09-14-2017 Tri-City Area History Page

Wig Wam Hotel, Watervliet

 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

Sneaky snakes!

Going through some old manuscripts, I found the following.  David R. Kline, a Pennsylvania friend published it originally in his online newspaper, The Benton News.  I was on his emailing list and enjoyed his daily writings as long as he kept them going.  With his permission I used it in my column in the Tri-City Record, and thus it was in my file.  So when I reread it, I got such a kick out of it, I thought you readers would enjoy it too!  Here it is below:

Garden snakes, also known as Garter Snakes, can be dangerous. Yes, grass snakes, not rattlesnakes. Here’s why. A couple in Sweetwater, Texas, had a lot of potted plants. During a recent cold spell, the wife was bringing them indoors to protect them from a possible freeze.

It turned out that a little green garden grass snake was hidden in one of the plants. When it had warmed up, it slithered out and the wife saw it go under the sofa.  She let out a very loud scream.

The husband (who was taking a shower) ran out into the living room naked to see what the problem was. She told him there was a snake under the sofa.  He got down on the floor on his hands and knees to look for it. About that time the family dog came and cold-nosed him from behind. He thought the snake had bitten him, so he screamed and fell over on the floor.

His wife thought he had had a heart attack, so she covered him up, told him to lie still and called an ambulance. The attendants rushed in, would not listen to his protests, loaded him on the stretcher, and started carrying him out.

About that time, the snake came out from under the sofa and the Emergency Medical Technician saw it and dropped his end of the stretcher. That’s when the man broke his leg and why he is still in the hospital.

The wife still had the problem of the snake in the house, so she called on a neighbor who volunteered to capture the snake. He armed himself with a rolled-up newspaper and began poking under the couch… Soon he decided it was gone and told the woman, who sat down on the sofa in relief.  But while relaxing, her hand dangled in between the cushions, where she felt the snake wriggling around. She screamed and fainted, the snake rushed back under the sofa.

The neighbor man, seeing her lying there passed out, tried to use CPR to revive her.  The neighbor’s wife, who had just returned from shopping at the grocery store, saw her husband’s mouth on the woman’s mouth and slammed her husband in the back of the head with a bag of canned goods, knocking him out and cutting his scalp to a point where it needed stitches.

The noise woke the woman from her dead faint and she saw her neighbor lying on the floor with his wife bending over him, so she assumed that the snake had bitten him. She went to the kitchen and got a small bottle of whiskey, and began pouring it down the man’s throat.

By now, the police had arrived. Breathe here… They saw the unconscious man, smelled the whiskey, and assumed that a drunken fight had occurred. They were about to arrest them all, when the women tried to explain how it all happened over a little garden snake!

The police called an ambulance, which took away the neighbor and his sobbing wife.

Now, the little snake again crawled out from under the sofa and one of the policemen drew his gun and fired at it. He missed the snake and hit the leg of the end table. The table fell over, the lamp on it shattered and, as the bulb broke, it started a fire in the drapes.

The other policeman tried to beat out the flames, and fell through the window into the yard on top of the family dog that, startled, jumped out and raced into the street, where an oncoming car swerved to avoid it and smashed into the parked police car.

Meanwhile, neighbors saw the burning drapes and called in the fire department. The firemen had started raising the fire ladder when they were halfway down the street. The rising ladder tore out the overhead wires, put out the power, and disconnected the telephones in a ten-square city block area (but they did get the house fire out).

Time passed! Both men were discharged from the hospital, the house was repaired, the dog came home, the police acquired a new car and all was right with their world.  A while later the couple was watching TV and the weatherman announced a cold snap for that night. The wife asked her husband if he thought they should bring in their plants for the night.  And that’s when he went berserk and was taken away in restraints!

So that’s my story for the week; and I guess I’m stuck with it, as I try to weave a few improbable threads into the tapestry of our lives in these storybook towns along the Paw Paw River.

Coloma Library News

Story Hour

Story Hour meets on Wednesdays at 10:30 a.m. Join Miss Amy for a craft, story and song time! Story Hour is for older toddlers and preschool-aged children. It is asked that all children be accompanied and supervised by an adult. There is no sign-up or fee required. Please call 468-3431 with any questions.

Book Club

The Coloma Library Book Club is meeting on Thursday, September 28 at 5:30 p.m. The title to read before the discussion is “Mrs. Sinclair’s Suitcase” by Louise Walters.  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. Call 468-3431 with any questions.

Watervliet District Library News

September is: Library Card sign up month!

Sign up or renew your card during the month of September to be entered into our drawing for awesome library bling.

Banned Books – September

Calling all Reading Rebels: Celebrate your freedom to read all month long and snap a photo to prove it! Our photo booth awaits you!

Teen Table Projects – September

A button maker is on the table all this month. Bring in your art or make it here and wear home your thoughts, talents & opinions.

Toddler Time

Sep. thru Nov. – Tuesdays at 10:30 a.m.

Early literacy stories and games, designed to build pre-reading skills for little ones 18 – 36 months. Lots of fun for everyone! No registration is required for this drop-in program.

In Stitches

Sep. 8, 2:30 – 4:00 p.m.

A monthly knit-together for everyone passionate about their yarn & needles. Limited supplies are available for beginners, too!

Third Monday Book Club

Sep. 18, 7 – 8 p.m.

Join us for great books and fabulous conversation. This month’s book: The Glass Castle by Jeannette Walls. Ask for your copy at the desk.

Red Cross Pillowcase Project

Sep. 30 – 1:30 p.m.

This project teaches children coping skills to help them deal with an emergency, using three steps – Learn, Practice and Share. Recommended for children in grades 3 through 5 (ages 8 to 11). Sign-up is required for this free program; call us or stop by to register.


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

Coming Soon

Story Hour – Oct thru Apr, one hour class on Wednesdays at 10:30 a.m. and Thursdays at 1:30 p.m.


100 years ago – 1917

“Military Blues” is the new ailment our boys are afflicted with at Camp Custer. It lasts five days and isn’t the ordinary type of homesickness.

A special election will be held for the purpose of constructing a trunk sewer running from the septic tank near the interurban station to Paw Paw River.

A damaging frost hurt the melon, cucumber and tomato vines. These crops are estimated at a total loss. The corn, potatoes, beans and buckwheat fared a bit better. Some crops were uninjured, based on their location.

60 years ago – 1957

Mrs. A.C. Stark reports that the Methodist church addition is complete and will be consecrated. Fred Munchow was the contractor doing the work on this 2-year project.

Coloma’s football card for 1957 include: South Haven, Decatur, St. Johns, Berrien Springs, Hartford, Bloomingdale, St. Joseph Ponies, Cassopolis and Watervliet.

Firemen were headed to the Victor Friday farm answering a tenant house fire when another call came in. Homer Umphrey drove the new city truck to the second fire at another tenant home in Hagar Township.

30 years ago – 1987

An Open House will be held in honor of the 100th Birthday of Frank Urban Sr. Friends and family are invited to celebrate at the township hall.

The Coloma Township Board unanimously accepted a resolution of intent to become a Charter Township. Supervisor Rod Krieger stated this “provides more flexibility for the community as a whole.”

Coloma Schools will implement a comprehensive Health Education curriculum for grades K-12.

Out on Martin Road lives Marlin Marquart, a quiet man, a modest man, a man of varied interests. He is First Vice President of the North Berrien Historical Society. He and wife Jean love traveling and have been to 49 states. We celebrate you, Marlin.


100 years ago – 1917

The electric lighting firm of Anderson Bros. has nearly completed the extension of their line to the county farm three miles east of the village, and will furnish electric service for the county buildings as well as to the farm homes along the road.

A heavy frost cast its mantle of destruction over this section of Michigan Tuesday morning, biting vegetation and jeopardizing crops that have not been garnered. Ice formed in many places, and where water was left standing in shallow basins the ice is reported to have reached an eighth of an inch in thickness. The first trace of frost appeared Sunday night, but was not of sufficient severity to cause serious damage. The temperature continued low Monday, and cloudless skies Monday evening warned of a disastrous visit of the Frost King.

75 years ago – 1942

The Hartford Philharmonic Club met Wednesday, September 9. The seventeen members present attended a supper at the Federated Church. After the supper a program was enjoyed at the home of Mrs. Isabelle Mortimer. A paper, “The Effect of Music on the Morale of Our Fighting Forces,” was given by Mrs. Grace Thompson. Mrs. Zora Lammon sang, “The Stars and Stripes Forever.” Mrs. Grace Lang sang a vocal selection. The possibility of organizing a “victory chorus” was discussed.

The Hartford Garden Club will meet at the home of Mrs. Mabel Richter on Friday, September 18. Roll call will be, bring a sample of a vegetable grown this year.

50 years ago – 1967

A service improvement program in excess of $125,000 for telephone customers in south and east rural areas of Hartford began this week, according to Bob Randall, district manager of General Telephone Co. The program includes construction of 8.9 miles of buried cable. Upon completion, due in December, General Telephone will be able to reduce the number of parties on the rural lines in the south and east rural areas, In addition, facilities for private line requests also will be available.

A complicated four-car accident and fire caused only minor injuries to five persons Sunday afternoon, but brought eight emergency vehicles to the scene on Red Arrow Highway just west of Hartford and caused a monumental traffic jam.


90 years ago – 1927

Testifying to the steady growth of Watervliet, the 400th telephone will be installed in this city by the early part of 1928 per W.L. Stevens, manager for the Michigan Bell Telephone company. Thomas Carmody, Emilius Woolcott and Morris Wood were the originators of telephone service in Watervliet.

Nancy Garratt of Watervliet, was chosen from 925 freshmen enrolled in the Western State Teachers’ College to participate in an entertainment program which was a feature of Freshman Days.

The city commission has been making an effort to save the fine old maple trees on the west side of South Main Street where the fill was made with dirt excavated from the Pleasant Street improvement. The trees have been trimmed back and a loose stone wall built around each one so that the fill would not smother the trees and kill them.

60 years ago – 1957

Miss Sharon Rogers will leave on Sep. 25, 1957, for New York where she will study at the Julliard School of Music.

Mr. and Mrs. C. Guy Curtis will quietly observe their 55th wedding anniversary on Sep. 22, 1957. They will also celebrate Mrs. Curtis’s birthday on that day with a family dinner.

Mayor and Mrs. Claire E. Shepard left Watervliet to Boston where the Mayor will be signally honored by having the Masonic 33rd degree conferred upon him. He will be one of a group of thirteen from the state of Michigan to be so honored and will the first from Watervliet ever to receive this highest of Masonic awards. He has been a Mason for 37 years.

30 years ago – 1987

The Watervliet girls’ 7th-grade basketball team has begun the 1987 season with two consecutive victories. They defeated Eau Claire 26-6 and Bridgman 29-23.

Making people laugh comes naturally to Angie McVay. This junior girl’s gift for comedy coupled with her citizenship, scholarship and her extracurricular contributions caused her teachers to tab her as ‘Student of the Week’ for the Watervliet Schools.

Army National Guard Private Scott A. Adams, Watervliet, has completed one station unit training (OSUT) at the U.S. Army Infantry School, Fort Benning, Georgia. OSUT is a 12-week period which combines basic combat training and advanced individual training.


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