11-16-2017 Tri-City Area History Page

Watervliet Hospital 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

The criminal in my life

This morning at breakfast, I found a special awareness creeping into my consciousness. The Chief Accountant was sitting there too, and I am always aware of her presence. But I started thinking of a story I wrote some years ago about her special abilities. She has always had an uncanny ability to pick locks and to get into places that are supposed to be secure. And I have wondered if, in another life, she could have been a criminal!

When we lived in Ann Arbor, our house was in the Old West Side neighborhood.  Quiet street and we loved living there. Our next door neighbor was from England. He said he was born in the last London blitz of WWII. He was always just a little off key… I mean he was 10 minutes late, and 10 dollars short! A nice guy, and we liked him, but he was always a little confused. I heard that if eggs are hatched in a thunderstorm, the chickens there from will be forever addled. Could there be something to that?

One time he went to Canada to visit a girl friend, and left his house and car in the care of one of his friends. That friend came to our door in alarm and told us he had a problem. He said, “When the guy left, his car was locked in the driveway, and I have no key! When I checked this morning, I found he left the dome light on inside, and when he gets back the battery will be down to nothing!”

Marion soothed him and said she would come over and see if she could help. It was a little foreign car, and Marion soon slipped the lock on the driver’s side with a clothes hanger, and they turned the light off. Then they found that they could not lock it again! One of its features was that you could only lock it with the key… that way you would never lock your keys inside! Not to worry! She just reversed the process of getting into it and BROKE OUT OF THE CAR!

I first noted the Chief Accountant’s uncanny ability with locks when we were vacationing in Florida one time. Some friends were there and they had brought their travel trailer. One day they accidentally left their keys inside and locked the trailer. What to do? My forever helpmate said, “Not to worry!” She got a table knife and carefully feeling along the edge of the door, slipped the lock, and the door popped open!

So over the years from time to time we called upon her special abilities to solve an entry problem. But the pinnacle of her success, the coute le vec of breaking and entering, came one time when we had been to Hartford for the weekend. We had our SUV and clothes in the back on hangers. Nice fall day, and we stopped in Albion to get some coffee from Mickey D’s for the road.

I parked in front in an empty space and got out. I noticed another SUV parked next to us. It was all closed up and the engine running… Clothes and suitcases in the back, and evidently those people were traveling too. Standing in back of it, a Middle Eastern man with a worried look on his face. I went on in and got in line for coffee and a roll to go with it.

It was then I noticed standing at the front looking out on the parking lot an attractive Middle Eastern lady in a sari. She was standing there with her arms about two little children. And she also had a worried look on her face. When I came out… all of a sudden it hit me.

Carefully balancing my coffee cups I went over to the man standing behind his SUV and said, “Excuse me! Are you having a problem?”

He was almost wringing his hands as he answered, “Yes, I am! We got out of the car, and I left it running. I locked it as we left, and now I cannot get back in… I don’t know what I’m going to do”

I said, “I have someone who can perhaps help if you would like her to!”

“Oh, yes, please!!!!!”

So I went to our car, where the Chief Accountant was waiting for her coffee, and I explained the traveler’s situation to her. She said, “Tell him just a moment, and I’ll try something.” I did that as she got into the back and took one of my shirts off the hanger. Then she came over, straightening out the hanger as she walked.

The Middle Eastern man and I watched as she bent the hanger into a peculiar shape and carefully slipped it into the door opening about where the lock was. She felt around in here a few moments and THE LOCK POPPED UP! She opened the door as we watched, and the man was almost beside himself with joy as he tried to pay us and showered us with profuse thanks. I noticed in the window the woman in the sari was clapping her hands in delight, and the little kids were jumping up and down.

I told the man we couldn’t accept any pay, and we were just glad to help out. “Besides,” I said, “It was not really difficult… my wife does that for a living!” And we left him with a puzzled look on his face. When we got into the car, she asked me if I really needed to say that. I just smiled and told her how proud I was of her!

In retrospect I have to say that I don’t care if in another existence she was Genghis Khan’s third wife, or one of the Borgias, I feel most fortunate to have had her in my life all of these years. And any of those extra abilities are just the icing on the cake as we weave golden threads into the tapestry of our lives in this storybook town along the Paw Paw River!

Coloma Library News

Thanksgiving Hours

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

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. 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

There will be no Story Hour on Wednesday, Nov. 22. Story Hour will resume on Wednesday, Nov. 29 at 10:30 a.m. Call 468-3431 with any questions.

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.

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: thru Nov., Tuesdays at 10:30

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

Friday Bros. canning factory announced that operations will continue all winter. Once the canning of fruit concludes, they will begin canning pork and beans.

W.H. Ball, W.S. Hallman and the Friday Bros. are looking for a desirable site for the establishment of a new pickle factory. Contracts with farmers are now in the making.

C.N. Vinton and Mrs. Solon Ingraham, who traded property a few weeks ago, now have again exchanged property. They each have moved back to their old homes.

60 years ago – 1957

The junior class will present “Papa Was a Preacher,” a play in comedy form. Principal actors include Tom DeRosa, Gail Steele, Joyce McCormick, Bob Randall, Norma Moore, Paul Friday, Ricky Herndon and Roger Irwin.

Last rites were conducted for Mrs. Mary McCreary, route 2, Coloma. Burial is in the Coloma Cemetery.

Mrs. Verne Zerlaut was selected to attend the National Girl Scout convention.

The Washington PTA has been busy building cupboards in the new kitchen, preparing for the hot lunch program. They will have a guest speaker on the hot lunch program.

30 years ago – 1987

The 1987-88 Miss Coloma Queen Contest will be held at the Coloma High School. Mrs. Joyce Tutton and Mr. Jim Polashak are chairmen. Contestants include: Tracy Steinhoff, Christina Nord, Lois Stohrer, Amy Randall and Jennifer Price.

Coloma Township was officially designated a Charter Township during the Board’s regular monthly meeting.

We Asked You… When should merchants decorate for Christmas? Debbie Pena, Tim Bambrick and Melanie Troike all state, “After Thanksgiving.”

Cub Scout Pack 601 visited the Tri-City Record Newspaper as part of their den meeting. A few scouts are: Jerry Megna, Ricky Jarvis and Matthew and Andrew Pupedis.

Arthur and Elsie Fredricks celebrated their 50th wedding anniversary.


100 years ago – 1917

After maintaining for 22 years the only public library Hartford has ever known, the Hartford Ladies Library Association is encountering tempestuous financial sailing and the promoters of the project – some of whom assisted in its organization more than a score of years ago – are planning their final effort to place the library on a sound financial basis.

For weeks agitation has been rampant over teaching of German in the Hartford Public Schools. The agitation has developed and the Day Spring received an attack on this from the pen of Margaret R. Burlingame, a newspaper writer.

75 years ago – 1942

Arthur Smith has bought an interest in the Hartford Paint and Wallpaper Company, the store which he has managed for the last three years. Mr. Smith has been on Hartford’s Main Street for several years. He was manager of the Gleaner Store and before that a clerk in the G.T. Chamberlin Drug Store. There will be no change in the type of merchandise handled by the store except the sale of many of the home appliances.

Southwest Hartford Thursday Club held its first meeting of the year at the home of the president, Esther Geisler. “God Bless America” was sung followed by a salute to the flag. Two humorous readings were given by Grace Shriner. The constitution and by-laws were read by Ruth White. A preview of the club’s program was given by Adeline Richmond.

A committee of American Legion and Auxiliary members has been appointed by Commander Kern Diggins of the Stoddard Post to assist with the campaign to obtain 4,000 navy enlistments from Michigan.

50 years ago – 1967

The Modern Mothers Club will kick off a campaign by area women’s clubs to raise funds for purchase of an isolette for Community Hospital. The club’s first project will be a bake sale. Women’s groups in all communities served by the hospital will join forces to raise $1,295 for the isolette, which is an intensive care incubator.


90 years ago – 1927

Well renowned Dr. O.A. Peer, Watervliet, died on Oct. 30, 1927. The following poem was printed in his name:

The Doctor’s Epitaph

By G. H. C.

The Doctor Sleeps! No more at pain’s behest

Shall he relinquish his much needed rest;

No more his skillful hand and tender heart

Shall give to some new life a proper start.

The Doctor Sleeps; his fighting days are done.

But hundreds live because of bouts he won,

And, generations hence, those will draw breath

Who would not be had he not vanquished death!

The Doctor Sleeps; Might we his deeds recall

His name would blaze in Fame’s marbled hall

But, serving modestly through life, it now seems best

To merely write, ‘His Work Survives’ and let him rest.

60 years ago – 1957

Two students at Western Michigan University, were elected to offices in the Michigan United Student Fellowship, an organization of Congregational and Evangelical and Reformed students. Miss Joan Shimer, a senior student, was appointed corresponding secretary. Robert Snyder was chosen as president. Both were graduates of WHS.

Printed on Nov. 28, 1957:  The world is a looking glass, and gives back to every man the reflection of his own face. Frown at it, and it will in turn look sourly upon you; laugh at it, and with it, and it is a jolly kind companion.


30 years ago – 1987

Army Private Hector L. Vazquez, son of Sharron R. Vazquez, Watervliet, has completed basic training at Fort Knox, Kentucky as of Dec. 1987.

Anna Fillmore is a first-grade student at Watervliet South School and Student of the Week for Dec. 2, 1987. Her classmates say she is friendly and kind to other people. She writes nicely and always obeys classroom rules and does her best on her work.

WHS Principal Ken Bannen accepted a $250 check from the Watervliet Lions Club. He stated that the local schools ‘take great pride in the fact that we have had both the high school and junior high Quest programs for two years.’ The local Lions and Lioness clubs have made substantial contributions to the Quest programs.


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