Category Archives: Springfield, MA

M – MY MOTHER Walking

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. On Saturdays I’ve combined my usual Sepia Saturday post with the letter of the day. A double challenge.

In 1945 my father, Rev. Albert B. Cleage Jr., became the pastor of St. John’s Congregational Church in Springfield, Massachusetts. He and my mother, Doris, arrived there at the beginning of October.

Camp Atwater was connected to the church. It is located in N. Brookfield, Massachusetts, 34.5 miles from St. John’s. In November they took a tour in the company of former pastor Dr. DeBerry and his wife. Below is a page from my father’s photo album. Comments were written by him. The camp is still functioning, although no longer connected to St. John’s. The Urban League now runs it.

Walking tour of Camp Atwater. My mother is walking on the lower right. Click to enlarge.

“Camp Atwater is a cultural, educational, and recreational camp designed for the children of African American professionals.  The camp, founded in 1921 by Dr. William De Berry, was located in North Brookfield, Massachusetts. Initially named St. John’s Camp, in 1926 the name was officially changed to Camp Atwater when Ms. Mary Atwater donated $25,000 with the stipulation that the camp’s name honor her late father, Dr. David Fisher, a well-known and distinguished physician in the town. The camp is the oldest American Camp Association (ACA) accredited African American owned and operated camp in the nation.”

I was born in August 1946 and about 10 months later, I was walking.

Click for more information about Camp Atwater

Click for more walking posts.
#AtoZChallenge 2023 letter M

F – FALL 1948

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.

A page from the family album.

I managed to scan a few pages of the old album before they crumpled. My father wrote on brief descriptions. In the fall of 1948 I was two. My sister Pearl would be born in December of that year. One of my favorite activities was playing in the dirt. I remember watching the neighbor mother fuss at her little daughter, who was about my size, for playing in the dirt. Even at that time I thought that was sad. There were two sets of stairs, one on each side of the porch, so people did not have to walk through my kitchen when they came out of the back door.

fairy castle
Kristin and Barbara digging in Nanny’s and Poppy’s yard.
Digging on uncle Louis’ Idlewild beach with cousin Barbara 1956.
Still enjoying the dirt in my garden 2006.
#AtoZChallenge 2023 letter F

Pearl With a Tin Cup – 1950

This is the little blue organdy dress you gave her for Christmas. She looks beautiful in it.

It was August, 1950. We were out in the backyard. My little sister Pearl had a little tin cup. My Aunt Barbara Cleage probably sent it to her. She gave me a pair of red shoes when I was about the same age.

Pearl was one year. I was almost four.
Tea set like the one I had.

I don’t remember the little tin cup Pearl is holding, nor the rest of the tea set it came from. The tea set I remember looked like the one above. It was kept in it’s red and white box and had been made-in-occupied Japan. While looking for a photo of it, I found that it was lusterware. I had just read a book where the woman had a prize lusterware set. I had no idea what it was. It wasn’t something we played with everyday, being special and used rarely for little tea drinking. The set lasted until I was grown up with children of my own.

When my oldest daughter was about two or three years old, she and her dad went to Detroit and visited my parents. I don’t remember why I didn’t go. Probably because Jilo was able to fly free in those days. My mother sent send the tea set back with her. One by one my daughters dropped them piece by piece. The last piece was the teapot. I use to keep it on a small shelf in my kitchen when we lived in Mississippi. It’s gone now. Disappeared.

Click for more short posts.

History of Ohio Art Company

Lustreware Ceramics

1950 Census – I was there!

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 (which you now have to pay to read), 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

A Buggy, A Visitor and a Mystery – 1950

The Boston Globe, Boston, Massachusetts
Nov 04, 1947 · Page 13

We were living in Springfield, Massachusetts where my father was the pastor of St. John’s Congregational Church.

One cool day in 1950 my little sister Pearl and I were playing with our dolls and buggy in the back yard. Perhaps it was one of those in the advertisement to the left.

I was four. Pearl was about 18 months. An older girl appears on the scene. I do not remember who she was. A neighbor? The child of a church member? No idea.

Me and my doll.
Pearl joins me.
Showing the guest my doll.
The guest looks suspicious while I explain things and Pearl looks on.
Uh oh!
Pearl is pointing at something in the guest’s hand. Are my fists balled up? My doll watches
Looking for …

For more posts about me and my family in 1950 go to this link- My family in 1950

For more Sepia Saturday posts, click picture

Y – Youth & a Mop

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.

Youth with a mop. Sunday school? My birthday? August 1950.

Why were we all sitting on the stairs in our dresses? I have no idea. It was during my cousin’s August visit from Detroit. Maybe it was my birthday and I had turned four.

Why didn’t the photographer notice that mop propped against the wall and move it? I understand that. I’ve taken many photos and never noticed the distracting bottles on the table.

I do recognize about half of the children. Taking the front row from left to right – unknown girl with purse, Sherrie Johnson looking mad, unknown girl with a doll, Pearl eating something. Second row: unknown smiling girl, my cousin Dee Dee looking peeved, my cousin Barbara looking worried, me saying something to Barbara “Don’t worry Barbara.” On the top step, unknown girl looking at the camera and Lynn Johnson (Sherrie’s sister), also eating something.

The Springfield Union February 7, 1950
My mother – Doris Graham Cleage
Mrs. Cleage Speaker

“When the St. Paul’s Youth Fellowship gathers in the parish house Sunday evening at 7, it will hear from Mrs. Albert Cleage, Jr., of Springfield on the subject “What it means to be a Negro”

Mrs. Cleage is the wife of the minister of St. John’s Congregational Church, Springfield. A graduate of Wayne University, Detroit. Mrs. Cleage has done social work for the American Red Cross in Detroit and Los Angeles”

The Springfield Union February 7, 1950

A Poem From Today’s Youth

After posting this, I found that my thirteen year old great niece Bailey Tucker, had written a poem that could have used the same title as my mother’s talk, except we don’t use “Negro” today. I am adding it to the post. I know my mother must be smiling to have her great granddaughter following in her footsteps.

Black by Bailey Tucker. Transcribed below.


It’s not fair we get shot at.
It’s not fair we get pulled off a bike at 8.
It’s not fair they yell because our skin tone.
It’s not fair they’re mad because our hair.
It’s not fair they call us ghetto because our voice.
It’s not fair we can’t walk with our hoods on.
It’s not fair we can’t walk with our head down.
It’s not fair they call us thugs for having tattoos.
It’s not fair we get stared at.
It’s not fair they call us fatherless.
It’s not fair we are treated different.



Little Galoshes

Unfortunately they don’t share the pictures in the book, they just read it. You can see some of the illustrations here -> Vintage Kids’ Books My Kid Loves

T – The Thief of Baghdad & A Waltz

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 remember wandering into the movie below one afternoon when I was three or four.  We lived in St. John’s Congregational Church parsonage/community house in Springfield, Massachusetts where my father was pastor. I woke up from my nap and going down the hall to a big room where the movie was being shown.  There I saw a larger then life, green genie coming horrifyingly out of a bottle. For years I could not remember the title of the film. After watching some youtube clips, I can see it had to be “The Thief of Bagdad“. It was released in 1940 and by 1950 it would have been available for showing in darkened rooms full of folding chairs to church groups.  I did not stick around after the Genie started coming out of the bottle.

In the backyard

One of the few songs I remember from those years.

Lucky Mrs. Ticklefeather

S – Segregated Housing

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

Claims Hit By NAACP here

Committee Disputes Robinson Statement No Prejudice in Projects

Click to enlarge

Taking vigorous exception to statements made by Springfield Housing Authority Chairman John J. Robinson, that there is no segregation in Riverview or Reed Village, Rev. Albert B. Cleage Jr., chairman of the housing committee of the local branch of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People, said last night that the NAACP will take legal action if the segregation “pattern” continues. Such action will result in a test case which would receive national attention, he said.

His statement follows in brief:

“The NAACP has been engaged in investigating the tenant selection and placement policies of the Springfield Housing Authority for more than two years and our preliminary findings indicate the existence of a definite and deliberate policy of racial segregation in tenant placement in both the Riverview and Reed Village apartments,” said Rev. Cleage.

“The Springfield Housing Authority seems to subscribe to exactly the same racial theories as those advanced by some of the residents of Amore Village who stated that they were not prejudiced, but felt that Negroes should live to themselves. The Springfield Housing Authority seems to believe that Negroes and whites living in the same projects must be segregated in separate Negro and white units. The fact that this discriminatory policy existed at Riverview first prompted an NAACP investigation and eventually a conference with the Springfield Housing Authority.

Click to enlarge

“The NAACP Housing Committee reported its findings back to the Executive Committee and was unanimously authorized to continue its investigation until the Reed Village segregation pattern had been definitely established, and if such a pattern was continued, to proceed in co-operation with the organization’s Legal Redress Committee to take legal action against the Housing Authority. The NAACP case against segregation in Public Housing will receive full support and cooperation from the National Legal Staff of the NAACP. When and if legal action is taken, Thurgood Marshall of New York, who has already been consulted regarding developments, will be asked to handle the case. Such a development will receive national attention as a test case and for that reason the Housing Committee is proceeding with understandable care in preparing its case.

“The case will again test the principle that separate but equal is an actual impossibility already established by the NAACP on many legal fronts. The NAACP contends that a pattern of segregation as practiced by the Springfield Housing Authority contradicts the non-discriminatory provisions of both the state and national Housing Acts from which the Springfield Housing Authority derives its powers. The Springfield Branch of the NAACP in no way endorses or condones the policies of the Springfield Housing Authority.”
From The Springfield Union November 1, 1950

Meanwhile Pearl and I were eating snacks.
Scuffy the Tugboat


’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™

Q – Quiet Naps

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.

Naps were a regular part of my day back then. Usually I fell asleep because I remember several times when I woke up and nobody seemed to be around. Once I wandered down the hall and found the movie “The Thief of Baghdad” being shown. I came in just as the genie was coming out of the bottle and it was quite frightening. I didn’t see the rest of the movie.

Another time I woke up and, again no one was around. This time I heard music and noise outside and went out to find that the church was holding a carnival with rides and I don’t know what else. I think there was even a ferris wheel like the one my sister got for Christmas that year. I seem to have had my nightgown on and was hustled back into the house.

Kris, Dee Dee, Barbara. Pearl was napping

In the photographs at my grandparents in Detroit, Pearl doesn’t appear in some of them and my grandmother wrote on the back and speculated that she must have still been sleeping from her nap.

Dee Dee and Kris have a chat while Pearl makes a get-away and Barbara sleeps

The same happened in Springfield when my cousin Barbara didn’t appear in the photo, my mother guessed she was still asleep from her nap.

The Naughty Little Guest

I remember this little 2 x 3 inch book. The picture I remember is of the writing on the walls that was done by the naughty little guest, who was actually the little goat’s imaginary friend, ie herself.

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