11-08-2018 History Page

The Paw Paw River Journal

Thoughts on Veterans Day One hundred years ago on this date World War I stopped. It all ground to a halt on the 11th hour of the 11th day of November. And it had been a horrible war… the last one fought with cavalry and the first one fought with tanks and airplanes. At first airplanes were used to observe troop movements. Then they started carrying weapons and shooting at each other… the dawn of aerial combat! War would never be the same. I was eighteen when I put on the uniform of our government. Middle of WWII and instantly we were assumed to be men. Any bar would serve us… often on the house. And we had to grow slowly and painfully into the grownups the world expected us to be. It was not easy. But then, who ever heard of an easy war. Just recently a young acquaintance said to me, “Yes, but you didn’t have to take anything like the ranger training now.” True. I was in the Army Air Corps… later to become the U.S. Air Force. We had very demanding basic training… except we were never put through a hand-to-hand combat course. All through the war a process of change went on. Our whole country was involved… I mean everybody! Women went to work in war plants, even little kids saving scrap metal to be turned into guns and bombs. And we had the draft. Friend and historian Sherrill Aberg said, “The government took young men 18-20 years old, flung them all over the world. They saved it, and most of them came back!” And that was over seventy years ago. Now from this vantage point of time, I look back on it and wonder how we must appear to younger people, at least those of us who are left. I know that many of the pilots who were my friends were older. And I wonder how many of them are alive now. None, if any! I’m just glad I was as young as I was when I went into the war. Back when we were kids we always marched in the “Decoration Day” parade. That’s what it was called then. We carried arms full of flowers with which we decorated the veterans’ graves. Playing Taps always sent shivers down my spine… still does! Those who survived the war seemed like old men to us. We admired them… but they were old, old, old. And that was just 20 years after! A good friend of mine was a boy named Bob Cauffman. He was to die later in a tragic accident. But when we were kids together, one day we went to his house. His folks were not home, and he said, “Would you like to see my dad’s stuff from the war? He’d kill me if he knew I was into his trunk.” We went in the bedroom, and he showed me the olive drab uniform, and all the souvenirs Pete Cauffman brought back from Europe after WWI. It gave me a real sense of history! All of those old guys were heroes to us. I can still remember a few. One was Roy Grosse. He was like me… almost too young to get into that war. So he lived longer than some. Another I remember was Ed Hickey. He was our furnace man, and had signs beside the highway leading into Hartford that said, “Have Hickey of Hartford Heat Your Home with Healthy Humid Heat!” Those guys marched in the annual parade until they were too old to pound the pavement, then some of them rode in convertibles… this is a practice still much in favor for older would-be marchers! One WWI veteran who was a good friend of my dad’s was Rex Chamberlain. I don’t know how or why he got into the war, but my dad didn’t… probably because he was married, and my Mom was expecting her first child, my brother, who died at birth. He was also a businessman and sole support of the family. Anyway, my dad had stories about Rex. He was a short man and full of life. They said when he went into service they sent him through the Quartermaster’s Depot to get uniforms. Turns out they had just two sizes: too small or too large. He came out with his pants clear up to his chin. The first officer he met and saluted roared in anger and took him back inside where he really laced those people! Rex enjoyed the whole thing. Well, that was their war, and we marveled at how old those guys were when we were kids. Now, mind you, World War I was just 20 years in the past! My war is now over seventy years gone! I can hardly relate to that. It was a lifetime ago… and it was only yesterday. And I’m wondering how we must seem to youngsters now. Since then we have had several more wars, some large and some small. In fact, we are in one now that has lasted too long. Will we ever learn? One hundred years ago when the Armistice was signed, that war was called “the war to end all wars!” Didn’t work that way, did it! But hope springs eternal in the human heart, and we think someday it could happen. What a glorious day that would be in these storybook towns along the Paw Paw River!

Coloma Library News A Crude Awakening: Sea Otter Rescue Program Join the library on Wednesday, Nov. 14 at 6:30 p.m. for “A Crude Awakening”, a family-oriented slide presentation by Tom and Sherry Miller of their experience as volunteers at the Sea Otter Rescue Center in Seward, Alaska following the Exxon Valdez oil spill, one of the worst environmental disasters in U.S. history. 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. Story Hour Story Hour meets on Wednesdays at 10:30 a.m. Join Miss Amy for a story, song and craft time. Story Hour is geared towards older toddlers and preschool-aged children. It is asked that all children be supervised by an adult. There is no sign-up for this free program. Call 468-3431 with questions on any Coloma Library activity.

Hartford Library News See the Hartford Library booths at the Hartford Holiday Bazaar on Saturday, Nov. 10 from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. They are giving away new FREE young adult books. They have for purchase, new children’s books from $1 to $5 and decorated Christmas wreaths from $5 to $20. Also the Hartford Library Christmas Store will open on Thursday, November 15. There will be lots of great gifts at reasonable prices.

Watervliet Library News 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! “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. Make-it-Monday – Nov. 12 Craft time for K-6 graders & families: Autumn Leaf Sun Catchers 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. Call 463-6382 with questions on any Watervliet Library activity.


100 years ago – 1918 Miss Flossie Kinyon received a letter from Earl S. Rockwell. His location is somewhere in France. He is a member of the first American division to receive a great honor from the French commander-in-chief. Each has been given a cord that will be worn over the shoulder. The Secretary of the Treasury announced that there will be another liberty loan, no matter the results of the pending overture for peace. The woman’s suffrage amendment cast a favorable vote in the latest election. Coloma voters were strong. 60 years ago – 1958 Colomans observe Veterans Day and pay honor to the local military men who paid the supreme sacrifice during the wars. Henry Eastborne and Frank Schneider were two that never came back from France after WWI. With many long wintry nights ahead, the Courier has decided to sponsor the Giv-A-Way quiz. Winners will receive a two year’s subscription. Last week’s prizes were offered by Fikes Appliance. Place your bet on the outcome of the 33rd annual Coloma-Watervliet Football classic. Coloma’s record this year is better, (on paper.) 30 years ago – 1988 Local election results were victorious for George Bush. A 2.2-mill renewal for police operations and a 1-mill for road improvements were passed. A daughter was born to Mr. and Mrs. Fred Munchow. Her name is Sarah. Residents can have their cholesterol levels checked for $7 at the office of Dr. Michael Mayle. His office is located at 6572 Red Arrow Highway. Mercy-Memorial Medical Center is conducting the screening. Washington School will be honoring the gallant men and women who have served in our armed forces. Following breakfast, pictures will be taken. Mr. Herb Reimer will be master of ceremonies for the program. All veterans are encouraged to share a “memory.” If your uniform still fits – wear it – at least your hat! 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 Hartford farmers are busy this week completing the potato harvest. Potatoes have been late in ripening but an ideal fall has permitted the growers to leave them in the ground until the crop has been materially improved. Halloween in Hartford was marked by the usual variety of pranks. The youths of the village were out in force and local folk arose Friday morning to find that during the hours of darkness doorsteps and other movable articles had mysteriously disappeared, while the village store fronts were liberally smeared with soap and paraffin. Much of the youthful activity was harmless mischief but some of it bordered on maliciousness with resultant damage to property. The principal damage was caused by the overturning of outbuildings. 75 years ago – 1943 Mrs. Charles Spencer entertained at a party at her home on Maple Street last Thursday evening. Armistice Day theme was carried out and refreshments were served from a candle-lighted table decorated with red, white and blue. The next meeting of the Hartford Garden Club will be at the home of Mrs. Catherine Simpson. Discussion will be concerned with the topic “a rationed holiday dinner”. The Jolly Club of Southwest Hartford held its first fall meeting November 4, at the home of Mrs. Milton Lee. At the conclusion of other business, the club voted to contribute to the United War Fund. 50 years ago – 1968 An election on a proposal to merge the Hartford and Lawrence school districts may be held in December. The Hartford Board of Education last week accepted a recommendation of a merger study committee and authorized drafting of a resolution calling the special election. The Lawrence Board of Education is expected to join in the action. The study committee recommended continuing use of grade schools in each town. One town’s high school would be used for senior high students and the other town’s high school would be used for junior high students. 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 O.E. Austin announced that he will close out his hardware stock of merchandise with a sale of the goods starting Saturday, Dec. 1, 1928. Mr. Austin, who has been in the hardware business in this city for a number of years, says that he will retire from the business with the closing-out sale of his stock. Miss Helen Parker, daughter of Rev. and Mrs. G.R. Parker of Watervliet, who is attending Olivet College, has recently been pledged as a member of the Sigma Beta Sorority. J.F. Wigent was very pleasantly surprised last Sunday, Nov. 25, 1928, when nineteen children and grandchildren came with well filled baskets to help him celebrate his 70th birthday. 60 years ago – 1958 A baby girl, Rhonda Jean, was born Nov. 3, 1958 to Mr. and Mrs. Louis Kling. The baby weighed 7 pounds, 10 ounces. Clayton M. Rowe, proprietor of the Watervliet Hardware Store from 1946 till Jan. 1, 1957, has been offered and has accepted the management of Watervliet’s big merchandising establishment, the Boston Store. He took over the management from Robert E. Reinking, cashier of the First National Bank. Mr. and Mrs. Ronald Bodtke are the proud parents of their baby boy, Lawrence Donald, born Nov. 6, 1958 and weighed 7 pounds, 10 ounces. 30 years ago – 1988 A proposal to seek a state grant for $165,500 to aid dislocated workers of the Watervliet Paper Company was approved. Different community organizations expressed support to creating a One-Stop Workers Center in Watervliet. All workers who lost their jobs when the company closed its doors would be eligible to participate in the programs made available through the project. At its closing, 325 people lost their jobs, 77 percent from the area. A substantial number of workers may still become dislocated for some period of time if not permanently. A large number of these workers have no other work experience and will need intensive services in order to develop and market new job skills. 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


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