In 1931 my uncle Louis J. Cleage was a senior at Northwestern High School in Detroit, Michigan. He was the second of the seven children of Dr. Albert B. and Pearl (Reed) Cleage. He graduated cum laud and went on to become a family doctor in his father’s practice. Years later he became a ham radio operator.
You can read more about Louis in this post and there are links there to even more posts! L – Louis Cleage
Jennie Virginia Allen Turner was my maternal grandmother’s mother and Eliza’s daughter. This photo was taken about 1918, before my grandmother Fannie, married my grandfather. They lived in Montgomery, Alabama.
Jennie was a widow and was a seamstress, working for herself. Fannie managed her Uncle Victor Tulane’s grocery store. Daisy was a teacher and Alice was at home.
After her marriage my grandmother moved to Detroit with her new husband, Mershell C. Graham. Several years later, the rest of the family joined them.
This unlabeled photograph was found in my Graham grandparent’s photographs. It shows a young man standing in front of my grandparent’s house by a car, which may be their car. The background house is the same one in the photograph of my mother and her friend.
Although I believed this to be Caruso Martin, my mother’s second cousin because I thought he looksed like little Caruso in the photo below. I just received an email from a Martin/Martino descendant who informs me that based on having met Caruso, who was his cousin, he does not think that this mystery man is him. So, back to being an unidentified man with a car again. Oh well, those unidentified photos are so frustrating and now I’m wondering if when I think I’ve finally identified them, I actually haven’t. It was nice to meet a cousin through my blog at any rate!
In 1940 Caruso was living with his mother, his stepfather and three step-brothers in Detroit. His mother was born in Alabama and had four years of high school. She did not work outside of the home. His stepfather was born in Italy and had had no schooling. He worked as a machine repairman at an auto manufacturer. His income during the previous year was $2,000.
All of the young people in the house had been born in the United States and gone through the 8th grade. The oldest son was 24 and married. He worked as a garage man at the City Water Co. He earned $1040. His wife did not work outside of the home. The second son was 21 and unemployed, and had been unemployed all year.
Caruso was 19 and worked as a linen folder in a linen supply company. He had worked 52 weeks during the past year and earned $1,000. His 19 year old step-brother worked at the same place and made $988 during the previous 23 weeks.
Annabelle and Caruso were listed as “Negro”. The Champine’s were listed as “white”. Annabelle McCall Champine, Caruso’s mother, was the person who gave the information to the census taker.
Below are two sad stories about the Martin family in 1923, when the husband and father died of typhoid while on a musical family trip from Florida to their home in Lima, Ohio.
MARTINOS ARE HAPPY AGAIN
Their Mother Returns From a Business Trip to Ohio- Children Were Jumpint to a Conclusion That She Had Deserted Sick Husband – Bible Classes Make Contribution.
The Martinos are happy again- as happy as a family can be when their father lies seriously ill. Their mother came back to them yesterday afternoon and Welfare Officer W. W. Holland and a group of representative Statesville women who heard her story today at his office are convinced that the children were jumping to a conclusion when they assumed she had deserted them and her sick husband for another man. “When I heard how well-bred the children were, I knew their mother was the right kind of woman,” remarked one of the group. “I wasn’t ready to believe the story about her.”
The trouble came about in this way, Mrs. Martino stated. Jeff her son by a former marriage, couldn’t get along with the Martino boys, sons of her husband by his first marriage. When they got into trouble, she could not side against her own son, she remarked; he was as much hers as the other children. Matters came to a head when her husband gave Jeff a whipping and put him outside to ride on a fender – they travel from place to place in their truck.
The only way out, she decided, was to take her son to her mother. This she did, pawning two of her rings in Salisbury to buy tickets to their home in LIma, O. She had no idea of going off with their manager, she said: and that she left Salisbury the same day she left her family, leaving him there. “He was nothing but a spendthrift,” she said; “I would have been ambitious – a mother of children – to have gone off with him, wouldn’t I?”
Letters have passed between her husband and herself since she went away. At Lima, where they are paying on a home, she planted her garden and wrote to her husband asking him to bring the children there, she said. She wanted to quit the road anyway, as it no longer agreed with her. Mrs. Martino gives the impression of being a thoroughly good woman and the children were more than glad to have her back again. The The other two children she took with her to Lima returned with her.
Yesterday morning the five children who were here played several sacred selections at the Men’s Bible class of the Broad Street Methodist church. Mr. Holland related their story. The members contributed #91 to a fund for their benefit. Contributions from another class brought up the total to $104. Their father remains seriously ill at the Davis Hospital with typhoid, though reported slightly better today.
Note: In 1923, Anna Belle’s mother, Mary Allen McCall lived in Detroit. Perhaps the photo taken above with my grandparents was taken during this trip to drop off her oldest son. The youngest three children are in the picture and they accompanied her.
Death Claims E. N. Martino
Father of Italian Children Emcamped at Court House Passes Away After Protacted Illness.
Mr. E. N.. Martino died died Monday at Davis Hospital, after a protracted illness. He was brought here some weeks since from Mooresville, where he had stopped with his family in their journey by truck from Florida to his home in LIma, Ohio. At one time he had rallied to treatment an his recovery was anticipated. He was 56 years old. The funeral service and interment were at Oakwood cemetery Tuesday at 4 o’clock with Rev. John W. Moore officiating.
Surviving are the widow and eight children, all but one here with her, encamped by their truck on the north side of the court house. They are Napier, Estill, Anna Maria, Eddie, Geneva, Thelma and Caruso, three years old. The oldest son is 1. Mrs. Martino plans to leave for for Lima, where they are paying on a home, next week.
(The links will take you to posts I have written that give more details about his life.)
Henry Wadsworth Cleage was born March 22, 1916, six months after his family moved from Kalamazoo to Detroit, Michigan. He was born at home on 1355 24th Street, the 3rd of the 7 children of Dr. Albert B. Cleage SR and his wife Pearl Reed Cleage. This was my first digression. I went to look on Google Maps to see if the house was still there. It wasn’t. There are mostly empty lots with a few houses scattered about. The house was located on the corner of 24th Street and Porter, a few blocks from the Detroit River And the Ambassador Bridge.
Between January and June of 1920, when Henry was 5 years old, the family moved 3 miles north to a large brick house on 6429 Scotten Ave. My grandmother was pregnant with Barbara, her 5th child and first daughter, who was born in the new house. I remember my aunt Gladys telling me that all the girls were born in that house on Scotten.
Henry and his siblings attended Wingert Elementary school, a few blocks from the house. He built forts in the backyard with his brothers and neighborhood friends and told of riding his bike out Tireman to the country where they roasted potatoes in a campfire. His father’s mother Celia Rice Cleage Sherman stayed with the family during that time.
He attended McMichael Junior High School and then Northwestern High School. While at Northwestern he played in the school orchestra and the All City Orchestra, played school baseball and was on the 12-A dues committee.
Henry married Alice Stanton in 1941. When WW2 started, Henry and his brother were conscientious objectors and moved to a farm in Avoca where they raised dairy cows and chickens. Henry and Alice were divorced in 1943.
While on the farm, Henry wrote short stories and sent them out to various magazines of the day. None were published. I shared two of them earlier – Just Tell The Men – a short story by Henry Cleage and another short story Proof Positive. In 1947 Henry returned and completed Law School and began practicing in Detroit and Pontiac.
It has been a while since I participated in Sepia Saturday. I seem to have already used photos that would go with the present prompts, in previous posts. However, when I saw that Sepia Saturday had been active for 500 weeks, I thought I would post some of the photos I shared in the past that matched the posts shown in the prompt collage at the bottom of this page. I got the idea after reading Peter’s blog.
This picture was taken at Belle Isle in 1930, which used to be a city park in the Detroit River and was free to all. It has since been changed to a state park and there is a fee for entry. Howard must have been almost one year old, he had been born the previous September. He seems to be wearing a gown. Mary Vee was ten and Doris was seven.
I wish my interviewing skills had been better when I recorded this. Obvious things like, turn off the radio and go to a quiet room. I edited out as much of the extraneous noise as I could. Henry and I were sitting in the living room of my house in Idlewild, MI. You can hear the sounds of the kids getting dinner on the table and hollering at the dog in the background. In 1994 my youngest four were all at home and we were homeschooling. Henry lived about 4 miles away and often had dinner with us. In his statements, Henry couldn’t remember some names. When I posted the transcript of the interview years ago, my friend Paul Lee commented: “Henry couldn’t recall the names of the “two brothers” who co-founded the FNP with “Afro-American” newspaper foreign correspondent William W. Worthy. They were Leftist attorney Conrad J. Lynn and Daniel Watts, publisher of New York’s militant “Liberator” magazine. As you know, Worthy and Watts attended the National Negro Grass Roots Leadership Conference in November 1963.”
Yesterday I came across these posters from 1963 and today I found the theme for this weeks Sepia Saturday was Posters. Although these are not on a wall, there were identical ones put up around Detroit during the time leading up to the election of 1964.
And now a modern wall with posters not too far from my house. The colorful part is painted. The faces are printed on paper and glued on. To the left of my sister’s face, three artists were peeled off. The building is a former night spot what now stands empty in a mostly deserted strip mall. I hope they plan to put the three missing artists back up. There were men in the back painting that wall and there are similar murals on the other walls.
From Left to right My grandmother, Fannie Mae Turner Graham, peeking over my great grandmother, Jennie Virginia Allen Turner’s, shoulder. My grandmother’s sister Daisy Turner. Behind and between Aunt Daisy and Aunt Alice Turner, is my aunt Mary Virginia Graham Elkins, although she was not yet an Elkins. At the end, behind Alice, is my mother, Doris Graham Cleage, although she was not yet a Cleage either.
Grandmother Turner was 73, about my age. My grandmother was 51. Daisy was 49. Alice was 30. My mother was 16 and her sister was 19.
They are posed in Grandmother Turner’s backyard on the East Side of Detroit at 4536 Harding. The house is gone now. They look like they just came from Plymouth Congregational Church, however the photo is dated July 4, 1939 on the back. July 4 was on a Tuesday that year. My grandfather, Mershell C. Graham took the picture.