Tag Archives: #Idlewild

Y – A YEAR for Tulani – 1996

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.

My daughter Tulani homeschooled for her middle and high school years. At that time the Baldwin Schools allowed homeschoolers to participate in sports and some other school activities. This is an article she wrote for our family newsletter Ruff Draft about her senior year.

Tulani’s Year

by Tulani Williams
From The Ruff Draft – Spring/Summer 1996 page 10

Tulani in Houston, TX

This is my senior year in high school, and I can say that this year I did it all. I played varsity basketball, volunteered at the veterinarian’s clinic, was a cheerleader for boys basketball, took a trip to Houston, am running track for the fourth straight year and I even attended the Prom!

In the fall, I was on the varsity basketball team. I played shooting guard. Although I am not much for shooting or dribbling. This was my first time ever playing organized basketball and at first it was a little confusing. All the new plays and all the baskeball jargon, but I caught on. We had a rough season. Lots of girls quit and by the last game there were only six of us. The referees were a constant problem. Wherever we went, they seemed to be against us, even on our home court. We lost a lot of games that we should have won, but at the end of the season we picked up our game and played like we knew we could. We blew out a team that had beat us by more than twenty points the last time around. We even made it to the second round of the playoffs. This is something that a girls team from Baldwin, hasn’t done in awhile. But then the referees got to us and we lost the second round. I enjoyed myself this season and I’m glad that I had a chance to play.

Since I enjoy being around and working with animals, I am considering a career in veterinarian medicine. I had the opportunity to observe at the clinic where I take my dogs. The staff at the clinic was more than happy to have me hanging around. My first day I witnessed a spaying. The operation was preformed on a dog. She was a small white toy poodle. She was frail enough when she was fully alert and trying to bounce off the table. After she had been sedated and laid out on the table, she looked near, if not completely, dead. The doctor started the surgery, telling me that if at any point I felt uncomfortable I should leave. I assured him that I was fine. Well, it turned out that the combination of smells, the little dog laid out spread eagle on the operating table and the whole idea of cutting into a living animal and taking out her insides, was a little too much for me. I felt faint and quickly moved away from the operating room.

After that first incident I got used to the whole process. The smells no longer made me nauseous and I even had the opportunity to help with some of the operations. I didn’t get to do any of the cutting or anything as major as that, but I did get to hand the doctor the suture material and other tools. Having this experience was very good for me. If I do decide to major in Veterinarian Medicine, I will already have an idea of what I will be working towards doing.

During the winter I was on the boys basketball cheer leading team. I was, as several of my friends told me, the worse cheerleader Baldwin had seen in awhile. I’m sure that had something to do with the fact that I didn’t really care about what I was doing. I never really took the time and effort to perfect all the cheers. And it was impossible for me to look at cheering as a sport, like some of my teammates did. Because to me it just wasn’t.

The first two weeks in April, I had a chance to go down to Houston, Texas. I visited my grandfather Jaramogi, and my sister Ayanna. I stayed with Ayanna. While I was there I went to class with her. She is attending Texas Southern University. Her health professor was a real idiot. He told the class that it was just as good to drink six cups of pop a day as it was to drink eight cups of water. Or, he said, if you had a gallstone, perhaps it was better to just drink beer! Her English professor was sort of a ditz, she treated the class as though they didn’t know anything at all, but it wasn’t really their fault…after all, most of them were black. Her math professor was good. She explained things well and I understood what she was saying.

While I was there, I also went to a movie with my grandfather. I don’t remember what it was we were supposed to go see, but we saw Fargo. It was sort of a sick, psychopath, murder, comedy thing. We all agreed it was the worst movie we had seen in awhile.

All in all, I had a great visit. It was hot, but they all told me to come back in June, and the tree’s were all out. Houston seemed like a nice enough place, aside from the horrible smog on overcast days. It was very nice to see my grandfather and sister.

Tulani’s prom photo

Then, I went to the prom. Up until the day of the prom I really had no plans to go. Then at four thirty (prom started at eight) a female friend called me and asked if I would go with her because she really wanted to go and her date had backed out at the last minute. She really wanted to go, but didn’t want to go by herself. I told her that if she could find me a dress I liked then I would probably go. She called me back and had two dresses she’d found. She assured me that if I didn’t like them, she would find more. One was an awful bright red thing. It was short with two odd ruffles and a tight bodice with spaghetti straps. The other was a nice dress, it was the one I wore. It came down to about the top of my knees. It was black and white with a white ruffle. Prom itself was quite boring. Mostly people just came and took pictures of each other and sat around trying to look glamorous. My friend and I both decided as we drove home that we had just wasted quite a bit of time and we agreed one thing for sure, we wouldn’t be going back next year!

Tulani running track

Now I am running. This year the girls team is very small. There are six of us total, but only one of us is really there to run. That would be me! The rest of them are there because they have a boyfriend on the team or there is a guy they like on the team and they want to keep an eye on him. So on the rare occasion that they do come to practice, they usually sit around on the field and discuss their problems. Needless to say I am concentrating on my personal events this year – the 100 and 200 meter dashes. I am supposed to be on the 400 relay, but I refuse to run with girls who refuse to practice. We have already had two meets and I am undefeated in my personal events. The girls relay came in second at one meet and first at another. I ran anchor (last) in both meets. Our next meet is a big one and hopefully the weather will cooperate and it won’t be canceled. This year I am hopefully going to be competing in the state meet. There is a good chance that I will be all conference and first in our regional meet. I am spending a lot of time working on my starts and trying to cut down on my time in the 100. My personal best is 12.3 seconds. If it would get down just a little warmer and the wind would die down, I should be able to run at least a 12.0 flat.

Next fall I will be going to Central Michigan University.

#AtoZChallenge 2023 letter Y


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.

My grandfather working in his garden with my cousin Dee Dee. 1945
My mother looking at her corn at the first Old Plank Garden in 1961.
Me in my garden 1994

The Real Garden

Kristin Cleage

Our garden this year has been great, best I’ve had in years. Jim Tulani, James and Cabral got up a fence in early June that keeps the dogs from rolling around in the beds. Jim brought several pickup loads of horse manure from a local horse owner soon after the fence went up. He also roto-tilled several planting beds that were over grown and made a large double bed for the corn.

I got it planted soon after, before weeds could take over again and mulched everything heavily…the hay was here on time. We got all of this done pretty much before I started working. The beginning of the summer was hot and dry, so I watered. It soon changed to hot and wet, wet, wet. Now it’s cooling off and raining pretty well.

We’ve been eating summer squash, plenty of green beans (freezing some too.), collards, broccoli, swiss chard. The corn is tassling and there’s enough of it this year that you can hear it rustling in the wind. The pumpkins and winter squash may make it before frost if they hurry. Lots of green tomatoes, onions and red beans. The only down side so far is that the beans I planted with the corn (I even let the corn get up good before I planted them this year.) turned out to be bush beans and not Kentucky Wonder climbers. Looks kind of strange having those bush beans growing around the bottom of the corn.

I plan to put in lettuce, mustard, turnip and transplant kale as soon as the beans give out and by putting plastic over the pipes I bent over them, to eat from the garden up until Thanksgiving.

And next year with the fence already up, maybe I’ll really get some plants started and out early and have potatoes. The tomatoes Ayanna started this year look good. I did dream we had a killing frost a few nights ago, but I hope it was just a dream, I mean, it’s only August? No killing frost in August, even in the North woods, right?

The Ruff Draft May/June 1994 page 5

Today I did two G posts, unawares. The other is G- Glimpses in Detroit’s Mirror!

#AtoZChallenge 2023 letter G

I – IDLEWILD -Cleage family visits

The Cleages and friends at Idlewild. My father, Albert in the back far left. Grandmother Pearl 3rd from left. Down front on the right, Barbara, Gladys and Henry. Grandfather standing behind Gladys. I think about 1925.

My grandmother Pearl Reed Cleage, did not think much of Idlewild vacations when her children were growing up, because she still had to do all the cooking, washing and other chores she did at home, but without the familiar home tools. Everybody else loved it and they probably went out on the water in a row boat and went swimming and fishing and visiting friends. Maybe the older ones went to dances. While Grandmother cooked and washed and did the usual. I hope she also had time to sit outside and relax. They rented houses until the 1940s when Louis Cleage built a cottage.

I remember my grandmother reading to us from the book “Told Under the Red Umbrella” the summer of 1953. The electricity went off during a storm and she read to us by the kerosene lamps until the lights came back on. During that trip I am sure my mother and aunts did the cooking.

The Cleage Family on vacation in Idlewild, Michigan about 1928. Left to right: Pearl Reed Cleage, Gladys, Louis back between, Hugh, Anna, Henry, Albert Jr, Barbara, Dr. Albert B. Cleage Sr behind Barbara.


Beginning in 1915, African Americans from throughout the country, particularly the Midwest, came to Idlewild in the summer. During the early years the resort offered beaches, boating, and other typical summer diversions. By the 1920s and into the 1960s, however, Idlewild’s rousing nightlife lured swarms of viitors to the community to see elaborate floorshows and some of America’s most popular black entertainers. the Arthur Braggs Idlewild Revue toured the country during the off-season, spreading the Idlewild name. The 1964 passage of the Civil Rights Act – comprehensive legsation that prohibits segregation- opened doors for blacks to stay at previously whites-only resorts. Idlewild’s heyday ended, but it remained the largest African American resort in the nation.

The location of Idlewild is at “A”

Skating Champions, Hugh, Gladys and Anna Cleage – 1947

Three of my father’s six siblings, Hugh, Gladys and Anna Cleage. February 8, 1947

“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.

Cabral, Ife, Tulani and James skating.

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.

Sisters On The Dock – Idlewild, MI 1953

Pearl and Kristin

It was the summer of 1953. My sister and I stood on my uncle Louis Cleage’s dock in front of his cottage in Idlewild, Michigan holding our dolls. The summer of 1953 my mother, sister and I stayed with her parents on the East side while my father stayed with his parents on Atkinson. We were between houses as a Church fight had resulted in us having to vacate the parsonage. We moved to the new parsonage at 2254 Chicago at the end of the summer.

I remember riding on the floor of my grandparent’s car on the way there, my grandmother reading to us by kerosene lamp during a storm that put the electricity out, fishing off of the dock, the catfish that lived underneath it and being out of the city for an extended time for the first time in my life.

Fish and Fillets – Idlewild Michigan 1977 & 1979

My mother, Doris Graham Cleage, holding a string of fish on Water Mill Lake.
My mother, Doris Graham Cleage, holding a string of blue gills she and Henry caught in Lake Idlewild in 1977.

On the left my Uncle Henry is holding a ten inch blue gill that he and my mother caught in September of 1977 in a boat off of my Uncle Louis’ dock on Lake Idlewild.  They would fillet them and freeze them in empty milk cartons.

On the right is a boat in front of Louis’ cottage on Idlewild Lake. I can’t quite make it out, but could be them catching the above string of fish.

In June, 1979 my mother sent to the Emergency Land Fund’s newspaper “Forty Acres and A Mule” her recipe for cooking blue gills.  I wish I had a plate of those blue gills right now.

idlewild lake with boat 1977:sept 10" blue gill from L. Idlewild

bluegill recipe - doris cleage******************************

I just remembered this letter with a drawing of a fish that my mother wrote to Henry from Idlewild in 1956.

Letter my mother wrote in 1956 from Louis's cottage in Idlewild.
From a letter my mother wrote in 1956 from Louis’s cottage in Idlewild.

“In between showers, the children & I go outside to see what’s up.  The lake is full of minnows & baby bass & even some half-size bass who stay around our beach.  But the rowboat isn’t even down the hill – and the other boats are too fast – everything is gone before you even get to it – including the lake.

I’ve spent two evenings with Louis & his guests – and they took me out to “night club” – but they’ve given me up, I think, as a confirmed “prude” – but a pleasant innocuous one.  I’ve been reading the book about Bronson alcott (no, I won’t tell you who he is) and also…”

kris,ma,pearlon dock
Me, my mother and Pearl on Louis’ dock that summer of 1956.


I was going to write about the time when we hand printed fish one spring in Idlewild. Unfortunately, we don’t seem to have saved any of our prints. I did not know printing fish was a Japanese art form called Gyotaku.  Ours were not as lovely as those at the link, but they were interesting.

Note:  My sister tells me she has some of those prints. Whenever she finds them, I will add them to this post.

To read other fishy Sepia Saturday offerings, CLICK!
To read other fishy Sepia Saturday offerings, CLICK!

Wading in the Water

In the summer of 1945 my parents moved from Los Angeles, where my father had been studying film making, to Springfield, MA. He was the new pastor of St. John’s Congregational Church, an historic African American church.  During their trip across country they stopped in Detroit to see their families. A trip to my Uncle Louis’ cottage in Idlewild was included.  More photographs from that trip can be seen here – Idlewild 1945.

My mother Doris Graham Cleage wading in Lake Idlewild with family friend Lillian Payne.

For more Sepia Saturday offerings, CLICK!
For more Sepia Saturday offerings, CLICK!

Hugh Cleage Skiing

Back in the day, my uncles Hugh and Louis Cleage used to go up to Idlewild and ski. Sometimes my boy cousins got to go with them, but never any of the girls. It was a male bonding time, I guess.  Anyway, we never did learn to ski, my sister and I, while the boy cousins became quite good at it. They sometimes went to Caberfae, a skiing resort very close to Idlewild. You can read about the history of Caberfae, with photographs, here Caberfae Peaks: 75 Years of Michigan Skiing.

My kids went cross country skiing there a few time.  I wonder if I have any photos.  Don’t seem to.

skiingGetting ski’s on next to Louis’ cottage.

skiing_2Hugh skiing on Lake Idlewild.

For more snowy photos, CLICK!

Building Louis’ Cottages – Idlewild 1943 to 1945

In 1943 my Uncle Louis Cleage and family friend, Paul Payne bought some lots in Idlewild, Michigan. Idlewild is a black resort located in the Manistee National Forest in Lake County. It’s 5 hours north of Chicago and 4 hours northwest of Detroit. Lake Michigan is half an hour away at Ludington.  I’ve posted some photographs, documents and letters showing the progress of the original cottages. They did much of the work themselves.  If you find the letter my grandfather wrote back to Detroit hard to read, scroll down to the transcription below.

During  WW 2, two of my uncle’s were conscientious objectors and farmed near Avoka, MI. They had milk cows and chickens, among other things. Their younger sister sold the eggs in Detroit around the neighborhood. While she was up in Idlewild, she needed someone at home – her mother – to handle the egg route. Like a paper route, but with eggs. Read more here.

P.S. “Pee Wee” speaking. My egg route book is in my room on the table in the small bookshelf. You know that black book, don’t you? Oh, yes, add Mrs. Duncan on Scotten to Monday’s list.

7/29/1944        Idlewild of Idle men and wild women.

Dear Folks –

We arrived about 2 o’clock. The trip was uneventful except for rain – on and off.  Mrs. Hedgeman and Stith were here when we arrive just about ready to leave.  Cottage is nice, was awfully cold and gloomy out.  The rain seems over now and we are hoping for a brighter, warmer and happier day tomorrow.

The girls are now investigating the yard, lake, boats, etc.  Gladys and I crossed the continent and visited the cottage with bad writing of J.L. Cleage and Payne – well, will say you have a nice location with huge possibilities.  Nice beachhead etc, and hedgerows.

House is wired, but electricity has not been brought in from road.  I have seen Mr. Ellison. He was not in when I first went but talked to the man who was and he wired it.  He stated could not get the wire for bringing it into the house on account of it being a “tourist” cabin; and he didn’t think would be able to get it this year.

Later saw Mr. Ellison who said he would see about it again Monday and let me know what he can do.  I will also see the Edison Co. if possible and urge the emergency toward the war effort etc.

There don’t seem to be many people here. However it is so cold they maybe in the house.  Hope everything is alright. We will get the boat tomorrow.  Everything will be ok. Write further instructions, if any – Anna Celia’s egg route book in her room on bookshelf –