Tag Archives: #Letters

Its Friday afternoon

This is another letter that my father wrote home to Detroit from Los Angeles when he was studying film in 1944. The photograph of my mother putting a hem in her skirt is also from August, 1944. I’m not sure if this picture was enclosed with this letter.

Putting a hem in a skirt. Aug 1944 in Sunshiny living. Los Angeles

231 South Hobart Blvd. #4
Los Angeles, 7, California
August 18, 1944

Hi Folks:

Its Friday afternoon and I just got home from school, and I thought I’d drop you-all a note on the state of the nation.  My “little” wife is still working. She gets off about five-thirty and comes home by way of the grocery store. Everything is about the same as usual. We’re still at large (out of the poor-house)…but I’ll have to find something to do pretty quick if we’re planning to stay that-a-way! I’m “dickering” with the Los Angeles Church Federation for a “position”. The “boss-Man” is out of town but I’ve filed an application and we’ll discuss the matter further when he gets back in September. It would be a pretty-good job if I can get it…sort of Negro field-worker for the Federation, co-ordinating the community work of the Negro churches… recruiting and training volunteers and organizing programs and clubs and groups and what-have-you. I’ve also applied to the Negro Community-Center, just-in-case.

On the way to school this morning a man picked me up in the safety-zone (big fine looking red-faced white man) in a Packard from here down town…and we got to bulling each other, and it turned out that he’s the Director of Audio-Visual Education for the Los Angeles Public Schools.  Of course he was very happy to meet a real authority in the field…and invited me down to his office to see the experimental work the School System is doing in Moving-picture production.  I’ll go down as soon as I can and see what them there “amateurs” are a trying to do.

School is going along fine…(no grades yet, of course!) Me and the Dean of the School of Religion are having a little long-distance controversy through his secretary.  He thinks I ought to take half of my work in RELIGION…and I think I ought to take all (or almost all) in Cinema.  He has an ace in the hole, however, in as much as I’m registered under the School of Religion and therefore pay only the special fees (Fellowships in religion make up the difference) …However, I’m not going to take half of my work in religion in as much as the religion courses will not contribute to what I’m trying to do!

 SPECIAL NOTE TO LOUIS: If he makes me pay up the REGULAR REGISTRATION FEES I’ll have to wire you for a small loan of $100.00 or so until I can work long enough to pay it back. I think we can “arrange the difference of opinion” without such a drastic step… but with the good-white-folks you can never tell…especially preachers. My wife will divorce me if I have to borrow…but I aint no sentimentalist myself…and so I’m a warnin’ you.

How’s the farm going? How’s Mama getting along? I hear that “Racial-tension” in Detroit is a thing of the past! We’re getting ready to have a riot here…The FEPC has ordered the Street Railways to hire and upgrade Negroes immediately! Maybe I can get a “Riot-Movie”.

Here are some “snaps”- Did you get the ones we sent from San Francisco – I don’t think you ever mentioned them.

“It’s me again…”

2130 Hobart Blvd. #4
Los Angeles 7, California
January 9, 1945

"Albert B. Cleage"

Hi Folks:

It’s me again.  I heard from the Board of Pulpit Supply in Boston this morning… and as I “suspected” there ain’t no vacancy. Reverend White has not as yet contacted me regarding names and addresses… He was no doubt surprised that his “bluff” had been called.  The pastor is on a leave-of-absence and another pastor is serving for him. so that’s that.

You-all failed, apparently, to take my suggestion regarding the organization of a Detroit church very seriously. ‘Tain’t no use, however…in view of the absolute lack of Congregational openings I’m going to have to organize somewhere.  Let me present the matter again in an orderly manner so you can let me know your reactions immediately.

I think I can organize and operate a church in Detroit without any great difficulty IF either the Presbyterian or Congregational Board can be interested in contributing to such an undertaking.  By contributing for the purchase of an adequate plant in which the execution of a full church program would be possible.  The local Congregational Board does not think in those terms so I would prefer not to have to deal with them.  I have no way of knowing what the Presbyterian board would consider SO I WISH THAT DADDY and/or Uncle Henry would find out.  In my previous letter on this matter I mentioned a small church on Forest near Brush.  After more lengthy consideration, however, I think organizing that close to Reverend White could not but be considered a declaration of war… and I would rather not start with any more declarations of war than necessary (Rev. Hill and the rest would automatically consider any such move WAR no matter where it was located.) So, the Church on the Blvd. and Warren being out of the question until the war is over…I end up with the only practical possibility, The Church building at the end of Scotten (facing Grand River) is available and adequate. It is offered for sale for ninety-five thousand, ($15,000 down) THE LOCATION is better than it would seem off-hand.  It is convenient to both the WEST SIDE and the NORTH-END (where any members I might pick up would come from for the most part)  The building has two auditoriums… club rooms… offices… and a gas station on the corner  (For a co-operative venture!) WOULD THE PRESBYTERIAN CHURCH LEND A MISSION THE DOWN-PAYMENT ON SUCH A BUILDING? If a membership of say 100 and pledges of $100 a week could be lined up?

You are no doubt thinking the idea “impossible”…but I should think that a Board without a Detroit Church, properly approached regarding such a “community church idea” would not consider the risk too great.  Talk it over with Uncle Henry and let me know as soon as possible. (So I can get Bud busy sighing up members!)

Everything is O.K. (Same as usual).


I tried to find a photo of a church on the corner of Scotten and Grand River in Detroit, which was only a few blocks from the Cleage family home, but there is no longer a church there.

To the left is a photograph of Bud Elkins, who was helping my father look for a church building in Detroit. He was married to my mother’s sister, Mary V. Graham Elkins. At this time they had one daughter, Dee Dee, who is the 7 year old photographer who appears in this photograph.

Thanks for the Springfield information

2130 S. Hobart Blvd. #4
Los Angeles 7, California
January 13, 1945

Hi Folks:

We received your letters… Daddy’s and Mama’s.  Thanks for the Springfield information … even though there ain’t no Springfield church. (Guess you-all have received my Special by this time and have finished laughing) I hasten to tell you-all that the Dean called me into the office the other day to inform me that the United Presbyterians have contacted him regarding me (Knoxville!) He had letters from Rev. Ritzer or whatever his name is that Uncle Henry corresponded with from Pennsylvania and Rev. W.E. McCulloch (name sounds familiar) out here.  I’m supposed to go and see McCulloch for an interview when I get around to it. I suppose I’ll go see him although I’d rather not go to Knoxville!!!! I’ve EXHAUSTED everyone in the Congregational Church who has influence or MIGHT know of something and to no avail.  Since the United Presbyterians seem determined to make a point of this Knoxville thing I suppose it would be in poor taste or something to mention something entirely different, a church in Detroit. So, knowing that, you-all can use your own judgement about the thing.

I’m still in the process of exhausting possibilities … I’ve gotten down to some pretty long chances at present … but so long as the typewriter holds out and we can keep in stamps we’re goin’ to keep a pesterin’ everybody. (Ain’t wrote to Mrs. Roosevelt yet!) I ain’t as panicky as I sound (I hope) but our present set-up ain’t tolerable for long…We can’t live in the manner to which we aint accustomed on $30.00 a week.  We’d like to figure out something semi-practical soon! (See, Louis, we are too a-tryin’) (and registration just around the corner!)

I wasn’t laughin’ at those shirts and ties, Mama! They just looked like Pee-Wee and Gladys rather than you.  I could just see you a-tellin’ them that a PREACHER shouldn’t wear such sporty attire.  Pee-Wee:  That there tie-clasp of your-n is the only way I can really tell that I’m dressed up now… When I got it on I’m “ON”… and when I got my everyday piece-of-one on I’m rough-sharp. (Everything else remains the same!)

Well, so long…got to go to bed now. Doris is stretched out on the bed (with all her clothes on … just like Pee Wee on the couch (mouth open … droolin’ and everything). 

Did I ever mention, Doris is a perfect combination of Louis and Pee-Wee (Evil as a snake sweet like Louis and triflin’ industrious like Pee-Wee!) We received Gladys’ letters too, in case I didn’t mention them in the last letter.

Doris made me change this!             

I have a little problem in “Design”…

This letter should have come before the previous post where my father writes about lecturing on his Design Theory. “Gravi” is his younger sister, Gladys who was an art student at Wayne State University in Detroit at the time.  Below is a strip photograph of all the Cleages, the house on Scotten in Detroit and my parents and their apartment in LA.  This is how they looked at the time the letters were written and how they were identified in the letters.  If you click it, it will enlarge and you can enlarge it again which makes it big enough to see.

"The Cast"

2130 s. Hobart Blvd. #4
Los Angeles 7, California
December 20, 1944

My dear Gravi:

I have a little problem in “Design” for you to work out for me during the Christmas vacation. (If your hectic love-life and gadding about permits of the time.) ‘taint very important, if you’re too busy.

I want you to work out some little designs (like the one you did breaking down the picture into abstract lines and masses for your first course in design…remember…you used show-card paint.

I have developed a “theory” of graphic design which I would like to illustrate.  It goes as follows. All design is based upon the principle of dialectic tension and progression…moving (just as Marxian social-change…remember social-causation) from THESIS to ANTITHESIS to SYNTHESIS and BACK TO A NEW THESIS.  I want abstract designs to illustrate the three stages of development and two to illustrate the proper transition between them.  I will describe just what to do to design each stage as follows:

THESIS represents security…peace…calm…status-quo…the power of order… stability …etc.  It is essentially unpleasant unless you are somewhat akin to a clod. It represents the Middle-class ideal…the bourgeois unconscious.  it is usually used in picture of New England churches etc…There is balance…with the emphasis upon spaciousness (figures are not compactly massed)…and HORIZONTAL LINES combined with VERTICAL LINES (both boldly done. THERE ARE NO CURVES OR DIAGONAL! There can be a soft triangle but not too conspicuous (like the spire atop a church which is essentially a HORIZONTAL.  ALL LINES AND MASSES indicate the STATIC QUALITY…EVERYTHING HAS TO COME TO REST!  ALL DIVIATIONS HAVE BEEN SQUASHED! Simple isn’t it.  You can find a picture of this sort and break it down into an abstraction if you like or just build up the abstraction.

ANTITHESIS represents REVOLT against the THESIS. It is done with diagonals (not triangles) Bold diagonals form the basis of design.  Small contradictory diagonals probably in the foreground add to the general confusion.  The confusion, however, is orderly because it is a design BUT EVERYTHING GIVES THE FEELING OF REVOLT or ANTITHESIS.  Picture of the CITY, INDUSTRY, WAR, and POVERTY are usually designed this way to suggest the underling conflict and revolt.  Do one design representing this stage.

(Inserted handwritten note by my father) “Keep the idea of one basic design merging into the next and then into the next – etc – like a circle – where the design pattern is being changed as taught by external force.”

SYNTHESIS represents the tendency of ANTITHESIS to resolve back into a new THESIS. It is the most pleasant of the three because it is a compromise having something of both. IT has something of the HORIZONTALS AND VERTICALS of the THESIS, and the DIAGONALS  of the ANTITHESIS have all bee softened into CURVES.  It is not so spacious as the THESIS nor so compact as the ANTITHESIS.  Most rural scenes are SYNTHESIS… the rolling countryside..the soft clouds in the sky (curves) and the swaying trees…the cattle in the fields etc. all make for “SYNTHESIS” composition.

The TRANSITION between THESIS and ANTITHESIS would tend to emphasize the TRIANGLE (I think) these transitions are more difficult.  Some of the stability of THESIS is maintained but the suggestion of conflict and revolt DIANGONALS is present in triangles)

The TRANSITION between ANTITHESIS and SYNTHESIS would tend to have softened diagonals which are already becoming CURVES… some would have already become horizontals and verticals (which is the result of spreading out diagonals beyond the point where they result in curves.

Simple isn’t it!  you can find pictures representing each stage in that book of American Paintings… and just break down examples of each.  I think the abstract breakdown would have the same FEELING (emotional effect upon the observer) as the original paintings in spite of the fact that the subject (human interest) has been lost.  Incidentally this is the basis of all abstract painting! and the schools of Modernists (Cubists, Expressionists, etc.) In addition this conception should determine the artist’s rendidtion of any picture.  The style he uses should be determined by the meaning of his subject.  Most artists do it unconsciously but I am now in the process of bringing this great truth out into the open!

I want it for a class in CINEMATIC DESIGN because in the designing of motion pictures this unity of subject matter and graphic design is absolutely necessary…but apparently no one ever discovered it before (or why are they keeping it so secret…or don’t I read the right books!

If you have time to do them let me know.  Put each one on a white cardboard and place the title (thesis, Antithesis, etc.) on each one.  It would be interesting to do them all in BLACK & WHITE…and another set in COLOR (suiting the colors to the basic idea…which I would leave to you) Two sets could be done in black and white REVERSING THE VALUES IN THE SECOND SET (to prove a contention of mine that the tonal pattern is secondary to the linear pattern which would be the same even after the black and white values were reversed.)  THAT WOULD MAKE THREE SETS. LET YOUR TIME BE YOUR GUIDE.  SEND ME A BILL FOR THE MATERIALS. (and I’ll file it away with my other bills)  Don’t take as much time with each as you took with the one you did for yourself…SO LONG AS THE BASIC IDEA IS RENDERED IN ABSTRACT DESIGN I’LL BE HAPPY. To do it myself would take twenty-years or so!

(Note written in my my mother) “Pauvre Gravi!! Beware!!! This Negro loves to see people work!! Signed, Voice of Experience.”

Hi Folks: (HAPPY NEW YEAR) – Part 1

A letter written home to Detroit by my parents on New Year’s Eve, 1944. My father was studying Cinema with the plan to use it in his ministry in the future.

The inside of the bulletin from the New Year service.

2130 S. Hobart Blvd. #4
Los Angeles 7, California
December 31, 1944


Well it’s New Year’s Eve…10:25 p.m. here…so we’re waitin’ for the New Year…and its 1:25 a.m. there… so you-all are already into 1945. I suppose you-all had a little Coffee-Ice-Cream and Tuna-fish salad n’ that celebration.. and since Hugh was in for Christmas I suppose Henry was in… leavin’ po’ little Hugh out at Plum Nelly by his lonesome.  We just finished supper and my “worster-half” is stretched out on the couch reading Soroyan’s “Human Comedy”. I can’t remember whether you-all read it or not. If not get it (Barbara) cause it’s good… in its own way.  Henry and Hugh ought to like it.

I preached this morning at the Congregational Church.  The minister, Reverend Galloway went up to some “Snow Mountain” with his young-people for some sort of New Year’s Conference. He asked me sort of late… but Doris made me do it…so I did. We had sort of a time getting ready at the last minute n’ that. Doris had to put my one still presentable suit back together with a needle and thread (they all fell to pieces at the same time) … and press my robe which I haven’t used since leaving Lexington… and I had to “prepare my message” Saturday night. We got to bed about three A.M…and got up at eight-thirty because it takes about an hour to get down off of Sugar-Hill and across town to the East Side…on the Streetcar.

Major Dean assisted me in the Pulpit as a Deacon and introduced me to the Congregation (again). See enclosed Bulletin.  I arrived at 11:03 (late as usual)…Me and the choir rushed in at the same time. (Negroes is Negroes the world over…like Daddy’s Fried Chicken)  The service went very well…and the attendance was very good in spite of the absence of the young-people…bigger crowd than the other times we’ve been present.  I brought them a powerful New Year’s Message (which I will have Doris describe in detail in as much as I’m modest!)  After the service the people were very nice…invited us to the annual church supper and that.  Mrs. Dean was present and threatened to have us over soon.  She said that she’s been ill for the past three months…and has planned to write you-all for lo these many months but… first one thing and then another n’ that.  Her brother Captain York has been sick in the hospital for some several months…but seems to be improving she said.  A young woman and her little son of about six (or so) joined the church under the power of the message and that.  The officers didn’t quite know what to do when they said they wanted to join but we finally fellowshipped them N’ that.  Everyody was very nice but all neglected to mention the customary “HONORARIUM”… which, of course, I didn’t mention…but thought about nevertheless!

(Handwritten note by my mother along the side of the letter:)

Dear Folks, Wish you all could have been at Church this morning.  Toddy preached one of the best sermons he’s ever preached – and that I’ve ever heard.  A very simple theme – Text: “the Kingdom of God comes not with observation; the Kingdom of god is within you” – with his own pecular interpretation and illustration.  It was good.  Thank you for the lovely Christmas presents and a very Happy New Year.

P.S. After the sermon “Montgomery” rose as a body and testified for the reverend.  My aunt Gwen’s cousin from Alabama said, “I have been in Los Angeles six weeks and I belong to the Episcopalian church, but this is the first time since I’ve been here that I really feel like I’ve been to church.”  Amen!

Continues at -> New Year’s Eve 1944 – Part 2
Lincoln Memorial Congregational Church History

Missing Christmas Carols 1944
Christmas Day 1944 – Part 1
Christmas Day 1944 – Part 2
Christmas Day 1944 – Part 3

 For other Fine Sepia Saturday New Year offerings click the postman’s picture —>

Christmas Day 1944 – Part 3

This is the final page of the letter my father wrote home on Christmas Day, 1944. He talks about wanting to come back to Detroit and various ideas he has for finding a church there. It would be another 8 years before he made it back to Detroit as pastor of St. Marks Presbyterian Church.  That is a post for another day.

Last night (Christmas eve n’ that) we practically decided to return to Detroit in July and organize some sort of a church there.  We ain’t too particular…Congregational, Presbyterian..Triumph, the Church and the Prophet…or what have you.  Perhaps a Presbyterian would be best…in as much as Daddy and Uncle Henry could then talk someone out of some sort of a building! could it it be done…you-all? (or do we just want to come home) if it was Presbyterian I would try to get something over in the Bible-belt with Rev. White…and the rest…you know over there with Bethel…Plymouth…etc.  Buddy would be glad to look around for me…he loves to transact big business.  (He looked up that big church at the end of Scotten at Grand River for me earlier…The Real Estate Company sent me

full particulars…95 thousand  will handle and that…so we had to sort of let it go…since they wouldn’t take fifty dollars down and rent it!  Said they didn’t care who they sold it too however…long as the money was available.  But back to the subject…my mind wanders…there is a modest little Church on Forest near John R. (I think…it could be Warren) which is almost unused…I think a few lingering white-folks still worship there…brick…and not bad looking..but small oughtn’t cost too much. If you-all (at a family council assembled) think such an undertaking wouldn’t be too foolish…

Church at John R. and Forest from Google street view today.

I’ll get Buddy to look up the Trustees or whatever there is and see what they want for it.  WILL THE UNITED PRESBYTERIANS DO ANYTHING TO SUPPORT SUCH A VENTURE!!!  Well let me know…I’m barkin’ up many a tree…tryin to uncover something or other OUT OF THE SOUTH (my stomach ulcers don’t thrive so well in Dixie…the fog is too heavy or something).  And I seem  to be headin’ for Detroit both consciously and unconsciously it seems like ‘twould be better to just go on and get it over with! But perhaps ’tis just Christmas.  Lee, the Boy who was by today wants me to go in partnership with him in a Portrait Photographic Studio down on Central Avenue.  He can get some money (Wants me to get some…but can get it all if I want to work for him  I’d like to know what you-all think of the church idea, though…FIRST!  HOW LONG WOULD IT TAKE SOMEBODY TO FIND OUT WHAT THE PRESBYTERIAN BOARD WOULD DO IF ANYTHING! If nothing can be done…I’ll continue my gentle hints to the Congregational brethern in Philadelphia that they enter the field of Mission work. Them dern Congregationalists are so lacking in enthusiasm, however, it’s like pulling eye-teeth.  (I am not again indicating my indecision…I’m talking about next summer…by which time I will have all the CINEMA they have here…and would be ready to go to New York for a Doctorate..if I could get to New York… If I could get a church IN THE NORTH, never fear, I would use my CINEMA. I would build the biggest youth organization in America right around CINEMA PRODUCTION and its allied arts!) So there…I am not changing my mind again!  Well so-long…Write sometime you-all!                      

Merry Christmas

Missing Christmas Carols 1944
Christmas Day 1944 – Part 1
Christmas Day 1944 – Part 2
Christmas Day 1944 – Part 3
New Year’s Eve 1944 – Part 1
New Year’s Eve 1944 – Part 2

For other Holiday Sepia Saturday offerings click below . And in case you missed it, my connection to the theme this time is I posted a LETTER!





One Response to Advent Calendar of Christmas Memories – Christmas Day 1944 – Part 3

  1. khreed1 says:
    December 20, 2011 at 2:29 pm

    I know I’ve said before that you come by the writing gene naturally. It’s such a part of your family’s heritage. Beautiful!

    2. A letter written on Christmas Day shows his dedication. These days people don’t seem to write letters other than the ’round robins’ that I hate.

    3. Perfect fit for the theme. I can’t wait to hear the rest of the story unfold.

    4. I love the determination, vision, and hope. A wonderful letter.

      • Sheryl says:

        Now that the holiday rush is past I’m getting caught up on my blog reading. I hope that you had a wonderful Christmas.

        I really enjoyed reading this letter. It’s fun to read your father’s thoughts as he thinks about how to organize a church in Detroit–and I’m looking forward to future posts about how he eventually gets back there.


Christmas Day 1944-part 2

It is now 12:15 AM… we just got home… (and I have to get up at 7!!) … having been interrupted in our “spending Christmas quietly at home.” A boy named Lee and his girl, Naomi, who are studying Cinema at school dropped by for a Merry Christmas. (They’re Jewish). They brought me a Christmas present … two books on Cinema published by the Museum of Modern Art… very nice of them… and as usual I had no presents to return … being somewhat flabbergasted by the whole thing …anyway …we bulled for some little time …and then went to the Faun (the 4 of us) again for dinner …and had a very nice dinner… and then (still the 4 of us) went downtown to a little show that has foreign films and saw a Russian Film “The Rainbow”.  It was very good… the dirty nastys killed and shot and poked out eyes until everyone was throwing up all over the place or crying (Naomi and Doris) and then the Russians came skiing down the mountain and gave the dirty nastys a taste of their own medicine while we all cheered (Me and Lee… Doris was still crying…and you can’t cheer and cry very well at the same time… she tried but ’twasn’t much of an artistic success.  So we came home. (Just thought Barbara would like to know what happened to her Christmas present… it was quite nice, however, kept my little spouse from having time to get homesick as she is very wont to do what with Christmas trees about and that there… and her wonderin’ every ten minutes what you-all are doin’ at that particular minute.)

Speaking of Christmas presents Mr. Moore, the head of the Cinema department gave me a Christmas present the last day of school.  The best book published about cinema is now out of print (collectors item and that) well, I’ve been a tryin’ to find one in a used book-store…but Moore had already bought up every copy on the West Coast…so I couldn’t find any.  Well, anyhoo…he gave me one of his copies for Christmas!  Surprised me…don’t know yet whether I thanked him or not or just looked stupid (O.K. Louis, “as usual”) ‘Twas nice of him, anyhow…especially with folks all trying’ to buy the few copies he has left after stocking up the Library.

Before I was interrupted I was telling about the Grahams present…Doris got some slips or something like that etc. etc….and we both got a large box of cup-cakes we are in the process of devouring with the Cherry Jam Mrs. Graham sent us a bit earlier.  Speaking of food…Did you-all can any chicken this year…WELL!!! (Can’t you take a hint!) (‘Splain it to ‘em Pee-Wee.  Pee-Wee ain’t home, she’s out amongst em’…well, you ‘splain it Gladys…She ain’t home either…O.K.)  Find attached sugar stamp which we let the OPA slip by us… Thought maybe you-all could still find some use for it… (Know what I mean.) Mrs. Graham’s got (or had)  5 pounds for you-all.

Really ain’t no need for no nother sheet of this!

To be continued.

Related Posts

You can read a review of the movie Raduga/The Rainbow from the October 1944  New York Times by clicking HERE.

Missing Christmas Carols 1944
Christmas Day 1944 – Part 1
Christmas Day 1944 – Part 2
Christmas Day 1944 – Part 3
New Year’s Eve 1944 – Part 1
New Year’s Eve 1944 – Part 2

4 Responses to Advent Calendar of Christmas Memories – Christmas Day 1944 part 2

  1. gem! says:
    December 19, 2011 at 10:52 am

    You do have the wealth of info on your family. And the way you present!

    Your Father was quite the Guy back in the day, as in my time, too.

    the book, if you don’t do it; who will?!

  2. Ron Rink says:
    December 19, 2011 at 11:27 am

    Oh, I’m old enough to remember the ration stamps. Fun to read the humor in the writing too.

    Peace …

  3. 2ndsister says:
    December 19, 2011 at 11:28 am

    another great post! i love the comments about his “little wife” and the flavor of their lives before their daughters arrived!

  4. December 19, 2011 at 5:21 pm

    oh my, i love your new look and your new neighborhood. i’m thinking of moving my blog, too, and was wondering if you could give me some pointers on how to do it so seamlessly as you have!


Christmas Day – 1944

My parents in 1943.

Last year I shared a letter my mother wrote home to Detroit on December 17, 1944.  This year I am going to share a long Christmas letter my father wrote home on Christmas day of the same year.  Because it is three pages long I am going to break it up into three posts.   This is the first.

1944 was my parents 2nd Christmas together. My father, Albert, had taken a year off from the ministry to take classes in film making at UCLA.  He planned to use it in his church work.  My mother, Doris, was working as a social worker.  The “Junior Doctor” mentioned in the letter was his brother, Louis, who had recently joined their father as a doctor at Cleage Clinic on the west side of Detroit. Barbara is his sister and the Graham’s are my mother’s parents.


It’s Christmas afternoon…that’s what folks out here tell us…but it’s really June..the sun is shining and its warm and folks are out without their coats trying to play like it’s Christmas (full of Christmas cheer, howsoever…the liquid variety)

Their apartment - 2130 S. Hobart Blvd. #4. Window upstairs between trees.
Their apartment – 2130 S. Hobart Blvd. #4. Window upstairs between trees.

We ate supper at the Restaurant last night…”The Faun”, everything was quite festive…with Christmas carols… and folks being “elite”… Doris wanted to telephone you-all COLLECT to say Merry Christmas … Suggested that we put through a person to person call to the Junior Doctor (knowing that he would refuse to accept a collect call … and thus you-all would guess that we said Merry Christmas without anybody payin’ anything  Smart little wife I got ain’t it.  But we didn’t…the war effort ‘n’ that, you know.  On the way home we saw a woman stealing a Christmas tree from a stand which had closed thinking that all the trees had been sold that anybody wanted (I guess).  She was back in the dark picking over the trees big as life … getting a good one with a solid stand … she looked sort of scared but determined … Last we saw of her she was truckin’ on down the street with the biggest and best one on the lot under her arm. 

We got up LATE … about twelve or so… and ate like hogs… DORIS is now engaged in “repairing” one of our “electric plates”… in the middle of the floor barefooted…she and it ((the electric plate) are now sitting in the middle of the front room floor… she has the plate hooked in to prove that it works… she works just like Louis… mess, mess, mess everywhere.  She can start on the Radio now… The Christmas carols seem to have burned it out… this morning it refused to play… just smoked when we turned it on … she says a condenser… and only by the hardest can I disuade her from “fixing” it too. (She is now lecturing on how fortunate I am to have a wife who is both smart and beautiful and can fix things about the house.)

We received the presents ($10 from Barbara, $10 from Daddy & Mama, and $50 from Louis) THANKS! Sorry we couldn’t give you-all anything but love.  We received a package from the Grahams… shirt tie, hankerchiefs, and CIGARETTES for me…


To be continued.

Related Posts

Christmas Day 1944 – Part 2
Christmas Day 1944 – Part 3
New Year’s Eve 1944 – Part 1
New Year’s Eve 1944 – Part

6 Responses to Advent Calendar of Christmas Memories – Christmas Day 1944

  1. gem! says:
    December 18, 2011 at 10:38 pm

    Keep it coming!

    Looks great, “Keep on… keeping on…!”


  2. zanncarter says:
    December 19, 2011 at 12:24 am

    I don’t know why, but your father saying that they “ate like hogs’ just made me laugh…eating like a hog sounds like eating more than if you eat like a pig.
    Congratulations on the move. I’m hanging in with Blogger until I can learn to use the other, self-hosted WordPress. Might be a loooong time. I’ve got my blog backed up (I think) and that will have to do for my sense of security now.
    It’s snowing on your blog here – is that a feature you can turn on and off?

    • kristin says:
      December 19, 2011 at 8:36 am

      Zann, I turned it on until Jan. 3. Probably will be all the snow I see until later in the winter. I plan on going the self-hosted route too. In fact I tried one out but decided to move here for now. It wasn’t much different then this WordPress is to work with.

  3. Ron Rink says:
    December 19, 2011 at 8:58 am

    Looks great, Kristin. I do truly love keeping up with your family history. You are doing such an amazing job with documenting all this. It will be treasured by your descendants for many years to come. What a great gift.

    I have all my blogs on self-hosted WordPress. With some of the latest versions, it has become a dream to use.

    Peace …

    • kristin says:
      December 19, 2011 at 10:33 am

      I am not self-hosting yet but that is the plan. I will have to ask you some questions via email.

  4. 2ndsister says:
    December 19, 2011 at 10:16 am

    i loved this one. can’t wait for the next two installments. i’m so glad you’re doing this. it’s like reading about characters in a novel!