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. In a few cases I took an old post and updated it with new information.
Christmas Trip From Mississippi to St. Louis – 1975
We moved to Simpson County, Mississippi in November of 1975. Jim was in charge of the Emergency Land Fund’s Model farm. Our daughter Jilo was 5 and Ife was 2.5. I was 29 and six months pregnant with our third daughter Ayanna. Jim was just about to turn 31. This was before we had goats, chickens or rabbits. The greenhouses weren’t in production. I remember several of the farmers Jim worked with gave him gifts of money for Christmas. It didn’t amount to more than $30 total but it paid for all the gas we used.
We decided to drive up to share the holidays with Jim’s family in Rock Hill, MO. They lived at #1 Inglewood Court, right outside of St. Louis. 17 year old Micheal, 15 year old Monette and 12 year old Debbie were living at home.
We made the 8 hour trip in the little gray Volkswagen bug that came with the job. We took food to eat on the way, left early and drove straight through. I don’t remember anything specific about driving up. As I recall we got to St. Louis before dark. Jim’s parents gave us their bedroom. They were always so nice about that. Jim and the kids and I shared the pushed together twin beds. There weren’t presents for us but Jim’s mother looked around and came up with some. I don’t remember what she gave Jilo and Ife but she gave me two copper vases and Jim two glass paperweights. I don’t remember what we took as gifts.
I remember going to see Jim’s brother, Harold at one of his jobs. He had several, just like his father always did. We also stopped by his studio where he made plaster knick knacks. Or was it cement bird baths? Or both? There was a Salvation Army or Goodwill store nearby and we stopped and I got some shirts for the kids and a dress that Ife wanted. Mostly we stayed around the house and visited.We stayed until New Years Eve and left in the evening. There is never enough food or time to prepare it for the return trip. We stopped at Howard Johnson’s somewhere on the way home and I remember getting fried oysters. It was cold and dark and clear. There were stars. And there are always trucks. We listened to the radio and talked and maybe sang some. The kids eventually fell asleep in the backseat and we welcomed the New Year driving through the night.
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.
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.
My father’s youngest sister, Anna Cleage, is the only person I recognized in this “Saddle Shoe” column. In December of 1943 she was 19 years old and a student at what is now Wayne State University. Anna was 14 years younger than my father, Albert “Toddy” Cleage and two years younger than my mother, Doris Graham. From looking at these news items, I would guess that my mother went around with the older crowd, while Anna hung out with the younger group. The names in news items I recognize are the friends of my parents and those my Uncle Henry mentioned when he talked about the olden days. I always found my Aunt Anna very friendly and quite talkative and willing to share her memories with me when I would visit. She is the one who remembered when her grandmother, Anna Celia Rice Cleage Sherman had a stroke at their kitchen table when Anna was five. She was named for her grandmother – Anna Celia Rice Cleage Sherman.
In 1963, Ossie and Ruby Davis, James Baldwin, John O. Killens, Odetta, and Louis Lomax formed the Association of Artists for Freedom, which called for a Christmas boycott to protest the church bombing, and asked that, instead of buying gifts, people make Christmas contributions to civil rights organizations. I remember that my extended family participated in the boycott. My sister and I were teenagers. I don’t remember anything else about that Christmas. The article below was printed in the Illustrated news in November 1963.
My father, then known as Rev. Albert B. Cleage jr preaching. This is rather a long sermon, about 45 minutes. He talks about growing up in the black church in Detroit with no use for religion until attending Plymouth Congregational Church and hearing Rev. White preach. He mentions attending Oberlin Seminary and finishes up by sharing a bit from an article by Dr. Harding in a religious magazine. This was just at the start of 1967. What a year was to come. Click on the documents below to enlarge.
I used all my old Christmas tree with child photos in past posts. We do not seem to have taken many pictures of children on Christmas for some reason, although there are plenty of pictures of older people and Christmas trees. Maybe the photographers were too involved in the moment.
I was reminded by my facebook history that on December 14 of last year, I participated in Blog Caroling. This year there is no official Blog Caroling being organized by footnoteMAVEN. In honor of Blog Caroling past, I offer The Dance of the Sugar Plum Fairy played on a glass harp.
Since posting this, I found that Blog Caroling is taking place this year! Those participating are leaving their link on Friends of footnoteMAVEN Facebook Group located here. In order to post you have to join the group, but everybody who is on facebook can follow the links.