03-02-2017 Tri-City Area History Page

The Paw Paw River Journal

I’m Still Here

When I started this column many years ago, I knew nothing about newspapers. But I did know about writing and literature.   That’s what I was teaching all those years previously.  So I felt my way along.  And I had some help from local old-timers.  When I wanted to dip into Hartford’s past, I could go to all of my friends for stories.  I have been a listener all my life… and I did listen to them.  Regretfully, most of them are gone now.

So the years rolled by.  They have been good years, and I hope to continue on for a while.  Karl and Annie Bayer provided my first real forum for writing.  I should mention them, and daughter Amy, and all the people who work to get the paper out every week.

Of all the people in my life a huge influence on my writing career is my ever loyal Chief Accountant.  Mark Twain’s little daughter, Susie, once said, “Papa writes books, and Mamma expurgates them!”  Meaning that the beautiful Olivia Langhorne Clemens kept him from saying things he shouldn’t!  My beautiful Marion functions much in the same way, and I depend upon her judgment more than I care to admit.  Our children: Deb and Gary, Becky and Jim, Rob, Laurie and Jim, and all our family members and friends have been important… they have all provided comfort, support, and a lasting influence upon my life and writing.

I should mention all the teachers and students I have known.  The kids with bright and shining morning faces (and some not so bright and shining) who have gone through my English classes inspired me to impart a love of storytelling and writing that only boosted my own.  I used to require them to write in a daily journal.  Then one day in 1977, I decided in all honesty I should practice what I preached.  So I started writing daily!  That was 126 journals ago! Some of my columns come from going back through those past scratchings.  All of my students have conspired to make me what I am!  And at this point I must make a confession… my journal writing has slowed to a crawl!

Finally, and perhaps most importantly, I’d like to mention all of you, Dear Readers.  Without you there would be no Paw Paw River Journal!  Thank you from the bottom of my heart for reading my scribblings!

Until 1999 I wrote all of my columns on a typewriter.  Then I either took them to Karl, or sent them in the mail from wherever we were.  At that time a momentous happening!  I got my first computer!  The kids had all been urging me on… join the online generation!  And we did!  Becky’s Jim-in-law helped set it up and get us on line.  In only two days I learned to turn it on and off… the rest was up to chance.

First time I sent out a message, I got one back from friend Bud Colman.  In it he said, “The sky opened up, the clouds parted, and a voice from on high said, ‘Bud Davis is now on line!’”  I guess some people were really astonished that this old-timer had made the transition! And now I could email my column to Karl any time and from anywhere.  It even astonished me!

Walt Whitman, writing poetry about the time of the Civil War said in “There was a Child Went Forth…” that everything we see… everything that happens to us… makes us whatever we are.  Now I realize that doesn’t take into account the factor of genetics.  But he said, “There was a child went forth every day, and the first object he look’d upon, that object he became.”

Whitman said everything became part of that child who went forth every day… and who now goes, and will always go forth every day!  That’s us!  All of us!

Since all those years ago, I have been a child that went forth.  Karl and Annie Bayer took a chance on me, and (in a way) I took a chance on them.  I have been doing this ever since!  I have been going forth in “The Paw Paw River Journal,” and I hope my wanderings thus have not bored you out of your skulls, Dear Readers.

Plato said through his character of Socrates, the ancient Greek Philosopher: “The beginning of wisdom is the realization of ignorance.”  And sometimes it seems the longer I am at this game, the more there is to learn.  One time we were vacationing in Ft. Myers, Florida. An elderly cleric said at the church we attended, “We are all like McGregor Boulevard out there (which was under construction)… we should have signs around our neck that say… “WORK IN PROGRESS!”

That’s what we are, and I feel privileged that you have been reading this column, giving me feedback, and also providing a forum.  In a sense we are all children going forth every day… into a new world.  We may not always like what we see, but it is forever interesting. Think of all that we all have just gone through… and now are in the process of digesting.

Some years back a lady we knew lost her husband.  She had always worked in factories, and she could swear like a trooper.  When my Chief Accountant offered her sympathy, the lady said, “Goodness, Dear, he went out of this world the same way he came in… bare-as–d and hungry!”

I guess that will hold true for all of us.  We bring nothing into this world, and we leave the same way, as we weave golden threads into the tapestry of our lives in these storybook towns along the Paw Paw River!

Coloma Library News

Story Hour

Story Hour meets on Wednesdays at 10:30 a.m. Join Miss Amy for a story, craft and song time. Story Hour is a free weekly program for toddlers and preschool aged children, it does not require sign-up.

Read with Spirit

The library will be offering a program for children to read to Spirit, a certified therapy dog, on Wednesdays from 6:30 p.m. – 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, March 16 at 5:30 p.m. The title to read before the discussion is “The Years that Follow” by Catherine Dunne.  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.

St. Pat’s Book Sale

and Story Hour

The library will have a book sale from 10 a.m.- 2 p.m. on Saturday, March 11. Don’t miss this HUGE sale! The library will remain open during the sale.

To celebrate St. Patrick’s Day the library will have a special Story Time at 1 p.m. on Saturday, March 11. All children are welcome, there is no sign-up or fee for this event.

Baby and Me program

The library will be offering a “Baby and Me” program on Fridays at 10:30 a.m. beginning on March 24 and continuing through April 28. This program is for babies, young toddlers and their parents/caregivers. Join Miss Holly for a short story, interactive play and songs as well as an opportunity to introduce babies to the library.

Please call the library at 269-468-3431with questions for any of these events.

Watervliet District Library News

Story Hour:

Wednesdays 10:30 – 11:30 a.m.

and Thursdays 1:30 – 2:30 p.m.

This class is offered for ages 3 – 5. Join us for stories, crafts, show-and-tell and snacks every week until the end of April.

Yoga every Monday morning at 9:00 and Wednesday evening at 7:00

In Stitches, knitting group:

March 10, 2:30 – 4:00 p.m.

Who wants to sit and knit all by themselves? Bring your latest project to the library’s community room for an always entertaining “group knit-together.”

Third Monday Book Club:

March 20, 7:00 – 8:00 p.m.

Check out a copy of the March pick, The Couple Next Door, and hold on to your seat. Goodreads calls this Shari Lapina novel, “fast paced and addictive.” Join us on March 20 and let us know if you agree. A thriller of a book awaits!

Adult Coloring Class:

March 27, 6:30 – 7:30 p.m.

Thank goodness we can finally admit that coloring is fun! Join us in a relaxing evening of creativity with colored pencils and paper. Background tunes and snacks will help set the mood. Come prepared to sit back and unwind! All supplies are provided. Already caught the coloring bug? Feel free to bring your own!

Postcard titled “Annual Bath,” Paw Paw Lake 1914.

 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


100 years ago – 1917

 An evangelistic campaign is being planned at the Methodist church. Rev. Weaver, a magnetic speaker is expected to attract large crowds of all classes of people.

P.B. Friday will erect a new fire proof building. It will be on Paw Paw Street between the post office building and the telephone exchange building. The front will be made into a show room large enough to accommodate several display cars.

Roberta Lucile Shoup, elder daughter of Charles and Grace Shoup, passed from this life after a protracted illness.

60 years ago – 1957

 Twin City Home Building Company has purchased 31 acres located west of the high school. A subdivision is being planned for the land.

Darrin Schaer and Daniel G. Scheffler have received certificates of completion of agriculture short courses at Michigan State University.

Relatives and neighbors gathered to extend their best wishes to John Emil Johnson on his 82nd birthday. His son Emil surprised his father when he flew home from Florida.

Relatives and friends filled the Davidson Funeral Home to pay their last respects to William Earle Smith, 72. He farmed in this area for over half a century.

30 years ago – 1987

 Joint Fire Board member and Coloma City Commissioner, Charles Owen presented plans, descriptions and costs for the new fire station. Approval was given by the township board of trustees. Nearly all 30 Coloma Fire Department volunteers attended the meeting.

We Asked You… What’s your opinion of the Iran-Arms-Hostage issue? Barbara Dill thinks it is another assassination by the press and should be dropped.

“Story Lunch” began at Coloma Elementary School Media Center. Thirty third-graders are currently listening to “Lion, Witch and the Wardrobe.” Occasionally, principal Mr. Dan Stack takes a turn reading.


100 years ago – 1917

 A Colonial afternoon was enjoyed by the members and guests of the Hartford Woman’s Club, the occasion being President’s Day. The guests were received by the president, Mrs. Lotta Nicolson, the vice president, Mrs. Ethel Anderson, and the past president, Mrs. Julia Bonning.

A fire alarm Sunday forenoon called the department to the George Walling home on north Center Street, where sparks from a chimney had ignited the roof. By the aid of the new chemical engine the flames were extinguished before damage was done.

One of the valuable bull dogs owned by L.C. Brackett, manager of the Hartford Egg Farms company, was killed Monday afternoon when it was run over by an automobile driven by Ben Braton of Bangor.

75 years ago – 1942

 The Philharmonic Club will meet with Mrs. Helen Kesterke Wednesday evening. Mrs. Helen Wilming will have charge of the program. A good attendance is desired as there is important business to transact.

Kathryn Vint was hostess to the Hartford Mother’s Club at the home of Dorothy Kabel on Monday night. The members of the club who are enrolled in the first aid course at the high school attend the class first.

The Hartford art study group met at the home of Mrs. Minnie Fox on Monday afternoon. The lesson was presented by Mrs. Luce, a study of the life and works of Frank Denson. Mrs. Earl Chamberlin was to have given the lesson but was unable to attend. The next meeting will be at the home of Mrs. Alice Hurry in two weeks.

50 years ago – 1967

 A new building will be erected at Hartford by Dowagiac Savings and Loan association as its Van Buren County headquarters. It will be located on N. Center Street at Michigan Avenue across from the post office. The building is especially designed for financial institutions and will have a covered drive-in window.

Winners of the American Legion oratorical contest at Hartford High School were presented with medals by Andrew Boze, representing Stoddard Post of the American Legion. Bonnie Schrimer placed first, Rick Ward was second and Diane Olds was third. Other contestants were Michael Hobson, Paul Clark, Rhonda Carlock and Cody Sherman. Students presented original orations on the American Constitution.

The Hartford Mothers Club will meet at Vi’s Ceramic shop at County Line Road and Red Arrow Highway. Mrs. Vi Drake will present a program in her shop on ceramics.


90 years ago – 1927

 Philip J. Solmon, who has been visiting this town as a commercial traveler for woolen goods for the last 27 years, covering several states, has decided to make our city his permanent home. In fact he and his family have been living here since September 1926 and have been occupying an apartment in the Rosenberg & Forbes building on Pleasant St.

Mr. and Mrs. Albert Disbrow were pleasantly surprised on Mar. 11, 1927, at their home on South Main Street when about twenty-one of their neighbors called to spend the evening with them, as they are leaving the city soon to move on a little farm near Rush Lake. A light lunch was served and at the close of a very pleasant evening together a very pretty lamp was presented them, one that will be of excellent service where there are no electric lights available.

60 Years Ago – 1957

 Watervliet’s Chief of Police, C.L. Weller, has tendered his resignation to the Watervliet City Commission, to be effective April 1, 1957. The Wellers came to Watervliet in 1940 and purchased a home in Watervliet. He became the police chief in 1951.

On Friday, Mar. 1, 1957, the Watervliet band journeyed to White Pigeon to participate in the annual band contest. Three selections were rendered, two of which were selected and one being the required Class C band section. Mr. Bagatini, Band Director, is pleased to announce that the band received a Second Division rating.

Mrs. Mae Rosenberg, local resident, has celebrated her 91st birthday on March 20, 1957.

30 years ago – 1987

 Controlling the emotion in his voice, Jerry Cox, long-time friend and legal representative of the Gene Bednarowski estate presented a check of $10,000 to the Bednarowski Scholarship Fund. Gene Bednarowski was a well-loved WHS teacher and coach that was killed in a car accident while enroute to a track meet during the spring of 1986. Several of his former colleagues established the scholarship fund at that time as a tribute to what Cox described as “an exceptional individual.” Stated in a letter to the principal, “Gene affected the lives of many young people of our school district and had an impact on the lives of several of them as only a few teachers during their careers can have. This scholarship will allow Gene to touch the lives of Watervliet young people forever.”


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CALL: 269-463-6397
FAX: 269-463-8329

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