12-19-2019 Tri-City Area History Page

The Paw Paw River Journal

A kaleidoscope of Christmases

Kaleidoscope – one of those things that is like a telescope, and when you look in it and turn it you see all different designs. That’s what I’d like to write about… my Christmas memories! We all have them and unless we had a horrible life they are precious to us. Christmas is a special time to people of all religions and political beliefs now and transcends any one religious system. My earliest Christmas I can remember coming down to the living room full of sleep and wonder at seeing presents under the tree where it was bare before. Santa Claus had been here! And as I grew, year-by-year, I vowed never to question where the presents came from lest they stop and come no more! Probably my favorite Christmas is the one when I got my air rifle. I must’ve been about eleven or twelve. Back then kids all looked at the new catalogs when they came out: Monkey Ward’s (Montgomery Ward) and Sears and Sawbuck (Sears, Roebuck & Co.). They were the main ones, and then J.C. Penney came out with one also. How we looked them through and through! Surreptitiously we checked the women’s underwear section. Sure, we all wondered what they look like without all those clothes on! I can remember later Marion telling me about when Son Rob was a wee lad, she was doing the laundry and hanging clothes outside on the clothesline. Rob was helping by handing her the clothes one piece at a time. He said, “Here, Mom… Here’s your suspenders,” as he held up her brassiere. But the catalog section we wore out was the toys and sporting goods. It was about July, and we were visiting some friends of ours over near Bangor. They were a farm family and we were in their living room. A new catalog had just come and I was stretched out on the floor looking at it. Actually I went right to the section on rifles. In my mind it was BB gun time! There it was! My favorite… Buck Jones autographed air rifle with a compass built into the stock. You’d never get lost out in the woods with that weapon in your hands! I excitedly took it to show my dad! He looked at it with interest, but my mom was kind of giving a pursed-mouth look. Actually she didn’t believe in any weapons in the hands of kids! I managed to bring into the conversation the fact that when she was just slightly older, living out West, she had her own .22 rifle, and was plinking coyotes. So she never really objected. No more on the subject that day, and I let it drop. But I had seen the look in my dad’s eyes, and I was pretty confident he was thinking about it… sure enough, that next Christmas under the tree was my new Buck Jones Daisy air rifle! At the time Buck Jones was my favorite cowboy film actor. Little did I realize that just a few short years later he would lose his life in a circus tent fire! That same Christmas, my best friend, Russell Kime, got his air rifle. I wondered in later years there had been some collusion on the part of our folks on those gifts. Anyway, we spent our Christmas vacation target shooting out in my dad’s greenhouses. In those few days we burned a lot of lead (copper-coated) BBs! We never broke a pane of glass and my dad must’ve had a lot of forbearance to let us target shoot in a glass house. My next project would be working on getting a bicycle. This took more time, and meanwhile I traded riding time with a kid just down the street. Leo Shindeldecker had a bicycle but no air rifle. He was a little older and starting to get interested in girls. I would let him take my Buck Jones BB gun and go plinking while I rode his bicycle up and down the streets. It was a quid pro quo for both of us! I can remember one Christmas morning before that when I was into Western movies and cap guns. I got a nice pistol and a holster for Christmas. I went outside to see if there were any bad guys up and about that early. In my mind I was the sheriff of perhaps Laredo, Texas, and “Look out,” any of you villains who would get in my way. It was a bitterly cold morning, and not any snow that holiday! Strange how as you mature, your life and your ideas change. I noticed when Marion and I were married and we had children we had changed from getting gifts to the joy of giving gifts. While I was considering writing this story, I asked our kids what was their best Christmas. Our cookie baker daughter Becky said, “Oh, for sure the year we all got bicycles!” I don’t remember now how we made that much of an investment in Christmas presents, but we did! Deb got a full-sized girl’s bicycle, Becky got a junior size bicycle, Rob got a large size tricycle, and Laurie got a little kid’s tricycle. They were all beside themselves with the joy of a new means of transportation. And they couldn’t wait to get out and try them! My joy was somewhat tempered by the thought of how many kids didn’t get the present they wanted. I’ve always been aware of the great good fortune we had in Marion and I rearing our children in this land of plenty! And I look back now on the days when we should have been more aware of the inequities in this life. We were truly blessed that we could weave those golden threads into the Great Tapestry of Life in these storybook towns along the Paw Paw River!

Watervliet District Library News

Family Movie Night Friday, Dec. 20, 6 p.m. The third Friday evening each month this winter means: Movies! Popcorn! Crafts! This month is “How the Grinch Stole Christmas.”

Huge Library Book Sale Two weeks only! Dec. 23 – Jan. 4, 2020 all sale items are “Buy one – Get one free.”

Teen Table Projects December – Holiday Rocks: All the stuff teens need to make and take a festive rock of their own!

STEM Kit Programs Snap Circuits – LEGO Robotics – Little Bits Electronic Inventions STEM kit programs designed for small groups to work together to make an endless number of inventions. New groups are set up with participant’s schedule in mind. Anyone 8 years and up that is interested can sign up at the desk.

Story Hour Story Hour for ages 3 – 5 is on Wednesdays at 10:30 a.m. and Thursdays at 1:30 p.m. (choose one) for the months of October to April. Picture books, crafts & fun designed to inspire the love of reading!

Yoga Mondays 9 – 10 a.m.; Wednesdays 7 – 8 p.m.; Fridays 10:30 – 11:30 a.m.; Chair Yoga – Wednesdays 6 – 6:30 p.m.

Computer upgrade The Watervliet District Library has received a $7,000 Frederick S. Upton Foundation matching grant to purchase badly needed new public computers. Help them meet their goal with new donations, and have fun at the same time!

Coloma Public Library News

Christmas Holiday Hours The Coloma Public Library will be open normal hours in December with the following exceptions: closed Tuesday Dec. 24, Wednesday Dec. 25, and Tuesday Dec. 31.

Playaway Launchpads Library patrons can try the fun new educational tablets in the children’s area. Children will recognize their favorite characters such as Strawberry Shortcake and Arthur. Each tablet is unique and comes loaded with a variety of topics.

December Story Times Miss Alicia will host Story Times on Tuesdays in December. Story Times will be at 10:30 a.m. There will be no Story Times on December 24 or 31. Registration is not required to participate.

Book Club The Library Book Club is meeting on Thursday, Dec. 19 at 5:30 p.m. The title to read before the discussion is “The Story of Arthur Truluv” by Elizabeth Berg. Depending on demand there may be titles available for check-out at the front desk. New members are always welcome.

A box Sleigh pulled by two horses. Perhaps mail delivery? If you have any information about this photo, please contact North Berrien Historical Museum at 269-468-3330, office@northberrienhistory.org, or stop by Tues-Friday 10am-4pm 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 Postmaster William Grant has disposed of his shoe and variety store. Malcolm Grant, nephew, took immediate possession. Woodrow Wilson, president of the United States of America declares that it is the duty of every person to answer all questions on the census schedules. The census has nothing to do with taxation. Miss Daisy Stevie has stored her millinery stock for the winter. She will open in the spring. Take Nux and Iron for that rundown condition. Scott’s Pharmacy 60 years ago – 1959 City workmen have strung up a beautifully lit Santa and his reindeer over the business district. A big thank you to the industries and merchants that contributed to make this possible. Twelve-year-old Peter Glynn received the National Inland Press Association Award. He is a news boy and delivers papers in the Wil-O-Paw district. Coloma has nine residents as Notaries Public. They are: Lois Carlson, C. Irving Gale, Barbara Nilles, John Martinowich, Lloyd Williams, Warren Allerton, Shirley Jollay, Lolf G. Lofblad and Joseph Krenek. Building permits issued: Joe Krenek, Carl Hartman and Deer Forest. Also issued were three permits for new homes in Keigley’s subdivision. 30 years ago – 1989 Decorated homes reflect the magic of Christmas. On your tour be sure to see the Hazen home on North Coloma, 125 Sassafras and the home near the Building Trades current project on Red Arrow Highway. All are beautifully decorated. A first reading of the Downtown Development Authority Ordinance took place at the Commission meeting. A work session will be conducted in the basement of Coloma Library. Harding’s wishes you a joyous holiday season and gives a sincere thanks for your patronage. Paw Paw Lake – River Ventures continues to plan Winterfest 1990, “A Taste of Two Cities.” Coloma Rod and Gun Club is sponsoring an archery contest. 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 On account of the snug winter weather, Lewis Finley has rented the town hall and will hold his auction sale of household goods there instead of at his home in the east part of the village. The students of the high school and the 8th and 9th grade voted to organize a chorus of 125 voices under the direction of E. Edwin Creerie. Prof. Creerie has been conducting singing at the school every morning and the students have taken a keen interest in the plan. 75 years ago – 1944 The 192-acre tract originally chosen as the site for the proposed Hartford Township airport was purchased by Clare Leach. The land was owned by Jack Mandell. One runway at a time will be graded and the work will progress rapidly toward completion of four runways. The Hartford Woman’s Club had its annual Christmas meeting and party at the home of the president, Mrs. Clare Clover. During the business meeting a committee was appointed to meet with committees from the Keeler Thursday Club and the Southwest Hartford Club to consider some project to be accomplished by the three organizations. 50 years ago – 1969 The Hartford senior and junior bands will present “A Christmas Festival” concert at the high school. The junior band will play “Christmas March”, “Holly Wreath Medley” and “Silent Night”. The senior band will play “Christmas Festival”, and present a narration of “‘Twas the Night Before Christmas” with musical accompaniment. Narrator will be LeAnne Leach. Relief is now in sight for three elementary school classes which have been holding forth in the south school gymnasium. The school has received delivery of three portable classroom units which will be used to replace the makeshift classrooms. A fire of undetermined origin caused extensive damage to a house on West Main Street in Hartford Saturday afternoon. The fire apparently started in the bedroom near the front of the single story frame house. The house contained two apartments. The front one was occupied by Frank Filmore and William Hunt. The Hubert Pierce family was living in the rear. The fire department was able to contain the blaze to the front apartment. 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 Printed history read: Samuel Paul came to Watervliet in 1855 from Germantown, Pennsylvania, and renting space and power from the mill company, put in a machine for cutting veneers. The lathe used for this purpose had not then been invented and the veneers were cut by a saw. This saw was made by having a collar, probably 40 inches in diameter and 12 inches on the collar and tapering to a sharp edge on the rim. The timber used in veneering was walnut, oak and other hardwood crotches from the different woods used. Mr. Paul paid Charlie Kalmbeck five dollars a day to operate that saw. Mr. and Mrs. L.R. Lull were recently very pleasantly surprised by a large number of their friends and neighbors who gathered at their new home in North Watervliet for a housewarming and kitchen shower. 60 years ago – 1959 The year 1959 is about to close and we find that the year has been a successful one in many ways in Watervliet. There have been no bad fires, no floods, steady employment, an abundant fruit crop and improvements made in the business district. The Watervliet Paper Company, now a subsidy of the Hammermill Paper Co., has given steady employment to its 521 men and women. The First National Bank has had its most successful year in its history, which dates back to 1874. The resort season of Paw Paw Lake was better than in some years. The Watervliet Fruit Exchange announced a building expansion program which will double their cold storage facilities. The new facilities will hold 25,000 bushels and the operation will be all palletized. A good harvest was recorded this year, 1959, with 125,000 bushels of apples and 50,000 bushels of peaches. 30 years ago – 1989 The Spirit of Family Feasts: For many people, the spirit of Christmas is summed up in one word: family. Family meals, involving as many members as can gather, are carefully planned, painstakingly prepared, and proudly presented by and for family members as tokens of their love and pride of being a part of this unit. This was easier in past times when the world was smaller and the family unit unchanging save for birth, marriage and death. Now there are conflicting work schedules, thousands of miles and changing marriage partners and families to adjust to. Many families have given up the idea of meeting on Christmas Day and consider a gathering anytime during the holiday season (between Thanksgiving and New Year’s Day). Whoever gathers to share in the celebrations, the main activity is one that has been enjoyed since time began; eating. 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


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