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04-30-2020 Tri-City Area History Page

The Paw Paw River Journal

Saturday afternoon shoot’em up! Back in the day there was no YouTube, Facebook, text messaging, or E-mail… television had not yet been invented. We did have radios and telephones. And discussion that someday pictures and conversation would be sent on the airwaves. But we had not seen it! What we did have was “going to the movies”. And we went. There were special programs aimed at kids. For instance, no adult with brains would be caught in a movie house on Saturday afternoon. That was kids’ day! They had double features, usually westerns, plus news, a cartoon and even a weekly serial segment. This was a story that ran for several Saturdays in a row. It might be Dick Tracy, The Lone Ranger, or some other adventure flick. The common denominator was that at the end of each half hour segment, the hero was left in an utterly impossible situation. He could never survive this one… but next week there he would be, again, and with a plausible explanation for what had happened previously. For instance: One week the Lone Ranger was fighting for his life in a gold ore stamping mill. There he was, locked in mortal combat, and at the end the villain got in a lucky punch and the Lone Ranger fell into the stamping machine. AND IT CAME RIGHT DOWN ON HIM! We all left the theater shaking our heads. He really got it that time! But wait… next Saturday we sat breathlessly; and when the serial came on, they backed it up a few frames… the Lone Ranger fell into the stamping machine and rolled out of the way just in time. I don’t know about the other kids, but I was upset. They had cheated on us… I didn’t want him killed, but they really led us to believe THIS IS IT! … Of course, knowing we would be back to find out. You see, that masked man was one of our main heroes! Silver Cup bread sponsored him on the radio. One time they offered a picture of him on the great horse, Silver, in every loaf of their bread. My Mom let me buy a loaf at Don Olds’ grocery on the south side of Main Street to get the picture. It was good bread too! In Hartford we had a 5- and 10-cent store owned by Jim and Marie Knight. This was Mecca for us little kids. In the front, a three-sided candy counter… enough to make us drool! And once a year, near Christmas, the Knights rented the theater and put on a free show for every kid in Hartford. In addition, we each got a small bag of candy. Smart advertising, I’d say! We lined up clear down the block for that free show. I can’t remember what any of the films were, but it didn’t matter. We’d watch anything that moved on the silver screen. Do any of you remember when the movies changed from black and white to Technicolor? The first film I saw like that was “The Wizard of Oz”. Well into the film, when Dorothy came to her senses in that impossible land, everything changed to color! It was something to behold. And then another improvement… I was teaching in Watervliet at the time. One class, a smallish boy came in all excited and said, “You should see the movie we went to last night! It was in Sinister Scope!” (He meant Cinemascope.) Now, at the risk of being relegated to dinosaur land, I’m going to say that some films are just better in black and white. There is even a name for those stories – popular in the 1950s and 1960s… they were referred to as “film noir.” That means dark! And there is a type of crime story that just begs to be told in black and white. Think of Humphrey Bogart and Lauren Bacall in “The Big Sleep”. Years later it was remade in color and starred Robert Mitchum. Now, he is a favorite of mine… but that color version was just not as sinister, not as mood provoking! Another film that could not be improved by color… “High Noon”! This is a stark cold story that unfolds in dramatic black-and-white tones. A western, it takes place in an hour on the clock that ticks in the town marshal’s office. Gary Cooper has sent to prison a horrible criminal named Frank. He is now out, has his gang with him, and is headed back to take revenge on the marshal. Cooper tries vainly to enlist help from the townspeople. They all tell him to leave. He has a beautiful Quaker wife (Grace Kelly) who is fiercely pacifist. She says if he will not go, she will leave without him. The whole story unfolds as the hapless marshal tries to devise a plan. And the villain does come. He and his men swagger down Main Street; the marshal faces them all alone. But his wife reconsiders, comes back, and helps him to defeat the outlaws. Happy ending? Well, not quite. The couple, their belongings in a horse-drawn wagon, are leaving town to make a new life. The townspeople all come out to wish them well. He looks into all of the faces of the people who would not help him. Then he takes off his badge and throws it into the dirt of Main Street and they drive off. That story is much more effective in black and white than it would have been in color. In fact, back in the day we were so used to black and white… colored films at first were almost a distraction. We all had our favorite cowboy stars and followed their each and every film exploit with awe. We recreated those movie scenes when we played “Cowboys” on Saturdays with cap guns. And even if we had to turn about “taking our deads”, they were days of real glory. We were weaving golden threads into the Tapestry of Life in our storybook towns! (Reprint from the April 30, 2009 issue of the Tri-City Record.)

Do you ever remember giant hailstones? On March 15, 1945 these hailstones fell from the sky? Do you remember Jean Silaula? Do you have an interesting weather story to share? If you have any information on this photo or a story to share, please contact North Berrien Historical Museum at 269-468-3330,, or The museum is closed until further notice. From the photo collection at the North Berrien Historical Museum 300 Coloma Avenue, Coloma

Coloma Library News Closure The Coloma Public Library will remain closed until further notice. Patrons can access numerous resources 24 hours a day, 7 days a week online through the Coloma Public Library’s website at: Capstone Interactive Books For parents turned into home school teachers, the library now can provide free online access to Capstone Interactive Books with over 5,000 available titles appropriate for age PreK to 8th Grade. Books are available in English and Spanish. Go to Email library staff at for the username and password. Access will continue until June 30. Spring Reading Bingo Check the library’s home page for a fun family reading challenge. Share a photo of your family doing any of the bingo activities to the library’s Facebook page. Participants that complete all nine activities will be entered into a prize drawing. Virtual Storytimes Join Coloma Public Library online with Miss Alicia for Virtual Storytimes! Links to new storytimes will be posted on Facebook and to the Coloma Public Library YouTube Channel. Family history with Normally this resource is only available from inside the library, but now patrons who are able can access through the comfort of their homes. Free access will be available until the end of May. From the library’s website, select “Catalog” and then “Electronic Resources” section. TeenBookCloud For a great selection of teen reading materials, users can check out this resource found through the library’s online catalog.

Hartford Public Library extends due dates

According to the most recent Governor’s Executive Order, The Hartford Public Library will not be able to re-open until May 15. They have extended the due date on all materials until May 26. There will be no fines or late fees.

As a community service, they have been putting activity bags on the library porch for children and will work on making more materials available every week. The materials are organized into age groups.

For patrons who have access to the internet, the library has ebooks available on, and The only requirement is a library card number. The library can be contacted at their email address: or on their Facebook page.


100 years ago – 1920 The local Order of the Eastern Star served an elaborate banquet to 150 guests. Five candidates were initiated, followed by addresses. The Duane Boyer house and lot on Logan Street has been purchased. D.M. Hunt will move in as soon as he takes possession of the property. Central Garage Company solicits all kinds of Automobile Repair Work. F. C. Sawatzke – E. H. Clay – Phone 97 60 years ago – 1960 The Coloma High School 1960 baseball team is expected to be a leading contender for the Little Eight championship this spring. Some team members are: Jim Ashbrook, Jerry Jollay, Ed Soulard, Roger Smith, Jerry Willmeng and Dan McGuire. Jack DeRosa and Herman Schick are ticket sales captains for the Chamber of Commerce dance at Crystal Palace. Fred Zoschke, board of director, oversees plans. The high school chorus participates in the Southwestern Michigan Vocal festival. Director, Mrs. Marjorie Krell held a concert to showcase their vocal music. The WSCS of the Methodist church has completed plans for a Mother-Daughter banquet. Mrs. Roger Carter is chairman of the ticket committee. 30 years ago – 1990 Township Zoning Administrator Ted Nixon closed the Compost and Recycling Center at the Orchard Hill Landfill. It was in noncompliance with the Ordinance. We Asked You… “What is your favorite Blossomtime Activity?” Glenda Joiner, Leroy Stark, Debbie Pena and Clyde Mann like the parades. Holly Clifford likes the apple blossoms. Grandparents are honored at Washington Elementary Grandparents Day. Mr. Tavolacci directed the children singing old favorite songs. Over 450 grandparents visited. The Vietnam Veterans Memorial Committee wishes to thank everyone that helped erect the beautiful Memorial. A history book about the Memorial will be available in the Coloma Library according to Alice Vacanti and Diann Harris, Co-Chairman of the committee. Submitted by volunteer Sandi Musick Munchow at Coloma Public Library from the Coloma Courier newspapers donated by the Tri-City Record. Hours: Closed until further notice. Phone: 269-468-3431


100 years ago – 1920 The junior class of Hartford High School scored a decided success with the home talent play, “A College Town”, at the opera house last Thursday night. The playhouse was crowded to its capacity, and to accommodate the patrons who were turned away the play was repeated to a smaller audience Friday evening. In the Methodist Episcopal Church last evening a piano recital was given by pupils of E. Edwin Crerie. Pauline Ostrander, a six-year-old tot proved a coming pianist whose intelligence equals her ability. Otho Ford, Ayliffe Beatty, Irene Myers, Noriene Smith, Marian Webster and Myrna Nordstrom were the other participants in the program. 75 years ago – 1945 Although a war plant engineer by trade, Paul Hough, son of Mr. and Mrs. Harry Hough, 440 Oak, has won recognition for his ability to pull rabbits out of his hat and half-dollars out of his ears. As a hobby, Hough has become a magician, performing under the stage name of “Pauluff”. Mrs. Nellie Smith was hostess to members of the Hartford Art Study class. Mrs. George Shepard presented the lesson on “American Paintings of the National Art Gallery at Washington, D.C.”, stressing the work of the early American artists. Fruit growers and farmers in Hartford area, plagued by a week of cold, wet weather marked by a damaging frost at the weekend, felt grave concern this week for their crops unless warm weather returns soon. 50 years ago – 1970 An open house has been scheduled for next week by Hartford Public schools at each of the district’s three buildings. Each open house will feature exhibits and displays of student work done during the current school year. The high school will be on Monday, May 4, the north grade school on Tuesday, May 5 and the south grade school on Thursday, May 7. A gymnastic demonstration will be presented by the junior-senior high school physical education department at the Monday open house. The Hartford Fire Department burned three small houses as a climax to a fire fighting school conducted over the past two weeks. Subjects covered during the school included chemistry of fire, use of ladders, hose streams, rescue work, safety and basic fire attack procedures. Submitted by Librarian Stephanie Daniels at Hartford Public Library from microfilm copies of the Hartford Day Spring. Hours: Closed until further notice. Phone: 269-621-3408


90 years ago – 1930 The 1930 Watervliet High School senior class numbered 23 young people. The Valedictorian was Miss Evelyn King and Salutatorian was Harold Renne. The population in Watervliet City is 1,206, according to the 1930 census. This is an increase of 133 over 1920 counts. For Watervliet Township outside the city, the count is 946 compared to 643 in 1920, an increase of 303. Printed May 16, 1930 – There are more people living longer today than ever before. This is naturally the result of improved living conditions and the control of disease. Ten years ago (1920), life expectancy was 46-1/2 years, today it is 55 years. 60 years ago – 1960 Five Watervliet High School girls were selected as being among the state’s best teenage cooks for the outstanding recipes submitted in the 1960 Kroger-Westinghouse $100,000 “Junior Cook of the Year” search. They are Donna Schroeder, Diane Baldwin, Carol Brewer, Judith Yeske and Wanda Lipps. The Stewart-Young Insurance Agency on Main Street was formed in July 1959. In May 1960 the partnership dissolved and is now known as the Don Young Agency – a complete insurance service for home, automobile, business and family. Nick Vucich, Watervliet, has been chosen to represent Michigan at the National 4-H Club Conference being held in Washington D.C. Young Vucich, now a freshman at Notre Dame University, was chosen as the 1959 State Achievement Booth winner. 30 years ago – 1990 On May 25, 1990, over 50,000 top students from 1,586 high schools across the U.S., Canada and the Pacific Basin competed in a grueling contest using their knowledge of world history, chemistry, literature and 12 other subjects. Entering the Knowledge Masters Open for the first time, a team of 13 students from WHS scored 1,107 points, just under the national norm of 1,130. John David Coon, Watervliet, spent the spring semester at the Philadelphia Center as part of the Albion College off-campus study program. Coon is taking courses as well as serving on an internship. The Center offers internships in business, law, human services and communications. Lisa Ashton is Watervliet’s “Student of the Week”, a fourth grader at North School. Lisa has been on the Honor Roll all three marking periods. She is always courteous, kind and friendly. After school she takes piano lessons and attends AWANA at Midway Baptist Church. Submitted by Sally Q. Gonzalez from files at Watervliet District Library of the Watervliet Record newspapers donated by the Tri-City Record. Hours: Closed until further notice. Phone: 269-463-6382


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