The Paw Paw River Journal
Just another Memorial Day? No, I don’t believe what the above title suggests. To me, every Memorial Day is special, meaningful, and filled with long thoughts that are sometimes painful. Revisiting those thoughts, especially at this time of year is like counting pearls on a string of beads. There is a sad beauty to this day, and I willingly revisit the memory of those who died in wars… and in peacetime… while serving our country. For instance, when I was a kid, we took a trip out west. My folks wanted to visit my mom’s younger brother, Ward Merrill, who lived in and out of the Veterans’ Hospital at Boise, Idaho. She wanted to see him one more time while he was still with us, and she felt some urgency to do it. You see, Uncle Ward was in World War I. He fought in the trenches of that horrible war, and came home with his lungs seared by poisonous mustard gas. Talk about man’s inhumanity to man! They released canisters of greenish yellow death… to float over the enemy trenches. And sometimes the wind changed… sending it right back. Both sides did it, while they hunkered down in sloppy wet trenches where battles had been fought over before. Sometimes the trench digging would unearth bodies from a previous battle. Uncle Ward knew he would never make ‘old bones.’ Some good did come out of it… he met and married one of the nurses at the hospital. She took care of him until he left this Circle of Life. So, he had a good life, albeit one lived in pain, paying the price for man’s inhumanity to man! When we visited him, he showed us the craft section of the hospital… where patients could work at their hobbies. I wore for years a woven leather belt he made and gave to me. We have a history of wars. Of which the first one was when our country was born in pain and blood. Some of my ancestors were in the Revolutionary War, although I know but little about them. Friend Pat Erwin (God rest her soul) was an expert on genealogy. She said people on my mom’s side came over in some of the first loads of colonists. And some of my dad’s people were there to meet them! My great-grandfather, Jeremiah Davis, enlisted in the 98th New York Volunteers and went to the Civil War, which was not really very civil. People in the South refer to it as “The War between the States.” Jeremiah rose through the ranks from buck private until he became Color Sergeant. That’s the guy who carried the flag, and enemy snipers always tried to pick him off and make the flag fall. He was wounded, but recovered, and was finally given a battlefield commission as a 2nd Lt. at the end of the war. Many of our friends and relatives were in World War II. Some historians believe that this upheaval was really a continuation of the first one. This was our generation’s war, the one Archie Bunker referred to as “The Big One!” I’ve written about it on numerous occasions, and have completed a book on my experiences during that time. We have many friends who were in Vietnam. I know that is the war no one wanted to talk about, but those events have now come out of the shadows, and I am firmly convinced all of those who participated in it were heroes! Not only that, many of them came out afterwards with post-traumatic stress and/or Agent Orange exposure. I treasure my friendship with all of them. We have relatives and friends who participated in the Gulf wars… some enduring horrible conditions. They are all heroes… men and women both. And the worst part of that… it is still going on. It seems war will always be with us. The League of Nations, formed to cement friendships after World War I, was a miserable failure. The United Nations, formed after World War II, seems to be headed down the same path. One conspicuous success was the Marshall Plan. Originally designed to help our defeated enemies get back on their feet, it was so successful people are still benefiting from it. I’m not going to comment on the recent difficulties those same countries are now experiencing as the result of risky financial practices. My only thought on that… if we don’t learn from what is happening in Europe, we have indeed lost some of the smarts we have always been known for. So here we are today… with an imperfect world… because we are all imperfect, flawed people. There just seems to be an innate cussedness in humans. We try… and we fall short. All of the millions who have lost their lives in one war or another… or even a non-war that is fraught with killing… has all paid the price. We grow older, but I’m not sure collectively we grow wiser. Back in the day when first some religious dissidents and malcontents came to the shores of this land, they scratched and clawed for a living. And many of them died. The Puritans (who were among the dissenters) felt that it was God’s Hand descending on them. One early colonist even wrote an essay titled, “God’s Quarrel with New England.” But they stuck to it… and we have prevailed! In spite of our faults, we keep on trying. And we must! All of those who have given their lives for this land demand that we do. Of all the people involved in ‘our war,’ they are marching off the edge of the world at the rate of 800-900 a day. We have to do better by them and all the rest. Every time Memorial Day rolls around, we should all make a solemn vow to weave more golden threads into the tapestry of life in these storybook towns along the Paw Paw River.
Watervliet District Library News Teen Table Projects: May
“X, a Novel” by Ilyasah Shabazz. Take home a copy, read it and share your inspiration in art – your choice of format – then take home a fedora in classic zoot-suit style. Special Stuff for Kids – May: Rhythm & Read 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 with questions on any Watervliet library activity.
Swap Meet & Flea Market in South Haven June 8-9
Michigan Flywheelers Museum is holding a Swap Meet & Flea Market where over 160 sellers will be offering everything from antiques to tractors. The event will be held Friday, June 8 and Saturday, June 9 rain or shine. Some of the items that will be for sale include produce, baked goods, jewelry, furniture, tools, toys, clothing and more. “We started this event as a way to raise money to support the museum,” explains Patrick Ingalls, museum president. “The money raised from this helps with restoration projects, operation costs and exhibit development.” Held rain or shine, hours are 8 a .m. to 4 p.m. both days. Admission is $2 per person. Children 12 and under are free with an adult. Please note this is a pet-free event. For those interested in selling, cost is $15 per vendor for both days. Pre-registration is not required. Set-up for vendors starts Thurs., June 7 at 8 a.m.
NEWS FROM THE COLOMA COURIER
100 years ago – 1918 The high school seniors will present their annual class play entitled “Some Class.” This will be Part II of the commencement program. They will be assisted by under classes. Tickets are on sale at Baker’s Drug Store. The Sunday preceding Memorial Day has been observed as Memorial Sunday for many years. Plan on attending this service. Now open to the public, Eden Springs Park at House of David. Ample interurban service available from Coloma.
60 years ago – 1958 Many farms in the Brick School area will receive Centennial Farm certificates. Mrs. A.C. Stark has researched the families in preparation for this observance. Live in the Heart of Vacationland. LEEDY Subdivision. Ranches, Split Levels, Cape Cods from $13,000 to $16,000. Custom-built. Gyl Johnson became the United States Senior Twirling champion of 1958. She is drum majorette of the Coloma High School band. Graduation week activities get under way with annual Class Day and Honors Convocation. Fifty-nine seniors will receive diplomas.
30 years ago – 1988 Coloma hosts Bellevue in Mayor Exchange this year. A large entourage from this small community arrived Monday. The visit began at City Hall, according to Treasurer Fred Munchow. The day also included a trip to Deer Forest and many businesses, ending with dinner at the Northwoods Inn. A new face on Main Street these days is Nancy Ruess, owner-operator of Cutting Corners. The hair design studio also features tanning facilities. Mr. and Mrs. Doug Sipla are the proud parents of a baby boy, Kevin. He has a five-year old sister, Danielle.
Submitted by volunteer Sandi Musick Munchow at Coloma Public Library from the Coloma Courier newspapers donated by the Tri-City Record. Hours: Mon & Fri, 10:00 a.m.-5:30 p.m.; Tue, Wed & Thu, 10:00 a.m.-8:00 p.m.; Sat, 10:00 a.m.-2:00 p.m. Phone: 269-468-3431
NEWS FROM THE HARTFORD DAY SPRING
100 years ago – 1918 The program planned for the Navy rally in Hartford failed to materialize, but nevertheless an immense crowd was out to greet the Navy representatives and Hartford furnished six recruits for Uncle Sam’s Navy. In a practice run members made a mile run with the new Hartford fire truck over a circuitous route. The firemen laid 350 feet of fire hose, turned on the water pressure and ran their ladders to the top of the building, all within six minutes from the time the alarm was sounded. Another heavy electrical storm visited Hartford. No damage is reported from the lightning, but the wind wrecked a new garage at the W.P. Crosby home in the northeast part of town and also caused heavy damage to the Hartford Cement Stave Silo company in the north part of the village. 75 years ago – 1943 Although the victory gardeners have experienced such an unsatisfactory early planting season, they are being encouraged to carry out their good intentions by Lloyd Taylor, chairman of the Hartford victory garden committee. Mr. Taylor stated that at least three cash prizes would be offered in each of two class groups, the senior gardeners and the junior gardeners. The Hartford Garden club will meet at the home of Mrs. Belle Mortimer on Friday afternoon, May 21. Subject of the day will be “garden hobbies”. Forty seniors at the Hartford High School are participating in the graduation program. Baccalaureate service is scheduled for Sunday and graduation exercises Thursday, May 28. 50 years ago – 1968 The Pittsburgh Pirates baseball team will conduct a tryout at the Hartford High School field Saturday, June 8. Players must be 16 years old to be eligible to attend the tryouts. Players are to furnish their own shoes, uniforms and gloves. Work of the Hartford Adult Education Art class will be exhibited May 22, 23 and 24 at the community room of the Van Buren State Bank. Oils, watercolors, charcoals, chalks and acrylics will be displayed. Mrs. Norieve Disbrow is instructor. Submitted by Librarian Stephanie Daniels at Hartford Public Library from microfilm copies of the Hartford Day Spring. Hours: Mon, Tue & Wed, 10 a.m.-7 p.m.; Thu & Fri, 10 a.m.-5 p.m.; Sat, 10 a.m.-2 p.m. Phone: 269-621-3408
NEWS FROM THE WATERVLIET RECORD
90 years ago – 1928 In June 1928, Miss Deidee Myrick of Watervliet was elected to charter membership and initiated into Tau Kappa Alpha, new honorary forensic fraternity at Western State Teachers College. Members are elected on the basis of ability and success in debate and public speaking. The annual cost of the Watervliet schools amounts to about $45,000. This includes annual payments of $5,000 on the bonded indebtedness and interest payments of around $9,000. 60 years ago – 1958 Miss Jill Clark, Watervliet, graduated from the Illinois Masonic Hospital School of Nursing, Chicago, on May 16, 1958. Miss Clark, who graduated from WHS in 1955, will continue at the School of Nursing until September when she will take her State Board Exams. Nick Vucich of Watervliet, a 16-year-old accordion player and blue ribbon winner at the Michigan 4-H Share the Fun Show in 1957, has been selected as one of 15 top 4-H talent acts to appear on the annual show. Jimmy, of Jimmy’s Shoe Repair Shop, which was recently opened in Watervliet by James Hochgraber, announces that he has just installed an Adler Patch stitcher, of which he is very proud. 30 years ago – 1988 Todd Bannen, Shannon Hanks and Roger Lottridge all of WHS, were named as co-valedictorians of the class of 1988. Jan Willmeng is WHS’s representative to American Legion Auxiliary Girl’s State. She was chosen for her school activities that showed experience in citizenship and leadership. Philip Gearhart, a WHS junior, will be representing his school at American Legion Boy’s State on June 22, 1988. Phillip was chosen because of his academic achievements and his participation in the National Honor Society among other activities. Laura Milham, has been selected Student of the Week for the Watervliet schools. She received this honor because she is outstanding academically, is eager to learn, strives to do her best, is cooperative and shows friendliness toward others. Laura is 8 years old and in the second grade. Submitted by Sally Q. Gonzalez from files at Watervliet District Library of the Watervliet Record newspapers donated by the Tri-City Record. Hours: Mon & Wed, 10 a.m.-8 p.m.; Tue, Thu & Fri, 10 a.m.-5 p.m.; Sat, 9 a.m.-3 p.m. Phone: 269-463-6382