05-11-2017 Tri-City Area History

Spinks Corners School 1950

Room 1, grades kindergarten and 1st

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

Band of Brothers (in-law)

 Just like the rest of you, I wait each week for The Tri-City Record to come in the mail. Can hardly wait to see what I have written in my column, The Paw Paw River Journal. Does that surprise you? Well, I try to do my stories a month at a time and pop them in to Editor Karl to wait in line for publication. So then I read what I have written from another point of view… how can I improve? Does the story proceed logically, etc.

And I read the rest of the paper. I’m proud to be part of it each week. So this week when it came, in his editorial Karl had a tribute to his friend and brother-in-law, who has just departed this life. I could really relate to that, because in this life I have been lucky enough to have four guys, all friends, and all married to relatives or were related to me through my Chief Accountant. Karl, that really resonated when I read about your friendship with “Silky.”

Of my four brothers-in-law, there is only one remaining in this life. Bob Kling is Marion’s brother and is at present sojourning in the land of palm trees, giant cockroaches, and bikinis. He should be back before long. His three surviving children and their families all live in this area. I will be glad to see him again. He is one of my few remaining friends who are anywhere close to my age.

When I came home from WWII, he was a kid of about fifteen. One day we were shooting baskets with a hoop fastened against the side of the barn at their home place. Into the yard came a car… a new Pontiac. Bob went over to talk to the couple therein, and after a while they left. I was still shooting baskets, and Bob came back with wonder in his face.

He said, “Bud, that is a friend of mine… he’s about my age. And he wanted to show me his new car and his new wife!” Bob could hardly believe the reality of that situation… He said, “Here I am shooting baskets and riding a bicycle… and he’s married and has a new car!”

Later on we were talking and I said, “Bob, you know how when Marion and I were dating in high school, you were just a kid? Well, now I’m back home, we’re closer to the same age!”

He thought for a moment, then said, “You don’t think I’ll ever pass you, do you?” I assured him I didn’t think that would ever happen. And it hasn’t. But as all that time passed, we have gotten closer to being the same age… and as I said, he is one of my few remaining good friends.

His brother, Louis, was even younger when Marion and I first got together. He grew up and started dating one of my students when I was teaching at the old Watervliet High School… Phyllis Winans. They were married and had a long and good life together, rearing three children before his untimely departure from this life. Both boys were in service and came home to farming, then construction work. Louie was a gifted carpenter, and Kling Construction has done all the work on our home place here over the years.

When it comes to building, one of the toughest jobs is roofing a house. I can remember when Kling Construction stopped doing that line of work. But we needed a new roof here, and Louie said, “Bud, we’ll put on a roof for you, but it’s one of the few we will ever do again.”  And they did… it is the same roof that still keeps us dry!

My third brother-in-law was Howard Bishop. He and Marion’s sister Dolores had a long and happy marriage with three children before he slipped into the shadowed part of The Great Circle. Howie had a marvelous sense of humor, and we enjoyed many good times together. He owned a black ’39 Chevy 4-door, and I had a brown ’39 Chevy 2-door. One night we ran them off on a deserted country road. I hate to say it, but he slowly pulled away from me, and I never had a chance on that one! And now Sister Dolores has also left this earth… that leaves a huge hole in the fabric of life for all of us.

Last but not least, my brother-in-law Ron. We were friends from the time we were in middle school here in Hartford. He had such a neat sense of humor… whenever we were together we always had a good time. Our senior year we double-dated for the prom, I took Marion and Ron was at the time dating a girl in Marion’s class too.

Then along came WWII. We were both in it, and he got back before I did. When I returned to Hartford, I found he was dating my sister, Wilma. They were married just a few months after we were, and they wound up with three children. We had many good times together on trips, picnics, and going to the bikini state when winter winds howled about the eaves.

Ron’s health began to fail, and the final months of his illness, we took our travel trailer up to their place in Grand Rapids and stayed there so Nurse Marion could help take care of him. We went back to Hartford for a couple of days, and when we returned I went into his bedroom and sat on the edge of his bed to talk. Ron said, “Well, Bud, I’m not going to make it!”

My heart sank, and I said in reply, “Ron, none of us knows how much longer we have… you just know a little more about it than the rest of us do!” I wish I had talked longer about that, but I just didn’t know what else to say! Shortly thereafter he went into the hospital, and in a few days was gone.

Sometimes I think that all of life is a process of trying to learn to let go of people. Nothing much helps, except the passage of time… that maybe lessens the hurt a little. But all of those people, including my Band of Brothers (in-law) will always be part of our lives. And that goes for Editor Karl’s good friend, Silky. They all helped us weave golden threads into the marvelous tapestry of our lives in these storybook towns along the Paw Paw River!

Coloma Library News

Read with Spirit

There is one week left to read to Spirit! Spirit will be at the library on May 31 from 6:30 – 7:30 p.m.; this will be the last time he visits before summer break. 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 25 at 5:30 p.m. The title to read before the discussion is “The Basic Eight” by Daniel Handler.  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

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

Toddler Time – Tuesdays, 10:30 a.m. through May: Thirty minutes of music, stories and activities for little ones age 18 – 36 months, designed to inspire the love of books and learning.

Teen Table for May – Fridge Magnet Poems: Noun, verb, article and adjective magnets at your disposal. Create a poem on our metal slate, and share your awesome!!

Yoga every Monday morning at 9:00 and Wednesday evening at 7:00

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 who work with their hands and strive to escape invisibility while never losing sight of their own human value.


100 years ago – 1917

Sixty men have signified their intention of uniting with the Michigan State Troops. President of this civil organization is Harry DeFields. These men will defend the state from attacks of all enemies.

Editor: With a foreign war on our hands, every man who is physically able should be required to either fight or work. If a chronic loafer is found, authorities should take him into custody and compel him to come to the aid of his country.

60 years ago – 1957

A meeting of the school districts is being called to discuss the revival of the school area plan, again. Districts represented are Boyer, Ingraham, Bundy, Clymer, Cribbs, Coloma, Curtis, Gray, Pier and Washington.

A daughter was born to Mr. and Mrs. Ralph Hansen, and Mr. and Mrs. Gerald Hettig became the parents of a boy. All are reported to be doing fine.

Mother’s Day Plants – Otto Hingst, Florist – HO 8-5552

Clymer School PTC meeting a success: Officers were selected. Plans were made for the annual school picnic and the style show. The misses Charlotte Groff and Gladys Van Annroy’s room had the most mothers present.

Fred’s Super Market Grand Opening across from the bank, formerly Fryman’s. Free prizes galore; free roses for the ladies.

30 years ago – 1987

The North Berrien Historical Society and Emlong Nurseries donated a White Pine seedling to Coloma Junior High School. Helping to plant are students Jay Jollay and Erin DeFields, custodian Ken Kaszubowski and Principal John Yelding.

Commissioner Vivian Cox has announced her resignation. City Engineer Monte Sternaman updated work done on the Church Street sewer project. Commissioner Robert Wooley recommended closing three accounts and transferring funds to the city general fund.

Paw Paw Lake Yacht Club sponsored the Potpourri Race. Heavy winds gave skippers fits during the race.


100 years ago – 1917

Still another new industry was added to Hartford’s industrial circles this week when the Hartford Cement Stave Silo company completed the purchase of a half acre of land from W.H. Blashfield, lying just east of the yards of the Hartford Lumber Company on north Center Street.

Fire in a straw stack threatened the buildings at the Kendrick Smith farm west of town last Thursday morning. Several members of the village fire department went to the scene with the new chemical fire engine, but before they arrived neighbors had the blaze under control. The origin of the fire was a mystery.

75 years ago – 1942

The drive for voluntary pledges for regular investment in war savings bonds and stamps was being brought to a completion Wednesday as canvassers in Hartford, cooperating with the state and national campaigns, were making the final rounds. Chairman of the village drive, Walter J. Markillie, stated that early returns indicate that a loyal response is being received and that there are few families who are not making regular purchases of war stamps or bonds.

The seventh grade class has formed a “Junior Victory Garden Club”. In all there are 15 members. The name selected for the group was, “The Victory Garden Cadets.” The garden is located at the Fowler farm, about 2-1/2 miles southeast of Hartford.

50 years ago – 1967

Three students have earned top scholastic honors in the senior class at Hartford High School. The valedictorian, William Murphey, has a four year all A’s record and two girls with identical grade averages have been named co-salutatorians. They are Cheryl Cornell and Carol Remus.

Oscar Adams won first prize in the 11th annual exhibit of the Hartford Adult Education art class. Paintings were displayed last week at the bank community room by 18 artists. Adams’ winning picture, “Morning Fog,” was a watercolor. He studied at the Chicago Academy of Fine Arts and joined the local class in January.

Second prize was won by Mrs. William Welty with an oil painting entitled, “Frosty Morn.” She has been a member of the art class for four years.

Honorable mention was given to Bill Hover for an oil painting of desert at dusk. Mrs. Don Disbrow, art instructor of the Hartford Public Schools is the class instructor. One member of the class, Mrs. Hertha Woodrum, has been a member of the class since the beginning in 1956.


90 years ago – 1927

The end of the 1927 school year is approaching and the Watervliet High School will graduate a senior class of 19, eight young men and 11 young women. The valedictorian is Onalee Wood and the salutatorian is Edith Gerber.

A son was born to Mr. and Mrs. George Brown of this city on May 21, 1927. He has been named Gale Eugene Brown.

Miss Thelma Shearer entertained a number of friends on May 20, 1927, in honor of the birthday anniversary of Mercedes Bailey. The table was artistically decorated, the color scheme being yellow and white. A beautiful cake decorated and baked by our local baker, Mr. Pflugradt graced the table.

60 years ago – 1957

Troop 61 Boy Scouts of America, was host to the District Court of Honor held on May 13, 1957 at South Elementary School. Arthur Helweg received a special commission to become junior assistant Scout Master of Troop 61.

Mr. and Mrs. Chester Hill are the proud parents of their baby girl, Pamela Joyce, born May 9, 1957 and weighed 8 pounds 11 ounces.

Robert Hubler, teacher in the Watervliet High School and senior class advisor had the misfortune to break his ankle in a freak accident. He is now in a walking cast, but was unable to accompany the senior class on their trip to Washington, D.C. on May 17, 1957.

30 years ago – 1987

The largest nursing class ever to graduate from Lake Michigan College received their pins at a ceremony held May 3, 1987. Out of 53 students, who recently completed LMC’s associate degree nursing program, four are from Watervliet, Corbett Cannon, Barbara Reese, Carri Shimer and Caryl Snider.

Tammy Skorupa is the Student of the Week for May 20, 1987. Tammy has established a solid academic record this year as well as participated in the musical “Pajama Game,” and the all school play, “Rebel Without a Cause.”

Mrs. Doreen Hake, North School secretary, was named Watervliet Public Schools’ ‘Employee of the Month’ for May 1987. This selection was based upon her excellent work in scheduling and coordinating year-ending meetings for teachers and parents of special education students.


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