Out of the Ashes, Born Again: How the Beck Family became the Ribbs Family.
The Becks were a hard working African American family in Louisiana. One night, a mob of White men burned down their home and threatened to kill them. They fled for their lives-- some members fled all the way to California-- and changed their names to ensure that they could not be found.
I Will Walk Beside You and Be Your Friend.
Jack had been sent home from school early. His teacher had caught him fiddling with the assortment of odds and ends in his pockets again. Jack trudged down the dirt road, dragging his heels and dreading the scolding he knew he would receive from his parents. Suddenly, a stranger appeared from nowhere, and quietly fell into step beside Jack. Side by side, they walked together in silent camaraderie-- all the way home.
Stay tuned to find out who this gentle stranger was. The full story is coming soon!
Shining and Snapping (Part 1).
In 1930s Milwaukee, young Jack Clemmons and his brother spent weekends and after school shining shoes in their parents' hat, laundry and shoe shine shop. Most of the customers were reporters from the Milwaukee Journal, which was just two doors down.
Shining and Snapping (Part 2).
The Clemmons hat, shoe shine and laundry shop in 1930s Milwaukee was a place full of newspaper reporters, political debates, and hard work. Young Jack and his brother often studied algebra on the shoe shine stand while waiting for their next customers.
It Was Tough.
Young Jack Clemmons was drafted into the army when he was 21 years old. He served in the Philippines for part of World War II. Although Jack did not have to go to combat, he quickly learned that there were other battles to fight in the army.
Newlyweds in Wisconsin.
Stay tuned for this story! It is coming soon.
The Welder and the Seamstress.
Howard was lucky and got a job as a welder. Lucille was a talented seamstress. When their daughter Lydia was 12, they joined the Great Migration of African Americans who moved from the rural southern US to new lives in the urban mid-West. Howard was lucky and got a job as a welder. Lucille was a talented seamstress. When their daughter Lydia was 12, they joined the Great Migration of African Americans who moved from the rural southern US to new lives in the urban mid-West.
People Were Constantly Trying to Improve Themselves.
In the oil boom town of Smackover Arkansas, Lydia attended the John D. Rockefeller Primary School for Black children. Very few Black families in the town had books or the know-how to help their children with their homework, so the dedicated teachers worked with the children through the recess periods and after school to make sure they covered all of their lessons each day before going home. When Lydia finished the seventh grade, her family moved to the mid-West, travelling to Chicago in a Jim Crow train car. They settled in Harvey Illinois, where Lydia, who had been in a class of ten African American children in Smackover, was now the only African American in a class of five hundred White students. Having never interacted with White people in the South, Lydia kept to herself and concentrated on her studies.
Nursing School and Work At Provident Hospital.
Stay tuned for the amazing and delightful stories of Lydia's life as a young nurse in Chicago during the 1940s and her work at the first African-American owned and operated hospital in the United States.
Jack & Lydia's Honeymoon Adventures: Route 66 and Beyond.
Lydia describes some of the adventures she and Jack had during their honeymoon when they drove and camped through he mid-west, including places along Route 66 in 1953. Part 1 of a 2-part series.
It was 1935 in a predominately German Jewish neighborhood of Milwaukee, Wisconsin, and Jack was waiting outside of the principal's office again at Roosevelt Junior High School. Jack and his brother were the only African American children in the entire school. Mrs. Lewis, the school nurse (also African American), was walking past and stopped to ask Jack why he was waiting for the principal. He told her he was in trouble for fiddling with the things in his pockets. Mrs. Lewis told him to empty his pockets. Jack placed a collection of objects on a chair: a large iron nut, a wooden thread spool, clock works, a magnifying glass, marbles, a magnet from an old automobile speedometer, a small crystal embedded in lead. The only object Mrs. Lewis picked up was the wooden spool, which she held in front of Jack's nose. "What is this for?" The question shattered Jack. With tears in his eyes, he held an end of the spool up to one eye and said "I see with it."
Hats, Laundry and Photography.
The first camera Jack ever bought was a sheet film camera in the early 1930's. He bought it with the money he earned from shining shoes in a hat and laundry shop that his parents owned in Milwaukee. The shop was right next door to the famous Milwaukee Journal newspaper. Young Jack Clemmons was always eager to talk with the journalists who stopped by his parents hat and laundry shop. While he shined their shoes, he asked them questions about photography.
Ghosts and Angels.
Lydia Senior shares some of the family's magical stories of a ghost (in early 1900s Louisiana) and an angel or two (in 1950s MidWest).