09-07-2017 Tri-City Area History Page


Cutler Livery located north side of railroad tracks, Coloma

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

Yahoo!  School’s starting!

Sorry, Kids, if I seem to be celebrating something that could feel like a tragic situation for you later! But then, probably the number of school kids who will be reading this I could count on the fingers of one hand. If I’m wrong on that, mea culpa! Anyway, the kids will be going off to school, and parents will feel they are now tucked in and being educated by someone who will (hopefully) polish off some of the rough edges.

There is an old belief that teachers are acting in loco parentis, that is, in the place of the parent. Just so they don’t act too much “parentis!” In other words, many people think the teacher should teach and civilize their offspring… just don’t teach the kids anything contrary to the parents’ beliefs. And that is a trap for the teacher. I firmly believe that teaching is a subversive activity. We try to get kids to think for themselves. But when they do, they will surely think things their parents don’t want them to!

One time I was teaching a senior lit course in a city high school. I asked the kids to pick a good book and do an oral review for the whole class. Aha! Spread a little culture and encourage some more reading! One girl came to me with a book and asked if it would be suitable. I took a look at it, and what little hair I had stood straight on end! Nice girl, and very attractive. She was from an Evangelical family. Nothing wrong with that… good values, solid background, etc.

But the book was one she had seen the kids carrying around… very popular at the time… The Catcher in the Rye.

This story is about a horribly funny teen-ager. Holden Caulfield swears constantly, hates phoniness, and is always judging girls as to how much he can get away with while dating them. But he is curiously gallant and wants to protect his little sister, Phoebe, from all the evil in the world. He has this recurring dream that he is watching over a bunch of little kids playing in a rye field. He stands at the edge of a cliff and keeps them from tumbling off. The book is a real judgment on all the phoniness in this world!

I told the girl she should take it home and ask her mom what she thought about it. Next day she came back, put the book on my desk and said, “My mom says she cannot believe that teen-agers talk that way!” So I suggested she pick another book. Obviously that mom had not listened to kids talking when they thought there were no adults around! Cowardice on my part? I’d like to think not. I really wanted to respect those parents’ beliefs and values.

So the school year begins! The process of helping to civilize and mold kids into responsible adults. I believe it is more difficult now than it used to be. A friend of mine referred to middle school students as “apprentice humans!” And, yes, when I was that age admittedly I was. Those kids are trying desperately to be cool, to be taken seriously; and they just haven’t mastered the art of it yet. They are difficult years, and from my viewpoint now, I believe if I was a beginning teacher and they told me I would be teaching in middle school… I’d seriously consider another profession!

But I like kids… always enjoyed interacting with them. That is, after I had convinced them they were in my class to learn something! I told students I expected great, brilliant things from them, starting out the semester by saying, “You know, whe