January 22, 2018

Tri-City History Page

Wednesday, August 10, 2016

Paw Paw River Journal

Paw Paw River Journal

A Bug’s Funeral

 When I was about 4 years old, I was playing one day out in my Dad’s greenhouses. He was L. E. Davis, Florist, and we lived in a house on Linden Street in Hartford.  One end of the house was my Dad’s office and the two greenhouses were attached on behind the house.  In a sense he conducted his business right out of our house!  And we were the only greenhouses in town.  Guess my sister and I never realized how lucky we were, living in a world of perpetual summer.  On the coldest day of winter, we could go out into a world of flowers and steaming jungle, where he raised the biggest calla lilies around.  One time he sent a spray of those lilies to a funeral for a man in Chicago.  I think the guy was “connected”, because we heard later that all the politicians and mobsters agreed the lily arrangement was the hit of the social afternoon!  My Dad really got a kick out of hearing about that!  In the natural order of things, when a kid gets to be about two years old, he begins to transfer his allegiance from his Mom to his Dad.  I must have been about that age, when my Mom’s world of housework and such was not enough for me.  I expanded my adventures out into the greenhouses and began to follow my Dad around as he worked….. planting seed boxes, pruning, fertilizing, and making geranium cuttings.  Those plants were really bestsellers for parks, cemeteries, and household flower beds.  He had huge geranium plants from which he would cut off shoots and plant by themselves. Anyone who knows will tell you the difference between geraniums grown from seeds, or from cuttings!  My Dad never minded my following him around.  Probably he was glad to have some company.  As he worked, he would tell me stories from his past; and he was great for singing hymns from the Methodist hymnal.  To this day I know the words and tunes to many of those songs……. “Jerusalem”, “The Old Rugged Cross”, and many others.  And in between he would give me words of advice.  I never realized that he must have been subtly trying to mold my character.  One time I know I pleased him when I was about 12 years old…..I was working around there doing something, when some customers came in.  They were three ladies, gorgeous, with furs, silk stockings, and wafting perfume as they walked by.  My Dad always treated customers with the utmost courtesy, and after they left, he called to me, “What did you think of those gals who were just here?”  I waved my hand in front of my face and said, “Too fancy!  Too much perfume!”  He smiled at me with satisfaction.  The look on his face told me he was pleased that I must have learned something following him around.  As I said, I went everywhere with him, especially if he headed for the car.  I loved to be on the wheels, and many trips I made with him delivering flowers.  A lot of them over the years went to Zuver & Calvin’s Funeral Home here in Hartford.  I saw my first dead body when I was about three years old, so got used to that, delivering flower arrangements with him.  And later, on my own, after I got my driver’s license. L. Calvin and my Dad were good friends, and I think the two kindest men I’ve ever known were those two. They always had time to talk to kids.  In fact, years later when I was waiting to go into the Air Force I worked for him.  Never had much to do with bodies, though.  I drove the ambulance and the hearse.  Oh, that was sheer luxury.  It was a black Packard with red velvet upholstery.  I parked cars for funerals, and ran the vacuum cleaner after a service.  One time I had to drive a bereaved family back to Chicago after a funeral…….18 years old, and it’s a wonder I didn’t get lost! L. Calvin often stopped into the greenhouses to visit, or on business. He was such a gentle man, I was never afraid of him…..and I admired him too.  Thus it was one day when I was about 4 years old, I was stooging around out in the greenhouses, and I came upon a dead beetle.  There he was, on the bench with his legs up in the air, and he had obviously departed for the next world.  So I decided to have a funeral for him.  I found an empty space on one of the benches, got an empty matchbox from somewhere for a casket, and placed the bug therein.  It was a small box and just the right size.  I arranged the dead bug in the smooth space and began gathering blossoms that had been snipped off or fallen from the surrounding plants.  I arranged the flowers in a circle around him.  Now, mind you, I was about 4.  The whole ceremony was shaping up nicely when my Dad came by.  He stopped and said, “What are you doing there?”  I said, “I found this dead bug, so I’m going to have a funeral for him!”   He went on his way without saying anything, but I think his shoulders were shaking a little with laughter.  Later that day, Mr. Calvin came by on some business.  I was still stooging around out in the greenhouses, and I could hear them talking and laughing.  When I came through, they stopped talking……and I decided later that they were having a good time with the story about my bug’s funeral.  And that was small town Hartford back in the day.  I didn’t realize what golden threads we were weaving into the tapestry of our lives in this story book town along the Paw Paw River!


rolling back the years

News from the Coloma Courier

1916 – 100 years ago

The Misses Ruth VanDerveer, Ruth Lake and Ada Lorenz enjoyed a delightful canoe ride. They were guests in canoes brought by three young men of Benton Harbor.  The Sunshine class of the Congregational church will give a program at the Coloma Theatre for the benefit of the basement fund.  The dry and hot weather has affected the Fruit Belt Canning Co. and the Friday Bros. Canning Co. They are using ice from the Coloma Ice Co. and the Brown Ice Co.

1956 – 60 years ago

While Mrs. Edward Briggs was hospitalized, her house burnt to the ground. Husband and their seven children escaped unharmed. Fire Chief Octave Schinck stated the cause is under investigation.  Ham radio operating has captured the fancy of youngsters Marshall Badt and Gary Hansen. While in college, they relay messages locally and as far away as Africa and England.

1986 – 30 years ago

Marion Leedy reports that the Coloma Teachers Education Association has ratified a two-year contract. President Bob Hirsch said the contract is now in the hands of the Board of Education.  Harold Wheeler is the new principal at the high school. He replaces William Smith, who had resigned. Wheeler’s new position now leaves a vacancy at the junior high.  “Buddy” is the winning name for the Coloma Fire Station’s Dalmatian. The contest was held during the Glad-Peach Festival. Melanie Garner, 8, submitted the winning name.  Commissioners appointed Edward Schreiber as building inspector. William Moser will replace William Spearitt on the Joint Fire Board. Commissioner Robert Wooley states, “…sorry to lose Spearitt as a representative for the City.”  CHS Class of 1961 held its 25th reunion at the Cove at Paw Paw Lake. A few attendees were: Robert Clapsaddle, Beverly (Danneffel) Willming, Jerry Jollay and Dave DeFields.

1916 – 100 years ago

The old Putney farm, two miles west of Hartford, owned by Mrs. Charles Mortimer of this village, was the scene of a disastrous blaze last Wednesday afternoon. W.W. Wetmore’s threshing outfit was threshing from the field the oat crop of Hugh Osborn, the tenant on the farm. Flames were first discovered coming out of the blower and it is thought that the fire might have been started from a hot box on the machine. Despite every effort the flames leaped to the large barn filled with hay, and the barn and the granary adjoining were soon in ruins. The granary contained a crop of oats threshed by Arthur Vanderlyn a neighbor across the road, as well as a quantity of grain owned by Mrs. Osborn. The house on the place was saved.  The drought that held away in southern Michigan for over a month was broken last Thursday when a heavy electrical storm afforded the first rain fall that had been experienced in the immediate vicinity of Hartford since the first of July. Another storm developed Friday afternoon, and Monday evening still another welcome rain occurred.

1941 – 75 years ago

J.C. Van Lierop, Hartford’s extensive gladiolus grower with warehouses on North Center Street, won the first prize in the largest division of the Midwest Gladiolus show held last week in the Garfield Park Conservatory, Chicago. He brought back not only the blue ribbon in the largest division of the show, but also a medal awarded by the New England Gladiolus Society for the best 200 display at the 1941 show. This week Mr. Van Lierop is exhibiting in the Michigan Gladiolus show in Kalamazoo. The huge fields of gladiolus grown by Mr. Van Lierop, largely to supply his nationwide bulb trade, are among the show places in the Hartford area.

1966 – 50 years ago

A sudden thunderstorm dumped cascades of water on the area at the supper hour Monday knocking out Hartford’s electric power for 35 minutes. The torrents of rain quickly filled low spots and storm drains were unable to handle the sudden load on some streets, with the result that water soon stood from curb to curb. The deepest such temporary lakes were on Marion Ave. and N. Center St.  Power went off when lightning hit a transformer on a pole beside the former Ford garage on W. Main St. Ironically, while Eugene Heeter, serviceman for Indiana & Michigan Electric Co., was preparing to go out and hunt for the source of the trouble, lightning hit his house, blowing out a couple of light bulbs. Another bolt of lightning put a paper cutter and press out of commission at The Day Spring plant. Records at the Hartford Substation showed that automatic relays tripped nine times during the storm, indicating many lightning hits on the system.  More than 200 boys and girls took part in the Van Buren Sportsmen’s club children’s fishing rodeo Sunday afternoon at Hartford. The children fished and ate hot dogs and drank pop, sometimes all at the same time. Girls were as numerous as boys. Some helpful parents acted as if they wished there was no age limit in the contest. The pond had been planted with fish, but they were not overly eager to bite Sunday.

1926 – 90 Years Ago

A severe electrical storm visited Watervliet on July 6, 1926. No serious fires resulted but at least two homes were slightly damaged. Lightning struck the home of William Johnson on High Street, knocking some plaster from the wall and damaging a radio. A maple tree near the residence of James Herron on Paw Paw Ave. was struck, the charge found its way to the electric wires, burning out the meter and the wiring in his garage.  Born to Mr. and Mrs. Albert Becht; a baby girl on July 11, 1956.  Watervliet hotels and eating houses, service stations and retailers say the tourist traffic through the city is the heaviest it has ever been and the patronage of these transients is adding materially to the volume of local trade. Watervliet is having a record breaking business year.

1956 – 60 Years Ago

Arthur W. Helweg of Watervliet has been awarded the bronze Tuxis medal by the Culver Summer Naval School on the campus of Culver Military Academy where he is attending the 55th eight week session of the Culver Summer Schools with boys from 39 states, the District of Columbia, Puerto Rico and 11 foreign countries. The bronze medal is awarded to midshipmen after they have demonstrated proficiency in five different phases of the Culver program. These accomplishments must be in individual and competitive athletics, military proficiency, seamanship, academics and social activities.  A class of 365 persons received degrees and certificates from Western Michigan College on July 26, 1956. Two of those receiving degrees were Robert A. McNabb received a BA and Mrs. Ivan Wigent received an AB degree and an Elementary Certificate, both from Watervliet.

1986 – 30 Years Ago

Pat Lynch was named Pharmacist of the Year by the Southwest Michigan Pharmacists Association. Lynch, coordinator of the Burgess Outpatient Pharmacy, was recognized for his involvement in community and work in pharmacy organizations at both local and state levels. Lynch graduated WHS in 1965.  Ronald J. Schaefer has been promoted in the U. S. Air Force to the rank of senior airman. Schaefer is an operations resources management specialist with the 1401st Military Airlift Squadron at Wright-Patterson Air Force Base, Ohio.


Museum hosts free screening of 1966 Film: Fantastic Voyage (PG)

 The North Berrien Historical Museum welcomes the public to attend a free screening of the 1966 film “Fantastic Voyage” (length: 100 minutes) on Tuesday, August 16 at 7:00 pm. The film was directed by Richard Fleischer and written by Harry Kleiner, based on a story by Otto Klement and Jerome Bixby.  Raquel Welch stars in this 1966 sci-fi adventure about a medical team shrunk to microscopic size and injected into a man’s body to save his life. Winner of two Academy Awards, “Fantastic Voyage” has influenced countless films and television shows since its release in 1966, becoming a staple of popular culture.  This film screening at the North Berrien Historical Museum is free to attend and complimentary popcorn and refreshments will be served. The museum is located at 300 Coloma Avenue, on Red Arrow Highway across from Coloma High School. For more information, contact the museum at (269) 468-3330.

Watervliet Library News

2016 Reading Challenge

 There are 12 reading challenges, one for each month throughout the year. Completed challenges are entered to win a prize. Slips are due back on Dec. 30, 2016. Come in to the library for more information.

Looking ahead-

Yoga every Wednesday evening at 7:00 p.m.

Adult Coloring Night – the last Monday of every month.

If you are interested in having another class on handling your smart phones, lap tops or other mobile devices – let us know. Call or come in.