04-27-2017 Tri-City History Page

Photo of the Woodward Hotel – Paw Paw Lake

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

New hope

 This morning spring seems to be on the way.  Of course, it has disappointed us before.  A famous writer, T.S. Eliot, said in one of his poems, “April is the cruelest month.”  Cruel?  Yes, because it promises so much, and sometimes snatches spring away again to show us that winter has one more last gasp!

So we bide our time, keep our heads down, and hope for the best.  In our case, here at the old rancho we have been battling one of the worst bugs we have ever had!  And we don’t know how we got it!  All this winter we stayed away from public places… even stopped going out to eat!  Now that is a real sacrifice for us, because we dearly love eating out.  And we got our flu shots too!  But people told us there were two types of flu going around.  One was mild, and the other one included violent stomach problems… we had the mild kind!   Don’t know what it would have been like with the other one!

So, here we are with improving weather, and slowly, slowly improving day by day feelings of well being!  And the season promises us better things happening all around!  That makes me think of what young people do now to celebrate the passing of cold, old winter and snow. One daughter, recently departed from the teaching profession, says that the kids are out in the school parking lot squawking their tires and laying patches of rubber marks on the pavement.  Perhaps that is the new way of “marking their territory!”

When I was in school, only a few kids had old cars… it was most unusual in those days.  When I began teaching at the old Watervliet High School, kids owning cars was still rather rare.  One of my bad boys got wheels… it was an old Buick, about a 1926 or 27.  He drove it into a local gas station, and all the kids gathered there gave him the horse laugh!  One boy said, “That car is so old, you couldn’t lay a patch with it if you wanted to!”

My bad boy said, “I can too squawk the tires!  Bet you five dollars!”   So the guy had to put up or shut up!  The old car owner got in, put it in reverse, and made the tires squeal as he backed up.  Then he got out and collected his five dollars!

When I was in school, one of my friends, Bick Beckwith, bought an old Model T Ford.  It wasn’t much to look at, but it was a set of wheels.  He happily drove it around and always took kids with him when he went cruising.  It had one bad feature… the steering wheel was held on by a nut with threads which kept loosening up.  Then the wheel would come off right in his hands!

One day he was coming along West Shepard Street in Hartford.  Frank Dewey was sitting in the passenger seat.  They hit a hole, the car bounced, and the steering wheel came right off in Bick’s hands.  He said without thinking, “Here, Frank, want to take the wheel for a while?”  Frank Dewey almost freaked out as Bick put the steering wheel back on and turned the nut down again.

One of my classmates, John Erwin, lived in Keeler… one of our southernmost suburbs!  The Keeler kids could either go to high school in Dowagiac or Hartford.  Quite a few chose our town.  John had a Model A Ford, which he drove in to school every day.  Between Hartford and Keeler there is an incline known as Drullinger’s Hill.  It led into a valley, and in recent years it has been graded down so it is not so steep.

One day, John was coming into school, and as he came down Drullinger’s Hill, he was surprised to see a wheel pass him and go off into the ditch.  It was one of his!  He got the car stopped, and went out into the brambles to retrieve the missing wheel.  He found it, put it back on, and this time tightened the lug nuts down good and tight!

When I was in high school, I never owned a car… never had that much money!  But my Dad was generous about letting me take the family Ford one night a week, so Marion and I could go out on a date.  Many of my friends thought I got to take the car all the time, but usually it was to make deliveries for my folks in their floral business.

One day my sister Wilma said to me, “Bud, I know you have wanted wheels!  If I lend you the money to buy a car, will you take me with you when you go driving?”  Well, would I!!!!  As enlightened as our Dad was, he had a blind spot.  He believed women were mostly unable to master the intricacies of driving.  My Mom had convinced him of that, because her efforts with the Ford always ended disastrously!  She didn’t know her right from her left… and she admitted it!

So I found my first set of wheels!  Down on automobile row in Benton Harbor, I decided on a cute little royal blue 1936 Ford Coupe.  It suited my Dad, because on the front it said Ford!  And my sister forgot about wanting to go driving with me.  She was starting to get active on the dating scene!  She told me later it took three boyfriends for her to learn to drive, but she made it!

I was now out of high school, and I was lucky to have a car to tinker with, because my true love and I (Marion) had parted for what we both thought was forever!  World War II was upon us, and all the guys in my generation felt any life plans were on hold and useless.  We were all just waiting to go into the U.S. war machine, which was gearing up for the fight of our lives!

Little did any of us know how it would all turn out.  More and more family homes had a little blue star flag in the window to indicate there was a boy in service.  And there were some gold stars where sons would never return.  Must have been just as devastating for our folks waiting for us to go as it was for us guys!  And I never thought how lucky I would be… just think, here it is all those years later, and the girl I thought I lost has now been my partner for all of those years.  For that I am most thankful!

Coloma Library News

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, May 11 at 5:30 p.m. The title to read before the discussion is “The Bone Clocks” by David Mitchell.  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.

LEGO donations needed – any and all LEGOS you don’t use anymore. Bring them to the library.

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$).

Michigan Notable Book Tour will grace our library on June 26, 2017 with Dustin M. Hoffman, author of “One-Hundred-Knuckled Fist: Stories” winner of the 2015 Prairie Schooner Book Prize. He brings to life the narratives of Midwestern blue-collar workers. Readers are invited to peek behind the curtain of the invisible, but ever-present, “working stiff” as Hoffman reveals their lives in full complexity, offering their gruff voices without censorship. Yet many will identify with the characters at the heart of these stories that work with their hands and strive to escape invisibility while never losing sight of their own human value.


100 years ago – 1917

 Grand Pony Contest! Boys and Girls – Win a Shetland Pony. Get parents and friends to patronize the leading merchants: 50 votes with a 5-cent purchase; 100 votes with a 10-cent purchase; Votes given on charge accounts.

Shoes at Wm. Grant’s from $2.00 to $7.00 and All Leather. Wo’s grey kid Military Lace Boot $5.00; Patent 2-Bar Button $3.00, Patent Mary Jane $3.00

The Coloma Theatre – Four Reels of “The Iron Claw” admission ten cents

60 years ago – 1957

 New post office is sought. Vacant property between the Coast-to-Coast hardware store and the Emma LaMotte home on Logan Street is an option. Postmaster Mary Kilmark.

Using the theme, “Finally Brethren, Think on These Things.” Rev. Ralph W. Everroad will deliver his final sermon before his retirement. An “Open House” farewell reception will be held in the Furman Room.

School news: The eighth grade class will visit the Chicago museums this Saturday. The curtain will go up on the high school senior play “Brother Goose.” Jerry Clements is cast as the lead; Henry Viscuso is part of the stage committee.

30 years ago – 1987

 Top Ten Scholastic Honors: Scott Bower, Tamara Cross, Heidi Evans, Gregory Howell, Donna Johnson, Andrew Lentz, Stacey Parrigin, Paul Stowell, Trent Sutton and Sanford Walke IV.

McDonald’s announces they will sponsor the Youth Parade, Kids’ Day and the ‘50s and ‘60s contest during Glad-Peach festivities. President Dale Stover accepted McDonald’s contributions on behalf of the Glad-Peach Inc. board. Julie Pupedis is chairing the youth parade, while Janet Fletcher is in charge of the big parade.

Fredrick Martin had recently been promoted to director, systems and programming development of the Whirlpool Acceptance Corporation.

The Pre-School Learning Center on Curtis Drive will hold a spring open house; Ages 2 weeks to 11 years.


100 years ago – 1917

 Hartford churches took up the propaganda for an increased food supply last Sunday and President Wilson’s appeal to American farmers to increase the production of food stuffs to the maximum point was reiterated from local pulpits.

Fire originating from a chimney caused the destruction of the large house on the Mrs. E. Kellogg farm, known as the George Shepard place, southeast of Harford. When news of the fire reached the village the new chemical fire engine was attached to the S.M. Carpp automobile and rushed to the farm, accompanied by several members of the fire department.

75 years ago – 1942

 With sugar sales completely cut off many Hartford residents began to feel for the first time the meaning of war-time economy. Housewives started cutting sweets from their family menus and began to check up on supplies of sugar in preparation for making their reports when they apply for sugar rationing certificates early next week.

Hartford Township registered 377 men between the ages of 45 and 65 in the fourth selective service registration day.

50 years ago – 1967

 The Hartford Garden Club met at the home of Mrs. Lloyd Garrison with Miss Marty Esther Lee as co-hostess on Friday, April 21. Mrs. Joseph Richmond gave a program on the drying of flower materials, “What to dry and when to pick it, and how to dry it.”

Terry McFarland, son of Mr. and Mrs. Jay McFarland, arrived home April 9 on a 20-day leave to visit his family and friends. He has been stationed in Germany for more than one year. McFarland went into the Navy in the spring of 1965 and received basic training at Pensacola, FL.

What may have been the fringe of a line of tornadoes that hit the Grand Rapids area Friday night, uprooted trees and smashed buildings in the area. A barn and garage were wrecked on the Scherer farm and the house was damaged, but the family escapes injury. Heavy rain and some hail accompanied the wind in the area. In a continuation of freakish weather, some four inches of snow fell Sunday night and temperatures dipped as low as 21 degrees Monday night.


90 years ago – 1927

 Reported on May 13, 1927: When Berrien County motorists drove up to the different filling stations that morning they were agreeably surprised when informed that the price of gasoline had been reduced two cents per gallon. The retail price now together with the two cent state gasoline tax is 18.2 cents per gallon.

Monday, May 9, 1927, was recorded as one of the hottest May days in years, for the mercury registered 86 degrees at noon, but the heat wave did not last long; a wind and rain storm Monday evening wrought a quick change and on Tuesday noon the mercury stood at 50 degrees. The furnace fires that had been drawn out were rekindled and the “heavies” were dug out and put back on.

60 years ago – 1957

 Byron Peirce, who observed his 87th birthday on Apr. 25, 1957, was the guest of honor at his home on Main Street when 32 of his children, grandchildren and great-grandchildren met to wish him “Happy Birthday.”

Ronald J. Hurley, seaman apprentice, USN, son of Mr. and Mrs. Sam Hurly, Watervliet, graduated Apr. 12, 1957 from Fire Control Technician School at the Naval Training Center, San Diego, CA. During the 19-week course, technicians are taught the repair and maintenance of the equipment used by all firemen.

Gail Van Drasek, SN, USN, left Watervliet for California where he will be attached to the U.S. Destroyer. Gail has been station at the Great Lakes Naval Training Station since entering service in Jan. 1956. While at Great Lakes he was Sports Editor of the Great Lakes Bulletin and travelled with the teams all over the states.

30 years ago – 1987

 Watervliet High School senior Todd Day has recently been accepted for inclusion in the 20th annual edition of Who’s Who. Who’s Who is the nation’s largest student recognition publication. Only 5 percent of high school seniors and juniors are eligible for the honor.

Nine fourth-graders from North School posed with Watervliet Superintendent Bruce Watson and North School Principal David Coffeen following a special luncheon as recognition for achieving perfect marks in the 1987 MEAP tests. Each student scored 100% on the reading and math test. They are Danny Pfeiffer, Cory VanNiel, Chris Schled, Donald Milham, Mark Reeves, Ronny Vawter, Mark Bishop and Ryan Berholz.


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