Tag Archives: #Barbara Cleage Martin

My Social Butterflies

My mother and my grandmother turned out to be more sociable in their youth than they were by the time I knew them. Here are a couple of photographs I found of them being social butterflies.

Progressive Twelve Club – Montgomery, Alabama – 1911

Some of the young women in the Progressive Twelve Club were relatives. My grandmother, Fannie Mae Turner wrote the song. Daisy Turner was her sister. Naomi Tulane and Jennette McCall were first cousins. Some of them are also in the photo below. The information on the back of the photo was stuck to the album page so I’m not sure who is who.  The purpose of the Progressive Twelve Club seemed to be sewing. I wish I could have heard them sing this song.

"Fannie and friends"
Fannie and friends at Holly Springs, MS

Progressive Twelve Club Song
Composed by F.M.T. 1911


It was a bright September day
In dear old 1911;
our club of 12 was organized
An hour to needlework given
We hear the name “Progressive 12”,
As you’ve already seen;
the Kilarney rose adorns us
Our colors are pink and green.


We’re loyal to our motto
with it we like to delve;
See…hear..speak no evil
as do the Progressive Twelve!
We’re loyal to our motto.
With it we like to delve
see no–hear no–speak no evil,
Oh you! Progressive Twelve!


On Thursdays to our meetings
In sunshine or in rain:
We go to greet our hostess,
and new inspiration gain.
We’ve carried a record high and fair
on which we look with pride
Not only in art but in music,
we’re noted far and wide.



Mesdames Campbell and Dungee sing,
Washington and Miller too,
McCall and Tulane join in,
(while) Laurence and Wilson sew.
Mayberry makes the music
Jones and the Turners two
just work and think of our motto,
with hopeful hearts and true.



 The Social Sixteen – 1937 – Detroit, Michigan

My mother, Doris Graham is in the back row center with the flowered dress on.  Her sister, Mary V. is seated in the very front. First man in the back right is Frank “Buddy” Elkins who Mary V. would later marry. My father’s sister, Barbara Cleage is seated on the far right, front. I don’t know what exactly the Social Sixteen did but my Aunt Barbara told me that the only reason they had her in the club was because of her 4 older brothers.  The young woman at the other end of the couch was my mother’s best friend, Connie Stowers. We used to go visit her once a year. Which I still don’t understand because she lived across town, not in another city.

"The Social Sixteen"
The Social Sixteen – 1937

The Top of the Clock

Cousin Ernest with the dancing person from the top of the clock behind him.

I have been trying to remember where the top of the grandfather clock was when the clock was at my grandparents house.  The ceiling was too low to have it on top. I thought it was on the organ but I couldn’t find a photograph that showed it until today. Here is my cousin Ernest sometime in the 1960s. He grew up to be a doctor and now has the clock, with the top attached in his house. You can read the story and see the whole clock here Loudin’s Jubilee Singers and a Clock.

Person of the Month – Barbara Pearl Cleage Martin

In 1990 my four youngest children began homeschooling.  They went from Ayanna in 8th grade to 2 year old Cabral.  Soon after we began to publish a family newsletter, The Ruff Draft.  They did the writing and I did the layout.  They would send out questionnaires to family members and write a Person of the Month article from the information they got back. Last night I was going through my Ruff Draft archives and thought I should publish some of the articles on my blog.  Since today is my aunt’s birthday, it seems like the perfect time to run this. Last year we went to South Carolina and helped her celebrate.  This year she said she’s keeping a low profile. See more photos and information about my aunt at Barbara’s 90th Birthday.

Trying for shadows in this also?

Paul Payne
Trying for shadows on this also? Paul

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 Paul Payne.  See another photo of him, younger, with Hugh Cleage here.  Paul was a life time friend of the Cleage family.  To 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.

Barbara Cleage with shadow
Anna Cleage and Paul Payne with 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.

Celebrating my Aunt Barbara’s 90th birthday

90 years old today.

Tomorrow we’ll be driving over to SC to help celebrate. My aunt was born in Detroit in 1920, the fourth of the seven children of Pearl and Albert Cleage. Barbara attended what is now Wayne State University for several years and then acted as receptionist for her father and brother at Cleage Clinic on the old west side of Detroit. She eloped with Ernest Martin in 1950. They have one son, Ernest Cleage Martin and two grandchildren. 

In 1970 the Shrine of the Black Madonna opened the first of what would eventually include three Cultural Centers. The stores had collections of African and African American art, books and other cultural objects. Barbara became buyer and manager for all three. She made various buying trips to Africa over the years. She also visited Mexico with her brother Louis who spoke fluent Spanish and often traveled there. Barbara has a wonderful sense of style both in dress and in decorating. Looking forward to seeing her tomorrow celebrating her 90th birthday and hearing some family stories.