04-18-2019 Tri-City Area History Page

The Paw Paw River Journal

The Boob Tube Hollywood has always had a lot of meaning for us Heartland Americans. Before we had television… we went to the movies. And a big staple of the publishing houses was the constant stream of magazines devoted to films, stars, and gossip about their goings on. My sister, Wilma, was a big fan of movie magazines. I was smaller, and couldn’t read yet, but I could detect a mild disapproval from our folks when she spent her nickels and dimes on that trash gossip from the land of bikinis and palm trees. And I couldn’t wait until she got a new one… we would sit at the little table in her room, and she would read to me gossip about all the stars. We speculated on whether Errol Flynn was really starting to date his co-star (Olivia DeHaviland) from all those swashbuckling adventure stories they made together. In retrospect, I have come to believe that Olivia (who was a nice girl) saw through the suave exterior of that guy who made all the ladies swoon. Errol Flynn was incredibly handsome and a hero to all of us. But his personal life was in disarray. For an example of his swashbuckling, watch “Captain Blood,” or “The Charge of the Light Brigade.” Just recently from Netflix we watched “The Sun Also Rises.” That was Flynn’s last film, and I can see what life in Hollywood had done to him… but to me he is still heroic! I don’t want to sound curmudgeonly, but when I compare those days, those stars, and those films to what we have today… I feel a sense of loss! I know, I know, technically movies are better than ever. The special effects that can be achieved with computers now are astonishing. But we cannot believe anything we see! In fact, our whole world has gone artificial. We have a good friend who is a long-time music buff. He claims our CDs now, although technically perfect, are really not as real sounding as our vinyl LPs with all their pops and scratches. Personally I don’t want to sit and read a book on a small hand-held screen… no, I’d rather hold a book in my hands and turn the pages! There is something soothing about that. And I like nothing better than to steal a few minutes, sit in my chair by the lamp and read whatever I have going at the time. But back to Hollywood… there has been a real effort to preserve the old films we loved so much. They have reposed in vaults over the years, quietly disintegrating, and now they are being preserved. Those stories were sometimes filmed with incredible difficulty and great expense. Just recently we watched one… “Ben Hur.” Starring Charlton Heston and Stephen Boyd, it is about a family of Jews trying to survive under the crushing rule of Rome in Jesus’ time. That film has what is probably the most astonishing chariot race ever seen. And it is real. There were no computer effects then… it is absolutely breath-taking. The stars are young and beautiful… and the story has an uplift at the end. I know when it comes to gift giving; our kids have a hard time finding something that really pleases us fossils. But our family has been able to do it. For instance, they have given us a subscription to Netflix, and now we have added Amazon Prime. We also get as part of our TV package the channel that shows Turner Classic Movies. I’ve never been a real Ted Turner fan… but he has done something for which I will be eternally grateful. He has helped to preserve the old films. And he shows them on his movie channel all the time. Good films are still being made. I hate to say it, but some of my favorites are coming from England and Canada. On PBS they occasionally have wonderful British mystery series. And semi-historical stories. One that comes to mind is “Downton Abbey.” This story is set around the time of WWI and chronicles the upstairs and downstairs adventures at an incredibly wealthy estate. Finally, I’d like to say… we are still getting good products from Hollywood. Part of my preference is just nostalgia. But the good old days we really did get good films. There were also a bunch of cheapies. In the westerns of my youth the good guys wore white hats, and the bad guys wore black hats. Posses of men on horses chased each other across the screen from left to right and right to left. They were cheaply made, but often were the spring board for some actor or actress who went on to a glorious career with the big studios. Guess I’ll always be hooked on watching the Silver Screen… it started back when I was a little kid and sat listening to Hollywood gossip which my sister read from her movie magazines! That was part of life then in our storybook towns… now brushed with the golden patina of time gone by.

Folks on the porch at Strong’s Resort in 1910 Can you identify any of these people? Stop by the Museum if you have information on this photo. 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

Coloma Public Library News Book Club The Coloma Public Library Book Club is meeting on Thursday, May 2 at 5:30 p.m. The title to read before the discussion is “Every Note Played” by Lisa Genova. Depending on demand there may be titles available for check-out at the front desk. The book club regularly meets every other Thursday and gladly welcomes new members. Join the club members for a lively discussion! Read with Spirit Reading aloud to a gentle dog is a great way for children to practice literacy skills and build reading confidence. Spirit, a cert