Claude Mast service station… in 1929, located on Paw Paw St. in Coloma. One of the men is identified as Ernie Kittle although it is unknown which one is Ernie. If you can identify any of the men in the photo or have any other information, please contact: North Berrien Historical Museum, 300 Coloma Ave., Coloma; 269-468-3330; firstname.lastname@example.org or find them on Facebook @northberrienhistory. From the photo collection at the North Berrien Historical Museum 300 Coloma Avenue, Coloma
The Paw Paw River Journal
Miss Lonely Hearts
One day some years ago I walked into Clark’s drug store. This was a teen hangout from clear back when I was in high school. In those days I was a real drugstore cowboy… some of us kept the pinball machine heated up with tournaments. Now I was back as a retired teacher and writing this very column! I had been down to the post office to check the mail. Marion was probably working on a piece of antique furniture. Beautiful morning sunshine and a soft summer day… on my way to the post office I walked past Harding’s parking lot. There were a couple ladies I knew standing by their car and talking. Camille Woolcott and Bev Friday were both premier Hartford citizens and known to have a keen sense of humor. As I passed them I said, “What are you girls plotting on such a beautiful summer day?” Camille answered, “Bud, we’re on our way out to the river to go skinny-dipping! Want to go along?” “Sure,” I answered, “Just wait until I go home and get my suit pressed!” And we were all laughing like fools as I continued on my way to the post office. After that was when I walked into the drugstore. All the smells that greet you in such a place… perfume, cigars, medicine… drugstores have their own unique odors. I was just about in time for the morning meeting of the Hartford Philosophers’ Club. This was an informal daily gathering of retired guys who met for coffee and conversation. I knew them all, and they met me with greetings of various kinds. The kid who worked there was behind the soda fountain filling a couple of Coke orders. He may or may not have been the one they told this story about… the first day he worked, someone said the druggist told him never to miss selling a product! If the thing the customer wanted was not available, fill the order with something as close to it as he could get. Well, a guy came in sneezing and coughing with horrible allergies. The druggist had stepped out for a moment, and the kid was almost wringing his hands in anxiety. The guy wanted a certain anti-allergy product… it was not in stock. The druggist came back in a few moments, and the brand-new clerk said with pride, “Well, I did it! A customer was just in for an allergy medication we didn’t have. So I substituted like you said. I sold him some of that new dynamite stuff… you know, the Pluto water!” This was a new laxative that came in a small green bottle with a picture of a red Devil with a pitchfork on it. It was guaranteed to work almost immediately. The druggist, taken aback, said, “Oh no! That’s not for allergies!” “Well,” the kid said, “He drank it right here. Look at him! He’s standing out front talking with some of his friends, and he doesn’t dare cough!” The Old Philosophers Club used to meet in the back of that drugstore every morning for coffee. The group contained some of Hartford’s premier citizens, and I could tell you some stories about every one of them. One was Vere Shindeldecker. He was our fuel oil man back in the day when we had a furnace that used it. For years he delivered several times a year, and when he retired son Vere continued. He has since retired but lives down our street with wife, Linda. One time they showed us some of the interesting pictures original Vere took of the war in Europe. He saw a lot of that! A couple of other regular philosophers were John and Evy Babcock. They lived in splendid retirement out toward Hartford’s southernmost suburb, Keeler. One day in Hartford, John told me a most interesting story. They had just returned from a western trip. He said they ran into a relative of ours at Denver, Colorado. Sunday morning and they had stayed in a nice motel. Then they found a large Methodist church to attend. The organist, John said, was most talented. They stopped afterwards to compliment her… a very attractive young blonde lady. When she found they were from Hartford Michigan, she exclaimed, “Oh, we have relatives out there… Bud and Marion Davis.” John said, “We’re just on our way farther west, and I brought along one of the books Bud wrote to read on the trip. I’ll leave it with you, and I know he will give me another one when we get back.” So he said to me, “Well Bud, your book is being read by a relative of yours out in Denver!” That girl, named Kathy is a grand niece of our cousins, Evelyn and Bob Spies, down Benton Harbor way. And with that let me close by saying small world indeed! And I must admit I haven’t gotten to Miss Lonely Hearts. Guess I’ll have to save that for next time! I’ll end by saying we never know where or whom our lives will touch, or influence. Like ripples in a pond spreading we know not where… the borders of our lives transcend time and space as we weave more golden threads into the Great Tapestry of Life in these storybook towns along the Paw Paw River.