EARLY BEGINNINGS IN MANAYUNK
Clark attended Shurs Lane Elementary school. It went as far as 4 th grade, for small children. There were 8 classrooms in that school. Older students went to separate classes upstairs, while small children attended classes downstairs. From Shurs Lane he went to Green Lane Elementary. It had grades 1-6. Bottom
The photograph on the upper left was taken by Clark's first grade classmate John Staples, when they were in High School. The photograph on the right was taken by Claude's uncle, William Clark, during the week of Claude's mother's funeral; Claude's last year in high school; 1935. High school had six grades both Jr. & Sr. High School; grade 7-12.
Clark's uncle William, was the same age, but William did not go to high school. The Clarks saw Africans and European Americans getting those eight to five jobs as electricians, carpenters and welders; making allot of money. That world was a visible world; you could see it, touch it and watch how it effected, shaped; changed people's lives for ever. There was building everywhere. An entire nation was being molded and shaped right before your eyes. Tycoons were trying to out do each other by building the tallest buildings in the world. Car manufactures were styling the most gorgeous motor machines the world had ever known. The garment industry offered high fashions, and if you wanted those things; you needed money. To make allot of money you didn't need high school diploma, or a college degree. There was no link between African American masses and W.E.B. DuBois; Alain Locke. Locke and DuBois were not holding anyone's hands and showing them the way to success. How much money did they make and besides what did they do for a living anyway? Was there room for more Africans in each of these endeavors, or was there a number quota; ceiling at the top? Marcus Garvey seemed be the only African leader giving answers to basic questions, that the masses of African American people could use to prepare themselves in the 20th Century. He said that Africans needed Nation Building skills. Several members of the Clark family had been [Garveyites---?].
William Clark quit school and went to a Citizen Conservation Camp, so that he could make some money and get ahead in this world. At night he began taking correspondence courses to learn to be an electrician. At age 18 he was a licensed electrician, with clients and making a way for himself. By 1935 he had bought his first camera and began recording his family; relatives and their activities. An example of his work can be seen on the right at the top of this page and on the left of the page just before.
Somehow Claude got hold of a plastic 39¢ camera in 1935 and was taking pictures of family and relatives as well.
When Claude went to art school in 1935, William would let Claude use his room for doing his art work on weeekends. Williams place had electric lighting. He rented an upstairs room at a boarding house.
Uncle Rufus Clark was the first African, Claude saw, doing water color paintings. Uncle Rufus showed much promise, but he finally gave up his hobby since there was no future, or money in it. His nephew Claude, by 1939 would excel in this media. Claude's water colors, done in 1944, would sell for very high prices, fifty years later.
John Staples lived in a house, up the street from the Clarks. His father worked for the post office. This family's home had electric lighting, and many of the comforts of middle class life. Claude would use a room in his friends house to do art work after school hours, while in high school.
It was John Staples who got Clark interested in the art club after school when they were in Junior High School. It was Clark's participation in the art club which helped determine the direction he would take regarding careers.
Clark had three art teacher though out secondary school. Ms. Brewbecker
taught at Shurs Lane Elementary school, but Claude didn't have any classes from her until
he went to Roxbourgh High School. She taught adult classes upstairs at Shurs Lane. That is
were uncle Rufus Clark learned to use water colors. In high school there were two other
art teachers; Francis Clark and Catherine O'Donald. Clark took classes from all three.
A man by the name of Flasher was founder of a Graphic Sketch Club, that Clark began attending in 1929. That same year Clark began doing linoleum block prints. The art club had a Chinese Museum.
by Claude Lockhart Clark © 1997
To the top (from Manayunk) (Think Then Act)
Revised: April 29, 2001.
Copyright © 1997 by Vai Prints & Publications. Music by Lionel Hampton "I Only Have Eyes For You" from the CD titled "Lionel Hampton in Paris" BMG Music. All trademarks or product names mentioned herein are the property of their respective owners.