod in the history of St. John’s Church came to an end, and once again the church set about the task of finding a new minister, one who, perhaps, could close the breach that still divided the congregation.”

From Prophet of the Black Nation by Hiley H. Ward ©1969 United Church Press, pg 66.

Kristin (me) and father photographer in mirror

Although much of his time was taken up with the church and community activities, my father found time to make an excellent photographic record of his two daughters time in Springfield. He took so many photographs of my sister and me during our years in Springfield. Before we were born he took many photographs of our mother, Doris Graham Cleage. Afterwards she only appears in a few along with us. Perhaps she didn’t have the time to pose any more. Perhaps we were just so interesting. As I put this series together, I wondered what her thoughts were about it.

This shot was taken in our living room in the parsonage of St. John’s Congregational Church in Springfield, Mass. For years I never noticed my father reflected in the mirror. I looked everywhere for that teapot in later years but it was lost in one of the various moves. It was blue with a gold design over it. The couch was with us for many years. By Christmas of 1950, the cushions had been replaced or recovered with red leather like fabric which is how they were until the couch disappeared from my life. I remember that table, which was also around for a long time. And those little plastic records my sister and I used to play on our parents’ record player and then on our own little phonograph.

My father’s life in photos. Done for his 100 birth anniversary.
Bertram and the Ticklish Rhinoceros

Click this link Bertram and the Ticklish Rhinoceros to find some of the pages and illustrations from the book.

Q – Quiet Naps

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.

Naps were a regular part of my day back then. Usually I fell asleep because I remember several times when I woke up and nobody seemed to be around. Once I wandered down the hall and found the movie “The Thief of Baghdad” being shown. I came in just as the genie was coming out of the bottle and it was quite frightening. I didn’t see the rest of the movie.

Another time I woke up and, again no one was around. This time I heard music and noise outside and went out to find that the church was holding a carnival with rides and I don’t know what else. I think there was even a ferris wheel like the one my sister got for Christmas that year. I seem to have had my nightgown on and was hustled back into the house.

Kris, Dee Dee, Barbara. Pearl was napping

In the photographs at my grandparents in Detroit, Pearl doesn’t appear in some of them and my grandmother wrote on the back and speculated that she must have still been sleeping from her nap.

Dee Dee and Kris have a chat while Pearl makes a get-away and Barbara sleeps

The same happened in Springfield when my cousin Barbara didn’t appear in the photo, my mother guessed she was still asleep from her nap.

The Naughty Little Guest

I remember this little 2 x 3 inch book. The picture I remember is of the writing on the walls that was done by the naughty little guest, who was actually the little goat’s imaginary friend, ie herself.

P – Pearl’s Memory

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.

My father’s heading in the photo album page of snow photos.

My younger sister Pearl’s only memory of Springfield was of “Snow!!!! I remember looking through the front door glass and seeing snow on the porch all the way down the front walk and drifted against the car!”

I also have a memory of looking out of the door at snow up to the porch.

Winter 1949 Kris (me) and Pearl. Springfield, MA
St. John’s in the snow. 1949
Pearl and Kristin on Christmas 1950.

Photographs taken on Christmas day are the only ones I have of snow during 1950. There must have been some unphotographed snow earlier in the winter, because we are standing on the remnants.

Pantaloon