01-18-2018 Tri-City Area History

The Paw Paw River Journal


Nothing gold can stay

We sat at the breakfast table, the Chief Accountant and I, with our coffee cups. Toast, eggs, cereal, all history… and we were talking as we often do. The subject came up about how lucky we are to have had family. This is most important in life. I was saying I had little to complain about how my mom and dad had treated us as children. One of the few complaints I voiced was a little thing that had bothered me for a long time. When I left for WWII, I had my own bedroom and therein all of the treasures from my childhood. When I came home from the war, it had all changed! Now it was just a guest room! “Do you suppose,” I said, “they thought I would never come back, so no use of saving my things?” Let me explain… I loved to build model airplanes. Some I had saved in a round-front china cupboard. My favorites were the fighter planes from WWI. I had several models of the Sopwith Camel. When I was a kid that was THE war for us. I loved to read about that conflict. It was still there, shoved back in an alcove. But all the rest was just, well, impersonal! I was so glad to be home I didn’t take in the real loss then. Very popular in those days were what were called Pulp Magazines, a thing of the past now. I collected them. Printed on cheap newsprint, they got their name from that. They had slick covers with pictures in lurid colors, and were a little larger than regular book size. One of the big producers was Street & Smith Publications. My favorite was “G-8 and His Battle Aces.” It was about the First World War, and there on one cover was The Red Baron diving on an Allied bomber squadron in his Fokker triplane. Another favorite, Doc Savage, Man of Bronze. He was a larger than life hero! Also Black Mask Detective had great crime stories. I didn’t realize it then, but some of my later favorite writers, Dashiell Hammett and Raymond Chandler, got their start writing for the pulps. Some others were Rangeland Romances and Spicy Detective… I wouldn’t have dared to bring home any of those. My dad said those were just too cheap in subject matter and really disapproved of my choice in literature. What he didn’t understand was that I was becoming an avid reader. And experts now tell us if a kid finds something he really likes, he will learn to read! As long as the subject matter is not too bad! Another thing he didn’t realize was that I was reading better things too. My sister Wilma would bring home historical novels… I read all of them too! So, I had a book shelf on one wall containing all of my ‘cheap’ magazines. After I came home that was gone, as was the radio that stood under it. This was a Spartan radio, cabinet model that stood on legs. It was the first big radio my dad bought at Ansteth’s Chocolate Shop, a fixture on Hartford’s Main Street for many years. It was really a tavern… if you twisted their arm, they would probably make you a milk shake. They also sold appliances, and that’s where my dad got the radio… he believed in buying locally, because he was in business too. I loved that old radio, and I could get more than ‘The Charleston’ on it. My sister’s room was right next to mine, and evenings when we were working on our hobbies, I’d have it on so we could listen to music. She would be reading her books or movie magazines, and I would be working on airplane models. The radio and the book shelf were both gone… with more missing than that! In the back of the Spartan I had hidden a cigar box with some little treasures, including notes Marion had passed to me in study hall. I’m sure kids don’t do that any more… they just thumb text messages to each other. Study halls are a thing of the past too. Back then we had a sort of underground railroad for passing notes to that cute girl a few seats away. And it was a point of honor… any kid would pass on a note and not look at it. A sort of thumbing our nose at the teachers? Perhaps. So I had saved some of them from Marion… all gone, and I never realized it for a while, I was so glad to be back from the war! So here we were now, sitting at the breakfast table talking about old times. I told that complaint I had never voiced to my folks, and it has bothered me ever since! As usual my Chief Accountant had some words to make me feel better. She said, “Back in high school when we were dating, we were still kids! You were just a boy, and then you left for the Air Force and I went into Nurses’ Training. At one point while you were gone, you sent back a picture of you climbing down out of an airplane. I can remember thinking, ‘He’s no longer a boy! He even looks older!’ I’m sure you sent that same picture to your folks. They probably decided that now you are a man, you would no longer want those things from your childhood!” She did make me feel better, and then I called to mind a poem that Robert Frost wrote: …Nature’s first green is gold, Her hardest hue to hold. Her early leaf’s a flower, But only so an hour. Then leaf subsides to leaf. So Eden sank to grief, So dawn goes down today. Nothing gold can stay. Try as hard as we can to keep things the same, they are bound to change! That’s just a fact of life in these storybook towns along the Paw Paw River… and everywhere else I guess!

GREAT NEWS! The Hartford Public Library has created an area just for teens. Their own area surrounded by young adult fiction. Teens can easily access the WiFi and communicate with their friends. Snacks are permitted in this area.


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, January 25 at 5:30 p.m. The title to read before the discu