For years, my aunt Anna was the pharmacist at my uncle Louis Cleages clinic. When we went to the doctor’s, my sister, mother and I would stop in the back for a visit with her. Sometimes she would give us things that I guess were trinkets from the drug salesman. The only one I remember was a pile of what looked like pennies painted a gold color and glued to look like a heap.
Many year later, when I was grown and living in Idlewild with a family of my own, I would always stop by and visit my aunt and uncle, Anna and Winslow in Detroit. They both had great memories and a wealth of family stories. I would drink tea and eat cookies or something while they told me tales of the family’s past.
Anna had a distinctive laugh and my daughter Ife sometimes laughs in the same way. I do miss them still and wonder what stories we never got around to.
“Hugh, Gladys and Anna Cleage of Scotten took their share of places in the annual city ice skating meet which was held at Belle Isle last Sunday afternoon. Anna won first place and a gold medal in the Senior girls’ novice; Gladys, third in the same event and a gold medal. Hugh competed in the men’s 220 and two-mile events.”
This article is from one of the Detroit daily papers and is undated, but I would place it in the early 1940s. Years later when I was talking about this photo with my aunt Anna, she said that the story was wrong and that actually she came in third and Gladys won the race. She remembered taking an early lead in the race but soon falling behind as Gladys easily over took her. They learned to skate at the Northwestern High School skating rink, which was a few blocks from their home on Scotten. When my sister and I were in high school at Northwestern in the early 1960s we skated at the same rink. We got racing skates because Hugh and Gladys were so cool skating on the Lagoon at Belle Isle, but we were never gold medal material. The old Northwestern High School is no longer there. It was torn down and a new school was build where the skating rink used to be.
In 1986 my husband and I moved to Idlewild, Michigan with our children. We lived on Idlewild Lake. When it was frozen we skated right in front of the house. Hugh and Gladys could still skate circles around us. During the summer when Gladys and I walked around the Lake, people from Detroit’s Old West Side would stop us to ask if she was the skating champion. She was in her early 60s. This week I wish I had some skates. It would make it so much easier to get around frozen Atlanta. Above is a picture of four of my children skating on Idlewild Lake about 1990. To see more Sepia Saturday offerings click here.
My mother Doris and her sister Mary Virginia with their dog Bonzo. The picture was taken in August 1932, about 6 months after their brother Howard died of Scarlet Fever. Mary V. was 12 and Doris was 9. The sisters were granddaughters of Jennie Virginia Allen Turner, who was the daughter of Dock and Eliza Allen. My mother later had a sister-in-law named Gladys Cleage, who will celebrate her 93rd birthday this Saturday. I could not find a photograph of her with a sister and a dog, but here she is with sister Anna.
Gladys and Anna were the grandchildren of Lewis and Anna Cecilia Cleage, and great granddaughters of Frank and Juda Cleage of Athens, TN.
Yesterday I talked about cousins, today I am going to share something about my aunts and uncles, some plain old aunts and uncles and some great and some 2X great.
Because my family seemed to socialized mainly with each other and a few long time family friends, I saw a lot of my aunts and uncles. When I was growing up, we spent every Saturday with my mother’s sister, Mary V. and her daughters at our maternal grandparents. We all rode over and back together. We also lived down the street and went to the same school so we saw her often.
My father’s family was very close and worked on political and freedom causes together through the years. We all went up to Idlewild together. Uncle Louis was our family doctor. My first jobs were working with Henry and Hugh at Cleage Printers. I babysat one summer for Anna and Winslow. I worked at North Detroit General Hospital in the pharmacy with Winslow. I worked with Gladys and Barbara at the Black Star sewing factory. My mother married my Uncle Henry years after my parents divorced so he was like a second father to me. I raked their memories for stories about the past for decades.
I had 4 aunts and 5 uncles, by blood. Two of my uncles died when they were children so I never knew them. All of my aunts married so there were 4 uncles by marriage. Three, Ernest, Frank and Edward, were eventually divorced from my aunts. I didn’t see them very much after that. Ernest lived in NYC and only appeared now and then so I didn’t know him very well beyond the fact he was very good looking and polite. Uncle Frank, who we called ‘Buddy’, was a an electrician. I remember him taking us to Eastern Market and boiling up a lot of shrimp,which we ate on soda crackers. And a story he told about a whirling dervish seen in the distance that turned into a dove. Edward, who we called Eddie was a doctor and I remember little about him except he was quiet and when I had a bad case of teenage acne, offered to treat it for me. Uncle Winslow was there to the end. I saw him often and I felt very connected to him. He had a wicked sense of humor and liked to talk about the past when I was in my family history mode. None of my uncles were married during my lifetime so I had no aunts by marriage.
We didn’t call our aunts and uncles “aunt” and “uncle”. We called them by their first names only. I did know two of my great aunts, my maternal grandmother’s sisters, Daisy and Alice. I knew one of my 2 X great aunts, Aunt Abbie. She lived with my grandparents until she died in 1966. Aunt Abbie was Catholic and I still have a Crucifix that she gave me.
I remember calling Daisy “Aunt Daisy”, but Alice was just “Alice”. Aunt Daisy had a distinctive voice and she laughed a lot. I remember going to dinner at their house once, and going by on holidays.
There were a host of great aunts and uncles that I never met but I knew from stories about them so that I felt like I knew them. Aunt Minnie and Uncle Hugh were my paternal grandmother’s siblings. I must have met several of my paternal grandfather’s siblings but I was small and don’t remember them, Uncle Jake, Uncle Henry, Aunt Josie and their spouses. And on the maternal side I heard so much about my great grandmother Jennie’s siblings that I felt I knew them too. When I started researching, these were not strangers – Aunt Willie, Aunt Mary, Aunt Beulah, Aunt Anna.
We didn’t call any of my parent’s friends ‘aunt’ or ‘uncle’. Not surprising since we didn’t call our own aunts and uncles, ‘aunt’ and ‘uncle’.
Today I am previewing my paternal grandparent’s, Albert and Pearl Cleage’s, household in 1950.
In 1950 the Cleage household consisted of Albert B. Cleage, his wife Pearl and 5 of their 7 children. Albert was a Physician. He was 66 years old and had retired from his medical practice, my Aunt Gladys remembers. He was born in Tennessee and both of his parents were born in the United States. He had completed over 5 years of college. He and his wife had been married for 40 years. This was the only marriage for both.
Pearl D. Cleage was 64 years old. She had given birth to 7 children. She was born in Kentucky and had completed 12 years of school. She kept house and had not worked or sought work outside of the home. Her parents were born in the US.
Louis Cleage, their son, was 36 years old and also a physician in a private practice. He had completed over 5 years of college and never been married. He worked 52 weeks. Henry Cleage, a son, was 34 years old. He had worked 52 weeks as an attorney in private practice. He had been married once and divorced about 6 years. Hugh Cleage, a son was 32 years old. He had never been married. He worked 52 weeks as a postal worker at the US post office. Not sure of his salary yet. He had completed 2 years of college. None of them had been in the military.
Barbara Cleage, a daughter, was 30 years old. She had worked the previous year as receptionist at a doctor’s office. She had never been married and had no children. She had completed 1 year of college. Anna Cleage was the youngest daughter at 26 years old. She had completed over 5 years of college and had worked the previous year as a pharmacist in a doctor’s office. She had never been married and had no children. All of the children were born in Michigan. Everybody in the household was identified as Neg(ro).
By 1950 the Cleages had moved from their house on Scotten Ave. to 2270 Atkinson. This three story brick home with full basement was built in 1919. Because it was bought only 2 years before, in 1948, I believe there was a mortgage.
There were 2 full and 2 partial bathrooms. There were 4 bedrooms on the second floor and 2 in the attic. On the first floor there was a kitchen, a breakfast room, a dining room, a living room, a library and a sun room adding another 6 rooms and making 12 rooms in total.
The house was heated by steam heat, with radiators in every room. The house was fully electrified, had hot and cold running water and indoor plumbing. There were two bathtubs and 4 flush toilets in the various bathrooms. In the kitchen there was an electric refrigerator. The stove was gas. The sinks all had hot and cold running water. There was a radio and probably a television. A friend who lived across the street from my grandparents says that his parents bought their house for $15,000 in 1952. My cousin Jan found papers about 2270 Atkinson. When my grandparents bought it early in 1949, the cost was $12,600.
In 1940 my grandparents and family were living at 6429 Scotten at the corner of Milford. They owned the house and it was worth $5,000. They had lived in the same place in 1935 and in fact had been there for over 20 years as all the girls in the family were born in that house. My grandfather was a medical doctor in private practice at the Cleage Clinic. The amount of money he made in 1939 was a crossed out number, replaced with “0”. He was the informant, that is he is the one that talked to the census taker and gave them the information on the form.
My grandfather was 56 years old, born in Tennessee with plus 5 years of college. My grandmother was 50, born in Kentucky with 4 years of high school. My father was 28, born in Indiana, had plus 5 years of college and was absent from the home. All the other children were born in Michigan. Louis was 26, had plus 5 years of college and absent from the home. Henry was 24 and had 5 years of college. Hugh was 21 and had 2 years of college. Barbara was 19 and had completed 1 year of college. Gladys was 17 and had completed 4 years of high school. Anna was 15 and had completed 2 years of high school.
All of the children were in school. Anna was still attending Northwestern High school. Gladys had graduated in 1939 and was a freshman at Wayne State University. Henry, Hugh and Barbara must have been at Wayne. Louis graduated from Wayne State medical school in 1940 and was doing a residency at Homer Philips in St. Louis. My father graduated from Wayne in 1938 and was in the seminary at Oberlin College.
Source: 1940 U.S. Census. State: Michigan. County: Wayne. City: Detroit. Ward 14. Enumeration Districe: 84-787. Sheet number: 11-A. Head of household and informant: Dr. Albert B. Cleage. To see the census sheet for the Albert Cleage family click HERE.
I hadn’t realized that one of my grandmother sisters and all of my grandfather’s living siblings lived within walking distance of their house. I have labeled their houses, Northwestern High School, Wingert Elementary School and the Cleage Clinic. I sort of knew this, but I didn’t realize it until I mapped it out after finding everybody in the same neighborhood. In future posts I will share what I learned about each household in 1940.
It was in the 1930’s, as the Cleage brothers reached their twenties, that the “art photos” began. Before that, there are some actual studio photos and lots of snapshots. Then we begin to get photos like these, where someone was experimenting, this time with shadow. The first photo to the upper right is of Paul Payne. There was another photo of him, younger, with Hugh Cleage here. Paul was a long time friend of the Cleage family. Above on the left we have the verso of Paul’s photo which says “Tried for shadows in this also?” All three of these photos have the same number.. To the right, we have Barbara Cleage with a double shadow. And below right we have Anna Cleage and Paul, again with strong shadows.
From this period we have many posed portraits of family members. Some are 8 x 10 and some are snap shots. None of them are signed so I don’t know who took them except for the ones that my father took of my mother in California since he was the only one there. The largest group of snapshots taken during this time, including last week’s Wordless Wednesday photographs of the winter scenes, were taken at the Meadows. (Go to the last paragraph on the linked page to learn more about the Meadows) There are over one hundred of them, from all seasons and spread over several years. My Aunt Gladys confirmed that her brother Hugh did set up a darkroom in the basement.
During the 1960’s Henry and Hugh went into the printing business. They had several presses, a darkroom, an enlarger and more cameras. I have boxes and boxes that used to hold 5 X 7 film that now hold photographs taken during that time. More in the weeks to come. To see more Sepia Saturday entries click HERE.
The Graham sisters were on my Finding Eliza blog, along with the next generation of Cleage sisters – my sister and me. Here are my aunts, the original Cleage sisters in the early 1940’s. Barbara, Gladys and Anna. For more Sepia Saturday posts click here.