Notes from 1948 Colon Express
By Mrs. W. H. Judd (Ivone), Colon, January 4, 1949. A review of happenings in Colon during 1948 reveals the closing of a very successful year. “Many improvements were made about town, including rebuilding of sidewalks and roads and installation of new boulevard lights which were turned on with proper ceremony. A new athletic field was built by the softball association on a tract of land purchased by them in the northwest section of town. The field is fully lighted and provides generous seating capacity with its two sets of bleachers and ample parking space for those who wish to view activities from their cars. Through an agreement between school officials and softball officials, this field is more or less a community affair. High school football games were played under lights and drew large crowds, as did the Lamb Knit softball games. A series of summer games also was provided by the newly organized city softball league consisting of eight different teams. The Lions Club began a project at the new field for a skating rink and tennis court. Through popular subscriptions money was raised to finance the rebuilding of the Palmer Lake dam. The job was completed during the summer. New control gates to maintain a proper water level were installed and a new catwalk built over the dam. Plans are to install lights along the walk in the near feature. The water in Palmer Lake has been gradually lowered and work is about to begin on the project of cutting the stumps from the lake which have been a hazard to boats during the summer time. The water is at a very low level and thousands of stumpheads are showing up above the ice. As soon as workers are insured of plenty of thick ice to work on, the task of sawing away the stumps will begin. Next Spring the water will be raised to its proper level. Colon guarantees its residents the finest protection in case of fires, housing a village fire truck and a newly-delivered township truck. The volunteer fire department stands ready to meet all kinds of emergencies. equipment includes a resuscitator purchased by the Lions club and a class of workers properly trained to use it. The Lions club as usual has been very active in its service to the town. Other than above-mentioned items, the club entertained the championship high school basketball team and entertained the children of the village and surrounding community with a party at Christmas, providing prizes and gifts each time. The club is also responsible for the reorganization of the local Boy Scout troop.”
“Colon also has an active Girl Scout troop under the leadership of Mrs. Clifton Frazier. New business places added to the village are the Colon Art Shop owned by Philip Tunison; Lakeview Cleaners owned by Mr. and Mrs. D. B. Southwood of Peoria, Illinois. Other business changes are a plumbing shop purchased by Elwood Milliman from Earl Devault; a Texaco service station at the site of the old hotel; sale of the Fluett King Ice and Coal business to Paul Metzler of Union City; Dr. Clifton G. Myer of White Pigeon located here in the office formerly occupied by Dr. Howard Hout, who joined the staff of Hines Hospital at Chicago; the Railway Express agency was transferred to Paul’s Blacksmith shop from the Michigan Central depot and from there the telegraph office was transferred to the City Cafe. This leaves only railroad freight to be handled at the depot and St. Clair Carpenter, Sr., resigned his position at the local depot, accepting a promotion along the same capacity at Hastings. Reverend and Mrs. William Timms came from Shepherd and Mr. Timms took over the Methodist pastorate, replacing the Reverend Frank Wright. Mr. and Mrs. Write accepted a call to the Union City Methodist church. The Reverend and Mrs. Argus Kent and children moved here from Glennie and he assumed the pastorate of the Assembly of God church, replacing the Reverend Carl Ladd, who with Mrs. Ladd and children went to Midland. Robert Straube of Kalamazoo was named conservation officer for the eastern half of St. Joseph County and he and Mrs. Straube moved to Colon and purchased the Hipsher property on M-78. Changes to the Post Office department included the retirement of Mrs. Otto Iobe, who served in the office for 25 years, and the retirement of Jay L. Peters, who served 29 years as rural mail carrier.
Howard Snook was named acting postmaster, succeeding Stanley Wattles, who resigned to take over as rural mail carrier. Local post office employees say they did the largest volume of business here in years and worked overtime before Christmas to take care of the holiday mail. According to Postmaster Snook, more than 38,000 pieces of mail were canceled on one of the days preceding Christmas and during the holiday rush.”
“Mrs. Edwin Loudenslager, the rural sub-carrier, assisted Stanley Wattles, taking over one half of the route so that rural patrons could be assured of prompt delivery of mail during the Christmas season. Colon School officials have been working faithfully on the school reorganization program. Many improvements have been made to the local school and one new teacher, Mrs. Ruth Kent has been added to the staff. The school honored Joe Stull for 31 years of service by giving a public party on his 80th birthday. The Colon school band through popular subscription received new band uniforms and gave a public performance to dedicate the uniforms. The band participated in the St. Joseph County Fair school band contest, the district festival at Kalamazoo and the state festival at Lansing. The band also played at the State Fair at Detroit and at the annual marching festival at Benton Harbor. Summer concerts were also provided for the band and director, Melvin Flowers. The high school basketball team won the St. Joseph County League championship and the district tournament, being defeated by St. Augustine of Kalamazoo in the regional. The high school baseball team also won the league championship. The Senior class play, “We Shook The Family Tree” under the direction of Mrs. Charles Williams was successfully presented to large crowds two nights. Under the direction of Mrs. A. Jaffe, the Junior class successfully presented the play “Susie The Siren” two nights. The music department presented the operetta “Waltz Time” under the direction of Mr. Flowers. The Colon school was one of 79 Michigan schools to receive a Traveling Safety Cup award from the Automobile Club of America. The Colon Hi News is one of 16 Michigan school papers to win an honor certificate from the State. Marlene King was named to represent Colon school in the DAR good citizenship contest.
The local Lamb Knit factory underwent improvements during the year and received the National Sportsmen Research Institute award on its new sweater “The Sportsman.” At Christmas time the company wrote each of its employees a letter of appreciation and presented each with a large turkey and a bushel of select Jonathan apples.”
“The Abbott Magic Novelty Company followed its usual custom of presenting cash bonuses to each of its employees at Christmas. The company also carried out an improvement schedule during the year. In September the annual magic get-to-gather was held bringing 1,000 magicians to town for the week of events. Highlight of the magic convention this year was the unheralded visit of Edger Bergen, Charlie McCarthy, Mortimer Snerd and Ersil Twing, who appeared on the Saturday night show and spent the remainder of the weekend visiting in Colon. Abbotts also opened a new branch store in Hollywood with Bergen present at the opening along with other notables. The E. Hill & Sons Bank followed its usual custom of entertaining the St. Joseph County 4-H Clubs, leaders and assistant leaders at a banquet and program. The bank lobby also presented an outstanding Christmas display and from an amplifier Christmas music was heard throughout the season all over town. Chimes from the Methodist Church also sent out Christmas music. The 90-foot pine tree in the yard of Mr. and Mrs. Grant Farrand was decorated by the village so that it could be seen from miles around, and a drive about town revealed many decorations in the various homes and a true Christmas spirit. Likewise the stores were well decorated and well stocked. The pre-Christmas season was climaxed by services in each of Colon’s five churches. With Colon ever on the upward trend, the village council has authorized installation of a new village water system and has engaged William Wilkins, a Kalamazoo civil engineer, to plan the water extension project. The State has approved a site for a new well on Blackstone Island. The board granted several building permits during the year and many homes and business places were remodeled and several new homes built. A group of former Colon high school athletes organized an independent basketball team called the Colon Merchants. Claude Hoffman is their manager and Richard Frohriep, a physical education student at Western Michigan, assists with the coaching. The team provides Saturday night entertainment for Colon fans and plays games during the week away from home. There were no fatal accidents here during 1948, but a near-tragedy occurred when the Bennett Bridge collapsed when struck by a car driven by Ralph Persing of Sturgis with Virgil Farrand and Ferris Weinberg of Colon as his passengers.