03-05-2020 Tri-City Area History Page

Little League baseball players… perhaps an All Star team? Left is Manager Fred Birmele. Do you know any of the others? Is one of the players a younger version of you? If so, please contact North Berrien Historical Museum at 269-468-3330, office@northberrienhistory.org, or stop by Tues-Friday 10am-4pm 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

Kids ‘n cars

Rites of passage are those ceremonies by which we mark changes in our life from one stage to another. We all have them, and can you imagine what one of the most important is for a boy growing up? No, I don’t think it’s his first real contact with the opposite sex. For many boys it is getting his first wheels! Somehow a car is a symbol of maturity like nothing else. I never had a car when I was in high school. I got to take the family sedan one night a week. After I met the Chief Accountant, that night was to take her on a date. I got my first car the summer after I was graduated from high school, and we had broken up by then. Later I watched Marion’s two brothers as they grew up and bought their first cars. I must say her folks did it the right way. Those boys saved money to buy that first car, and they paid for it entirely. And I wanted to talk about her youngest brother, Louis. His friends all called him Louie, but to me that was his dad’s name. I watched him through the progress of his senior year. The new car process was all important and thorough. Louis decided he wanted a Ford. The year was 1953, and he settled on a black two-door. One most distinguishing feature about it was a continental spare tire kit on the rear end… made it look like there was an external spare wheel in a cover. That Ford was certainly a looker… not only could you see him coming, you could hear him too. He had an exhaust system that was almost a straight pipe. It had a glass pack muffler with very little back pressure. I don’t know where he got the idea, but it was a doozy. He drilled a hole in the exhaust pipe the size of a spark plug. Then he threaded it so he could mount a spark plug therein. Then he wired a Ford coil into a hot line and through a switch. He also had a choke for cold-weather starting. If you know cars, you know what’s coming next. He drove down Main Street and in the middle of the block pulled the choke to make the gas mixture rich. Then he hit the switch sending a hot spark right out into the exhaust. I didn’t see it, but Louis told me flames roared out the exhaust pipe enough to scorch the bumper of the car behind him. He said it was so dramatic he headed for home and dismantled it before he could get in trouble! Later on when he was in service he came into possession of two large brass artillery shells. They were about the size of car mufflers. When he got home he designed his own dual muffler and tailpipe system using them instead of regular mufflers. Oh, that car had a rich sound. When he was coming down the road you could hear him almost a mile away. Then Louis told me the story… he was over in Watervliet one night and started for Hartford. As he drove up the cemetery hill, he noticed the old town Constable following in his squad car. Then the minion of the law turned on his flashers. Louis pulled over immediately and waited with his hands in sight. The policeman asked to see his driver’s license and registration, which he promptly produced. The old guy said, “Well, Son, that looks like a pretty fancy exhaust system you got here! Step on it and let’s hear how it sounds!” Louis obliged and mashed his foot down on the gas pedal! The Ford responded with a roar that rattled windows and almost toppled the tombstones in the nearby cemetery. The policeman then hauled out his pad and wrote Louis a citation for excessive noise! Later on Louis allowed as to how next time he would tell the policeman to do it himself, so he would be the one making the noise! I was very lucky in not running afoul of the law. One time Marion and I almost got into it with a state policeman. We were out on a date and had parked in the driveway of a deserted farm to watch the moon come up. This was on what we called Macy’s stone road, a black top heading out into the countryside southeast of Hartford. As we watched, around the corner came a car followed by a state policeman with his lights flashing. They stopped just past where we were. I wanted to see what that was about so we started up and drove slowly past the trooper who was now talking to the girl driving the car. It was Anna May Brandt, one of our Hartford cheerleaders. We passed them, and the policeman immediately hopped in his car, turned on his lights. I stopped and he walked up to my window. He asked to see my driver’s license, and thereafter started writing a citation on his pad. I said, “Wait a minute! Just what law have I broken?” He scratched his head a moment, then put the tickets away with the comment that we should just stay out of trouble! Meanwhile, Anna May, having been turned loose, drove past us slowly craning her neck to see who the policeman had now. Next day it was all around school… the news that we had been busted whilst parking out in the country. I must admit it made our reputation as a couple who had woven a couple of golden threads into The Great Tapestry of Life in these storybook towns along the Paw Paw River.

Watervliet District Library News

Computer Upgrade Stop by the library and check out their Envelope Fundraiser: pluck an envelope off the wall & fill it with the amount requested (between $1 and $100). 2020 Census Be counted in Berrien 2020. Watervliet Library can help! They have dedicated a computer to this year’s online Census count. Questions? Just ask! Hands-On-Projects for March Do-it-yourself whenever you’re there! Michigan Author Trivia – Find out who wrote what in our state, try out a neglected author! Great Women of History – March Paper dolls – free to take, throughout the month, while supplies last. Find your inspiration! Sensory Bin Blast March 10 – 10:30 to 11:00 a.m. Second Tuesday of each month is the perfect time for a perfect mess! For toddlers. Please preregister. In Stitches Knitting Group March 13 – 2:30 to 4 p.m. Second Friday of every month, take your current project or your interest; they’ll help you get started. One on one instructions, too! Third Monday Book Club March 16 – 7 to 8 p.m. Great books, fabulous conversations! Ask for a copy at the desk. This month – Snow Flower and the Secret Fan by Lisa See Story Hour Story Hour for ages 3 – 5 is on Wednesdays at 10:30 a.m. and Thursdays at 1:30 p.m. (choose one) for the months of October to April. Picture books, crafts & fun designed to inspire the love of reading! Yoga Mondays 9 – 10 a.m.; Wednesdays 7 – 8 p.m.; Fridays 10:30 – 11:30 a.m.; Chair Yoga – Wednesdays 6 – 6:30 p.m.

Coloma Public Library News

St. Patrick’s Day Book Sale The library’s giant St. Patrick’s Day book sale is Saturday, March 14; 10 a.m. – 2 p.m. The bookstore boasts an extensive selection. Purchases support literacy programs in the library. STEM Night Join us Wednesday, March 18 at 6 p.m. for a fun STEM night hosted by National Honor Society volunteers from Coloma High School. Kids can explore Merge Cubes, Google Cardboards, Bristlebots, and more. Tax Season The library has MI-1040 and Home Heating Credit Claim instruction booklets available. They also have a few Federal 1040 booklets and Itemized Deductions Forms. For other forms, staff can show patrons how to locate them online and print. Black & white copies of forms are 10 cents per page. Pre-K Story Times Miss Alicia will host Story Times on Tuesday mornings at 10:30 a.m. The interactive story times also include a craft activity. Registration is not required to participate. Yoga Basics for Adults Vicki Shoemaker will teach Yoga Basics for Adults in the Community Room from 6:30-7:30 p.m. the following Tuesdays: March 10, 24, 31 and April 7, 14, and 28. Pre-registration is required by 5 p.m. on the Monday before class. There is no fee to participate. It is recommended to bring a yoga mat, though there will be a few extras on hand. Class attendees must be willing to sign a health waiver. Call 269-468-3431 or stop by the Help Desk to register. Book Club The Coloma Public Library Book Club is meeting on Thursday, March 5 at 5:30 p.m.


100 years ago – 1920 A very pretty pre-nuptial affair was given in honor of Miss Ethelyn Paul. Dainty little booklets were distributed. Events, past, present and future as well as an original poem is the task of the guest to complete. The guest of honor then led guests to the dining room for a two course buffet luncheon. Earnest Koob left for spring training with the Louisville, Kentucky Colonels. He was recently traded by the St. Louis Browns. 60 years ago – 1960 Brownie Scout Troop No. 17 and Girl Scout Troop No. 74 observed the 48th anniversary of Girl Scouting. The Brownies are 18 members strong while the Girl Scouts have 23 members. Area churches take part in World Day of Prayer. The theme of the day will be “Laborers Together With God.” Washington Cub Scouts held a Blue and Gold banquet. Scoutmaster Comitz presented 30 Cub Scouts with year service stars. Wolf badge awards went to Bobby Rzeszut, Michael Pethick and Richard Dunlop. Coloma Band Boosters will meet. A film of “Ohio’s Marching Band” will be shown. The film focuses on the technique of showcasing script writing while marching. 30 years ago – 1990 Mr. Gordon Noack, President of the Paw Paw Lake Rotary Club, presents a check towards the F.O.P. Youth Sports Park. Receiving the first installment is Jim Hogue and John Sieber, representatives of the park. St. Patrick’s Day Committee member Joan Bell models windbreakers that will be sold as a fund-raiser. Also available are St. Patrick’s Day pins and wooden commemorative coins. Coloma Schools Superintendent has announced the open recruitment period for the magnet and transfer programs. A brochure describing the program is available. This is part of the desegregation decision U.S. Federal Judge Douglas Hillman handed down in May 1981. 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.; Tue, Wed & Thu, 10:00 a.m.-8:00 p.m.; Sat, 10:00 a.m.-2:00 p.m. Phone: 269-468-3431


100 years ago – 1920 The high cost of living struck the Hartford barber shop on March 1. Twenty cents is now the regular price for amputating a crop of whiskers, while forty cents is the stipend for a haircut. In the endless procession of new motor vehicles that passes through Hartford en route from the factories, some have attracted no more attention than did three large trucks which arrived equipped as grocery stores on wheels. Mounted upon each was a veritable grocery store, the spacious truck bodies being fitted with shelves and compartments for carrying a complete grocery stock. They were en route to Peoria, Illinois, where they will go into service under the caption of “A Store At Your Door”. 75 years ago – 1945 Leach airport is expected to be ready for State approval as a commercial field in about 60 days, Clare Leach, owner and operator indicated this week. Work on the first runway is about two-thirds completed, despite handicaps of unfavorable weather and lack of manpower. Not waiting for its completion, David Friday, Paul Day and Everette Fisher made several takeoffs and landings from the new runway Sunday. There ships were the first planes to use it. Plans for building a hangar are well under way. Seven planes are already based at the field. Pending construction of the hangar, they are staked to the ground when not in use. The field is located northwest of the fairgrounds, one mile from the business district. Leach bought the site when Hartford Township voters rejected a proposal to purchase it. 50 years ago – 1970 Potawatomi Indians is the theme for the 1970 Miss Hartford Blossomtime contest to be held Saturday night in the high school gymnasium. The new queen will be crowned by Miss Regina Moore, Miss Hartford of 1969. Master of Ceremonies for the event will be Vic Cummings, Kalamazoo radio personality. Chairman of the event is Mrs. James Walker. Co-chairman is Mrs. David Norden. Stage chairman is Mrs. I.R. Smith and Mrs. Arthur Loomis is in charge of make-up. The Hartford Junior Band will go to Galien Saturday to play at the district festival. The band will perform, under the direction of Dale Kooi at 10:40 a.m. The band will play United Nations March by King, Balladan by Erickson, a required number for all bands and Prelude and March by Luke. Submitted by Librarian Stephanie Daniels at Hartford Public Library from microfilm copies of the Hartford Day Spring. Hours: Mon, Tue & Wed, 10 a.m.-7 p.m.; Thu & Fri, 10 a.m.-5 p.m.; Sat, 10 a.m.-2 p.m. Phone: 269-621-3408


90 years ago – 1930 The American Legion Auxiliary entertained their husbands at a co-operative supper on Mar. 19, 1930. Following the supper a business session of the Auxiliary was held. Miss LaVerne Merrifield, Watervliet, overseas nurse in the World War and a member of the local Auxiliary, was presented with a farewell gift. Mrs. Catherine Brevard observed her 90th birthday anniversary on Mar. 6, 1930. Mrs. Brevard came to Watervliet to make her home in 1901. She is very active for someone of her years and has an unusually keen intellect, keeping posted on all topics. Frank M. Sterner died of a heart attack on Mar. 3, 1930. He was a former president of the village and active in the business and civic life of Watervliet for over forty years. He was one of the principal stockholders and president of the milling company. He installed this city’s first electric light plant in 1905, which he later sold to the Benton Harbor Light and Power Company. 60 years ago – 1960 Lewis M. Mohler, Watervliet, has recently been appointed project assistant in the coating development department of the Watervliet Paper Company, where he has been employed since his graduation from WHS in 1955. Donna Kay Collins, a graduate of WHS, has been placed on the “Honors List” of Michigan State University for excellence in scholarship. Donna Kay is a senior in the school of education. A new father-son partnership, Otto’s Sales & Service, makes its debut on Main Street. They will carry a complete RCA-Whirlpool line along with small household appliances. 30 years ago – 1990 Honor Roll students at Watervliet Junior and Senior High Schools were recently awarded Gold Incentive cards sponsored by Watervliet merchants. The Incentive Card allows 176 students who earned “B” averages with no failing grades to receive incentive discounts and gifts at fourteen local businesses. Students exhibiting good citizenship will also be rewarded. Crowned Winterfest 1990 Queen and King at halftime of the basketball game were Nikki Nevins and Steve Weckwerth. Both are seniors at WHS. Crowned Winterfest Prince and Princess were juniors Ted Epple and Tina Johnson. Brian J. Coon and John David Coon have been named to the Dean’s List at Albion College for the fall semester. Brain is a sophomore majoring in physical education and David is a junior majoring in economics. Submitted by Sally Q. Gonzalez from files at Watervliet District Library of the Watervliet Record newspapers donated by the Tri-City Record. Hours: Mon & Wed, 10 a.m.-8 p.m.; Tue, Thu & Fri, 10 a.m.-5 p.m.; Sat, 9 a.m.-3 p.m. Phone: 269-463-6382


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