Tag Archives: #Houses

2600 Cascade Road SW – Atlanta GA – 1972 -1974

2600 Cascade Rd. SW in 2010. We lived on the right hand side. I loved that screened in porch.

This is the 20th post in the February Photo Collage Festival and the Family History Writing Challenge.   This week I cover places where I have lived that weren’t covered in the Alphabet Challenge last year. Today I remember 2600 Cascade Road SW in Atlanta.

We moved to Atlanta in September of 1972. I was about 2 months pregnant. That would be a recurring description of me off and on over the next 10 years. Jim had been talking about moving south and my sister lived in Atlanta so that is where we went. Pearl found us a duplex on Cascade Road not too far from her house on Willis Mill Road.


Jim alternated between Detroit and Atlanta until just before Ife was born at the end of March, 1973. My sister helped me get a job at the Institute of the Black World (IBW). Part of the statement of purpose of IBW read: “The Institute of the Black World is a gathering of black intellectuals who are convinced that the gifts of their minds are meant to be fully used in the service of the black community. It is therefore an experiment with scholarship in the context of struggle.” 

I, however, was hired to do clerical work and was not a member of the intellectual staff. I typed, organized a small library, ran off the IBW newsletter on their  off-set printing press, helped with mailings and sometimes transcribed tapes. As I remember, the in-house staff was small, less than ten people.  When the Watergate Hearings started, we worked around the conference table as often as possible to enable us to watch the hearings on TV.  Sometimes educational meetings were called when interesting people came to town. They talked to us about the struggle where they were.

While I worked, my daughter Jilo attended the Martin Luther King Jr. Preschool. It was several blocks from IBW and had an afro-centric curriculum. Ruth, a fellow employee at IBW, drove by our house on her way to work. She stopped and picked us up each morning.  From work I walked Jilo to school.  After several days of crying when I dropped her off, my two year old daughter settled in and seemed to enjoy the program.

I remember the surprise baby shower the IBW staff gave me at some friends house.  I thought I was going to dinner until everybody yelled “Surprise!” Three days before the birth, it felt like it was time to stop working. I mostly slept  those three days and then delivered my second daughter, Ife at Holy Family Hospital, with Dr. Borders in attendance. It was a natural birth and Jim was there.  All went well. Ife was a big baby and fussier than Jilo had been. She went to sleep best when Stevie Wonder was singing “You Are the Sunshine of My Life”.

Jim got a job printing at the Atlanta Voice Newspaper. I stopped working outside the homes. We got our first full sized washing machine! I sold a poster I made using a woodcut to a group recruiting black students for historically black colleges and designed  a sign for the Emergency Land Fund and I got paid.

The Atlanta Voice was a weekly newspaper so Jim was often working at night putting out the paper. Ife had decided that the middle of the night was the time to get some one on one time with me. That spring there seemed to be a constant stream of  severe thunderstorms moving through the area in the middle of the night. Always while Jim was at work.

I sewed most of the children’s clothes. Those I didn’t sew, I bought second hand. I started my first garden. The yard was a bit shady, but I did get some tomatoes and green beans. We got a dog who ran out into the street and got hit by a car. The across the street neighbor’s dog had puppies under the other side of the duplex neighbor’s car.  Jilo played outside all the time. It was the first place we lived that had a yard. There were plenty of kids near us and they often played at our house.  I formed a baby co-op with two friends and we got a little bit of free time without kids. I can remember walking down the street after dropping off Jilo and Ife but I can’t remember where I went or what I did.

We didn’t have a car. Jim drove the Atlanta Voice truck to and from work. I took the bus or walked or my sister sometimes gave me a ride. I remember walking up to the Salvation Army on the corner of Cascade and Donnelly; walking to Adams Park to take the children swimming; walking to my sister’s house on Willis Mill.  Jilo would be walking and I’d push Ife in the Umbroller. The only bad part of walking was that there were no sidewalks in the neighborhood, so all walking was done on the side of the street.  There was much less traffic back then and I didn’t feel like I was taking my life in my hands.  There was a pasture across the street from my house in 1973, now there are condos.

My father decided to open a branch of his church in Atlanta so we saw him as he came down to prepare the way. Other family and friends passed through Atlanta on a regular basis.  Looking back it’s hard to remember why we felt the need to move on but we wanted to get out of the city. In 1974 Jim got a job with the Emergency Land Fund and we moved to Mt. Pleasant, South Carolina.

When Jim received his FBI file several years ago, we found the memos below included.






3203 Glendale Avenue, Detroit – 1970

This is the 19th post in the February Photo Collage Festival and the Family History Writing Challenge.   This week I am doing four  posts describing some of the places I have lived that I didn’t cover in the Alphabet Challenge last year. Today I am remembering 3203 Glendale Avenue, Detroit.

Me, tired revolutionary librarian.

In the spring of 1970 the Black Conscience Library was evicted from 12019 Linwood so that the League of Revolutionary Black Workers could have the space. We temporarily moved into the basement of friends, Stu and Gloria House.  They had been members of the Student Non-violent Coordinating Committee (SNCC) and worked for voter registration in Lowndes County, Alabama.

Two views from Google Maps of the house on Glendale. Back in 1970 none of those little trees and shrubs were there. Neither was the chain link fence.

That summer, we had high school students working with us. One of their tasks was to sell the Malcolm X posters you can see on the wall behind me in the photo above.  Sometimes on Saturdays there was an organized trip to the rifle range so people could learn to shoot. I never went due to being in the last months of pregnancy.  I remember all those steps from the basement to the attic and how many times I climbed them.  We had received a grant from somebody and that summer two of us got paid.

Not the actual fridge, but this is what it looked like. Except it was painted in maroon with patches of other colors. I don’t know who painted it.

Our living quarters were in the attic. I was about seven and a half months pregnant with my first child. My bedroom was in the cedar closet up on the third floor. It was large enough for a bed and the baby’s little crib later. I remember the light from the streetlight on the trees below my window those warm summer nights.  There was another bedroom towards the front of the house. Phil had that room. Phil was a former Black Panther who worked with the library. He kept playing “Bitches Brew” by Miles Davis all summer long.

There was a claw foot bathtub and a window that looked into the neighbors attic. We had globe top refrigerator and a hotplate in the hall that the two bedrooms and bathroom opened out to. I babysat the 2.5 year old  when his parents were at work or school.  There wasn’t a lot of library work to do aside from running off flyers and newsletters because we weren’t really open to the public. I remember lots of meetings.  Meetings between the people that shared the house.  Meetings between members of the library staff. Meetings about meetings.

Usually the house was full of people but the night that I went into labor, nobody was home. Jim was teaching a “Survival and Defense” class somewhere else. I don’t know where the other 5 adults and the 2 year old that lived in the house were. I waited and walked around and waited. Finally I called my doctor to say the contractions were 5 minutes apart and he said to come to the hospital. It was 10 PM. I called my mother and she came and drove me down and waited with me until Jim arrived. Baby Jilo wasn’t born until noon the next day so I could have waited a bit longer.

One night soon after I came home with Jilo and everybody had gone to bed, neither Jim or Phil were there, but the downstairs people were. A woman started to scream for help from the alley behind the house. Stu came upstairs looking for one of the rifles from the trips to the range. As I remember they had been broken down and cleaned but not put back together. He went back down and hollered out of the back door that he was going to come out there with a “30 aught 6” and shoot somebody if the woman wasn’t released. She was and she came into the house and the police were called. I learned this later because I was upstairs in the bed with my new baby girl thinking about the dangerous world and glad that Stu had been there to shout out the door.

Part of the cast of characters.
Part of the cast of characters.  Jim was taking the photos so he was not in the pictures, unfortunately.

“I was happy to hear that Jim and Chris (sic) were well. In the times when I question my own dedication to the struggle i remember them up in that loft, with the child, cooking dinner on a hot plate. It is something i can never forget and it brings me back home when i begin to trip too hard.  It is a constant source of inspiration.”

We were there about 6 or 7 months before a new location was found for the library. By that time everybody was happy to get their own space again.

4315 Third Avenue, Detroit – 1966

 This is the 18th post in the February Photo Collage Festival and the Family History Writing Challenge.   I am doing four  posts about some of the places  that I didn’t cover in the Alphabet Challenge last year. Today I am going to remember 4315 Third Avenue, Detroit, where my husband, Jim, lived for several years while I was a student.

Jim’s apartment was right before the sign that says “BAR” on the right.

When I met Jim in 1966, he was sharing a flat near Wayne State University’s campus with Eizo.  Eizo was slightly older than we were, taught math at WSU and was an artist. He was a Japanese American who had spent part of his childhood in a concentration camp during WW2.  Jim and Eizo met when they were both members of the Congress Of Racial Equality. They organized tenant strikes and demonstrations against absentee, ghetto landlords. The store front downstairs was empty. One of Jim’s friends, Cebie, an art student and friend from Missouri, lived in the basement for awhile before he moved out and  into the Artist’s Workshop.

The flat on Third  in 2004. A religious group has a mission for addicts there now. It looked a lot less spiffy in 1966.

One Friday, Jim asked me to go to a party with him but first he had to go do a radio play he was working on. We went to his flat and he left me there while he went for an hour to practice.  This was the first time I had been there. When the phone rang I was afraid to answer it, not only because it wasn’t my place, but because I was half sure my mother knew I was there and was calling to fuss.  It actually was Jim trying to call and tell me it was going to take longer than he thought.

As I was waiting night came and his roommate, Eizo, came home and asked if I was waiting for Jim or Bernard.  Bernard? I didn’t know who Bernard was. While we waited for Jim to return he showed me his drawings.  I said they reminded me of Cuba.  He asked if I’d been to Cuba and I had to admit I hadn’t.  I had just spent my high school years reading about and dreaming about it. His drawings were of California.

That summer, I worked at the Center for Applied Science and Technology. It was several blocks from Jim’s flat. Every morning before work I went by his house and everyday after work we would meet either at the student center in Mackienzie Hall and play chess or sit around the snack bar or at the Montieth Center, an old house that served as classrooms for Montieth College and also had a mimeograph machine and a lounge area. A friend of ours and fellow member of the African American’s Action Committee was the person in charge for the summer.  We published A Happenin’ using their equipment.

The back porch. There used to be piles of newspapers out there.

I remember standing at the back door watching the kids come home from the swimming pool at the rec center down the street and the winos looking through the bottles in the alley for one that still had a sip in it.  And the man in the apartment across the alley practicing the trumpet, badly.

I remember the colorfully painted wall over the kitchen table  and the squash left in the oven way too long. I can see the room full of television sets in the little room with the skylight, that Jim was going to repair.

On August 30 I turned twenty.  That evening I was at Jim’s, he had once again invited me out to a party. There were other people there too, five or six.  After awhile he told me that he had planned to give me a surprise birthday party but not enough people had come.  We sat around and talked for a bit and then all went to another party.

At the beginning of September there was a trip to New York planned. Several people were driving over for something. I wanted to go but my parents said absolutely not. Jim went and the people he was riding with had car trouble and he ended up stranded there.  I don’t remember how he got back but I do remember I was waiting and waiting for him to get home. I was at his flat and his friend, Cebie was there. While we were waiting, Cebie made some mashed potatoes and we ate them with olive oil instead of butter.  Finally Jim called and he had gone straight to the AAAC meeting without coming home first.

In the fall of 1966 Eizo moved out and got another place where he didn’t have to be surrounded by Jim’s bizarre friends. Not including me, of course.  At that point Jim moved in some of Cebie’s cousins who, he says, were Robitussin addicts. They worked in downtown hotels.  After they moved in, I stopped going by. Eventually Jim resorted to drastic measures to get them to move out – he stopped paying the heating bill. By that time it was November in Detroit and cold. One night he decided to build a fire in a trash can to heat the place up. Amazingly, it didn’t burn to the ground but there was so much smoke that he coughed his way outside. He made it across the freeway to the student housing at the edge of the Jefferies projects and found refuge with a couple of student sisters.   That takes us to a whole different chapter of the story that we won’t be covering here.

1300 Lafaytte – 1968

Pearl standing, me seated, my father. The photographer told us to look in that direction.

This is the 17th post in the February Photo Collage Festival and the Family History Writing Challenge.   The next four  posts will be about some of the places that I lived that I didn’t cover in the Alphabet Challenge last year. Today I am going to remember 1300 Layfette, Detroit. My father, who was still using his name, Rev. A.B. Cleage lived here for a year during 1968-1969. I was a senior at Wayne State University.

In the aftermath of the 1967 riots my father had received many crazy letters, including death threats. Several people involved in the movement had been beaten or shot during this time period. There were also the more well known assassinations that took place.  I remember one sermon when my father announced that he had heard there was a price on his head and plans to kidnap him and hold him for ransom.  He told the congregation that if he was kidnapped, give them nothing for his return.  Strangely, I don’t remember worrying about this.

The flat on the left was the one my father lived in. The 12th floor is about half way up.
The flat on the left was the one my father lived in. The 12th floor is about half way up.

It was during this time that it was decided that he would move out of his first floor flat on Calvert, that had no security measures, and into the an apartment on the 12th floor of the very secure 1300 Lafayette apartments.

Here is a description written by Hiley H. Ward in his 1969 biography of my father, Prophet of the Black Nation, about the apartment and the atmosphere of the times.

“…He has continued to live alone, until recently in a twelfth-floor panoramic apartment ($360 a month, two bed-room) in the exclusive downtown eastside Lafayette Park overlooking the river, Detroit and Windsor, Canada. His church described his moving there as a security measure… in his immaculate apartment two of three paintings remain unhung after a number of months – not a sign of particular interest in the place.”

Several things I remember:

  • My father leaving my sister and me standing out in the hall while he went through the apartment with a drawn gun to make sure nobody was there.
  • The picture above being taken by a Detroit Free Press photographer for an article they were doing about my sister Pearl’s poetry for the Sunday magazine, Parade.
  • The time I spent a week with him while my mother and Henry went out of town. He went over to his mother’s house on Atkinson for dinner every night. I decided to just fix myself dinner. I did, but I left the tea kettle on and forgot about it. It melted on the burner. I still have a lump of the remains.  During this visit I was instructed to give no one the phone number or the address.

    All that remained of the tea kettle.
  • Watching the 4th of July fireworks.

I was trying to reconstruct the layout of the apartment from memory when I decided to look online.  Currently the same apartments are in use as co-op apartments and I was able to find the layout and placement at the website for the current cooperative apartments.

1300_apt_sixAt the same time that my father was living here, The Black Star Co-op  being developed.

Then and Now – Atkinson 1953

The “Saturday Night Fun” assignment from Randy Seaver at Genea-Musings (along with some of the fine results) can be found here.  It involved picking out a photograph to use in this challenge for August 16 by the Family Curator.  For the original challenge you hold up an old photograph and match it up to the present day scene.  This means you have to be in the area.  Unfortunately, I live far from the sites of my past and that of my ancestors so I was am not able to do this exactly.  I also was not able to just choose my photo and let it go at that. Here is what I did.

The parsonage now and us back in 1953.

In 2004 I spent a day driving around Detroit taking photographs of places where I used to live and of other houses family members lived in.  The angle of this house fit almost perfectly with the photograph taken in 1953 of my father with my little sister Pearl and me.  We are in front of the parsonage on Atkinson. My father was the minister of St. Mark’s Presbyterian Church, two blocks up the street on the corner of 12th Street and Atkinson.

My sister and I shared the bedroom on the upper left.  We used to look out of the side window into the attic of Carol and Deborah. They were our age and lived next door and got to stay up much later then we did. They had a wonderful playroom in the attic.  I taught Pearl to read by the streetlight shinning into our bedroom.  I don’t know why we waited until we were supposed to be in the bed to teach and learn reading.

On our other side lived Eleanor Gross with her family. Eleanor was a teenager and babysat with us during the rare times our parents went out.  My paternal grandparents lived down the street and I have a 2004 photograph of that house which I think I will mix with one from the 1950’s.  I was trying to think of someone still in Detroit that I could get to take a photo from the proper angle of St. Mark’s. I like this assignment!

Childhood homes

Photos and Memories

I moved often while I was growing up because my father was a minister. When he changed churches, we moved. I have written stories about each house individually. There are links at the bottom of this story. This is an overview of all those houses, with memories.

2parsonage Springfield, MA
Parsonage at 210 King Street, Springfield,MA.

I was born on August 30, 1946 at 10 PM in the middle of a thunderstorm.  The first of the two daughters of Rev. Albert B. and Doris Graham Cleage.  I was named Kristin after the heroine of the novel by Sigrid Unset, Kristin Lavransdatter.  My father was pastor of the St. John’s Congregational church in Springfield, MA.  After my father convinced the church to sell the parsonage to pay debts, we moved into the back of the church community house .

Parsonage/Community house at 643 Union Street. Springfield, MA.

I remember…
Laying on a blanket in the yard looking up at the clouds with my mother.  Holding my sister, Pearl, on the way home from the hospital.  Sitting on the basement steps while my grandmother washed Pearl’s diapers.  Making Halloween cupcakes.  Looking at the clearing evening sky after rain.  Going to the ice ream parlor with my sister and parents.  Leafless trees against the winter sky.  The huge statues in a religious procession going past the house.  Fall trees, a stream and a dog in the park.  Watching the milkman and his horse from my bedroom window.  Ribbon candy at Christmas.

Parsonage at 2212 Atkinson, Detroit.

When I was four my father got a church in Detroit and we moved there.  All of the grandparents, aunts, uncles and cousins were there.  We moved into a house down the street from my paternal grandparents a few aunts and uncles lived there too.  I began kindergarten at Brady Elementary.

I remember…
My grandfather picking up a baby bird and giving it little pieces of bacon.  Not being allowed out of the yard.  Being late for school all the time.  A movie about white and red corpuscles fighting infection. Painting at the easel.

I attended first grade at Brady.  During second grade I had pneumonia and missed the rest of that year my father was involved in a church fight and led a faction away to start another church.  We moved.  During the summer before we moved, my mother, sister and I stayed with my mother’s parents on the east side.  My father stayed with his parents.  My mother was taking classes in education at Wayne State University.

6638 Theodore Street, Detroit, Michigan.
6638 Theodore Street, Detroit, Michigan. Maternal Grandparents house.

I remember…
Playing “Sorry” at my grandparent’s kitchen table.  Listening to the radio soaps.  Going to meet my mother at the bus stop and collecting dropped flowers that we made into a slimy mud pie soup.  Eating grated cheese and Ritz crackers.  Going to the creamery with my grandfather to buy vanilla ice cream.  Climbing up on the pile of logs against the wooden fence to look into the alley.  The electrical storm when we sat in the living room, waiting for my mother to come home. Crying when she finally got there, telling of jumping over downed wires.

Parsonage at 2254 Chicago Blvd., Detroit

In the fall we all moved into a big stone house that would be mostly the church community house and incidentally we would live upstairs.  The choir practiced downstairs, the youth group met in the basement rec room; they had card parties in the living room and piano lessons in the morning room.  They all used the kitchen.  It was kind of adventurous living in such a large, mostly empty house with servant’s quarters in the attic and buttons that lit up on a numbered board in the kitchen when pressed in each room.  At least my sister and I thought so.  My mother didn’t feel that way.  When I was eight, my parent were divorced.  It was a “friendly divorce”.  We moved into a flat closer to Roosevelt elementary school that my sister and I attended and where my mother was a beginning teacher.  My sister and I went everyday to my father’s for lunch.  He came by and visited.  Neither one talked negatively about the other.  My sister and I took piano lessons from Mr. Manderville and dance lessons at Toni’s School of Dance on Dexter.

We lived in the upstairs flat. This is how the house looked in 2004.
2705 Calvert.   We lived in the upstairs flat. This is how the house looked in 2004.

I remember…
Learning how to ride a bike.  My great grandmother dying.  Two more cousins being born.  My aunt and three cousins staying with us while their family looked for a house.  Saturdays my mother picked up her sister and three daughters and the seven of us drove over to the east side and spent the day at her parent’s.  Vegetable and flower gardens, bird bath, swing, dirt, snowball tree, marigolds and a big brass bed we jumped up and down on  and slid through the bars of.  Plays my older cousin Dee Dee wrote and we put on and on and on for the adults.  My grandmother’s aunt who gave us rosaries and told us about cutting her mother’s mother’s (who she said was from Africa) toenails, while my cousin was cutting her toenails.  Sundays after church at my other grandmothers where she had milk, tea and ice water on the table and the butter in little pats on a saucer and candles.  The endless discussion of politics, race, church around that table.  Getting my own room.  Going to the fish house and the zoo and picnics at Belle Isle.  Making dolls.  Learning to roller-skate and ride a bike.  Having a “best friend”.  Reading, reading and reading.  Roosevelt Elementary School changing from 99% Jewish to 99% Black.

On the porch of 5397 Oregon St. Detroit with my mother.

When I was twelve I graduated from Roosevelt and went to Durfee Junior High School next door.  Because of over crowding I was double promoted.  A year later my mother bought a house on Oregon Street and we moved to the McMichael school district.  I transferred there while my sister continued at Roosevelt where she was a sixth grader.  I was in the youth group at church.

I remember…
Going home after graduation with my best friend Deidre and having a snowball fight.  Finding everybody else knew how to dance and I didn’t.  How big Durfee seemed.  My crazy seventh grade math teacher.  Learning how to swim.  Getting home before everybody.  Never finding my way around McMicheal.  Chaos during TV science classes.  Learning how to sew.  Making pineapple muffins and pineapple muffins and more pineapple muffins.  My cousin growing out of playing ‘imaginary land” on Saturdays.  Wishing I had enough money to get everybody a really good Christmas present.  Arguing with my sister about who was supposed to do the dishes.  Making doughnuts.  Not getting “chose” at youth group dances. Not feeling comfortable dancing if I did.

When I was 15 my mother remarried. She married my father’s brother Henry Cleage, a lawyer, who was then a printer and started to put out a black paper, the illustrated news.  I attended Northwestern High School.  Favorite classes were Spanish and swimming.  I was on the Swim Team.  Worked at the Printing Plant one summer.  Baby-sat another.  My family bought an old farmhouse on two acres near Wixom, Michigan.  We went there on weekend and longer in the summer.

I remember…
Discovering Socialism, Revolution and Cuba.  Telling an English teacher I certainly had nothing in common with Holden Caulfield.  The freedom rides, school integration, Martin Luther King, Malcolm X, Kennedy’s assassination.  The four little girls in Birmingham bombed at Sunday school.  Being at the church Christmas bazaar while the Russian boats were headed for Cuba.  Bare trees against the winter evening gray/peach sky.  Not wanting to participate in graduation.  Not going to the prom.  Not wanting to.  The green fields at the farm under a heavy grey, clearing sky after a summer.  Not going on dates.  Wanting to be able to say I had a boyfriend, but not wanting anyone I knew for one.  Feeling like an outsider.

I attended Wayne State University from Sept 1964 until graduating in December 1968 with a Bachelors degree in Fine Arts.  I worked in the cafeteria, in the school library, at the Center for the Application of Science and Technology, as the art director of the student newspaper, The South End.  During Christmas vacations I worked as a saleslady in the Children’s only shop at downtown Hudson’s.  One summer I worked in the pharmacy of the North Detroit General Hospital.  I maintained a 3.0 average.  Joined the Afro-American Action Committee and demonstrated against the war in Vietnam.  Met my husband, Jim.  My sister went off to study play writing at Howard University.  My stepfather went back into law. We moved into a flat on Fairfield with my mother’s parents living downstairs. I did not attend my graduation.

16260 Fairfield, Detroit.
16260 Fairfield, Detroit.

I remember …
Meetings.  Meetings about the war in Vietnam, meetings about Black Student concerns, community meetings, political meetings, meetings about meetings.  Seeing Jim from my writing class and running down four flights of stairs before realizing I need to be in that class.  Both grandmothers saying that girl is in love.  The Pentagon March against the war in Vietnam, Visiting my sister at Howard.  Being tired of school and home and wanting to be on my own.  Dropping a tray full of dishes in the cafeteria and the diners applauding.  Reading Kristin Lavernsdatter.  Hanging out at the Montieth Center.  Putting out “A Happenin’.  Malcolm X’s assassination.  MLK’s assassination.  The 1967 rebellion.  Passing out campaign information at the polls.  Bell Bottom jeans.  Richard Grove Holmes, “Song for my Father.” Doing a two-color separation cover of the South End.  Being hopelessly in love.  Spending the night with Jim.  Eating oranges in the snack bar.  Hippies.  Afros.  Black pride.  Black Power.  Freedom Now. Graduating from Wayne and taking the bus west, to San Francisco. Leaving home.  Grown.


Specific memories of each of the many childhood houses (including floor plans) I lived in can be found in the following posts: