01-02-2020 Tri-City Area History Page

Ice shanties being used on an inland lake, may be Paw Paw Lake. Notice the foot prints in the snow. Do you have an ice fishing story? Please contact North Berrien Historical Museum at 269-468-3330, office@northberrienhistory.org, or stop by Tue.-Friday 10am – 4pm, they love your stories. From the photo collection at the North Berrien Historical Museum 300 Coloma Avenue, Coloma

The Paw Paw River Journal

Making New Year’s lemonade

There’s an old saying, “If they hand you lemons, make lemonade!” I probably don’t need to explain that, but in a larger sense if you’re handed some bad stuff, make the most of it! I think we try to do that. Admittedly, sometimes in later years it may be harder to do.

I’ve been thinking about starting the New Year and what could I say that hasn’t been said. Well, let me begin with something I said many times before. Most of us are not going to make a grand entrance and exit on the world stage. We watch people doing that all the time, and I certainly don’t need to be one of them. So in our more or less quiet lives if we can do something to make this world a little better place, I believe we have been successful.

In a part of my life that has now closed, I had the good fortune to spend over seventy years with the greatest girl I have ever known. So that part is already written, for better or worse. I know it was better. She made me better than I would have been otherwise.

Now I have the part that was left over. What do I do with that? It’s what I want to talk about today! What do we do with the part of our lives that is still in front of us? And I’ll admit there’s often temptation to think it doesn’t matter! What do I do that amounts to a hill of beans anyway?

There is the age-old question that confronts all of us. Do you remember a Jimmy Stewart movie called ‘It’s a Wonderful Life’? He was so good at playing “Mr. Everyman.” I mean he could make seem real a life that could have been any one of us. Some people just have that ability. And he could do it to perfection.

In the story Mr. Everyman has come to wonder what is the use of his being here on earth. What difference has his life made on anything. He is so down! And his guardian angel takes him on a trip around to see what the world would have been like if he had never existed. It was absolutely astounding! Here was a small town guy… never went anywhere, but how barren the world would have been without him.

And worst of all… his wife whom he loved dearly was a dried up spinster-ish unhappy lady. His kids, the kids he loved to have Christmas with, did not exist! He was glad to come back to his small-town quiet life. And he was in time for Christmas after all. So, like Scrooge he was changed forever after.

Most of us will never have an epiphany such as that. My Webster’s says an epiphany is a flash illuminating a great truth or a moment of realizing something magnificent. No, in real life it doesn’t usually happen that way. In fact for us mortals great truths usually come about gradually and often are caused by somebody slipping us a few lemons!

We’ve all had it happen. And we’re lucky if we realize it at the time. Once I did something that turned out well. And I don’t really know why I did it. We were living in Ann Arbor. I’ve always liked to do what I can in the maintenance of our vehicles. And I must admit at the same time I’m not a good mechanic!

I liked to change the oil myself. In that eco-friendly town, they had stations where you could get rid of used oil, old car batteries, tires and such. So I had my favorite places to buy stuff for the cars on which I was working. One of my favorite places was the local Kmart. I noticed in that store the automotive sector looked better every time I went to buy something. The manager was a young smart aleck looking kid. He was friendly and most helpful.