03-16-2017 Tri-City Area History Page

The Paw Paw River Journal

The piano man

No, I’m not talking about Billy Joel… for a little while when I was a kid I was a musician.  Up the street from us lived an elderly spinster lady… a piano and voice teacher named Mamie Howes. My sister Wilma and I both took piano lessons.  She stuck with it and was a competent pianist all her life.  But not me, I disliked arching my fingers and breathing from the bottom of my diaphragm. That teacher always threw in voice and breathing lessons with her keyboard practice.

I had better things to do with my friends, so I finally wore my mom down, and she let me stop the lessons. But for a little while there I was a musician!  And now I regret so much my skill in weaseling out of the piano practice… I’ll regret it forever, because I love piano music, and I’d just love now to be able to tickle those ivories!  Alas, too late!

But not for our kids!  Our son didn’t take to the piano, and I respected his feelings (remembering how I felt), but all three of our girls took piano lessons from that same maiden lady piano teacher!  And I think they are all glad for it.  And for a while we had a piano.  A lady who was a friend of ours let us keep hers… she had no place to store it.  And the girls all banged away on it filling the house with music.  But it finally needed to go back to its owner, and we were piano less again!

Then a stroke of luck, we were living in Ann Arbor… a nice shaded house on a quiet street on the Old West Side of town.  A couple of houses away an older couple, Grandpa and Grandma Eastman, lived in a house much like ours.  Then Grandpa Eastman died, and Grandma was to sell her place and move into a smaller apartment.  So she had an estate sale.  By this time all our kids were out on their own except youngest daughter. She went to the sale with us.

Beautiful things and the prices were good.  In Grandma Eastman’s living room was a lovely baby grand piano.  I ran my hand over the keys, and Grandma Eastman said, “Wouldn’t your daughter here like to have a piano? None of my kids have room for it and no one seems to want to buy it!”

I said, “She would love to have a piano and take lessons.  In fact, she did until we moved away from Hartford… but I could never afford to buy this!”

Grandma Eastman said, “How do you know you couldn’t afford it?  How much money do you have on you right now?” I reached for my billfold and pulled out the money therein… twenty-three dollars.  She looked at the money, then looked at me and said. “Sold! Twenty-three dollars is just right… and now your daughter can be a musician again!”

We were all overjoyed, in spite of the fact that it cost us $500 to have it moved a few doors away and into our house. Now we had a piano and our daughter playing it!  No doubt it was a beautiful piece of furniture. The Chief Accountant had a colorful silk scarf on it and a lamp in the middle.

One time we decided to have it tuned. So I called a local piano company, and they sent out an old guy.  He put down his tools and looked the piano over. Then he said, “This is a Heintzman, and it was made in Toronto, Canada.  I used to work in that factory when I was a kid. Every piano that came down the assembly line, if I worked on it, I put a bench mark on the underside.”  He crawled underneath, looked it over, and said, “Yep, I worked on this one!”

Well! Now we knew we had something that was almost an antique!

When the time came for me to retire from teaching, we planned to move back to Hartford.  It was a gigantic undertaking, and every time we came over visiting to Hartford that last year, we brought whatever we could.  We had our house here ready for occupancy, so we filled it up.  When our Ann Arbor home hit the market, it looked like a spread in House Beautiful.  But this place here was a disaster, with just a walkway through all the downstairs.

Our moving back finally came down to two large items… our deep freeze (heavy as yesterday’s sorrows) and THE PIANO.  I negotiated with the moving company… the man shook his head and said, “I have to charge you $500 to put them on a truck… can’t do better than that!”

I said, “All right, suppose we sell the deep freeze and you just move the piano?”

He shook his head and said, “Frankly, it’s the piano that is so hard.  Still $500. So I just gritted my teeth and paid the price.  And that beautiful old instrument held a place of honor in our living room for years.  Finally it came time to send it to our daughter… she now had room for it, and we had a granddaughter who wanted to take lessons.  Once again we paid $500 to send it to its new home.  So you see, the price was still going up!

Thereafter, someone was visiting us and said, “Oh, that beautiful old piano is gone!”

I looked at the empty space, sighed, and said, “Yep, I surely miss that old Heintzman… used to play it every day!” I knew that behind me the Chief Accountant was giving the old eye-roll. And she said, “Yeah, right!”  As we went on, piano less, weaving more golden threads into the tapestry our lives in this storybook town on the old Paw Paw River.

Coloma Library News

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.

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.

Book Club

The Coloma Library Book Club is meeting on Thursday, March 30 at 5:30 p.m. The title to read before the discussion is “A Tale for the Time Being” by Ruth Ozeki.  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.

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. If you have any questions please call the library at 468-3431.

Watervliet District Library News

Story Hour:

Wed. 10:30 – 11:30 a.m. and

Thurs. 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 through the end of April.


Monday mornings at 9:00 a.m. and Wednesday evenings at 7:00 p.m.

Teen Table Project for March

Teen Tech is on the Table!  Pick up a tech challenge sheet; complete the tasks to be entered into $20 Amazon gift card prize.

Wine & Canvas Art Party:

Thursday, Mar. 16, 6 – 7:30 p.m.

Sign up for a bit of the (sparkling) bubbly and create a masterpiece!  Lori Ehlke will share her many skills with the participants during her amazing Art Party.  The cost is $30/person; preregistration required, call 463-6382.

Third Monday Book Club:

Mar. 20, 7 – 8 p.m.

Check out your 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:

Last Monday of every month,

6:30 – 7:30 p.m.

Savor a relaxing evening of creativity just for grown-ups.  We’ll help you unwind with colored pencils & paper; tunes and edibles, too.

 This is a photo of Ellinee Village Inn and mini golf.

 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 Ave., Coloma, MI


100 years ago – 1917

The annual county meeting of the Lady Maccabees will assemble in Coloma. The Great Commander Frances E. Burns of Port Huron will give an address. A pot luck dinner will be served.

Chicago transportation will resume by the Graham & Morton line. Repairs have been made and safety measures taken for your safe passage.

War News: Carl G. Fisher has offered his express cruiser Shadow III. Its sustained speed of 30.1 miles an hour makes it ideal for chasing submarines.

60 years ago – 1957

The community paid last respects to Ralph Reinhardt, 30, in an overflowing service held at Salem Lutheran church. He died in an auto-truck accident while on his way home. He leaves his wife JoAn and four young sons.

An American flag drive will begin. The slogan is “A U.S. Flag in every American home in Coloma and community.” This drive is sponsored by the Washington School Band Booster club.

Twelve young people have been preparing for the third annual junior high declamation contest. The winner will represent Coloma in the county contest held in Galien.

30 years ago – 1987

We Asked You… “Should smoking in public be banned?” Mary Hamlin, Irene Bruerd and Dawn Woodward all say “No.”

The St. Pat’s parade drew more than fifty entries.  The Benton Harbor Junior ROTC drill team took the Sweepstakes Award. The Quigley Mobile was selected Best Vehicle. Grand Marshal was former Fire Chief Leonard Dolezan.

Coloma School Board has decided to sell the Clymer and Stanley buildings. Their upkeep far exceeds their worth as storage buildings. Superintendent Clifford Tallman will proceed with the necessary legal work.

We fondly remember those in their passing: Earl Finch, Arthur McCurdy, Bernard Hafer, Howard Bishop Sr. and Lauren Catania.

Coloma Schools address mastery of fundamental skills and truancy.


100 years ago – 1917

The members of the Hartford fire department are to give a benefit ball at the town hall next Friday evening, the proceeds to form the nucleus of a fund for a purchase of a new fire truck. A large number of tickets have already been sold and the fire fighters are looking forward to the inpouring of a satisfactory amount of the coin of the realm. Owing to the large ticket sale a charge of 25 cents each will be made for spectators, to insure all ticket holders an opportunity to enter the hall if they desire.

Members of the Hartford Woman’s Club are looking forward with eagerness to March 20. The committee has been fortunate in being able to secure Miss Lou Eleanor Colby, of New York, lecturer, author, artist and art critic, for an address on “Art in Everyday Life”. Miss Colby was born in Dowagiac. Miss Colby illustrates her talks by drawings, paper cuttings and reproduction of paintings.

75 years ago – 1942

“Ever Since Eve” will be the title of the play to be presented by Hartford High School seniors this Thursday evening. Members of the cast are Jean Lightner, Warren Lutin, Gale McNitt, Ron Weston, Betty Gross and Miss Lockwood, the director. Also in the cast are Richard Eglinas, Audrey Lund, Bud Davis, Rhoda Lee, John Erwin and Joyce Goodrich.

The public has been invited to attend the program which will follow the annual Hartford Garden Club family dinner on Friday evening at the Methodist church. The program which will begin at 8:15 p.m. will feature moving pictures and descriptive narrative presented by Dr. H.J. Cawthorne, Benton Harbor, assisted by Collins Gillespie, St. Joseph. “The Rhododendron Trail”, the title of the picture, shows the picturesque Great Smoky Mountains in their natural beauty through color photography.

The Hartford Art Study Group held its annual potluck luncheon at the home of Mrs. Alice Hurry on Monday afternoon. Mrs. Marie Finley was in charge of the luncheon. Fourteen were present.

50 years ago – 1967

The Hartford senior band, directed by Leslie Van Wagner, won a straight first division rating from all four judges in a Class C festival in Galien. The rating entitles the band to enter state competition.

The cast of juniors and seniors at Hartford High School will present, “You Can’t Take It With You” at the south grade school at 8 p.m. Friday and Saturday under direction of Chris Ohlert. Members of the cast are Paula Abrams, Laurie Rose, Dorothy Miller, Daniel Russell, David Troutman, Allen Winslow, David Brown, John Dowd, Rick Moore, Gwen Carlson, Dennis Linderman, Ruth Rademacher, Rick Ward, Lyn Bench, James Richardson, Gary Meagher, Lowell Harris, Ronald Gunther and Charlene Martin.


90 years ago – 1927

Phil Cutler, local distributor for Chevrolet cars and trucks, reports the sale of a new truck to Stephen Titus. Mr. Titus is with the state highway department, engaged in trunk line maintenance.

Beautiful new lamp shades just arrived from New York – 69¢ and 98¢ at Schaefer’s Furniture Store here in Watervliet.

Mrs. F.M. Keasey entertained at a luncheon and bridge on Tuesday, March 27, 1927. Covers were laid on five tables. The tables were decorated in pink and white. Prizes were awarded.

60 years ago – 1957

March 9, 1957 saw the finals in the Brigade Boxing Championship show when an enthusiastic crowd containing such notables as the Secretary of the Navy and several Rear Admirals, were on the sidelines to see the best boxing exhibition ever viewed at the Naval Academy. The heavyweight bout in which Otto Hellweg, Watervliet, scored and won.

Robert C. Snyder, a sophomore at Western Michigan University, Kalamazoo, was recently promoted to Cadet Corporal in the Reserve Officers Training Corps. Snyder is studying in a general degree course. He is active in the campus Christian fellowship.

Mr. and Mrs. Joseph A. Eftink are the proud parents of their baby girl, Robyn Lynn, born March 14, 1957 and weighed 9 pounds, 12 ounces.

30 years ago – 1987

Watervliet’s Jerry Barchett will be inducted into the Michigan High School Football Coaches Association’s Hall of Fame on April 11, 1987. The former Panther varsity mentor, who compiled a 133-45-2 record over twenty years at the helm.

Marine Cpl. Sean M. Bambrick, son of Terry and Pat Bambrick, Watervliet, has been promoted to his present rank while serving with the 3rd Marine Aircraft Wing Marine Corps Air Station in El Toro, California.

Army Spec. 4 Keith R. Doorn has arrived for duty with the 3rd Armored Cavalry Regiment, Fort Bliss, Texas. Doorn, an armor crew member, is a graduate of Grace Christian School.


Related Posts

See All