08-06-2020 Tri-City Area History Page

Holland Wooden Shoe Dancers perform during the Gladiolus Festival. Have you ever worn or danced in wooden shoes? Do you remember watching the group dancing down a parade route? If you have Wooden Shoe memories, please contact North Berrien Historical Museum at 269-468-3330, info@northberrienhistory.org, or facebook.com/NorthBerrienHistory/. North Berrien Historical Museum is open for private tours, Tuesday through Friday 10-4. From the photo collection at the North Berrien Historical Museum 300 Coloma Avenue, Coloma

Beyond single Diggins

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!

April 6, 1994 I’m just “trying out” a possible name for a possible column about local history in the west end of the Tri-City Record readership. It’s not that I think Shingle Diggin’s is such an attractive name. It’s just that it’s historical and was the first settlement in any of these communities your editor suggested covering – Coloma, Watervliet, Paw Paw Lake, Hagar and Bainbridge townships. I’m open to suggestions – except something like “Rocking Chair Recollections”. That sounds too static, and I hope to keep active as long as possible. Readers do, too, I’m sure. Right now I’m still rambling around Ft. Meyers, Florida, with my feet. It’s my mind that takes me back to the old home town. And as I swam in the pool this morning, I felt no desire to be there just yet. April will be soon enough. Then I am hoping for help from a number of “older-timers” even than I. There’s Emily Shoup, full of authentic Coloma memories. She wrote a beautiful story, telling the history of buildings and incidents along Coloma’s main street. We finally didn’t use it in “Glimpses of the Past”. We had so many family stories we decided to save “buildings” for another time. Then there’s Evelyn Krieger, one of Bainbridge’s experts on history. Allen Baker, who once related to me some wonderful reminiscences of his grandfather, that I never got written down; and Alice Shrosbree, a “younger-timer” than I, who provided some hair-raising stories of the days when Chicago gangsters resorted at Paw Paw Lake, but who never got them into the book. There are dozens of others who, I’m sure, could ring nostalgic bells for some and provide historical heritage for our younger readers. My own cousin, Muriel Pockett Masters, with whom I stay in Ft. Meyers, has many memories of living in Watervliet. How many remember the “flats” on paper mill hill? She lived there while her father, Gard Pockett, worked in the paper mill. One of her earliest impressions was being carried up the steps of Beaman’s Opera House for a dance her parents attended and, as a cute two-year-old, getting all kinds of wonderful attention, while her mom and dad did some dancing. A little later, being the older of two, she was given the responsibility of carrying her father’s hot lunch to him down the hill. Feeling grown up and important, she would enter the mill door and wander, unrestricted, through several rooms overflowing with old newspapers and magazines. Sometimes she would stop to look at pictures, experiencing worlds far beyond her own. She loved to stand and watch her father as he monitored a certain machine through which paper was passing. She remembers that every little while he would stop and toss water on the cylinder to keep the correct moisture level. Then they moved to the “pink house” on Pleasant Street on the corner nearest the railroad tracks. (It was still there when she pointed it out to me a couple of years ago.) She started school and her father took on an extra job, running the moving picture machine at the town’s first movie theater. Again, she felt the thrill of being recognized and allowed to enter the theater to go up and see her dad, sneaking lengthy peeks at the screen en route. But one Saturday afternoon her “royalty status” was abruptly deflated. She was sent on an errand to the store for something Mother needed right away. Gladys, her sister, two years younger, went along. Muriel was instructed to “come right back”, but she was a determined child with a mind of her own and decided to stop by the moving picture show first. “Did Mother say you could come down here?” asked my Uncle Gard. “Oh, yes!” lied Muriel, giving her sister a warning look that said, “Keep quiet!” After receiving her usual welcome and dividing attention with her little sister, she found the movie especially exciting and sat down, even among the remonstrations of her obedient sibling. Mother, who, after an hour or so, suspected their whereabouts, came and marched them out of the theater, swatting them both all the way home. When Aunt Nora was convinced who was really to blame, she administered a good old-fashioned spanking to Muriel who recalls hanging onto the bedpost and screaming, “I didn’t know you’d do a trick like this to me!” It was at the end of World War I that Uncle Gard and family moved to Kalamazoo, where he took a job as a pottery maker’s assistant. Aunt Nora became ill with the terrible flu going around at that time. One of my early memories was the long journey to Kalamazoo, riding with my sister, Allene, and Mom driving the horse and buggy. She went to care for my aunt. It was during that bout with illness that Uncle Gard, crediting an osteopathic physician with her cure, decided that’s what he wanted to become. Each grandparent took a child, while they attended Stickney School. Aunt Nora went to work full-time in Chicago, where Uncle Gard attended the School of Osteopathy, and my folks, now in Coloma, “took over” at vacation periods. Families worked together.

Coloma Library News Due to Executive Order 2020-161, the Coloma Public Library returned to Curbside Service effective July 31. The library will additionally provide service by appointment for patrons who need to briefly use a computer, use faxing or printing services, or check out materials. Appointments will be accepted for the same day only. The hours will continue to be Monday through Friday 12-6 p.m. Saturdays will remain Curbside Services only from 10 a.m. – 2 p.m. Please call 269-468-3431 or email readcoloma@gmail.com for more information. Free online tutoring 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.