01-09-2020 Tri-City Area History Page

The Paw Paw River Journal


Memories of brother Bob

Today is winter outside. And I should be going to a funeral. But here I am in my warm apartment looking out, and I’m glad to be in here. We lost Marion’s brother Bob. He and I have been living here in lonely splendor for several months now. We were the last members of our two blended families… now I am the last one. Since I’ve been here, time has been sort of telescoping. What I mean is that events from way back and from recent times have sort of been squeezed together. And because of where I should be today my memories of Bob are cascading through my mind. He has been part of my life ever since Marion and I started dating in high school. I have a certain amount of claustrophobia (fear of enclosed spaces), and I date it back to a time when we took Marion’s brothers, Bob and Louis, for an afternoon of fun at Silver Beach, the old amusement park on the waterfront at St. Joe. We were in the fun house and decided to go through the maze… winding through and around tunnel after tunnel. It was crowded, and someone up in front fainted. People behind us kept jamming in, and we were being horribly squeezed. Marion and I had the boys between us and the only thing that kept them from getting squashed was by our holding ourselves apart. Luckily someone in back told everyone in a loud voice to back up and we finally got out. I date my fear of closed spaces from that time on. I don’t think the boys even realized how close we were to tragedy. My life’s history from those days has been inextricably bound with Marion and her family. Bob and I became friends, and when I came home from service he was a young teenager. We shot hoops, skied together, and rode a toboggan the boys made from old horse drawn sled parts. We’d get someone to pull us behind the pickup with long ropes way out in the country. When Bob and Louis were grown and had their own cars we’d work on them at night out in the farm shop. Bob had a ‘49 Chevy then a ‘51. Louis had a black ‘53 Ford and Marion and I had a blue ’53 Ford. The boys took turns going into the Army to serve our country and they both did so honorably. I can remember when Bob was coming home Louis and I got his Chevy out of storage and washed it, so it would be ready for him. Bob was in our wedding party as a young teenager, and both times he was married I was Best Man at his. When the Kling family went out of the farming business both boys and their sons got into the building trades. Over the years since then I don’t know how many times we have upgraded our home and outbuildings. They always did it and it was always quality work! Whenever their crew was working on our house, we fed them lunch. And it was a festive time… we sort of made a break in the work day into a little family gathering. Marion and I finally decided we needed to go into assisted living. I was worried if something happened in the night what would we do! Daughter Becky found this place very near to where she and Jim live. And we were happy here. In fact, when brother Bob decided he too need more help, he moved into a nearby apartment. And we had jolly times together. But after a while we could see his health fading. Just lately our family has been hit pretty hard. We lost Marion in July, and over in Farmington we also lost eldest daughter Deb. While being treated for an internal malignancy, she fell one night in the bathroom and suffered a closed head injury. After that she just went down and down. Bob was here to provide sympathy for me both times. After that we had an autumn time when we were on the upswing a little. I think we provided some dining room entertainment for our friends. On a good day we would have our tap shoes on. But I could see that he was losing ground slowly. Hospice was now taking care of him, and they were doing a good job! The afternoon before he went into his final sleep, I went in to visit him. He was conscious, but just barely. I held his hand and told him I loved him. We both knew it was the last time we would meet in this vale of tears. And early the next morning he was gone. And now I have been wondering, thinking about time and how it has telescoped. And I think of past events… so crystal clear in my mind. If they are gone forever, I hope we will see each other in the future. A friend of ours, Connie Hatch, publishes an email newsletter out in the mountains of Pennsylvania. She said: “Time is an illusion. It is the human’s attempt to measure memories and expectations. The only real true moment is now! Embrace it, for it is already a memory.” I am sure the best thing we can do is embrace the ones we love in this life. Tell them how we feel and let them know how much we appreciate weaving golden threads into the Great Tapestry of Life in these storybook towns along the Paw Paw River with them!



Unidentified man blowing snow at Logan & Thomas streets, Coloma. Man on snow pile also unidentified. If you have any information on these men or a blizzard story, please contact North Berrien Historical Museum at 269-468-3330, office@northberrienhistory.org, or stop by Tue-Fri 10am-4pm, they would love to hear your stories. From the photo collection at the North Berrien Historical Museum 300 Coloma Avenue, Coloma


Library News Coloma Public

January Story Times Miss Alicia will host Story Times for toddlers and preschoolers on Tuesdays in January. Story Times will be at 10:30 a.