03-26-2020 Tri-city Area History

HIGH STREET IN COLOMA… Is the man on the right Homer Strasser? Who are his friends? Is this a hearse? Do you remember ever seeing a vintage hearse? Perhaps you’ve seen one at a car show? If you have any information on this photo or a story to share, please contact North Berrien Historical Museum at 269-468-3330, info@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

Les Bicyclettes… …de Belsize. That’s the name of a song by Engelbert Humperdinck. It is from his 1969 album “Engelbert.” Now I am not really a red-hot fan of his florid, overly romantic style of singing, but I do love that song. It is the only one I have ever heard about riding bicycles… my subject for discussion today. I don’t really know how kids feel about their bicycles now… except a lot of them are riding. And adults! Many of them ride bicycles as though their lives depended on it. This is really good exercise… as long as they do not run smack into something solid head on. The bicycles I want to discuss are the ones we had when I was a kid. They were an integral part of our lives, and we went nowhere without them. Giving a kid a bicycle was like putting wings on a wild cat. We could even outrun all but the most swift and mean dogs! We knew every back street and alley in Hartford… and the surrounding countryside. My first experience on a bicycle was when our dad bought one for Wilma and me. Being a practical man, he figured that we could both ride a girl’s bike, so he bought a really old-style model from Toppy Walling’s shop on North Main. I rode it for practice (when no one was looking), but I wouldn’t be caught dead on it downtown! I had friends with bicycles… a neat kid in my elementary class named Bob Farrell had a mid-sized boy’s model with balloon tires. He came down to our neighborhood to play, and he was very generous about riding it. Also, Leo Shindeldecker lived just west of us. He was one of the “big kids”, and he let me ride his full-size bike whenever he was around. My friends and I got all bicycled up as we grew older. Russell Kime had a Ward’s Hawthorne. Ron Weston and Jim Tollar both owned Sears Elgins. George (Sonny) Morris had a silver racer, and Bick Beckwith, a Schwinn. How he got enough money to purchase that Cadillac equivalent I’ll never know, unless it was with money from his paper route. I had a silver streak too… with a built-in speedometer. That is, I had it until one night I left it parked outside; and in the morning it was gone forever. Thereafter I was riding shinbone express again… until my dad felt I had learned a lesson. Then he took me over to the famous bike shop on East Main in Kalamazoo. There, he helped me buy a used model. I took good care of that one. That bike store was still there until a few years ago when the owner (same man) was shot in a robbery. What a horrible way to end a long career of helping kids gain freedom to ride like the wind! We went everywhere! Russell broke a rear axle jumping dirt hills over by the playground. We rode out to pick up chestnuts in a grove south of Hartford on Macy’s Stone Road. We filled our pockets with those delicacies… long gone now in the chestnut blight of the late 1930s. Jim Tollar bought a speedometer for his Elgin and rode out toward Keeler to try it out on Drullinger’s Hill. This is the same hill that Johnny Erwin zipped down and up the other side in his Model A on the famous 5-minute trip from Keeler to Hartford. It has since been leveled out some. Anyway, Jim said he got up to 31 mph on the southbound slope, when he met a car. Next thing, he was lying out in the gravel looking up at the sky. His pedal had hooked a guardrail. But there was no serious damage. What put the finishing touch on our bike riding? A driver’s license! One of the last memories I have of my bike is riding Marion up to Clark’s Drug Store one noon hour. She sat sideways on the bar in front of me, and her long hair blew back in my face. That day lives forever in my memory. I sold the bike to Bob Kling, who was destined to be one of my brothers-in-law for lo these many years… as was Ron Weston, who married my sister, Wilma. I don’t know what happened to Ron’s Elgin, but Bob kept his bike until he, too, got his driver’s license. He then sold that Easy Rider to George Olds Jr. And he said he didn’t take a loss on it either. Those were days of glory, brought to mind whenever I hear Engelbert singing about the bicycle riders of Belsize. Back in the day we never knew we were weaving golden threads into the tapestry of our lives along the Paw Paw River… golden threads that shimmer in our memories for all time. (Reprint from the April 3, 2003 issue of the Record)

Coloma Public Library extends temporary closure

To help protect the community, the Coloma Public Library will be closed by Executive Order of the Governor’s Office until April 13, 2020. During the closure, there will be no overdue fines charged. Patrons with materials checked out are welcomed to hang on to them until the library is open again. Patrons may also return items to the outside book drop. The library has left on WiFi access 24/7 so people can check devices from outside the front doors. As of Monday, March 23, staff is remaining home in order to mitigate risk from COVID-19. The Library Administration can be reached for questions at readcoloma@gmail.com. Any information regarding further changes to the library’s status will be announced on the website as well as Facebook page.

Hartford Public Library closed until April 13

The Hartford Public Library will be closed until April 13 by order of the Governor to help mitigate the spread of COVID-19. They realize this may be a hardship to some of their patrons and regret that they must close. They consider the health of their patrons and staff top priority. During this closure, due dates will be extended and their WiFi will remain on. Patrons may access Hoopla.com and Overdrive.com for audio books, videos, comic books, TV and movies. Users will need their library card number to access these sites. Additionally, Hartford Public Library has books on their porch free for everyone. All updates will be posted on their web page and Facebook page.

HOPE Resources available to help those in need

In these unprecedented times, HOPE Resources in Coloma wants community members to know that their food pantry is open to help those in need in Coloma, Watervliet, Riverside, and Hagar area. For assistance, call 269-202-6050 to speak with a staff member or leave a message on their voice mail with your name and phone number and they will return your call. Please take note that they are not allowing anyone into their service area at this time, but will bag your request and bring it out to your car or deliver to those that are elderly or medically frail or families with children. HOPE Resources food pantry is located at 262 N. Paw Paw St. in downtown Coloma.

Area Agency on Aging closes offices to public; Info-Line remains open

As Region IV Area Agency on Aging (AAA) continues to help those seeking critical services, they also are committed to diligence in preventing spread and risk associated with COVID-19. On March 19, 2020, they closed the Creative Campus on Aging located at 2920 Lakeview Avenue, and their main offices located at 2900 Lakeview Avenue, both in St. Joseph, to all visitors. The Area Agency on Aging Info-Line will remain open and fully staffed with Aging and Disability experts ready to answer questions and connect people to resources. They ask anyone in need of aging and disability services begin by calling their info-line at (800) 654-2810 for guidance and assistance. They are there to assist everyone. Please watch their social media pages and website for more information, https://areaagencyonaging.org.

Orthodox Women’s Group cancels bake sale

Berrien County Orthodox Women’s Club has canceled their Easter bake sale originally planned for April 10 and 11 at Annunciation-Agia Paraskevi Greek Orthodox Church in New Buffalo. The group initially was accepting orders by mail but has now canceled the sale altogether. For questions, please call 269-465-5596


100 years ago – 1920 A drive to raise funds for relief work among the Armenians is going on now. The goal is to maintain hospitals, rescue homes and orphanages. Subscriptions may be made at any bank. The marriage of Miss Ethel Watts and Peter M. Becker was solemnized at the home of the bride’s parents. The Blue Bird lunch room will serve a special chicken dinner. Single plates $1.00. Mesdames Grant & Coburn, proprietors, express their sincere thanks for the very liberal patronage extended to them since the opening. 60 years ago – 1960 David DeFields of the Ingraham Area and Fiona Pitcher of Sadie Lane were elected representatives to Wolverine Boys State and Girls State. Mr. and Mrs. Marlin Marquardt of Martin Road gave their German shepherd to the Lions Club. “Sarge” will become part of the “Leader Dog League for the Blind.” Patty Ann Bishop was injured in an auto accident. The car skidded on the ice and rolled over. Mr. and Mrs. Ingar Becht, DeFields Road, became the parents of a boy. He has been named Scott Michael. 30 years ago – 1990 The Paw Paw Lake Area Youth Soccer League, Region 613, gifts “Basic Educational Soccer Training Manuals” to local libraries. Charles Dickinson accepts the two-volume gift on behalf of Coloma Library. DDA project plan unveiled. Phase one includes curb and gutter repair, water main upgrading, sidewalk repair and lighting and utility line removal. Phase two is for general improvements. Applications for 1990 Blossomtime Bud Prince and Princess Contest are available at Piwacki. Sixth-grade AWARE students have become experts on our earth’s structure. This project is part of the yearlong theme using Bloom’s Taxonomy. Richard Moss, eighth-grader, won the school’s Geography Bee. National Geographic WORLD sponsors the contest. He advances to the next level, a written examination. Submitted by volunteer Sandi Musick Munchow at Coloma Public Library from the Coloma Courier newspapers donated by the Tri-City Record. Hours: Closed by Executive Order of the Governor’s Office until April 13, 2020. Phone: 269-468-3431


100 years ago – 1920 Hartford’s second annual father and son banquet will be held at the Women’s Club room. The sale of tickets thus far indicated that the affair will be largely attended, while the program that has been arranged insures an enjoyable evening. Wm. Traver has just received from the Mclean & Son stock farm at Lima, Ohio, a registered Percheron stallion that is a fine specimen of the Percheron type. The animal is a 3-year-old grey stud weighing 1,700 pounds. Mr. Traver foresees the future need of good draft horses, despite the increasing use of trucks and tractors. 75 years ago – 1945 The hot lunch program, which has been very successfully attended since its inception, is approaching its last functioning week. After spring break students will again be providing their own noonday lunches if they wish to remain at school to eat during the noon hour. At the regular meeting of the Gleaners, March 17, meat and potatoes for the cooperative dinner will be furnished by the organization. Other articles, including rolls, are to be furnished by individuals. 50 years ago – 1970 The city and township of Hartford have been requested to close the dump here within 30 days. The Hartford dump is in violation of Michigan’s new solid waste disposal law. The action requested by the health department would include treating the dump for rodent control and then compacted and covering the area with two feet of clean fill dirt. In a meeting the Hartford city council took no formal action to comply with the request, but members of the board seemed agreed that the dump would have to be closed. Actual ownership of the property is held with Hartford Public Schools. A new vehicle has been added to the equipment of the fire department. The department has equipped a four-wheel drive army surplus jeep for use on grass fires. The vehicle has a small water tank, pump and two lengths of small hose. It will enable the department to reach grass fires without the problem of heavy pumpers bogging down on soft ground. Funds for the equipment on the vehicle have been furnished by the city and township of Hartford and by the fire department. The vehicle will be on display Saturday at the First Savings Association parking lot where Hartford firefighters will conduct a car wash to raise money for this and other projects. Submitted by Librarian Stephanie Daniels at Hartford Public Library from microfilm copies of the Hartford Day Spring. Hours: Closed by Executive Order of the Governor’s Office until April 13, 2020. Phone: 269-621-3408


90 years ago – 1930 An audience of eight hundred people greeted Miss Nina V. Ritter as “Miss Watervliet” at the high school auditorium on Apr. 4, 1930. She was selected out of a group of twelve young women to represent this city in the Blossom Festival events. Class C schools will meet for the annual music contest at Western State Teachers’ College. Watervliet is entering the Girls’ and Boys’ Glee Clubs and also the Mixed Chorus. Back in Sept. 1929, 266 schools entered the University of Michigan Debating League. Watervliet was one of those to enter. The question to be debated was – “Resolved: That a Judge or Board of Judges be substituted for the Jury in All State and Municipal Courts of Michigan.” Watervliet was one of the 72 schools that were entitled to a trophy. 60 years ago – 1960 Watervliet Chief of Police Vic Bianchi received a special commendation in a letter which the city commission received. The letter, written by Reverend Emerson Minor of the First Methodist Church, cited the chief for his fairness, preciseness and thoroughness and praised Mr. Bianchi for the fine protection that he has given Watervliet. The chief has been working as a one man police force since December when the city’s second police officer resigned. Vic also received a Certificate of Achievement from the Safety Council for Watervliet’s cooperation in the 1959 Vehicle Safety Check program. Effective Apr. 1, 1960, Valentine Friedrich Jr. will be appointed to a newly created position, Division Manager of the Watervliet Paper Company. Mr. Friedrich was Vice-President of the Beckett Paper Company, Hamilton, Ohio. A graduate of Massachusetts Institute of Technology in Chemical Engineering, he began as a chemist at Beckett and in later years held positions as Assistant Superintendent and General Superintendent. 30 years ago – 1990 Golf was established as a varsity sport at the Watervliet School Board meeting on Apr. 2, 1990. WHS will form a golf team beginning in the fall of 1990 after a survey taken at the school showed there was enough interest among the students to establish the team. Rebecca Epple, junior at Western Michigan University, made the 1989 fall semester Dean’s List. She has a 3.61 grade point average on a 4.0 scale and is majoring in elementary education. Rebecca is a 1987 graduate of WHS. Submitted by Sally Q. Gonzalez from files at Watervliet District Library of the Watervliet Record newspapers donated by the Tri-City Record. Hours: Closed by Executive Order of the Governor’s Office until April 13, 2020. Phone: 269-463-6382


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