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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,, 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.

One day when I was shopping for something, I saw him industriously stocking shelves. For no special reason I said to him, “You really have this place looking nice! And I can find in it so many more of the things I need!”

He straightened up, stretched his back, and said, “Thanks! I needed to hear something like that. You’d think they’d notice the extra stuff you do once in a while! But no one ever says anything about it.”

As I drove home with the stuff I bought from him, there was born something in my mind! It was no great Aha! moment… just a realization that I should do something! I opened up my typewriter and wrote a letter. Yes, in those days we used typewriters!

I wrote a letter to the manager of that very Kmart where I had been shopping. I got it stamped and out in the mailbox in time to be picked up that day. Then in the press of everyday events I promptly forgot it.

Next time I was shopping in the store, the very kid saw me. He came rushing over and said, “You’ll never know what a stir you caused by writing that letter! The manager carried it around showing it to people until it was dog-eared! Next month I’m being sent to manager’s school, and maybe I’ll get my own store!”

Well, it all came to pass, and after a couple of months they had a new kid in there and things didn’t look quite as good as they had… it worked out, just took a little time. And I was wondering what I had wrought in the grand scheme of things.

I’d like to think that the small act of my desire to help a young man changed the tumblers of the universe just a little as I wove another thread into the golden design of the Great Tapestry of Life in these storybook towns along the Paw Paw River. But I’ll never know for sure!


100 years ago – 1920

The number of deaths in the Village of Coloma, 15, outnumbered the number of births, 12. The opposite was the case in the Township. The number of births, 16, outnumbered the deaths, 6.

The Courier wishes to express their thanks to the number of subscribers who have renewed their subscriptions and to extend a welcome to several new subscribers.

Miss Pearl Sutherland and Edward S. Collins of Napier Avenue were united in marriage. The wedding took place at the Methodist parsonage at Benton Harbor.

60 years ago – 1960

Mrs. Harriet Leedy will observe her 100th birthday anniversary. She was born Jan. 1, 1860 to Tabathia and Jacob Ochampaugh.

Mr. and Mrs. John W. Miller of Friday Road hosted family guests over the Christmas holiday.

William Vollrath, stationed at San Diego’s Miramar air base, will see the New Year’s Day Rose Bowl football game. Shortly after, he will be sent to Hawaii.

Postmaster Gordon Young and employees were busy delivering and dispatching mail and packages for the Christmas season. All holiday mail was completed by December 23.

30 years ago – 1990

A public hearing has been set to discuss the establishment of a Downtown Development Authority (DDA). The purpose of a DDA is to revitalize older downtowns, thereby creating economic growth.

Sixth graders will adopt the successful concept implemented last year for the fifth-grade. It includes an environment that is student-oriented rather than subject-oriented.

Charles Wilder of Boyer Road was injured at his place of employment, The Watervliet Paper Company. He was taken to Community Hospital with a hand injury.

Armchair Quarterback Jim Edwards of Nancy’s Furniture predicts Cleveland to beat Buffalo. He’s hoping to improve his seventh place standing, or at the very least jump ahead of Mike Woodward.

Submitted by volunteer Sandi Musick Munchow at Coloma Public Library from the Coloma Courier newspapers donated by the Tri-City Record.

Hours: Mon & Fri, 10:00 a.m.-5:30 p.m.; Tue, Wed & Thur, 10:00 a.m.-8:00 p.m.; Sat, 10:00 a.m.-2:00 p.m.

Phone: 269-468-3431


100 years ago – 1920

The Wm. Traver canning factory played the role of Santa Claus to employees by distributing cases of assorted canned goods at their homes for Christmas. Seventy-five cases were distributed. All of the regular employees of the factory were remembered and several widows and other families about town were included in the distribution.

A burning strawstack at the southeastern village limits resulted in an alarm Monday evening. The strawstack was owned by Marshal Duffey and was located just south of the vacant residence property owned by N.E. Young of Chicago.

75 years ago – 1945

Lt. Harold J. Leach of 14 North Maple Street has set a record for his 7th AAF bombardment group in the Palaus. His plane has made five three engine landings in five weeks. The two most recent landings occurred in one day. Headed for a Jap held target in the Philippines, Lt. Leach’s plane developed an oil leak in the number 4 engine. The Liberator continued on its over water flight, but just short of the target the engine died. Unable to continue they jettisoned the bombs and headed the plane for a friendly base on Leyte. After making repairs, Lt. Leach and the crew took off for their home base. They had flown a few miles off the Philippine coast when the engine stopped again. On three engines they stayed on course, and after a four hour over water flight, made a safe landing at their base in the Palaus.

The Hartford Art Study Club had its annual co-operative luncheon last Thursday at one o’clock at the home of Mrs. Walter Markillie on Franklin Street. Mrs. Marie Finley was in charge of the luncheon menu. After the dinner, Mrs. Edwin Munn of Idaho, who was present as a guest of Mrs. Harry Burkholder, gave an informal talk. Mrs. Munn is a music teacher and will enter Northwestern University next week to study for her master’s degree in music.

50 years ago – 1970

Vandals caused extensive damage to the interior of the Hartford American Legion Hall in an apparent attempt to find hidden money last week. Entry was apparently gained through a rear window. Eight cases of beer, a case of whiskey and a small amount of change was stolen from the basement after thieves broke the padlocks.

The Hartford Police Department plans to distribute a combination comic-coloring book to school children. The book, published by the Safety Training Institute is designed to teach safety to young people and foster a feeling of good will towards law enforcement.

Submitted by Librarian Stephanie Daniels at Hartford Public Library from microfilm copies of the Hartford Day Spring.

Hours: Mon, Tue & Wed, 10 a.m.-7 p.m.; Thu & Fri, 10 a.m.-5 p.m.; Sat, 10 a.m.-2 p.m.

Phone: 269-621-3408


90 years ago – 1930

The first observance of Christmas December 25, was sometime about the middle of the 4th century after Christ. Until that time the date of His nativity was not settled definitely, since the early Christians considered the observance of birthdays a pagan custom.

The custom of burning the Yule log on Christmas Eve is not prevalent in England. The custom is still followed in some of the rural sections. It is more prevalent in the Scandinavian countries.

When one is very young and when one is very old, one may enjoy Christmas: things look so different when viewed from a perambulator or a bath chair.

60 years ago – 1960

Watervliet Community Hospital reports two babies, both girls, born there on Christmas Day. The first one to arrive was Linda Kay, seven pound, five ounces and that evening Kathy Ann, five pounds, two ounces. Welcome to the world baby girls.

Twin City Court, Number 283, Women of Woodcraft, whose leaders are Mrs. James Pipkins and secretary, Mrs. James Borders, presented toys to the Children’s ward of Watervliet Community Hospital on the morning before Christmas 1959. Women of Woodcraft make hand-made stuffed toys, which are made from wool stocking, thread, cloth, and the like appearing quite life-like.

30 years ago – 1990

The tradition of the turkey, according to “Christmas Customs & Traditions” by Frank Muir, states turkey eaten at Christmas is reminiscent of times when the main dish was something really special. Quoting from Muir, “Before turkey took over, the popular Christmas delicacies were bustard, goose and cockerel and in the houses of the rich, peacock and swan. The peacock was often skinned before roasting. For serving, it was re-clothed in its feathers and its beak was gilded. Sometimes the beak was propped open with a bit of bread soaked in spirit. This would then be set on fire and the bird brought into the dining hall with the greatest pomp and ceremony.”

Other traditions of Christmas are as many as the people who celebrate the holiday. Each family has its own tradition and ways of spreading its version of Christmas. One author wrote that her family traditionally chooses the ugliest tree they can find on the lot to have the honor of being beautifully decked and positioned as the centerpiece of the celebrations. Others invite guests to their meals who, otherwise, would have none.

Submitted by Sally Q. Gonzalez from files at Watervliet District Library of the Watervliet Record newspapers donated by the Tri-City Record.

Hours: Mon & Wed, 10 a.m.-8 p.m.; Tue, Thu & Fri, 10 a.m.-5 p.m.; Sat, 9 a.m.-3 p.m.

Phone: 269-463-6382

Coloma Library News Playaway Launchpads

Come try fun new educational tablets in the Children’s area. Children will recognize their favorite characters such as Strawberry Shortcake and Arthur. Each tablet is unique and comes loaded with a variety of topics. Local author visit Come and meet Coloma Author, Don Pierce on Tuesday, Jan. 14. Pierce will be available to talk about his work and sign copies of his books from 5:00 to 7:00 p.m. Tails from the Trail Come enjoy trail snacks with Coloma couple Bonny and Joe Barrett who will share their 3,680-mile bike adventure across the United States. Loaded bikes will be on display. The event will be Thursday, Jan. 16 starting at 6:00 p.m. January Story Times Miss Alicia will host Story Times on Tuesdays in January. Story Times will be at 10:30 a.m. Registration is not required to participate. Book Club The Coloma Public Library Book Club is meeting on Thursday, Jan. 9 at 5:30 p.m. The title to read before the discussion is “Before We Were Yours” by Lisa Wingate. Depending on demand there may be titles available for check-out at the front desk. New members are always welcome.

Watervliet Library News Computer upgrade

The Watervliet District Library has received a $7,000 Frederick S. Upton Foundation matching grant to purchase badly needed new public computers. Help them meet their goal with new donations, and have fun at the same time! Huge Library Book Sale ending Jan. 4, 2020 All sale items are – Buy one – Get one free. “Bored” Games thru Jan. 4 Needing a holiday change of pace? Try out a board game at the library. Something for kids of all ages and their families to do. STEM Petting Zoo On Friday, Jan. 3 from 2 – 4 p.m. library visitors can try out the Snap Circuits Little Bits and VR kits. In Stitches Knitting Group On Friday, Jan. 10 from 2:30 to 4 p.m. community members can take a current project or interest in learning and they will help you get started! Arm knitting supplies and 1-on-1 instructions, too! Sensory Bin Blast On Tuesday, Jan. 14 from 10:30 to 11:30 a.m. is the perfect time for a perfect mess! For 0 – 5 year olds and their families. Family Movie Night After-hours at the Library, start your weekends off with a treat! The 3rd Friday evening each month this winter means: Movies! Popcorn! Crafts! Friday, Jan. 17 at 6 p.m. features “James and the Giant Peach”. Reading Delights Adult reading program from Jan. 20 to Feb. 29 with two Grand Prizes: $100 Harding’s Gift Card. Read two books per each entry. Free eats once a week, on the library! Since this program is all about food – take in a favorite family recipe and be part of the WDL Scrap Cook Book, too. Teen Table Projects: Book Fortune Teller Can’t decide what to wear let alone what to read? The Watervliet Library Fortune Teller can help teens with at least one of those decisions! STEM Kit Programs Snap Circuits – LEGO Robotics – Little Bits Electronic Inventions STEM kit programs designed for small groups to work together to make an endless number of inventions. New groups are set up with participant’s schedule in mind. Anyone 8 years and up that is interested can sign up at the desk. Story Hour Story Hour for ages 3 – 5 is on Wednesdays at 10:30 a.m. and Thursdays at 1:30 p.m. (choose one) for the months of October to April. Picture books, crafts & fun designed to inspire the love of reading! Yoga Mondays 9 – 10 a.m.; Wednesdays 7 – 8 p.m.; Fridays 10:30 – 11:30 a.m.; Chair Yoga – Wednesdays 6 – 6:30 p.m.

Movie viewing for seniors at Hartford Public Library

The Hartford Public Library will be showing movies for senior citizens starting Tuesday, Jan. 7 at 2 p.m. The movie is “Casablanca”. Seniors are invited to bring friends and snacks to enjoy one of the classic movies of all times. The library will provide water, coffee or tea and popcorn. “Casablanca” is a 1942 American romantic drama set during World War II in Morocco. The film stars Humphrey Bogart, Ingrid Bergman and Paul Henreid and also features Claude Raines, Sydney Greenstreet and Peter Lorre. The movie is 120 minutes long. Every first and third Tuesday of the month, the library will be showing special movies for seniors. They have a list of up and coming movies all the way through April. For more information contact the library at (269) 621-3408. The movie listings are posted on the library website:

Community Room rental rates raised

Beginning January 1, 2020 the Watervliet District Library’s Community Room rental rates have increased. The new rates will be $50 for the deposit and $50 for room rental. The Board of Trustees approved the increase at the December meeting, in part to help offset facility costs associated with room traffic, especially given that rates have not changed in decades. Director Sharon Crotser-Toy explains the change, “The board looked at overall charges by other facilities and felt rates could be increased without making the Community Room out of reach for most groups. We’re glad people enjoy using the space!” The library’s Community Room was rented over 100 times in the past year. Anyone wishing to rent the room or has questions or comments to share is encouraged to call the library at 269-463-6382.


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