02-21-2019 Tri-City Area History Page

In 1948, this building was known as the Watervliet Community Hospital. The Tri City Village took its place in 1983. 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

My favorite detective story writer New writers, artists, and composers are always coming along. Good thing too, because it keeps us interested. But many of our greatest ones have also slipped into the shadowed part of The Great Circle of Life with unfinished work. My favorite regret in this department is the untimely departure of the best writer of detective fiction of all time… Raymond Chandler (admittedly my assessment!). Dear Readers, if you’d like to disagree with me, I’d be glad to hear from you! He wrote his first novel, “The Big Sleep,” in 1939, and I read it in 1944, lying on my bunk in the barracks at flight school. Turning to the first page, I read the following: “It was about 11 o’clock in the morning, mid October, with the sun not shining and a look of hard wet rain in the clearness of the foothills. I was wearing my powder blue suit with dark blue shirt, tie and display handkerchief, black brogues… I was neat, clean, shaved and sober; and I didn’t care who knew it. I was everything the well-dressed private detective should be…” Then he rang the front doorbell of the Sternwood mansion. And Private Eye Phillip Marlowe was off on his first adventure. A blackmailer was trying to get his hooks into the enormously wealthy General Sternwood… who spent his days in a wheelchair and nights dreaming of bygone glories. He had two daughters, both also rich, attractive, and spoiled rotten. The older one was trying, but the younger one would pull the wings off a fly. Unspoken but hinted at was the General’s sadness that his older daughter’s husband, Sean Regan, had disappeared months before without a word. The General had loved that wild Irishman, who would sit and tell him stories by the hour. So Marlowe decided he would find the lost son-in-law, not knowing his search would take him through several murders and the seedy parts of Los Angeles. He knew the daughters had some guilty knowledge, and finally he found Regan… murdered, and his body hidden to prevent a family tragedy. So at the end Marlowe speculated on that unraveled plot. “What did it matter where you lay once you were dead? You just slept the big sleep, not caring about the nastiness of how you died or where you fell. Me, I was part of the nastiness now.” Raymond Chandler’s novels have all been made into films… and many of his short stories, too, some with greater success than others. My two favorites: “The Big Sleep,” starring Humphrey Bogart and Lauren Bacall. They were near the beginning of their relationship, and every film they made together struck sparks. The other one is “Marlowe,” starring James Garner, Gayle Hunnicutt, and Rita Moreno. The film follows the novel “The Little Sister” pretty closely, and is again about a beautiful woman involved in a mystery. This time it is a TV star whose boyfriend is a ruthless gangster. She is also being blackmailed by her family! (The families in Chandler’s stories are usually dysfunctional!) The gangster tries to buy off Marlowe. In the film he sends Jackie Chan to make an offer, which Marlowe refuses. Thereafter Chan (in one of his first roles) demolishes Marlowe’s office completely… it is horribly funny. At the end he is talked into “fixing” a murder scene by the girl’s best friend (Rita Moreno) who is an exotic dancer. Marlowe alters the evidence to protect the TV star (with whom he has fallen in love), and is caught by the police. They know he is hiding evidence. Playing good cop-bad cop, they question him. One detective is so angry he swings at Marlowe… the other detective stepping in and taking the blow. Then he says, “You see, Marlowe, we have this new way of interrogating suspects. We beat up on each other and the suspect gets so scared he confesses.” One other aspect of that film is Rita Moreno’s dancing… I have never seen anything like it on the screen (you must see the uncut version to get the whole flavor!) Raymond Chandler got his start writing short stories for “pulp” magazines. He graduated to novels, and had just four chapters of his last one, “Poodle Springs,” completed when his life ended in 1959 with a massive coronary. Some years went by, then the story was finished by Robert B. Parker. He is my next most favorite crime fiction writer… the creator of the Spenser series, and the Jesse Stone stories. They couldn’t have gotten a better author to carry on! Well… what got me going on this subject anyway? On a day I accompanied my Chief Accountant into a thrift shop. She likes to look in those places… who knows, perhaps there will be a piece of china, glassware, something she would like to have, and a treasure in disguise! So I drifted to the book section. There on the table a sign: “Two books for one dollar!” It drew me like a magnet. And one of the books was pristine, hard cover; almost mint condition… a copy of Raymond Chandler’s unfinished novel, “Poodle Springs!” Could I resist it? Well, you know me. So many hours I have spent with a good mystery story… on a hot day while Marion picked up shells washed onto the shore of Sanibel or Captiva islands in Florida… or slouched down in a comfortable chair on a day too cold to be exposed to Michigan’s winter. I never considered that time wasted. So how could I not pay fifty cents for the best mystery writer who ever lived? It doesn’t get much better than that as we weave golden threads into the great tapestry of our lives in these storybook towns along the Paw Paw River!

Watervliet District Library News Teen Table Projects: February Anti-Valentines: Let loose your inner snark and un-celebrate! Adult Reading Program Three prize levels; 5 books per level. First place: Fuzzy Socks; 2nd: Mug & Cocoa; 3rd: Eye Mask; Grand Prize: $50 Gift Card to Oasis Hot Tubs. Program ends this week. Yoga Monday 9 – 10 a.m.; Wednesday Chair Yoga 6 – 6:45 p.m.; Wednesday 7 – 8 p.m.; Friday 10:30 – 11:30 a.m. Book a Social Work Intern Thanks to an LSTA grant through the Niles Library, Watervliet Library will have a shared intern on Tuesdays from 1 to 4 p.m. Need help with on-line applications, unemployment or housing? She can help with questions or problems. Library Garden Park Purchase a Legacy Walk brick and celebrate a memory! Bricks are $75; 13 characters, 2 lines. Pick up a form at the library. Please call 463-6382 for more information on any Watervliet Library activity.

March Book Madness at VB District Library Sixty-four contenders. Six rounds. Just one winner. What may sound like ingredients for a basketball tournament are actually the elements of Van Buren District Library’s March Book Madness. Beginning Saturday, Feb. 23, VBDL is pitting the Classics against the Currents in a six-week competition for the 2019 Fiction Champion. Titles competing in the first round include The Lord of the Rings against Game of Thrones, Fahrenheit 451 versus The Hunger Games, The Lion, The Witch and the Wardrobe takes on Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone, and Clifford, The Big Red Dog