05-30-2019 Tri-City Area History Page

Who is the bumper ornament? Notice the 1940 license plate on the car. Stop by the NBHS Museum or give us a call at 468-3330 if you have 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

The Paw Paw River Journal

Better than average

This world is run by average to better than average people! Now I don’t mean to eliminate rocket scientists or medical pioneers necessarily, although I wasn’t exactly talking about them either. One time when I was teaching, this really hard-working boy stopped by my desk. He said to me, “Mr. Davis, I’m tired of being a good strong B-plus. Couldn’t I just once in a while be a weak A-minus?” At that time I wasn’t experienced enough to explain to him the realities of life. Just look about you… who are the people that run everything? Do you think they are the geniuses? There wouldn’t be enough of them to go around. Who punches the time clocks in America’s factories? Those people get up every morning, go to work day after day, and produce all the stuff that makes us No. 1. But I don’t mean to shortchange the really smart people. We need them… and I have always felt it was a tragedy when I look at the countries with rigid social systems. I don’t want to start a fuss with Buddhists and Hindus. I admire them too much for that. But I also remember the time I spent in Asia. There were people of the untouchable caste who would never do anything in this life except clean public toilets and sweep up stuff. And I thought, perhaps there are little kids growing up there who, given an education, might turn out to be another Thomas Edison, or a Jonas Salk… one who might discover a cure for some of our dreaded diseases. There are gifted people in our own country who need to be nurtured. I know, because I taught them! Because I had so much education, I was often given classes of those kids to teach. They were for the most part a joy. They catch on so fast and if they are not ruined somewhere along the way will pay handsome dividends in the work they do. Were some of them smarter than I was? You bet! But that didn’t bother me… I always told them with a smile, “Old age and treachery will win out over youth and inexperience every time!” And they were almost always receptive to my humor and ideas. Because that’s part of being smart! I had all my students keep journals. When class started, they got their journals out and started writing. I told them if they would write one page every day for the 90 days semester, they would get an A in journal writing entered into my grade book. “Wow! Writing just anything?” “Yes,” I explained, “poetry you find that you like, song lyrics, ideas you have… and for goodness sake, anything I write on the blackboard. Or stuff I tell you that maybe will have some impact on your life later.” One boy asked me, “What if I just write my name over and over?” I told him it was his journal. And he did that for a couple of days. Then he stopped by my desk and said, “I’m tired of writing my name… guess I’ll put down some ideas!” I just smiled. If I were back there now one change I would make… I would ask them to practice in their journal some cursive writing. Nobody seems to be teaching that now. I’m afraid we will lose the ability! Nice writing is just beautiful to see, but the only time some kids use it is to sign their name, and a few can’t even do that. They just print! I believe now and I believed then in journal writing! People need to learn to express themselves on the written page. What better way to start a class whilst I did the housekeeping tasks? In fact, back in 1977 I started writing a journal myself! When I quit just a few years ago, I was on Journal number 126! They stretch out in a long line on my bookshelves! Another special group was the beautiful people. Some kids are just attractive… some are even beautiful. If they learn too early that they are, it can keep them from developing their other talents. I had students who traded on their good looks. They would sometimes gravitate towards activities that could showcase them… like cheerleading. And I don’t mean to disparage that group. They work hard and some of their routines approach the level of art forms! I never knew exactly how to get a beautiful but intellectually empty child to develop his or her mind. But I always tried! Sometimes their problems were at least partially caused by parents who exploited them. You know, child beauty contests, dance recitals, etc. And again, there’s nothing wrong with that unless it becomes the be all and end all. I always felt it’s like we have a bank account in our heads. We need to deposit a lot (reading, listening, taking in life) so we will have something to draw upon from that account! Here I am after a lifetime of depositing… still making withdrawals while trying to weave threads into the Golden Tapestry of Life in these storybook towns along the Paw Paw River!