04-19-2018 History

Early years of Bittner’s Gas Station 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

EDITOR’S NOTE: This entry in the Paw Paw River Journal was previously published in the Tri-City Record.

The gladiator There aren’t too many places any more where an individual hero walks out into the arena under blazing sun (or blazing stadium lights)… where he lives or dies (sort of) by his individual efforts, like the Roman gladiator of old. One place where this still happens is at the baseball park. Only thing, these modern warriors are paid far, far better than in Roman days. Today’s pro baseball player still has to step out into the arena. Thousands (no, millions) of eyes are upon him. He must deliver the goods… all by himself… and rise or fall by his performance. I know… he is part of a team that must function like it is on ball bearings, but not in the same sense as a football team. No… the baseball star has mostly himself to blame if he screws up. My all-time favorite baseball commissioner was Bartlett Giamatti (may God rest his soul). He was presiding over our national pastime when the furor arose over Pete Rose and the Hall of Fame. Then he was suddenly stricken with a massive coronary and died shortly thereafter. Bart Giamatti knew what baseball is really about, and why it still looms so importantly in our lives. He said that the game is a metaphor for life. Frank DeFord wrote about him in the April 17, 1989, issue of Sports Illustrated. In a story titled “A Gentleman & A Scholar,” DeFord quoted the commissioner as saying baseball is an individual sport, but it depends upon people relying on each other… much in the way we live. We must have rules to exist as a country. Playing the game implies a certain to and fro activity that our national constitution is supposed to be about. Giamatti also felt that baseball is about going home, how much we all need that, how hard it is sometimes to get there, and how driven is our need. No wonder the game is so important if it is about all that. And it is still our national pastime; very important to millions of people… perhaps in spite of the players’ super-star status and astronomical salaries. When I think about my childhood days and baseball, I am taken back to summer in Hartford. We were all so poor from the recent depression that we were lucky to get out of town for a Sunday picnic with our family, let alone go to a city and see a real baseball game. We had our local teams, high school and independent, and we loved them. But professional baseball was in Heinie Stinehilber’s barbershop on Main Street. On a shelf he had one of those cathedral pointed table radios… along with bottles of Vitalis, Rose Water, and Bay Rum—no sissy “Brut,” or pastel “My Sin.” And the radio was tuned to either Chicago or Detroit… for THE GAME! No hoop-la, organ music, and other trimmings… just a guy sitting in the studio at a desk. He had an open microphone, and in the back-ground we could hear the Teletype machine clattering away. The announcer read from a tape as the game progressed. He might have had some reference books, but I’ll bet most of the local color came from his head. He knew all the players, their stats, and their family backgrounds. In our minds he created the whole scene… even the crack of the bat. I’ll bet he whacked a pencil on the edge of his desk. But it was the sound of a Louisville Slugger sending the ball up and up into blinding sunlight. Then he might say, “It’s trouble… trouble… home run! That ball went right into the left field stands and was caught by a man from Boise, Idaho!” How could he know that! We still have a few of the old timers around. To me they are real heroes… never had a chance at today’s huge salaries, but they are larger than life. I was privileged to meet one once. His name is Charles Maxwell… “Paw Paw Charlie Maxwell!” Marion and I were dining at Paw Paw’s La Cantina with Becky and Jim-in-law, Laurie and her Jim-in-law, and some others. Charlie and Mrs. Maxwell were at the next table. In fact, our waitress was their daughter, and a former student of Becky’s. We had a chance to meet that baseball immortal and talk with him. It was such an enjoyable evening. I said to Paw Paw Charlie how much I miss the days when he was a key player in “the game of life.” And how disappointing to see that it is now so much about money. He smiled and said, “I know.” But then he went on to talk about some great players knows… Derek Jeter and the rest. And they are still heroes. Maybe so, but guys such as Paw Paw Charlie Maxwell remind me of the great days… now golden threads woven into the tapestry of our lives along the Paw Paw River.

Watervliet District Library News Adult Crafting, “Pinteresting”, Monday, Apr 30, 6:30 – 8:00 p.m. – Paper bead jewelry – have fun trying out a Pinterest inspired craft on the library. Money Smart Art – April – Special stuff for kids – Pick up some library “bucks” at the desk and spend them on art supplies; create something just for fun. Teen Table Projects: April – Celebrate Poetry Month by writing in some books. Take a page from one of the recycle-bound books and cross off everything but your very own poem! Zachary – the read to me dog: Every Saturday through spring, 1:30 – 2:30 p.m. – Zachary, a certified therapy hypoallergenic labradoodle, has a Good Canine Citizen Certificate and is a member of the American Kennel Club; loves to be read to by kids. Story Hour: Wed at 10:30 a.m. & Thur at 1:30 p.m. – December to April – Show-and-tell, stories and crafts for children ages 3 – 5 and their families. Sign up to share this structured literacy program with your preschooler. Library Garden Park – Purchase a Legacy Walk brick and celebrate a memory. Bricks are $75; 13 characters, 2 lines. Pick up a form at the library. Yoga: Monday 9 – 10 a.m.; Wednesday 7 – 8 p.m.; Chair Yoga, Wednesday 6:00 – 6:45 p.m.

Coloma Library News Money Smart Kids Read Story Time The library is participating i