04-20-2017 Tri-City Area History Page

Pierce’s garage in Watervliet

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

Who are we?

 Have you ever wondered why sometimes we do the things we do?  And we may even think about it… well, why did I do that?  Either Mark Twain, or someone around that time, said, “We are all descended from ancestors!”  Well, really!  It was supposed to be funny, but there is a germ of truth in it.  There are two things that affect who we are and how we act: the gene pool from which we come and the circumstances that mold us.

At the start there is really little we can do about either one. An old comic page character named Popeye said, “I yam what I yam, and that’s all I yam… I’m Popeye, the Sailor Man!”  And that makes me think of the story about a woman who had a problem child.  She took him to see a prominent psychologist, and after that learned man had examined the little kid, he said, “Madam, there is nothing wrong with your child except heredity and environment!” Well, really!   (Again!)

So we cannot help from whence we came… for good or bad!  But I’ve known a lot of kids over the years… and I have seen some who rose above horrible family circumstances to become successful. A friend of mine (teacher) had in his middle school homeroom some kids from a local orphanage.  One was a red-headed boy who seemed so very lonely. So at Christmas, when they drew names for a present exchange, he arranged to get that kid’s name, and bought him a harmonica.

Thereafter the kid practiced until he became good at it.  So my friend conspired with the band director to get him a horn.  Soon the red-headed wonder was in the school band.  Fast forward several years, and my friend was watching a Big Ten football game on TV. Halftime show, and out came the university band.   And guess who was leading it? Yup, it was that very same red-headed kid!  So it can be done!

On the other hand, sometimes we are shaped by events so far in the past we don’t even remember them.  I can recall from my days in college… it was either in a Psychology or a Social Studies class.  There was the case of a man who had a baffling fear. He could stand to have no one behind him.  In a room full of people, he always found a place with his back to the wall.  It bothered him no end… a baseless fear he could not shake. Then he happened to visit the city of his early years.  As he walked through the old neighborhood, he came to a fruit stand run by an old Italian man.  They were overjoyed to see each other.  And the old man, while reminiscing, said, “Do you remember when you were a little kid and you used to come by here on your way to school.  And you would slip an apple or an orange off my stand. Well, one day I waited for you, and when you stole a piece of fruit, I rushed out and grabbed you from behind.  You were so scared, you dropped whatever you had… and you never came by my place again!”

Well, there you are!  And in my own case, I have found the reason for one of my fears.  I always worry about when someone close leaves to go on a trip. Worry, worry!  One time in recent years, my sister and I were talking (God rest her soul!)  She said when I was small, and our mom and dad were going somewhere, Mom would say, “Now you be good for the babysitter… otherwise while we’re gone something bad might happen, and we would never get to come back!”  It was designed to keep us virtuous, and her motives were good.  But she never knew how that affected me! And I never knew what it was that bothered me until my sister told me the story!

So… what can we do about it?  Well, I give this advice with caution… and if you blame me, I’ll deny the whole thing! Find an older relative.  Someone you can trust to have a close view of your family, but an outside view of the whole thing.  Ask them if there are any things you should know about your background that no one ever told you. But don’t do it until you are mature enough to handle whatever comes along!

They might be able to tell you where the bodies are buried.  But this is sort of a Pandora’s Box.   In Mythology she was a woman who opened a box she was supposed to stay away from… and it released all the bad things in the world! Now it has come to mean getting into something you wish you had never opened… learning something better left unlearned.  There is always that chance. But on the other hand, a philosopher said the truth will set you free.  I’m not advising either way!

You know how they say when someone is elected chairperson of a group… they say, “He occupied the chair of so-and-so…”  Well, there is an old story of a man who asked a genealogist to do his family history.   The guy said, “Are you sure you want to do this?  Often I find a rotten apple on the family tree!”

“Go ahead… I want to know the whole thing!”

Sure enough, the researcher came back with bad news, “You had a great-uncle who was the first man sent to the electric chair in a certain western state for horse-stealing.  But I warned you!”

The man was aghast.  “Oh, no… what’ll I do about that?”

“Well,” the genealogist said, “I can gloss it over so it won’t sound so bad! We’ll just say, “So-and-so occupied a Chair of Applied Electricity at a western institution!”

If we can handle it, the truth is good. And it may even shed some light on why we are the way we are.  But beware the Pandora’s Box effect!  There is an old saying… “The only thing worse than not getting what you want is… getting what you want!”  The same could apply to knowledge of who we are and from whence we came to these storybook towns along the Paw Paw River.

Coloma Library News

Money Smart Kids Read

The library is participating in Money Smart Week by having a children’s program, presented with Honor Credit Union in Coloma on Wednesday, April 26 at 4:30 p.m. This program is geared towards children under 7, but all children are welcome. Children will learn about money, saving, spending and what makes sense! There will be a story, craft, game, snack and each family will get to take home a copy of “A Dollar for Penny” by Julie Glass. Books are provided by the Michigan Credit Union League. There is no sign-up or fee required.

Baby and Me Program

The library is offering a “Baby and Me” program on Fridays at 10:30 a.m. through May 5. 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 is 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 27 at 5:30 p.m. The title to read before the discussion is “The Underground Railroad” by Colson Whitehead.  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

The 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 this month, 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$).

Adult Coloring

Monday, April 24 from 6:30 – 7:30 p.m. savor a relaxing evening of creativity just for grown-ups. We’ll help you unwind with colored pencils & paper; tunes and edibles, too.


100 years ago – 1917

 Every patriotic citizen should be present at Bunker’s Opera House to hear the appeals of Chas. K. Warren of Three Oaks. He will speak concerning the conservation of America’s food supply.

The village evidently has an elephant on its hands in the way of the automobile fire truck. It, again, failed to respond when the alarm was sounded. This time, the fire was on the roof of the George Patterson house on West Street.

The settlement east of town known as “Province of Canada” showed their loyalty to “Old Glory” by raising a 6 x 12 foot flag. Several veterans of the civil war live there.

60 years ago – 1957

 Louis Geresy is the new proprietor of Coloma’s Coast-to-Coast Store, taking over from Tom DeRosa. The store will carry sporting goods, general merchandise, a toy department and fishing and hunting licenses.

Miss Jean Currie is Coloma’s Blossom Queen for 1957.  The contest was held at the Coloma High School gymnasium.

Howard Kittell rolls a 735 series in the Wil-O-Paw Classic League. He is a bowler with the O’Leary & Baushke team.

30 years ago – 1987

 Mayor Glenn Randall was named the 1987 Brule Award winner. He was presented with a sterling silver acorn and an oak tree is planted in his name in Medical Park.

Glad-Peach Festival Chairman Dale Stover announced there will be a major donation announcement at the committee’s meeting tonight. The meeting is open to the public.

Dennis Bachman has announced the cast for Twin City Players’ “The Dark at the Top of the Stairs.”

Marine Lance Cpl. Christopher J. Immoos has been promoted to his present rank while serving with 2nd Force Service Support Group, Camp Lejeune, North Carolina.

Nancy’s Furniture & Waterbeds – Hutches & Buffets, Tilt chair, Trestle Table.


100 years ago – 1917

 Hartford broke into metropolitan class yesterday afternoon long enough to experience the thrill of two fires at one time. The alarms were turned in simultaneously and the clang of the fire bell shortly after 4 o’clock apprised the firemen that fire had broken out in the lunch room of Schmedes & Yeckley on Main Street and that the William Klett residence on south Center Street, recently purchased by G.H. Tyrrell was burning. The chemical engine was sent to the Main Street blaze while one of the hose carts was hurried to the south Center Street fire.

Yesterday four Hartford young men went to Benton Harbor and Michigan City with the intention of enlisting. They were Clarence Yates, Glenn Haney, Lowell Conolly and Bert Reeves. Mr. Reeves was rejected for physical reasons, but the other three young men proceeded to Michigan City where they intended to offer their services to the government.

75 years ago – 1942

 Thousands of women, equipped with identification cards and forms, Monday began a state-wide, door-to-door registration drive to develop a reservoir of men and women and work-age children who could be called upon for work in Michigan factories or on farms. Those on charge of the canvas in the Hartford area are: Dee J. Garrison, Mrs. Dewey Fredericks, Mrs. Fred Rose, Mrs. Kern Diggins, Mrs. John Shoemaker, Mrs. Amanda Bowman and Mrs. Earl Dodd.

The Hartford Art Study class held its regular meeting at the home of Mrs. Minnie Fox on Church Street Monday afternoon. The lesson was given by Mrs. J.H. Powers on George Biddle who is a modern impressionist and also a practical artist. He wrote a book in 1939 which was entitled “An American Artist’s Story.”

Several members of the Hartford Woman’s Club went to Lawrence Tuesday to attend a dessert luncheon and to hear a review of the book “The Moon is Down” by Steinbeck, which was given by Mrs. Frank Warner.

50 years ago – 1967

 Norlene Disbrow, Hartford High School art teacher and Mary Ann Welty are preparing the display of the 11th annual exhibit of the Hartford adult art class. The exhibit will be held May 1, 2, 3 and 4 at the bank community room. The exhibit will include chalk drawings, water colors, oil paintings and charcoal sketches.

Advance registration for all children who will enter kindergarten here next fall will be held Monday and Tuesday at the North Grade school, Principal Lee Vaught has announced. Children must be five years old on or before Sept.1 to be eligible to enter kindergarten this fall.


90 years ago – 1927

 Donald Cutler, son of Mr. and Mrs. Phil Cutler, Watervliet, enlisted at Buffalo, New York on Apr. 30, 1927 for three years’ service in the United States Marine Corp. He will be stationed for the present at the training camp at Charleston, South Carolina. The young man is a graduate of the Watervliet high school and recently has been engaged with his father in operating Sinclair Service Station here.

H.G. Hinckley is making some improvements to his residence on Main Street. He is having the old porches enclosed and a new front porch built. Stratton Brothers are doing the carpenter work.

Three Watervliet telephone girls have been transferred to the Benton Harbor exchange to help train there – Alene Kinyon, Lois Knapp and Bessie Sumner.

60 years ago – 1957

 Miss Judy Loshbough, 17 and daughter of Mr. and Mrs. Wm. Loshbough was chosen Watervliet’s Blossom Queen on Apr. 24, 1957. Judy was chosen from a field of twenty-one girls. She is a junior at WHS, a member of the vocal trio and a cheerleader.

Chester Faram, son of Mr. and Mrs. H.S. Faram has accepted a position with the Dow Chemical Company, Midland. Faram, a June graduate of Western Michigan University, is a former WHS student. He is one of twelve June graduates of Western’s department of paper technology and is a member of the University’s golf team.

George Neff has received his discharge from active duty on Apr. 11, 1957 and has returned to Watervliet. He has resumed his duties at the V-M Corporation.

30 years ago – 1987

 Carpet King, Frank Gargano has purchased the Woodruff building in Watervliet and will soon relocate his Gargano Custom Carpets business there. Frank says the carpet inventory needed to fill the huge building on Watervliet’s Main Street will make him one of the largest carpet dealers in Southwest Michigan.

Watervliet Public Schools will be forming its fifth formal “Educational Partnership” with Mr. Bill Beverly, local historian, for the 1986-87 school year. The Educational Partnerships are excellent means for sharing community resources and developing the talents of our children.


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