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Posts Tagged ‘history of African Americans in Kalamazoo’

You might remember reading a post about Grandpa’s girlfriend before Grandma in “Grandpa’s Girlfriend.” I noticed a later entry in the Memory Book where he was asked if his mother liked Grandma. He wrote that she never liked any girls he dated, but that she “accepted” Grandma. As well she should. By then, Cora, Grandpa’s mother, was dying (the spindle cell cancer that was in her death certificate that I posted the other day) and he was devoting his life to taking care of her. He didn’t have a job at the time. When he married Grandma, she not only helped him take care of his mother, but she worked full-time as a teacher, as well, that first year.

Another person that was important to Grandpa was the person he identified in the Memory Book as his best friend: Clarence Pettiford. He wrote, “Clarence Pettiford had good values and was nice to be around.” When I was a little girl and Grandpa was still living in the same neighborhood–and had his Sunoco Station there, too–Clarence also still lived in the neighborhood.

The way I knew Clarence was that Grandma and I would walk “uptown” to the downtown bank with the service station deposits–or take the bus if the weather was rainy or too hot. We would always stop and visit the man I thought was the most important banker in the elegant bank at the corner of Burdick and Michigan. He was known to me as “Mr. Pettiford,” and he was always so very nice to me. I thought he was such a fine gentleman in both the way he acted and his tall distinguished appearance. When I got older, it was a little surprising to me to learn that he was in charge of security, rather than the head banker.

Grandpa wasn’t able to attend high school because he was blind in one eye, and it caused him a lot of distress. But Clarence did attend Kalamazoo Central High School, and I was able to find a  photo of him in the yearbook. I apologize for the quality of the photos–they are from the Delphian and not the best quality.

 

This photo comes from this page in the 1932 yearbook:

You can see that Clarence was quite the athlete. Grandpa also loved sports, but he would get sick from following the ball because of his bad eye. You can read what happened to his eye here. Clarence was about 3 years younger than Grandpa, but maybe the nearest boy who wasn’t a relative. Grandpa had about 7 boy cousins who lived nearby, but I imagine it was hard to be an only child and hang around with 7 boy cousins who were all brothers.

Back to Clarence: he lettered in football in 1930. He must have been 19 at the time. And in 1932, he must have been 21. The age is a little off, I know, but there might have been reasons that we don’t know. My other grandfather, for instance, immigrated from Europe when he was fourteen, and he was still playing football and declaiming in Glee Club for his high school when he was 21.

In this page, Clarence is the manager of the intramural team:

Oh my, did you read what it says about the Intramural Team? It’s for boys not talented enough for varsity or the reserve team. Yikes. Did they have to spell it out like that?

This blog post is a little tribute to the memory of Clarence Pettiford, a talented gentleman.

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