11-29-18 Tri-City Area History Page

The Paw Paw River Journal

Radio operators There aren’t so many of us left now from World War II. Just recently friend Bob Harrison from Lake Michigan College sent me a newspaper story about the loss of a radio operator from the China Burma India Theater. He had done his missions over the Hump, come home, reared his family, and lived a full life. I never met him, but I knew where he was stationed. Every flight we carried two pilots and a radio operator. They were usually young and probably more terrified about flying over those mountains than we were. Our only contact with them was when we were on a flight. The story Bob sent brought those times back to me… particularly one trip and the radio operator they scheduled to go with us. Whenever I flew somewhere with the Colonel, I was just along for the ride. Ditto when I went up with Capt. Moss and some of the other headquarters pilots. And I really wanted to get checked out in a C-47. Must be I had been complaining bitterly about it, because one day Honus Wagner came into the tent and said, “Get your gear. You and I are going to make a run to Calcutta. And this time… YOU are going to do it!” I was overjoyed. We filed a flight plan, gathered up our radio operator (just a kid), and rode the jeep out to the C-47. There was our old war-weary, Niner-four-niner-eight. When I climbed into the pilot’s seat… the kid looked a little distressed. What! This guy going to fly us down to Calcutta? Why… he isn’t any older than I am! Honus was a great instructor. He taught me more in those next few hours; than I had learned all the time I had been overseas. And this in spite of the fact that when the radio operator was not using his set, he stood back between us… I could feel him wringing his hands. It was glorious. I went through the outside visual check, removing the cover from the pitot tube and checking that the control surfaces were free. We filled our Zippo lighters when we opened the petcocks on the wing tanks to drain out any condensed moisture. Then inside, I went through the preflight check… Honus was watching me every step. Fired up the engines and got tower permission to taxi… down to the end of our long blacktop runway, checked the magnetos, got tower permission for takeoff… and I said, “Half flaps and full throttle,” which Honus did… and then we felt for the sky. It was most joyful! So, on that day I learned to fly the C-47, we headed for Calcutta. We even had to make a couple of stops along the way, and I practiced landings. Honus grinned at me, because both times I just painted that ship onto the runway. You know you’ve done it right when your tires contact the blacktop with a long squeal, and there is no jolt… just a settling down gently. Our radio operator stood between the pilots’ seats… probably would have liked to do some back seat driving, but he had far less experience than I. We set our course southwest and headed for the gray smudge of smoke on the horizon that was Calcutta, listening to Big Band music on Armed Forces Radio. That huge city, even on a bright, clear day, remained covered by smoke from a million small cooking fires. The fuel? Cow dung patties, dried like pancakes and then burned. Even today if I were set down blindfolded there, I would take a breath of that acrid, pungent smell and say, “Calcutta!” Something else happened with our radio operator also. When we got ready to take off for home, the young man approached me, sort of scuffing his toe, and said, “Ahhhh, Lieutenant Davis, when we came in for a landing, I forgot to reel in the trailing wire antenna.” While in flight our radio people had a wire antenna with a weight on the end that they could reel out and it would trail along, giving them good reception… in fact, with their big rigs back in the radio compartment, they could talk and use Morse code clear around the world. When on a Hump trip, they were constantly giving position reports back to our base. I said to our operator… “What happened to the antenna then?” He said, “Well, when we came in over the fence, it got ripped off.” He probably told me about it, because he thought I would not be as formidable as Honus. Now I was getting a little alarmed, and he hastened to add, “So I just stayed with the ship here and told Maintenance that we had lost it, and you wanted another one installed… and they did it.” Well, I let that go, thinking I’d give the kid a good mark for ingenuity! And now he had no right to wring his hands while I was in command! He had screwed up! The rest of the trip was uneventful and I was adding to my flight experience. I don’t remember running into that young man again, but we were getting to be a bigger base. So… the sands of time have been sifting through the hourglass of life ever since then. And here we are still weaving golden threads into the tapestry of 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, December 13 at 5:30 p.m. The title to read before the discussion is “The Autobiography of Santa Claus” by Jeff Guinn. 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. Story Hour is for older toddlers and preschool children. Join Miss Amy for a story, simple craft and song-time. Story Hour is a free program, sign-up is not required. Call 468-3431 for questions on any Coloma Library activity.

BellaNova Women’s Health Medical Spa hosts annual open house Community members are invited to attend an open house on Saturday, Dec. 1, from 10:00 a.m. to 1:00 p.m. at BellaNova Women’s Health, located at 3950 Hollywood Road, Suite 100 in St. Joseph. Skincare specialist, Almond Pond, will be on hand to answer questions about caring for your skin and the latest products and services. All medical spa products will be discounted 20 percent during the open house, with an additional 10 percent discount for prepaid orders. Prepaid treatments are discounted 30 percent; buy 6 get 1 free. Established clients are encouraged to bring a friend; they will both receive a free skin care treatment when they call to schedule an appointment. Anyone who refers three friends will be eligible to receive a free La Bella Donna lip gloss. Guests will also have an opportunity to try a moisturizing paraffin wax hand treatment for $10, win door prizes, and receive free product samples. Light refreshments will be available. For more information about this event, call (269) 429-8010 or visit www.bellanovahealth.com.


100 years ago – 1918 Governor Albert E. Sleeper has put out a Thanksgiving Day Proclamation. He joins the president in designating Thursday, the 28th day of November as a day of Thanksgiving and Prayer. News of the death of soldier Henry Eastborne was received by his wife. He passed away from pneumonia “somewhere in France.” This is the second gold star added to the Coloma service flag. Dr. Mabel Elliott has been called for oversea duty. She will work in the great army of reconstruction. 60 years ago – 1958 “Beanie Brown” a television favorite, will make a personal appearance. His visit to Coloma is being sponsored by Faulkner’s Five and Dime. The Chamber of Commerce received word from the North Pole that Santa Claus is coming to town. Old St. Nick is sorry that the Loma Theatre isn’t able to have the usual free show. The Sparetimers will sponsor an Italian spaghetti and meatball supper at Mae’s Coffee Shop for the David Marshall Benefit fund. He was badly wounded while goose hunting in Allegan. President of the Methodist WSCS, Mrs. Carlton Hartman, conducted a short business session at their annual Christmas party. The program included a men’s quartette, composed of Roger Carter, James Cottier, Frand Davis and Maurice Hanson, accompanied by Mrs. Don Williams. 30 years ago – 1988 Following a disagreement with the Joint Fire Board, a mass resignation letter was submitted by the 27 member fire department. Mayor Marvin Taylor sent a letter to each fireman asking them “to indicate if they are going to stay or not.” All children are invited to Washington Elementary to have breakfast with jolly old Santa. The breakfast is sponsored by the Coloma Lions. The Chamber of Commerce is sponsoring a Coloma Area Christmas Decorating Contest. Residents and Businesses: light up your town! Judging will be by Mr. and Mrs. Richard Hazen, our Christmas decoration experts. 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 Keeny & Walker have resumed the operation of the Hartford City Mills, having been closed for three weeks while new machinery was being installed and the mill thoroughly overhauled. Restrictions on the manufacture of flour have been largely removed and the mill is now a busy place. Owing to the cessation of hostilities it will not be necessary to continue the saving of fruit pits and nut shells to be used in the manufacture of gas masks for the American soldiers. 75 years ago – 1943 With members of the Boy Scout and Girl Scout troops to assist them, Hartford’s Mothers of World War II will sell poinsettias, the club flower, on Main Street, and in a house-to-house canvass Saturday, December 4. The proceeds of which will go to veterans’ hospitals in Battle Creek in commemoration of Pearl Harbor Day. Main topic of discussion at the meeting of the executive board of Hartford PTA Tuesday afternoon was the school hot lunch program. Supt. Gordon Hawkins reported on the operation of the noon meal service for students and emphasized the need for additional food items. In order to continue the hot lunches at a minimum price the public is being asked to donate food produced on farms in this area. 50 years ago – 1968 Hartford joined with the rest of the nation Monday in paying tribute to President John F. Kennedy, whose assassination Friday at Dallas, TX, shocked Americans everywhere. Flags at the port office, Town Hall and bank were placed at half mast. Voters of the Village of Hartford will go to the polls Monday to cast ballots in a special election. They will decide on whether Hartford will adopt a home-rule city form of government and they will pick nine members of a city charter commission from a field of 13 candidates. If the city proposal carries, the nine commissioners elected will draft a city charter to be presented to the voters, probably next summer. If the city proposal does not pass, the charter commission will not function. 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 Mr. and Mrs. Louis Kruger celebrated their wedding anniversary at their home. A large party of local friends was present in honor of the occasion. The Watervliet Co-Operative Creamery Company has just placed an order for $1,100 worth of new equipment – a pasteurizer and cream separator. The local creamery plant is kept up to the minute in equipment and ranks with the best in the state. John Wallace Smith is the name of a little boy who arrived at the home of Mr. and Mrs. Sebastian Smith on Dec. 9, 1928. He was named for his grandfather the late J.W. Smith. 60 years ago – 1958 Fire Chief Sheldon G. Bridges, local Chevrolet dealer, received a surprise honor when he attended a Zone meeting in South Bend and was presented a plaque commemorating his 25 years of service as a Chevrolet dealer. Watervliet Library may be in line for a new home as the result of favorable action taken by the City Commission. Ted Scheid Jr., a member of the Library board and chairman of a newly created building committee presented an offer he received of $14,000 for the purchase of the Joseph Tuka building on South Main Street for a new home for the library. William G. Moser, Watervliet, has resigned his position on a blueberry and pine tree farm and left for induction into the armed services. 30 years ago – 1988 Kellie Roberts, a freshman at WHS, had the privilege to compete in a worldwide horse competition in Detroit. Kellie qualified to enter this competition by earning top scores at a number of important horse shows including the Berrien County Youth Fair. Kellie did very well and placed 10th in “horsemanship” and “pleasure” classes. G.W. Hutchins, former Watervliet Township Trustee, was presented a resolution honoring him for his service to the Township as Trustee from 1984 to 1988. Eleanor Krell was presented a plaque in recognition of her service to Watervliet Township as Treasurer from 1972 to 1988.

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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