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.