05-28-2020 Tri-City Area History Page

The Paw Paw River Journal


A Century of Progress Soft summer morning, 1933… in Chicago there was a huge fair going on. They called it “A Century of Progress”. We had no chance of going to it. All of us kids knew that was the place to be… but not for us. People who had been to see it were impressed! We had the time, but Chicago was 120 miles down around the tip of Lake Michigan from Hartford. Out in front of my dad’s greenhouses there was a new Maple growing. In front of it he had erected a fence of wooden posts and two by fours so customers would not slam into it and skin off the bark. We were perched on the rail like a bunch of yardbirds… including a girl from down the street whose family was visiting Aunty Berry for the summer. They lived in Chicago, and she was about a year older than I. And she was the kind of a kid who would “Nah, nah,” anything that you had which wasn’t as nice as her version of it! She was singing over and over, “World’s Fair, I was there… World’s Fair… I was there!” Her name was Elaine Platt. We never got to see the Fair that year, but the next summer for some reason my dad decided we should go to Chicago one time to see something we were likely never to see again. I don’t know if we kids wore him down over the winter, but here we were packed into our Model A Ford with a picnic lunch and three other friends… Ethel Kime and her two kids, Laure and Russell. They were good friends of ours and we were glad to have them along. Seven of us in our Model A Ford! Years later a good friend of mine, Ray Sreboth, and I were exchanging stories. He lived in Chicago as a kid and knew the city like the back of his hand. Whenever his folks had company come to stay with them and see the fair, they would have Ray take them on the various streetcars out to the Fairgrounds and show them around. We got a kick out of it years later when comparing childhood experiences. We both heard about the headliner shows at the Chicago fair. It was “Sally Rand and her famous fan dancers”. The newspapers were full of it at the time. The show had these gorgeous girls, nearly in the buff; and part of that act was the huge feathers they waived in front of home plate so to speak. I know when we arrived and walked down that Midway, I anxiously looked for Sally Rand! There she was… a big display and the gorgeous girls! Believe me, my mom hustled us past that sinful display which… every time the girls came out and did a teaser for the show people gathered near and far. Not us! We were hustled past until we got to an area of more civilized propriety! Driving home to Michigan after a full day there the car was pretty quiet. I think the only person awake was my dad and that’s because he was driving. But we could now say, “World’s Fair, I was there!” I never saw Elaine Platt again that summer so I could nah-nah her. There are a couple of points here I’d like to expand on. First of all, why should I worry that a girl from Chicago has done something that I haven’t done. We go through life envying people who have more and have been places we’ve never dreamed of. My world now has shrunk to the limits of a two-room apartment. I wrote before what’s to worry about we get together at the dining room and exchange ideas. We don’t even get to do that now. I have not been out of this apartment for weeks. Family and friends call and we talk on the phone. I see all the people who work here and I cultivate friendships with them. Thus I do get some news of the outside world. I can watch all the TV I can take. When my eyes start to bug out, time to turn the thing off for a while. Where would I go if I could go? Can’t think of any place right now… oh, it would be nice to watch a Lake Michigan sunset again. I wonder if the camping parks will be open this summer. We have spent so many times, joyful times I might add. For standout experience… one night at Traverse City State Park I was setting up our campsite. Wind sighing through the evergreens. I can remember breathing deep that clear clean pollen-free northern air. After that Marion would have dinner ready. Either an icy cold Bud Light or the clean cold pine needle taste of a dry martini. And whatever was for dinner tasted great because we were full of joy and she fixed it. And I remember all the times talking with family… dinners and other get-togethers. How joyful they all were. Times with Marion almost three quarters of a century we were together and never ran out of words! There were times for talking and times for not talking. I knew and loved every inch of her body, but in some ways she was still an eternal mystery. I’m sure she knew more about me than I knew about her. All the people I’ve known, family and friends, people I’ve encountered over the years and all my students. They were almost all a great joy to me and I look back on the times I spent sometimes just talking. For a period of time I had some classic muscle cars… I mean the hot ones of the 60s, 70s, and 80s. That gave me an entrée into their world and I know kids loved to talk about cars with me. So whenever I wish I can go into this rich bank of memories. Only trouble is that was then and this is now. I’d do it all again… in a heartbeat! And I can feel the richness of my life knowing that I traveled that road even once weaving golden threads in the Great Tapestry of Life in these storybook towns along the Paw Paw River!

Joe’s Place Restaurant… Windows are painted with: Spring Chicken Dinner & Chicken and Noodles. Joe also had a fruit stand on the premises. Did you ever eat at Joe’s? Purchase fruit at his stand? What is your favorite eating establishment? If you have any information or memories of Joe’s Place Restaurant, please contact North Berrien Historical Museum at 269-468-3330, info@northberrienhistory.org, or facebook.com/NorthBerrienHistory. The museum is closed until further notice. From the photo collection at the North Berrien Historical Museum 300 Coloma Avenue, Coloma