05-16-2019 Tri-City Area History Page

The Paw Paw River Journal

Harmless little scams Have you ever gone snipe hunting? Or floor sacking? No? Well let me tell you about these harmless little scams, tricks to be played on an unwary or unsophisticated victim. The first one I’ve never discussed before. The second one I did write about, but it was sometime back. For snipe hunting the only equipment you need is a large bag, preferably one of some kind of mesh so that it can hold a small animal but allow it to breathe. The snipe is harmless, small, and only comes out at night. So that’s why most people have never seen one. You also should have some sticks for beating the bushes to drive the snipe in a certain direction. Tell the victim you’re going to take him out snipe hunting. You need some place with long avenues… like a vineyard. In the dark of the moon, the darker the better, you go out to this vineyard and place the unwary victim at one end. You tell him to hold the bag with the mouth open. The rest of you will go down to the other end, rattling grapevines with your sticks. And you will drive the snipe right into the mouth of the bag. Then you go home. Some hours later the victim will come in, chastened, and vowing never to go snipe hunting again! I never did this, but we used to enjoy floor sacking when we were kids and studying for the gallows (a little harem scarum, but never doing anything really bad). On the east edge of town there was a gravel road stretching out to the south. It was quiet except for the occasional farmer traveling back and forth. On a hot summer afternoon we gathered together what portion of our gang was available. One of our moms was sure to have an empty 25-pound flour sack. We would get that, fill it with rags or straw. Light weight but looking as though it were full. We tied it shut with binder twine. This is a stout brown skinny rope used for tying up bales of hay. On that gravel road there was an adjacent cornfield. Just right! We placed the flour sack at the edge of the road, carefully covering up the string that led off into the cornfield. Then we settled down a few rows in and waited for victims. Hot summer day, and there at the edge of the road lay a pristine sack (supposedly) of flour! We were hot, dusty, and stifling our laughter. Along came a Ford Model A… a farmer going into town for supplies. Whoa! There’s a new floor sack! Must’ve fallen off the back end of somebody’s truck! He jammed on the brakes, and while he was getting stopped and backing up we reeled in the sack and retreated farther back in the corn. The farmer backed up, drove back and forth a few times, and once in a while would even get out and search up and down. Finally shaking his head in disgust, he got in the truck again and started off… doubting his sanity, or at least his eyesight. One time a member of our gang was a little late in hauling on the string. The farmer got out and was actually holding the sack when he jerked it right out of the guy’s arms. The farmer yelled in fright, jumped in his truck and roared off down the road. But then, alas, tragedy struck! The same farmer came along who had been fooled before. He spotted the innocent looking flour sack beside the road. Never slowing down he just edged over far enough to pop the bag, sending the straw contents all over. Then he beeped the horn… ahoooooga! And continued down the road. I’m sure he was laughing his head off! We decided then and there we would have to find a new location and new victims! I’m sure some of our tricks made people grit their teeth and look a little beady-eyed. But actually those were pretty innocent times. Truth be told I’m sure many people say they would trade what’s going on in the world today for them. I’m not going to turn this into a sermonette, but don’t you wish just a little bit that we could go back to the way things used to be? I know, I know, the toothpaste is out of the tube and can’t be put back in! Like the poor kid who looked around at his ghetto existence and said, “What it is!” But it’s our life! And we can do better… we can weave more golden threads into The Great Tapestry of Life in these storybook towns along the Paw Paw River.

“My boyfriend Marshall Brunden, Watervliet, Michigan” Who was the young photographer? Is this St. Joseph Street in Watervliet? Stop by the NBHS Museum or give them a call at 468-3330 with information on this photo. 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

Watervliet District Library News Teen Table Projects: May Stop-Motion Station – Use library laptop or your phone but definitely use their props. The Academy Awards awaits! Genealogy Basics Thur. May 16, 6:30 – 8 p.m. Discover more tools to your past with local history & genealogy enthusiast Carole Kierna