11-28-2019 Tri-City Area History Page

An old-fashioned Thanksgiving “Over the river and through the woods…” but we weren’t going to grandmother’s house! We had been invited for Thanksgiving dinner out to Ben and Rosa Cook’s. Cold and snowy early winter day, and they lived out north of Hartford near the little crossroads community named Toquin. It had been named years earlier for one of the first Indian settlers by that name. This must have been in the early 1930s, and Wilma and I were just kids. And we liked Thanksgiving dinner; we had known Ben and Rosa all of our lives. He had married once earlier and lost his wife tragically. Rosa had never married before. Her folks built and operated Knapp’s grocery store. This was on the north side of Main Street in Hartford. The building is still there and is now a ladies’ hair emporium, I believe. In Hartford, west from the traffic light on the north side, look up and you’ll see the date on the front of the building… 1912. I can remember going in there with my dad. There was a general mustiness, fustiness about the place. They did not do a lot of business. There was a long counter on the left with a cheese bell. You never see them anymore! This was a huge glass cover with a whole wheel of cheese under it. The clerk would whack off a slice of whatever size the customer wanted. It was what Aunt Hope called “rat trap cheese,” and oh so good! Knapp’s grocery also specialized in chinaware… sets of dishes, fancy plates and platters. Years later when Ben was disposing of the remnants of their lives, he gave Marion some of the dishes that were left. They formed part of her collection. He also gave Marion his first wife’s wedding ring, which she wore on special occasions, when, she said, she needed some special strength. Ben and Rosa lived on a general farm. They had married late in life and had no children. Ben raised some corn, some grain, and marvelous vegetables. He also had several milk cows and sold the milk to a local creamery. He worked the farm by himself, and had very little time off. The small general farm is all but gone and forgotten. Those who lived that life worked long and hard from dawn to dusk. The cows had to be milked twice a day, no exceptions. In summer they were turned out to pasture, but in winter they stayed in the barn and had to be fed and cared for. This included “mucking out” the stalls which was never a pleasant job. Just ask anyone who’s ever done it! Their old farmhouse was pleasantly furnished. We visited in the parlor, which was a living room not generally used except on special occasions. A mantle clock ticking away and chiming the hours. The adults visited until dinnertime. Wilma and I found the bookcase and some of the books that homes had in those days. So we were entertained too. Rosa’s dad was a portly old gentleman. Huge and gruff, Royal Knapp had been in the grocery business a long time, and modern life had just passed him by. I can remember that Rosa had a special treat for him… some oysters on the half shell. Only her dad got them, and he slurped them down after dipping them in melted butter. Now I didn’t mind that Royal was the only one who got oysters… you couldn’t pay me to swallow a raw oyster, but I did think it was a little odd that he was the only one who got them. I would like to see my dad dealing with a raw oyster. I suppose it was that they were so expensive, and it was a special treat for the old geezer. Rosa was related to the Pomeroys. Junior Pomeroy was in my class in grade school. They had a large family and he said on special occasions they would all go to Knapp’s grocery, and each kid would get an ice cream cone. I think Royal was probably of a rather conservative nature, but I don’t really know. I have never forgotten that Thanksgiving… the comfortable old farm house and Ben, Rosa, and old Royal Knapp. It is a way of life that is now long gone. They used to come in and visit our folks. And you couldn’t have found people more kind. Being childless, they took a special shine to our kids. Ben was a huge man who always wore farm clothes. Bib overalls with a watch in the pocket. He did something that frightened our youngest daughter, Laurie. She was a cute little girl and he said one day, “I’d like to put you in my pocket and take you home with me!” Now that scared Laurie and she hid behind Marion’s apron (she was probably baking bread at the time). From then on when Ben came in, he would always say, “Where’s my pocket girl?” Of course by this time she was long gone… probably hiding in a closet upstairs! The general farm and people like Ben and Rosa are a way of life that is almost totally foreign to us. But like the ghetto kid said, “What it is!” Things are different now. Life is different! And we are still trying to weave golden threads into the Great Tapestry of Life in these storybook towns along the Paw Paw River!

Watervliet District Library News An hour of Code for a week’s worth of hours Dec 2 – 7 For pre-teens and teens ages 10 – 18 who codes for an hour at the library will receive a free set of earbuds, all during the week. Try it for an hour; walk away, if you can! Coding website suggestions will be provided. “Ugly Sweaters are Murder”, a library murder mystery Thursday, Dec 12, 6 p.m. Who done it, how and why? And will you be the victim or the guilty party? Sign up begins on Black Friday (Nov. 29), of course! Participation is limited to 25 guests.

Coloma Public Library News Shop Small Saturday Book Sale In support of Shop Small Saturday, the Coloma Public Library is having a clearance book sale in the library’s Community Room on Saturday, Nov. 30 from 10:00 .m. – 2:00 p.m. Unsorted books and materials will be 2 for $1 unless otherwise marked. Proceeds will help fund library programming. Book Club The Coloma Public Library Book Club is meeting on Thursday, Dec. 5 at 5:30 p.m. The title to read before the discussion is The Good Neighbor: The Life and Times of Fred Rogers by Maxwell King. Depending on demand there may be titles available for checkout at the front desk. New members are always welcome.

Hartford Library raffles Smart TV The Friends of the Hartford Library announce a fundraiser raffle starting immediately. They are raffling a VIZIO V-Series 60-inch Smart TV. The tickets are $1 each or 6 for $5.00. Tickets are available at the library. The drawing will be held on Wednesday, Dec. 18 at 11 a.m. Winner need not be present to be eligible. Proceeds from the raffle will be used for Hartford’s new library/ community center. Also anyone interested can sign up for a percentage of their purchases from Amazon.com to benefit the Hartford Library. When accessing Amazon shoppers should use smile.amazon.com and go to Friends of the Hartford Library as their charity. They can then make their purchase. There is no extra charge. Amazon will contribute 5% to the Friends of the Hartford Library toward their library/community center. For questions regarding this information, contact Stephanie at (269)621-3408.

Glimpses From The Past

Do you know the make & model of the auto Lynn Hall is leaning on? Do you have any memories of this time around Riverside, MI? If so, please contact North Berrien Historical Museum at 269-468-3330, office@northberrienhistory.org, or stop by Tues.-Friday 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. they would love to hear your stories. From the photo collection at the North Berrien Historical Museum 300 Coloma Avenue, Coloma


100 years ago – 1919 The campaign of Red Cross Christmas seals will be waged on a larger scale this year. It is determined that the Wolverine State shall take the lead in this humanitarian movement. It is most important to do your Christmas shopping early this year. Merchandise is very hard to secure due to the labor situation. All are invited to join in the union community Thanksgiving services at the Methodist Episcopal Church. 60 years ago – 1959 The Self Culture Club meeting enjoyed a Thanksgiving program. Mrs. Charles Bachman, Mrs. George Lewis, Mrs. Mathilda Kaucher and Mrs. Charles Peterson all presented an aspect of Thanksgiving. The Comets launch this year’s cage season at Decatur. Coaches Don Pubuda and Ted Lenhardt expect great playing from their reserve team and veteran squad in the Little Eight conference. The misses Cora, Marjorie and Marie Furman of Jackson Court will spend Thanksgiving with the Dorstewitz family in Paw Paw. Coloma seniors, under the direction of Ralph R. Bower, gave an outstanding performance of “The Whole Town’s Talking.” Ilse Kleist portrayed a movie star, Douglas Lombard was Mr. Cupid and Lorna Fikes was supporting cast, among many others. 30 years ago – 1989 Coloma City Commission passed a resolution to form a Downtown Development Authority. Karl Bayer, Watervliet DDA Chairman was instrumental in this decision. The Paw Paw Lake River Ventures announce “Winterfest 1990” will be titled, “A Taste of Two Cities.” Coloma and Watervliet are busy organizing this weekend. Police issued nine speeding tickets, three no seatbelt and one careless driving citation this week. Tiffany Bailey is a finalist in the U.S. Senate Youth Scholarship Competition. This is sponsored by the William Randolph Hearst Foundation. She receives a certificate of recognition as an officer in her high school and possibly a scholarship. 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 & Thur, 10:00 a.m.-8:00 p.m.; Sat, 10:00 a.m.-2:00 p.m. Phone: 269-468-3431


100 years ago – 1919 Abdel Denvish, an Asyrian and an ex-soldier of the world war who is known about Hartford as “George the Greek”, is nursing a fractured jaw and Charles Sutton, a well known young man about town, is a fugitive as a result of a sensational episode last Thursday evening when Sutton sought revenge for a fancied wrong and dealt “George” a smashing blow. The Hartford Woman’s Club had an excellent program were the “Art Study Class” was in charge. Mrs. Marie Finley gave the purpose of the program. The Art Class had on display fifteen reproductions of Edwin Abbey’s “Holy Grail” mural decorations. A short sketch of the life of the author was given by Mrs. Mary Corrette. Mrs. Minnie Morse gave a short story of the legend of the “Holy Grail”. 75 years ago – 1944 E.A. Boisman, who for 12 years has been band director at Hartford school, has resigned because of ill health. Clare Leach, president of the school board, said that no appointment has been made to fill the vacancy. The Southwest Hartford Thursday Club met at the home of Mrs. George Danneffel. Fifteen members and four guests answered roll call with Chinese proverbs. Mrs. Walter Conklin presented the poem, “Home” by Edgar Guest and Mrs. Otto Helweg gave a talk on “Home Life in China”. The Hartford Woman’s club met at the home of Mrs. Alice Hurry, Franklin Street. The subject for the day was “Turkey’s Three Wise Men”. 50 years ago – 1969 Mr. and Mrs. Lynn Rowe will hold an open house Saturday from 1 to 5 p.m. at which time a kidney machine purchased for Rowe with donations will be on display. Over $6,000 was raised so the machine could be installed in his home. Previously he had been forced to travel to Lansing for the use of a machine. The fund drive was spearheaded by the Van Buren County Social Services Department as Medicare funds were not available. The machine was installed Friday and is operating successfully. Mr. and Mrs. Rowe expressed their thanks to everyone who donated. 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.; Thur & Fri, 10 a.m.-5 p.m.; Sat, 10 a.m.-2 p.m. Phone: 269-621-3408


90 years ago – 1929 Supervisor John Warman completed the work of spreading the taxes on the Watervliet Township roll and has turned the roll over to Treasurer A.B. Horton for collection. The total footings of the roll amount to $48,515.91 as compared to $49,257.22 for 1928. J.H. Leverton – IGA Store – we deliver – Advertises 10 lbs. sugar, $.89; 24-1/4 lbs. Pillsbury flour, $1.15; Coffee – very good – 3 lbs., $1.00; 3 lrg. loaves of bread, $.20; plenty of fresh oysters. Ph. 57 Watervliet creamery butter was given some excellent scores on tubs submitted by butter maker Aage Larsen to several dairy and butter shows during the year of 1929. 60 years ago – 1959 After about four months of study and preparation for the insurance business, Mr. George Bucher became licensed as an agent for the State Farm Insurance Co. and has opened an agency on Main Street. He was born and raised here and graduated from WHS in 1942 and from Michigan State University in 1952. He’s a WWII veteran with four years in the U.S. Navy. Mr. and Mrs. Walter Duday Jr. are the proud parents of their baby girl, Anna Marie, born Nov. 19, 1959 and weighed 8 pounds, 3-1/2 ounces. 30 years ago – 1989 The installation of old-style light poles on Watervliet’s Main Street marks the near completion of the DDA’s $500,000 renovation project. Accent stripe of red brick along the newly-replaced sidewalks and around the poles will be mortared in over the winter as weather permits. The planting of honey locust trees will be left to early March, 1989. NO SALT PLEASE… due to the new concrete. Main Street merchants and residents are asked not to use ANY type of ice melting compounds. Sand will be provided for the placing on icy sidewalks near the stairway at Mill Creek Park. Heather Anderson, an afternoon Kindergarten student in Mrs. Hays’ class at Watervliet South School, has been chosen as the district-wide “Student of the Week”. Heather is a very eager and conscientious worker. She makes friends easily and is willing to help her classmates. 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, Thur & Fri, 10 a.m.-5 p.m.; Sat, 9 a.m.-3 p.m. Phone: 269-463-6382