04-06-2017 Tri-City Area History

Main Street Watervliet looking north with a hardware store on the right (currently, Flower Basket florist shop)

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 Avenue, Coloma

The Paw Paw River Journal

All the world’s a stage…

 The above is a quote from William Shakespeare. Many people believe he is the greatest writer the western world has ever produced. I had the good fortune to study his works with one of the foremost scholars in the Midwest. Dr. William Brown was head of the English Department at Western Michigan University when I was a student there after I came home from WWII. And he became one of my very favorite professors!

I had wanted to go into Engineering, but after the war there was a glut of returning GIs who had the same idea! The field was so crowded; I decided to change my direction. Truth be known, I wasn’t all that great a math student anyway. So I had a moment of truth. I sat down to give it a good think; and of course I checked it with the Chief Accountant. She agreed!

By now I was a sophomore, and still didn’t know what my major should be. So I thought… of all the classes I had taken and was now enrolled in, which were my favorites… and where did I get the best grades? English and Art! It was a no brainer!

So I changed my major and started on a catch-up program. It was enrollment day, and I filled out my class list and waited in line to get it OK’d by a faculty member. I had decided to take three courses in the English Department to start catching up. The line snaked back to the crack of doom, and I slowly worked my way up to the front. Guess who was the faculty member sitting at the table in front of me. Yup, Dr. Brown, head of the English Department!

He looked at my proposed class schedule, rubbed his forehead in frustration, and looked up at me.  Shaking his head sadly, he said, “You cannot do this!  No undergrad can take three courses in my department and do them justice!  You’ll just have to go back and rework your schedule!” And he tossed the paper back to me and beckoned to the next guy in line.

I was frustrated, but not discouraged.  I went back and got in one of the other lines leading up to a faculty member for approval. No problem… I got my schedule OK’d and proceeded to work hard. And I did survive!  Admittedly, I had to learn to study… something I had never really known before in high school! And I loved my schedule! I took so many courses from Dr. Brown I believe I became a favorite student of his. One semester, I came into his class (I always sat in the front row). He looked over his class list, peered at me over his glasses and said, “Well, I see Lord Davis is with us again this semester!”

Well, all this by way of saying that Shakespeare’s plays became favorites of mine. Thus the title on this column… “All the world’s a stage, and all the men and women merely players. They have their entrances and exits…”

A lot of philosophy in that little quote! Each one of us is the main character in a play that might well be titled, My Life! I’m playing out my story on my stage, as you are on your stage.  And we are each the main person in our own personal production.  The play runs for however long… we have our entrance and our exit! The lights go on when we are born, and the theater is darkened for all time when we leave.

Not only that, we are in multiple productions. I am a bit player in your story, and you are part of the supporting cast in mine! So we are in many plays at the same time… some important, and some merely ‘walk on’ characters.

How do we juggle all of those parts? Well, it’s not so hard. Some of our life plays are hits on Broadway, and some are small town productions. Admittedly I’m talking from quite a long stint doing this. And I don’t mind that my play never won a Pulitzer Prize! It’s all been fun, and so far, we’re still keeping the production going!

Now, could I just for a moment talk about our responsibilities as actors? We should not only try our darnedest to give a good performance in our own play… we should do a good job with the bit parts we have in other people’s productions!

How do we do that? Play our parts well… help others. If you can make someone else look good, do it!!!! Some go through the story sabotaging other people… I’ve known a few like that. In fact, I’ve had it happen to me! And if we make another person look bad, it may give us a momentary feeling of satisfaction, but it doesn’t make us any bigger, and does not add to the whole production! And eventually we live to regret the hurt we have caused.

We were given this chance to be in a real story by the Great Casting Director! Whatever you believe, I think there is a motivating force behind all the productions of our lives. We have been given this opportunity, and a chance to be an actor with a great supporting cast. In a real theater! What are we doing with it?

When the play ends, the lights go down, and all the actors leave our stage, what will we have accomplished? That brings up another thorny question. When we leave the theater, do we leave? Or do the theater and the actors leave us? Well, that’s perhaps a discussion for another time. And meanwhile, we can all keep our production going to the best of our ability in these storybook towns along the Paw Paw River!

Coloma Library News

Baby and Me Program

 The library will be offering a “Baby and Me” program on Fridays at 10:30 a.m. 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.

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, April 13 at 5:30 p.m. The title to read before the discussion is “The Secret History” by Donna Tartt.  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.

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.

Watervliet District Library News

National Library Week: April 9 – 15

 The week long observance of the nation’s libraries began in 1958, sponsored by the American Library Association. This year we’re celebrating Watervliet’s library history with trivia contests for the young and the young-at-heart. Come in any time during the week, pick up a contest entry and game rules sheet and prepare to sharpen up your brain cells. Everyone entering takes home a prize; winners will receive WDL’s very first Trivia Trophy award.

Story Hour

 This one-hour class is offered Wednesdays at 10:30 a.m. and Thursdays at 1:30 p.m. for children ages 3 – 5. Join us for stories, crafts, show-and-tell and snacks every week through the end of April.

Toddler Time

 Thirty minutes of music, stories and activities on Tuesdays at 10:30 a.m. in April and May for little ones age 18 – 36 months designed to inspire the love of books and learning.

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

Teen Table Project for April

 Money Smarts Month: Guess the cash-in-the-stash; snickers for the lucky winner. Plus: dollar bill origami (BYO$).

In Stitches Knitting Group:

April 14, 2:30 – 4 p.m.

Second Friday every month, come knit with us in our cozy community room; we promise we won’t make you drop a stitch! Limited supplies are available.


100 years ago – 1917

 The marriage of Miss Laura Pegg and Edgar Vanderboegh was solemnized at the county courthouse. They have charge of Mrs. M.V. Black’s farm west of Coloma.

The Coloma Commercial Club made plans for the annual “Clean-Up Week.” It is the hope that every citizen will manifest enough civic pride to see that all property is cleaned up.

War News: President Wilson asks Congress to exert all power and employ all resources to bring the German empire to terms and end the war.

 60 years ago – 1957

 Ronald D. Eckoff was presented with the Oreon E. Scott Freshman prize at the University of Michigan.

The Loma Theatre will resume operations, according to manager Mrs. Ethel Kilmark. The building has been painted, the interior redecorated and several seats re-upholstered. Orrin E. Anderson will be the projectionist, bringing several hit movies.

The Coloma Methodist Church will conduct the funeral service for Mrs. Fred Watts, 86. Burial will take place in Coloma Cemetery. She was born in London, England in 1870. She leaves her husband, Fred, eight children, 25 grandchildren and 39 great-grandchildren.

30 years ago – 1987

 Coloma Middle School North winners of Jog-A-Thon contest: Amy Mullauer, Ben Lowell and Deanna Gard. Math competition: Christine Dickinson, Amy Harbin, Jeff Leverton, Stacy Groth, Rebecca Mow and Dawn Stampfly.

Harding’s 2nd Annual Kids Week: Zoo Days Coloring Contest. 1st prize is a bike, one for boys and one for girls. Come see, come play.

Central Assembly of God would like to introduce their new pastors; Rev. David and Leanne Hannon come from Southern California.

Step into a great company… McDonald’s has part-time position openings. Interviews will be conducted at the Coloma Fire Department on N. Church (formerly City Hall).


100 years ago – 1917

 Hartford’s quest for more manufacturing institutions has this week yielded the prospect of a plant for the manufacture of automobile parts and accessories, which seeks to escape from the crowded industrial conditions in Detroit and secure a suitable location in southern Michigan.

Samuel Martin has purchased the E.W. Ehlers residence on South Center Street for a consideration of $2,000. He will move there from his home north of town, which he sold last week to John W. Bell of Chicago.

J.C. Hill, who recently sold his 40-acre farm located on Shafer Lake, has purchased the Van Ness house and two lots in the south part of the village.

Tuesday, April 3, the members and guests of the Hartford Woman’s Club enjoyed “A Day With The Birds.” The program was arranged by the chairman, Mrs. Hattie Allen. Audubon societies have designated this date as “bird day” in honor of the birthday of W.B. Barrows, the naturalist. Each member responded to roll call by giving a description of a native bird.

75 years ago – 1942

 The annual band and orchestra concert will be given Friday evening, April 17 at the high school. The concert is the climax to a year’s activity by the young musicians and represents their contribution to the community.

Mrs. J.H. Powers was hostess to members of the Hartford Woman’s Club at her home south of Hartford Tuesday afternoon. Articles on “Personality” were presented by Mrs. George Rouse and Mrs. Arthur Dowd Sr. The music for the afternoon was in charge of Mrs. B.W. Robinson and Mrs. Clare Clover.

50 years ago – 1967

 Miss Bernice Wolverton, a 17-year-old brunette, was chosen Miss Hartford of 1967 Friday night. She is the daughter of Mrs. Mattie Mendenhall and the late Frank Wolverton. Runners-up are Miss Jeffri Brookfield, daughter of Mr. and Mrs. Robert Brookfield and Miss Susan Szewczyk, daughter of Mr. and Mrs. Edward Szewczyk. All three are Hartford High School seniors.

A house will burn down in an unusual fire here Sunday- unusual in that the fire department will know about it and be there before the fire starts, and spectators are welcome. The house at N. Center Street and Michigan Avenue, across from the post office has been condemned. The building was given to the department by Dowagiac Savings & Loan Association, which will erect a new building on the site. Fire Capt. Harold Walker Jr., department training officer, said that several fires will be set and extinguished in the house to provide as much fire fighting training as possible before the building burns down.


90 years ago – 1927

 Easter Sunday in 1927, which fell on April 17, will go down in history as one of the most ideal Easter Sundays in many years. Rain or snow had been predicted for the day but the weather man changed his mind and decided to spring a surprise by giving a nice day for the “Easter Parade.” From sunrise to sunset the day was ideal, so warm in fact that furnace fires were forgotten and outer garments were discarded. A temperature of 81 degrees was reported.

Extensive improvements to the equipment at the plant of the Watervliet Co-Operative Creamery Association in this city have recently been completed. The installations include a new 12 horse power boiler and a new ice plant and refrigerator system. The plant is now in splendid condition and the association is enjoying a steady and ever increasing local demand for its products, which include pasteurized milk, cream, butter and cottage cheese. Customers of the creamery are assured of absolute purity of the products through the use of modern equipment and methods of handling.

60 years ago – 1957

 Word has just been received from Hammermill Paper Company, Erie, PA, that again this coming year school children of Watervliet Paper Company employees will be the beneficiaries of two $400 college or university scholarships. The scholarships come from the Ernst R. Behrend Trust Fund. The late Mr. Behrend was the founder of Hammermill Company of which the Watervliet Paper Company is a subsidiary. Lydia Barnak, daughter of Mr. and Mrs. Joseph Barnak, Watervliet is enjoying the privileges of the scholarship.

Mr. and Mrs. J.O. Griffin are the proud parents of their baby girl, Mary Ann, born April 4, 1957 and weighed 7 pounds, 1/2 ounce.

30 years ago – 1987

 Watervliet High School teacher James H. Keech received word, April 10, 1987, that he has been accepted as an exchange teacher in the Michigan-Shiga program. This announcement arrived on the heels of the Board of Education’s unanimous decision to grant Keech a paid leave of absence, allowing him to participate in the program. Keech, a veteran teacher in his 26th year with the Watervliet district, became involved with the program since the year before when he received a communication from State Superintendent of Public Instruction, Philip Runkel. The Michigan Department of Education sponsors the teacher exchange program as a supplement to the Global Education program. Six to nine Michigan teachers are selected each year to travel to Japan.


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