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06-18-2020 Tri-City Area History Page

Fall 1920 photo of a possibly wrecked boat on Paw Paw River near Wolcott Woods. Name on the hull seems to be “Honey S”. If you have any information about this particular boating event, please contact North Berrien Historical Museum at 269-468-3330 or The museum is closed until further notice. From the photo collection at the North Berrien Historical Museum 300 Coloma Avenue, Coloma

The Paw Paw River Journal

Badgers, growlers and hushers According to my Webster’s, a badger is a small fierce animal that will fight and beat almost any animal in the wild. It was also a nickname for back in the day when people had outhouses and no indoor plumbing, a receptacle that was kept under the bed so when nature called it would not make necessary a trip out into the cold. It was also related to the word growler. This was a container that back then Papa would send one of the kids down to the corner saloon to be filled with beer to go along with supper. Both of these names were jokingly attached to the China receptacle under the bed. Ladies with refined sensibilities did not like to hear the lid of the badger or growler clanking in the middle of the night. So they crocheted a cover for the lid that muffled it. And that hushed the sound. Now, Dear Readers, we are up to speed with the definitions, so I can proceed with my story. It concerns a lodge called The Oddfellows. This was a group back in the day sort of like The Masons, or The Eastern Star, only not quite as well known. Whether they were really odd or not I have no idea. The symbol for their lodge was a chain with a broken link. They met in the rooms above the old Gleaner store, which was sort of a co-op. Back in the day those social organizations served a real purpose. They gave a collective voice to groups of ordinary citizens. Sometimes they even had insurance plans. Summer of 1916 and the Hartford Oddfellows needed to enrich their treasury. So they decided to put on a fair or carnival. With meticulous planning they laid out an evening of fun. They had a refreshment stand, cakes to be auctioned off, ice cream, all for good cause. Games for the kids such as a fish pond… for a small sum, children could obtain a fish pole, line and hook. This they dangled over a sheet that was hung up and thereafter reel in a small prize. Now something for the adults… this was really inspired. One area of the main room was partitioned off by curtains. In front of that a big sign which read: BADGER FIGHT! Come in and see the fiercest animal in the world! Admission—One Dollar! MEN ONLY! This could cause ladies to faint. When people saw this sign going up, it caused a lot of comment! The planners were unusually close-mouthed and would reveal none of the details. Came the night of the carnival, entertainment starved Hartfordites were ready for something really juicy! My dad told me the story of that evening. Of course, it was before my time! I have never forgotten the story. He was there and went to see the badger fight. The first round was at 7 p.m. Men filed in, paid their dollar and sat on planks held up by cement blocks. They were all anxious to see the fight and soon became vocal about getting started. After a suitable time of impatience, one of the show’s sponsors drew back the curtains and then quietly left the room. There, on a spotlighted stage sat in all its glory a chamber pot—China, and a lid with husher. It was a badger all right, but there was no fight in it. The men sat and looked then looked some more. Finally one said, “Well, boys, we’ve been had! Now shall we blow the whistle on it? Or should we go out and say it’s the best thing we’ve ever seen? After all these dollars are going for good cause!” So they all filed out, laughing and slapping their leg saying, “That’s the greatest thing we’ve seen in a long time!” And all that evening show after show the dollars came in, and it was undoubtedly the hit of the whole carnival. Could that happen today? We like to think we are so sophisticated and perhaps it would be too rustic and old-fashioned. But PT Barnum, the great showman, said, “There’s a sucker born every minute.” And so it goes as we weave a few more golden threads into The Great Tapestry of Life in these storybook towns along the Paw Paw River!

Coloma Public Library News Curbside Services

The Coloma Public Library has Curbside Services from noon to 6 p.m. Monday through Friday and 10 a.m. – 2 p.m. on Saturdays. Requests for materials can be made by calling 269-468-3431, ordering materials through the online catalog, or sending an email to The library building will remain closed while staff works to implement a phased reopening plan as well as comply with government mandates for the safety of staff and patrons. Summer Reading Program The Coloma Public Library Summer Reading Program will run from Monday, June 22 through Friday, August 7. This year’s offering will be virtual so children, teens, and adults can participate online! However, paper logs are available through Curbside Services as well as craft kits (while supplies last). Additional details are forth coming. In the meantime, please call, email, or reach out to the library through Facebook for any questions. Little Free Cart Weather permitting, the library will place a cart outside the front doors with free reading materials. Please feel free to keep the items until the library has reopened for services. Materials will come from donations and be an eclectic assortment. If there is a special request for a specific title, please contact the library through Facebook messaging and they will check donations. Digital Library Card Sign up for a digital card from the Coloma Public Library. A free card is available for residents or business owners in their legal service area including Coloma Township, the City of Coloma, Bainbridge Township, and Hagar Township. Gain access to e-books and other electronic resources 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. Visit their website at Click on “Catalog” in the banner and look for the “Sign Up” button near the top right corner.

Berrien Fair Exhibitor Handbooks and Online Entries

2020 Berrien County Youth Fair Exhibitor Handbooks are now available. Huge thanks goes to Spectrum Health Lakeland for the sponsoring and printing of the 2020 books. Books and entry forms may be picked up at the Fair Office in Berrien Springs in the vestibule between the two entry doorways, Berrien County public libraries and the following Tri-Cities businesses: Red & White Feed, Benton Harbor/Millburg – True Value Hardware, Coloma – Watervliet Fruit Exchange, Watervliet. Exhibitor handbooks can also be viewed online by specific department or the full book at Exhibitors must be five to twenty years of age to exhibit all animals, including livestock and still exhibits (crafts, home economics, horticulture, flowers). Age is determined as of January 1 of the current year. Online registration for the 2020 fair began June 15. Once registered, (each year you will create a user name and password – it can be the same as last year’s) exhibitors can return to the program and add more entries up until each entry deadline. The exhibitor’s printed email confirmation will serve as the traditional yellow copy of the entry form and is required on entry day.


100 years ago – 1920 Mr. Austin M. Hallman will be returning to his home town of Coloma as he has accepted the position of labor agent with Friday Bros. Canning Co. He and his wife will relocate here from Chicago. They are welcomed to the business and social ranks of Coloma. A special communication of Lodge No. 162 F.&A.M. was held. The third degree was conferred on five candidates. Although the evening was hot, electric fans made all comfortable. 60 years ago – 1960 Mother and son receive college degrees. Mrs. Marion Hanson graduated from Western Michigan University and Garrett from the University of Michigan. Willard Schaaf and Duane Taylor were elected to terms on the board of education. Reelected were Howard Elliott and Mrs. Juanita Kniebes. Theodore LaGrow, 14, escaped serious injury when his bicycle was struck by a car. The youth had presence of mind to leap clear of the bicycle before the impact. Al Swisher and Walter Leedy filed complaints of larceny from their automobiles. Both cases are under investigation by the police. The Patrice School of Dance held its “First Dance Recital”. A crowd of 300 attended in the high school. 30 years ago – 1990 Commissioner Jim Polashak requires more information before a decision can be made on a rezoning request. The property is the corner of Church Street and Ryno Road. Welsh Oil wants to place a gas station there. CHS instructor Harold Bragg introduced members of the Student Forum to the School Board Members. The forum was organized following a much-publicized racial incident. The group has a good cross section of the black and white students. These students have all become friends and learned much about seeing both sides. Joe Littleton won the grand prize, a color television, at Jones Intercable’s Grand Reopening. Submitted by volunteer Sandi Musick Munchow at Coloma Public Library from the Coloma Courier newspapers donated by the Tri-City Record. Curbside Service Hours: Mon-Fri 12-6 and Sat 10-2 Phone: 269-468-3431


100 years ago – 1920 Rain Sunday night broke the most severe June drought that this section of Michigan has experienced in years. Several scorching days, with mercury climbing above 90, had seriously threatened growing crops. Meadows were burning up, corn that has just emerged through the ground was scorched and all crops were suffering for moisture. The rain came in the nick of time to save a part of the strawberry crop, which with a few more days of drought would have been ruined. Rain fell north, east and south from two to three days before the dry spell here was broken. 75 years ago – 1945 Both meat markets in the village remained closed most of this week, opening up again with below normal quantities of merchandise for the weekend. Reopening last Saturday after a sudden shutdown earlier found shoppers standing in line hoping to get some meat before it was all sold. Hartford Art Study class will meet at the home of Mrs. Harry Burkholder, south of Hartford. Mrs. Walter Markillie will present the lesson on English Paintings at the National Art Gallery, Washington, D.C. Hartford Township Library board will use part of a cash grant from the State Board for libraries for purchase of a new Encyclopedia Britannica, Mrs. Nellie Smith, librarian announced. The grant amounted to $274.82. It comes from a fund established to aid development of Michigan libraries. 50 years ago – 1970 When the cornerstone of the old Immaculate Conception Catholic Church on E. Main Street was opened last week it held a copy of the Day Spring published the week the cornerstone was laid nearly 63 years ago. The paper was yellowed and about half disintegrated, but a story about the cornerstone laying was visible along with the last two digits of the year in the dateline. The church recently moved to a new building on the south side of the city. The old church is being sold to the Church of Christ which is remodeling it. High school students of Gordon Nye, agricultural teacher, and Noriene Disbrow, art teacher, have completed landscaping the west inside courtyard at the school, a project begun in the spring of 1969. They have transformed the formerly plain area with a patio of Osage orange blocks, sidewalks of red concrete flagstones, rock garden and statue of young King Arthur, new evergreens and flower beds and a new maple tree. From 75 to 100 students were involved in the project, which was continued during the summer of 1969. Submitted by Librarian Stephanie Daniels at Hartford Public Library from microfilm copies of the Hartford Day Spring. Revised Hours: Mon – Fri 10–5 Phone: 269-621-3408


90 years ago – 1930 Watervliet paper mill workers are to have a three-day vacation over the July 4th weekend. Notwithstanding the general industrial complaint throughout the country of slack times and unemployment, the plant of Watervliet Paper Co. has been operating steadily on full-time hours. The shutdown affords the over 450 employees a vacation outing at the pleasantest time of the year. The Pere Marquette Railroad has just completed some cement sidewalk improvements across their right-of-way in this city on Main Street and First Street. The Boy Scouts of Watervliet will be well represented at Camp Madron, the Berrien-Cass area camp, the summer of 1930. The boys have selected the first period, July 6 – 13, to attend. 60 years ago – 1960 Tony and Leona Koshar have been appointed exclusive local representatives for United Farm Agency at Watervliet and surrounding territory. United is one of the nation’s largest sellers of rural real estate. Watervliet’s grand old man of baseball has been at it again. All American Pat Page stole the show in a game at the University of Chicago, when he hurled the Alumni to victory over the varsity. At 73, Pat still throws a wicked curve. The annual Florida picnic will be held in Hays Park beginning with a basket dinner on June 25, 1960. This affair has been held in Hays Park every summer since 1930 and all Florida Jaunters are given invitation to attend. 30 years ago – 1990 The Greater Watervliet Independence Day Celebration is HOT!! It’s so hot it exploded into a 3-day package of goodies for Southwest Michigan. It’s a carnival. It’s art. It’s crafts, antiques, sidewalk sales and a dunk tank. It’s candied apples, cotton candy, hot dogs and polish sausages; the sweet sound of swing, the lovely touch of country folk, the best 50s and 60s costumes, antique cars, eight regal queens, the Mecca Kitchen Band, products made in Michigan, sharing Indian culture and a puppet show. Jason Platt helped his team, The A’s, to victory, by hitting 3 consecutive home runs. Jason is the League leader in home runs. The Circus is coming to town! For the children of Southwestern Michigan, the magical experience will take place at the WHS athletic field. The Keller-Miller Brothers Three-Ring Circus is acclaimed as one of North America’s cleanest and finest tented organizations. There will be elephants, clowns, bears, tigers, clowns, acrobats and even more clowns. Submitted by Sally Q. Gonzalez from files at Watervliet District Library of the Watervliet Record newspapers donated by the Tri-City Record. Curbside Service Hours: Mon, Tue, Thu & Fri 10-2; Wed 4-8; Sat, 12-2 Phone: 269-463-6382


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