07-23-2020 Tri-City Area History Page

The Paw Paw River Journal

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

Debut column from Jan. 9, 1985: In the space called Hartford A late winter night in Hartford is usually pretty quiet. Spirea bushes droop quietly around the outside of porch railings under their load of snow. Bare maple trees loom over quiet streets, with snowflakes sifting down at the intersections under street lamps. In their beds, old timers are tucked up to their chins, and nothing disturbs the town except an occasional hot rodder. But out south, trucks wind down the hill from Lawrence. In the quiet, always the big trucks. They used to come through town, but not any more. Now, they travel 1-94, bisecting a sort of bowl formed by hills to the south toward Keeler, fruit country west toward Watervliet, Webster Hills to the north, and rolling hills east toward Lawrence and Paw Paw. Trucks coming west on the big road run through miles of grape vineyards near Paw Paw. After Lawrence, they roar down the incline past Hilltop Orchards and the Dowd Farms. Down this slope they really pick up speed, and in the quiet of night provide a steady noise which can be heard all over town. Trains are another matter. C & O diesels running north and south on the west edge of town sound almost like the old steamers, but not quite. And although the lonesome whistle is a universal night sound, the big rigs out on 1-94 are the ones we hear in our sleep. At Exit 46, 1-94 passes under the Keeler Road, which becomes South Center Street in Hartford. Here the old Avery farm was sold to make the interchange. This exit is surrounded by gas stations and fruit stands. There are also convenience stores and a restaurant, The Panel Room, which serves huge hamburgers. Some years back the Keeler Road was improved and widened. Where it passes Maple Hill Cemetery, they deepened the cut to level the road bed. Some old timers thought this came perilously close to sacrilege. Mamie Howes, my old piano teacher, is buried in her family plot near the bank. At the time of the road work, she was still alive and said she was afraid some of her family might have their feet sticking out. Those fears proved groundless. Ever since 1-94 was completed, Hartford has been getting more quiet. One old timer said the population never had changed much anyway. Whenever a baby was born, somebody left town. This is an exaggeration, but the activity is not what it used to be. Old U.S. 12, running right through town on Main Street, now carries mostly local traffic. Before, this was the main artery between Chicago and Detroit. Most original Main Street businesses are gone. There are only two familiar names: Smith’s Building Center on the west end, and Calvin’s Funeral Home (formerly Zuver & Calvin’s), now owned by Dale Leonard, just east of the bank. In order to find familiar names, the returning native must go out to Maple Hill Cemetery. Inside the entrance gate is a small stone vault with an iron fence at the door. The sexton kept bodies here when the ground was too frozen for burials. In the winter of 1918 my mother lost her first baby. Snow was so deep she could just see the horses’ ears as they pulled sleighs past her sick room window. My only brother, whom I never knew, lay in that vault until the first spring thaw. Just beyond there, he is buried next to my parents.

Lion’s Club serving breakfast at the 1971 Fly-In at Watervliet Airport … Men identified are: Chum White Jr., Ian Krall, Bob Brant and Mort Leith. Did you attend this pancake breakfast? Did you attend the fly-in? Did you fly-in? If you can answer any of these, please contact North Berrien Historical Museum at 269-468-3330, info@northberrienhistory.org. or facebook.com/NorthBerrienHistory/. 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 Free online tutoring

In support of families in our community, the Coloma Public Library now offers Tutor.com. Tutor.com provides online academic tutoring, homework help, and test preparation for kindergarten through 12th grade students, plus early college students, and adult learners. Any Coloma Public Library card holder can connect with an expert tutor in a safe and secure online classroom. Call us at 269-468-3431 for more information. Special Access Services The library is open for Special Access Services. Hours are Monday-Friday 12-6. We will be available Saturdays from 10-2 for Curbside Service only. Up to 20 patrons may be in the library building at a time. Visits are limited to 30 minutes when there are others waiting. As mandated by the State of Michigan, face masks are required. Social distancing is maintained for the safety of staff and patrons. Computers are available with limited assistance from staff. Faxing and printing is available. Summer Reading Program Summer Reading is officially underway! This year’s offering is virtual, so children, teens, and adults can participate in fun reading challenges online. However, we will also provide paper logs and craft kits (while supplies last) through our Curbside Services. Visit www.colomapubliclibrary.net for details. Please call, email, or reach out to us through Facebook for any questions. Book Sales Currently, the library is limited to offering a small ongoing Book Sale in the lobby with a selection of materials from the Book Store. We will keep it stocked regularly. Items purchased can be paid for at the Circulation Desk. The popular Free Items table is also back! We have many items after being closed for months, so please come and find an interesting treasure to take home. Little Free Cart Weather permitting, the Little Free Carts are still outside for patrons who want to browse and select materials without coming into the building. We swap out the materials regularly and hope you’ll “check out” what’s there!

Watervliet District Library News

The Summer Reading Program will be extended this year, through August 10. The Watervliet District Library continues to provide free books-to-keep and weekly craft kits, distributed at the Watervliet Middle School, Mondays, 11-noon. Parents and kids are encouraged to request books through curbside, as well. Craft projects are demonstrated online through the library’s Facebook page by Children’s Programmer Kati Burtchett. The library will celebrate Shark Week, August 9 – 16, with crafts, trivia and plenty of shark info links, via Facebook. New print titles in and ready for check-out: Conspiracy of Bones by Kathy Reichs; Deacon King Kong by James McBride; House of Earth and Blood by Sarah Maas; Night Watchman by Louise Erdrich; Worst Best Man by Mia Sosa; Forgotten Murder by Jude Deveraux; Long Range by C. J. Box; Other Mrs by Mary Kubica. Many others have recently arrived, as well, and are quickly being processed for public use. Look for new DVD and audio titles in the coming weeks. Curbside service hours are: Monday-Friday, 10-2; Wednesday evening, 4-8; and Saturday, 12-2. Curbside requests can be made at any time either through the library’s catalog (watervlietlibrary.net and scroll down to the “Search Our Catalog” button), by email (info@wdlib.org), by phone (269-463-6382), or through the library’s Facebook page. Please contact the library for further information.


100 years ago – 1920 The official census figures prove to be a disappointment. The 1920 figures are given at 663, where 1920 was 701. It is possible an error was made. Census Enumerator, Almon J. Baker took sick and his work was completed by another. A woman was found on the streets in a demented state of mind. Her queer actions led to her apprehension. Friends were contacted from personal letters she had in her possession. 60 years ago – 1960 Voters defeat school bond issue by a margin of 3 to 1. The line of voters extended from the auditorium to West Street. Qualified voters are invited to become members of the Citizen’s Advisory Committee. HO 8-4950 Pamela DeFields is captain of the high school band’s majorettes. Charlotte Martin is also a majorette. Fishermen Rayburn Rice and James Galles hook an eight-pound Northern Pike and a three-pound Walleye pike, respectively. Gyl Johnson and John L. Sherhart visit Western Michigan University to get a taste of campus life. Both plan on attending in the fall. Wanted: sour cherries – black raspberries… Carter’s Farm Supplies – Official receiving station for Burnette Farms Packing Co. 30 years ago – 1990 Coloma Lions present $1,650 from a benefit pancake breakfast to the George Rose family. Monies will be used to help with medical conditions for their son Bradley. Joyce Tutton will remain principal of Washington Elementary Building. The decision was reached during a closed executive board meeting. Virginia Stineman has announced her retirement from The State Bank of Coloma. Allen W. Baker Jr., Chairman of the Board said, “She has provided a high level of service during her thirty-nine years of dedicated service.” The Coloma High School Band will march in the Glad-Peach Festival Parade. The band is under the direction of Chris Keech. Submitted by volunteer Sandi Musick Munchow at Coloma Public Library from the Coloma Courier newspapers donated by the Tri-City Record. Special Access Services are Mon-Fri 12-6; Curbside Service, Sat 10-2. Phone: 269-468-3431


100 years ago – 1920 Professor Hobbs, geologist of the University of Michigan, is again searching for the meteor that illuminated the heavens over this section of Michigan the evening of November 26. Professor Hobbs spent last week interviewing residents. A transit Ford truck crashed into a dray team driven by James Carpenter on West Main Street Thursday. One of the horses was thrown squarely on top of the truck engine and severely cut about the leg, while the truck was badly damaged but able to proceed under its own power. The truck driver losing control of the steering wheel swerved into the dray team. The driver promptly settled with Mr. Carpenter for the injuries to the horse. Sparks from a chimney ignited the roof at the offices of Dr. H.S. Scott on West Main Street and the flames had gained good headway when the alarm was turned in. The fire was quickly brought under control when the firemen reached the scene with the chemical truck. The sparks came from a boiler used in connection with a bathroom. 75 years ago – 1945 Hartford youths may have a roller skating rink and recreation center in the town hall if plans begun by the township board and Community Education Council can be completed. The board granted permission for use of the second floor on condition that it is approved by the state fire marshal. Use of the building was requested by Milton M. Weed, Miss Mary Ellen Latus and Robert Dyer, representing the Community Council. The committee indicated that use of the building two nights a week is contemplated. The Community Council committee said that it would discuss the project with the village at the group’s next meeting. Officers of the Art Study class were reelected Monday afternoon at a meeting of the group at the home of Mrs. Marie Finley. Officers are Mrs. William Watson, president; Mrs. Finley, vice-president; and Mrs. Alice Hurry, secretary-treasurer. Mrs. Nellie Smith presented the lesson, which was on “Spanish Paintings”. Mrs. Clare Clover was accepted as a new member of the class. 50 years ago – 1970 A story hour for children four to eight years old was announced this week by the new librarian, Mrs. Robert Cunningham, the former Amelia Bundesman. Debbie Hampton will tell the stories. Mrs. Cunningham announced a fine-free grace period for overdue books until Aug. 5. After that date the usual fine of three cents per day will apply. The library is open Mondays from 1 to 6 and 7 to 9 p.m., from 1 to 6 and 6:30 to 9 p.m. Wednesdays and Fridays, and from 10 to 6 on Saturdays. 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 For the first time in a number of years, Watervliet is to have a direct sales agency for Ford automobiles. It will be found in the building formerly occupied by the Dwiggin’s Battery Service in the rear of the First National Bank. A mule in the pasture on Oscar Myrick’s farm south of this city was killed by lightning in the electrical storm on July 27, 1930. Farmers of the South Watervliet District have been threshing oats the past week. Yields ranging from 30 to 50 bushels to the acre are reported. Arthur Abel threshed eight acres that went 50 bushels to the acre. 60 years ago – 1960 Duane M. Formsma of Constantine has been employed as principal of the Watervliet High School. Mr. Formsma has had 10 years experience in public education including teaching, coaching and administration. On July 17, 1960, the Watervliet Airport was host to the 2nd Dawn Patrol held here under excellent weather conditions. Eight-two planes and one helicopter participated in the event. The plane that traveled the farthest distance came from Monroe, Michigan. A breakfast was served at 6:30 after which $300 worth of prizes were given away. SP4 Robert L. Hennesey, west St. Joseph Street, arrived home on July 7, 1960, following his discharge at Fort Sill, Oklahoma. Serving one year and nine months, Hennesey attended Basic Administration School at Fort Leonard Wood and at the time of discharge was Headquarters Administrative Clerk at Fort Sills. 30 years ago – 1990 Mr. and Mrs. Adolph Fietz were honored at a surprise buffet reception on July 29, 1990, in observance of their 50th Wedding Anniversary. They have 3 children, 5 grandchildren and one great-grandchild. On July 23, 1990, Noah Selzer of La Jolla, California, stopped in Watervliet on his way to Washington, D.C. Selzer left Davis, California on June 15 and has been cycling his way across the United States. He has pedaled 3,400 miles stopping along the way at four National Parks. He said, “Things have gone along pretty smoothly,” since he left California. Selzer is making the trip because it is a good way to see the U.S. Submitted by Sally Q. Gonzalez from files at Watervliet District Library of the Watervliet Record newspapers donated by the Tri-City Record. Curbside hours: Mon – Fri 10 a.m. – 2 p.m.; Wed 4 – 8 p.m. and Sat 12 – 2 p.m. Phone: 269-463-6382


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