12-17-2020 History

Glimpses from the Past

An unidentified baby sits on Santa Claus’ lap at a Watervliet Paper Company Employee Christmas Party sometime in the 1960s. Do you remember sitting on Santa’s lap? Can you identify the child on Santa’s lap? Do you remember taking your children as infants to sit on Santa’s lap? If you have any information about the photo, please contact North Berrien Historical Museum at 269-468-3330 or info@northberrienhistory.org. North Berrien Historical Museum is open for private tours, Tuesday through Friday 10-4. From the photo collection at the North Berrien Historical Museum 300 Coloma Avenue, Coloma

The Paw Paw River Journal

February 27, 1985

One dim, long gone summer morning of the past stands out in my mind. We lived at the greenhouses on Linden Street. I came out of the front door, early in the morning, and looked up toward the corner. Rows of hollyhocks nodded their heads along the sidewalk and a morning dove was calling. In the whole universe, it was calling no one except me and my heart was full. I must have been three.

Our parents’ business was conducted all around us as kids, and we did not think it strange. Customers came and went, and at times when my folks were not home, some desperate man might plead with one of us kids to make a bouquet, or a floral arrangement, for a hurried party, date, or funeral. When we were old enough to be left at home alone, occasionally Wilma and I did that. We would have to our credit some passable bouquets and flower arrangements, made for a customer who just couldn’t wait until our folks got back.

We also took orders for funeral pieces and my father was known for the quality and reasonable prices for his work. Sometimes my folks would be so busy at the passing of some local dignitary they would work most of the night. Wilma took care of the house then, and after I was old enough to drive, I took care of the deliveries.

At an early age I went everywhere with my dad and helped him deliver flowers. When I was very young we were at the Zuver and Calvin Funeral Home. I saw a body for the first time in the back room and I must have been impressed, for I remember it vividly. He was an older man and they were dressing him for viewing. I remember thinking how old and gray he looks lying there. His hair and even his features are gray.

The next day I was out in the greenhouse, playing funeral with a dead beetle. He was to be buried in a match box and I had him surrounded by floral pieces. When Mr. Calvin came in on some business, I could hear them chuckling in the office and I knew they were talking about me. My father had a quiet sense of humor. When something tickled him, he would laugh within and his shoulders would shake a little. Thus he was when he examined my funeral preparations and told Mr. Calvin about it.

My father had a fierce sense of loyalty to the local merchants and I can remember how puzzled I was that he always bought gas at every station in town one after the other. He believed in trading locally. After all, those same people gave us our living. Once when he bought a new washing machine for my mother, we all gathered around in the kitchen. No more tubs and scrub board. This automatic wonder was delivered by a truck that said Montgomery Ward on the side. I stood there and looked it all over and finally said, “What kind of a machine is it. I can’t see any name on it.” My dad pointed to a word printed at the top of the tub on the outside of it. There was printed “Waterline”. He was chuckling as he told me, “See, it’s a WATERLINE.” So, as a kid, I thought we had a Waterline washing machine.


100 years ago – 1920

The Congregational church will give a Cantata titled, “The Messiah’s Coming.” It will be held in the Methodist church and the choir of the Watervliet Congregational church will join in the program. The Courier office was tied up for several hours by lack of power. This is the first time since the installation of an electric motor. The presses were unable to start. The pressmen worked overtime once power resumed.

60 years ago – 1960

The cast of “They Knew Not The Hour” poses for a picture. Shirley Thurston, Deborah Nitz, Toni and Dani Dimiceli and Bennett Leedy perform at Christmas Family Night at the First Congregational church. James Friday has been appointed to the State Apple commission by Gov. G. Mennen Williams.

Mrs. Merle Fester reports that Marsha Daniels was released from the hospital. The three-year-old had tonsils and adenoids removed. Miss Ilse Kleist will become the bride of Kay Erickson in a ceremony in Hamburg, Germany. Paul Friday and Robert Randall, who are touring Europe, will attend. The couple will reside on the Erickson farm

30 years ago – 1990

The Tri-City Record offers this Christmas Poem: In simpler times of slower paces; People met with smiling faces; Greeting friends while children played; And for a Merry Christmas prayed.

Candidates for the Coloma Charter Commission Robert Wooley, Charles Owens and Homer Umphrey may have a conflict of interest. City attorney Randy Hurns is looking into the matter.

Have a Happy Holiday – Pat Snyder, Freda Harbin, Bill Griffin, Ruth Still, Teri Fisher, Wanda Thomas and Tom King of Town & Country Real Estate A Blessed Birthday – Coloma Fabricare – Center St. – On The Hill Merry Christmas – Dlouhy Electric Donated Hilltop SuperSaver coupons are used to purchase food that will be donated to a needy family.

Submitted by volunteer Sandi Musick Munchow at Coloma Public Library from the Coloma Courier newspapers donated by the Tri-City Record. Contactless Pick-up Services: Mon-Fri 10-6; Sat 10-2. Phone: 269-468-3431


100 years ago – 1920

With Christmas but 10 days away and with a blizzard developing which gives the season’s first indication of typical Christmas weather, Hartford is putting on its holiday attire this week. Holiday wares and decorations are now the center of attraction in the local stores and the churches are active in their preparations for the Yuletide season. A number of Hartford trappers are preparing for the opening of the muskrat season tomorrow, and the usual quest for the little animals along the river will be made. Local trappers have already had good success in trapping mink and skunk, but the price of furs is low. Ice dealers are already showing concern over the season’s ice harvest. With scarcely a trace of frost and frogs still croaking around the shores of the lakes, they see little prospect of filling their ice houses.

75 years ago – 1945

Release of repressed inhibitions has been picked as the costume theme for the Community Education Council Christmas party which is planned at the Hartford high school gymnasium. Persons attending the party are being asked to wear costumes depicting a character which they have long wanted to be or imitate but have been held back by their inhibitions. A representative in each grade from the seventh through the 12th will solicit contributions of 30 cakes to be served at the party.

Nearly all children in the first six grades of Hartford school will participate in a public Christmas program to be presented in the high school gymnasium under the direction of Miss Loraine Hole.

Mothers Club will hold its annual Christmas dinner at the Hartford Hotel. Later in the evening, the group will meet at the home of Mrs. E.M. Smith for dessert, exchange of presents and bridge.

50 years ago – 1970

School administrators here are developing a split shift program for the next school year in the wake of a second bond issue defeat for construction of a new middle school building. Monday night the board of education authorized Waterkamp to proceed in developing a complete educational program for the system to include utilization of the middle school conception. Waterkamp said this would involve double sessions for the present high school building, but stressed that the school would not go to half-day sessions.

Submitted by Librarian Stephanie Daniels at Hartford Public Library from microfilm copies of the Hartford Day Spring. Hours: Mon 10am-6pm; Tue-Fri 10am-5pm; Sat 10am-2pm. Phone: 269-588-5103


90 years ago – 1930

Dudley Sherwood, a student at the Moody Bible Institute, Chicago, is spending the Holiday back in Watervliet. Mr. and Mrs. Ed McNitt entertained a family gathering at their home on Elm Street on Christmas day.

Watervliet greeted the New Year with the shriek of the fire siren, synonymous blasts of the paper mill whistle and the ringing of church bells.

60 years ago – 1960

The Trustees of the Watervliet Paper Company are pleased to authorize a contribution of $40,000 to the hospital fund. This together with Mill employees’ pledges from the campaign should be of substantial help to the hospital.

Art students Jeanne Tatter and Dick McNees are responsible for the decorative hand-painted window at Leverton’s Grocery. Lou’s City Service is sporting a hand-painted picture window too!

More than 100 girls and mothers were invested at a Girl Scout Investiture Service held at the Plymouth Congregational Church. The ceremony includes the investiture of troop leaders and troop committeewomen, the members of six Brownie troops and one Girl Scout troop.

30 years ago – 1990

Timothy E. Smith of Watervliet is assigned to the Navy’s only permanent military activity in the Persian Gulf, the Administrative Support Unit in Manama, Bahrain. It is a small but vital group of 200 people who support all Naval Ships in the Gulf during the greatest military buildup since Vietnam. Smith is a 1981 graduate of WHS.