12-05-2018 Tri-City Area History Page

We’ve not forgotten! Here we are at another Pearl Harbor Day! Seventy-seven years ago the Japanese bombed Pearl Harbor, thus starting World War II for us. It was a war that came to involve all of our country. If you were alive during those times, it was something you will never forget… a watershed event! Our whole country came together in a way never seen before or since. Gas and tires were rationed, as was food (sugar and meat) and shoes. There was a national speed limit of 35 mph. Can you imagine that? I have heard the problem was tires. We could no longer get rubber from the islands that produced it. They were working on synthetic rubber, but I’m not sure it was fully developed then. The year was 1941, and I was a callow youth of 17, a drugstore cowboy! Sunday afternoon and we were playing the pinball machine in Clark’s drugstore. It was early December and a skiff of snow on the ground. Bud Colman came in and said, “Have you heard? The Japanese just bombed Pearl Harbor and we are at war!” Across the street at the Heart Theater Lil Pennell stopped the film and announced, “America is now at war! Everyone should go home and be with their families!” A friend of mine, Larry Peirce, was just a kid. He told me he couldn’t understand why that should stop a movie! The news did give me a little chill, but then we went on playing the pinball. Three years before, one evening I was riding in our 1938 Ford with my dad. I had the radio on. Came a news flash… the announcer said Hitler’s army had just marched into Czechoslovakia! My dad said, “We are going to be at war, and you will be in it!” I didn’t think much about it at the time, but I surely did remember those prophetic words later. At first the war was not going our way. We were fighting on two fronts… Europe (Germany and Italy) and Japan in the Pacific. I don’t intend to write a history of those hard times here. Regrettably that huge conflict has now become almost a footnote in history books. Friend Ray Sreboth (God rest his soul) was really upset when he heard a fifth grade teacher recently told her class they were going to have a special treat… a speaker who was a veteran of world war ELEVEN (WWII)! Admittedly, it was before she was born; and we have had several horrific wars since! But how could we forget the events that changed the balance of power in the whole world forever. And before it was over our country came together in a way we have not seen before or since. Housewives went to work in war plants. Kids collected scrap metal. Everyone bought war bonds. I got into the war about halfway through (1943) by enlisting. Eighteen years old, and when I look at my picture, wearing brand-new army fatigues, it seems like I might have just fallen off the turnip wagon. They called us Yardbirds… one step lower than a buck private! And I can remember marching in formation. The hardened veterans of a few weeks watching us… hooting and hollering, “Fresh meat! Oh, look at those new fatigues! Don’t those shiny new shoes just burn your eyeballs!” We couldn’t wait for a few weeks to pass and our fatigues to go through the post laundry and those new shoes to get scuffed. Then we would be out there, cheers and catcalls just as had been done to us. Somewhere along in there the tide began to turn. Our country was passing in production anything the world had ever seen. We had new airplanes and we were taking back the islands in the Pacific. I can remember hearing about one Japanese pilot who kept a diary. He said the first time they ever came up against our P 38’s they were horrified. This new fighter, twin engine, twin tails… he referred to them as “fork-tailed devils!” He said, “I knew in my heart we were going to lose!” And, of course, we did finally win. But at a terrible cost! Some of my friends were on the way to the invasion of Japan when we dropped the bomb. I was in Burma then, flying supplies across the Himalayas to our Chinese allies. The irony of Fate! China was our friend, and we were fighting the Japanese. Now the Japanese are friends, and our relationship with China is pretty dicey! We have been friends with Japan ever since we occupied that country. They are industrious, beautiful people. Their students do well in our schools. They are really a plus to our racial mix. I’m sorry there is something that makes me hold back just a little. I never saw any Japanese during the war, except for prisoners. Some of my friends (mostly gone now) had bitter memories of hand-to-hand combat! I have never bought a Japanese car, and they are well made. And I have not forgotten all the men and women we lost at Pearl Harbor. When my generation is completely gone, perhaps there will be no residue of bad memories of the time we were locked in mortal combat with the land of the Rising Sun! Perhaps someday there will be no wars either! The lion will lie down with the lamb, but I’m afraid the lamb will not get much sleep! I hope that does not sound too cynical, because life is still an adventure, and we are still weaving threads into the golden 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. 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. This is the last discussion for 2018, book club will resume on its regular schedule on January 10, 2019. 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 with questions on any Coloma Library activity.

Watervliet Library News Teen Table Projects – December Book-parts ornaments; yeah they’re messy; all supplies provided. Hour of Code – Dec. 3 -7, 4-5 p.m. Create your own online games and more. No experience needed. Ages 4 to 104. Stop in to find out how! LEGO Club – Dec. 4, 4-5 p.m. All age groups welcome to have fun building a creation. Make-it Monday – Dec. 10, 4 p.m. Monthly K-6th graders & families craft, projects & games; this week, Gingerbread House. Sensory Bin Blast – Dec. 11, 10:30-11:30 a.m. Here’s the perfect time for a perfect mess! Water table, painting, rice bins, play-dough, reading circle and toddler toys for 0 – 5 year olds & their families. Parents’ Night Out – Dec. 14, 5:30 – 8:00 p.m. Sign up to register your little ones for lots of fun games, crafts and activities while parents take a well-deserved break. FREE but space is limited. Snack donations are appreciated. Third Monday Book Club – Dec. 17, 7 – 8 p.m. Great books, fabulous conversations! December – The Eyre Affair by Jasper Fforde; ask for a copy at the desk. Call 463-6382 with questions for any Watervliet Library activity.


100 years ago – 1918 Coloma has been hit hard by the Spanish influenza. Nineteen cases have been reported to The Courier with talk of many more. With the ban on Christmas giving having been lifted, we must think what motive will we give gifts? Let it be to impart pleasure and to give useful gifts. Give the benefit of your Christmas shopping to Coloma stores. 60 years ago – 1958 Mr. and Mrs. Allen Kniebes became the parents of a girl. Her name is Kathleen Joyce. She is welcomed by one sister and three brothers. A Turkey a’ la King dinner will be served at the Congregational Church. The Fireside Forum is sponsoring this public event. Tickets are $1.50. Paul’s Marine will host a Remington Chain Saw demonstration. It will be held in the old Krause block building. Four new members were received into the Congregational Church. They are: Mr. Gust Anton, Mr. and Mrs. Donald Bailey and Mrs. Lewis Dimiceli. Clifford Hanson has been released from Mercy Hospital. He is much improved and will resume his duties at the Coloma State Bank. 30 years ago – 1988 Township Supervisor Rodney Krieger said the Board would not consider disbanding the Joint Fire Board. The proposed, a “Blue Ribbon” citizens committee, did not appeal to the Township as a solution. Las Vegas Night to be held at Coloma Lanes. This fund-raiser is for the Pompon Squad’s trip to the Cotton Bowl. A Fun Fair King and Queen Contest was held at Washington Elementary. Students displaying good citizenship were eligible. King Joshua Andres and Queen Jennifer Bovo presided over the Fair. A few other contestants were Carmen Buenger, Valerie Owen, Joel Tavolacci, Jessica Kraiger, Jacob Hogue and George King. Middle School Students and Channel 3 participated in an assembly about Native American Indians. 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 To minimize the danger of a local epidemic of influenza Hartford Public Schools were closed Monday and will remain closed during the present week. Thanksgiving was the most inclement day this section of Michigan has experienced this fall. A cold rain fell during the forenoon and the temperature fell uncomfortably low. Toward noon the sun made a feeble effort to pierce the clouds but soon gave up the attempt. The rain began again in the afternoon while the wind developed to the velocity of a hurricane. 75 years ago – 1943 Within a few months, Keeler will have three factories of importance making products which will be shipped all over the world. Most recent addition is the construction of the Bronte Wine and Champagne plant. Last summer the Detroit company purchased the farm owned by the Danneffel and Wise estate. The other two thriving industries are Burnette Castings and Burnette Packing. The annual community Christmas program which is presented in the high school auditorium will be given by the musical organizations of the school. Familiar carols, dedicated to the servicemen in the army, marines and navy, will be sung by the children. Each carol will be preceded by the singing of the service hymn. 50 years ago – 1968 Two members of the 1968 Hartford football team shared the honors this year as most valuable player. Presented with the award at a football banquet were Gary Peters and Mark Olds. The award for most improved player went to Jeff Kimbrough. An election on a proposal to merge the Lawrence and Hartford school districts cannot be held in December as members of a study committee which recommended the vote had hoped. The delay is because the Hartford district at present does not require registration of voters. Gary Waterkamp, Hartford school superintendent told the Hartford Board of Education last week that he had been advised by legal counsel that the Hartford district must be made a registration district before a merger vote can be held. 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. Charles Stockum, residing in Watervliet, welcomed the arrival of a little daughter at their home on Dec. 16, 1928. Tom Johns, Watervliet’s oldest citizen, will observe his 92nd birthday on Dec. 22, 1928. Mr. Johns continues fortunate in the possession of all his faculties, including good health. He was engaged as a contractor and builder and during his active years erected about thirty of the homes here. Rueben Nichols, Watervliet, will receive a Junior High Certificate at the graduation exercises of the fall term at Western State Teachers’ College, on Dec. 18, 1928. 60 years ago – 1958 Mr. and Mrs. Harold Muth are the parents of a nine pound seven ounce baby girl, Tamara Lee, born Dec. 4, 1928. Mr. and Mrs. Percy Crumb are the parents of a baby boy, born Dec. 3, 1928. The baby weighed 8 pounds 4 ounces and has been named Mark Edward. Mrs. Marion Hinckley of Watervliet celebrated her birthday on Dec. 7, 1958. 30 years ago – 1988 Mrs. Diane Althouse has been selected as Watervliet Public Schools’ Employee of the Month for Dec. 1988. A fourth-grade teacher at North School honored for her consistent effort to bring new and creative instructional methods into her daily teaching. Senior Dawan Jones has been selected ‘Student of the Week’. Dawan has been attending WHS and has been a popular and active member of this school system. He was an All-Conference Honorable Mention football player while earning Offensive Player of the Year honors as a member of our varsity team. Dawan was also crowned Watervliet Homecoming King. He is actively involved in the WHS Journalism Department as a member of the yearbook staff as a reporter and computer typesetter for the school newspaper. Watervliet sophomore John David Coon was one of the eight students from a sophomore class at Albion College of 489 initiated into the Alpha Lambda Delta honor society during a candlelit ceremony on campus. 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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