02-23-2017 Tri-City Area History Page


This photo is of passengers riding the River Queen on Paw Paw Lake.

North Berrien Historical Museum is always interested in photos, stories or information sharing.  The museum can be contacted at 269-468-3330 or info@northberrienhistory.org.

From the photo collection at the North Berrien Historical Museum

300 Coloma Ave., Coloma, MI

The Paw Paw River Journal

Little kids are impressionable

Have you ever heard an adult say to a little kid, “You’d better enjoy yourself while you’re a child… you never had it so good!”  That’s a common warning and I’ve heard it oh so many times.  And I have to disagree with it completely.  And another thing… I’d like to mention later how sometimes adults use children to their own ends.  Even in this enlightened country.  But I’ll get to that.

I can remember hearing that when I was but a wee nipper… and in retrospect I’d like to have said to that older person, “You’ve completely forgotten the fears of childhood, or you would never say that!”  I know, I know… little people have no idea of the problems they will have to face when they become grown up and have to run things.  But to them, the problems of childhood loom pretty large.  For some reason I have never forgotten them.  And it made me determined never to say that to our own children… have to check with them, but I think I never did!

All over the world children have to face a brush with mortality such as many of us will never know.  Just look at the news pictures that come to us from the Middle East.  How could the people running this world be so heartless as to put little people through what those kids have to face every day!  Somehow, some day they will have to answer for that!

Meanwhile, in our own world (which is relatively peaceful) little kids have to face the fears of day and the fears of night all the time.  Those with active imaginations have it worse!  Having an active imagination is a mixed blessing.  I know in my own case I used to imagine the worst possible outcome in any given situation.  And sometimes my fears were realized.  Getting lost!

My first memory of that came when I was still pretty small.  We were at the Van Buren County Fair… the old one out northwest of Hartford.  Going down the midway, I got separated from my folks in crowds of people.  I turned around, and suddenly they were gone!  I was terrified… and started running back and forth to find them.  Finally did, and amidst my feelings of relief came the realization… the world is not friendly. And I was filled with anger!  I was not lost… my parents were!  You know, a little kid can rail against fate… or circumstances.  And we often hear them doing so loudly.  That’s the way I felt… desperate!  But I never made a sound.  I was too scared!

Then I have early memories of our mom taking us to find spring flowers in Simpson’s woods just south of town.  I was perhaps 4 years old.  The block back of our street a lane wound south and into another world of giant trees, silence, and the feeling that creatures might be lurking behind the bushes watching us.  This is past where Woodside School is now located.  It was a long country lane leading into the quietness of the forest.

Just before the woods there was a falling-down old shack.  Weather beaten boards and wind sighing through them.  I wanted to look inside, so my mom said, “OK, just don’t get into any trouble.”  I quietly tiptoed into the old shack.  Beyond the first room another room.  I looked in there, and in the corner a grinning cat skeleton.  Some old tabby had crawled in there and died.  It was looking right at me with teeth bared.  I backed out quietly and followed my mom… never said anything about what I’d seen I was so frightened.  And thereafter the woods and spring flowers were not so innocent as they should have been in my young mind.

In my adult years I have been a teacher forever.  Years and years, classes and classes of kids.  I have taught them to write our language (I hope better) and to read and find a whole world out there;  one we can never experience ourselves, but we can visit every time we open a book.  And all that time I have belonged to a huge teachers’ union.  I did not believe in all the political stuff we got all the time.  I did not contribute to the campaigns of politicians our officers were beating the drums for.  And I was bothered by the way they sometimes protected incompetent teachers.

But I felt we had to have an organization to voice our concerns… and sometimes they went the way I wanted them to.  I still belong to the retired members’ part of that union.  And I still disagree with a lot of the stuff they shove at us.

Just recently I was watching a news channel.  The host of that program was interviewing a woman high up in a big city teachers’ union.  He was asking her pointed questions about talking politics in their classes.  She admitted that the kids in elementary schools were encouraged to be politically active… and TO PROTEST OUR RECENT PRESIDENTIAL ELECTION!

These were inner city kids.  They and their folks most likely did not realize that woman is really just protecting her own position.  She is protecting the status quo.  She does not want to lose the clout they have in the educational system.  And the record of some of our schools’ performance is abysmal!  Those kids deserve a chance for a better education.  And they don’t even know they are being used!  Yes, they could have vouchers, schools-of-choice, charter schools.

Somehow, somewhere, that woman and the others who are protecting their positions at the expense of wasted children’s lives will have to answer for what they have done!  And I know… I have been up on a soap box, preaching a point of view.  My only defense is that I worry about those kids and their future.  I’m trying to weave some golden threads into the tapestry of our lives in these storybook towns along the Paw Paw River!


100 years ago – 1917

 When mail was late due to delayed trains, a Hagar farmer attacked the mail carrier. The sheriff was notified, the wounds dressed and the farmer was arraigned before the Justice.

After months of hard work, the basement is complete under the Congregational Church. A dedication is being planned.

A movement is underway for the construction of a new village and township hall.

The Rebekah Lodge served one hundred and forty-five guests a delicious chicken pie dinner. Many compliments were received.

60 years ago – 1957

 Roger Carter, new president of the Chamber of Commerce, receives the gavel from outgoing President James Barricklow during the installation ceremony.

Bad luck has found Mr. and Mrs. Allen Stark as they winter in Florida. Mr. Stark is confined to bed with a severe cold. Mrs. Stark has her arm in a sling due to a broken bone.

The Washington PTA held a successful fashion show entitled “Spring Time Prevue.” Sears Roebuck and Company provided the clothes. Hingst Florist furnished the flowers.

Dennis Krenek celebrated his fifth birthday with a “Hop-along Cassidy” birthday party.

30 years ago – 1987

 Martin Quigley Jr. and Martha Darling present a St. Patrick’s Day flag to the St. Patrick’s Day Committee. It is in honor of the late chairman, Martin Quigley Sr.

Matthew and Andrew Pupedis and Andrew Osborne were among students at St. Joseph School that participated in a special Mass on Grandparent’s Day.

Trustees accepted a bid from Gerbel & Company P.C. to audit the township books.

Edward Dill, John DeFields and Charles Cross were appointed to the Board of Review. Dates have been scheduled for citizens to obtain information and state objections on property taxes.

The Northwoods Inn (formerly the Wil-O-Paw) is completely remodeled, look for the Gala Grand Opening.


100 years ago – 1917

 The southwestern Michigan fruit crop was partially wiped out by the extreme cold when the mercury reached the record point of 20 degrees below zero. Hartford growers who have been examining their orchards with a good deal of anxiety declare peaches hardest hit.

The clang of the fire bell at noon last Sunday called the department to the Wm. Abshire house near the fair grounds, occupied by the Ira Crawford family, where sparks from the chimney had ignited the roof. Members of the fire company had placed several hundred feet of hose on a light sleigh, which aided in reaching the fire. The streets were deserted when the fire alarm was turned in, but Fred Simpson’s team of mustangs happened to be standing near the engine house and assisted the fire fighters in reaching the scene promptly.

75 years ago – 1942

 Ruth McCray was hostess to the Southwest Hartford Thursday Club on Feb. 19, for the aviation day meeting. Fifteen members and two guests answered the roll call of aeronautical currents events. Two instructive papers were given, “Famous ‘viators’” by Ruth McCray and “Trend of the times in Aviation” by Emma Brown.

Hartford Ladies’ Library Association has asked various literary groups of the township to select one of their members to act on the public library board. The following ladies were appointed: Southwest Hartford Thursday Club, Mrs. Ruth White; Art Study Group, Mrs. W.H. Fox; Garden Club, Mrs. Leila Floate; Needlecraft Club, Mrs. Nina Moore; Philharmonic Club, Mrs. Floyd Lammon.

The Victory Book Drive has given a very satisfactory contribution of books and magazines for our boys in the outposts. They will be sorted and bundled at the Ford garage and the book mobile will start them on their journey.

50 years ago – 1967

 Harold W. Jackson has been named manager of the new fruit processing plant which Cherry Growers, Inc. built on Red Arrow Highway just east of Hartford. Jackson has been director of quality control for Cherry Growers, Inc. for 10 years. He is a graduate of Southeastern Louisiana College with a bachelor’s degree in agriculture.

The Jaycees will hold a membership night Monday, Feb.27, at the Van Buren Sportsmen’s Club. The group is inviting all Hartford men between 21 and 35 years old to attend the program. President Roland Nicholson said that the Jaycees are committed to action and listed the group’s objectives as follows: To make the community a better place in which to live, to provide leadership training for members, to enable young men to have a voice in the affairs of the community, state and nation, and to provide recreation and social benefits to young men of similar age.


90 years ago – 1927

 Chas. Hennessey of Watervliet herd of nine purebred Guernsey averaged 35.8 pounds of butterfat. There were four two-year-olds in the herd. Mr. Hennessey believes in feeding alfalfa and a home mixed dairy ration, also in having drinking cups in the barn.

On March 6, 1927, a little boy arrived at the home of Mr. and Mrs. Lyle Harper and was named Douglas Lyle Harper.

A son arrived at the home of Mr. and Mrs. W.E. Shiflet on Feb. 17, 1927. He has been named William Franklin.

60 years ago – 1957

 Midshipman Otto J. Helweg of Watervliet is on tour of the U.S. Military Academy at West Point. The visit was one of four sponsored annually by the academies to promote friendship among future officers of the Armed Forces and improve under service relations.

Mrs. William Gore of Watervliet is proud of her son, Captain Victor L. Crawford, who has just completed ten years of flying to the Middle East for the Arabian Oil Company. The captain, who flew with the Air Transport Command during World War II, averages about 1,000 flying hours a year. He signed up with Aramco in 1947 and later that year flew on the maiden voyage of Aramco’s first New York-to-Saudi Arabia DC-4 “The Flying Camel.”

30 years ago – 1987

 Mike Grear, son of Mr. and Mrs. James Grear, is named valedictorian of Watervliet’s 1987 graduating class. In addition to earning a 3.952 GPA over seven semesters, Mike has participated in cross country, track, marching band, pep band, jazz band, variety show and National Honor Society, of which he is vice-president.

Benjamin Marvin, son of Mr. and Mrs. Robert Marvin, has been named as salutatorian of the 1987 graduating class of WHS. While earning a 3.928 GPA, Ben has participated on the varsity baseball team for four years, Nation Honor Society and school plays. He earned the distinguished DAR United States History Award and numerous departmental certificates.


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