Paw Paw River Journal
Ripples in a Pool
When we write words and send them out into the world, as I do when I write a column and Karl and the crew publish them, we never know where they are going… like casting a stone into a pool. The ripples spread and spread. We never know what shore they will be cast upon. This was brought home to me recently when we had a visitor one morning.
Tony Meloche stopped in… he is a retired teacher and lives in suburban Hartford. And he had something most interesting for me to see. Two magazines, both from 1944! One was Life and the other, The Saturday Evening Post. They both contained stories on our Air Force flying the Hump from India to China. Was I interested? You bet!
Tony is a collector of such memorabilia. He also wanted to extend his thanks for my part in that monumental undertaking. We sat and talked… of course I introduced him to the Chief Accountant. A most enjoyable time, and he left the magazines for me to examine. Did that bring back memories? You bet! Since then I have been thinking of those times… a million years ago, and just yesterday.
When I look around I see fewer and fewer of my contemporaries. Most of the guys I knew in WWII were older than I, and I heard that by the year 2030 there will be none of us left; Startling thought and one that is brought home to me every time one of the guys slips away. I had some great friends when I was flying over in Asia. They were all older… in fact; I was about the youngest pilot on my base. I never told them that I was just 20… although they must have surmised that I was not “dry behind the ears” yet.
Now so many years have passed, except for people like Tony, I don’t know how many will likely know about (or care about) the small corner of Asia that I knew, and the friends who lived there and either came back or did not. They demonstrated daily a casual competence, occasional heroism, and humor that was often laced with profanity. Each and every one is still as true and real in my mind as he was all those years ago. As long as I live they will not be forgotten.
One of my friends, Harvey Bos, came from Grand Rapids. He had left a new bride when he enlisted in the Army Air Corps. And when we all came home, Harvey stayed on… somewhere in the High Himalayas he was sleeping the Big Sleep with the other crew members in their wrecked C-46. Later on his family contacted me… I have written about that before and most likely will do so again.
Anyway, Harvey’s family, hoping to learn his fate, attended one of the last national reunions of the China/Burma/India veterans. They said at the time it would be the last one, because those left were getting to be too old to attend! I know most of my friends were either in their middle to late 20s, or in their 30s. They were a great bunch… and really taught me how to fly (even after I’d been through flight training).
It’s not easy to replace old friends, but I can remember when our Aunt Hope was in her 90s. We handled her affairs for her, and one time we were sitting on her front porch in the Pennsylvania Mountains. We loved visiting her, and she taught us some of life’s lessons. Her philosophy was one of faith and perfect acceptance. She said with a sigh, “You know, all of my friends are gone now. I have no one left for sharing some precious memories!”
I said to her, “Well, I guess you will just have to get along with younger friends. And that’s what you have done!” She agreed.
We’ve sort of gotten to the same point. Indeed we are fortunate to have family with whom we can share pearls of memory. And we have tried to make younger friends… some great ones, especially from my early days teaching at Watervliet.
And we have friends from the Vietnam War era. Several are suffering from the effects of exposure to Agent Orange, a defoliating spray used to lay bare the lands where roamed the Vietcong. Many of them also suffer from Post Traumatic Stress.
GIs in WWI had to worry about poison gas… and post traumatic stress. In WWII we were sprayed with DDT dropped from a converted B-25 to control malaria mosquitoes. And we daily took Atabrine tablets to combat symptoms of malaria… and some had Post Traumatic Stress, although we didn’t know what it was back then. In Vietnam they were exposed to Agent Orange, Atabrine tablets, and Post Traumatic Stress… which is now being recognized.
All of those thoughts brought back to me slam-bang when Tony Meloche stopped in to visit. And here’s a new friend! I didn’t say it at the time, but this is also how we say goodbye to the friends, who have left us… sadly, and with regret, but with the knowledge that they did their job well. They are all heroes.
I will still cast stones into the pool of life, trying to make some ripples. And making sure they are remembered in our story book towns along the Paw Paw River, as we continue to weave new golden threads into the marvelous tapestry of our lives!
Watervliet District Library News
Buy a brick from the Watervliet District Library as a legacy gift to honor the cherished people in your life. Help create a new Garden Park for the community.
Come watch the garden grow! Arcadia Gardens has been hard at work introducing a variety of flowering shrubs and greenery to their new home in front of the library. Pull in sometime to take a look, and see what is up – inside and out – at the library!
Toddler Time is a 30 minute class every Tuesday at 10:30 a.m.
Story Hour is on Wednesdays at 10:30 a.m. or Thursdays at 1:30 p.m. Children ages three to five are invited for fun and educational times; stories, show and tell, and songs and games.
Yoga is at 9:00 a.m. every Monday morning and Wednesday evening at 7:00 p.m.
Adult Coloring Night is the last Monday of each month.
For more information call the library at 269-463-6382, visit the website at www. watervlietlibrary.net, or come in.
100 years ago – 1916
The members of the Methodist church gave a reception for their new pastor, Rev. C.E. Pollock and family. Board members and wives were in the receiving line.
Twenty-five fruit growers met at the schoolhouse for the purpose of forming an association. The focus is to obtain the full benefit of their crops.
War News: French marines have landed on Greek soil.
The families of George F. Grant thank the bearers, family and friends for their kindness at the time of his death.
60 years ago – 1956
Coloma residents working the polls next Tuesday include Mrs. Malcolm Grant, the Misses Morris Sprague, Allen Hennes, Alfred Penrose and Willard Schaaf.
Mrs. Irene Anderson and Mrs. Wanda Standley have opened “Irene and Wanda’s Ready to Wear” store. The store was formerly operated by Mrs. Florence Sonberg.
A large number of high school people are acting as student helpers to the various departments. These students help the school program function more effectively and gain valuable lessons as they help.
Mrs. Chester Hocker was guest of honor at a birthday dinner at Schuler’s Restaurant, honoring her 20th birthday.
30 years ago – 1986
Pat Leverton reports the Coloma Elementary PTO Fun Fair was a success. Mayor Randall drew the $200 cash prize winner. Two ten-speed bikes along with 55 other prizes were awarded.
Groundbreaking for the new fire station is set, reports Fred Martin, Joint Fire Board Chairman.
The Julienne Dance Academy participated in the National Spotlight talent competition. Fourteen 1st place trophies and six 2nd place ribbons were brought home.
Mr. Ed Irvin, Coloma School’s computer instructor states that 15 Atari 800 computers have been installed in the Middle School-North lab. These are an addition to the 13-unit Commodore 64 lab. The AWARE classes do much of their writing in the lab.
90 years ago – 1926
Mr. Julius Wendzel, Watervliet student at Kalamazoo College, is among the ten new members for the Drama Club, selected from a group of thirty contestants who tried out on Oct. 29, 1926. These people may remain active members throughout their entire college course, and will all in some way take part in the college dramatic productions.
Extensive arrangements have been made by the members of Watervliet Camp, Modern Woodmen of America, for a meeting to be held Nov. 20, 1926. Field Deputy Jerry Basley has been organizing a large class who will go through the mystic scenes of woodcraft. The crack drill team and officers of St. Joseph Camp will exemplify the ritualistic degrees.
Advertised on Nov 19, 1926: 3 cans pork & beans, .25; 10 pounds sweet potatoes, .25; 10 bars soap, .55; 2 pounds fresh dates, .35; and Wheat flour, 24-1/2 pounds, $2.10.
60 years ago – 1956
Army PFC Emery Reynolds, son of Mr. and Mrs. Emery L. Reynolds, recently was graduated from the 3rd Armored Division’s infantry squad leader’s course in Hanau, Germany. Reynolds is assigned to Company C of the Division’s 29th Infantry Battalion. The 18- year old soldier entered the Army in July 1955 and completed basic training at Fort Knox, Kentucky.
The 1956 Watervliet High School Marching Band has Jill Foster as its Drum Majorette, chosen by a vote of the right guides in each rank. Jill is a student of Watervliet’s champion twirler, Mrs. Sonnie Rogers Sloan.
Mr. and Mrs. Norman Weber are the proud parents of their baby boy, Steven Lynn, born Oct. 31, 1956 and weighed 5 pounds 13 ounces.
30 years ago – 1986
Army Reserve Pvt. Roxanne L. Detwiler, daughter of Judith and Robert D. Detwiler, Watervliet, has completed training as an Army military police specialist under the One Station Unit Training (OSUT) program at Fort McClellan, Alabama. OSUT is a 13-week period which combines basic training with advanced individual training. Students are trained in civil and military law, traffic control, map reading and self-defense.
Michael Camp, sixth grade student at North School in Mr. Zitta’s class, has been chosen Watervliet’s “Student of the Week”. Mike is a very hard-working industrious young man, who attacks his work with a great amount of vigor. He frequently takes an assignment and goes beyond what is expected. He has made the school’s Honor Roll with all As. He is also into baseball and football.
100 years ago – 1916
Halloween passed quietly in Hartford last night. During the early part of the evening a Halloween frolic at the school house grounds attracted the attention of nearly 200 children. As part of the program they indulged in a parade on the Main street pavement in which ghosts and goblins and other ludicrous costumes afforded amusement. But little damage from malicious mischief resulted about the village, although during the later hours the store fronts were freely decorated with soap and vehicles which had been left in tempting places were scattered about town, while various movable objects were found in strange places this morning.
A proposition to bond the village of Hartford for $10,000 for the purpose of erecting a new village jail, and evidently to promote the industrial development of the village, is to be submitted to the village voters at a special election to be held on November 16. The ostensible purpose of the issue is for the purchase of grounds and the erection of a new village jail, and a part of the proceeds of the issue will be used for that purpose. A new building is purposed which will not only provide a suitable jail but will afford room for other village needs.
75 years ago – 1941
The Hartford Woman’s Club met Tuesday at the library building with Mrs. Clare Clover presiding in the absence of the president, Mrs. Lena Spaulding. The speaker for the day was Arthur Balfour, educational advisor at the Argobright Business College in Battle Creek and a former superintendent of schools. He was introduced by Mrs. Isabelle Boyer; Mr. Balfour gave a travelogue of his vacation trip to Virginia during the past summer, showing historical pictures taken around Jamestown, Williamsburg and Yorktown.
David Sweet has purchased the Neville home on East Main Street, the sale being made by Wm. Muelleder, local realtor. I.B. Williams has sold his three acre residence property east of Stoughten Corners to C. Carter of Chicago. Mr. Williams has purchased from Mrs. Abbie Thorn the former Thorn residence on Mary Street, and will remodel it for his own occupancy.
50 years ago – 1966
Children from the primary class at Hartford’s north grade school put on a Halloween play for the first grade classes last week. The play, “When the Owl Lost His Hoot,” was directed by the teacher of the class, Mrs. Robert Sloan.
The nine first place winners at the Halloween party at the Hartford High School gymnasium Monday night were: best animal- (dinosaur) Kenneth Newland, funniest clown- Jonathan Latus, best hoboes- Larry and Ricky McFarland, worst witch- Linda Williams, most gruesome- Michael Rose, best home-made- Jerry Newland, best storybook character- Michael Hallgren, best TV characters- Kevin and Kirk Duncombe, and most original- Karen Kellogg.
GLIMPSES FROM THE PAST
North Berrien Historical Museum is always interested in learning the names of people in the photos and/or hearing stories about the place/event. To share, please call 269-468-3330 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.