01-11-2018 Tri-City Area History Page

North Berrien Historical Museum is always interested in photos, stories or information sharing.  The museum can be contacted at 269-468-3330 or by email to info@northberrienhistory.org.

From the photo collection at the North Berrien Historical Museum

300 Coloma Avenue, Coloma

The Paw Paw River Journal

Those halcyon teaching days of yore

My Webster’s defines halcyon as tranquil, peaceful, often having memories tinged with golden times in the past.  And I have been thinking back to the time when I was teaching in Ann Arbor.  I’ll admit that the passage of time brushes memories with a patina of gold.  Anyway, my memories of those days are mostly good.

One summer family finances were a little tight, so I decided to teach summer school.  However it is now, back in those days the kids who were misfits, ne’er-do-wells, and usually bad boys went to summer school to make up for a class they had failed.

It turned out better than I expected, and I made some friends.  I think it was that I was interested in them, liked them, and we had fun in class.  Well, there are a few that I would not trust at my back if I met them, even today.  One boy in particular I noticed.  He was ragged, unkempt, wearing torn jeans, and with hair down to his shoulders.

One day he lingered after class.  I noticed him sort of stooging around, so I said, “Would you like to talk?”

He sat down in a chair next to my desk and finally said, “Mr. Davis, I’ve got problems!  My folks are about to kick me out… I have a factory job, and I need the money.  But the guys pick on me, call me names, and make my life miserable!  They call me names like Shirley!  I’m getting desperate!”

“Well,” I said, “You’ll have to give this a good think!  There are two choices… you can go on being a rebel and pay the price.  Or you can decide to fit into society and look and act like everyone else!  It’s your choice, and right now you are at a cross roads… It’s up to you!”

He thanked me and left.  Next day he was absent.  Day after that I hardly knew him when he came in… clean clothes and even a short haircut.  He looked beautiful!  And he stopped again at class end.  He sat by the desk and looked at me.   Then he said, “Well, I did it!  I got a haircut and put on clean clothes.  You won’t believe how it was at work!  Guys came by and slapped me on the back… asked how I was doing.  The Union Steward invited me to go to a meeting with him tonight!

“But the topper when I walked in the house.  My dad had tears in his eyes!  Right then he would have given me anything I wanted… and I’m kind of proud of myself.  I didn’t ask him for anything!”  At that point we were both laughing!

Another kid in that class I particularly liked.  He had a ’55 Chevy he had restored, and we talked about old cars.  At the time we were reading a play called The Matchmaker, by Thornton Wilder.  You may know it as the hit     musical Hello, Dolly. The story is about a couple of boys who leave Yonkers, NY, for the big city.  They are looking for adventure, and they find it!

One of them is musing on life, and he says the trouble with the world is combination sinners.  They are greedy.  You should pick one favorite sin and hug it to your bosom!  That way you will stay out of trouble. The idea is that they are sort of country bumpkins, and they are going to get in trouble in New York City!  They do!

Well, my car-loving student took the assignment and ran with it.  He wrote his paper on combination sinners, and it was a real winner.  I had to give it an A, and I congratulated him on it… he just glowed!  It was maybe one of the few times a teacher had said, “Well done!” about anything he had written.

The thesis of his paper was that he was a combination sinner, and he paid dearly for it!  He told about restoring his car, and how proud he was of it.  So one night he got a six-pack of beer, picked up his 15-year-old girlfriend, and drove out to Delhi Park north of Ann Arbor.

He said the police picked him up.  Now, if he just had the beer, they would have given him a lecture and taken the beer.  If he just had the girlfriend, they would have given him a lecture and driven her home.  But no, he had to be a combination sinner.  The beer AND the underage girlfriend were just too much!  They took the girl home with a good lecture and restored her to her family!  They told him he was contributing to the delinquency of a minor and impounded his beautiful old car!  He spent the night in jail, and had to be bailed out by his parents!

He ended the paper with a flourish by saying, “One vice or the other, and I probably would have skated clear!  It was being a combination sinner that did me in!”

I’ve never forgotten that kid and his prize-winning essay!   He learned a real life lesson… and I guess it is something we could all well heed!

Don’t ever be a combination sinner!  That could do any of us in as we go along, weaving golden threads into the tapestry of our lives in these storybook towns along the Paw Paw River!

Watervliet District Library News

Tea-Time Month

January 2018

Take the chill out of January with a nice hot cup of tea! Enjoy some tea-themed trivia, learn about the plants and their folklore, peruse our china display and pick up some great tea-time read! Open hours throughout the month.

In Stitches Knitting Group

Friday, Jan. 12, 2:30 – 4:00 p.m.

Second Friday of every month sit & sip, chat & knit. Limited supplies are available for beginners.

Third Monday Book Club

Jan. 15, 7-8 p.m.

The Charm Bracelet by Viola Shipman

The Red Skirt: Memoirs of an ex nun

Author Presentation

Monday, Jan. 22 – 6:30 p.m.

Author Patricia O’Donnell-Gibson will read from her book, talk about how it came to be and share her knowledge of the memoir writing process. Copies of her book will be available at half price. Refreshments will follow. Free, no registration required.

Adult Reading Program

January 22 – March 3

This year’s theme is: Solve it @ Your Library, anyone 18 years and older is invited to warm up those brain cells with winter reading. Great prizes await you:

1st prize: Puzzle books

2nd prize: Brain teasers

3rd prize: Magnifying glass

Grand Prize Drawing: Everyone who’s read six books or more: Tickets for two to the Mendel Center, “Rockin’ Road to Dublin.”

Adult Crafting “Pinteresting”

Monday, Jan. 29, 6:30–8:00 p.m.

Last Monday of every month, Pinterest, anyone? Have fun trying out a Pinterest inspired craft, on the library! All supplies provided; sign-up required.

Teen Table Projects: January

Post-it Note Tangles & Art Show! Demonstrate your skills and put Rembrandt to shame! All supplies provided.

Story Hour

Wednesdays, 10:30 a.m. & Thursdays, 1:30 p.m.

December to April, show-and-tell, stories and crafts for children ages 3 – 5 and their families. Sign up to share our structured literacy program with your preschooler!

Library Garden Park

Purchase a Legacy Walk brick and celebrate a memory! Bricks are $75; 13 characters, two lines. Pick up a form at the library.


Mondays, 9:00 – 10:00 a.m.; Wednesdays, 7:00 – 8:00 p.m.; Chair Yoga on Wednesdays, 6:00 – 6:45 p.m.

Coloma Library News

Read with Spirit

Spirit, a certified therapy dog will be at the library on Tuesday evenings from 6:30 – 7:30 p.m. Children may sign up for a 15-minute slot by stopping in at the front desk or calling the library at 468-3431. Reading to therapy dogs is a fun way for children to build reading confidence and fluency.

Book Club

The Coloma Library Book Club is meeting on Thursday, Jan. 25 at 5:30 p.m. The title to read before the discussion is “A Dog’s Journey” by W. Bruce Cameron.  Generally, depending on demand there are titles available for check-out at the front desk. The book club regularly meets every other Thursday and is always looking for new members. Call 468-3431 with any questions.


100 years ago – 1918

The winter king has been ruling these past two weeks. Temperatures have been around the zero mark. The storm kept increasing with sleet, rain and snow. Drifting became a problem.

Several hundred men of the first draft have been called into service. The government expects to obtain enough men as they reach their draft age in their 21st year.

The Hamilton Studio will be open for sittings on Fridays and Saturdays.

60 years ago – 1958

A reminder to youngsters: The city has closed Kremer’s hill due to increased traffic on West Street. Please do not sled, observe the sign.

Julie Stansfield is the cherry pie baking champion of Coloma High School. Runners-up were Lois Martin and Rosemary Zabbia.

Coloma Township Hall will, again, host John Deere Day. The program is sponsored by Coloma Farm Supply. There will be three moving pictures, with the feature film being a western musical comedy.

Washington Band Booster Club announced plans for an Amateur Show. Mrs. Fred Lombard will direct the benefit to be held in the Washington auditorium.

30 years ago – 1988

Young and old alike enjoy ice skating at Randall Park. The rink opened last Thursday.

The North Berrien Historical Society will meet at the Coloma United Methodist Church. The program will be “The Liars Club” presented by Allen Stark, chairman, and panel: Emily Shoup and Dorothy Cannell. The public is invited.

Paul Ravitch was hired as Assistant Principal of the Coloma Junior High School. Ravitch’s previous position was with the On Campus Suspension program since 1984.

We Asked You… “The greatest concern of older Americans…” Jan Price, Sherry Meyer, Carolyn Genther, Ginger Robinson, Debby Warren and Henry Kuelbs all are concerned with security in retirement.

DAR Essay Winner is Chad Carrothers, eighth-grade AWARE student. Dr. Charlotte Groff presented the medal.


100 years ago – 1918

Hartford’s new service flag with its honor field of 50 stars in tribute to the Hartford boys who are following Old Glory into the world war was unfurled to the breezes on Main Street last Saturday morning.

Caught in the blizzard which buried this section of Michigan beneath a heavy blanket of snow on Sunday and Monday, two car loads of cattle suffered intensely at the Hartford stock yards until Monday afternoon when they were driven to the fairgrounds for shelter.

75 years ago – 1943

The public is being invited to attend “The Parade of Wedding Gowns,” a novelty program being sponsored by the Philharmonic Club scheduled for Monday evening Jan. 25. The presentation will be given at the Federated Church.

The Hartford Junior Mother’s Club met at the home of Mrs. Ida Kozelink on Wednesday evening, Jan. 6. Ten members were present. After a short business meeting Mrs. Lou Keech conducted an “Intelligence Test for Parents” with Mrs. Louise Engle getting the most correct. A bake sale for Saturday, January 16, at Conway’s studio was planned. The next meeting will be at the home of Mrs. Ann Lee, January. 20.

50 years ago – 1968

Four adult education classes will be offered at Hartford High School. A typing class began in the series Monday night. A men’s physical education class will start tonight and a sewing class will start Tuesday, Jan.16. An adult art class will begin Thursday, Jan. 18. Classes will meet from 7 to 9pm. There still are some vacancies in the classes and participants may enroll at the opening sessions.

James R. Welty was graduated at Lansing Friday as a probationary state police trooper. He is the first Hartford man to join the state police. His wife, Frances and their two children live at 11 Beechwood Street. Trooper Welty, who is the son of Mr. and Mrs. David M. Welty, has been assigned to the Ithaca state police post and will begin duty there on Monday, Jan.15. Welty is one of 42 officers to be graduated.


90 years ago – 1928

Seven hundred baby chicks arrived at the Watervliet Post Office on one of the coldest days of the winter in 1928. They were consigned to a patron on rural route who lives eleven miles from Watervliet. Carrier John Herron made a special trip in the afternoon to deliver the chicks. Only six dead ones were found in the lot. Another 900 arrived during the week and were all safely delivered.

A son arrived at the home of Mr. and Mrs. Christ Frank on Jan. 28, 1928. He has been named William Leonard and is one of fourteen living children.

Miss Ethel Callard, Watervliet, has been chosen along with three others to represent Michigan State Teachers College of Kalamazoo at the National Music Convention which was held in Chicago in Apr. 1928. Miss Callard will graduate from the musical course in the spring.

60 years ago – 1958

A.G. Blevins, Watervliet, has been appointed to the sales staff of Wyeth Laboratories, Philadelphia pharmaceutical concern. He attended San Diego State College and Arizona State College and during WWII he served with the U.S. Navy.

Mr. and Mrs. Louis Koshar are the parents of baby boy Peter John, born Jan. 14, 1958 and weighed 7 pounds 9 ounces.

Mr. and Mrs. Wm. Brien are the proud parents of baby boy Duncan Alexander, born Jan. 15, 1958 and weighed 7 pounds 4-1/2 ounces.

30 years ago – 1988

One hundred and two Lake Michigan College students have been named to the Dean’s List for academic achievement during the 1987-88 fall semester. Debbie Brown, Keith D. Klann and Deborah M. Sisson, are from Watervliet.

A total of 1,137 students made the Dean’s List for the 1987-88 fall semester at Western Michigan University. Among them are Michael J. Grear, Kimberly G. Lottridge, Benjamin G. Marvin, Susan Joy Sweet and Mary Ellen Rodriguez, all of Watervliet.

Tracy Clay was crowned Miss Watervliet on Jan. 26, 1988. Shannon Hanks was named Miss Congeniality and First Runner-up. Amy Bayer was named Second Runner-up.


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