08-24-2017 Tri-City Area History Page

Berrien County Courthouse, St. Joseph

North Berrien Historical Museum is always interested in photos, stories or information sharing.  The museum can be contacted at 269-468-3330 or by email to info@northberrienhistory.org.

From the photo collection at the North Berrien Historical Museum

300 Coloma Avenue, Coloma

The Paw Paw River Journal

Where are you, writers?

I don’t know what the significance is, or if there is any, but recently I have had at least three people tell me they want to be writers!  I am heartened to think this might be a trend!  I see so many people going around exercising their thumbs on one of those little computers.  And they are bastardizing the English language!  Example: to make it easier, they will write R for are… U for you, etc, and use their thumb to punch in LOL for laughing out loud.  Too much work to write I find this very amusing!

Harmless, you say… but when it comes to real writing now, many students find it awkward to do that formally.  I know, I know, the English language will change in spite of us curmudgeons.  Back in 18th Century England, a great thinker, Dr. Samuel Johnson, said he was going to fix the English language for all time.  He put together a huge dictionary that would be the standard forever!  And even while he was doing it the language went right on changing.  His writing now seems so archaic to us!

One person I talked to has written a whole book and wants to get it published!  Another has written articles, little stories, and wants to see them in print.  One lady confessed to me, “I’ve always wanted to be a writer, and when the kids were small, I used to write in a journal what they were doing and how they were progressing.”  Needless to say, I will encourage them in any way I can.

It seems like I have been in this business forever.  I taught writing and literature for over 30 years, and ever since then I have been banging away on this column.  Back in the day(!) I used to say to my students when they first came into my class… “You know, when I see all of you at first, I think… some day in one of my classes I may have another Jonas Salk, Albert Schweitzer, Ernest Hemingway, etc.”  At this point they usually had disbelief on their faces.  Then they sneaked a sideways look at the other kids… could this be true?  Really I was trying to tell them they had something to say.  And each one of them had valuable ideas.

For whatever you are doing, there is no substitute for knowing what you are talking about.  And you cannot fake it… you have to grow into it.  When I was a new teacher, it was hard for me to say, “I don’t know.”  I just lacked the confidence.  After I came to have a solid subject matter background, it was not difficult to say… because I did have a formidable body of knowledge.  There is nothing to compare to the look on a student’s face when he realizes that you are like an iceberg, with 8/9 of what you know below the surface.

How do you get that way?  By working at it!  You have to know more than you are talking about.  Boy, this would be foreign to some people!  When I was very young and working in a machine shop, I marveled at my foreman.  He knew how to run every machine in the place.  That is why he was the foreman.  If you are going to be a writer, you have to make deposits in your mental bank account, so you will have lots to draw on.

I’m sure there have been great writers who had little or no education. One famous novelist of the 30s and 40s, Thomas Wolfe, was said to be schooled so little that his publisher had one expert forever working to get his words into printable form.  Somehow they had seen that in spite of his shortcomings he had something to say!  But I’d not take a chance on that.  Any would be writer should do it as well as he or she can.

Sometimes storytellers like to put their ideas into talking and tell people what they want to write.  And there is an oral tradition to storytelling.  But this can be harmful because they talk it all out and never get it down on paper.  We had one friend… full of ideas, and a most interesting person.  He used to bring over his telescope and give our kids lessons on all the brilliant stars in the night sky!

He knew I was writing stories about old times in Hartford, and he said, “I’m going to write a history of Hartford, and it will be like no other ever written before!”  I asked how much of it he had completed, and he pointed to his head and said, “I’ve got it all right up here!”

A few weeks later he and his wife were attending a wedding reception.  He went out on the porch of the reception hall to have a cigarette with some of the other guys, and as he stood there, he collapsed with a fatal heart attack!  I have always felt so bad, because his words were just written on the wind!

A well-known novelist, F. Scott Fitzgerald, died in his 40s of a massive coronary.  All of his famous friends filed past him in the casket, and one woman said, “His books were in his desk, I guess, and some unfinished chaos in his brain… all dumped to nothingness by the great janitress of destiny!”  Can you understand that those of your ideas to live on will be what you have recorded?  So get them on paper!

One of my first tutors in writing was a fellow teacher.  She taught art and wrote historical novels… all in longhand on a yellow legal pad.  In teachers’ meetings they admired her copious note taking. I knew she was working on a story!  I did that for a while.  But I switched to typing because of my left-handed scrawl.  Good thing too, because that scrawl has become almost illegible!

Whatever your preference, get it down on paper!  Yup!  I’m still selling writing, because people need to know how we lived in the 21st century.  And also it weaves more golden threads into this marvelous tapestry of life in our storybook towns along the Paw Paw River.

Coloma Library News

Book Club

The Coloma Library Book Club is meeting on Thursday, August 31 at 5:30 p.m. The title to read before the discussion is “Shelter” by Jung Yun.  Generally, depending on demand there are titles available for check-out at the front desk. The book club regularly meets every other Thursday and is always looking for new members.

Story Hour

Story Hour will be taking a break until after school starts it will resume on Wednesday, September 13 at 10:30 a.m.

Hartford Library News

 A new program, STEAM, kicked off for all age children at the Hartford Public Library on Wednesday, Aug. 23.

Participants are to create two projects using any of the following: Keva Blocks, Think n’ Link, Creative Lego, 3D Doodler, K’nex or ROK Blocks. The library has construction guides on-hand and will help with the projects. They also have examples for each type of construction. When a child finishes two projects using two different types of materials, they will receive a prize.

This program will continue every first and third Wednesday of the month from 4 p.m. to 6 p.m.

Watervliet District Library News

 LEGO donations needed – any and all LEGO blocks you don’t use anymore. Bring them to the library.

Yoga – Monday mornings, 9 – 10 a.m.; Wednesday evenings, 7 – 8 p.m.; Wednesday evenings from 6:00 to 6:45 p.m., Chair Yoga

Coming soon – Toddler Time – September thru November: half hour class on Tuesdays at 10:30 a.m. and Story Hour – October thru April: one hour class on Wednesdays at 10:30 a.m. and Thursdays at 1:30 p.m.


100 years ago – 1917

John Cochrane, grandson of Mr. and Mrs. J.H. Bunker has received a commission as second lieutenant in the infantry of the new national army.

Coloma will soon have an up-to-date flour mill. William Hocker, currently the manager of W.H. Ball’s lumber yard, is making plans for this new endeavor. The Coloma Mills was purchased from W.W. Seabury.

Coloma’s canning and pickle factories will be very lively trading centers for the next two months.

Milo B. Selter has an elegant new Franklin automobile.

Keep Your Teeth Until Old Age – Besides cleansing the teeth, you should use Penslar Boraline. Fifty cents buys a large bottle. Scott’s Pharmacy.

60 years ago – 1957

Clifford Hanson suffered a heart attack while home for lunch from the State Bank of Coloma. Dr. E.V. Sergeant was called immediately. His condition is reported as “fair.”

Salem Lutheran Church will hold an early and a late English service. Sunday School will be recessed for the month of August. Also, young people’s bowling is Wednesday at Wil-O-Paw Lanes.

Mrs. David Faulkner was honored at a baby shower held at the home of Mrs. Robert Huff. Mrs. Roger Carter Jr. was the baby bonnet prize winner. The table was centered with a bouquet of red and yellow roses with lighted white tapers surrounded by tiny storks.

30 years ago – 1987

Mayor Glenn Randall announced he won’t seek re-election after 34 years. He also was a member of the committee that organized the first gladiolus parade in 1936.

The North Berrien Adult and Community Education Consortium, located on Pier Road, announces programming for the 1987-88 school year. GED, as well as enrichment classes are offered.

Deer Forest – End your summer with a smile. Live music and magic shows.


100 years ago – 1917

The explosion of an air pressure tank at noon yesterday completely wrecked the Service Tire Shop operated by William Olds and Noel Thompson in the Britton block on Main Street, blew out the entire front of the store building and sent a stock of millinery goods crashing to the floor in the store of Maye Fitch & Co. next door. The store building is in the center of Hartford’s business district, and the force of the explosion caused buildings to tremble for two blocks around. In some instances vibrations were felt four blocks away.

The Indians of Rush Lake District under the direction of Chief Andrew Rapp will hold another of their popular Indian picnics at the Rush Lake Catholic Church, four miles northwest of Hartford, tomorrow. A war dance fashioned after the custom of the Potawatomi will be a feature of the event, while prizes will be offered for races and other athletic stunts and a big chicken dinner will be served at noon. The proceeds of the picnic will go toward remodeling and repairing St. Dominic’s Church, as the Rush Lake church is known.

75 years ago – 1942

The new Hartford Pharmacy under the ownership of Roy DeMars is staging a formal opening this week with a special sales event on Saturday. The drug store, the most recent addition to Hartford business establishments, is located in the building formerly occupied by the Chamberlin Walgreen store at 36 West Main Street. With the opening of the DeMars store, shoppers in Hartford now have two well stocked drug stores to patronize, the Hartford Pharmacy and Clark’s Drug Store, the latter operated by William Clark.

Hartford Public School will open Tuesday, September 8. Student registration days will be on September 4 and 5, the Friday and Saturday preceding Labor Day.

The big day in Hartford’s drive for scrap to go into war production is Friday, August 28, when every resident will be expected to place at the roadside all the junk, scrap metal, rubber and tin cans, that can be procured from attic, cellar, garage and storage rooms.

50 years ago – 1967

Brit Stenberg of Norway and Kenneth Svensson of Sweden are exchange students at Hartford High School this year. They have found high school here to be easier than at home in some respects, but much different. Kenneth had never seen a football game until he played in one and is a place kicker on the Hartford team. The soccer kick he uses proved effective on first try. Miss Stenberg is a bit puzzled by the game. They run with the ball in their arms and call it football.

The Band Boosters met recently for the first meeting of the season. The need for new band instruments was discussed.


90 years ago – 1927

Sheriff Fred G. Bryant has appointed Forest Boyer of Watervliet a regular member of his staff of deputy sheriffs and Mr. Boyer duly qualified by filing his oath of office and bond on Sep. 2, 1927.

Mrs. L.L. Rogers, president of the Watervliet Parent/Teacher Association requests all ladies who will, to can tomatoes for the lunches to be served at the school during the winter months.

Lon Brooks has purchased a new Chevrolet truck with a one and one-half yard gravel box to take care of his gravel trade. Mr. Brooks says that the old Ford truck was far from being worn out, but in order to give his customers prompt and dependable service at all times he thought it best to invest in a new and faster truck

60 years ago – 1957

William P. Jones, Watervliet is one of 32 students who received driver training certificates at Western Michigan University.

Mr. and Mrs. Albert Barnhart celebrated their Golden Wedding Anniversary on Aug. 25, 1957. Nearly 200 relatives and friends were in attendance.

Mr. and Mrs. Gerald Rynberg are the proud parents of their baby boy, Michael Gerald, born Aug. 9, 1957 and weighed 8 pounds 5 ounces.

30 years ago – 1987

Tamara Trutwin, WHS graduate, has earned a Bachelor of Music Education degree from the VanderCook College of Music. VanderCook College is known throughout the world as the leader in educating future music teachers. She was elected to the prestigious Who’s Who in American Colleges and Universities.

Timothy Lord, an ’81 WHS graduate, has been awarded a Minister’s Dependent Scholarship to attend Piedmont College in Georgia. Piedmont, a four-year liberal arts college, seeks to provide its students with a broad education based on a Christian foundation.

Wanda Burger, Watervliet, won the grand prize of a 12×12 carpet during Gargano Custom Carpets’ grand opening celebration.


Related Posts

See All