Category Archives: Cleages

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

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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

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.

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

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

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

C – Cleages 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 all images to enlarge.

The Cleages in the 1950 Census – A preview I wrote two years ago. Let’s see what I got right and what I got wrong. I had it pretty much right. My grandfather had worked 24 hours in the past week to my uncle Louis’ 60 hours so he was semi-retired as my aunt remembered. My youngest aunt Anna was not listed as pharmacist although she had completed 5 years of college. Perhaps she started working after the census was taken. The neighbor right below her, Mr. Tootles, was listed as a pharmacist.

Pearl and Albert Cleage. My Paternal Grandparents.

In April 1950 my uncle Henry Cleage passed the bar exam. In May my aunt Barbara eloped with Ernest Martin and in December, my uncle Louis Cleage ran for the Detroit School Board. None of these things were included on the Census record.

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.
The Cow in the Silo. Poor Grady gets stuck in the silo and has Crisco rubbed all over her so she can slip out.

A – Announcing 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.

Me in 1950, arms spread in the backyard on Union street.

Amazingly, the 1950 Census will be the first one I will personally appear in! I have spent years looking through old census records and trying to piece together the lives of my Ancestors. When I realized that the 1950 census would be released on April 1 this year, I was pretty excited that now I would get to see what picture the census gives of a year I know. Although I was only three when that census was taken in April, 1950, I remember and I recall those days. Sort of. With the help of news articles and photographs I will go through my family’s life in 1950 during this A to Z Challenge.

Although the news items show that my family was active and aware of what was happening at the time, I was blissfully unaware as I lived my young life. I was living through that simpler time everyone remembers as the past, but the adults were living through lives that were as complex as any. And so it goes.

A poem I wrote six years ago about this photo.

I was almost four
 swirling
in the backyard. My
life beginning.

August 2016 sitting at my 
desk
writing
listening to Sati. The 
ceiling fan creaks
around my husband's voice on
the phone.

Outside cars pass.
A Year on the Farm