01-12-2017 Tri-City Area History Page

Paw Paw River Journal

Ethnic Jokes

 When we were living in Ann Arbor, our house was on a pleasant, shaded street, and next door lived a young Italian family.  He was an engineer for GM, and his wife worked at Xerox… that was when my first book was published by them, and she worked on it.  We liked them very much and enjoyed it when she invited us over for an Italian dinner.

One day I came home and parked in our driveway.  The young man was working on their yard, so I stopped to talk to him.  That day at school I had heard a cute Italian joke, so I thought I’d run it by him.  But I wasn’t quite sure if it was appropriate, so I said, “Do you approve of ethnic jokes?”

He stopped, leaned on his rake, thought a moment and then answered, “No, not unless you are a member of that ethnic group.  Then I guess it’s all right.  Why do you ask?”

“Oh, I was just curious about it,” and after a few more words, I went on in the house.  And I thought about it.  Yes, he was right!  Ethnic jokes are demeaning unless you are a member of that group.  Then I guess it is as much directed at ourselves as anyone.  And I have let that guide me ever since!

Well, I have an ethnic joke… and it is about Catholics. I’m one, so I hope it is all right.  And it is about barbers, but they will have to handle that for themselves.  I was talking with a friend out on the West Coast recently and he was telling me how much they enjoyed touring Europe and especially Italy.  Made me think of the following story:

A man was sitting in the barber’s chair having his hair cut.  And as they talked, the guy said, “Well, you won’t see me for a while.  My wife and I are going to tour Europe!”

The barber dropped his scissors, stood back, and said, “Well, I hope you are not going to France!  I’ve heard they do not like Americans and will insult you and take advantage of your ignorance of the language!”

The guy said “Well, we are… landing at Paris and touring the whole country!”

Barber said, “Well don’t go to Italy!  It’s full of slums, crowded, and the men will be insulting to your wife!”

Guy said, “That’s going to be our next stop!”

Barber said, “Well, I hope you don’t expect to see the Pope!  There will be hundreds of thousands of people in the square… he will come to the window, and you will be so far away and jostled by people.  You won’t even know if it is really him!”

Guy said, “Well, we hope to do that, because we’re Catholic!”

As the barber finished the haircut, he said, “Well, you won’t have a good time, so just hope for the best!”

About three weeks later, the guy came into the barber shop again, climbed into the chair and said, “Well, we’re back!”

Barber shook out the cloth and fastened it around his neck.  Then he said, “How was Europe?  Bet you didn’t like France.”

Guy said, “We landed at Paris… City of Lights!  It was beautiful.  We had a great time… toured the Louvre, saw the palace at Versailles.  Everyone was so friendly and helped us any way they could.  It was great!”

“Harrumph!” the barber harrumphed, “I’ll bet you didn’t enjoy Italy!”

Guy said, “It’s a great country, the people were so friendly.  We saw the Colosseum and all the ruins of ancient times and ate in as many restaurants as we could.  They were most helpful… and the food was magnificent!”

Rather nonplussed, the barber said, “Bet you didn’t get to see the Pope!”

“Oh, yes, we were out in St. Peter’s Square, and the Pope came to the window and gave us his Blessing.  Then he came down, got in the Popemobile and drove right through the crowd.  He came so close to us I could have touched him!”

Barber stood back and with mouth open said, “Really?”

“Yes and when he came by us he told the driver to stop.  He leaned out and whispered in my ear!”

Now the barber was absolutely stunned.  He said, “I can’t believe it!  What did he say to you?”

“The Pope said, ‘Who gave you that awful haircut?’”

This photo is of Arvid Engstrom standing next to a horse-drawn milk cart, year unknown. North Berrien Historical Mu-seum is always interested in photos, stories or information sharing. We can be contacted at 269-468-3330 or in-fo@northberrienhistory.org.

Coloma Library News

Book Club

 The Coloma Library Book Club is meeting for a book discussion on Thursday, January 19 at 5:30 p.m. The title to read before the discussion is “Hillbilly Elegy” by J.D. Vance.  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. If you are interested in more information please stop in the library or call 468-3431.


100 years ago – 1917

 Sheriff Hogue issued orders that all “nickel” machines be discarded at once. Gambling Devices will not be permitted to be operated in Berrien County.

The farming institute programs are being planned. Progressive steps in agricultural fields are being instituted with much success.

The pond created by the water works company to furnish their power has also become a playground for the young people. They have enjoyed skating and coasting. Thanks to James K. Guy, agent at the interurban, for keeping a watch while the children play. Drownings have been averted due to his watchful eye.

60 years ago – 1957

 Mrs. John Duffield, director of the Clymer school board, announces that due to overcrowding, Clymer School will need a new classroom. The addition will adjoin Miss Charlotte Groff’s classes.

Julie Stansfield is the champion cherry pie baker of Coloma High School.  Mrs. Wretha Alwood is the homemaking instructor.

30 years ago – 1987

 The Lions Club will sponsor the Blossomtime Miss Coloma contest again. Contestants will hold a fashion show featuring Coloma’s local stores, Piwacki and Carole’s Corner.

Martin J. Quigley Sr. suffered a fatal heart attack while attending Monday night’s Commission meeting.  Mr. Quigley was employed at Gast Manufacturing. He was a member of the City Commission and he served on many committees.  He is survived by his wife, Harolyn and children Martin Jr. and Linda.

John Bower and Doug Dunn performed with the Michigan School Honors Choir. They are members of the high school Choir/Varsity singers with director Pam Pierson.


100 years ago – 1917

 Balmy weather has resulted in the complete ruination of the sleighing, and traffic has been all awheel for several days. The thaw has been so gradual, however, that the roads have remained frozen and provide good wheeling, while considerable snow remains on the ground. Ice dealers are already conjecturing as to the possibilities of a crop, but colder weather than has been experienced will have to develop and remain for a time if a suitable ice harvest is afforded.

75 years ago – 1942

 The Hartford Garden Club will meet at the home of Mrs. Katherine Simpson on Center Street. Roll call will be answered by “Why I Joined the Garden club”, and the topic for the day will be “Michigan trees worth knowing.”

The Young Mother’s Club will meet at the home of Mrs. Thomas Pollard. They will work on the cookbooks which they are compiling.

The Hartford Woman’s Club met at the home of Mrs. Walter Markillie. Mrs. Minnie Fox gave an interesting and instructive talk on several of the South American countries and Mrs. Arthur Dowd Sr. discussed Columbia, giving a detailed description of the culture of that particular nation.

1967– 50 years ago

 The Dowagiac Savings & Loan Association will establish a branch office at Hartford. The new office will be located at N. Center and Michigan, across from the post office and adjacent to the city’s north parking lot on property which the Dowagiac Savings & Loan purchased from The Day Spring.

Plans to build a million dollar fruit processing plant in the Hartford area was announced yesterday by Cherry Growers, Inc. Winton J. Klotzbach, general manager of the firm which has been headquartered at Traverse City for 30 years, announced that 50 southern Michigan fruit growers have signed marketing agreements for 1967.

The Hartford Co-operative Elevator Co. will go out business. This structure has been in continuous use as a grain elevator for 90 years. If a buyer can be found, the operation will be sold as a business. If not, it will be liquidated piecemeal.


90 years ago – 1927

 Announcement was made of the Sixth Annual Ball of the Watervliet Fire Department, which will be given at Carmody Opera House. This party not only gives opportunity for a community social gathering in which everyone is invited, but it also replenishes the fire company’s treasury with some needed funds.

Mr. and Mrs. A.J. Kelly celebrated their fifty-fifth wedding anniversary at their home in Watervliet on January 23, 1927.

Watervliet’s Star Hotel is almost in complete ruins and Marion E. Potter, member of the local fire department is dead as the result of a fire that broke out in the kitchen part of the hotel about 4 a.m. on January 24, 1927.

60 years ago – 1957

 Sgt. Emery Reynolds, son of Mr. and Mrs. Emery L. Reynolds, is playing basketball in Germany on the 29th Armored Infantry Battalion’s Co. C team.

Raymond E. Griffin, son of Mr. and Mrs. Robert Griffin graduated from recruit training at Naval Training Center, Great Lakes, IL.

Watervliet Paper Company truck driver, Jack Salverson, is driving the mill’s new two ton Dodge truck.  It supplants a 1950 truck of another make which has been put out to pasture, doing lighter work around the mill.

30 years ago – 1987

 More than 85 persons attended the Watervliet Business Association’s first Community Appreciation Dinner. Members of the WBA were presented with a four color Watervliet logo for display at their place of business.

Christine Lewerenz, Watervliet’s Student of the Week, not only participated in band and chorale but has helped the music department by organizing fund-raising events.  Chris is active in drama and she is a varsity cheerleader this year.

WHS student Chris Brown, 17, has created super graphics of the school’s logo on a wall in the gym and another on a hallway wall just outside the art room.  Chris, a junior, generated the interest of Vada Strother, art instructor and Principal Kenneth Bannen with his lettering on the art room ceiling.  He was asked to draw and paint a sign to identify a videotape aired on PBS.  The sign was used to identify the Watervliet Schools.

Heart of Cook grant applications for non-profits available; due February 6

 Grant applications are again available for “The Heart of Cook” Foundation Fund. “The Heart of Cook” is a grant program funded by Indiana Michigan Power’s Cook Nuclear Plant and administered by the Berrien Community Foundation to assist nonprofit programs in Southwest Michigan and Northwest Indiana (La Porte, St. Joseph, and Elkhart Counties).

“Every year we look forward to providing this funding opportunity to the non-profits in our community,” said Joel Gebbie, senior vice president and chief nuclear officer. “The Heart of Cook Foundation is one way that we can say thank you and support the non-profit organizations that serve our community so tirelessly throughout the year.”

Educational projects, human services programs that support families, and environmental protection and preservation projects are the focus areas for this grant program. The grant review committee, comprised of Cook Nuclear Plant employees, gives special consideration to projects that involve I&M employees. Organizations must have 501(c)(3) tax exempt or equivalent status to qualify for funding.

“In 2016, we provided more than $53,000 in funding to 29 non-profit programs and special projects in educational and community-based agencies,” said Dave Lefor, employee advisory committee member. “That is a great way for Cook to continue to be an important community partner. So much good is accomplished when we work together.”

Grant applications and guidelines may be obtained by visiting the Berrien Community Foundation’s web site at www.berriencommunity.org/HOC. All grant applications must be submitted electronically through the Berrien Community Foundation’s web site. The grant application due date is February 6, 2017, with awards to be announced in May. Agencies that have received funding for three consecutive years will not be eligible to apply during this grant cycle.  If you have questions about applying, contact Susan Matheny at susanmatheny@berriencommunity.org.

Indiana Michigan Power (I&M) is headquartered in Fort Wayne, IN and serves more than 580,000 customers in Indiana and Michigan. I&M, part of American Electric Power, is one of the largest electric utilities in the United States, delivering electricity to more than 5 million customers in 11 states. For more information, visit indianamichiganpower.com or www.cookinfo.com.

The Berrien Community Foundation holds endowment and other funds for a number of non-profit organizations in Berrien County. Through these funds the Community Foundation is able to support the ever-changing needs of Berrien County now and into the future. The Community Foundation’s Community Endowment and field of interest funds have provided funding to support a wide variety of services and agencies for over 60 years. For more information on the Berrien Community Foundation visit our web site at www.BerrienCommunity.org or call (269) 983-3304.


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