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07-02-2020 Tri-City Area History Page

The Paw Paw River Journal

My last column

When I started writing my column, I knew it would have to end sometime. And I’m a little surprised it has lasted this long! Robert Frost said in a poem, “…as dawn goes down today, so nothing gold can stay.” He means that everything in this world is finite. My Webster’s says finite means not being permanent, not lasting forever.

I’ve told this story before, but for one last time I’d like to say when I retired from teaching I had no notion that I would ever be writing a newspaper column. We moved back to our home in Hartford, and I called The Tri-City Record to get a subscription. We wanted to keep up on the local news.

Annie Bayer answered the phone. She was doing all that front office stuff for Karl back then. We talked and in the process of ordering a subscription she asked me what I did for a living. I told her I was a newly retired English teacher. She said, “What are you doing now, Mr. Davis?”

I said, “Oh, I keep a journal and I’m writing a couple of books.”

Annie said, “I think my husband would like to talk. Could he come over to see you?”

He did, and we had a most enjoyable conversation. He was looking for someone to write a newspaper column with a local Hartford slant. He said he didn’t want some fly-by-night who would do it for a while and then get tired. But he would like to find someone who could write.

We talked and I agreed to give it a try. I said there were just two things I was worried about. One was that I didn’t want anyone correcting my work… after all, I was an English teacher and should know what I was doing. The other was that I didn’t ever want one of my stories to be shortened to fit in a space. Karl had no problem with that, so I became an employee of the newspaper. And that was all those long years ago!

So what’s it been like? At first I had some trouble with the parameters… guess I tended to be a little long-winded. But I finally settled on an approximate length of about a page and a half, typed and single spaced. Over the years now that’s been about it. And I’ve always worried someday I’d run out of words… like the little kid who just stopped talking. When someone asked him why he was so silent, he said, “I just don’t have any more words in my mouth!”

Fortunately my fears so far have been unfounded. I was a little worried when we had lost all the old-timers to whom I used to go for stories. I have come to realize now we are the old-timers. Still a little scary!

When I was but a wee nipper I used to read The Hartford Day Spring. Editor Don Cochrane had a feature column every week called Around Town & Elsewhere. Guess that’s one of the reasons I’ve been doing this… I admired his off-the-wall humor and stories about local celebrities and people who were not noteworthy other places.

I have been so worried we would lose all of our small-town newspapers. And they are dropping out at an alarming rate. Somewhere along in there I decided I would do what I could to reverse that trend. I told Karl I would not ask him for a raise. I wanted to keep the newspaper going… I feel all of the local weekly papers are a necessary part of Americana! What I never told him was how much I enjoy doing just what I’m doing here.

I know I have been an integral part of The Record. Karl is an excellent news man, just as Annie has loyally backed him up. For years she gathered ads and wrote things for the paper. Daughter Amy does the front desk duties now, and she does them well. The Bayers over the years have attracted some excellent people to work on the paper. Had it not been for the foregoing, this newspaper would have been just another statistic in the gathering twilight of small-town America.

I have been writing about darkness settling on small towns like Hartford. And I hope to do some more before I’m finished. People seem to enjoy it when I dip into the past. Well, the past is solid. It’s fixed for all time and can never be changed now. I believe we should do all we can to preserve the way of life we all love. I know, I know, it’s a futile task!

So, when this final story will be printed I have no idea. I do know I have had fun writing my column. I’ve gotten to know (in a sense) all of you… friends all over this part of the United States, and you’d be surprised to what nooks and crannies of the world it gets sent. Many of you have told me, or members of my family, how much you enjoy it. So thank you for the kind words!

Among the Christmas cards we received this last season was one I found especially noteworthy. It was from the Bayers. Annie wrote it and I’d like to quote briefly from it. She said, “…may God bless you? You are also my first and last employee hire. But I topped them all.” That made me feel good.

What better place these years, these golden years, could I have spent time than with the family that has done such a good job of bringing the local news to all of us… every week weaving golden threads into the Great Tapestry of Life in these storybook towns along the Paw Paw River.

As they say in newspaper circles, “I guess that’ll be 30!”


EDITOR’S NOTE: Roy M. “Bud” Davis died on Tuesday, May 5, 2020. His obituary follows as printed in the May 14, 2020 Tri-City Record. RIP Bud, you will be missed!


The family of Dr. Roy (Bud) Davis shares the sad news of his passing on Tuesday, May 5 at his home, The Vineyard in Kalamazoo, surrounded by many who loved him.

Bud was born to Edith and Leland (Lee) Davis on July 24, 1924, and raised in Hartford with his sister, Wilma, spending most of his years on Linden Street, the location of his parents’ floral business and home. He learned to drive early so he could help his father with deliveries, and always claimed that was the beginning of his love affair with cars. He also credited his love of movies to Sister Wilma who let him tagalong with her to see the latest showing at the Heart Theatre on Main Street.

In 1942 Bud’s graduation from Hartford High School was the kickoff for several long and successful careers. First, he enlisted in the U.S. Air Force and became a pilot. He graduated from flight training as a 2nd Lt. on Aug. 4, 1944, and was stationed in India and Burma, one of the youngest pilots in his outfit to fly the Hump in WWII.

After the war ended Bud married his high school sweetheart, Marion Kling, who had graduated from Nurses’ Training. He received his B.S. and M.A. degrees from Western Michigan University. These degrees led to his second career which included teaching at Watervliet High School, as well as at St. Joseph High School, and at Lake Michigan College.

Bud continued his education at Yale University on a John Hay Fellowship, which was followed by a Ph.D. from the University of Michigan, where he taught while completing his degree. He also taught Literature and Writing in Ann Arbor Public Schools, and remained active in training English teachers for the U of M.

Marion and Bud lived in Ann Arbor until retirement when they returned home to Hartford where Bud continued his third career as a writer. He’s been writing a feature column for “The Tri-City Record” since 1985 and leaves behind several as yet unpublished stories. He also leaves a yet unpublished book, “The End of the Line (Flying the Hump in WWII).” Bud’s three published books include “Student and Teacher Perceptions of a Peak Learning Experience”, “Paw Paw River Times and People”, and “Paw Paw River Days & Nights.”

Most important to Bud were his people! Those who preceded him in death include his wife and Chief Accountant Marion, his oldest daughter Deb Connor, and his sister Wilma Weston. Surviving family members include Gary (Deb) Connor of Farmington, Rebecca (Jim) Steele of Kalamazoo, Rob Davis of Hartford, Laurel (Jim) Jelenek of Holt, grandchildren Catherine Connor of Northville, Dr. Michael (Beth) Connor of Portland, Oregon, Danielle (Michael) Aschenbrener of Denver, Colorado, Kristy (Rob) Davila of San Antonio, Texas, Heather Banks of New Baltimore, Kelly (Brad) Chandler of Lansing, great-grandchildren Maxwell Aschenbrener, Valentina Aschenbrener, Emma Davila, Davis Davila, Alexander Bell, Landon Chandler, many nieces and nephews, and all of the wonderful staff at Vineyard Assisted Living.

Due to current social distancing restrictions, Bud will be laid to rest next to Marion with a small private graveside service in Maple Hill Cemetery. There will be a Memorial Mass and Celebration of Life Luncheon later this summer for all who wish to attend. The family has entrusted the Calvin Funeral Home, Hartford, with arrangements. Those wishing to leave memorial condolences for the family may do so at

Group waiting for the Interurban at Millburg… Have you ever waited for a ride? The bus, train or airplane? Or maybe Uber or Lyft? Was it at the beginning of an adventure? If you have a story about waiting for transportation, the North Berrien Historical Museum would love to hear about it, please contact North Berrien Historical Museum at 269-468-3330, or The museum is open for private tours only. From the photo collection at the North Berrien Historical Museum 300 Coloma Avenue, Coloma

Coloma Public Library News Curbside Services

Curbside Services are now available weekdays from 12:00 p.m. – 6:00 p.m. and Saturdays from 10:00 a.m. – 2:00 p.m. Request materials by calling 269-468-3431, ordering through the catalog, or emailing The building remains closed to the public as they are working to implement new safety procedures and comply with regulations. Special Access Services The Library is preparing for the next phase of reopening, Special Access Services, where up to 20 patrons will be allowed to come in for 30-minute visits at a time. Social distancing and masks, for those who can medically tolerate them, will be required. Computer services will be available. More details will be forthcoming on the website and Facebook page so stay tuned! Summer Reading Program Summer Reading has officially begun! This year’s offering is virtual so children, teens, and adults can participate in fun reading challenges online. However, the Library will also provide paper logs and craft kits through their Curbside Services. (Craft kits available while supplies last.) Visit their website at for more information. Please call, email, or reach out to the staff through Facebook for any questions. Little Free Cart Weather permitting, the Library will place a cart outside the front doors with free reading materials. Anyone can feel free to keep the items until the Library has reopened for services. Materials will come from donations and be an eclectic assortment. 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 the 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.

Weekend Backpack Mission provides meal support families Hartford United Methodist Church (UMC) has been partnering with the Hartford Public Schools to provide food on the weekends for students for the last three years. They started out small during the Summer School program in 2018 with about 30 backpacks. The program has grown to nearly 140 backpacks. In the backpacks is food for both Saturday and Sunday breakfast for each person in the family along with an entree for lunch or dinner for each day for the family as well. Then bi-weekly the program sends home peanut butter and jelly as an extra for the family. Organizers try to have a variety of entrees from macaroni and cheese, ramen noodles, soup, beef stew, or tuna helper. Breakfast items include cereal, oatmeal, Pop-Tarts, granola bars, and/ or juice. Also there is some type of fruit such as fruit cups, applesauce or when they are in season, fresh apples. With the present state of COVID-19, instead of delivering the filled backpacks to the school where the students would take them home each weekend church volunteers now deliver them to the school and the bags of meals are distributed with the lunch meals that the school provides on a daily basis. This mission, though it is maintained at the Hartford UMC, it has taken many individuals, businesses, and associations to make this a successful program. Thank you goes to the following: Burnette Foods Inc., Richter Insurance, Kellogg Hardware, Mann Metal, L.E. Barber Inc. (Benton Harbor, MI), Pokagon Fund (Pokagon Grant), Hartford Foundation for Quality Education (Grant), Lions Club, United Methodist Church – Greater Southwest Conference (Engage Grant), Hartford Public Schools/ Redwood Elementary, Congregational Kitchen (Allegan, MI), and many private individuals and volunteers.


100 years ago – 1920 In observance of the National Holiday, the anniversary of the signing of the Declaration of Independence, The Courier office will be closed. Please turn in copy as early as it is possible. Showing at The Coloma Theatre – “Vagabond Luck.” This is a good Sunshine Comedy. Keen Kutter – Made for the man who uses tools All Day Long. Coloma Hardware Co., D.C. Peck, Manager C.A. Shoup – Manufacturer of Boats, Window Screens, Cabinet Work. Opposite Hill’s Store 60 years ago – 1960 Mrs. Allen Stockdale is presented with keys to a new Ford Falcon. She won the door prize in the Chamber of Commerce contest. Exchange student Miss Ilse Kleist was honored at a surprise farewell party. Friends gathered in the Furman Room of the First Congregational Church. Miss Kleist will return following her marriage to Mr. Kay Erickson. The Coloma Surplus Center store was broken into early Monday. Clothing, sports equipment, guns and entertainment equipment were taken. Police Chief Chester Krutel is investigating. Blessing of the Creatures was conducted at Deer Forest. The Carrothers lads were among the altar boys participating. 30 years ago – 1990 Voting canisters and posters went out to announce the Glad-Peach Festival Prince and Princess Contest. More than 50 contestants met with Coloma royalty at McDonalds for a photo. Ethel’s E&N Sales 20% OFF. We carry sportswear for larger ladies. 192 Paw Paw Street Vacation Bible School to be held at Salem Lutheran Church. Children age 3 thru grade 6 are welcome. Bachman’s Painting Service – Quality painting you can afford. Dennis Bachman – Dale Bachman Parrigan and Sons Home Movers got caught in a squeeze while moving a house. Hembree’s sign was removed to get the house through. The new location for the house will be next to Midway Baptist Church. 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 Another torrid wave, coupled with the opening of the pea canning season at the Hartford canneries, increased the demand on the village water system until the supply was wholly exhausted and consumers were without water for several hours. Both pumps at the pumping station were kept in operation all day but were unable to meet the demand. The Village Council at a meeting Monday evening took steps to meet the emergency by limiting the hours for lawn sprinkling to three hours per day, from 7 to 8 in the morning and 6 to 8 in the evening. Yesterday the supply of water was more adequate. While attempting to start a gasoline engine on a spray rig at his farm last Friday, Charles S. Hammond, well-known Hartford stock buyer, had his nose badly broken. The starting crank, which clung to the shaft as the engine started, flew off and struck him in the nose. A physician straightened it up and the nose again points squarely into the future. 75 years ago – 1945 Independence Day promises to be a quiet holiday and a solemn one in Hartford with the growing burden of war lending added significance to the occasion. No formal observance has been scheduled here, although business places and the post office will be closed for the day. Lakes, beaches and gardens will attract many Hartford residents who will use the holiday for fishing and bathing trips, family outings and visiting. With the Fourth of July coming on the heels of an increase in gasoline rations, police agencies issued special warnings to motorists to exercise caution in driving. Bathers also are urged to adhere closely to rules of water safety to avoid 50 years ago – 1970 A bond issue to finance construction of a new middle school, defeated in a June 8 election, will be resubmitted to school district voters in December, the Board of Education has decided. A six-month interval is required between bond issue elections unless the amount of the bond issue is changed 30 percent. The proposal seeks a bond issue of $2.35 million. City voters will decide at the November general election whether they want municipal garbage pick-up service. The City council voted to place on the ballot a program to charge each family $17.40 a year for city-wide garbage collection service. The vote is an alternative to a proposal that the city grant an exclusive franchise to one company to sell garbage collection service to the city. 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 – 1930 Wilbur Smith, who operates the C.N. Stevens farm in East Watervliet, threshed twenty-two acres of wheat on July 15. The grain was of excellent quality and the yield was 590 bushels or a shade under 27 bushels to the acre. On Monday night, July 14, 1930, a weasel killed 50 fine chickens belonging to Carl Easton. James Harper Sr. celebrated his 79th birthday anniversary on July 16, 1930 at his home on Elm Street. Family and friends shared a good time. 60 years ago – 1960 A bathing beauty contest to find a Paw Paw Lake beauty queen is being sponsored by the Watervliet Lions Club. Any single young lady between the ages of 17 – 23, who is now in Southwest Michigan, is eligible. The girls will compete in a one-piece bathing suit. It was a quiet and sane Fourth in Watervliet with no celebration this year due to the fact that the Chamber of Commerce is under process of re-organization. It was the first time in many years that Watervliet did not put on a fireworks display. Printed on July 6, 1960 – Our summer residents are home for the season. It’s so nice to see you in town and out around your cottages. We miss you in the winter and are glad you are back. The lake always looks forlorn and lost while you are away. Then each year on a bright sunny day something magic happens. The lake wakes from her winter sleep, the flowers and leaves come out and you’re back. Your happy laughter rings from the shore and the lake is polka dotted with your boats. The cottage windows all sparkle. It’s summer. You’re here. Welcome “Home”. 30 years ago – 1990 On June 9, 1990, a 50th wedding anniversary celebration at M140 State Park south of Watervliet, where 225 friends and relatives gathered to enjoy a dinner and picnic. The couple, Mr. and Mrs. Fred Jonas, was married June 4, 1940 and have lived all of their married life on the fruit farm east of Watervliet. They have one son, Fred Jr. Holly A. Gay has been commissioned a Second Lieutenant through the Army ROTC Program and earned a bachelor’s degree from Michigan State University, East Lansing. She is a 1988 graduate of Watervliet High School. Steve Weckwerth, a WHS 1990 graduate, won the Linne-Jeffries Junior Golf Tournament at Hampshire Country Club in Dowagiac. Weckwerth won the 18-year-old division with a score of 79 and was the medalist for low score overall in the 14 through 18 division with a score of 42 and 33. 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


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