11-17-2016 Tri-City Area History Page

Paw Paw River Journal

The Best Doctor

 Yogi Berra, the baseball player is famous for mangling the English language in humorous ways.  One time he said, “Nostalgia just ain’t what it used to be!”  And it is certainly true.  Small town America has changed in various unhealthy ways… not what it used to be at all.  Interstates have passed us by.  Now, I wouldn’t want to be without those ribbons of highway, but here is our home town… a mere shadow of its former bustling self!

This was brought back to me recently with the demolition of Dr. Carl Boothby’s old office on South Center St.  I first met Dr. Carl in 1946.  He was a recently discharged Flight Surgeon from the Air Force.  He and Lyall were married, and he had opened a small storefront office opposite the park downtown.

I came home from the war, sick of the service, sick of being away from home, and just plain sick.  I had caught a tropical bug that I just couldn’t shake.  They sent me to an Army hospital in Indiana where I was examined by a panel of doctors.  They asked me how I felt… I told them I was rarin’ to go!  I wasn’t, but wanted to get home.  They shook their heads and gave me 30 days leave.

So I came home to a royal welcome… at last!   My Dad took one look at me… skinny, yellow from taking anti malaria drugs, and with a slight fever.  He said, “We’ve got a new doctor, just discharged from service… why don’t you go and see him?”

I did, and it was Dr. Carl Boothby.  He had just opened his practice and was not busy, so I got right in.  That was the beginning of our friendship.  He examined me and told me to drop my pants… he gave me the biggest shot of penicillin I’d ever seen, and told me it was some bug from Asia and I would just have to wear it out.  Then we sat and compared war experiences.  He was in the Africa invasion and was the flight surgeon on one of the bases there.  When I left, I said to him, “Well, Doc, how much do I owe you?”

He thought a moment, then said, “You’re going to be here for 30 days… you’ll need all the money you’ve got… you don’t owe me anything.  Have fun!”

Then Dr. Carl and Lyall opened their office in the old Doc Elgas house on South Center Street, and there he practiced medicine until he retired and thereafter went to work for the Veterans’ Administration.  He was our doctor, did surgery on both Marion and me, and delivered all of our children.  After we bought our house just one block to the east, Marion went to work in his office too.  She worked evenings as an office nurse when I could be at home and put the kids to bed.

In the early years of our marriage, we had only our oldest daughter… she was just an infant and sometimes when Marion worked evenings I would come to the office with her.  I stayed in the Boothby’s living quarters over the office and did my homework for college classes.  I sat in their dining room, studying, with one foot jiggling the bassinet to keep our daughter asleep.

Dr. Carl was probably the best all around physician I have ever seen.  He was a pioneer in nutrition, realizing that diet plays such an important part in our health.  His skill at surgery was legendary.  I have seen results of his fancy stitchery that rivaled the most skilled plastic surgeon!  He was what I call a thinking doctor. He looked a patient all over, finger nails, eye lids.  Why that?  A doctor can tell a lot about a patient’s blood condition.  Pink healthy nails?  Good blood!  Same with eyes.

Sometimes when I was waiting for Marion, Dr. Carl would say, “Bud, I’ve got to make a couple of late house calls… how about coming with me?”  What he wanted was for me to drive.  Then he could nod off for a few minutes while we were getting to the patient’s house.  He could take a quick nap and be refreshed, ready to go again.

Back when we were first married, Marion was working days at the office.  She would come home to our apartment for lunch.  The two oldest Boothby girls, Sharon and Cookie, were small.  They always wanted to go with Marion.  So she took them to our place and made porridge (soup) for lunch.  Then they had to play Three Bears, and Marion had to be the baby bear!

All of our lives back then Dr. Carl was our family physician; he delivered all of our children, saw them through childhood diseases, and kept us healthy.  It was a sad day when he closed his practice here in Hartford.  But he deserved to have a job with a little less pressure.  He went to work for the Veterans’ Administration, spending the last part of his career over at the V.A. hospital at Battle Creek.

Then he suffered a massive heart attack and slipped into the shadowed part of The Great Circle of Life.  We didn’t know it then, but he was going to save us one more time.  We brought an elderly cousin out from his home in Chicago.  He could not live alone any more.  And we wanted to get him into the hospital over at Battle Creek.  Although he was born in Germany, he served with distinction in the U.S. Army during WWII.

So we took him over there, but they were full up!  No room at all.  Marion was talking to the nurse in charge of admissions.  It seems they had a common bond… both knew and had worked with Dr. Carl Boothby!  They exchanged stories about that fabled physician.  Then the admissions nurse looked at her schedule again.  She said, “Say, we just had a patient discharged.  Let’s see if we can get your cousin in that bed!”  And they did.

I’d like to think that Dr. Carl was smiling somewhere on that one… he had helped us again one more time.  And we gave thanks for his friendship and excellent care!


 The Coloma Public Library’s Thanksgiving hours will be: Wednesday, November 23, 10:00 a.m. – 5:30 p.m.; Thursday, November 24, closed; Friday, November 25, 10:00 am – 2:00 p.m. and Saturday, November 26, 10:00 a.m. – 2:00 p.m. Regular hours will resume Monday, November 28. Enjoy the Holiday!

The Creative Artists Guild of Southwestern Michigan is displaying artwork at the library. There is a variety of different artistic styles displayed. Stop in and see the many talents within our community.


 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 our community.

Monday, November 28, 6:30 – 8:00 p.m. Adult Coloring Night – Prepare for an evening of creativity and relaxation. Come color and unwind while background music serenades and inspires. Refreshments too, of course! All supplies are provided at no charge. Already caught the coloring bug? Feel free to bring your own materials, as well!

Monday, December 5, 6:00 – 7:30 p.m. Cookies and Canvas – Kids will unleash their inner artist at this fun painting class.  Participants will follow instructions to create a painting of a reindeer.  No experience necessary!  Cookies and milk will be provided.  Children only, this class is limited to 25 kids ages five and older.  Registration is required.

Friday, December 9, 6:00 – 8:30 p.m. Parents Night Out – Need an evening without the kids:  Parents Night Out gives parents the opportunity to take a well-deserved break.  Go out for a night on the town feeling confident that your little ones are safe and having the time of their lives.  This incredible evening for children will be filled with a variety of fun games, crafts and activities.  Space is limited.  Snack donations are appreciated. Registration is required.

Toddler Time is a 30 minute class every Tuesday at 10:30 a.m.

Story Hour is on Wednesdays at 10:30 a.m. and on Thursdays at 1:30 p.m. for children age three to five. It is fun and educational with 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.


100 years ago – 1916

Mrs. Alice M. Baker is next year’s president of the Berrien County Federation of Women’s clubs. Coloma will get the annual meeting next November.

Free examinations for tuberculosis will be held. A party of health workers invites all those who are weak physically to come for this free physical examination.

Coloma Theatre – Frederick Perry in Dr. Rameru – admission 10 cents.

Ferdinand Thar of West Coloma left for a visit to Colorado. He will return with a car of registered cattle for his neighbor H.W. Jacobs.

60 years ago – 1956

Airman second class Raleigh W. Anderson has returned to Palm Beach Air Force Base after a tour of duty in Greenland and Iceland.

An Open House was given for the completed one room addition to the Bundy school. Mrs. Rose Woodward gave the wonderful dedication address. Mrs. Richard Becht was on the refreshment committee.

Salem Lutheran Church will hold Adult Membership class Monday.

A reminder to property owners cutting, transporting and selling their own Christmas trees: you must obey the Christmas Tree law, it will be enforced.

30 years ago – 1986

Representatives for local government and commerce met to “brainstorm” ideas for community growth. Areas discussed were amenities, housing, jobs, marketing and advertising.

The North Berrien Historical Society is applying for a grant of $145,000 for the purpose of building a museum on the property donated by Roger Carter.

Marion Boyer Smith fondly remembers Laura Baker. She was a friend and neighbor for forty-five years. It is not goodbye Laura, it is “Till we meet again.”

Murals created by Charles Irvin, now deceased, and displayed in the Waffle House, have been donated to the Watervliet Library.  Previous owners, Mr. and Mrs. George Dunham of Bayview Drive had the murals framed. They were painted in 1961.


100 years ago – 1916

The S.M. Carpp canning factory completed the season’s run last Friday when they finished the canning of apples.  Although the packing of fruits and vegetables has been large, the entire output had been sold when the factory closed on Friday. Wm. M. Traver factory still has a large stock of canned goods on hand, but they are shipping them out as fast as conditions will permit.

Hartford’s firefighting equipment has been improved by the purchase of the chemical engine which has been at the fire department since the county fair in October.

The first blizzard of the winter developed Monday night, and the ground has since been covered with a mantle of white, while the temperature has dropped far below the freezing point.

75 years ago – 1941

Twelve young men will begin an 8-weeks defense training night school course in general metal work under the direction of David Friday, Hartford specialist in electric welding and metal forging. This is the first school of its kind in this section of the state and one of the few operating under the state board of control for vocational education. A scarcity of skilled workmen for vital defense industries has led to the setting up of the Hartford vocational training school. All expenses are paid through the Hartford Board of Education which in turn is reimbursed from the fund which has been set up for vocational training of youths in national defense pursuits.

50 years ago – 1966

Miss Jacqueline Rice, daughter of Mr. and Mrs. Glenn Rice, is one of ten Michigan State University student leaders attending the Big Ten Residence Hall conference at the University of Minnesota this month. Miss Rice is a Hartford High School graduate and is a junior at MSU, majoring in elementary education.

The Jayette board of directors met recently. Jayettes plan to help their husbands, the Jaycees with their projects. On the board are Shirley Jackson, president; Jan Nicholson, vice-president; Pat Empson, secretary and Margie Weeden, treasurer.


90 years ago – 1926

Arch J. Kelly, pioneer Watervliet citizen, celebrated his seventy-ninth birthday anniversary on Nov. 31. Mr. Kelly’s association with Watervliet and vicinity dates back to the early lumbering days when the great forests that originally covered this section of the state were being cut off and manufactured into lumber. He was in the employ of the old Swain, Olney & Co. firm, owners of a big sawmill on the site where the Watervliet Paper Company’s plant was located.

Gasoline thieves broke the lock off from the pump at the Shell service station in Watervliet and got away with 114 gallons of gasoline. They also stole the handle of the pump.

Thanksgiving Day was the thirtieth wedding anniversary of Mr. and Mrs. Frank Russell of Watervliet. A dinner with family and friends celebrated the grand occasion.

60 years ago – 1956

Pfc. George Neff arrived in Watervliet on Nov. 12 from his base at Fort Huchuca, Arizona for a visit with his wife and son and parents, Mr. and Mrs. Ernest Neff.

Mr. and Mrs. Francis Bueche are the proud parents of their baby girl, Jean Anne, born Nov. 17 and weighed 8 pounds, 5 ounces.

Mr. and Mrs. Herbert Mann welcomed their new baby boy, William Irving, born Nov. 18 and weighed 5 pounds, 11-1/2 ounces.

30 years ago – 1986

St. Joseph School, Watervliet recently received its Michigan Educational Assessment Program test scores for its fourth grade. For the second year in a row 100% of the fourth graders achieved 75% or more of the state objectives in reading. A 91.7% of the students achieved 75% of the math objectives for fourth graders in Michigan. Five students achieved 100% of the state objectives in both math and reading. They are: Christopher Bailey, Kilian Bauer, Dustin Pomeroy, Ryan Bauer, and Traci Jarvis.

Three WHS students were singled out for special honors during that school’s girls’ basketball banquet. Amy Greco was named Most Improved varsity player, Carla Lang, center , was named Most Valuable and also All-Conference and Becky Epple was Honorable Mention.


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