11-01-2018 Tri-City Area History Page

The Paw Paw River Journal

The yawning abyss My Webster’s says a yawning abyss is a deep hole that opens wide in front of us. And that’s what we were looking at. We were standing at the edge of the Grand Canyon. I have pictures to prove it. There we are… The Chief Accountant and I leaning against a fence, behind us the deepest hole I’ve ever seen. Leaning casually against the fence and smiling for the camera. Hah! If you look closely you can see my knuckles are white I’m gripping it so hard. We didn’t know it then, but it was a last trip we would take with my sister and brother-in-law, Ron, before his untimely death and later hers. I guess that is tied in with the title above. Because I awakened this morning thinking long dark thoughts… about where we are all headed. Back in the day, we were living in Hartford and the Chief Accountant was working as an office nurse for Dr. Carl Boothby. She worked evenings and I put the kids to bed. When she got home we always had something to eat before we went to bed, and a cup of coffee. Did that keep us awake? Nah! Not back in those days. One evening when she came home she told me she had talked to a lady we both knew… a salty old gal who would call a spade a spade. This lady had just lost her husband and Marion was offering her sympathy. At this point the bereaved widow said, “That’s all right. He went out the same way he came in… bare as—d and hungry!” I guess that’s the way it is for all of us. And the unknowable gnaws at us. We worry about it and think about it as I’m doing here. We come into this world with nothing, and we leave the same way. Beggars and kings all have to go through it. We are born, we live, and then we have to die. And if we are blessed (or cursed) with an over active imagination, we have to think about it. When we lived in Ann Arbor we attended St. Mary’s Student Chapel on The University of Michigan campus. I have always enjoyed talking with priests, ministers, and rabbis in the campus ministry. They have to be sharp to deal with those young inquiring minds. It used to be we thought Heaven was somewhere ‘up there.’ But one time when I had become friends with a young priest there, I asked him, “Where is Heaven?” The Chief Accountant and I had been talking about it, and she said, “I used to think I knew where Heaven was, but after we went into space… now I’m not so sure!” The young priest said, “Perhaps after we die it is like before we were born… a place of perfect contentment, light, and peace.” Then he recommended that I read some of the writings of Martin Luther on that subject. Well, after all, he was a good Catholic boy! So then I was thinking about Ron… brother-in-law, friend, companion in many of our travels. We first became friends when we were in middle school. I can’t believe how nerdy we were in those days. Several of us in our group decided we wanted people to notice us more, so we all dressed up and wore ties for several days. Nobody noticed. We double-dated for our senior prom. I took Marion and Ron took the girl from Marion’s class that he was dating at the time. He had not yet gotten interested in my sister then. We both went into World War II. Ron was injured in a Jeep accident in France, and spent a lot of time in the hospital. After the war he got home before I did. Ron and my sister, Wilma, had started dating. They were married shortly after we were and thereafter we had many adventures together. Ron slipped into his final illness shortly after I retired from teaching. He and Wilma had two daughters and a son, all grown. She took good care of him, and we brought our travel trailer up to their home at Grand Rapids and parked it in their back yard. They greatly appreciated Marion’s nursing experience. I remember one of the last times Ron and I talked. We had been gone for a few days, and I came in and sat on the edge of his bed to talk. He said to me, “Well, Bud, I’m not going to make it!” I tried to comfort him, but I really didn’t know what to say. I did tell him none of us gets out of here alive… most of us just don’t know when. I wish I could have been better at counseling. I still don’t know where we are all going finally. But perhaps it will be what we think it should be. The nihilist (who believes in nothing) could get nothing… I don’t know what the agnostic (who believes maybe) would get. And those who believe would get to see the face of God finally! One of our daughters says she thinks the hardest part is this… right now! Well, let’s hope for the best and work toward that as we continue to weave Golden threads into the tapestry of our lives in these storybook towns along the Paw Paw River.

Watervliet Library News International Games Day Nov. 5, 11 a.m. – 8 p.m. Board games, card games, digital games – table top games will be out throughout the week! “The Business of Murder” Nov. 8, 6 – 8 p.m. Back by popular demand, the library will once again become the scene of a crime, this time involving members of a prestigious school of finance. All hams and sleuths are invited for this murder mystery. In Stitches Knitting Group Nov. 9, 2:30 – 4 p.m. Limited supplies are available to beginners. Third Monday Book Club Nov. 19, 7 – 8 p.m. Great books, fabulous conversations! November – “There There” by Tommy Orange. Yoga Monday 9 – 10 a.m.; Wednesday 7 – 8 p.m.; Chair Yoga – Wednesday 6 – 6:30 p.m. Teen Table Projects: November Stone Loom Weaving; Make it and take it! Children’s Programs: thru April Story Hours Wednesday 10:30 – 11:30 a.m. & Thursday 1:30 – 2:30 p.m.: Picture books, crafts and fun designed to inspire the love of reading! For ages 3 – 5. Book a Social Work Intern Thanks to an LSTA grant through the Niles Library, Watervliet District Library will have a shared intern for help with on-line applications, unemployment or housing. Call 463-6382 with questions on any Watervliet Library activity.

Coloma Library News A Crude Awakening: Sea Otter Rescue Program Join the library on Wednesday, November 14 at 6:30 p.m. for “A Crude Awakening”. It’s been 29 years since the Exxon Valdez spill, one of the worst environmental disasters in U.S. history, dumped 11 million gallons of crude oil in the pristine Gulf of Alaska. Most affected were the sea otters. Concerned about these animals, Tom and Sherry Miller of Coloma volunteered to help rehabilitate them at the Sea Otter Rescue Center in Seward, Alaska. With the Keystone Pipeline making headlines, a giant spill last year that dumped 210,000 gallons of toxic tar sands oil in South Dakota, and plans to open the Arctic Wildlife Refuge to drilling and oil exploration, Tom and Sherry feel the topic is relevant even today. To share their experiences they are reprising their 45-minute family-oriented slide presentation. Book Club The Coloma Library Book Club is meeting on Thursday, November 15 at 5:30 p.m. The title to read before the discussion is “The Templar Legacy” by Steve Berry. Call 468-3431 with questions on any Coloma Library activity.


100 years ago – 1918 Highways leading into Coloma are in bad shape. It would be well if the township board would see to their condition before winter sets in. Farmers have offered their teams to haul gravel from the local gravel pit. Miss Marie Furman received a call to report for duty as a Red Cross nurse. She will start at once at San Antonio, Texas. She received her degree of R.N. from Mercy Hospital in Benton Harbor. It is a great source of satisfaction that she can be of service to her country. 60 years ago – 1958 Cassopolis, the giant of the Little Eight Conference, will invade Coloma to an expected packed house. Defending Coloma will be Tom DeRosa, Roger Smith, Dave Sweet, Tom Willmeng and Jim Bale. The daughter of Mr. and Mrs. Roger Carter has been touring with the Salt Lake City Tabernacle. This group made a request appearance before President and Mrs. Dwight D. Eisenhower at the White House. You can view this concert on Ed Sullivan’s TV program. The annual Veteran’s Day observance will take place in the high school auditorium. Music will be provided by both vocal and instrumental school groups. 30 years ago – 1988 Incumbents Rodney Krieger, Supervisor; Marilyn B. Schultz, Clerk; Robert Johnson, Treasurer; and Marshall Badt, Township Constable are running unopposed in the upcoming election. We Asked You… How is a turkey prepared? Kim Wymer says, “Put stuff inside the turkey… I don’t know. Mom won’t tell us.” Joey Callahan advises, “Cook it in a hot number but not as hot as 2000 degrees.” The 1988 4-H Leaders Banquet was held. Awards were given to Anita and Bill Hirsch, Kathleen Walter, Janet Sue Clem, Patricia Sturgeon and Denise Smith. The event was held at the St. Joe Kickers Sport Club Inc.

Submitted by volunteer Sandi Musick Munchow at Coloma Public Library from the Coloma Courier newspapers donated by the Tri-City Record. Hours: Mon & Fri, 10:00 a.m.-5:30 p.m.; Tue, Wed & Thu, 10:00 a.m.-8:00 p.m.; Sat, 10:00 a.m.-2:00 p.m. Phone: 269-468-3431


100 years ago – 1918 Over 100 people standing in front of the local Pere Marquette depot narrowly escaped Monday morning when the incoming southbound passenger train struck the James Tuttle dray team, dragged the horses and wagon through the crowd, killing one of the horses and completely wrecking the dray. The horses were thought to be fright proof but dashed toward the track. A collection of German war relics in the window at the Dr. H.S. Scott office on Main Street has attracted considerable attention this week. The collection was received by P.H. Henderson from his son, Ray Henderson, of the 104th U.S, Infantry. 75 years ago – 1943 We were reminded of the approach of Halloween when we stopped at the Mrs. Charles Keifer farm east of town and bought a pumpkin from a huge pile in the dooryard. The lady in charge asked us whether we wanted it for a jack-o-lantern or pies. Assured that we were more interested in pies than in imitating ghosts, she selected one by color and weight that baked into our second choice of pie, our first choice being definitely cherry. Plans for the annual Halloween party for Hartford boys and girls were being completed this week by a committee of townspeople and teachers with arrangements being made to include entertainment for children of all ages. The party is sponsored by the Parent Teacher Association. 50 years ago – 1968 Fire destroyed a large low barn on the George Huffman farm east of Hartford Thursday afternoon. No one was at home when the blaze was discovered, and firemen are unable to determine what started it. The fire had such a head start that the barn was destroyed by the time the firemen arrived. A new ordinance regulating house trailers was adopted Tuesday night by the Village Council. It prohibits living in house trailers unless they are located in an authorized trailer camp licensed under provisions of state law. There is only one such trailer camp in the village at present, Knapp’s Mobile Village on Beechwood Street, owned by Victor Knapp. Submitted by Librarian Stephanie Daniels at Hartford Public Library from microfilm copies of the Hartford Day Spring. Hours: Mon, Tue & Wed, 10 a.m.-7 p.m.; Thu & Fri, 10 a.m.-5 p.m.; Sat, 10 a.m.-2 p.m. Phone: 269-621-3408


90 years ago – 1928 Printed on Nov. 16, 1928: Let’s just remember, when we are celebrating, that Armistice Day was the day when a war that might very handily have destroyed our modern civilization was stopped and civilization recovered on the brink of the precipice. In our humble opinion Nov. 11 should be to the world what July 4 is to the United Stated. Author unknown. The Watervliet High School reserves journeyed to Dowagiac and won the game of football over the Dowagiac reserves on the alumni field, 25 to 0. Dowagiac was inside the Watervliet 30-yard line but once during the game. 60 years ago – 1958 Mr. and Mrs. Joe Pitcher, accompanied by their son, Jack, who was recently discharged from the Army at Fort Lewis, Washington returned to Watervliet Sept. 29, 1958. A daughter weighing 6 pounds 11 ounces was born to Mr. and Mrs. Almon Hoffman, Nov 3, 1958. Mr. and Mrs. John Howley are the parents of a son, born Oct. 31, 1958 and he has been named Raymond Alan. 30 years ago – 1988 Congratulations to Amanda Hicks, a fourth-grader at North School, who has been selected the Watervliet Public Schools ‘Student of the Week’ by her teachers. Amanda is an eager and cheerful student who looks for ways to help others after completing her tasks. She conscientiously does her work – making sure it’s not only on time, neat and accurate, but often showing effort beyond that required. P.O.W. medal 44 years late! Alex Kell of Watervliet was a German P.O.W. in 1944. He finally received recognition and a medal for his sacrifices in ceremonies in Lansing. A recollection of torture, hunger, thirst, and the distortion of the mind; for Alex it was the monotony of just sitting in a prison camp. The medal he received was presented by Brigadier General James Pocock and General Tipton.

Submitted by Sally Q. Gonzalez from files at Watervliet District Library of the Watervliet Record newspapers donated by the Tri-City Record. Hours: Mon & Wed, 10 a.m.-8 p.m.; Tue, Thu & Fri, 10 a.m.-5 p.m.; Sat, 9 a.m.-3 p.m. Phone: 269-463-6382