08-01-2019 Tri-City Area History Page

Can you identify any of these 40th Coloma Reunion attendees? Or, have any information or stories of these reunion goers, 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

Family mantras A mantra is a saying or part of a verse that has special meaning. Do you have special sayings in your family? Well, we do in ours… they are tag ends of stories, punch lines that are so well-known that they have become invested with special meaning. I assume that all families have them, but I only know we have some in ours. I will hereunto list a few sayings, and then tell you the little stories that go with them…

You’ve just quit preaching and gone to meddling! Someone in the family gives advice that is either unwanted or goes a little too far. And this is a gentle way of saying, “Okay, no more, no more!” As in the story about the two little old ladies in the Kentucky mountains who were attending a revival meeting. The spirit was upon them, and the preacher was pounding the pulpit… really getting into it. Each point he made would be followed by “Amen, amen,” all through the congregation. Preacher (in a loud voice), “I say we will have no more gambling and drinking!” “Amen, Brother, amen!” “And I say we will have no more loud partying and carrying on!” “Amen, Brother, amen!” “And I say we will have no more carousing and late nights!” “Amen Brother, amen!” “And I say we will have no more dipping snuff!” The two little old ladies gasped and one said, “Listen to him! He’s just quit preachin’ and gone to meddlin’!”

That’s one… This is just a little more than related to the story above. Sometimes when there is a family gathering, one member may have pulled a boo-boo. That is, they have done something embarrassing and another family member will just not let it drop. Someone will say, “That’s one!” Which means, okay just let it drop! That’s enough!” It harkens back to a story from the old days. A young couple was driving somewhere in a horse and buggy. The horse reared and started acting up. The young man said, “That’s one!” They continued on driving until the horse did it again. He said, sawing on the reins, “That’s two!” Finally getting calmed down, they continued on their way. Then the horse did it again, rearing in the traces. The young man stopped the buggy saying, “That’s three!” He got out, walked around to the front, drew his pistol and shot the horse! The young lady stood up in the buggy, hand in front of her mouth, and said, “Oh, you shouldn’t have done that!” Very calmly he pointed his finger at her and said, “That’s one!” So, this should be self-explanatory.

Number 37! Again, sometimes at a family gathering when we are doing the rounds… that is taking turns telling stories or memories of the past (sometimes referred to as “Tales of the Old West”, with a nod to my mom who was famous for telling stories under that heading). Some stories have been repeated so many times that after the laughter subsides, someone will say, “That’s Number 37!” which evokes more laughter! This goes back to the old story about the governor of a state who was visiting its oldest and largest prison. The warden was conducting a tour of the place. The governor said he would like to eat dinner with the men. Well they did that, and at the conclusion of the meal there was a period of silence. It was broken by one of the inmates who stood up and said, “Number 37!” This was followed by general applause and laughter. Then another inmate stood up and said, “Number 85!” This was followed by laughter and even a few catcalls. The governor leaned over and whispered to the warden, “What are they doing?” The warden whispered back, “Most of these men are lifers. They’ve been here so long they heard all the stories many times. So now they have them numbered, and they just say the number. Everybody knows which story it is!” The governor said, “That sounds so interesting… could I try one?” The warden nodded his assent. So the governor stood up and proclaimed in a loud voice… “Number 49!” There was an embarrassing silence, amidst which he sat down, face growing red. Then he leaned over and whispered to the Warden, “What’s wrong?” The warden whispered back, “You didn’t tell it right!” There are more of these, but I just can’t think of any right now. I don’t know how it is with other people, but when our family gets together it is a joyous time. We leave problems when we come to the table… just as we leave all of those little thumb-exercising tablets. It is a time for fun and stories. We get together and tell those stories, each in turn. I call it, “Doing the rounds.” We have been doing thus since all the kids were little and we gathered for a meal. We asked a blessing and then as the food was passed we were all taking turns telling about our day’s adventures. No problems! This was not a time to bring up mistakes someone had made. I’d like to think that all of our children remember those days with pleasure. Even the littlest one got a turn, but then had to wait in silence while the rest told their stories. Those memories to me are golden threads woven into The Great Tapestry of Life in these storybook