07-18-19 Tri-City History Page

Kid’s Parade at Glad-Peach Festival An unidentified boy has on a fake beard to compliment his straw hat. His faithful companion is hitched to a hay wagon. If you recognize the boy or his dog, please contact North Berrien Historical Museum at 269-468-3330, office@northberrienhistory.org, or stop by Tues.-Friday 10 a.m. – 4 p.m. they would love to hear your stories. From the photo collection at the North Berrien Historical Museum 300 Coloma Avenue, Coloma


The Paw Paw River Journal


Remembrance of things past

The time after World War I up through the Great Depression of 1929 is often called “The Roaring Twenties!” But it wasn’t a time of roaring for everyone. Prohibition was in full swing and speakeasies flourished… illegal places where you paid to get a drink and other things for the right price. Much has been made of that in movies and stories. But most people were glad just to get back to living their lives. The war had sickened everyone. There was a problem with jobs for veterans, but gradually life came back to normal. And actually along with it came prosperity. My folks had eked out a living with the greenhouses. My dad really had to scramble to get enough coal to keep the growing plants warm during the war. Some young people were so disillusioned they went to Europe to live. They were bright, creative, and many settled in Paris. They became known as The Lost Generation, and I will write more about them later. Here in the U.S. life was getting back to normal. My folks prospered… in fact, the year I was born (1924) they were doing so well they bought a new car and a new truck for the business. Life was much simpler and local shops thrived because everyone shopped at home. The Hartford bank was built in 1910. One of the young men who worked therein was Marion “Dimp” Mortimer. He was up and coming and a man who saved his money and bought bank stock. He married a beautiful girl named Isobel Nicholson, and they built the house we have called home all these years. Dimp and Beautiful Belle (as she was called) made a handsome and well-known young couple about town. They never had any children, but otherwise lived the good life. She entertained ladies’ groups and my mom told me of going to their house for Victrola parties. They would get records of operas and other well-known entertainment and play them for their groups. I can still remember vividly when I was in the 1st grade. Our teacher, Miss Squires, and the music teacher brought a group of us to one of Belle’s afternoon soirées. We put on a little play in her living room with nursery rhymes. One of them was, “Peter, Peter, pumpkin eater…” We even had a kid pop out of the pumpkin in pantomime. Such entertainment went over very big. We have been corresponding with the family that lived across the street from us around that time. A granddaughter wrote the following: “I was going thru some old family articles, notes & photos. I found an article about my Great-Uncle Arnold Sutton who was in the Civic Orchestra of Chicago. The article was about him playing his violin at the Mortimer home and that the admission fee was going to the Hartford Women’s Club. I knew I had read about the Mortimers in your book and seen that it was the home you purchased after you were married a few years. He played the violin way before you were born, but I found it to be exciting information.” In 1925 Hartford built a new school. It was right on the spot where the Red Arrow Elementary School stood. It was a magnificent two-story building with a central wooden staircase. That would be a no-no in today’s plans. They also had outside metal fire escapes, but somebody wisely decided they were too dangerous for kids. So they installed tubular steel escapes down from the top floors. Those were the same fire escapes we had when we were in school. I have written about them elsewhere. Of course I don’t remember those early years, but they must’ve been exciting times. I was busy dealing with the New World of early childhood. My earliest memory is sitting in Blanche Conaway’s studio on Main Street. She was located on the north side in what is now an insurance office. We had come there to have our pictures taken, Wilma and I. The only thing I remember is some red and white striped socks I was wearing. My feet were stretched out in front of me and I was so proud of them. Marion still has them tucked away somewh