12-31-2020 History & Library News

An unidentified young boy shares Christmas wishes with Santa Claus at a Watervliet Paper Company Employee Christmas Party. Can you identify the child 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

Beyond Shingle Diggin’s

By Dorothy Stark Cannell

Stories of the Coloma/Watervliet Area as published in the Tri-City Record 1994-1999

June 1, 1994

Don’t be afraid to try new things just because of your age

As we grow older, it’s easier to say no to opportunities that come along, and we don’t realize what great experiences we miss by not making the extra effort to GO or to DO. I almost passed up such a weekend awhile ago. When I look back on the unexpected delights and ideas acquired in those two days and what I almost missed, I’m resolved to take advantage of more doors that open in my path.

My son, Thom, and wife Ginny live in Lansing and they’re so busy I often find it easier to go there and partake of a piece of their life than to expect them here. On April 29, there was to be a reception at MSU’s Wharton Center for returned Peace Corps volunteers (I had served in 1978-80 in St. Lucia) to meet the new Peace Corps Director, Carol Bellamy, and MSU President Peter McPherson, both of whom had also been volunteers. The “kids” suggested I come stay with them, yet I knew they were involved in their own volunteer activities that weekend.

Besides, I wouldn’t know anybody at the reception, and I was not planning to re-enlist in the Peace Corps or attend classes at MSU; I had much “stuff” to do here. Good sense decreed staying home. But I went!

First off, the reception was fun, largely due to a story told me by my Grandmother Branch and which I have passed on many times to young people I’ve worked with. Briefly, it goes like this: A young girl goes to a school party, comes home complaining that she had a terrible time. Nobody talked to her, asked her to dance; she had been a wallflower. She never wanted to go again. Her grandmother whispered two words in her ear and which were such a powerful secret that she had a great time at the next party and ever after that. Do you want to know the secret words?


Very few people knew anybody else at that reception. Only our name tags, which included where we had served, gave a conversation clue. Even Carol Bellamy, who was probably worrying about being accepted in her new post as she whizzed around trying to be interested in everybody, had a lonely spot and even President McPherson, who introduced the partnership program MSU is beginning with the Peace Corps. He explained how returned volunteers can earn a degree in urban affairs by giving part-time service to Michigan cities crying out for help. It’s a great financial opportunity to earn while you use what you are learning as you go along. Though he appeared self-assured, I suppose there was that lonely place within, hoping for approval and enthusiasm for this far-seeing new project.

A small excitement stirred within me when Carol, while updating us on present Peace Corps placements, divulged that this year’s oldest recruit was 84 years old. There is no upper age limits in the Peace Corps, since they have found that experience, skill, maturity are as valuable as the courage and enthusiasm of youth. (Note to young people who might be intrigued: You need some education beyond high school, technical skills, farming expertise or unusual talent if you do not have a degree, and a real desire to serve. But once you’ve succeeded in the “toughest job you’ll ever love” many opportunities open for you. Both U.S. and world governments appreciate more and more the world view you achieve in this experience.)

I had an interesting talk with Mrs. Jack Zacha, whose roots are in the Eau Claire area, and her daughter, Kelly, a student at Hope College, who is interested in Peace Corps as soon as she finishes her degree this June. They also have friends and relatives near here, among them a mother, Mrs. Lee Martinic, still in Eau Claire and Mrs. Emma Gerlach in Hagar Township. Mrs. Zacha is involved in the Urban Affairs Department as a volunteer.

I can’t go into much detail on the other educational experiences of that weekend but they included a wonderful meal at Thom’s favorite Thai restaurant, helping Ginny and several hundred others at WKAR’s fund-raising auction, and watching Thom do a stint at the YMCA-sponsored “Healthy Kids” day in the malls, when kids were challenged to test and record their physical skills at various stations in the mall centers. Finally, I visited the State of Michigan Library (yours and mine). My major errand was to present a copy of our Historical Society publication, “Glimpses of the Past,” which they were glad to accept. Now all of you who authored parts of that book can rest assured that your work is officially part of our state’s library and its publications in genealogy and history. I even tried my hand at their computer system with help from an ac-accommodating librarian and vowed to go back when I have more time.

Don’t be afraid to try new things or unplanned things or new ideas just because you’re over age. You’re not necessarily!

Coloma Public Library news Service updates

Starting Monday, Jan. 4 the Coloma Public Library will open for in-person services by appointment including book store shopping. Pick-ups via the lobby will continue to be available. Walk-in appointments will be allowed when the library is not at capacity.

Social distancing and face masks are required. For patrons medically unable to tolerate masks, Tuesdays from 4-6 p.m. has been set aside. Virtual services and databases are available 24/7. Visit their website or Facebook page for more details. The Library Administration can be reached at readcoloma@gmail.com and 269-468-3431.

Free Internet at your house!

Need free WiFi access at your house? Library patrons can now borrow a Mobile Beacon HotSpot from the Library! Ask for more details about this exciting new addition to the library’s collection.

Freebies for teens

Teens can sign up to receive a monthly box of surprises to keep along with a specially selected Library book to read and return. Call, email, or message Coloma Public Library through Facebook for more info.

NEW Playaways

Check out new additions in the teen and children’s sections called Playaways. A Playaway is a small audio player preloaded with an entire book. No need for a separate player or CDs… just press play! They are small enough to carry around in your pocket so your favorite book can go anywhere you do. Check one out today!

Virtual Tutoring Service

In support of their families, the Coloma Public Library offers Tutor.com. Tutor.com provides online tutoring, homework help, and test preparation for kindergarten through 12th grade, plus early college students, and adult learners. Any Coloma Public Library card holder can connect with an expert tutor in a safe and secure online classroom. Contact the library for more information.



100 years ago – 1920

A faulty valve on a tank car of gasoline caused considerable trouble at the Coloma Oil Company. George Hughes inhaled the fumes and became disabled. Wm. N. Van Derveer and Wm. Bina answered the call for help. The Self Culture Club met at the home of Mrs. A. Paul. The Christmas tree was loaded with gifts distributed by Santa Claus, the very lovely Miss Madeline Paul.

60 years ago – 1960

Coloma’s oldest resident Mrs. Harriet Leedy will observe her 101st birthday. A party will be held on her birthday, New Year’s Day.

Christmas mail volume sets new record. Postal employees James Walter, June Sutter, Donna Stoll, George Wooley and Postmaster Gordon Young are busy processing mail.

Winners announced in the Boys’ and Girls’ Christmas contest at Badt’s Pharmacy. Besides prizes like bikes, electric organ and train, one dollar bills were given to top contestants.

Barbara Suwarsky, 13, of Coloma Heights is presented with a Christmas gift given by the Boston Store.

Santa Claus greets little Martha Anton, daughter of Mr. and Mrs. Gus Anton at his listening post in Baker Park.

30 years ago – 1990

Steinhoff Jewelry and Gold-N-Tan have been the target of thieves. An investigation is continuing, reports Police Chief Robert Cottier. Menasha Corporation Container Plant General Manager Jim Hale presents a $15,000 grant to the Paw Paw Lake Youth Soccer League. Tom LaVanway and Jim Hogue, F.O.P. Sports Park Committee members accept the special gift.

Patty Miller-Kramer completed training by the Twin City Area Literacy Council. She will tutor adult students with reading skills. Coloma Middle School forms a building improvement team. Having developed a mission statement, they are now working on setting goals, reports Ilse Erickson, principal.

Submitted by volun