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 info@northberrienhistory.org. 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 readcoloma@gmail.com. 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