09-05-2019 Tri-City Area History Page

Are you one of these handsome young men posing near Paw Paw Lake? If so, please contact North Berrien Historical Museum at 269-468-3330, office@northberrienhistory.org, or stop by Tues-Friday 10am – 4pm they would love to hear your stories. From the photo collection at the North Berrien Historical Museum

The Paw Paw River Journal

Manny Oppenheim’s Quality Clothes

We had one real clothing store in Hartford’s golden past. Started by Manny Oppenheim’s dad, Jacob who was an itinerant Russian Jewish peddler. My first time in their store was with my dad and I was about 5 years old. They were sitting and talking. Although my dad’s name was Lee, Manny always called him Leo. He was always impeccably dressed, suit and tie, and smoking a cigar in a holder. That day while they talked I wandered around. There in one of the aisles I saw a beautiful dark-eyed girl. Just a little older than I, she was Regene, the oldest of Manny’s three daughters. Both of us being shy, we had little to say to each other. Regene played the violin and moved out west later. We heard she became an elementary teacher. One day Marion asked Manny about her. He said he had hoped she would become famous, but she was just teaching little kids. Marion said, “You should be proud of her… the early grades are where they get their beginning. Like the foundation of the house, it is most important!” Middle daughter Marilyn and Marion were good friends in high school. After my graduation I was waiting to go into the Air Force. We were no longer dating, and I was surprised one day to get a phone call from Marilyn. She asked me if I would like to be her guest at their senior prom. I was so surprised I said I would get back to her. I called and told her I would do it and found out what color her dress would be so I could get a corsage to match. We had a good if somewhat formal time and Marion was there double dating with a friend of hers and her cousin, Jim DeBoni and a friend of his. We studiously avoided each other, and afterwards I took Marilyn to a restaurant in Benton Harbor. I didn’t know what a traditionally Jewish girl would eat, but cheeseburgers turned out just right. I never saw her socially again after that. Marilyn came to a tragic end. She was living in an apartment in Chicago, where she fell in the bathroom and died. We never heard much more about it, but I suspect there was a story that was never told. Youngest daughter Lorraine moved to Chicago and married. She came by our house some years later with her husband to buy one of my first books. We had a good time talking and I could see she was living the good life. Hopefully she still is! Manny’s wife, Dorothy, was a beautiful woman. We used to see her out at night walking around the streets of Hartford for exercise. Otherwise than that, she mixed with the other ladies in town very little. The one time I was in their house I picked up Marilyn for the prom. It was beautifully appointed, old-fashioned furniture, and had a quiet stylish quality. Oppenheim’s store must have been quite profitable. Hartford’s young men often ran accounts there. One day Marion was in there with Marilyn. She needed some money to pay for their high school yearbook. Manny told her to look in the desk drawers and she would find enough petty cash for that. So they went on a search, and Marion said in every desk they looked there is a gun in one of the drawers. And this speaks to Manny’s increasing concern with security as he grew older. He had several locks on the front door, which he had to deal with every time he opened the store. He also had installed Hartford’s first burglar alarm! The day it was finished they tried it out, and when the door was opened without it being reset it raised a horrible racket on Main Street. The bell was installed high up on the front and certainly did its job well. That evening Edison Harley, night watchman, went along Main Street trying doors to make sure they were all locked. He finished that side and went around coming back along the alley. When he got to Manny’s store, he was shocked to find the back door slightly open. He thought there must be someone inside! What to do? Edison ran back to the pool hall on the corner, yanked open the back door and yelled, “Possible break-in at Manny’s! I need some reinforcements!” All the pool players and card players who could still walk followed him and tiptoed up on the back porch. Gun drawn, Edison cautiously pushed the door open. The alarm went off and all hell broke loose! The posse knocked each other down scrambling to get off the porch. It turned out the last time Manny checked the alarm he forgot to shut the back door when he left. And it took Hartford some little time to get over the shock of the new burglar alarm going off in the middle of the night! Manny Oppenheim’s store was a Hartford fixture for many years. He definitely wove some threads into the Golden Tapestry of Life. Part of the great story of small-town America… our lives in these storybook towns along the Paw Paw River.

Watervliet Library News

September is Library Card Sign-Up Month. Residents are encouraged to stop in at the library and sign up for a card. New card holders will be entered in a drawing for library newcomer’s prizes. Sensory Bin Blast Tuesday, Sept. 10, 10:30-11:30 a.m. The perfect time for a perfect mess! Great skill building for little ones while providing lots of silly fun. No registration is required. For ages 0-5 years. In Stitches Knitting Group Friday, Sept. 13, 2:30-4 p.m. Take a current project or just your interest; they’ll get you started! Arm knitting supplies and instructions, too. 3rd Monday Book Club September 16, 7-8 p.m. Great books, fabulous conversations, tea and a bite. This month’s book is Margaret Atwood’s A Handmaid’s Tale. Extra copies are available at the library for checkout. Family Movie Night Friday, Sept. 20, 6 p.m. Start your weekends off with a treat! The third Friday evening each month this fall means: Movies, popcorn and crafts. This month’s movie: Toy Story 1, with sporks to make and take. Toy Swap Sat., Sept. 28, 10:00 a.m.-2 p.m. Reduce, reuse and replay! Take in your gently used toys through September 27 to receive coupons for their toy swap event – for ages 3-12.

Climate Prep Week acknowledged at Watervliet Library with program on Sept. 23

Climate change is in the news, but what effects are being felt locally? The Watervliet District Library is hosting a program Monday, September 23 at 6:30 p.m. which aims to answer that question. Two speakers will present information on both the global picture and local impacts of changing weather patterns. Jan Strait of the Citizen Climate Lobby will talk about world-wide events and positive responses individuals can make. Nate Fuller of Sarett Nature Center will share local observations and documentation of climate change impacts right in our own backyard. This program is offered as part of a nationwide observance of environmental concerns and strategies known as Climate Prep Week, September 23 – 29, begun in the New England states. This year, libraries throughout the country are invited to participate, sharing knowledge and resources related to changing global weather patterns. The library’s program is free and open to the public. Handouts, book and informational displays will be available throughout the week. For anyone requesting more information, call the library at 269-463-6382.


100 years ago – 1919 The crossing of Center and Church streets is the most dangerous place for the meeting of automobiles. Hewitt shoe store building stands right on the lot line and prevents a view of Church Street. Many narrow misses have taken place. Ford Tires and Tubes – Tube Vulcanizing – Special attention to Harness and Shoe Repairing – Arthur Swift – Coloma – Michigan Ernest Zeigert is home nursing a broken leg. A heavy timber fell off a wagon and struck the victim on the leg. A similar accident occurred to Mr. Zeigert two years ago. 60 years ago – 1959 Coloma has its share of Little League winners. The Reds are champions in the City of Coloma. The Washington Senators are winners of the North Berrien Little League Eastern division. Nancy Strejc, Miss Blossomtime, will compete in the Michigan State Fair Beauty Queen contest. Mrs. Beatrice Blomquist will serve at the Clymer school in one of the early elementary positions. Earl Talley shows off his 13-foot high sunflower. A free ski show will take place in front of the Club Rocadero in Ellinee Bay at Paw Paw Lake. Police broke up a teenage mob causing a disturbance in front of Pirri’s restaurant. 30 years ago – 1989 New staff at Coloma include: Mark Morris, Sharon Hurse, Julie Cook and Delia Talley. Sixth grade will be using the block system for the first time this school year. Ratification of teacher contracts should take place. North Berrien Adult Education classes to begin. Students 18 years of age or older may attend. All classes are taught at Pier School. Sally Williams is Senior Choir Director of the First United Methodist Church of Watervliet. Sally is daughter of Roger and Bertha Carter. As an Armchair Quarterback, Jim Edwards picks Lake Michigan Catholic to win over Coloma this week. Submitted by volunteer Sandi Musick Munchow at Coloma Public Library from the Coloma Courier newspapers donated by the Tri-City Record. Hours: Mon & Fri, 10:00 a.m.-5:30 p.m.; Tue, Wed & Thur, 10:00 a.m.-8:00 p.m.; Sat, 10:00 a.m.-2:00 p.m. Phone: 269-468-3431


100 years ago – 1919 The Hartford public schools opened Monday morning with a record enrollment. The opening enrollment in the high school was 129, with 28 in the first grade, 25 in the second, 26 in the third, 27 in the fourth, 17 in the fifth, 19 in the sixth, 14 in the seventh and 21 in the eighth, making a total enrollment of 306. An unusual feature is the number of students who have elected the study of Latin; 38 of 41 students in the ninth grade having taken up the subject. The peach harvest is at its height, with thousands of bushels coming from Hartford orchards – despite the prediction of a crop failure. The Hartford Fruit Exchange has shipped six cars and at least four cars more have been carried away by trucks which have come from all directions and from as far away as Fort Wayne, Indiana. 75 years ago – 1944 The Mothers of World War II announced this week that $113.50 has been donated for the redecorating and refurnishing the Veteran’s Hospital at Fort Custer. The Hartford Mothers of World War II donated $50 and M.O. Oppenheim $10. Mrs. John Birmele collected $53.50 from residents in Keeler. The Hartford Garden Club will meet at the home of Mrs. Leah Diggins, 118 Mary Street. The subject will be “Herbs, How to Grow and How to use Them”. The roll call will be to bring an herb. The familiar advice of youthful speed demons, “get a horse” has been heeded by Hartford’s delivery man, Floyd Parks, who has done just that. No longer do housewives in the community await the arrival of their groceries in the cream color truck for “Tom” a friendly nag, has taken its place. 50 years ago – 1969 Hartford’s newest restaurant is an addition to the A&W Drive-in just east of the city on Red Arrow Highway. It is owned and operated by Mr. and Mrs. John Becktold. The Hartford Band Boosters will meet at the high school band room. Summer band camp participants will tell of their experiences at camp this summer.

Submitted by Librarian Stephanie Daniels at Hartford Public Library from microfilm copies of the Hartford Day Spring. Hours: Mon, Tue & Wed, 10 a.m.-7 p.m.; Thur & Fri, 10 a.m.-5 p.m.; Sat, 10 a.m.-2 p.m. Phone: 269-621-3408


90 years ago – 1929 The last Saturday night band concert for the season will be given this Saturday night. The series of concerts were given by the Watervliet High School Band and they have proven to be a most pleasing feature of the summer season. The boys have put up a fine program of music at these weekly concerts and they have received many compliments on the music. Watervliet paper mill workers, many of whom have been working over-time all summer including one Sunday, are to have a four days’ vacation over the Labor Day weekend. 60 years ago – 1959 Probably no other graduate from Watervliet High School has attained such national and international renown as Dr. Paul Jeserich. And we almost missed finding out about him—even after we had talked to him. We found Dr. Jeserich, who is Dean of the School of Dentistry at the University of Michigan, described on the pages of Who’s Who. A long list of honors, appointments and offices in education and dental circles ran after his name. He has been associated with the University dentistry school for 35 years and was named Dean in 1950. 30 years ago – 1989 The Frank Hanks family is hosting a Japanese student who attends Michigan State University. Toshiyuki Nahiwa attended MSU for the spring term and will be returning as a junior. Toshiyuki is studying agriculture and communications. He arrived just in time to spend the week at the Berrien County Youth Fair and to help get the chicken, rabbits, beef and swine ready for the fair. In previous years Frank and Penny have hosted a young lady from Spain and a dairy farmer from Ireland. According to Penny, “It is important to expand the world in which we live and experience different cultures.”

Submitted by Sally Q. Gonzalez from files at Watervliet District Library of the Watervliet Record newspapers donated by the Tri-City Record. Hours: Mon & Wed, 10 a.m.-8 p.m.; Tue, Thur & Fri, 10 a.m.-5 p.m.; Sat, 9 a.m.-3 p.m. Phone: 269-463-6382


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