Category Archives: A-Z Challenge 2022

O – Opposed Anti-Red Bill

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 Union 9/24/1950 Transcribed below

Mason, Merriam, Mr. Cleage Assail M’Carran Anti-Red Bill, Urge Veto

Opposition to the McCarran Communist-control bill and approval of President Truman’s veto of it were expressed on the radio yesterday by several citizens.

Calls it Undemocratic

Councilman Paul R. Mason called the bill “extremely detrimental to the entire structure of democracy. If in attempting to defeat communism, we employ undemocratic tactics, then democracy is the loser.”

Rev. Albert B. cleage, Jr, minister of St. John’s Congregational Church, said the Civil Liberties Union, NAACP, AFL and several church groups have denounced the bill.

Thornton W. Merriam, dean of Springfield College, said “my love for my country, it’s history and its ideals, prompts me to warn you (citizens of Western Massachusetts) that a great menace hovers over us all. This menace is the McCarran bill.”

Sees Bill Repressive

He called its provisions “repressive and undemocratic” foresees that the liberties “we have considered our birth right for 200 years” would be done away with.

The speakers urged that letters he sent Sens. Lodge and Saltonstall urging them to uphold the veto.

Published in USA between 1923 and 1978 with no copyright in original publication, public domain. Click to enlarge.

You can read more about this issue at this link McCarran Internal Security Act of 1950 (1950)

Me and snow.
Once Upon a Wintertime

N – Negro Vet Beaten

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. A. B. Cleage, Jr

Negro Veteran Beaten By Cop, Klein Claims

Police Deny His Charges; NAACP Silent Until Probe Finished

Springfield Union Nov 1, 1950. Pg 26

About 500 flyers charging a Springfield police officer with the brutal beating of a Negro veteran, were circulated yesterday by the Progressive Party of Springfield, according to its chairman, Richard M. Klein.

The flyer charges that Orris Williams was stopped by an officer while going to his car from his house on Monroe St. and taken to a back lot and hit twice in the mouth. The flyer charges that protest have been made to the police chief and nothing has been done.

Deputy Police Chief Francis M. Gallagher stated last night that he had received the protest from Williams and as he does in the case of all such protests, made a through investigation. He said that he had questioned all persons involved and had found no evidence that the officer in question had struck Williams or was in any manner brutal.

Klein stated last night that the matter had been taken to the Legal Redress Committee of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People.

Rev. Albert Cleage, chairman of the Legal Redress Committee of the NAACP stated that he has a statement from Williams, but that the NAACP will make no comment until its investigation is complete.

Springfield Union Nov 1, 1950. Pg 26

Noises and Mr. Flibberty-Jib

M – Milkman

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.

Looking out of my bedroom window
early in the morning, I would 
watch the milk man with his
horse and wagon go down the street
I must have been two because
when my sister was born we moved, and
my bedroom was in the back of the house,
with no window on the street.

He left our milk in a gray tin box on
the back porch. That was in Springfield. Later,
when we moved to Detroit, we had
a milk chute on the side of the house.
It had a little door on the inside and a little door on the
outside so the milkman, who now drove a truck,
could put the milk in and we could get it
out on the other side. On cold winter
mornings, the frozen milk
rose up over the top of the brown bottle.
For years I saved milk caps in a kitchen
drawer. Just saved them, never did anything with them.

After the heroin epidemic came, everybody sealed up
those milk chutes so no skinny thieves could
climb in the house that way.
You can see the tin milk box behind me and my dolls.
Mr. Bear Squash-you-all-flat

L – Leaves

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.

Pearl, our mother Doris, Kristin (Me). October 1950. Springfield, Massachusetts

Now and Then

Golden leaves fell in the bushes 
overnight brightening my yard. 
Behind my eyes, 
I walk beside a river 
with my mother.  Trees all golden. 
A dog splashes in the water, 
 shakes  himself . 
My four year old self 
watches.
Lucky Mrs. Ticklefeather

K – Korean War

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 on the steps of St. John’s Church.

My father, Rev. Albert B. Cleage, spoke up for peace consistently throughout his life. In 1948 he signed a A Plea for Peace – April 1948. In 1966 he ran for Congress on a platform against the War in Vietnam, Cleage for Congress – 1966 and his church ran a draft counseling program to help those who did not want to go into the military and fight in Vietnam. As I recall, he signed petitions for peace while he was in college in the 1940s, before WW 2, unfortunately I have no documentation and no one is left to ask.

I thought it was interesting that at the same time as Rev. Cleage was opposing war, his cousin was one of the “Negro Troops” in the middle of the war. John Harvey, Jr. was the son of my father’s first cousin, Marie who was the daughter of my grandmother Pearl Reed Cleage‘s sister Sarah Reed Busby.

Newsletter Urges End to War in Korea, UN Seat for China

Dean Merriman, Rev. Albert B. Cleage, Jr. Among Authors of New Peace Movement Publication

Click to enlarge

Urging an immediate cease fire movement of Korea by both sides and the seating of “New China” in the United Nations, a group here yesterday launched “a peace movement” by sending out an “information bulletin” quoting excerpts from various magazine and newspaper articles attacking Gen. Douglas MacArthur and President Rhee of South Korea.

The group backing the pamphlet is mad up of Dean Thornton W. Merriam of Springfield College, Rev. Albert B. Cleage, Jr. of Springfield College, Maxwell H. Tasgal, Charles H. Haygood and Prof. Frank A. Warren of Springfield College.

The bulletin claims that the press in America beats the drums for war but in the “avalanche of war propaganda” a voice appears now and then which tells the truth. Among the organs quoted in criticism of Gen MacArthur’s action in Korea and President Rhee are the Associated Press, Catholic Irish Times, Manchester Guardian, The Nation, New York Compass and several radio commentators.

“W e are moving along the road toward casually lists too horrible to envisage.” says the bulletin. “The time is late but it is not too late to halt the slaughter of Americans, of Koreans, of Chinese and of all peoples. Peace in Korea is the first step toward peace throughout the world. Work and fight for peace in Korea.”

The bulletin urges that the citizens make their views known to President Truman, Secretary of State Acheson, and United Nations representative Warren R. Austin. Besides asking for cease fire orders in Korea, citizens should urge, it asserts, that a conference of all parties to the dispute in Korea including North and South Korea and New China be held.

It says that there is great danger the the “little war in Korea.” will turn into “a big war with China.”

Prof. Warren said last night that the movement is “purely local.”

Springfield Union – Dec. 22, 1950 Page 24
The Color Kittens

J – June Visit to Detroit

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.

In June we visited our grandparents and cousins in Detroit. I remember a train trip, perhaps on this trip. There was bacon and being car sick. The only Cleage cousin born at that point, Warren Evans, was living in another state, so we didn’t see him, but we saw the Elkins! And all the grandparents. I wish I had a photograph of my Cleage grandparents on that trip. After reading my C – Cleage post, I realized we probably went in May to attend my Aunt Barbara Cleage’s wedding.

We visited my mother’s parents, the Grahams, on the near east side of Detroit where we played with our cousins in the backyard.

Barbara Elkins on our grandfather Mershell Graham’s lap, Kristin Cleage (with doll), Dee Dee Elkins, our grandmother Fannie Graham. In the backyard.
Barbara looking like she wants to sit in the wagon too. Pearl pointing at ?
In the wagon, Pearl Cleage (17 months) and Barbara Elkins (2). Standing in the back Kris (3) with her doll and Dee Dee (6).
Kristin, Dee Dee and Barbara making mud cakes, my grandmother wrote on the back. Pearl napping

We also visiting my father’s parents, our Cleage grandparents, on the West Side of Detroit. I am still holding that doll. Who crocheted that dress, I wonder. Was it a gift when I arrived or did I bring it with me? We look like we are ready for church. I remember that purse. It was a miniature version of the purse the church secretary had. Brown leather with a little gold clasp.

Pearl and Kris. With dolls.
Me perhaps after church, holding the doll.
The Tale of Jeremy Gay. At the end of the book there was a flap that was a door. When you opened it there was a friend for Jeremy Gray. There was supposed to be a photo of the child who owned the book pasted in there. In my case, the friend remained the drawing in that space.

I – I Was There!

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 wrote about being in the 1950 Census ten years ago. Let’s see what I got right and what I got wrong. The first post was I was there.

My father, Albert B. Cleage, was 38 years old and he had worked 60 hours during the past week a pastor of a Congregational Church, not a Methodist church as it says in the 1950 census. He was born in Indiana. He and all members of the family were identified as Negro.

Census Sheet from 1950 Census Archives. Some people were asked extra questions. The red line leads from those family members to the extras. Pearl actually appeared on the next page, but for ease of viewing, I’ve added her to this page. Click to enlarge.

My mother, Doris G. Cleage, was 27. She was a housewife and her hours were not recorded. She was born in Michigan. She got to answer the extra questions and they show that the family lived in the same place the year before and that she had completed 4 years of college.

I, Kristin, was three years old. My younger sister Pearl who appears on the next page, was 1. We were both born in Massachusetts.

So, I didn’t get anything wrong, although the census did, getting the denomination wrong.

I Can Fly

I remember reading this book to my younger cousin Marilyn years later. She eventually memorized the book.

____________

I’m ’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/

H – History of St. John’s

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. Click on all images to enlarge.

In Memory of John Brown “Hero of Harper’s Ferry” A window in the Sanctuary. Other windows are named for former members.

I thought I would define “Congregational” for those that don’t know what makes this denomination different from other protestant denominations. Congregationalism emphasizes the right and responsibility of each congregation to determine its own affairs. It eliminates bishops and presbyteries. Each individual church is autonomous.

St. John’s Congregational Church is one of the oldest African American churches in New England. It was founded in 1844. First as the Sanford Street Church. After a few years, it was known as the Free Church. Many members were actively involved in the Underground Railroad and in the movement to abolish slavery.

In 1892, the Sanford Street Church merged with the Quincy Street Mission to form St. John’s Congregational Church, which was named in honor of John Brown, who was a member of the congregation during his three year residency in Springfield. Some years later Brown launched the attack on Harper’s Ferry leading up to the Civil War.

William Deberry as a young man. Click to see original photo on the Springfield Museum site.

Reverend William DeBerry came to Springfield in 1899, a week after graduating from Oberlin Theological Seminary in Ohio. He was ordained as pastor of St. John’s Church on June 28, 1899.

By 1911 the congregation had raised the funds and built a new church at the corner of Hancock and Union Streets. Some subterfuge was needed as the original white owner would not sell to African Americans. Another white man agreed to purchase the property for the church, with their funds, and deed it over to them after the sale.

Rev. DeBerry believed in combining traditional religious services with community involvement. In 1913 St. John’s Parish Home next to the church on Union Street was opened to provide safe residential accommodation for working girls and women. It also included quarters for the minister and his family. This is where we lived in 1950. A free employment bureau was opened for men and women, along with a night school which taught domestic science. The Women’s Social Union and the Boys Club were formed to provide social and sports activities for young people.

Springfield’s Black population almost doubled between 1917 and 1922 as people from the South moved North. Due to the population increase and housing segregation in Springfield, there was a need for housing. The church purchased buildings on Quincy Street and Orleans Street and rented it to black families.

In 1920 property was purchased for a summer camp in East Brookfield. Camp Atwater continues to this day as the oldest African American camp in the United States.

In 1924, DeBerry separated the social programs division from the church in order to bypass restrictions on the funding of religious programs. He resigned from the pulpit to lead the new organization, reorganized in 1931 as the Dunbar Community League. The church found itself in the midst of the Depression and without much of it’s social programming and income.

Rev. Albert B. Cleage on church steps.

In 1945 my father, Rev. Albert B. Cleage Jr became the pastor of St. John’s. He had also graduated from Oberlin Theological School and belived in combining traditional religion and social involvement.

In 1947 the church began a move to have the buildings DeBerry had separated from the church when he left, returned to church ownership. The dispute ended up in court. Some members of the church sided with DeBerry. After DeBerry died in January of 1948 arrangements were made between the Dunbar Community League and St. John’s Congregational Church for the buildings to be returned.

Springfield Union February 21, 1948 Transcribed below. Click to enlarge.

St. John’s and Dunbar Dispute is Settled

Out of Court Agreement Provides Church Pay League $11,000 for Two Properties

An out-of-court settlement of the long-standing property dispute between St. John’s Congregational Church and the Dunbar Community League, Inc., was announced jointly yesterday by counsel for the two groups, John T. Quirk, Jr., and Robert W. Bodfish for the church and Milton J. Donovan for the league. The settlement provided payment of $11,500 by the church to the league.

The terms will be incorporated in a consent decree terminating equity proceedings in Superior Court according to the attorneys. Their statement said, in part:

“St. John’s Church will pay to Dunbar Community League, Inc. $11,500. Dunbar will transfer to St. John’s the properties at 643 Union St. and 146-152 Quincy st., which are adjacent to the church property. The Dunbar organization will continue to occupy it’s present office location at 643 Union St., until Nov. 1, 1948.

Springfield Union February 21, 1948
Continued from above. Transcription to the right.

“Suitable releases will be mutually exchanged to terminate all questions raised by the equity suit or outstanding between the parties.”

The proceedings against the league had aroused considerable controversy in Springfield’s Negro community, involving, as it did, one of the largest Negro congregations and an outstanding Negro social agency. It centered around title to several properties acquired by the church and St. John’s Institutional Activities, Inc., of which the Dunbar League is the successor.

Last spring, the church obtained a temporary injunction and restraining order against the league forbidding the league to dispose of the properties involved, and this was followed by issuance of an interlocutory decree, continuing the injunction and restraining order until final disposition, by Judge William C. Giles. The following parcels of real estate were listed in the case.

A house and lot at 49 Hancock St., two buildings and lots on Jennette Ave., interest in a house and lot at 59 Quincy St. and a house and lot at 610-612 Union St., all conveyed to St. John’s Church in 1915 under th will of Henrietta H. Coleman.

Property at 72 Marion, obtained by will, and in Pease St., owned by the church prior to Jan. 10, 1924, the date on which the Dunbar League’s predecessor acquired al the real estate by conveyance from the church.

The main point in the church’s bill against the Dunbar League was that the property originally was bequeathed for religious purposes and that the conveyances to the league’s predecessor were in violation of these purposes. The bill further said that the church was unable to enumerate other parcels of real estate and personal property of “great value” intended for and belonging to the church, because essential records were in the exclusive possession of the league.

It also set forth that the church believed the defendant was on the point of selling the real estate and averred that any transfer of the properties involved by the defendant would be illegal, and an unlawful diversion for purpose wholly foreign to the original purpose. Other properties later added in the equity bill were 81 Orleans St., 146 Quincy St., 150-152 Quincy St., 154-156 Quincy st., 43 Hancock St., and 616 Union St.

Court proceedings were begun several months before the recent death of Rev. W. N. DeBerry, pastor of St. John’s Church who, in later years, devoted his efforts largely to the Dunbar League.

St. John’s Congregational Church was added to the National Register of Historic Places in 2016.

Sources
St. John’s Congregational Church (Sanford Street Church, Free Church)
Springfield, MA – Our Plural History
Historic St. John’s Congregational Church to open New Worship Center
Rev. William N. DeBerry
Prophet of the Black Nation by Hiley H. Ward. ©1969 United Church Press

Here Comes A Parade

We never went to a parade but I remember looking out of our front door watching a religious procession going past our house. They carried large statues down the street.

G – Graham’s in the 1950 Census

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. Click images to enlarge.

Abbie Allen

The Graham’s in the 1950 Census I wrote this two years ago. Let’s see what I got right and what I got wrong. I over-estimated his yearly salary which was not $3,200 but $2,900. He had worked 42 weeks during the past year not the 52 I had him working. Aunt Abbie was indeed 75 years old and sharing their home.

I answered more questions than were asked because certain questions were only asked to one member of the household. I was right about the family possibly being enumerated as white instead of Negro based on their looks. And I knew that my grandfather was not a veteran. Pretty good average, I think.

Census Sheet from 1950 Census Archives. Some people were asked extra questions. The red line leads from those family members to the extras. Click to enlarge.
Our August 1950 Visit. Barbara Elkins, my grandfather Mershell, Kris(me), Dee Dee Elkins, Grandmother Fannie.

In 1950, my maternal grandfather, Mershell C. Graham worked at Ford Motor Company. He was 62 years old. Up until 1949, there was on pension program for workers in the auto factories. Up until that point people worked as long as they could because they couldn’t afford to retire. In that year the UAW and Ford Motor Co. came to an agreement about retirement payments. Workers would now receive $100 a month, which included their social security payments. My grandfather retired in December 1953 when he reached 65. His Social Security payment was $85.00 so Fords would add $15 and bring it up to $100 a month. April 1, 1950 was the date the company began making deposits into the account that would fund those payments.

Gaston and Josephine, another favorite.

Two little pigs make an exciting journey across France to catch a steamer to the USA. You can see all the illustrations at this National Museum of American History Site -> Gaston and Josephine.

F – Families Facing Eviction

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.

For the month of April, 1950 there were half a dozen articles about the committee that was trying to find ways to help families that were being evicted from the site of a new school. Over the month different plans were submitted, but there was always a hitch – the white potential neighbors didn’t want black people to move in; electrical wires would need to be moved; some of the houses were not in shape to be moved; and on and on. The plan was thus prevented from being put into action. In the end, the families were evicted and no new homes were provided. Here is the first article from the Springfield Union, February 23, 1950. Page 2

Committee Studying Help To Families Facing Eviction

Co-operative Purchase of Apartment Block, House Moving, Use of School Are Considered

Co-operative buying of an apartment, moving houses on rollers, and remodeling the former Strickland School for use as living quarters have all been discussed by a committee, still in its organizational stage as possible methods for relieving the plight of the 22 families on Union and Monroe Sts. who received eviction notices to make room for construction of the new East Union St. School.

Councilman Paul R. Mason said last night Rev. Albert Cleage, pastor of St. John’s Congregational Church, Lindsay B. Johnson, Jr., athletic director of St. John’s Church, and himself comprise the committee. He said Councilman August Luca, who has expressed concern over the plight of the families, and other civic leaders would be asked to serve on the committee.

“If anything can be done for our families, it should be considered. The committee will explore every possible avenue to find homes for these people,” Councilman Mason said.”

About the co-operative plan, Councilman Mason said, “If these families are not in a position to buy a new home individually they might be able to co-operate on buying an apartment house. They would then be part owners and part tenants.”

Another possibility that the committee has considered is the purchase of the Strickland School, now believed to be in private hands, but not used and remodeling it for living quarters.

Councilman Lucia has suggested that some houses could be moved to another location on rollers as was done recently in the Barendo St. area. After investigation Councilman Mason was of the opinion that this could be done with some houses but said it was “questionable whether all of them are in condition to be moved.”

Councilman Mason also brought up the point last night of his claim that “policy of segregation is the same thing as a policy of discrimination against Negroes.”

He cited the case of Joseph Ingram of 693 Union St., a Negro and one of those who recently received a 60 day eviction notices from the Law Department. “Joe, a veteran, has a wife and two children, and is expecting another child. He told me applied to the Springfield Housing Authority for quarters in one of the housing projects, but was told to come back when he was notified officially of his eviction,” Councilman Mason said.

“Even if Joe is now at the top of the list and a vacancy occurs in a white tenement, he could not be considered for the housing unit, because the Authority’s policy is to segregate the Negro families into separate apartments,” he said.

Councilman Mason said he asked Housing Authority Chairman John I. Robinson last night what would happen if a Negro were next in line, but the only vacancy was in a white apartment. He said Mr. Robinson couldn’t answer it, saying simply, “No case such as that has ever come up.”

From the Springfield Union, February 23, 1950. Page 2
Four year old me playing a little plastic record with my little sister one year old Pearl.
Five Little Firemen