07-09-2020 Tri-City Area History Page

EDITOR’S NOTE … the recent passing of longtime columnist Roy “Bud” Davis necessitates adding local history columns. So beginning this week our popular local history columnists, Pearl Playford, Dorothy Cannell, and Roy “Bud” Davis will rotate through a 3-week cycle. Enjoy!

Thursday, June 4, 1959 It is difficult to believe in this day of high prices that back in 1895 a man could purchase a suit of clothes for as little as $2.25 and a pair of trousers for 50 cents. But old newspapers that I have in my possession verify those prices. In a worn and yellow sheet of the Benton Harbor Semi-Weekly Palladium one clothing store advertised in a clearance sale such articles as men’s overcoats for three dollars; boy’s overcoats, 98 cents; boy’s pants as low as a dime and a suit for a boy could be had for 69 cents. For the women folks good prints were as low as three cents per yard; gingham was four cents; muslin, five cents; black dress goods, 15 cents a yard and toweling was but three cents. Another advertisement quoted lady’s union suits for from 39 cents to $1.25 and men’s wool union suits were marked down to 59 cents. Lady’s wool hose were 12-1/2 cents per pair and kid gloves were 69 cents. Bed blankets were offered for 53 cents per pair and good 38-inch curtain material could be bought for 3-1/2 cents a yard pair. Groceries were quoted at ridiculously low prices. For example, a whole barrel of flour could be bought for $1.85, less than a twenty-five pound sack at the present time. One dollar could buy 27 pounds of granulated sugar; potatoes were 40 and 50 cents a bushel; lard eight cents a pound; butter 17 cents; eggs 18 cents per dozen; salt pork, nine cents; and hams, eight cents. The report from the Benton Harbor market quoted beef, $4.50 per hundred weight; pork, five dollars per hundred weight; live chickens, six cents per pound, dressed ten cents; and turkeys, five cents per pound live weight and seven cents dressed. Wheat was 48 cents a bushel; oats, 30 cents; rye, 40 cents; new corn, 38 cents; and hay 7 dollars and 9 dollars per ton. I also have several old Watervliet Records, given me by Mrs. Corliss Blackman, of Berea, OH. They date back as far as 1891 and they, too, are worn and yellow with age, but still readable. These oldest sheets are 5-column, eight page and, of course, hand set. The late A.N. Woodruff was the editor at that time. One of the items in the January 23rd issue reads: “The Ladies’ Aid Society of the M.E. Church will give a New England Supper at the Old Schoolhouse Next Wednesday Evening, Jan. 28, 1891. Supper Will Be Served from 6 to 9 o’clock. Supper Ten Cents. After Supper, a Quilt Will Be Sold at Auction to the Highest Bidder.” It was in 1891 that Mr. Woodruff sold The Record to E.F. Case and he enlarged the size to seven columns. In an issue, dated April 12, 1901, the Boston Store advertised 18 pounds of sugar for one dollar, ten bars Santa Claus soap for 25 cents; yeast, three cents a package and salmon at ten cents a can. A good broom could be had for 19 cents. But 64 years ago, and even 50 years ago, a dollar was hard to get, work scarce and wages low. Men worked for ten cents per hour and glad to get it, for oftentimes there was no work to be had during the winter months, except cutting wood or helping with the ice harvest. Women did not work much away from their homes and if they did, they received only a few cents for an hour’s work. Their work was in the home where they did all the sewing, baking and caring for all the needs of the family. In those earlier years people knew nothing of present-day conveniences. They worked long hours with little to do with but they were happy, neighborly, and appreciative of what they did have.

Unknown man in hunting gear holding his day’s trophy, a lynx… We love hunting trip stories. Do you have one? Or do you recognize the man in this photo? Please contact North Berrien Historical Museum by calling 269-468-3330 or emailing info@northberrienhistory.org. The museum is open at this time for private tours only. From the photo collection at the North Berrien Historical Museum 300 Coloma Avenue, Coloma

Coloma Library News Curbside Services Curbside Services are still available weekdays from noon – 6 p.m. and Saturdays, 10 a.m. – 2 p.m. Request materials by calling 269-468-3431, ordering through the catalog, or emailing readcoloma@gmail.com. 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 their website and Facebook page. 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 www.colomapubliclibrary.net for details. Please call, email, or reach out to the staff through Facebook for any questions. 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. Click on “Catalog” in the banner and look for the “Sign Up” button near the top right corner of the library’s website. 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.

Watervliet Library News The Watervliet District Library’s plans to reopen for limited access have been temporarily put on hold due to the recent uptick in COVID-19 cases within Berrien County. The library’s reopening plan proceeds through 5 stages, based upon state, regional and county recommendations, requiring a clear decrease in epidemic spread to move forward. The library staff is deeply committed to keeping the community safe, while safely offering every available resource. Curbside hours have been extended to Mon–Fri 10-2; Wed 4-8 and Sat 12-2. New books are arriving daily. These, like all materials entering the library, are quarantined for three days before processing; an announcement of new print titles available will be made through the website (www.watervlietlibrary.net) and social media. OverDrive titles are also being purchased on a weekly basis. As always, the public is encouraged to send in requests that the staff is happy to honor. Summer Reading Program books-to-keep and craft packets are distributed each Monday at the Watervliet Middle School, from 11-12. Parents and kids of all ages are welcome to request library books, DVDs, and audio books through curbside pick up at the school, too. Library staff takes the safe handling of public materials very seriously. All materials entering the building are quarantined and cleaned before circulation. Additionally, staff members disinfect the building several times a day. This will only increase once the public is again able to use the facility. Director Sharon Crotser-Toy assures the public, “Our doors may be closed but our books are wide open. Contact us with any thoughts, requests, suggestions or concerns at 269-463-6382, info@wdlib.org or through our Facebook page. Looking forward to seeing you all again!”


100 years ago – 1920 The terms of office of A.W. Baker and George Friday expire this year. Men and women, 21 years of age, possessing the qualifications of voters, are entitled to vote at school elections. Five young people narrowly escaped death when the driver’s Ford was stuck by the Pere Marquette passenger train. The Paw Paw Street crossing was the scene of the accident. 60 years ago – 1960 American Can Company has purchased 13 acres west of Coloma. The property has excellent rail and truck facilities. Allen W. Baker Jr., Executive Vice President of The State Bank of Coloma was instrumental in getting Canco to locate in Coloma. Four persons escaped serious injury in a two-car collision. Mrs. Dessie McGaha and daughter Helen, Mrs. Don Newnum and Margaret Schuemann all were treated and released. Weekend guests at the homes of: Harry Ticknor, Virgil Dunning and Mr. and Mrs. Tom DeRosa. Architectural drawings of the proposed high school building are on display in the lobby of the State Bank of Coloma. Miss Nancy L. Strejc was chosen as a regular cheerleader at Western Michigan University. 30 years ago – 1990 The Orchard Hill Recycling Center, if still open, is operating in violation of the Coloma Township zoning laws. The landfill maintains that this operation is “recognized in the current Berrien County Solid Waste Management Plan”. Coloma High School is in fear of losing accreditation by The University of Michigan; the continued issue being lack of a gymnasium. Four attempts have been brought to voters, all have been defeated. Dale Stover, Glad-Peach Festival President, presented the Commission with the current year’s sponsor flag. In other news, the Commission will hold a public hearing that allows people to express their opinion on the ordinance for existing structures in the city. 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 Pilot H.F. Fawcett, of the Heddon Aviation company, paid his first visit to Hartford with one of the Heddon “flying fish” during the matinee races Saturday afternoon. He effected a landing on the Cort Burbank farm west of town, and while here very courteously took three passengers aloft. An alarm of fire just after the Day Spring went to press last Wednesday called the department to the B.M. Thomas home in the north part of town where an exploding gasoline stove had started a blaze. The flames were quickly controlled and the damage was light. 75 years ago – 1945 Questionnaires were mailed this week to Hartford parents by the Community Education council as a second step in compiling local opinion on a youth guidance program. A similar questionnaire was sent to boys and girls in April. In that survey, replies were received from 217 youths. Most of them expressed a specific desire for a local youth center. About 250 questionnaires were mailed in both the youth and adult surveys. The questionnaires sent to parents asks if recipients are in favor of a youth center, how frequently they would want their children to patronize one and what hours they believe it should be open. Other questions being asked of the adults include: Is there work or any activity that would keep your youths busy in the evening? Would you be willing for your young folks to support a youth center financially? Do your children receive regular religious instruction? Would you be interested in community-sponsored summer camps for local youths? A garden information center has been opened at the library here by the Hartford Garden Club. A garden encyclopedia and bulletins and reference books on gardening will be available at the center. 50 years ago – 1970 Weddings are the thing this summer in the Stanley Hope family. Mr. and Mrs. Hope are announcing the engagement an approaching wedding dates of two of their daughters. Miss Patricia Stafford will become the bride of Laurence David Caughlin on July 23 at the Federated church. Miss Alice Stafford will become the bride of Daniel Wendell Martin on August 1, at the Federated church. Another wedding in the family took place in May when Miss Kay Stafford and Anthony Kucera were married at Traverse City, Michigan. Submitted by Librarian Stephanie Daniels at Hartford Public Library from microfilm copies of the Hartford Day Spring. Revised Hours: Mon – Fri 10 a.m. – 5 p.m. Phone: 269-621-3408


90 years ago – 1930 Mr. and Mrs. G.C. Sherer of South Watervliet have purchased the F.D. Gilcrest residence property on east St. Joseph Street. Carl Olmsted and Louie Stuckum spent the 4th of July weekend at Niagara Falls, making the trip by motor by way of Detroit and through Canada. Mr. and Mrs. Ray Dwiggins and son Everet arrived here from Anderson, Indiana, to spend the 4th of July weekend at the home of his brother, Barney Dwiggins. 60 years ago – 1960 Miss Diana Besemer left Watervliet June 23, 1960 for Europe where she is an exchange student in Germany. Diane’s trip was made possible by the Michigan Council of Churches. While in Germany, she is staying at the home of Dr. and Mrs. Helmut Alexander who have a 16-year-old daughter, Karin, who has been an exchange student here in the U.S. Between 1,500 and 2,500 persons are expected to attend an “Open House” at the plant of the Watervliet Paper Company on July 16, 1960, in observance of its 50th Anniversary. AS/5 Andrew J. Weans, Watervliet, participated with other personnel from the 4th Armored Division in a field training exercise in Grafenwohr, Germany, which concluded July 22, 1960. The exercise, conducted under realistic conditions, was designed to evaluate the combat effectiveness of the unit, a major element of the NATO shield of defense in Europe. 30 years ago – 1990 The Watervliet Paper Company mill is for sale. Efforts to refinance the employer of 245 hourly employees or to find an “equity” partner have not borne any fruit, since sending its employees home on June 1, 1990. Richard Jones, CEO of the KAPACO Group, owners of the mill, stated they were still seeking an equity partner to come up with the $6 – $8 million needed to refinance the mill operation. For the first time Watervliet Public Schools is holding a Migrant Summer School. Math, reading, oral language and extra exposure to the English language are the main priorities. Funded by the Federal government, the Watervliet Migrant Project is focused on helping the eligible students overcome the deficits in their education, which result from their frequent moves from school to school. The first grant is $30,500. Spec. James E. McGee has been decorated with the Army Achievement Medal in West Germany. The Achievement Medal is awarded to soldiers for meritorious service, acts of courage or other accomplishments. The soldier is a 1989 graduate of WHS. Submitted by Sally Q. Gonzalez from files at Watervliet District Library of the Watervliet Record newspapers donated by the Tri-City Record. Curbside hours have been extended to Mon – Fri 10-2; Wed 4-8 and Sat 12-2. Phone: 269-463-6382


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