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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 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 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 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 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

While operating upon a hog at his veterinary hospital on West Main, Dr. L.L. Conkey sustained a serious injury to his knee. The veterinarian fell in such a way that his knee was badly wrenched and severely sprained. City water is being installed this week in the new Lundblad Foundry, in the northwest part of the village. About two weeks will be required to complete the equipment and the managers state that the foundry will then be ready to start.

Hartford has made a feeble response to the recent appeal of the ex-servicemen for a fund of $200 to erect a memorial tablet in memory of Hartford’s world war dead, and it has now been decided to apply $100 from a fund raised during the county fair toward the memorial.

No trace has been found of the thieves who raided the chicken roosts east of town. They took all but one rooster from the Frank Bair farm and also took a number of chickens from the Christiansen place.

75 years ago – 1945

Hartford residents sent a lot more Christmas cards this year than they did in 1944, but didn’t mail as many packages and were slower than last year in dispatching their gifts. Postmaster William Miller reported that nearly 50,000 stamps of the 1.5 cent denomination were sold during the Christmas mail rush.

Fire destroyed a chicken coop and garage on the Roy Osborn farm southeast of Hartford. Aided by a north wind which blew sparks into an open field, Hartford firemen were able to extinguish the flames and save a nearby barn and the Osborn home.

Hartford Mothers of World War II sent 100 Christmas packages to soldiers at Percy Jones Hospital and 29 packages to the Veterans’ hospital at Fort Custer.

50 years ago – 1970

Top scorers in a preliminary scholastic aptitude test given at Hartford High School have been announced by Victor Beck, guidance director. In the verbal section of the test, top scorers were Diane Thomas, David Murphey, Joan Duffy, Paula Tomey, Jerame Newkand, Laury Ward, Steve Blyly, David Rose, Debra Hampton, Linda Honey, Martha Larsson and Steve Smith. High scorers in mathematics were Don Remus, Diane Thomas, David Murphey, Joan Duffy, David Rose, Paula Tomey, Laury Ward, Todd Olds, Janice Howard, Sandy Martin and Mary Pozjvilko.

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

The stork won out by one in the vital statistics record for the City of Watervliet during 1930. There were twelve births to eleven deaths during the year as shown by the records on file in the office of City Clerk Doric C. Hawks. There were, however, a number of children born to parents at hospitals outside the city and these are not included in the local record. There were, likewise, some deaths of Watervliet people at hospital and sanitariums also not recorded locally.

Sheriff Fred Cutler announced the appointment of two deputy sheriffs for Watervliet. The newly appointed officers are P.D. Healey and William Nelson. Mr. Healey was elected constable at the city election last April and has had some experience in police work with local officers. Mr. Nelson is a member of the firm of Nelson Brothers.

60 years ago – 1960

Pvt. Mike Lester enjoyed a 15-day leave over the holidays with his mother and family. Pvt. Lester enlisted in the Army last May and completes his training at Fort Devins, MA. He is with the Department of Army Security and leaves on Jan. 1, 1961 for Okinawa.

Mr. and Mrs. Dennis Kean are the proud parents of a baby girl, Sandra Fay, born Dec. 26, 1960 and weighed nine pounds three ounces. Pvt. Nick Berry, son of Mr. and Mrs. Ben Berry, returns on Jan. 1 to his duties at Fort Riley, Kansas after spending the holidays with family.

30 years ago – 1990

The ice sculpturing was such a crowd stopper last year that at the WBA meeting Dave Gearhart reported he has collected $540 from local merchants participating in the Adopt-A-Block campaign. Dave is asking for $45 for ice to carve in front of their business.

Congressman Fred Upton announced the names of the Michigan young men and women he has nominated for the class entering in the summer of 1991 at the U. S. Air Force Academy, the Naval Academy, the Merchant Marine Academy and West Point Academy. Jeremy Manning, Watervliet, was a West Point Academy Nominee.

The sale of the Watervliet Paper Company is set to be finalized Jan. 31, 1991, and operations at the plant would begin Feb 1. Mill Executive Secretary Wyn Yore stated the new owners hope to be making paper by the middle of Feb.

Submitted by Sally Q. Gonzalez from files at Watervliet District Library of the Watervliet Record newspapers donated by the Tri-City Record. Curbside Hours only: Mon-Sat 10-2, Mon & Wed 4-7 Phone: 269-463-6382


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