09-22-2016 Tri-City History Page


1925 – 90 years ago

Miss Pauline Whitney, Watervliet, daughter of Mr. and Mrs. Harry Whitney, is attending a business college in Grand Rapids. William Kelly, a former Watervliet boy, who has been in the Great Lakes Naval Training School for four months, visited at the home of his grandparents, Mr. and Mrs. Arch Kelly on Oct. 3, 1926.Advertised on Oct 8, 1926: New Shoes for Fall—the embodiment of Fashion’s latest decree. New shoe Modes $3.95 to $5.95, at H.G. Geisler.

1955 – 60 years ago

 Kay Smith, daughter of Mr. and Mrs. Earle Smith, was awarded a certificate for having satisfactorily met all the requirements for the title of excellent camper by the board of control for the Odd Fellow and Rebekah Camp on Big Star Lake, near Baldwin, MI. This award is a coveted prize for a camper to win. Dr. Julius T. Wendzel, Watervliet, has achieved recognition through the publishing of his book, “The Dynamics of Capitalism”. Dr. Wendzel, A WHS graduate, served with the Bureau of the Budget under President Franklin D. Roosevelt, in Washington, D. C. before returning to this area. In his book he reminds the college graduate and others that what is most necessary for a successful career is a practical idea. On top of that the idea man must have the ability to inspire confidence in prospective investors. If he has both, a new industry and a new fortune are in the making. It is the constant search of all the people for the worthwhile ideas and the constant search of investors for the idea men that give America its unprecedented prosperity and make it the golden land of opportunity it is.

1985 – 30 years ago

 The end of September and beginning of October, 1986, brought the torrential rains that swelled rivers, flooded basements and yards, washed out roads and inundated lakefront yards, docks and piers. High water covered most piers and lapped over breakwalls on Paw Paw Lake. Engineers placed an emergency dam across the Paw Paw River inlet to the lake to slow flooding. Watervliet City in 1985 adopted an ordinance to create a downtown development plan which was put into effect in December. The DDA was formed as a result of work being done by the Planning Commission to implement programs for development inside the City of Watervliet.

HARTFORD 100 years ago – 1916

 Manufacturer of picture frames and a number of wood novelties, JA Scheyor, president of the Reliance Picture Frame Company of Chicago, was in Hartford Friday. Mr. Scheyor declared that Hartford possesses excellent advantages as a manufacturing point, and was so favorably impressed with the village that he announced before leaving that there was little doubt that his company would erect a factory here.  The West End Boys club, an organization of Boy Scouts from west Hartford, under the direction of Charles Kleckler, attended the reunion of the Berrien County Battalion at St. Joseph on Thursday and gave a drill which elicited praise from the veterans in attendance.

75 years ago – 1941

 Among the innovations in Hartford gardens are several southern cotton plants at the CW Teitsworth home. The cotton, about waist-high, is loaded with bolls and blossoms. Peanuts and okra are also growing in the Teitsworth garden, giving it a distinctly southern aspect.  The Hartford Garden Club met at the home of Mrs. Bessie Hough last Friday afternoon. Roll call was “Childhood Garden Memories” and brought out many interesting memories of gardens and flowers that are rarely seen these days.  The first fall meeting of the Hartford Woman’s Club was held Tuesday afternoon at the home of Mrs. Elnora Chamberlin on South Maple street, with members responding to roll call with “How do you do and where have you been?” Mrs. Lena Spaulding, now president of the club, gave an address of welcome. A social hour followed during which light refreshments were served with Mrs. Carolyn Powers assisting the hostess.

50 years ago – 1966

 Winners and their prizes awarded at the grand opening of Tim’s Supermarket are Etta Frazier, 15 piece cookware set; Lewis Fellows, electric toaster; Leo Widner, percolator; Thomas Keir, mixer; Adine Penrose, silverware; Garland Beck, steam iron; Donna Marsau, electric knife sharpener; and George Fernham, dinnerware set.  The Hartford Jaycees will hold their annual membership banquet Monday evening, Sep. 26, at the Sportsmen’s club north of town. Men ages 21-36 who are interested in helping their community and would like to attend the dinner please contact Bob Clark or Bill Weeden.

COLOMA 100 years ago – 1916

 The State Bank of Coloma has, once again, exhibited a fine display of fruits grown in the Michigan fruit belt.  Carl Miller, Mr. and Mrs. C. Tack and Mr. and Mrs. OJ Miller desire to express their sincere thanks to all who were so kind during the illness and at the death of Mrs. Carl Miller.  War News: the British have taken the greater part of the Bouleauxwood, Highwood and the towns of Flers, Martinpuich and Courcelette.

60 years ago – 1956

 Friends and relatives filled Davidson funeral home for the funeral of Bonnie Veit, 21 years old. Miss Veit attended Stanley school and graduated from Benton Harbor high school. She had been an employee of the telephone company.  Mrs. Don Reiger and Mrs. Edward O’Keife both gave talks before the Toastmistress Club.  The Coloma High School gridiron aggression battled the class B South Haven Rams. The Comets will jump into Little Eight Conference competition as they host Decatur.  Christian Science Services are held at the church on Paw Paw Street every Sunday at 11 a.m.

30 years ago – 1986

 Glad-Peach President Mary Collis states the Board is looking for new officers. “We have no slate and no support,” she says. There may not be a festival in 1987.  Harding’s Market is to be sold, according to corporate headquarters. No details are available at this time.  Commissioners  appointed Richard E. Dill as the City’s Plumbing Inspector. He has been in the business for 29 years, having obtained a master license.  Treasa Auer scored high on the 1987 National Merit Scholarship competition. She plans on attending Kalamazoo College after graduation.  Nine Coloma High School students escaped injury in a three-vehicle accident which occurred in front of the high school.


 Here is a view of construction workers and onlookers in front of The Family Cafe in Watervliet.  Can anyone identify the people in this photo, or the year?  Please share any information or memories by contacting the North Berrien Historical Museum at 468-3330 or info@northberrienhistory.org.

Paw Paw River Journal


Earthquake McGoon comes home

 Captain James B. McGovern found his last war in French Indochina, the area in Asia we came later to know as Vietnam.  He was affectionately known to his friends as “Earthquake McGoon,” named after a huge gorilla-like character in the old Li’l Abner comic strip.  He died over in those jungles just before the French surrendered to Communist forces in 1954.  That was before we went in and tried to do what the French could not.  Earthquake was a huge man, bearded, and a hero in Gen Chennault’s Flying Tigers.  In the skies over China he shot down four Japanese planes and was credited with five probables.  He did it in P-40s and F-51s, just barely being able to fit in the cockpit.  I’ll bet the Japanese pilots quaked in their boots when they heard Earthquake McGoon was in the area!  After the war, when the Communists began to take over, Earthquake kept on flying supplies for the Chinese Nationalists.  Once he crash landed behind their lines; and they kept him imprisoned for a time, before letting him go without explanation.  His friends claimed the Communists couldn’t afford to feed him.  A burly man, he was born to trouble and hairbreadth escapes.  And he had finally run out of wars.  Sometimes such men find that living on the edge is what gives meaning to an otherwise drab existence.  So Earthquake started looking.  He found his last adventure in Vietnam.  The French controlled the area, fought the Japanese there, and now were in danger of being driven out by the Viet Minh, a coalition of local Communist forces united to drive the foreign devils out.  In March of 1954 the French asked Gen. Chennault if they could borrow transport planes and pilots (civilians) to fly supplies into the beleaguered French Fort at Dien Bien Phu.  Surrounded by Communist troops, the situation there looked pretty bleak.  The US Air Force painted out markings on several C-119 transport planes and loaned them to the French.  Earthquake was one of the pilots hired to fly them.  And they began to fly air drop missions, parachuting supplies into the surrounded fort.  Meanwhile, Communist gunners fired at their planes, throwing everything at them but the kitchen sink!  Earthquake and his friends flew at least two missions every day, one in the morning, and another in the afternoon.  They dropped tons of supplies; and no doubt about it, they were mercenaries.  Earthquake said, “Way I figure it, we either fight them at home or over here!”  After just about every mission, mechanics had to patch up the holes in their ships.  Earthquake had another answer for that problem.  He said, “When you are invited to a war, you expect to get shot at!” One May afternoon, they approached the surrounded fort, and Earthquake made his run.  He dropped down to 3,000 feet amid antiaircraft bursts.  Then his voice came over the radio, “I’ve got a direct hit!”  His friend, Steve Kusak, swung his plane in behind Earthquake’s.  One of the engines was spurting oil.  McGoon turned it off and feathered the prop (turning the blades into the wind to offer less resistance).  Then a second burst of fire tore a hole in one of the ship’s tail booms.  The plane lurched.  Earthquake saw a riverbed ahead of him and called, “Steve, tell me which way the mountains are lowest!”  Steve took a hasty look and called, “Turn right.”  Earthquake headed into the steep valley between the peaks. Controls crippled, he kept slipping wide and skidded toward the hills.  As his friends watched helplessly, Earthquake’s voice came coolly over the radio, “Looks like this is it, Son!”  His left wing dipped toward the rocky hillside.  The huge plane did a slow, ponderous cartwheel and burst into an orange-black flaming blossom.  Then I read a story in the VFW magazine called “Bringing Home the Missing,” by Robert Widener, it tells about our government locating our missing war dead and bringing them home.  Earthquake McGoon is one of them.  Found in that valley in 2002, his remains were brought to the Joint POW/MIA Accounting Command in Hawaii; and just recently through a complex DNA procedure he was finally identified.  His copilot’s remains are yet to be located.  And so… another war hero has returned home.  Sad, but strangely rewarding, to know that another piece of the puzzle of our lost men is finally falling into place.  Welcome back, Earthquake!  We have missed you all of those years!

Coloma Library News Story Hour

 Story Hour meets on Wednesdays at 10:30 a.m. at the library. Story Hour is for preschool aged children; join Miss Amy for a story, craft and song time. It is asked that all children be supervised by an adult. Story hour is a free program and no registration is required. We look forward to seeing you there.

Book Club

The Coloma Library Book Club is meeting for a book discussion on Thursday, September 29 at 5:30 p.m. The title to read before the discussion is “Readers of Broken Wheel Recommend” by Katrina Bivald.  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. For more information, please stop in the library or call 468-3431.

Senior Services Hartford

Hartford United Methodist Church, 425 E. Main St., Hartford

Monday, September 26 lunch will be served at 12:30 p.m.; Bingo & Euchre/cards, 1:30 p.m.

Tuesday, September 27 lunch will be served at 12:30 p.m.; Exercise & Euchre/cards, 1:00 p.m.;  Computer help & knitting, 1:30 p.m.

Friday, September 30 CLOSED for staff retreat.

Genealogy Society bus trip to Allen County

 Seats are still available for the Van Buren Regional Genealogy Society’s bus trip to the Allen County Public Library on Saturday, October 8.  The Allen County Public Library in Fort Wayne, Indiana is known worldwide for its extensive archive collection of genealogy materials from all over the country and around the world. To have this library collection located so close to southwest Michigan is a great treasure and is a must visit for all genealogists. The collection has something for everyone whether you are a beginner needing help with basic research or a skilled genealogist looking for those missing pieces of your family’s history.  The cost is $45 for VBRGS members and non-members. This includes transportation to Fort Wayne with pickup and drop off sites in Paw Paw and Niles, beverages and snacks on the bus as well as a boxed dinner provided by Jimmy John’s Sandwiches for the return trip home.  A registration form including trip details can be printed at the VBRGS website www.vbrgs.org, picked up at the Webster Memorial Library, Decatur, or can be emailed through a request sent to vbrgs@yahoo.com.  For additional information, or to have a registration form sent by mail, contact Joyce Beedie, president, at 269-657-4409.

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