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 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 blizzard has caused delays in train delivery of coal. It has been sixty-five hours since we last saw a train or Interurban Car. Attend the Farmers’ Extension Meeting. Coloma’s reputation for having the best meetings ever still stands. A bountiful dinner will be served in the Masonic dining room. A sweeping governmental order requires the wheels of industry to stop for a period of five days beginning Thursday. The order is issued by Fuel Administrator Garfield, by direction of the president. 60 years ago – 1958 All rural districts have secured enough signatures on petitions that the matter of consolidation may be put to a vote. The result will affect Boyer, Bundy, Clymer, Ingraham, Washington and Coloma school districts. City officials were informed that the city will receive $36,220 in federal aid for the new sewage disposal plant. The news reached Mayor Chester W. Hocker via telegram. Homer Umphrey, proprietor of the Cities Service station on Paw Paw and Washington streets, was appointed to serve on Coloma’s city commission. He fills the seat left vacant by Virgil Dorstewitz. 30 years ago – 1988 If you have fallen on hard times, the Blossomland Area Community Action Agency is “here to help.” They provide commodities and act as a referral network. Martorano’s Pizza – Where you get a true Italian pizza with true Italian flavor; Large combination $7.95. The Comets held their own, but could not get back into the game. They lost to the Lancers 63-41. Elliot Mims led with 13 points. Students of Mr. Fryling are writing their very own “Washington School Book of Records and Other Trivial Things.” Each student will receive a copy, once it is “published.” Varsity wrestlers placed fifth in the Fidelman Invitational.

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.; Tues., Wed. & Thurs. 10:00 a.m.-8:00 p.m.; and Sat., 10:00 a.m.-2:00 p.m. Phone: 468-3431


100 years ago – 1918 All storm records were broken in Hartford Saturday, when the most severe blizzard that has swept this section of the country in a quarter of a century caused a complete suspension of local activity. Not a horse or vehicle of any description traversed Main Street during the entire day. Only three farmers were seen in town Saturday. George Yore, residing two miles northwest, walked through the blizzard to secure his mail only to find that all trains had been cancelled, while Fred Allen and son, Harry Allen, residing one mile north, waded through the drifts to town. When the storm reached its greatest fury the mercury stood at 15 below zero, at noon it had climbed to twelve degrees below. 75 years ago – 1943 The Hartford Garden Club held its first meeting of the year at the home of Mrs. Warren Clark with Mrs. Dorothea Day presiding. Roll call was “A Favorite Verse from the Bible.” Mrs. Belle Mortimer read a very interesting paper on “Trees and Flowers of the Bible.” Mrs. Ethel Weed sang the song “Trees.” Mrs. Mildred Smith read two chapters from an old book published in 1863 entitled, “Hunting Adventures in the North Woods.” A blaze originating in the basement of the Will Phillips home on east Oak Street was extinguished shortly after the Hartford fire department arrived and the blaze was confined to a small area. Mr. Phillips held the flames partially in check by apply water with a garden hose until the firemen arrived. 50 years ago – 1968 Taylor Produce and Storage Co. of Holland has started construction of a new refrigerated storage plant a mile east of Hartford at the site of the new Cherry Growers, Inc. fruit processing plant. Cherry Growers will lease space in the new neighboring plant for storage of its production. A Hartford Jaycees Auxiliary was established Saturday night at a charter banquet. On hand to present the charter was Dixie Parks if Milford, MI. She is the state president of the Jaycees Auxiliary. Officers of the Hartford chapter are Peggy Brown, Donnalee Bench, Sue Cibianco, Myra Weberg and Bonnie Meachum.

Submitted by Librarian Stephanie Daniels at Hartford Public Library from microfilm copies of the Hartford Day Spring. Hours: Mon., Tues., & Wed., 10 a.m.-7 p.m.; Thurs. & Fri., 10-5 p.m.; and Sat., 10 a.m.-2 p.m. Phone: 621-3408


90 years ago – 1928 The Cleary building on Pleasant Street is now a union station for all the motor coaches – both the Greyhound line for Chicago, Grand Rapids and Muskegon, and the coaches of the Kalamazoo-St. Joseph run. Joseph Collins, Watervliet song writer, received the first installment of his latest published song. The production is making a hit with local musicians. The name of the production is “That’s Why I’ll Always Be True” and copies are selling at 30 cents each. Richard Rogers, Watervliet, freshman student at Albion College, is among the thirteen freshmen to be selected to compose the college’s first year debating squad. 60 years ago – 1958 SP/3 Leslie Duncan, Watervliet, received his certificate after completing the required course in 16mm sound motion picture equipment, in Japan. He is the son of Mr. and Mrs. Loren Duncan. Jack Turner, EN 2, U.S. Navy arrived in Watervliet to spend a 30-day leave with his parents, Mr. and Mrs. Burrell Turner. On the completion of his leave, he will be assigned to shore duty at Annapolis, Maryland. Mr. and Mrs. Harry B. Knapp are the proud parents of their new baby girl, born Jan. 7, 1958 and weighed 8 pounds 9-1/2 ounces. 30 years ago – 1988 Art work by the students of the Watervliet Junior High School’s seventh grade is currently on display at the Watervliet Public Library. Among the pictures are examples of the students’ first semester work, which includes drawing, design, color mixing and metal tooling. Long-time Watervliet High School Principal Ken Bannen has been named district Administrative Assistant for Curriculum and Special Projects. Bannen has taken on the budget and financial concerns and will specialize in developing and maintaining curriculum standards and work on 14 identified special projects. On Jan. 5, 1988, Watervliet City Mayor Robert Flaherty reappointed Police Chief Danny Day, Fire Chief Lloyd Richcreek and Department of Public Works Superintendent Glenn (Cork) Openneer.

Submitted by Sally Q. Gonzalez from files at Watervliet District Library from the Watervliet Record newspapers donated by the Tri-City Record. Hours: Mon. & Wed., 10 a.m.-8 p.m.; Tues., Thurs. & Fri., 10 a.m.-5 p.m.; and Sat., 9 a.m.-3 p.m. Phone: 463-6382


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