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 firstname.lastname@example.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 email@example.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