06-21-2018 Tri-City Area History Page

The Paw Paw River Journal

The two-headed boy Hot morning sun on the midway of the old Van Buren County Fair north of Hartford. Crowds of people, and I was one of them. About 10 years old, in front of a sideshow. Standing on a platform, an older man with gray curly hair and a gold ear ring in one ear was calling out… “Step right up folks, see the two-headed boy!” He was surrounded by colorful garish posters showing a two-headed guy eating and doing all the normal things that people do. “Now I need someone from the crowd to help me. You, kid, step up here!” And he pointed right at me… I tried to shrink back into the crowd, but hands on my back propelled me forward, and the next thing I knew I was standing on the stage looking at that sea of faces. “Now you look like a bright young man… I’ll bet you could sneeze and put a gold coin right into this can I got in my hand!” He held up an empty gallon can and said, “Go ahead, sneeze into the can!” I faked a good sneeze, and “Clunk!” He picked a gold coin out and held it up for the crowd to see. Then he went on with his spiel… Saying sideways to me, “All right, Kid, go in and take a look… you’re all done.” Glad to get off that platform, I headed back into the display. Fair week came in the early fall. School was called off for that week, because most of the kids would be out at the fair anyway. My folks were both involved in it. My dad was Hartford’s only florist, so they had him judge the big flower show held in the Floral Hall. It took him all of the first day to judge the beautiful blooms that Hartford area ladies had lovingly grown. My mom was active in the Methodist church, and those ladies had the best food concession on the fairgrounds. Right next to the grandstand, their booth was one of the permanent buildings. Mealtimes a line stretched way back… people waiting to order their hot beef and pork sandwiches, vegetable soup, and pies of all kinds. I guess our folks felt as long as we stayed on the fairgrounds we shouldn’t get in much trouble. So we had the run of the place, and we knew every inch of it. I loved to ride on the Ferris wheel until one year I saw them put it up. They had such a skuzzy looking crew working on it, I saw that it was like an erector set. One loose bolt and the whole thing could come down. That was a little scary. I saw one sideshow where they had Bonnie and Clyde’s death car. I paid to go in and look at the slide show. There they were, laid out… full of bullet holes. Another tent was my absolute favorite. It was full of machine-gun type controllers in front of movie screens. Airplanes came at you on the screen, and you scored by shooting them down. It was noisy and great fun. One day when business was slow, the manager gave my sister and me free tickets. We made so much noise, pretty soon a crowd was gathered; and business got pretty brisk. And there was the two-headed boy! I had earned admission by being part of that guy’s spiel. So I quickly left the stage and back into the display. Quiet… a canvas room, and in the center a table. On it a big glass jar full of, I suppose, formaldehyde, floating in the jar, a baby with two heads. His little hands were clenched, and all four eyes closed. I had never seen anything that bizarre in my whole life. I stood there, transfixed. He, or they, looked as though they were dreaming. How long had they been thus? Were they born before the Civil War? Had they been born in the Great Depression? How did they get here? What were their last thoughts? I felt very uncomfortable looking at them. It was almost as though I was trespassing… someplace I shouldn’t be. And I wanted to get out of there. But my feet were glued to the ground. When I did get back out on the midway, the sunshine was not quite as bright as it had been. The poet Wordsworth wrote, “… We come to earth trailing clouds of glory, from God who is our home.” I have looked into the eyes of babies, and there almost seems to be wisdom there. Something they know that we don’t know. I wonder if anyone in this world has ever had memories of before they were born. I know this… my life was never quite the same after I saw that exhibit. Were those two brains separate entities? Of course they were. What did they think of? Were they still somewhere dreaming? I’ll never know. What I do know is that my life was forever a little different after seeing them. We are all in the process of becoming. I think everything that happens to us in this life shapes us, molds us into whatever we are going to be. One time we were vacationing in Florida. It was Sunday and we went to church. This was at Fort Myers, on McGregor Boulevard. The elderly priest said, “You know how they are always working on the streets here. We are like that. We should all have a sign around our neck that says ‘work in progress!’” Will we ever be completed? Probably not as long as we are thinking… receiving information. What else is new in these storybook towns of ours as we continue to weave golden threads into the tapestry of our lives?

Watervliet District Library News Teen Table Projects: June Do-it-yourself CD mandalas; all supplies provided. Summer Reading Program The library is pleased to partner with WPS to provide free lunches for kids & teens following each Thursday program. This year’s program includes: June 21 Kindness Rocks and June 28 Around the World Magic Show. Make-It Music Mondays, 1–2 p.m. Musical Instruments to make-n-take for K-6th graders & family: June 25 Music Scales (Xylophones) Open Mic, June 22, 7:30 p.m. Singers, musicians and dramatic artists are all encouraged to participate. Don’t forget: Performers need an audience! All artists must sign-up in advance. Refreshments will be served. Call 463-6382 to register or for details. Pinteresting, June 25, 6:30 p.m. Arts & crafts for grown-ups: Sun catchers; sign-up required. Volunteer Nothing looks better on a resume! Best times to help out: Mondays & Thursdays, program times. Stop by to pick up a form. 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.

Coloma Library News Libraries Rock! The 2018 Summer Reading Program is open to all young people. There will be programs, prize drawings, storytimes, a reading club, and more for the whole family. For more information, call the library at 468-3431 or visit www.colomapubliclibrary.net. All programs are free of charge. Story Hour Story Hour meets on Wednesdays at 10:30 a.m. Toddlers and preschoolers are invited to hear a story, make a craft and sing a song with Miss Amy. There is no sign-up or fee required. It is asked that all children be supervised by an adult during Story Hour. Book Club The Coloma Library Book Club is meeting on Thursday, June 28 at 5:30 p.m. The title to read before the discussion is “Daring to Drive” by Manal Al-Sharif. The book club regularly meets every other Thursday and is always looking for new members.


100 years ago – 1918 Over 100 women are employed at the Friday Bros. Canning Factory. Liberty Cabbage is being canned. President Wilson urges the celebration of July 4th. Americans who desire to show their patriotism should do so regardless of the continuance of the war. The Home Guards and the band boys gave a concert along with an ice cream social. 60 years ago – 1958 Coloma Band Director, George Smart announced the summer band schedule for beginning band, cadet and junior band members. Home of well known teacher, Mrs. Gordon Krell, destroyed by fire. She smelled smoke and she and her husband were able to get out of the house safely. Mr. and Mrs. John Kolenko welcomed their new arrival, Rebecca Louise. She weighed 7 pounds 10-1/2 ounces. Leonard Irwin Badt, 24, son of Mr. and Mrs. Mendel Badt, earned his degree from Ferris Institute. He interned at his dad’s pharmacy in Coloma. He now joins other pharmacists of the Badt family, Mendel, Marshall and Ernest. 30 years ago – 1988 Julienne Dance Academy’s eighth annual recital presents “Greatest Show on Earth.” It will be held at the high school auditorium. Coloma Lions install officers: President Jerry McDonald, First Vice President Dan McCrery, Second Vice President Ed Cusack, Third Vice President Galen Blough, Secretary Jim Noack; Treasurer Kraig Kinyon. Christine Susan Stibal, daughter of Milt and Linda Stibal, recently graduated from Clemson University. She received a master’s degree in mathematical sciences. Community Hospital Auxiliary President Joyce Kolenko presents a check to Hospital Administrator Steve Spencer during their annual Spring Luncheon. The event was held at Club Rocadero. Entertainment was provided by Patrice School of Dance. 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


100 years ago – 1918 Considerable damage is reported through the countryside as the result of last Wednesday’s windstorm. Much fruit was whipped from trees, the leaves of corn were torn to shreds and in some fields growing grain was twisted and leveled to the ground. Two more Hartford boys have arrived in France, Mr. and Mrs. G.T. Chamberlin have received news of the arrival of their son Rex, with the Medical Corps, while George Kime received a card Monday announcing the arrival of his son, Francis, a cook with the 20th Field Artillery. R.C. Woods closes his store in the Rassette building last Saturday evening, which he has operated for the past three years under the name of Wood’s Cash Bargain Store. 75 years ago – 1943 The Hartford Mother’s Club held its last meeting of the year at the home of Mrs. Robert McConnell. Mrs. Wayne Spaulding was the guest for the evening. The program chairman, Mrs. George Kabel, presented a paper on “A Community Needs Its Youth”. The club members will hold their annual party for their husbands on July 11 at the cottage of Mr. & Mrs. Edgar M. Smith. Hartford’s chapter of the national organization, Mothers of World War II, met last Wednesday, June 16 at the Legion hall. Thirty-two members were present at the meeting where discussion concerned the honor roll of servicemen to be erected at Hartford. The group is now buying gifts for boys home on furlough and sending birthday cards to all men from Hartford area in service. The Hartford Garden Club met at the home of Mrs. Kate Day. The subject of the day was “Conservation” given by Mrs. Dorothea Day. E.A. Boisman, band director will be at the schoolhouse every Thursday afternoon to give free lessons on band instruments. 50 years ago – 1968 A new 80-foot clear span building is being erected at Hartford Farm Supply. It is believed that the structure is the largest clear span post building in southwest Michigan. 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


90 years ago – 1928 A crowd of people witnessed the Watervliet fireworks display at Hays Park on July 5, 1928. Estimates of the number of automobiles on the grounds ran as high as 1,000. The display proved to be a fine presentation of pyrotechnics and was well executed by the corps of Watervliet firemen in charge. The street committee of the City Commission plans to widen Butternut Street starting in July. William Brooks has been employed to have charge of this street improvement. Most of the fill will be made with wheel scrappers, taking the dirt from a sand bank the city owns on the east side of Mill Creek. Uriah Wood, Watervliet Civil War veteran, celebrated his 87th birthday along with President Coolidge and the Nation at large July 4, 1928. 60 years ago – 1958 Sgt. Kenneth J. Sulko left Germany for the states after having served in that area for over two years. Graduating from WHS, he was employed at the Weiser Grocery until going into the service. James Copeland received his master’s degree in Business Administration from Xavier University in Cincinnati. Copeland graduated from WHS and Kalamazoo College. Dean D. McKinney, educational supervisor at Hammermill Paper Company has accepted the post of Personnel Manager at the Watervliet mill. He will succeed T.J. Scheid who plans on retiring at the turn of the year. 30 years ago – 1988 Watervliet Police Chief Jeff Enders announced a shuttle bus service will be made available to citizens attending the Fourth of July festivities. The shuttle will travel from South Elementary to Plymouth Congregational Church, to the old high school building and then to WHS, and back downtown. The shuttle service is made possible by a joint effort of the Watervliet Business Association, the Watervliet School District and the City of Watervliet. Navy Fireman Apprentice Troland V. Clay recently reported for duty aboard the oiler USS Caloosahatchee, homeported in Norfolk, VA. A 1987 graduate of WHS, he joined the Navy in July 1987. 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


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