I chose my blog as the platform to write about memories of my maternal family to preserve our African-American history after 1870.
For most of my childhood, I lived in a House on Wentworth Avenue on the Southside of Chicago. My great-great-grandparents, Gilbert and Mary Shegog’s two sons, Uncle Buddy and Uncle Robert jointly purchased the home in the mid-1940s.
I lived in this house with my mother and an extended family of great-grand uncles and aunts:
- Basement – Aunt Sallie and Aunt Willie;
- First Floor – Uncle Robert and Aunt Edna;
- Second Floor – Uncle Buddy and Aunt L.D.;
- Attic – Mama and ME.
Uncle Robert was highly regarded by everyone in our family, neighborhood and church. It might have been because of his non-domestic work status as an airport skycap who wore an official looking uniform.
Uncle Buddy and all the aunts worked as live-in domestic workers. As live-in domestics, they left home every Sunday evening and returned on Thursday night. One, or more, often returned home with barely used toys, games and clothing items for me. My mother earned a minimum wage as a factory worker. I wore clothing bearing labels from some of the most expensive stores in Chicago. They told me not to tell anyone what the “white folks.” gave me . I believed the “white folks” would harm me for wearing “white folks” clothes. It never occurred to me that I didn’t know any “white folks.” Years later, I realized they were not concerned about the “white folks.” They didn’t want the “black folks” to know someone in their family wore second-hand clothes.
I am not exactly sure when my great, grand-aunts and uncles, the first generation born after the Emancipation Proclamation, left the Mississippi plantation and migrated north in search of a better life.
What I do know is these children of Gilbert and Mary Shegog, relocated to an unknown city, pooled their resources, and remained self-sufficient until they departed this life. What they were able to achieve, as the first generation to migrate north, led to the next generation joining them to build upon what they started.
I will share further memories of the House on Wentworth Avenue in my next post.