Category Archives: Detroit

Mug Shot, Surveillance And a Warning

Mug shot James Williams 1972

IN 1972 James Edward Williams was arrested for driving without a license in Detroit, in March of 1972.  This mugshot was included in his ‘red file’ which included local police files and FBI information from the 1970s.  He was regularly arrested for driving without a license or minor traffic infractions in those days.  Although he didn’t spend time in jail, there would be bail and fines to pay.  Don’t ask why he didn’t keep up with his license considering he kept getting stopped. Some 50 years later, he just shakes his head when asked.

Below is a record of the police surveillance of James Williams on October 29, 1971. It happened about a year before the mugshot above was taken.

N?M = Negro Male. Most names are blacked out.

At 10:33, J. Williams and that could be my name blocked out as we went to my apartment in Brewster Projects and didn’t exit. I didn’t know they were following us, sitting down there in the parking lot in the fog, watching and waiting.

Why would they go to all this trouble. Because he was a black activist. Here is a letter sent to the Atlanta police department in 1972 as we were relocating from Detroit to Atlanta.

We got this information by sending for my husband’s Red Squad File. You can find more information at the link below.

Red Squad File Reveals Rabid Radical?

“Editor’s Note: For more than 30 years (1944-1974), the Detroit Police Red Squad, a secret arm of the Detroit Police Department, was tracking citizens to “root out” and “expose” subversives. Their targets were political activists, Vietnam War opponents, Black nationalists, labor unionists, civil liberties advocates and many others engaged in social, cultural and other dissent activities.

Names of approximately 1.5 million people and organizations who either lived in or visited Detroit appear in secret files kept by the Detroit Police Department’s Red Squad. The Detroit files were also made available to the Michigan State Police and much of the Red Squad’s surveillance was coordinated with federal agencies, other state and local agencies and private organizations.

The Red Squad files are now being released to the public as a result of court orders issued in a lawsuit begun in 1974 by plaintiffs who argued that they were subjects of illegal political surveillance.

The case was finally resolved on April 23, 1990, when the Detroit City Council agreed to a $750,000 settlement which would cover costs to notify and deliver copies of retrievable information to those individuals and organizations who were under surveillance.”

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Related Posts

Red Squad: Political Surveillance

Mugshots 3-17-72 A former post using the mug shot for a Sepia Saturday prompt.

W is for Wilkins Street About living in Brewster Projects

“G” is for Grand River Avenue About the Black Conscience Library

A Turkey Mystery

"Christmas Turkey"
Me, my mother, my sister Pearl gazing at the turkey about 1962.

The question is, why is the turkey on the table in the pan?? And it’s already been carved.

Detroit Free Press- Monday – Dec 24, 1962
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Other Christmas Posts

Christmas – My mother 1962
Buying Gifts for Christmas
The Christmas Tree Was Always Real
We ate more turkey

Hugh Opaquing

My uncle Hugh Cleage at Cleage Printers.

The last time we met my uncle Hugh Cleage, he was farming during WW2 as a conscientious objector. By 1950 Hugh and Henry were back in Detroit. Hugh was working as a postal clerk at the post office. He continued there until he and Henry went into the printing business in 1956. They bought a press with the help of their brother Dr. Louis Cleage and opened the shop in the building behind the doctor’s office on McGraw on the old West side of Detroit They continued until after the 1967 Detroit riot when many of the grocery stores they printed for went out of business. Hugh continued to teach printing to members of the Shrine of the Black Madonna for a few years until his mother fell and broke her hip and he became her full time caregiver.

Opaquing/Making Book
Cleage Printers

Purebreds and Conscientious Objectors
Q – Quiet Hugh Clarence Cleage
Hugh Cleage Wrapped Up
Hugh Cleage Skiing
A boy and his dog – Hugh Cleage
Skating Champions, Hugh, Gladys and Anna Cleage – 1940s
The Cleage Photographers
Hugh Fishing At the Meadows
Summer of 1962 in a sound car – the 3 + 1 Campaign
Tennis in the Alley

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Plymouth Congregational Church Christmas Bazaar 1937

Plymouth Congregational Church

Plymouth Congregational Church was the church that my mother’s family attended. Her father, my grandfather Mershell C. Graham was one of the founders. Later my Cleages were also active in the youth group with my father being the youth leader.

What was happening with my family in 1937? My mother Doris Graham (age 14) and her sister Mary Vee (age 17) both attended Eastern high school. My father Albert B. Cleage, attended attended Wayne State University.

Although none of my family members were mentioned in the article, I’m sure my grandparents were participants with their church groups and that the family attended.

Bazaar Sponsored At Plymouth Church A Great Success

The Detroit Tribune – Dec 11, 1937

The bazaar recently held at Plymouth Congregational Church was a huge success. There were seven booths which were all beautifully decorated in red and green. Color(ed) lights were strung in front of the booths making them very effective. The Sunday School had two sections — the Fish Pond and the Candy Booth. There was a very cute sign hanging in front of the Candy Booth which read “Ye Candy Shoppe.” The sign was made by Lewis Graham. The Crusaders Club had the smock and apron booth, and this looked like a flower garden with it’s beautiful different colored smocks and aprons and the variety of styles. The Go-Getters Club handled the linens which was also very lovely. The Men’s Club operated the Country Store that had everything in it from cider to cookies. The Meridian’s Club took care of all baked goods and Oh such cakes and pies. They really made one’s mouth water. Last but not least was the Fortune-telling Booth which was sponsored by the Junior League. Miss Caroline Plummer and Miss Berney Watkins took charge.

Dinner was served both nights. The first night the menu included spaghetti and wieners and plenty of soft drinks. The second night the menu included a delicious turkey dinner. Both dinners were served by the ladies of the Missionary Union.

On Friday night Mrs. Le Claire Knox’s dancing class entertained. These numbers were enjoyed by all because these little girls can certainly dance.

On the whole the bazaar was enjoyed by all who attended.

Other Posts about Plymouth

From Montgomery to Detroit – Founding a New Congregational Church
From Montgomery to Detroit, A Congregational Church – COG Our Ancestors Places of Worship
P – PLYMOUTH Congregational Church – 1928
Cradle Roll Certificate Plymouth Congregational Church 1921
Plymouth Congregational Church

Other Posts about 1937

1937 Christmas Festivities
Looking Over the Fence 1937
Going Out – 1937
The Cleage Sisters at Home about 1937- Wordless Wednesday
The Cleages in the 1930s
The Grahams in the 1930s
Mary Virginia Graham – Social Reporter
The Social Sixteen

Memories of Grandmother Turner

My great grandmother, Jennie Virginia Allen, was born October 1, 1866 in Montgomery Alabama, seven months after the end of the Civil War and the ratification of the 13th Amendment abolishing slavery. She was the forth child of formerly enslaved Eliza and Dock Allen. Her mother was a seamstress and her father was a carpenter. The girls were taught the seamstress trade while the boys were taught the carpenters trade. She married Howard Turner in 1887 when she was 20 and Howard was 23. My grandmother Fannie was born the following year. According to the 1940 Census she completed the sixth grade.

Below are my mother’s memories of her grandmother.

Grandmother Jennie Virginia Turner. No idea who that is crouched in the car!

Memories of grandmother

By Doris Graham Cleage

Today I’m going to write about Grandmother.  Grandmother Turner was born about 1872, nine years after the Emancipation Proclamation. Don’t know if she finished high school – but she did go. Her mother taught her to sew and it was a good thing she did because grandmother worked the rest of her life supporting herself and her children at sewing.  That is, she worked after husband Howard Turner died. They married when she was about sixteen. Don’t know his age.  He looked something like grandmother’s father and also like my father, mother said.  He was a farmer’s son from around Hayneville, AL, but he preferred the big city – Montgomery.  His father had three sons and planned to give each one a large share of the farm when they married.  Howard and Jenny received their farm, but neither one liked the country. One day they were in Montgomery.  He was at a Bar-B-Q.  She was at her parents with their daughters, Fannie Mae, 4, and Daisy Pearl, 2.  someone brought word that he had been shot dead.  Apparently no one ever knew who did it, but mother always said grandmother thought his father had it done because he was angry that Howard would not farm and had even been talking about selling his part.  The father did not want the land sold, but wanted it to stay in the family forever.  (Bless his heart!).  He and the son had had some terrible arguments before they left to come to the Bar-B-Q. I often wondered why he was there and grandmother wasn’t.  She always seemed to like a good time.

I remember her laughing and singing and dancing around the house on Theodore. She was short, about five feet I guess, with brown eyes, thin dark brown hair that she wore in a knot. She was very energetic, always walking fast.  She always wore oxfords, often on the wrong feet, and never had time to change them.  We used to love to tell her that her shoes were on the wrong feet.  (smart kids!)

Grandmother Jennie Turner with daughter’s family, Mary V, Fannie, Doris.
In back Howard and father Mershell Graham. Detroit about 1932

She never did things with us like read to us or play with us, but she made us little dresses.  I remember two in particular she made me that I especially liked.  My “candy-striped” dress – a red white and blue small print percale.  She put a small pleated ruffle around the collar and a larger one around the bottom. I was about five, I guess, and I really thought I was cool!  The other favorite was an “ensemble” – thin, pale green material with a small printed blue green and red flower in it – just a straight sleeveless dress with neck and sleeves piped in navy blue – and a three – quarter length coat of the same material – also straight -with long sleeves and lapels – also piped in navy blue.  She never used a pattern.  Saw something and made it!  She taught us some embroidery, which she did beautifully but not often. She never fussed at us – never criticized – and I think she rocked me in the upstairs hall on Theodore when I was little and sick.  The rocker Daddy made stood in that hall.  I remember lots of people rocking in that chair when I was small.

"Jennie Allen Turner funeral"
This photograph was taken in Montgomery during 1892 while the family was in mourning. Jennie holds two year old Daisy while four year old Fannie stands beside her.

Grandmother went to work when her husband was murdered – sewing for white folks – out all day fitting and sewing – and sewing all night – finishing while mother and Daisy stayed with their Grandfather Allen, who would tell on them when Grandmother came home and she would spank them.  Mother said she remembered telling Daisy to holler loudly so Grandmother wouldn’t spank them hard or long and it worked!

"Jennie Allen Turner and Daughters"
Fannie, Jennie (mother) Alice. Daisy standing. Montgomery, Alabama.

Grandmother stayed single until she was about 37 or 38 when she married someone Mother hated – looked Italian, hardly ever worked.  Liked a good time. Fathered Alice and left when she was very small.  Somehow when mother spoke of him I had the feeling he would have like to have taken advantage of her.  She was about 20 and had given up two college scholarships to stay and help Grandmother.

Alice with Easter basket. It looks like she has already had polio.

Sometimes after her husband’s death, Grandmother took the deed to the farm to a white lawyer. (was there any other kind?) and told him to sell it for her.  He went to see it and check it out – told her to forget it – her title wasn’t clear, but he never gave the deed back and she figured he made a deal with her father-in-law. (The rest of the land story.)

Dog trot cabin

 Aunt Abbie (note: Jennie’s sister) said the father-in-law built Grandmother and Howard a “shotgun” house on the farm.  She would turn up her nose as she said it.  You know that is a house like this – no doors on front or back, you could shoot a gun through hall without damage.  Animals (pigs, dogs) would wander into the hall and have to be driven out.  Aunt Abbie only stayed there when the plague was raging in Montgomery.  Yellow fever (malaria) and/or polio every summer.  Many people sick or dying.  Huge bonfires in the streets every night to ‘purify’ the air”, and closing the city if it got bad enough – no one in or out.  More than once they fled the city in a carriage through back streets and swamps because they were caught by the closing which was done suddenly to keep folks from leaving and spreading the “plague”

"Jennie Annis Furs"
Jennie Turner 2nd row on right end. Alice next to her. Daisy in center of that row.

In Detroit, when they came in 1923 when Mother and Daddy had bought the house on Theodore and had room for them (room? only 5 adults and 3 children!)  Grandmother, Daisy and Alice got good jobs, (they were good – sewing fur coats, clean work and good pay.) at Annis Furs (remember it back of Hudsons?)  and soon had money to buy their own house much farther east on a “nice” street in a “better ” neighborhood (no factories) on Harding Ave. While they lived with us I remember violent arguments between Alice and I don’t know who – either Grandmother or Daisy or Mother.  Certainly not Daddy because when he spoke it was like who in the Bible who said, “When I say go, they goeth. When I say come, they cometh.”  Most of the time I remember him in the basement, the backyard or presiding at table. Daisy and grandmother were what we’d call talkers.

"Daisy, Jennie and Fannie"
Daisy Turner, Jennie Turner and Fannie Turner Graham

Grandmother got old, hurt her knee, it never healed properly. Daisy worked and supported the house alone. Alice only worked a little while.  She had problems getting along with people.  Grandmother was eventually senile.  Died of a stroke at 83 or so. Alice spent years taking care of her while Daisy worked. Daisy added to their income by being head numbers writer at Annis!! 

I got this from Wikipedia about playing the numbers. “The numbers game, also known as the numbers racket, the policy racket, the Italian lottery, the policy game, or the daily number, is a form of illegal gambling or illegal lottery played mostly in poor and working class neighborhoods in the United States, wherein a bettor attempts to pick three digits to match those that will be randomly drawn the following day. In recent years, the “number” would be the last three digits of “the handle”, the amount race track bettors placed on race day at a major racetrack, published in racing journals and major newspapers in New York.

Gamblers place bets with a bookmaker (“bookie”) at a tavern, bar, barber shop, social club, or any other semi-private place that acts as an illegal betting parlor. Runners carry the money and betting slips between the betting parlors and the headquarters, called a numbers bank or policy bank. The name “policy” is based on the similarity to cheap insurance, which is also a gamble on the future.[1]”

I think the numbers writer – Daisy in this case, would take the bets in the store (the numbers people picked and their bet money) and pass them along to the numbers runner, who would take them to the center. She would get a cut.

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Mother and daughters

MV 15 – mother – Doris 12 5 -1936

My grandmother, Fannie Turner Graham, with her daughters, my aunt Mary V. and my mother Doris. They are standing in their back yard. During the 1940s house was sided with insulbrick, a covering of tarpaper”Insulbrick was a fast, easy, inexpensive shingle-like way to cover vertical walls on the exterior of a property in the first half of the 20th century. It was generally used on the sides and backs of some homes before the 1950’s. Eventually, vinyl siding began to replace it, and then aluminum. Because of the brick pattern that was printed on it, from a distance it can resemble and old brick wall, but it is actually made of asphalt, and in texture and shape resembles a roof shingle.

The next year we see my great grandmother Jennie Allen Turner standing with her daughters, Daisy on the left and my grandmother Fannie on the right, outside of the fence surrounding my grandparent’s backyard.

"Daisy, Jennie and Fannie"
Daisy Turner, Jennie Turner and Fannie Turner Graham

And because it is Thanksgiving week here in the U.S.A., I include a clipping from 1939 of my great grandmother hosting a dinner with her daughters and her granddaughters and her son-in-law, my grandfather.

“On Harding Avenue, Mrs. Jeannie Turner bade the members of her family to dine with her. At the table were her daughters, Misses Daisy and Alice Turner; Mr. and Mrs. M.C. Graham, and her granddaughters, Misses Mary Virginia and Doris Graham.”

Other Mother and Daughter posts

Mothers and Daughters
St. John Road, 1981 – Sepia Saturday #178
Two Sisters – Braxton, MS & Atlanta,GA – June, 1980
Grandmother Pearl Reed Cleage’s Birthday
The Ludington Lighthouse, 1956
2600 Cascade Road SW – Atlanta GA – 1972 -1974
U is for Union Street

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Our New Refrigerator – 1948

Ice box. Ice cost $8 a month.

In 1948 I was almost two years old and I lived in Springfield, Massachusetts. My family had an ice box. The ice cost $2 a week and was delivered daily. I don’t actually remember ice being delivered by horse wagon, but that’s how it worked. Ice came in blocks 25, 50, 75 0r 100 pounds, depending on the size of your ice box. We were a bit behind the average because by 1944 85% of households in the USA owned a refrigerator.

According to an online article, the ice rested on a metal corrugated shelf which allowed for the ice to melt with the water passing through a tube in the bottom of the compartment to a flat pan located under the icebox to catch the water. Some finer models had spigots for draining ice water from a catch pan or holding tank. People would lift the bottom flap, empty the water pan, and replace the pan for the next day’s use.

That summer, we spent three week visiting family in Detroit. While there discussion took place between my paternal grandparents and my parents about purchasing an electric refrigerator to replace our ice box in Springfield.

Steiger’s Department store in 1947

When we had returned home to Springfield, my mother and I went downtown to Steigers Department store and bought an electric refrigerator on time. Below is a letter she wrote to my paternal grandparents about the purchase. It is transcribed below the image.

July 17, 1948

Dear Folks,

Well – Kris and I went down to Steigers and bought the refridgerator yestereday- to the tune of $315.00! Can you imagine? I had been thinking in terms of $200! It is a G.E. De Luxe 8 ft. (medium size) and is certainly beautiful. They also had a Philco – same size – same everything – but only $277.00. I sort of favored it, but I called Toddy and he said (from the bed of course) “G. E. – period!” So it will be delivered next Wednesday.

The store gave us a ten percent ministers discount of $31.50. Carrying charges came to about $20 – so final price was about $304. Down payment was $56.70 and beginning August we’ll make eighteen monthly payments of $13.80. That should hardly be felt because ice comes to amost $8 a month and I’m sure I’ll save more than $5 on food – to say nothing of convenience and peace of mind!

Kris is completely recovered and she told me yesterday – “That’s the way” – then smiled and said “Gamma.” Then she said “Gamma’s hat” and pointed to her head.” What hat does she remember? The black shiny one at the station? Anyway she looked pleased about it.

Write soon, Doris

In my mind, I can still hear my grandmother Cleage saying “Dat’s de way!” as she did to the littlest ones.

My stylish grandparents – Albert and Pearl Cleage. He is wearing the rakish white hat and she is wearing the stylish black hat, with a feather. Was that the hat I remembered? It is very memorable.
June 1948 during that trip to Detroit at my maternal grandparent’s house.

My grandmother Fannie, my grandfather Mershell and my mother Doris. I am standing on the table. I was 22 months old. My mother was about three months pregnant with my little sister Pearl.

This is the same refrigerator still working fine in 1962. My mother standing in front of it 14 years later.

That refrigerator was still going strong when I moved out on my own in 1969. When my parents left Detroit in 1975 and moved to a house that had a more modern fridge they left it behind. That new one, I might add, did not last as long as the one my mother bought in 1948.

This is the inside of the refrigerator. The freezer is that door on the right. There were two ice cube trays.
Ice cube tray. You had to run a bit of warm water on it to get the ice cubes out.
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Links to related posts

K is for King St. Springfield, MASS

Cousins Christened – 1948

1948 Sears Christmas Book – add for refrigerator

Dr. Louis Cleage Proves Billy Eckstine’s Voice Influences Blood Pressure

In November of 1945 my uncle Dr. Louis Cleage participated in an experiment to measure the effect that Billy Eckstine’s singing had on the young women he sang to. He used an electrocardiograph and measured their blood pressures and heart rates while listening to him sing “Jelly, Jelly Blues to them. It turned out that their blood pressure and heart rate rose during the experiment.

The photograph below that accompanied one of the articles in the online archive of the Michigan Chronicle must have been better in the original. Unfortunately, I don’t have an original.

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Michigan Chronicle , November 17, 1945.

Billy Eckstine’s power to sing and make young women’s hearts beat faster was proven Saturday during an experiment conducted by Dr. Louis J. Cleage in his clinic at 5383 Lovett street. (Photo 1) Shows Billy Eckstine holding hands and crooning to Miss Frances Carter, whose heart reaction is shown before (A) and (B) after he finishes singing. Her blood pressure rose 20 points and her heartbeat increased from 90 to 120. (Photo 2) Miss Louise Lester awaits her turn as Dr. Cleage adjusts his electrocardiograph before she listens to Billy’s singing. Her chart (C) shows a 10 point increase in heartbeats (D). Her blood pressure rose two points. All of which proves that Eckstine does have a definite heart and emotional appeal when he sings to young women. No wonder he is thrilling female admirers at Paradise theatre. For Eckstine can now be called the “heart-throbber.” The experiment is conclusive proof that women listening to him feel an increase in heartbeats. – Photos by Fowler.

Test Proves Eckstine Has Way With Women
By Larry Chism

Billy Eckstine, vocalist now appearing at Paradise theatre with his band is a “heart throbber.” This means that his singing does something to the women listening to his songs.

***

When women listen to Billy sing their hearts beat faster and their blood pressure rises.

Conclusive proof that a singer can make a girl’s heart beat faster and draw from her an emotional response was made Saturday when Dr. Louis J. Cleage used an electrocardiograph to record the reactions of two young women to Billy (heart-throbber) Eckstine’s singing.

The experiment, which proved that swoon singers have a way with the hearts and emotions of women, was conducted at the clinic of doctor Cleage at 5335 Lovett, Saturday morning.

The blood pressure of Miss Louise Lester of West Grand boulevard rose from 130, before Eckstine start singing, to 132 after he had finished singing “Jelly, Jelly Blues” to her. The electrocardiograph recorded an increase in the rate of heart beats from 70 per minute to 80 during the serenade by Eckstine.

***

The reaction of Miss Frances Carter of 7515 Cameron was more pronounced. Her blood pressure rose from 125 to 145 as she listened to Eckstine’s singing of I’m Falling for You.”

Her rate of heart beat rose from 90 per minute to 120 as the handsome young singer serenaded her. A soothing effect of his singing was recorded after the first tremors of emotion passed following the first few minutes of the singing experiment.

The mere presence of Eckstine in the same room showed a definite reaction on the part of Miss Carter who admits that she is an ardent fan of Eckstine, who can now rightfully and scientifically lay claim to being a “heart-throbber” vocalist.

The experiment was arranged by Milt Herman, publicity director of Paradise theatre.

More about Louis Cleage and the Paradise Club

Uncle Louis Plays the Organ
Louis Jacob Cleage – Obituary 1913 – 1994
Dialogue in Poetry
Louis Cleage – W8AFM
Orchestra Hall – history
Old photos of Orchestra Hall aka the Paradise Club

Grade 2 Boys, Deseronto Public School, 1954/55 (Sepia Saturday Theme Image 645, 29 October 2022)