This blog is composed of images and writings related to the life and work of Faith Ringgold, her mother Mme. Willi Posey, and her daughters Michele and Barbara Wallace. There are pages with links to blogs composed of the materials arranged by decades. The blog, itself, will ultimately be composed of materials related to the life of the family in the 90s and the 21st century.

Friday

Photo Essay: Aunt Helen Died at 51 in 1962



This is a picture of the side of the big house at Camp Craigmeade and this lovely lady is one of the campers, not me but somebody who didn't mind having her picture taken. I don't know why we have her picture or who she might be but suffice it to say that when I was at Camp Craigmeade I knew who everybody was.

Just today realized that the summer Aunt Helen died at camp was in 1962. Barbara and I went to Camp Craigmeade for the last time in 1962, also the first summer of Faith and Burdette's marriage. Didn't know it would be the last year but it makes sense now that without Aunt Helen's determination to make it work, the camp could not survive. There were many kids there who went to the school she ran. I was ten and Barbara was nine. Yet another thing was about to change forever subsequent to our new life with Dad (Burdette).

Her name was Helen McIntosh Meade, as I have learned from her obituary in the New York Times (August 15, 1962) as unearthed by my sister Barbara today. The headline reads "Mrs. N.T. Meade, 51, Led Private School." She was the owner of Camp Craigmeade, which was described as "an interracial camp" in Roxbury, New York. It says she died of a heart attack on a Saturday, although nothing about her illness while at camp. The biggest surprise was that she was only 51 when she died when I thought her to be much older. She was the wife of Nathaniel T. Meade, who was also a founder of their school the Little Brown School House in 1934 in the Bronx at 1177 Hoe Avenue. I also thought the other two Aunties, who were perhaps relatives of hers, were much older too but they too were probably at most in their early 60s. Afterall, the hygenic conditions at the camp--no running water, no hot water, no heat, no plumbing to speak of and outhouses, no paved roads--were certainly challenging for anybody not ambulatory and strong.

I had always suspected that Aunt Helen was highly educated and progressive and this is confirmed by the obituary, something about the way she wore her hair, something about the way she talked that I could already see even though I was only ten. She had graduated from New York Teachers Training College in New York in New York in 1931, and later received her B.S. and M.A. degrees from Teacher's College at Columbia University. After teaching briefly in the public school system, she founded her own school and operated summer camps for many years. She was national recording secretary of the National Council of Negro Women and the President of its Manhattan Chapter. Meade was also a member of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People. She was survived by her husband, Nathaniel, her stepmother and her brother Eugene E. McIntosh, Jr. I am perfectly thrilled by this discovery.

She gave me one natural fit about my bedwetting which must have been particularly bad in that last year, I am not sure why.  

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Michele Wallace: Talking in Pictures

Michele Wallace: Talking in Pictures
Barbara, MJ, Michele and Mom in the background in sunglasses at a fashion show in the early 60s