Three generations of my Cleages. Front left is Henry, with Louis behind him, center is my father, Albert B. front right is Hugh. Behind Hugh is my great grandmother Celia Rice Cleage Sherman. Back left is my grandmother Pearl Reed Cleage holding baby Barbara Cleage Martin. This photograph was taken about 1921 somewhere around Detroit, Michigan, perhaps on Belle Isle. My grandfather took the photo. There is another from the same day with him in the photo taken by my grandmother.
You can read a bit about Louis in this earlier Sepia Saturday post #79 – Uncle Louis Plays the Organ.
This is the second batch of photographs fulfilling missed prompts for Sepia Saturday 47 – 200. With this I have answered every prompt since I began with #47.
My father and his siblings with other children at The Meadows. About 1930. In the first row, L > R Henry, Barbara, Gladys and Anna Cleage. In the second row also L >R, Albert Jr, Louis and Hugh Cleage. Unfortunately, I do not know the other children’s names.
My grandmother Fannie Mae Turner Graham all dressed up for church by her back steps. I wonder what that box in the kitchen window was. I found that there were “window refrigerators” in use during the depression. You can see one here “LawCo vintage Window Refrigerator“. Or even better, here “Window Icebox, A Money Saver.” Herb Mandel describes using one as a boy.
Inspired by a Facebook post by my cousin Nikki, I went through my collection of The Illustrated News and found the first mention of the Freedom Now Party (FNP). In the days to come, I will be posting a series of The Illustrated News issues that mention the FNP. There is a lot of reading there but I hope some will wade through it. This is the September 2, 1963 issue. The story about the FNP is on page 2. Other posts about the FNP are The Freedom Now Party Convention 1964 and Interview with Henry Cleage. Click any image to enlarge.
The Illustrated News was published during the early 1960s by my father’s family and family friends. Two of his brothers, Henry and Hugh, started a printing business because the family was always looking for ways to be economically independent. The main business was printing handbills for small grocery stores. They started several newspapers. First they did The Metro but the one I remember best is The Illustrated News. It was printed on pink paper (that was what was left over after printing the handbills) and distributed to churches and barber shops around the inner city. Some people had subscriptions. My father wrote many of the lead articles. My Uncle Louis wrote Smoke Rings, which was always on the back page. Billy Smith took most of the photographs.
A copy of the Illustrated News, published by Henry Cleage, other family members and friends from 1961 to 1964. It came out several weeks after the massive Detroit Walk to Freedom down Woodward Avenue on June 23, 1963. Click the link above to read an Illustrated News issue covering the march.
The inside pages are reprinted from The National Observer and Business Week June 29, 1963. The cover photo was taken by William “Billy” Smith. The “Smoke Rings” on page 8 were written by my uncle, Dr. Louis J. Cleage. Click on any image to enlarge.
My sister Pearl as the anthropoid, about 1961 at Old Plank.
My family had a tradition of chasing the children around while acting like a monster. My Uncle Louis was the master and didn’t need any sort of mask or costume to send us screaming into the lake at Idlewild. He just twisted up his face and hands and came towards us and that was it.
My uncle Henry got the mask above from somewhere and incorporated that into the scary chases. You had to holler out “Anthropoid, anthropoid, don’t kill me yet!” when he got too close, in order to escape. Aside from putting on the mask for photo ops, I remember once time we put it on, wrapped in a blanket and sat on the lawn toward the road where we hoped to scare drivers passing the house. I don’t remember any wrecks so I guess no harm was done.
By the time my children came along, my cousin Warren used to take them on a bear hunt. I remember one time that he worked it out with another cousin to be out in the woods where he drove and stopped and told the kids, who as I remember were in the back of a pickup with a camper, that they were waiting there to see the bear. The other cousin starting growling and knocking on the truck and finally my cousin drove off, it was dark or almost dark. He said they had a close escape. Later, when we were all inside, the other cousin came around tapping on the windows. The bear!
Nobody was terrified of the bears or monsters, well maybe my cousin Barbara who did run into the lake, but mostly it was the enjoyable kind of being scared while knowing you are safe.
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’.
Recently I posted about my Cleage grandparent’s household in 1950. I wondered what they had paid for the house when they bought it the year before. Information sent to me by my ever helpful cousin Jan shows that the price was $12,600.
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 –