The Paw Paw River Journal
The relics Fred makes his way to the dining room pushing his walker ahead of him. Gaunt, whiskery face, he concentrates on getting his feet just right. And he is whistling something. I cannot make out any recognizable tune. He is old and walking very carefully. This is at the assisted living place where we are now sojourning. Fred is a veteran of the Battle of the Bulge in WWII. He survived it, as did his brother who was also there. I know he has a real story, but I have yet to hear it. Every time I go past him while he is eating, I make sure to tell him hello. I was never in Europe, but I know several people who were in that battle during World War II. It is considered by some to be the last major German offensive of the war. Admittedly, I am no expert on it. And it was a complicated battle. Bad weather seemed to favor the Germans, until finally skies cleared and allied airplanes could drop supplies to our troops. They also supplied air cover. Most of our men who were in it also had no picture of the total operation. They knew only their one part as it happened. It’s sort of like you stand a person blindfolded against a building of multicolored panels, whip off his blindfold and if he is standing against a red panel, he will say, “It’s a red building.” If you have him stand back, he will see that it is a multicolored building. At one point the Germans sent troops disguised as Americans, wearing American uniforms, behind our lines. That was a dangerous thing for them. If caught wearing our uniforms, they could be immediately shot as spies. Many of them underneath wore their own uniforms ‘just in case.’ They were supposed to change road signs, give false information, and generally disrupt our plans. That worked for a while, but when our GIs realized what was happening, they posted guards at checkpoints. They would ask passing troops some question that only an American could answer… This almost ended in disaster when a young GI questioned a high-ranking American officer. When asked, what is the capitol of Illinois he answered, “Springfield!” The kid thought it should be Chicago! Another mix-up occurred when Germans had a town practically surrounded. They asked the American commander to surrender. His reply was an irritable, “NUTS!” It took a while for them to figure out what that meant. I know several people who were in that battle. A good friend of mine, Russell Kime, was wounded, but survived. The two Yeckley twins, Manley and Irving, served honorably in the war. Irving was in the Battle of the Bulge and lost his life. He left a wife back home devastated. He was a lieutenant in charge of a machine-gun position. They ran out of ammunition, so he crawled back under fire to replenish their supplies. He got the ammo, but crawling back he was horribly wounded and lost his life. For that he was awarded the Silver Star posthumously. Lucky indeed were the men who survived those few days around Christmas of 1944. Fred is one of them, and every time I see him I realize that all over again. One day I came through his part of the dining room, and I noticed he had with him a framed display. It was his medals, ribbons, and citations. I stopped to look at them and asked why he had them there. He told me there was a men’s group meeting, and he was going to give a little talk on the war. When I saw him later and ask how it turned out, he looked a little embarrassed and said, “I didn’t do it. I chickened out!” I refrained from asking him any more about it. The next week I saw him… He smiled at me and said, “Well, I did it this morning, and it went all right.” We both laughed and I congratulated him. Since then I have started to attend the men’s group meetings. Fred attends them religiously. I hope to get him talking about the war sometime again. It was guys like Fred and my friend Russell and the Yeckley twins who all went out and did a job that had to be done. Courage is not being reckless in a time of danger. It is just doing what you have to do, because you wouldn’t let down your friends. Quiet, unassuming Fred… Now a citizen in a retirement home, assisted living. It’s a nice place, comfortable, and they treat us all well. I worry a little that Fred may feel he is being warehoused. He is one of the relics of war, as I guess I am too! This place we are living now, the Chief Accountant and I, feels so familiar to me. But I can remember the first time I came here for an inspection tour. Cold, snowy day and I walked into that same dining area. A few people still lingering after lunch. I can remember looking around and thinking… They are all so old! Now I know them. They are real people with histories, past stories to tell, and a few have that thousand yard stare. We are all weaving more threads into the golden tapestry of our lives in this storybook town along the Paw Paw River.
Coloma Library News Joel Tacey’s Page Rocker comedy show The library is excited to present Joel Tacey’s Page Rocker comedy show on Wednesday, July 11 at 2 p.m. Rock & Roll into Reading with Punk Rock Joel as he brings eight music-tastic books to life! Featuring dazzling magic, wacky stunts, and lots of audience participation, this wholesome youth program will have kids and grown-ups laughing out loud and crazy about reading. This is a free program and no registration is required. Children’s Yoga Class The library will be hosting a children’s yoga class for children ages 7-12 for four weeks beginning on Wednesday, July 18 at 1 p.m. These classes will be taught by Vicki Shoemaker, a local yoga instructor with a bachelor’s degree in Physical Education and Recreation Management. Space is limited for these classes, so please call or stop in the library to sign up. Libraries Rock! The Coloma Public Library presents “Libraries Rock” during their summer library program. Keep checking the library’s website www.colomapubliclibrary.net for information on upcoming programs. All programs are free of charge. Book Club The Coloma Library Book Club is meeting on Thursday, July 12 at 5:30 p.m. The title to read before the discussion is “A Killing in the Hills” by Julia Keller. Generally, depending on demand there are titles available for check-out at the front desk. The book club regularly meets every other Thursday and is always looking for new members. Please call 468-3431 with questions on any Coloma library activity.
Watervliet District Library News Local History Displays Paper Mill Memories – Celebrate Watervliet’s community history. Share your paper mill stories, and peruse our local history resources! 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: July 5 Drummunity and July 12 Dr. Zeemo’s Science Palooza. Make-It Music Mondays, 1-2 p.m. Musical instruments to make-n-take for K-6th graders & family: July 9 Things with Strings. 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. Please call 463-6382 with questions on any Watervliet library activity.
NEWS FROM THE COLOMA COURIER
100 years ago – 1918 The famous C.I. Fischer’s Exposition Orchestra will perform for your Chautauqua. They performed for the Pan-American Exposition at Buffalo. To kill ants, fleas, bedbugs, moth, lice, etc., use ELVampiro Blower and Powder Compound, only 10 cents at Scott’s – Advertisement Former pastor Rev. Blewfield announced his appointment as chaplain in the National Army. His rank is first lieutenant with the 164th Depot Brigade. Landlord and Mrs. D.W. Mott invited forty guests to spend the evening at their hotel. The social evening was a send off to Mr. and Mrs. Selter, who are leaving the area. 60 years ago – 1958 The Ellinee begins its 51st resort season, the longest any business at the lake has been under the same active management. Ernest Erickson and his wife, Hildegard, came from Chicago. They love people and enjoy serving the resorters. Sandra Repke, “Miss Coloma” was guest at the Chamber of Commerce meeting. Miss Repke was chaperoned by Mrs. Virgil Lewis. Members of the Lions Club and their families enjoyed a picnic at Lions Park. Clifford Hanson prepared fried chicken. Grass was planted and concrete work is to be done. 30 years ago – 1988 Our very own Cindy Koshar will be performing at the Sister Lakes Playhouse. The show is “Musical Explosion of Broadway Show Tunes.” Army Pvt. Kelly L. Robinson, daughter of Bobby and Charlene Robinson, has arrived for duty in West Germany. Robinson is with the 2nd Military Intelligence Battalion. Coloma High School graduates receive scholarships. Alison Fournier, Joyce Swisher, Rebecca Chapman and David Smith, each have been awarded a scholarship. Marion Boyer Smith, 74, was honored at a surprise party given at the Coloma Legion Post #362. She volunteered for the 1936 Centennial celebration and again in 1986 for the sesquicentennial celebration. 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
NEWS FROM THE HARTFORD DAY SPRING
100 years ago – 1918 During a brief electrical storm last Friday night lightning struck the David Pardun farm residence, southwest of town, doing slight damage. Windows were shattered, while a row boat in the yard was demolished. During the electrical storm of Sunday morning lightning struck the large dairy barn on the farm of N.F. Simpson & Son, just south of the Hartford line. The bolt entered one end of the barn, played along the beams and escaped at the opposite end of the barn with slight damage. The Van Buren County Telephone Company has notified its subscribers that after July 1 all calls must be made by number only, and not by name. 75 years ago – 1943 Miss Harriet Garrison, a former Hartford girl, sister of Miss Dee Garrison and Lloyd Garrison, both Hartford residents, is now on temporary recruiting duty in New York City. Miss Garrison received her commission this spring at Fort Des Moines. This week she talked over radio station WEAF. Four hundred and 26 aviation cadets from Michigan were included in the latest class to complete pre-flight training for pilots at the San Antonio Aviation Cadet center, Texas. Included in the class was Aviation Cadet Harold J. Leach, son of Mr. and Mrs. Clare Leach. Miss Irene Yeckley is now employed as chief operator of the Tri-County Telephone office in Hartford. She succeeds Miss Elinor Emke who is employed in South Haven. Mrs. Arthur Bennett, former chief operator of the Hartford office, is now living in Muskegon Heights where her husband is employed in a war factory. 50 years ago – 1968 All set for its second season of cherry processing, expected to start this week, is the Cherry Growers, Inc. plant at Hartford. Capacity of the plant has been increased 50 percent to enable it to handle 750,000 pounds of cherries a day. Wendell Martin resigned last week as Hartford Junior and Senior High schools principal, a post he has held for three years. He said he is considering a return to teaching. 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
NEWS FROM THE WATERVLIET RECORD
90 years ago – 1928 The 1928 graduating class at Michigan State College, East Lansing, numbers 318 students of whom 292 are from Michigan. Two are from foreign countries, one from Canada and one from Bolivia. Hiram Leonard Barney, son of Mr. and Mrs. L.L. Barney from Watervliet is one of the 292. Francis Case’s Early Ohio potatoes were easy winners of the prize offered by the Watervliet Milling Company for the largest early potato from the 1928 crop, his exhibit being twice the size of that submitted by any other contestant. 60 years ago – 1958 Freddie Nielsen and Victor Whitney caught a pickerel that measured 34 inches in length and weighed 8-1/4 pounds in the river near the paper mill. The boys struck the big fish with the butt ends of their air guns and then waded in and captured it. Major Lewis E. Long, Watervliet, was among the 820 who graduated from the USAF Command and Staff School at Maxwell Air Force Base. He graduated from WHS in 1940. Two classes of officers and non-commissioned officers for the 962nd Air Reserve Squadron were graduated to the next phase of the training program. The officer class included 1st Lt. George W. Shane, Watervliet. 30 years ago – 1988 Nearly 1,300 Ferris State University students were included on the academic honors list for the spring quarter, 1987-1988. Among the honored students were Gaetano DeRosa and William J. Weber, both of Watervliet. Katie Rodriguez, Watervliet, was the winner of a spanking-new soccer ball. Katie’s name was drawn from youngsters who signed up for the fall sport during Watervliet’s 4th of July Celebration. Veteran Watervliet Police Officer Vic Bianchi has been appointed as an officer of the court. As an officer of the court, Bianchi will be responsible to prepare and present cases at court arraignments.
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