05-02-2019 Tri-City Area History Page

Noble Kingman and his girlfriend Carolyn Hillicker… Did this couple remain friends? Who was the photographer? Stop by the NBHS Museum or give them a call at 468-3330 if you have information on this or any other photo appearing here. North Berrien Historical Museum is always interested in photos, stories or information sharing. The museum can be contacted 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

Blast from the past! It was summertime in Hartford, I must been about nine and my sister Wilma was about 12. A family moved in across the street and they had two girls about our age, Margaret and Mildred Sutton. We soon became acquainted and thereafter had some adventures. A year or two later they moved away, and we never saw them again. And now a blast from the past! I received an email from Margaret’s daughter. I will quote from it substantially with her permission. It follows:

“This message is for Bud Davis. My name is Debbie Miller and my mother, Margaret (Sutton) and her sister Mildred lived in Hartford for a short time in the late 1920s or early 1930s. I have a photo of my mother and aunt standing in the snow with your sister and a little dog. My mom lived with her mother Maude Sutton across the street from your family’s flower shop. My great-grandmother, Sophia Dade also lived in Hartford back in the day on 61 Pleasant Street. (The Dade family is also mentioned in your books). My mother, my sister and I visited the Hartford museum in 2017 and purchased two of your books which we immensely enjoyed! My great-grandfather, “George Sutton” who was mentioned in one of your books, had a summer home in Hartford on Polywog Road. He became a world famous billiards champ and travelled all over the world. Your books made me wish that I had grown up in the 1920s and lived in Hartford, Michigan; (but I grew up in the 50s in Chicago)… hope this little note finds you in good health and I look forward to hearing from you! Sincerely, Debbie Miller”

They had a neat older guy relative who used to come to visit. He had a beautiful red motorcycle. How proud he was of that! One weekend he came to see them and they were gone. So he spent most of the day polishing that beautiful bike. I’m sure it was a Harley-Davidson, and all the knobs for the controls were red dice! Margaret (my age) was sort of a daredevil and a tomboy. So I didn’t mind. She wore cool glasses that magnified her eyes. When school started, her older sister, Mildred, was gaga over a boy in her class named Larry Olds. She used to talk about him all the time. And I’m not even sure he knew how she felt. She also probably doesn’t know that Larry was a friend of mine later on, and I wrote about his athletic exploits in Hartford High School. He will always be one of Hartford’s real heroes! I don’t specifically remember, but I’m sure that summer we went down to play at the schoolyard. Everything was new again with grass covering the playground… no hundreds of little feet to wear it down to bare earth. The swings, teeter totters, merry-go-round, all there for our pleasure. We each got a waxed bread wrapper from our moms to take with us. Climbing up inside the tubular fire escape, we looked through the crack in the door. There was the classroom, quiet… clock ticking on the wall, and the smell of varnish and floor wax. How strange from this point of view! We slid down several times sitting on our waxed paper until it was polished and slippery. Then we could climb carefully and shoot down so fast we would pop out onto the sand below! One day we decided we would run a telephone line across the street from their upstairs to ours. Someone told us if you got a wire and strung it like that, running it into a tin can at each end, you could talk and listen into it like a real telephone. We got the wire up and were just about to try it out when a big truck came through and ripped our wire right out. That was the end of that! I don’t remember when the Suttons moved away… it’s just not there in my memory bank. But they did and evidently back to Chicago where the girls grew up, had their families, and lived their lives. And now from the past has come this email from Debbie bringing it all back. Our memories are a rich heritage. I know, many people say, “I just can’t remember all that!” I believe it helps to practice. I can remember my mom saying in later years something like this: “Well, last night I went back and re-lived such and such a date in my mind.” If you can do that it is a blessing. It can also be a curse, because if we remember, we will also call to mind the mistakes we made. I’ve done that too, and it is not always comfortable. People say, “Oh how I wish I had listened more when the old folks were telling stories.” I don’t say that, because I did listen. I’ve always loved hearing stories and telling stories. In fact with practice my memory has gotten so good I can remember things that didn’t even happen!! But all in all it’s a pretty good pastime to go back and examine the golden threads already woven into the great tapestry of life in these storybook towns along the Paw Paw River.

Coloma Public Library News Book Club