11-09-2017 Tri-City Area History Page

“Storick’s Little Paw Paw Lake”

 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

A backward look at war

Veterans Day is approaching, and it gives me an excuse to revisit WWII one more time.  And I’ve been thinking about my last flight before finishing pilot training in the Air Force.  It was a night, cross-country trip, and I almost “bought the farm!”  My own fault and I’m not proud of it!

Twin engine advanced trainers, the planes were UC-78s, and could carry four passengers.  Two student pilots always flew together, and I was admittedly a little nervous… hoping I would be paired with one of my friends.  Not so!  I got a stranger, a shy kid named Smitty, and the first thing he did was ask me if I would fly the whole trip!  He said he was so shaky, he didn’t think he could do it!

This irritated me, and perhaps a psychologist would say that his anxious face just mirrored my own anxiety at flying a long night cross-country over strange territory.  Adding to my anxiety… we had just gotten a hot flash from headquarters.  If we ever had an engine failure, we were not to try to reach home base… just bail out. Those UC-78s would not maintain altitude on single-engine!  I’d made up my mind if it ever happened to me, I’d try to nurse it back home anyway and call the tower for a straight in approach!  I’d even practiced that.  Now I was doing it at night. That part of Texas was mesquite, arroyos, jack rabbits, cactus and rattlesnakes.  I was flying almost solo… no copilot, just another passenger!

I controlled my anger, and I guess that contributed to a mistake.  A pilot lives (or dies) by his check lists.  There is a check list when you go out to the airplane… another one before you start the engines, another one before you take off, one after you get to cruising altitude, and one before you land.  And a pilot had better never, never, ever skip anything!

On those twin engines there are two wing tanks.  Each one feeds gas to that engine.  There is a cross feed valve between the pilot’s seats.  You have it on in case one fuel pump fails… and the engine will draw from the other side.  When you reach altitude, your check list says to turn off the cross feed.  I missed that one!

Well, we got through take-off and up to cruising altitude… dark, dark blackness and no moon.  We headed south out of Waco, TX, and into the night.  I settled in for the long flight… at night you are always flying on instruments.  Smitty was quiet… my resentment was evaporating as I wondered if my hope for a friend to fly with was a little bit of what he said he felt!

I noticed we were following a line of airline beacons.  Back then they marked out a course with rotating lights, so pilots could follow them if the sky was clear.  When I was a kid, riding in the backseat with my folks at night, I always looked for those beacons… they fascinated me, and I knew that pilots followed them so they wouldn’t get lost.  They gave me sort of a lonely feeling… I never knew that one day I’d be following a line of them.

Then we reached the southern end of a triangular course, and I banked left on the second leg.  Suddenly nothing but black darkness!  I’d been unconsciously following the beacons, and now I was in pitch black night!  I was becoming disoriented… didn’t know up from over!  I pulled my attention inside and concentrated on the instrument panel until the feeling passed!

Half way on the second leg, I asked Smitty to reach in back and get the sandwiches and thermos of coffee we brought along.  He did so, and fresh coffee aroma soon filled the cockpit.  I was feeling good again, and my resentment at Smitty had evaporated.

We made the next turn, and after some time, I could see the lights of Waco ahead… clear sky and no turbulence.  The radio compass pointed toward our home base; and when we reached it, I had Smitty call the tower for landing instructions.  Tower came back saying that we were a few minutes short of the time we needed to log for graduation, and we should circle the field for a few minutes.  We did that, as other airplanes came into the pattern and circled for landing.

Then it came our turn… we did the before-landing check list, and with landing gear down and half flaps, we drifted in and I made a good touchdown.  We taxied off onto the apron and were now under the big lights that lit up the hangar aprons.  I looked down, and said, “Oh, oh… I forgot to turn off the gas cross feed!  I reached down and turned it off.  Immediately the left engine quit!  So I braked to a stop and thought… that left engine fuel pump had quit.  For how long?  If I had turned it off in flight, that engine might have quit in that dark night!

Could I have nursed it in on single engine?  We would never know.  My mistake had perhaps saved us from bailing out over the wilderness at night!  And I heaved a sigh of relief.  I called the tower and told them one engine had just quit, and you’ll have to send out a mule to tow the airplane in.  Smitty and I shouldered our parachutes, and carrying our maps and thermos, we walked into the operations office.  And I never looked back.  That was most likely my last flight in a Cessna UC-78.

Did I learn something from that flight?  You bet!  Most flying accidents are due to pilot error.  And I made up my mind that the check list thereafter would be my Bible.  That’s my story for this Veterans Day… and from a time long past, but just yesterday… as we live our lives in these storybook towns along the Paw Paw River.

Coloma Library News

Read with Spirit

Spirit, a certified therapy dog will be at the library on Tuesday evenings from 6:30-7:30 p.m. 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 30 at 5:30 p.m. The title to read before the discussion is “The Alchemist” by Paulo Coehlo.  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 any questions please call the library at 468-3431.

Thanksgiving Hours

The Coloma Public Library’s Thanksgiving hours will be: Wednesday, November 22, 10:00 a.m.-5:30 p.m.; Thursday, November 23 Closed; Friday, November 24 and Saturday, November 25, 10 a.m.-2 p.m. Regular hours will resume Monday, November 27. Enjoy the Holiday!

Watervliet District Library News

Pottawatomie Culture: Past & Present

During the month of November a display of their culture is on loan from the North Berrien Historical Museum.

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.

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, 7:00 – 8:00 p.m.

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

Story Hour: Wed. 10:30 a.m. & Thur. 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, 9:00 – 10:00 a.m.; Wednesday, 7:00 – 8:00 p.m.; Chair Yoga, Wednesday, 6:00 – 6:45 p.m.


100 years ago – 1917

Continued heavy rains and heavy automobile driving have put highways in bad condition. East Center Street is one of the worst stretches of highway. The highway commissioner will be the busiest man in the township.

Our very own Charles Coleman, who is now a Navy man, sends a letter home. “The ocean is different than Lake Michigan. The waves are like young hills,” he writes.

Packages are being made for our soldiers. A list of articles may be obtained from the Red Cross secretary. The Red Cross unit is located on the second floor of the State Bank of Coloma building.

60 years ago – 1957

The Murry Manor subdivision on Hagar Shore Road was approved as platted by the Coloma township board. A total of 55 lots all meet the zoning ordinance. Streets platted are Janet Drive, Hollywood Drive and Vine Street.

The high school senior speech class will present the annual Veterans Day program. The class includes James Sternaman, Nancy Krieger, Paul Lynch and Barbara Urness.

The Chamber of Commerce will again sponsor the annual Christmas party. It will be held at the Loma Theatre and will be limited to students through the eighth grade.

30 years ago – 1987

Newly-elected Marvin Taylor is greeted by retiring Mayor Glenn Randall. A commendation was presented to Randall for his 22 years of service as mayor.

Twenty-four high school students are presented with academic letters. A 3.6 GPA must be maintained each semester. Some recipients are Tracy Steinhoff, John Willming, Jim Walke and Christopher Rush.

James A. Noack Sr., 50, passed away after suffering a heart attack. He served in the Lions Club and was awarded Lion of the Year 1983-84. He is survived by his wife, Sherry, a son and a daughter.


100 years ago – 1917

Hartford youth observed Halloween last Wednesday evening in an orderly manner, with the exception of a few instances in which outbuildings were overturned and damaged. There was a generous furbishing along Main Street the next morning to remove ridiculous inscriptions from store fronts, but all of the victims took the pranks good naturedly.

Farmers about Hartford are hurrying this week to complete the digging of potatoes, and all available help is being employed in the potato fields. A number of boys are absent from school this week to assist in the harvest, and the teachers have readily excused them when potato digging was the reason given.

75 years ago – 1942

The registration of motorists for gas rationing permits has been postponed until next week by an order from OPA officials in Washington D.C. who explained the delay was caused by the failure of basic “A” ration books to be distributed in sufficient numbers for delivery to all registration centers on the original registration dates.

The Hartford Women’s Club met at the home of Mrs. Nellie Smith on Tuesday afternoon. Mrs. Norman Clapp gave a book review on “Christ and the Fine Arts” by Cynthia Pearl Maus.

Out “for the duration” are hooked rugs made from outworn silk and nylon stockings, for Uncle Sam is calling on all women to turn in their discarded fine hosiery (after washing it) as an important item in the long list of essential munitions. The silk is especially needed for powder bags for the larger types of artillery, and the nylon for other important war uses.

50 years ago – 1967

Processing of apples now is going on at the new Cherry Growers, Inc., plant in Hartford. Apples are peeled and cored by machines as the first step in processing them. The slices are inspected before being packed with sugar in 30 pound cans for freezing. This is the first time that apples have been processed at Hartford since several canneries were in operation many years ago.


90 years ago – 1927

WHS has passed the first obstacle in its endeavor for debating honors. The local debaters defeated Stevensville Nov. 18, 1927. The debate was on the direct primary system with Watervliet upholding the affirmative.

Nov. 23, 1927 was Dennis Carmody’s seventy-fourth birthday anniversary and his children observed the occasion with a party given in his honor.

A son was born to Mr. and Mrs. J.D. Hentschell on Nov. 17, 1927.

60 years ago – 1957

Printed Nov. 11, 1957: Hours of sunlight grow short in November and a good part of your driving and walking will take place after dark. Therefore, Auto Club of Michigan urges pedestrians, especially those in rural area, to wear white after dark. A bright article of clothing will assist motorists in spotting you as you go down the roadside.

For the third time in as many years the Watervliet Paper Company is being petitioned for a union election. The National Labor Relations Board has set Nov. 2, 1957, as the date of a hearing to establish a recognized voting unit. The Union was unsuccessful in its bid for recognition in the 1955 and 1956 elections.

Pfc. Charles W. Moser writes that “Operation Tiny Tim,” a move to bring Christmas to the Korean orphans, is now underway.

30 years ago – 1987

North School’s ‘Flag Football’ program ended recently. Just over 70 boys and girls took part in the Saturday morning league. Each team played five games during Oct. and early Nov. The whole program was possible because of the efforts of three fathers, Dannie Harris, Hency Naka and Dennis Warsko.

Melinda Buck is the Watervliet ‘Student of the Week.’ She is a fourth-grade student in Mrs. Althouse’s North School classroom. She is a hard worker and had good listening skills. Her first report card for 1987-88 year showed all A’s.


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