Today is my Grandmother, Pearl Doris Reed Cleage’s, birthday. If she were alive today she would be turning 125 years old. In her honor I have posted some photographs of her from the little black album with the little photos taken by her sons around 1938.
She was born in Lebanon, KY in 1886 and moved with her family to Indianapolis, IN when she was about six. She met her husband, Albert Cleage, at Witherspoon Presbyterian Church where she sang in the choir. They married in 1910 after he received his Physician’s License. Their first child, my father, was born in 1911. Pearl was warned never to have more children because it would probably kill her. They moved to Michigan soon after and by 1915 had settled in Detroit. My grandmother eventually bore and raised seven children. She died at age 96 in 1987.
It was in the 1930’s, as the Cleage brothers reached their twenties, that the “art photos” began. Before that, there are some actual studio photos and lots of snapshots. Then we begin to get photos like these, where someone was experimenting, this time with shadow. The first photo Paul Payne. See another photo of him, younger, with Hugh Cleage here. Paul was a life time friend of the Cleage family. To the left we have the verso of Paul’s photo which says “Tried for shadows in this also?” All three of these photos have the same number.
From this period we have many posed portraits of family members. Some are 8 x 10 and some are snap shots. None of them are signed so I don’t know who took them except for the ones that my father took of my mother in California since he was the only one there. The largest group of snapshots taken during this time, including last week’s Wordless Wednesday photographs of the winter scenes, were taken at the Meadows. (Go to the last paragraph on the linked page to learn more about the Meadows) There are over one hundred of them, from all seasons and spread over several years. My Aunt Gladys confirmed that her brother Hugh did set up a darkroom in the basement.
During the 1960’s Henry and Hugh went into the printing business. They had several presses, a darkroom, an enlarger and more cameras. I have boxes and boxes that used to hold 5 X 7 film that now hold photographs taken during that time. More in the weeks to come. To see more Sepia Saturday entries click HERE.