05-03-2018 Tri-City History Page

The Paw Paw River Journal

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

School daze! Don’t know what made my mind turn to spring… maybe because spring is here! And my thoughts have turned to all the silliness that always went with the season… Does it still, for kids? I don’t know, because I am so far away in another galaxy from my teaching days, I don’t know if things have changed or not. And I am even more distant from my own school days. But I know some things never seem to change. I noticed that the neighborhood stray cats are out serenading their lady loves. I don’t mind their activities I just wish they didn’t have to be so noisy about it! When I was in Middle School (called Junior High back then), our silliness took some pretty innocent turns according to today’s standards. At that age kids are struggling to be different… be their own person. And they all want to be different together! One time a group of us took to dressing up. We wore shirts and ties to school every day. I think the teachers noted it and were gratified, but they never gave us the praise we craved. We finally gave that up. And we must have been studying some of the poets in English class, because we all tried to come up with neat little ditties that would be impressive. One of my friends, upon noting the fly specked windows in the classroom, wrote: “Little fly upon the wall, don’t you wear no clothes at all? You don’t look so hot to me, with all those little specks I see!” Another retaliated with: “A cow sat on the railroad tracks, a place of rest she’d found. Next day she was in the butcher shop at ninety cents a pound!” But the most existential of all was this one: “A man lay on the floor… he had tried to shut the door!” I never could figure that one out. Was the guy so tired that just shutting the door wore him out? I don’t remember if our teacher was impressed with any of these little ditties… or even if they were submitted for scrutiny! But it was spring, and the silly season was upon us. At that age we were desperately trying to find out who we were. Too old to cry, and too young to swear! Too old for an allowance, and too young for a credit card. We were awkward, clumsy, and hoping one of the good looking girls would notice us. And we were too young to know one of the truths of life… “In the spring a young man’s fancy turns to… what the girls have been thinking about all winter! At that age, I guess at any time near that age, one of the saving graces is sports. We could take out our frustrations, fears, hopes, and dreams on the playing fields of Hartford High. We had an athletic field south of the school… just a neighborhood open park-like field. But one difference: the grass turf was laced with sand burrs! So every fall when school started the football hopefuls had to duck-waddle across the field, pulling sand burr plants out by their roots. And they never got them all! I never played football… never went out for baseball either. Although I did some left-handed pitching for the team’s batting practice. Coach Max Johnson wanted his batters to face a southpaw. Coach Johnson said I was the only lefty he knew, so I was drafted. I did like basketball, but was never destined to be a star player. In retrospect, if I had only known enough to ask my dad to put up a ring and backboard. I know he would have done it, and thus I might have practiced more. We always had pick up baseball games going, and we didn’t need a diamond either. An open field, or even in the street. When I was teaching, one time I had a student teacher who played football for Bo Schembechler at the U of M. He was an offensive tackle and played in the Rose Bowl (we lost that year!). He also did some scouting for Bo, and one school he visited was in New York City. He said those kids were all inner city, and they didn’t have a playing field. They ran plays right out in the street next to the school. Sort of reminds me of our days… little in the way of expensive equipment and playing fields. One Hartford High grad from way, way back in the day(!) said equipment was so scarce they only had one football helmet, so they always let the quarterback wear it. He was taking the hits! When Hartford played Benton Harbor, it didn’t take them long to figure where the ball was going by just looking for the helmet. So they had to quit that and get some more helmets! But as I said, that was way, way before my time. So here comes the five-minute sermonette! Yup, our kids have never had it so good! And note something interesting… national statistics say we are all gaining weight! How about making some rules… none of those little ipads at the dinner table? And that goes for grownups too!!!!! Turn off the games and get out and break a sweat. Daughter Becky has just recently finished her teaching career. I told her when I was a kid a sure sign of spring was when boys started acting goofy, and marble games were being played everywhere. Girls were skipping rope and playing hop-scotch… what are the signs of spring now? She said you hear them squawking the tires of their cars out in the parking lot. And parents and teachers are worried about their less innocent pursuits. They just can’t wait to grow up. So what else is new? Same struggle to be adults in these storybook towns along the Paw Paw River. Every generation has to go through it. There are just more ways to go off the rails than when we were kids!

Watervliet District Library News In Stitches Knitting Group – May 11, 2:30-4:00 p.m.: Second Friday of every month. Bring your needles and join the fun! Limited supplies available; beginners are welcome. Teen Table Projects – May: “X, a Novel” by Ilyasah Shabazz. Take home your own copy, read it and share your inspiration in art – your choice of format – and take home a fedora in classic zoot-suit style! Special Stuff for Kids – May: Check out this year’s Michigan Ready-To-Read book, “I got the Rhythm” and take home a rhythm instrument craft! 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. Call 463-6382 for questions on any Watervliet library activity.

Coloma Library News Story Hour Story Hour meets on Wednesdays at 10:30 a.m. Toddlers and preschoolers are invited to hear a story, make a craft and sing a song with Miss Amy. There is no sign-up or fee required. It is asked that all children be supervised by an adult during Story Hour. Book Club The Coloma Library Book Club is meeting on Thursday, May 17 at 5:30 p.m. The title to read before the discussion is “The Zookeeper’s Wife” by Diane Ackerman. 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. Call 468-3431 with questions for any Coloma library activity.


100 years ago – 1918 In the death of James Clark Thomp