10-26-2017 Tri-City Area History Page

100 year celebration of education in Watervliet, 1889-1989

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


There is a famous painting by Edward Hopper called Nighthawks.  It hangs in the Chicago Art Institute and has been reproduced so many times, I’m sure you have seen a copy of it.  An all night restaurant is casting light out onto the dark deserted city street.  Four people are in the diner… a couple sitting at the counter, a lonely man sitting with his back to the street, and the counter man working, perhaps making some more coffee.   It is a most lonely scene.

We have eaten in such restaurants!  In our later travel years, the kids all grown and on their own; we were still going places, and if the fit hit us we sometimes drove all night.  We had a good set of wheels under us, and I was talking to the truckers on our CB radio.  We stopped in such an all night restaurant, I believe, on the outskirts of Murfreesboro, Tennessee.  It was a long narrow eatery, part of a well-known chain with light cast out onto the street.

It was about 5 a.m., and down the line a booth with some possibly gangbangers.  Where they were coming from, or where they were going, I have no idea.  I studiously avoided looking at them.  A couple of lonely men in other booths.  We were eating an early breakfast, and from my seat, I could see out into the kitchen.  The short order cook was getting up a waffle, and as I watched he tilted the plate.  The waffle slid out onto the floor.  Hastily he bent down, forked it back onto the plate and brought it out to serve to a customer!

Well, I never wanted to go into that restaurant chain again… unfair, perhaps, but I doubt the quality of any eatery that doesn’t train their help better than that!  One time years ago we were talking with Al Ruppert, owner of Clementine’s.   Now there’s a quality place!  He was telling us about training waitpersons.  You might notice on their water glasses there is a ridge around about half way up.  He said waitpersons were supposed to grab the glass BELOW THAT RIDGE!  Not from the top from whence a customer sips the liquid therein!

As I said, over the years the Chief Accountant and I traveled extensively.  That means we ate in a lot of restaurants.  And we were at the mercy of whoever was in the kitchen!  So we found that one of the universally good items is the cheeseburger.  Hard to tamper with one of them, and admittedly I’d just about as soon have one as a steak!

You might get a bad salad bar… even if it looks good.  One time I was coming down the line of one in a nice eatery in a neighboring town.  Here ahead of me was a well-dressed older lady… in a quandary.  She had a salad on her plate, but could not decide which of the many dressings to put on it.  So she dipped her finger in each one… tasted it, then tried the next one WITH THE SAME FINGER!  I bypassed the whole thing right there!  And since then I still love a good salad bar… but I don’t usually put dressing on it!

Thus we became experts on the cheeseburger.  Here in Hartford the Panel Room cooks up an excellent one.  Far as I know it is called just a cheeseburger. Same with Becky and Jack Trauber’s other two family eateries in Watervliet and Paw Paw.  Sometimes when I order one, the Chief Accountant casts a longing eye at it, so I divide with her.  In return she shares with me whatever she has, often including a baked potato.

On a side note… an important ingredient of this whole process is the waitress.  Give me an experienced lady any time!  An older gal is fine… she won’t be afraid of her job.  I establish eye contact and say, “Can we negotiate?”

Then she will say, “Sure… whaddyawant?”  And I ask her if anyone out in back would get hysterical if we… and I tell her whatever I have in mind. By this time she realizes that if I’m expecting some special treatment, it will probably mean a special tip.  And I don’t disappoint them.  You know, waitressing is often an unrewarding job.  In these times lots of retired people eat out.  But perhaps they do not have as much discretionary money as back in the day.

One time we were eating in a nice place and I engaged our waitress in conversation.  It was an off hour and they were not too busy.  She told me she was the sole support of a two-year-old boy, and she had to do it all on being a waitress. Many people have never heard such a story!  So I reward waitpersons handsomely for good service.  What is handsome? If they do a good job, 20-30%.

We’ve been in so many restaurants!  A little town in Florida called La Belle had an old timey place, Flora & Ella’s.  We ate there often and knew them well. Their cheeseburger was piled so high it was a balancing act just to get it to the table.  My version even had a layer of coleslaw.  Don’t knock it unless you have tried it!  They also had what were called “mile high pies.”  Aptly named! After years and years that place finally went out of business, just recently.

I can remember other places too.  We were nighthawks back then and when we were traveling might be eating at all hours!  I remember a Johnny Rocket’s Restaurant in the San Diego, CA, Air Terminal… It was probably called a “Rocket Burger,” and delicious.  I’m sure you have your own favorite places.   We heard that Roxy’s recently closed in St. Joseph.  Now, there’s a place to remember.  And that, Dear Readers, is my essay on eateries for today.  So many places to dine and so little time!  Well, we do our best, as we continue to weave golden threads into the golden tapestry of our lives in these storybook towns along the Paw Paw River!

Coloma Library News

Book Sale

The annual Fall Book Sale will be THIS 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.

Read with Spirit

Spirit, a certified therapy dog will be at the library on Tuesday evenings from 6:30 p.m. – 7:30 p.m., beginning on November 7. Children may sign up for a 15-minute slot by stopping in at the front desk or calling the library at 468-3431. Reading to therapy dogs is a fun way for children to build reading confidence and fluency.

Book Club

The Coloma Library Book Club is meeting on Thursday, November 9 at 5:30 p.m. The title to read before the discussion is “A Dog’s Purpose” by W. Bruce Cameron.  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.

Story Hour

Story Hour meets on Wednesdays at 10:30 a.m. Join Miss Amy for a story, craft and song time. Story Hour is a free weekly program for toddlers and preschool-aged children; it does not require sign up.

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.

If you have questions on any of these activities, please call the library at 468-3431.

Watervliet District Library News

Teen Table Projects: November

Dream catchers to make and take all during the month of November. Nothing but pleasant dreams from now on!

Food for Fines: Nov. 6 – 18

Pay it forward in November and clear up those overdue fines at the same time! Bring in a non-perishable food item and receive $1 fine forgiveness. All food items will be donated to Feeding America West Michigan.

LEGO Club: Nov. 7, 3:30 – 4:30 p.m.

Builders of all ages are invited to join us. We have a wonderful assortment of LEGO bricks to share! No registration required.

In Stitches: Nov. 10, 2:30 – 4:00 p.m.

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

Third Monday Book Club: Nov. 20, 7 – 8 p.m.

Join us for a great book and fabulous conversations. The November book is: Swimming Lessons by Mary Alice Monroe.

Story Hour: Wed. at 10:30 a.m. & Thur. 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 ones 18 – 36 months. Lots of fun for everyone! No registration is required for this drop-in program.


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


100 years ago – 1917

Mrs. Curtis passed away not a week after her husband’s death. She was stricken with bronchial pneumonia and her constitution was not rugged enough to withstand the grief along with the disease.

“Team work” is the modern slogan of the community chorus. Membership is open to any music lover. A fee of $1.00 is charged to meet expenses. Practice is held at the school house.

60 years ago – 1957

While his three children proudly looked on, Gordon Young solemnly took the oath of Coloma postmaster.

The WatCo baseball league will hold a banquet for the participating boys and their parents. The league is made up of Watervliet and Coloma boys.

Admitted to the Watervliet Community Hospital: Mrs. Ellen Kniebes, Geald Gravinmier, Arthur C. Hussey, Mrs. Ernest Standley, Rosalind Nichlais, Mrs. Robert Stowers, Mrs. Della Ballinger, Mrs. Erwin Ostrom, Reuben Hipskind Jr. and August Pupedis.

Hey Kids! Halloween Special – Old Fashion Fried Cakes 59 cents a doz. Uncle Orley – Hub Restaurant.

Hunters: Travel will be easier this season as the Mackinac Bridge opens. Passenger car toll will be $3.25, with no charge for occupants.

30 years ago – 1987

Seeking the mayor’s job in the upcoming election is: ‘Skip’ Blough, Dale Stover, Robert Wooley and Marvin Taylor.

Washington Elementary will hold a Book Fair during parent conferences. The public is welcome.

Salem Lutheran Church will celebrate its annual Mission Festival. The guest speaker will preach on “Christ Builds His Church.”

VOTE Bob Robinson for Coloma City Commissioner. “It’s Time for a Change!” Candidates for elected offices are: Shirley Eggermont, Clerk; Frederick Munchow, Treasurer; and Homer Umphrey, Constable.

Last Resort Restaurant & Lounge – Overlooking Paw Paw Lake. Our 1/3 lb. Hamburger for $1.00

Coloma Elementary PTO is sponsoring its 6th annual Halloween Fun Fair.


100 years ago – 1917

Hartford’s new chemical fire truck has arrived. The machine reached the village mud spattered having successfully negotiated the roads from Logansport, Ind., where it was built. The Hartford truck was the first one to be purchased by any township in the U.S., and also the first truck built with four chemical tanks and designed for fighting country fires.

The Hartford Red Cross unit sent another collection of articles intended for the comfort of America’s soldier boys. This collection included one dozen hot water bottles, two dozen napkins, one dozen hospital shirts, six suits of pajamas, six sweaters, six scarves, six pairs of wristlets, and twelve pairs of socks. This is the knitting work of the Hartford ladies.

75 years ago – 1942

Seventeen members and one guest were present at the October meeting of the Philharmonic Club which met at the home of Mrs. Letha Combs. The quotation “Youth of Today, Citizens of Tomorrow” was very ably carried out by a paper on “Music Contribution to Good Behavior in Children” presented by Mrs. Della Williams.

Admission to the Saturday afternoon “scrap” matinee will be five pounds of scrap for each adult and two pounds of scrap for each child, Mrs. Lillian Pennell owner of the Heart Theater has announced. The scrap will be collected at the door and later sold to the junk dealer, the proceeds going to the Hartford service fund.

The annual PTA Halloween celebration for the children of Hartford will begin with a costume parade to start from the town hall, with a full evening of games, contests and entertainment and cider and doughnuts for all the children who participate.

50 years ago – 1967

The Hartford City Council has designated trick or treat time as 7-9 p.m. Monday, the night before Halloween. On Tuesday there will be a Halloween party for children at the high school gymnasium, sponsored by the Progressive Mother’s Club and the city council. Prizes will be given for the best costumes in the categories of witch, clown, gruesome, storybook, TV character most original, ghost and animal.

Pfc. Dale E. Brinsfield, son of Mr. and Mrs. Roy Brinsfield, has been stationed in Vietnam since Aug. 28. His brother has been home on leave from Germany and leaves this week for Vietnam.


90 years ago – 1927

Allen Hoben, president of Kalamazoo College, announced the list of honor students for the 1926-27 school year. Of the 17 honored, senior, Julius Wendzel of Watervliet, is among them.

At the National Dairy Exposition held at Cleveland, Ohio, Watervliet Creamery butter exhibited at the show scored the highest of any from Michigan. This is a record of which Ange Larsen, manager of the local plant, and the patrons of the institution can be justly proud as there was keen competition from this state at the national show.

Mrs. L.L. Rogers was treated to a birthday surprise party at her home on Oct. 31, 1927. Family and friends were in attendance.

60 years ago – 1957

M/Sgt. William S. Bush, Watervliet, has been transferred from Selfridge Air Force Base to Hawaii, where he expects to be for the next three years. His wife and family will be with him by Nov. 20, 1957.

Mrs. Laura Hammel observed her 91st birthday on Oct. 22, 1957.

Mr. and Mrs. Floyd Brant are the proud parents of their baby girl, Boni Lee, born Oct. 15, 1957 and weighed 9 pounds 14 ounces.

30 years ago – 1987

The Watervliet 7th-grade basketball team rolled to a perfect 12-0 season for 1987. In compiling this fine record, the girls averaged 24 points a game and held their opponents to only 11 points per game.

The seventh grade teachers of Watervliet Junior High School have selected Rebecca Attila for the ‘Student of the Week’ for Oct. 28, 1987. She was selected for her qualities of good citizenship, willingness to participate in class, and for being prepared for class each day.

Community Hospital of Watervliet is proud to welcome these two new employees: Angela M. Bryan as Clinical Dietitian and Mary Carr as Food Service Director.


Related Posts

See All

P.O. BOX 7


CALL: 269-463-6397
FAX: 269-463-8329

  • Black Facebook Icon
  • Instagram