02-13-2020 Tri-City Area History Page

Circa 1914 Could this be John Wolff, driving a vehicle with a front crank? Photo is reported to have been taken about 1914. Anyone know if this is indeed John Wolff? If so, please contact North Berrien Historical Museum at 269-468-3330, office@northberrienhistory.org, or stop by Tues-Friday 10 am-4 pm, they would love to hear your stories. From the photo collection at the North Berrien Historical Museum 300 Coloma Avenue, Coloma

The Paw Paw River Journal

My Valentine to the world

Here we are almost at St. Valentine’s Day, and my thoughts turned inward, back, way back to when we were little kids we used to send or take Valentine’s cards to our friends. Not all the kids got cards. I can remember a few … and I felt very uncomfortable about it. But I didn’t know what to do, if anything. I didn’t realize that I could have provided a remedy if I had just sent a card to every kid in my class. Guess I just wasn’t that smart. How do you build empathy into a small child? Somewhere along the line I learned, and now I know. And I’ll just have to file that knowledge under ‘Regrets,’ or things I should have done but didn’t know enough to do! Thank goodness we had enough sense to build that into our kids. And the credit here goes to Marion, my Chief Accountant, who left a huge hole in my life when she departed. Our son Rob was a little kid in upper elementary when his birthday came up. Marion said he could have a party and invite his friends. So he very industriously made out little invitations to take to the school. That afternoon when he came home he still had not passed them out. When Marion asked him why he said somewhat reluctantly, “Well, I realized some of the boys I had not invited. I guess if I can’t have them all come I better not have the party!” Well, that was a new one on us, and Marion allowed as to how we could fix that! She helped Rob with more notes and they invited every boy in his class to celebrate with him. I was so pleased that Rob had developed a social conscience. And I’ll have to admit at an earlier age than I had one! Pretty well established is the fact that most generations try not to make the same mistakes their folks did when raising them. No, they’ll not make the same mistakes. It will be different ones! So now here are some of my thoughts as this holiday approaches. I’d like this to be my Valentine to the world … to all of you, and to my family. I have a debt of gratitude. My folks I know made sacrifices to bring my sister and me into the world and rear us to maturity. It was the depression years, and I never knew it. We always had three meals a day on the table, at what cost I’ll never realize. One measure of what it cost my dad … he had two greenhouses, and had the land next to us and the materials stacked thereon to build two more. He never finished them! But one unexpected benefit was a jungle for us kids to play in. We built forts, spaceships, and had adventures that Buck Rogers in the 25th century would have envied! The teachers I had in my formative years taught me more than I realized. I was a good student, albeit a lazy scholar. They were always pushing me to be better. One teacher I can pick out as an example was Miss Juanita Nye in the third grade. She made us learn the multiplication tables, which I have not forgotten to this day. We are still friends with her daughter, Roberta Woodruff, who is a real expert on wild birds. Miss Nye wouldn’t have weighed 100 pounds soaking wet, but she could buffalo the biggest, toughest kid in the class. The instructors I had in the Air Force were backed by their rank. Some were good; some were not. But I learned from all of them. For example, the one who taught me first to fly an airplane. He swore at me when I did something bone headed. And I learned! I will never forget the first day I took an airplane up all alone, all by myself! I was so excited I was singing! I learned from bad examples too! We had some officers we called chicken s—t. But not out loud! I ran into a few who were almost evil … and one or two even more than that. I learned from them all, if no more than when to keep my mouth shut. After that experience was passed, I learned immeasurably more in our marriage, from Marion, about the power of love to make things better. I spent almost 3/4 of a century in happiness. And the children we reared were the best investment we ever made. I have told them so! And I am no longer surprised that I learn things from them! To all the teachers I had when I was learning to teach … and the students I met … they changed my life! And the students and teachers from all the years I spent in the classroom … they all helped to make me what I am! All those years! They are sort of telescoped in my mind. My first days in the classroom feel like yesterday. Does that make sense? Sometimes in my mind’s eye I can see thousands of people out there, reading words like the ones I’m putting on paper now. Once in a while they give me some feedback and I love it! The editor and editress of this newspaper gave me my first real forum … a place to try my ideas on life, love, and the pursuit of happiness! I hope Karl and Annie Bayer feel they have given as much to me as I have to them. And now a new chapter in my life has opened up … assisted living at The Vineyard. I like my apartment, and the girls and guys all treat me well. I enjoy coming to the dining room and looking at the scenery outside. Brrrr cold, but we are snug and have a fireplace. The people in the kitchen are a joy. We are with friends and tell stories. Food is good, and I can almost always find something on the menu I like. So what’s not to enjoy? I’m spending these precious moments doing the best I can. And part of that is putting these words to paper and hopefully weaving more golden threads into the Great Tapestry of Life in these storybook towns along the Paw Paw River.</