10-12-2017 Tri-City Area History Page

The Paw Paw River Journal

Our seventy year adventure

 More than seventy years ago, it all started when Marion was 15 and I was 16… I wandered the halls of Hartford High trying to be cool, and not doing a very good job of it.  There was a dark-eyed girl who went around the study hall every day, gathering up the tardy and absent slips.  I pretended to be reading a book until she came past.  Then I looked up and gave her my best smile.  And she smiled back.

She was too young to go on car dates, so we met at game dances, Clark’s Drug Store, whenever we could get together. The first time I kissed her it was blast off to the moon… or perhaps Mars!  And we dated until after I was graduated.  It was then we parted ways and I went on to an aircraft tech school.  She was graduated a year later and went into Nurses’ Training as a Cadet Nurse.

Then magically the tumblers of the universe clicked into place.  I came home on leave after finishing pilot training in the Air Force.  For some reason I had been dreaming vividly.  Once it was of crashing into another plane while in flight… a wonder my heart didn’t stop on that one!  Another time I dreamed of her.  She was older, but still beautiful. And this was a harbinger of things to come.

We both happened to be home on leave at the same time, and got together at a picnic and beach party… we were right back where we were before.  My leave ended with great reluctance, but we had gotten back together… never to be apart from that time on.

Some years later, married now and living in Hartford, we were gathered at the dinner table.  We always found it important to eat thus… a regular time, and all gathered together.  There we were, my Chief Accountant at one end, me at the other, and between us two on each side… our four young children.  Marion said she wanted to have four children by the time she was thirty.  And she just made it.

Anyway, we were sitting there eating, and I noticed one of our girls looking around at each person… as if she were assessing something about our family. Then she said, “Dad, how old were you when Mom got you?”  They all stopped to hear what I would say.

I replied, “Oh, guess I was about your age.”

The questioner, looking satisfied, said, “I thought so,” as if something in her mind had been confirmed.  Then they all went back to eating.  You see, the mother is central.  The whole house revolves around her, and she is the one who makes it work.  She is like that Chinese guy who used to be on the old Ed Sullivan show.  He kept a bunch of plates spinning as they were balanced on top of sticks.

Well, all those kids grew up, left home on their own and have blessed us with the partners they have chosen… Deb and Gary, Becky and Jim, Rob, and Laurie and Jim.  And they have in turn produced six grandchildren.  Their offspring have produced so far four great-grandchildren.  All welcome and they all make us proud!  We are so gratified to see the generations go on.

Now add another ingredient to the mix. Marion is a registered nurse.  And she has enjoyed her profession.  In addition to that, we could always use extra money.  Our family doctor, Carl Boothby, had his office right the next block over. She was one of his office nurses and worked evenings when I could be there with the kids and see that they got to bed on time.

In addition, she did some private duty at local hospitals.  I can speak to that, because she went into surgery with me twice.  Watervliet Hospital, the old one downtown, was small; and they were chronically short of help.  So, Marion scrubbed and went into surgery with me when I had a hot appendix.  Second time, I had a double hernia repaired. She wheeled me in, assisted with the surgery then took me to recovery. When we got back to my room, she tucked me in, helped me get up and go to the bathroom, and saw that I had a supper tray… what little I could eat.

Then about 9 p.m. she tucked me in, smoothed my sheets, kissed me goodnight, and said. “See you in the morning!”  As she went out, a guy in the next bed reared up and looked at me.  He said, “Where do you get those girls?  I want one of them!”

I went on to get my Ph.D, and for that we had to move to Ann Arbor.  We even lived in Connecticut for a year while I attended Yale University on a John Hay Fellowship. Through it all Marion and the kids were enthusiastic, and our family thrived.

After she took care of my mom in her final illness, Marion said, “I’m getting burned out on this nursing.  I’d like to try something else!”  So she and a friend, another RN, went to the University of Michigan and took classes to get their real estate sales license.  We were living in Ann Arbor at the time, so we had at hand the best university (ahem!) in the Midwest!

Then we discovered something!  People want to look at houses evenings and on weekends.  We had a family conference and decided our time together was more important.  She put her license in escrow, along with her nursing license… and thereafter concentrated on being our Chief Accountant… a position she has ably filled ever since.

We’ve had friends whose marriages did not turn out well… they have heard that old song by Billie Holiday, “Good morning, heartache, walk right in!”  I thank God every day for the years we have had together.  I could not wish for more than that.

Kenny Rogers says it well in a song… “Through the years, you’ve never let me down.  You turned my life around, the sweetest days I’ve found… I’ve found with you” … Through the years!

So this is an anniversary wish for my Chief Accountant on our 70th year.  I couldn’t have had a better life than the one we have enjoyed together, and the golden threads we are weaving into the tapestry of life in our storybook town along the Paw Paw River will always be with us!

Coloma Library News

Baby and Me

 The library will be offering a Baby and Me program on Fridays at 10:30 a.m. through November 17. This program is for babies, young toddlers and their parents/caregivers. Join Miss Holly for a short story, interactive play and songs as well as an opportunity to introduce babies to the library.

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.

Book Club

The Coloma Library Book Club is meeting on Thursday, October 12 at 5:30 p.m. The title to read before the discussion is “Behind Closed Doors” by B.A. Paris.  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.

Rosanne Bittner visit

On Thursday, October 26 at 5:30 p.m. the Coloma Public Library will host a Meet the Author Night with USA Today bestselling author, Rosanne Bittner, a Coloma native. During this event Bittner will be available to sign books and answer questions. Her newest book, “The Last Outlaw” and a short story titled “Chick-A-Dee Christmas” will be available for purchase and signing. In anticipation of her visit the Coloma Library has select titles available for check-out.

Book Sale

The annual Fall Book Sale will be Saturday, October 28 from 10 a.m. – 2 p.m. Browse the great selection of gently used books, DVDs, magazines, puzzles, etc. for affordable prices. The book sale takes place in the library’s lower level.

If you have any questions about the sale or any of the activities, please contact the library at 468-3431.

Watervliet District Library News

Teen Table Projects: October

We’re all about the undead this month. Stop by for your Zombie fix! Plus: The Walking Dead – (the board game), on the table all month long.

In Stitches: Oct. 13 – 2:30 to 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: Oct. 16 – 7 to 8 p.m.

Join us for great books and fabulous conversations. This month – Boy’s Life by Robert McCammon.

Story Hour: Weds at 10:30 a.m. & Thurs at 1:30 p.m.

October through April – Show-and-tell, stories and crafts for children ages 3 – 5 and their families. Sign up to share our structured literacy program with your preschooler!

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

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


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


100 years ago – 1917

The Philathea class of the Congregational Church installed new officers. Miss Marjory Furman presided at the organ during the ceremony.

William H. Ball, cashier of the State Bank of Coloma and O.B. Hipp, president of the Farmers & Merchants Bank of Benton Harbor will have charge of the sale of liberty bonds in the northern half of Berrien County.

Owning to the peach crop shortage, the Friday Bros. secured fruit from the New York market. They will make good on fulfilling all of their contracts.

60 years ago – 1957

A devastating influenza epidemic hit and spread like a forest fire. Coloma schools reported 83 students absent.

Beautiful murals, painted by Coloma Artist Charles Irvin, are complete at the Coloma Township Hall. An open house will be held so the public can view. Refreshments will be served.

Allen W. Baker and Charles Kelly were in Milwaukee viewing three games of the World Series between the Braves and New York Yankees.

Mr. and Mrs. A.C. Stark and daughter Allene spent the weekend in Chicago and Blue Island, IL.

30 years ago – 1987

An estimated 450 people attended the open house for Coloma’s new fire station. The Fire Hall was dedicated to retired Fire Chief Len Dolezan.

We remember those that have passed: Mrs. Leore Fritz, 100; Ollie J. Yates Sr., 83; Demarius Johnson, 84; LeRoy C. Thomas, 79 and James Cunningham, 77.

Jennifer Nemethy, Becky Chapman, Holly LaGrow, Alison Fournier, Tracy Steinhoff and Patricia Walter are seeking Homecoming Queen honors.

The Board of Education voted to expand the security alarm system in all school buildings. Kay Erickson, Bob Ginter and Charles Nelson are on the Security Committee.

Nancy’s Furniture – On Sale Now – Dining Room Sets, Kitchen Dinettes and Formal Sets


100 years ago – 1917

A meeting was called at the town hall last night to consider the investment of the $10,000 voted by the village a year ago for industrial purposes, but only a few men appeared and no action was taken.

The village council placed a ban on noisy motors Monday evening when they adopted an ordinance prohibiting the operation of automobiles or motorcycles within the village without proper mufflers or with cut-outs open.

Local theatre patrons who delight in a liberal dose of nonsense enjoyed the production of Peck’s Bad Boy at the opera house Friday night.

75 years ago – 1942

The 10th Annual Mum Show opened at the Hill Top Orchards and Nurseries southeast of Hartford. An all day rain interrupted the exhibit. Eugene Heuser, manager of the Hill Top Nurseries, stated that the warm shower would enhance the beauty of the flowers.

The second meeting of the Hartford Woman’s Club was held in the library building on Tuesday afternoon, October 13. Mrs. Lola Mae Staples was taken into the club as a new member. Scrap metal collection plans were presented, also plans for donations of canned fruit from Starr Commonwealth.

50 years ago – 1967

Fire prevention week will be climaxed here Saturday with a parade at 2 p.m. sponsored by the Fire Department and Stoddard Post of the American Legion. John Dorkowski will be parade marshal. Included in the line of march will be the Blossomland Cadets drum and bugle, the Boy Scouts, fire departments from Hartford and other Van Buren County towns and the American Legion color guard. Refreshments will be served to parade participants by the Hartford Mothers’ club at the Legion hall following the parade.

The Hartford senior band won a first division rating and trophy at a district marching festival at Lakeshore high school last week. Competing in Class C, the Hartford band has won a first division in every marching festival since 1958. The band’s show at the festival was on a vacation theme. A special routine was presented by the majorettes coached by Miss Jyl Whitakes, home economics teacher and winner of many baton twirling awards.


90 years ago – 1927

The big, new paper machine in the plant of the Watervliet Paper Company was started on regular production and 8,000 pounds of coating mill stock was manufactured on the machine during the six hours that it was in operation during the day. It was a big day in the history of the Watervliet paper making industry marking as it did the starting of the second manufacturing unit at the mill and making possible the doubling up of paper production of the mills.

On Oct. 28, 1927 Arno Hall, a pioneer citizen of Watervliet, celebrated his 65th birthday. Mr. Hall is hale and hearty and at work every day at the Case farm.

Printed on Oct. 28, 1927: Six houses in Watervliet ranging in price from $1,200 to $1,500. All new homes. Thirty resident lots in the city, some of them just off Main Street – at $100 to $200 each.

60 years ago – 1957

Mrs. Louis R. Kling has received word that her husband, who is stationed in Germany, has been promoted to specialist third class. He is a gunner in battery C of the 538th Field Artillery battalion.

Miss Norma Kroening has accepted a position in the offices of the Winkel Machine Company, Watervliet.

Superintendent Elery Donaldson has submitted the school enrollment. Total in elementary schools – 630 students; in high school – 384 students. First time in history we have over one thousand students enrolled in Watervliet’s Public School System.

30 years ago – 1987

Nicole Andrasi, a sixteen-year-old senior at WHS is the Watervliet’s Student of the Week. She enjoys cheerleading, equestrian activities, variety show and musicals. She hopes to attend Southwestern Michigan College.

Private Jon N. Moore, Watervliet, has completed a food service specialist course at the U.S. Army Quartermaster School, Fort Lee, Virginia. The course trained personnel to prepare and serve food in large and small quantities. Students received training in baking, field kitchen operations. And the operation of an Army dining facility.

Miss Agnes Broderick announced her retirement to the St. Joseph School Board, Watervliet. She taught at St. Joseph School since its opening in Sep. 1951 for a total of 35 years of service. She was originally the only lay teacher on staff made of Sisters of St. Joseph.