The Paw Paw River Journal
To all the Christmases past Christmas of 1943 and I was 19 years old. It was my first year away from home. San Antonio, Texas, was bitterly cold. I always thought that state had warmer weather… not so that year! This was preflight training in the Air Force, and we lived in barracks without any heat. We had been issued winter uniforms, including a heavy overcoat. This made one more layer of comfort draped over our cots. Every morning at 5:45 a.m., the bugler blew Reveille… dress quickly and fall out in front of the barracks to stand at attention in formation. Five rows, shivering, turning blue in the bitter cold. Some of the guys got a bright idea. They could get out quicker if they didn’t completely dress. The overcoat covered everything. But our Sgt. soon caught on to that. He made us take off our coats, fold neatly, and place them in front of us on the pavement. Now the guys who weren’t dressed really turned blue while our wise old leader gave us a lecture on military protocol! They soon learned. And we all memorized the general orders. Because at night some of us had to stand guard through the bitter cold. All I can remember is one of the orders: “The guard shall walk his post in a military manner!” I stood out there, frosty midnight, stamping my feet to bring back the feeling. Looked up at the glittery stars overhead and thought… this is really no place for a small town boy from Michigan. My first Christmas away from home and family. I was feeling sorry for myself. The next Christmas I was halfway around the world. The very Northeastern part of India… called the Assam Valley. Our airbase was in the middle of a tea plantation. Hundreds of acres of tea bushes. Right through the center a landing strip 1-1/2 miles long. On each side concrete circles where stood our C-46 Cargo ships. They were the biggest twin engine airplanes we ever had. To the north Kathmandu and Mount Everest with the highest mountains in the world wrapping around us to the east and clear down to Indochina. Where we flew they were 14,000 to 16,000 feet. Most of the time we could see thunderstorms build over the peaks… sometimes up to 50,000 feet. To fly our routes to China we had to go through them. One night near Christmas I stood outside our tent looking at the sky. Glittering stars and constellations I’ve never seen before. The Big Dipper and the North Star were down below the horizon. I felt so alone… a stranger in a strange land. My friends and I went to the Christmas services, but it just made me all the lonelier. Those were the two worst Christmases! And the best? All the holidays before and since those years. When I think of all the people we’ve lost in the intervening time, it gives me a hollow feeling. So many! And now is a good time to think of them. It is a time to have family wrapped around us. We can’t help but think of some larger things too. What is the reason for our existence? Why are we here? There has to be a reason beyond mere chance! Someone, some being, started all this. There is purpose and design. And I’m afraid we are getting away from that. We live in an ever more Godless world. Recent events have convinced me that many people in positions of power are filled with hate, anger and selfishness. Common sense has flown out the window. This grand experiment in democracy has been in existence about 250 years. Are so many people willing to throw it away? Do they not care about even their own grandchildren and great-grandchildren? If those wanting to tear apart the government are successful, what will we have left? Unemployment is down; we are growing stronger in the eyes of the world. Weakness has never paid off! Some people have an unreasoning hatred for our president. He is an astute businessman. Yeah, I know, I know, the tweets! Sometimes they are too much. Some I find are right on the mark, and some are funny. But I’d like to ask you one question… are we better off now than we were, say, six years ago? I believe our president has negotiated us a long way back to a position of power and strength. There is one problem that worries me… the poor people who are trying to storm the border gates! What kind of a Christmas are they going to have? Who financed their long and arduous trek up through Mexico? Someone provides food! Someone must set up portable toilets and service them. Several thousand people could not make that long journey without help. Who is it? And what are their motives? They certainly do not have our best interests at heart… otherwise they would not have encouraged that invasion! Whatever happens the sun will still rise, the sun still set, and the earth yet abide. The Golden tapestry of life has added stitchery every day in these storybook towns along the Paw Paw River. We will celebrate the birthday of the child Jesus. Not just Christians… the approaching holiday belongs to everyone. And it is a time when we should stop and think… yes, we could do a better job! Merry Christmas, everyone! And a most joyful and Happy New Year!
Coloma Library News Holiday hours The library will be closed on Monday, Dec. 24 & Tuesday, Dec. 25 and Monday, Dec. 31 and Tuesday, January 1. The library wishes everyone a joyous holiday season! Please call the library at 468-3431 if you have any questions about closings.
Watervliet Library News Kids out on Holiday Break are encouraged to visit the library – they have table top board games, puzzles and of course books. Teen Table Projects: December Book-parts ornaments – yeah they’re messy! Do-it-yourself projects at the library for teens; all supplies provided. Story Hours Picture books, crafts and fun designed to inspire the love of reading! Wednesdays 10:30–11:30 a.m., Thursdays 1:30–2:30 p.m., for ages 3 – 5. Library Garden Park Purchase a Legacy Walk brick and celebrate a memory! Bricks are $75; 13 characters, 2 lines. Pick up a form at the library. Yoga Mondays 9–10 a.m., Wednesdays 7–8 p.m., Chair Yoga Wednesdays 6–6:30 p.m. Call 463-6382 with questions on any Watervliet Library activity.
Hartford Library news The Hartford Public Library would like to wish everyone a very, merry Christmas and Happy New Year. During the Christmas holiday break, the library will be showing the following movies each day at 2 p.m.: Dec. 26 “How the Grinch Stole Christmas”; Dec. 27 “The Santa Clause”; Dec. 28 “Olaf’s Frozen Adventure”; Jan. 2 “Incredibles 2”; Jan. 3 “Christopher Robin”; and Jan. 4 “Small Foot”. All movies come with free popcorn and drink. Any donation to help build their new library building would be graciously accepted. They need to raise $500,000 to complete the project. The new library will be the Art & Bonna Vanderlyn Community Center complete with community rooms and meeting areas, computer/ media room, tutoring areas, large children’s room, separate teen area, local history room and quiet reading areas complete with fireplace. Exterior and interior designs will be available in mid to late January. For information, call Stephanie Daniels, (269) 621-3408.